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Posts tagged ‘Bart’

Forgive me, don Bartholomew

Bart the Murderer

High explosives and school don’t mix

Couch gag: The Simpsons form a human pyramid on the couch

Director: Rich Moore

First appearance:
Fat Tony
Legs & Louie

Guest Voices:
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Neil Patrick Harris as himself playing Bart Simpson
Phil Hartman as Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz

Synopsis: Bart’s having a miserable day and ends up meeting mobsters, who offer him a part time job. When Bart gets into trouble from Principal Skinner, the mobsters have a meeting with Skinner and he goes missing. Skinner is presumed dead and Bart is put on trial for the murder. Just when it looks like Bart will be found guilty, Skinner appears in the courtroom to tell his tale of survival after being trapped under a pile of newspapers.

Discussion: What starts out as a really bad day just doesn’t get better for Bart. This episode is chock full of great moments: the trip to the chocolate factory (“Kids! Be sanitary!”), Bart’s aptitude for mixing cocktails, Homer’s meeting with the mobsters, Bart’s trial and the horribly inaccurate made-for-TV movie starring “TV’s Doogie Howser” as Bart. It’s just a really good episode- well thought out and well executed (no pun intended).

The characters of Fat Tony and his cronies, Legs & Louie, are inspired additions to the Simpsons cast. They are the dark underbelly of the town and although they present themselves as good guys, they are delightfully seedy without being unnecessarily harsh or mean. Sure, they’re mobsters, but they’re also truly likable characters. After all, it’s no crime to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family, even if you have a large family who don’t like bread, they like cigarettes and you’re selling them at a price that’s practically giving them away…

 

Working is for chumps

Three Men and a Comic Book

I will not show off (written in fancy writing)

Couch gag: The couch falls backwards

Director: Wes M. Archer

Guest Voices:
Daniel Stern as narrator/older Bart (in the vein of The Wonder Years)
Cloris Leachman as Mrs Glick

First appearance of:
Comic Book Guy
Radioactive Man
Fallout Boy
Mrs Glick

Synopsis: Bart is saving up to buy issue #1 of his favourite comic book, Radioactive Man. He does odd jobs, saves pennies but doesn’t have enough. Martin is also trying to buy the comic but doesn’t have enough, and Milhouse has the exact amount of the remainder, so the three boys buy the comic book together.

Discussion: I’ve never really liked this episode, to be honest. It really sucks that the comic book was destroyed in the end. I know, I know, there’s a moral to the story and so on and so forth, but it feels like a wasted episode. It built up to a climax but didn’t really deliver. Bart’s meltdown was pretty good and maybe that could have been expanded so that he was the sole cause of the failure of the arrangement, not some random storm. The same scenario is echoed in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon, Howard, Raj and Leonard fight over an authentic ring from Lord of the Rings (I didn’t love that episode either).

The Wikipedia entry for this episode tells me this ep was the first to beat The Cosby Show in the ratings. Regular readers will note that¬†The Simpsons was the antithesis to The Cosby Show, attempting to appeal to a wider and different audience. (If you’ve missed the story, check out my first blog post which gives a background).

We asked you not to spit over the side

Bart Gets Hit By A Car

I will not sell school property

Couch gag: Everyone is squeezed off except for Homer

Director: Mark Kirkland

First appearance of:
Lionel Hutz
Dr Nick RivieraUn-named blue-haired lawyer

Guest Voice:Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz

Synopsis: While skateboarding, Bart is hit by Mr Burns’ car. Bart dies, however the devil says Bart is not due to return for almost a century, so Bart wakes up in hospital. While Dr Hibberd says Bart will be fine, Lionel Hutz asks for the opinion of Dr Nick Riviera, who claims Bart is quite unwell. The Simpsons take Mr Burns to court but the case falls apart when Mr Burns, attempting an out-of-court settlement, overhears Marge speak the truth and Mr Burns’ lawyer calls upon her to testify under oath. Homer now sees Marge as the woman who lost him a million dollars but realises that he loves her more than ever.

Discussion: Classic Simpsons! It seems whenever a Simpson is injured, they die for brief moments but just like a cat with nine lives, they always bounce back. There really are some great scenes in this episode, such as Bart and Mr Burns’ differing accounts of the accident, Bart’s escalator ride to Heaven, the introduction of Lionel Hutz and Dr Nick Riviera and the make up scene in Moe’s Tavern right at the end. Both Lionel and Dr Nick become semi-regular characters, although Lionel is never seen again after Phil Hartman’s tragic death.

The major theme of this episode is greed. To Homer, a million dollars (even shared with Lionel Hutz) is the largest amount of money he’s ever seen. To Mr Burns, a million dollars is a drop in the ocean, but that doesn’t mean he wants to give it up. Marge’s morals are the downfall, money is worthless if you have to lie to get it. Lisa, of course, is also on the money when she asks Mr Hutz if he’s a shyster. For the most part, Bart seems indifferent to the proceedings. Sure, a million bucks would be nice but when it doesn’t eventuate, he’s cool with that too.

Gimme some nachos, Homersaurus

Bart the Daredevil

I will not drive the principal’s car

Couch gag: The couch tips on its side when the family sit down, Maggie squeezes out and lands on a cushion in front of the TV.

Director: Wesley Meyer Archer

Synopsis: The family go to see Truckasaurus at a local monster car rally and the climax of the show is a daredevil, Lance Murdoch, jumping over a pool filled with man-eating animals. Bart is inspired, despite visiting the severely injured Lance in hospital, and decides to jump Springfield Gorge on his skateboard. Homer does everything he can to stop Bart, but accidentally jumps the gorge himself and ends up injured and in the same ward as Lance Murdoch.

First appearance of:
Dr Julius Hibberd

Discussion: This is one of the most frequently self-referenced episodes in the entire series, particularly the scene where Homer falls into the gorge not once but twice. The scene is replayed during clip shows and is even referenced in the Simpsons Movie.

The episode begins with Lisa’s school band recital, which could be boring for the viewer as well as Homer, however Homer’s impatience makes the scene not only bearable but funny as well. My favourite part of the scene is where Homer is pointing to his watch and this exchange:
Principal Skinner: Welcome to the first in a series of Saturday night recitals.
Homer: *groan* Series?
Principal Skinner: Tonight, Sherbert’s *giggle* Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony.
Homer: Unfinished? Oh good, this shouldn’t take long.

There are so many good scenes in this episode; Truckasaurus demolishing the Simpsons’ car, Lance Murdoch’s attempt to jump over a pool of man-eating animals and of course, Bart’s own attempt at the Springfield Gorge. Homer’s failed attempt loses the humour only because I’ve seen it so many times not only in this episode but in future references within the show. Still, being pulled up by helicopter and bumping his head on the side of the gorge is still pretty funny.

As has become usual practice in season 2, there is family bonding. First, there’s the bonding over Truckasaurus (family bonding time was a main argument to Marge about going to see it in the first place) and secondly, Homer has some quality father-son time with Bart before the big Gorge attempt. I’m surprised there’s no “don’t try this at home, kids” disclaimers anywhere, not even from Dr Hibberd, although he does show Bart around the “kids who have done stunts” ward at the hospital.

The overriding message of the episode is something that Lance Murdoch says: Seatbelts save lives!

Are we the most pathetic family in the universe?

Bart vs Thanksgiving

I will not do that thing with my tongue

couch gag: The family rush in to find Grandpa asleep on the couch.

Director: David Silverman

Synopsis: It’s Thanksgiving. Lisa has made a beautiful centrepiece for the table featuring heroines from America’s past. Trying to find room for the turkey, Bart flings the centrepiece into the fireplace, breaking Lisa’s heart. Bart is sent to his room, but he runs away with Santa’s Little Helper. When he returns, he has a heart-to-heart with Lisa and finally apologises to her.

Discussion: Ah, Bart! It’s a typical Bart stunt to make room for the “real” centrepiece of Thanksgiving, the turkey. But in a moment of a collective gasp, the centrepiece bursts into flames as does Lisa’s heart. It’s sibling rivalry at its finest, along with the touching moments on the roof when Bart finds that centre of guilt and truly apologises to Lisa. Aww!

Both the Bouvier and Simpson families are represented here. Marge’s sisters and mother have come for dinner as well as Grandpa Simpson. Mrs Bouvier has laryngitis but is willing to risk her voice to put Marge down at every opportunity. Patty and Selma are kind in comparison. It’s exactly the awkward family situations many people find themselves in over the holidays (obviously, here in Australia we don’t have Thanksgiving, but there are plenty of other holidays for awkward family moments).

As with any holiday-themed show, there’s the Real Meaning of Holiday scene, where various members of the show do some soul searching and find that special meaning. However, for the viewer, that scene is probably Kent Brockman’s broadcast from the homeless shelter where Bart found some free grub. At that moment, the viewer is to be grateful for family and food. Mr Burns’ wasted food is another example; be thankful for what you have. Let’s face it, holiday specials are supposed to be meaningful, and this episode pulls it off perfectly.

He’s pretty chunkified

Bart the General

Couch gag: none

Director: David Silverman

Synopsis: Bart is being bullied at school and decides to fight back with the help of some friends and an ex-military man named Herman.

First appearance of:
Herman
Nelson Muntz
(Mrs Hoover is mentioned but not seen)

Bart may be cool at school, but he’s still bullied. Enter Nelson Muntz, Goliath to Bart’s David. This is a common theme throughout the series although the audience does eventually seen softer sides to Nelson. Today’s episode shows Nelson to be one chunkified mother of a bully. Bullying itself is a common theme of The Simpsons; later we’ll meet Jimbo & co as well as Lisa’s experiments with Francine and nerd sweat. At the end of this episode is Bart with a disclaimer that wars are not cool (with a few exceptions). This is interesting because, generally speaking, the only episodes with disclaimers are the Treehouses of Horror.

Throughout the episode, I wondered how it might play differently had the episode come later in the series and came to the conclusion that it probably wouldn’t be too much different. Lisa might defend Nelson, considering her brief relationship with him. Marge might talk of Nelson’s sensitivities. No doubt Homer would still advise violence. Grandpa would probably be less useful; in this episode he advises Bart as to revenge but if this was later in the series, no doubt Grandpa would go off on a tangent about walking-birds when Lincoln was president. Having said that, this is probably the first episode which could slip into later episodes and keep the same dynamics that have been built up over 23+ years.

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