Well yesterday we got to talk about the people of Springfield joining a crazy cult. That’s a silly plot. But do you know what’s sillier? A group of our favorite Springfield Elementary students getting stranded on an island and reenacting the Lord of the Flies! Oh, and Homer meets Bill Gates. Let’s see how that happens!
We start things off by having the family sitting around watching some terrible Troy McClure movie about Noah’s Ark. It’s not particularly funny, and all it really does is cause the family to stay up all night watching it, since Bible epics are absurdly long, but it’s one of our last Troy McClure scenes, so soak it up people. The Lionel Hutz well has run dry, but we have a few more drops of McClure left. But yeah, the family stay up all night, and it doesn’t really make any difference, because we cut right over to the kids getting ready for their model UN meeting. And from there we’re introduced to the various kids we’ll be following. We have Nelson as Japan, Wendell as Mexico, Sherri and Terri as Trinidad and Tobago, Lisa as France, Bart as Libya, Milhouse as Poland, Ralph as Canada, Lewis as America, and Martin as Finland, all with incredibly stereotypical costumes.
Turns out there’s a big model UN meeting coming up, and the kids are getting ready. And things aren’t going well. All Milhouse knows about Poland are Polish jokes, Martin’s Finnish dance is ridiculous, Bart completely makes up everything about Libya and claims that their main export is corn, and Ralph just sings the Canadian National Anthem. But I guess that’s as good as they’re going to get, because we just move along to the kids getting ready to head out on the bus. I guess there’s also the introduction to Homer’s B-Plot, but it’s honestly pretty weak.
Let’s just get rid of the Homer plot. It has some great jokes, but overall it’s just okay. Basically Homer just sees that Ned and Maude have a home-business selling rugs, so he makes his own internet company, despite not owning a computer. Homer somehow manages to get pop-up ads on the internet, drawing a porn-craving Comic Book Guy to his home, and also gain the attention of Bill Gates. Gates shows up, announces he can’t figure out what Homer’s company does, but decides to buy them out just in case. And by ‘buy them out,’ he means destroy Homer’s office so things return to normal. Yeah, kind of weird and just keeps popping up and distracting us from the ridiculous island plot.
Speaking of the island, let’s talk about how they get there. The kids are driving along with Otto to wherever the model UN conference is, and are getting bored. So Bart and Nelson decide to entertain themselves by racing some fruit down the floor of the bus. And because he always needs to be included, Milhouse grabs a grapefruit and sends it flying down the floor, right under Otto’s brake pedal. So when Otto tries to pump the brakes on a bridge, the grapefruit blinds him, and they go flying off the bridge into the ocean. The kids all manage to escape the bus, and Otto is swept off by the tide, uttering his last words of “Zeppelin Rules!”
The kids meanwhile are slightly luckier, and wash up on a small deserted island. And after a moment or two of being thankful for being alive, they start turning on each other. They squabble for a little bit, until Bart gets their attention with a conch, and announces that they aren’t screwed, and are going to live a great life. He describes a wonderful Swiss Family Robinson/Gilligan’s Island type scenario where they will have coconut cars and monkey butler. Which obviously wins over all the kids. So they break up into teams, beginning their new lives on the island.
Unfortunately it becomes quickly apparent that Elementary School children aren’t exactly naturalists. The only food they found were poisonous berries that “taste like burning” and Bart and Nelson’s treehouse was terrible, and just falls apart. So they’re doomed. And when Milhouse says that he found a monster in the woods, they start to get freaked out as well. And after calming down from the monster, they at least are able to make a fire with Milhouse’s glasses, but they still have no food. That is until Bart gets the great idea to go diving for a cooler full of snacks that was in the bus, using Milhouse’s inhaler as a scuba tank. He gets down to the bus, and rescues to food and brings it up to the beach, where the kids immediately start to gorge themselves. Until Lisa explains that they need to ration their snacks, otherwise they’ll just starve in a couple days. So they go to sleep, mad about their hunger, and wake up in the morning to find all of their food gone, and Milhouse the most likely culprit.
The kids freak the hell out, and decide that they need to make Milhouse pay for this indiscretion, even though he promises he didn’t eat the food, and that it was probably the monster. But Lisa is able to convince the angry mob that Milhouse deserves a fair trial, so they stick him in a cage and start up a trial where Bart is the judge, Lisa is the defense, and Nelson is the prosecution. So the trial begins, and Milhouse sticks to his story that he didn’t eat the food, and that a monster stole it, which doesn’t go over well with the angry mob. And after Nelson’s line of questioning, which consists of him just punching Milhouse in the gut. But after hearing the testimony Bart decides that there isn’t enough evidence, and says that Milhouse is not guilty. Which of course leads to a riot.
The rest of the kids start freaking out, and decide that they need mob justice. So Milhouse, Bart, and Lisa run for their lives as the rest of the kids start chanting “kill the dorks!” And things have fully become Lord of the Flies. So our heroes are chased through the woods by the crazy children, as they run around the entire island. And after a couple trials and tribulations, Bart, Lisa, and Milhouse end up at a cave that they think they can hide in. Although the other kids just realize they can march in and kill them not that they’re cornered. “Oh…figs.” But the kids are saved when it turns out the cave is the home of the monster, or as it’s better known as, a wild boar. The boar scares the kids out of the cave, and they realize that he actually did eat the snacks. They also learn that he boar survives on the island by licking slime off rocks, so they’re saved! Which mean the kids kill the boar and cook him while mocking Lisa and her vegetarian habits. The episode then ends with one of my favorite jokes of all time; by having a voice over explain: “So the children learned how to function as a society, and eventually they were rescued by…oh, let’s say…Moe.”
Well, here’s another stupid but incredibly fun episode. I remember watching this one dozens of time as a kid, I think they played it like crazy in syndication, and I have such affection for it. Like I mentioned, the Homer B-Plot is a little lacking, and feels kind of out of place in the episode, but everything else is gold. I love the model UN scene, and the ridiculous things that the kids do, but this episode reaches a next level when they get stranded on the island. It’s just so great. I love that the kids just assume they’ll be able to live happy and fruitful lives on the island, despite having no idea how to survive on their own, and the ensuing chaos is great. Plus, I’m always a fan of trials in the Simpsons, and one put on by the children was great. But for me, the real shining glory of this episode is that last gag. It’s so hilarious. Because it almost feels like they just had no idea how to save the kids, so they just have James Earl Jones randomly explain that Moe saved them all. Why not? Moe’s as good a choice as anyone else.
Take Away: It’s really easy to start an online business and really hard to survive on an abandoned island.
“Das Bus” was written by David X Cohen and directed by Pete Michels, 1998.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons