Recap: The Simpsons S 6 E 5 Sideshow Bob Roberts
Episode - 2F02
First Aired - 10/9/1994
With help from the Rush Limbaugh-esque Birch Barlow (a right-wing radio personality), Sideshow Bob gets released from prison again and runs for mayor against "Diamond" Joe Quimby — and Bart and Lisa investigate how one criminal running for public office got so many votes while another criminal got so few.
This episode contains examples of:
- 0% Approval Rating:
Kent Brockman: The results are in: for Sideshow Bob, one hundred percent; and for Joe Quimby, one percent. And, we remind you, there is a one percent margin of error.
- Accuse The Witness: Bart and Lisa get Bob to confess by accusing him of being Barlow's front man. He immediately produces several binders and floppy disks detailing his "masterpiece of electoral fraud".
- As Himself: Dr Demento; Larry King
- Biting-the-Hand Humor:
Now, a word to our audience: even though we're being broadcast on...Fox
, there's no need for obnoxious hooting and hollering. (The audience does just that; King groans.)
- Brick Joke: The bats in the public library.
- Homer gets thrown out of Riverdale for reasons unknown. When he drives Bart and Lisa to meet the unknown informant in the parking garage, Homer stays in the car, reading Archie Comics, muttering, "Lousy Riverdale punks! Think they're so great."
- The Cameo: Archie and his pals Jughead, Reggie, and Moose from the Archie comics make a cameo, throwing Homer from their vehicle and telling him to "Stay outta' Riverdale!"
- Cassandra Truth: Bart telling Marge that he was told to bring in fireworks.note
- Devil in Plain Sight: The reaction to Bob's below-mentioned evil laugh? "And just look how happy he is!"
- If you hear well, it sounds like everyone is laughing with him.
- Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Bob goes for ballot-stuffing in an election where Quimby may have actually had a 0% Approval Rating.
- Edited for Syndication: The scene where Sideshow Bob is at the Retirement Castle, promising not only to build the Matlock Expressway, but also to spend the rest of the afternoon listening to the old folks rambling.
- The couch gag has also been altered after its first appearance. See Title-Only Opening below.
- Evil Laugh: Sideshow Bob, of course, delivers a long, utterly hammy one after he wins the election.
- Expy: As noted, Birch Barlow is one of real-life conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh.
- Expy Allusion: Renier Wolfcastle is revealed to be a Republican just like his real-life counterpart Arnold Schwarzenegger.
- Homage: The entire second act, including the bird eye shot of Lisa studying in the library, is a homage to All the President's Men.
- Horned Hairdo: Quimby inadvertently sports one during the mayoral debates after he runs his fingers through his sweat-soaked hair, leading the news team to electronically demonize him in their broadcast.
- Hypocritical Humor
Announcer: Mayor Quimby supports revolving door prisons. Mayor Quimby even released Sideshow Bob, a man twice convicted of attempted murder. Can you trust a man like Mayor Quimby? Vote Sideshow Bob for mayor!
- Also, Homer had earlier in the episode stated a low opinion about people who vote but he's later seen voting for Sideshow Bob. (He approved Bob's "Selma-killing policy")
- I Take Offense to That Last One
Birch Barlow: There are three things we are never going to get rid of in this town. One, the bats in the public library; two, Mrs. McFuly's compost heap; and three, our six-term mayor - the illiterate, tax-cheating, wife-swapping, pot-smoking spendocrat, Diamond Joe Quimby.
Mayor Quimby: (as he's watering a marijuana plant in his office) Hey, I am no longer illiterate!
- It's Personal: Lisa states this after finding out one of the dead people and pets that "voted" for Bob was her long-deceased cat, Snowball I. Bart, understandably takes offence at this:
Bart: Um...he did try to kill me!
- The Man Behind the Man: Played with when Bart and Lisa shift the accusation of the rigged election to Birch Barlow in order to get Sideshow Bob to confess.
- Made of Iron: Homer somehow was able to cushion a wrecking ball from hitting its house (similar to what happened on The Simpsons Movie, only Homer actually felt pain when he hit the rock and a bar called "A Hard Place". On this episode, Homer doesn't even flinch).
- Noodle Incident: What did Homer to do to get thrown out of Riverdale? Better yet, how'd he get there in the first place? And what did Bart do to gain the enmity of Doctor Demento?
- Paste Eater: When Quimby and Bob come to Springfield Elementary:
Skinner: Now, students, I want you to be on your best behavior for this carefully-choreographed media event. Now this means there is to be no wising-off, no face-making, and no grass-eating. This means you, Ralph.
Ralph: (mouth full of grass) Yes, sir.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Subverted. Smithers alludes to being gay when in previous episodes, it was heavily implied that he was either sexually confused or straight, but had a crush on his boss.
- Politicians using the votes of people who passed away happened earlier in American history.
- Quimby and Sideshow Bob's TV debate is a reference to Kennedy and Nixon's 1960 TV debate.
- Sideshow Bob posing in front of his election poster references Citizen Kane.
- The entire second act is a parody of the Watergate scandal, specifically spoofing All the President's Men.
- The commercial described in Hypocritical Humor is a parody of the infamous "Willie Horton" advertisement by the George H.W. Bush campaign during the 1988 presidential race.
- The episode's title is a reference to the satirical political mockumentary Bob Roberts.
- Special Guest: Henry Corden as Fred Flintstonenote ; Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob; Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz
- Take That: This is the first time the show really takes stabs at the Republican Party, which garnered a lot of complaints from viewers (particularly the ones on snpp.com who were used to seeing the show skewer both political parties (or only focus on local politics and not national stuff). Of course, considering that Mayor Quimby is the episode's representative of the Democratic Party, it does even out somewhat.
- Title-Only Opening: The second FOX airing and the DVD version goes from the Simpsons cloud title straight to the executive credits on the TV, while the original airing and the syndicated version had couch gags that were used other episodes (the original airing had the couch gag from "Boy Scoutz 'n The Hood"note while the syndicated version had the oft-used one from "Rosebud"note ). This is one of the few times they did this after season one and before the high-def episodes from season 20 on (barring the special episodes, like the Treehouse of Horror episodes and the two Troy McClure-hosted episodes: "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" and "The Simpsons Spinoff Showcase.")
- You Can't Handle The Parody: "...No truth handler, you! Bah, I deride your truth-handling abilities!"