This Little Wiggy

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"This Little Wiggy"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 18
Directed by Neil Affleck
Written by Dan Greaney
Production code5F13
Original air dateMarch 22, 1998
Guest appearance(s)
Episode features
Chalkboard gag "I was not told to do this"
Couch gag Bart spray paints a picture of the family on the wall and signs it with his alias, "El Barto". [1]
Commentary Matt Groening
Mike Scully
George Meyer
Dan Greaney
Episode chronology
 Previous
"Lisa the Simpson"
Next 
"Simpson Tide"
The Simpsons (season 9)
List of The Simpsons episodes

"This Little Wiggy" is the eighteenth episode of The Simpsons ' ninth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 22, 1998. [2] It was written by Dan Greaney and directed by Neil Affleck. [2] The episode sees Ralph Wiggum becoming friends with Bart. Phil Hartman guest stars as recurring character Troy McClure.

<i>The Simpsons</i> American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of working-class life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition.

<i>The Simpsons</i> (season 9) Episode list for season of animated series

The Simpsons' ninth season originally aired on the Fox network between September 1997 and May 1998, beginning on Sunday, September 21, 1997, with "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson". With Mike Scully as showrunner for the ninth production season, the aired season contained three episodes which were hold-over episodes from season eight, which Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein ran. It also contained two episodes which were run by David Mirkin, and another two hold-over episodes which were run by Al Jean and Mike Reiss.

Fox Broadcasting Company American television network

The Fox Broadcasting Company is an American free-to-air television network that is a flagship property of the Fox Corporation. The network is headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, with additional offices at the Fox Broadcasting Center and at the Fox Television Center in Los Angeles.

Contents

Plot

At a science museum the family is visiting, Bart runs into Ralph Wiggum, who is in the process of being pushed into a giant ear by Kearney, Jimbo, Nelson, and Dolph. When Ralph is freed by a museum employee, Marge and Chief Wiggum are there to meet him. Marge observes that Ralph has a vivid imagination and learns that he has no friends to play with; she arranges a play-date for Ralph to spend time with a horrified Bart, who fears that being seen with Ralph will damage his reputation.

Ear organ that detects sound; organ of hearing and balance

The ear is the organ of hearing and, in mammals, balance. In mammals, the ear is usually described as having three parts—the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer ear consists of the pinna and the ear canal. Since the outer ear is the only visible portion of the ear in most animals, the word "ear" often refers to the external part alone. The middle ear includes the tympanic cavity and the three ossicles. The inner ear sits in the bony labyrinth, and contains structures which are key to several senses: the semicircular canals, which enable balance and eye tracking when moving; the utricle and saccule, which enable balance when stationary; and the cochlea, which enables hearing. The ears of vertebrates are placed somewhat symmetrically on either side of the head, an arrangement that aids sound localisation.

Nelson Muntz Fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Nelson Muntz is a fictional character and the lead school bully from the animated television series The Simpsons, best known for his signature mocking laugh "Ha-ha!". He is voiced by Nancy Cartwright and was introduced in Season 1's "Bart the General" as an antagonist but later became a close friend of Bart Simpson.

Marjorie Jacqueline "Marge" Simpson is a fictional character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons and part of the eponymous family. She is voiced by Julie Kavner and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Marge was created and designed by cartoonist Matt Groening while he was waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on Life in Hell but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the character after his mother Margaret Groening. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three seasons, the Simpson family received their own series on Fox, which debuted December 17, 1989.

During their play-date, Bart and Ralph walk into Ralph's father's closet, consisting of various police utilities and records before Wiggum, initially forbidding them to enter the closet, allows them to play with the items. Bart then sees Wiggum toss aside a police master key capable of opening any door in Springfield. Bart and Ralph thus steal the key and decide to enter several closed stores at night. After encountering Nelson and his gang, the boys go to a condemned penitentiary. When Ralph objects because he is afraid, the bullies leave, but not before tossing the key into the penitentiary. Ralph and Bart enter the prison to retrieve the key, and in the process stumble onto a room housing an old electric chair. After testing out the chair, the two flee when an elderly guard approaches.

Skeleton key Key that can be used to unlock a variety of warded locks

A skeleton key is a type of master key in which the serrated edge has been removed so that it can open numerous locks, most commonly the warded lock. The term derives from the fact that the key has been reduced to its essential parts.

Prison place in which people legally are physically confined and usually deprived of a range of personal freedoms

A prison, also known as a correctional facility, jail, gaol, penitentiary, detention center, correctional center, or remand center, is a facility in which inmates are forcibly confined and denied a variety of freedoms under the authority of the state. Prisons are most commonly used within a criminal justice system: people charged with crimes may be imprisoned until their trial; those pleading or being found guilty of crimes at trial may be sentenced to a specified period of imprisonment. In simplest terms, a prison can also be described as a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed.

At the Simpsons' home, Bart and Ralph discover that the penitentiary will once again be used by the town, and remember that they forgot to disable the power. Unaware that the power is now active, Mayor Quimby straps himself into the electric chair in a publicity attempt. After failing to call the penitentiary, Ralph then tells Bart that Lisa can probably figure out a way to warn the Mayor. She decides to launch a model rocket with a warning message attached and aims it toward the penitentiary. However, the rocket is blown off-course and crashes through Mr. Burns' office window. As Quimby is getting electrocuted by the chair, Mr. Burns reads the note and disables the penitentiary's power, barely saving Quimby from getting killed. In the aftermath, the Simpsons congratulate Ralph, for pointing out that Lisa could solve the problem. Lisa objects but joins in after Bart points out that Ralph deserves some credit.

Lisa Simpson fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Lisa Marie Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. She is the middle child and most intelligent of the Simpson family. Voiced by Yeardley Smith, Lisa was born as a character in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening created and designed her while waiting to meet James L. Brooks. Groening had been invited to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic Life in Hell, but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the elder Simpson daughter after his younger sister Lisa Groening Bartlett. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson family were moved to their own series on Fox, which debuted on December 17, 1989.

Model rocket Small recreational rocket

A model rocket is a small rocket designed to reach low altitudes and be recovered by a variety of means.

Production

Show runner Mike Scully had pitched an idea to Dan Greaney on Marge forcing Bart to become Ralph Wiggum's friend. Scully gave the idea to Greaney due to his ability to write Ralph's lines and actions well, and his overall liking of the character. [3]

Mike Scully American writer and producer

Michael Scully is an American television writer and producer. He is known for his work as executive producer and showrunner of the animated sitcom The Simpsons from 1997 to 2001. Scully grew up in West Springfield, Massachusetts and long had an interest in writing. He was an underachiever at school and dropped out of college, going on to work in a series of jobs. Eventually, in 1986, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a stand-up comic and wrote for Yakov Smirnoff.

Daniel "Dan" Greaney is an American television writer. He has written for The Simpsons and The Office. He was hired during The Simpsons' seventh season after writing the first draft of the episode "King-Size Homer", but left after season eleven. He returned to the Simpsons staff during the thirteenth season.

Ralph Wiggum Fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Ralph Wiggum is a recurring character on the animated series The Simpsons, voiced by Nancy Cartwright. The son of Police Chief Wiggum, Ralph is a classmate of Lisa Simpson and an odd child noted for his frequent non-sequiturs and bizarre behavior. His lines range from nonsensical, or bizarre interpretations of a current event, to profound statements that go over people's heads; and his behavior varies between blissfully unaware, to dim-witted, to awkwardly spontaneous, even occasionally straightforward. The very nature of the character has undergone differing interpretations over the years and within various media.

This episode was the second to focus on Ralph, after the fourth-season episode "I Love Lisa". Despite this, in 2007, producer J. Stewart Burns did not believe Ralph had an episode with a plot centered on him. [4]

<i>The Simpsons</i> (season 4) Episode list for season of animated series

The Simpsons' fourth season originally aired on the Fox network between September 24, 1992 and May 13, 1993, beginning with "Kamp Krusty". The showrunners for the fourth production season were Al Jean and Mike Reiss. The aired season contained two episodes which were hold-over episodes from season three, which Jean and Reiss also ran. Following the end of the production of the season, Jean, Reiss and most of the original writing staff left the show. The season was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards and Dan Castellaneta would win one for his performance as Homer in "Mr. Plow". The fourth season was released on DVD in Region 1 on June 15, 2004, Region 2 on August 2, 2004 and in Region 4 on August 25, 2004.

I Love Lisa 15th episode of the fourth season of The Simpsons

"I Love Lisa" is the fifteenth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 11, 1993. In the episode, Lisa gives Ralph Wiggum a Valentine's Day card when she sees that he has not received any. Ralph reads too much into Lisa's gesture and, much to Lisa's dismay, relentlessly pursues her with affection. Lisa snaps at Ralph and angrily tells him they are not together and that she never liked him. Heartbroken, Ralph channels his feelings into his performance as George Washington in the school's President's Day pageant. After a thunderous applause from the audience, he is able to accept Lisa as just a friend.

Joseph Stewart Burns is a television writer and producer most notable for his work on Unhappily Ever After, The Simpsons and Futurama.

The robot that was introduced early in the episode was influenced by Greaney's experiences working with a USA Today themed robot. While at a baseball game with the robot, the robot led the stadium in singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game". The robot was not well-received, and the spectators threw objects at it. The robot's operator had to stay close to the robot during the baseball game, and was also teased and bothered in the same way as the operator in the episode. [4]

Episode director Neil Affleck was praised by the staff for his directing in this episode. In the scene where Chief Wiggum falls on his back in his bedroom, unable to roll over or get back up, Affleck decided to act out the scene for the staff to showcase how Affleck envisioned Chief Wiggum's predicament. [5] Affleck was also praised for his ability to create three new elaborate settings in the episode: the science museum, the Springfield penitentiary, and the large toy store. [3]

The episode originally did not involve Lisa helping Ralph and Bart to brainstorm an idea to alert the penitentiary. The original scene, which Greaney cites as one of his favorite scenes in the show, despite never actually being in the show, involved Bart, Ralph, and Homer trying to make a plan to save Mayor Quimby. [4]

Reception

In its original broadcast, "This Little Wiggy" finished 27th in ratings for the week of March 16–22, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 9.1, equivalent to approximately 8.9 million viewing households. It was the second highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following Ally McBeal . [6]

The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, enjoyed the episode, remarking: "Marvellous fun as Bart comes to realize there's more to Ralph, or at least his daddy, than he realised." [1]

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References

  1. 1 2 Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "This Little Wiggy". BBC. Retrieved 2007-10-25.
  2. 1 2 Gimple, Scott (1999). The Simpsons Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Continued . Harper Collins Publishers. p. 33. ISBN   0-06-098763-4.
  3. 1 2 Scully, Mike (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "This Little Wiggy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. 1 2 3 Greaney, Dan (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "This Little Wiggy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. Meyer, George (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "This Little Wiggy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. Associated Press (March 27, 1998). "'Seinfeld' among comendies that gave NBC Nielsen lead". Rocky Mountain News. p. 46D.