Classic Simpsons Reviews: “Krusty Gets Busted” is a portent of things to come for the series.

1.12 Krusty Gets Busted

Krusty gets arrested for robbing the Kwik-E-Mart, so Bart enlists Lisa to help exonerate his hero. The kids discover Krusty was framed by Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammar), Bart’s future nemesis.

I’m not sure if Itchy & Scratchy is supposed to satirize cartoon violence or just be more cartoon violence. I’m gonna go with the latter, though it’s admittedly still amusing. There’s something about Lisa laughing at it that makes me feel better about my own tastes.

Patty and Selma’s slideshow of their trip to the Yucatan is so goddamn hilarious. I have watched that slideshow in real life so many times. Yes, [relative’s name redacted], I get that you went to Mexico and that I did not.

Can I go downstairs and play Playstation yet?

This episode creeps toward the laugh-a-second territory of Season 5. Wiggum’s arrest of Krusty where he rushes through and botches his miranda rights is great, and his line, “Send in the Clowns” at the police station moments later is a wonderful Sondheim reference.

Amazing.

The in-episode news broadcast that gives backstory on Krusty is noteworthy because it sets up The Simpsons as its own believable society that parallels our own (Citizen Kane uses the same convention to great effect). The choice to have a ‘number two’ anchor filling in for Kent Brockman may seem random and mundane, but remember this episode is about Krusty’s number two, Sideshow Bob. I think it’s an intentional choice, and one that is meant to underscore the realism of the Simpsons universe.

Looking at Krusty, we see how one character’s actions has ripples across the grid that is Springfield, affecting everyone and becoming part of the cultural lexicon. Religious leaders stoke mob mentality. Citizens and reporters gather outside the courthouse in wonder. The mugshot becomes an image that defines a moment in the collective unconscious.

Those who shake the social fabric of Springfield become not just pariahs, but myth-makers.

All three acts of “Krusty Gets Busted” begin with a close up; two of Krusty, one of Sideshow Bob. Each of them happens on their respective TV programs. Television serves as a pedestal for myths and heroes, but it also has a somewhat dehumanizing effect. When Krusty walks up the courthouse steps in handcuffs, his “real-life” physical presence is so jarring to Bart that he instantly starts to re-mythologize his hero. Krusty is now a victim. Someone has had the audacity to knock him off his pedestal, and they must be brought to justice. If Krusty is guilty, that would reflect on Bart’s hero-worship of him, so his motivation to exonerate Krusty isn’t at all selfless.

That the episode chooses to have Krusty indeed be innocent is perhaps a deeper commentary on the celebrity-worshipping North American psyche than the writers intended.

Sideshow Bob is a phenomenal replacement. He reads Alexandre Dumas. He sings Cole Porter. He has a segment exploring pre-adolescent turmoil called “Choices.” And he laughs maniacally backstage at his own evil machinations. Kelsey Grammer is a boss in this role.

If Albert Brooks isn’t the best guest star The Simpsons has ever had, it’s Grammer for sure.

For all the hero-worship that clouds Bart’s judgment, he sees right through Sideshow Bob’s desire to invert the social order for his own benefit. To quote Batman Begins, “Some people just want to see the world burn.” Only Bart could recognize that in another person, which is why it’s important that he, not Lisa, be the one to outsmart Sideshow Bob in the end.

Best Moment: Sideshow Bob’s Cavalcade of Whimsy.

Best Quote: “Treat kids like equals, they’re people too. They’re smarter than what you think! They were smart enough to catch me!” -Sideshow Bob

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