(originally aired January 4, 1998)
I remember one Christmas as a kid where I got the two Simpsons soundtracks, Songs in the Key of Springfield and Go Simpsonic, which featured songs and music from the first nine seasons of the show. Boy did I wear those CDs out. The series is brilliant in every possible respect, and that certainly includes musically. So with all the great show-stopping songs over the years, I guess it makes sense that they’d make that the topic of a clip show. I’ll try not to retread ground talking about clip shows, but it seems like they’re tough to come up with for this particular series; the subject matter can drastically change from show to show, so there’s not much that can be made in terms of clip packages. We had a clip show about romance, so now we have one of all the songs. After renting a supposed violent Western that drastically turned into a song-and-dance extravaganza, the Simpsons recall their prior history with sporadic musical numbers… through song of course, with intermittent appearances by armed robber Snake, threatening to waste the family if they don’t can the singing.
If nothing else, this episode gave us “Paint Your Wagon.” Which is actually a real movie, which absolutely shocked me. The movie sequence is hysterical, as are Homer and Bart’s dumbstruck reactions to it. From that point on, it’s pretty much clip after clip, showcasing classic numbers like “The Monorail Song,” “We Put the Spring in Springfield,” “See My Vest,” and lots others. The clips are especially long, with some time given for dialogue sequences to contextualize things. The filler material with Snake and the Simpsons feels a bit brutal to me though; he’s made quite the leap from petty criminal to potential murderer. But I like Hank Azaria’s take on Snake singing, and while overall the medley and songs aren’t as memorable as the clips, I like it fair enough (“A singing family, it’s worse than I feared/for hostage purposes, you’re just too weird! Bye!”) I always try to take clip shows with a grain of salt given they’re network mandated and the crew must not like doing them, but we’ve seen two amazing clip shows in the past that prove that they can be done right. I’d say in terms of enjoyment, it’s definitely better than “Another Simpsons Clip Show,” but considering how many times I’ve listened to these songs on that CD, I can’t see myself watching this episode again any time soon. Or ever, really.
Tidbits and Quotes
– After reading some sharp criticisms regarding it on the SNPP capsule, I was wondering whether there were alternative motives to this episode, airing to coincide with the release of the soundtrack CDs. Well Songs in the Key came out in early 1997, and Go Simpsonic came out late 1999, so I guess not. But it is 5F24 produced at the end of the production season, so maybe that was the intention, but they bungled the original air date. I don’t know. Who cares.
– Lee Marvin sounds kind of like Dr. Zoidberg with a frog in his throat. Who already sounds like he has a frog in his throat.
– I like Homer ejecting the tape right into the trash, and his bemoaning of it (“Ooh, why did they have to ruin a perfectly serviceable wagon story with all that fruity singing?”)
– While I question his role here, I do have a liking for all of Snake’s lyrics (“I’m back, so resume wetting your pants!” Followed a worried “Okay…” by Homer).
– The animation with the family in the wrap-arounds feels kind of odd; Bart does a weird little dance after “Springfield swings like a pendum do!” I guess they didn’t have much to work with.
– I really don’t have much else to comment on. One last grim thing though; Snake opens fire during the credits (and the Gracie Films shoosher), and we hear two gunshots accompanied with whose name? Phil Hartman. Eeeeeeeeessshhh…