Classic Simpsons Reviews: “The Telltale Head”

1.8 The Telltale Head

Bart faces an angry mob after stealing the head of the statue of Springfield’s founder, Jebediah Springfield.

The episode begins in medias res, with a mob of Springfieldians cornering Bart and Homer at the headless statue. Bart begs the townspeople to hear his story, which he says will take about 23 minutes. Heh. The townspeople say that’s too long, which I assume is a dig at Fox for initially expressing concern that no one would pay attention to a cartoon as long as The Simpsons.

Fox being wrong? I just…wow.

First appearance of Krusty, as well as Sideshow Bob (pre-nose job).

The story starts with Bart going to Sunday School. He asks the teacher if a dummy would go to heaven with a ventriloquist, or if a severed leg would be waiting in heaven for an amputee, which isn’t too different from the kinds of holes I’ve poked in astrology at my share of dinner tables: If I’m born in a colony on Mars how does Earth affect my personality? If my obstetrician had infinitely more gravitational effect on me than the nearest extrasolar star, how shall I say his position at the time of my birth governed my personality?

Point being, Bart is a fantastic critic.

Oh and by the way, his severed body part question foreshadows the taking of Jebediah Springfield’s head. Early Simpsons is great.

After church, Bart meets up with a few hoodlums who convince him to sneak into a movie. Afterwards they inspire him to steal the head off the town statue. The scene where he dresses up as a ninja and sneaks into town is pretty great, and the morning after with his waking up next to the head is a spectacular Godfather reference.

To think this was ten months before Sofia Coppola ruined everything.

The theme of peer pressure is strong in this episode, as is the theme of mob justice. The attitude of Springfield’s citizens when they find out the statue is gone is an eye for an eye until they hear Bart’s story (which somehow involves cutaways to characters that never interact with Bart, but we’ll let that one go). Not to be relativistic, but if I think of the worst thing I’ve ever done, it’s probably about as hurtful, if not vandalism-related. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone and all that fun stuff.

If this episode happened today, it’d probably just be Bart facing an angry Twitter mob or having to delete his Facebook account.

Thank goodness technology made mob mentality obsolete.

There are stronger episodes in season one, but it’s still entertaining. Homer listening to football in church on a walkman is classic stuff. Do they allow iPhones in church?

Best Moment: Bart stumps his Sunday School teacher by asking perfectly reasonable questions about Heaven.

Best Quote: “Somehow I don’t feel like killing anymore.” -Krusty

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