Dr. Joan Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

Viva La Evolucion!

Last night’s Simpson’s episode was a repeat of “The Monkey Suit” (HABF14) which first aired in May, and I recall this was hashed over a bit here before SciBlogs bloated outwards in June. But hey, as the most boring woman on Earth, I’m inclined to be repetitive, redundant even. Here’s the synopsis of the show courtesy of The Simpsons Archive

After visiting an evolution exhibit narrated by guest star Melanie Griffith, Flanders pushes Mayor Quimby to appoint Reverend Lovejoy as a “Mortality Czar” in charge of spreading the theory of creationism. Darwin’s theories are quickly outlawed and Lisa finds herself as the only supporter of the scientific theory. After holding secret evolution classes, Lisa is arrested and retains Southern lawyer Wallace Brady (voiced by guest Larry Hagman) to help defend her beliefs in front of a judge. While Flanders is on the stand in court, Homer’s antics cause him to crack under pressure and he calls Homer an ape, which leads the judge to believe Homer resembles the missing link – putting a monkey wrench in the prosecutors’ case.

There were some moments which made me chuckle even upon a second viewing: the educational film “So You’re Calling God a Liar,” Marge reading The Origin of Species while mowing the lawn and washing her blue tresses, and Homer’s chimpitated antics in his frustrated attempt to open a bottle of Duff: “Oh. It was a twist-off.”

The writer of “The Monkey Suit” is one Mr. Burns. Not C. Montgomery Burns, but J. Stewart Burns. Sarah Greenwald profiles J.S. Burns on her Dr. Sarah’s Mathematical Backgrounds of The Simpsons’ Writers site. J.S. Burns has written a number of other Simpsons and Futurama episodes. He’s one of several scientifically and mathematically inclined writers who at one time or another wrote for the Harvard Lampoon. The Lampy and Harvard have been referenced on The Simpsons on multiple occasions. For example, the address of Apu’s Kwik-E-Mart is 57 Mt Auburn Street which abuts the side of the roughly triangular shaped block on which the Harvard Lampoon Castle stands. When taking out-of-town guests on whirlwind tours of Cambridge, I invariably pointed out the Lampy Castle: “There’s the Kwik-E–Mart…and Springfield Elementary and Dr. Nick Riviera’s Walk-In Clinic.” These are on Plympton and Bow Streets, respectively, and also border the Lampy Castle.

The science and math backgrounds of writers for The Simpsons and Futurama have been well covered, including an interview with David X. Cohen and Al Jean in our very own mothership, Seed Magazine (May 2006): Meet the Geeks. Researchers at the Institute for Science Education in Scotland have even suggested using The Simpsonsas a vehicle for teaching science. I wonder how Scots teachers would handle the delicate issue of Groundskeeper Willie: “Therrrre’s nary an animal alive that can outrun a grrrreased Scotsman!

There are complaints that as it gears up to enter its 18th season, The Simpsons has lost its edge and slides down the slopes of Mt. Springfield in tired, mediocre decline. Maybe so, but I still find laughs in little gems like “Viva la Evolucion” and “Look! Darwin’s making out with Satan!” And when I need a dose of SImpsons levity during my workday, I can always squeeze my Blinky the Three Eyed Fish “stressball” (but not too hard – Blinky I burst in mid-squeeze and ejaculated goo and glitter all over my keyboard and monitor) or press Professor Frink on his Springfield diorama to hear him say, “I, uh, forgot to carry the ‘y’.”


  1. #1 pough
    July 25, 2006

    My favourite moment from that episode was a baffled Skinner asking if they meant Lamarckian Evolution as the alternative theory to Darwinian Evolution.

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