Recap: The Simpsons S 7 E 2 Radioactive Man

Episode - 2F17
First Aired - 9/24/1995

Bart and Milhouse are poring over the latest issues of Radioactive Man at the Android's Dungeon when Comic Book Guy lets them know that the character's about to go Hollywood with a big-budget movie adaptation starring Rainier Wolfcastle in the title role. Already the nerds of the online world (including eccentric 1980s pop singer Prince) are scrounging up rumors about the production, with eyes and ears extending to the boardroom of the movie studio behind the project, who want to make a Radioactive Man movie that won't be like the campy 1970s TV version note . They need a location to shoot in, and decide on Springfield — based on its tiny, misspelled Variety ad, it's obviously a town that doesn't need to toot its own horn.

Springfield's businesses jack up their prices in anticipation of the moneyed film crew, while the kids at Springfield Elementary are given new reason for excitement — auditions for the key role of sidekick Fallout Boy will be held at the school. At first, Bart appears to be a lock for the part, but he's slightly shorter than what the filmmakers want, and by the time he's managed to at least appear taller, they've decided to go with Milhouse instead.

Production commences. Homer allows the crew to use the Simpson house as a filmmaking location and gets to slack off with Teamsters, horses are painted to look like cows, and Wolfcastle's elocution lessons prove to have limited success. But it's Bart who learns that Milhouse is miserable with the day-to-day grind of filmmaking. From there Milhouse literally runs away from the production, ruining the shooting of a key, one-take-only action sequence.

As the filmmakers attempt to salvage the production, Bart realizes Milhouse is hiding in the former's treehouse and tries to convince him to go back — as does Mickey Rooney, who's been sent by the studio to give him a pep talk on child stardom. Milhouse's decision is final, though. And while it would be logical to recast Bart as Fallout Boy, the filmmakers briefly attempt to go forward with Rooney instead. In the end, the matter proves moot; thanks to Springfield's gouging, the production has run out of money. The filmmakers return to Hollywood to regroup, and are warmly welcomed by a town that treats people right.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming:
    Principal Skinner: Students, I have an announcement. One of your favorite comic book heroes, Radio Man —
    Nelson: Radioactive Man, stupid!
    Principal Skinner: Strange, I shouldn't have been able to hear that.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: Anything that misleads Bart into thinking he'll be Fall Out Boy.
  • Brick Joke: At the beginning of the episode, Bart explains to Milhouse that "Radioactive Man has his famous catch phrase, 'Up and at 'em,' with 'at 'em' spelled A-T-O-M in a delicious pun." Later on, we see that Wolfcastle is completely unable to say the phrase as a pun.
  • Call Back: Two of the sound effect cards in the 70s Radioactive Man scene are "SNUH!" and "BORT!". SNUH was the name of the anti-cartoon violence organization Marge started in Itchy & Scratchy & Marge. Bort was the unexpectedly popular souvenir license plate in Itchy & Scratchy Land.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: Milhouse experiences this big time, to the point that he didn't really want to be Fall Out Boy in the first place and simply got forced into it. As the episode goes on, Milhouse is just further and further disillusioned no matter how much Bart or anyone else tries to spin being a celebrity to him.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Main headline: "Who will be Fall Out Boy?" Secondary headline: "Who will be Fall Out Boy?"
  • Foreshadowing: Moe reveals he was a child actor. His love of acting would be explored further in season 11's Pygmoelian.
  • The Goggles Do Nothing: This episode is the trope namer. Wolfcastle is wearing them when the acid sequence is filmed, but it's real acid being used, so: "My eyes! The goggles do nothing!"
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Radioactive Man treat's Fallout Boy's Catch Phrase "Jiminy Jilikers!" as a curse word.
  • Horrible Hollywood: Inverted in the final scene — the filmmakers are happy to return to Hollywood after their miserable experience in Springfield, and the city is presented as a warm fuzzy place with a rainbow arcing over it.
  • Informed Ability: We never actually see Milhouse act outside of a few very brief clips, but we're told he's Van Johnson good.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The director thinks Springfield must be a great place to film because it doesn't have a fancy add or correct spelling.note 
  • Old Shame: In-universe: The director of the Radioactive Man movie does not want the movie to be like the campy 1970s version (which is a lot like the campy 1960s version of Batman starring Adam West and Burt Ward).
  • Off Model: This was the first episode to be done in digital ink and paint (back when 90% of animation was still done with cels and traditional ink and paint), so a lot of the color and character designs will look off for those who aren't used to seeing it this way (it was one of the reasons this episode was despised on snpp.com — that, and the writers choosing to follow Milhouse as the new Fallout Boy rather than have Bart be a star and learn firsthand that Celebrity Is Overrated, though he already did when he became known as "The 'I Didn't Do It' Kid").
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mickey Rooney gives one to Springfield after the movie's budget runs out. Even though Quimby was moved by it and feels guilty, he refused to give them their money back.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The "Flim Springfield" ad the filmmakers find.
  • Serial Numbers Filed Off: Radiation Dude is an In-Universe example, whose catch phrase is, "Up and let's go!"
  • Shout-Out: When Milhouse goes missing, a special effects technician proposes using existing footage of Milhouse to finish his role in the movie. This technique had been fairly recently used in The Crow when Brandon Lee died during filming.
  • Special Guest: Mickey Rooney As Himself
  • Spinning Paper: Who will be Fall Out Boy?
    • "Spinning Newspaper Injures Printer"
  • Stage Mom: Kirk and Luanne make Milhouse follow through with being Fall Out Boy for the sake of how much money he'll make, regardless of how he feels.
  • Stock Footage Failure: Invoked with the aforementioned attempt to finish the movie with stock footage of Milhouse as Fallout Boy.
  • Take That: Mickey Rooney states that the only thing hollow in entertainment is the music industry.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: "Get me two plane tickets to the state that Springfield is in." Of course, the viewer never finds out where, because they cut to the next scene and it's never mentioned again.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Constantly happens to Bart throughout this episode.