Thursday, August 18, 2011

John Swartzwelder: The Simpsons Retrospective Day 4

Welcome back to part four of this John Swartzwelder Simpsons retrospective. This list is a bit longer as we got the top ten coming up tomorrow. Today though you get treated to episodes 23-11.

23) Maximum Homerdrive (Season 10)

There’s a lot of great little moments in this episode. From the constant barrage of mistreatment of cows, to Homer meeting his limit of eating food, to the constant barrage of trucker jokes; it’s a ball of small jokes in a solid episode. I particularly love the ‘It ate everybody’ sequence at the drive-in; a sequence I quote constantly.

   Waiter:     The winner and still champion, Reliable Red Barclay. [raises victor's hand in triumph.  The crowd cheers]
   Homer:      My hat's off to you, Red.  You're a true America hero, and you did it with style and dignity, and -- hey, you're not breathing!  Don't people usually breathe?

22) Take My Wife, Sleaze (Season 11)

A great performance by John Goodman and Henry Winkler gives us yet another episode full of great little jokes peppered throughout the episode. One of my favorites being the mood swing once Homer gets the motorcycle. (“I finally won the respect of my fellow ma—GET AWAY FROM IT!”)

   Homer:  The first meeting of Hell's Satans is called to order.
   Ned:    I move we reconsider our club name.  Make it something a little less blasphemous.  After all, [chuckles] we don't want to go to Hell.
   Lenny:   How about the Devil's Pals?
   Ned:     No.
   Moe:     Or how bout The Christ Punchers?
   Ned:     The Christ ... I, I don't think you understand my objection.

21) Simpson Safari (Season 12)

This is the moment where I think a lot of lines from Swartzwelder episodes stick with me on this list. Whether it’s the ‘casual’ Carl moment, or a Hippo birthing from an egg, to the great ‘screw you’ ending; there’s a lot of lines I repeat from this episode. The exchange with the animal cracker company in this quote is one of the best:

   Homer:... and on my free African safari I want to everything on this box. I want to shoot a lion in the face, fight Muhammad Ali, and ride in a convertible with two happy zebras.

20) Homer vs the 18th Amendment (Season 8)

“To alcohol! The cause and solution to all of life problems!” Truer words have never been spoken before.

    Banner:   You're out there somewhere, beer baron!  And I'll find you.
    Homer:    [distant, barely audible] No you won't!
    Banner:   Yes, I will!
    Homer:    Won't!

19) Homer the Smithers (Season 7)

A great idea for an episode, it’s amazing it took seven seasons for someone to make Homer Mr. Burns secretary. I think this episode gives us a lot of insight into Mr. Burns and we get a lot of old timey jokes. (The phrase ‘Ahoy Ahoy’ debuts here) I particularly love the idea that Homer records ‘The Little Rascals’ every day.

    Bart:  What did you get that for?
    Homer: For knocking Mr. Burns out of a 3rd story window.
    Bart:  Makes sense to me.
    Lisa:  Did he die?
    Homer: What am I, a doctor?

18) Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie (Season 4)

“The key is to be prejudiced against all races”-Homer giving advice to get out of jury duty. Swartzwelder is, if Simpsons commentary is to be believed, one of the best writers for the Itchy and Scratchy cartoons. While we’ll see that later on in the list, it’s not hard to imagine Swartzwelder is great at writing violent cartoon animals. The various clips of the ‘Itchy and Scratchy Movie’ and Homer ‘liking stories’ are more than enough to love this episode.

   Homer:  If you don't start making more sense, we're going to have to put you in a home.
   Grampa: You already put me in a home.
   Homer:  Then we'll put you in the crooked home we saw on Sixty Minutes!
   Grampa: [meekly] I'll be good.

17) Homer the Vigilante (Season 5)

I love, absolutely love, ‘It’s a Mad Mad Mad World’; one of my all-time favorite movies. So seeing Swartzwelder parody the film towards the end of the episode is more than enough for me. But the scene with Homer being interviewed by Kent Brockman and Homer dancing to a jug are pretty funny too.

   Flanders: Heidely-ho, neighborinos!
   Homer:    Can't talk.  Robbed.  Go hell.

16) Bart’s Comet (Season 6)

Another parody is towards the end of this episode with parodying one of the most famous Twilight Zone episodes (The Shelter). Apart from that sequence, this particular slam at religion always gives me a chuckle:

   Lisa:    It blew up the bridge!  We're doomed.
   Homer:   It's times like this I wish I were a religious man.
   Lovejoy: [running down the street] It's all over, people!  We don't have a prayer!

15) Treehouse of Horror I: Bad Dream House (Season 2)

The very first Treehouse of Horror segment is shockingly one of my favorite Swartzwelder scripts. It has a lot of great jokes like Homer’s fixing the ghost problem (“We just get a bunch of priests in here…”), the family actually making the house kill itself, and quite possibly one of my favorite Homer exchanges:

   Homer: Mr. Bloot?  Homer Simpson here.  When you sold me this house, you forgot to mention one little thing:  YOU DIDN'T TELL ME IT WAS BUILT ON AN INDIAN BURIAL GROUND!...NO YOU DIDN'T!...Well, that's not <my> recollection....Yeah?  Well, all right, goodbye![angrily hangs up] He said he mentioned it five or six times.

14) Bart the Fink (Season 7)

Swartzwelder is always great at writing Krusty, and this is one of the best Krusty-centric episodes. I particularly love the moment where someone throws a suitcase at his eye. (“Ohh! The corner…”) But it’s this moment at the newly named ‘IRS Burger’ that always makes me laugh:

  Homer: Let see, I'll have four tax burgers, one IRS-wich, withhold the lettuce, four dependent-sized sodas, and a FICA-ccino.
  Kid:   Fill out schedule B.  You should receive your burgers in six to eight weeks.
  Homer: (Takes out glasses) Let’s see…take the deductible….carry the four…Hey Marge, what were your gambling losses last year?
  Marge: $700!

13) Homer’s Enemy (Season 9)

One of the most controversial episodes to ever come out for the series, a lot of fans was not pleased originally where we see someone point out how crazy this show’s universe is. I wasn’t a big fan of it at the time, but after a while it grew on me once I noticed a lot of Swartzwelder jokes packed in. I think Hank Azaria does one of his best performances as Grimes (“Or Grimey as he liked to be called…”). This particular sequence (a bit lengthy to be honest too) is one of the most honest sequences to be put into any TV show:

  Grimes:   How do you do.  Uh, look Homer, I'm, I'm late for my night job at the foundry so if you don't mind telling m--[trails off as he looks around the casa de Simpson.  The camera momentarily shifts to Grime's point of view and gives us a 360-degree look at the family's living room] Good Heavens!  This is a palace!  H-How can, how in the world can you afford to live in a house like this, Simpson?
  Homer:    I dunno.  Don't as me how the economy works.
  Grimes:   Yeah, but look at the size of this place!  I -- I live in a single room above a bowling alley and below another bowling alley.
  Homer:    Wow.
  Grimes:   [notices some pictures on the wall]  I'm sorry, isn't that ...
  Homer:    Yes, that's me, and the guy standing next to me is President Gerald Ford. [gestures to other photos] And this is when I was on tour with the Smashing Pumpkins. Oh!  And here's a picture of me in outer space.
  Grimes:   You?  Went into outer space?  You?
  Homer:    Sure.  You've never been?  Would you like to see my Grammy award?  [holds up award]
  Grimes:   No!  I wouldn't! God, I've had to work hard every day of my life, and what do I have to show for it?  This briefcase and this haircut!  And what do you have to show for your lifetime of sloth and ignorance?
  Homer:    What?
  Grimes:   Everything!  A dream house!  Two cars!  A beautiful wife!  son who owns a factory!  Fancy clothes and [sniffs air] lobsters for dinner.  And do you deserve any of it?  No!
  Homer:    [gasps] What are you saying?
  Grimes:   I'm saying you're what's wrong with America, Simpson.  You Coast through life, you do as little as possible, and you leech off of decent, hardworking people like me.  Heh, if you lived in any other country in the world, you'd have starved to death long ago.
  Bart:     He's got you there, dad.
  Grimes:   You're a fraud.  A total fraud.  [leaves] [pokes his head in the door] [to Marge and the kids] It was nice meeting you. [leaves again, slamming the front door]

12) Bart Gets an Elephant (Season 5)

There’s a lot of great Swartzwelder moments in this episode. From Homer’s plan to getting out of the tar pits to the brilliant Democrat/Republican slam towards the end. I definitely think it’s the funniest episode from season five.

   Blackheart: All right, I'll be back in the morning to pick up Stampy.
   Homer: Here's the keys.
   Blackheart: Elephants don't have keys.
   Homer: Well, I'll just keep these then.

11) Two Cars in Every Garage, and Three Eyes on Every Fish (Season 2)

This is one of my favorite early episodes and it shows early on how great Swartzwelder was at writing Burns. There is a lot of Citizen Kane in this episode and it starts the running gag that you could cut all of the parodies of the film and make a complete remake out of it.

   Burns:    How much could it possibly cost to fix this place up?
   Smithers: Approximately fifty-six million dollars, sir.
   Burns:    Fifty-six million!
   Smithers: [cowering] Don't hit me, sir.

Alright we got ten, count’em, ten greatest episodes by John Swartzwelder tomorrow. The anticipation is killing me!

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