Marge on the Lam
"Marge on the Lam" is the sixth episode of The Simpsons' fifth season, which originally aired on November 4, 1993 on Fox. When Marge invites her neighbor Ruth Powers to attend the ballet with her, the two become friends and begin to go out, making Homer jealous as he wants Marge to spend time with him. Ruth and Marge agree to remain friends but not go out together after a large police pursuit with Chief Wiggum. It was written by Bill Canterbury and directed by Mark Kirkland. Phil Hartman, Pamela Reed and George Fenneman guest star.
After donating money to public television, Marge receives complimentary ballet tickets. She asks Homer to accompany her, and much to Marge's surprise he agrees. Unknown to her, this is because Homer has confused the ballet with a circus performance involving a bear on a motorcycle. On the day of the ballet, however, he inadvertently gets his arm stuck in a vending machine while trying to steal a can of soda from it and then gets his other arm stuck in a candy machine, and so is unable to attend the ballet as a result. In disbelief about Homer's story, Marge invites her neighbor, Ruth Powers to attend with her. They both enjoy themselves and arrange to go out again the next night. Meanwhile, Homer has finally been freed from the vending machines after the paramedics discovered that he was only stuck because he was holding on to the soda and candy he was trying to steal, and has arrived home with a written excuse note from the fire brigade that showed up to rescue him (who tells Marge that a lumber yard burned down while they were busy rescuing Homer). Marge and Ruth's friendship annoys Homer, who feels threatened by Marge spending so much time with someone outside their marriage. However, ignoring Homer's protests, Marge and Ruth visit bars and clubs in Springfield, and Ruth later shows Marge how to use a pistol, shooting some old cans they find on a farm. This angers the farmer, who claims they were "precious antique cans".
Homer, attempting to prove to himself he can have a good time without Marge, leaves Bart, Maggie, and Lisa under the supervision of Lionel Hutz, who overheard Homers need for a babysitter while looking through the Simpsons garbage, and goes out by himself. Finding Moe's Tavern more depressing than usual, Homer visits the hilltop where he used to take Marge prior to their marriage. Ironically, Marge has also taken Ruth there to finish the night, but they leave just before Homer arrives. Chief Wiggum finds Homer depressed and offers him a ride home, which Homer accepts. As Ruth and Marge are driving home, Chief Wiggum, with Homer as a passenger in his patrol car, spots Ruth's car and claims that one tail light is slightly smaller than the other. He decides to pull them over. Reluctant to stop, Ruth tells Marge that she stole the car from her ex-husband when he refused to pay child support. Ruth leads the police on a high-speed chase rather than turning herself in. Homer realizes it is Marge in the car, and believes she is leaving him because of his neglect (Wiggum claims that this is how John Dillingergot started). Ruth successfully evades Wiggum by turning off her headlights, which leads him to believe her car is a ghost car.
After seeing Marge and Ruth again while cooking breakfast on his car engine, Wiggum continues his chase of the two, aided by other Springfield Police vehicles. After noticing a cliff ahead, Homer believes that Marge and Ruth are attempting suicide because of the poor treatment they've received by men and, using a megaphone, apologizes to Marge for all the mistakes he has made in their marriage and urges them not to drive into the chasm. Ruth, who had not noticed the chasm, slams on the brakes and stops in time; however, Homer and Wiggum fail to stop and fly over the edge of the cliff only to crash into a mountainous landfill, saving them. The episode ends with a parody of Dragnet, detailing the fates of each character: Ruth was taken to court where a judge dismissed her ex-husbands auto-theft charges, and forced him to back-pay the child support he had been dodging. The husband blamed the outcome on his lawyer, Lionel Hutz, who received 8 dollars for his 32 hours of babysitting, which he was glad to get. Marge was charged with destruction of precious, antique cans, totalling about $1.50 and $2000 for mental anguish. Homer Simpson was remanded to the custody of the U.S Army for extensive testing (for a medical serum he had volunteered for years earlier to get out of dinner with Patty and Selma).
Dan Castellaneta actually used a bullhorn to record his part when Homer was talking on one. The sunset shown when Marge and Ruth are at the café was airbrushed in, although the episode was done before computer animation was put into practice.
Much of the plot, including Ruth's blue convertible and Homer and Wiggum's fall over the chasm, is a parody of the Ridley Scott film Thelma & Louise. Crystal Buzz Cola is a reference to the fad drink Crystal Pepsi, and when Homer reaches into the vending machine, a can of Fresca is seen in a skeletal hand. The comedian who performs at the telethon who the Simpson family does not find funny is a parody of Garrison Keillor. Ruth mistakenly inserts Lesley Gore's song "Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows" into her car stereo before beginning her and Marge's wild night out; later, Chief Wiggum plays the song on his police cruiser's stereo as "appropriate" car chase music. After extracting the wrong tape, Ruth pops in "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns N' Roses. The scene when Homer is in Moe's Tavern is emulated from Thelma & Louise. Quimby dancing in a night club is in reference to the Kennedys. When Marge gets hit on in the bar, the guy who does not talk is a caricature of show runner David Mirkin. The old man that comes out when Marge is shooting his cans is a parody of Walter Brennan. The episode's closing sequence is a reference to Dragnet. George Fenneman recorded the ending in the same fashion as he did on Dragnet.
In its original broadcast, "Marge on the Lam" finished 32nd in ratings for the week of November 1–7, 1993, with a Nielsen rating of 13.1, equivalent to approximately 12.2 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, beating Beverly Hills, 90210.
The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, said "Marge getting to let her hair down is always a treat, and in Ruth Powers she seems to have a real friend. A pity we don't see more of her". The A.V. Club named Homer's line "Stupid TV! Be more funny!" as one of the quotes from The Simpsons that can be used in everyday situations. On their 2000 album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out, indie rock band Yo La Tengo has a song entitled "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House"; the song is named after a telethon in Troy McClure's fictional CV seen in this episode.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Marge on the Lam". BBC. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
- "Marge on the Lam". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- Kirkland, Mark (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fifth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Marge on the Lam" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Mirkin, David (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fifth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Marge on the Lam" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt (2004). The Simpsons The Complete Fifth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Marge on the Lam" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
- Associated Press (November 11, 1993). "7 ABC shows make Nielsen's top 10". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
- Bahn, Christopher; Donna Bowman, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan, Scott Tobias (2006-04-26). "Beyond "D'oh!": Simpsons Quotes For Everyday Use". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2008-08-02.
- Thompson, Stephen (March 2000). "Yo La Tengo: Tengo inside out". The Onion AV Club. Retrieved 2010-02-05.
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