Thursday, February 01, 2018

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: Number Thirteen - “Shake harder, boy!”

Season 6, Episode 24
“Lemon of Troy”
First Broadcast: May 14, 1995

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.

As the episode begins, Bart begins to take more of an interest in town pride, spurred on by a telling-off from Marge.  This leads to a confrontation with kids from the neighbouring town of Shelbyville, with whom Springfield has a rivalry that dates back to Jebediah's founding of the town, and is based, naturally, on opposing stances to cousin marriage.  Of course, things almost immediately spiral out of control, and the Shelbyvillains retaliate by stealing Springfield's hitherto-unmentioned lemon tree, which stands as a symbol of the town itself and forms the cornerstone of the economy for prepubescents.

Bart goes under cover, and after a meeting of the Milhouses, they eventually find the tree in an impound lot - a fortress so impenetrable that the tree is good as gone forever.  As the episode’s title suggests, the eventual resolution comes via a Trojan Horse-inspired ploy, as the Springfieldians conspire to have Ned’s RV impounded, giving them the opportunity to reclaim the tree at the perfectly reasonable cost of major damage to the vehicle and the tree itself.

As the dust settles, the children of Springfield sit down to glasses of lemonade, glad to have most of their lemon tree back – whilst the children of Shelbyville sit down to glasses of turnip juice, glad that the haunted tree had been banished forever and inflicted on their unfortunate neighbours.


Marge's town spirit-stoking speech, replete with necessary repetition:

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
Lemon-shaped rocks, apparently a perfectly cromulent sight.

The attack dog at the impound yard, failing to be distracted by a steak.  "Faster, son!  He's got a taste for meat now!"


Erm…  Not much to report here.  We're on a really bad run with this section!  But at least Milhouse paraphrases “When Doves Cry” by Prince, so…


Shelbyville - formerly called "Morganville", as anyone who read the last entry's touching tribute to Abe Simpson already knows, you can thank me later - is Springfield's neighbouring town to the west and bitter rival.

It was founded in 1796 by Shelbyville Manhattan, a member of Jebediah Springfield's expedition to find land to settle, and the split occurred due to Jebediah's reluctance to allow cousins to marry in his town.  It's been mentioned in a few episodes before this and is also cited as the city where Luann van Houten grew up - so there's that, like.

Other cities that are nearby Springfield include Capital City, presumably the capital of what is simply referred to as Springfield's State due to the obfuscation over the years, where "Dancin' Homer" failed to make his name, and Ogdenville, which is not only featured in the episode "Coming To Homerica" and shown to have a Scandinavian culture but is, along with also-nearby North Haverbrook, one of the other unfortunate cities that let Lyle Lanley build a monorail for them...


This episode is often dismissed as mediocre, but I've a soft spot for it, so let's be super positive for once and look at all the pluses:

* This is the closest The Simpsons have got to Star Trek's "Mirror, Mirror", woth Shelbyville serving as a parallel Springfield, filled with the same archetypes (well, outside of "Treehouse of Horror" episodes anyway);

* We get Grampa Simpson imparting a speech that, for once, moves the action on rather tha acting as a stalling mechanism;

* A second appearance for Ned's RV, after Season One's "Call Of The Simpsons";

* A story that, for once, unites the town against a common enemy rather than finding comedy in cracks in the community;

* And as a subset of the above point, the kids of Springfield Elementary putting their differences aside, be they nerd, bully or prankster, leading to perhaps the greatest team-up of all time:  Nelson Muntz and Martin Prince, Team Discovery Channel.

Given those points I can't dismiss this episode as merely middling, though it would be fair to say that even I was surprised to find it this high in my own list - which suggests an episode that does somewhat fly under the radar, but when laid out, is greater than the sum of its parts.

Join us next time when we pay a loving tribute to alcohol!  The cause of, and solution to, all of life's problems.

No comments: