Saturday, 25 December 2010

WHO SHOT MR BURNS? (PART ONE)


SEASON 6 EPISODE 25 (EPISODE 128)

THIS IS IT:
The Season 6 cliffhanger.  The first real time The Simpsons performed a plotline related publicity stunt.  This was their version of DallasWho Shot J.R.?  Did this mean they were about to kill off one of their major characters?  And with the show at the peak of its powers these were exciting times.  It begins with a new day at Springfield Elementary and Principal Skinner opening the front doors of the school with the sun blazing behind him.  Breathing it in Skinner comments “ah, is there nothing so intoxicating as the school hallway at early morn”.  His joy is cut short when he catches whiff of a bad smell (“the school normally doesn’t smell so rank”).  After checking his own pits he determines that it must be one of the classrooms.  It turns out to be a class gerbil crushed by his own water bottle.  From here we cut to Groundskeeper Willie sat laughing while reading My Weekly Read.  With this there is a knock on the Custodial Dept door as Skinner states that over the weekend the Grade 4 gerbil Super Dude died.  He asks that he airs out the classroom and give Super Dude the proper burial.  Willie digs a hole for the gerbil in the boiler room saying to it “you’re lucky that you’re getting a decent burial, me own father got thrown in the bog”.  Then while digging he suddenly notices a thick black liquid on the end of his shovel and bubbling up from the hole.  Promptly the floor begins to vibrate before oil begins to gush.  Cutting to the Grade 4 classroom Mrs Krabappel sprays over the now empty gerbil cage as Bart asks “what reeks” before the oil gush shoots up through their floor continuing to the classroom above and beneath Ralph where we worries Miss Hoover about the floor shaking before he gets caught and shot up in the gush.  At this point we cut to the nuclear plant where a board meeting is in progress and Mr Burns stating that a parcel of profit projections needs to be sent to Pete Porter in Pasadena.  The package is promptly passed around until it finally arrives on Homer’s desk where he reads Burns’ name on the return address thinking it is the sending address.  Ever eager to impress he rushes to Burns and places it on his desk.  Naturally annoyed/angered Burns tears him a new one before having to ask Smithers what his name is.  Responding to this gesture we hear Homer thinking “I’ve worked here for ten years and my boss doesn’t even know my name, well that’s going to change right now”.  So just as he is about to shout his name in Burns’ face he presses a button that drops a weight from above.  Fortunately/unfortunately it is just 1000 grams which disappoints Burns causing him to comment “sounded large when I ordered it”.  Back at Springfield Elementary Skinner is on the roof surveying the damage (“my lord, such destruction”) as Superintendent Chalmers arrives who blasts “why is it when I heard the word school and the word exploded I immediately thought of the word Skinner?”  Luckily it is at this point a contractor pops up stating “congratulations gentleman, your custodian struck oil, you’re standing on top of the richest elementary school in the state”.  He also found the oil-drenched corpse of Super Dude the gerbil, which Skinner promptly throws off the roof.  From here we cut to Executive Spa as Burns shudders while reading the Springfield Shopper sporting the headline “Awful School Is Awful Rich”.  Angrily he exclaims “a non-profit organisation with oil, I will not allow it”.  In front on the tandem exercise bike is Smithers doing all the work who asks “have you had enough exercise for this morning?” as he says no suggesting that they do another 20 miles as he goes and plays pinball.  With this we cut to Smithers exhausted and bent over staggering into an elevator with Burns where Homer, Lenny, Carl and Guillermo are.  Spotting everyone Burns acknowledges them all by name (even Guillermo whose face is covered by a safety hood) except for Homer whose name he cannot place despite him wearing a name badge and wearing a safety helmet with his name on.  After Burns exits Lenny notices that Homer is hurt so he comforts him only to have Guillermo undo his effort pointing out that Burns even knows the names of his sons Ronaldo and Rolando (even though at the company picnic he got them mixed up).  Back at Springfield Elementary Chalmers is firing up a large cigar while Skinner is showing him that the school made the front-page of the Springfield Shopper tactically covering the first “awful” in the headline with his hand.  Suspicious of this Chalmers asks what’s beneath his hand as he responds “its an unrelated”.  Still dubious Chalmers comments “an unrelated article within the banner headline”.  To redirect the conversation slightly Skinner says that he has had some ideas on how to spend the money.  Chalmers responds “well we could give each a student a full college scholarship” as the pair of them burst out laughing.  Seriously though before they draw up the budget he states that some students and faculty have some suggestions.  This begins with Willie requesting a crystal bucket for his slop water and a brand new filthy blanket.  Approved.  Lunch lady Doris says the cafeteria staff are complaining about the mice in the kitchen and that she wants to hire a new staff.  Approved.  Lisa requests that they start a jazz programme in the music department offering Tito Puente as the teacher.  Approved.  Ralph requests chocolate microscopes.  Approved.  Otto asks for one of those guitars that are like a double guitar.  Approved.  And busy with rubber-stamping so many proposals he puts in a request for more rubber stamps.  Approved.  One last student turns up with a suggestion.  It is Mr Burns in a purple wool hat and Punisher t-shirt stating “me and my fourth form chums think it would be quite corking if you’d sign over your oil well to the local energy concern”.  With a cough Principal Skinner says “Mr Burns it was naïve of you to think that I would mistake this town’s most prominent 104 year old man for one of my elementary school students”.  Taking on a threatening tone Burns snaps “I want that oil well, I’ve got a monopoly to maintain.  I own the electric company and the water works.  Plus the hotel on Baltic Avenue” to which Skinner responds “that hotel’s a dump and you’re monopoly’s pathetic”.  As he reiterates the well is not for sale (“especially to a black hearted scoundrel like you”) Burns lurches at Skinner and attempts to attack him.  Unfortunately his efforts are feeble and fall short as his arms flail in the air failing to connect.  Calling to Smithers for assistance he comes in with an open stapler pointed at Skinner which he fires a number of times to zero results prompting him to request “please don’t waste those”.  At the Simpson house it is dinnertime as Marge says that she is happy that the school has the money as it is going to offer new opportunities.  Not so happy Bart says “big deal” before moaning that they didn’t approve his idea to use the money to resurrect The Three Stooges.  Also down is Homer who says that he hates his job adding “what’s the point when your boss doesn’t even remember your name?”  Trying to help Marge says that she has an idea stating that when her father was trying to catch the eye of her mother he sent her a box of candy with his picture inside it.  Feigning interest Homer responds “that’s all well and good but that’s not really YOUR idea, is it now Marge?”  Meanwhile at the nuclear plant Burns stands on his balcony looking at the school oil well through binoculars before panning across to where Burns Construction Co is building something for his plan to deal with the oil.  Feeling a sense of guilt Smithers goes against code and requests that Burns reconsiders his plans stating “this isn’t a rival company you are battling with it is a school, people won’t stand for it”.  Dismissive Burns snaps “pish posh, it will be like taking candy from a baby” as hit spots a baby in a sandpit licking a candy stick “say, that sounds like a laugh, lets try it right now”.  Fortunately before Burns carries through with the deed Smithers points out a box of candy on his desk which they can eat instead of stealing.  As they pick at the chocolates it slowly reveals a photo of the Simpson family beginning with Maggie (“the baby who found my precious teddy bear Bobo”).  Next they reveal “that Simpson mutt, my former guard dog” followed by Bart (“he was my heir for a brief period”).  Soon they have finished almost the entire box with only the sour quince log remaining covering Homer’s head.  Unimpressed Burns says “dispose of it” adding “please send a thank you note to Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson”.  With this we cut to Oil Appreciation Day at Springfield Elementary where Skinner is giving a speech stating “today Springfield Elementary embarks on a new era of unbridled spending where petrol dollars will fuel our wildest educational fantasies”.  They get top student Lisa Simpson to turn on the oil pump for the very first time.  Unfortunately there is no gush as an engineer reports that there is no pressure stating “someone else has tapped this well”.  It transpires that it is unsurprisingly Mr Burns that has dug into the oil supply as the camera cuts to where Burns Construction Co has completed building and become Burns Slant Drilling Co situated right next to Moe’s Tavern.  And now about to burst Burns comments to Smithers how exciting it is as finally they hit oil sending a huge shot across Springfield which hits Bart in his treehouse where he is sharing a strawberry ice cream with Santa’s Little Helper.  The impact destroys the house and the tree sending both of them flying.  Bart is just dazed and bruised but Santa’s Little Helper’s injuries are serious as we quickly cut to Springfield Animal Hospital.  Emerging from the Canine Trauma Ward happily the vet announces that his status has been updated from “stable to frisky” but still injured his hind legs are now cradled by a wheelabout.  With this Bart pats the dog telling him that he will get even with whoever did this.  At this point the vet attaches a cone to his neck to prevent him gnawing on his cast.  This is coincides with Nelson passing with parrot which laughs the same as Nelson.  Back at Springfield Elementary Skinner informs his staff that they have no legal recourse against Mr Burns and his slant drilling operation.  Alarmed Willie asks about all the expensive they ordered and whether they can still have it.  Obviously they can no longer afford it so when Skinner tells him “no” he rips his overalls in anger.  In fact to pay for all the construction, operation and demolition of the well the school will have to elimate all non-essential programmes which means music and maintenance further incensing Willie prompting him to proclaim “I’ll kill that Mr Burns!  And wound that Mr Smithers”.  And back at the Simpson house Lisa is on the phone to Tito Puente who is giving her the bad news.  Turning to Homer Lisa asks how he can work for such a horrible man.  In his defence Homer offers “he’s not all bad, he did send me this nice thank you card” but Lisa points out that it does not include him in the message.  Now at the height of frustration he asks Lisa and Bart to step outside for second as he screams the F word at the top of his voice which rattles Springfield prompting Ned to comment “dear lord that’s the loudest profanity I have ever heard”.  Meanwhile at the slant oil well fumes are rising and entering Moe’s.  Inside Barney comments “these fumes aren’t as fun as beer.  Sure I’m all dizzy and nauseous but where’s the inflated sense of self esteem?”  Elsewhere another patron passes out as Moe point “hey if you guys are getting loaded off them fumes I’m gonna have to charge ya”.  With this a public health officer in a contamination suit steps in declaring “man alive there are men alive in here”.  His assistant runs a scan detecting over twenty different toxins in the air.  On that reading everyone is ordered out as the bar is to remain closed while Burns is still pumping oil.  Resigning the bar to closure Moe says “just let me get one thing” as he pulls a pump action shotgun from behind the bar.  Responding in kind Barney says “me too” as he pulls a pistol from beneath his bar stall (“now there’s the inflated sense of self esteem”).  Now digging further into the ground the slant oil drill causes vibrations beneath Springfield Retirement Castle as Grandpa is wakened jumping from his bed thinking that it is an earthquake.  In the end it causes the old people’s home to subside.  The next day Smithers looks over Springfield from the Burns’ office balcony seeing all the damage that has been caused to the town.  Feeling angered by this he turns to Burns surrounded by money and says “well sir you’ve certainly vanquished all your enemies: the elementary school, the local tavern, the old age home.  You must be very proud”.  However he is not.  Pursuing his greed he looks to his greatest nemesis still providing the town with free light, heat and energy: the sun.  With this he reveals a model of Springfield and explains his latest plan: “since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun.  I will do the next best thing: block it out”.  He adds “imagine it.  Electrical lights and heaters running all day long”.  Promptly attempting to dissuade him Smithers states “but sir every plant and tree will die.  Owls will deafen us with incessant hooting.  The town sundial will be useless”.  Standing against the plan Smithers says that he won’t be part of this project as Burns accuses him of insubordination while Smithers accuses him of being on the brink of insanity.  And with that Burns fires Smithers before tearing on a rampage crushing various landmarks on his model of Springfield including Barney’s Bowlarama, the Kwik-E-Mart and accidentally the nuclear power plant.  The third act begins with a shot of Homer reading the latest issue of the Springfield Shopper carrying the headline “Burns plans sunshine halt”.  With this Marge states that “Mr Burns is being awfully inconsiderate.  Selfish even”.  In agreement Bart adds that Mr Burns needs “some serious boostafazoo” before yanking the newspaper from him for attention only to reveal Grandpa Simpson behind the newspaper prompting them to scream in shock as Lisa apologies saying that for a moment she thought that Homer had melted.  It turns out that Grandpa is now living there until they fish his bed out of the sinkhole at Springfield Retirement Castle.  Marge then serves up breakfast in the form of “string carrots for Maggie, string carrots for Grandpa”.  Meanwhile Homer is driving to work where Burns’ ignorance of his name is affecting him to the extent that he is envisage multiple Burns asking his name.  After accidentally crashing through the security distracted by his hallucinations Homer sneaks into Burns’ office where he sets about spray painting the walls with “I am Homer Simpson”.  Just as he finishes the lights come on as Burns catches him in the act reacting by saying “who the devil are you?”  Further angered Homer grabs him and repeatedly tells him his name until two plant heavies come and drag him away as he shouts “you’re dead Burns” on the way out.  Back at the Simpson house Grandpa is unpacking in the front room as Santa’s Little Helper wheels past prompting him to inform Bart “hey the lamp’s running away”.  Bart explains that it is his dog as Grandpa tells him to stop loafing and to help him unpack at which point Bart discovers his Smith & Wesson inside a Two Stars Cigars box.  Blasé Grandpa comments “if you’re gonna play with be careful cos its loaded”.  At this point Marge spots Bart with the gun and freaks out grabbing it and saying she is going to bury it in the yard.  Annoyed Grandpa tells Bart “you should have fired it, she would have run off”.  From here we cut to Springfield Town Hall where Mayor Quimby is telling the people of Springfield to “take it easy”.  He states that it is time for decisive action as he pulls out a “polite but firm letter addressed to Mr Burns’ underlings who with some cajoling will pass it along to him or at least give him the gist of it”.  While this announcement is made the camera cuts to various Springfield residents stroking guns.  As Quimby is informed by one of his bodyguards that a number of people are stroking guns he promptly steps aside and gives them the floor.  Making first comment is a drunk Mr Smithers followed by an angry Willie saying how Burns cost him his job at the school (“and I’m too superstitious to take the one at the cemetery”).  Grandpa Simpson pops up next saying because of Burns he lost “his room, his things and his buddy’s collection of old sunbathing magazines” prompting Jasper to state “you bastard”.  Holding his shotgun Moe snaps “I lost my bar” as Barney follows adding “I lost his bar”.  Lisa then offers “he robbed the school of music” as Skinner attaches “he robbed the school of financial security” while in the background Tito Puente says “he robbed the school of Tito”.  Angry as anyone Homer shouts “he can’t remember my name” as Marge points out “he’s causing us all to yell”.  Finally Bart remarks “look what he did to my best friend” as everyone looks at Milhouse stuffing his face with Cheese Puffs before correcting “no, my dog” as Santa’s Little Helper wheels himself into the hall.  With the room aghast we hear Burns laughing as everyone turns to see him at the door where he comments “those wheels are squeaking a bit.  Perhaps I could sell him a little oil”.  Offended by this Santa’s Little Helper growls at Burns while Bart snaps “you twisted old monster” before running at him at which point he reveals he is carrying a gun because he has decided to “protect myself ever since I was attacked in my office by an unidentified assailant” causing a frustrated doh from Homer in the distance.  Now having pushed the town to its limit Captain McAlister, Sideshow Mel and Otto threaten him.  In response Burns says “you all talk big but who here has the guts to stop me”.  And panning across the room no one has.  As he turns to exit Burns asks if they have ever seen the sun set at 3PM as he engages his latest scheme: a huge round panel that blocks out the sun.  With Burns walking off into the distance laughing Krusty arrives late having been in Reno for six weeks asking “did I miss anything?”  Stepping outside into eternal darkness Lunch lady Doris comments on the sorry state while Apu adds to the list of people saying that they need to get Mr Burns.  With the streetlights now turning on in the middle of the afternoon Mr Burns celebrates “perpetual twilight bathed in the glow of Burns brand electricity”.  As people disappear and the town goes quiet Burns continues to walk the empty dark streets as he states “after all these years things are finally starting to go my way, I feel like celebrating”.  Then as he walks out of shot he recognises somebody and asks what they are so happy about.  Off camera he tells the person to “drop it” as a struggle ensues before a gunshot is heard and he emerges outside Springfield Town Hall having been shot.  As in the background the clock strikes 3PM he collapses on the town sundial and a crowd surrounds him acknowledging he has been shot.  Chief Wiggum stops everyone saying that it is Mr Burns at all and it is a person in a mask which he promptly attempts to remove before realising that it is Mr Burns (“his wrinkly skin looks like a mask”).  At this point Marge comments “I don’t think we’ll ever know who did this, everyone in town’s a suspect”.  From here the camera pans across several guilty looking faces before stopping on Dr Hibberd who laughs and says “well I couldn’t possibly solve this mystery.  Can you?” as he points to the camera getting the response from Chief Wiggum of “yeah, I’ll give it a shot.  I mean, it’s my job right”.  To be continued.

IS IT ANY GOOD:
It’s pretty decent.  Away from the gimmick element it packs a lot in with a number of characters getting opportunity to shine.

WHAT IT TAUGHT ME:
Quite frankly not a whole lot.

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:
Bart wants to try and resurrect The Three Stooges.  And the episode in general is a tribute to the Dallas episode “A House Divided” when J.R. Ewing was mysteriously shot.

BEST LINES:
“I can’t made hide nor hare of these metric booby traps” says Burns after he hits Homer with a 1000 gram weight.  “What I’m about to say violates every sycophant urge in my body” Smithers to Burns.  Tito Puente saying “aye carumba” reacting to the news that someone else has tapped the well.  “Soon that mighty apparatus will burst forth with its pressure fluid, almost sexual isn’t it Smithers?”  “The town sundial will be useless”.  “Hey, the lamp’s running away”.  Chalmers dubiously commenting “an unrelated article within the banner headline”.

BEST JOKES:
Burns and Smithers feebly attempting to beat Skinner coupled with Burns’ tiny weight and his later stomping his own nuclear plant on his town model.  Skinner and Chalmers make a good team especially when Skinner is his most transparent.

PERIPHERAL MOMENT:
The Springfield Executive Spa comes with the motto “physical fitness for better tyranny”.  When Mr Bouvier was trying to catch the eye of Marge’s mother he sent her a box of candy with a picture of himself beneath the chocolates.  Burns Construction Co carries the logo “building a better tomorrow for him”.  Grandpa has a box of Habana Two Stars Cigars.

REALITY CROSSOVER:
Two of my bosses at separate jobs in the music industry (The Studio and Baker Street) thought my name was “Justin”.  Neither individual has since thrived.  A third acquaintance at Butt Road back when I worked in Colchester thought my name was “Steve”.  I can really empathise with Homer’s frustration and pain.

MVP:
Burns gets off some good lines in a widespread episode where nobody really stars.  Grandpa also comes up with the goods.

GUEST APPEARANCES:
Tito Puente.

SONGS:
No specific tracks other than the sombre take of the closing credits.

EPISODE LINKS:
When eating Homer’s gift candy and recalling the Simpson family Burns refers to episodes “Rosebud”, “Dog Of Death” and “Burns’ Heir”.

PERCULARITIES/RUBBERBAND REALITY:
Nelson has a parrot.  When did Nelson get a parrot?

BART ON THE BLACKBOARD:
This is not a clue…or is it?

OTHER:
Turns out slant drilling is a real thing.  Mr Burns must love fracking.

FINAL WORDS:
I’m not a fan of two-part episodes.

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