Thursday, April 12, 2018

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: Number Three - “I have to go now. My planet needs me.”

Season 8, Episode 14
“The Itchy And Scratchy And Poochie Show”
First Broadcast: February 9, 1997

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.

A much-loved cartoon show has gradually grown stale, with later instalments lacking the insight, sass, shock value and general hilarity of earlier entries…

Anyway, on to this episode (chortle!) – Krusty threatens to axe 'Itchy and Scratchy' due to falling ratings.  After a frustrating time at a focus group that wants both of two mutually exclusive outcomes, Roger Myers Jnr decides that the answer is to introduce a new character; and of course the animal chain of command goes mouse, cat...  Dog.

Having easily been convinced that he has a hilarious voice, Homer wins the role of the new character, who is dubbed Poochie and constructed entirely from attitude, sunglasses and other such pseudo-edgy clichés.  Homer bonds with fellow voice artist June Bellamy as the two do the local promotional circuit, but after an unprecedented hype campaign, the character flops and the studio decide to pull the plug immediately.

Homer believes the character can be saved, and goes off-script in his final recording session in an apparently successful attempt to give him a stay of execution.  However, the show’s producers double-cross Homer by shoddily reanimating the episode to write Poochie out of the show forever, including a legally-binding agreement never to bring the character back.  But at least that much-loved, long-running houseguest Roy gets his own spin-off where he moves in with two sexy ladies!


"Excuse me, Mr Simpson: on the 'Itchy and Scratchy' CD-Rom, is there a way to get out of the dungeon without using the Wizard's Key?"...

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
June's tale of exploitation: "I started out as Road Runner.  'Meep!'"  "Don't you mean, 'meep meep'?"  "No, they only paid me to say it once, then they doubled it up on the soundtrack.  Cheap bastards."

And the question everyone is asking in life:

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.

I think the best we can do here is offer up Poochie’s totally gangster rap in his classic debut, "The Beagle Has Landed":


Despite the aforementioned, legally-witnessed documentation, Poochie has appeared in no less than 14 episodes of The Simpsons - including Matrix Poochie in "Kill Gil, Volumes One and Two" - so one could assume that the jurisdiction only extended to the Krusty The Clown television show, since the aforementioned Keanu-influenced version appeared in "Krusty's Kristmas On Ice Show" in that episode.

Or one could, were it not for the non-speaking appearance (and watch out, because we're going a bit "Inception" here with shows within shows within shows) of Poochie in an episode of "The Itchy And Scratchy Show" entitled "The Tears Of A Clone", shown on the Krusty The Clown show in The Simpsons' Season Eleven episode "Little Big Mom" - a mere three seasons later!

Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder...


I’ve picked some landmark episodes in this timeline – which is a nice way of saying, I've gone for some in which fans believe the show jumped the shark, in this, “Cape Feare”, “Who Shot Mr Burns”, “Itchy And Scratchy Land” and “Homer The Great” (although I have had the very good sense to avoid “Saddlesore Galactica” and “The Principal And The Pauper”).  There is a case for this one being the shark-jump moment, but I think more people are simply sore at the target of this episode’s ribbing: us, the fans of the show.

This is an episode of a long-running television series about the making of a long-running television series, and specifically the kind of pitfalls that The Simpsons was largely avoiding at that stage: tampering with a classic formula and introducing radical (pun intended) new elements as a attempt at a quick fix.

And yes, the fans suffer the slings and arrows of a beleaguered production team, even then hearing that their best days were behind them; but I'm willing to take a few lumps for a virtual lifetime of entertainment - and I'd even go as far as to say that if the quality had stayed this high for another couple of years, I wouldn’t have cared if they'd never got to that fireworks factory.

PS: It was all worth it for this...

Image result for roman reigns died on the way back to his home planet
Courtesy...  Erm, well I got it from Reddit.  Happy to credit properly if I can find the source!
Join us next time, ‘cause here comes two!!!

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