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SSR #12: “Krusty Gets Busted”

Intro

Introduction:
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).

Chips“You can emerge now from my chips. The opportunity to prove yourself a hero is long gone.”
~Apu

Plot:
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.

Clown Line-up“Well, if the crime is making me laugh, they’re ALL guilty!”
– Homer Simpson

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.

Krusty TrialKrusty: “I plead guilty, your Honor!”
*everyone gasps in surprise*
Krusty: “Oh, I mean not guilty. *laughs* Opening night jitters, your Honor!”

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
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.

Bob Arrested“Treat kids as equals! They’re people too! They’re smarter than you think! They were smart enough to catch ME!”
~Sideshow Bob

My Review:
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).

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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!

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SSR #9: “Life on the Fast Lane”

Intro

Introduction:
It’s always awkward and uncomfortable to witness a husband and wife fighting, but the old saying goes that whenever a couple stops talking and acknowledging each other; that’s when you need to start being concerned. Even though Marge and Homer seem to have a very stable relationship, we’re about to get a double dose of marital problems with the next TWO episodes. I guess it had to happen sooner or later in the series, so may as well get them out of the way now. “Life on the Fast Lane” aired on March 18th, 1990 and was the ninth episode to air in The Simpsons first season, even though it was the 11th episode written for the show. Also, like “Bart the General” (and the first episode, if you want to get technical), there is no chalkboard or couch gag.

BallHomer: “Beauty! Isn’t she?”
Marge: “It’s hard for me to judge, since I’ve never bowled in my life!”
Homer: “Well if you don’t want it, I know someone who does!”
Marge: *murmurs*

Plot:
Very early one morning, Bart, Lisa and Maggie are cooking breakfast for Marge because it is her birthday and they want to give her a surprise. After the surprise is delivered, Homer is shocked, not only by the surprise, but also the fact that he forgot it was his wife’s birthday and doesn’t have a gift for her yet. He sneaks (unsuccessfully) out of the house to get one, but in classic Homer fashion, ends up at a sports store instead and buys a bowling ball with his name engraved on it. That night, the entire family and Marge’s sisters go out to dinner at a fancy restaurant where Marge receives all of her gifts. Homer’s gift is the last one to be opened and Marge is completely appalled when the box opens and a bowling ball with Homer’s name on it, drops out; very appropriately on top of the cake as well.

Marge is angry at Homer for thinking only of himself and ruining her birthday. Homer suggests he takes the ball back and get her something else, but in her anger, she decides to keep the ball and go bowling by herself. Marge has no idea what she’s doing at the bowling alley, but her actions (and looks) catch the eye of local bowling professional and womanizer, Jacques, who is immediately smitten with Marge and is desperate to spend as much time with her as possible. He offers to give Marge bowling lessons and she accepts, oblivious to Jacques’s intentions. Marge’s skill improves tremendously and Jacques continues to get closer to her.

At home, while Marge is not present, Homer decides to pick up the slack and spends a lot of time with the kids. Whenever Marge and Homer are both around, however, they don’t talk very much and become very distant from each other. Marge seems to be having a lot of fun at the bowling alley and Homer doesn’t want to make her angry by telling her that he misses her and that he wants her to be home. Marge also insists on returning to the bowling alley on a regular basis to continue to getting lessons from Jacques. She becomes very aware of Jacques’s interest in her, and although she does try to shrug off his advances, she enjoys the extra attention from him. Jacques even gives her a bowling glove with her name embroidered on it, which she immediately loves because for once, it was a gift given to and intended for her.

This “fling” continues on for a few days and Homer’s mood worsens into a silent depression. Marge is also feeling the burden of her actions and time away from home by giving the children extra-large lunches and being extra kind and loving to them due to her guilt of being away from them. Lisa and Bart start to pick up on these signs, but are unable to figure out what to do or say to their parents, so they watch from the sidelines, worried about what will happen to their mom and dad’s marriage. Meanwhile, Jacques finally manages to get a brunch date with Marge outside of the bowling alley, and during the meal, Jacques asks if Marge would like to meet him at his apartment. Upon realization that Jacques is asking her for an affair, Marge faints and daydreams about what will happen if she goes to see Jacques. When she comes to, she asks him, “Is Thursday okay?”

When Homer finds the bowling glove, he is convinced that he has lost Marge forever, but on Thursday morning, he walks into the kitchen to say one last thing to his wife. Although he isn’t completely sure about what to say, he tells his wife that he loves the way she makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. He remarks that with other sandwiches, the jelly always drips out of the bread onto the guy’s fingers, but with Marge, the jelly always manages to stay inside where it is supposed to. He says, “I don’t know how you do it…you have some sort of gift I guess. I’ve always thought so. I’ve just never mentioned it.” He ends his discussion by saying that it was time to tell her how he feels about her, because he doesn’t believe in keeping his feelings bottled up, essentially confirming to Marge that he does love and care about her. Homer leaves for work while Marge is still stunned in silence about this revelation.

Marge starts to drive to Jacques’s apartment, but along the way, she starts seeing a lot of happy couples together, reminding her of her own marriage with Homer. She stops the car at an intersection; one road leading to Jacques’s apartment complex, and the other leading to the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. She now must make her decision to stay with her husband or to officially have an affair. The scene cuts to the power plant where Marge, in fact, chooses to stay with her husband and stop meeting with Jacques. Homer is absolutely shocked and surprised to see his wife, and he responds by embracing her and then telling his co-workers, “I’m off to the backseat of my car with the woman I love, and I won’t be back for 10 minutes!” Ending the episode on an incredibly sweet and heartfelt moment between the two spouses.

Cop JokeJacques: “I bet you don’t know how to make a five-seven-ten split, do you Marge?”
Marge: “No”
Jacques: “But first of all, you yell, ‘The eighth pin is a cop!'”

My Personal History:
Like most of Season 1, I didn’t catch this one until it came out on DVD, but after reading a summary of this episode in an episode guide novelization, I was really curious about how this one would resonate with me, mainly because I was so surprised to see such an “adult” storyline in a show that was aimed for family viewing. I’ll get more into my thoughts in a small bit, but that was definitely my first impressions upon reading about it and eventually watching it when I did have the capability to. I think I also saw the summation of this episode as it was shown in the second clip show plot, “Another Simpsons Clip Show,” before I saw the actual episode in full.

BrunchMarge: “What’s brunch?”
Jacques: “It’s not quite breakfast and it’s not quite lunch, but you get a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal!”

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
Albert Brooks is back again for another eccentric role, this time in the form of Jacques, the French bowling teacher. I have to say; I absolutely hate and love this character, but both for pretty much the same reason. I can’t freaking stand that he’s trying to put the moves on a married woman, but at the same time, his performance is absolutely brilliant in doing so. Its over-the-top and all of his jokes and reactions are just so on point and hilarious that I can’t help but let out a small chuckle when listening to his performance. It’s a case of; you really hate what he’s doing, but at the same time, you’re supposed to hate him because he is trying to break up the marriage of two main characters, so by making him over-the-top, you’re at least having a little more fun with the character and making light of something that will not, by any means, change the dynamic of the family, and by extension, the show in general. I think my favorite joke involving him, and probably my favorite joke of the episode, is when Helen Lovejoy discovers Marge with Jacques at the diner, and when Helen leaves, Jacques tells a very uncomfortable Marge, “Your friend is lovely, let us hope something runs over her,” to make Marge laugh and calm down from the fear of being caught spending time with a man who isn’t her husband. I also really like when he is giving Marge a lesson and then he just randomly shouts “FOUR ONION RINGS!” when Marge mentions she is hungry, just because of how out-of-nowhere it is.

Aside from the comedic voice acting of Albert Brooks though, there isn’t really that much else that I found outstanding here. I really like the ending of the episode with Marge and Homer’s reconciliation, and all the stuff that Homer tells Marge in the kitchen on that fateful morning, but only because they are sweet moments that I’m a sap for, and not necessarily because I think it brings the story together (which I’ll be getting into in the next section). Homer started the episode out badly by thinking of himself and only himself, but he really did bring it together by the end of the episode. He did the ONE thing I always tell people to do when they come to me for relationship advice; speak from the heart. Lying out of your ass, or covering up your mistakes with gifts and other fabrications will only get you so far. If you make a mistake, own up to it, and show (or tell) your significant other how you feel.  Homer spent the entire episode in self-pity because he knows he upset his wife and he knows that she’s having a good time without him. Then, it finally hits him that if he doesn’t show his wife how much he cares about her and loves her, he’s going to lose her, and that’s when he confronts her and tells her how much he means to her and how special he thinks she is. That was probably one of the most personal compliments he (and anybody for that matter) has ever given to Marge, and that’s what finally showed her that he does care and that she would be losing the most genuine and heartfelt man she had ever met if she let herself have the affair. Because, while Jacques was a flirt and said very romantic and forward things to Marge, they never really put Marge in a place of comfort, which you could clearly see in her actions and dismissals of Jacques’s advances throughout the episode. If Marge was set on going for it with Jacques and leaving her family behind, we would have seen a much different story here. She didn’t love Jacques at all, she just enjoyed the attention she got from him. When Homer started giving her that attention, in his own personal way, she knew the choice was easy. Because of that, I think the ending was very well done and very well-written.

10 Minutes“Tell the boss I’m going to the backseat of my car with the woman I love, and I won’t be back for ten minutes!”
~Homer Simpson

My Review:
I am going to be honest here; I have not been looking forward to taking a look at or reviewing this episode. As per usual, I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad episode by any means. In fact, for an adult-oriented story line, I think the writing is actually really good here and there are some really great performances in the episode as well (most notably Albert Brooks (Jacques) and his chemistry with Julie Kavner (Marge)). I just feel like, for the viewers, this one will be a very hit or miss episode. The individuals who will most likely understand what’s going on here are adults and people who are and have been in serious relationships. For a kid, or someone who hasn’t had that relationship experience, a lot of the morals and lessons may not connect right away and a lot of the value I think this episode contains, may fall flat to the wrong audiences. Heck, as a young pre-teen and early teenager, when I first saw this episode, I never would have seen this episode in the same light that I would today, now that I have fifteen years on my younger self and have been in a serious relationship where topics of this nature have emerged. Also, I find for episodes of this nature, where the the main married couple experience issues and then a strange man/woman come into the picture and try to mess up that foundation further…they can be a really uncomfortable experience at times depending on how they’re handled, and I think that remains true for the Simpson family as well. Which…it’s understandable, especially now, considering the two have been married on the show for more than twenty-five years now.

Also, I feel like the children’s sub-plot shouldn’t have been used in the episode at all. I feel like the inclusion of Lisa figuring out that her parents are having problems, and trying to get Bart to come to terms with her same realization, almost kind of distract the viewers of this episode from what should be the main focus; Homer and Marge. In fact, when Bart is so worried that something bad will happen, he tells his dad to “not say anything, because he might make it worse,” which happens to be the absolute worst advice he could give in that particular scenario. In fact, the very next scene is when Homer opens up his heart to Marge and tells her how he feels; which ultimately saves the marriage in the long run. It just kind of feels like the children were unintentionally working against the plot here, and with how the episode wraps up, it almost made their plight feel pointless, because they didn’t do anything to help the story get to its conclusion. I would have much rather seen another scene with Marge and Jacques getting closer, or an extended scene with Homer and Marge where Homer apologizes for his actions in the beginning act, because while he did touch Marge with his words near the end, he never technically apologized for his selfishness.

I also find it extremely odd with how easily Marge agrees to see Jacques at his apartment. During their entire time together, Marge was always uncomfortable with Jacques’s advances, and even though she went along with them a few times, she still never really got “charmed” by him. In fact, during the brunch before Jacques even asked about his apartment, she was still really put off by his forwardness and tried to deflect any compliment he gave to her. I suppose this reluctance was because of her guiltiness, since she was being charmed by the man, but again, it’s hard to say just because I feel like it could have been explored a bit more, you know, instead of the alternative and what we got in the form of the children’s side of the story. I really hate to bring that up again, but it’s a major point for why this episode really bugs me. I get that the children were included to show the gravity of the situation at home with Homer and Marge’s marriage on the rocks, with Marge feeling guilty and the need to overcompensate for her absence and with Homer sinking into a deep depression. If someone is able to pick up on that, then sure, it works pretty well, but otherwise, it just seems kind of…there for the sake being there. There’s just so much that needs to be implied for the story to flow together flawlessly and I feel that it takes a few watches for someone to completely understand what’s going on here and to actually feel the gravity of the situation. Otherwise, it would be a back and forth tennis match of “Why is Homer not doing anything?” and “Why is Marge doing this?”

Once you have those things figured out though, the episode is honestly a good watch and an insightful take on this particular subject matter. What can happen to a woman when a new man starts paying more attention to and being more romantic to her than her own husband? When a marriage is in danger, how will both parties act, and what will they do to make things right, if anything at all? Is it really possible to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich where none of the jelly drips out of the sides of the bread? That last one is still a mystery to me, but as far as Homer and Marge go, I think they will be okay…for now. Unfortunately, I think we have a long road to go in getting all of their issues sorted out, especially once we get to the later years of the show (if we even do). But as far as our next examination of their marriage is concerned…well, let’s just say we have a few roadblocks coming up, starting with the next episode. For now though, I’m going to leave it at that and sign-off on “Life on the Fast Lane,” so thanks for reading everyone and I’ll talk to you guys next time.

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It is good to be back! Sorry this took a bit longer than I initially planned, but admittedly, I did just return from a week-long vacation and I had a lot of loose ends I needed to take care of first. There were also a lot of things I wanted to add into this write-up after I finished my first draft, just because this is a very complex episode. Anyway, from the look of things, it should not be too hard of an endeavor to finish up the rest of Season 1, with only four episodes remaining (even if I only really like one of them), so I’m going to do my best to make this a weekly update for the next month, and once I finish the remaining episodes, I can start planning when Season 2 will start. It probably won’t start right away, since I am about to start a big project/endeavor for my Youtube channel, but once that is taken care of, I am definitely excited to see this series go even further. So thanks to all of you for your continued reading and patience for these reviews. It means a lot to me!

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