Lifetime of Simpsons

S06 E18 – A Star is Burns

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Hey everybody! Crossover time! I’m sure that in the dark seasons there’s been some more crossovers, but this is the only one that I’ve seen. Kind of like clip-shows, I assume TV shows aren’t really doing crossovers anymore, because they kind of strange. But this one works out great, making a truly wonderful episode.

Things start off with a great +Eye on Springfield+ episode. Kent Brockman briefly mentions an upcoming story about Rappin’ Rabbi’s, which is wonderful, but moves on to the main story, which is about how Springfield is the least popular city in the county. He then explains this with some pretty believable examples, like the fact that the town apparently tried to burn Principal Skinner at the stake because he told them the Earth revolves around the sun and that their local culture revolves around Krusty being the best actor in town. This makes the town panic, and they all get together for a town hall meeting, which is always a great plan.

They apparently let anyone come up and give a presentation on how to make other people like Springfield, and that actually doesn’t lead to that much stupidity, even though it’s clearly monopolized by the Simpsons family. Patty and Selma get up to suggest changing the name of the city to “Seinfeld,” to ride on the show’s coattails. Bart gets up to show a projection of his butt and talk about the Dutchman’s Mine, before getting caught and stuck in a screen projector. And since those were apparently the only two ideas worth showing, the town is crestfallen, and lets Marge say her idea, which is to hold a local film festival. And shockingly, everyone is on board for her idea, and the town starts making their own movies almost immediately.

We see Bart, dressed like the Amazing Criswell, which is an incredibly weird reference, who is just filming Homer struggling to put his pants on. The Flanders are also trying to make a Moses movie, until Rod gets swept away on the river in his little Moses basket, before being saved by God, because Ned has a direct prayer-line to him. But we take a break from watching the town make things to see that Marge is in charge of the festival, I guess because it was her idea? She’s busy looking for a guest film critic, and is saddened to find that Leonard Maltin is the best looking film critic in the country. But then, as Marge and Lisa are watching movie review shows, they come across Jay Sherman’s Coming Attractions, the show within the show the Critic, which was also made by Al Jean and Mike Reiss. Now, I didn’t watch the Critic as a kid, and have seen very little, even though I’ve always heard good things. I want to give it a shot, but I’m kind of busy watching a certain other show… But I digress. They watch Sherman interview Ranier Wolfcastle, the actor who plays McBain, as he discusses his new movie which is just him delivering bad stand-up comedy and shooting people who don’t laugh. “That is the joke.”

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Marge really likes Jay, and ends up sending him a letter, inviting him to judge the Springfield Film Festival. He’s initially hesitant, until Wolfcastle comes to kill him and he uses it as an excuse to flee New York, while tricking Wolfcastle into inspecting his shoes. “Upon closer inspection, these are loafers.” So Jay heads to Springfield, and is brought to the Simpsons house while Bart starts making knowing comments about how this is a cheap and dirty crossover. And right away we see the conflict between Homer and Jay, as they compete to be the leading man of this story. They fight over porkchops, brag about awards, and compete in a belching contest, which Jay wins, since he’s the best belching Pulitzer Prize winner since Eudora Welty. And things really get bad when Homer asks Marge to let him be one of the judges, and manages to guilt her into accepting his proposition by implying that she thinks he’s dumb.

But while all of this is going on, the episode is about to get crazier by including Mr. Burns. Turns out Burns has learned his public image is in the toilet, so Smithers convinces him to make a biopic for the festival, which gets Burns excited. He ends up hiring Steven Speilberg’s Mexican Non-Union Equivalent, Senor Speilbergo, and they start making them movie. They try auditioning actors for the Burns role, and after seeing Hannibal Lector, William Shatner, Homer, and Bumblebee Man Mr. Burns decides that no one can play the role except himself, and they get to work.

We then cut ahead to the opening night of the festival, which really bums Dr. Hibbert since it’s bumping his screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We’re then treated to a montage of clips from the town’s films. We see Apu’s “Bright Lights, Beef Jerkey,” which just seems to be security footage of him getting robbed. Then there’s Moe’s weird musical, “Moe Better Blues,” which is just a parody of a song from Caberet while he’s dressed like the MC. Then there’s the clear winner, Hans Moleman’s “Man Getting Hit by Football,” which is just him getting hit in the groin with a football while a hilarious little “doink,” noise happens. But Homer’s the only one who likes that masterpiece, so we move onto the real crowd-favorite, Barney’s “Puke-Ahontes,” which is a moving art-film about his struggles with alcohol addiction, and it’s legitimately great. But they saved the best for last! We get to see some clips from the epic film, A Bruns for All Seasons, which seems to just be rip-offs of other movies. We see Burns promise to save a Mexican village, him saying goodbye to Elliot like he was ET, and him saving Ben Hur like he was Jesus. This pisses the crowd off, and they end up yelling Boo-urns at him.

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And now that we’ve seen all the submissions, we get so see the jury deliberate. Marge and Jay really love Barney’s movie, while Krusty and Mayor Quimby vote for Mr. Burns’ movie, since they’ve been obviously bribed. So it comes down to Homer, who insists for “Football in the Groin,” as he calls it. They decide to take a break before deliberating more on the winner, so Homer gets a chance to slow down, since his mind is going a mile a minute. Which here means his mind is just too monkeys cleaning each other. Jay and Marge come to talk to Homer, and tell him that he should watch them again, and really think long and hard about the choices. So Homer starts watching the movies again, doing his best to make the right decision. And he does! Barney wins the big award, and gets the prize of a lifetime supply of Duff, which he hooks directly into his veins. Marge is extremely proud that Homer actually thought for a change, and he explains how easy it is to be a film cricket. The episode then shows Jay Sherman heading back to New York with the promise that the Simpsons will never visit him or his show. And things close out by showing Mr. Burns attempting to get his movie an Oscar, only to lose to George C Scott’s adaptation of “Man Getting Hit With Football,” which would obviously destroy the box office in America.

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This episode is a blast. Trying to make a crossover with the Simpsons seems like a pretty daunting and could be incredibly dangerous. This was picked up by Matt Groening, who actually took his name off this episode, seeing it as a soulless marketing move. And yeah, it kind of is, but it’s still a great episode. It could be way more half-assed, and just be an episode where the Simpsons say how awesome Jay Sherman is, and instead it was an episode I could totally see them making without Jay, where he’s just a random Jon Lovitz character. It handles the crossover gracefully, and still manages to make a truly hilarious episode, stuffed to the gills with movie references. I truly love all of the townspeople’s ridiculous movies, and it just keeps getting zanier and zanier.

Take Away: Being a Film Cricket isn’t that hard.

 

“A Star is Burns” was written by Ken Keeler and directed by Susie Dietter, 1995.

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