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Posts tagged ‘Simpsons season 6’

Your lamp’s running away! So long, lamp

Who Shot Mr Burns? Part 1

This is not a clue… or is it?

Couch gag: The family run against a repeating background

Director: Jeffrey Lynch

Guest voice:
Tito Puente as himself

Synopsis: The school is found to have oil underneath it, but Mr Burns steals the oil and blocks the sun, giving the residents of Springfield plenty to be angry about.

Discussion: To date, this is the only 2 part episode. It’s also the season cliffhanger for season 6. The episode borrows the title from ‘Who Shot J.R.?’ plot from Dallas which kept viewers guessing over the hiatus. It shares similarities: Mr Burns and JR Ewing have a lot of enemies, who was the one who fired the shot?

In this case, the culprit wasn’t revealed until after the US summer, leaving fans to wait about 4 months to ponder the question. According to Wikipedia, there were competitions and websites dedicated to deducing the answer and discussing clues (and the clues are there if you look for them). Here in Australia, no such thing existed, we were left to read articles from magazines about the cliffhanger, and by the time Part 2 aired here, it was pretty much a well-known fact who shot Mr Burns.

Anyhoo, everyone in town hates Mr Burns. He’s robbed the school of much-needed money, his oil rig has forced the closure of Moe’s tavern, he’s fired faithful manservant Smithers, Groundskeeper Willie has lost his job because of Mr Burns, and then there’s that little thing where he’s permanently blocked out the sun to increase the town’s consumption of energy. After the shot is fired and Mr Burns collapses on the sundial, Marge remarks that everyone in town is a suspect, and she’s right. I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you already know the answer, but let’s pretend we don’t know and we’ll discuss the solution tomorrow.

Spring forth, surly protector!

Lemon of Troy

The first amendment does not cover burping

Couch gag: The family dance around in black & white

Director: Jim Reardon

Synopsis: Shelbyville kids steal Springfield’s lemon tree, so Bart and the gang venture over city lines to get it back.

Discussion: There are some episodes of this show that I’ve seen a hundred times, and others I’ve seen only a few times. For whatever reason, this episode is one of those ones I’ve only seen a few times. Or maybe it’s because it’s so forgettable that I only think I’ve seen it a few times.

Jebediah Springfield planted a lemon tree on the day he founded the town. In a new twist of the rivalry between Springfield and Shelbyville, the kids from Shelbyville steal the tree and Bart leads an expedition to get the tree back.

The ep, although largely well crafted, is forgettable. It’s good to see different characters and a different setting and a homage to ancient Greek mythology. However the ep falls flat. There’s no memorable dialogue (except perhaps, when Milhouse meets his Shelbyvillian counterpart, also named Milhouse, and remarks, “So this is what it feels like, when doves cry!”) and the lemon tree is never seen again (as far as I know). The ep is about town pride, which shines through as Bart et al band together to find the tree. Even Nelson only complains once about having to be teamed with the nerdy Martin Prince.

I agree with the critic who notes the episode is best hidden at the tail end of the season, especially when the season finale is a doozy like this one. But more about that tomorrow 🙂

How’s my little piglet?

The Springfield Connection

I will not mock Mrs Dumbface

couch gag: Homer parodies the James Bond gun barrel sequence

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest voice:
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz

Synopsis: After foiling a three card monte game, Marge sets her sights on becoming a police officer.

Discussion: My sister always thought Marge looked better with her hair tied back. I agree, it’s a good look for her.

Marge has always been the moral fibre and protector of the Simpson family, and now she’s playing the same role as a police officer, but resigns when she can’t live with the ongoing corruption within the force. I’ve always found the counterfeit jeans ring to be a weak climax but I think it works for the Simpsons universe: you can’t have something serious like drugs (unless it was some of Grampa’s sex tonic) and it also reinforces the corruption when the police end up wearing the jeans. Plus, Wikipedia tells me it was parodying the explosion in fake jeans (tangent: we didn’t really have that problem here in the mid 90s. Australia never really had designer stuff until the early 2000s. What the hell were Guess jeans?? Unheard of at the time of production!)

Again, this ep has been cited in academic papers. I’m constantly amazed at the range of this series- regular readers will note that this blog started after I’d written my own essay on the show. The first post included some academic research I’d used in my essay and it’s worth following up if you’re interested. It also explains why a lot of my posts are written formally, not the language mostly used by bloggers…

That’s some nice flutin’, boy

‘Round Springfield

Nerve gas is not a toy

Couch gag: The family’s sizes are reversed, so Maggie is the biggest and Homer is the smallest.

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Guest Voices:
Ron Taylor as Bleeding Gums Murphy
Steve Allen as Steve Allen
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz

Synopsis: Bart eats a metal Krusty-O and needs to have his appendix removed. While visiting him in hospital, Lisa meets an old friend, Bleeding Gums Murphy.

Discussion: Here is Australia, this was known as one of the Lost Episodes of The Simpsons. No idea why, but it was left out of the original airing of season 6 and seen a couple of years later, if memory serves. Anyone else remember this?

Anyhoo, I like this episode. We first met Bleeding Gums Murphy in ‘Moaning Lisa‘ way back in season 1. His influence over her is still strong and she is miserable when he dies. He’s the first person to die in the Simpsons universe- others have died (such as Marge’s great aunt), however they had not been seen on-screen previously. It’s implied that Bleeding Gums and Dr Hibbert are brothers, and it was implied in an earlier episode that Bleeding Gums had another brother, a lawyer if I’m not mistaken. Bleeding Gums and Lisa play Jazzman together in his hospital bed and also afterwards when he appears in the sky while the nearby jazz station is playing his record.

It’s a sweet episode. Homer does nothing to help Lisa understand death, Bart is sympathetic and even spends his Krusty-O compensation on buying Bleeding Gums’ record for a mourning Lisa. I’m a sucker for the musical numbers and I love Jazzman as sung by Lisa. It’s exactly the sort of send-off Bleeding Gums would want and still keeps the uplifting spirit of the show.


That’s a paddlin’

The PTA Disbands

I do not have power of attorney over first graders

couch gag: The living room looks like Relativity

Director: Swinton O. Scott III

Synopsis: The school is running out of money and, desperate to hurry things along, Bart makes mischief to cause Mrs Krabappel and Principal Skinner to hate each other and for the teachers to strike.

Discussion: This episode got some positive reviews, but I just don’t get it. There’s exactly one memorable line, which has become a meme on social media- in the thick of the teacher’s strike, residents of Springfield educate the children. Jasper is teaching Lisa’s class and stands at the front warning the kids they’ll get a paddlin’ for a number of offences: looking out the window, staring at his sandals, paddlin’ the school canoe… In it’s meme form, there are some very clever images out there, including this one:


Eventually even Bart tires of not having his teacher so he again conspires to get things moving along. Principal Skinner and Mrs Krabappel agree on one thing: to allow prisoners into the cloak rooms for extra revenue.

Where do they come up with these ideas?

This episode has been cited in a number of peer-reviewed papers about science and psychology. And it does have some very good points. Lisa, needing to be educated, ranked and evaluated, builds a perpetual motion machine and Homer points out that in this household, they obey the laws of thermodynamics. It’s one of Homer’s more lucid moments. Bart and Lisa’s reactions to the teachers’ strike are clever and completely in line with their characters.

Overall, I can’t say I’m thrilled with the ep. It seems disjointed and weird.

I got a hankering for some spankering

Two Dozen and One Greyhounds

The Good Humor man can only be pushed so far

Couch gag: The family chase a rapidly receding couch

Director: Bob Anderson

Synopsis: Santa’s Little Helper falls in love with a racing greyhound, producing 25 puppies. Mr Burns steals the puppies and plans to make a tuxedo from them. 

Discussion: Always a sucker for the musical episodes, I love this one also. We begin with Santa’s Little Helper feeling a bit frisky and overexcited. He leads the family to the race track where they got him way back in episode 1, and mates with a female greyhound while she’s racing. The rest is history- everyone who has seen this episode recalls Mr Burns’ evil plot and that very catchy song about his plans. Even Bart hums it afterwards, Lisa reminding him they need to steal the puppies back. 

Borrowing heavily from some classic Disney films (also a reason to love this ep), this shows Burns as a true villain- before now, he was just annoyingly schematic with not much punch. The closing scenes where Burns accepts a million dollar cheque for racing these purebred puppies is just the icing on the cake, leading Homer to bat the lightbulb in the basement to calm himself down. 

Overall, it’s a great episode. Santa’s Little Helper has been mostly absent from storylines since season 3 so it’s good to see him again in the forefront of the show. 

Sweet maiden of the spit

Lisa’s Wedding

I will not strut around like I own the place

Couch gag: The family bounce off the couch and their heads get stuck in the ceiling

Director: Jim Reardon

Guest voices:
Mandy Patinkin as Hugh Parkfield
Phil Hartman as Troy McClure

Synopsis: At a fair, Lisa chases an esquilax and finds a fortune-teller, who reveals the secrets of Lisa’s first love. 

Discussion: Although there have been flashback episodes, this is the first flash-forward episode. It tells the story of Lisa meeting an English fellow in the year 2010 and agreeing to marry him. As this ep was produced in 1995, 2010 was still 15 years away and no one thought the show was going to last that long, right? Right? 

So, it’s a bit weird in the post-2010 world watching Lisa grown up but knowing she’s still stuck in her perpetual eight year old self. Get that conundrum out of your head and this ep is pretty good. 

Hugh Parkfield is annoying, but Lisa falls for him anyway. He is proper English, not some chav who would probably find her family endearing. This is ultimately their point of breaking up: Hugh argues that Lisa’s family aren’t up to his standards and he is embarrassed by them. Naturally, you can’t cut your wife’s family out of your lives so Lisa dumps him at the altar. It’s quite sad, actually. 

I also love that it’s set at a renaissance faire. We see Smithers without Mr Burns (in a brief scene where Smithers is downed by Flanders) and although Lisa argues that the fortune teller said she’d show her “true love”, the only one who says this is a robot at Hugh’s proposal. It’s also implied that Lisa and Milhouse fooled around in high school *giggles*. 

Seriously a great ep. 

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. 

I’ll sell one of my livers

Homer vs Patty and Selma

I will remember to take my medication

Couch gag: The family are beamed onto the couch

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest Voices:
Susan Sarandon as the ballet teacher
Mel Brooks as himself

Synopsis: Homer loses the family’s savings and is forced to borrow from Patty and Selma to make a mortgage payment. Meanwhile, Bart is forced to choose ballet for PE when all other sports are full. 

Discussion: This ep rocks. Homer invested in pumpkins but didn’t sell the options before Halloween, sending him completely broke and unable to pay the mortgage. Hilariously, he grovels to Marge’s sisters for help. It’s a great idea- let’s get Homer to do something he normally wouldn’t do. He even demonstrates morals by covering for the sisters when they’re caught smoking at work… but he did it for Marge, not Patty and Selma. 

And Bart- who knew he could dance? If memory serves, this was produced before the movie Billy Elliott, which had similar themes of a boy dancing to great acclaim but suffering bullying that goes along with it. When Bart finds something he likes, he does it well. Because it’s so out of character that he would enjoy performing ballet, it’s even better. 

All in all, it’s a well-rounded episode with a great premise. 

Stupid Lisa science queen

Bart vs Australia

I will not hang donuts on my person

Couch gag: The family snorkel to the couch

Director: Wes Archer

Guest voice:
Phil Hartman as Evan Coniver

Synopsis: Bart makes a collect call to Australia and offends them by not paying. The Simpsons fly to Australia so Bart can make a public apology.

Discussion: Oh boy. Here we go…

This is my least favourite episode (so far). There’s so much offensive material, it’s just not funny. Let’s start from the top.

Bart and Lisa racing bathroom products in the sink. Good start- we always like a bit of science on TV. Because of the Coriolis effect, Lisa wins, explaining about the effect and how water runs in the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere (half true- the effect is pretty weak in sinks and toilets, the main effect is seen with cyclones. The water in your own sink, all things being equal, will run clockwise about 50% of the time, but that’s enough science for today).

Bart calls the southern hemisphere. Be prepared to be offended: Adolf Hitler is alive and living in South America, while Homer pronounces Uruguay as U R Gay. So it’s not just offensive to Aussies…

Bart calls Australia. And here is where the “fun” begins. What is with that accent? It’s a cross between South African and New Zealand… considering a lot of Americans think we sound English, maybe they should have started there. Or, and here’s a novel concept, get actual Aussies to guest voice. Granted, back in 1995 the only well-known Aussies were Nicole Kidman and Olivia Newton-John. If made today, you’ve got Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and all Oprah’s buddies. Still, get the accent right.

Bart introduces a bullfrog into the ecosystem. Watch any of those customs shows to see how “funny” this is. And then read about the cane toad.

Bart gets kicked in the butt with a giant boot. OK, this is funny. It’s right in line with Simpsons humour.

Family are threatened by Aussies because we’re a former penal colony. Yeah, hilarious. *rolls eyes*

Homer makes a speech about how great America is. Sure. The US isn’t fucked up at all. Whatever.

Lisa plays the didgeridoo. Women playing this traditional instrument is offensive to Indigenous people. But kudos on showing it being played properly and the beautiful music produced.

Bullfrogs destroy crops. Again, not funny. The stowaway koala is unlikely to do any damage on US soil due to lack of suitable vegetation… but let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story.

Look, to be honest, this episode is not fantastic. There are funny moments, such as Marge attempting to order coffee in a pub and the publican only thinks beer. On the whole, it’s just stupid. Obviously, it’s not meant to be taken seriously, and as future episodes show, when the Simpsons travel, those episodes cause a lot of offense. It’s not taking the piss, it’s downright garbage.

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