The Simpsons Bart of Darkness

Voices: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Pamela Hayden, Maggie Roswell, Russi Taylor.

Voices: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Pamela Hayden, Maggie Roswell, Russi Taylor.

Rolling into its sixth season in high gear, “The Simpsons” continues as the best justification of Fox’s relative permissiveness. It’s also arguably the funniest series on the air.

Springfield is in the middle of a heat wave, with Bart (voice of Nancy Cartwright) and Lisa (Yeardley Smith) badgering their father Homer (Dan Castellaneta) into purchasing a swimming pool fromPool Sharks (“Where the buyer is our chum”). Suddenly, the kids’ popularity soars.

But an accident sends Bart to bed with a broken leg, and the episode turns into an homage to “Rear Window,” with Bart in the Jimmy Stewart role and perpetual do-gooder Ned Flanders (Harry Shearer) as the Raymond Burr surrogate. Parents will have to explain the references to their kids, but the story stands on its own.

Typically, the show is packed with other adult-oriented and rather arcane cultural touchstones, notably a “Krusty the Klown” flashback to 1961, when the greasepaint-faced children’s idol (Castellaneta again) is seen in black and white, chain smoking and interviewing labor boss George Meaney.

Mad magazine and the Fox network are also on the receiving end of brief, on-target japes.

For the kids, there’s a new episode of the ultra-violent “Itchy and Scratchy” cartoon. How much they’ll relate to most of the rest that goes on is anybody’s guess.

Tech credits are good — limited animation actually works in this case — and sound effects and mixing are top-notch.

And to think that “The Flintstones” was once regarded as hip, primetime animation.

The Simpsons Bart of Darkness

(Sun. (4), 8-8:30 p.m., Fox)

Production: Animated; produced by Gracie Films in association with 20th Television. Executive producers, James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon, David Mirkin; co-executive producer, Jace Richdale; supervising producers, Harold Kimmel, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein; producers, Jonathan Collier, Mike Scully, David Sacks, John Swartzwelder, Joseph A. Boucher, Richard Raynis, David Silverman, Richard Sakai; co-producer, Greg Daniels; consulting producers, Al Jean, Mike Reiss; animation executive producer, Phil Roman; animation producers, Bill Schultz, Mike Wolf; animation co-producer, Ken Tsumura; director, Jim Reardon; script, Dan McGrath; created by Groening.

Crew: Editors, Mark McJimsey, Don Barrozo; sound, Ronny Cox; music, Alf Clausen; theme, Danny Elfman.

More TV

  • Michael Bloomberg and Elizabeth WarrenNinth 2020

    MSNBC Democratic Debate Moderators Lost Control of a Messy Night (Column)

    After what seems like countless Democratic debates, February 19th’s had a giant curveball in Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor whose enormous fortune has given him a late, but undeniable, leg up in the race. So it was unsurprising that the prospect of Bloomberg making a play for the nomination at the 11th [...]

  • Combs Making the Band

    Diddy Sons Quincy Brown, Christian and Justin Combs Will Judge 'Making The Band'

    The panel of judges for the MTV reboot of “Making The Band” was revealed on Wednesday. Diddy’s sons Quincy Brown, Christian and Justin Combs along with creative director and celebrity choreographer LaurieAnn Gibson are all set to join the franchise. Diddy’s children all have careers spanning music, entertainment and fashion. “Making The Band” is based [...]

  • Lesley VisserFooty's Bubbles & Bones Gala,

    Lesley Visser to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at 41st Sports Emmys

    Veteran sportscaster Lesley Visser will be honored with the lifetime achievement award at this year’s 41st annual Sports Emmys. It reps the first time a woman has received the accolade. “To be a pioneer at nearly every juncture of sports reporting isn’t easy despite how Lesley Visser makes it look, said Justine Gubar, executive director, [...]

  • TV News Roundup: Angelyne Signs on

    TV News Roundup: Angelyne Signs on to Produce Eponymous Peacock Series

    In today’s TV news roundup, Peacock’s limited series “Angelyne” got the titular woman as an executive producer, and Netflix announced premiere dates for “Ugly Delicious” and “Unorthodox.” DATES Netflix announced the premiere dates of new and returning shows coming this March: “Ugly Delicious” Season 2 is premiering March 6; “Marc Maron: End Times Fun” will launch March [...]

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren,

    How to Watch the Nevada Democratic Debate Online

    The ninth Democratic presidential debate will take place Wednesday as six hopeful candidates take the stage ahead of the Nevada caucus on Feb. 22. NBC and MSNBC will broadcast the debate on their networks from 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET to 8 p.m. PT/ 10 p.m. ET. Those wanting to tune in can also [...]

  • James Wolk

    James Wolk to Star in NBC Drama Pilot 'Ordinary Joe'

    James Wolk has been cast in the lead role of the NBC drama pilot “Ordinary Joe,” Variety has learned. The project explores the three parallel lives of Joe Kimbrough (Wolk) after he makes a pivotal choice at a crossroads in his life. The series asks the question of how different life might look if you made your [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content