Day of the Jackanapes
"Day of the Jackanapes" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' twelfth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 18, 2001. In the episode, Krusty announces his retirement due to interference from network executives and the growing popularity of the game show Me Wantee. But when Krusty reveals to Sideshow Bob that all of the episodes featuring him have been erased, Sideshow Bob uses Bart to try and murder Krusty during his farewell show.
"Day of the Jackanapes" was written by Al Jean and directed by Michael Marcantel and features recurring guest star Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob, as well as Gary Coleman as himself. It features references to Johnny Carson, Bookends and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, among other things. It would also feature a parody of the song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", but because the series' staff were not able to clear the rights for the song in time for the episode's broadcast, the song remained unreleased until 2007. In its original broadcast, the episode was seen by approximately 9 million viewers, finishing in 34th place in the ratings the week it aired. Following its broadcast, the episode received positive reviews from critics.
When the popular game show Me Wantee! steals ratings from The Krusty the Clown Show, Krusty, annoyed with the network executives, announces his fifth—and final—retirement. During an interview with Kent Brockman, he says he is tired of doing his show, and admits to taping Judge Judy over all his old shows featuring Sideshow Bob. Upon hearing this on TV, Bob vows revenge and plots to kill Krusty. Bob is released from prison and applies for a job at Springfield Elementary as an assistant janitor. However, Principal Skinner decides to make him the morning announcer. Over the announcements, he asks Bart to meet him in the abandoned tool shed. Sideshow Bob hypnotizes Bart, and programs him to smash a statue of Krusty at a local Krusty Burger location.
The next night is Krusty's farewell special, and as Krusty describes the history of his career, Bob straps Bart with explosives in order to kill Krusty. Bart attempts to hug Krusty, thereby setting off the explosives, but before he can, Krusty talks to the audience about how he regrets mistreating Sideshow Bob, holding himself responsible of turning Bob into a ruthless criminal. Krusty even goes far by singing a song on behalf of Bob, stating how very remorseful he is of mistreating him. Upon witnessing this, Bob is touched and develops a change of heart, but does not have time to stop his original plan from being carried out. Luckily, Krusty's trained chimp Mr. Teeny sees the life-threatening explosives, which he throws into the network executives' office, killing all the executives, though they would later reanimate themselves like the T-1000 from Terminator 2. Bart comes out of his hypnotic state and he and his family serve dinner with Krusty, Bob and Sideshow Mel in a restaurant. Although Krusty and Bob reconcile, police decide to execute Bob by guillotine for his plot of attempted murder, although he argues with Chief Wiggum that he should have a trial for it at least.
The first draft of "Day of the Jackanapes" was written by current showrunner Al Jean. In the DVD commentary for the episode, Jean said that he had always wanted to write an episode about Sideshow Bob, and that "Day of the Jackanapes" would be a good way to have the character return. He also said that the writers wanted to work with Kelsey Grammer, who portrays Sideshow Bob, again. "Of all the guest stars we've had who've been great, he's right up there as the very best", he said.
Still, the writers had trouble with coming up with a story for Sideshow Bob since they had already explored several aspects of the character before. "It's just that we've done so many angles of whether he's, he's good, he's reformed and then his brother came to town..." executive producer and former showrunner Mike Scully said about the difficulty of writing episodes about Sideshow Bob.
At the beginning of the episode, Krusty is shown being pestered by network executives who comment on every choice he makes. He announces his departure from the Krusty the Klown Show after the executives give him notes during filming of a sketch. At the end of the episode, Mr Teeny is uncertain of where he should throw the plastic explosives that Bart wore. When he sees the two executives discussing in a room, he throws it onto them. Instead of dying of the explosion however, the pieces of the executives reconstitute into what Jean describes as a "super-executive".
These sequences were inspired by Jean's dissatisfaction with some network executives, who he felt took control over a television series he was working on before he returned to The Simpsons in 1999. "I had just worked on a show on another network [...] we had a show where there were a lot of notes from executives", Jean said of the inspiration for the scenes. The episode would originally have a different ending, but it was changed to its current iteration after the writers did not find the original ending humorous enough. When recording the DVD commentary however, Jean said that he was a bit dissatisfied with the new ending. "I think we did leave it a little hanging", he said.
During one of the recording sessions for the episode, The Simpsons' staff recorded "Hullaba Lula", a version of the 1946 song "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah" with Grammer as Sideshow Bob on vocals. The song would originally be used in the episode, but the staff were not able to clear the rights for the song in time. It was therefore removed from the episode altogether, and remained unreleased until September 17, 2007, when it was included as a bonus track on the soundtrack album The Simpsons: Testify. Aside from Grammer, the episode also features American actor Gary Coleman as himself.
The plot of "Day of the Jackanapes" is based on the 1959 political thriller novel The Manchurian Candidate. Before filming an episode of his show, Krusty is stopped by the two network executives, who attempt to explain to him why the sitcom Seinfeld worked as a series. After Krusty has announced the cancellation of his show, a group of crying children are seen at the Krustylu Studios, where the show is filmed. The name of the studio is based on Desilu Studios, a television company based in Los Angeles. In an interview with Kent Brockman, Krusty says that he taped over all episodes of his show that Sideshow Bob was in with episodes of the reality court show Judge Judy. This is a reference to how NBC reused tapes of early episodes of The Tonight Show to film new programs. While in the Springfield Elementary School's tool-shed, Sideshow Bob accidentally steps on a rake and says "Rakes, my old arch-enemy." The scene is a reference to the season 5 episode "Cape Feare", in which Sideshow Bob repeatedly steps on rakes.
At one point in his last show, Krusty performs while sitting on a stool, a reference to television host Johnny Carson's last appearance on The Tonight Show. While watching Krusty's final show, Sideshow Bob holds a bag of Kettle Chips and says "Kettle Chips, the perfect treat for revenge." Because of this scene, the writing staff received several bags of Kettle Chips from Kettle Foods, according to Jean. When asking for Sideshow Bob's forgiveness, Krusty sings a song to the tune of "Mandy" by Barry Manilow. The picture behind him is based on the cover of Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel. After having exploded, the two network executives reform into a "super-executive". The scene is a reference to the 1991 science fiction action film Terminator 2: Judgment Day. At the end of the episode, Krusty and Sideshow Bob reconcile in a restaurant. On the wall behind them are several pictures of guest stars that had previously appeared on The Simpsons, including Mark McGwire, Ringo Starr, Sting, Tom Jones, Brooke Shields and Elizabeth Taylor.
In its original American broadcast on February 18, 2001, "Day of the Jackanapes" received an 8.8 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, translating to approximately 9 million viewers. The episode finished in 34th place in the ratings for the week of February 12–18, 2001, tying with an episode of Malcolm in the Middle. On August 18, 2009, the episode was released as part of a DVD set called The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season. Mike Scully, Al Jean, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Yeardley Smith, Tim Long, Matt Selman and Michael Marcantel participated in the audio commentary for the episode.
Following its home video release, "Day of the Jackanapes" received positive reviews from critics. In his review of The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season, Mac McEntire of DVD Verdict described the episode as a "winner". He especially enjoyed the scene in which Bart hits a statue of Krusty in the groin with a baseball bat. DVD Talk's Jason Bailey wrote that this episode and "Insane Clown Poppy" both "really shine", and Will Harris of Bull-Eye.com wrote that the episode was "a crowd-pleaser across the board."
Colin Jacobson, of DVD Movie Guide wrote that, although it does not compare with the best Sideshow Bob episodes, it still "looks good" compared to the rest of the season. He enjoyed the lampooning of network executives, and though he did not consider the episode to be a "classic", he maintained that it "fares pretty well." IGN's Robert Canning also wrote that, although the episode is overall "solid", it is "lacking that extra something" that the best Sideshow Bob episodes have. Nevertheless, it reached number eight on the website's list of ten best Sideshow Bob episodes of the series.
- Jean, Al. (2009). Commentary for "Day of the Jackanapes", in The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Scully, Mike. (2009). Commentary for "Day of the Jackanapes", in The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Selman, Matt. (2009). Commentary for "Day of the Jackanapes", in The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Long, Tim. (2009). Commentary for "Day of the Jackanapes", in The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- "In the know". The Augusta Chronicle. William S. Morris III. February 22, 2001. p. B01.
- McEntire, Mac (September 9, 2009). "The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season". DVD Verdict. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
- Bailey, Jason (August 18, 2009). "The Simpsons: The Twelfth Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
- Harris, Will. "The Simpsons: The Twelfth Season". Bullz-Eye.com. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
- Jacobson, Colin (September 2, 2009). "The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season (2000)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
- Canning, Robert (December 2, 2009). "The Simpsons: Top 10 Sideshow Bob Episodes". IGN. Retrieved August 1, 2011.
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