Man, that title looks familiar…
The Simpsons first appeared on television as more crudely drawn versions of themselves during bits on The Tracy Ullman Show. That show has faded into relative obscurity; the one-time early Fox Network comedy sketch show (which had both Homer voice Dan Castellaneta and Marge voice Julie Kavner as cast members) is now known best, if for anything, as the show that launched The Simpsons.
That said, the show might have even still been on the air when season two of its animated spin-off was still on the air, so getting Ullman to do a guest shot probably made a lot of sense.
Ullman has a fun role, though I wouldn’t say she necessarily stands out the way other guest stars do. Maybe it was just a product of Ullman’s comedic versatility, or the part was just not as funny as it could be, but her Emily Winthrop, world’s classiest dog trainer, does have a few moments. Most of the dramatic heft to the episode is given to Bart and Santa’s Little Helper. Santa’s Little Helper, henceforth to be referred to at SLH, is a disobedient dog that runs amok, destroying many of the Simpsons’ prized possessions and if he fails obedience school, he’s out.
Is it any wonder that SLH is such a monster? Marge says he isn’t house trained, and I can’t help but think that Homer shouldn’t any better at raising a dog than he is his children. I mean, Lisa apparently never got a mumps vaccine.
In fact, much of the things wrecked seem to be Homer’s fault. Those shoes were way too expensive for this family, and Homer should have seen it coming. And why he didn’t eat that giant cookie right away was downright uncharacteristic. It is characteristic that Homer values the cookie more than the Bouvier family quilt.
Meanwhile, we learn Dr. Hibbert lives in what looks like the Huxtable house. Could it get anymore on the nose?
P.S….please don’t make that character any more on the nose.
Does SLH learn to obey at the last second? Yes. Do Bart’s commands actually come across as real words to the dog? Duh, yes. Is that a neat vocal effect showing the world from the dog’s perspective? It sure is.
So, the Simpsons keep the dog, and even though it bites Bart, Homer doesn’t mind.