The Simpsons shorts explained

The Simpsons shorts are a series of 48 two-minute shorts that ran on the variety show The Tracey Ullman Show for three seasons, before the characters spun off into their own half-hour prime time show named The Simpsons. It features the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The series was created by Matt Groening, who designed the Simpson family and wrote many of the shorts. The shorts first aired on April 19, 1987 starting with "Good Night". The final short to air was "TV Simpsons", originally airing on May 14, 1989. The Simpsons would later debut on December 17, 1989 with the Christmas special "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire".[1]

Only a few of these shorts have been released on DVD. "Good Night" was included on The Simpsons Season 1 DVD. Five of these shorts were later used in the clip show episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" on the half-hour show, which was released on the Season 7 DVD. These five shorts were "Good Night", which was featured in its entirety and portions of "The Perfect Crime", "Space Patrol", "World War III", and "Bathtime".[2] In "You Kent Always Say What You Want", the short "Family Portrait" replaces the entire opening sequence in celebration of the 400th episode. Groening has announced that all of the shorts will be available on mobile phones.[3]


The shorts were created by cartoonist Matt Groening in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. He had been called in to pitch a series of animated shorts, and had intended to present his Life in Hell series. When he realized that animating Life in Hell would require him to rescind publication rights for his life's work, Groening decided to go in another direction.[4] He hurriedly sketched out his version of a dysfunctional family, and named the characters after his own family.[4] Bart was modeled after Groening's older brother, Mark, but given a different name which was chosen as an anagram of "brat".[5] The stories were written and storyboarded by Matt Groening.[6] The family was crudely drawn, because Groening had submitted basic sketches to the animators, assuming they would clean them up; instead they just traced over his drawings.[4] The animation was produced domestically at Klasky Csupo,[7] with Wesley Archer, David Silverman, and Bill Kopp being animators for the first season.[6] After season one it was animated by Archer and Silverman.[6] Georgie Peluse was the colorist and the person who decided to make the characters yellow.[6]

The actors who voiced the characters would later reprise their roles in The Simpsons. Dan Castellaneta performed the voices of Homer Simpson, Abraham Simpson, and Krusty the Clown.[8] Homer's voice sounds different in the shorts compared to most episodes of the half-hour show. In the shorts, his voice is a loose impression of Walter Matthau, whereas it is more robust and humorous on the half-hour show, allowing Homer to cover a fuller range of emotions.[9] Castellaneta had been part of the regular cast of The Tracey Ullman Show and had done some voice over work in Chicago alongside his wife Deb Lacusta. Voices were needed for the shorts, so the producers decided to ask Castellaneta as well as Julie Kavner to voice Homer and Marge, rather than hire more actors.[10] [11] Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith performed the voices of Bart Simpson and Lisa Simpson respectively.[8] The recording of the shorts was often primitive; according to Cartwright, the dialogue for the Ullman shorts was recorded on a portable tape deck in a makeshift studio which consisted of the video engineer suite, above the bleachers on the Ullman show set.[12] While most of the characters' personalities are similar to what they are in the series, Lisa is portrayed as a female version of Bart without the intelligent nature that she possesses in the half-hour series.

The shorts were featured on the first three seasons on The Tracey Ullman Show. By the fourth and last season of The Tracey Ullman Show the first season of the half-hour show was on the air. In the two first seasons the shorts were divided into three or four parts,[13] but in the third season they were played as a single story.[13] Tracey Ullman would later file a lawsuit, claiming that her show was the source of The Simpsons success and therefore should receive a share of the show's profit. Eventually the courts ruled in favor of the network.[14]

Season 1: 1987

1 - 101April 19, 1987"Good Night"
Marge and Homer say goodnight to their kids, but they all become scared because of the stories they were told (Bart and Lisa) and the lullabies that were sung to them (Maggie), which is ironic because what was meant to comfort them actually made them more afraid.
2 - 102May 3, 1987"Watching TV"
Bart and Lisa quarrel over what channel to watch, but eventually agree that they need to stop Maggie from changing the channel.
3 - 103May 10, 1987"Jumping Bart"
Homer has Bart attempt to jump off a table and into his arms. Each time Bart jumps, Homer is distracted and fails to catch him.
4 - 104May 31, 1987"Babysitting Maggie"
Marge puts Bart and Lisa in charge of babysitting Maggie; however, they end up ignoring her.
5 - 105June 21, 1987"The Pacifier"
Bart and Lisa take Maggie's pacifier away to stop her from sucking on it but Maggie refuses to kick the habit.
6 - 106June 28, 1987"Burping Contest"
Bart, Lisa and Maggie compete in a contest to see who can make the most disgusting burp. Marge objects several times, but to no avail.
7 - 107July 12, 1987"Dinnertime"
Marge serves the family dinner and the family sits down for the meal. Marge insists that family should have table manners, but the family's crude eating habits are hard to stop.

Season 2: 1987-1988

8 - 201September 22, 1987"Making Faces"
Marge warns the kids that if they make scary faces, their faces will stay those ways forever. The kids continue to make scary faces.
9 - 202October 4, 1987"The Funeral"
The family attends the funeral of Uncle Hubert. Bart and Lisa both prove to be disruptive and Homer swears to never take them to another funeral, much to their dismay.
10 - 203October 11, 1987"What Maggie's Thinking"
Bart and Lisa wonder what is inside Maggie's mind when looking at her in her crib.
11 - 204October 18, 1987"Football"
Homer promises the kids chocolate milkshakes if Bart can catch one of his father's long football passes. Unfortunately, there are many obstacles to overcome, like falling down a cliff but Bart finally manages to catch the football—with his mouth.
12 - 205October 25, 1987"House of Cards"
Bart tries to make a house of cards, but Lisa and Maggie make noises that cause the house to fall every time.
13 - 206November 1, 1987"Bart and Homer's Dinner"
The girls are out watching a ballet and Homer is in charge of the dinner. Bart cannot stomach it when he is forced to eat a mix of fish nuggets and pork-a-roni.
14 - 207November 8, 1987"Space Patrol"
Bart, Lisa and Maggie play a game of "Space Patrol" while Homer and Marge are out. Lisa plays a superhero with Maggie as her sidekick, while Bart puts a jug on his head with the pretense of it being the helmet of an alien warlord. However, his head gets stuck in the jug and Lisa "frees" Bart using a croquet mallet.
15 - 208November 15, 1987"Bart's Haircut"
Bart's hair is too long and he is sent to a barber. His hair cut is too short and he tries multiple ways to hide it. The barber is the first character who doesn't belong to the Simpsons' family that also appears in the half hour episodes.
16 - 209November 22, 1987"World War III"
Homer wakes up the family to practice for a nuclear drill. After multiple drills the family gets tired of him and trap him in the basement.
17 - 210December 13, 1987"The Perfect Crime"
Marge bakes a batch of delicious cookies and Bart attempts to steal them, when everyone except him and Maggie leave the kitchen. Homer and Marge come back to find the tray empty, but Maggie guides them along a trail of cookies running across the floor. The family catches Bart lying bloated on his back in his bedroom amidst a pile of cookie crumbs.
18 - 211December 20, 1987"Scary Stories"
Bart tells Lisa and Maggie a series of scary stories in the dark only to believe they're coming true.
19 - 212January 10, 1988"Grampa and the Kids"
Grampa tells the kids stories from the good old days. When the kids stop paying attention to him, he feigns his own death to recapture their attention.
This marks the first speaking appearance of Grampa Abraham Simpson.
20 - 213January 24, 1988"Gone Fishin'"
Bart and Homer go on a fishing trip. Homer asks Bart for a bologna sandwich, but Bart forgot the bologna. He puts the bait on the sandwich instead. When they get the boat in the water they hit rapids and later fall off of a waterfall.
21 - 214February 7, 1988"Skateboarding"
Bart teaches his sisters how to skateboard, but is outdone every time he tries to show off.
22 - 215February 14, 1988"The Pagans"
When the family is on their way to church, the kids declares themselves pagans. After the car breaks down, the kids start acting like pagans much to Homer's dismay.
23 - 216February 21, 1988"Closeted"
Bart tries to avoid to doing chores and ends up hiding in the closet. He finds himself locked in and must find a way to bust out.
24 - 217February 28, 1988"The Aquarium"
Homer takes Bart, Lisa and Maggie to the aquarium. Bart finds a way to get into the shark tank and swims with a shark.
25 - 218March 6, 1988"Family Portrait"
Homer has trouble taking a normal family portrait. Every time they are close to a good picture the family sabotages the shot.
This episode features the first time Homer strangles Bart.
26 - 219March 13, 1988"Bart's Hiccups"
Lisa and Maggie try to cure Bart's hiccups using some rather unorthodox methods.
27 - 220March 20, 1988"The Money Jar"
Marge warns the kids that they shouldn't steal from the money jar. Bart, Lisa and Maggie try to fight the temptation of stealing the money.
28 - 221May 1, 1988"The Art Museum"
The Simpsons go to an art museum. Bart stares at a nude painting and Lisa plays with an ancient vase. Marge realizes that the kids are too young to appreciate fine arts.
29 - 222May 8, 1988"Zoo Story"
The family goes to the zoo and find a lot of similarities between them and the monkeys. Homer unwisely teases a monkey at the zoo and gets a face full of chimp excrement for his trouble.

Season 3: 1988-1989

30 - 301November 6, 1988"Shut Up, Simpsons"
Maggie squeaks her toy, which causes a chain reaction of anger in the family. An attempt for reconciliation leads to even more anger.
31 - 302November 13, 1988"Shell Game"
Bart tries to hide one of the cookies he stole from the jar by distracting his parents with the shell game. Although his plan seems to succeed, he is bested by Maggie, who then eats the cookie.
32 - 303November 20, 1988"The Bart Simpson Show"
The kids are watching TV and Homer tells them to stop watching "Itchy and Scratchy" because it's "too violent". Unable to watch cartoons Bart puts on his own show, which eventually angers Homer even more.
First appearance of Itchy and Scratchy.
33 - 304November 27, 1988"Punching Bag"
Bart and Lisa take out their frustrations on a punching bag with a face of Homer on it. When Homer commands Marge to make the kids stop, he later finds her punching the bag.
Features the first time Homer says D'oh.
34 - 305December 18, 1988"Simpson Christmas"
Bart tells a story of Christmas with the Simpson family in the style of The Night Before Christmas.
35 - 306January 15, 1989"The Krusty the Clown Show"
The kids get to see Krusty's show live for the first time. Bart notices that he is an impostor and exposes it on television, much to his parents' dismay.
First appearance of Krusty the Clown.
36 - 307January 29, 1989"Bart the Hero"
When Bart is sent outside to exercise his legs by Marge's orders, he gets handsomely rewarded for stopping a burglar from robbing a candy store.
37 - 308February 5, 1989"Bart's Little Fantasy"
After the kids are ordered to clean their room by Homer and Marge; Bart tells a story about large kids who throw their small parents into a small room.
38 - 309February 12, 1989"Scary Movie"
Bart, Lisa and Maggie go to the movie to see "The Return of the Happy Little Elves", but Bart convinces the girls to see "Revenge of the Space Mutants" instead. However, Bart ends up being scared by it, and Lisa and Maggie attempted to comfort him.
39 - 310February 19, 1989"Home Hypnotism"
When Homer sees Bart, Lisa and Maggie going crazy and bouncing off the walls, he and Marge try using hypnotism to tame the kids.
40 - 311February 26, 1989"Shoplifting"
Bart gets in trouble when he is caught shoplifting candy at the supermarket.
41 - 312March 12, 1989"Echo Canyon"
The family drives to Echo Canyon and take turns making echoes.
42 - 313March 19, 1989"Bathtime"
Homer makes Bart take his "Sunday Night Bath", but he floods the bathroom.
43 - 314March 26, 1989"Bart's Nightmare"
Bart ends up having a horrific nightmare after eating all of the cookies from the jar.
44 - 315April 16, 1989"Bart of the Jungle"
The kids swing from the trees using Homer's neckties, and Homer, who is angered by this, ends up being caught in their trap.
45 - 316April 23, 1989"Family Therapy"
Homer takes the family to a psychologist because he claims they can't laugh anymore. They end up being so disruptive that the psychologist kicks them out and they end up laughing at this.
46 - 317April 30, 1989"Maggie in Peril (Chapter One)"
After Maggie accidentally kicks her ball on Bart's face, he kicks it out of sight and she takes off to retrieve it back. She ends up being caught on a branch and the story is to be continued.
47 - 318May 7, 1989"Maggie in Peril (The Thrilling Conclusion)"
Sequel to "Maggie in Peril", Maggie floats in the air hanging on to balloons and lands safely back in her playpen.
48 - 319May 14, 1989"TV Simpsons"
While Homer is watching TV, Bart's kite gets caught on the TV antenna on the roof, which messes up the reception. Homer tries to fix the antenna, but ends up falling off the roof.



See also

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire. 2007-11-22. Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian. 2000. BBC.
  2. Book: Richmond, Ray. Antonia Coffman. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to our Favorite Family. 1997. Harper Collins Publishers. 0-00-638898-1. 191.
  3. Web site: Groening's repeats u-turn. 2006-08-06. 2007-01-11.
  4. BBC. 2000. 'The Simpsons': America's First Family (6 minute edit for the season 1 DVD). DVD. UK. 20th Century Fox.
  5. News: Alan. Paul. Matt Groening.
  6. Web site: Cagle, Daryl. The David Silverman Interview. 2006-12-29. MSNBC.
  7. News: Harvey. Deneroff. Matt Groening's Baby Turns 10.
  8. Book: Richmond, Ray. Antonia Coffman. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to our Favorite Family. 1997. Harper Collins Publishers. 0-00-638898-1. 178.
  9. News: Brownfield, Paul. He's Homer, but This Odyssey Is His Own. Los Angeles Times. 1999-07-06.
  10. News: D'oh, you're the voices. 2007-08-18. 2003-02-27. Luaine Lee. The Age.
  11. News: D'oh!: The Voice of Homer Is Deceivingly Deadpan. 2007-07-29. 2007-08-18. Lynn Elber. Associated Press.
  12. Book: Cartwight, Nancy. My Life as a Ten Year Old Boy. 2000. Bloomsbury. 0747547483. 43-46.
  13. Book: Richmond, Ray. Antonia Coffman. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to our Favorite Family. 1997. Harper Collins Publishers. 0-00-638898-1. 14–15.
  14. News: Frank. Spotnitz.