"Springfield Up" is the thirteenth episode of the eighteenth season of The Simpsons. It originally aired in the United States on February 18, 2007. In the episode, filmmaker Declan Desmond (Eric Idle) returns to Springfield to film the continuation of his documentary series Growing Up Springfield, which chronicles the lives of several Springfield residents. He visits the town with a film crew every eight years to see how the lives of these people have changed, a plot which parodies Up Series in Britain. "Springfield Up" has received generally positive reviews from critics.
Eccentric documentary filmmaker Declan Desmond offers an inside look at his work chronicling some of Springfield's finest for his documentary. Titled Growing Up Springfield, his film follows the lives of several Springfield residents, returning to them after eight-year intervals to examine how their lives have changed. Clips from the film show a young Homer dreaming of growing up to live in a mansion, have a pinball machine with "infinity quarters," and eight pairs of peanut-butter-and-jelly pajamas. Sixteen years later, Homer is working as a manure salesman, infomercial question-asker, and open-casket caricaturist, but dreaming of being a rock star. In an interview with him and Marge, he says they plan to have no children. After the next eight-year interval, Homer has given up on his dreams of fame and fortune to support his growing family. However, when Declan Desmond returns in the present day, he discovers that Homer has become extraordinarily wealthy, and the family is living in a mansion.
Homer explains that his newfound wealth is due to an invention called the condiment pen, which dispenses condiments in the same manner as a writing pen dispenses ink. Declan interviews Marge about her family's unexpected success, but she is unable to explain why the mansion's medicine cabinet is filled with "old man ointments." Suddenly, Mr. Burns bursts into the house, demanding to know what the Simpsons are doing in his summer home.
Homer confesses that his story of wealth and success was a lie. Declan begins to follow him around, wanting to find out why Homer felt the need to lie. When he finally gets Homer on camera, Homer explains that he wanted to feel like a success instead of "the guy who makes everyone else look good." Marge tells Declan off for hurting Homer's feelings and orders him to stay away. Declan suddenly begins to feel sorry for Homer. When he realizes that Moe is envious of Homer's life, Declan is inspired to re-edit the film. Declan puts together footage of Homer's friends and family talking about what a good friend, husband and father he is. Homer sees the new movie and realizes that he is successful after all.
The episode was written by Matt Warburton and Chuck Sheetz. It is based on Michael Apted's Up Series, a British documentary series that has followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old, and returns every seven years to document their lives since. English comedian Eric Idle guest starred in the episode as the documentary maker Declan Desmond. Idle played Declan in two earlier episodes, "Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky" (2003) and "Fat Man and Little Boy" (2004).
"Springfield Up" originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 18, 2007. The episode has received generally positive reviews from critics. Robert Canning on IGN named it as one of the three "outstanding" episodes of the eighteenth season. He gave it an 8.5/10 rating and commented that it was "by far one of the best Simpsons episodes from the past few seasons. Jokes and gags came fast and furious, all while telling a great story in a cleverly unconventional way," and added that "At its core, 'Springfield Up' was a simple story about Homer feeling the need to impress the snooty British documentarian, but then realizing his life wasn't as bad as he thought. It's a tale we've seen on The Simpsons time and again, but the fresh twist of having it presented within Desmond's documentary made it very memorable."
TV Squad's Adam Finley wrote: "I didn't love it, and I didn't hate it — for the most part, this week's episode was 'just okay' in my opinion. It was nice to see Eric Idle return [...], but the episode felt like two different episodes battling for the same thirty-minute space. [...] In this episode we spend a lot of time learning about those who grew up in Springfield, but Homer's story is also wedged into the mix — it seems the episode should have just been about Homer feeling depressed about his life, or a lighter episode focusing on all the resident of Springfield. I'm not saying the episode was a complete write off, because I think it was still funny, just a little thinner than I come to expect from this series."
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