We’re happy to welcome our first guest post from culture afficianado and all-around great guy Garrett Brooks. Today Garrett will cover The Simpsons – Marge vs. The Monorail.
The Simpsons has been on the air in one form or another for longer than I have been a person. Since premiering as its own show on December 17, 1989 (before that it was a short on “The Tracey Ullman Show”), the show has run for twenty four seasons producing 530 episodes, the most of any primetime, scripted television series (Sorry, Gunsmoke). Besides being known for it’s longevity, catchphrases and four-fingered yellow people, The Simpsons is a wealth references to popular culture, obscure films and to it’s own history.
So let’s start this journey through Springfield with one of the most beloved episodes the show has ever produced, “Marge vs The Monorail” written by Conan O’Brien. As a Inluenced.it rule, we are only going over references to other works that you can experience. So goodbye jokes about crooked Alabama politics and The 1964 World’s Fair.
Title: Marge vs The Monorail
Original Airdate: January, 14 1993
Written: Conan O’Brien
Directed: Rich Moore
“Marge vs The Monorail” goes heavy with the references right off the bat. The first scene is a pastiche of “The Flintstones” opening including Homer exclaiming “Yabba Dabba Do!”, sliding down a tube and jumping into his car, Flintstones style. This scene also provides the best alternate Flintstones lyrics you are going to find:
Simpson! Homer Simpson!
He’s the greatest guy in history,
From the, town of Springfield!
He’s about to hit a chestnut tree!”
Upon being brought into the courtroom, Monty Burns is wheeled in a la Hannibal Lector in Silence of The Lambs. The court room is filled with great sight gags like this (the seal in the courtroom reads “Liberty and Justice for Most”). The Hannibal Lector/Monty burns comparison is made a number of times throughout the series.
Andy Capp Comics
Homer is found reading the newspaper before exclaiming “Andy Capp, you lovable wife beater.” Andy Capp is a currently running British comic strip featuring the working class Andy Capp whose interest include darts, snooker (pool on this side of the Atlantic) and beering it up at a pub (much like Homer at Moe’s Tavern).
The Music Man
Maybe the most famous sequence of the Monorail episode is Lyle Landry’s (voiced by the incomparable Phil Hartman) monorail song. Lyle Landry is strongly resembling of The Music “Man’s swindler Harold HIll and even comes to town with a similar scheme. although Landry’s is based on public transportation rather than the majesty of marching bands.
The Riddle Song
According to Wikipedia, The Riddle Song is an English Folk Song most famously featured in Animal House. Homer sings a single line of the song to Marge while they are in bed. Is Homer’s version the best? Probably not. Is it the only one to end with “mmmmmmm, chicken”? Probably.
Leonard Nemoy’s guest staring turn is one of the best in The Simpsons illustrious history and is accompanied by references to many of his works. Among them:
The first one is really nerdy. The 1954 sci-fi film Them! tells the story of ants mutating into giant people eating creatures, much like the robot ants that Bart fantasizes about overrunning the school with. Nimoy has an uncredited role in this film as an Air Force Sergeant.
Of course, If you are going to have Leonard Nimoy in your episode, there are going to be some Star Trek references. Including this exchange with Mayor Quimby:
Quimby: And now, I’d like to turn things over to our Grand Marshall, Mr. Leonard Nimoy.
Nimoy: I’d say this vessel could do at least Warp Five. [appreciative laughter from the crowd]
Quimby: And let me say, “May the Force Be With You!”
Nimoy: [annoyed] Do you even know who I am?
Quimby: [indignant] I think I do. Weren’t you one of the Little Rascals
Once on the monorail, Nimoy regales a disinterested passenger with stories of the sliding doors on the Enterprise and of solar eclipses.
And at the end of the episode, Nimoy beams out.
This is far from a complete list of references from this episode because that would take days and I’ve already spent more time thinking about The Simpsons than is probably healthy and this is already 1000 words. Comment, tweet at us, let us know what references we missed and what episodes have your favorite references. Until next time “mmmmmmmmmmmmm, forbidden donut.”