The Simpsons Season 8 Episode #13 is entitled Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala-Annoyed-Grunt-cious. This episode first aired February 7th 1997. I viewed this episode at home on DVD, Thursday February 25th 2010 by myself. This time the couch gag takes place outside. First we see the empty couch in the Simpsons’ living room then cut to the front yard where the rest of the family stands around while Homer furiously tries to open the locked door with no success.
After years of being stressed out by her overly needy family Marge begins to lose her hair. A montage shows her problem become progressively more serious forcing her to go see the doctor. Dr. Hibbert diagnoses her hair loss as stress related. In order to help Marge the family decides to get a nanny. Homer chases off a number of applicants because he believes them to be men in drag ala Mrs. Doubtfire. The search goes poorly and to help Bart and Lisa sing a song about their ideal nanny. Unfortunately they are quite picky. Just as Marge expresses her doubts as to being able to find a nanny like the one the kids described, we cut to the sky above Springfield where we see a Mary Poppins type character descend from above with a flying umbrella.
She lands at the Simpson residence, introduces herself as Shari Bobbins, and essentially announces that she’s their new nanny. But first the family insists on an interview. After fielding all of their questions with ease she is given the job. Going to work right away she takes the kids upstairs to clean their rooms. She leads the children in a song about the virtues of doing a half-assed job (It’s the American way!) and gives examples from all over Springfield. Afterwards she takes the kids for a walk in the park where she is greeted by everyone they come across because, like Mary Poppins, somehow everyone knows Shari Bobbins. She even manages to bring some joy to evil old miser Mr. Burns. Later that night she tucks the children into bed and sings them a lullaby about local drunkard, Barney Gumble.
A short time thereafter we see the new and improved Simpson family, complete with good manners and basic hygiene. Shari Bobbins announces that her work is finished and bids a fond farewell. However, she doesn’t even make it as far as the curb when Homer and Bart crash through the front window. She goes back inside to find that the family has reverted back to its old ways in a matter of seconds. Before long the Simpsons start to drive Shari Bobbins crazy and put her through so much stress that she takes to getting drunk with Barney. When they see what they’ve done to her they decide to let Shari Bobbins move on. They sing her a goodbye song letting her know that they haven’t changed, won’t change and like it that way. Shari Bobbins flies away on her umbrella as the family wave’s goodbye. Lisa asks “Do you think we’ll ever see her again?” Homer replies “I’m sure we will, honey.” As he responds we see in the background the airborne Shari Bobbins sucked into the turbine of a passing jumbo jet leaving only a small trail of debris shooting out the other side.
This is yet another musical episode and steeped in satire, parody and pop-culture. It also drives home what seems to be one of the constant themes of the show: life stinks but we’ll deal with it. This episode is a direct parody of Mary Poppins of course; though Shari Bobbins is quick to discourage any likeness between the two. She says that she’s an original creation like Ricky Rouse or Monald Muck. There are a number of references that this episode makes that can be found at (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0757021/trivia) and (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0757021/movieconnections). My personal favorite is the clip of Charles Bronson filling in for Andy Griffith on the Andy Griffith show. It shows Bronson, having just killed town drunk Otis, preparing to “head down to Emits fix-it shop, to fix Emit.”
While the “Marge is stressed out” plotline is overdone it leads to something wonderful in this episode. Not even Shari Bobbins can handle the Simpsons. When it all boils down to it they’re the quintessential screwed up American nuclear family that is too apathetic to change and too ignorant to know when they should for their own benefit. While this episode lacks complex plot, deep character development, or a major guest star I just cannot give anything less than a three to a show that ends with me getting to see Mary Poppins sucked into a jet engine.
The Simpsons Season 8 Episode #13: Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala-Annoyed-Grunt-cious
Rating: 3 out of 5