Itchy & Scratchy Land
"Itchy & Scratchy Land" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' sixth season and first aired on October 2, 1994. Wanting a perfect family vacation, the Simpson family visits Itchy & Scratchy Land, dubbed "the most violent place on Earth". The trip starts out great, but things take a turn for the worse when a horde of Itchy and Scratchy robots go on a murderous rampage. It was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Wes Archer.
Bart and Lisa see a commercial for an amusement park named Itchy & Scratchy Land, and immediately want to visit it. Marge has already booked a family vacation to a bird sanctuary, but after revealing that the theme park has a place for adults, Bart and Lisa win their parents over, on the condition that they will not embarrass Marge as on previous holidays. After a long car journey, they reach the Itchy & Scratchy Land parking lot, where they are then flown to the park by a helicopter and told by the pilot that nothing can "possibly" (he pronounces it "possi-bligh," then hastily corrects himself) go wrong.
Marge is slightly uneasy with the many references to violence at the park, but has an enjoyable time visiting the various violent attractions, which include a parade filled with Itchy and Scratchy robots. Homer and Marge eventually tire out and spend time away from the kids at the nearby "Parents Island" as Bart and Lisa continue having fun. Bart and Lisa also visit a movie theater, where a documentary about the history of Itchy & Scratchy is being presented, including clips of the old Itchy & Scratchy films "Scratchtasia" and "Pinnitchio". Although going well, the family's vacation is ruined when Bart launches a stink bomb into an actor's Itchy suit and is arrested by park security. When Bart arrives in a cell, he finds Homer, who is in there for kicking another Itchy character "in the butt." Marge is informed of her son's and husband's transgressions through the park's public address system and is immediately embarrassed.
Meanwhile, Professor Frink, chief of the animatronic robots in the park parades, tells the other staff that (according to chaos theory) all the Itchy & Scratchy robots will turn on their masters; this happens seconds after he makes the announcement. Bart and Homer are released and just as Marge is lecturing them, all power is cut and a horde of Itchy and Scratchy robots advance towards them. One of the park staff refuses to let them escape on the helicopter with them due to Homer and Bart's misdeeds at the park. Homer frantically throws everything he can at them and discovers that the flash of a camera short circuits the robots' systems. The Simpsons then grab dozens of cameras from a closed gift shop and defeat the entire Itchy & Scratchy army. The family is thanked for saving the park and agree that it was their best vacation ever. Regardless, Marge demands that they never speak of the trip again, as she is still embarrassed by the actions of Homer and Bart.
"Itchy & Scratchy Land", written by the entire writing team but credited to John Swartzwelder, was a very difficult episode to produce. It involved creating an entirely new environment, which meant large amount of writing and all new sets. At the time that the episode was produced, new, more stringent censorship laws had been put in place. As a result, the Fox network tried to stop the writers from including Itchy & Scratchy cartoons in episodes. In response, the writers created this episode, which they decided would be as violent as possible. The network threatened that if the episode was produced, they would cut the Itchy & Scratchy parts out themselves, but relented when showrunner David Mirkin threatened to tell the media. The writers nevertheless promised to try not to overdo the violence and in some scenes the violence was cut.
Although the episode was quite difficult to animate, "Itchy & Scratchy Land" was "a dream come true" for the animators, as they quite enjoyed animating scenes filled with violence.
Much of Itchy & Scratchy Land parodies Disneyland, such as the electric light parade. Euro Itchy & Scratchy Land is a parody of Disneyland Resort Paris, then known as EuroDisney, which at the time was failing. Several scenes, such as the helicopter ride, the logo visible on the helicopter's side, and certain story elements parody the Michael Crichton book and film Jurassic Park. Other parts of the episode, such as the park's claim to be the "theme park of the future," and the plot of the robots at the park rebelling are based on another Crichton story, Westworld. "Scratchtasia" is a reference to the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of the Disney film Fantasia, with several shots and the music parodying it exactly. "Pinnitchio" is a parody of the 1940 Disney film Pinocchio. Hans Moleman being attacked by predatory birds while in the phone booth is a spoof of the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds. Walt Disney's alleged antisemitism is spoofed in the character of Roger Meyers, Sr. in his cartoon Nazi Supermen Are Our Superiors. The sound made by the vehicle which takes Bart to the detention facility resembles the one made by the ground shuttles carrying the fighter pilots inside the Rebel Base in Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope. Marge's Amish flashback recalls Peter Weir's 1985 film Witness, while that involving Homer and Bart unintentionally scaring swimmers on a beach recalls Steven Spielberg's Jaws. The episode of Itchy and Scratchy that Bart and Lisa watch is called "The Last Traction Hero", a parody of the 1993 film Last Action Hero. The Simpson Family's journey to Itchy and Scratchy Land parodies the film, National Lampoon's Vacation, in such scenes as when Bart asks to stop at a nearby restaurant and Homer replies 'No', Homer nearly falling asleep at the wheel, and the rest of the events following until they reach the park.
In its original broadcast, "Itchy & Scratchy Land" finished 67th in ratings for the week of September 26—October 2, 1994, with a Nielsen rating of 9.0, equivalent to approximately 8.6 million viewing households. It was the third highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following Beverly Hills, 90210, The X-Files and tied with Melrose Place.
Itchy and Scratchy Land has met with positive reviews. "Scratchtasia" is one of David Mirkin's favorite Itchy & Scratchy cartoons. The episode placed seventh in a 2003 Entertainment Weekly list of the top 25 episodes, the authors remarking that, "When the animatronics attack, the showdown between man and machine—okay, Homer and a giant robot mouse—is an uproarious rebuttal to capitalism run amok." Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood called it "an untypical episode, with an especially thin plot. But anyone that's been to Disneyland will get the point." The episode is number six on MSNBC's top ten The Simpsons episodes list, compiled in 2007.
In 2014, The Simpsons writers picked "Scratchtasia" from this episode as one of their nine favorite "Itchy & Scratchy" episodes of all time.
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge". BBC. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- "Itchy & Scratchy Land". The Simpsons.com. Archived from the original on 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- Mirkin, David (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Itchy & Scratchy Land" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Archer, Wes (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Itchy & Scratchy Land" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- "The Family Dynamic". Entertainment Weekly. 2003-01-29. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
- Elber, Lynn (October 7, 1994). "NBC strong second to ABC's lead". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
- Enwright, Patrick (2007-07-31). "D’Oh! The top 10 ‘Simpsons’ episodes ever". MSNBC. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
- "The Simpsons’ Writers Pick Their Favorite ‘Itchy & Scratchy’ Cartoons". Vulture. 2014-03-26. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
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- "Itchy & Scratchy Land" at The Simpsons.com
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- "Itchy & Scratchy Land" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Itchy & Scratchy Land" at TV.com