Hey everybody, and welcome to our last installment of Lifetime of Simpsons for the year. And what better way to end 2016 than with this super weird little hodgepodge of an episode. Because we somehow have been given a combination of a Sideshow Bob episode and a vacation episode. Which you wouldn’t think would work that well, and…it kind of doesn’t, but it’s better than I would have thought!
The episode starts off with the fourth graders sitting around in class being bored, until Willie brings in a television for them to watch, which makes them super excited. However that excitement quickly falls when it turns out it’s some video from PBS called Diversity Tales that’s all about acceptance and tolerance of other cultures. And since they’re children, they aren’t really down with that, and they just kind of hate it that whole time.
Luckily though, when they get bored they have a good choice of alternative amusement. Because it just so happens that Mr. Burns’ antique car has broken down in front of the school, right outside their room. So the kids clamber over to the window and start making fun of Burn while he tries to repair his car. And, shockingly, the taunts of the children really get to Mr. Burns, and he decides that he needs to buy a new car instead of just fixing his antique.
So the next day Burns walks into Homer’s office while he’s goofing off to give him the good news. Burns has bought some fancy and monstrously expensive Italian sports car, and for some reason he wants Homer and his family to travel to Italy to pick up the car. This is barely explained, but I guess they just needed a reason for them to go to Italy. Which is weird, since yesterday’s episode ended with Lisa getting a trip to Rome, but whatever, I’m not writing these things.
We then cut right over to Italy where the family are getting off of a plane and picking up their luggage. Lisa’s intending to pretend to be Canadian, which is a solid plan for Americans, but that’s a little ruined when Homer starts literally waving a flag around. But none of that really matters because the family head straight to the factory to pick up the car, which goes off without a hitch. So, end of episode I guess, nothing ridiculous to see here!
Well, that is until a surprising thing happens. Marge recommends that the family stick around in Italy and goof off in Mr. Burns’ car. Yep, Marge has the idea, not Homer. But the family are super down with the plan, so the immediately start hitting the sights. The go check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a McDonalds that sells alcohol, and Pompeii. You know, all the important places to see when you’re in Italy.
But disaster strikes when they’re driving down an Italian highway and get into a minor accident with some sort of cheese truck. Homer tries to weave around a bunch of giant wheels of cheese, but finally gets smashed with one particularly huge wheel of cheese hits the hood of the car, totaling it. So the Simpsons are now stranded in the middle of nowhere in Italy with a broken sports car. Although they do find a nearby village called Salsiccia, and they decide to see if they have a mechanic who would be able to fix their car.
Unfortunately they don’t, since it’s such a little town. Most of the people they talk to don’t even speak English. But apparently their new mayor does, so they tell the Simpsons to go speak with the mayor and see if he can help. So the Simpsons head into the mayoral mansion, and walk right into the mayor’s office. Which is when they get the biggest surprise of their whole trip. The mayor of this random little town in Italy is non other than Sideshow Bob.
Both the Simpsons and Bob are completely shocked to see one another, and no one really knows how to process it. So, I guess since they have nothing better to do, Bob decides to tell them his story. Turns out after the last time he failed to kill Bart he decided to change his life, and go somewhere new for a fresh start. And after a couple failed attempts he ends up in Tuscany, and finds his way to Salsiccia. And when he gets there, people are not fond of him. That is until the wine harvest begins, and his ridiculously large feet come in handy to stomp the grapes.
And apparently one thing led to another and Bob ended up their mayor. And not only that, he ended up meeting a woman named Francesca and they’ve gotten married and had a little baby named Gino. So when Francesca comes in to welcome these strangers from America, things get a little awkward. Especially because it turns out Bob has never told his family about his true past, so Bob has to ask the Simpsons for a solid, and pretend that he’s a normal dude.
So, against their instincts, they decide to pretend that Bob isn’t an attempted killer, in exchange for fixing their car. So the Simpsons get to spend a nice day in the town, seeing what life’s like for these villagers while Bob works on their car. And at the end of the night the town all gets together for a big dinner to send the Simpson’s off, having succeeded in keeping Bob’s secret and not letting anyone learn the truth about him.
That is until they decide to give the children wine. Bart seems to be able to handle his liquor pretty well, but Lisa quickly becomes a mess. So as the dinner progresses Lisa becomes more and more chatty until she finally spills the beans, and tells the town that their mayor is a wanted criminal. And things turn ugly fast. The town immediately turns on Bob, and he snaps, getting ready to kill the Simpsons, and swears a vendetta.
However, Bob did a good job fixing Mr. Burns’ car, so the family are able to escape the town in it. Unfortunately it turns out that Francesca and Gino aren’t that bothered by Bob’s criminal past, and the agree to help him destroy the Simpsons. So it’s the Terwilliger’s versus the Simpsons in a race through the countryside of Rome. And things don’t look good for the Simpsons. Until fortune smiles on them in the dumbest way.
Apparently Krusty is in Rome too, performing the opera Pagliacci for some reason. So the family figure that if they can get to Krusty he’ll help them out and get them back to Springfield. Which he obviously does. They just have to wait until his show is over, so he gets them some costumes and makes them background actors in the performance. Which is terrible. Krusty clearly didn’t learn his lines, and just mainly sings about Rice Crispies.
Which earns the ire of Bob, who is watching in the stands. It pisses him off so much that he decides to put on the Pagliacci makeup himself and replace Krusty in the middle of his big song doing a much better job. And while he’s stealing the show Francesca and Gino show up to kill the Simpsons. But they manage to escape and flee the show just in time to be rescued by Krusty, and brought back to Springfield. And the Terwilligers get to live another day, swearing a vendetta on the Simpsons for life.
This episode is alright I suppose. But it’s kind of a weird experience. I’m on record as being a huge fan of Sideshow Bob episodes, and also not being a fan of vacation episodes that largely serve as excuses for the Simpson’s to wander around and mock other people’s cultures. And you wouldn’t think that these two types of episodes would mesh that well. And, honestly, they kind of don’t. This isn’t really a typical Sideshow Bob episode because there’s no mystery, and it’s not a typical vacation episode because they only spend like one act messing around with landmarks. It’s just kind of a nothing episode. There’s not really anything to like in it, and there’s not anything to hate. Which I suppose makes for a pretty lackluster episode the end the year on, but that’s how things shake out. Maybe we’ll have better stuff next year. Fingers crossed!
Take Away: Don’t let children get drunk, they’ll tell all of your secrets.
“The Italian Bob” was written by John Frink and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2005.