77. So It’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clipshow

(originally aired April 1, 1993)
In an era where one can find any movie or TV show on the Internet in about ten seconds, clip shows are wholly unnecessary. A year or so back, The Office did a clip show and I was perplexed as to why, as I looked at my season box sets of the show next to my TV. But in 1993, not only were there no home video releases, the show wasn’t even in syndication as it is now, so a clip show showcasing classic moments of the first three seasons wasn’t so bad of an idea. There’s no real way you can stack this episode up against the rest of the season, but for what it is, it’s pretty damn good. A lot of it is new animation, with a completely clip-free act one, and most of the clips seem to either fit naturally to the characters’ recollections, or comment on the silliness of the clip show itself.

Our set-up is it’s April Fool’s Day and Bart’s attempts to trick his father as he so giddily did to him. With help from an industrial paint shaker, he shakes a beer can up to the max, and when Homer lifts the tab, it causes an alcoholic eruption that blows the roof off the house. Ridiculous, yes, but still very funny, as Wiggum hungrily proceeds to the site on foot (Lou calls in backup: “We need pretzels, repeat, pretzels!”) At the hospital, we’re treated to an assortment of clips: X-rays of Homer’s battered skull leads to a montage of Homer getting hurt, the doctor treating Homer is revealed to be the veterinarian from “Dog of Death” so we flashback to that show, and Marge and the kids reflect on moments of the past. The writers seem to acknowledge their shame with two overt winks: after recalling an Itchy & Scratchy episode, Bart comments, “It was an amusing episode… of our lives.” Later, Grampa describes what a coma is like: “You relive long lost summers, kiss girls from high school, it’s like one of those TV shows where they show a bunch of clips from old episodes.” Pointing out a shortcoming doesn’t excuse it, but at least they were conscious of it. Never did I feel the need to fast-forward through any clips, and darn it all if I didn’t feel for Bart expressing remorse for his prank at his father’s bedside. Only The Simpsons could achieve actual emotion during a studio-mandated clip show.

Tidbits and Quotes
– I love Homer’s childish glee in pranking his son, and his taunting when Bart vows to get him back: “You couldn’t fool your mother on the foolingest day of your life if you had an electrified fooling machine!”
– Lisa’s retelling of the origins of April Fool’s Day is a classic segment, started off with a classic Homer line (“God bless those Pagans”) and a great flashback with old era Simpsons and Flanders (“Now who’s laughing!”) I also like how Homer absently attempts to take credit for the story afterwards. It’s one of those jokes that only works on TV; like Lisa finished telling the story and Homer concludes it out of thin air.
– Bart spying on Homer gives him adequate hints for his ultimate prank. Opening the fridge, Homer picks up a beer and comments to no one (“Ah, my one weakness. My Achilles heel, if you will.”) He then drops the can and picks it up (“It’s a good thing that beer wasn’t shaken up any more, or I’d have looked quite the fool. The April Fool, as it were.”) I still use that line whenever I’ve done something quite foolish.
– Another sign that an added effort was put into this show: additional animation to the climax of “Bart the Daredevil” with new animation of Homer falling down the gorge a second time, getting hit on the head with the gurney rather than the skateboard.
– I will say I don’t like that they used a clip from “Treehouse of Horror” as one of Marge’s memories, since it technically wasn’t canon. Then again a later clip show will actually have Kang and Kodos show up in the regular universe, so I guess I should save my bitching ’till then.
– Great One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest parody as Barney, shocked in hearing Homer’s new aversion to beer, smothers him, throws a water fountain through the window and takes off like the Chief. Moe reacts, “He really needs a girlfriend.”
– Brief comment on a clip to lavish more love on the Land of Chocolate sequence. I just wrote that the music in “Last Exit to Springfield” was my absolute favorite, but the chocolate music comes in a very close second. They’re both very similar instrumentally though so it may be a dead heat.
– Great “D’oh!” montage, but some clips are reused twice. At this point you could do a “D’oh!” montage that could probably take up a 22-minute show.
– I do like the end where Homer attempts one last prank, but the joke’s on him. And the great line, “Me lose brain? Uh-oh!” Followed by laughter.

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5 responses to “77. So It’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clipshow

  1. I read somewhere that early on, executives wanted the Simpsons to have 4 clip shows PER SEASON. Shocking, eh? It may have been Ortved’s oral history of the show, but I can’t confirm that.

    • That’s true, Groening said it on the commentary. Lucky we only ended up with only four clip shows total. Five if you include the 138th, which really barely counts given all the unseen footage.

  2. The way the show is now, they might as well all be clip episodes.

  3. – Homer’s second fall down Springfield Gorge isn’t exactly new footage, it was originally animated and meant to be part of “Bart the Daredevil,” but was cut for whatever reason (probably time).

    – Yes, Fox was asking for four clip shows per season so they could have 26 “new” episodes a season. Thank God that idea got shut down.

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