|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 9|
|Directed by||Pete Michels|
|Written by||David X. Cohen|
|Original air date||February 15, 1998|
|Couch gag||The family is portrayed as frogs on a lily pad.|
David X. Cohen
"Das Bus" is the fourteenth episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 15, 1998. In an extended parody of Lord of the Flies, Bart, Lisa and other students from Springfield Elementary School are stranded on an island and are forced to work together. Meanwhile, Homer founds his own Internet company. It was written by David X. Cohen and directed by Pete Michels. Guest star James Earl Jones narrates the final scene of the episode.
The Springfield Elementary School Model United Nations club is going on a field trip. On the bus, Bart, Nelson, Ralph, and Milhouse play a game by racing fruit down the aisle. Milhouse rolls a grapefruit that gets stuck under the brakes. When Otto tries to press down on the pedal, it squirts juice into his eyes, causing him to lose control and drive the bus off a bridge.
Otto tries to swim for help, but gets swept away by the current and picked up by Chinese fishermen. The students swim to a nearby tropical island, where Bart tries to tell everyone that being stranded is fun and imagines a lavish lifestyle there. Reality sets in when the island is found to be largely barren and the kids lack survival skills. With no food or adult supervision, the kids rely on snack food retrieved from the sunken bus by Bart, while Lisa sets up a ration system. They awake the next morning to find the snacks all gone. Suspecting Milhouse because of his pot-belly and nacho cheese breath, the students put him on trial and he blames the loss on a mysterious island "monster".
As there is insufficient evidence to prove Milhouse ate all the food, Bart acquits him. Upset, the other students attempt to kill Milhouse along with Bart and Lisa, who tried to intervene. They chase them into a cave, where it's revealed that Milhouse's "monster" is actually a wild boar. On one of the boar's tusks is an empty bag of chips, revealing that the boar was the culprit who ate all the snacks. Lisa notices that the boar has survived by licking slime from the sides of rocks and proclaims they can likewise live off the slime. The other kids instead kill the boar and eat it, while Lisa adheres to her vegetarianism by licking slime from the rocks. A deus ex machina narration by James Earl Jones says the kids are eventually rescued by Moe Szyslak.
According to the DVD commentary for The Simpsons' ninth season, the couch gag was suggested by Dan Castellaneta's niece. The film True Lies was the inspiration for the bus crashing against the bridge. To get the fisherman's Chinese correct, Cohen called his friend. When the Chinese actors came, the actors felt Cantonese would be more appropriate for the fisherman than Mandarin, so it was changed. Moe was picked to rescue the children, because the writers thought it was funny.
Most of the episode's plot, namely a group of children trapped on an island and the breakdown of law, order and civility, is a reference to William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. The title comes from the 1981 film Das Boot, although it would be "Der Bus" in German. When the children are squabbling in the classroom, Principal Skinner restores order by banging his shoe on the desk. Skinner's actions are a reference to the shoe-banging incident by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at the UN in 1960. When escaping from the other children, Bart, Lisa and Milhouse have to swing across a gap on a vine; Milhouse goes across first, but refuses to throw the vine back in a reference to the opening scene of the 1981 film Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the same thing happens to Indiana Jones.
In its original broadcast, "Das Bus" finished 17th in ratings for the week of February 9–15, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 9.9, equivalent to approximately 9.6 million viewing households. It was the third highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files and King of the Hill.
In a 2006 article in USA Today, "Das Bus" was highlighted among the six best episodes of The Simpsons season 9, along with "Trash of the Titans", "The Last Temptation of Krust", "The Cartridge Family", "Dumbbell Indemnity", and "The Joy of Sect". The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called it a "fantastic episode", adding: "Ignore the Internet business side, and wallow in the cleverness of the children trapped on the island. Bart has never been cleverer, Nelson more menacing, and Milhouse more geekish. Great stuff with a delightful ending that is so witty and obvious, that it's annoying you never imagined they'd get away with it."
The episode has become study material for sociology courses at University of California, Berkeley, where it is used to "examine issues of the production and reception of cultural objects, in this case, a satirical cartoon show", and to figure out what it is "trying to tell audiences about aspects primarily of American society, and, to a lesser extent, about other societies". Some questions asked in the courses include: "What aspects of American society are being addressed in the episode? What aspects of them are used to make the points? How is the satire conveyed: through language? Drawing? Music? Is the behavior of each character consistent with his/her character as developed over the years? Can we identify elements of the historical/political context that the writers are satirizing? What is the difference between satire and parody?"
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: "Das Bus"|