When I was younger, I had heard tell of the Golem, but only truly became acquainted with the legend thanks to the “Kaddish” episode of “The X-Files,” in which the legendary clay monster of Jewish folklore is brought forth to revenge a hate crime in modern day Brooklyn. Now, the Golem’s back on FOX and this time he’s more nebbish than nightmare. The second of the three stories that make up this year’s “Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XVII” was a bit of a monster mash, marrying the Golem story with the “Bride of Frankenstein.”
Trying to return his Krusty the Clown Alarm Clock that squirts acid, Bart stumbles upon the Golem in Krusty’s prop room. The ersatz entertainer goes on to tell Bart of the tale of Rabbi Loew, the “legendary defender of the Jewish people,” who created the Golem to defend his Jewish community. “Like Alan Dershowitz,” says Krusty, “but with a conscience.” Of course Bart can’t resist temptation, feeds the Golem a scroll with orders–the monster’s method of motivation–and forces him to do his bidding: Think Bart’s usual bag of tricks on principal Skinner.
However, Lisa feeds her own scroll to the monolithic monster, giving him the freedom of speech. And, oy, does he ever speak! Voiced by comedian Richard Lewis, Golem goes on to introduce the Simpson family to Jewish humor and its stereotypical neuroses (“I mangled and maimed 37 people, and I told a telemarketer I was busy when I wasn’t!”). They might as well have named him Woody Golem. In order to shut the monster up, Marge creates a “Girlem” out of blue Play-Doh. Girlem is, naturally, voiced by Fran Drescher, whose nasal delivery has never been more perfectly grating. And while Homer decides that they need to go back to the drawing board, as Girlem spouts bad Borscht Belt comedian jokes, Golem is smitten, and the pair head to the chuppah.
As “Treehouses of Horror” stories go, this entry was middling. While the voices of Lewis and Drescher were perfect, the story just didn’t go anywhere. But it’s nice to know that the FOX network has introduced yet another generation to an enduring Jewish folk tale.