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:
Krusty the Klown
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?)
- The town’s population is generally forgiving… until the events of The Simpsons Movie but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.