The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase

"The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" is the twenty-fourth episode of the eighth season of The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 11, 1997.[1] The episode centers on fictional pilot episodes of non-existent television series derived from The Simpsons, and is a parody of the tendency of networks to spin off characters from a hit series. As such it includes references to many different TV series. The first fictional spin-off is Chief Wiggum P.I., a cop-dramedy featuring Chief Wiggum and Seymour Skinner. The second is The Love-matic Grampa, a sitcom featuring Moe Szyslak who receives dating advice from Abraham Simpson, whose ghost is possessing a love testing machine. The final segment is The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour, a variety show featuring the Simpson family except for Lisa, who has been replaced.

The episode was written by David S. Cohen, Dan Greaney and Steve Tompkins, with Ken Keeler coming up with the story and the general idea of intentionally bad writing. It was directed by Neil Affleck,[1] and Tim Conway, Gailard Sartain and Phil Hartman guest-starred.[1][2] The producers were initially uneasy about the episode, as they feared that the purposely bad writing would be mistaken for actual bad writing. The episode, however, now appears on several lists of the most popular Simpsons episodes.

"The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase"
The Simpsons episode
The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase
"Lisa" and the real family members doing a skit for their variety hour, the plot of the third segment, in the episode's promotional image.
Episode no.Season 8
Episode 24
Directed byNeil Affleck
Written byDavid S. Cohen
Dan Greaney
Steve Tompkins
Story by:
Ken Keeler
Production code4F20
Original air dateMay 11, 1997
Guest appearance(s)

Tim Conway as himself
Gailard Sartain as Charles "Big" Daddy
Phil Hartman as Troy McClure

Episode features
CommentaryMatt Groening
Josh Weinstein
David X. Cohen
Dan Greaney
Yeardley Smith
Ken Keeler

Plot

Troy McClure hosts a television special from the "Museum of TV and Television" introducing three spin-off productions, created using characters from The Simpsons. The Fox network has only three programmes prepared for the next broadcasting season, and so commissions the producers of The Simpsons to create thirty-five new shows to fill the remainder of the lineup. Unable to handle such a workload, the producers create only three new shows.

Chief Wiggum, P.I. is a crime-dramedy spin-off and a parody of Magnum, P.I., which follows Chief Wiggum, Ralph and Seymour Skinner. Chief Wiggum and his son Ralph move to New Orleans with Seymour Skinner as Wiggum's sidekick. Wiggum has proclaimed that he will "clean up the city" of New Orleans, but it does not take long before he meets his nemesis, Big Daddy, who warns Wiggum to stay out of his business. Soon after, Ralph disappears and Wiggum finds Big Daddy's calling card left behind. Wiggum manages to track Big Daddy's ransom call to the Mardi Gras, where he briefly runs into the Simpson family, and the two chase each other to Big Daddy's mansion in the New Orlans bayou (in reality the Louisiana governor's mansion which Big Daddy has managed to steal). Chief Wiggum then threatens Big Daddy with a gun, but Big Daddy counters by tossing Ralph at his father, then jumping out the window and swimming away (at an extremely slow speed, due to his weight). Wiggum ultimately lets the villain escape, feeling that he will meet him again "each and every week," a riff on serialized, weekly television dramas.

The Love-matic Grampa is a sitcom about Moe's love life, a parody of My Mother the Car. He receives advice from the ghost of Abraham Simpson, who was crushed by a store shelf containing cans of figs that toppled on him and subsequently "while travelling up toward Heaven...got lost along the way" and now possesses Moe's love tester machine. Moe ends up getting a date he meets at the bar. On Grampa's advice he takes his date out to a French restaurant and hides the Love Tester in the bathroom so he can get advice while at the restaurant. After Kearney, Dolph and Jimbo whack the machine because it said they were gay, it malfunctions and advises Moe to tell his date that "her rump's as big as the Queen's, and twice as fragrant." Moe returns with a bowl of snails dumped on his head and his dependence on the machine is revealed, so he confesses to receiving advice. His date is actually happy when she hears this, flattered that Moe would go to all that trouble for her. Grampa asks to be introduced to an attractive payphone in front of the restaurant, much to the mirth of Moe and his date.

The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour is a variety show featuring various songs and sketches in a parody of The Brady Bunch Hour and Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In. It features Homer, Marge, Bart, and Maggie. Lisa refuses to participate, but is replaced by an attractive, teenaged blonde bombshell. After the introduction there is a sketch, where the family are portrayed as beavers living in a dam with Tim Conway as a skunk and Homer's boss. The show ends with a medley of songs about candy sung by the family, Jasper Beardley and Waylon Smithers.

Troy ends the special with a look at the upcoming season of The Simpsons, filled with ridiculous plot twists, such as Homer turning Lisa into a frog using magical powers, the discovery of Bart's two long-lost identical twin brothers (one African-American, the other a cowboy), Selma marrying Lenny, Bumblebee Man, and Itchy (in succession), and Homer meeting an alien named Ozmodiar whom only he can see.

Production

Tim Conway cropped
Tim Conway appears as himself in the episode's third segment.

Ken Keeler came up with the idea for the episode from the one sentence statement: "Let's do spin-offs".[3] His idea was to use intentionally bad writing and "crazy plots", which underlines their critique of spin-offs in general.[4] After he had pitched the idea it was decided that "it was an idea that ought to work pretty well" and production went ahead.[3] Creator Matt Groening was uneasy about the idea, feeling that it could be mistranslated as actually bad sitcom writing. He also did not like the idea of breaking the fourth wall and the concept of saying that the Simpsons were just actors in a television show.[5] The idea was later explored in the season 11 episode "Behind the Laughter".[6] One of the "crazy" ideas was the inclusion of the character of Ozmodiar, who was originally included in the script for an earlier episode but was considered too ridiculous for the time. When this episode came along the character seemed to fit with the story and was included.[7] Even though Keeler came up with the story, David S. Cohen, Dan Greaney and Steve Tompkins wrote the scripts for the three segments.[2] Cohen wrote Chief Wiggum P.I.,[8] Greaney wrote Love-matic Grampa and Tompkins wrote The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour.[9]

The episode demanded a different approach to directing than a usual The Simpsons episode. Director Neil Affleck had to animate each segment so that it fit the style of the show it parodied. The Love-matic Grampa segment for instance emulates a three camera setup, as is normally used in sitcoms.[3]

Three guest stars appear in the episode; Phil Hartman as Troy McClure, Tim Conway as himself and Gailard Sartain as Big Daddy.[2] McClure is used as a host of the episode, something he had previously done in the episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular".[10] Conway appears as himself. Conway, a comic veteran, is known for his work on The Carol Burnett Show, which has a similar format to The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour.[11] Due to Lisa being substituted for an older teenager (voiced by Pamela Hayden) in the third segment, Yeardley Smith has only one line in the entire episode.[12]

Proposed real spin-offs

Over the course of the show, the staff have considered producing several spin-off television series and films, based on The Simpsons. In 1994, Matt Groening pitched a live action spin-off from The Simpsons that centered on Krusty and would star Dan Castellaneta. He and Michael Weithorn[13] wrote a pilot script where Krusty moved to Los Angeles and got his own talk show. A recurring joke throughout the script was that Krusty lived in a house on wooden stilts which were continuously being gnawed by beavers. Eventually, the contract negotiations fell apart and Groening decided to stop work on the project.[14]

"22 Short Films About Springfield" sparked the idea amongst the staff for a spin-off series entitled Tales from Springfield. The proposed show would focus on the town in general, rather than the Simpson family. Every week would be a different scenario: three short stories, an adventure with young Homer or a story about a background character that was not tied into the Simpson family at all.[15] The idea never came to anything, as Groening realized that the staff did not have the manpower to produce another show as well as The Simpsons.[13] The staff believe it is something that they would still be interested in doing,[16] and that it "could happen someday."[13]

Groening also expressed a wish to make Simpstasia, a parody of Fantasia, but it was never produced, partly because it would have been too difficult to write a feature-length script.[17] Before his death, Phil Hartman had said he had wished to make a live action Troy McClure film, and several of the show's staff had expressed a desire to help create it.[18] Matt Groening later told Empire that the idea never "got further than enthusiasm", but "would have been really fun".[13]

Cultural references

The entire episode is a satire of unoriginal, poor television writing and references and parodies many television series. When Troy McClure mentions that Fox can only fill up three slots for the next season, the three series are Melrose Place, The X-Files and The Simpsons itself.[2] In the museum of television, Troy walks by posters of spin-offs, such as The Ropers (spun off from Three's Company), Laverne & Shirley (spun off from Happy Days), Rhoda, a show that Julie Kavner, the voice of Marge, once starred in, (spun off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show)[2] and Fish (spun off from Barney Miller),[19] to demonstrate the power of spin-offs. Troy walks by a poster of The Jeffersons (a spin-off of All in the Family) twice, because the writers could not think of any more spin-offs.[7]

Dr. John 2
The character Big Daddy is based on New Orleans musician Dr. John.

Chief Wiggum, P.I. is a parody of police-dramas, such as Miami Vice, Magnum, P.I. and Starsky and Hutch. Skinner emulates Don Johnson from Miami Vice in order to look scruffier.[4] The character of Big Daddy is based on Dr. John, who comes from New Orleans.[8] The chef in the restaurant resembles Paul Prudhomme.[20]

The Love-matic Grampa is a parody of fantasy sitcoms such as Mister Ed, I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched[2] as well as having similarities to My Mother the Car.[5] The Love-matic Grampa machine singing "Daisy Bell" in a distorted manner when its electrical circuits are failing is a reference to HAL from the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.[2] Grampa also references All Quiet on the Western Front, when Moe says he "wrote the book on love".[21] Moe's date, Betty, looks somewhat like Tress MacNeille, the actress who voiced her.[12]

The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour is a parody of the 1960s and 1970s live variety shows. Mainly it is a parody of The Brady Bunch Hour, a short-lived spin-off of the 1970s sitcom The Brady Bunch. The replacement of Lisa in the third segment with another girl reflects the recasting of Jan Brady in the Brady Bunch Hour when Eve Plumb refused to participate.[21] The Simpson family is made to look like The Partridge Family.[2] Also, the segment holds numerous references to Laugh-In. Kent Brockman introduces the show from inside a broadcast booth in a style similar to Laugh-In, there is a joke wall similar to the one in Laugh-In where The Sea Captain opens a porthole. There is also a Laugh-In-like montage wherein other characters comment on the skit itself.[11] When Hans Moleman reads a poem, it is based on Henry Gibson reading a poem on Laugh-In.[7] Other shows parodied during the variety show include The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour,[12] and The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.[11]

The songs parodied during the third segment are:

In the planned future for the show, Homer meets a green space alien named Ozmodiar that only he can see. This is a reference to The Great Gazoo, a character added into some of the final episodes of The Flintstones.[22]

Reception

In its original American broadcast, "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" finished 61st place in the weekly ratings for the week of May 5–May 11, 1997 with a Nielsen rating of 7.3. It was the seventh-highest-rated show on the Fox network that week. Even though Troy mentions that The Simpsons, Melrose Place, and The X-Files are the only shows worth a slot in the next season's lineup, three other Fox shows actually did better than The Simpsons that week. These were Beverly Hills, 90210, King of the Hill, and Married... with Children.[23]

The writers later noted that the episode divided fans. Matt Groening feared that the fans would interpret the episode in a negative light and was uneasy about the episode when it was in production. He later went on to say that the episode "turned out great".[5] The writers of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood called it, "A very clever spin on the alternates offered by the Treehouse of Horrors run. Each of the spin-offs is very clever in its own way."[2] It has also appeared as one of the favorite episodes on a number of "best of" lists. Entertainment Weekly placed the episode 19th in their top 25 Simpsons episode list.[24] In an interview for Star-News, The Simpsons writer Don Payne revealed that the episode was in his personal top six of the best The Simpsons episodes.[25] Additionally, Gary Mullinax, a staff writer for The News Journal, picked the episode as part of his top-ten list.[26]

References

  1. ^ a b c Richmond & Coffman 1997, p. 228.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase". BBC. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  3. ^ a b c Keeler, Ken (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. ^ a b Alberti, pp. 155-156
  5. ^ a b c Groening, Matt (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. ^ Long, Tim; Meyer, George; Scully, Mike; Kirkland, Mark (2000-05-21). "Behind the Laughter". The Simpsons. Season 11. Episode 248. Fox.
  7. ^ a b c Weinstein, Josh (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  8. ^ a b Cohen, David X. (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  9. ^ Greaney, Dan (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  10. ^ Vitti, John; Silverman, David; Oakley, Bill; Weinstein, Josh (1995-12-03). "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular". The Simpsons. Season 7. Episode 138. Fox.
  11. ^ a b c Alberti, pp. 158-159
  12. ^ a b c Smith, Yeardley (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  13. ^ a b c d Olly Richards (2007-05-24). "Life In Development Hell". Empire. p. 76.
  14. ^ Dan Snierson (1999-04-15). "Send in the Clown". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-04-04.
  15. ^ Groening, Matt (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Seventh Season DVD commentary for the episode "22 Short Films About Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  16. ^ Weinstein, Josh (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Seventh Season DVD commentary for the episode "22 Short Films About Springfield" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  17. ^ Groening, Matt (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "A Streetcar Named Marge" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  18. ^ Oakley, Bill (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Seventh Season DVD commentary for the episode "Homerpalooza" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  19. ^ Alberti, p. 154
  20. ^ http://www.tv.com/shows/the-simpsons/the-simpsons-spin-off-showcase-1462/
  21. ^ a b Alberti, pp. 156-157
  22. ^ Alberti, p. 160
  23. ^ "Prime-time Ratings". The Orange County Register. May 14, 1997. p. F02.
  24. ^ "The Family Dynamic". Entertainment Weekly. 2003-02-06. Retrieved 2007-02-02.
  25. ^ Ballard, Allison (August 21, 2005). "Wilmington Walk of Fame 'Simpsons' writer Don Payne — Master of his D'oh-main Don Payne left the Port City years ago for Springfield, but he'll always be a celebrity in his hometown". Star-News (Wilmington, NC). p. 1D, 5D.
  26. ^ Mullinax, Gary (March 16, 2003). "Homer's Odyssey". The News Journal. pp. 14, 15, 16H.

Bibliography

External links

2019 in animation

Events in 2019 in animation.

Bill Oakley

William Lloyd Oakley (born February 27, 1966) is an American television writer and producer, known for his work on the animated comedy series The Simpsons. Oakley and Josh Weinstein became best friends and writing partners at high school; Oakley then attended Harvard University and was Vice President of the Harvard Lampoon. He worked on several short-term media projects, including writing for the variety show Sunday Best, but was then unemployed for a long period.

Oakley and Weinstein eventually penned a spec script for Seinfeld, after which they wrote "Marge Gets a Job", an episode of The Simpsons. Subsequently, the two were hired to write for the show on a permanent basis in 1992. After they wrote episodes such as "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)", "Bart vs. Australia" and "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", the two were appointed executive producers and showrunners for the seventh and eighth seasons of the show. They attempted to include several emotional episodes focusing on the Simpson family, as well as several high-concept episodes such as "Homer's Enemy", "Two Bad Neighbors" and "The Principal and the Pauper", winning three Primetime Emmy Awards for their work.

After they left The Simpsons, Oakley and Weinstein created Mission Hill. The show was plagued by promotional issues and was swiftly canceled. They worked as consulting producers on Futurama, then created The Mullets in 2003. The two wrote several unsuccessful TV pilots, and were due to serve as showrunners on Sit Down, Shut Up in 2009. Oakley left the project over a contract dispute. He has since written for The Cleveland Show and Portlandia, without Weinstein. He also served as co-executive producer and writer on Portlandia, sharing a Writers Guild of America Award with his fellow writers in 2013. In 2018, Oakley reunited with Weinstein as co-executive producer on Disenchantment, Matt Groening's series for Netflix. Oakley is married to fellow writer Rachel Pulido.

Dan Greaney

Daniel "Dan" Greaney is an American television writer. He has written for The Simpsons and The Office. He was hired during The Simpsons' seventh season after writing the first draft of the episode "King-Size Homer", but left after season eleven. He returned to the Simpsons staff during the thirteenth season.

He attended Harvard College, where he was president of Harvard Lampoon and editor of the Harvard Lampoon's nationally distributed parody of USA Today. He also worked as an editorial assistant at The Boston Globe. He graduated from Harvard in 1987.After college, he worked as a reporter for USA Today and co-authored a book entitled Truly One Nation with USA Today founder Allen H. Neuharth. He subsequently attended Harvard Law School and practiced law in New York for two years, during which time he co-founded PME, a television and media company operating in Ukraine and several other former Soviet republics.

Greaney coined the word embiggen in 1996 for "Lisa the Iconoclast," an episode from season seven of The Simpsons.Greaney has worked on numerous film projects, most notably as composer on Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.

Greaney is credited with writing "Bart to the Future", an oddly prophetic episode of The Simpsons from 2000 that presented the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency, which would be realized sixteen years later.

David X. Cohen

David Samuel Cohen (born July 13, 1966), better known as David X. Cohen, is an American television writer. He began working on Beavis and Butt-Head, has written for The Simpsons, and served as the head writer and executive producer of Futurama. Cohen is a producer of Disenchantment, Matt Groening's series for Netflix.

Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons

Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons is the 1999 soundtrack album from The Simpsons. It takes many of the musical numbers from the series which were either not included in the previous album, Songs in the Key of Springfield, or were created since the previous album's release. The album has 53 tracks, most of which were written by Alf Clausen. It was well received by critics, being named the Best Compilation Album of 1999 by Soundtrack.net, and charted at number 197 on the Billboard 200.

HOMR

"HOMR" (styled as "HOMЯ") is the ninth episode of the twelfth season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. The 257th episode overall, it originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 7, 2001. In the episode, while working as a human guinea pig (to pay off the family's lost savings after making a bad investment), Homer discovers the root cause of his subnormal intelligence: a crayon that was lodged in his brain ever since he was six years old. He decides to have it removed to increase his IQ, but soon learns that being intelligent is not always the same as being happy.

The episode was written by Al Jean and directed by Mike B. Anderson. Its plot takes inspiration from Flowers for Algernon and its film adaptation Charly. "HOMR" was viewed in 10.2 million households, and it received positive reviews from television critics. In 2001, the episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program, while Al Jean received a nomination in the category "Outstanding Individual Achievement for Writing in an Animated Television Production".

Homer's Enemy

"Homer's Enemy" is the twenty-third episode in the eighth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It was first broadcast on the Fox network in the United States on May 4, 1997. The episode's plot centers on the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's hiring a new employee named Frank Grimes. Despite Homer's attempts to befriend him, Grimes is angered and irritated by Homer's laziness and incompetence despite leading a comfortable life. He eventually declares himself Homer's enemy and tries to expose his flaws through public humiliation. Meanwhile, Bart buys a run-down factory for a dollar.

"Homer's Enemy" was directed by Jim Reardon and the script was written by John Swartzwelder, based on an idea pitched by executive producer Bill Oakley. The episode explores the comic possibilities of a realistic character with a strong work ethic hired for a job where he has to work alongside a man like Homer. He was partially modeled after Michael Douglas as he appeared in the film Falling Down. Hank Azaria provided the voice of Frank Grimes, and based some of the character's mannerisms on actor William H. Macy. Frank Welker guest stars as the voice of the Executive Vice President dog.

In its original broadcast on the Fox network, "Homer's Enemy" acquired a 7.7 Nielsen rating. It was viewed in approximately 7.5 million homes, finishing the week ranked 56th. "Homer's Enemy" is considered to be one of the darkest episodes of The Simpsons, and it split critical opinion. It is a favorite of several members of the production staff, including Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein and Matt Groening, but it is one of the least favorites of Mike Reiss. Although Grimes is never shown alive after this episode, he was later named one of the "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral characters" by IGN. He has since been referenced many times in the show, most notably in the season fourteen episode "The Great Louse Detective", in which his vengeful son plots to kill Homer.

Josh Weinstein

Josh Weinstein (born May 5, 1966) is an American television writer and producer, known for his work on the animated comedy series The Simpsons. Weinstein and Bill Oakley became best friends and writing partners at St. Albans High School; Weinstein then attended Stanford University and was editor-in-chief of the Stanford Chaparral. He worked on several short-term media projects, including writing for the variety show Sunday Best, but was then unemployed for a long period.

Weinstein and Oakley eventually penned a spec script for Seinfeld, after which they wrote "Marge Gets a Job", an episode of The Simpsons. Subsequently, the two were hired to write for the show on a permanent basis in 1992. After they wrote episodes such as "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)", "Bart vs. Australia" and "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", the two were appointed executive producers and showrunners for the seventh and eighth seasons of the show. They attempted to include several emotional episodes focusing on the Simpson family, as well as several high-concept episodes such as "Homer's Enemy", "Two Bad Neighbors" and "The Principal and the Pauper", winning three Primetime Emmy Awards for their work.

After they left The Simpsons, Oakley and Weinstein created Mission Hill. The show was plagued by promotional issues and was swiftly canceled, but in subsequent years has gone on to develop a cult following. They worked as consulting producers on Futurama, then created The Mullets in 2003. The two wrote several unsuccessful TV pilots, and were due to serve as showrunners on Sit Down, Shut Up in 2009. Oakley left the project over a contract dispute, but Weinstein remained until it was canceled. He co-produced and wrote for Futurama again during its Comedy Central revival, winning an Emmy in 2011. Since 2013, Weinstein has served as showrunner for the CBBC series Strange Hill High, and in 2015, Danger Mouse. He has also served as a writer for Season Two of Gravity Falls, co-writing nine of the season's episodes. In 2018, Weinstein co-developed the Netflix animated series Disenchantment with creator Matt Groening, of which he and Oakley are currently serving as co-showrunners. Weinstein is married to journalist Lisa Simmons.

Ken Keeler

Kenneth Keeler (born 1961) is an American television producer and writer. He has written for numerous television series, most notably The Simpsons and Futurama. According to an interview with David X. Cohen, he proved a theorem which appears in the Futurama episode "The Prisoner of Benda".

Krusty Gets Kancelled

"Krusty Gets Kancelled" is the 22nd and final episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 13, 1993. In the episode, a new show featuring ventriloquist Arthur Crandall and his dummy Gabbo premieres in Springfield and competes with Krusty the Clown's show. Krusty's show is soon cancelled. Bart and Lisa decide to help Krusty get back on the air by staging a comeback special.

John Swartzwelder wrote the episode and David Silverman served as director. Following the success of "Homer at the Bat", the writers wanted to try a similar guest star-heavy episode, except with celebrities instead of baseball players. The episode proved quite difficult, as many of the actors asked to guest star declined at the last minute and the comeback special portion was nearly scrapped. Johnny Carson, Hugh Hefner, Bette Midler, Luke Perry, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (Flea, Anthony Kiedis, Arik Marshall and Chad Smith) all guest star as themselves and appear on Krusty's special. Elizabeth Taylor and Barry White, both of whom guest-starred in previous episodes this season, make cameo appearances.

Love tester machine

A love tester machine (also called love meter or love teller) is a type of amusement personality tester machine, which upon receiving credit tries to rate the subject's sex appeal, love abilities or romantic feelings for someone. Many love testers measure the moisture on the skin surface of the subject's hands by electrically testing the skin conductance and rates them accordingly. Others measure the temperature of the skin. However some machines just use a random generator. Love meters could be found in penny arcades, and can be seen in modern video arcades, amusement parks, in bars and restaurants. Such vending machines are for amusement purposes only and do not actually give a real result. Nintendo, in their early years, once created a Love Tester.

Media in The Simpsons

Media is a recurring theme of satire on The Simpsons. The show is known for its satire of American popular culture and especially television culture, but has since its inception covered all types of media such as animation, journalism, commercials, comic books, movies, internet, and music. The series centers on a family and their life in a typical American town but the town of Springfield acts as a complete universe. The town features a vast array of media channels—from kids' television programming to local news, which enables the producers to make jokes about themselves and the entertainment industry.

Most of The Simpsons media satire focuses on television. This is mainly done through three characters: Krusty the Clown, Sideshow Bob, and until 1998 Troy McClure. The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a show within a show, used as a satire of animation and in some cases The Simpsons itself. Topics include censorship, plagiarism, unoriginal writing, live-action clip shows and documentaries. Kent Brockman, Springfield's principal news presenter illustrates the glibness, amplification, and sensationalism of broadcast journalism. His tabloidization methods include making people look guilty without trial, and invasion of privacy by setting up camp outside people's homes.

My Mother the Car

My Mother the Car is an American fantasy sitcom that aired for a single season on NBC between September 14, 1965, and April 5, 1966. Thirty episodes were produced by United Artists Television. The premise features a man whose deceased mother is reincarnated as an antique car, and who communicates with him through the car radio.

Critics and adult viewers generally disliked the show, often savagely. In 2002, TV Guide proclaimed it to be the second-worst of all time, behind The Jerry Springer Show. The best audience for My Mother the Car was youngsters who, more than five decades later, fondly recall the program. The show's incredible premise was similar to other popular comedies of the 1960s that featured a fantastic gimmick, like a talking horse (Mister Ed), a suburbanite witch (Bewitched), an obedient genie (I Dream of Jeannie), or a flying nun (The Flying Nun).

My Mother the Car had an experienced production team with established comedy credentials. Rod Amateau had produced the Burns and Allen and Dobie Gillis sitcoms. Allan Burns, co-creator of My Mother the Car, had written for Jay Ward and went on to create several critically acclaimed shows, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, and Lou Grant. Television producer James L. Brooks, who later collaborated with Burns on these series, created, among others, Room 222 and Taxi, and served as executive producer of The Simpsons (which later parodied the show in the "Lovematic Grandpa" segment of "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase"), got his start in television sitcoms when he was called upon to rewrite a script for an episode of the series. The other co-creator, Chris Hayward, produced and wrote for Barney Miller during its first several seasons.

Steve Tompkins

Steve Tompkins is an American television writer. He attended Harvard University and wrote for the Harvard Lampoon; he graduated in 1988. He has worked on such television shows such as The Critic, In Living Color, Entourage, The Bernie Mac Show and The Knights of Prosperity. He was also with The Simpsons, for its seventh and eighth seasons; after leaving he co-created The PJs, with Larry Wilmore and Eddie Murphy. He was also the executive producer on the Nickelodeon animated series Fanboy & Chum Chum (with Fred Seibert) and also voiced the character Janitor Poopatine.

The Great Gazoo

The Great Gazoo is a fictional character from The Flintstones animated series. He first appeared on the show on October 29, 1965. The Great Gazoo was voiced by actor Harvey Korman.

The Principal and the Pauper

"The Principal and the Pauper" is the second episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on September 28, 1997. In the episode, Seymour Skinner begins to celebrate his twentieth anniversary as principal of Springfield Elementary School, when a man arrives claiming that Skinner has assumed his identity. Principal Skinner admits that his real name is Armin Tamzarian, and that he had thought the true Seymour Skinner, a friend from the Army, had died in the Vietnam War. Armin leaves Springfield, but is later persuaded to return as principal.

"The Principal and the Pauper" was written by Ken Keeler and directed by Steven Dean Moore. It guest-starred Martin Sheen as the real Seymour Skinner. Although it aired during the show's ninth season, it was a holdover from season eight. The episode is one of the most controversial episodes of The Simpsons. Many fans and critics reacted extremely negatively to the revelation that Principal Skinner, a recurring character since the first season who had undergone a lot of character development, was an impostor. Many fans do not even consider it to be canon. The episode has been criticized by series creator Matt Groening, and by Harry Shearer, who provides the voice of Principal Skinner. Despite this, Ken Keeler considers the episode the best work he has ever done for television.

The Secret War of Lisa Simpson

"The Secret War of Lisa Simpson" is the twenty-fifth and final episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 18, 1997. Bart gets sent to a military academy as punishment for bad behavior. While visiting the academy, Lisa sees that the school is far more challenging than hers and she decides that she wants to attend as well. It was directed by Mike B. Anderson, written by Richard Appel and featured Willem Dafoe in a guest spot as the school's commandant.

Troy McClure

Troy McClure is a fictional character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. He was originally voiced by Phil Hartman and first appeared in the second season episode "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment". McClure is an actor who is usually shown doing low-level work, such as hosting infomercials and educational films. He appears as the main character in "A Fish Called Selma", in which he marries Selma Bouvier to aid his failing career and quash rumors about his personal life. McClure also 'hosts' "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" and "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase".

McClure was partially based on B movie actors Troy Donahue and Doug McClure, as well as Hartman himself. Following Hartman's murder at the hands of his wife in 1998, two of his Simpsons characters were retired, with Hartman's final appearance as McClure was in the tenth season episode "Bart the Mother" four months later. Since his retirement, McClure has often been cited as one of the series' most popular characters. In 2006, IGN ranked McClure No. 1 on their list of the "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral Characters".

Season 8
Themed episodes
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