Posts Tagged ‘Bart on the Road


Quote of the Day

“Oh, hello, Principal Skinner. . . . No, Bart has never been to Hong Kong, good night. . . . Hello? Tennessee State Police! . . . No, my son’s car was not crushed in Knoxville. I don’t know where to begin telling you what’s wrong with that. . . . Hello? No, Bart is not available tomorrow to deliver a human kidney to Amsterdam. . . . Homer, are you laughing at me?” – Marge Simpson


Quote of the Day

“If you kids can’t keep your hands to yourself, I’m gonna turn this car around and there’ll be no Cape Canaveral for anybody! . . . That’s it! Back to Winnipeg!” – Irate Canadian Father


Quote of the Day

“I must’ve spent our last ten dollars on this Al Gore doll.” – Martin Prince
“You are hearing me talk.” – Al Gore Doll


Quote of the Day

“Ever wondered how crackers get salted?” – Kirk van Houten
“Have I! . . . Wow!” – Milhouse van Houten
“Crackers, ho!” – Salt Dog Sled Team Guy


Quote of the Day


“I’m sorry. I guess watching me isn’t any more exciting than being me.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

Nerding It Up

“We’re having the best spring break of our lives, and we don’t need you around nerding it up.” – Bart Simpson
“That job is taken.” – Milhouse van Houten

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Bart on the Road”! Original airdate 31 March, 1996.


Quote of the Day

Bart on the Road14

“Well, you sure don’t look twenty-five, but your unlaminated, out-of-state driver’s license is proof enough for me.” – Knoxville Bonded Courier Service Guy


Compare & Contrast: Lisa Goes to SNPP

Bart on the Road12

“Lisa, you’ll have a fine time at the plant with Dad.  You’ve been interested in nuclear power for years.” – Marge Simpson
“I’ve signed numerous petitions to shut down that plant!” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, there you go.” – Marge Simpson

Per Wikipedia, Take Your Daughter to Work Day started in 1993, but:

The program was officially expanded in 2003 to include boys; however, most companies that participated in the program had, since the beginning, allowed both boys and girls to participate, usually renaming it “Take Our Children to Work Day” or an equivalent.[5]

In 1996, The Simpsons invoked it as “Go To Work With Your Parents Day” so that Principal Skinner could squeeze an extra day into spring break and keep his middle seat on his flight to Hong Kong (“Custom made suits at slave labor prices”).  That sent Lisa to work with Homer, and Bart, after trying to stay home, to the DMV with Patty and Selma.  It was a quick setup to get the episode going and, befitting The Simpsons, showed how high minded, well intentioned ideas could be taken advantage of for selfish reasons.

Today it is 2015, twenty-two years since the concept was hatched and twelve since it officially changed to include both girls and boys.  Zombie Simpsons, ever the creative laggard, simply called it “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”, which is both a verbatim use of someone else’s words and inaccurate.  In another context, that might be impressive.  Here it’s just lazy.

And the problems don’t stop there.  At the plant, Lisa does basically nothing.  First we see her in the auditorium while Burns exposits a bunch of stuff we don’t see.  Then she stands in a hallway and asks Homer a couple of questions about the plant (he doesn’t know the answers).  Then they go to the cafeteria where her lunch got ruined.  This is everything she says while she’s there:

Dad, what does that do?
Who’s that guy?
Where do those pipes lead?
Is it called the cooling tower because there’s-
How many kilowatts-
How many kinds are there?
Oh, no, my almond milk leaked all over everything.  Dad, do you have anything I can eat?
[30 so so seconds of montage]
Wow, Dad, thank you.

Literally her only line that’s longer than a few words is her expositing something we’re seeing as she says it.  She doesn’t actually do anything the whole time she’s there.


Get used to this view.

In the interests of fairness to Zombie Simpsons, here is an equally context-free version of Lisa’s entire dialogue from the first time she went to work with Homer in “Bart on the Road”:

No, thanks.  Do you have any fruit?
Why are there so many burnt out ones?
Maybe we can make your job more fun.  What are those?
Well, what if we used our imaginations.
Houston, we have a problem.  Homer 13 is spinning out of control, I’m going after him!

For starters, she’s actually speaking in complete sentences.  Better yet, when she does ask questions, it’s not a series of unrelated ones, she asks about actual things we see: Homer’s contention that “purple is a fruit” and his inability to change tiny light bulbs without an assistant.  Then we get to see her actually do something, playing with Homer in the radiation suits and pretending a stapler is a radio.

Bart on the Road13

Characters doing things!  Neat.

And when you put the context back in, her visit in “Bart on the Road” shines even more.  Here are those lines with Homer back in them:

Homer: Donut?
Lisa: No, thanks.  Do you have any fruit?
Homer: This has purple stuff inside.  Purple is a fruit.  Uh, oh, this is a map of nuclear sites around the country.  As a safety inspector, I’m responsible for changing most of these light bulbs.
Lisa: Why are there so many burnt out ones?
Homer: Cause they won’t hire an assistant.

Compare that to Homer and Lisa’s first scene in “The Princess Guide”:

Lisa: Dad, what does that do?
Homer: I don’t know.
Lisa: Who’s that guy?
Homer: I don’t know.
Lisa: Where do those pipes lead?
Homer: Not sure.
Lisa: Is it called the cooling tower because there’s-
Homer: Not my department.
Lisa: How many kilowatts-
Homer: Look, sweetie, would you like to go to the cafeteria and get some ice cream?
Lisa: How many kinds are there?
Homer: Twelve.

This actually ends with a joke, so by Zombie Simpsons standards it’s pretty decent.  But look how much thinner it is than the same scene in The Simpsons.  There, Homer and Lisa have a real conversation that also happens to crack wise about how horrible a place Springfield Nuclear Power Plant really is and just how boring Homer’s job is.  Zombie Simpsons is one note schtick designed to setup a lone ice cream punchline.

From there, of course, Season 26 Lisa sits around while Homer goes off on the episode’s first montage.  (There will be more, oh, yes, there will.)  In Season 7, on the other hand, Lisa and Homer start playing astronaut in the radiation suits, which ends with Homer telling us that it’s a lot more fun with a second person.  The difference is simple: in one she’s a real character visiting her dad at the plant, in the other she’s a prop.

The mindless (yet inaccurate) repetition of Take Your Daughter to Work Day, the time killing montage, and the hacktacular dialogue never would’ve passed muster in the 1996 writers’ room.  In the 2015 one, however, they’re good to go.  Maybe they should start bringing their kids to work.


Quote of the Day

Bart on the Road11

“Bart, can we pick up that hitchhiker?” – Milhouse van Houten
“I don’t see why not.” – Bart Simpson
“Bart, can we stop for ice cream?” – Hitchhiker
“Yes.” – Bart Simpson
“Well, I didn’t think I was rehabilitated, but I guess they needed the extra bed.” – Hitchhiker


Quote of the Day

Bart on the Road10

“Hey, who has better vacation ideas than AAA?  According to the publisher of this AAA guidebook, no one.” – Milhouse van Houten


Quote of the Day

Bart on the Road9

“I realize it’s trite, but we could tour the bridges of Madison County.” – Martin Prince


Quote of the Day

Bart on the Road8

“This is a map of nuclear sites around the country.  As a safety inspector, I’m responsible for changing most of these light bulbs.” – Homer Simpson
“Why are there so many burnt out ones?” – Lisa Simpson
“Cause they won’t hire an assistant.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

Bart on the Road7

“Ah, Spring Break in Hong Kong, custom made suits at slave labor prices.” – Principal Skinner


Quote of the Day

Moon River

“Andy Williams!” – Nelson Muntz
“Oh, we don’t need to stop here.” – Bart Simpson
“Yes we do.” – Nelson Muntz
“My huckleberry friend, moon river and me.” – Andy Williams
“Wow!  I didn’t think he was gonna do Moon River, but then, bam, second encore!” – Nelson Muntz


Quote of the Day

“Donut?” – Homer Simpson
“No, thanks.  Do you have any fruit?” – Lisa Simpson
“This has purple stuff inside.  Purple is a fruit.” – Homer Simpson

Quote of the Day

Bart on the Road5

“Okay, one more step, I’ve just got to go laminate your license.  You’ll get it in two to three weeks.” – Selma Bouvier
“Hot damn!  No more sittin’ in the dirt at the drive in.” – Cletus


Quote of the Day

Bart on the Road4

“You made it!  Did you have any trouble getting past the security guards?” – Homer Simpson
“Security guards?” – Lisa Simpson


Compare & Contrast: Branson Sign Jokes

A while back I linked to this post by our friend Friz about how the Simpsons has fallen apart.  (For another example in his series, click here to see the decline in relevance of Itchy & Scratchy.)  What he did was compare background gags from “Bart’s Dog Gets an F” and some piece of shit from Season 16.  Long story short, in “Bart Gets an F” a joke might be on screen for only a fraction of a second.  In Season 16, things are left on screen for a long time and Homer even breaks the fourth wall by asking if everyone has finished reading. 

I was reminded of that post (if not the Season 16 episode itself, which I’ve never seen) while listening to the commentary for “The Old Man and the Key”.  Even if we set aside the fact that the family’s trip to Branson, Missouri was a rehash from “Bart on the Road”, the older episode still blows the newer one away.  In each, the show puts up some signs for fake shows in Branson.  The difference isn’t only between what they came up with, it’s in how they were presented. 

Below is the screen grab from “Bart on the Road” I used for Tuesday’s post:

Bart on the Road3

The shot above contains four signs (five jokes if you want to count the hat with the tag in the background).  The image lasts for only one second as the rental car drives into town; it’s just an establishing shot of where they are, and yet it’s packed to the gills with jokes.  (Fake band Ferl Dixon & the Second Helping Boys would make an equally brief appearance at the chili cook-off in Season 8.)  Compare that to the ten second long montage of entering Branson in Season 13:

Branson Signs

The above is a nice example of not only the slap dash nature of Zombie Simpsons (it’s “Wilford” not “Wilfred”, even in 2001 that would’ve been a snap to look up) but also of the threadbare nature of the humor.  “The Angina Monologues” is pretty funny, but it’s no better than “Phantom of the Opry” or “Up With White People”, and the Glen Campbell/Andy Williams thing is one joke in two signs that both get full screen billing.  What was a little treat for people willing to pause the show in Season 7 has become a full fledged part of the episode in Season 13.  You do the former when you’ve got so many good ideas you’ve hardly got time for them all; you do the latter when you’re desperately short of ideas and trying to kill time.  If you’re scoring at home, that makes two jokes in ten seconds for Season 13 against four in one second for Season 7. 

It’s true that Zombie Simpsons is capable of coughing up a decent joke from time to time, but it can’t even come close to the sustained torrent of gags and jokes that was the hallmark of The Simpsons


“The Old Man and the Key” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Bart on the Road3

“What is this place?” – Nelson Muntz
“Branson, Missouri. My Dad says it’s like Vegas, if it were run by Ned Flanders.” – Bart Simpson

This episode has a lot of problems, most glaringly the heavy dependence on referencing pop culture, going so far as to have a truly dizzying array of guest voices all playing themselves. But that wackiness comes only at the end, by that point the episode has devolved into a nonsensical series of set pieces that have almost nothing to do with the fact that it slowly becomes a travel episode about Branson, Missouri. (Nevermind that they already went there in Season 7, the Zombie Simpsons people sure don’t.) Sorry for rambling, but there isn’t a coherent way to describe this.

What makes it all the more tragic/frustrating/sad is that there was the germ of a good episode in here. The very first moments of the commentary are spent discussing Jon Vitti, who penned this and a tiny number of other Zombie Simpsons episodes after he left the show in Season 7. Vitti had an idea for a plot about how old folks homes are vicious little nests of social squabbling that put junior high to shame. But that concept is dropped almost immediately so that Grampa can go on a weird adventure and then the family can follow him into the land of car chases, childish plot conceits, and celebrity guest voices.

Six people on this one, including Caroline Omine as the token female.

0:35 – Vitti wrote this, but had the good sense not to show up for the commentary. He read an article about how retirement homes are filled with cliques, cool kids and dorks and that was the basis for the first, oh, three minutes of this.

1:40 – “I wonder how many people were fooled by this opening? Where they really thought, ‘Are they killing off Grampa’?” Uh, no one?

2:00 – This is the episode that has “Old Man Yells at Cloud” which they point out is something that gets used a lot by other people.

3:30 – Jean points out that all these jokes at old people’s expense are getting closer and closer to their age bracket. Might be a good idea to stop then, eh?

4:10 – Discussing the “Yessss?” guy and Frank Nelson. Not really talking about much, just sort of informing each other about a character they all vaguely remember.

4:40 – Omine points out that they use the real Ray Jay Johnson here and how “we’d done” a joke about him earlier, presumably referencing “Krusty Gets Kancelled” in Season 4. For the record, Omine’s first credit is Season 10. Rest of the non-Jean commentary people on this episode:

Carolyn, fellas, The Simpsons used Ray Jay Johnson as an example of something that wasn’t funny. You used him straight up to be funny. Draw your own conclusions.

5:00 – Now Jean chimes in on that theme to talk about how he didn’t think that notorious recluse Mr. T would want anything to do with the show, but, here’s the kicker: he did want to be on the show! This has been another True Hollywood Story.

5:15 – Another straight up point: old people have high accident rates in cars. Just in case you didn’t know that.

5:35 – “Now, this was before Grampa and Selma got married.” Holy crap, did that actually happen?

5:45 – Slight giggles at “Old Man Yells At Cloud”.

6:25 – Discussing the fashionable history of the zoot suit.

6:30 – Long silence as Homer’s in the car on Grampa’s date for some reason.

7:00 – Jean breaks the uncomfortable silence by talking about how Branson, Missouri is a real place. They’re getting all defensive that people might not get some of the jokes because the entertainers they’re “satirizing” are so very old.

7:35 – They’re surprised they were able to do a Viagra joke. They’re so impressed with it that they sit silently at watch it for the twenty five seconds it takes to tell.

8:00 – That long, erectile silence is broken briefly to note that Grampa gets laid twice this season. That’s followed by more silence.

8:25 – Silence again temporarily broken to note that it’s unusual for Grampa and Lisa to fight. Now, back to the silence.

8:50 – Silence broken after Grampa runs up stairs for no reason, here’s the exact quote:

“Now, Olympia Dukakis, she’s related to governor Dukakis, right?”
“Yes, both Greeks form the Northeast.”

Coming up next week on another hilarious Zombie Simpsons commentary, obscure relatives of Barry Goldwater and Al Gore!

9:00 – Nervous giggling at Homer’s “switcheroo” with Grampa.

9:40 – Overly expensive leather jackets, like Branson Missouri, actually do exist. For about the third time this episode:


10:30 – Now they’re talking about how they have Simpsons jackets.

11:00 – Now they’re talking about the Christmas presents they got from the show this year. It’s the GPS with Homer’s voice that gets people lost.

11:45 – More half remembered reminisces about where else they’ve seen the other old guys.

12:00 – More nervous laughter at one of their “cheats” (since there’s no hill near the Simpson house). I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: they know this stuff is weak, and they do not care.

12:50 – Long silence again.

12:55 – After Jean describes Dukakis’ character in this scene as “senior sexy”, someone (can’t tell who) chimes in that Helen Mirren is sexy. After pointing out that has nothing to do with anything, they discuss Mirren in detail.

14:00 – Jean discusses the difficulty of doing “radio” jokes because you’ve got to be aware of what’s going to be on screen while you do it.

14:35 – Discussing repeated backgrounds in animation, like it’s an innovation.

15:15 – More laughing at the cheap nature of the plot.

15:55 – Discussing hobos.

16:45 – Talking about Branson. Like, talking about what’s actually there. With the exception of laughing at a joke or two, no one has said anything relevant about the episode in about two minutes.

17:55 – “Maybe I’m getting older, but this show actually seems pretty entertaining to me.”

18:20 – Discussing the former popularity of Ray Jay Johnson. At this point they’ve spent more time explaining jokes than doing anything else.

18:45 – Still talking about Ray Jay Johnson.

19:20 – More hesitant laughter.

20:00 – Long silence as the plot finally dies.

20:40 – Now I’m confused. In discussing what for all appearances is Yakov Smirnoff talking with Charlie Callas, they keep mentioning “Bizarro”. Then they get into this long discussion of how many ways “Bizarro” and Smirnoff could negate each other. Perhaps my pop culture knowledge is rusty/non-existent on the subject, but I don’t think Charlie Callas ever had anything to do with Bizarro. Google appears to back me up, although Callas did apparently once play Sinestro in a 1979 live action superhero teevee special. It’s just weird.

21:20 – The family waving over the credits is from The Beverly Hillbillies. As a fitting end to this awful episode and desultory commentary, Jean reminisces about the reunion episode of Hillbillies. From Wikipedia:

The film’s plot had Jed back in his old homestead in Bugtussle, having divided his massive fortune among Elly May and Jethro, both of whom stayed on the West Coast. Jane Hathaway had become a Department of Energy agent and was seeking Granny’s "White Lightnin’" recipe to combat the energy crisis. Since Granny had gone on to "her re-ward", it was up to Granny’s centenarian "Maw" (Imogene Coca) to divulge the secret brew’s ingredients. Subplots included Jethro playing an egocentric, starlet-starved Hollywood producer, Jane and her boss (Werner Klemperer) having a romance and Elly May owning a large petting zoo. The four main characters finally got together by the end of the story.

First, Colonel Klink! Second, there are at least three plots in there they could use for Season 22/23.


Quote of the Day

“The National Grammar Rodeo? I wish I were going. Oh wait, wait – I mean, I wish I was going. Is that right, Bart?” – Marge Simpson


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