April 24, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Simpsons Did It!: “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”

In which The Simpsons gets very meta.

This is the episode of The Simpsons that pushed the show past the old record of episodes for a prime time animated series.  The old record was held by The Flintstones.  In honor of the event, the show decided to go really meta and talk about what it takes to keep a show fresh after so many years while mocking network attempts to keep things fresh in ways that look soulless and phony.

But before we go any further than that, let’s take a look at a minor character named June Bellamy.  June, it turns out, is the actress who does the voice of both Itchy and Scratchy.  Though voiced by series regular Tress MacNeille, she’s clearly a tribute to veteran voice actress June Foray who personally did an episode of the show way back in season one.

Now back to the action.

It seems for reasons unknown, Itchy and Scratchy isn’t attracting the viewers it used to.  Krusty wants the show fixed and he may be the only person who can threaten Alex Rocco’s Roger Meyers and get away with it.  So, it’s time for one of the periodic trips to Itchy and Scracthy Studios where a lot of the employees look an awful lot like the people who work behind the scenes on The Simpsons and network executives make demands that are full of empty buzzwords that don’t mean anything.  A focus group of local children that includes Bart and Lisa (and that makes Ralph Wiggum cry) comes up with completely contradictory ideas that somehow convince Meyers what the show really needs is a new character, and that will be a dog that is extreme and rude and in-your-face.  Dubbed “Poochie,” the dog is clearly the product of soulless bureaucracy at work, and even though Homer beats out such luminaries as Otto and Troy McClure to voice the character, that doesn’t make Poochie’s sudden arrival and complete lack of anything approaching likability or humor the sort of thing that will endear him to the viewers.

At about the same time, some slacker teenager type named Roy is inexplicably living in the Simpsons’ house.  Pretty much every time the family talks to Roy, it has some neat double-meanings that apply just as much to Poochie and his placement in Itchy & Scratchy as Roy does to the Simpson house.

So, while people like the Comic Book Guy decry Poochie as being from the Worst Episode Ever, even though the entertainment is free so it’s hard to see why the show owes him anything, the producers decide the thing to do is kill Poochie off.  Homer’s valiant effort to save Poochie with some heartfelt lines seem to work…until Homer and the family sees the episode and Poochie is unceremoniously and badly killed off.  There’s even an affidavit to prove it.

Roy likewise leave the house.  Only Marge seems to be interested in wishing him goodbye.

Well, next time you find yourself voicing a cartoon character, don’t do like Homer does and lose control of the project.  And be sure to ask for money.  Homer didn’t do that either.