The Italian Bob
Couch gag: A hand deals cards, which land on the couch. Each card is a Simpson.
Director: Mark Kirkland
Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob
Maria Grazia Cucinotta as Francesca
Synopsis: The Simpsons are sent to Italy to pick up Mr Burns’ new car, but find Sideshow Bob is Mayor of a Tuscan village.
Discussion: Sideshow Bob is back, baby! This time he’s mayor of a Tuscan village AND is married with a son! Whoa!
The premise to sending the Simpsons to Italy is stupid, but in a good way. It’s like the writers thought of the dumbest reason ever to get the family over there and used their A stuff for the main plot. I don’t mind; Lisa can finally use that Italian she learned from Milhouse in the previous episode.
But is Bob a changed man? His new life in Tuscany means that no one there knows his criminal past in America, until Lisa gets tipsy on wine and spills the beans. Bob’s wife Francesca is hurt that this accusation is true, but Bob’s son Gino is ready for vendetta (in English, that means “vendetta”).
Without the scheming, Bob is a pretty boring character but he sure can sing. Throw in Krusty for more villainy and there’s the best episode so far of season 17.
Mr Spritz Goes to Washington
couch gag: Homer uses the remote control and transports the family + couch to prehistoric times, Roman times and back to the present
Director: Lance Kramer
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Synopsis: When the flight path is changed so that the Simpsons are affected, they campaign for Krusty to become a Congressman to change the bill to revert flight paths back.
Discussion: I’m not making an honest connection with this episode. Maybe it’s because politics bore me to tears, or maybe it’s because I don’t really understand why Krusty is chosen to be a Congressman to change the flight path.
Let’s take it from the top: The Simpsons can’t sleep because the flight path has been changed so that jets now fly right over their house. A diagetic promo flashes across the screen and Homer eats it (whatever happened to poor ol’ Joe Millionaire anyway?) and somehow, the Simpsons decide that Krusty should run for Congress.
I’m wondering if any other Evergreen Terrace residents are bothered by the new flight path. Is Ned now hallucinating due to lack of sleep? Are Rod and Tod speaking in tongues from vibrations from low-flying jets? It seems only the Simpson family are bothered by it, which leads them to talk to their local Congressman, who suffers cardiac failure and needs to be replaced. Enter Krusty. The Simpsons’ arguments to get Krusty to run seem fair enough- Krusty’s own dodgy dealings could be parlayed if he’s elected. Personally, I don’t think the case is strong enough- Brazilian immigration for Mr Teeny? Really?
And then you have to have the entire town of Springfield to vote for Krusty. This part is washed over and, needless to say, Krusty is not a big hit in Washington until Bart starts blackmailing people to pass the Bill in order to get the flight paths changed. This whole ep seems to be one long, drawn-out ploy to play with another version of the classic fish-out-of-water scenario. It fails miserably, IMO.
Bart the Fink
couch gag: The couch spits out a fax with the family on it.
Phil Hartman as Troy McClure
Bob Newhart as himself
Synopsis: When Bart catches Krusty’s illegal bank account, Krusty fakes his own death.
Discussion: This episode is weird. It starts with a premise of an unseen Simpson (probably a Simpson and not a Bouvier since Marge’s sisters aren’t there, but then why isn’t Grampa there and the lawyer states the family are the only heirs?) dying and leaving the entire estate to the family if they spend a night in a haunted house. Riiiiiight… Anyhoo, they end up with $100 which leads to Bart getting a cheque book and sending a cheque to Krusty for his autograph.
Taking just this part alone, it’s genius. How else would the IRS indict Krusty for illegal bank accounts and not paying tax? It gets better when the IRS takes over Krusty’s show and restaurant chain- the scene of Homer buying tax burgers and dependent-sized drinks is hilarious.
Then the climax: Krusty fakes his death. Again, this is poignant in a way that only The Simpsons can do. Troy McClure hosts the funeral and introduces Bob Newhart, who is waiting for another funeral to start. Personally, I think Newhart drags the pace of the ep and I understand several of his lines had to be cut for time reasons.
Bart then sees Krusty in a disguise, puts the clues together and discovers Krusty has faked his death and is living as Roy Bellows! Who’da thunk it?
Overall, it’s a very well-crafted episode. It highlights the flawed nature of celebrity life as well as leading one part of the narrative to another. It’s something the show will come to do often in later episodes, with varying degrees of success.