March 23, 2006

Animated Manhattan: The Simpsons

Part 4 in an ongoing series looking at New York City in animation.

SimpsonsDuring their ninth season, The Simpsons came to New York. And many of you will never see that episode again.

The episode, titled “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,” featured the Simpson family taking a trip to Manhattan to retrieve the family car. Barney had borrowed it, and left it illegally parked in front of the World Trade Center. While Homer goes to the WTC to straighten matters out, the rest of the family goes sightseeing.

SimpsonsThis episode first aired in 1997. At that time, the twin towers were still standing. Much of the episode takes place at the base of the towers, with some funny moments inside, also. But after the attacks of September 11, 2001, would anybody want to see this episode ever again?

SimpsonsNow that several years have passed, some stations are beginning to show the episode again. A San Francisco station only showed it last year for the first time since 9/11. And according to a Wikipedia article about this episode, some stations are airing a version with all references to the WTC removed.

SimpsonsIt’s too bad, too, because there are some truly funny moments in this episode. I loved Homer dancing in a field of toilets, his imagination’s depiction of what Flushing Meadows (a neighborhood in Queens) must be like. Sure, there are some neighborhoods in this town that smell like a toilet, but it’s not that bad.

SimpsonsSometimes when tourists come to New York, they avoid the subway at all costs, even when taking a taxi is the slower, more expensive way of getting around. They’re afraid they won’t be able to manage it, or they’ve heard bad things about it. But not the Simpsons. Bart even tries his hand at panhandling, before realizing that it’s best left to the experts.

SimpsonsThe Simpsons even manage to fit in a horse-drawn carriage ride in Central Park. I would have recommended against the carriage ride, as an overrated and overpriced experience, but I’m glad the episode manages to get the Park in there somehow.

SimpsonsAnd I love this shot of the Chrysler Building Empire State Building (d’oh!). Of all the depictions of New York in the episode, this image has the most architectural detail. It’s one of the city’s most beloved buildings, so it’s fitting that it was given the extra attention.

IMDb Rating: N/A
BCDb Rating: N/A
My Rating: 8/10

(My rating is for the episode’s depiction of NYC only)


Great post, I do wish this would be aired more regularly. One correction - the building in the final image is not the Chrysler Building, but the Empire state building. You can see the caged observation deck, which the CB doesn’t have, and rectangular shape of the base is a dead giveaway.

D’oh! That’s what I get for blogging on such little sleep!

“But after the attacks of September 11, 2001, would anybody want to see this episode ever again?”
Um… why not?
I don’t get this attitude.
We should remove all references to the towers from our culture?
Are we trying to pretend they never existed and 9/11/01 never happened? (maybe we should remove that date from our calendars)
I could see removing some joke that, after the destruction of the towers, became distasteful, but as far as I recall, there isn’t anything like that in the episode.
Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it (or something like that).

I had also heard they would never show that episode again but I have seen it repeated a couple of times with the WTC scene left intact.

Are you kidding? That episode had the “klavkhalash” guy in it! And it’s the only one where Home drinks crab juice.

I loved that episode! I hope they’ll show it again someday.

Flushing is the neighborhood; Flushing Meadows is a park.

Coincidentally, I just watched this episode on DVD with the commentary on. (Yes, I am that type of fan.) They tried to duplicate everything in the area of the WTC plaza, following hundreds of reference photos. They also go into detail of the airing of this particular episode in syndication. Interesting stuff.

When they decide to go to NYC, Lisa
holds up a brochure from Greyhound
advertising the 9 dollar super sitter
fair. To the right of the ‘9’ are the
Twin towers forming an ‘11’. It did
strike me as a spooky graphical coincidence.