Simpson Sundays

Simpson Sunday: Citizen Burns…And Citizen Bob

Citizen Kane Orson Welles

Season 2, Episode 4: Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish + Season 6, Episode 5: Sideshow Bob Roberts

It’s no secret that Citizen Kane is one of the most celebrated American films of all time and it’s certainly been a favorite movie among writers for The Simpsons. Over the course of the series, there have been tons of Citizen Kane homages and parodies, but one scene they’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of is the scene where Charles Foster Kane is delivering a speech as part of his campaign for Governor. They first referenced this scene in the season 2 episode “A Car In Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish,” in which Mr. Burns (who has frequently been compared to Charles Foster Kane in the series) runs for Governor.

Mr. Burns Election

This scene was referenced again a few seasons later in the episode “Sideshow Bob Roberts,” in which Sideshow Bob runs for Mayor of Springfield after getting out of jail.

Sideshow Bob Election Speech

Simpson Sunday: Springfield, Springfield…

On the Town Movie

Season 5, Episode 8: Boy Scoutz ‘n the Hood

When Bart and Milhouse come into a little extra money, they decide to spend some of it on getting a pure-syrup Squishee from the Kwik-E-Mart. Naturally, they get extremely hyperactive as a result and burn it off by having fun and getting into trouble around town in any way they can find. Along the way, they burst into song, a parody of “New York, New York” from 1949’s On the Town, only with the lyrics changed from being about  New York to being about Springfield.

Simpsons On the Town Parody

When a sailor tries to join them in song, going back to the original version about New York, Bart points the sailor in the correct direction of NYC.

Simpson Sunday: Close Encounters of the Clown College Kind

Richard Dreyfuss Close Encounters Potatoes

Season 6, Episode 15: Homie the Clown

When Homer sees a billboard advertising a clown college run by Krusty the Clown, he initially thinks it’s a stupid idea. But then he can’t stop thinking about it and the idea of going to clown college quickly becomes an obsession, much like how Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss) in Close Encounters of the Third Kind became obsessed with sculpting the Devil’s Tower after his UFO encounter. Just like Roy, Homer channels his obsession using mashed potatoes as a medium and sculpts a circus tent during a family dinner.

Homer Simpson Mashed Potatoes

Shortly afterward, Homer can’t take the tension anymore.

Homer Simpson Clown College

Simpson Sunday: Chief Edward G. Wiggum

Edward G Robinson

Season 5, Episode 17: Bart Gets an Elephant

Clancy Wiggum, Springfield’s ineffective police chief, is one of the dozens of Simpsons characters voiced by actor Hank Azaria. Although Edward G. Robinson is best known for playing gangsters who have little regard for the law, Azaria has said that the voice he created for Chief Wiggum is basically his imitation of Edward G. Robinson. In the season 5 episode “Bart Gets an Elephant,” the writers included a joke about the inspiration for this character’s voice.

Chief Wiggum Edward G. Robinson

Simpson Sunday: The Clown Singer

The Jazz Singer Marquee

Season 3, Episode 6: Like Father, Like Clown

After Bart helps Krusty the Clown avoid jail time for a crime he didn’t commit, Krusty (reluctantly) agrees to have dinner with the Simpson family as a way to thank Bart. As they’re having dinner, the family realizes that Krusty is Jewish, which leads to Krusty talking about his difficult relationship with his father.

Simpsons Krusty With Father

In a parody of 1927’s The Jazz Singer, Krusty reveals how he became estranged from his father over his choice of career. Krusty’s father, a prominent and highly respected Rabbi, had hoped his son would follow in his footsteps and become a Rabbi himself. But even from a young age, Krusty knew he wanted to be a clown and entertain people. Despite his father’s disapproval, Krusty kept practicing his act in secret, which gains popularity around the community. But when Krusty’s father attends an event where his son is the entertainment, he is horrified (and the writers made sure to include a reference to The Jazz Singer in his tirade.)

Krusty's Dad Simpsons Jazz Singer Reference

Simpson Sunday: A Word of Warning from Marge

Edward Van Sloan Frankenstein Introduction

Season 2, Episode 3: Treehouse of Horror

The Simpsons kicked off their annual “Treehouse of Horror” episodes during the show’s second season. Unlike regular episodes, “Treehouse of Horror” episodes consist of a few short horror-themed stories featuring characters from the show. The first “Treehouse of Horror” opened with Marge Simpson stepping out in front of a red curtain to warn viewers about how scary this episode is, an homage to Edward Van Sloan’s introduction to 1931’s Frankenstein. 

Marge Simpson THOH Intro

Apparently, the show’s writers were such big fans of the Edward Van Sloan Frankenstein introduction, they decided to pay tribute to it again in “Treehouse of Horror V” in season 6. Only in this introduction, she says that this episode is so scary, Congress has banned them from showing it so instead, they’ll be showing the 1947 movie 200 Miles to Oregon with Glenn Ford (although according to IMDB, it does not appear that there actually is a 1947 Glenn Ford movie titled 200 Miles to Oregon.)

Simpson Sundays: Maude Bates

Norman Bates Hole in Wall Psycho

Season 4, Episode 21: Marge in Chains

In this episode, Marge is arrested for shoplifting after she mistakenly forgets to pay for something at the Kwik-E-Mart. Springfield is a small town, so news of her arrest quickly tarnishes her reputation. Even the town’s most religious family, the Flanders, feels like they can’t trust Marge anymore. When Marge visits their home and leaves to wash her hands, Maude follows and goes into a neighboring room and removing a picture that’s covering a hole in the wall so she can keep an eye on her, much like how Norman Bates watches Marion Crane undress in her motel room in Psycho.



Simpson Sundays: Scratchtasia

Mickey Mouse Fantasia

Season 6, Episode 4: Itchy and Scratchy Land

When a new theme park opens around based around the cartoon Itchy and Scratchy, Bart and Lisa beg Homer and Marge to go there on their family vacation. Marge is a skeptical at first, given the family’s history of vacations ending badly, but she eventually agrees. The vacation does, indeed, end badly. But it starts out pretty well and at one point, Bart and Lisa attend a video presentation about the life of Roger Meyers, Sr., the creator of Itchy and Scratchy, which says that Meyers’ proudest career achievement was the feature length, animated film Scratchtasia, a parody of Walt Disney’s masterpiece Fantasia. 

The Simpsons Scratchtasia

Simpson Sundays: Pickfair, Schtickfair

Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks at Pickfair

Season 7, Episode 15: Bart the Fink

After Bart inadvertently gets Krusty the Clown in trouble with the IRS, the government seizes all of Krusty’s assets, including his fast food restaurants and the sets and props from his TV show. Just when he thinks things can’t get any worse, he returns home to discover that the government is auctioning off all his belongings and family heirlooms. As he walks up to his house, we see that his estate is named Schtickfair, a parody of Pickfair, the legendary home owned by Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford.

Krusty the Clown Schtickfair

Simpson Sunday — Lisa Simpson: Million Dollar Mermaid

Esther Williams Million Dollar Mermaid

Season 6, Episode 1: Bart of Darkness

During a major heatwave, Bart and Lisa beg Homer and Marge to get a swimming pool at home. When they finally relent, the swimming pool has the unintended effect of making Bart and Lisa the two most popular kids at Springfield Elementary. But after Bart breaks his leg, he’s forced to watch Lisa and all the other kids have fun in the pool from his bedroom window, which includes an homage to the elaborate Busby Berkeley-directed musical numbers from various Esther Williams movies, featuring Lisa as a stand-in for Esther.

Simpsons Busby Berkeley Musical Parody

Lisa Simpson as Esther Williams