Couch gag: The Simpsons (and others) are in a vending machine. Ralph Wiggum chooses a Homer figurine and bites off the head.
Director: Susie Dietter
James Patterson as himself
Meg Ryan as Dr Stacey Swanson
Peter Bogdanavich as psychologist
Stephen Sondheim as himself
Andy Dick as himself
Synopsis: When Bart tells fellow students about the Dark Stanley murders to get himself a free lunch, he’s sent to a psychologist. Meanwhile, Lisa is employed to tutor Cletus’ kids, who are then employed by Krusty for a travelling kids troupe.
Discussion: Let’s face it, there ain’t many episodes ringing my bell recently. This one is a gem and ticks all the boxes. There’s singing (parodies of songs from The Sound of Music), dancing, strange allusions (like Agnes Skinner as Mame), Bart delving into his deepest, darkest areas of his soul to try to understand why he’s a bad kid… Everything just works here.
Well, almost everything. There are moments when the episode looks like it’s about to the turn the corner into WTF but it picks itself up and carries on being utterly enjoyable. Bart’s made-up story of the Dark Stanley murders is exceptionally well done: not only the story but the animation as well. In fact, this ep is so good it doesn’t even need the myriad celebrity voices to lift it up. Meg Ryan sounds a lot like Michelle Pfeiffer when she voiced Mindy back in season 5, but Dr Stacey is a good character on her own even if she doesn’t have any memorable one liners like Mindy did.
Overall, it’s a really enjoyable, fun, silly episode that I would be happy to watch again. And… go Brandine.