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Treehouse of Horror
Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish
Dancin' Homer

Wait a minute. One, two... three?
Dave Shutton on first seeing Blinky

"Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" is the fourth episode of Season 2. It was planned to be the first episode of the season.

Synopsis

Bart catches a three-eyed fish (named Blinky) in the river by the power plant and it makes headlines. State nuclear inspectors find numerous safety violations, and order Mr. Burns to fix them OR ELSE the plant will be closed down. Burns plans to run for governor, so that he can pass laws that will keep the plant open (by doing away with the regulations which are costing him so much money).

Full Story

Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish 8.JPG

Bart and Lisa go fishing barefoot, downstream of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and The Springfield Shopper reporter Dave Shutton pulls up just as Bart catches a three-eyed fish (later dubbed "Blinky"). From the resulting publicity the governor, Mary Bailey, calls for an investigation of the power plant and its owner, Montgomery Burns.

After an inspection, Mr. Burns is presented with a list of 342 violations, which would cost over $56 million to rectify ($56,088,800 in Smithers's calculator). Distraught, Burns talks to under-performing employee Homer, who half-heartedly suggests that Burns run for Governor, which would give him more power to halt the charges against him. Burns immediately decides to start a campaign.

Because Marge believes that Burns is only attempting to gain political office in order to cover up problems at the plant and because she supports incumbent Governor Mary Bailey's reelection campaign, she wants nothing to do with Homer's campaigning for Burns even though Homer makes a clear point that he is only supporting Mr. Burns so he won't get fired and that he can still provide for his family. Homer's support for Burns divides the Simpson house because Marge and Lisa support Bailey. It is uncertain whether Bart supports either Bailey or Burns, but he is seen wearing a "My dad told me to vote for Monty Burns" T-shirt, most likely supporting whatever his father does.

Burns's political advisers break the news to Burns that he is not well-liked and force Burns to try being friendly and even smile. Burns also does a TV commercial while discussing Blinky, with an actor portraying Charles Darwin who claims Blinky is an evolutionary miracle. Burns closes the ad with a claim that a fish like Blinky will be a tasty meal. Combined with a smear campaign against Mary Bailey, Burns eventually ends up tying with Bailey in the polls.

As election day approaches, Smithers and his other advisers suggest that Burns have dinner with a worker from the plant as an opportunity to have Burns appear to be in touch with an average American family. The Simpsons are chosen as the family to host said dinner. Marge is upset with Homer for allowing Burns to come over for dinner and use their family as tool for election night, claiming she "doesn't want to snuggle with anybody who's not letting her express herself." Homer insists that Marge does get to express herself through the way she takes care of the house and the meals she serves to the family. Upon hearing Homer's argument, Marge reconsiders and comes up with an idea on how to deal with Burns.

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The following night, as the family is prepared for the dinner, Burns's campaign team gives the Simpsons padded questions to ask Mr. Burns on camera, questions he won't have any problem answering. Once he arrives, Mr. Burns answers all of the pre-written questions with ease and rails about his primary campaign promise of lowering taxes across the state. His adviser whispers to him that it has put him a few points ahead of Bailey in the polls and suggests he's clinched the election. After Lisa finishes with her question, one that she calls "inane", she walks into the kitchen and sulks to Marge about how they've essentially become the tools of evil. Marge tells Lisa, that she's "learning a lot that night, and one of those things is to always give your mother the benefit of the doubt."

Marge brings out the main course for dinner: it is Blinky. Burns is suddenly flustered, but hands his plate over to Marge, who serves him Blinky's head. Mr. Burns looks to his campaign team at the back of the room and sees his adviser gesturing him to eat it and pretend he's enjoying it. Burns takes a forkful and moments after he begins chewing it, he spits it across the table. The cameras flash as the piece flies through the air, the press rushes out of the house to report the incident, and his gubernatorial campaign is over by the time the chunk lands on the floor.

When the latest polls indicate that public confidence in Burns has sunk to rock bottom, Burns turns to his campaign team in pure desperation, claiming that there must be something that can be done. However, his campaign team knows he's finished, and they all decide to throw in the towel and leave. Infuriated by coming so close to achieving victory, Burns trashes the family room (with Smithers overturning the things too heavy for him and even Homer joining in when ordered to by his tyrannical boss). When Lisa remarks that destroying their meager possessions isn't going to change anything, Burns hangs his head in defeat and admits that she's right, deciding to return home and destroy, "something tasteful".

Before leaving, however, Mr. Burns turns to Homer and tells him that he will dedicate the rest of his life to ensuring that Homer's dreams are never fulfilled. While going to bed, Homer is nervous and says he doesn't like the sound of Burns's threat. Nevertheless, Marge cheers him up by pointing out that when someone's dreams are just being able to snuggle with someone at night and have seconds of dessert, no single man can take that away from him, and in the end the Simpson family is brought back together.

Transcript

Production

The episode was written by Sam Simon and John Swartzwelder, and directed by Wes Archer. Blinky had previously made a brief appearance in the season one episode "Homer's Odyssey", in which he was seen swimming in the lake outside of the plant. The writers liked the design of the fish and decided to devote an episode to him.

Mary Bailey and Springfield Shopper reporter Dave Shutton made their first appearance on the show in this episode. Dave Shutton, voiced by Harry Shearer, was named after a friend of Swartzwelder. Dave Shutton's roles have since become less relevant and have been reduced to cameos and appearances in crowd scenes. Mary Bailey would later appear briefly in episodes such as "Bart vs. Lisa vs. the Third Grade" and "The Seven-Beer Snitch".

During the Tracey Ullman Show and the first season of The Simpsons, Bart quickly became one of the most popular characters on television in what was termed "Bartmania". Due to the success of the first season, the Fox network decided to switch The Simpsons' timeslot in hopes that it would steal ratings from NBC's "powerhouse" line up. The show was moved from its 8:00 p.m. EST Sunday night slot to the same time on Thursday, where it would compete with NBC's The Cosby Show, the number one show at the time. "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" was the first episode produced for the second season, but "Bart Gets an 'F'" aired first because of Bart's popularity and the producers wanted to premiere with an episode involving him in hopes of stealing viewers from The Cosby Show.

Reception

In its original broadcast, "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish" finished nineteenth in the ratings for the week of October 29–November 4, 1990, with a Nielsen rating of 15.8, equivalent to approximately 14.7 million viewing households. The Simpsons was the highest-rated show on Fox that week, but was beaten by The Cosby Show which got a 20.2 rating. The episode won an Environmental Media Award in the "Best Television Episodic Comedy" category, which has been awarded every year since 1991 to the best television episode with an environmental message. It was The Simpsons first Environmental Media Award, but the show has won six more since then.

The episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics since airing. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called the episode a "superb example" of political satire, "demonstrating the lengths people will go to to win votes. Marge, of course, sees straight through Burns and uses Blinky the three-eyed fish to demonstrate his lack of conviction." Phil Rosenthal of the Los Angeles Daily News called the episode a "wonderful stab" at American politics and the "media machine that drives it", and added: "The message is so subtle, the makers of The Simpsons might deny it is there at all for fear of turning off a portion of its audience. Truth is, you may very well be so busy laughing and taking in the fine details, such as the references to Citizen Kane, to notice."

Hal Boedeker of The Miami Herald said the episode took "some well-aimed satirical jabs at American politics and the publics' short attention span. The episode has the wit of the best of All in the Family, and benign mother Marge becomes a force for good, in the Edith Bunker tradition." Virginia Mann of The Record called the episode "terrific", though she believed its social and political "overtones" were more likely to appeal to adults than children. Tom Shales of the Washington Post described the episode as "a bull's-eye political satire". Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly described the episode as "masterful".

Doug Pratt, a DVD reviewer and Rolling Stone contributor, thought the episode's story was "nicely composed, so you don't have to recognize the Citizen Kane references to appreciate the effort, but it adds to the fun." He also noted that it begins the exploration of Mr. Burns "in earnest, the first of many characters who will receive elaborate coverage as the series advances." Jeremy Kleinman of DVD Talk thought both Lisa's "tremendous intellect" and Marge's "moral compass" were "probed" in the episode, and he thought one "clear highlight" of the episode was Burns's attempts to explain away Blinky's mutation by turning to an actor portraying Charles Darwin who proceeds to give a speech suggesting that Blinky is merely advanced.

DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson wrote: "The episode took an unusual approach for an early show, as it focused largely on a secondary character. One could argue that season one's 'Krusty Gets Busted' did the same, but 'Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish' provided a heavier emphasis on Burns than that prior program did Krusty. This helped make it a fairly good episode. It fleshed out Burns's character a little better and gave us a reasonably entertaining experience. The episode fell short of greatness, but it worked nicely for the most part."

Video

The_Simpsons_-_Burns'_Campaign_Team

The Simpsons - Burns' Campaign Team



Season 1 Season 2 Episodes Season 3
Bart Gets an "F"Simpson and DelilahTreehouse of Horror (aka "The Simpsons Halloween Special") • Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every FishDancin' HomerDead Putting SocietyBart vs. ThanksgivingBart the DaredevilItchy & Scratchy & MargeBart Gets Hit by a CarOne Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue FishThe Way We WasHomer vs. Lisa and the 8th CommandmentPrincipal CharmingOh Brother, Where Art Thou?Bart's Dog Gets an FOld MoneyBrush with GreatnessLisa's SubstituteThe War of the SimpsonsThree Men and a Comic BookBlood Feud
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