[2F11] Bart's Comet

Bart's Comet                                       Written by John Swartzwelder
                                                       Directed by Bob Anderson
Production code: 2F11                        Original airdate in N.A.: 5-Feb-95
                                                   Capsule revision C, 3-Jan-96

Title sequence

Blackboard :- Cursive writing does not mean what I think it does.
              Cursive writing does not mean/ at cutoff.

Lisa's Solo:- None due to shortened intro.

Couch      :- In black-and-white, everybody runs in and, rather than sit
              down, waves their hands around in circles; they all have
              Mickey Mouse gloves on.  {ddg}

Did you notice...

    ... the observatory's phone number is 325-6753?
    ... Waldo is inside the shelter too?
    ... the chihuahua next to Bart when the comet lands?

Tony Hill:
    ... Skinner has previously caned Bart?
    ... Springfield's observatory is staffed round the clock?
    ... the balloon is able to buoy Skinner briefly?
    ... Springfield has both morning and evening papers?
    ... the penguins fly away?
    ... the animal guesses were related to the characters: Wiggum's pig,
        Bart's cow, Lisa's pony?
    ... Ned sings the female version of "Whatever Will Be, Will Be"?

Don Del Grande:
    ... Comet Bart Simpson was found at Right Ascension 4 hours 12
        minutes, Declination 8 degrees 7 minutes?
    ... the professor's last name is Frink?

Warren Hagey:
    ... Professor Frink wears canvas shoes?
    ... Nelson has Milhouse in a headlock in the shelter?

Aaron Varhola:
    ... in the rock-throwing scene, one of the twins is left-handed,
        Nelson is left-handed, Jimbo is right-handed, and Groundskeeper
        Willy shoots left-handed?

Vaughn Jett:
    ... Skinner says that Bart has "impeded science" by putting the
        banner on the balloon?
    ... the Springfield Shopper calls the people of Springfield
    ... Dr. Hibbert believes a female sheep is a goat?

Dave Hall:
    ... there are no teachers with the students during the balloon
    ... Bart's slingshot, firecrackers and cherry bomb?
    ... Marge throws away food?
    ... all the lights are on when Bart leaves the house?
    ... Bart rides through the oil on the driveway?
    ... Martin, Sherri and Terri are sitting next to Wendell?
    ... Lisa doesn't have a nickname?
    ... Lisa is the only female member of the "Super Friends" club?
    ... the SNPP cooling towers can be seen from the school cafeteria?
    ... Moe's Tavern is the only structure labeled in the miniature
    ... Quimby refers to the comet as "Mr. Comet"?
    ... no one, not even Maggie, wears a seat belt?
    ... the same repeating background scenery as Homer drives home?
    ... Springfield has an armory?
    ... how clean Springfield's streets are?
    ... Flanders' bomb shelter has a picture of a Dove that reads
    ... all those people know Flanders had a bomb shelter?
    ... Quimby doesn't have his bodyguards in the shelter?

Jon Bigelow:
    ... the sign reads "ONLY BRIDGE OUT OF TOWN" until it blows up,
        whereafter it reads "BRIDGE OUT"?

Matthew Kurth:
    ... the touch-tone telephone in the couch gag?
    ... the VCR in the couch gag?
    ... the cable box on top of the VCR?

Voice credits

- Starring
    - Dan Castellaneta (Willy, Homer, pilot 2, Abe, Quimby, hysterical
      man, Arnie Pie, Barney, Krusty)
    - Julie Kavner (Marge, Selma)
    - Nancy Cartwright (Bart, Nelson, Email, Todd)
    - Yeardley Smith (Lisa)
    - Hank Azaria (pilot 1, Warren, Moe, Dr. Frink, congressman, Wiggum,
    - Harry Shearer (Skinner, early morning DJ, Report Card, Jasper,
      Lovejoy, Kent, House Speaker, Ned, Hibbert, Otto, McAllister)
- Also Starring
    - Pamela Hayden (Milhouse, Jimbo, observatory woman, Database)
    - Maggie Roswell (Ham, Maude)

Movie (and other) references

  + "Airwolf" {wp}
    - jets' radar system very similar to that in futuristic helicopters
      in "Airwolf"
  + "Back to the Future" {mk}
    - alarm clock at 4 a.m.
    - Bart biking out of the garage similar to Marty McFly
    - Dr. Frink's model which catches fire, similar to the Hill Valley
  + "The Three Stooges"
    - the three wise men in the sky look like them
  + Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Coming to Maple Street" {el}
    - shelter with neighbors trying to get in
  + "Gilligan's Island" {ddg}
    - one person leaves a shelter, and the others follow, just before
      the shelter is destroyed
  + "The Doris Day Show" {jl}
    - the theme song is sung by Ned
    - Day runs over the hills in her show, just like the

Previous episode references

- [MG20] OFF takes to a bomb shelter {mk}
- [7F23] The Leftorium {av}
- [8F01] Springfield's senator reappears {av}
- [8F02] (the Monkey's Paw) a shadow appears over Jeb Springfield {mk}
- [9F14] Skinner screams "Nooo!"  {wch}
- [1F11] "School is for losers!"  {av}

Freeze frame fun

- Sign: {mk}
  HI!  I'M
- Items in Bart's pockets: {mk}
    - slingshot
    - dollar bills
    - baseball
    - balloon plans/photos
    - smoke bomb
    - firecracker
    - penny
    - quarter
- Springfield Shopper headline: {dh}
- The Super Friends' gestures upon meeting Bart: {dh}
    - Ham: hand to chest
    - Email: hand wave
    - Cosine: head nod
    - Report Card: puts pencil in shirt pocket
    - Database: shakes eyeglasses
    - Lisa: raises eyebrows
- Springfield Shopper headline: {dh}
    - subheading: Mayor Visits City
- List of gay people (first provided by {th} and {gg}; listed most fully
  by {ddg}):
    - MATT GROENING, Executive Producer
    - KEN TSUMARA, Animation Co-Producer for Gracie Films
    - GEORGE MEYER, Co-Executive Producer
    - JOEL KUWAHARA, Assistant to the Producers
    - BILL OAKLEY, Supervising Producer
    - ELIZABETH JACOBS, Assistant to Mr. Mirkin
    - JOSH WEINSTEIN, Supervising Producer
    - JANE O'BRIEN, Assistant to the Producers
    - ANNETTE ANDERSEN, Assistant to Mr. Groening
    - MIKE SCULLY, Producer
    - DOMINIQUE BRAUD-STIGER, Post Production Assistant
    - GREG DANIELS, Producer
    - Produced by JOSEPH BOUCHER
    - AL JEAN, Consulting Producer
    - PING WARNER, Post Production Assistant
    - MIKE REISS, Consulting Producer
    - CRAIG FEENEY, Assistant to the Producers
    - Produced by RICHARD RAYNISS
    - DON GILBERT, Assistant to the Producers
    - DAVID MIRKIN, Executive Producer
    - JACQUELINE ATKINS, Assistant to the Producers
    - CHRIS LEDESMA, Music Editor
    - MARK McJIMSEY, Dialogue Sound Editor
    - Music by ALF CLAUSEN
    - ALISON ELLIOTT, Post-Production Supervisor
    - Produced by DAVID SILVERMAN
    - DAVID COHEN, Story Editor
    - Only the top half of the last name appeared, so I'm not sure if
      it's correct: N. VYOLET DIAZ (no reference in the credits)
    - Note that the writer's and director's names are absent...
- Outside the shelter: {ddg}
    - Willy, Dolph, Skinner, Jimbo, Nick Riviera, Captain McAllister,
      Otto, Carl, Quimby, Apu, Moe, Chief Wiggum, Krusty, Dr. Hibbert,
      Barney, and Nelson
    - When everybody enters, also inside (besides the Flanders and
      Simpsons) are Reverend and Mrs. Lovejoy, Mrs. Hibbert, Milhouse,
      Lenny, Kearney, Patty, Selma, and Waldo (as in "Where's...")
    - When everybody leaves, Mr. Largo and Sideshow Mel are there as

Animation, continuity, and other goofs

The string Bart pulls on the weather balloon only appears when he pulls
it, and it's only tied to one side, yet things extend down from both
sides of the balloon.  {ddg}

When Skinner screams, twelve of his upper teeth are visible -- all of
them molars.  {ddg}

When Skinner throws his head back to yell "Nooo!!" the children can be
heard laughing, but those behind him aren't moving.  {mk}

Pierre-Jules-Cesar Janssen _discovered_ Helium, along with Joseph Norman
Lockyer; nobody _invented_ it.  {ddg}

Willy pulls the shotgun out of thin air.  {dh}

When Bart connects the generator to his rear wheel, the wheels turn in
place quickly; Bart may move slower than usual, but the wheels should
turn just as slow.  {ddg}

The American Flag should not be displayed at night unless lit by a
spotlight.  {mk}

The clouds are moving too quickly.  {dh}

There's no constellation called "The Chariot Race", unlike Orion the
Hunter and Cygnus the Swan.  {ddg}

Cygnus (the Swan) is not near Orion in the sky.  Orion is a winter
constellation, and Cygnus is visible in the spring.  {av}

When they show Orion, Betelgeuse and Rigel (the upper left and lower
right stars in the constellation) should be the brightest ones.  {av}

Skinner's cellular phone only has nine buttons.  {th}

The redialed phone number differs from the original number.

Why would Principal Skinner trust Bart with his cellular phone?  {mk}

If Bart first sees the comet going to one side, it shouldn't be headed
straight for Earth the next day, and it shouldn't be close enough to be
seen with the naked eye in broad daylight.  {ddg}

Nobody at the dinner table has a knife, yet there's some sort of sliced
meat on their plates.  {ddg}

Forks vanish from the table.  {dh}

Lisa isn't at the Super Friends table when it is first shown...and why
isn't Martin there?  {ddg}

Different camera angles show different positions for the students in the
school cafeteria.  {dh}

Email's bow tie changes color in one scene.  {dh}

A gambrel roof couldn't hold lawn chairs securely.  {th}

The Speaker of the House stands to preside; a flag hangs behind the
rostrum; there is no standing flag; and the members do not have desks.

Amendments to bills in Congress are voted _separately_ from the bill
being amended; they are not automatically attached.  {ddg}

They were trying to decide whom to throw out of the shelter because it
was stuffed too full for the door to be shut, but Flanders opened the
door to get out.  {vj}

When Marge first appears on the hilltop with Flanders, Maggie is nowhere
to be seen.  {ddg}

Springfield Elementary has a fallout bomb shelter in 9F18.  (At least
Skinner and Willy would have used it?)  {dh}

In a Tracy Ullman short, the Simpsons have a bomb shelter too.  {rc}


Tony Hill: It's another A!  I'm beginning to develop the theory that OFF
    thrives on implausibility.  Even the scientific goofs couldn't
    detract from the rich humor of this episode.  This had the most
    consistent plot of any recent episode.

Don Del Grande: A - second-best of the season, behind the Halloween
    Special.  John Swartzwelder finds the groove once again after a
    slightly lackluster "Itchy & Scratchy Land" and "Homer the Great".

Dave Hall: Nothing really bothered me about this episode -- it was
    awesome!  John Swartzwelder has another notch in my book of favorite

Martin Crim: Tonight's episode was an embarrassment and a
    disappointment.  If I were trying to get a friend hooked on The
    Simpsons, I would never show them that episode.  The plot was
    extremely lame and contrived.  There were a couple funny moments,
    but that was all.

Joe Manfre: what the hell?  I seem to remember when Simpsons episodes
    had plots which related to rather than hopelessly contorting real
    life.  This continued in the recent trend of episodes being little
    more than jokes barely strung together by a thin, unbelievable plot.

Christine Tiplady: This episode was a KLUNKER.  No exploration of
    characters or real issues; just a wild premise.  The Simpsons is
    still one of the funniest shows going, but it takes more than that
    to make it the truly amazing show it usually is.

Martin Abela: Now this is more like it!  The comedy was there, but we
    also had some drama thrown in for good measure.  Good use of the
    ensemble cast (Flanders, Skinner).  Most of all: Homer actually
    shows some positive traits.  I am amongst those who feel he has been
    depicted as an idiot once to often.

Warren Hagey: I thought that this was a great episode from beginning to
    end.  The balloon and the fighter jets were great, as was "E-mail",
    ..., "Lisa".  The only scene that I found lacking in any major way
    was Bart's actual discovery of the comet.  A.

Aaron Varhola: A strong effort.  Not that funny, but a well-developed,
    compelling storyline, and the gags didn't detract from the plot;
    much like "Bart's Girlfriend".  The episode also showed more depth
    on repeated viewings; I liked it better the second and third time
    around.  B+.

David Sobecki: I never thought an episode of the Simpsons could be that
    bad.  I can honestly say it's the only one I've ever even considered
    saying it was into this one today.

John J. Wood: Grade: C+.  After a promising start (Bart's prank on
    Skinner), this episode treaded downhill fast.  Although a hard-to-
    fathom storyline was carried well, again most of the jokes were
    either flat, stale, or UNclever.

Jon Bigelow: This episode was only mildly amusing.  There were some good
    gags ("Firing Sidewinder missile", Moe: "Oh, dear God NO!"), but
    they were outnumbered by lame ones (superfriends).  Homer didn't
    have any good lines, either.  I'd give this one a "C".

Matthew Kurth: In some ways a remake of MG20, this one stands as one of
    the better "whacky object" stories.  Not particularly brilliant, but
    satisfying. 7.5/10.

Yours truly: Hmm, another weird one.  Can't say I found it
    sidesplittingly funny like other John S. episodes.  As always, had
    its moments: the fighter planes, notarized(!) photos, Frink and his
    models, and the wonderfully ironic list of gay people.  Grade: C.

Comments and other observations

Principal Kahoutek

Skinner refers to a Kahoutek who beat him to a phone to report a
    discovery.  Tony Hill notes, "The Kahoutek comet appeared in
    December 1973/January 1974 and was much less brilliant than its
    advance publicity."

Astronomy in this episode

Bob Yantosca goes into great detail: "Skinner's scope looked like a 60mm
    (2.4") refractor on an altitude-azimuth mount.  The eyepiece was
    seated in a `star diagonal' or prism, which bends the light path 90
    degrees, to avoid awkward viewing angles when pointing the telescope
    near the zenith.  As with all telescopes, the image should have been
    upside down.  The star diagonal will also cause an additional
    left/right inversion in the image.
    Right Ascension is essentially celestial longitude measured eastward
    from the Vernal Equinox (the point where the Celestial Equator
    crosses the Ecliptic, or the Sun's path on the sky).  Right
    Ascension is measured in sexagesimal hours, minutes, and seconds.
    Declination is celestial latitude, measured from the celestial
    equator (0 degrees) to the North and South Celestial Poles (+90, -90
    degrees, respectively).  The Celestial Equator and Poles are the
    extension into space of the Earth's Equator and Poles.  Declination
    is measured in sexagesimal degrees, minutes, and seconds.  And, for
    the record, 6 hours RA, 12 degrees Decl. is in the constellation of
    Skinner could not have read RA and Dec from his telescope's setting
    circles, as his scope was on an Altitude-Azimuth mount.  One's
    altitude and azimuth (direction from N) is not the same as one's
    latitude and longitude, after all!  Altitude and Azimuth are
    relative coordinates, as they depend on your position.  Latitude and
    longitude (or Right Ascension and Declination, if it's on the sky)
    are referenced to the celestial equator/poles so they are the same
    for all observers, regardless of position.  To read RA and Dec
    coordinates from a telescope, you must have an equatorial mount,
    where one axis is pointed towards the North (or South) Celestial
    Pole.  This also allows you to compensate for the Earth's rotation
    by moving the telescope about one axis only.
    Contrary to popular belief, astronomers at the big observatories do
    not look through the scopes directly.  Instead, electronic or
    photographic detectors are placed at the `eyepiece' end of the
    telescope.  In many cases spectra of the objects are obtained,
    rather than images.
    To officially report an astronomical discovery, Bart would have had
    to called, telexed, faxed, or emailed Brian Marsden at the Harvard
    Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, MA, not his local
    observatory.  Bart would have also had to show evidence of the
    comet's motion with respect to the `fixed' stars over a period of at
    least one night, preferably several nights.
    Beginning January 1, 1995, comets (in addition to being named after
    their discoverers) are designated as follows: the year of discovery,
    an upper-case letter identifying the half-month of discovery, and a
    consecutive number indicating the order of discovery in that half-
    month.  So if Bart's comet was the first comet discovered in the
    first half of February 1995, then it would be referred to as `Comet
    Simpson 1995 C1'.
    Comet tails typically point away from the Sun, regardless of which
    direction they are moving in.  Some comets have two tails, an ion
    tail, which is swept away from the Sun by the Solar Wind, and a
    dust/gas tail.
    Comets do not make a flaming noise.  Actually, they are very cold
    and consist mainly of dust and ice.  :-)
    Even if the comet burned up in the atmosphere, it would have still
    done some damage.  The shock wave and heat produced by the comet's
    passage through our atmosphere would probably have been intense
    enough to flatten stuff over a wide area.  This is probably what
    happened in Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908, when miles of forest were
    flattened by a `fireball'."

Bill Higgins adds some notes of his own.  Skinner's first sighting, the
    balloon at 6-19-14-59, "is on a line between Gamma Gemini and Zeta
    Orionis, a triple star system."  Bart's comet at 4-12-8-7 "is in
    Taurus, close to Mu Taurii and 46 Taurii."

Super Friends

For non-North-American viewers, the Super Friends was a Hanna Barbera TV
    cartoon series from the late 70s and early 80s that had all the big-
    name superheroes (Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman) and a few others
    (the Wonder Twins, Aquaman, Green Lantern) fighting crime as a
    unified body.

Professor Frink and the Carter administration

Tony Hill writes, "The reference to the Carter Administration was
    probably a poke at that president's MX missile basing plan.  The
    idea was to build a huge rail system covering most of Nevada and
    Utah which connected many anti-ballistic missile silos, too many for
    the enemy to destroy in toto."

Que Sera, Sera

Tony Hill expounds, "`Whatever Will Be, Will Be,' also known as `Que
    Sera, Sera' was the Academy Award-winning best song of 1956.  It was
    written by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans and was introduced by Doris
    Day.  It was from the Hitchcock film `The Man Who Knew Too Much,'
    which was parodied by OFF last season."

Quotes and Scene Summary

[Syndication cuts are marked in curly braces "{}" and are courtesy of
Frederic Briere.]

The scene opens on Springfield Elementary.  Principal Skinner, decked
out in a lab coat and safety glasses, stands under a "Science Fair"

 Skinner: And now, to top off our most propane-explosion-free science
          week ever, our grand finale: the launching of a weather
Children: Yay!
    Bart: Go, weather balloon!  Hurrah for science, woo!
 Skinner: [to himself] "Hurrah for science, woo"?  I can't say I approve
          of the "woo" but the "hurrah" was quite heartening.
-- Skinner, censurer, "Bart's Comet"

"Release the balloon," calls the beloved principal.  Groundskeeper Willy
complies, snipping its string.  Everyone cheers as the balloon rises
except for Bart, who pulls a string, smiling.  Two flaps on the balloon
unfold, one with Skinner's head and arms holding a "Hi, I'm Big Butt
Skinner" sign, the other with Skinner's legs.  The children all point
and laugh.  "Nooo!" cries Skinner, running after it.

    Bart: I don't think I really captured the eyes.
Milhouse: Bart, if you have a failing, it's that you're always demanding
          perfection -- _if_ you have a failing.
 Skinner: Whoever brings down that balloon doesn't have to learn
Children: Yay!  [start throwing rocks at it]
 Skinner: [hearing clanking noises] Uh, careful, children, that's my
-- Bart pulls a weather balloon prank, "Bart's Comet"

Nelson and Jimbo, hearing that it's Skinner's car, purposely throw big
rocks straight at it and laugh.

Skinner: [ominous] Destroy that balloon.
  Willy: Aye.  [cocks a shotgun, shoots into the sky]
          [two fighter planes fly overhead]
Pilot 1: Tango 14, we're being fired at.  I'm getting an exact ID on the
         bogey now.
          [screen shows a silhouette of Willy and "Identify"]
          [screen flashes "Iraqi fighter jet"]
Pilot 1: Iraqis again.  Launching sidewinder missile.
          [missile destroys the other plane]
         Missed him.  Launching second sidewinder missile.
          [missile destroys his own plane]
Pilot 1: [parachuting] This is what happens when you cut money out of
         the military and put it into health care!
Pilot 2: [parachuting] It's a good program!  Just give it a chance,
         that's all I ask.
          [their parachutes fail; they crash to the ground]
-- Pros and cons of deficit reduction schemes, "Bart's Comet"

Back at the school, Skinner rues his misfortune.

 Skinner: Oh, it won't come down for months.  Curse the man who invented
          helium!  Curse Pierre-Jules-Cesar Janssen.  Now to find out
          who did this...Bart!  Empty your pockets.
    Bart: Empty _my_ pockets, you say?  [does so] Well, certainly, but I
          fail to see how --
 Skinner: [picking something up] Hmm...blueprints of the dummy...
          notarized photos of you _making_ the dummy...and an alternate
          wording for the _banner_, "Buttzilla".
    Bart: Race you to Utah, Milhouse.
Milhouse: OK.
-- Exit Bart, "Bart's Comet"

Skinner grabs Bart.

Skinner: I'm going to punish you for this, Bart -- and it won't just be
         a simple caning this time.  Because you have impeded science,
         you must now _aid_ science.  Yes...starting tomorrow, you will
         assist me with my amateur astronomy, taking down measurements,
         carrying equipment, and so forth. 4:30 in the morning.
   Bart: There's a 4:30 in the morning now?
-- Bart's twelve-hour days, "Bart's Comet"

The next morning, Bart's radio turns on at precisely 4:00.

   DJ: Top of the hour, time for the morning news.  But of course, there
       _is_ no news yet.  Everyone's still asleep in their comfy, comfy
       beds.  Good night, everybody.
 Bart: [groans] Oh...
       {[walks to his parents' room]}
       {Mom, will you make me breakfast?}
Marge: {[mostly asleep] There's a stuffed pepper in the trash from last
       night.  Just rinse it good.}
       {[downstairs, the pets watch TV]}
  {TV: Come home, Lassie.  Here, boy!  Come on, girl.}
       {[the pets see Bart coming and quickly turn the TV off and
       pretend to sleep]}
-- The secret nocturnal lives of pets, "Bart's Comet"

Bart opens the garage and drives his bike off to school.  On his way, he
observes, "Still dark...better use the generator."  He engages it, but
the pressure on his tire is so great that he has to struggle to move
forward at all.

He meets Skinner in a field near the school.

Skinner: Ah, there's nothing more exciting than science.  You get all
         the fun of sitting still, being quiet, writing down numbers,
         paying attention...[chuckles] Science has it all.
   Bart: Is that the telescope we're going to be looking through?
Skinner: Yes, but you won't be looking through it: I forbid it, heh heh.
         But you don't _need_ a telescope to enjoy astronomy, Bart:
         there are all the constellations you've heard so much about.
         [pointing] There's Orion, the swan, the chariot race --
   Bart: Why don't they look anything like their names?
Skinner: Well, you do have to use your imagination.  Look: there's the
         three wise men.  [points to Curly, Larry, and Moe]
-- Wise at slapstick, maybe, "Bart's Comet"

   Bart: Who names these things [the constellations] anyway?
Skinner: Whoever discovers them.  I've been hoping I could find
         something that would be named after me.
   Bart: And you've never found anything?
Skinner: Once...but by the time I got to the phone, my discovery had
         already been reported by Principal Kahoutek...[a cloud covers
         the moon; scary music plays]
         I got back at him, though...him and that little _boy_ of his.
          [the music ends]
         Anyway, that's why I always keep a cellular phone next to me.
-- The former green beret and his tricks, "Bart's Comet"

Skinner: Now, this morning we're going to be mapping a small square of
         sky that's thought to be empty.  It's my hope that it's not.
   Bart: So what am I supposed to do exactly?
Skinner: Just write down my findings as I give them to you.  Six hours
         nineteen minutes right ascension, fourteen degrees twenty-two
         minutes declination: no sighting.
   Bart: [bored] Mm hmm.
Skinner: Six hours nineteen minutes right ascension, fourteen degrees
         twenty-three minutes declination: no sighting.
   Bart: Mm hmm.
Skinner: Six hours nineteen minutes right ascension, fourteen degrees
         fifty-eight minutes declination: no sighting.  Did you get that
         one Bart?
   Bart: Hell no?
Skinner: Good.
-- Gripping astronomy, "Bart's Comet"

Skinner spots something and gasps with excitement.

Skinner: My stars!  Give me the phone.  [dials 325-6753]
  Woman: [at observatory] Check out 6-19-14-59.
          [man at telescope does so]
          [the Skinner weather balloon comes into focus]
Skinner: No, there's no need to do that...it's already named after me.
-- Skinner the observator, "Bart's Comet"

Skinner: It's coming pretty close to the ground, maybe I can catch it.
         Don't touch the telescope, Bart.  A slight change in elevation
         can destroy a whole morning's work.  [runs off]
   Bart: [looks at telescope, grins, spins it] Woo!  Pirates off the
         port bow, all hands on deck!  [looks through it] Hey...
          [pushes "redial" on the phone]
         Hello, observatory?  This is Bart Simpson.  I see something in
         the sky at 4-12-8 and the last number is 7.
Skinner: [catching the balloon] Ah, got you, my rumpy doppelganger.
          [floats to ground next to Bart] I've got it!  I -- what are
         you doing?  Give me that phone!
  Woman: [on phone] Congratulations, Bart.  You've just discovered a
Skinner: Nooo!
          [lets go of balloon by accident]
          [paperman rides by, throws paper in front of him]
          [headline: "Prez Sez: school is for losers"]
-- A chapter of accidents, "Bart's Comet"

[End of Act One.  Time: 6:38]

At dinner that night, everyone chows down.

Homer: {And then I sped away without anyone seeing my license plate.}
 Lisa: {Sounds like you had a good day today, Dad.}
Homer: {Yeah...except I forgot to go to work.}
       {[everyone looks at him silently]}
Marge: What did you do today, Bart?
 Bart: What _didn't_ I do?  [hands his mother a newspaper]
Marge: [reads comet] "Boy Discovers Comet"...
 Lisa: What?
Marge: "A young Springfieldianite has discovered a new comet to be known
       as the `Bart Simpson Comet'."  [gasps] Oh, honey, I'm so _proud_
       of you.
 Bart: But then, you've _always_ been proud of me.
Marge: [pauses] Yes...
-- Well no, actually, "Bart's Comet"

The next day at lunch, Bart carries his tray past a table of children.

     Ham: Won't you join us, Bart?
    Bart: [looks around] Uh...I guess so.
Database: As the first student at Springfield Elementary to discover a
          comet, we're very proud to make you a member of our very
          select group.  Welcome to Super Friends.
    Bart: Huh?
    Kids: Welcome, Super Friend.
     Ham: I am called Ham, because I enjoy ham radio.  This is Email...
          Cosine...Report Card...Database...and Lisa.  Your nickname
          will be Cosmos.
    Bart: [finishing a mouthful hurriedly] Well, I'm done eating.
    Kids: Goodbye, Cosmos.
-- Bart's not as cool as Green Lantern, "Bart's Comet"

   Database: Perhaps some night you could show us your comet.
       Bart: [pointing] There it is right there.
   Database: I make it a point never to turn my head unless I expect to
             see something, Bart.  Now truly, we can't see your comet in
             broad daylight and without a telescope.
       Bart: But you don't _need_ a stupid telescope.  It's right
              [the kids look and gasp as they see it]
      Email: Oh no, no, no, this isn't right at all!
   Database: It must be coming toward us at a fantastic speed.
       Bart: Huh?
       Lisa: Don't you realize what's happening, Bart?  Your comet is
             going to collide with the Earth and every living thing in
             its path will be killed!
       Bart: I knew you'd try to find something wrong with my comet,
             Lisa.  You've always been petty and small, _right_ from the
Report Card: We must alert the proper authorities.
      Email: To the observatory!
-- The comet's threat is discovered, "Bart's Comet"

The Super Friends ride their bikes off to the observatory, singing "We
are the Super Friends."  Their newest member goes, "Shut up!"  One of
the astronomers focuses the telescope on the comet and intones "Dear
God!"  The other says, "Warren, we've talked about you hogging the

   Abe: Sounds like the doomsday whistle!  Ain't been blown for nigh
        onto three years.
Jasper: Tsk, tsk, tsk...trouble abrewing.
-- The air raid siren blows, "Bart's Comet"

Diamond Joe Quimby calls a meeting at the town hall.

Quimby: Fellow citizens, when I learned about the impending crisis, I
        caught the very next plane to Springfeld...field.
         [everyone claps politely]
        First of all, yes, there is a comet in the sky, and yes, it is
        going to hit Springfield.
         [a couple of people clap]
        You don't need to applaud that.
-- The mayor calls a town meeting, "Bart's Comet"

Quimby: Now, here's what we think the impact might look like.  Show
        them, Jerry.
         [first slide shows arrows pointing to "Springfield" and the
         [second slide shows collision of two and an arrow pointing to
   Moe: Oh, dear God, no!
         [third slide shows smoking crater with arrows pointing to
        "Charred Bodies"]
Quimby: Fortunately we have a plan: Professor Frink?
 Frink: Nn-hey, good evening, ladies and --
   Man: [hysterical] Quit stalling!  What's the plan?
 Frink: All right, just take your seat, just take your seat.
         [pulls a sheet off a model of the city]
        Now, working with former Carter Administration officials and
        military men who were forced into early retirement for various
        reasons which we won't go into here, nn-hey, we have planned
        this defense for the city: [flicks a switch] as the comet
        hurtles towards the city, our rocket will intercept it and blow
        it to smithereens.
         [little models of the comet and rocket demonstrate]
         [the comet explodes and catches "Moe's" on fire]
   Moe: Oh, dear God, no!
-- Moe, loser either way, "Bart's Comet"

"And that will be the end of Mr. Comet," forecasts Quimby.  Everyone
cheers and leaves the hall.  Once outside, they point at the comet and
laugh derisively -- all except Lisa, who looks around, worried.

Homer: Will you all stop worrying about that stupid comet?  It's going
       to be destroyed, didn't you hear what that guy in the building
 Lisa: But Dad, don't you think --
Homer: Uh, Lisa, the whole reason we have elected officials is so we
       don't _have_ to think all the time.  Just like that rainforest
       scare a few years back: our officials saw there was a problem and
       they fixed it, didn't they?
 Lisa: No, Dad, I don't think --
Homer: There's that word again.
-- Homer doing what he does best, "Bart's Comet"

A newspaper headline reads, "Rocket to Kick Comet's Tail".  The comet
looms large in the sky as everyone on the street looks up at it.  At the
Springfield Armory, the rocket (with a panel saying "Caution: aim way
from face" on the side) is raised on a platform and pointed towards the
sky.  The Simpson family sit on lawn chairs on their roof.

Marge: Homer, what if this doesn't work?
Homer: Well, then I have a backup plan.  See?  While the unprepared are
       still sitting around twiddling their thumbs and going --
       [twiddles his thumbs, hums a goofy tune]
 Bart: {[interrupts] Dad!  The plan.}
Homer: {I'm getting to that!  So anyway, they're going -- [twiddles his
       thumbs more, hums more]}
 Bart: [interrupts] Dad!
Homer: So anyway, we get in our car and take the bridge out of town, all
       the while they're still going -- [twiddles his thumbs and hums
 Lisa: [interrupts] Dad, they're firing the rocket!
Homer: [knocked backwards by the blast] All right!
-- The alternate plan cut short, "Bart's Comet"

The rocket climbs into the sky as everyone oohs and aahs.  Up, up it
flies, straight up to the comet...and passes right in front of it, down,
down onto the only bridge out of town, destroying it.

   Lisa: It blew up the bridge!  We're doomed.
  Homer: It's times like this I wish I were a religious man.
Lovejoy: [running down the street] It's all over, people!  We don't have
         a prayer, argh...
-- Religion, opiate of Homer, "Bart's Comet"

[End of Act Two.  Time: 12:40]

Kent Brockman delivers the news.

       Kent: And, like Icarus, the rocket foolishly soared too high, and
             lost control of its servo guidance mechanism, leaving us
             with some...[checks watch] six hours to live.  So, let's go
             live now to the charred remains of the only bridge out of
             town with Arnie Pie and Arnie in the Sky!
      Arnie: With the bridge gone and the airport unfortunately on the
             other side of the bridge, a number of citizens are
             attempting to jump the gorge with their cars.  It's a
             silent testament to the never-give-up and never-think-
             things-out spirit of our citizens.
       Kent: With our utter annihilation imminent, our federal
             government has snapped into action.  We go live now via
             satellite to the floor of the United States congress.
    Speaker: Then it is unanimous, we are going to approve the bill to
             evacuate the town of Springfield in the great state of --
Congressman: Wait a minute, I want to tack on a rider to that bill: $30
             million of taxpayer money to support the perverted arts.
    Speaker: All in favor of the amended Springfield-slash-pervert bill?
              [everyone boos]
    Speaker: Bill defeated.  [bangs gavel]
       Kent: I've said it before and I'll say it again: democracy simply
             doesn't work.
-- Kent Brockman shows his true color: pink, "Bart's Comet"

 Kent: Now, over the years, a newsman learns a number of things that for
       one reason or another, he just cannot report.  It doesn't seem to
       matter now, so...the following people are gay.
        [a list flashes by hurriedly]
Marge: Turn it off!
Homer: [copying down the list quickly] Just a second...
-- Homer and his useless lists, "Bart's Comet"

Homer: What's everyone so worked up about?  So there's a comet -- big
       deal.  It'll burn up in our atmosphere and what's ever left will
       be no bigger than a chihuahua's head.
 Bart: Wow, Dad, maybe you're right.
Homer: Of course I'm right.  If I'm not, may we all be horribly crushed
       from above somehow.
        [everyone groans]
       OK, if you're that worried about it, let's go down to the bomb
 Lisa: We have a bomb shelter?
Homer: Homer Simpson takes care of _his_ family.
        [the family goes outside]
Homer: [pounding on a door] Flanders!  Open up.
-- Homer, living vicariously through Ned, "Bart's Comet"

  Ned: Heidy-hoeroony, neighbor.  What can I do you for?
Homer: Get out of there.  My family needs to use your bomb shelter.
Marge: Homer!
  Ned: Uh oh, I kind of figured this might happen, so I built the
       shelter big enough for both our families.
Homer: No deal.  Out.
Marge: Get in the shelter, Homer!
-- Homer rejects the first offer, "Bart's Comet"

The shadow of the comet looms over the city hall.  It looms over the
zoo, to the frightened protests of the animals.  Some penguins look at
one another and then suddenly develop the ability to fly.  A boy working
on his bike in the street leaves it there and hides under a park bench.
Other people abandon their cars in the middle of the road and run for

In Ned's bomb shelter, the two families sit around, bored.

Marge: [checks her watch] One more hour.
Homer: An hour?  I can't wait another hour.  What's keeping that stupid
        [someone knocks on the door]
       Ah, there it is.
        [Ned answers it; the rest of Springfield stands outside]
  Ned: Well, howdily-doodily, neighbors.  Shouldn't you be in your
       shelterinis by now?
  Moe: [menacing] We haven't got shelterinis.  We want in yours!
  Ned: Well, ho ho, the shelter's kind of full.
  Moe: [not realizing] Really?  Oh.  Well, we'll just go off some place
       and die then.  Thanks.  [everyone walks off]
  Ned: Wait!  You know, I may regret this when our air runs out and we
       can't whistle _or_ stay alive, but...oh, what the hey.
        [everyone barges in]
-- Moe's bargaining tactics, "Bart's Comet"

The shelter is very crowded indeed with everyone there.

  Homer: I can't get the -- [struggles] -- I can't get the door closed.
         Somebody's going to have to get out.
   Lisa: [muffled] I'd get out but I don't know where I am.
 Barney: Hey!  Somebody's touching me.
Skinner: I am.
 Barney: [happy] Oh, OK.
-- Ned's shelter brims over capacity, "Bart's Comet"

Krusty, ever resourceful, comes up with a plan.

 Krusty: OK, OK, let's figure out who should stay.  The world of the
         future will need laughter, so I'm in.
    Moe: And they'll need somebody to dispense drinks, i.e., me, and
         someone'll have to run the power.  You can do that, Homer.
  Homer: [uncertain] Uh, yeah...I can do that.
          [the comet looms ever closer]
Lovejoy: OK, let's start again.  We'll need laughter, religious
         enlightenment, gossip -- that's Mrs. Lovejoy --
-- Predicting the future world necessities, "Bart's Comet"

Homer: Wait a minute: we all know the one thing we won't need in the
       future!  Left-handed stores.  That's you, Flanders!
        [whispered to Rod & Todd] I'm terribly story.
        [to everyone] Flanders is the only useless person here.  If
       anyone dies, it should be him.
        [whispered] I'm sorry, please forgive me.
        [to everyone] So let's kick Flanders out.
        [whispered] Sorry.
  Ned: Well sir, sounds fair.  Toodleloo, everybody; I'll scream when
       the comet gets here.
Maude: Oh, I'm coming with you, Neddy.
  Ned: No, sweetheart, you...you stay here because --
Maude: [quickly] OK.
  Ned: I might go mad with fear out there, so Todd, I want you to shoot
       Daddy if he tries to get back in.
 Todd: OK, Dad.  [weeps]
  Ned: OK.  [sings on his way out] Que sera sera, whatever will be, will
       be, the future's not ours to see...
-- Ned, closed fatalist, "Bart's Comet"

Moe suggests something to lighten the mood.

       Moe: Hey, uh, I got an idea: we can play a game to pass the time.
            Er, I'll make the sound of a barnyard animal, and, er, you
            all try to guess what it is.  Ahem: [makes some
            unidentifiable noise]
    Wiggum: It's a pig!
      Bart: It's a cow, man.
      Lisa: It's a pony.
    Krusty: No, it's a goat.  You know, one of them lady goats.
     Selma: There are no lady goats: a lady goat is a sheep.
   Hibbert: I believe she's right.
      Otto: You're crazy.
McAllister: Arr, what's it to you?
      Otto: What's it to _me_?
             [everyone starts arguing]
     Marge: Stop it!  Stop it!  Can't you see this barnyard noise
            guessing game is tearing us apart?
             [Ned still sings "Que Sera, Sera" outside]
            Say, Moe, was it a duck?
             [everyone argues again]
-- The final hour before the comet hits, "Bart's Comet"

Homer calls for order.

  Homer: Shut up!  Shut up!  Stop it!  Stop it.  I can't take this any
         more.  I can't let that brave man out there die alone.  I'm
         surprised and disgusted by all of you -- especially his
         children.  I'm going out there!
          [goes out, slams door behind him]
          [pops his head back in] It was a baby ox.
    Moe: He's right, you know.
Skinner: [surprised] About the ox?
    Moe: About everything, dammit.  Hey Homer, wait up.  I want to die
    Apu: If you are going, I am going.
 Barney: Me too!
          [everyone assents and leaves]
-- Never-think-things-through, indeed, "Bart's Comet"

Ned stands alone on a hilltop, singing to himself.

     Ned: [singing] When I was just a little girl,
          I asked my mother, "What will I be?
          Will I be pretty?  Will I be rich?"
          Here's what she said to me:
Everyone: [joining in] Que sera, sera,
          Whatever will be, will be
          The future's not ours to see
          Que sera --
  Quimby: [pointing at the comet] Run!
-- Forced bravado, "Bart's Comet"

The comet speeds towards Springfield, through the polluted atmosphere.
Chunks of it start to fly off.  "Look!" cries Marge, "It's breaking up!"
yells Lisa.  The rapidly diminishing-in-size comet punctures the Skinner
weather balloon, then places a direct hit on Ned's bomb shelter --
destroying it in a pile of masonry.

    Bart: Cool.  [picks up what's left of the comet]
    Lisa: We're saved!
Everyone: Yay!
   Selma: Sure makes you appreciate the preciousness of life.
           [she and Patty light a cigarette and puff contentedly]
     Moe: Let's go burn down the observatory so this will never happen
-- Moe's miracle cure, "Bart's Comet"

Lisa is astounded.

 Lisa: I can't believe that extra-thick layer of pollution that I've
       actually picketed against burned up the comet.
 Bart: But what's really amazing, is that this is _exactly_ what Dad
       said would happen.
 Lisa: Yeah, Dad was right.
Homer: I know, kids.  I'm scared too!
-- Homer "Nostradamus" Simpson, "Bart's Comet"

[End of Act Three.  Time: 20:57]

Over the closing credits, an orchestral version of "Que Sera, Sera"


   {rc}  Ryan Claycamp
   {ddg} Don Del Grande
   {gg}  Gary Goldberg
   {wch} Warren Hagey
   {dh}  Dave Hall
   {th}  Tony Hill
   {vj}  Vaughn Jett
   {mk}  Matthew Kurth
   {jl}  John Laviolette
   {el}  Eric Lin
   {wp}  Werner Peeters
   {av}  Aaron Varhola
This episode summary is Copyright 1996 by James A. Cherry.  Not to be
redistributed in a public forum without permission.  (The quotes
themselves, of course, remain the property of The Simpsons, and the
reproduced articles remain the property of the original authors.  I'm
just taking credit for the compilation.)