Recap: The Simpsons S 8 E 24 The Simpsons Spin Off Showcase

Episode - 4F20
First Aired - 5/11/1997

A Three Shorts episode.

Troy McClure reveals that Fox is desperately trying to create new shows for their Sunday night line-up. At the time, the only Sunday night fare on FOX was Melrose Place, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, The X-Files, and whatever forgettable flavor-of-the-month sitcom/drama/TV special FOX was pushing. The live-action shows Martin, Married... with Children, and Living Single were either on their way to being canceled or already gone, and this episode was made before the days of Futurama, Seth Mac Farlane's trionote , Bob's Burgers, and all the live-action shows that became critical darlings and/or the new standard of episodic comedy, such as Malcolm in the Middle, The Mindy Project, New Girl, Raising Hope, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the criminally screwed-over Arrested Development, and Will Forte's The Last Man on Earth.

Initially, FOX asked Matt Groening and his crew from The Simpsons to come up with a brand-new show. They didn't come up with anynote , but they did supply three pilots for Simpsons spinoffs:

Chief Wiggum P.I. (Police action shows from the 1970s and 1980s) — The corrupt, now-former sheriff of Springfield, Clancy Wiggum, has gone into business for himself in New Orleans with Seymour Skinner (aching to return to his Big Easy roots) along for the ride. In this episode, Chief Wiggum's son gets kidnapped by a Southern black man and Clancy and Skinner must find him.

The Love-matic Grampa (Cheesy fantasy sitcoms of The Sixties, My Mother, the Car in particular) — Having "got lost along the way" to Heaven, Abe Simpson's spirit now inhabits the "love tester" machine at Moe's Tavern and gives the bartender tips on how to win over women.

The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour (Variety shows of The Seventies, specifically The Brady Bunch Hour and Laugh-In): The Simpsons, minus Lisa — who declined to participate and is replaced by a blonde teenager — host a cornball 1960s sketch comedy show, with special guest star Tim Conway.

McClure ends the show with a mock preview of the upcoming ninth season, which will include magic powers, multiple weddings, long-lost triplets, and Homer befriending a tiny, green space alien named Ozmodiar that only he can see note .

This episode contains examples of:

  • Acrofatic: Big Daddy rather handily escapes from the parade while being chased by Wiggum and Skinner.
  • The Big Easy: The setting of Chief Wiggum P.I., and according to its backstory, Skinner's birthplace. Wiggum uses two other nicknames for New Orleans: "Sweet Lady Gumbo" and "Old Swampy".
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The end of The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour:
    Homer: I wish our special guest Tim Conway didn't have to leave so soon.
    Tim Conway: I'm still here. Fox wouldn't spring for a decent hotel room.
    Marge: (laughs) He's just kidding. We'd like to thank Fox and the good people at Budget Lodge.
  • Brainless Beauty: The replacement Lisa seems to have been held back in school... multiple times.
    Fake Lisa: I'm Lisa, peppy, blonde, and stunning! Sophomore prom queen five years running! Go-o-o-o, Lisa!
  • Calling Card: Played with in Chief Wiggum P.I.. Near the beginning, while Wiggum and Skinner are discussing about their current situation, a skull is thrown through the window, and the duo realise they have an enemy. Later on, another skull was left behind after Ralph was kidnapped. Cue Skinner: "Big Daddy's trademark calling card... it's right here inside the skull."
  • Chair Reveal: Played with in Chief Wiggum P.I., as we see Big Daddy run into his office and get into position so he could pull off this trope when Wiggum comes in shortly after.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The Framing Device takes place in the "Museum of TV and Television".
  • Dinner with the Boss: The beaver sketch in The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour.
  • Expository Theme Song: The Love-matic Grampa.
  • Fat, Sweaty Southerner in a White Suit: Big Daddy
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Beaver Bart taking advantage of the fact he lives in a dam to be able to say "dam door".
  • Great Gazoo: Ozmodiar is a parody, and the original Trope Namer for this trope.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Quite a lot in this episode.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: And the Simpson family makes their cameo in Chief Wiggum P.I. at a Mardi Gras parade.
  • Laugh Track: The Love-matic Grampa has one.
  • Mandatory Line: Lisa only has one line in this episode, and it's during her appearance in Chief Wiggum P.I.
  • Required Spin Off Crossover: Parodied by the family showing up in New Orleans in Chief Wiggum, P.I. and Homer dropping by the bar in The Love-matic Grampa.
  • Special Edition Title: This is one of the few episodes between the first season and the high-definition episodes to not have the traditional opening with Bart writing lines and/or a Couch Gag.
  • Stylistic Suck: All three segments are deliberately badly scripted bland and cheesy TV spin-off shows (though if you read some of the reviews on snpp.com, the viewers apparently saw the Stylistic Suck as a sign that the show was falling apart). The idea of "The Love-matic Grampa", for instance, is an obvious parody of the awful concept of My Mother The Car.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour.
  • The Other Darrin: In universe and parodied with Lisa in The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour. Specifically, she's a parody of the fake Jan from The Brady Bunch Variety Hour
  • The Parody: The spin-off shows are mostly spoofs of Miami Vice, Magnum, P.I., Starsky & Hutch, My Mother The Car, Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, The Osmonds, The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, the Smothers Brothers and The Flintstones.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Big Daddy has this reaction when he is spotted by Wiggum and Skinner and has to run.
    Big Daddy: Lord have mercy, how I wish I weren't so fat.
  • To Be Continued Right Now: "Chief Wiggum P.I. will return... right now!"
  • Variety Show: The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Parodied in Chief Wiggum P.I., in which Big Daddy swims away through the river... slowly.
    Skinner: He's gradually getting away, Chief.
    Wiggum: Ah, let him go. I have the feeling we'll meet again, each and every week. Always in more sexy and exciting ways.
  • What's a Henway?: In The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour, when Homer learns that their special guest is Tim Conway:
    Homer: What's a Tim Conway?
    Tim Conway: Oh, about 120 pounds.