Simpsons Did It!: “A Fish Called Selma”

In this episode, there’s a moment where we see Fat Tony.  He has a single line about what Troy McClure has been up to.  Was it the voice of Joe Mantegna?  He’s not listed in the closing credits.  It sure sounded like him.

I need to know!

OK, let’s get the obvious out of the way first:  what we remember best from this episode is this awesome moment of musical theater that would test the fortitude of even the mightiest Broadway aficionado (that’d be Ryan)…

Yeah, that’s some great stuff.  But we need to know how we got to there.

How did we get to there?  Well, therein lies a tale.

It seems we have an episode focused on another supporting cast member, and this time it’s Troy McClure.  We may remember Troy from such appearances as the guy who always introduces Dr. Nick Riviera, and The Erotic Adventures of Hercules.  A onetime big star, Troy’s been down on his luck for a number of years owing to bizarre–and apparently true–stories about his private life.  Yes, he has some odd romantic impulses.  He’s not gay.  That’d be a relief for this guy.  Let’s just say you don’t want to visit an aquarium with the guy and leave it at that.

This episode is real tour de force for the late Phil Hartman.  He truly embodies the narcissistic phoniness of former leading man Troy McClure.  The desperation, the boundless enthusiasm, the cluelessness that comes with those things, Troy is all those things, and then we get the real gusto of that musical.

Well, Troy gets pulled over by Chief Wiggum for driving recklessly without some really nerdy glasses.  Wiggum lets him go with just a bribe request and explains he can get everything sorted out by going to the DMV.  That brings him to Selma.  While Patty couldn’t possibly care less, Selma is enamored with Troy, and Troy bribes her with a dinner date to get past whatever’s going on without wearing his glasses.  While out with Selma, some tabloid photographers spot the two and some quick photos on various less-than-reputable publications actually start getting Troy some work, or at least some phone calls from his agent MacArthur Parker.

In a season filled with older actors with very distinctive voices, it says something that here we get…a at-the-time younger actor with a distinctive voice.  Jeff Goldblum plays Parker as a rather fast-talking unctuous fellow, and man, that name.  The name itself is a joke.  Got about seven minutes?  Feast your ears on this song:

That’s actor Richard Harris, the first Dumbledore.  Yes, that is a real song.  “MacArthur Park”.  Wow.  It’s…something.  You’d need to listen to it to believe it.

Anyway, Troy sees a way out of the gutter is to bring someone with him, and Selma is more than willing to go along.  A quick engagement follows, and Homer actually takes Troy out drinking, and while both men are drunk, Homer gets Troy to confess that Troy’s only marrying Selma to further his career.  I mean, a Planet of the Apes musical doesn’t happen every day.  Homer doesn’t say anything right away, not out of maliciousness, but out of Homerness.  He tells Marge after the wedding as an afterthought.

Marge and Patty then try to talk sense into their sister, but Selma first accuses them of jealousy, and when they do get through, Selma asks Troy point blank if they have a sham marriage.  Troy says they do, suggests there’s nothing wrong with it, and Selma can have what she wants if she just goes along with it.

But then Parker suggests Troy needs a kid to keep things going, and that is a bridge too far for Selma.  A loveless marriage isn’t hurting anyone, but a loveless family just isn’t right.  Taking Jub-Jub, Selma moves out, and I actually felt a little bad for Troy seeing him watch Selma walk away.

Then I saw that movie he opted to make with his newfound revived career and lost all sympathy.  We won’t be remembering Troy for that one.

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