The Simpsons: A Star is Burns
Burns: Listen, Spielbergo, Schindler and I are like peas in a pod. We're both factory owners, we both made shells for the Nazis, but mine worked damn it!
This episode opens like any other, with one tiny omission: Matt Groening's name does not appear on the Simpsons' television along with "James L. Brooks" and "Sam Simon." The story goes that Groening and Brooks were at odds over whether to let Jay Sherman from The Critic (a show created by Simpsons peeps Mike Reiss and Al Jean) appear in the episode. Groening felt, and quite rightly I believe, that Jay was not a part of the Simpsons' universe, and didn't belong on the show. A transcribed article about the tiff can be found here.
While Jay may not have been part of the Simpsons' universe, they did gussy him up a bit to fit in with the aesthetic of the show by making his skin yellow like the rest of the characters. There's also a moment of self-awareness when Homer first introduces Jay to his family and Bart says, "I suddenly feel so dirty," not to mention the reference to The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones. The ironic allusion to the trite convention of "crossover" episodes rings hollow, however, because one can't shake the feeling that this episode is --and I absolutely hate to use this word, because it's been hijacked and rendered meaningless by every teenager in the known universe-- a sell out.
But before I get too melodramatic I will say that the episode, even if I didn't care for it as a whole, does have moments that are still very Simpson-y, and still very funny. Jay's appearance, however, casts a shadow over everything that tends to leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Anyway, the plot: Kent Brockman opens the episode with a report that Springfield is the least popular city in the nation, coming in dead last in everything, even science (cut to a scene of Skinner being burned at the stake for saying the Earth revolves around the sun). A town meeting is held to figure out how to make the town popular again, and Marge suggests they host a film festival. She's pleasantly surprised they like her idea, since they usually don't. When she made reference to an early suggestion she had about switching to the metric system, Grandpa replies: "The metric system is the tool of the Devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!"
Back at home, Marge and Lisa see Jay on TV, and decide to convince him to come to Springfield to judge their film festival:
Lisa: I like him. He's smart, sensitive, he's clearly not obsessed with his physical appearance.
Homer: My ears are burning.
Lisa: I wasn't talking about you, dad.
Homer: No, my ears are really burning! I wanted to see inside so I lit a Q-tip.
Meanwhile, Mr. Burns decides to use the film festival to make himself appealing to the masses again. It seems people don't care much for him:
Burns: I don't know what happened. It seems our profits have dropped thirty-seven percent.
Smithers: I'm afraid we have a bad image, sir. Market research shows people see you as something of an ogre.
Burns: I oughta club them and eat their bones!
Burns hires Steven Speilberg's non-union Mexican equivalent, Steven Spielbergo, to help him make a blockbuster. The finished work is comprised of several scenes from classic movies such as Ben Hur and ET with Burns playing the parts of Jesus and ET. The crowd boos him, and despite Smither's ability to spare his boss' ego, they are not yelling "Boo-urns." Well, Moleman is.
Marge has reluctantly allowed Homer to be a judge, but his insistence on voting for a movie in which Hans Moleman is hit in the groin with a football upsets Marge, who believes Barney Gumble's film, a poetic art house style piece inexplicably named "Puke-o-hontas," should win. In the end, Homer votes for Barney, and Barney is awarded with a lifetime supply of Duff beer: "Just hook it to my veins!"
Moments I liked:
A noticeable facsimile of the "Imperial March" from Star Wars plays when the episode first cuts to Burns' office.
While the Flanders are filming a reenactment of Moses floating down the Nile, Todd gets swept away. Ned prays to God, and God actually appears to strike a tree down with a bolt of lightening and block the river.