- The Debarted
"The Debarted" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' nineteenth season. It was first broadcast on March 2, 2008, and guest stars Topher Grace and radio host Terry Gross have a cameo. A new troublesome student named Donny arrives at Springfield Elementary School, prompting a gleeful Bart to befriend him as his partner in pranks. Meanwhile, Marge wrecks the family car, and Homer gets a new luxury vehicle as a loaner car, which he grows attached to. The episode is a parody of the 2006 film The Departed.
Marge is driving Bart and Lisa to school in Homer's car when the children begin fighting. When Marge tries to stop the children from fighting, she crashes into Hans Moleman's car, who is suffocated by the airbag. Later at school, Bart is shocked to find his seat taken by a new student, named Donny, who was recently kicked out of his former school, which his first in-episode words defame. Donny is a lot like Bart, but with a sharper edge and more grace. After Donny throws massive amounts of garbage at the school wall, Bart begins to feel he is losing popularity. While trying to imitate Donny, Bart ends up humiliating himself. Feeling his social rank amongst his peers slipping, Bart sulks.
Meanwhile, Homer has taken his car to get fixed. The Wiseguy informs him of a loaner car, resembling the Cadillac CTS, that he could use in the meantime. The loaner car is significantly better than Homer's old car, and he embraces it, and begins driving it everywhere. One added feature is that it can create a miniature thunderstorm within the vehicle, which happens when "the heater fights the air conditioner."
The following day, to prove to Donny that he is the head mischief-maker in the school, Bart plays a prank on Principal Skinner, employing magnets and metal sole pads in Skinner's shoes. While on the school stage, the magnets cause Skinner to dance involuntarily and uncontrollably, and ultimately be hurled outside of the school into a container filled with old retainers. Bart regains the respect and admiration of his peers, but when Skinner attempts to find who is responsible, Donny takes the blame for Bart's prank, leading Bart to accept him as a friend.
However, when Skinner takes Donny to his office, Donny is revealed to be in fact an informant hired by Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers to get Bart suspended — the first informant on Bart to go undiscovered (after failed attempts utilizing Üter Zörker, Ralph Wiggum and "Doug the hip guidance counselor"). Blissfully unaware of the new kid's other side, Bart invites Donny into his clique alongside Nelson Muntz and Milhouse Van Houten, and they plot school pranks. To signify Donny's entrance into the group, Bart rewards him with Blue Vine licorice sticks, which he claims are only sold in Europe and turn the eater's tongue blue, and the now-augmented group begins their friendship by spraying Lisa (and each other) with juice.
Homer takes Marge out on a romantic evening cruise. Then the Wiseguy calls Homer, informing him that his old car is ready to be picked up. Homer, however, refuses to give up his luxury car. At the school, Bart is perplexed when Skinner repeatedly anticipates and foils his pranks. Groundskeeper Willie informs Bart that a snitch is amongst them, but after a lengthy montage depicting an ultimately failed chase after the rat, Bart wrongly suspects Milhouse, not noticing Donny's apparent nervousness. With the aid of Nelson and Donny, Bart has Milhouse imprisoned in a locker, which Cletus subsequently mistakes for an outhouse using Milhouse as a "robo-potty." With Milhouse indisposed, Bart plans a final prank on Skinner involving pelting his house with ostrich eggs.
The next day, while helping Skinner hang up a banner (which ironically reads “SPRINGFIELD ELEMENTARY: PRANK-FREE FOR 14 DAYS”), Bart notices that Skinner's tongue is blue. Bart figures out that the snitch is Donny, who had given Skinner the Blue Vines. While driving past the car dealer with Lisa, Homer sees the Wiseguy selling his car for $99. Homer realizes that his car is like his child and furiously barges into the scene to take it back, abandoning the loaner car and almost leaving Lisa, whom he mistakenly calls Maggie, behind.
At midnight, Bart, Nelson and Donny go to the school storage building, where Willie lets them in. Donny asks why the change in plans was necessitated, and Bart promptly denounces a nervous Donny as the rat and Nelson grabs him. Donny pleads with Bart, explaining how he was claimed from an orphanage in Shelbyville by Skinner and Chalmers. Touched but unmoved, Bart still plans to place him in Skinner's office, where he and Nelson will mix Diet Coke and Mentos, of which they have a huge amount. They are interrupted by the arrival of Superintendent Chalmers, Principal Skinner (toting a video camera), and Willie, who has snitched on Bart in exchange for something he could never give him: an elementary school diploma. After Nelson runs out the door, Chalmers tells Bart that he will be sent to the toughest juvenile detention center there is (disregarding his earlier statement that Bart's punishment will be 10 days' suspension from school, the stiffest disciplinary action that can legally be taken against him). Donny then pities Bart, who was the only person who ever cared for him. As Skinner leads Bart away, Donny shoves the crates of Mentos into the Diet Coke, causing the fizzy explosion. The two boys escape through the roof as Skinner, Chalmers, and Willie are caught in the explosion. Bart and Donny shake hands and Donny leaves, telling Bart that he will always remember their friendship, and they promise to meet up with each other sometime in the future. The episode ends with Ralph in a trash can as a rat runs across a fence, and Ralph cheerfully remarks "the rat symbolizes obviousness!" explicitly referring to the very last scene of The Departed.
- The title and plot of the episode reference the 2006 film The Departed and the episode contains several elements of the film, including the use of the Dropkick Murphys song "I'm Shipping Up to Boston", Donny's attire being similar to what Leonardo DiCaprio wears for parts of the film, Bart suspecting he is being sabotaged just as Jack Nicholson's character began to suspect he had a mole in his criminal crew, and a minor event in the story leading to someone figuring out who is betraying them, and Principal Skinner employing Donny in Bart's crew just as Martin Sheen's character does with DiCaprio's character.
- Bart also references the Diet Coke and Mentos eruption by doing the same stunt on a larger scale.
- Lisa is reading a book called The Joy of Sax, which is a parody of the book, The Joy of Sex.
- As Marge and Homer take a drive, D'Angelo's cover of Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin'" can be heard.
- Homer improvises the song he sings to himself in the loaner car to the tune of Owner Of A Lonely Heart.
- The character of Donny, voiced by Topher Grace, resembles the character Edward Brock, Jr. who Grace played in the film Spider-Man 3.
- When Willie and Skinner play basketball, Skinner refers to himself as "Air" Skinner, a play on Michael Jordan's sobriquet.
- Marge is squeezing individual ketchup packets into an empty ketchup bottle. In the My Name Is Earl episode "Broke Joy's Fancy Figurine," Joy does the same thing.
- Bart gives Donny Blue Vines, which are a reference to Red Vines.
- The table in Bart's treehouse is the same table used in Eric Forman's basement in That '70s Show, a reference to Topher Grace guest starring.
The episode had an estimated 7.86 million viewers and received a 9 percent audience share. Richard Keller of TV squad enjoyed the episode and liked the fact that it focused on Bart. He didn't, however, enjoy the subplot with Homer and the car saying "I enjoyed this episode more than the usual ones that have aired during this post-Simpsons Movie season. There were plenty of good moments and a few of them that I actually laughed at." Robert Canning of IGN said, "This was a fun and funny episode." He thought Homer's loaner car scenes were "just silly enough to make an impact." Canning thought both Topher Grace and Terry Gross did great jobs with their parts. He gave the episode a 7.8 out of 10.
Joel H. Cohen has been nominated for Writers Guild of America Award in the animation category for writing the episode. He was also nominated for an Annie Award nomination for Best Writing in an Animated Television Production.
- ^ "Primetime Listings (February 24 - March 2)". FoxFlash. 2008-02-11. http://www.foxflash.com/div.php/main/page?aID=1z4&ID=76. Retrieved 2008-02-11.
- ^ a b c Keller, Richard (2008-03-02). "The Debarted". tvsquad.com. http://www.tvsquad.com/2008/03/02/the-simpsons-the-debarted/. Retrieved 2008-03-03.
- ^ "Hollywood Reporter, ratings". The Hollywood Reporter. 2008. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/television/news/e3i9a0258b3b015704b84955ea82162e324. Retrieved 2008-03-03. [dead link]
- ^ Canning, Robert (2008). "The Simpsons: "The Debarted" Review". IGN. http://tv.ign.com/articles/856/856251p1.html. Retrieved 2008-03-10.
- ^ "2008 Annie Award Nominations by Category". Annie Awards. http://annieawards.org/foryourconsideration.html. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
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