Classic Simpsons Essays

I’ve been enjoying Nathan Rabin’s loving analyses of classic Simpsons episodes over at the AV Club.  Right now he’s in the middle of season 5, and his musings are making me realize that that one might be the best season overall.  Just wall to wall perfection.  Looking forward to more of these.

From yesterday’s brilliant summary of “Bart Gets An Elephant:”

Later, Bill and Marty, the premiere chatter-monkeys of KBBL, face down their greatest threat in the form of DJ 3000, a computer that plays CDs and boasts three different kinds of inane chatter and consequently represents a grave challenge to their jobs after the gabby twosome end up in hot water with management when Bart shocks everyone by taking the crazy gag gift offered in a radio contest (a free elephant) rather than ten thousand dollars.

The world-weary station manager strikes fear into her underlings by turning on the DJ3000 and watching as it spits out, in a robotic approximation of the mindless enthusiasm of the average morning zoo DJ such well-worn chestnuts as, “How about the weather out there?”, “Whoah! That was the caller from hell”, “Well Hot Dog! We have a wiener!” and finally, and most trenchantly, “Looks like those clowns in Congress have done it again. What. A. Bunch. Of. Clowns.”

Bill is so overwhelmed by the machine’s wit and timeliness that he guilelessly enthuses, “How does he keep up with the news like that?” despite the threat DJ3000 poses to his livelihood and professional future, to which Marty mutters a dark, bitter, “Don’t praise the machine.” DJ3000 is a dead-on parody of mindless, tame morning zoo patter so hackneyed and limited that it can be reproduced by a computer only slightly more advanced than the an Atari 2600. Just as Homer’s memory of Gomer Pyle reduces a television show to a single dumb gag, the DJ3000 reduces the once noble art of disc-jockeying to a handful of dumb jokes married to a pre-determined playlist.