The entire town of Springfield is about to be shook when a television celebrity and role model for the young is caught on tape committing a crime a the local convenience store. All eyes are looking to put the clown behind bars, with the exception of one little boy who is determined to prove the entertainer’s innocence. “Krusty gets Busted” debuted on April 22nd, 1990 and was the 12th episode aired and written for the Simpson’s first season. The chalkboard gag for this episode is “They are laughing at me, not with me,” and the couch gag features the entire family sitting on the couch, squishing and launching Maggie into the air with Marge catching her on descent (repeat).
Patty and Selma are coming over for dinner and plan to show the rest of the family pictures from their latest vacation, so Marge calls Homer at work to tell him to pick-up some ice cream on the way home. While at the cash register, a burglar, who looks remarkably like Krusty the Clown, holds up Apu, the owner of the Kwik-E-Mart, and scares Homer into jumping into a nearby display of potato chips. The burglar escapes, but when the police comes by to follow a police report, Homer testifies that Krusty was the individual who robbed the Kwik-E-Mart. Krusty is promptly arrested and when Bart finds out that his hero was involved in a robbery, he is completely devastated and disappointed.
The day of Krusty’s court case comes and before he enters the building, Bart tries to ask Krusty if he actually did rob the convenience store. In a very sad and defeated tone of voice, Krusty says to Bart that he didn’t commit the crime while everyone else laughs it off. He pleads “not guilty” during the trial, but due to an overwhelming amount of evidence and Homer’s testimony, Krusty is found to be guilty. During the trial, we also learn a few key details about Krusty the Clown. For one, he has a pacemaker. Two, he is completely illiterate. Finally, he has really small feet despite wearing humongous clown shoes during his television shows. Although these facts may seem irrelevant and inconsequential, they will be important later on. The entire town is happy to have the criminal locked up and celebrates by burning all of Krusty’s merchandise.
During this time, Krusty’s sidekick, Sideshow Bob (played by the remarkable Kelsey Grammer), is put in charge of Krusty’s show and manages to get a lot of kids on board with the new format (including Lisa and Maggie). His show focuses less on the patronizing humor of Krusty the Clown and more on enriching the mind and lives of children. Bart is not on board with this change and feels like Krusty might be innocent, but is not sure how and where to start in proving it. He asks Lisa for some help and they go down to the Kwik-E-Mart, the scene of the crime.
While at the Kwik-E-Mart, Lisa discovers the microwave and its warning sign, which reads “People with pacemakers should not use the microwave.” However, the footage that captured the robbery showed Krusty using the microwave to heat up a burrito. Next, she remembers that the robber was also reading a magazine, which again, Krusty would not have been able to do considering he was illiterate. At this point, it starts to look like Krusty was actually framed by someone else, and Bart knows a good place to start in asking if Krusty had any enemies; his partner, Sideshow Bob. At this point, we the viewers discover that Sideshow Bob may in fact have had something to do with the crime, as he starts to laugh maniacally behind closed doors.
Bart and Lisa go to the television studio to talk to Sideshow Bob about what they found, but they come right before a show is scheduled to start and are pushed into the audience. Bob notices Bart looking troubled and brings him on stage for a segment. During the segment, Bart brings up Krusty’s crime at the Kwik-E-Mart and cites the evidence he and Lisa found in proving that Krusty was not responsible, but Bob dismisses the evidence, telling Bart that Krusty was prone to ignoring doctors’ orders and that Krusty was admiring the pictures in the magazine he was looking at, not reading it. He then speaks to Bart and the other children saying that he knows that this ugly incident has affected a lot of people, including himself, but now that it has happened, that they should all try to move on and remember the good times. At this point, he mentions that he has “big shoes to fill,” which clicks the final piece of evidence Bart needed to prove Krusty’s innocence.
Bart remembers that Homer accidentally stepped on Krusty’s feet during the security tape, which he wouldn’t have been able to do with Krusty since his feet are much smaller. Then, looking at Sideshow Bob’s huge feet, he figures out that the Krusty who robbed the Kwik-E-Mart was actually Sideshow Bob in disguise, and when Bart slams a mallet on Bob’s feet, Bob utters very similar words (in the same tone of voice) to what he yelled at Homer during the crime. The police just so happen to be watching the show at that point and they immediately go to arrest the true criminal. Bob framed Krusty because he was tired of being Krusty’s whipping boy and the target of all of his comedic abuse and wanted to be given the spotlight for once. Bob is taken away to prison and Krusty is pardoned and released, and the police and Homer apologize to him for the misunderstanding. Krusty then gives his heartfelt thanks to Bart as he shakes his hand. Bart is given an autographed photograph of the exchange and the episode closes on him going to sleep in a room filled with Krusty merchandise.
My Personal History:
This was an episode I was very familiar with, but never actually got to see until I owned the first season on DVD. I was aware of it because I had seen and witnessed all of the other Sideshow Bob episodes (at the time) and thought they were some of the most hilarious and best episodes of the entire show. Because they allude to this episode in almost every Sideshow Bob episode, it was fairly easy to know and remember the plot. I just had no idea how it actually went down until I got to see it several years later.
I’d be an absolute fool if I overlooked the performance of Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob, so before I get into anything else, let’s go over that first. My god…Sideshow Bob (or at least early/golden year’s Sideshow Bob) may be one of the best characters in the entire show. I love how over the top he is, but also how cultured and sophisticated he is. And to top it all off, he also has a very good sense of humor too. A great combination like that makes for very great television, so kudos to Kelsey Grammer for the performance, but also to the writers for the casting decision and for just writing him the way he is as well. As I said, these episodes are and will always be some of my favorites, and even though this was the first and perhaps the least developed of all the Bob episodes, it’s still a treat to watch, even to this day.
I think another reason this episode is a stand-out is just because the writers got the perfect balance of humor and innovative story-telling. This episode was written as a mystery for viewers to try and solve throughout the episode’s duration. They set the mystery up, they highlighted important clues throughout the different scenes, and at the very end, or at least before Bart revealed the solution; you, the viewers, would have enough information to know, “yeah, there is something not quite right here.” And sure enough, during subsequent watches and re-watches, you’d be able to see all the clues in play and where exactly the writers intended for you to put stuff together. I will say right now, compared to other mystery episodes the Simpsons would tackle in future seasons, this is not the best use of this formula. In fact, there are times where I feel like the writers almost try to push certain clues a bit too much, but that also might be just because I’ve seen this episode so many times and pretty much had the intel before I even saw the episode from future Sideshow Bob episodes, so it’s hard to analyze this from a fresh perspective. However, after learning the main motivation of this episode and looking at how everything is woven together, you have to give credit to the writers for coming up with something unique, especially this early on in the series.
And as I mentioned, the jokes and the humor is very on point too. From the very beginning to the very end, there is just joke, after joke, after joke and it’s done in such a great way where the rest of the story doesn’t suffer from joke overload. You’re given time to breathe and think about what’s going on in the story and the jokes are there just to complement what’s going on. From Homer’s cowardly dive into the potato chips, to Krusty’s antics during court, to even Apu’s reactions when Bart and Lisa come to investigate the crime scene and he is still very much affected and traumatized by the robbery…the entire episode is just really, really funny. I think my favorite part/line from the episode is at the end when Sideshow Bob is screaming at the crowd while being taken away, “Treat children as equals! They are smarter than you think,” just making his exit as theatrical as possible and it’s just a great end to the character at this chapter of his story.
So I think it’s safe to say from the previous section that I really like this episode, and that is definitely true. Alongside Bart the General, Krusty Gets Busted is definitely at the top of Season 1, as far as individual episodes are concerned. It took a gamble in terms of its episode structure and put the focus on some secondary and guest characters, but integrated the main cast very well too. It was ambitious in theory, but it hit on all the right notes and did exactly what it needed to do. It had great writing, great casting, great jokes…it had everything you’d ever want from an episode of The Simpsons. In fact, the only negative I could even give this one is that it’s not as enjoyable as other Sideshow Bob episodes, but when you consider its competition…it’s really not even a fair fight to begin with.
I do wish I could have watched this episode without having prior knowledge of what Sideshow Bob will ultimately become though, because I do think having that knowledge could cheapen the overall experience of this particular episode. Granted, I still love it despite not being able to get that experience, but I’m also trying to look at these episodes from an unbiased perspective and there are individuals who don’t like having entire storylines spoiled for them. So if you are in the process of sharing The Simpsons with a friend or acquaintance of yours, make sure you at least show the Sideshow Bob saga in order if you want to go down that route. It’ll be worth every laugh as you experience some of the greatest episodes of the series (well…at least to a certain point anyway).
Ok guys, we are almost done with Season 1. We just have one more episode to go and this particular episode is….kind of a special case. As I’ve mentioned before, the last episode of the season was actually created very early on in Season 1. It was initially planned as the beginning of The Simpsons television series but was held back for…reasons. I’ll get more into those specifics next time when we take a look at the Season 1 finale; “Some Enchanted Evening.” Until then, have a good day everybody!