Episode - 4F12
First Aired - 2/9/1997The Itchy & Scratchy Show is in a crisis of quality, after Roger Meyers sees a slight drop-off in ratings and Bart and Lisa admit that the show is getting a bit stale, so the writers create a new character (a dog named Poochie) and hire Homer Simpson to be the voice actor. But when Poochie's in-your-face, Totally Radical style makes the show worse, Homer must do what he can to save the new guy.
This episode contains examples of:
- Answer Cut: After Poochie's debut, Lisa comments that what matters is what the fans think. Cut to Comic Book Guy calling it the "Worst Episode Ever!"
- Bait and Switch: At first, Poochie's debut episode gave the impression something would happen at a fireworks factory.
- Bus Crash: Poochie's fate.Note: Poochie died on the way back to his home Planet
- Character Shilling: Homer suggests doing this as one way to boost Poochie's popularity.
- Cool Shades:Roger Meyers: He's supposed to have attitude!
Artist: What do you mean, attitude?
Meyers: You know! Attitude, attitude, uhh... sunglasses!
- Early-Bird Cameo: The female executive, who reappears in several future episodes, was later reworked into Lindsey Naegle.
- Executive Meddling: Thoroughly parodied.
- Gratuitous Rap: How Poochie introduces himself.
- Green Aesop / Catch Phrase to the Max: Spoofed — "Always recycle — to the extreme!"
- Hate Dumb: As stupid as the Poochie ratings stunt is, the fans who complain about it get their fair share of mockery too.
- Hope Spot: Homer writes a moving speech that gets a round of applause from everyone in Itchy and Scratchy studios, and appears to have saved Poochie from being killed off. The dog is still killed when the episode airs, and the audience is assured that he will never come back.
- Ink-Suit Actor: Simpsons staff members David Silverman, Josh Weinstein, Bill Oakley, and George Meyer cameo as members of the Itchy & Scratchy creative staff.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: A Running Gag involving Roy:
- When Bart and Lisa learn through the newspaper that a new character named Poochie is going to be added to The Itchy & Scratchy Show:Lisa: Adding a new character is often a desperate attempt to boost low ratings.
Roy: (walks in) Yo, yo! How's it hangin' everybody?!
Marge: Morning, Roy!
Homer: Yeah, hi, Roy.
- When Homer resolves to salvage Poochie:Homer: I won't let them treat Poochie like dirt anymore just because he's the new guy.
Roy: Right on, Mr. S!
Homer: Put a sock in it, Roy.
- When Poochie is killed off:Bart: Tough break, Dad. I guess people just weren't ready for Poochie. Maybe in a few years.
Roy: (walks up to the family) Good news, everybody. I'm moving into my own apartment with two sexy ladies.
Marge: Oh, then I guess this is good-bye, Roy. Maybe we'll see you in a few years.
- When Bart and Lisa learn through the newspaper that a new character named Poochie is going to be added to The Itchy & Scratchy Show:
- Magic Realism: The focus group leader asks the kids if this is what they want out of Itchy & Scratchy when said kids answer with equal excitement to two proposed premises — Itchy and Scratchy dealing with real life problems, or Itchy and Scratchy becoming Denser and Wackier. The response to the combination of the two scenarios is lukewarm.Milhouse: And also, you should win things by watching.
- Put on a Bus: Roy's fate.
- Remember the New Guy: The Simpsons' house guest, Roy.
- Also parodied in the Itchy and Scratchy Show.Itchy: Look, Scratchy. It's Poochie.
Scratchy: What was his name? I forgot.
- Also parodied in the Itchy and Scratchy Show.
- Self-Deprecation: The show's writers rip on the hardcore fans and the network, but they don't let themselves off any easier. The Itchy And Scratchy writers are Ink Suit Actors of the real-life writers, and are depicted as lazy and inept. Marge even Lampshades that it's their fault the Poochie character sucks so much:Marge: It's not your fault, Homer. It's those lousy writers. They make me madder than a...yak in heat!
- Shaggy Dog Story: No pun intended. Homer makes a very elaborate speech, which gets blasted down when the episode featuring this speech gets hastily edited to make it look like Poochie was really an alien who returned to his home planet and died on the way back. Homer poured his heart and soul into supporting something he liked, but no one else did, and, in the end, it was all for nothing.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: Poochie's fate. In fact, the trope was originally named "The Poochie". (Poochie would appear twice more on Itchy & Scratchy, though. In the non-canon Treehouse of Horror segment "The Terror of Tiny Toon" he's promptly hit by a police car as he's skating down the street. In another short, he's at Scratchy's funeral.)
- Spoof Aesop: At the end of the episode, the family and pets gather around Homer, who says, "Well, I guess I learned my lesson. The thing is, I lost creative control of the project... and I forgot to ask for any money. Well, live and learn."
- Take That! and Biting-the-Hand Humor: The entire episode is a burn against TV executives who use cheap gimmicks to keep long-running shows fresh (including putting in committee-created "cool" characters, like Poochie and the Simpsons' unexplained house guest Roy) and the fans who complain when shows either change their dynamic or start to go stale.
- Roy in particular was an explicit reference to Fox at one point having tried to convince the Simpsons writers to add a new character living with the family to "spice up the show".
- The Scrappy: The In-Universe treatment Poochie gets.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In-Universe. The Itchy and Scratchy episode grinds to a halt as Poochie acts all cool and in-your-face.Milhouse: [crying] When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?!
- Trivially Obvious: After the screening party, Carl tries to compliment Homer's work.Carl: Yeah, you should be very proud, Homer. You, uh... got a beautiful home here.
- Unpleasable Fanbase: Parodied.Focus Group Guy: Now, how many of you want to see Itchy and Scratchy face real life problems, like the ones you face every day?
Kids: Me! Me! I would!
Focus Group Guy: And how many of you would like to see just the opposite? Getting into far-out situations involving robots and magic powers?
Kids: Me! Me! I would!
Focus Group Guy: (beat) So... You want a realistic down-to-Earth show... that's completely off the wall... and swarming with magic robots?
Kids: Yeah, that sounds good.
Milhouse: And also, you should win things by watching!
- Wag the Director: Homer attempts this in his last ditch effort to save Poochie.
- Writers Cannot Do Math: Invoked in-universe. In his rap Poochie says he's "Half Joe Camel and a third Fonzarelli." Which only adds up to 83.3 percent.
- Writers Suck: During the conception of the Poochy character, Roger Meyers asks the writers to come up with a more proactive name than "Poochie". The writers just slack off and kept the name.