Friday, August 19, 2011

John Swartzwelder: The Simpsons Retrospective Day 5

This is the moment we all have been waiting for! The Top Ten John Swartzwelder episodes of the Simpsons! 

A mix of episodes from the classic run of the series, to some of the seasons that people might not have appreciated. (Note: Seasons 9-12 are highly underrated) So let’s get on with this with #10:

10) Homer the Great (Season 6)

I think I nominated this episode as #10 because I love the Stonecutter’s song (which is the scene provided here) But there’s a lot of great moments in this episode. From Homer trying to get into the Stonecutters to how Homer tries to become a better Emperor by doing charity work. It’s a solid episode all around but that song….Man I love that song:

   Everyone: Who controls the British crown?
             Who keeps the metric system down?
             We do!  We do.
             Who leaves the Atlantis off the maps?  [shot of Carl]
             Who keeps the Martians under wraps?  [shot of Lenny]
             We do!  We do.  [shot of Martian]
             Who holds back the electric car?
             Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?  [shot of Steve]
             We do!  We do.
             Who robs cave fish of their sight?  [shot of Skinner]
             Who rigs every Oscar night?  [shot of Homer]
             We do!  We do.

9) Bart Carny (Season 9)

It’s a match made in heaven: Carnies + Swartzwelder=Gold. You also get a fantastic performance by the late Jim Varney as Cooder. The episode starts would strong with the kids refusing to work (“Hard work made us quit”) and it gets even better once you get into the carnival. You could’ve had a whole episode of the Simpsons at the carnival and it would’ve been great. Once we get into the actual plot though there are fantastic jokes from Cooder’s Cigarette trick to one of the best sequences in the whole series:

   Marge: We can't just give up on our house.  There's got to be a way to get these guys out of there.
   Bart:  I say we set fire to the house -- kill them that way.
   Marge: We don't want to kill them, Bart. We just want our home back.
   Lisa:  [thinks it over] Well...if we did set fire to the house..
   Marge: No fires!
   Homer: [excited] I've got it!
   Marge: No fires!
   Homer: Aw..
   Marge: There must be a way to outsmart them.
   Homer: [discouraged] Uh, you can't outsmart carnival folk.  They're the cleverest folks in the world.  Just look at the way they sucker regular folk with those crooked games. [Gasps] That's it! Fire! [Marge looks angry] Or..

8) Homie the Clown (Season 6)

Probably my favorite Krusty episode, there’s a lot to like about this episode. Homer becoming Krusty has a lot of great jokes involving from beating up the ‘Krustybugglar’ to threatening Dick Cavett. But my favorite joke of the episode comes from Krusty betting quite possibly the stupidest bet in history:

  Bill:   Let me get this straight: you took all the money you made franchising your name and bet it against the Harlem Globetrotters?
  Krusty: Oh, I thought the Generals were due! [TV shows a Globetrotter spinning the ball as Generals watchHe's spinning the ball on his finger!  Just take it, take the ball. [the Globetrotter kicks it into the net behind himThat game was fixed.  They were using a freakin' ladder, for gods' sakes.

7) Itchy and Scratchy Land (Season 6)

Not the last Itchy and Scratchy episode on the list, but certainly one of my favorites. I particularly love the idea of the kids pretending to be dead to convince Homer and Marge. (Should done that more to get into Disney) Everything from the family driving to the park to everything in the park to fighting off the waves of robots are all great. Every time I watch this episode though I cannot hold my laughter with ‘Unnecessary Surgery Land”:

   Marge: (Describing the areas of the Park) "Torture Land"..."Explosion Land"..."Searing Gas Pain Land"..."Unnecessary Surgery Land"...hmm...

6) Itchy and Scratchy and Marge (Season 2)

As Mike Reiss said in the commentary for this episode: “Gee I really like this episode, but this has got to be the 12th Itchy and Scratchy cartoon in ten minutes.” He anit lying, there are a lot of violent, Itchy and Scratchy moments in this episode. It’s one of the first parodies of animation in this series and it’s executed brilliantly on the topic of violence in children’s cartoons. It’s also the debut of Jim Reardon as director for the series, so there’s that too.

   Homer: You know, some of these stories are pretty good. I never knew mice lived such interesting lives.

5) Radioactive Man (Season 7)

Two jokes: “Up and At Them!” and “My Eyes, the goggles do nothing!” Nuff said.

    Boys:        [gasp] Mickey Rooney!
    Rooney:      Hi, Milhouse.  The studio sent me to talk to you, being a former child star myself, _and_ the number one box office draw from 1939 to 1940.
    Bart:        Wow, spanning two decades.

 4) The Cartridge Family (Season 9)

This is where the list gets really tough for me because these next four episodes were tough to put in any type of order.  But this is one of my all time favorite Swartzwelder episodes because of the constant gun jokes throughout. Homer using his gun as a remote controller is a great visual gag. I think the end is a bit weak though so maybe that’s why it’s not in my top three at least. Still a fantastic episode. (Also, a boon if you finally want to hear John Swartzwelder as the guys on the commentary gives a surprise call to the man during the recording)

    Gun Shop Owner: Sorry, the law requires a five-day waiting period.  We've got to run a background check.
    Homer:          Five days?  But I'm mad now! (The owner finally pulls the gun away from Homer.)
    Homer:           I'd kill you if I had my gun!
    Gun Shop Owner:  Yeah, well, you don't.

3) The Mansion Family (Season 11)

So many great jokes in this episode. From the constant medical jokes with Mr. Burns to the Mayo clinic to the seemingly endless parade of Homer being ‘rich’. It’s hard to pinpoint one favorite joke in this episode. So here’s three great jokes:

    Britney:   In the market crash of 1929, he helped people jump out of windows to avoid disgrace [the film shows Chapman doing just that]
    Chapman:   [on film] You're doing the right thing.  Oh, oh, out you go!  [a heavyset man appears at the window] My you're a big one.  No, no, no ... no turning back now.  [the heavyset man jumps] [cut to the audience]
    Moe:       Off a tall building -- that's a great way to do it!

    (To be fair this might be my favorite joke in the episode)
    Homer:     Look how loud I have to yell!

    Bart:      Wow, you can do anything out here!
    Homer:     That's right.  See that ship over there?  [points to a ship with a large satellite dish on it] They're re-broadcasting Major League Baseball with implied oral consent, not express written consent -- or so the legend goes.

    Lenny:     Some party, Homer.
    Homer:     Shut up, Net Face.
    Lenny:     Hey, you're in the net, too.
    Homer:     I said, shut up, Net Face!
    Moe:       Aw, we're going to die and I never tasted cantaloupe.
    Krusty:    Eh, you didn't miss much.  Honeydew is the money melon.
        (Or that Honeydew line is my favorite. Again hard to pinpoint one)

2) The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace (Season 10)

Even harder was to pick what were my favorite ‘two’ episodes by John Swartzwelder and how to rank them. Ironically both are from season ten, which says a lot about his recent episodes. (I think he got much more freedom to do these episodes as the show went on) This is one of my all-time favorite episodes (not just cause it’s Swartzwelder) and it’s mainly because the episode starts off so strongly. Only Swartzwelder would think of having ‘Heckle and Jeckle’ into Homer’s funeral. But it’s the constant jokes on Edison and his inventions that make the episode for me.

    Bart:     Dad, what are you doing here?
    Homer:    Reading about this Edison character.  They won't let me in the big people library downtown, there was some ...unpleasantness, I can never go back.  Ooh!  [reading a pop-up book]  Look at all the inventions Edison came up with:  the stock ticker, the storage battery, even wax paper!  And look at him dance! [Homer fiddles with levers on the sides of the book, moving Edison's legs.  He does a little scat singing as musical accompaniment] And, these Hardy Boys books are great, too!  This one's about smugglers!
   Bart:      They're all about smugglers.
   Homer:     No, not this one!  "The Smugglers of Pirate Cove".  It's about pirates.
(Truer words have never been spoken before about the Hardy Boys)

   Homer:    Well, I quit my job, just like you said to.
   Marge:    I didn't tell you to quit your job.
   Homer:    Yes, you did!  I remember your exact words.  You said I should quit my job, and become an inventor, or you'd torch the house.
   Marge:    That doesn't sound like me.  Well, I suppose if this doesn't work out, you can always go back to the plant.
   Homer:    [chuckling] Not the way I quit.  [laughs some more]  Hoo-hoo.
(“Not the way I quit”. A fantastic read by Castellaneta and a great way to end a scene. I want to say that to someone, someday when I quit a job)

   Homer:    Now, here's my "Everything's O.K." alarm! [Homer flips a switch the device, and it begins to emit a high pitched, incredibly loud beep.  The rest of the Simpsons cover their ears as Homer speaks up]
   Homer:    This will sound every three seconds, unless something isn't okay!
   Marge:    Turn it off, Homer!
   Homer:    It can't be turned off!

   Homer:    Now, this next one's for the ladies.  How many times have you gals been late for a high-powered business meeting, only to realize you're not wearing make-up?
   Marge:    That's every woman's nightmare.
   Homer:    That's why I invented this revolutionary make-up gun.  It's for the woman who only has four-fifths of a second to get ready.  Close your eyes, Marge. [Homer fires the make-up gun, which appears to be a shotgun with some containers of liquid attached, into Marge's face. After the cloud of dust vanishes, she ends up with way too much on]
   Homer:    Now you're ready for a night on the town.  [holds up a mirror]
   Marge:    [gasps] Homer!  You've got it set on "whore".
   Homer:    Okay, this time try to keep your nostrils closed. [Homer points the gun at her, but she pushes it away from her face.  A vaguely face-shaped blotch of make-up stains the wall]
   Homer:    Oh, look what you did.  Now I have to go get my cold-cream gun.
   Lisa:     Dad, women won't like being shot in the face.
   Homer:    Women will like what I tell them to like!
(The ‘Make Up gun’ just screams Swartzwelder (although Dan Greaney takes credit for it) and the line “Women will like what I tell them to like” says a lot about the man)

1) Homer Simpson in: “Kidney Trouble” (Season 10)

There’s not a single bad joke in this episode. We start off strong with a trip to a Ghost Town and the episode only gets better from there. I just recently watched this episode and I couldn’t get enough of it. If I could find the entire episode and put it on this blog I would. Definitely the best Swartzwelder episode in the history of the Simpsons.

   Homer:   [looking at watch] Two hours?  Why'd they build this ghost town so far away?
   Lisa:     Because they discovered gold right over there!
   Homer:    It's because they're stupid, that's why.  That's why everybody does everything.
(The best line ever about humanity)
   Marge:    This should be very educational. I want you kids to pay attention.
   Guide:    Founded by prostitutes in 1849, and serviced by prostitute express riders who could bring in a fresh prostitute from Saint Joe in three days; Bloodbath Gulch quickly became known as a place where a trail hand could spend a month's pay in three minutes.
   Homer:    Three minutes!  [whistles]
   Marge:    I never realized history was so filthy!
   Guide:    First on our tour is the whore house; then we'll visit the cathouse, the brothel, the bordello, and finally the old mission.
   Marge:    Oh, thank heaven!
   Guide:    Lots of prostitutes in there!
   Marge:    Hmmmmm ...
(If only the Old West was really like that)

   Abe:     How long do I have to live, Doc?
   Hibbert:  [laughs] I'm amazed you're alive now!
   Homer:    Ooooh ...! I blame myself for this.
   Marge:    We all blame you.

   Moe:      Well; I've got to hand it to you, Homer:  you're really brave to go through with this operation.
   Homer:   It's not an operation, Moe.  The doctor said it's just a Procedure.
   Moe:     No, no, no, no, making polenta, now that's a procedure. We're talking about deadly life threatening surgery here.
   Homer:   Really?  You think It's dangerous?
   Carl:    Oh, yeah; and even if you survive the operation ...
   Homer:    Procedure! Deadly procedure!
(I think I used that line when I had to go to surgery: “It’s a procedure! Deadly Procedure!”)

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