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Recap / The Simpsons S4 E1 "Kamp Krusty"

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Episode - 8F24
First Aired - 9/24/1992
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One of the series' most iconic episodes, notable for being one of three episodes considered for the plot of The Simpsons Movie, as well as being the last episode animated by Klasky-Csupo (in production order).

The episode starts with Bart imagining the last day of school being a perfect day and then heading down for breakfast. He and Lisa are both excited because they will be going to Kamp Krusty the very next day, a new summer camp that, as its name suggests, is supposedly run by Bart's hero, Krusty the Clown, and whose advertising promises quite a number of fun activities. However, they must both make C-averages.

Lisa gets all As ... and one B (much to her dismay), but Bart predictably gets all Ds. He tries to smooth-talk Mrs. Krabappel into changing his report card, but she refuses. He tries changing it from Ds to As on the way home, but even Homer isn't dumb enough to fall for his pathetic attempt. However, because Homer doesn't want Bart hanging around all summer, he permits him to go. The next day, Bart, Lisa and most of the other child characters on the series get on the bus for six weeks of fun at Kamp Krusty. When they're gone, the parents immediately start cheering and celebrating the thought of their kids being gone for six weeks and being able to do stuff they normally could not with kids around.

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But when the kids arrive, Krusty is nowhere to be found. It turns out, the real owner of the camp is a man named Mr. Black (voiced by Harry Shearer), who merely bought the rights to use Krusty's name and image for the camp to attract kids and the clown has no actual association with the camp. But this is not all that turned out to be false advertising. Instead of a fun and big budgeted summer camp, titular Kamp Krusty is low-budget, unsafe dystopia-like one, whose only purpose save for making wallets in arts and crafts to sell, is just to torture kids. Making matters worse, their counselors are none other than other than Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney! The cabins are vermin infested, cold and locked tight from the outside at night, the lakes too dangerous to swim in, the kids roast pinecones instead — a twisted shadow of marshmallows, their nature hikes end in disaster, the infirmary staff members are more interested in smoking than tending to injured campers, they're fed nothing but gruel which sometimes has living animals inside of it, they do not get to write any letters to their parents for obvious reasons, their presents from home are taken, and they are forced to sing a song praising the camp. Mr. Black and the bullies on the other hand enjoy a life of luxury while the kids suffer miserably.

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However, despite all the aforementioned horrors the kids are put through, Mr Black manages to keep them largely complacent on the false pretense that he is only temporarily assuming Krusty's role as camp manager, and that Krusty will be coming in a few weeks. However, it soon becomes apparent to everyone except Bart that this is not the case, and it's officially confirmed (to the audience at least), by showing him on a trip to London, unaware of the camp's true nature. Lisa does manage to sneak a letter to Marge and Homer, warning them about the camp, but they just think she's exaggerating because she's homesick, and it looks as thought all is lost for the unhappy campers.

Eventually, likely to get more work out of the kids, Mr. Black hires Barney Gumble to come dress up as Krusty for the kids. But with their spirits completely broken, all they can do is blindly wonder why "Krusty" is acting "so funny". However, Bart — who had staked his entire sanity on Krusty's arrival — finally snaps and leads a revolution to overthrow the camp Lord of the Flies style. Mr. Black and the counselors hightail it and the kids seize full control of the camp. This makes news, and Homer loses his newly grown hair and regains the weight he lost when he sees Bart is the leader. Because of the camp crisis, Krusty is called back from England and comes to the camp. After learning from Bart what he and the other children went through because of him, he genuinely apologizes to the kids, claiming that Mr. Black offered him a huge sum of money for the trademark rights. To make it up to them, he takes the kids on a trip to the "happiest place on Earth" — Tijuana, Mexico. They have a wonderful time there.

This episode contains examples of:

  • An Aesop: Don't sell your name to something that you know nothing about. Not only could it bring you bad publicity, but it also could hurt those you care about.
  • Adults Are Useless: Lisa tries to warn Marge and Homer about Kamp Krusty (even pointing out that all communications have been cut off by the evil counselors so she's afraid the letter won't reach them and finishing the letter with her literal pleading for help), but they just brush it off as homesickness.
  • Bad Boss: Mr. Black does very little work, instead relying on the services of the school bullies Jimbo Jones, Dolph and, Kearney, who run the "Kamp Krusty" with an iron fist, to "crush their spirits".
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • At one point, we see Homer giving Marge a massage on a hill. When she says they'll miss the fireworks, Homer says they have all the fireworks they need right here (implying that they're going to have sex). He then pulls back a blanket to reveal a picnic basket stuffed with fireworks (which are probably Bart's).
    • Krusty decides to make it up to the kids by taking them on a two-week trip to the happiest place on earth ... Tijuana.
  • The B Grade: Lisa has trouble accepting her report card had one B+ instead of only As. She goes into a panic attack and grabs Mrs. Hoover's arm hard enough while muttering that she needs to rectify this that Hoover says Lisa is going to break her arm.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Bart, being the big fan of Krusty the Clown that he is, really wanted to go to Kamp Krusty, even going so far as to alter his report card to do so. Homer decides to let him go anyway because he "didn't want him hanging around the house all summer." When he got there, however, Kamp Krusty turned out to be Camp Nightmare.
  • Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: Homer listening for lottery numbers on the radio:
    Homer: D'oh! D'oh! Woo-hoo! D'oh!
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    Bart: Krusty, this camp was a nightmare. They fed us gruel, they forced us to make wallets for export, and one of the campers was eaten by a bear!
    Krusty: Oh my God! [Sobbing]
    Krusty: Was it a nice hat?
    Bart: Oh, yeah.
    Krusty: Oh my God! [Sobbing]
  • Broken Pedestal: Bart finally loses faith in Krusty when they try to pass Barney off as him and it's quite epic. Of course it gets better after he sees Krusty's Heel Realization when he finally shows up.
  • Brutal Honesty: Bart admits freely he doesn't think much of Homer's intelligence.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: It was never really the plan for Krusty to come to the camp eventually. When Bart realizes this, he attacks.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Mr. Black gives a toast saying "Gentlemen, to evil!"
  • Cassandra Truth: Homer and Marge think Lisa is being overly dramatic about how she describes Kamp Krusty, not knowing she is right.
    Marge: She complains now, but when we go to pick her up, she won't want to leave.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: While the cabin is caught in a Wizard of Oz-style tornado and the other campers are hanging on for dear life, Bart says in a normal voice, "Lisa, I've been thinking it over. Next summer, I'm getting a job."
  • Comically Missing the Point: Homer and Marge interpret Lisa's letter for help (which outlines how brutal the camp is) as typical homesickness.
  • Continuity Nod: Krusty's pacemaker, first mentioned in the season one episode, "Krusty Gets Busted", gets referenced again when Lisa notices the scar on Krusty's chest (among other things), confirming that he's not another impostor like they suspected.
  • Daydream Surprise: The episode begins with Bart asking Mrs. Krabappel to alter his grades so he can go to Kamp Krusty. After a few seconds' hesitation, she agrees. Then Principal Skinner, via the intercom, asks the students if they've brought their "implements of destruction". Cue the school being destroyed, until we cut to Bart in bed. Bart wakes up initially disappointed, until he learns it really is the last day of school.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: The final lines of Kamp Krusty's song.
    ''We will always love Kamp Krusty,
    A registered trademark of the Krusty Corporation,
    All rights reserved!''
  • Do Wrong, Right: When Bart alters his all-D-minus report card to show A-pluses, Lisa just laughs and asks why he didn't go for something plausible. When Bart shows his report card to Homer, Homer tells him, in a disappointed tone, that Ds can be made to look like Bs easily. "You just got greedy."
  • Dream Intro: The episode opens with Bart in class on the day before summer vacation where Skinner makes an announcement over the speakers to tell them to take out their hardware tools to destroy the school, leading to a montage of the kids destroying the school as "School's Out" by Alice Cooper plays in the background. The dream ends with Bart destroying the school with a wrecking ball and then being woken up and having to attend the last day of school for real (though Bart is still happy about the prospect).
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: One runs the fat camp.
    Drill sergeant: All right you piles of pan-drippings, I wanna see Crisco coming out of those pores! We're not leaving till this Christmas HAM gives me a pull-up.
  • Enemy Eats Your Lunch: Kearney eats the jellybean cookies Marge sent to Bart and Lisa, then he tells Lisa they were disgusting.
  • Every Man Has His Price: Krusty's only excuse is that the camp organizers offered a huge sum for the use of his likeness, but he's very ashamed of what the camp turned out to be.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Krusty is the type of corporate whore that would sponsor anything (and that is anything), no matter how horrifyingly unsafe, as long as he got paid for it. He still burst out in tears and tried to make things right when he heard how badly children were treated on the titular camp, including a child being eaten by a bear (although he went there because they had taken over it Apocalypse Now-style, and still burst into tears when Bart corrected himself and said that it was only the child's hat that had been eaten — it was a Nice Hat, though).
  • Faux Affably Evil: Mr. Black never raises his voice and always acts in a professional, if boring, dour and soulless, way. He's still a Card-Carrying Villain who revels in his evil.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: The bully counselors consider one of the campers a troublemaker just for coughing.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: As the bus enters Kamp Krusty, the bridge it drives over collapses, an indication of what's in store for the children.
  • For the Evulz: Everything Mr. Black does boils down to this.
    Mr. Black: Gentlemen, to evil.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: Miss Hoover gives Lisa a B+ in conduct simply because she feels Lisa needs a blotch on her record. Lisa's resultant Freak Out! causes her to injure Hoover.
  • Hong Kong Dub: The introductory video to Kamp Krusty is clearly dubbed over whenever Krusty mentions ' Mr Black'.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Homer telling Bart that if you want something out of life, you have to work for it ... and then telling him to be quiet, so he can hear the latest lottery numbers.
  • In the Style of...: They couldn't get the rights to Frank Sinatra's version of "South of the Border" for the ending, so they recorded a new version of the song for the show, with veteran session singer Gene Merlino doing a Sinatra-style vocal.
  • Jerkass: The parents, who celebrate the minute their children are out of sight. One of them even shouts "Don't come back." And especially Mr. Black and all of his camp counselors.
  • Karma Houdini: Aside from the camp being overthrown, Mr. Black along with Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney appear to face no real repercussions for their actions (although aside from a few appearances in the comics, Mr. Black never appears again in the series).
  • Kick the Dog: Mrs. Krabappel takes joy in sabotaging Bart's efforts to go to Kamp Krusty.
    Mrs. Krabappel: Have a D-lightful summer!
  • Knighting: Krusty is in the middle of receiving one of these when he gets the phone call about Kamp Krusty. (Note this is possible for Americans in real life, they just can't use the titles Sir or Dame.)
  • Logo Joke: The Gracie Films logo is different: the woman's shush is silent, replaced by a Mariachi version of the logo's jingle, finished off by a group of men — presumably the show's male voice actors — saying "Olé!"
  • Meaningful Name: Mr. Black has black hair, a black suit and a black heart.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Krusty, when he sees what he allowed to transpire in the camp he authorized.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Mr. Black!
  • Nice Hat: According to Bart, one of the campers had one of these that was eaten by a bear. Krusty reacts to this with the same gravitas as when he thought the kid was eaten by a bear.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Mr. Black was president of Euro-Krustyland until it blew up. We don't find out how that happened or if he was involved.
    • We see Krusty being asked to keep it down at Wimbledon and apologizing to HM The Queen and then she's suddenly about to knight him when we see him next.
    • Maybe Krusty saved Her Majesty from choking.
  • No Sympathy: When Milhouse collapsed during the nature hike, Kearney jabbed a stick in him to get up. When Milhouse tried to tell him that a snake bit him, Kearney just tells him to get back in line.
  • Not Hyperbole: Kent Brockman saying, without hyperbole, that the Kamp Krusty revolt is a million times worse than the conflicts he's reported on in Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
  • Off-Model:
    • Ralph Wiggum looks skinny and misshapen during the scene of Lisa handing out care packages and mail to the campers. His movements also seem cartoonier than usual as well. This can be justified in two ways: (a) Ralph was in the fat camp and his skinny, misshapen look is from lost weight, or (b) the animators (either overseas or domestic) screwed up and didn't have time to change it.
    • Krusty's face, when he reacts to Bart telling him how awful the camp was, as seen in the image at the top of this page.
  • Oh, Crap!: The expression on the kid's face when they meet the counselors.
  • Photo Montage: The episode ends with a montage of photos after Krusty takes the kids to Tijuana, and participating in acts that kids probably shouldn't be doing, such as watching a cockfight, Bart getting a tattoo, or Bart and Lisa watching Krusty passed out drunk on a bottle of tequila...not to mention Krusty running after the bus (in a rather cartoonish manner) as it leaves to head home.
  • Pinch Me: Subverted. When Bart wakes up from his wonderful dream of the school being destroyed, Homer informs him that it's the last day of school:
    Bart: How do I know this isn't some beautiful dream, too?
    [Homer smacks him in the head with a rolled-up newspaper]
    Bart: Ow! Y'know, a pinch is more traditional!
  • Rage Breaking Point: Mr. Black trying to pass off Barney as Krusty, in lieu of dinner, is what finally pushes Bart into action and revolt.
  • Rule of Cool: Bart's argument for renaming the camp "Camp Bart" instead of "Camp Freedom."
  • Sanity Slippage: Bart, after too long in Kamp Krusty.
  • Second Face Smoke: A grouchy nurse at Kamp Krusty does this to a kid with a broken arm at the infirmary, after striking a match to light her cigarette on the boy's cast.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Kearney playing the drums while the children are working on their wallets is a reference to Roman slavery ships, where one the guards beat a drum to add tempo to the rowers' movements (and specifically to Ben-Hur).
    • Lisa giving a letter to a 19th-century-style horseman is a reference to The French Lieutenant's Woman.
    • The children taking over Kamp Krusty and raising their own society is a reference to Lord of the Flies. There's even a pig head mounted on a stake.
    • The camp post-revolt is a reference to Apocalypse Now.
    • Krusty yells, "Where were you when I sang at Farm Aid?" This alludes to Jackie Mason shouting at a detractor, "Where were you when I marched in the Civil Rights Movement?"
    • A parent shouting, "Don't come back," is a reference to Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown where Lucy Van Pelt says the line.
  • Shower of Love: Homer and Marge have sex in the shower during their time away from the kids.
  • Skinny Dipping: Bart asserts his intention to do this at camp when Marge asks him where his bathing suit is.
  • Summer Campy: A darker example of this trope.
    • Fat Camp: Kamp Krusty has one of these as well.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Mr. Black notably chokes up once Bart sees that the "Krusty" he's brought in is really just Barney.
    Bart: That's not Krusty the Klown!
    Mr. Black: What do you think? I slapped a clown suit on some wino? [Laughs nervously]
  • We All Die Someday: Played for very dark laughs as Bart and Lisa lose more and more hope.
    Lisa: I think I'm going to die, Bart!
    Bart: We're all going to die, Lisa.
    Lisa: I meant soon!
    Bart: So did I.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The camp counselors go missing after the kids take over the camp. The bullies presumably made their way back to Springfield, but Mr. Black is never seen again.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: While the kids are away, Homer loses weight and his hair starts growing back. Then he sees Bart in charge of Kamp Krusty. His hair instantly falls out and his stomach bloats.

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