"Stark Raving Dad" is the first episode of Season 3 (originally going to be the second season finale in production order).
Thanks to Bart leaving his lucky red hat in the pile of washed white shirts, Homer wears a pink shirt to the nuclear power plant. He is promptly committed to a mental institution, where he meets Leon Kompowsky, a heavy-set, bald man who claims to be Michael Jackson. Meanwhile, Bart forgets about Lisa's birthday and tries to give her a gift.
Lisa reminds Bart that her birthday is coming up and not to forget to get her a present. Homer's traditional white shirt turns pink in the wash (thanks to Bart's red cap being mixed in with the shirts), and he is forced to face the ridicule of his co-workers by wearing pink to work. He catches the attention of Mr. Burns, who pegs him as "some kind of free-thinking anarchist", and orders him to be examined by Dr. Marvin Monroe. After receiving a take-home psychological test from him, instead of filling out the test himself, he carelessly lets Bart fill it out for him, who does a rush-job by ticking all the boxes, not aware of what the consequences would be. After handing it in, Homer is promptly judged to be insane and committed to a mental institution. There he is bunked with a large yellow man who claims he is Michael Jackson. Having never even heard of Michael Jackson before, Homer believes everything he says. There the two quickly become friends.
The day of Lisa's birthday, "Michael" calls the Simpson household to inform Bart that Homer has been committed, and Marge starts working on a way to get him out. Marge manages to convince the institution that Homer is not really crazy by pointing out Bart's antics that made Homer go crazy in the first place; the doctors are shocked by this revelation, having assumed that Bart was simply Homer's delusion. Since "Michael" is only at the asylum voluntarily, Homer invites him to their home for the night. Bart, believing that Leon is really Michael Jackson, begins to inform all his friends that he is on his way. Meanwhile, in all the commotion, Lisa seems to be forgotten.
The word that Michael Jackson is on his way to Springfield spreads through the town, and a large crowd forms around the Simpson house. When the two of them arrive, and the crowd sees an overweight white man instead of Michael Jackson, the crowd gets angry and disperses. After the melee, Bart admits to Lisa that he forgot to buy her a birthday present. Lisa storms off, crushed.
That evening, Lisa writes a letter to Bart saying that she is disowning him. "Michael" hears everything and then approaches Bart and tries to convince him to write Lisa a song to make up to her. After Bart confronts him about his obvious delusion about being a famous recording star, they get down to writing, and eventually compose a ballad called, "Happy Birthday Lisa." The next day, upstairs, they perform it for Lisa, and all is well again. After this, "Michael" begins to talk with an Italian accent and tells them all that his real name is Leon Kompowsky, and he is a bricklayer from Paterson, NJ. He explains that he was an angry and unhappy man until he started talking like Michael Jackson and saw that it made everyone around him happy, which in turn made him happy, so he just kept on doing it. Leon then takes his leave, walking down the street singing Lisa's birthday song in his normal voice.
Behind the Laughter
Michael Jackson's appearance
Michael Jackson himself voiced Leon Kompowsky's dialogue, but sound-a-like Kipp Lennon performed all the singing parts. Jackson's guest appearance was credited to "John Jay Smith." The DVD commentary for this episode indicates that Jackson approached the Simpsons team wanting to appear on the show. In the first weeks, Michael Jackson intended to voice Leon Kompowsky's dialogue and singing parts while Lennon intended to write the song just like Mozart did, but due to a contract obligation, Jackson was not allowed to sing and Lennon gave it to Jackson as a writer and Lennon voiced all singing parts just like Jackson instead. However, he did write "Happy Birthday, Lisa" for the show. Great secrecy surrounded the guest appearance for some time, and even Matt Groening, when appearing on the Jay Leno show, did not openly reveal that it was Jackson (although he hinted strongly). It wasn't until the episode "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie" that a more open clue was given to viewers, when Lisa mentions that Dustin Hoffman and Jackson made cameo appearances in the movie, stating, "They did not use their real names, but you could tell it was them..." Dustin Hoffman, of course, voiced Mr. Bergstrom in the episode Lisa's Substitute, and his guest appearance was similarly shrouded.
Removal from future rebroadcasts
Following the premiere in March 2019 of the documentary Leaving Neverland that provided further allegations about Jackson's behavior and relationships, a decision was made by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening and Al Jean to ban "Stark Raving Dad" from future rebroadcasts. The episode has already been pulled from the Simpsons World website and will be removed from syndication and "future physical media editions" as well as streaming services.
Both Dan Reed, director of the documentary, and Brooks have said that they are not in favor of "book burning", which in this case would be erasing all information relating to Michael Jackson from history. Brooks did state, "[T]his is our book, and we're allowed to take out a chapter."
However, this episode is still available on existing copies of The Complete Third Season, which was released on DVD back in 2003. Despite the DVD being still in print, Amazon has removed nearly all Season 3 box sets and even multi-season packs which include Season 3 from their stock. Currently, new and used copies available for sale on websites like Amazon are being sold by third parties and many of them have raised their prices.
In October 2019 however, the episode was put back in syndication, airing on FXX. Unfortunately though, this is the only episode of the entire series to not be available on the newly-launched Disney+ streaming service, because of the documentary.