(originally aired April 9, 1995)
This is another one of those episodes I’m finding it hard to analyze, because it’s another of those “a bunch of stuff that happened” shows. No consistent theme or message, just good, crazy Simpsons fun. The clean, wholesome fun begins with the family dog eager to get his rocks off, and manages to do so escaping back to the dog track, mating with a female dog mid-race. And that’s just the first act. It’s a nice nod to the first episode that She’s the Fastest is also No. 8 like he was. Rampant doggie sex leads to the inevitable: Fastest gets pregnant, and has a litter of twenty-five little puppies. The greatest stuff here is, as is the case with most depictions in the past, animal behavior is all very realistic. The very conceit is animalistic in itself: these two dogs are in heat and just need to screw. I also love the look of the puppies, who when first born can barely open their eyes and are very docile, and their dumb little expressions as the show goes on makes them very adorable.
Living with two dozen and one little mongrels takes its toll on the family, and the conclusion is to give them away. But no one seems to be willing to take up so many pups… except Mr. Burns, who of course has an evil scheme: slay them to make a furry tuxedo for himself. Rather monstrous of him, making his character completely unlikable and irredeemable, yes? Not unless he’s got a catchy song to go with it. “See My Vest” has got to be in the top 3 songs of the whole series, such a rousing, upbeat number to contrast the horrific animal abuse theme. They say you can create likable for your villain if he’s an affable showman, and boy does Burns go all out in this number. That and a lot of it is just silly (“Try my red robin suit, it comes one breast or two!”) Also, this show seems to have a Disney reference trifecta. “See My Vest” is obviously a riff on “Be Our Guest” from Beauty & The Beast, and there’s also a cameo by Mrs. Potts in the song (“Kill two for matching clogs!”) We have the great Lady & The Tramp reference where rather than pull away bashfully when the two dogs meet for a kiss with spaghetti, they viciously fight over it. Then the main thrust of the story is pure One Hundred and One Dalmatians, along with other bits like the puppies in front of the TV.
The final showdown between Burns and Bart and Lisa is pretty insane. I really don’t know what to make of it. We set up that Burns has grown a liking to one puppy who can stand on its hind legs (a regular Rory Calhoun), thus Bart saves the dogs by manipulating them all to stand up. It feels sooooo obvious and contrived, but it’s saved by Burns’ dialogue blatantly stating the fact that it’s so obvious (“This can’t be happening! They’re all standing. I can’t tell them apart!”) Then he decides he’s just going to kill them all, which he pulls back from doing. Then he decides he’s going to kill the children, which he also pulls back from. All of this is so stupid and contrived, but I feel like it’s so self-aware so it’s funny. It’s kind of a conflicting ending. And then the very ending is the biggest, greatest cheat in the entire series, where it looks like Homer’s hung himself, but of course, he hasn’t (“Marge, you know that batting this lightbulb is the only thing that cheers me up after giving away those million- dollar greyhounds!”) It’s a dumb ending to a dumb, lovable show.
Tidbits and Quotes
– The bit where Bart and Lisa play ball with SLH is really cute, the two kids’ playfully taunting the dog, then the time lapses of the two getting increasingly exhausted when the dog has lost no energy.
– SLH wrecks havoc in the backyard, ripping up underground wires. Homer is aghast (“Oh my God! He’s got the precious cable TV cable!”) The aerial shot of the dog running down the block with the straight lines of the cable ripping out of each house is extremely well animated. The Wiggums are in bed when the TV goes out (“Your cable TV is experiencing difficulties. Please, do not panic. Resist the temptation to read or talk to loved ones. Do not attempt sexual relations, as years of TV radiation have left your genitals withered and useless.”) Clancy looks under the covers and confirms this.
– Like the bit with the pet shop clerk and his “mind-meld” (“It’s an incredibly rare psychic power possessed only by me and three other clerks at this store.”)
– Great names on the dogs: She’s the Fastest leads, followed by Always Comes in Second and I’m Number Three.
– Brilliant staging on how SLH chases after Fastest… then raises up in frame a bit… and is in prime humping position. Homer surmises the situation (“So that’s what’s been wrong with the little fellow: he misses casual sex.”)
– I like Bart utilizing the opportunity to use the word “bitch,” kind of like continually saying “hell” out of Sunday School. When he defends that it’s the proper usage toward She’s the Fastest, Marge retorts, “Well, I’m going to write the dictionary people and have that checked. Feels like a mistake to me.”
– Great fake-out after twenty-four puppies… then a long time lapse… then… twenty-five. And great timing with playing the last puppy in the mitt on a magnet on the fridge, which slowly falls to the floor.
– There are a few funny bits with Snowball II, first at the start of the second act where it can’t believe its eyes and bats the catnip away. Then later the family is enamored by one of the puppies pawing at the TV, but not so much when Snowball does it (“Get that cat out of the way!!“)
– Hilarious sequence with the puppies continually eating Homer’s chips. I like the read on, “This time…” I could watch that on loop for a good long while.
– The sitcom riff sequence of the very important people coming to dinner which gets sabotaged is pretty good, but it almost feels like too much. I do love Lovejoy’s outro line though (“See you in hell! ….from heaven.”)
– As shoddy as it is, I love the questionable staging at the second act break. Homer, Marge and Lisa are clearly standing right next to the box of puppies, then next shot they’re a considerable distance facing the house as Burns puts them all in a sack. Makes no sense, but that’s kind of the point.
– I love how Wiggum is beyond incompetent on finding the puppies; he peeks under a napkin and inside the blender (“I’m sorry, kids, I don’t think we’re ever going to find your greyhounds. Maybe Mr. Burns will sell you one of the 25 he got last night.”)
– Great bit with the eternally turning door knob, which eventually just turns all the way around to build the suspense.
– I like how Burns’ taunt (“Here’s a phone. Call someone who cares!”) backfires immediately when Lisa dials 911, so he yanks the phone out of her hand.