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Recap / The Simpsons S8 E13: "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious"

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Original air date: 2/7/1997 (produced in 1996)

Production code: 3G03

In this Musical Episode and Simpsonsized Mary Poppins parody, a British nanny known as "Shary Bobbins" is hired to shape up the Simpson family after Marge begins losing her hair to stress, only to learn that the lessons she teaches won't stick if she leaves — or stays.

This is the second of four episodes produced by Al Jean and Mike Reiss instead of the current showrunner (in this case, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein). Jean would return as showrunner starting in season 13.


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This episode contains examples of:

  • Aesop Amnesia: An extreme case—The Simpsons forget everything Shary taught them the moment she leaves the house.
  • Anachronism Stew: Referenced when Homer announces he quit the Civil War Recreation Society he's a member of to pay for the nanny.
    Moe (wearing a Union military uniform): All right, Homer's out. We gotta find a new General Ambrose Burnside.
    Barney (wearing an Abe Lincoln costume): I'm not too crazy about our Stonewall Jackson.
    Apu (steps out of the bathroom dressed like a British Raj military officer): The South shall come again!
  • Babysitter from Hell: Kearney would have been this had he been hired. His only lines during his job interview are him saying that he will beat up kids and asking Marge where they keep the liquor.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Mr. Burns says "D'oh!" when he is struck by lightning.
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  • Bound and Gagged: Scratchy is tied to a chair and gagged with duct tape in Reservoir Cats. When he and Itchy dance at the end, Scratchy does not even bother to ungag himself.
  • Break the Motivational Speaker: Or "breaking the magical nanny", in this case. It gets bad enough that it drives Bobbins to alcoholism.
  • Brick Joke: At the end of the second act, Grampa accidentally flies off on Bobbins' umbrella. Near the end, Grampa is seen having crashed into the front-yard tree with the umbrella in his hand.
  • Bus Crash: At the end of the episode, Bobbins is sucked into the turbine of an airplane and shredded to pieces as she's floating away. Worst part is, the Simpsons have turned away and Homer is assuring Lisa that they will see her again some time in the future.
  • Call-Back: Krusty's crappy "Mad About Shoe" sketch on "Krusty Komedy Klassics" is similar to the scene on "Brother from the Same Planet" when Krusty appeared on "The Big-Eared Family" on Tuesday Night Live (only instead of grumbling on how the sketch goes on for 12 more minutes, he tells the audience that they're not going to like the "NYPD Shoe" sketch, since it's the same thing as "Mad About Shoe").
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Homer interviews Shary Bobbins:
    Homer: Who was your last employer?
    Shary: Lord and Lady Huffington of Sussex.
    Homer: [whispering] Marge, do we know them?
    Marge: No.
    Homer: Come on! Isn't he the guy I bowl with? The black guy.
    Marge: That's Carl.
    Homer: Oh yeah! [back to Shary] So, you worked for Carl, eh?
  • Couch Gag: The living room is empty, and it turns out that the Simpsons are locked outside with Homer struggling with the locked front door.
  • Cutting Corners: While it's more about general laziness than saving money, Shary Bobbins sings an entire song parodying "A Spoonful of Sugar" about cutting corners. Though at one point in the song, she does sing about Apu increasing his prices for long-expired meat and milk.
  • Deconstruction: Of the Magical Nanny. The problems of the Simpson family go beyond what one caretaker can hope to achieve in a few days, and ultimately, she leaves once the family explains they don't really care enough to change.
  • Downer Ending: Not only does the family lose interest in improving and return to their old bad habits, but Shery ends up being sucked into a turbine.
  • Expy Coexistence: When the Simpsons first meet Shary Bobbins, the following exchange takes place:
    Shary: Hello, I'm Shary Bobbins.
    Homer: Did you say Mary Po...
    Shary: No, I definitely did not. I'm an original creation, like Rickey Rouse, or Monald Muck.
  • Foreshadowing: Shary Bobbins saying the Simpsons will be the death of her rings true when she gets sucked into a jet turbine.
  • Fun with Acronyms: "The Krusty Komedy Klassic" ended up being a negative example, leading to Krusty being Mistaken for Racist.
  • Genre Refugee: Bobbins is a Mary Poppins-esque Magical Nanny, with all of the powers and singing and affirming lessons that it implies. In a Lighter and Softer work, with a family willing to accept change, her antics would have worked. But unfortunately for her, she's serving the Simpsons.
  • Heel Realization: The family does feel bad when they drive Shary to misery. But they don't really change. They just tell her it's kind of futile to expect them to.
  • I Ate WHAT?!:
    Homer: Ooh, I can't get enough of this blood pudding.
    Bart: The secret ingredient is blood.
    Homer: Blood?! Ugh! I'll just stick to the brain and kidney pie, thank you.
  • Imagine Spot: After Marge shows him her hair's falling out, Homer promises Marge he'll show her how to comb her hair over so no one will notice. Marge briefly imagines herself with two hairs like his and promptly bursts into tears.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: An In-Universe version occurs with the Civil War reenactment society, where the almost-totally-bald Homer plays Ambrose Burnside, who was known for his distinctive hairstyle (which was later named "sideburns" after him).
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Shary Bobbins, who definitely isn't based on Mary Poppins but instead is an original creation, like Ricky Rouse and Monald Muck.
  • Lazy Bum: For the sake of the episode, Bart and Lisa become uncharacteristically lazy. So much so that they would rather call Marge while she's at the doctor's office to get them a glass of milk rather than get it themselves. The third act brings it up to eleven by having the whole family acting like this and using Bobbins as their manservant.
  • Mistaken for Racist: The "Krusty Komedy Klassic" special, which also taught Krusty that it's in very bad taste to have the letters "KKK" in white and onstage with you at the Apollo Theater (which is predominantly black, as seen with the variety series, Showtime at the Apollo).note 
  • Mouth Full of Smokes: In a Deleted Scene, Patty and Selma sing a Cut Song, "We Love to Smoke" (parodying "I Love to Laugh"). During the song, Patty stuffs a whole bunch of cigarettes in her mouth.
  • Musical Episode: A pastiche of Mary Poppins.
  • My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: When Bobbins teaches the kids how to clean up their rooms, she actually teaches tricks to make it seems clean. A song describes it as "the American way".
  • Never My Fault: When the Simpsons realize they've "crushed [Shary's] gentle spirit," Bart chides the family with "You people should be ashamed of yourselves!" before going right back to the very activity that broke her (throwing cupcakes at the wall).
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: When Bobbins teaches the kids how to make their rooms seem clean, she says if nobody sees it, nobody gets mad.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Krusty — in the Krusty Komedy Klassic scene — sees the letters “KKK” on stage and knows immediately this won’t end well.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: The Simpson children in this episode are taken very much out-of-character for the plot when they are made far lazier in this episode than they have been shown before or since (especially Lisa).
  • Overly-Long Name: A young Rainier Wolfcastle rattles one off while starring in a bratwurst commercial.
    Mein bratwurst has a first name
    It's F-R-I-T-Z
    Mein bratwurst has a second name
    It's S-C-H-N-A-C-K-E-N-P-F-E-F-F-E-R-H-A-U-S-E-N
  • Parody Sue: Like her inspiration, Shary Bobbins charms everyone she encounters down to antagonists like Nelson and Burns, and even tames the Simpsons themselves. Trouble is, her magic doesn't last past the point where her back is turned.
  • Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: Doubles as an Overly Long Title, an obvious reference to the song "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" from Mary Poppins.
  • Produce Pelting: Krusty does a show at the Apollo Theater called "Krusty Komedy Klassics". When he sees the sign behind him, he realizes in shock that the first letters also spell out the acronym for the "Ku Klux Klan" in a theater filled primarily with a black audience before giggling nervously and saying "That's not good...", which likewise results in the audience pelting things at him. They do something very similar later on in the show, where Krusty tries to do a skit called "Mad About Shoe" (where he makes out with an oversized shoe to the style of the sitcom Mad About You), obviously not finding the joke funny. Krusty also takes note of this and warns them that they certainly won't like the NYPD Shoe skit, as it's overall the same thing.
  • Retraux: The black and white cartoon playing in Homer's head is based on Steamboat Willie.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Bobbins decides to leave when she realizes the Simpsons are more or less satisfied with their dysfunction.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: In the end, nothing changes. The Simpsons are as dysfunctional as ever, they don't care enough to improve themselves, and Marge is still going bald from stress. Bobbins has no choice but to leave them to their misery, and ends up getting sucked into the turbine of an airplane on the way out.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Snap Back: A rather brutal mid-episode example appears at the end of the second act.
  • Song Parody: Being a parody of Mary Poppins, the episode is filled with parodies of songs from said film.
  • Spoof Aesop: From Bobbins' "Cut Every Corner" song: If you have to do an unpleasant task, doing a poor job of it makes it faster and easier.
    • The Simpsons ultimately conclude that they're all happier not attempting to improve themselves or their situation in any way.
  • Status Quo Is God: This is the point of "Happy Just the Way We Are".
  • Take That!: Krusty says he invited Gerald Ford to his show because he couldn't get any of the cool Presidents.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Shary Bobbins: To think I'll never hear their sweet voices again.
    (Homer breaks through the window in a strangling match with Bart)
    Homer: Aah! You little!
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Krusty's reaction when he realizes what the Krusty Komedy Klassic's logo can be misinterpreted as by angry viewers.
  • Way Past the Expiration Date: This episode reveals that Apu sells products that are over a decade old. One of the lines in the "Cut Every Corner" song is "And the clerk who runs the store, can charge a little more, for meat, (for meat,) and milk, (and milk,) from 1984!"
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: When asked if it's legal for Principal Skinner to sell Jimbo, Skinner says "Only here and in Mississippi".
  • Whole-Plot Reference: To Mary Poppins, of course.
  • Witch with a Capital "B": Kearney calls Marge a "blue-haired witch" when he applies for the nanny job and gets rejected.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Homer, having seen Mrs. Doubtfire, accuses several of the applicants of being men in drag and tries to expose them. They're not.
  • You Wanna Get Sued?: Bobbins has to make some very strong insistences that she is not and in no way affiliated with Mary Poppins.
    Shary Bobbins: Hello, I’m Shary Bobbins.
    Homer: Did you say Mary Po-
    Shary Bobbins: No! I definitely did not! I’m an original creation like Rickey Rouse and Monald Muck.

 
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Cut Every Corner

Shary Bobbins teaches the Simpson kids a happy tune to get work done quicker.

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