Lifetime of Simpsons

S12 E13 – Day of the Jackanapes

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There were certain mainstays of the Simpsons that seem to have faded away as the seasons have gone on. Less emotional episodes, a general lack of Mr. Burns, less clip shows oddly. But one of the most glaringly missing type of episode has to be Sideshow Bob episode. There was time there that they were churning them out every season, but it’s been quite a while since we’ve seen our loveably homicidal entertainer. So let’s see if this is a triumphant return for Robert Underdunk Terwilliger.

The episode starts off with Moe competing on a terrible quiz-show called Me Wantee that’s based on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Remember that show? Topical! Anyway, Moe is doing pretty well, but when he gets a question about subatomic particles he uses his lifeline and calls his friend that works in a Nuclear Power Plant, Homer. Which isn’t going to go well for Moe, since Homer knows nothing about nuclear science, but Lisa knows the answer, and gets Moe a whole shitload of money.

But this isn’t an episode about Moe getting rich, because after we see him win his money we cut away to some network executives, including good old Lindsey Naegle, who are telling Krusty about his waning rating. Apparently people aren’t watching his show in favor of the fad of quiz shows, because apparently those are in the same timeslots and demographics. And the network suits’ incessant ideas and notes for how to change his show is really starting to wear on Krusty.

And that irritation reaches its height when Naegle has the gall to come out during a live skit to try and get Krusty to change things. This is a bridge too far, and Krusty loses it on live TV, announcing that he’s quitting show business that Friday, and will be stopping the show. Yep, Krusty’s quitting again. And really, no one seems to care. They even make a weird gag about shows going off the air before they become stale and repetitive, before saying that Maggie has shot Mr. Burns again. As if the idea of Krusty quitting yet again wasn’t already a good representation that the show is repeating itself.

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Anyway, it turns out that there is someone who cares about Krusty, because when he’s giving an interview with Kent Brockman about comedy, he casually mentions that he’s erased all of the old tapes of the show back when Sideshow Bob was his partner. And this obviously pisses Sideshow Bob right the hell off. He then vows some revenge on Krusty, again, and quickly gets paroled after telling his board about the inhumane conditions he suffers in the prison. That was easy!

So Bob is free again, and moves into a storage locker to begin plotting his revenge. Which is incredibly complicated. And it all begins with him applying to become the assistant janitor at Springfield Elementary. But while interviewing with Skinner he manages to prove that he has different talents than janitorial services, and gets Skinner to make him the new announcer in the school. All because Skinner is charmed by Bob’s Bart-Killing policies.

And with this new job in place, Bob starts delivering all the announcements, and then adds one in at the end for Bart to go unescorted to a sports equipment shack. So Bart wanders through the creepy playground and gets into the shack, where he’s grabbed by Bob. And Bart’s net even that freaked out, since Bob doesn’t exactly have a great track record against Bart here. But Bob doesn’t let that get to him, and gets to work with his real plot. Making a Manchurian Candidate! He starts to hypnotize Bart with an archery target, and begins brainwashing Bart.

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So Bob starts training Bart, mainly by having him beat up a statue of Krusty at Krusty Burger. And then the Simpsons get invited to Krusty’s final show. How convenient! Now, I actually rewound the episode this time to double check, but they don’t really make it clear. Were the Simpsons getting invited by Krusty, or did Bob arrange this? Eh, whatever, it doesn’t really matter because it’s time for some red-carpet action!

Krusty’s last show is drawing a lot of celebrities, like Gary Coleman, and Bob is able to sneak in while everyone else is distracted. He then starts getting his plot all set up, and misses the opening of the show, which is some monkey strip-tease. But when Krusty sets off a retrospective about his career, it triggers Bart’s programming, and he heads down to the basement where Bob has been making a plastic explosive suicide vest. So he sticks it on Bart and gets ready for some bloody vengeance.

So Bob gets a spot on the catwalk to watch his glorious revenge, and watches as Bart starts shambling toward Krusty to hug/explode him. But as Bart is marching up Krusty starts to talk about his career, and says that there’s one thing that he’s ashamed of. How he treated Bob. And this is enough to make Bob doubt his revenge, and decides to stop Bart. But there’s no time! Luckily Mr. Teeny can apparently spot a suicide vest, so he swings down, grabs the vest and hucks it into the room where the network suits are, killing them. So everything ends nicely! Bob and Krusty have reconciled, the show’s rating have gone up, and everyone’s happy! Except for Bob, since he’s being arrested again. Oh, and I guess the network executives who were murdered by a monkey.

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Well it certainly was a Sideshow Bob episode! Except it kind of wasn’t. I’ve talked on the site before about my love of Sideshow Bob episodes. They haven’t all been winners, but by and large they’ve been pretty great. And the best thing about them isn’t really Sideshow Bob being a killer. It’s the fact that they’re essentially mysteries. The best Bob episodes have been about Bart uncovering the evil machination of Bob, and exposing him at the end. But this episode didn’t have any of that. There was no mystery. It was just Bob being evil. I feel like if I can divorce myself enough from the whole idea of a Sideshow Bob episode, this was a pretty fun episode in general, but as a Sideshow Bob episode it pretty much failed for me.

Take Away: Comedy isn’t about dirty words, it’s about words that sound dirty. Like muckluck.

 

“Day of the Jackanapes” was written by Al Jean and directed by Michael Marcantel, 2001.

 

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