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Recap / The Simpsons S8 E14: "The Itchy And Scratchy And Poochie Show"

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Episode — 4F12
First Aired — 2/9/1997

The Itchy & Scratchy Show is in a crisis of quality, after Roger Meyers sees a slight drop-off in ratings and Bart and Lisa admit that the show is getting a bit stale, so the writers create a new character (a dog named Poochie) and hire Homer Simpson to play his voice. But when Poochie's in-your-face, Totally Radical style makes the show worse, Homer must do what he can to save the new guy.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: Though a lot of Poochie's shtick fits with the mid-'90s, several of his references come closer to the '80s ("I pity the fool"), the '70s (the Fonz, the kung-fu craze), or the '60s (surfing, hippies). He also uses "telly", which is comparatively modern ... in Britain. It really just enhances the Two Decades Behind feel of his existence.
  • Answer Cut: After Poochie's debut, Marge comments that what matters is what the fans think. Cut to Comic Book Guy calling it the "Worst Episode Ever!"
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  • Amoral Attorney: The Blue-Haired Lawyer, as usual:
    Roger Meyers, Jr. [When Lisa provides him with an explanation of what may keep "Itchy and Scratchy" fresh]: That's it, little girl! You've saved Itchy and Scratchy!
    Blue-Haired Lawyer [After entering the room Lisa is in one second afterwards]: Please sign these documents indicating that you did not save Itchy and Scratchy.
  • Bait-and-Switch: At first, Poochie's debut episode gave the impression something would happen at a fireworks factory.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: The entire episode is a Take That! against TV executives who use cheap gimmicks to keep long-running shows fresh (including adding committee-created "cool" characters, like Poochie and the Simpsons' unexplained houseguest Roy) and the fans who complain when shows either change their dynamic or start to go stale. Roy in particular was an explicit reference to Fox at one point having tried to convince the Simpsons writers to add a new character living with the family to "spice up the show".
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  • Both Sides Have a Point: As noted in the Straw Fan entry, this episode is basically calling out the toxic parts of fandom which have a list of very demanding and sometimes unreasonable expectations for a show and criticizing every single change regardless if it is good or bad. However, in recent years, Executive Meddlinginvoked is a VERY real phenomenon and rejecting every criticism (even the legitimate ones) is a one-way street to alienating your entire fanbase.
  • Catchphrase: This episode marks the first appearance of what would eventually become Comic Book Guy's signature phrase: "Worst [thing] ever."
  • Character Shilling: Homer suggests doing this as one way to boost Poochie's popularity. Poochie's debut episode has Itchy and Scratchy doing it as well.
    Scratchy: Wow. Poochie is one outrageous dude!
    Itchy: He's totally in my face!
  • Cool Shades:
    Roger Meyers: He's supposed to have attitude!
    Artist: What do you mean, attitude?
    Meyers: You know! Attitude, attitude, uhh ... sunglasses!
  • Creator's Pet: Invoked. Poochie is possibly the best and most accurate skewering of the (fictional) Creator's Pet archetype in any work of fiction. Homer is obsessed with putting Poochie everywhere and having the other characters talk him up constantly, but the audience (and seemingly everyone else on the planet) despises him for his Totally Radical behavior, reliance on dated and irrelevant catchphrases, and disrupting Itchy and Scratchy'\s plots at the expense of the titular duo, and the show starts hemorrhaging ratings as a result. To save the show, Meyers has Poochie hastily written out with no explanation and then killed off offscreen, to which the entire audience responses with cheers.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: In-universe, Itchy and Scratchy are both voiced by the same woman.
  • Deader Than Dead: Not only is Poochie killed off in his second short, but when Krusty lampshades that cartoon characters always come back in the next episode, he brings out the Blue-Haired Lawyer who pulls out some legal documents that clarify that Poochie is dead and will never be used again in any Itchy and Scratchy shorts.
  • Description Cut: After Poochie's bad debut, Marge says the important thing is if the fans like it. Cut to...
    Comic Book Guy: Last night's episode of Itchy and Scratchy was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever! Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.
    Bart: Hey, I know it wasn't great, but what right do you have to complain?
    Comic Book Guy: As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.
    Bart: What? They've given you thousands of hours of entertainment for free! What could they possibly owe you? I mean, if anything, you owe them!
    Comic Book Guy: Worst episode ever.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Bart and Lisa do it to themselves after the disastrous Poochie opener:
    Homer: So ... it was pretty okay, huh?
    Bart: Mom, can we go to bed without dinner?
    Marge: Yes we can. [Marge, Bart, and Lisa run upstairs]
  • Dramatically Missing the Point:
    • Immediately after Poochie's debut, Nelson declares "that stunk!" Homer still asks and expects praise from everyone else.
    • In fact, throughout the entire episode, Homer never understands that everyone but him hates Poochie, even when the evidence is staring him in the face.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: After the poor reception of Poochie's debut, Homer suggests to the producers that Poochie should be angrier and have access to a time machine. Considering Poochie was hated for having no personality and rendering his debut entirely plotless, they could do worse.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The female executive, who reappears in several future episodes, was later reworked into Lindsey Naegle.
  • Executive Meddling: invokedThoroughly parodied.
  • George Jetson Job Security:
    Writer: Excuse me, but "proactive" and "paradigm": Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I'm accusing you of anything like that. [Beat] I'm fired, aren't I?
    Roger Meyers: Oh, yes.
  • Gratuitous Rap: How Poochie introduces himself.
  • Green Aesop: There's one in the Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show short "The Beagle Has Landed" that acts as a Spoof Aesop out-of-universe:
    Poochie: Always recycle — to the extreme! BUST IT!!
  • Here We Go Again!: After briefly taking satisfaction in the show returning to its old roots, Bart and Lisa grow bored and switch over, demonstrating its interest waning again.
  • Hollywood Hype Machine: In-Universe. Before his debut episode, everyone is rather hyped about the addition of Poochie and moments before his debut episode is aired Krusty compares his addition to the show to the 1969 and 1971 moon landings.
  • Hope Spot: Homer writes a Rousing Speech that gets a round of applause from everyone in Itchy and Scratchy Studios and appears to have saved Poochie from being killed off. The dog is still killed when the episode airs, and the audience is assured that he will never come back.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Simpsons staff members David Silverman, Josh Weinstein, Bill Oakley, and George Meyer cameo as members of the Itchy & Scratchy creative staff. Caricatures of other staff members also appear, but not voiced by the real people.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: After Roger Meyers, Jr. listens to Homer's speech, he seems genuinely touched by it and may allow it to be included in the episode. Then he reworks the final project into Poochie going back to his home planet and dying on the way.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: A Running Gag involving Roy:
    • When Bart and Lisa learn through the newspaper that a new character named Poochie is going to be added to The Itchy & Scratchy Show:
      Lisa: Adding a new character is often a desperate attempt to boost low ratings.
      Roy: [Walks in] Yo, yo! How's it hangin', everybody?
      Marge: Morning, Roy!
      Homer: Yeah, hi, Roy.
    • When Homer resolves to salvage Poochie:
      Homer: I won't let them treat Poochie like dirt anymore just because he's the new guy.
      Roy: Right on, Mr. S!
    • When Poochie is killed off:
      Bart: Tough break, Dad. I guess people just weren't ready for Poochie. Maybe in a few years.
      Roy: [Carrying a suitcase and a letter] Good news, everybody! I'm moving into my own apartment with two sexy ladies!
      Marge: Oh, then I guess this is good-bye, Roy. Maybe we'll see you in a few years.
  • Limited Animation: Done deliberately for Poochie's final moments.
  • Magic Realism: The focus group leader asks the kids if this is what they want out of Itchy & Scratchy when said kids answer with equal excitement to two proposed premises — Itchy and Scratchy dealing with real-life problems, or Itchy and Scratchy becoming Denser and Wackier. The response to the combination of the two scenarios is lukewarm.
    Milhouse: And also, you should win things by watching.
  • Mis-blamed: In-universe, Nelson punches Bart, who didn't contribute to Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie, after seeing its egregious debut.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: June Bellamy is a parody of June Foray.
  • Parody Sue: Part of the reason Poochie meshes so disastrously with the show's format — he has no personality traits besides "is the coolest person ever", and once he shows up, the episode grinds to a halt so Itchy and Scratchy can tell each other how cool Poochie is and how much they like him.
  • Put on a Bus: Roy's fate. Thoroughly defied by Poochie — the executives even asked a lawyer to make legal documents expressively forbidding from ever using Poochie again.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Spoofed with the Simpsons' teenage roommate, Roy.
    • Also parodied in the Itchy and Scratchy Show.
      Itchy: Look, Scratchy. It's our new friend, Poochie.
      Scratchy: What's that name again? I forgot.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: In-Universe. Homer tries to do this with Poochie, but sadly fails.
  • Self-Deprecation: The show's writers rip on the hardcore fans and the network, but they don't let themselves off any easier. The Itchy and Scratchy writers are Ink Suit Actors of the real-life writers and are depicted as lazy and inept, completely unable to handle the new character or the change in format. Marge even Lampshades that it's their fault the Poochie character sucks so much:
    Marge: It's not your fault, Homer. It's those lousy writers. They make me madder than a ... yak in heat!
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: No pun intended. Homer makes a very elaborate speech, which gets blasted down when the episode featuring this speech gets hastily edited to make it look like Poochie was really an alien who returned to his home planet and died on the way back. Homer poured his heart and soul into supporting something he liked, but no one else did, and, in the end, it was All for Nothing—he didn't even get paid (he forgot to ask).
    • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Poochie dying on the way back to his planet that was in need of his help can qualify as this.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Poochie's fate. In fact, the trope was originally named "The Poochie". (Poochie would appear twice more on Itchy & Scratchy, though. In the non-canon Treehouse of Horror segment "The Terror of Tiny Toon" he's promptly hit by a police car as he's skating down the street. In a short in "Little Big Mom", he's at Scratchy's funeral.)
    • Also parodied with Roy who moves out of the Simpsons' house at the end of the episode to move into his own apartment with two sexy ladies.
  • Shout-Out: To Old Yeller, when Kent Brockman discusses the aftermath of Poochie's debut:
    Brockman: Far be it for me to gloat at another's downfall, but I have a feeling no children are going to be crying when this puppy is put to sleep.
  • Society Marches On: "Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes registering my disgust throughout the world." Yes, believe it or not, complaining on the Internet is something that only nerds used to do.
  • Spoof Aesop: At the end of the episode, the family and pets gather around Homer, who says, "Well, I guess I learned my lesson. The thing is, I lost creative control of the project ... and I forgot to ask for any money. Well, live and learn."
  • Straw Fan: The Comic Book Guy, present and accounted for. He not only insists that the Poochie episode is the "worst episode ever", but he says that the people who break their backs creating the short owe him for tuning in, with him owing them nothing in return (except hatred and mockery when they screw up).
  • Take That, Audience!: Along with the Straw Fan example, the episode also satirises fickle audiences from the very start to end of the episode, losing interest in the show even when it's at top quality but still being vocal enough in their resentment of the change that they are willing to swallow a blatantly half-baked "cartoon" stating Poochie is gone forever. Promptly the show returns to normal, and after a brief moment of appreciation, Bart and Lisa tune out again.
  • Talking to Himself: In-Universe; June Bellamy does the voices for both Itchy and Scratchy.
  • Tempting Fate: After everyone else says what they think of Poochie, he says at least he liked Poochie. His brain disagrees.
  • The Scrappy: The In-Universe treatment Poochie gets.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In-Universe. The Itchy and Scratchy episode grinds to a halt as Poochie acts all cool and in-your-face.
    Milhouse: [Crying] When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?!
    • Lisa's idea for how to improve the rut the series had fallen into (introducing a new character) wasn't a bad one, but the executives hurt it by rushing Poochie's creation before figuring out how to fit him in the formula, and the writers killed it by not caring enough to fix him.
  • Too Many Halves: Inverted in Poochie's rap, as he says he's "Half Joe Camel and a third Fonzarelli." That only adds up to ⅚, leaving the rest unspecified.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: In-universe example. Homer tried as hard as he could to make Poochie work, but sadly he just had nothing to work with and the character had already earned everyone's hatred.
  • Totally Radical: Poochie might be one of the most iconic examples in entertainment. In about forty seconds of screen time, he reveals himself to be a surfer, a rapper, a hippie, a rock star, a greaser, a skater, a gangsta, a kung-fu guy, and an extreme sports star while comparing himself to Fonzie, Mr. T, Joe Camel, and Michael Jackson, then bikes, plays the guitar, dunks a basketball, insults people, and tells kids always to recycle, while dropping at least a half-dozen dated catchphrases.
  • Trivially Obvious: After the screening party, Carl tries to compliment Homer's work.
    Carl: Yeah, you should be very proud, Homer. You, uh ... got a beautiful home here.
  • Unpleasable Fanbase:invoked Parodied.
    Focus Group Guy: Now, how many of you want to see Itchy and Scratchy face real life problems, like the ones you face every day?
    Kids: Me! Me! I would!
    Focus Group Guy: And how many of you would like to see just the opposite? Getting into far-out situations involving robots and magic powers?
    Kids: Me! Me! I would!
    Focus Group Guy: [Beat] So ... You want a realistic, down-to-earth show ... that's completely off the wall ... and swarming with magic robots?
    Kids: Yeah, that sounds good.
    Milhouse: And also, you should win things by watching!
  • Wag the Director:invoked Homer attempts this in his last-ditch effort to save Poochie.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: invokedThe use of this trope to mean "anything remotely creative or unrealistic" gets some mocking.
    Otto: Whoa, a talking dog! What were you guys smokin' when you came up with that?
    Writer: We were eating rotisserie chicken.
  • World of Jerkass: There really are no good people involved in the episode's take on the entertainment industry. The executives are self-important morons chasing big numbers, eager to get involved in the creative process while having no creativity whatsoever and blaming other people for mistakes of their own making. The focus groups are blatantly predatory and deceitful agencies that lead their audiences and produce almost no useful information. The writers are overqualified layabouts with no interest in anything but finishing their easy jobs and getting in their paychecks rather than trying to uplift the garbage they're handed. The fanbase comprises entitled whiners who claim to be loyal followers even as they breathe down the necks of the creative team and pounce on them angrily the moment they make a mistake. The closest thing to good people are the voice actors, but even then, Homer's genuine passion in the role of Poochie and his desire to see the character redeemed is shown decidedly to not be backed up by any kind of actual skill.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: First appearance of the phrase.
  • Writers Suck: During the conception of the Poochie character, Roger Meyers asks the writers to come up with a more proactive name than "Poochie". The writers just slack off and invokedkept the name.
  • You Don't Want to Know: Homer's brain says Homer doesn't want to know what it thinks of Poochie's debut episode.


Example of: