Lifetime of Simpsons

S07 E10 – The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular

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It’s everyone’s favorite time! Interminable clip show episode! Even though this may be the best and most self-aware clip show that I’m familiar with, it’s still a goddamn slog.

The structure of the episode has Troy McClure hosting a show honoring the Simpsons, as if it was a fictional show, but Troy McClure was a real person. Complicated? Yep! Troy’s there talking about the Simpsons and has some fun little interstitials in between all the clips. He gives his customary introduction and lists his prior credits as Alien Nose Jobs and Five Fabulous Weeks of the Chevy Chase Show. We then get a montage of couch gags before Troy tells us the history of the Simpsons, which is pretty great. Matt Groening is a crazy, bald, eye-patch sporting right-wing lunatic, Sam Simon is a weird Howard Hughes analog, and James L Brooks is essentially the Monopoly Man.

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After some fake history Troy treats us to some of the bizarre Tracy Ullman episodes, which is pretty fun to see, since it’s at least something people hadn’t seen as often as Homer falling off the damn gorge. Although I think the best gag comes after they show the first clip and they return to Troy McClure who is baffled at what he just saw, and awkwardly laughs at it. They keep showing the old clips until we reach another commercial break where Troy McClure wanders off the stage to chain-smoke and we get the fake trivia about the cash register in the opening reading NRA4EVR.

When we come back we see Troy McClure answering some ridiculous letters from listeners. We get someone who thinks Matt Groening writes and draws every episode, a guy wanting to know what the deal with Mr. Smithers is before getting a montage of him in love with Mr. Burns, and one asking why Homer has gotten dumber over the years. Nothing really special about these and we already get another commercial break where they explain that Marvin Monroe and Bleeding Gums Murphy died, and no one liked them.

The final segment of the episode is probably the most interesting, because it shows us some deleted scenes, which probably would have been awesome in the time before DVD extras. We see Krusty trying to sell a Madonna Sex book when Gabbo was around, Homer dooming James Bond to Blofeld’s machinations when Homer was a blackjack dealer, Homer’s head being used as a bowling ball when he went to Hell, a robotic Richard Simmons fighting Homer, and the family watching a crazy Bollywood movie when Apu was staying with them. There’s then the great gag where Troy has dozed off and someone off screen is jabbing him with a stick, before he gets us to some alternate endings to Who Shot Mr. Burns. They show footage of Tito Puente, Moe, Barney, Apu, Smithers, and Santa’s Little Helper shooting Mr. Burns, and a whole fake ending where it turns out Smithers actually did do it. The episode then ends with Troy talking about the future of the show, mentioning that it will go on until it becomes unprofitable, which is incredibly funny in a world where the damn show is still lurching along. And then we end with Troy McClure giving us what we came here for over the credits. Hard core nudity!

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This is probably the best clip show they made, but it’s still not good. The Troy McClure interstitials are generally really funny and self-aware, and it was fun to see some clips that are actually strange and not just the same old things that you would have seen on syndication a million times, but at the end of the day, it’s still an episode mostly comprised of old footage that was mandated by Fox to save money. Kind of hard to add quality to a blatant money-saving measure, although they certainly give a hell of an effort in this episode. Although I guess this means I’ve done 138 of these articles now, which is pretty neat.

Take Away: Turning your rabbit characters into human beings is a very lucrative way to pay off your gambling debts.

 

“The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular” was written by Jon Vitti and directed by David Silverman, 1995.

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