Big milestone today everyone. And not a symbolic milestone like “Deep Space Homer,” a real numerical milestone, even though the chalkboard says not to celebrate it, since it’s meaningless. This is the 100th episode of the Simpsons, and thus, the 100th article of this project. Holy crap. It’s pretty ridiculous, but amazing at the same time. This show is so wonderful and this project has really reignited my passion for it, although I’ve got to tell you, I’m getting increasingly nervous about the coming Dark Ages of this show. But let’s not dwell on that; let’s appreciate a truly wonderful episode, that’s kind of a weird choice for the 100th episode.
We start off with Bart, Lisa, and Marge watching some old home movies of Marge and Homer in the early years of their marriage while Joe Cocker’s cover of “With a Little Help From My Friends,” plays like it’s the Wonder Years. It’s some pretty great gags, and it’s so crazy to see them needing a film projector to watch their memories. There’s then a really funny retrospective joke where Marge asks Bart if he would like it if people were laughing at his antics in twenty years, to which he responds that’s not likely, because of course it isn’t, there’ no way that they would have thought that the show would still be on twenty years later. We then learn that Bart was planning on using the videos for show and tell, but when he realizes that there’s footage of him as a toddler being potty-trained on it, he decides not to bring it, and ends up grabbing a geode from Lisa’s room. But when he sees that most of the other kids on the bus have brought geodes too, he makes a last minute decision and grabs Santa’s Little Helper.
And it turns out that bringing the dog was a good call, because he’s not really facing some tough competition, since Nelson just brought an empty can of tomato paste and reads its ingredients. So Bart comes up, trying to make it a mystery by telling everyone that his item has four legs and ticks, which leads everyone to assume it’s a walking clock. And when he reveals its Santa’s Little Helper everyone goes crazy and adores him, even to the point that they all ignore Martin’s annoying discussion of his geode to pet him more. Unfortunately it becomes time to learn, so Bart has to stick him in a closet for the rest of the day. Santa’s Little Helper seems pretty cool with sleeping in the closet, until he starts to smell the food from the cafeteria being cooked, which is just Lunchlady Doris preparing “Assorted Horse Parts, now with more testicles.” So he breaks into the vents and starts wandering the school. I’m fixated with the scene where Ralph sees him, tells Ms. Hoover, and she just kind of mocks him by reminding him of the time that he said he saw Snagglepuss outside, to which Ralph recollects in horror that Snagglepuss was “going to the bathroom.” What the hell, Ralph?
Anyway, we learn that this point that Principal Skinner is having a rough time, since he apparently is in hot water for refusing a Jewish kid to take Yom Kippur off. And things don’t get better for him, since he learns that there’s a dog in the air vents he has to deal with. He makes Willie go up in the vents to catch the dog, which is accomplished by getting Lunchlady Doris to grease him up. So Willie starts running around in the vents like its Alien, until he finally catches up with Santa’s Little Helper. But his moment of triumph is short-lived, since as soon as he grabs him the vent breaks, and they find that they’re trapped in the ceiling of the gym, and the fire department is called. And to make matters worse, Superintendant Chalmers shows up to give Skinner shit. He’s pissed about Skinner ruining everything all the time, and holds him responsible for “class after class of ugly, ugly children.” He then straight up fires Skinner, much to the shock of everyone.
And once he gets home and tells the family about it, Bart realizes that he’s actually sad about Skinner’s firing, since it’s more or less his fault. I also love that Homer hears this story, and the lesson he takes away is that he should bring Santa’s Little Helper to work and see if he can replicate the results. So Bart heads to school the next day for an assembly to address the loss of Principal Skinner, where it turns out Ned Flanders has been made the new principal, which isn’t going to end well. But Flanders being the principal isn’t really the story of this episode, since most of the gags about this is that he’s just super lenient and the school goes to hell, and the plot really gets going when Bart is wandering town and runs into Skinner at the Kwik-E-Mart, and apologizes for getting him fired. Skinner doesn’t really mind, saying that he’s writing a novel now, which is just Jurassic Park with the terrible name of Billy and the Cloneosaurus, to which Apu goes on an epic rant calling Skinner an idiot.
Bart then runs into Skinner at the Laundromat, which features a ridiculous scene of Skinner just reading the names of laundry soap in a monotone, and it made me laugh so hard. Bart and Skinner have an awkward chat before the bullies come in and steal Skinner underpants. But by the end of it, Skinner suggests that he and Bart hang out, which is a little creepy, but not so much that it ruined the episode, it just made it more clear that Skinner is a huge loser with no real friends, and who hasn’t learned how to have relationships with people who aren’t his students. Bart hangs out with Skinner, they gossip about how badly Flanders runs the school and go to dinner at Luigi’s which is hilarious because there was a weird joke from the beginning of Luigi’s character where he would go to the kitchen and loudly insult people, and it’s wonderful. But things aren’t going well for Skinner, and he heads off to reenlist in the Army.
Back in the school we see just how horrible Ned’s leadership has gotten, to the point that the teachers have given up and the students have created an anarchic society where they keep Martin in a cage suspended from the roof. We also learn that Ned’s parents were crazy beatniks living in New York, which is one of my favorite weird Flanders jokes. But surprisingly, Bart isn’t into all this anarchy, because even though Bart misses Skinner as a friend, he misses him more as an enemy. And as usual, Bart talks about this crisis of identity with Lisa, who admits that everyone needs an enemy, and we’re introduced to Gerald, the baby with one eyebrow that’s Maggie’s enemy.
Bart decides that he needs Skinner back, so he heads to the Army base, and almost gets hit by mortars. But luckily the soldiers are able to point the mortars away at the last second where they harmlessly destroy the Kwik-E-Mart. Skinner and Bart talk, and Skinner realizes that he hates the Army and wants to come back to the school, but knows they need to get rid of Flanders. So Bart, Skinner, and Homer meet in Bart’s room to hatch a plan to get Flanders fired. And their plan is basically to just wait until Chalmers does an inspection and sees how poorly the school is being run. Unfortunately when Chalmers shows up he doesn’t really care about the school, having given up on it all. That is until he hears Flanders thanks the “lord” during a PA announcement, and that crosses the line. So Flanders is fired and Skinner is back, mainly because he knows the students names. And the episode ends with a sweet moment where Skinner and Bart talk about how they can’t be friends anymore, but they have one last hug where Bart slips a piece of paper that says “Kick Me” on Skinner, and Skinner slips on that says “Teach Me,” on Bart. It’s really precious.
This is a pretty great episode. Skinner is a really great character, and it was great to see just how meaningless his life would be without the school. He’s kind of a tragic character, because it’s painfully obvious in this episode that the school is pretty much the only thing he has to live for, and when he loses it he just becomes a weird mess. And it was really sweet to see his relationship with Bart grow as they realize that they need each other as foils. It’s something that could really be creepy, a grown man hanging out with a ten year old boy, but the episode handles it so great and just kind of shows that Skinner is a giant kid, and can’t relate to adults. It’s a really sweet episode, although it’s kind of strange that this one was chosen to be the 100th episode, although it suppose it could be that like the Chalkboard Gag said, they didn’t really see 100 as an important number and were just interested in making another great episode.
Take Away: Everyone needs an enemy? Oh wait, no, it’s obviously that there’s nary an animal alive that can outrun a greased Scotsman.
“Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Badasssss Song” was written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein and directed by Bob Anderson, 1994.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons