The Call of the Simpsons
|"The Call of the Simpsons"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Directed by||Wesley Archer|
|Written by||John Swartzwelder|
|Showrunner(s)||James L. Brooks
|Original air date||February 18, 1990|
|Chalkboard gag||"I will not draw naked ladies in class."|
|Couch gag||The family comes in and just sits on the couch in a normal manner.|
|Guest appearance(s)||Albert Brooks as Cowboy Bob|
"The Call of the Simpsons" is the seventh episode of The Simpsons' first season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 18, 1990. It was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Wesley Archer. Albert Brooks made his first guest appearance on The Simpsons in this episode as the voice of Cowboy Bob.
In this episode, Homer decides to purchase an RV and the Simpsons set off for a vacation in the wilderness. After accidentally driving it off the edge of a cliff, the family find themselves trapped in the woods. As Homer and Bart try to find a way back to civilization, Homer gets himself covered in mud and is mistaken for Bigfoot by a naturalist. The news about the encounter spreads quickly and Bigfoot hunters converge on the woods to capture Homer. Meanwhile, Maggie finds herself separated from the family and raised by bears.
Homer, envious of Ned Flanders's new motor home, goes to Bob's RV Round-up to buy one of his own, but because of his poor credit rating, he is only qualified for a smaller dilapidated one, much to his family's disgust. Thrilled with the new RV, Homer takes his family on an excursion. Driving on remote back roads and ignoring Marge's suggestion to turn back on the main road, the Simpsons find themselves teetering over a precipice. The family escapes the RV before it plummets over the cliff, leaving themselves stranded in the wilderness.
Homer and Bart set out for help, unaware that Maggie is tagging along, while Marge and Lisa stay behind. Separated from Homer and Bart, Maggie is soon adopted by a family of bears. Meanwhile, Homer and Bart plummet into a raging river where they lose their clothes, but hide their nakedness with leaves and mud. Marge and Lisa make themselves comfortable by a campfire, while the boys freeze in the wilderness. The next day, Homer tries to steal honey from a beehive, only to be attacked by the bees, but evades them by jumping into a mud pit. A nature photographer takes a picture of Homer covered in mud, mistaking him for Bigfoot, and soon the forest is inundated with Bigfoot enthusiasts and reward seekers.
Marge, having been rescued along with Lisa by park rangers, identifies the monster in question as her husband and causes a great deal of controversy. Cold, hungry, and exhausted, Homer and Bart stumble upon the cave housing Maggie and the bears. Homer is soon captured and taken to a lab for testing. The authorities allow Homer to return home after scientists agree that he is "either a below-average human being or a brilliant beast." While watching the news coverage of the whole debacle, Homer worries about the insults he'll receive from his co-workers, until Marge consoles him, calling him "my brilliant beast."
The episode was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Wesley Archer. A plot twist that involved Homer being carried away to an eagle nest and being raised as a baby eagle was suggested for this episode by executive producer James L. Brooks, but they ended up going with Maggie being raised by bears instead. The sequence with Marge and Lisa by the bonfire was originally longer and included a conversation between the two about boys, but it was cut from the episode. In the original script, Homer and Bart were not talking in the scene where they concealed their private parts with mud and moss, but Sam Simon thought it would be "too funny to leave as a stage direction" and they added dialogue to the scene.
Albert Brooks guest starred in the episode as the voice of Cowboy Bob. He was not sure if he wanted to be identified with a cartoon show or not at the time, like many of the other early guest stars on The Simpsons, and was therefore credited as A. Brooks in the ending credits. This episode was a satire of the Bigfoot specials that had aired on the Fox network at the time when this episode was written. A lot of resources were spent on the backgrounds in the episode, trying to make them look realistic with many observational details such as trees, rocks, fences and the way the cars were positioned. Burger King figurines were made out of the camping designs of the Simpsons family in this episode.
In its original American broadcast on February 18, 1990, "The Call of the Simpsons" finished third place in the ratings for that day, with a Nielsen rating of 14.6 and a 22 percent audience share. The episode was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1990 in the category "Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special". IGN.com named Albert Brooks' guest performance in this episode, along with his four other appearances on The Simpsons, the best guest appearance in the show's history.
"The Call of the Simpsons" received mixed reviews from critics. Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, both criticized and praised the episode saying: "This episode is a bit less than the sum of its parts. The early stuff at the RV Round-Up is much better than the main camping story, although there's some nice Marge-Lisa bonding, and who could resist Maggie and the bears?" In a DVD review of the first season, David B. Grelck gave the episode a rating of 1.5/5, adding "the surrealism of Homer as bigfoot is a major misstep. This type of gag would be very different today, if done at all." Jon Bonné at MSNBC called the episode "a perfect example of the first season’s bizarre and fruitful balance between edgy humor and softly-drawn neuroses" and stated that "it was this combination that made Groening’s shorts for the Ullman show so compelling, and ultimately what made it possible for The Simpsons to break the molds of network television." Colin Jacobson at DVD Movie Guide said in a review that "while [the episode] doesn’t offer the continuous highs of the best Simpsons, it’s a generally solid show" and added that "the episode uses a wackier tone than usual for this era, but it works, and the program is consistently fun".
- Call of the Simpsons BBC.co.uk. Retrieved on August 6, 2008
- "The Call of the Simpsons" The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on August 6, 2008
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- Goldman, Eric; Iverson, Dan; Zoromski, Brian. "Top 25 Simpsons Guest Appearances". IGN. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
- Jean, Al (2001). The Simpsons The Complete First Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Call of the Simpsons" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Archer, Wes (2001). The Simpsons The Complete First Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Call of the Simpsons" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Reiss, Mike (2001). The Simpsons The Complete First Season DVD commentary for the episode "The Call of the Simpsons" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- "Simpsons Ratings". rec.arts.tv. January 21, 1991. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- Emmy Awards official site emmys.org. Retrieved on August 8, 2008
- Grelck, David B. (2001-09-25). "The Complete First Season". WDBGProductions. Archived from the original on 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
- Bonné, Jon (2000-10-02). "'The Simpsons' has lost its cool". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-08-08.
- Jacobson, Colin. "The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (1990)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
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