Lifetime of Simpsons

S05 E20 – The Boy Who Knew Too Much

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Well here’s another episode that really didn’t survive well in my memory. I kind of remembered it as an average episode, and couldn’t really bring up any specifics of it in my mind, and oh boy was I wrong. This episode rocks. A great Bart episode with some wonderful Homer and Principal Skinner stuff thrown in there too.

The episode starts off with a very relatable scene of Bart waking up on a beautiful spring day and deciding he really doesn’t want to go to school, because of course he doesn’t. And things don’t get much better when Bart trudges down to the school bus and finds that it’s been replaced with a prison bus while the regular one is being repaired. And man do I love the little gag that Otto has a weird Shining thing going with the bus as he’s becoming violent. So Bart heads off to school while gazing out the window and zoning out while he has a ridiculous daydream about floating down a river on a raft with Huck Finn and a semi-creepy Abe Lincoln, which really made me laugh a lot. And things get even worse when he gets to class and finds that the students now have to use these crazy ergonomic chairs that basically give Milhouse a stroke they’re so uncomfortable. But the last straw is when Mrs. Krabappel announces they have to stay two hours later this day because Bart had been tampering with the clocks all year, so he decides to peace out and writes a fake dentist note to give to Krabappel.

Now logically Mrs. Krabappel is suspicious of this, and brings it to Skinner to examine. They run it through their crime lab with no results, and even try to interrogate Lisa to find out if Bart is lying or not. And when both of these avenues turn up useless, Skinner just decides to go hunt Bart down as a truant. But before Skinner finds him we see Bart sitting down by the river, trying to relive his earlier fantasy, and he even sees a silhouette that could be Huck Finn and Abe, but turns out to be two creepy hobos who ask him if he wants to see a dead body. He does not, and runs off. So Bart runs around town having fun pranking people at an auction house while Skinner begins hunting him, going to a bunch of dorky places like the Museum and the 4H Club, since Skinner is massively out of touch. But after Bart runs into Homer who is also playing hooky, Skinner finally catches up with him and starts following him like the damn Sheriff from Westworld. He even walks across the bottom of a raging river in a wonderfully animated scene that made me crack up. Even the fact that the music cuts out when his head submerges is great. Anyway, the real plot of the episode starts up when Bart climbs up a cliff to escape Skinner and ends up stowing away in the back of Mayor Quimby’s nephew Freddy’s car.

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Bart hides in the car and ends up getting into the Quimby compound for Freddy’s 18th birthday party. He hops out and starts mingling with the rich and famous of Springfield, even making fun of Wolfcastle for his last crappy movie. He wanders around the party for a while, watching as Freddy begins berating the French waiter who doesn’t pronounce “chowder” up to his standards. This escalates as Bart heads into the kitchen and starts eating a giant Rice Krispies square when he hears Freddy and the Waiter enter the kitchen. Bart hides and we hear what could be Freddy beating the hell out of the waiter, but only Bart sees what actually happens.

Bart gets back home and sees that Freddy Quimby beating up the waiter has becomes a big story, and pretty much the whole town immediately assumes Freddy is guilty, and Bart is the only one who is defending him. He starts to get really guilty about his knowledge, but knows that he can’t come forward because that would mean admitting he skipped school, and Skinner would punish the hell out of him. So Bart decides to put his faith in the judicial system, which immediately falls apart when we see Homer has been selected to be on the jury. So one of my favorite things in Simpsons starts up, a trial! And it starts off with one of the crazies jokes ever, and I love it. Bart looks at Skinner, who is also on the jury, and Skinner starts speaking to him telepathically, telling him that if he finds out he skipped school he’ll take him down, which then leads to Bart looking at Homer, who also speaks to him telepathically, and just sings the Meow Mix theme song while glaring at Bart in fury. It’s insane and wonderful.

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So the case begins, and even though it’s obvious that Mayor Quimby is buying the trial, he’s still not doing well, even though Lionel Hutz is the prosecutor. They even get Dr. Hibbert to show up and tell the court that much like Hitler and Walt Disney, Freddy Quimby has the “Evil Gene.” We also see that Homer is attempting to sleep during the trial by wearing glasses that make it look like his eyes are open, until Apu snitches him out. But things really come to a head when they call Freddy Quimby to the stand, and he has a meltdown about the pronouncement of chowder again, really not helping with his case. So the jury heads off to deliberate, and Bart starts to really freak out since as Lisa says, a “horrible yet innocent person is going to jail.” Bart briefly thinks about talking to the judge, but decides he’d still rather not tell anyone. But luckily for Bart, Homer ruins the jury’s voting process when he learns that he can make the jury deadlocked and send them into sequestration at a fancy hotel. So Homer refuses to vote guilty like everyone else, and they’re sent to the hotel where he has to share a room with Principal Skinner and watch a director’s cut of Free Willie where the whale lands on the boy at the end, killing him.

Bart really starts to get worried, and starts asking people what he should do. Marge isn’t very helpful, just mentioning that some uncle of hers had a motto of “shoot ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out,” which is terrible and doesn’t really mean much to Bart. But in the end, he decides to tell the truth, and gets up on the stand to testify. They reopen the case, despite that being illegal, and Bart tells the truth, that Freddy Quimby didn’t beat up the waiter, he just started tripping everywhere like Peter Sellers, and ended up hurting himself. The Waiter says that this isn’t true, but then trips and ends up hurting himself before falling into a truck full of mouse-traps, so it’s proven that Quimby didn’t beat him up. Bart ends up admitting that he skipped school, but keeps Quimby from jail. Principal Skinner tells him that he’s impressed by his decision, but still gives him three months of detention. Then, in a hilarious gag, Skinner acts like he’s going to change his mind, and just ups it to four months. The episode then ends with a goofy scene where Homer has stolen everything from his hotel room and has put it into the bedroom as he talks to Marge about the court case. But when she starts telling him about her day, he puts those glasses back on, because Homer is a douche.

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This episode was really fun. It was great to see Bart have a serious moral quandary, especially about the interesting problem of a terrible but innocent person being wrongfully convicted. Yeah, Freddy Quimby has probably done things that deserve jail time, but he didn’t do this specific thing, and that’s a pretty intriguing moral question to have a ten year old face. Plus, Principal Skinner was great in this episode, even though it’s a little funny to see this story directly after him and Bart bonding in the last episode.

Take Away: Always tell the truth, even if it gets you detention. It’s very easy to be wrongfully convicted, and juries aren’t fun.

 

“The Boy Who Knew Too Much” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Jeffrey Lynch, 1994.

 

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