Lifetime of Simpsons

S24 E16 – Dark Knight Court

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Now that I’m quite firmly in the era of the Simpsons that I’ve never seen before I occasionally find myself wondering what the titles of the episodes are going to mean. So when I saw this episode’s title I started thinking, and ended up coming up with the idea that it was going to be about the Simpsons finding out about some creator of Radioactive Man who got screwed out of his royalties, a la Bill Finger or something. That’s not what this episode is about, in the slightest, but I just wanted to talk about it. Anyway! The actual episode!

The episode begins with Kent Brockman reporting on the fact that it’s Easter and most of the women of Springfield are celebrating by wearing elaborate blue bonnets. However, this doesn’t matter in the slightest, so I’m not sure why it was an addition. What does matter is that it’s Easter, and that the town is really into it this year. They’re having a huge event in the Town Square, and the Elementary School band is even performing.

Things get a little messy during the concert though, because when the kids hit a high note all of their instruments end up firing eggs out of themselves, and at the crown of well-dressed Springfieldians. Everyone is furious, what with their clothes being messed up, and they begin looking for a scapegoat. Which is when they find Bart, laughing his ass off. So, putting two and two together, they decide to do what the citizens of Springfield are best at, and form an angry mob to chase after Bart.

In the chaos of the angry mob though we see Mr. Burns and Smithers trying to escape the melee. And, looking for shelter, they come across the Android’s Dungeon, and hop inside. Mr. Burns is then immediately baffled at where he is. He can’t believe that there’s a whole store devoted to comics, and ends up having a flashback to his childhood in the thirties where he was apparently a huge fan of comics and superheroes. So, latching onto that nostalgia, Mr. Burns tells Comic Book Guy that he’ll buy every comic in the store, so that he can get back into his passion.

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But while Burns is rediscovering the joys of superhero comics, we check back in on the Simpsons, who are incredibly irritated with Bart. The whole town is mad at the family because of the prank that Bart played, and everyone is grouchy. Which is when Bart surprises everyone by announcing that he didn’t actually have anything to do with the prank, he just thought it was hilarious. None of the family believe him, obviously, until Maggie makes it clear that she believes him, which proves it to the rest of the family for some reason.

And it’s a good thing that the family are now on Bart’s side, because Mr. Largo and the rest of the band arrive at the house, looking for revenge on Bart. So, trying to figure out how to save Bart, Lisa decides to do the only thing that can save him. By declaring a youth court. What’s a youth court? Well, it’s some weird thing that Springfield has where children can get official trials with their own lawyers and judges and everything. This will apparently clear Bart of all charges or pranking, but they’re going to have to figure out an impartial judge. Luckily Grandpa claims that he knows Janet Reno from some random time working at the Supreme Court in the 90’s. But everything assumes this is nonsense, and moves on.

Meanwhile, back in his mansion, Burns is reading comics seemingly nonstop. And he loves it! Especially Batman. He really clicks with the idea of a billionaire playboy secretly using his wealth to fight crime, and decides that he’s the spitting image of Bruce Wayne. Therefore he needs to also become a superhero, and creates the identity of Fruit-Batman. Which Smithers finds rather ridiculous, but he obviously doesn’t say so.

But he really should have, because Burns really gets obsessed with this idea, and even goes so far as to design and create a costume for himself. Smithers plays along with Burns’ weird new fixation for a while, figuring that it’s harmless fun. Until Burns actually wants to go out and fight crime. So Smithers has to join Burns as they wander Springfield, looking for crimes to fight. Luckily Smithers comes across Snake robbing Apu, and manages to run into the store and offer them both quite a bit of money if they play along with Burns. They agree, and Fruit-Batman is able to defeat his first crime!

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Back at the Elementary School the youth court is about to begin. And, shockingly, it turns out that Grandpa actually does know Janet Reno, and she arrives to be their judge. They’re only mildly interested in this though, and just get on with the case, while Lisa serves as Bart’s judge. And things actually seem to be going well. Especially after they establish, through Lunchlady Doris’ testimony, that the kitchen is missing the exact number of eggs used in the prank, but that they were under lock and key, which Bart couldn’t possibly have gotten access too.

But, let’s be real, we’re more interested in Mr. Burns fighting crime, right? So let’s pop back into that plot! Because after getting the sweet taste of vigilantism, Burns can’t give it up. He’s travelling all around Springfield, stopping all sorts of crimes. All of which are being paid for by Smithers, who is funding random people of Springfield to start dressing up like supervillains so Burns can stop them. All culminating in a weird gala in honor of Burns, where he never realizes everyone is playing along with him.

Don’t worry though, the Burns plot is going to be wrapped into the court plot soon enough. Because things are about to get crazy in the court. And it’s all because Lisa got cocky. She starts trying to wrap the case up, claiming that Bart is clearly a good person. Which leads Janet Reno to say that the prosecution can now call all sorts of character witnesses to prove that is in fact, not a good person. And after a slew of people telling the court how horrible Bart has been in the past, especially Moe’s weird testimony about the psychological torture Bart has been inflicting on him for years of prank phone calls, things start to look dire.

Lisa then begins panicking, figuring that this was all her fault. But she does have one idea left. She heads out to Mr. Burns’ mansion, since it’s incredibly obvious that he’s actually Fruit-Batman, in the hopes that he can help out. And she’s in luck, because Burns is returning, in costume, as she gets there. Unfortunately, he’s not really that interested in helping her, even though she does her best to convince him that helping a wrongfully convicted person is what a hero would do. However, as Lisa leaves Smithers can’t take it anymore, and tells Burns the truth, that he’s been faking it all, and that helping Bart would actually be the first heroic thing he’s done as Fruit-Batman.

Dejected, Lisa returns home, trying to come up with a way to save Bart, when she learns something odd. Marge has agreed to do the whole town’s laundry, cleaning up the egg stains, and Lisa notices something odd. Willie’s kilt has a suspiciously fake-looking egg stain. So Lisa goes to investigate this odd detail, and when she goes to talk to Willie he just immediately admits that he was the actual perpetrator of the prank.

Apparently Willie hates Easter so much that he slept with Lunchlady Doris so he could steal her key, took the eggs, and framed Bart for the prank so he wouldn’t get in trouble. And there’s nothing Lisa can do to prove it! Until Fruit-Batman arrives and does battle with Willie. They fight all around the playground, until Fruit-Batman finally wins and drags Willie before the Youth Court. So, Bart is cleared of charges, Willie is punished I guess, and Fruit-Batman flees the adoration of the crowd, ready to be a hero. Oh, and then the episode ends with a goofy little trailer for a bunch of octogenarian heroes forming an Avengers style team.

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While this episode wasn’t anything like what I assumed it was going to be, I actually had a pretty great time with it. Although, it’s completely insane. I have no idea what the deal with this whole Youth Court thing is, and it’s kind of a strange detail to just toss out and have no one really explain. But whatever, it was fun to see Lisa become some sort of defense attorney and detective hybrid trying to save her brother. It’s a fun little mystery story though; even though it clearly was running too long and they just had to have Willie rapidly reveal everything with little to no provocation. But then there’s all the Fruit-Batman stuff, which is a whole lot of fun. It didn’t need to be in this episode, especially to the degree that it is, but I thoroughly enjoyed every time we got to see Burns acting like a vigilante and defeating random townsfolk dressed up as supervillains. It is a little odd that just this Monday we saw Burns sing a whole song about how much he loves to be evil, and here he’s being a hero, but whatever, Burns is the best.

Take Away: If you’re going to be a geriatric superhero it helps to have money to bribe people with.

 

“Dark Knight Court” was written by Billy Kimball and Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2013.

 

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