After a two week delay (thanks amazon.com), I finally received my copy of The Simpsons, Season Six. Now, I’ve become somewhat jaded about this show, the recent episodes have been pretty lame. It’s been that way for about 8 years or so now. Season six was the first great season, in my opinion. And the crown jewel of that season was, without a doubt, “Lemon of Troy”.
This is the one where Bart leads the kids into Shelbyville to take back their beloved lemon tree. There are literally one thousand funny moments in this episode. It’s jam-packed from start to finish with comedic gems. Yes, I said “comedic gems”. You can sit there, watch the whole episode and not stop laughing for 22 minutes. It’s that good.
It would take too long to document all the funny parts of this episode and besides, the link above has pretty much already done that. I will simply point out two of my favorite parts, which are the pinnacle of animation-based humor, in my opinion. This is pre-South Park, pre-Family Guy by at least a few years. Truly innovative stuff.
a.) The pairing of Martin Prince and Nelson Muntz. I call them the original “odd couple”! Not since Hitler and Stalin have a duo been this dynamic and mismatched. Imagine, the class nerd and the quintessential bully united as friends! Sounds too good to be true, but it happened. For one episode only.
First of all, when it comes time to name their pairing, Martin comes up with “Team Discovery Channel”. Take that, Lance Armstrong!
Then, they go on a mission to shakedown a kid selling lemonade in front of his house and the hilarity rises to a whole other level. Martin throws the kid against a tree and asks him where he got the lemons, but then the tables are turned and the kid’s older brother threatens to beat up Martin. Martin throws up his arms and yells “Spring forth, burly protector and save me!” in his girly, high-pitched voice. Nelson does so, reluctantly, going so far as to explain that they normally don’t hang out to the older brother before beating him up.
Then the coup de gras, Martin skips down the street, prancing around Nelson and singing a jaunty tune while Nelson looks non-plussed and takes swings at him. Priceless.
2.) The other highpoint of this episode is truly the highpoint of the show and perhaps society as a whole. I refer to, of course, the meeting of the alternate universe Milhouses.
Milhouse is my favorite character, by far. Oh sure, lots of people have jumped on the Ralph bandwagon but the problem with Ralph is, he had some funny bits but then the writers caught wind of it and tried too hard to make him a star. He’s a supporting player. If they left him as such, they never would have ruined him and he would still be funny now. But I digress.
Milhouse’s anger starts brewing early, probably a carry-over from his father, Kirk, who proclaims “I hate those Shelbyville jerks!” When his wife, Lu Ann, points out that she’s from Shelbyville, he shakes with rage and says “And it tears me up inside!”
The two Milhouses get off to a rough start when Milhouse accuses Shelbyville Milhouse of copying his “one strap backpack style”. Things heat up, words are said and Milhouse threatens to kick Shelbyville Milhouse’s butt (at Nintendo). Luckily, it doesn’t come to that.
But later, when he overhears Shelbyville Milhouse use the term “radical”, he loess it. Like his father, he starts shaking and proclaims he’s going to “explode”. Why so tense, Milhouse? LOL!!! This kid is really getting worked up.
Things finally come to a head when Milhouse is admonishing Bart for not using proper walkie talkie protocol and is cornered by Shelbyville Milhouse. Shelbyville Milhouse kicks the walkie talkie from Milhouse’s hand and advances on the cowering (and cowardly) Milhouse. In an ode to Shakespearean dialog, Milhouse queries, “Is this the untimely end of Milhouse?” This causes Shelbyville Milhouse to pause and ponder his own loneliness, sparking this classic dialog:
Shelbyville Milhouse (SM): [pause] But Milhouse is my name?
Milhouse (M): But I thought I was the only one!
SM: [shakes head] A pain I know all too well.
M: So this is what it feels like… when doves cry!
Then they embrace.
I think this is so great because it’s not only funny, it teaches you a valuable lesson. You see, Milhouse didn’t “hate” Shelbyville. The only thing he hated was himself. Shelbyville Milhouse taught him that he wasn’t alone in the world, that there’s a little Milhouse in everyone. Sure, you might be handicapped or black or gay, maybe kids teased you for being a nerd. Perhaps your dad molested you for not being sexy enough. But that doesn’t mean you’re a total loser, because you never know, there could be your exact doppleganger living just one town over, the whole time and you don’t even know it. And that’s a gift we can all appreciate. Like when someone you hate gets cancer. Or when fat people fall down on the bus when it takes a corner too fast.
Because that’s what makes America great.