The X-Files #84: The Springfield Files

"This is the worst assignment we've ever had." "Worse than the time we were attacked by the flesh-eating virus?" "No, this is much more irritating."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Homer Simpson has an encounter of the third kind, which brings Mulder and Scully to Springfield.

REVIEW: On the same night El Mundo Gira would air, so would this Simpsons episode, mocking, on the surface at least, Fox's other hit show. But is it really a comical mini-episode of The X-Files? Sadly, there isn't enough Mulder and Scully - barely 5 minutes - to say it is. Nevertheless, the plot is reminiscent of the show's, with a local yokel (it's Homer) claiming to have met an alien, Mulder races to investigate the unsubstantiated story, and the supernatural thing (the alien) is actually a different supernatural thing (nuclear power's glowing effects). My main complaint is that the jokes aren't all pulling in that direction. Just look at the opener. Bart writes "The truth is not out there" on the blackboard, but then the bit with the family on the couch makes a jet pack joke that really has nothing to do with The X-Files. And so it goes. While we do get supernatural elements, like Leonard Nimoy hosting the piece as an "In Search Of..." and a police line-up of pop culture aliens (one of which is a REAL alien from the Simpsons universe!), oh and a crop circle gag, there are also weird non sequiturs like Donkey Kong and a stolen whale.

Mulder and Scully's 5-minute cameo is the most interesting part (for our purposes, certainly), and their absence causes Lisa to play the Scully role, while the rest of the town is Muldery, not because they're believers, but because they're stupid. Duchovny and Anderson lend their voices, deliveries that are almost too deadpan, though they match the drawings, which makes both agents look passive to the point of sleepiness. Scully gets to put Homer through some gratuitous tests (his jiggling fat is hypnotic, nothing she can do about it), and Mulder gets a big passionate speech about unsolved mysteries, and then they disappear again, showing up at the end singing along with the town and a Wookie.

My very favorite bit is the use of the "computer type" captions indicating times and locations, just like on the show, and how at one point, somebody wrote a REPEAT loop in Basic, taking over the screen. But since the episode takes that narrative conceit from The X-Files, it does make me long for a stronger, tighter parody of the show. It's not. It's just a regular, silly Simpsons episode where the X-Files characters show up for a brief segment. Leonard Nimoy probably gets as many lines as they do.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - An amusing fluff piece, but it's not one of The Simpsons' best episodes, in large part because it doesn't give itself wholeheartedly to its premise.


wordsmith said...

I found this episode, a conflation of 2 of my all-time favorite shows, doubly disappointing, primarily because Duchovny's and Anderson's performances were so lackluster, and because the resolution [SPOILER], that repeated exposure to radiation partially transformed a Springfieldian into an alien-like being, was so hackneyed, given the long history of The Simpsons. I remember laughing quite a bit at the scene where Moe and Barney attempted to carry the killer whale away from the bar--it just seemed so inane.

I'm enjoying your recaps of the X-Files, and you're obviously more keenly analytical than I am--thank you and keep up the fine work.

Toby'c said...

Apparently this one is set a couple of years earlier in the X-Files timeline, based a line in "Revelations" about Homer Simpson's evil twin.

Siskoid said...

The very definition of "over-thinking it", Toby ;-).

Wordsmith: Yes, I can't help but analyze stuff. It's ingrained. And it helps pad these things out to more than synopses and words like "awesome", "meh" and "awful".

LiamKav said...

I did always think it was weird that Mulder and Scully disappeared about a third of the way into the episode. It does have 3 bits that I love, though:

1. "No, this is much more irritating."
2. "Agent Mulder, FBI"
3. "The unsolved mysteries of... Unsolved Mysteries!"


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