chapter  3
18 Pages

Repeat Viewings: Television Analysis in the DVD Age

WithJAMES WALTERS

In an episode entitled “I Love Lisa” from season four of The Simpsons (20th Century Fox Television, 1989-ongoing), Bart Simpson has characteristically devised an inventive and effective method of sadistic torture for his sister, Lisa. Earlier in the episode, Lisa had expressed her sympathy for a fellow classmate, Ralph Wiggum, by presenting him with a hastily-written valentine’s card, having discovered that he had in fact received none from any of his female peers (the class had been making valentine’s cards and distributing them to one another). Ralph misreads her platonic gesture, taking the punchline of her card “I Choo-Choo Choose You!” literally, and subsequently pursues Lisa as an object of his affection.1 Against her better judgment, Lisa accepts Ralph’s invitation to attend the prestigious 29th Anniversary Special of the Krusty the Clown show, sitting with Ralph and his father, Chief Wiggum, as guest audience members (the widely-coveted tickets having been procured due to Wiggum elder’s dubious infl uence as the town’s presiding chief of police).