Articles Tagged: The-Simpsons

S2, E2: “Simpson and Delilah”

“Wait, who is that young go-getter?” – Mr. Burns.

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Written by: Jon Vitti.

After committing insurance fraud to get a miracle hair tonic, Homer gets a brand-new hair, a promotion and an assistant who mentors him.

Thematically, this is another instance of one of the Simpsons being mentored by a person who is more worldly-wise than they are. It’s already happened with Marge & Jacques, and will reach its apotheosis later in the season with “Lisa’s Substitute.”

In this case, Karl the assistant – voiced by then-icon, now “who in the hell has that voice” Harvey Fierstein – teaches Homer the valuable lesson that confidence comes from within, not from a gorgeous hairpiece.

(One of my favorite unacknowledged – and hitherfore unnoticed – running gags in this excellent episode is that Homer’s hair is different in every scene.)

Which is just as well, because not only does Smithers – jealous because Homer is coming in between him and his one true love – dig up the dirt on Homer’s insurance fraud, Bart spills the hair tonic, causing Homer to lose his assistant, his promotion and his hair all at the same time.

As Karl leaves – having taken the fall for the insurance fraud – he gives Homer a big smooch, which I guess felt a little controversial, unless you grew up watching Bugs Bunny kissing Elmer Fudd every Saturday morning.

S2, E1: “Bart Gets an F”

“As God is my witness, I can pass the 4th grade!” – Bart.

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Written by: David M. Stern.

A few changes in the first episode of the second season of The Simpsons: the bus stop gag in the opening has been banished forever to a vague memory, replaced by Bart skateboarding through various secondary & tertiary characters, the animation is less shaky and Homer finally sounds like Homer.

The plot, however, centers around a familiar theme: everybody – including the boy himself – thinks that Bart is an idiot, until he demonstrates that that he isn’t, and raises his grade from an F to a D-.

In between, we get funny stuff as Bart and Martin teach each other how to be each other, with – of course – Martin enjoying being bad more than Bart enjoying being good.

But, Bart does get good enough to actually – eventually – study a snow day that he prayed for despite being the greatest snow day in the history of the world.

In October 1990, it made sense for The Simpsons to start the second season with a small story in the and concentrate on their breakout character – the ratings were surprisingly good in the first season, and I’m sure that FOX was nervous about the deep satire that was waiting in the wings.

S1, E13: “Some Enchanted Evening”

“Garcon, another bottle of your second-least-expensive champagne!” – Homer.

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Written by: Matt Groening, Sam Simon.

I don’t remember if I thought that “Some Enchanted Evening” was a step back from the glories of the previous two episodes back in 1990, but upon any subsequent rewatch, it’s completely obvious. Good reason though: it was the first one produced for the series, but was pushed to the season finale due to production problems.

And while it has a rare Matt Groening writing credit and a lot of funny lines, “Some Enchanted Evening” doesn’t really add anything to the universe of The Simpsons.

That said, it might have been a better first episode than “Simpsons Roasting Over an Open Fire,” but I guess we’ll never know.

I do remember this: at the time, I was really glad that I had taped all of the episodes of The Simpsons, and was definitely looking forward to more. That said, it didn’t yet feel like an all-time world changer: in May 1990, Twin Peaks – halfway through a first season that I made every person I came into contact with watch – was the first TV show that felt like it was coming from a future where television would routinely produce greater art than any other medium.

But, of course,  I had no way of knowing is that Twin Peaks had already peaked and The Simpsons hadn’t even really started.

S1, E12: “Krusty Gets Busted”

“Don’t blame me, I didn’t do it! – Krusty.

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Written by: Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky

Occasionally, an episode has a joke so brilliantly specific to that episode, I almost wonder if the entire episode wasn’t constructed around that joke. I’m still convinced that Newsradio did the entire  ”in space" episode  just to make the “space heater” joke.

In the case of “Krusty Gets Busted,” it’s the moment where Homer – who has witnessed Krusty The Clown rob a convenience store – is down at police HQ to ID Krusty in a lineup. And Wiggum says: “Send in the clowns.”

That just kills me.  And the reason that it’s funnier than Bart yelling “Say it ain’t so, Krusty!” or Sideshow Bob observing that he would have “gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids” is that “send in the clowns” is a joke that advances the actual plot, as opposed to a crammed-in pop culture reference.

Those other references are funny, of course, but they aren’t beautiful.

Of course, it wasn’t Krusty what robbed the Kwik-E-Mart, but rather Sideshow Bob, his long-suffering sidekick, voiced by Kelsey Grammer. Grammer, of course, was the perfect choice for the role, and totally knocks it out of the park, especially in the “Sideshow Bob’s Cavalcade of Whimsy” sequence.

Still, at the time, nobody knew that they’d come up with a lifelong nemesis (I mean our lives, cos we’re the ones who age) for Bart – and that’s proven by the fact that Sideshow Bob doesn’t come back until near the end of the third season

For the second straight episode, the climax comes when Bart has a revelation just when all seems lost, which has inspired me to have my own revelation: Bart is secretly smart, he just hides it within a wall of of disinterest, slackerdom and cool.

Whether or not that is “true,” I’m going to be watching future episodes for more evidence of this theory.

S1, E11: “The Crepes of Wrath”

“What can I say? I got a weakness for the classics!” – Bart

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Written by: George Meyer, Sam Simon, John Swartzwelder & Jon Vitti.

As do I, Bart. And I say this is one of those, packed with tons and tons of great jokes, right down to the (freeze frame gag) “French Birth Control Device” as part of the souvenirs Bart brings back from France.

Bart’s in France, of course, because he flushed a cherry bomb down the toilet, and Skinner proposes that he participate in a Foreign Exchange program that sends Bart to France and brings to Springfield a sweet-tempered Albanian boy, Adil.

Who is also a nuclear spy, no doubt an inspiration for the character of Ahnyong (Ahnyong!)  many years later in Arrested Development.

Meanwhile, Bart is fostered by a pair of ill-tempered winemakers who mistreat him and (even worse!) are putting anti-freeze into their wine. The climax, where Bart suddenly discovers he’s learned French and rats them out, is one of the more satisfying plot resolutions in Simpsons history, and pretty damn funny, to boot.