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Posts tagged ‘Bumblebee Man’

It’s not hard being a film cricket

A Star is Burns

couch gag: Family are reversed sizes, with Maggie being the biggest and Homer the smallest

Director: Susie Dietter

Guest voices:
Jon Lovitz as Jay Sherman
Phil Hartman as Charlton Heston

Synopsis: When Springfield is voted worst for pretty much everything, Marge announces her idea for a film festival, where the residents can submit their own short films. 

Discussion: Australia was a bit behind the times in the mid 90s. Pay TV was only just starting to gain momentum (federal law actually prevented pay TV from being developed, under pressure from the media moguls who ran the country… but that’s another story) so all references to a crossover episode featuring Jay Sherman’s The Critic were completely lost on most Aussie audiences, including me. The Critic was shown on pay TV in the early 2000s but by then, any controversy surrounding this episode was long forgotten. 

You see, apparently there was a lot of controversy surrounding this episode. Reportedly, Matt Groening himself hated the idea and insisted his name be removed from the opening credits. You know it’s bad when the creator of the show doesn’t want to be associated with it. 

Anyhoo, this is a standalone episode and it’s not bad. Jon Lovitz plays yet another arrogant, self-absorbed character (which probably spelled the end for the very short-lived spinoff, The Critic) who comes to Springfield to judge short films for the town’s festival. 

There are some great moments. The films are, predictably, very Springfieldian. Apu shows a film about being held up in the Kwik-E-Mart, Moe’s singing & dancing ad for his tavern, Hans Moleman almost takes the festival’s prize with his short film about a man getting hit in the groin with a football, Bart’s home movie about Homer pulling on a pair of pants, Barney shows his struggles as an alcoholic and Mr Burns tries to increase his popularity by showing a self-indulgent flick about how wonderful he is. This is the cue for the episode’s title… but it doesn’t really fit other than an obvious play on A Star is Born

Overall, without even knowing there was a spinoff show and only reading about it later, this is a very good episode. It definitely stands alone and holds similar themes as the monorail episode. Unfortunately, I think the controversy has shifted focus from the merits of this ep. 

Don’t point that thing at me

Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie

I will not bury the new kid

Couch gag: The couch deflates when the family sit on it

Director: Rich Moore

First appearance of:
Bumblebee Man

Synopsis: Bart’s favourite cartoon has become a movie and as punishment for being naughty, Bart’s not allowed to see it.

Discussion: Bart is being badder than usual in this episode, as Homer and Marge crack down on his punishments after having a chat with his teacher at a Parent/Teacher Night (“Let’s share the blame”). Now, I don’t have kids myself, however I am the Bart of my family. I was always in trouble for something. There’s the time I cut my sister’s hair (we were playing Hairdressers!), the time I stole money from my dad’s wallet, the time I drew on the TV with crayon… My usual punishment was being sent to my room, which I didn’t mind because it had all my books and toys there. The punishment for cutting my sister’s hair was having a very special treat of lollies confiscated. Oh how that bottle of Darrell Lea Bo-Peep lollies taunted me as they sat on top of the impossibly high fridge for a week! But, I was never as bad as Bart.

This ep features a bunch of great moments. Bart’s badness, of course, Lisa’s enjoyment of the film where she remarks that Michael Jackson and Dustin Hoffman voiced characters but didn’t use their real names in the credits (a reference to both Stark Raving Dad and Lisa’s Substitute, respectively). But the real highlight of the episode is the parody of Disney’s Steamboat Willie, which was the first appearance of Mickey Mouse. Instead of Mickey, it’s the first appearance of Itchy and Scratchy together in a cartoon, with predictably violent results unseen in animation at that time. This ep also features the first flashforward in the series. Later episodes have practically the whole episode dedicated to the future, but here it’s just Homer and Chief Justice of the United States Bart finally seeing Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie together after 40 years.

Makes me wonder if Bart actually saw the film before then, say on TV or video?

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