Another week gone by, another set of classic episodes. And here’s another famous one, mainly for teaching us all what the Coriolis Effect is.
Things start off with Bart and Lisa playing some crazy game where they pour toothpaste and mouthwash into the bathroom sink, seeing whose product will get down the drain first. And as usual, Lisa is using her knowledge to get the best of Bart, and picked the best place to start her race to get help from the Coriolis Effect. Bart gets pissed that she won and she explains that she’ll always win, since the water will always rotate the same way. This fact blows Bart’s mind, and he starts flushing the toilet like crazy to get it to rotate the opposite way, which just ends up scalding Homer in the shower.
Bart still doesn’t understand the Coriolis Effect, so Lisa explains it with a globe and teaching Bart about the equator. And about Rand McNally, a magical land where hamburgers eat people. And with the knowledge that people south of the equator will have toilets that flush the opposite direction, Bart gets a phone book and starts making some calls. He calls a research post at the South Pole, but their toilet is frozen solid. Then he calls some South American dictator, who gets his message mistranslated to be a political threat, which causes him to jump out the window in terror. There’s then my favorite gag in the whole episode, when he calls Argentina and ends up getting an elderly Adolph Hitler’s car phone, which he doesn’t answer in time, but we do get to see another old German man say “Buenos noches mein Fuhrer,” which is wonderful. Next up is someone on a tropical island that gets burnt up by an erupting volcano, which is almost Bart’s last straw. He finally makes a Collect call to Australia, and gets a hold of a little boy named Tobias who he tricks into flushing his toilet and giving Bart the result. Turns out Lisa was right and the toilet flushes the opposite direction, but Bart can’t deal with that, so he tells Tobias to go find out if his neighbor has the same problem. Only issue is that apparently Tobias lives in the middle of nowhere and has to ride his bike off to the nearest other person, and while he’s doing that Bart loses interest.
Tobias finally gets back to Bart in the middle of the night in Springfield, and Bart no longer gives a shit, although the call was active the whole time. Bart quickly forgets about the project, and when Homer finds all the crazy foreign charges on the phone bill, he just assumes he did it and pays it without telling anyone, so nobody knows about the prank. Nobody except Tobias’ father Bruno, who gets the bill for a $900 phone call and is pissed. Tobias explains that it was a drain inspector, and Bruno calls back, getting Bart, who just screws with him, pissing him off even more. So Bruno goes to his member of Parliament, who is just a pig farmer next door, who goes to the Prime Minister, who is just floating in a lake nude, and they create an international incident.
The Australians begin sending Bart collection letters, and all manner of threatening mail, which he is just ignoring, until Lisa spots them in his trash can. She gets the parents involved, and Homer also learns about the Southern Hemisphere, including Uruguay. And just in time for the conversation, they get a visit from a government worker voiced by Phil Hartman named Conover, who is there to talk to them about the incident. Apparently America and Australia aren’t on the greatest terms, and this little prank isn’t helping matters. And since Marge won’t agree to have Bart imprisoned, the only other options is to send Bart to Australia to make a formal apology, which they agree too. The Simpsons are going to Australia!
The family flies around the world to get to Australia, and we’re treated to a wonderfully bizarre joke where the center of the world is apparently controlled by Shiva pulling on levers. But they finally get to Australia, and once in the airport Bart learns that he’s not allowed to bring any foreign plant of animals into the country, and he brought a bullfrog for some reason, so he ends up leaving it in the airport. Which doesn’t go well since it immediately hops out of a window and gets picked up by a kangaroo, spreading it into the country. But that’s not important for now, what is important is the family getting to the American Embassy, which is where they’ll be staying. It’s complete with a Marine guard who punches Homer for being an idiot, and a machine that makes the toilets spin the “American” way, which causes Homer to cry and sing the National Anthem.
And since there’s time before the apology, the Simpsons start wandering around the city, seeing the sights. They hit up a bar where Homer orders a giant beer, the bartender doesn’t understand when Marge asks for a coffee, and some weird dude comes up to Bart and Lisa who are playing with a pocket knife and we get this wonderful interaction:
Australian: You call that a knife?
[the man pulls out a spoon]
Australian : *This* is a knife.
Bart: [confused] That’s not a knife, that’s a spoon.
Australian: Alright, alright you win. I see you’ve played knifey-spoony before.
Wonderful. But after the visit to the pub, the family splits up so Marge, Lisa, and Maggie can keep sight-seeing and Bart and Homer can go to the Parliament building for the apology, and the episode gets crazy.
They get to the Parliament building, which was apparently stolen from Austria, and in from of the whole Parliament, Bart makes his formal apology. He says he’s sorry for what he did, and for insulting the country. Which makes the Australians happy, that is until they explain that in addition to the apology, they expect Bart to get a “booting,” which is where a weird little dude in a leather jacket with a giant boot kicks him in the butt. Homer is horrified by this idea, and ends up refusing to let Bart take part in it, even grabbing the boot from the little guy and threatening to boot the Prime Minister. Homer and Bart then flee the Parliament building and escape, unfortunately it turns out kangaroos aren’t good escape vehicles, so they start running away.
While all of this is going on Lisa and Marge are shopping for souvenirs, and we see that the city has apparently had a huge explosion in the bullfrog population, which is driving everyone crazy. But while Lisa and Marge talk to the shopkeep about the frogs, they see Homer and Bart run by, getting chased by all manner of stereotypical Australians. So they join up and try to get to the safety of the embassy. Unfortunately the ambassador doesn’t want to let them in, and order the gate shut, but it’s American made and breaks, letting them get sanctuary. The whole boot fiasco has pissed the Australians off even more, and even Marge’s impassioned speech to the Australian representative doesn’t do anything. The Prime Minister still insists on booting Bart, and after feeling a surge of patriotism, Bart decides to go through with it. But the next day when they come up to the gate of the embassy to get kicked, it turns out Bart had a secret plan. Right as the Prime Minister is about to kick him, Bart drops his pants and reveals that he’s written “Don’t Tread on Me,” on his ass, and starts humming the Star-Spangled Banner. This infuriates the Australians, who burst into the American embassy, causing the embassy staff and the Simpsons to get choppered out like the goddamn fall of Saigon. But the family feels a little bit of pride when they see that Australia and their crops are being devastated by the bullfrogs, like that whole rabbit thing that happened in real life. They laugh about the ecological nightmare they’ve created as they fly to a laundry ship, and the episode ends with the reveal that there’s a koala clinging to the helicopter, destined to destroy America!
What a crazy episode. Everything about it is fun. The goofy prank calls around the Southern Hemisphere stuff is classic, and all the ridiculous stereotypes about Australia are wonderful, however inaccurate they may be. This episode was the foundation of the great “Simpsons travel to a foreign country,” episode, which are always fun. Plus, I really love the weird addition of the bullfrog plot, which parallels that real thing that happened to Australia when they got infested with rabbits that destroyed all of their crops. Just a silly and fun episode, not a lot of emotion of intellect happening, just a silly good time.
Take Away: Water rotates in different directions depending on which Hemisphere you’re in. And Australians can hold a mean grudge.
“Bart vs. Australia” was written by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein and directed by Wes Archer, 1995.