|"Wild Barts Can't Be Broken"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 10|
|Directed by||Mark Ervin|
|Written by||Larry Doyle|
|Original air date||January 17, 1999|
Cyndi Lauper as herself
|Chalkboard gag||"Sherri does not "got back""|
|Couch gag||A parody of a scene from the film Dr. Strangelove; the Simpsons (wearing cowboy hats) straddle the couch as it drops from a bomb bay door towards the ground.|
"Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' tenth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 17, 1999. When Homer, Barney, Lenny, and Carl drunkenly vandalize Springfield Elementary School, it is blamed on the children of Springfield, prompting Chief Wiggum to impose a curfew. The children respond by setting up a pirate radio show in which they reveal the embarrassing secrets of Springfield's adults. The episode was written by Larry Doyle and directed by Mark Ervin. The concept behind the episode originates from show producer Mike Scully always wanting to do an episode where the children would be subject to a curfew. The episode received an 8.9 Nielsen rating, and mostly positive reviews from critics.
The Simpsons are at Springfield War Memorial Stadium, watching the Springfield Isotopes baseball game. After the first pitch, Homer becomes disappointed by the poor performance of the Isotopes and goes to wait in his car. The game picks up heavily as the Isotopes and the rival team are deadlocked into a final showdown. Six months later, he enters Moe's Tavern and is informed by Lenny and Carl that the Isotopes are in the playoffs, and have so far been playing well. Homer quickly joins in with the fans to support the Isotopes, who end up winning the pennant. To celebrate, Homer, Lenny, Carl, and Barney go on a drunken ranging rampage and accidentally vandalize Springfield Elementary School.
The next morning, Homer discovers his now badly damaged car, making him oblivious that in reality he and his friends were responsible. Chief Wiggum blindly jumps to the conclusion that the vandalism at the school is the work of Bart and Lisa and their friends, who are all kids, and immediately enforces a curfew on all of Springfield's children, prohibiting them from being on the local streets and roads after dark. However, every child of Springfield is annoyed with not being allowed out after the sun has fallen down. The last soon rally together to break that curfew and see an 1950s drive-in horror movie which they saw advertised on television, called The Bloodening. While at the movie, the screening is suddenly stopped by Wiggum. As punishment for insomnia-causing and terror-spreading, the children must clean a police billboard with Wiggum on it.
To get even with their parents and the other grownups, the mortified children set up a late night radio show called "We Know All Your Secrets", in which they expose the grownups's secrets all through Springfield, just like the villainous children in the movie. They are tracked down at the billboard by Professor Frink, resulting in a massive confrontation, in song form, between the kids and adults of Springfield. However, this in turn rouses the ire of Grampa and the other senior citizens trying to get some sleep. To get even with both groups, they take the measure of voting a brand new curfew, sending everyone under the age of seventy to their own homes during sunset. It is passed by a single vote, due to Homer refusing to cast a ballot, humiliating Marge in the process.
Mike Scully wanted to do an episode where the children of Springfield would be subject to a curfew. He came up with the idea to do a Kids vs. Adults episode, where the children would be blamed for something the adults have done. The name of the baseball announcer, Denis Conroy, was used because that is the name of writer Larry Doyle's uncle. Dan Castellaneta ad libbed Homer singing "Hitler is a jerk, Mussolini...." It was added in to the episode only for the purpose of filling time. The Chief Wiggum billboard sketch was inspired by Beaver Cleaver getting stuck in a soup bowl billboard during the "In the Soup" episode of Leave It to Beaver. The music playing when the kids secretly leave their houses to see the movie was written by composer Alf Clausen.
The episode's title is a reference to the movie Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. The movie The Bloodening is a parody of the 1960 film Village of the Damned. The sequence showing the children taking the equipment to build their radio transmitter is a recreation of a sequence from the short comedy films Our Gang, featuring similar music and a dog, with Milhouse dressed like Our Gang character Alfalfa. The review Marge reads of Talk to the Hand – "The writing snaps, crackles and pops" – was how Variety reviewed the sitcom Just Shoot Me! when it first aired in 1997. The set of "Don't Go There" is similar to Central Perk on Friends. The musical argument between kids, adults and seniors is a parody of the song "Kids" from the musical Bye Bye Birdie. When Lisa is flipping through the radio channels, President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Infamy Speech can be heard. In the Springfield Elementary School shower-room Homer, Barney, Lenny, and Carl sing a medley of Queen songs consisting of "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You". When Cyndi Lauper sings "The Star-Spangled Banner" it is to the tune of her hit song "Girls Just Want to Have Fun".
"Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" finished tied for 40th in the weekly ratings for the week of January 11–17, 1999 with a Nielsen rating of 8.9. The episode has met with mostly positive reviews. In his review of The Simpsons' tenth season, James Plath of Dvdtown.com noted "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken" as "pretty decent". Peter Brown of If regards "Lard of the Dance", "Marge Simpson in: Screaming Yellow Honkers", "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken", and "Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"" as "some of the best episodes of the season". The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, wrote that the episode was "a curious unmemorable episode with a good chunk in the middle. Neither the opening with The Isotopes nor the finale with the rather dire song help this one at all, and frankly, if it wasn't for the superb parody of Village of the Damned, and the kids' revenge by revealing their family's secrets, it'd sink without trace." In 2007, Simon Crerar of The Times listed Lauper's performance as one of the thirty-three funniest cameos in the history of the show.
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