A Star is Burns
couch gag: Family are reversed sizes, with Maggie being the biggest and Homer the smallest
Director: Susie Dietter
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.