|"Bart After Dark"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8|
|Directed by||Dominic Polcino|
|Written by||Richard Appel|
|Original air date||November 24, 1996|
|Couch gag||A parody of the Sgt. Pepper's album cover.|
"Bart After Dark" is the fifth episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 24, 1996. After accidentally breaking a stone gargoyle at a local house, Bart is forced to work there as punishment. He assumes it will be boring work, but is surprised when he learns that it is actually a burlesque house. Marge is horrified when she learns of the burlesque house, and resolves to have it shut down. The episode was directed by Dominic Polcino and written by Richard Appel. It won an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Music and Lyrics" for the song "We Put the Spring in Springfield".
An Itchy & Scratchy episode is interrupted with a news report that an oil tanker has crashed and spilled millions of gallons of oil on "Baby Seal Beach". Lisa sees the report and asks Marge if she can go and help save the wildlife. After some begging, Marge agrees and the two go to help out, leaving Bart and Homer home alone. The house quickly becomes a mess and Bart goes out to play with his friends. Milhouse's toy airplane crashes into a house and Bart goes to retrieve it. While doing so, he accidentally knocks down a stone gargoyle and Belle, the owner of the house, goes to Homer and says she will not press charges but demands he be punished. Homer originally dismisses this, but Belle threatens to come back and speak with Marge, leading Homer to force Bart to do chores for Belle. Bart discovers that the house is actually a burlesque house called the Maison Derrière. He enthusiastically takes to his work and quickly becomes indispensable to Belle.
Meanwhile, Marge and Lisa arrive at the beach, but discover that the ability to help the animals is reserved for celebrities, who are already doing the job. The two are put to work cleaning rocks, and soon abandon the job and drive home. While picking up Bart, Homer learns about the true nature of the burlesque house, but does nothing about Bart working there. Principal Skinner visits the house and sees Bart as the door greeter. He reports it to the Lovejoys and the Flanders, who confront Homer about the matter. Homer declares that he has no problem with Bart working there just as Marge returns home unexpectedly.
Marge asks Belle to close down the burlesque house, but Belle refuses, saying that the house is a part of Springfield. At a town meeting, Marge brings up the matter and shows pictures of several prominent citizens leaving. They form a mob so they can go destroy the burlesque house. The mob arrives at the house and immediately starts destroying things. Bart and Homer arrive and Homer decides to try to convince the mob to stop. He does so by singing a musical number accompanied by Belle and some of her dancers. The town soon joins in and are convinced to let the house stay. However, Marge arrives with a bulldozer, having missed the song. The town announces their intentions to let the house stay, but Marge tries to sing her own song about her views. During the opening lines, she accidentally puts the bulldozer into drive and destroys a wing of the Maison. She apologizes profusely and, to pay for the damage, she starts a ventriloquist act at the house, where she is heckled by Homer - who is promptly removed by Bart.
The episode was written by Richard Appel and directed by Dominic Polcino. Appel was looking for new locales to put Bart and thought it would be funny to have him work at a burlesque house. The problem was to find a way to put such a house in Springfield, which was solved with the bit with the toy airplane. There were a dozen different possible names for the Burlesque house, some of which were raunchy.
Josh Weinstein has said that there are so many sleazy characters in The Simpsons that it was easy to find people for the scenes in the burlesque house. A character modeled after John Swartzwelder can also be seen. Belle was not modeled after anyone in particular and she was redesigned several times. Belle was voiced by Tress MacNeille but there had been previous efforts to cast a guest voice for the role.
A lot of the episode's plot is based on the film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The oil spill is a reference to the Exxon Valdez oil spill. The Sea Captain was shown to be drunk at the helm, which is a reference to Joseph Hazelwood, who was the captain of the Exxon Valdez and was accused of being drunk. Reverend Lovejoy's line, "This house is a very, very, very fine house", is a reference to the Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young song "Our House".
In its original broadcast, "Bart After Dark" finished 57th in ratings for the week of November 18–24, 1996, with a Nielsen rating of 8.5, equivalent to approximately 8.2 million viewing households. It was the fourth-highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files, Melrose Place, and Beverly Hills, 90210.
Ken Keeler and Alf Clausen won a Primetime Emmy Award for "Outstanding Music and Lyrics" for "We Put the Spring in Springfield". The song was also a part of the album Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons.
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