Wild Barts Can't Be Broken
"Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' tenth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 17, 1999. When Homer, Barney, Lenny, and Carl drunkenly vandalize Springfield Elementary School, it is blamed on the children of Springfield, prompting Chief Wiggum to impose a curfew. The children respond by setting up a pirate radio show in which they reveal the embarrassing secrets of Springfield's adults. The episode was written by Larry Doyle and directed by Mark Ervin. The concept behind the episode originates from show producer Mike Scully always wanting to do an episode where the children would be subject to a curfew. The episode received an 8.9 Nielsen rating, and mostly positive reviews from critics.
The Simpsons are at Springfield War Memorial Stadium watching the Springfield Isotopes baseball game. After the first pitch Homer, becomes disappointed by the poor performance of the Isotopes and waits in the car. Six months later, he enters Moe's Tavern and is informed by Lenny and Carl that the Isotopes are in the playoffs, and have, so far, been playing well. Homer quickly joins in with the fans to support the Isotopes, who end up winning the National League pennant. To celebrate Homer, Lenny, Carl, and Barney go on a drunken binge and accidentally vandalize Springfield Elementary School.
The next morning, Homer discovers his car, which is badly damaged, and is oblivious that in reality he and his friends were responsible. Chief Wiggum blindly jumps to the conclusion that the vandalism at the school is the work of kids and immediately enforces a curfew on all of Springfield's children, prohibiting them from being on the streets after sunset. Bart and Lisa, as well as the other children of Springfield, are annoyed with not being allowed out after sunset. The children soon rally together to rebel and see an old drive-in horror movie which they saw advertised on television, called "The Bloodening", a film recently discovered in a concrete vault after it was deemed too violent. While at the movie, the movie was interrupted as they are caught by Chief Wiggum. As a punishment, the children must clean a police billboard with Wiggum on it.
The children then set up a radio show called "We Know All Your Secrets", in which they expose the secrets of the adults of Springfield like the kids in the movie. The children are tracked down at the billboard by Professor Frink's machine, and an argument between the children and the adults ensues. Unfortunately, the argument rouses the ire of Grampa and the other senior citizens trying to get some sleep, and they vow to teach both groups a lesson. Their revenge turns out to be enforcing a curfew banning everyone under the age of seventy from the streets after dark, which is a measure that passed by a single vote, due to Homer refusing to cast a ballot.
Mike Scully wanted to do an episode where the children of Springfield would be subject to a curfew. He came up with the idea to do a Kids vs. Adults episode, where the children would be blamed for something the adults have done. The name of the baseball announcer, Denis Conroy, was used because that is the name of writer Larry Doyle's uncle. Dan Castellaneta ad libbed Homer singing "Hitler is a jerk, Mussolini...." It was added in to the episode only for the purpose of filling time. The Chief Wiggum billboard sketch was inspired by Beaver Cleaver getting stuck in a soup bowl billboard during the "In the Soup" episode of Leave It to Beaver. The music playing when the kids secretly leave their houses to see the movie was written by composer Alf Clausen.
The episode's title is a reference to the movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. The movie The Bloodening is a parody of the 1960 film Village of the Damned. The sequence showing the children taking the equipment to build their radio transmitter is a recreation of a sequence from the short comedy films Our Gang, featuring similar music and a dog, with Milhouse dressed like Our Gang character Alfalfa. The review Marge reads of Talk to the Hand – "The writing snaps, crackles and pops" – was how Variety reviewed the sitcom Just Shoot Me! when it first aired in 1997. The musical argument between kids, adults and seniors is a parody of the song "Kids" from the musical Bye Bye Birdie. When Lisa is flipping through the radio channels, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Infamy Speech can be heard. In the Springfield Elementary School shower-room Homer, Barney, Lenny, and Carl sing a medley of Queen songs consisting of "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You". When Cyndi Lauper sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" it is to the tune of her hit song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun".
"Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" finished tied for 40th in the weekly ratings for the week of January 11–17, 1999 with a Nielsen rating of 8.9. The episode has met with mostly positive reviews. In his review of The Simpsons' tenth season, James Plath of Dvdtown.com noted "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" as "pretty decent". Peter Brown of If regards "Lard of the Dance", "Marge Simpson in: Screaming Yellow Honkers", "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken", and "Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"" as "some of the best episodes of the season". The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, wrote that the episode was "a curious unmemorable episode with a good chunk in the middle. Neither the opening with The Isotopes nor the finale with the rather dire song help this one at all, and frankly, if it wasn't for the superb parody of Village of the Damned, and the kids' revenge by revealing their family's secrets, it'd sink without trace." In 2007, Simon Crerar of The Times listed Lauper's performance as one of the thirty-three funniest cameos in the history of the show.
- "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian. "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken". BBC. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- Scully, Mike (2007). The Simpsons The Complete Tenth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Doyle, Larry (2007). The Simpsons The Complete Tenth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Meyer, George (2007). The Simpsons The Complete Tenth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Bates, James W.; Gimple, Scott M.; McCann, Jesse L.; Richmond, Ray; Seghers, Christine, eds. (2010). Simpsons World The Ultimate Episode Guide: Seasons 1–20 (1st ed.). Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 490–491. ISBN 978-0-00-738815-8.
- Associated Press (1999-01-20). "60 Minutes II Keeps CBS Ticking in Ratings". Orlando Sentinel (Sentinel Communications Co). p. A2.
- Plath, James (August 17, 2007). "Simpsons, The: The Complete 10th Season Special Edition". Dvdtown.com. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- Brown, Peter (August 7, 2007). "DVDs: What iF Picks: 'ROME THE SECOND SEASON' ONE OF THE TOP 5 DVDs TO OWN FOR AUG. 7, 2007". If. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- Crerar, Simon (2007-07-05). "The 33 funniest Simpsons cameos ever". The Times. Retrieved 2010-08-09.
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