Oh man. This is seriously one of my favorite episodes of all time. It’s just top to bottom amazing, and it’s always been one of my favorites. I was actually a little nervous to watch this one though, because it’s been held in such high esteem by me for so long I was worried that it would maybe not hold up, or at the least not find it as great as I always have. And man was that an unjustified concern, because this episode is spectacular.
The episode starts off by showing Mr. Burns’ mansion and all the warning signs that are plastered on it’s front gates, along with a sign advertising free kittens. And much like the rest of the episode it’s a parody of Citizen Kane. I think Citizen Kane is the most parodied movie on the Simpsons, to the point that I wouldn’t be surprised if you could edit together a pretty long video of Simpsons clips that match up with the movie. And man was it crazy the first time I saw Citizen Kane in college and realized that I had already seen most of the movie. Anyway, after Smithers shushes Mr. Burns’ Wicked Witch of the West guards we see that Mr. Burns is having some problems sleeping. He’s having bad dreams, throwing slow globes, and muttering the word “Bobo.” We see Mr. Burns’ dream, which is a memory of him as a kid on the day he left his birth parents. They’re approached by a rich old miser who wants to take Mr. Burns, who they call Happy like it’s first name, to go be rich, leaving his life, his parents, his brother George Burns, and his little teddy bear Bobo.
Smithers is of course intrigued by this Bobo thing Burns keeps saying, but before he can investigate any further we pop over to the Simpsons house where Homer has woken up to see it’s almost Mr. Burns’ birthday. He’s worried about that, because apparently the whole Plant has to make a big fuss about his birthday, and Homer usually gets stuck with terrible jobs, like getting hit like a pinata. Homer then heads off to work where all his coworkers are laughing at him because he somehow put both his pants and shirt on with the hangers still in them. Mr. Burns sees everyone laughing at Homer on the monitors, and assumes he’s cracking them up with jokes, so he tells Smithers to make Homer tell jokes at the birthday party.
And the birthday is upon us! And man did I laugh hard at the joke of the newspaper talking about Burns’ birthday while there’s a smaller headline in the bottom that says that he credits his long life to Satan, and then has a photo of Burns and the devil holding a giant check like Burns won the lottery. We then see everyone trudging into the birthday party where George Bush and Jimmy Carter get kicked out, since he doesn’t want any one-timers. And after a weird couple of photos on a slide-show Mr. Burns gets a lovely song from the Ramones, who are a little too harsh for Mr. Burns, leading him to order Smithers to kill the Rolling Stones. Burns then opens his presents, which comprise of treasure, a lot of ties, and a unicorn. But he’s still not content, since he really wants his Bobo. But it’s then time for Homer’s comedy show, and after Smithers announced a Lassie dog had been killed in the parking lot, he comes out to a crowd very open to jokes. And Homer’s show doesn’t really go well. No one likes his jokes, even when he does his “impression” of Mr. Burns, which is just him dropping his pants and mooning the crowd with a frowny face painted on his butt. Burns doesn’t find this very complimentary and has Homer cracked over the head by goons before having the goddamn SWAT team come in and throw everyone out.
The next day Marge sends Bart out to the Kwik-E-Mart to get some ice for Homer’s head and we pop over to Burns’ mansion. He’s still upset about missing Bobo while going through his treasure room that contains all his wonderful possessions, like King Arthur’s Excalibur, the only known nude photo of Mark Twain, and a first draft of the Constitution with the word “suckers” in it. Burns then wonders whatever became of Bobo, and we get a ridiculous montage of Bobo’s life. After Burns left him in his childhood home he fell into a river and ended up in New York where he was taken by Charles Lindbergh on his trip across the Atlantic, where he’s then picked up by Hitler who takes him to his bunker, he then somehow gets onto a submarine that goes to the North Pole, where he gets frozen in ice. We then cut to modern day where guys are chopping ice in the North Pole and get Bobo. They then take him back to Springfield, because apparently the Kwik-E-Mart gets their ice from the North Pole. Bart then happens to buy the bag of ice that contains Bobo, and after Apu tells him the amazing line of “ooh,, a head bag, those are chock full of heady goodness,” Bart heads home with it. He finds that it has a rotten old teddy bear in it, and gives it right to Maggie. And after Maggie gets it we get one of my favorite Simpsons jokes of all time, where the camera dramatically zooms in on a tag that should reveal it’s Bobo, only to find a tag that says 100% cotton before the camera frantically scans around the bear before finding the one that says Bobo.
Meanwhile, Smithers has upped his creepy game by dressing in a teddy bear outfit to make Burns happy, which leads to Burns putting out a reward for his bear. Kent Brockman then delivers a report about the bear, and all it’s worth, while Homer is just ignoring Maggie playing with it. And after falling down the stairs while everything in the house aligns for him to see the bear, he finally notices it and lets the family know they’re rich. Homer then apparently plans on blackmailing Burns for the bear to get a recording studio to sign the Big Mac song. The rest of the family isn’t cool with that. Lisa, of course, wants to just give Burns back the bear, but everyone else, even Marge, wants to at least get some money for it. Homer then goes to see Burns, who after confirming it’s the right bear, tries to stiff Homer on a reward. So Homer storm off with the bear, refusing to give it back. Homer gets home and thinks about backing down, but just as he’s about to Burns and Smithers show up to make a deal for the bear. Homer requests a million dollar and three Hawaiian island (not leper ones) and Burns agrees. But when Homer goes to hand Burns the bear, he finds Maggie has gotten really attached to it and doesn’t want to give it up. So to the surprise of everyone, including himself, Homer doesn’t give the bear to Burns. And things escalate quickly.
Burns and Smithers then start trying to steal Bobo in a series of wonderful scenes. First they plan on shooting a line from the Flanders’ roof to the Simpsons and sneak in. And man is it great that Flanders shows up to see what they’re doing and Burns just wordlessly gasses him. But when they try to cross the line, they get stuck in the middle and the firemen have to come save them. Then the next night they actually get into the house and are traversing the house by crawling on the ceiling with suction cups. Unfortunately they get stuck in the kitchen when Homer shows up to just sit there and eat 64 slices of American cheese. And the next morning when Marge finds him and he announces “I think I’m blind,” and I pee myself laughing, Burns and Smithers fall off the ceiling and quickly leave. Burns then starts punishing Homer at work by making him turn some crazy Conan the Barbarian wheel while a dude whips him, which just makes a plate with cakes turn in the cafeteria. And man is it great that Homer asks the dude, with hope in his voice, if “after lunch can I whip you?” So great.
But all of these plans aren’t working, and Homer isn’t budging, so Burns goes full supervillain and takes over all the TV stations in Springfield. He starts showing up on all the shows, even the Soul Mass Transit System and Bumblebee Man to announce the Homer that no one gets to watch TV until he gives him the bear. He then raises the ante by announcing that he’s diverted all beer to the city, so they’ll be without entertainment and sober until Homer wises up, which leads Barney to immediately show up at their house and threaten Homer with a gun. But Homer still sticks to his guns and still won’t give Burns the bear, while Burns and Smithers hilariously still perform some crazy sitcom, because apparently they thought that they needed to fill the broadcast time instead of just pulling everything off the air. But since this is Springfield, an angry mob shows up to take the bear away from the Simpsons by force, but once they see Maggie cry they decide to give it back and just go sing at the hospital. Then, with all of his plans failing, Burns and Smithers show up at the house again and Burns begs Homer for the bear. Homer explains that he wants to give him the bear, but won’t because of Maggie, so Burns heads to the backyard to have a heart to heart with a one year old. He tries to steal the bear, but Maggie is too strong for him, so he emotionally tells her to keep the bear and treat it better then him, and in an act of humility, Maggie gives Burns the bear he cares so much for. The family then debates whether this was a happy ending or a sad ending while the episode ends with a crazy flash forward to some weird Planet of the Apes future and a robotic Mr. Burns saves Bobo once again, because he’s immortal now and just keeps losing that damn bear.
This episode is amazing. I’m on the record as being an enormous Mr. Burns fan, so of course a crazy episode about Mr. Burns trying to steal a teddy bear from the family is going to be up my alley. Citizen Kane is a legitimately amazing movie, and well worth anybody’s time, and it’s great to see so many wonderful references and parodies in this episode. Hell, even the title of the episode is a wonderful reference. It’s just top to bottom amazing, with some of the best jokes in the shows history. We’re reaching my favorite part of the series, where things are just firing on all cylinders and the sense of humor lines up perfectly with my own, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Take Away: Don’t lose your childhood innocence, and don’t eat 64 slices of American cheese in one go.
“Rosebud” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Wes Archer, 1993.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons