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Monday, September 24, 2012

Retro Review: Marge in Chains

Original Airdate
May 6 1993

Or the One Where
Marge goes to jail for shoplifting from the Kwik-E-Mart.

The Setup
After the dreaded Osaka Flu comes to Springfield via orders of Juice Looseners and the Simpson family comes down with it, a beleaguered Marge accidentally walks out of the Kwik-E-Mart with a bottle of bourbon. 

Notable Notes
Phil Hartman returns to voice Lionel Hutz. David Crosby guest stars as himself, as Lionel Hutz's AA sponsor. 

At one point Apu says that he can recite pi to 40,000 digits, and that the forty-thousandth digit is one. The writers of this episode apparently contacted someone at NASA to find out what the forty-thousandth digit is. 

Favorite Quotes
Crowd: We need a cure! We need a cure!
Dr. Hibbert: Ho ho ho. Why, the only cure is bedrest. Anything I give you would be a placebo.
Woman: Where can we get these placebos?!?

Lionel Hutz: Now don't you worry, Mrs. Simpson, I- uh-oh. We've drawn Judge Snyder.
Marge: Is that bad?
Hutz: He's had it in for me ever since I kinda ran over his dog.
Marge: You did?
Hutz: Well, replace the word "kinda" with the word "repeatedly", and the word "dog" with "son".

Hutz: And so ladies and gentlemen of the jury. I rest my case.
Judge Snyder: Hmm. Mr Hutz. Do you realize you're not wearing any pants?
Hutz: I... Ahh! I move for a 'bad court thingy'.
Snyder: You mean a *mistrial?*
Hutz: Yeah! That's why you're the 'judge' and I'm the 'law talking guy?'
Snyder: The *lawyer?*
Hutz: Right.

Homer: Now, kids, while your mother's gone, I don't want to have to wash any dishes, so from now on, drink straight from the faucet or milk carton, and we'll eat while standing over the sink or toilet.
Bart: Who's gonna change Maggie?
Homer: We're going to let her roam free in the backyard and nature will take its course.

Marge: So how are things at home?
Bart: We flushed the gator down the toilet, but it got stuck halfway and now we have to feed it.

Teebore's Take
Another personal favorite, this episode features some of Lionel Hutz's best material (it's topped, in my opinion, only by his role in season five's "Marge on the Lam") and is arguably the best Marge-centric episode yet. It's also a curious example of how much of the zaniness The Simpsons is criticized for in recent seasons has been around for a long time, but was more acceptable/palatable back in the day. On the surface, the idea of Marge being arrested, tried and imprisoned for accidentally stealing a bottle of Bourbon (her arms full, she slips it into her coat pocket, then forgets its there), after which the Simpson's home falls into disarray without her in a matter of seconds, is just as whacky and unbelievable as some of the plot turns the show takes in later, less revered, seasons. Yet perhaps because these plot turns are the focus of the episode (rather than being offhandedly tossed out), or because of familiarity, or simply because everything in it is so funny, this episode is (quite rightly) held up as an all time great.  


The season's final five head classic, featuring a definitive Lionel Hutz appearance and laughs aplenty.


  1. The plot turns here feel more situational. Taking something down a path to the extreme rather than randomly becoming extreme: it doesn't have the spontenaety seen later.

    It also helps, for me, that the entire thing is played off naturally. Today, or rather a few years ago when I stopped watching new Simpsons, it seems like they would draw attention to the ridiculousness rather than just let it be crazy.

    Also, to be fair, this episode always bugged me and still kinda does today. Not only the rum leading to an arrest, but the gator joke. Not the gator being in the house, but rather the fact the gator wouldn't fit that far.

  2. Heh, the "repeatedly" and "son" line, and the "law-talkin' guy" exchange are two of my all-time favorite Simpsons bits. I'd forgotten they were both in the same episode!

  3. @Teebore's Brother: Taking something down a path to the extreme rather than randomly becoming extreme: it doesn't have the spontenaety seen later.

    Good point.

    I definitely don't intend for my musings on the subject to serve as a criticism of this episode; they're more a general observation about the differences between "classic" and new episodes.

    @Matt: I'd forgotten they were both in the same episode!

    Yeah, I always forget that the "uh-oh, we've drawn Judge Snyder" bit comes from this episode.


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