So back when I was a kid in the awkward year that the first season was the only DVD set I had, and I would watch these episodes over and over, for some reason this one was my favorite. I’m not sure why now, since I’ve found I absolutely love “the Call of the Simpsons,” but I guess something about this one really did it for me when I was younger. It’s pretty good, but there’s definitely better ones this season.
We start off with Homer tripping on Bart’s toys, and falling down the stairs, throwing out his back. It’s a pretty cartoony scene, and I love that Santa’s Little Helper just shows up and cuddles with Homer, and that the Krusty doll just keeps talking to Homer, until it gets a creepy worn down voice as the toy starts to break. The rest of the family finally show up, and Bart gets yelled at for being messy, and is told to clean his room. Then, like pretty much every ten year old boy, your humble author included, Bart just shoved everything into his closet. My wife could probably attest to the fact that that’s pretty much still how I clean. But while cleaning, Bart comes across and cherry bomb, and decides he has to destroy something.
Bart then goes to school, where Agnes Skinner is touring the school with Principal Skinner. And calling him Spanky, which is a pretty embarrassing mom nickname. But I’m one to talk, my middle name is Dean, and my mom called me Deaner the Wiener for most of my childhood, so hey, Spanky sounds great. The kids laugh at Spanky, then we see Bart, Milhouse, Richard, and Lewis hanging out in the boys room as they light and flush the cherry bomb down the toilet. Then the toilets blow up in the boys room, and apparently the girls bathroom too, because Agnes gets blown up too.
Principal Skinner then makes a damn house call with Bart, so he can tell Homer and Marge Bart’s latest atrocity. Skinner then suggests deportation as the solution to Bart’s behavior, to which Homer has the great line “hear him out Marge.” Skinner then explains that his idea is to have Bart go to France in a foreign exchange program, as long as the Simpsons take in an Albanian kid. I love Homer’s misunderstanding, assuming that an Albanian is “all white with pink eyes.” I still giggle to myself on the rare occasion that I hear something mention Albania. Marge comes up to Bart’s room to talk about the France trip, to which Bart pretty much immediately agrees, causing Skinner and Homer to dance with glee.
So Bart flies off to France, and is picked up by one of his foster parents, Ugolin, who takes Bart on a moped ride to the chateau that he’ll be staying in as they drive through some French paintings. At the same time the Simpsons get their Albanian student, Adil. Adil is super charming from the get-go, ingratiating himself with his temporary family. Meanwhile, Bart has essentially become a slave to the winemakers Cesar and Ugolin. They have him pick the grapes while sleeping on the floor next to a hay pile that’s reserved for a donkey. They root through his stuff and steal everything they like, and only feed him turnips. I do love Bart’s line “Can I have something to go with my turnip please?”
Back in Springfield, everything seems to be going well with Adil, until we realize that he’s there to steal nuclear secrets from America. He comes with Homer to the plant, and starts taking pictures of the plant’s inner workings, transmitting them back to the apparently nefarious Albania. Things in France come to a head as Bart witnesses Cesar and Ugolin putting anti-freeze in their wine…apparently to make it stronger? I really don’t get that whole thing, but to this day I think of it when I see or hear anti-freeze, and it could be one of the reasons that I don’t like wine. So the two Frenchmen make Bart test the wine, to see if it’s poisonous, I also love Cesar’s statement “I bet it won’t even make him go blind.”
And since Bart doesn’t go blind, they send him off to buy more anti-freeze, where he gets lost in the rain, and runs into a policeman. At first he’s unable to communicate with the man since he doesn’t speak any French, and the cop just gives him candy. But then to Bart’s surprise, he’s apparently picked up enough French to explain the situation to the cop, who comes to bust Cesar and Ugolin, making Bart a hero. Meanwhile, the FBI is hot on Adil’s trail, although they think he’s hiding out in Flanders’ house. Homer comes out to see what’s going on, and a super loquacious FBI agent just straight up tells Homer everything about the investigation, causing Homer to accidentally out Adil. Adil is then arrested and apparently traded for a different child spy, and Bart comes home to the family, a hero with lots of gifts. The family celebrates and Bart explains the moral of his trip, which was that he met one nice French guy.
This was a pretty funny episode, but it didn’t do it for me like it did when I was a kid. The exchange student idea was fun, and the idea of the Simpsons harboring a spy was great. Maybe it was the weird child abuse that Bart had to endure. I don’t know. It was a fun one, but not a great one.
Take Away: Wine is gross, Albanians aren’t Albinos, and French cops give out candy. Also, I guess that it’s important to experience other cultures, especially if you get to be a national hero.
“The Crepes of Wrath” was directed by Wesley Archer & Milton Gray and was written by George Meyer, Sam Simon, John Swartzwelder & Jon Vitti
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
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