Episode five of The Simpsons season 8, Bart After Dark, originally aired on November 24th 1996. I viewed this episode by myself on Friday afternoon February nineteenth at the Brooklyn College campus on my lap-top. This time the couch gag is a parody of the Beatles album cover for “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967) featuring the Simpsons standing in front of their couch wearing the same outfits as the Beatles with dozens of minor characters behind them in an outdoor setting. This is especially fitting since every season of The Simpsons has at least one musical episode and Bart After Dark fits that description and its plot is a parody of “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” 1982. (www.imdb.com)
This episode begins with a news report of a tanker crash spilling millions of gallons of oil. Marge and Lisa volunteer to help clean up the spill, taking Maggie with them and leaving Homer and Bart alone. At the clean up Marge and Lisa find nothing to clean but rocks. Homer and Bart turn the house into a pig sty. When Bart goes to the park with Milhouse to fly a remote control airplane the town bully Nelson Muntz takes over and ends up crashing the plane into the grounds of a house that the children believe to be haunted/a Frankenstein factory/a zombie brain transplant lab. Bart climbs the gate and retrieves the model plane from the roof, breaking a stone gargoyle in the process, but when caught by the “witch” his friends flee.
She takes Bart home and insists that he be punished. When Homer resists the idea she threatens to come back and speak with his mother. Homer forces Bart to work off his debt at the “witch’s” house. When he gets there Bart discovers a house full of scantily clad beautiful women. The “witch,” Belle explains to him that it is a house of Burlesque. He immediately takes to the job working his way up from handyman to doorman. Meanwhile, when Marge and Lisa realize that they have nothing meaningful to do in the clean-up effort they head for home. At the Burlesque house a performer is sick and Bart takes his place on stage to warm up the audience with bad jokes. He kills.
Homer barges in to take Bart back, but he’s so enamored with the girls that he stays. From there, in his role as the doorman, Bart deals with his own school principal. Homer is confronted by the church council, leading to an argument in the middle of which Marge and Lisa return home. When Marge finds that Homer’s letting Bart work in a Burlesque house she freaks and confronts Belle, demanding she shut down her house of ill repute. Belle refuses. Marge goes before the town council to have the Burlesque house shut down and reveals all its patrons.
They form an angry mob to take down the house but when they arrive and begin the demolition Homer breaks into song, convincing them not to. Belle and her girls join in. They sing about how ubiquitous the services of the Burlesque House are and its tradition in Springfield. However, Marge shows up late and though she gives pause, she accidentally runs a bulldozer into the house, destroying part of it. Marge works off the damages with a ventriloquist act.
This is the first episode that I’ve viewed on my laptop. While the picture is not nearly as nice as on a decent sized television it does have a few advantages. As long as you can overcome the distractions provided by the various applications on your computer it narrows your focus in a way. With the smaller screen you are able to take in the entire picture. However, the speakers on my laptop are of inferior quality so there were several situations where I had to rewind and review in order to hear things.
This is one of the more interesting episodes so far but it features little character development and while it’s clear that the house survives Marge’s onslaught, it is never seen or heard from again. This episode attempts to deal with sex in both frank and minimally titillating fashion but it falls a bit flat and while the musical number is catchy as always, it somehow falls short. The animation is great but while the cartoon Burlesque house is convincing most of the humor occurs early in the show and it comes up a bit short of the rest of the episodes.
The Simpsons Season 8 Episode #5: Bart After Dark
Rating: 2 out of 5