Recap: The Simpsons S 6 E 18 A Star Is Burns

Episode - 2F23
First Aired - 3/5/1995

In this crossover with The Critic note  (and the only episode that doesn't have Matt Groening's name in the executive producer credits), Marge suggests that Springfield hosts a film festival to combat news that the town is the most anti-intellectual city in the United States (so anti-intellectual, in fact, that they burn people at the stake for believing in science) and Jay Sherman flies down to Springfield to be one of the judges — and Homer, out of jealousy, urges Marge to be on the film jury as well. Meanwhile, Mr. Burns uses the film festival as an opportunity to boost his massive ego.

This episode contains examples of (YMMV):

  • Anachronism Stew: Burns' film features a plastic bottle during Ben Hur's time.
  • Berserk Button: Do not speak awful things about MacGyver in front of Patty & Selma.
  • Brick Joke: When Jay demonstrates that he has a more impressive burp than Homer...
    Lisa: Wow! How many Pulitzer Prize winners can do that?
    Jay: Just me and Eudora Welty.
    (later in the episode, during the voting for the best movie of the festival)
    Krusty: Now let's get going. I've got a date with Eudora Welty.
    (we hear a burp similar to Jay's)
    Krusty: Coming, Eudora!
  • Burn the Witch!: An example of how backward Springfield is culturally — Grampa heads up a mob preparing to burn Principal Skinner at the stake for claiming that the Earth revolves around the sun.
    Grampa: (gets his picture taken) You've stolen my soul!
  • Burping Contest: Homer won first prize at one and tries to use this to stand up against Jay, who has won the Pulitzer Prize. Jay proves himself to be at least as good a burper (if not better), and explains that only he and Eudora Welty can claim both that talent and a Pulitzer among their achievements.
  • Caustic Critic/Compassionate Critic: Jay Sherman. The former when criticizing big budget movies as usual, and when seeing some of the independent films. ("This is not America's funniest home videos", after watching the movie about Moleman getting hit in the groin). However, he honestly enjoyed Barney's moving film about his alcoholism, and was annoyed when Homer and two other judges voted for Moleman, and Burns' movie respectively.
  • Chirping Crickets: Parodied. After Homer tries and fails to top a joke told by Jay, a tumbleweed rolls through the Simpson's living room.
  • Crossover: The first for The Simpsons, and the only one intended to boost interest in the show it was crossing over with (one that had, in its first season, established The Simpsons as a fictional show in its universe). This was not by choice for the showrunners; Matt Groening was unhappy enough with the whole business that this is the only episode that does not credit him onscreen as executive producer.
  • Delayed Reaction: Rainer Wolfcastle accosts Jay on the street long after their interview is over, having just realized he's been insulted. Jay distracts Wolfcastle by telling him his shoes are untied and grabs a taxi. Hours later, Wolfcastle realizes he's wearing loafers.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Pukeahontas.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?:
    Jay: How can you vote for Burns' movie?
    Krusty: Let's just say it moved me...to a bigger house! Oops, I said the quiet part loud and the loud part quiet.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Jay Sherman learns what happens when he talks trash about MacGyver in front of Patty and Selma, though it was actually Homer.
    Bart: You badmouthed MacGyver, didn't you?
  • Epic Movie: A Burns for All Seasons is intended as this.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Man Getting Hit by Football is about a man getting hit by a football.
  • Ghost in the Machine: When the voting gets deadlocked, Homer claims that his mind is going a mile a minute. His mind is represented by monkeys picking fleas off each other. After some encouraging words from Jay, Homer announces that he has some serious thinking to do. The same monkeys are then shown doing calculus on a blackboard.
  • Groin Attack: The whole point of Man Getting Hit by Football.
    Homer: This contest is over! Give that man the $10,000!
    Homer: But... the ball! His groin! Ha ha! It works on so many levels! (beat) Roll it again.
  • Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: This awkward conversation between Homer and Marge.
    Homer: Marge, do you respect my intelligence?
    Marge: (beat) Yes.
    Homer: Okay. (goes to bed, gets up) Wait a minute... why did it take you so long to say "yes"?
    Marge: (beat) No reason.
    Homer: Okay. (goes to bed, gets up) Wait a minute... are you humoring me?
    Marge: (beat) Yes.
    Homer: Okay. (goes to bed, gets up) Wait a minute... that's bad!
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: A Burns for All Seasons is Mr. Burns doing this for himself.
  • Homage: Moe Better Booze is this to Cabaret's "The Money Song", while A Burns for All Seasons shamelessly recasts Mr. Burns as such characters as E.T. and Jesus Christ (!) as portrayed in Ben Hur.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Smithers: A film biography might help [the townspeople] get to know the real you. Virtuous, heroic, nubile.
    Mr. Burns: [sharply] You left out "pleasant"! [hits Smithers with the head of his cane]
  • Insult Backfire:
    Rainer: The film is just me in front of a brick wall for an hour and a half. It cost $80 million.
    Jay: (contemptuous) How do you sleep at night?
    Rainer: On top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies.
    Jay: Just asking. Yeesh!
    (eventually Rainer picked this up, and wasn't very pleased)
    • A woman commented on how beautiful Barney's movie was. Barney was sitting next to her and thanked her. She was then disgusted by him.
    Woman: Excuse me, did something crawl down your throat and die?
    Barney: It didn't die.
    [The woman's eyes widened.]
  • Le Film Artistique: Parodied with Bart's documentaries Homer in the Shower, Homer on the Toilet, and The Eternal Struggle (Homer struggling with his blue pants).
    • Downplayed with Barney Gumble's film. It's not a pretentious art piece so much as it is a tragic look at how alcohol has ruined his life shot in black and white and with all the symbolism you'd find in an artistic film.
  • Mangled Catchphrase:
    Smithers: Sir, the actors are here to audition for the part of you.
    Mr. Burns: Excellent.
    Anthony Hopkins: Excellent... hisssss!
    Mr. Burns: Next!
    Mr. Burns: Next!
    Homer: Exactly! .... D'oh!
    Mr. Burns: (getting aggravated) Next!
    Bumblebee Man: Excelliente!
    Señor Spielbergo: Es muy bueno!
  • Noodle Incident: In Mr. Burns' film, the scene of him trying to ride off on his horse took 20 takes, and the film showing him falling off and getting pulled around was the best one. One wonders how bad the other 19 takes were.
  • Poor Man's Substitute: In-universe parody.
    Mr. Burns: Get me Steven Spielberg!
    Smithers: He's unavailable.
    Mr. Burns: Then get me his non-union Mexican equivalent!
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Mr. Burns tries to win the film festival by bribing jurors. Six months later, he tries the same thing at the Academy Awards. He loses on both occasions.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sistine Steal: The opening credits of A Burns for All Seasons are set against one with Mr. Burns in Adam's place.
  • Something Completely Different: McBain — Let's Get Silly, a stand-up comedy film with McBain bombing onstage and bombing the audience after they heckle him.
    • The episode itself is different from most Simpsons episodes as it's the first one to cross over with another show. Sadly, Matt Groening promised that his show wouldn't stoop to such cheap gimmicks, and when he found out it was, he took his name off the credits for that episode. In addition, he didn't participate in the DVD Commentary.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike:
    (Everyone "boo"'s at Mr. Burns' movie.)
    Mr. Burns: Are they booing at me?
    Smithers: Uh, no, they’re saying "Boo-urns, Boo-urns."
    Mr. Burns: (stands up to face the audience) Did you people say "boo" or "Boo-urns"?
    (Everyone screams "boo!" and throws snacks at him)
    Hans Moleman: I was saying "Boo-urns".
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: Of the actors vying to play Mr. Burns (which include Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecternote , William Shatner as Captain Kirk, Homer Simpson completely screwing up his lines, and, in a Deleted Scene, the Devil, whom Burns considers good enough to be his understudy). He decides to just play himself when none are to his liking.
  • That Poor Car: Jay outdoes Homer with a foghorn burp that sets off car alarms.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Mr. Burns compared himself to Schindler in that both built shells for the Nazis except that Burns' worked.
    Listen, Spielbergo, Schindler and I are like peas in a pod; we're both factory owners, we both made shells for the Nazis, but mine worked, dammnit!
  • Vanity Project: In-Universe, nearly all the films at the film festival are this to a certain degree but Mr. Burns' movie, an ineptly-made biopic designed to remake his public image, is an especially egregious example.
  • William Shatner: As voiced by a soundalike, he auditions for the role of Mr. Burns.
  • Writers Have No Sense Of Scale: Either this or Genius Bonus. Abe claims, "My car gets 40 rods to the hogsgead!" A rod is around 16 1/2 feet, a hogshead is around 63 gallons. So, Abe gets 0.0025 miles to the gallon.