Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E21 – Black Widower

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Ah, like a good slasher villain, Sideshow Bob is back this season to wreck more havoc on the Simpsons family. Sideshow Bob is such a fun character, and I love that in the older season at least, he was used sparingly. He wasn’t showing up every single season, something to anticipate, it was just a random occurrence, you never knew when Bob would show up to try and launch an evil plan. And this is a Bob episode that I tend to forget a lot. It’s not as classic as some of the others.

The episode starts off with the family watching some sort of parody of that Dinosaur show from the early 90’s, which was a super weird thing. I had to find an episode to show my wife that it was a real thing, because it just sounds too crazy to be real, more like an SNL skit or something. But after the Dinosaur thing, we find that the family is getting all dressed up to meet Aunt Selma’s new boyfriend, which seems like a very rare occurrence. And before they get there and reveal the identity of the new beau, we learn that apparently Selma met him in a prison pen-pal program, which has always seemed like the sketchiest thing in the world, especially the people who write to, and try to romance, killers and people who are in for life. So weird. But then Patty, Selma, and the guest show up and it turns out Selma’s new boyfriend is none other than Sideshow Bob! Dun dun DUNNN! Bart is obviously not okay with this, but Bob begins telling the story of his life in prison after being caught framing Krusty while they start the most awkward family dinner of all time, where Sideshow Bob sits right next to Bart. Bob talks about his time in a ridiculously overcrowded prison, and the hell his life became in there. But then it turns out he was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for the brief time he ran the Krusty show, and he even wins, which leads to Bob and Krusty yelling at each other on live TV, and Bob getting sedated. Bob then spends his time creating license plates, all of which are about how much he hates Bart, which is a pretty good gag. But he then tries the prison pen-pal program, and ends up meeting Selma. The two fall in love through the letters, and Bob becomes a model inmate, getting an early release.

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After the story, the rest of the family is pretty charmed by Bob, except Bart of course, who still doesn’t trust him, and knows that he’s up to something. And then Sideshow Bob pulls one of the least romantic proposals of all time, and proposes marriage to Selma in front of her family in her sister’s house. And despite Bart’s vocal objections, she says yes, and they get engaged. We then have a silly montage of Bob and Selma being happy while we hear them sing “Something Stupid” on karaoke. Things are going pretty good. Selma is happy at the DMV, and even gives Hans Moleman a driver’s license, a terrible decision. We also see Bob make amends with Krusty by showing up at some sort of telethon Krusty is hosting that’s a parody of the thing Jerry Lewis used to do. After some hesitation, Krusty and Bob embrace and insult Sideshow Mel. And then the wedding planning begins. Marge tries her best to help with the planning, but Homer says that the food should be all cocktail weenies. Selma doesn’t really care about the food though, because we learn that when she was a kid she got a bottlerocket up her nose, and lost her sense of smell and taste…which doesn’t seem like a possibility, but it’s a funny little tidbit about Selma that I’m sure isn’t really canonical, at least I’m sure we’ll either see, or have seen, her break that rule. We also learn that Selma apparently has a lot of money, thanks to stock in the company that makes Mace. There’s a brief scene where the marriage is almost called off because Bob doesn’t understand Selma’s love of the show MacGyver, and makes fun of it in her presence, but that’s quickly taken care of, and really just in there to establish the love of the show. And then we’re off for the wedding!

The actual ceremony is barely shown in the episode, besides Bart seeing Bob and the Grim Reaper when he says “I do,” and the hilarious scene of Lisa judging Maggie as the flower girl. We then have the reception, where Homer eats all of the food, just shoveling it down, and Marge wanders around with a video camera, recording well wishes. I’m super glad that that tradition died by the time of my wedding, because I do not need to see my drunken relatives and friends ramble at a video camera. Although we do get a funny joke of Marge telling Krusty to be funny, and after some panicking starts to tell the old “Twelve Inch Pianist” joke before realizing he shouldn’t say that one. Selma then announces that she’s decided to give up smoking, except for after meals and MacGyver. The happy couple then heads off to the honeymoon, complete with cans tied to the bumper of the car, which is a really stupid thing. My wife and I pulled over almost immediately to get rid of them, because they were causing spark to fly off the street. And as they drive off and Selma falls asleep in his arms, we finally learn that Bob has some sort of evil plan, saying that the honeymoon will be murder.

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The Simpsons then get a video from Selma in the mail, showing them enjoying their honeymoon at Shelbyville falls. During the video we also see Sideshow Bob yelling at the bellhop, demanding a room with a fireplace, and then him being happy when they get a room with one. I think it’s hilarious that now that we know Bob is up to something, he no longer seems to tolerate Selma, and is repulsed by sex with her. His plan then kicks into gear when he has her watch MacGyver, setting her cigarettes next to her, and turning the gas from the fireplace on. He goes down to a bar, and watches his room explode. He calls the police, and heads up to look at the destroyed room. But when he gets there, he finds Bart waiting for him in the destroyed room. Turns out Bart pieced it all together, and stopped the plan. Bob was trying to get Selma’s Mace money, and had planned an insane murder for her. He turned the gas on, knowing that she wouldn’t smell it, and convinced her to only smoke after MacGyver, so that she would blow up with him out of the room, making it look like an accident and giving him a good alibi. But Bart figured it all out, and after trying to explain it to Homer, got Marge to understand and the family went to save her. The room actually exploded after everyone was out of it, because Wiggum and Homer were smoking some sort of post-crime solving cigars, and Wiggum threw the match into the room. So Bob is arrested, Selma is single, and the family gets back to normal.

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This was a really fun Sideshow Bob episode. I’m not quite sure why I never really remember it. Maybe because it’s not about Bob going after Bart, and actually doesn’t really involve him much besides the solution to the puzzle. I’m not sure. But boy do I love the classic Bob episodes. I think it’s because the episodes get structured like mysteries. We get to see clues get dropped throughout the episode, and Bart acting like a detective, putting them together to take down the evil Bob. They’re just so good, and this was a great one.

Take Away: Don’t marry criminal masterminds. Maybe not a situation most would find themselves in, but good advice nonetheless.

“Black Widower” was written by Jon Vitti, Sam Simon, and Thomas Chastain, and was directed by David Silverman.

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