Theme parks are weird right? I feel like this is an episode that will drastically change for me when I have kids, especially when they’re old enough to take to Disneyland or something. All the Bart and Lisa stuff is super relatable as a kid, but I’m sure this episode will become ten times funnier when I feel like I’m in Homer or Marge’s shoes.
We start things off with our first of many Itchy and Scratchy episodes, with the wonderful title of “Last Traction Hero,” where Scratchy gets super pumped from lifting weights, and Itchy has to kill him by chain-sawing off his muscles. Classy. But after the murder, the two loveable cartoons start to shill to the audience, telling them to buy tickets to their new theme park, Itchy and Scratchy Land, the Violentest Place on Earth. And after the episode Krusty demands that the children watching start griping at their parents to buy them tickets, and since Bart and Lisa are obedient disciples of Krusty, they get right to it. They head to Homer first, who declines them at first, but ends up just saying ask your mother, which they take as a positive response. So they run into the kitchen and tell Marge that they get to go to Itchy and Scratchy Land, but Marge lets them know that instead they’ll be going to a bird sanctuary, which results in some amazingly animated faces on the kids.
But that night while Homer and Marge are sleeping, Bart and Lisa burst into their room and perform a little skit where Bart is dead, trying to convince them further to go to Itchy and Scratchy Land. The parents are still hesitant, until they tell them about a part of the park called Parent Island, where they could actually have fun. So they decide to go through with it, with the caveat that Marge gives them, telling the family that they actually have to behave for once. We’re then treated to flashbacks of the families previous vacations, like Homer smashing ice-cream cones onto Amish people, and Homer and Bart terrorizing a beach with fake shark fins. So the family packs up and gets Grandpa to watch the house at pets, which hints at disaster when Grandpa confusedly asks who “Grandpa’s Little Helper,” is and which one of the pets is the mailman.
The family heads off, after agreeing to disband and create new families is this isn’t the greatest vacation of all time, and we then get to see some wonderful scenes showing just how terrible family road trips are. We see them get stuck in traffic, desperately want some crappy restaurant that they keep seeing signs for, listen to terrible AM radio that’s all religious wackos gripping about signs of evil, and the wonderful gag of the car swerving off the road and exploding before showing that that wasn’t the real family. But the family finally get to the park, after taking a horrible shortcut that they will never speak of again, and take their helicopter ride to the insane Itchy and Scratchy Land, which is of course an island.
They land on the island, and it quickly becomes a combination of Jurassic Park and just general Disneyland jokes. We see the family buy some “Itchy and Scratchy Money,” which is totally a scam and then head into the main-street. They begin exploring the park while Marge worries about everything being too violent, before some weird corporate guy shows up to convince them things aren’t violent. Marge continues to be worried about the park, especially when they go to a restaurant’s that food all have violent names, including Baby Guts. After lunch they dump Maggie off in some terrible room that just sticks babies in a giant ball-pit and head out to watch the robot parades that occur every five minutes. We quickly establish at this point that flashes from cameras kill the robots, and that they’re supposed to only attack each other and not care about humans. And after this little bit of exposition, the family decide to split up and have fun in the pairs of parents and kids, and the episode becomes insane.
We start popping around the park, checking in on the family members and their own little adventures. Marge and Homer explore parents island, like their funky disco where John Travolta is the bartender, and a terrible place called TGI McScratchy’s that’s a bar where it’s always New Years Eve, and all the employees are suicidal. Meanwhile, the kids head off to a merchandise store where we see Bart find the wonderful Bort license plate, which I can relate to because oddly enough, ‘Patrick’ wasn’t a name that they often had. We also see some odd reject characters that used to be on the show, like Disgruntled Goat and Klu Klux Klam (Holy shit!). And as they head out they start one of my favorite running jokes of this episode, Bart just smashing the feet of people dressed up as Itchy or Scratchy while the people inside scream in muffled agony. Next the kids hit up some movie theater where they see a documentary on Robert Meyers Sr, who is totally Walt Disney, complete with weird anti-Semetic thoughts, as demonstrated by his movie “Nazi Supermen Are Our Superiors.” Lisa then wonderfully ponders if they’ve become desensitized to violence as they see a Scratchy robot die in horrible pain.
But the plot really hits a bump when Bart gets caught firing a stink bomb into the mouth of an Itchy mascot, and get taken away by security. He’s taken down to some weird underground Westworld place that’s where the park is actually run. Bart’ brought to a jail cell where Homer also is, because apparently mascot abuse is hereditary. Marge gets called down to the jail to get them, and has the wonderful interaction:
Marge: “I wish there was a hole I could just crawl in and die!”
Weird German Security Guard: “Okay, throw her in ze hole!”
Wonderful. But while Marge is busy bailing out the males in her family we see Professor Frink run into the robot lab to inform everyone that due to chaos theory, all the robots will be going insane in a day. The scientists get worried, and then the robots go insane early, since Frink didn’t do the math right. So the robots begin going on a rampage, and everyone quickly flees the island, except the Simpsons.
They wandering around the park as the robots being going berserk and I love the quick gag where we see that that Bird Sanctuary Marge wanted them to go to is also being attacked by evil birds, probably because Hans Moleman was in charge. They almost get off the island as the last helicopter is leaving, unfortunately one of the people on the chopper was one of those Itchy mascots, and he kicks the family off the helicopter, damning them to death by robots. The robots show up to kill the family, and Homer has the wonderful line of “No one ruins my family vacation but me! And maybe the boy!” They then accidently realize that the flashes can kill the robots, which Lisa points out causing Homer to hilariously say “who are you, the narrator?” Which is wonderful. So the family systematically kill all the robots with their cameras before deciding that this actually was the best family vacation of all time, since it brought the family together, they got lots of exercise, and have lots of memories. Roger Myers Jr then shows up to give them two free tickets as reward for saving his park and the family head home. And the episode ends with Lisa explaining the benefit of violence after we see the hilarious gag of Euro Itchy and Scratchy being a ghost town while the guy working the ticket booth says “my children need wine!”
This episode is super dumb, but a lot of fun. It’s such a weird mish-mash of topics. Family vacations, Disneyland, Westworld, and Jurassic Park. Such a diverse and odd selection of influences, and it comes together to create one of the wackiest and most memorable episode of the whole series. It literally ends with the family fighting an army of evil robots with cameras while making action-movie one-liners. It’s full of great quotes and scenes that rank up there with some of the best Simpsons lines of all time. Plus it’s so funny to see how just wall-to-wall aggravating family vacations can be. No one is having fun at Disneyland if you’re in a family. My wife and I go there as grown-ass people with no kids, and that’s honestly the ideal way, because we can actually have fun.
Take Away: Family vacations are hard, and don’t trust robots.
“Itchy & Scratchy Land” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Wes Archer, 1994.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons