In celebration of the 500th Episode of my favorite TV show of all-time, The Simpsons. I'm counting down my Top 40 favorite episodes.
#29: Bart Carny
Original Air Date: January 11, 1998
PLOT: Homer and Bart become carnies, trash the carnival, and eventually lose the house to a father and son they brought home to live with them.
This is probably one of the most convoluted plots that I had to write. As the show has gotten older, it seems to be the case more and more. The first five minutes of each show sets gets you to the main plot, but in hindsight, the first five minutes usually have nothing to do with the rest of the show.
Regardless, this episode is just plain hilarious. One of the main reasons is the voice work by the late Jim Varney. As a kid, I was a bit of an Ernest fan and I won't apologize for it. No. Not even to my parents for dragging them to see Ernest Scared Stupid in theaters. Jim Varney is at his best here as Cooder, the adult carny that the Simpsons lose their house to. It's Varney as Varney basically, but Cooder, as a one-and-done character, is really a nicely developed character.
The Simpsons have lent their house out to a number of people: Cooder and son, Otto, Roy, Gil, Otto's ex-fiance Becky, etc. and this one is probably the funniest. More or less, these stories are all about the same, but here, rather than wear out the initial welcome, they take the house. And in what is one of Homer's finest moments, the Simpsons get it back by out-carnying the carnies. Truly, its a fine moment from the series.
There are two exchanges that I absolutely love. The first one is between Homer and Chief Wiggum:
Wiggum: Uh, I hate to interrupt your fun, boys. But, I got a few complaints that your game is crooked.
Homer: And how?
Wiggum: Gee, I hate to close you down. Maybe we can reach a little uh, understanding here.
Homer: [monotone] I understand.
Bart: Um, hey dad, I.. I.. think he wants..
Homer: Not now, son. Daddy's talking to a policeman.
Wiggum: Let me put it this way. I'm looking for my friend,
Have you seen any
Homer: No, he's Bart.
Wiggum: [frustrated] Listen carefully, and watch me wink as I speak,
Wiggum: The guy I'm really looking for [wink] is Mr.
Homer: [clueless] It's a Ring Toss game.
Wiggum: Alright, I'm shutting this game down.
And the second occurs when the family is exiled to Bart's treehouse:
Marge: We can't just give up on our house. There's got to be a way
to get these guys out of there.
Bart: I say we set fire to the house -- kill them that way.
Marge: We don't want to kill them, Bart. We just want our home back.
Lisa: [thinks it over] Well...if we did set fire to the house..
Marge: No fires!
Homer: [excited] I've got it!
Marge: No fires!
Marge: There must be a way to outsmart them.
Homer: [discouraged] Uh, you can't outsmart carnival folk. They're
the cleverest folks in the world. Just look at the way they sucker
regular folk with those crooked games. [Gasps] That's it! Fire!
[Marge looks angry] Or..