Tuesday, August 16, 2011

John Swartzwelder: The Simpsons Retrospective Day 2

Welcome back to Part 2 of this John Swartzwelder Simpsons retrospective. Today we have episodes 47-36.

47) The Regina Monologues (Season 15)

The last episode Swartzwelder would ever write for The Simpsons until The Simpsons Movie four years later. One of the better episodes involving a buttload (academic term) of guest stars. I particularly like the ‘MacBeth’ sequence involving Ian McKellen.         But again it’s another episode that only exists because of the guest stars and not cause of the writing. Which Swartzwelder seemed to get quite a bit.

      Homer:   Well Marge, you gotta admit, I've been on my best behavior this trip.
   Marge:   You punched out three people on the street. 

46) Treehouse of Horror XIV (Season 15)

Swartzwelder would write a couple segments of Treehouse of Horror throughout the years. But this is the first, and only time he wrote the entire episode. This episode unfortunately gets used in a ‘Family Guy/Simpsons’ feud with fans since Homer becoming Death is eerily similar to an early episode of ‘Family Guy’ with Peter becoming Death. But you do get to forget all of that with the great Jerry Lewis in a segment with Professor Frink. That segment is one of the best of the anthology.

    Lisa:   Dad, do you realize what you've done? You've created a world without death! 
    Homer:  Does this mean they'll never cancel the Jim Belushi show? 
    Lisa:   I guess so. 

45) The Boy Who Knew Too Much (Season 5)

The scene provided here, specifically: “I’ll kill you! I’ll kill all of you, especially those of you in the jury!” is one of my all-time favorite lines of the series. Well that and the Free Willy Director’s Cut joke too. Also, yet another episode with hobos in them.

   Lawyer: Your Honor, even though I've proven my client's innocence, I'd still like to call Freddy Quimby to the stand.  So that we can all bask in his gentle decency. [Freddy stands up, grins winningly at audience, takes stand] Mr. Quimby, did you assault Mr. LaCoste?
   Freddy: Of course not.  I love each and every thing on God's green earth.
   Lawyer: Therefore, you would _never_ lose your temper over something as trivial as the pronunciation of "chowder".
   Freddy: That's "chowdah"!  Chowdah!  I'll kill you!  I'll kill all of you, especially those of you in the jury! [man on jury mutters, "He's clearly guilty"]
   Lawyer: Wow, that didn't go well.  The defense rests.

44) Whacking Day (Season 4)

Speaking of great jokes, Homer telling Lisa about the time ‘he hit that referee with the whisky bottle’ makes me laugh every time I see it. But the episode ends pretty weakly with a seemingly rushed ending. (You can even tell at points where massive cuts of animation were done at the end)

    Lisa: Dad, for the last time, please don't lower yourself to the level of the mob. 
  Homer: Lisa, maybe if I'm part of that mob, I can help steer it in wise directions. Now where's my giant foam cowboy hat and airhorn? 

43) Bart the General (Season 1)

This list not only has the last Swartzwelder episode, but now we have the very first episode! (Ironically this was labeled as ‘uncredited’ when it first came out) It’s a pretty strong debut by Swartzwelder and it shows how good of a writer he would become with Grandpa. It’s also a pretty strange episode with the debut of Herman and a message about war. I particularly like Grandpa at his typewriter.

   Lisa: Why don't you go see Grampa?
   Bart: What can <he> do?
   Lisa: He'll give you good advice.  He's the toughest Simpson alive.
   Bart: He is?
   Lisa: Yeah, remember the fight he put up when we put him in the home?

42) Call of the Simpsons (Season 1)

Another Season one episode, which is has one of my all-time favorite moments with Homer trying to trap a rabbit. (Unfortunately this moment, like many others, are hard to find thanks to copyright laws) This episode also has Albert Brooks as the RV-salesmen but he doesn’t seem to be adlibbing as much as he would for ‘Life on the Fast Lane’.

   Bart:  Turkey farm?       Skunks?       Slaughterhouse?
   Lisa:                No.           No.                   No.
   Marge: What are you kids doing?
   Lisa:  We're playing ``Name that Odor''.
   Bart:  Dad's feet?
   Homer: Bart!
   Lisa:  You win, Bart.
   Homer: Lisa!

41) Bart Gets Hit By a Car (Season 2)

“No! Take me, I’m old!” is a line I use a lot.  This episode is the debut of Lionel Hutz (played by the late, great Phil Hartman) and Dr. Nick. Also, a cut joke (mentioned on the commentary) seems like a wasted joke. Homer looks up slowly at Marge and at her neck he thinks: “Oh pearls, I never noticed them before.” A silly, but hilarious joke that could’ve made the episode even better.

   Lionel Hutz: You'll be getting more than just a lawyer, Mr. Simpson. You'll also be getting this exquisite faux pearl necklacea $99 value, as our gift to you.

40) Treehouse of Horror II (Season 2)

This is a tricky one because, like ‘Crepes of Wrath’ there are a lot of writers in this episode. I do like this Treehouse of Horror a lot but it’s tough to know what Swartzwelder is and what isn’t. Although I’m pretty sure this classic monologue is pure Swartzwelder:

   Homer: I'll make a wish that can't backfire.  I wish for a turkey sandwich, on rye bread, with lettuce and mustard, and, <and> I don't  want any zombie turkeys, I don't want to turn into a turkey myself, and I don't want any other weird surprises.  You got it [the monkey's paw closes its finger in understanding] [a turkey sandwich materializes] [Homer takes it]  Hey![digs in] Not bad.  Nice, hot mustard.  Good bread.  The turkey's a little dry [in realization] The turkey's a little dry! Oh, foe, the cursed teeth! What demon from the depths of hell created thee!

39) Bart the Murderer (Season 3)

Swartzwelder helped debut a lot of characters still surviving today with giving us Fat Tony and his gang in this episode. Not sure if I should say ‘spoilers’ for this particular joke, but this is one of the funniest lines to end a Simpsons episode:

   Homer: Hey, when do we get the check for this?
   Marge: Well, they said they changed it just enough so they don't have to pay us.
   Homer: Oh, you know who the <real> crooks are?  Those sleazy Hollywood producers!

38) Hungry, Hungry Homer (Season 12)

There’s a great sequence in this episode where Homer literally checks the finances of a hair salon. I’m not sure why but I love it because you wouldn’t see any other writer do that type of joke. Swartzwelder would do that type of things a lot. Also, this episode makes Albuquerque a real sinister place.

   Homer:  [holds up a blocky-looking apple] Check it out -- I built myself a healthy apple.
   Lisa:    But you made it out of ham cubes.
   Homer:   Yup, a shiny new apple.

37) Monty Can’t Buy Me Love (Season 10)

This episode has a lot of great jokes, but not strong enough to get further into the list. There’s Lenny with the dime in his head, the Howard Stern parody, and Homer forgetting his name because he wants a dollar. But it’s this exchange, specifically Homer’s last line, that makes me love this episode:

   Burns: Oh, what's the use?  I'll never be a popular beloved billionaire like Arthur Fortune.
   Homer: [wistfully] Oh, Arthur Fortune.  [sighs] Do you know what that fabulous man just did?  He gave the Springfield Zoo two male pandas *and* got them to mate successfully!
   Burns: And a stunt like that impresses people?
   Homer: Oh, yeah.  And I'm not easily impressed. Wow! A blue car!

36) The Old Man and the Lisa (Season 8)

Two straight Mr. Burns episode, this one with a rare Burns/Lisa pairing. Swartzwelder was labeled as ‘The Conscious’ of the show because while he was against environmentalism, he always seemed to get assigned these type of environmental episodes. His idea of environmentalists being hippies sums up his ideas of the subject pretty much.

   Homer: See that, boy?  Why aren't you making any business deals?
   Bart:  [whiney] I'll do it this afternoon!

Thanks for reading part two guys, tomorrow comes part three!

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