When I first saw this particular episode, I thought the writers were riffing on Jessica McClure, who as a baby fell down a well and became a media sensation until her rescue.
Then years later I learned the real inspiration was a dark Billy Wilder comedy starring Kirk Douglas called Ace in the Hole. That’s actually a pretty good movie, and a lesser-known film from Wilder. But that’s not important right now.
Yes, it seems Marge and Lisa aren’t the only members of the family to get a bad batch of birthday gifts. For his tenth, Bart gets…a lot of stuff he clearly doesn’t want. The best gift at first seems to be a label maker from Patty and Selma, which he uses to declare ownership on just about everything in the Simpson house, including the last beer.
Homer, meanwhile, had bought Bart a microphone that allowed the user to put his voice on the radio. Though initially unimpressed, Bart soon realizes he can play great pranks with the thing, tricking Homer into believing there’s an alien invasion, Marge into thinking Maggie can talk, and the Flanders kids into thinking God is on the radio.
Bart’s greatest prank, though, is to convince the people of Springfield that there’s a kid stuck down an old well by the name of Timmy O’Toole. Timmy is like the anti-Bart. He’s polite and sweet, and the town adores him, even as Timmy claims Principal Skinner wouldn’t accept him at Springfield Elementary due to his poor clothes. Since everyone on the police force is too fat to go down the well, especially Chief Wiggum, the only thing to do seems to be to set up a carnival on the spot and, I dunno, wait until someone comes up with a plan that works.
Yes, the best idea comes from Krusty to record a celebrity pop song about rescuing the kid by sending their love down the well. Sting was free on Saturday. Sting later turned out to be a good digger, so it was a good thing he was there.
Yes, Bart’s plan fell apart when Lisa suggested (accurately) that Bart would be stupid enough to drop a radio with his name on it down the well. And when Bart’s attempts to get the radio get him stuck down the hole, the entire town is so peeved, they decide not to rescue him.
How desperate is it? Homer is the one to come up with the idea to rescue Bart by simply digging a hole down into the Earth and pulling Bart out that way. Groundskeeper Willy, a surprisingly buff man, wonders why he didn’t think of that, and soon the whole town is digging, aside from the occasional evacuation of the hole due to canaries dying of natural causes. Bart is freed, a warning sign is posted outside the well, and everything goes back to normal.
Now let us have a moment of silence for the Lincoln Squirrel.