Yay! Sideshow Bob episode! The Simpsons has been really spoiling me lately. Although we’re going to take a brief dip tomorrow…but let’s focus on the positive and the present!
The episode starts off with the kids and Homer watching Krusty, while he shows off the new crazy obstacle course that he’s going to have on his show, that’s full of food that kids donated as if it was a canned-food drive. Which is super classy Krusty. And he demonstrates the course by having poor Sideshow Mel flounder through all sorts of rancid canned food. “Krusty, please! It burns!” But after we see the humiliation of Sideshow Mel, we cut to the Simpsons’ house, where Homer starts to complain that he still likes Sideshow Bob more than Mel, which is an excuse for Lisa to give us some back story on Sideshow Bob, and remind us of all the horrible things he’s done thus far. And since they spoke his name, we cut over to the minimum-security prison that Bob is housed in. He’s trying to build a miniature Westminster Abbey in a bottle, but is disrupted by the other loud inmates, who are watching Krusty’s show and laughing their asses off. Bob explains that he hates TV, and ends up getting attacked by Rupert Murdoch, who is also there.
But the next day, after railing against television, we see Bob is shipped off to a local Airforce base where he and the other prisoners are tasked with raking all the used condom wrappers up. And as Bob complains about the pointlessness of that task, Chief Wiggum informs Bob, and us, that there’s an impending air-show, which is of course up the Simpsons’ alley. They’re all super psyched, except Marge, and are all set to go. But before the airshow, we have to set up Bob’s plan, which happens that night back in the prison. He’s trying to sleep, but is being kept up by the damn TV again, and when he hears Vanessa Redgrave on some terrible sitcom talking about hauling ass to Lollapalooza, he loses his faith in humanity, especially when we hear the show was produced by Fox. So Bob decides to do something.
The next day, as the airshow is getting ready to begin, we see Bob making some ominous comments about television, before laughing manically, which causes Wiggum to awkwardly laugh along and say “you still got it, Bob.” But when it’s time to go back to prison, Wiggum notices that Bob is missing, and instead of finding him, he just tells the other prisoners to say Wiggum beat him to death, and they leave. And as Bob starts skulking around the base, we start cutting between him and people enjoying the airshow.
The Simpsons look at a Harrier Jet, Homer drinks a bunch of alcohol-free Duff that he thought was free, Milhouse violently rants about his parents and psychiatrist while pretending to fly a plane, and Bart and Grandpa look at the Wright Brothers plane. And while all of that’s going on, Bob is scheming. He sneaks into the colonel’s private washroom, which pisses him off. Bob takes notes while learning how to speak like the colonel while he yells at him through the day. But he sneaks off before the colonel can break in, and Bob is off for more mischief. He uses his impression to confuse some guards into leaving their post so Bob can sneak into a secret area, and come out with a goddamn atomic bomb.
But after we see Bob’s bomb, we cut back over to the airshow, and see the Simpsons enjoying it. But first they have to struggle through some demonstration about box kites, which is thrilling. Meanwhile, Bob is wiring up the bomb in his undisclosed location, while whistling “We’ll Meet Again,” which is great. And once his bomb is wired up, he hacks into the jumbo-tron, and begins talking to the rubes of Springfield. And once he gets everyone’s attention, he explains that he has an atomic bomb, and will blow up the town unless they get rid of television in the whole town. The base then locks down, and everyone flees. But when Homer and Marge get out of the base, Bart and Lisa stay behind, and get trapped inside the base.
The town springs into action at that point, and we see a secret underground room, like the room from Dr. Strangelove, where Mayor Quimby brings in the distinguished ambassadors of television to discuss the issue. We see Krusty, Kent Brockman, Bumblebee Man, the Fourth Doctor, and Urkel come in, and get started with the discussion. Everyone is on board for shutting down television, except Krusty who vehemently refuses. But he’s overruled and Quimby orders all television shut down. And Bob is thrilled! Even though he realizes he should have made more demands. But as always, his plan is getting ready to be thwarted, because Krusty is still despondent about the shut down, and realizes that the emergency broadcast signal is still being put out, and that he could still do his show from there, and heads out.
But while all of that’s going on, Bart and Lisa are still wandering around the base, and we learn that Bart is either wearing dirty underwear, or no underwear. They see all the soldiers talking about how they can’t find Bob, and they overhear one of them mention the fact that Bob’s voice sounded squeaky in the demand, which causes Lisa to realize where he must be. They then race over to the Duff blimp, where Bob is hidden inside. He’s gloating to himself, until he finds that Krusty has taken over the emergency broadcast signal, and is still doing his shtick, which infuriates Bob. And right as he gets pissed, Bart and Lisa show up, trying to convince him to stop. But he ignores them, and presses the button to detonate the bomb.
Unfortunately, even though we get this crazy Barry Goldwater ad reference, Bob’s bomb was a dud, and nothing happens. Bob is furious, and begins ranting about how Bart is his nemesis, while he’s indifferent to Lisa, and Bart ends up getting Bob to monologue while Lisa programs the blimp to reveal Bob’s location. And when Bob realizes the jig is up, he grabs Bob and flees. They end up stealing the Wright Brothers’ plane and fly off to the Springfield Badlands to kill Krusty. Even though they’re going like four miles an hour.
While all of this has been happening, Homer and Marge have been trying to break into the base, and when they finally do, Bob and Bart come flying by, and they end up having to chase them on flat tires. Bob and Bart fly through the town, getting a lot of bugs in their mouths, when Homer shows up to save Bart. Unfortunately he runs over Bart’s backpack, which doesn’t really instill a lot of confidence in the plan, and Bart just stays on the plane, flying off to the Badlands. They approach the shack Krusty is in, and Bob reveals that his plan is to kamikaze the shack, killing all three of them. Unfortunately the plane is going too slow, and Krusty finds them when he thinks he hears a lawnmower outside. Then the plane just kind of bounces off the shack, ruining Bob’s plan, yet again. So the police arrest Bob, Chief Wiggum calls him a “TV hating mutant,” and the episode ends with Grandpa showing up on a motorcycle for no reason telling them he’s going to haul ass to Lollapalooza, before proudly announcing they were produced by Fox.
I’m a real sucker for Sideshow Bob episodes, which has been well established at this point. And while this isn’t one of the best Bob episodes, it’s still pretty great. I’ve explained time and time again that the thing I love about Sideshow Bob episodes are the mystery involved, and this one really didn’t have a mystery, besides the question of where he was hiding, which kind of hurts the episode. But it’s still really fun. There’s some really great jokes throughout this episode, and it’s a particularly great Krusty episode, giving him some wonderful lines. I really love the ending, especially the plane just bouncing off the shack, and it ends up being a really hilarious Bob episode that was light on the mystery, but heavy on the gags.
Take Away: When holding a town hostage, choose a new Atomic Bombs, don’t go for that retro 50’s charm.
“Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming,” was written by Spike Feresten and directed by Dominic Polcino, 1995.