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Recap / The Simpsons S7 E10 "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular"

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Original air date: 12/3/1995

Production code: 3F31 note 

The third Simpsons Clip Show, albeit presented as a retrospective/anniversary special rather than as a normal episode with the characters reminiscing (as seen with "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show" and "Another Simpsons Clip Show").

Troy McClure, whom you may remember from such Fox Network specials as Alien Nose Job and Five Fabulous Weeks of The Chevy Chase Show, opens the program with a look at creator Matt Groening — depicted as a crazed, right-wing Southerner who came up with the Simpsons to pay off his gambling debts — and clips from the original The Tracey Ullman Show shorts. After that, there's:

  • Fake trivia in the commercial break bumpers (one about the Freeze-Frame Bonus during the opening credits when Maggie is put through the grocery store checkout scanner and one about which two popular characters died in the past year)note 
  • Viewer mail questions about Homer's stupidity, how long it takes to make an episode, and Smithers' ambiguous sexuality.
  • Real deleted scenes, including Krusty getting cancelled after his arrest for trying to sell a pornographic photo book to minors in "Krusty Gets Kancelled" (and a subsequent scene where Krusty is told his show is canceled and will be replaced with a hemorrhoid infomercial, with Krusty begging to play either a hemorrhoid sufferer or one of the "After" guys); Homer's head being used as a bowling ball in "The Devil and Homer Simpson"note ; Homer eating food from his mom's undelivered care packages and talking about how he's taking the nuclear plant down from the inside in "Mother Simpson", Apu showing a Bollywood film to The Simpsons in "Homer and Apu"; Mr. Burns using a robotic Richard Simmons to scare Homer away in "Burns' Heir"; and a montage of alternate scenes made for "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part Two" to keep the real shooter's identity secret until broadcast, presenting everyone from Moe to Tito Puente to Santa's Little Helper as the culprit. This is followed by a complete alternate ending in which Smithers turned out to be the culprit all along (which would have conflicted with the plot point about the attempted murderer being someone having Simpson family DNA).

McClure closes the show with the real reason people want to watch the show: "Hardcore nudity!" (albeit PG-rated hardcore nudity).

This episode contains examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Troy McClure's most prominent role up to this point, though a proper spotlight episode would come soon after.
  • Art Shift: The intentionally bad drawings of Grampa and Krusty that look as if a kindergartener drew them.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Troy McClure's self-introduction (see above) mocks some of Fox's most embarrassing efforts of The '90s — the Documentary of Lies Alien Autopsy, and The Chevy Chase Show, the latter of which was a late night talk show in 1993 that lasted less than two months.
  • Bollywood: Parodied in the "Homer and Apu" deleted scene.
  • Brick Joke: The deleted scenes feature one that didn't make it into "Treehouse of Horror IV", not even in Orphaned Referenceinvoked form. In the scene where Bart wants to sell his soul to the devil for a Formula 1 racing car, Marge looks up Lionel Hutz in a phone book, and sees that he's guaranteeing "cases won in 30 minutes or your pizza's free." After Marge succeeds in winning Homer's soul back, Hutz returns after abandoning the trial and defeatedly offers the promised free pizza to the Simpsons (only to reveal that that pizza box he's offering is empty when he learns the Simpsons won the trial after all).
  • Clip Show: Albeit with even more Lampshade Hanging of the concept than usual for this show, and the only Simpsons clip show that doesn't have the Simpsons family sitting around and remembering past adventures. Notably, the producers tried to avoid the usual clip show tropes as much as possible, with the inclusion of previously-unreleased deleted scenes and the rare Tracey Ullman shorts (which, pilot short aside, aren't even available on DVD outside of this clip show). As McClure points out, Act Two's Deleted Scenes montage is arguably a Defied Trope.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In response to a question about Smithers, Troy shows a montage of his Ambiguously Gay moments... then states he's simply an unmarried white male, presently residing in Springfield.
  • Couch Gag: A montage of Couch Gags from "A Streetcar Named Marge", "Lisa the Beauty Queen", "Marge vs. the Monorail", "Homer's Triple Bypass", "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk", "Homer Goes to College", "A Star is Burns", "Homer the Great", "Homer Badman", "Lisa's Rival", "Bart's Comet", and "Lisa's First Word".
  • Cultural Translation: In the Latin American dub, the robotic Richard Simmons is instead called the robotic Lorenzo Lamas.
  • Domestic-Only Cartoon: To date, this is the only episode to be fully animated in America, with no Korean outsourcing involved. This is because there was very little new footage that needed animating, and what little was required was just the outside shot of the Springfield Amphitheater (with the sign gag that the next day's event is an "Alternate Lifestyle Prom"), and all the scenes involving Troy sitting, standing and talking to the audience. The episode was also digitally colored in America at USAnimation in North Hollywood.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Matt Groening is depicted in this episode as a crazed, bald Southerner with a gun. In later episodes, Groening is depicted as an Ink-Suit Actor who heavily resembles the real Groening in terms of both appearance and personality.
  • Exact Words: The announcer asks which two popular Simpsons characters died in the past year, with the answer being Bleeding Gums Murphy (who died in season 6's "Round Springfield") and Dr. Marvin Monroe (who died some time prior to "Who Shot Mr. Burns?"), but it's incorrect because "they were never popular."note 
  • Fanservice: During the ending montage, the clip from "Grampa vs Sexual Inadequacy" shows off more of nude Marge than the original episode did.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Troy, under Groening's supposed insistence, gives credit to the staff behind The Simpsons... and shows a two second scroll of names that whizz up the screen. The names are actual staff members.
  • Frivolous Summoning: In the "Treehouse of Horror IV" deleted scene, Bart pretends to want to sell his soul for a Formula One racer just to mess with Devil Flanders.
  • Get Out!: "Matt Groening"'s reaction to a surprise interview;
    Groening: GIT OUTTA MAH OFFICE! (shoots into the camera)
  • Meet Your Early-Installment Weirdness: McClure shows the first of the Tracey Ullman era shorts and, after it's over, looks confused before quickly saying that the Simpsons haven't changed a bit since then.
  • Milestone Celebration: Parodied In-Universe with the arbitrary 138.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The end credits showing different scenes of various male characters being naked. And one of Marge, but that was somewhat unintentional as it was missing a cell layer that was in the original from Grampa vs Sexual Inadequacy.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Matt Groening was drawn to look like John Ford, James L. Brooks is drawn like J.P. Morgan, and Sam Simon is drawn like Howard Hughes.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: The Simpsons are described as "America's favorite non-prehistoric cartoon family."
  • Self-Deprecation: The whole episode runs on this.
    • Groening is portrayed as an old, bald, gun-toting, crazed, alcoholic Southerner who shoots at the camera crew who tries to interview him.
    • Troy's reaction to the earliest episode is stunned silence.
    • The deliberately child-like drawings of Krusty and Grampa (which look nothing like how they were depicted during the Tracey Ullman era) are a jab at the animation quality of the early shorts.
    • At the end of the deleted scenes, Troy's shown to have fallen asleep, and has to be prodded with a stick to wake up.
    Troy: If that's what they cut out, what they leave in must be pure gold!
    • After recalling Mr. Burns was shot by "the baby", he goes apathetically silent for a while. He then coughs to cover it.
    • A subtle one is Troy reading letters from fans, which all seem to be written by renowned doctors and professors. According to the DVD commentary, the joke is that no one with such a successful career would actually take time to watch, let alone be interested, in the show.
  • Sold His Soul for a Donut: There's a clip cut from "Treehouse of Horror IV" where Bart says he'd sell his soul for a Formula 1 racecar. The Devil immediately appears and says he can arrange that, but Bart changes his mind.
  • Special Edition Title: This episode not only features a Cold Open featuring Troy McClure setting up the episode's premise, but also an Episode Title Card replacing the actual title screen. It also omits the transition through the "P" in "Simpsons" (since the title uses the marketing logo rather than the usual in-show logo).
  • Take That!: There's one to the O.J. Simpson criminal trial's jury, when it's noted that the Smithers-as-culprit ending to "Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part Two" could not work because it would require ignoring "all the Simpson DNA evidence",note  which was what the jury was accused of doing.
    And that would be downright nutty.
  • Unusual Euphemism: In the Smithers-as-culprit alternate ending to "Who Shot Mr. Burns?", Burns says that Smithers was "drunk as a lemur".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The show promises "old favorites you can't see in syndication"... and fails to deliver.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The episode claims that Springfield is “the entertainment capital of this state.”