Well, after the emotionality of “Bart vs. Thanksgiving,” let’s get to a wacky episode! This is such a weird episode, and clearly is one the creators love since it show up in pretty much every clip show that I can remember. Let’s get right into the weirdness.
The episode starts off with Bart and Milhouse watching a professional wrestling match, and Homer and the barflies watching it at Moe’s. Confession time, I loved wrestling as a kid. I know people like it now, especially people who like comics, because as you get older you know that it’s all scripted, and you can enjoy it from a weird narrative place, but as a kid I though it was real, and deadly serious. I grew up in a time where I could see the Ultimate Warrior fighting Hulk Hogan, or crazy-ass people like Jake the Snake. It really made me nostalgic. Anyway, at the end of the match there’s an ad for a Monster Truck derby, featuring a giant robot dinosaur called Truckosaurus. Bart and Homer immediately realize that they need to see this, and end up running into each other as they were both trying to meet, and yell “Truckosaurus” together. It was oddly sweet that the two are so similar. But when they inform the rest of the family that they’re going to the monster truck rally, the find out that the same night is Lisa’s orchestra recital, and that they have to go to that first. Now, I never was into instruments as a kid, I played guitar in high school and college, but not in like the school band or anything, but my little brother played violin in orchestra, and I got dragged to a lot of super long recitals featuring a bunch of kids I didn’t know who weren’t good. I know Bart’s pain. But I will say, I never had to go to a recital that was apparently two and half hours long Yeesh. And I love when Flanders cries at Todd’s solo, and Homer says “c’mon Flanders, he’s not that bad.”
When the recital is over, the family books it out of the school, and heads to the rally. I’ve never been to a monster truck rally, but boy do I assume that brings out the dregs of society, I really can’t imagine the crowd comes to watch one. Anyway, they show up late, and when Homer attempts to find parking, he somehow makes it into the stadium, and their car is almost destroyed by Truckasaurus himself. They stop the robot before it kills them however, and the people behind the rally pay them off and give them a half-drunk bottle of champagne to keep them quite about the accident. So they head up to their seats, and watch the rest of the show, which ends with a surprise performance by legendary daredevil, Lance Murdock! He’s going to jump over a water tank full of sharks, electric eels, piranhas, crocodiles, and a lion for some reason. He makes the jump, but as he drives back up to the tank to take a bow, he falls in, and gets attacked by all the sea-life, and hilariously as he starts to drag himself out, the lion pops up to drag him back in. The audience goes wild, and Bart realizes that his true calling in life is to become a daredevil just like Murdock.
Bart decides to try jumping a car on his skateboard, but fails right away, and gets injured. He’s rushed off to the hospital, where Dr. Hibbert brings him to a whole wing full of kids who have hurt themselves by trying to imitate stupid things they saw on TV. Now, I feel like I don’t hear about his as much, but when I was a kid there was always these stupid urban legends going around that would convince parents to not let kids watch things because kids hurt themselves. I really don’t know if any of them are true, but I heard about kids jumping off their houses because they saw Superman fly, or all sorts of kids hurting themselves by watching Jackass. And I always just assumed it was all bullcrap. It was the equivalent of the stupid click-bait articles that parents and grandparents plaster Facebook with. Who knows. Anyway, Bart does not learn his lesson, and continues to become a stuntman, and actually starts to have success. The kids in the neighborhood begin loving his shows, and he kind of becomes famous. There’s an amazing joke in the middle of a montage of Bart’s stunts where he jumps over a sleeping Homer in a hammock, and when the kids applaud, Homer wakes up, and assumes that a group of children have come to applaud him sleeping.
But time passes, and Bart’s beginning to worry that his show is becoming stale, so of course there’s a narrativly convenient field trip to Springfield Gorge. When Bart sees the magnitude of the gorge, he realizes that it’s his life’s goal to jump it. I love that Otto walks up next to Bart admiring the gorge and delivers two amazing lines. First of all, he says “I bet you could throw a dead body and no one would ever find it.” What the fuck? Then when Bart says that he wants to jump over the gorge on his skateboard, Otto delivers one of my favorite lines of all time. “As the only adult here, I feel I should say something…cool!”
On the trip back home, Bart interrupts Otto from singing Purple Haze on the intercom the bus has for some reason, and makes the announcement to his classmates that he plans on jumping the gorge. Lisa is of course not thrilled with this idea, and tries to talk Bart out of it. I love that Bart condescends to her by saying “I get the same thrill jumping over stuff that you do…reading.” When she realizes that she’s not going to be able to talk Bart out of it, she arranges Bart to meet Lance Murdock, in the hospital where he’s broken every bone in his body. After signed an autograph with his teeth, Murdock hears Bart’s plan, and completely approves of it, much to Lisa’s dismay. So of course Lisa tells Homer and Marge, who try to get Bart to promise he won’t jump, but he tells them that no matter what, he’s going through with it. Homer comes and pleads with Bart, who finally agrees to promise that he won’t do the stunt, but immediately sneaks out to do it, and Homer runs off to stop him.
Apparently Bart has made himself a costume, and he shows up at the gorge to find pretty much the whole school waiting for him. Bart gets ready for the jump, but at the last second Homer shows up and stops him. Homer decides that the only way to teach Bart his lesson is to jump the gorge himself, so that Bart will know the fear and pain of seeing a loved one endanger themselves. Bart finally understands, and as the two are reconciling, Homer accidentally starts going down the ramp, and ends up flying out into the gorge on the skateboard. We then get the amazingly cartoony scene of Homer not making it falling down the gorge as he hits every single rock on the way down. Then he gets airlifted out of the gorge, and the ambulance he’s loaded into crashes immediately, and he’s thrown back down the gorge. Homer’s eventually taken to the hospital where he shares a room with Murdock, and tells him the classic line of “you think you’ve got guts? Try raising my kids.”
And as Homer sits in the hospital, things go back to the status quo, and everyone’s alright. This is such a funny and weird episode, and a really great example of a story that they couldn’t do in a normal sitcom. The stunts and the final gruesome fall down the cliff could never be on a live action show. I love when the Simpsons truly takes advantage of their medium, doing fun stories that wouldn’t be possible on a different show.
Take Away: Your actions have consequences on your loved ones. No one wants to see someone they love destroy themselves. Another downer, but a true one.
“Bart the Daredevil” was written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky and was directed by Wes Archer.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons