305. Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington

(originally aired March 9, 2003)
So here we seemingly have a big change episode: Krusty runs for Congress and wins! A crowd-pleasing yet self-serving wacky man in makeup in the government? This is a concept with limitless possibilities… oh wait, never mind, status quo. I think we see Krusty in this new position one other time, and then his congressional career is never seen or mentioned again, correct me if I’m wrong. But despite all that, I found myself liking this episode more than I thought I would. Through all the silliness, good and bad, is a streamlined story of the family dealing with an issue, and when they can’t rely on the government to help, the only option left is to change it. Said issue involves air traffic being rerouted over the Simpson house, causing it to be unbearably noisy all day and all night. It’s not clear exactly why planes are flying so low to the ground, or why this doesn’t seem to be bothering Flanders or any other neighbor, but those gripes aren’t that bad. Options nearly exhausted, Homer and Marge go to speak with their Congressman, who a mere minute after being told the story, drops dead, leaving an open seat to be filled.

Needing to get someone elected to help them, the Simpsons eventually land on getting Krusty to seek the nomination. It’s sort of quick and random how this story kicks into gear, but I guess it has to since we have a lot of ground to cover. The scene we get where Krusty ponders how being in Congress would get big government off his back (“I could tell the FCC to take a hike! Look at this list of words they won’t let me say on the air!”) His campaign trail consists of him learning how to deal and appeal to normal working class shmoes, which takes some acclamation, but soon he wins the people’s hearts and minds. Once he sees the devastation of the Simpson house because of the air traffic, Krusty kicks it into gear, and despite his normally selfish ways, you believe that he actually wants to make a difference. Plus, as a Republican, he gets the might of FOX News behind him, which is played up to such a ridiculous, cartoony level that it doesn’t even feel petty. Shots at the GOP would become common place for the show, but here they work fine. Even the scene we have at the Republican Headquarters in Dracula’s castle is handled well, unlike the ham-fisted bit in “Brawl in the Family.”

Krusty wins of course, and goes to Washington guns blazing to get the air traffic bill passed, but finds that government works in a different way than he’d thought, in that it doesn’t work at all. Stuck on worthless committees with yammering idiots, Krusty’s hopes for reform quickly dribble away. Now it’s up to the Simpsons to help him get the bill past. The whole second act Krusty stuck with them like glue during his campaign, and now they’re just hanging out in Washington, but I buy that since he’s basically their only hope to get their lives back to normal. A miracle comes in the form of a mysterious janitor who may or may not be Walter Mondale, who lets the family in on how a bill really becomes a law: by blackmail and manipulation. It’s a bit silly how they pull it off, with characters just appearing in government buildings and Homer getting beaten up by security, but it works for as representative of the inside, backwards system of government, and ultimately closes our story by finally getting air traffic away from the Simpson home. Despite the show doing nothing with Congressman Krusty beyond this point, I enjoyed this show for what it was: a solid through story, laughs throughout and an honest portrayal of Krusty.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Though it doesn’t quite work now watching it off TV, I still love Homer eating the Joe Millionaire bug (and spitting out the FOX logo). Those little promotional things on the bottom of the screen are still used, but I remember at the time they were really obnoxious, with all this elaborate animation taking up a large portion of the screen while I’m trying to watch my show. It’s not even a parody, really, since what they showed is basically accurate.
– I really like Homer on the roof swatting a rake at jets flying by. It just shows how desperate and crazed he’s gotten over it.
– Homer and Marge go to complain to the air marshal. After telling them fill out a phony form 1790 (“It was an application to open a Cinnabon stand,”) the marshal sets them straight (“We’re the government. We make the laws, we print the money, and we breed the super soldiers. So go home, learn to live with it, pay your taxes, and remember, you didn’t hear anything about super soldiers.”)
– The bits of the family trying to sell their house are pretty joke-less, and also begs the question what Flanders feels about all the noise. We see him at the end of act one when Homer pounds the pro-Krusty sign on his lawn, but that’s it.
– Love Krusty’s opponent using one of the skits from his show against him: a comedy UN featuring Krusty as French, Jamaican and gay stereotypes. He does a kid’s show, right? Watching at home, Krusty is on the defense (“You can’t judge me by the sketch! It was a different time! 1998!”)
– Hate hate hate that Lisa represents herself as a Democrat. She’s eight years old. This is just another step toward liberal activist Lisa.
– In classic fashion, Krusty appears on the back of a train on his campaign trail, and vows to fix all his future constituents’ problems (“The government wants to shut me down because the pipes under my toilet don’t lead nowhere!” “Elect me and I promise those pipes will lead to a better tomorrow!”)
– I really like the FOX News bit, it really is so over-the-top, it can’t even be viewed as a cheap shot parody. Actually, this is the episode I believe that FOX got upset with the show using the phony ticker tape on the bottom of the screen, feeling viewers might be confused and think it to be actual news. Well, with headlines like “Rupert Murdoch: Terrific Dancer” and “JKF Posthumously Joins Republican Party,” I completely see their argument.
– The committee Krusty is stuck on couldn’t be more useless: deciding dollar coins (“I say we make them out of chocolate. Kids eat them anyway, why fight it?”)
– Mondale(?)’s plan to work the system involves blackmailing the bill’s dissenter (“I have a tape here of you using your free mail privileges to send a get well card to your aunt!” “If they hear about this in Medesto, I’m ruined! Maybe I wanted to be caught…”), drink a Southern congressman under the table (“How about a drinking contest, boy? Right after I vote on the latest bill.” “How about before?” “You remind me of my high school drinking coach!”) and attaching the air traffic bill to a more popular one (“We will now vote on the Flags for Orphans and… Airline Rerouting Bill… oh well, it’s paper-clipped.”)

11 thoughts on “305. Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington

  1. I find this episode to just be down right boring. Not to mention it keeps making me think of Mr. Lisa Simpson Goes to Washington, only done in a less clever manner. There is not much else I can say about this episode (nor most of others coming up) that hasn’t already been said about the last batch of recent episodes.

  2. The last stray thought-Simpsons always does it better… than zombie simpsons. 7 years earlier:

    Speaker: Then it is unanimous, we are going to approve the bill to
    evacuate the town of Springfield in the great state of –Congressman: Wait a minute, I want to tack on a rider to that bill: $30
    million of taxpayer money to support the perverted arts.
    Speaker: All in favor of the amended Springfield-slash-pervert bill?
    [everyone boos]
    Speaker: Bill defeated. [bangs gavel]
    Kent: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: democracy simply
    doesn’t work.

  3. As far as Season 14 goes, this is an above-average episode. Agreed with the above comments that the political satire isn’t really up to the classic era’s snuff, but it still does pretty well. There’s more memorable quotes in here than I’m accustomed to getting in these latter-season episodes (“It makes my blood boil! And my left arm numb! Also, I taste copper!”, “It’s no twelve off my ass,” etc.)

    I remember those animated FOX promos – they were everywhere in 2003, at the start of every act. I recall being quite satisfied to see Homer eat one.

  4. “The bits of the family trying to sell their house are pretty joke-less” – oh, I don’t know about that. I thought the bit where Ralph tries to buy the house was pretty funny, It is stupid though, so I guess it comes down to taste.

    I’m pretty sure Krusty’s career as a congressman went the same way as Marge’s career as the CEO of a chain of women-only gyms. Never to be acknowledged again.

  5. Yeah, this isn’t bad for a later season episode, but there’s one bit that really grates for me, when the Republicans say they can help Krusty cover up indiscretions and Mr Burns ask if they are romantic, financial or treasonous, so Krusty responds “Russian hooker, you tell me.” Now that’s a pretty clever bit, and surprisingly punchy for the show by this point, too. But then Mr Burns says they’ll spin it as a fact-finding mission, and Krusty says “I did find out one fact – she was a guy!” It’s just an awful line, such a cheap joke, if you can even call it that; it’s more just a flimsy set-up so Krusty can shout (and I mean really shout) a lazy and obnoxious comment about a transvestite/transsexual. Awful, bottom-of-the-barrel stuff made even worse since it comes straight after a genuinely clever bit.

  6. Homer eating the Joe Millionaire logo was quite the gag when I first saw the episode, it actually kinda shocked me in a “wow-did-that-really-just-happen?!” way (which is, by the way, like, the main source of a show like Family Guy’s “humor”). Otherwise I don’t remember a fucking thing about this episode.

  7. – “Actually, this is the episode I believe that FOX got upset with the show using the phony ticker tape on the bottom of the screen, feeling viewers might be confused and think it to be actual news. Well, with headlines like “Rupert Murdoch: Terrific Dancer” and “JKF Posthumously Joins Republican Party,” I completely see their argument.”
    This is the level of intelligence FOX thinks its viewers has.

    – Sadly, the third act isn’t all that outrageous compared to reality.

    – As someone who leans pretty far right politically, I really don’t mind GOP jokes so long as they’re funny or so over the top that I’d feel stupid getting upset over them. So stuff like the Springfield Republicans meeting in a haunted-looking castle and reading from the Necronomicon is fine. Stuff like “I haven’t been this happy since we stole the 2000 election” is not.

  8. I’m surprised you were so nice to this episode. Mainly because it’s actually among my first memories of the show and when I was a young child I actually hated The Simpsons. I don’t really know why, I just felt it was unpleasant, cynical and stupid. And I remember this episode was playing on FOX at my mom’s house and I watched most of it and found it annoying.

    I didn’t understand much of the political material, but I remember the Simpsons were angry at the planes flying over their house and they persuaded Krusty to run for Congress. I remember Krusty breaking down admitting he couldn’t do this for some reason, and I recall hating the ending when Homer talked blissfully about the planes “flying over the houses of poor people”. I hated the selfishness of it. “So wait, the problem isn’t solved? It just doesn’t involve you anymore, you self-absorbed pig! What was the point of this?!!!!”

    Obviously I know I was very immature at that age (but I am surprised to see how recently it came out considering what a big fan I was just 5 years later) but I’d actually be interested to revisit this and see if it holds up better than I remembered.

  9. Maybe it’s not a truly awful episode, but a truly boring one for sure. I remember watching it and thinking The Simpsons was trying to be something too different from what it was. The first time I watched it, it seemed to me more of a South Park direct and tachnical way to handle a political subject, instead of the sublte down to earth Classic Simpsons way.

  10. While I can say this episode is better than others, I found it to be quite bland. Yes, there are some really solid jokes, like the one where Krusty’s opponent uses the role play bit against Krusty and Krusty is confused about it. Hell, it makes me think of the current culture going around with wanting to change the Simpsons voice actors to ones that match the race of the characters. This show was made in a different time, get over it!

    Anyway, other than that, this episode just doesn’t have any of the clever writing as “Mr Lisa Goes to Washington.” In fact, I wish I had been watching that episode instead during the entire thing.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s