What do you know, another episode that’s kind of hard to wrap my mind around writing about. This is a fascinating and really enjoyable episode, and it honestly got even better for me this time, especially as I’m looking at it so in depth this time. It’s so wonderfully structured, and I don’t think I’ve ever really appreciated how well the different short stories flow together. Let’s get into it!
The episode starts with Bart and Milhouse standing on an overpass, hocking loogies down on the passersby. And in between the phlegm, Bart has a realization that the people they’re spitting on may have stories of their own, and he wonders aloud what kind of stories the various people of Springfield may be having right that moment. Milhouse doesn’t really care, because he’s too busy spraying mustard at a convertible, but Bart’s question gives us the premise of the episode, and from their we begin swinging around the town, checking in on various characters and what they’re doing that day.
Things start off when Bart and Milhouse go to the Kwik-E-Mart, and we hop over to Apu, who is arguing with Sanjay about how Apu works too much and never takes a break. So he agrees to close the Kwik-E-Mart for five minutes and go to Sanjay’s house for a party. We’re then treated to “Apu in the Jolly Bengali” as he quickly experiences a party by eating, drinking, dancing, having sex, and playing in a pool as fast as he possibly can, before getting back to the Kwik-E-Mart just in time for Hans Moleman to complain that Apu stole four minutes of his life. And we go through Apu’s radio to the next story, which involves Lisa going outside to recycle one of Homer’s beer-cans, just as Bart skateboards past and tosses some gum into her hair. She freaks out and runs to Marge, who uses some mom-logic to put peanut butter and mayonnaise on the gum in the hopes that that gets it out easy. But all it accomplishes is getting Lisa’s head swarmed by flies and bees.
And one of those bees goes buzzing off around town, and ends up landing on Smithers’ glasses as he’s doing all the work on a tandem bike with Mr. Burns. Smithers freezes up since he’s apparently allergic to bees, but Burns won’t have that, and tries to swat the bee away, which just ends with Smithers getting stung. And as Smithers starts to go into anaphylactic shock, Burns beings berating Smithers, and ends up getting them to the hospital just in time for them both to collapse in exhaustion. Unfortunately the orderlies just grab Burns and bring him in, leaving Smithers to get some spare change from Dr. Nick, who says that great line “holy smokes, you need booze!” We then follow Dr. Nick briefly as he goes before a malpractice board who yell at him for all the heinous things he does, before he saves the day when Grandpa shows up at the hospital and demands to see a quack. And after warning Grandpa that he’ll give himself “skin failure” Dr. Nick begins shocking Grandpa’s teeth to fix his issue. Free nose-jobs for everybody!
We then see that the power fluctuation from Dr. Nick’s procedure is messing with the lights in Moe’s which momentarily distracts him from announcing to Barney that he sent his bar tab to NASA to get tabulated. And the amount ends up being $14 billion, to which Barney just pays him $2,000. But right as Moe puts the money in the register, Snake bursts in threatening to rob the place. Moe quickly goes in a safe-room, which makes it that much easier for Snake to just steal the money and get away.
And from there we go to a wonderful story about Principal Skinner inviting Superintendent Chalmers over for lunch, which gets it’s own title card of “Skinner and the Superintendent.” It basically revolves around Skinner telling increasingly outlandish lies to convince Chalmers that their lunch is going well. He burns the roast and ends up going to Krusty Burger to buy burgers while calling them ‘steamed hams,’ which is an Albany thing. Although it does end with the hilarious joke of Skinner’s kitchen being on fire while Skinner claims it’s just Aurora Borealis, with this great interaction:
Chalmers: Aurora Borealis?! At this time of year?!? In this part of the country!? :Localized entirely within your kitchen!?!
Chalmers: May I see it?
Skinner: Er, no.
- This then has a firetruck race to save the Skinner household, which goes right past Homer, who is out walking with Maggie, Santa’s Little Helper, and some groceries. But when Homer sees a newspaper headline about a donut tax, he scrambles to buy the paper, and ends up getting Maggie trapped in the machine. And since he doesn’t have any quarters he has to try and pull her out of the little door, which just makes her naked. And since his plan to have Santa’s Little Helper carry a note ends with him eating it, Homer just ends up stealing the whole machine and bringing it home with him. And as Homer tries to play with Maggie in her machine, we see an add for Krusty Burger which leads us right over to one that has Chief Wiggum, Eddie, and Lou in it. We then get a silly scene where the three cops start talking about McDonalds and basically parodying the Royale with Cheese scene from Pulp Fiction before heading out.
- After the ridiculous Royale with Cheese scene we briefly follow the Bumblebee Man as he goes home from a long day at work before destroying his house with his silly antics. Although it does lead to his divorce, which is a bummer. But while Mrs. Bumblebee Man is leaving the ruins of her house, Snake comes racing by in a car before stopping at a stop sign where Chief Wiggum is crossing the street with a box of donuts, singing about them before happily exclaiming “Hey I know you!” at Snake when he recognizes him, which is exactly why my college friends and I would do when we saw each other on campus. But Snake tries to run over Wiggum, and the two end up reenacting the Butch/Marsellus fight from Pulp Fiction until they end up in Herman’s Military Antiques, where the will presumably be raped, if the parody is accurate.
- But we cut away from that unpleasantness to see Reverend Lovejoy walking his dog with the express intent of getting him to do his “dirty, sinful business” on Ned’s lawn. So Ned goes to get a shovel to take care of that, and ends up seeing Marge still trying to get the gum out of Lisa’s hair, and he stars to help by recommending they freeze it and hit it with a hammer. That doesn’t work, and we get a ridiculous scene where all sorts of Springfield weirdos come in to give their two-cents, like Willie, Captain McCallister, Otto, Dr Hibbert, Sideshow Mel, Lionel Hutz, Uter, the Capitol City Gooftball, Kent Brockman Leopold, Dr. Colossus, and Lenny. Which is followed up with a silly scene with Cleetus the Slack-Jawed Yokel where he gets his own theme song, and just tries to get his wife to wear boots to her stripper audition.
- And after that we see Milhouse desperately trying to pee in the Android’s Dungeon, but Comic Book Guy wont let him without buying something. And since the photo of Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore is outside his price range, he has to buy some little Hamburglar comic, which just pisses Kirk off, who makes Milhouse leave before getting to pee. So they go to another store for Milhouse to pee in, and it turns out to be Herman’s, where things have escalated to Herman holding the two men hostage with ball-gags. Milhouse goes and pees while Kirk awkwardly stands there trying to figure out what the hell is going on. And right as Herman is about to capture Kirk as well, he’s knocked out by Milhouse who is walking around swinging a mace, which narrowly saves everyone from rape.
- Wiggum then escapes, and starts hopping down the street while still tied to a chair, and passes Lisa who is giving up on the gum situation and is just going to get a haircut. The weird barber guy ends up getting rid of the gum, and even gives her a hairdo like a normal person. But when she leaves the barber she finds Nelson outside, who laughs at her, making her sad. Nelson then laughs at Mrs. Glick falling over and a really tall man inside a tiny Volkswagon Bug. But the Tall Man is not in the mood to be mocked, and he chases Nelson down, and ends up deciding that he needs punishment. So the Tall Man makes Nelson drop his pants, and walk through town so everyone can laugh at him for once. And the episode ends with Bart and Milhouse squirting ketchup and mustard from that overpass while agreeing that yeah, some people in the town have fun stories to tell. Oh, and we also see Professor Frink run up to the camera, distraught that we ran out of time to talk about the Tomfoolery of Professor John Frink, as he promises that “that monkey is going to pay.”
- This episode is so silly, and it’s a blast. We did get to see the family members do stuff, but the real draw of this episode are all of the fun secondary or tertiary characters having their own brief little adventures. I know I heard that this episode almost inspired a spin-off series, which would have just been Simpsons episodes that didn’t feature the family, and just been tales of Springfield, which probably would have been pretty fun for a while, because I gotta say sometimes episodes that revolve around other characters can feel a little weird, since they have to shoe-horn the Simpsons into it. But that obviously never came to pass, so we’re left with this glorious little episode, with it’s random vignettes and great transitions.
- Take Away: There should have been a series about Springfield. Oh, and don’t shop at Herman’s…that dude’s sketchy.
“22 Short Films About Springfield,” was written by Richard Appel, David Cohen, Jonathan Collier, Jennifer Crittenden, Greg Daniels, Brent Forrester, Rachel Pulido, Steve Tompkins, Josh Weinstein, Bill Oakley, and Matt Groening, and directed by Jim Reardon, 1996.