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Responding opportunistically, and there’s nothing wrong with that, to our last two slogans of the day, Radley Balko has emailed to tell us about this, this being, I kid you not, a Nietzschean analysis of The Simpsons. Well we can’t all be deciding what to do about Iraq.

The Simpsons bit that I often like best comes right at the beginning, when Bart is shown writing lines on a school blackboard, which allude to whatever he’s been doing that day that the school says he shouldn’t have been doing. My favourite: “Bart’s Bucks Are Not Legal Tender.”

A question for the USA, maybe for Balko himself, or maybe just for Brits with Sky TV (which is where The Simpsons were first shown here). The Simpsons is now on BBC2, but it often goes straight to the surreal TV sofa scene, and skips Bart’s blackboard lines. Is this because the show itself sometimes does this, or is this the BBC inflicting vicious cuts? The latter, I suspect, but maybe only so that they can cut it down to less than twenty minutes, for their own BBC reasons. Or, maybe they really do feel the need to cut out the most disturbingly anarcho-libertarian messages?!?! I await comments.

Balko, you say you want to train your dog to retrieve beer from your fridge. Stay tuned to Samizdata for some canine management advice, gleaned from my nice sister Daphne and her nice husband Denis (i.e. these two), which I will be posting Real Soon Now.

And while we’re on subject of dogs, don’t we all think that K19, now showing at London cinemas everywhere, sounds like a Silly Police Dog Movie, rather than a Serious Russian Submarine Movie? Yes we do.

Do I digress? But what could be more Simpsonian – nay Homeric – subjects than your dog getting beer for you from the fridge, and not-very-good-movies?

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8 comments to Simpsonia

  • As I recall, episodes in syndication often go straight to the couch while new episodes feature a fuller intro. I think. Something like that.

    Point is, it happens, I think, on this side as well.

  • It happened a lot in the middle seasons, from about Season 4 on, I think, but has ceased recently. I’m not at all sure why it happened.

  • In the episodes I see in syndication, it always has blackboard scene. Bad BBC, bad.

  • John Thacker

    The opening sequence is shortened in various ways, up to not including the blackboard lines, when various stations that show it in syndication want to save time. Some US stations shorten the opening, and others don’t, when it’s shown in syndication.

  • Brian Micklethwait

    Guess what Simpsons episode BBC2 showed this (early) evening. “Simpson Tide. Homer captains a submarine.” I told you I wasn’t changing the subject. I haven’t seen it, and I missed it.


  • It’s due to syndication. Once they’ve bought the shows, local stations are free to cut as they please — maybe they want to start the local news at 5:35 instead of 5:30, they want to sell more ad space, etc.

    But very generally, syndicated shows of all kinds are a bit shorter than the originals. It’s usually not very noticeable — or they simply shorten the theme song at the beginning.

    But it’s not always that clean. There are some great “lost” scenes from originals that are just now being reinserted as subsequent seasons get released on videotape.

    Below find a link to the complete list of blackboard-isms, sorted by episode:


  • Brian Micklethwait

    Thanks Radley. Loved the blackboardisms, the majority of which I had either forgotten or never knew about.

  • markm

    In some seasons, the blackboard scene was often missing from the first-run shows (on Fox in the USA). Either they were running out of ideas or they needed a few extra seconds for the program, but if it was merely lack of time, you’d think they could have cut other parts of the intro.

    In syndication they often cut the show to wedge in more ads (or maybe to fit a shorter time slot on the BBC). The easiest cut is to chop off a few feet of intro. OTOH, it sounds like you’ve got one extraordinary nanny state in England. Maybe the bureaucrats don’t want the kiddies learning new forms of mischief.