Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Math of the Surreally Yellow

I must admit I’m a little pissed. I received the seventh-season DVD box set of “The Simpsons” for Christmas — the one that includes the episode “Twenty-Two Short Films About Springfield,” which I’ve considered one of the best in the series. It plays exactly as the name indicates it should: a bunch of loosely interconnected vignettes about the various residents of Springfield, somewhat in the style of “Pulp Fiction” or this art house flick called “Thirty-Two Short Films About Glenn Gould.”

My major issue with the episode, however, is that it doesn’t contain twenty-two clear-cut segments. Those in the episode go as follows:
  1. Bart and Milhouse spit at cars from an overpass
  2. Apu in “The Jolly Bengali” segment, complete with title card and theme song
  3. Lisa gets gum in her hair
  4. Smithers gets stung by a bee
  5. Dr. Nick has his medical license reviewed, then prevents Grandpa Simpson from dying of “skin failure”
  6. Moe’s Tavern gets robbed
  7. The “Skinner and the Superintendent” segment, complete with title card and theme song
  8. Homer gets Maggie stuck in a newspaper vending machine
  9. Chief Wiggum and his deputies discuss McDonald’s
  10. Bumblebee Man’s house implodes
  11. Chief Wiggum runs down Snake
  12. Rev. Lovejoy’s dog shits on Flanders’ lawn
  13. “Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel” segment, complete with title card and theme song
  14. Milhouse and his Dad free Wiggum and Snake from the antique store
  15. Nelson Mocks an extremely tall man
  16. “The Tomfoolery of Professor John Frink” segment, complete with title card and theme song
The Lisa segment gets two sequels, so to speak, one involving the entire town trying to help her de-gum her hair and another involving a barber giving her a haircut — “I finally look like a real person! Thanks!” — and Bart gets another segment involving spitting that kind of bookends the entire show. At best, however, this makes nineteen.

Back when the episode first aired and I was just beginning to use the internet as an extra fix for my TV addiction, I looked the episode up and found that it was initially going to include two other segments: “Ralphplane,” involving the younger Wiggum and Krusty, and “Marge the Hostage.” (In retrospect, Ralph, Krusty and Marge seem like glaring omissions from the line-up of characters listed above. Well, them and Patty and Selma and Dr. Hibbert.) In fact, I can remember seeing a shot of Ralph and Krusty seated next to each other in an airplane in the original advertisements in the week before “Twenty-Two Short Films” first aired. Since the footage actually existed at some point — It had to! I saw it! — I eagerly awaited catching these two missing segments in the deleted scenes that the DVD box sets are so careful to include.

But no.

The only deleted scene provided for “Twenty-Two Short Films About Springfield” is an extended version of the “Jolly Bengali” title card and nothing more. As a last resort, I actually listened through the commentary to the episode to see if the people who made it might have any insight. They do indeed mention these two segments — noting that “Marge the Hostage” is some sort of fantasy sequence that ended in Marge being in a foul mood, hence her indifference to whether Lisa recycles later in the episode — and they claim that the segments should be included in the deleted scenes. (The writers also explain that the episode’s title is a reference to the Glenn Gould film and that they made the episode without bothering to count the vignettes.) They lie, however, as the missing segements just aren't there.

“Ralphplane and “Marge the Hostage,” I suppose, will be gone forever, which sucks for so many reasons, the least of them I can best explain in the following manner: “Come on! It’s Ralph. And Krusty. Together. On a plane! How could that not be the best thing ever?!”

So damn — has my imagination deluded me once again or have I just purchased a defective version of this particular DVD?

2 comments:

  1. did you write this drunk? there are like 17 typos.

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  2. Anonymous6:51 AM

    If you count lisa's story as 3, bart and millhouse on the bridge as 2, and millhouse in the comic book store and at hermans, plus the 2 deleted scenes you get 22.

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