Another literary rich episode, featuring the tales of Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed.  The third story is, in fact, not a tall tale at all, but a parody of Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

In this segment, Bart is Tom Sawyer and Nelson is Huckleberry Finn.  Huck is forced to marry Becky (Lisa) after they are caught holding hands.  Frightened, Huck runs off with Tom to escape his fate.  The townspeople chase down Tom and Huck, unhappy that Huck ran out on the wedding.  The two try to escape on a river boat, but are captured and thrown into the Mississippi River by Moe.  The two watch their own funeral from the rafters but soon discover that they really are dead.


These two episodes both parody the same story, Pygmalion and its musical counterpart My Fair Lady.

Both of these episodes revolve around two of the most unattractive men in Springfield.  In the original play and musical, Eliza Doolittle is transformed from an unpolished flower-woman to a sophisticated, polished lady.  For these two episodes, both Moe and Groundskeeper Willie are transformed.  Unfortunately, both men return to their former selves, instead of keeping the new life they are given.

Pygmoelian – After Moe realizes how ugly he is, he has plastic surgery.  Moe soon gains fame and fortune as the star of a soap opera.  Moe learns his character is going to be killed off.  In retaliation, Moe reveals many of the future plot lines and is fired from the show.  On his way out, a piece of the set falls on his face and Moe is returned to his former self.

My Fair Laddy – Probably a closer parody than Moe’s episode.  After Willie’s shack is destroyed, he comes to live with the Simpson family.  Lisa decides to improve his life by turning him into a proper gentleman as her science fair project.  Bart does not think Lisa can accomplish this and the two enter into a bet.  Willie stuns everyone at the science fair with his new identity and Lisa wins the science fair and the bet.  However, Willie is unhappy in his new life and returns to his shack and job as groundskeeper.

One of my favorite parodies – Flowers for Algernon.

After Homer finds himself in a financial bind, he signs up to be a guinea pig for medical experiments.  An x-ray reveals a crayon stuck in Homer’s brain, which ends up being the causeof his stupidity.  After the crayon is removed, Homer’s IQ rises.  Homer intellect is now equal to Lisa’s and he improves in almost every area of his life.  However, Homer is soon ostracized because his thorough report at the plant causes all of his friends to be layed-off.  Homer realizes his life was more enjoyable as an “idiot” and turns to Moe to re-insert a crayon in his brain.

Homer’s journey is similar to Charlie’s in Flowers For Algernon.  I think the revelation that life is simpler without intelligence is the major connection between the two characters.  Charlie could have continued to work with Nemur to fix the flaw in the hypothesis.  However, he chose to let the deterioration of his intelligence continue.  Homer also chose to reverse his procedure.  Homer was also able to connect with Lisa on a different level than before, and left a good-bye note explaining the admiration he has for her now.

This is one of the few episodes where we see a non-“Woo-hoo” Homer.  Of course Homer’s intelligence wasn’t going to last long if the show were to continue.  Homer represents the some of the opposite of what our society has become.  In “Homer and Aristotle“, Raja Halwani believes “Homer’s love of life stands out as an important quality especially in our age, an age in which political correctness, over-politeness, lack of willingness to judge others, inflated obsession with physical heath, and pessimism about what is good and enjoyable about life reign more or less supreme”.   He stands up against some of our societies worst qualities and how could we have The Simpsons without this Homer.

Of course we can’t leave out one of the oldest pieces of literature . . .

While the Simpsons are in church, they all fall asleep during Reverend Lovejoy’s sermon.  Marge, Lisa, Homer, and Bart all have dreams based on stories from the Bible.

Marge’s dream – Marge and Homer take the place of Adam and Eve.  A snake convinces both to eat the apples, and while both do, only Eve is caught and banished from Eden.  Adam continuously tries to return Eve to the garden, but ends up killing a unicorn and becomes banished himself.

Lisa’s Dream – Lisa, Bart, Millhouse and the other kids are Hebrews in Egypt.  Millhouse, as Moses, leads the rest of the children away from their captors.  Instead of Moses parting the sea, the children flush all of the toilets in Egypt at the same time.  Pharaoh and the guards are swallowed up when the water returns.

Homer’s Dream – Homer is King Solomon and must end a dispute between Lenny and Carl over a pie of pie.  Instead of cutting the pie in half (much like the boy in the original story), he orders the death of Lenny and Carl and eats the pie himself.

Bart’s Dream – Bart is King David, who had already defeated Goliath.  Nelson is Goliath II, Goliath’s son.  David challenges Goliath II, but is defeated and banished from the kingdom.  David trains to kill Goliath II and succeeds with Ralph’s (a shepherd) help.  However, the kingdom is upset, claiming Goliath II was the best king they ever had.

After an accident on the way to a field trip, Bart, Lisa, Millhouse, and the rest on the Springfield Elementary School children become stranded on a island with no adult supervision.  Bart imagines life will be easy without parents and the children celebrate.  The children then begin to go hungry and ration out the food.  Millhouse is soon suspected of eating all of the food and the others go on a murderous rampage.

While the story ends with Millhouse’s name being cleared by a boar, much of the episode parodies Golding’s Lord of the Flies.  Some of the character comparisons are Bart/Ralph, Millhouse/Piggy, and Nelson/Jack.  Millhouse’s glasses become damaged, just like Piggy’s, and Bart even blows on a conch to get the others to stop fighting.

This episode is one of the closer parodies of an original work.  In “Popular Parody: The Simpsons Meets the Crime Film”, Deborah Knight reflects on Hutcheon’s parody theory.  Hutcheon believes that “parody is self-conscious, indeed a self-reflective, practice, one that involves the intention of the artist or author in the encoding, and the interpretive activity of the audience in decoding”.  Hutcheon states that the differences in plot or detail creates a shift that allows for exploration and examination.   While a lot of the plot of this episode follows the original storyline, the differences ignite humor and satire.  This particular episode is known to be studied in sociology classes at Berkley.

Who could stay away from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible?

The town of Springfield (or Sprynge-Fielde in this segment) is ravenous with witch fever.  Everyone in the town is being accused and chaos is beginning to take over.  Marge tries to stop the madness and is then accused by Moe.  Marge is sentenced to be thrown off a cliff with a broomstick.  If she lives, she will be burnt at the stake as a witch.  If she dies, she is innocent.  After Marge is thrown off the cliff, she arises and proclaims she was a witch the whole time.

While the end of this segment differs greatly from The Crucible or it’s real-life inspiration, the witch hunt madness was well depicted.

Reverting back to the myths of the ancient Greeks, the title can only give away the connection.  In this episode, some of the Shelbyville (Springfield’s rival city) kids steal the Springfield lemon tree.  In order to get it back, Bart, Homer, and the rest have to get into the impound lot (where the tree is kept).  In the spirit of Odysseus and his men, Bart and Homer leave a beat-up RV outside a hospital overnight.  The “abandoned” RV is then taken to the impound lot, where the Springfieldians jump out of the RV and reclaim the tree.  

No beer and no T.V. make Homer something, something . . .

In this Halloween episode, The Simpsons tackle The Shining. The correct pronunciation for the episode is Shin-ing (not shine-ing), as Willy points out to Bart because they don’t want to get sued.  Homer takes the family to be the winter caretakers of Burn’s mountain hotel.  The episode parodies most of the visual images from Stanley Kubruk’s version of the story.  Just as “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy” – “No T.V. and no beer make Homer go crazy”.  (Burns is seen removing all of the beer and cutting the cable wires before the Simpsons arrive and Smither’s points out – “Maybe this is why the other caretakers went crazy.”)

The episode has a happier ending than the original.  Homer and the family find a portable television and Homer’s “urge to kill” slowly fades away.  The end scene shows the family huddled together in the snow around the television, completely frozen,  Just as Jack Nicholson was at the end of Kubrick’s film.

Did someone say . . Hitchcock!!!

In this episode, Bart is confined to his room because an accident at the pool left him in a cast.  Lisa feels sorry for Bart and loans him her telescope.  Bart soon begins spying on Flanders and assumes he has killed his wife, Maude.  Bart sends Lisa over to the house to uncover the mystery, all the while, Bart is watching through the telescope.  Bart jumps to action when Flanders returns and is seen heading for Lisa with an axe.  Bart rushes over to save the day, only to find out that Flanders’ victim was a plant.

One would think that this segment only parodies Dracula; however, the plot also adds elements from King’s Salem’s Lot and The Lost Boys.  Lisa suspects that vampires are taking over Springfield.  During a visit to Burns’ mansion, Lisa and Bart discover a secret passage that leads to a room full of coffins and vampires.  After Bart is bitten, Lisa claims that the head vampire, Burns, must be killed so Bart can be normal again.  After Homer drives the steak through Burns’ heart, Bart remains a vampire.  Marge then reveals that she is the head vampire and the rest of the family has already been turned.

The Simpsons