Holy crap everybody. It’s the end of Season 12. And on a Friday no less, I don’t think that’s happened yet, that feels nice. It’s been a tumultuous season to say the least, with some highs and serious lows. Things are starting to fall apart, and I feel like we’re approaching the era I gave up on the show when I was younger. But hey, let’s ignore all of that for today and just focus on some crazy tall tales.
The episode is basically structured like an old Treehouse of Horror episode, with a wrap-around frame story in between three little segments. And the premise of the wrap-around is that the Simpsons have won a trip to Delaware, but because Homer refuses to pay for some airline taxes they’re forced to sneak onto a train to get there. And when they get on the train they’re shocked to find a dead hobo. Except he’s not dead, and he’s not even a stabbing-hobo, he’s a singing-hobo! And he offers to sing some tale tales to the Simpsons on their trip!
Our first tale is just a basic retelling of the Paul Bunyan myth, with Homer as the titular Paul. We see Paul get born and start wrecking havoc on his little frontier town right from the get go. The people of the town suffer through life with the simple giant, making his breakfast and trying to stay out of his way. But after years of shenanigans they can’t take it anymore, and decide to roofie Paul and drag him out of town.
So Paul decides to live life on his own, after carving his companion Babe the Blue Ox. And let me tell you, I legitimately thought that that was Babe’s origin story up until just a couple weeks ago when my wife looked at me like I was insane when I saw he was carved from a mountain, and we looked it up finding no evidence that this was ever part of the story. Oh well. And once we has Babe the two start palling around, making a lot of classic American landmarks like the Great Smokey Mountains, Death Valley, and Big Holes with Beer National Park. Oh, and they also fight Rodan!
But things change when Homer’s wandering around some day and runs into Marge, a poor farmer who falls in love with the giant. The two start dating and I suppose get married, having a simple and loving life. That is until a meteor starts heading toward the frontier Springfield from earlier, and they ask Paul for help. He agreed, and ends up getting a meteor into his butt-crack, before throwing the rock across the country and starting the Great Chicago Fire. So that’s cool. And after a brief sponge-bath the hobo agrees to tell another story.
Our hobo’s next tale is the old Johnny Appleseed tale, but a gender-swapped reboot with Lisa in the titular role. The story opens up with Lisa and the Simpsons being a part of a wagon-train traveling through the frontier, when Homer finds how easy it is to kill buffalo, and how delicious they are. The settlers begin killing buffalo indiscriminately, and Lisa starts to feel weird about it, worried that they’re going to wipe out the whole species.
But providence shines on Lisa when she finds an apple tree on the prairie and decides to get everyone to eat apples. They just laugh at her and end up abandoning her on the planes so they can continue their buffalo-killing ways, and Lisa heads out on her own, spreading apples far and wide. But their paths cross again when the settlers realize that they actually have wiped out all the buffalo, and are starving to the point that they’re ready to eat Homer. But Lisa swoops in at the last second with a shit-load of apples, and saves the settlers lives.
Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer
Our final tale is oddly enough the story of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. I guess they ran out of tall tales? Whatever, the story starts off with Bart as Tom and Nelson as Huck as they bully other kids into white-washing a fence while they goof off. And while goofing off Nelson meets Lisa, and has a moment where he touches her hand. Which obviously means that Homer has to force Nelson and Lisa to have a shotgun wedding! But during the wedding Marge escapes, giving everyone the distraction they needed to replace Nelson with a pig, and flee the angry townsfolk.
Bart and Nelson hop on a raft and head out onto the Mississippi, trying to escape the townsfolk, and they do pretty well. Until they stop at a town to get food from Apu, and realize that they’re wanted and being tracked down by the townsfolk. So they head out again and end up tapped in a riverboat casino where they end up causing a big Deringer fight, and are kicked off, only to be caught by the townsfolk. And they’re promptly killed! And as the story ends the train gets them to Delaware, and Homer sticks around to give two more sponge-baths to the hobo while making awkward chitchat.
This is a fun one you guys. I’ve harped on and on that I miss the wrap-around segments in the Treehouse of Horror episodes, so I was pleased to see that we got some of it from this one. And it’s definitely better than the Bible Stories one from a few seasons ago. It’s a little odd that they couldn’t have picked a third frontier tall tale, like Pecos Bill or John Henry Irons or something, but whatever, Huck and Finn is fun. It’s just a silly little episode that hits some nostalgia of my Boy Scout days, learning these goofy little stories.
Take Away: Don’t piss off local giants, don’t hunt animals to extinction, and do call people cheats in old-timey casinos.
“Simpson Tall Tales” was written by John Frink, Don Payne, and Bob Bendetson & Matt Selman, and was directed by Bob Anderson, 2001.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons