Sunday, March 17, 2013

Something I'd never noticed in an old "Simpsons" episode

The Simpsons and The Shining side by side.

On the left are screenshots from "Bart to the Future," an episode of The Simpsons which aired March 19, 2000. On the right are screenshots from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. It took me 13 years to notice this.


  1. Replies
    1. This is why it is often rewarding to revisit old episodes of the show. I'd seen "Bart to the Future" maybe three or four times before, and this had never struck me. So I made some screencaps, did a Google Image search for "Shining bar scene" and voila! What's weirder is that this scene has nothing whatsoever to do with The Shining otherwise and is NOT from a Halloween episode. In the scene, Bart is at Camp David and is being advised by the ghost of Billy Carter. But clearly, someone took the time to make this pretty much a shot-for-shot parody.

  2. What's funny too is that I always despised this episode. I never found it funny, and it actually felt a little mean and depressing (especially when compared to Lisa's Wedding, the first flash-forward episode that is both hysterical and incredibly sweet). Damn you Kotke, now I have to give this one a third chance!

  3. Funny you should mention that. I gave this one a rewatch because it's one of the most-hated episodes of the series. And I found that, after 13 years, it really wasn't as negative or sour as I remembered it. In fact the tone of the ending is almost identical to "Lisa's Wedding," with Bart and Lisa both children again and walking away from the casino together happily, like Homer and Lisa did at the Renaissance Fair in the earlier episode. It's true that's Bart's become a no-account loser in the flash-forward, but remember that Bart's own fantasies of his future have included losing all his money gambling, being a drifter stranded in the rain, and being a washed-up alcoholic rock star -- all of which he deemed "cool." And these were BEFORE "Bart to the Future." In the episode, he actually does end up helping President Lisa Simpson by helping her buy some time with America's creditors. So he's not a complete washout. And there are some good lines/bits along the way, too. One line I loved in particular was: "I can't believe 'smell you later' replaced 'goodbye.'" Which leads later on to Ralph Wiggum (delightful throughout this episode) saying, "Smell you later, Bart! Smell you later FOREVER!" Homer and Marge's search for Lincoln's gold is a purposely silly subplot, but I like Homer's sense of self-righteousness when he says to his skeptical wife: "Gold bars discovered by Marge? Zero. Gold bars discovered by Homer? We'll see!" (No gold is ever discovered, of course, except of the metaphorical variety.) I was also charmed the fact that in the future, Bart and Ralph's band are still recording their music on cassette tapes. At one point, Ralph sings "The Banana Boat Song" with altered lyrics: "Tape, He say taaaaaape-oh!" (It's funnier in context.)