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Itchy & Scratchy Land

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"Itchy & Scratchy Land"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 107
Directed by Wes Archer
Written by John Swartzwelder
Showrunner(s) David Mirkin
Production code 2F01
Original air date October 2, 1994
Chalkboard gag "I am not the reincarnation of Sammy Davis Jr."[1]
Couch gag The family is beamed onto the couch the same way the characters are in the original Star Trek series.[2]
Commentary Matt Groening
David Mirkin
Dan Castellaneta
Yeardley Smith
Wes Archer
Seasons

"Itchy & Scratchy Land" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 2, 1994.[3] Wanting a perfect family vacation, the Simpson family visits Itchy & Scratchy Land. It was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Wes Archer.[2]

Plot[edit]

Bart and Lisa see a commercial for an amusement park named Itchy & Scratchy Land, and immediately want to visit it. However, Marge has already booked a family vacation to a bird sanctuary, but after revealing that the theme park has an area for adults, Bart and Lisa win their parents over.

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.

Meanwhile, all the Itchy and Scratchy robots go rogue and begin attacking humans. 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 employees 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.[1][2][3]

Production[edit]

"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 amounts of writing and all new sets.[4] 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.[4]

Although the episode was quite difficult to animate, "Itchy & Scratchy Land" was "a dream come true" for the animators, as they enjoyed animating scenes filled with violence.[5]

Cultural references[edit]

Much of Itchy & Scratchy Land parodies Disneyland.[4] Euro Itchy & Scratchy Land is a parody of Disneyland Resort Paris, then known as EuroDisney, which at the time was failing.[4] 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.[2][4] "Scratchtasia" is a reference to the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of the Disney film Fantasia, with several shots and the music parodying it exactly.[4] "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.[2] Walt Disney's alleged antisemitism is spoofed in the character of Roger Meyers, Sr. in his cartoon Nazi Supermen Are Our Superiors.[4] 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 the 1977 film Star Wars.[6] Marge's Amish flashback recalls Peter Weir's 1985 film Witness.[2]

Reception[edit]

The "Bort" joke in the episode inspired vanity plates among fans.

In its original broadcast, "Itchy & Scratchy Land" finished 67th in ratings for the week of September 26 to 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.[7]

The episode placed seventh in a 2003 Entertainment Weekly list of the top 25 episodes of the series, with the authors remarking, "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."[6] Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood called it "an untypical episode, with an especially thin plot", but added that "anyone that's been to Disneyland will get the point".[2] The episode is number six on MSNBC's top ten The Simpsons episodes list, compiled in 2007.[8]

In 2014, The Simpsons writers picked "Scratchtasia" from this episode as one of their nine favorite "Itchy & Scratchy" episodes of all time.[9]

The scene in the gift shop where Bart finds a personalized license plate with the name "Bort" has become part of popular culture, inspiring vanity plates among fans and souvenirs in The Simpsons-themed stores at Universal Orlando.[10][11] Writer Bill Oakley said he always liked the joke but was surprised it took on a "legendary status". Planet Simpson author Chris Turner called the joke "unmistakably Simpsonian".[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge". BBC. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  3. ^ a b "Itchy & Scratchy Land". The Simpsons.com. Archived from the original on 2007-06-19. Retrieved 2007-08-02. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Mirkin, David (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Itchy & Scratchy Land" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  5. ^ Archer, Wes (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Itchy & Scratchy Land" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  6. ^ a b "The Family Dynamic". Entertainment Weekly. 2003-01-29. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  7. ^ Elber, Lynn (October 7, 1994). "NBC strong second to ABC's lead". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E. 
  8. ^ Enwright, Patrick (2007-07-31). "D’Oh! The top 10 ‘Simpsons’ episodes ever". MSNBC. Retrieved 2007-10-08. 
  9. ^ "The Simpsons’ Writers Pick Their Favorite ‘Itchy & Scratchy’ Cartoons". Vulture. 2014-03-26. Retrieved 2014-03-27. 
  10. ^ a b Siegel, Alan (October 7, 2014). "What Real-Life "Bort" License Plates Tell Us About the Power of The Simpsons". Slate. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 
  11. ^ O'Neal, Sean (July 11, 2013). "Universal Orlando needs more "BORT" license plates in the Simpsons gift shop". The A.V. Club. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 

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