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Posts tagged ‘1990 animation’

I kissed the teacher

Bart Gets an ‘F’

I will not encourage others to fly

Couch gag: The family sit on the couch, which then falls through the floor.

Director: David Silverman

First appearance of:
‘Diamond’ Joe Quimby, the town’s mayor

Synopsis: Bart regularly fails school exams and one more failure means he’ll have to repeat the fourth grade. In exchange for making Martin cool, Martin helps Mart study. The night before the exam, Bart feels unprepared and prays for a miracle so that school will be closed, giving him an extra day to study. It snows overnight and Bart gets his wish, spending the day studying in the basement. He fails the exam by just one mark, however demonstrates to Mrs Krabappel that he actually did know the material, earning him an extra mark and a D- grade.

Discussion: Welcome to the second season! We’re going to be here for the next three weeks so strap yourselves in for a fun-filled ride. The title sequence has changed slightly, and this sequence stayed until the HD episodes of season 20. Mr Burns and Smithers were added to the opening sequence, and Bart no longer steals the bus stop sign but passes by several regular characters, including Barney and Chief Wiggum.

As for the episode itself, Wikipedia tells me that this remains the highest rating episode ever of The Simpsons. I don’t think it’s the best episode, but it does have its moments. The animation is better (the director states that the snow scene was the hardest in his career at that point to animate), the characters are more rounded, the storyline is fun and edgy and there are moments when you realise this is what the show is known and loved for. Satire becomes more evident, such as ‘Diamond’ Joe Quimby, based in part on the mannerisms and voice of JFK. Bart’s diagnosed condition of amoria phlebitis is fictional. The family values are again seen; Homer and Bart are out to procrastinate and have fun while Lisa is the voice of reason and Marge just loves her family to bits. Martin’s new-found popularity doesn’t last longer than this episode, he’s back to Martin the nerd after the closing credits.

 

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I’m sorry I fingered you in court

Krusty Gets Busted

They are laughing at me, not with me.

Couch gag: The family sit down and Maggie is squeezed out.

Director: Brad Bird

First appearance of:
Kent Brockman (although someone looking very much like him appeared in yesterday’s episode having a different voice and not named)

Guest voice: Kelsey Grammar as Sideshow Bob

Synopsis: Homer is asked to pick up some icecream and stops at the Kwik-E-Mart on his way home from work. He is interrupted by an armed robbery held by none other than Krusty the Klown. With the town in shock, Bart believes Krusty is innocent and, along with Lisa, finds evidence that Sideshow Bob is the real criminal. Based on this evidence, Bob is locked away and Krusty is released.

Discussion: I’ve been waiting for this episode! It’s truly a changing point in Simpsons history because this is a seminal episode: this sparks storylines for episodes for the rest of the series. Bart has made an enemy in Sideshow Bob, who is not going to forget in a hurry.

Bart and Lisa work together as a team in order to bring justice to Springfield. This highlights the police incompetency (another recurring theme in the show) as well as Lisa’s logical brain and Bart’s dedication to Krusty. If you see no other episodes from the first season, make sure you see this one because of the continuity is future seasons: this is where it all started! 

I’ve pulled a few boners

The Telltale Head

I did not see Elvis

Couch gag: The family sit down, Bart is squeezed out and lands in front of the TV during the credits (see Bart the Genius).

Director: Rich Moore

First appearance of:
Reverend Lovejoy
Jebediah Springfield
Krusty the Klown
Jimbo
Kearney
Dolph
Apu
Sideshow Bob

Synopsis: Trying to impress the bad boys of the school, Bart cuts off the head of the town’s founder, Jebediah Springfield. Instead of impressing them, the boys (and the whole town) are outraged and saddened. Racked with guilt, Bart and Homer return the head only to be met with a lynch mob, who are sympathetic after hearing Bart’s story.

 

The Telltale Head‘ title is based on Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘The Telltale Heart’, which has similar themes of guilt and body parts “talking” to the characters as a manifestation of their guilt. Coincidentally, the day I watched this episode is the 204th anniversary of Poe’s birth.

This is the first episode where the name of the episode is shown; only a handful of episodes throughout the entire series have their names shown at the beginning. Several important narrative points are shown for the first time here:

  1. The Simpsons are a church-going family. Some family members take this ritual a bit more seriously than others, but normally, as a family unit, they attend church weekly.
  2. Bart is a good kid… deep down. OK, so Bart wants to listen to rock music during Sunday School and frustrate the teacher with questions about who gets into Heaven, but he will also pay to see a movie and holds respect for the man who founded his hometown (unless he’s trying to impress bad boys, in which case all that is thrown out the window). Bart has a conscience and this is reiterated in other episodes e.g. a Christmas special where he’s caught shoplifting and makes it up to a disappointed Marge by having his photo taken with Santa to add to the family Christmas photo.
  3. Homer just wants what’s best for his kids, even if his advice is somewhat askew. His decision to accompany Bart to return Jebediah’s head was born not only from guilt, but a sense of responsibility to teach Bart the right lessons in life. Let’s face it, Homer isn’t the best role model in Bart’s life and as the series progresses, Homer’s judgments aren’t all that great either. But here we have Homer doing the right thing (and did he ever buy his liquid centre bowling ball?)
  4. The town’s population is generally forgiving… until the events of The Simpsons Movie but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I love that slimy goop

There’s No Disgrace Like Home

I will not burp in class

Couch gag: When the family sit on the couch, Homer is squeezed out.

Directors: Gregg Vanzo and Kent Butterworth

Synopsis: At Mr Burns’ annual employee family day, Marge gets drunk, the kids act up and Homer realises his family aren’t perfect. He takes them into a family therapy centre but they leave just as dysfunctional as when they started.

First appearance of: Dr Marvin Monroe
Itchy & Scratchy
Eddie and Lou (cops)

The main thing about this episode is that character development is still in infancy. Homer is the voice of reason, trying to pull the family together whereas that characteristic is usually Marge’s domain. Lisa is short tempered and a bully, which she exhibits occasionally throughout the series however it is prevalent here. Bart, well, Bart is up to his usual tricks and pranks and fighting with Lisa. More of Mr Burns’ character is revealed; he is shown to be a greedy loner who does things just for the sake of show. This is consistent with later episodes… and Smithers appears yellow for the first time in the series.

 

Simpson Says Safe

Homer’s Odyssey

I will not skateboard in the halls

Couch gag: the couch collapses when the family sits on it.

Director: Wesley Archer

Synopsis: Bart’s class is on a field trip to the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, where Homer has his first accident of the series and is fired. After being rejected for new positions, Homer considers suicide before finding his calling with placing safety signs all over town.

First appearance of:
Otto
Wendall
Sherri and Terri
Duff Beer
Chief Wiggum

This episode is quite dark, and I’m not just talking about Smithers being African-American. As mentioned previously, The Simpsons was deliberately written as the antithesis of the All-American Family seen in the 1980s. Homer losing his job and considering suicide is not only dark subject matter for prime-time animation, it is also quite dark for a sitcom. It wasn’t well received by critics, however I think it’s the best episode of the season so far; I like that Homer finds passion in keeping his community safe and goes back to his crummy job to pay the bills (much like the rest of us plebs). The episode also contains Bart’s first prank call to Moe- “Hello, is Mr Freely there? Initials I.P.”

The chemicals probably made him smart

Bart the Genius

I will not waste chalk.

Couch gag: The family rush in and plonk themselves on the couch. Bart is on the end and is squeezed out.

Director: David Silverman

Synopsis: Bart cheats on an intelligence test, changing papers with Martin, the smartest kid in the class. Bart’s IQ is determined to be 216 and he is placed into a school for gifted children. The other kids in the class immediately realise Bart isn’t a genius at all and Bart feels isolated, wishing to return to his own class. He confesses everything, which surprises no one and angers Homer, who has bonded with Bart.

First appearance of:
Edna Krabappel
Martin Prince

Although cited as a favourite episode among the writers, it’s not one of mine. There are funny moments, such as Bart’s “winning” Scrabble word of Kwyjibo (meaning a fat, balding, North American ape with a short temper), but the episode doesn’t have that biting satire that is synonymous with many Simpsons episodes. In fact this satire isn’t seen at all in the first season, largely for reasons discussed yesterday. Most series’ are finding their feet in the first season; if you told the creators in 1990 that the show would still be around 23 years later, they’d probably laugh at you and think there was something really wrong. No one then could have dreamed that the show would become what it has. But I digress.

The true characters of the Simpson family are fully realised in this episode. Maggie is probably another Lisa, who is the smartest person in the family; Homer has a short temper but wants his kids to do well and Marge does everything she can in order to nurture her children to become the best they can be, although she does seem to miss Lisa’s obvious intelligence but this is probably because she’s so surprised at Bart’s emerging intellect.

The only real question I have about the episode is: why did Milhouse’s hair suddenly change to black in one scene?

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