Well after the awkward darkness of yesterday’s episode, let’s jump to the opposite side of the spectrum to check out one of the dumbest and silliest episodes of all time! Season Eight basically has two Treehouse of Horror episodes, only this one isn’t horror parodies, and more just parodies of popular TV genres. And it’s glorious. So let’s join Troy McClure at the Museum of TV and Television as he explains how the Fox network tasked the creators of the Simpsons with creating 35 new shows, before checking out these three that they made.
Chief Wiggum, PI
The first segment we get is probably my favorite of the three. Honestly, all three segments are great and hilarious parodies, but this is the only one that I feel like I would gladly watch full length episodes of. Chief Wiggum, PI would have been a hilarious spin-off to actually have happened. We follow Chief Wiggum, who was kicked off the Springfield police force due to massive corruption, and heads down to New Orleans to become a private eye with the help of his son Ralph, and his local expert, Principal Skinner. The two are setting up their office when a skull comes flying through the window, which Skinner says is the calling card of a local mob boss named Big Daddy, who got a write up in Parade Magazine. So apparently Big Daddy is threatened by this disgraced police chief who recently moved to his town. And after turning the skull into a pencil holder, they all head home to the houseboat that the three men apparently live in, and we see how far Big Daddy is willing to go. He lets an alligator into the boat, which then attacks Wiggum. But luckily the gator was “corked” and wasn’t a real menace. Although in the chaos Big Daddy was able to kidnap Ralph.
Luckily though they get a call from Big Daddy the next day, whose real name is hilariously Charles Daddy, who gives them an ultimatum to leave New Orleans forever, or else he’ll kill Ralph. Wiggum and Skinner then rack their brains to figure out how to help Ralph, before finally realizing that it’s Mardi Gras outside, and that’s where Big Daddy is calling from. They somehow find Big Daddy immediately in the crowd, and end up having a crazy chase through Mardi Gras, after Wiggum has a brief conversation with the Simpsons, who are putting in a cameo appearance. But after dealing with the Simpsons and having a fanboat chase, they end up following Big Daddy all the way to his hidden base in the bayou, which is the stolen governor’s mansion. Our heroes burst into the mansion, and have a confrontation with Big Daddy, who just ends up throwing Ralph at them as a distraction while making a hilarious noise, and jumping out the window. The segment then ends with Big Daddy slowly swimming away in the bayou while Chief Wiggum promises they’ll fight him each and every week. And once that’s done we cut back to Troy, who is busy staring down the shirt of a statue of the Charlie’s Angels, before guiding us to the next, and weakest, segment.
The Lovematic Grandpa
Our next segment is a parody of terrible sitcoms that revolves around Moe and Grandpa. And I want to say right off the bat that I love that they animated Moe’s bar brighter than it ever has been in the regular show, since it’s now a cheesy sitcom set. But the premise of the spinoff is that Grandpa died in the grocery store, and got lost on his way to heaven before falling back to earth and possessing Moe’s love testing machine. Grandpa is now a sentient love-tester machine who makes it his goal to get Moe love. And the rest of the segment is just a lot of zingers and cheesy laugh-tracks while Moe spits out some good comebacks, like “I’m sweeter than Jewish wine.” But when a woman shows up to use Moe’s payphone after having a car accident, Grandpa decides the two need to be together. Grandpa gives Moe advice, and the two end up going on a date together. Which Moe decides to accomplish by dressing the love-tester machine up in a tux and bringing it to the fancy restaurant they go to. Which leads to an incredibly depressing line from the Grandpa machine, “I’ve suffered so much, why can’t I die gracefully?” And things go off the rails immediately, when the bullies somehow show up at this fancy restaurant and beat up the machine, causing Grandpa to sing the “Daisy” song from 2001, and give Moe terrible advice. But everything clears up when the lady comes in the bathroom to see what’s going on, and is incredibly charmed that Moe is using weird magic from beyond the grave to date her. So the segment ends with Moe finding love…which I guess meant the series is over now? Eh, whatever. Because now it’s time for the weirdest segment of the episode, which is opened up by Troy hilariously walking away before some curator has a chance to speak, before warning us that this next segment doesn’t feature the entire family, but thanks to great casting we won’t even notice
The Simpsons Family Smile-Time Variety Hour
So we start up this insane variety hour segment where we see the Simpsons family singing, dancing, and performing bad skits. And I really can’t tell which family member it was that asked not to participate, because everyone is exactly like we know them, especially Lisa, the sophomore prom queen five years running. The family sings for a bit, before introducing their special guest Tim Conway, before getting on to a terrible skit where the family are beavers. We also learn that this segment is basically Laugh-In, with various goofy townsfolk jumping in to give wacky reaction shots. But it all leads up to their big musical number, where they sing “I Want Candy,” cutting away to Jasper singing “Lollipop,” and Smithers singing “Whip It.” And in the end, they all end up in bed with Tim Conway, wishing the audience a pleasant night. This segment is hard to explain, because it’s mainly sight gags and musical numbers, but it’s hilarious and oh so weird.
And after that segment we cut back to Troy McClure, who starts to tell us about all the great things Season Nine has in store for us. Which includes magic powers, wedding after wedding after wedding, long lost triplets, and a tiny green space alien named Ozmodiar that only Homer can see. So let’s see what Season 9 has in store for us! In a day, for some reason there’s one more episode in the season that we’ll get to tomorrow. I feel like this episode was supposed to be the season finale.
This episode is so stupid, and I love it. It’s just the Simpsons mocking lesser types of television. Bad cop shows, bad sitcoms, and bad variety shows are something that we’re all used to, and while they’re kind of low hanging fruit, this episode really did a great job skewering them. But the real draw was honestly how perfectly the show nailed the idea of spinoffs. They’re often so strange, and almost never work out. But I think their choices were great, and the exact right type of characters that a normal show would pick to be their spin of choices. The Simpsons have always been so great at self-deprecation, and episodes like this really show that off. That ending with Troy telling us that they have no good ideas left was hilarious, and something that most shows would never even joke about. Although the thing that I found most interesting about this episode this go around was the weird reality it sits in. It’s the same thing that the 138th Episode Spectacular dealt with, where Troy McClure is apparently in our world, or at least in some third world where the Simpsons is a show for him. It’s like the characters in the show are actors playing themselves, and were free to play themselves in other things. I don’t know, it’s just something that I really like, and that gets really worked in an episode that I’ll get to in a couple weeks “Behind the Laughter.”
Take Away: Don’t trust guys named Big Daddy, don’t trust magic love-testing machines, and don’t watch variety shows.
“The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase” was written by David S. Cohen, Dan Greaney, Steve Tompkins and Ken Keeler and directed by Neil Affleck, 1997.