|The Simpsons episode|
|Orig. airdate||September 24, 1992|
|Showrunner(s)||Al Jean & Mike Reiss|
|Written by||David M. Stern|
|Directed by||Mark Kirkland|
|Chalkboard gag||"This punishment is not boring and pointless"|
|Couch gag||The family finds the Flintstones family already sitting on the couch.|
"Kamp Krusty" is the first episode of The Simpsons' fourth season, which originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on September 24, 1992. During summer vacation, the children of Springfield attend Kamp Krusty, a summer camp named after Krusty the Clown. The camp is extremely unpleasant, leading to the campers rebelling against the camp director. The episode was written by David M. Stern and directed by Mark Kirkland.
Bart and Lisa excitedly discuss their visit to Kamp Krusty, a summer camp run by Krusty the Clown. Homer has made Bart's visit conditional on him getting at least a C average on his report card. Bart receives a D- in each subject from Ms. Krabappel, so he changes each grade into straight A's. Homer chides Bart for not faking plausible grades, but lets him go to camp anyway, because he does not want Bart “hanging around all summer".
The camp's director, Mr. Black, has licensed Krusty's name from the comedian. Kamp Krusty turns out to be a nightmare: The cabins fall apart, the lake is too dangerous to swim in, and the kids are fed nothing but Krusty Brand Imitation Gruel. Springfield bullies Dolph, Jimbo and Kearney, the ruthless camp counselors, take the children on death marches, and force them into making knockoff wallets for export.
Homer and Marge enjoy their summer alone, with Homer losing weight and growing hair. Lisa writes to them, describing the camp's brutal conditions, but her parents think she is exaggerating; "she complains now, but when we go pick her up, she won't want to leave". Bart hopes that his hero Krusty, will save them, but the clown remains unaware of the camp's nature.
To keep the children complacent, Mr. Black informs the campers that Krusty has finally come, but it is actually Barney Gumble dressed like Krusty. Bart leads the campers in rebellion, driving out Mr. Black and the bullies. Kent Brockman reports on the revolt, where Bart explains the camp's deplorable conditions that caused him and the campers to rebel in the first place. The stress of seeing the report on TV causes Homer to immediately lose the hair he grew and regain the lost weight. Krusty apologizes to the children for the poor conditions, saying that he was bribed to approve the camp. As compensation, Krusty takes them to "the happiest place on Earth"; the episode ends with a montage of the kids enjoying their time in Tijuana, Mexico.
The idea that the children should go to a camp run by Krusty was first suggested by David M. Stern. The animators were enthusiastic about making this episode because they had all gone to summer camps as children and thought it would be a fun episode to write for. The writers also thought that "it would be fun if while the kids are gone Homer and Marge find that as the kids are miserable their marriage is better than ever." The layout for Bart and Lisa's cabin was influenced by the director, Mark Kirkland, who as a child went to a Boy Scout camp that had exposed wires and other similar faults. Kirkland was also sure that the character Mr. Black was going to reappear later in the series, but he never did. Al Jean commented, "I guess that the hydrofoil really got Mr. Black out of the show forever."
After he saw the completed episode, James L. Brooks called the writers and suggested that the Kamp Krusty script should be used for a Simpsons feature film. However, the episode ran very short, and to make it barely fit the minimum time the Kamp Krusty song had to be lengthened by a number of verses. The episode was also chosen to be the first episode of the season, further complicating matters. As Jean told Brooks, "First of all, if we make it into the movie then we don't have a premiere, and second, if we can't make 18 minutes out of this episode how are we supposed to make 80?" Along with the following episode "A Streetcar Named Marge", "Kamp Krusty" was a holdover from the previous season's production run. It was the final episode to be produced in this run and so the last animated at Klasky Csupo, before the show's producers Gracie Films moved its domestic production to Film Roman.
Some elements of the plot are borrowed from the Allan Sherman song "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh", a song about a kid who went to camp and hated it. The idea for the song sung by the children was from a '60s TV show called Camp Runamuck, which has a theme song that is similar to the Kamp Krusty song. The scene where Lisa gives a bottle of whiskey to a man on horseback (payment for delivering a letter) is a reference to Meryl Streep's scene from the film The French Lieutenant's Woman. Some aspects of the episode are references to the novel Lord of the Flies (a pig's head on a spear, kids using primitive weapons and wearing war paint and a burning effigy.) The scenes of the camp in chaos and Krusty's meeting with Bart echo similar ones in Apocalypse Now. The scene where Kearney beats a drum to make the campers work in the sweatshop is taken from the slave galley scene in the 1959 film Ben-Hur. The episode ends with the song "South of the Border". According to the commentary, the song is not sung by Frank Sinatra but by another artist impersonating him. The plot of the episode is also similar to the 1991 video game spin-off from the television series called Bart Simpson's Escape from Camp Deadly. Also, the episode references the novel "The Butterfly Revolution," which is about a camp that is overtaken by revolutionary tweens as recorded by Winston in his journal. The episode has many similarities with the Disney film Heavyweights, particularly the excessive exercise endured by Martin and the other fat camp members.
In its original broadcast, "Kamp Krusty" finished 24th in ratings for the week of September 21–27, 1992, with a Nielsen rating of 13.5, equivalent to approximately 12.6 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week. Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, had mixed views about the episode. They said that it is "A bit baffling to non-Americans unfamiliar with the summer camp system. But top grade stuff nonetheless. Anyone who's worked as a counsellor in such a place can testify to this episode's authenticity." The episode's reference to Ben-Hur was named the 31st greatest film reference in the history of the show by Total Film's Nathan Ditum.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Kamp Krusty". BBC. Retrieved 2007-09-21.
- Groening, Matt (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Kamp Krusty" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt; Stern, David; Kirkland, Mark (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Kamp Krusty" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Kirkland, Mark (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Kamp Krusty" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Jean, Al; Kirkland, Mark (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Kamp Krusty" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Kamp Krusty" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Bernstein, Sharon (1992-01-21). "'The Simpsons' Producer Changes Animation Firms". Los Angeles Times. p. 18. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
- Kirkland, Mark; Groening, Matt (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fourth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Kamp Krusty" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Mackey, Bob (2009-05-06). "Retro Revival Retrospective: The Simpsons Part 3". Retro Gaming Blog. 1UP.com. Retrieved 2010-08-03.
- The Associated Press (September 30, 1992). "Nielsen ratings". Daily Breeze. p. D4.
- Ditum, Nathan (June 6, 2009). "The 50 Greatest Simpsons Movie References". Total Film. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
- "Kamp Krusty" at The Simpsons.com
- "Kamp Krusty" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "Kamp Krusty" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Kamp Krusty" at TV.com