The Crepes of Wrath

"The Crepes of Wrath" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' first season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 15, 1990.[2] It was written by George Meyer, Sam Simon, John Swartzwelder and Jon Vitti, and directed by Wes Archer and Milton Gray.[1]

"The Crepes of Wrath"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 11
Directed byWesley Archer
Milton Gray[1]
Written byGeorge Meyer
Sam Simon
John Swartzwelder
Jon Vitti[1]
Production code7G13
Original air dateApril 15, 1990 (1990-04-15)[2]
Guest appearance(s)
  • Christian Coffinet as Gendarme Officer
Episode features
Chalkboard gag"Garlic gum is not funny"[3]
Couch gagThe family hurries onto the couch and Homer pops off the end. He shouts "D'oh!".
CommentaryWes Archer
George Meyer
Episode chronology
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"Homer's Night Out"
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"Krusty Gets Busted"
The Simpsons (season 1)
List of The Simpsons episodes

Bart is sent to France on a student exchange trip, where his hosts treat him like a slave. Meanwhile, an Albanian student takes Bart's place in the Simpson family, and shows great interest in Homer's work at the nuclear power plant.

The episode received generally positive reviews from critics. In 1997, David Bauder from TV Guide named it the greatest episode of The Simpsons, and the 17th-greatest episode of any television series.

PlotEdit

After Homer trips over Bart's skateboard and falls down the stairs, he is confined to the couch for several days with an injured back. As punishment, Marge makes Bart clean his room, where he discovers an old cherry bomb. At school the next day, he flushes it down a toilet in the boys' restroom while Principal Skinner's mother, Agnes, is using the adjacent girls' restroom. The resulting explosion blows her off the toilet seat and enrages Principal Skinner.

Skinner proposes to Homer and Marge that Bart be deported by enrolling him in the school foreign exchange program. When Bart sees a picture of a lovely French château, he agrees to go there, much to Homer and Skinner's delight. The Simpsons host a student from Albania named Adil Hoxha.

When Bart arrives at Château Maison, he finds a dilapidated farmhouse at a run-down vineyard. His hosts are two unscrupulous, abusive winemakers, César and his nephew Ugolin, who treat him like a slave. Bart is starved while being made to carry buckets of water, pick and crush grapes, sleep on the floor, and test wine contaminated with antifreeze.

Adil arrives in Springfield and impresses Marge and Homer with his polite manners and help with household chores. They are unaware that Adil is actually an Albanian spy sent to obtain blueprints of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's reactor. Homer unwittingly takes him on a tour of the plant and thinks nothing when Adil takes many photographs, which he transmits to Albania with a fax machine hidden in Bart's tree house.

When Bart's captors send him to town to buy a case of antifreeze, he asks a gendarme for help, but the man does not speak English. Bart walks away, knocking himself for his stupidity, when he suddenly begins speaking French. Realizing he is fluent, he tells the gendarme about the cruelty he has suffered at the hands of the winemakers. The men are swiftly arrested and Bart is hailed as a hero for exposing their scheme to sell adulterated wine.

In Springfield, Adil is caught spying by the FBI and deported to Albania in exchange for the return of an American spy captured there. Bart returns home with gifts for his family. Homer has difficulty opening a wine bottle but is pleased to hear Bart speak French, unaware that Bart has called him a buffoon.

ProductionEdit

"The Crepes of Wrath" was the first episode of The Simpsons for which George Meyer was credited as a writer,[4] and he wrote it together with Sam Simon, John Swartzwelder and Jon Vitti.[1] The episode was inspired by the French movie Manon of the Spring.[4] The writers were trying to figure out which country the foreign exchange student should come from when they decided on Albania. They had not seen many uses of the country on television and decided to make the episode a tribute to actor John Belushi, who has Albanian roots.[4] The writers did not know much about the country and could not think of a good name for the boy, so they gave him the surname Hoxha after the former leader of Albania, Enver Hoxha.[4] They used real Albanian in the scene where Adil says goodbye to his family, and they tried to get the actual language right at Sam Simon's instigation.[4] They also used real French in the scenes of Bart in France.[5] The writers did some research on a certain airport in France for the shots of Bart at the airport in Paris.[5] Principal Skinner's mother, Agnes Skinner, made her first appearance on The Simpsons in this episode,[1] although her voice was a bit different from what the viewers became used to in the later episodes of the show.[5]

 
Édouard Manet's painting Déjeuner sur l'herbe is referenced in the episode.

César and Ugolin are named after the peasants from the 1986 French language films Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources.[1] Bart's French gift to Maggie is a reference to Le Ballon Rouge, a short French children's film.[1] On the way to the chateau, Bart and Ugolin cycle past scenes depicted in several famous paintings,[1][5] notably Bassin aux nymphéas by Claude Monet, Champ de blé aux corbeaux by Vincent van Gogh, Le rêve by Henri Rousseau and Déjeuner sur l'herbe by Édouard Manet.[5]

ReceptionEdit

In its original American broadcast, "The Crepes of Wrath" finished 29th for the week with a Nielsen rating of 15.9, the second highest rated show on Fox.[6] "The Crepes of Wrath" received generally positive reviews from critics. Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, said the episode was a "Tour de Force" and that this was "perhaps the first episode to make the viewer's jaw drop at the audacity and invention of the series' makers".[1]

In a DVD review of the first season, David B. Grelck rated this episode a ​2 12 (of 5), adding: "while the laughs are a bit dry in this episode, the over-the-top plot is indicative of zaniness to come".[7] Colin Jacobson at DVD Movie Guide said in a review that "it's clear that the writers had started to find their groove by the time this episode was produced. From start to finish, 'Crepes' offered a solid experience, as the show began to feature more style and subtlety."[8] Scott Collura at Hollywood Video praised the episode in a review, saying "it is one of the best of the first season."[9]

In 1997, David Bauder from TV Guide named this episode the greatest episode of The Simpsons, and the 17th greatest episode of any television show of all time.[10] In 2006, IGN listed "The Crepes of Wrath" as the best episode of the first season, saying it "features a strong central storyline, with Bart being shipped off to France as an exchange student and being forced to work for two unscrupulous winemakers [who] mix antifreeze in their wine".[11] The episode's reference to Le Ballon Rouge was named the third greatest film reference in the history of the show by Nathan Ditum of Total Film.[12]

In Planet Simpson, author Chris Turner notes that many of the episode's French characters and settings are derived largely from American stereotypes of France, writing "[Caeser and Ugolin] are perfect embodiments of the stereotypical Frenchman so loathed in the United States."[13]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i The Crepes of Wrath BBC.co.uk. Retrieved on August 29, 2008
  2. ^ a b "The Crepes of Wrath" The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on August 29, 2008
  3. ^ Richmond & Coffman 1997, p. 27.
  4. ^ a b c d e Meyer, George (2001). Commentary for the episode "The Crepes of Wrath". The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. ^ a b c d e Archer, Wes (2001). Commentary for the episode "The Crepes of Wrath". The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. ^ Richmond, Ray (1990-04-18). "ABC stages a major surge in ratings and ties NBC for week". The Orange County Register. p. L03.
  7. ^ Grelck, David B. (2001-09-25). "The Complete First Season". WDBGProductions. Archived from the original on 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2011-09-15.
  8. ^ Jacobson, Colin. "The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (1990)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  9. ^ Collura, Scott. "The Simpsons: The Complete First Season Movie Review at Hollywood Video". Hollywood Video. Archived from the original on April 27, 2008. Retrieved 2008-08-29.
  10. ^ TV Guide 100 Greatest TV Episodes The Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved on August 29, 2008 Archived June 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Goldman, Eric; Dan Iverson, Brian Zoromski (2006-09-08). "The Simpsons: 17 Seasons, 17 Episodes". IGN. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
  12. ^ Ditum, Nathan (June 6, 2009). "The 50 Greatest Simpsons Movie References". Total Film. p. 18. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
  13. ^ Turner 2004, p. 345.

BibliographyEdit

External linksEdit