“I’ve started a crusade against cartoon violence. I can protect my own children, but there are many others whose minds are being warped every afternoon at four.” – Marge Simpson
“That reminds me, I gotta get over to Milhouse’s and . . . play sports.” – Bart Simpson
“Alright.” – Marge Simpson
“And I’m going over to Janie’s again. We’re going to be, um, making the most of our childhood years.” – Lisa Simpson
“Have Fun!” – Marge Simpson
“We will.” – Bart and Lisa Simpson
They talk quite a bit about this idea near the end, but “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge” has always been one of the premier examples of the way the show could be funny about every aspect of something. They are a violent cartoon show, but they’re still able to make violent cartoon shows look bad.
Four guys on this one, Groening, Jean, Reiss, and Jim Reardon.
0:35 – Reiss notes that Swartzwelder loves Itchy & Scratchy.
1:00 – Groening recounts how when he was a kid he and his friends would fantasize about what an ultraviolent version of Tom & Jerry would look like. This leads to him introducing Reardon by pointing out that one of the reasons Reardon was hired was because of a short film he made.
1:15 – Reardon picks up the tale of a student film he made called “Bring me the Head of Charlie Brown”, which is funny and ends with, “I got a reputation for doing violent cartoons, which served me well in this episode.”
2:25 – Reiss briefly mentions Herman & Katnip as a truly terrible Tom & Jerry knockoff.
2:40 – Jean points out that they had a running theme in the early years of Homer being an incredibly bad workman, nothing he produces is any good (he cites the soapbox derby racer and the BBQ pit). Too bad these days he’s instantly good at everything.
3:00 – As Maggie goes Psycho on Homer, Reiss mentions how great it was that VCRs existed then, because they could go back and get the scenes right.
3:05 – They all crack up as Maggie hops away.
3:35 – Groening laughs and declares it his favorite moment as Marge wonders where Maggie got the idea as she puts her down right in front of the television.
4:15 – Irony alert. Groening was talking about how they get fan mail asking for Itchy & Scratchy to get their own series, and he had a demo reel of nothing but their cartoons that he’d show to people, but that they’d get numb after about a minute and a half. This prompts Jean to joke that through ten years there probably wasn’t twenty minutes of actual footage because they’re “incredibly quick”. Of course, the last two or three seasons, when they do have Itchy & Scratchy, it’s always some forty-five second long movie remake.
5:10 – Since this was Reardon’s first episode, he remembers that they were at the Christmas party when the FOX satellite went on the fritz and the whole west coast missed the first act, so nobody saw his name on the credits. Aww.
5:40 – They’re laughing at Swartzwelder having Scratchy’s “bombs for eyes” actually work as eyes, and then Groening cracks up at “Dogs Tricked” on Marge’s list of violent acts.
6:15 – When the nerdy looking animator throws Marge’s letter over his shoulder and into the wastebasket, Reiss asks if that’s Reardon. Apparently it’s a guy named Eddie who used to work with Sam Simon.
6:30 – As Alex Rocco appears to dictate the letter, Reardon jokes that they tried to find a way to get his eye shot out, but they couldn’t “fit it in”. They would’ve found one these days, methinks.
6:50 – Joking around about the fact that there’s an Itchy & Scratchy on Ice poster in Meyers’ office, and then they actually did do a Simpsons on Ice. Groening wrote the script and got paid in pinball machines.
7:30 – Reardon notes that all the picket signs are a pain because you’ve got to keep the lettering from bouncing up and down.
8:20 – Laughing at Moe’s sign to “Bring Back ‘Wagon Train’”.
9:20 – They’re just sort of quietly giggling at the episode, with compliments here for Castellaneta’s Krusty.
10:15 – When another animator appears on screen, Jean guesses that it’s supposed to be Rich Moore, but they all kinda look the same and nobody even responds.
11:00 – Reiss laughs that if anyone should understand who the squirrel is supposed to be, it would be Homer, and yet it “goes right by him”.
11:20 – Reiss asks Jean if they were going to get O.J. Simpson for the Smartline panel, but that was going to be for “Last Exit to Springfield” where they got Dr. Joyce Brothers instead.
12:00 – Again, they’re just quietly watching and laughing. Maybe I’m projecting, but it sure seems like they enjoy watching these episodes a lot more than the Zombie Simpsons ones.
13:00 – Minor animation goof pointed out by Rich Moore when “Live From Vienna” pops up under Dr. Marvin Monroe from one shot to the next. It must be at least kinda frustrating to have gone through every frame of this a decade earlier, then have to see it all again when you’re far enough removed from it to spot all the little mistakes.
13:20 – As Monroe makes an ass of himself, Jean laughs about how they never had much use for psychiatry.
14:20 – Reiss asks about the shot with all the mail trucks backed up, if it was sort of from Field of Dreams. Jean deadpans, “Yeah, why not?”. As usual, I can’t do his delivery justice.
14:35 – Reardon says that this scene where the cartoon gets edited was near to his heart because he always hated it when the Saturday morning cartoons would get half their punchlines edited out.
15:15 – Groening compliments the way the animators look here because they’re not overly elaborate. In other words, they don’t look like any more time was taken on them than on anyone else.
16:40 – Again, I may be projecting, but you almost can’t count the number of times someone says “I always liked this” or “We love this” on these old commentaries. Similarly, none of the silences are broken by someone talking for the sake of talking, it’s always about the episode.
17:15 – Groening loves the montage because it’s a satirical point that’s the opposite of what they believe. They don’t actually think everything would be Norman Rockwell if cartoons were banned, but they did it anyway because it’s funny and the cartoons here are getting made fun of just as much as the censorship. Things like this really are what made the show so damn good.
17:30 – They’re complimenting the pastoral montage, and Reiss cracks up recalling that Brooks had wanted it to end with everyone happy like this and Itchy & Scratchy banned.
18:00 – The Beethoven was in Swartzwelder’s script, it wasn’t a later addition.
18:45 – Jean notes that Bart’s line about building a soapbox racer was the genesis for next season’s episode where that happened, and how they often combed over old episodes to find new ideas. Reiss mentions that Skinner’s line about seeing some awful things in ’Nam was kind of the same way. Afterwards, they just kept coming up with more.
19:30 – Reardon’s favorite joke is the newspaper headline that reads “Michelangelo’s David in 1958”. That is a great joke.
20:20 – Jean recalls having seen a picture of a David statue in Florida that really did have marble pants on it.
20:35 – Reiss jokes that “Scratchy’s the cat, by the way”. They could only remember because “Scratchy” has the word “cat” in it.
22:10 – And we end with Jean joking that at least they didn’t have to pay old Ludwig any royalties.