Series / The Tracey Ullman Show

The Tracey Ullman Show was one of the startup FOX network's inaugural programs, premiering on April 5, 1987 and running for four seasons.

Hosted by Tracey Ullman, the series was a Variety Show that featured comedy skits and musical numbers. Among the players in her troupe were Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Sam McMurray and Joseph Malone, as well as a slew of guest stars. The show also had Paula Abdul as its choreographer.

Among the recurring characters Ullman played included:
  • Kay Clark: An timid, Cockney-accented office worker who tends to her sick mother. She later appeared on Ullman's HBO series Tracey Takes On...
  • Francesca McDowell: A teenage girl living with her father Dave (Castellaneta) and his partner William (McMurray).
  • Kiki Howard Smith: An Australian professional golfer.
  • Summer Storm: A Los Angeles dick jockey.

Of course, the reason most people today know this show even existed is because of a series of animated skits that spun off into a little series called The Simpsons.

Tropes:

  • Art Evolution: The Simpsons' designs were initially crude and very prone to being Off Model (due to the artists basically tracing over Matt Groening's rough storyboards), but they were eventually streamlined.
  • Dartboard of Hate: In one short, Homer forces the kids to play with a punching bag and they get into it by drawing his face on it.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Simpsons.
  • Dung Fu: The Simpsons short "Zoo Story" has Homer getting a face full of dung when he teases some monkeys.
  • Eat the Evidence: In the sketch "Shoplifting", Bart gets busted for trying to steal candy bars and is taken into security. Bart is left alone with the goods for a moment and he eats them before the guard comes back, expecting not to be held accountable without evidence. He then looks in a mirror and sees chocolate smeared all over his face and hands.
    Bart: Uh, is it too late to make a full confession?
  • Exiled to the Couch: In the Francesca sketch "I Hate Paris", William is furious that Dave is going to France without him and opts to spend the night in the bathtub.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral"
    • An animated sketch involves the Simpsons going to a funeral for their Uncle Hubert. Bart is excited to see a dead body, but turns green when he finally sees it.
    • The sketch "Goodbye, Butchie" features a funeral for Summer Storm's beloved dog. She didn't take the death well.
  • Funny Answering Machine: The sketch "Answering Machine" involves a sad-sounding woman being criticized for her machine recording (with one caller, a wrong number, referring a suicide hotline), so she decides to record an elaborate song message with a studio band to the tune of "Something's Coming". Then when she tries to listen to her messages the next day, she gets a series of tones and beeps, indicating that callers got fed up from waiting and hung up.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • In an early Simpsons short, Bart and Lisa argue about changing the channel, and then get angry when Maggie changes the channel.
    • In another short, Homer says to Bart, "You watch your mouth, you little smartass!"
  • Mock Cousteau: One Simpsons sketch has Bart pretending to be "Bart Simpseau" while taking a bath.
  • Multi-Part Episode: The Simpsons short "Maggie in Peril" was a two-part sketch.
  • No Name Given: In the credits, Homer and Marge were referred to as "Mr. Simpson" and "Mrs. Simpson".
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: The Simpsons were given their own spot in the title sequence in Season 3. They were removed the following season, as they got their own show during that season.
  • Shell Game: A Simpsons short involves Bart using this on his parents to avoid getting in trouble for taking a cookie.
  • The Shrink: The sketch "The Little Neurotic from Down Under" involved Kiki seeing a psychiatrist for her fear of flying.
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: "Go home! Go home!"
  • Society Is to Blame: In the Simpsons short "Grampa and the Kids", Lisa blames Bart for Grampa's apparent death, and Bart instead claims that "society killed Grampa".
  • Spin-Off: The Simpsons, probably one of the most famous examples in television history.
  • Theme Tune Cameo: In one of the first Simpsons shorts, Maggie changes the TV channel and the show's theme song, "You're Thinking Right", can be heard coming from it.
  • This Is Not a Drill: One memorable Simpsons sketch has Homer repeatedly waking up the family, saying that it's World War III, and taking them down to the fallout shelter before berating them for not making it sooner. They eventually turn the tables on him by making up their own drill and locking him in the shelter for the night.
  • Vacation Episode: The sketch "Kay on Vacation" involves Kay going to a beachside resort and not exactly fitting in with other vacationers.
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