The Simpsons – “Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts”

The Simpsons – “Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts

Let it first be said, the couch gag by Ren & Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi was so demented it will haunt my dreams (in a good way). Between this and last year’s Banksy opening, are they going to be doing more of this type of thing? I would love to see more renowned animator talking a stab at the couch gag. Nick Park or Sylvain Chomet perhaps (both of whom have had their style parodied on the show, Park even guest-voiced)? I’d like to see that. The Simpsons qualifies as an institution and seeing a variety of artist pay homage (ooo, I thought of another one: Ralph Steadman!) would be cool. The contract negotiations between Fox and the cast have once again grown hostile (the cast wants to decrease their salaries in exchange for a small percentage of the show’s profits, which would end up being much more). Fox is threatening to cancel the show, which is not as great as it once was by just about every method of determination (though even in its decline The Simpsons is still fantastic, at least to this humble fan…). If we really are approaching the end, I think the guest-created couch gags are a nice tribute.

Over the years, just about every minor Simpsons character has been the focus of his or her very own episode (I mean that hyperbolically). This week the focus is on Superintendent Gary Chalmers (have we ever know before that his name was Gary?). After troubled Vietnam veteran Seymour Skinner finally has enough of Chalmers’ abuse he snaps and asks him why HE doesn’t take responsibility for educating Bart Simpson. Chalmers accepts the challenge. He actually manages to get Bart interested in (one very narrow aspect of) American history by exposing him to our most unquestionably badass president, Theodore Roosevelt. Actual audio recordings of Roosevelt are used in Bart’s research, earning the late former president a “Special Guest Star” credit.

I always like the episode where Bart enjoys learning about something. It’s usually completely dropped by the next week but it basically affirms my belief that no one actually dislikes learning; it’s what and how they are taught that turn so many people against school. The episode makes some commentary about the failing state of our educational system (a favorite target of The Simpsons). I’m not sure it makes any points that haven’t been made better before (including by the show itself) but it makes for an entertaining half hour of television which, even at its worst, The Simpsons has always managed to be.

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