I love this joke about Grandpa serving half of his term in congress. Josh and I were huge Watergate buffs, and I was reading this and remembering how much I loved that and wish that we had gotten it on the air, with how Grandpa was briefly a congressman, in the early 1970s, and had been indicted in Watergate. Now why he was a congressman when Watergate was confined entirely to the White House and Executive Branch, I have no idea. You know, the more I think about it the more it doesn’t make any sense as a Watergate buff, but who cares?
INT. SIMPSON HOUSE – LIVING ROOM – LATER
HOMER: (FURIOUS ANNOYED GRUNT)
Reveal that homer is holding an official looking letter.
HOMER: I do not recall volunteering to be Sergeant-at-Arms!
FLASHBACK – PTA MEETING
NED: Who wants to be Sergeant-at- Arms?
HOMER: Me, me, me, me, me! Me, me, me, me, me, me!
BACK TO REALITY
MARGE: Homer, all you have to do is lead a meeting once a month.
HOMER: But Marge, you know this family’s not fit to hold high office. Grampa only served half his term in Congress before he was kicked out.
Homer points to a framed newspaper with the headline “Watergate Ax Falls: Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Simpson Indicted.” Below is a photo of Grampa, in a 70’s style suit, being escorted down the Capitol steps by police.
Bill Oakley was one of the “Simpsons” writers/show-runners during the series’s classic era (but you knew that right?), and in this article he reveals that the episode in which Bart gets Skinner fired had enough material to fill an episode an hour long. They ended up cutting an entire B-plot about Homer running the PTA and trying to get Ned Flanders fired after he replaced Skinner as principal. The Simpsons DVDs often include cut scenes, and most of the time you can understand why they go rid of the material in question: it’s usually not as funny, or not actually relevant to the story. This stuff, however, is gold, and I really wish they had been able to fit it all in. I probably laughed more reading this article than I have watching the past five years of the show.
Also, I love this script direction:
We see Principal Skinner come out of a nearby aisle. He is wearing jeans, Keds, and a cardigan sweater.
It adds so much more to that episode to know that Skinner in the laundry powder scene, Skinner was wearing Keds. Also, it shows that Oakley understands that great secret to being a good writer: putting brand names in your writing makes stuff seem a thousand times more realistic. (Another example of this is the Paul Kelly song “To Her Door”; he sings of someone riding “on Olympic [buses],” a lyric he included because he wanted to have a brand name in one of his songs.)
I really should get around to writing up my list of proper secrets to being a good writer. You know, not the fake hints like “read widely” and “write something every day.” Useful tips like “Summarize an opposing argument in a paragraph beginning ‘To be sure.’ That way, no matter how flimsy your stance is, you don’t have to refute objections to it, and besides, it makes you look even-handed.”
Also, now seems like a time I should admit that whenever I buy laundry detergent, I stand in the supermarket reading the names of the detergent before announcing, Skinner-like “I believe today I shall try… Bold.” Then I throw in the “That’s not true! I can buy a new pair!” line, which only makes sense if you’re inside my brain and know that I’m thinking about Seymour Skinner.
Fortunately I buy my laundry detergent at times when there are few other shoppers around.
Anyways, what I’m saying is that Splitsider is running all kinds of fantastic essays on the Simpsons under a feature entitled Classic Simpsons Week and that you should read them.