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The Itchy & Scratchy Show
(fictional show)
ISTitleCard.png
The Itchy & Scratchy Show title card.
Format Animated children's show
Created by Chester J. Lampwick
Starring June Bellamy
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 83 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Roger Meyers, Jr.
Krusty the Clown
Broadcast
Original channel Channel 6

The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a show within a show in the animated television series The Simpsons. It usually appears as a part of the The Krusty the Clown Show, watched regularly by Bart and Lisa Simpson. Itself an animated cartoon, The Itchy & Scratchy Show depicts an anthropomorphic blue mouse, Itchy (voiced by Dan Castellaneta), who repeatedly kills an anthropomorphic black cat, Scratchy (voiced by Harry Shearer). The cartoon first appeared in the Tracey Ullman Show short "The Bart Simpson Show", which originally aired November 20, 1988. The cartoon's first appearance in The Simpsons was in the 1990 episode "There's No Disgrace Like Home". Typically presented as 15-60 second-long cartoons, the show is filled with over-the-top violence. The Simpsons also occasionally features characters who are involved with the production of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, including Roger Meyers, Jr. (voiced by Alex Rocco and Hank Azaria), who runs the studio and produces the show.

Itchy and Scratchy are based on the cartoons Tom and Jerry and Herman and Katnip, and their names were inspired by "Pixie and Dixie", who were mice on the cartoon show Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks. The cartoons have since become popular among the show's writers and animators and are often added when an episode needs expanding. As the shorts became popular with fans, the writers decided to have full episodes that centered around the production of The Itchy & Scratchy Show and featured multiple shorts. The first was "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" (season two, 1990), which was a commentary on censorship. Other episodes to feature the show include "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie" (season four, 1992), "The Front" (season four, 1993), "Itchy & Scratchy Land" (season six, 1994), "The Day the Violence Died" (season seven, 1996) and "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" (season eight, 1997).

Contents

Role in The Simpsons

A scene from the opening sequence of the show

The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a show within a show that appears occasionally in episodes of The Simpsons. They typically appear in the form of 15-60 second cartoons that are filled with over-the-top violence as the two characters, Itchy the mouse and Scratchy the cat, attempt to kill each other. Itchy is almost always the victor.[1] A complex backstory for the show has been established. The episode "The Day the Violence Died" (season seven, 1996) reveals that Chester J. Lampwick invented Itchy in 1919, but the character was stolen by Roger Meyers.[2] Scratchy starred in his first cartoon in 1928, entitled That Happy Cat. The film, a 14-second-long animation showing the cat whistling and tipping his hat, did very poorly commercially. Later that year, Itchy and Scratchy starred in their first cartoon together entitled Steamboat Itchy, a violent parody of Disney's Steamboat Willie featuring Mickey Mouse.[3] Along with the cartoon shorts, Itchy and Scratchy were featured in a wartime radio series,[4] at least two films—Pinitchio and Scratchtasia,[5] and television commercials for Laramie Cigarettes.[6]

Itchy and Scratchy Studios is run by Roger Meyers, Jr., the son of Roger Meyers, the cartoon's "creator". Itchy and Scratchy Studios was bankrupted after it was sued by Lampwick for $800 billion, but was saved after receiving a large cash settlement from the government over its use of Mr. ZIP.[2] The Itchy and Scratchy Show airs as a segment on the Krusty the Klown show, but moved to the Gabbo show during the latter's short-lived run.[7] The show underwent a non-violent retooling following a protest campaign led by Marge Simpson, but after Marge was later discredited, it returned to its original violent format.[8] The show has spawned an Academy Award-winning film adaptation,[3] amusement parks,[5] and a musical.[9]

Many aspects of The Itchy & Scratchy show are a parody of Walt Disney films and include shorts such as "Scratchtasia", a parody of Fantasia, and "Pinitchio", a parody of Pinocchio.[10] Itchy & Scratchy are often used for animation-related jokes. For example, the Manhattan Madness cartoon in "The Day the Violence Died" is based on very early animated cartoons such as Gertie the Dinosaur.[11] Itchy and Scratchy often play out an exaggerated form of the conflict in the surrounding episode. For example, in "Deep Space Homer" (season five, 1994), Homer is recruited by NASA, and later watches an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon which directly (and gruesomely) parodies the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien.[12]

Characters

The Itchy & Scratchy Show

Itchy and Scratchy are the main characters in the show. The duo first appeared in The Tracey Ullman Show short "The Bart Simpson Show", which aired November 20, 1988. Their first appearance in The Simpsons was "There's No Disgrace Like Home".[13] Itchy, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, is a blue mouse, and usually is the victor in their battles. An exception is in "Homer Goes to College" (season five, 1993). Bart and Lisa watch a cartoon called "Burning Down the Mouse", as Lisa puts it, "This is the one where Scratchy finally gets Itchy." Due to the Simpsons' television being unplugged, the viewer does not see the end of the cartoon, Krusty proclaims that the network would never let it be shown again.[14] Scratchy, voiced by Harry Shearer, is a black cat and is the victim of much abuse from Itchy. The writers often forget which character is which; a trick they use is that Scratchy contains the letters c, a and t.[13]

Poochie, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, is an anthropomorphic dog that appeared in "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" (season eight, 1997). In the episode, the producers of The Itchy & Scratchy Show believed the cartoons were getting stale, and needed a new character to reinvigorate the show. Homer Simpson gets the job of voicing Poochie, who is introduced in the cartoon, "The Beagle Has Landed". A product of marketing department thinking, Poochie was near-universally despised, and was killed off in his second appearance, despite Homer's objections. The character was lent on Betty Boop's dog pudgy.

The episode was both a reference to TV shows which added new characters purportedly to reinvigorate the show, and a commentary on the growing complaints of fans of The Simpsons. The original idea for the episode was that Poochie would be obnoxious because he was so rich, rather than because he was so cool.[15] Poochie would later make brief speaking cameo appearances in "Treehouse of Horror IX" and "Little Big Mom".[15][16]

Marge is an annoying squirell that spoofs Marge and apperead in Itchy and Scratchy and Marge. she died by a baseball bat.

Production staff

Roger Meyers, Jr. in his first appearance in "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge"

Roger Meyers, Jr., voiced by Alex Rocco and Hank Azaria, is the chairman and CEO of Itchy & Scratchy Studios and is the son of Roger Meyers.[8] He first appeared in "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" (season two, 1990). He distributes the cartoon and is a jaded and selfish businessman who has nothing but contempt for the children who comprise his audience.[17] He also possesses an extremely obnoxious personality, where he only cares about people who can help him. This is displayed in his contempt for the writers of The Itchy & Scratchy Show.[18]

Alex Rocco also voices Meyers in "The Day the Violence Died" and "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show". He said that he liked voicing Meyers because "I get to be a big-shot."[19] However, he professed being nervous when voicing the character for the first time in "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" because he said that he had never done a voice-over before. At first he tried doing a special voice, but was told to "just be yourself."[19] Rocco was one of Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein's favorite guest stars, and they liked including him in their episodes so they could "have a little fun with him."[11] On occasions when Rocco was unavailable to do a voice over, Meyers was voiced by Hank Azaria in "The Front" (season four, 1993), "Lady Bouvier's Lover" (season five, 1994) and "Itchy & Scratchy Land".[20]

The spelling of Meyers' name has been inconsistent in the show. His last name was spelt both Myers and Meyers in "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge", and Myers the later episode "The Day the Violence Died".[2][8] His name is spelt Meyers in "The Front", as well as in the book The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family.[18][21]

Roger Meyers, Sr. first appeared in video footage in "Itchy & Scratchy Land" and has never had a speaking role. He was created because the writers felt it would have been "tortured logic" to have the Roger Meyers, Jr. be the creator.[11] Roger Meyers Sr has similarities to Walt Disney.[22] For example, Disney's alleged antisemitism is spoofed when it is revealed that Meyers made a cartoon called Nazi Supermen are our Superiors.[23]

June Bellamy, voiced by Tress MacNeille, is the actress who portrays both Itchy and Scratchy. Her only appearance was in "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show". She is a reference to veteran voice actress June Foray. In the episode, it is said that a woman voiced the characters, but in reality both Itchy and Scratchy are voiced by men.[15]

Chester J. Lampwick, voiced by Kirk Douglas, is the creator of Itchy and only appeared in "The Day the Violence Died". Douglas was not the producers' first choice for the character, they first wanted William Hickey, but he turned them down.[11] Douglas's recording session was fraught with interruptions because he refused to wear the earphones supplied to him in the recording studio, and said the maximum he would do was two takes.[24]

Writing staff: In several episodes centering around the production of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, caricatures of the show's staff are used as the staff of The Itchy & Scratchy Show. This first occurred in "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge" where caricatures of animators David Silverman, Wes Archer and Rich Moore can be seen.[25] In "The Front" many of the show's writers were used, this in-joke was purely an idea of the animators. John Swartzwelder, George Meyer, Jeff Martin, Al Jean, Sam Simon, Jon Vitti and Mike Reiss all appeared in the episode.[20] This joke returned in "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show". Almost all of the writers shown are caricatures of the actual staff of The Simpsons. At the production table, David X. Cohen, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein are shown, whilst Meyer speaks out and gets fired. The animator shown designing Poochie is Silverman. Others who appear include Dan McGrath, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Donick Cary, Ron Hauge, Ned Goldreyer and Mike Scully.[15]

Background

Origins

Itchy and Scratchy in their first appearance in "The Bart Simpson Show"

The Itchy & Scratchy Show first appeared in the Tracey Ullman Show short "The Bart Simpson Show", which originally aired November 20, 1988. They were the first major recurring characters outside of the Simpson family to appear.[26] They are based on Tom and Jerry and other cat and mouse cartoons. As a child, series creator Matt Groening and his friends would fantasize about an ultra violent cartoon and how much fun it would be to work on a show like that.[13][27] The names "Itchy" and "Scratchy" were inspired by "Pixie and Dixie", who were mice on the cartoon show Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks.[27] The show is also based on Herman and Katnip, a show that, according to director David Silverman, "is hilarious because it's just bad".[25][28] As a child, Groening really liked the 1961 Disney film One Hundred and One Dalmatians, and it was one of the reasons to why he got into cartooning.[29] In the film, the puppies watch television in the course of the film, and the idea that it is possible have a cartoon within a cartoon thrilled Groening. From that idea he got the inspiration for The Itchy & Scratchy Show.[29]

David Silverman states that Itchy and Scratchy cartoons are "an ironic commentary on cartoon mayhem in the sense that it's taken to a more realistic level. The kids on The Simpsons are laughing at it, and we're laughing too, but part of what you're laughing at is the over-the-top excessiveness of the violence."[28]

Development

Over the years, we have gotten fan mail from people asking for Itchy & Scratchy to get their own spinoff, and you know, more Itchy & Scratchy [...] we put together a montage of Itchy & Scratchy moments, that is several minutes long, and I've shown it to audiences and they get stunned after a minute and a half.

Itchy and Scratchy cartoons are often added when a show needs expanding or when there is an issue that the writers wish to satirize.[30][31] In some cases, notably in "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", the writers use Itchy & Scratchy as a way to comment on The Simpsons.[15] The shorts are often hard for the writers and take a long time to develop and come up with a title for the short and in the end they do not fill up a large amount of time.[32] Writing the Itchy & Scratchy cartoons is quite often a group effort, with it being pitched out one gag after another.[33] Itchy & Scratchy are a favorite of John Swartzwelder, who has written many of the episodes that center around them and quite often pitches the ideas for the shorts.[32] In the early seasons, fans wanted more Itchy & Scratchy, so the writers decided to do "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge", an episode also dealt with censorship issues which would allow them to show several cartoons.[25] The cartoons are often kept short, because according to David Silverman, "it doesn't really work as a long cartoon."[28]

During his tenure as showrunner (season five and six) David Mirkin was asked by the Fox network not to do any more Itchy & Scratchy cartoons due to the amount of violence in them. In response, the show produced "Itchy & Scratchy Land". The network asked them not to do the episode, and threatened that if the episode was produced, they would cut the Itchy & Scratchy parts out themselves, but relented when showrunner David Mirkin threatened to tell the media. The writers nevertheless promised to try not to overdo the violence and in some scenes the violence was cut.[22]

During their tenure as executive producers, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein tried to fit in one episode relating to The Itchy & Scratchy Show every season. They note that as the seasons went on, it became harder and harder for them to come up with new Itchy & Scratchy episode ideas.[11] Although the episode was quite difficult to animate, "Itchy & Scratchy Land" was "a dream come true" for the animators, as they quite enjoyed animating scenes filled with violence.[34]

Reception

In a 2006 article, IGN ranked Itchy & Scratchy in tenth position on their list of the "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral Characters", citing that "the Itchy & Scratchy Show shines a nice mirror on cartoons, showing just how funny cartoon violence really is."[35] In 2003, Entertainment Weekly named "Itchy & Scratchy Land" and "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" the seventh best and twenty-third best episodes of The Simpsons respectively.[23] In 2007, Vanity Fair named "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" the sixth best episode in the show's history, describing it as "a classic satire of network influence, obsessed TV fans, and programs that survive long after the shark has been jumped, the episode is a meta-celebration, a tongue-in-cheek rebuttal to everyone who claimed that the quality of The Simpsons had declined over the years."[36] Todd Gilchrist called it a masterpiece, stating it "could easily be packaged and sold by [itself]."[37] Robert Canning of IGN writes that "it's always fun to see an 'Itchy and Scratchy' cartoon" but believes that the shorter and simpler cartoons are better than the longer more complex ones.[38] In his book Planet Simpson, author Chris Turner describes Itchy & Scratchy as "by far the most gleeful visual riffing on The Simpsons [...] each snippet of "Itchy & Scratchy" packs as much frenetically paced action, sight-gaggery and physical humor into its half-minute of screen time as a half-dozen Road Runner cartoons and a dozen Tom & Jerrys."[1]

Merchandising

Itchy and Scratchy have appeared in various products and other media relating to The Simpsons. A video game named The Itchy & Scratchy Game was released for Genesis, Game Gear, Super NES and Game Boy.[39] Another game, Itchy and Scratchy in Miniature Golf Madness, was released for Game Boy.[40] Itchy and Scratchy play roles in the "Grand Theft Scratchy" section in The Simpsons Game.[41] Itchy & Scratchy have also appeared in commercials for various products, including a 1999 Butterfinger advert where Bart watches a short called "500 Easy Pieces".[42] They also appear in the very first scene of The Simpsons Movie. The writers of the film knew from the beginning that they were going to start with an Itchy & Scratchy short and the segment was the first scene that was storyboarded by the animators.[43]

The duo also appear in the pre-show video for The Simpsons Ride. They host a video called "Safety First" that shows riders what can happen to them if they do not follow ride requirements.[44] Only Itchy has a speaking part in the ride, because Harry Shearer chose not to participate in the ride, so none of his characters have speaking parts.[45]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Turner, pp. 33–34
  2. ^ a b c "The Day the Violence Died". Swartzwelder, John; Archer, Wes. The Simpsons. Fox. 1996-03-17. No. 18, season 07.
  3. ^ a b "The Day the Violence Died". Swartzwelder, John; Moore, Rich. The Simpsons. Fox. 1992-11-03. No. 06, season 04.
  4. ^ "The Old Man and the Key". Vitti, Jon; Kramer, Lance. The Simpsons. Fox. 2002-03-10. No. 13, season 13.
  5. ^ a b "Itchy & Scratchy Land". Swartzwelder, John; Archer, Wes. The Simpsons. Fox. 1994-10-02. No. 04, season 06.
  6. ^ "HOMR". Jean, Al; Anderson, Mike B.. The Simpsons. Fox. 2001-01-07. No. 09, season 12.
  7. ^ "Krusty Gets Kancelled". Swartzwelder, John; Silverman, David. The Simpsons. Fox. 1993-05-13. No. 22, season 04.
  8. ^ a b c "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge". Swartzwelder, John; Reardon, Jim. The Simpsons. Fox. 1990-12-20. No. 09, season 02.
  9. ^ "Girls Just Want to Have Sums". Selman, Matt; Kruse, Nancy. The Simpsons. Fox. 2006-04-30. No. 19, season 17.
  10. ^ Groening, Matt. (2004). The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Oakley, Bill; Weinstein, Josh. (2005) Commentary for "The Day the Violence Died", in The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  12. ^ Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Deep Space Homer". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/simpsons/episodeguide/season5/page15.shtml. Retrieved 2007-09-26. 
  13. ^ a b c Joe Rhodes (2000-10-21). "Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves". TV Guide. 
  14. ^ "Homer Goes to College". O'Brien, Conan; Reardon, Jim. The Simpsons. Fox. 1993-10-14. No. 03, season 05.
  15. ^ a b c d e Cohen, David X.; Groening, Matt; Moore, Steven Dean; Rocco, Alex; Smith, Yeardley; Weinstein, Josh. (2005) Commentary for "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", in The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  16. ^ "Little Big Mom". Omine, Carolyn; Kirkland, Mark. The Simpsons. Fox. 2000-01-14. No. 10, season 09.
  17. ^ "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show". Cohen, David S.; Moore, Steven Dean. The Simpsons. Fox. 1997-02-09. No. 14, season 08.
  18. ^ a b "The Front". Lapidus, Adam I.; Moore, Rich. The Simpsons. Fox. 1993-04-15. No. 19, season 04.
  19. ^ a b Rocco, Alex (2006). Commentary for "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  20. ^ a b Groening, Matt; Jean, Al; Lapidus, Adam I.; Reiss, Mike; Moore, Rich. (2004) Commentary for "The Front", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  21. ^ Richmond, p. 43
  22. ^ a b Mirkin, David. (2005) Commentary for "Itchy & Scratchy Land", in The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  23. ^ a b "The Family Dynamic". Entertainment Weekly. 2003-01-29. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,417748_2,00.html. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  24. ^ Cartwright, Nancy (2000). "Spartacus!". My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy. New York City: Hyperion. pp. 222–228. ISBN 0-7868-8600-5. 
  25. ^ a b c d Groening, Matt; Jean, Al; Lapidus, Reardon, Jim; Reiss, Mike. (2002) Commentary for "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge", in The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  26. ^ Richmond, pp. 14–15
  27. ^ a b Groening, Matt. (2002). The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  28. ^ a b c Heintjes, Tom (2004). "The David Silverman Interview". MSNBC. http://cagle.msnbc.com/hogan/interviews/silverman.asp. Retrieved 2008-12-02. 
  29. ^ a b Groening, Matt. (2005). The Simpsons The Complete Sixth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  30. ^ Scully, Mike. (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Girly Edition". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  31. ^ Jean, Al. (2002). The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  32. ^ a b Reiss, Mike. (2002). The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  33. ^ Groening, Matt. (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Girly Edition". [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. 
  34. ^ Archer, Wes. (2005) Commentary for "Itchy & Scratchy Land", in The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  35. ^ Eric Goldman, Dan Iverson, Brian ZoghrhwerhhjR5Jromski (2006-09-06). "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral Characters". IGN. http://tv.ign.com/articles/730/730957p3.html. Retrieved 2007-06-08. 
  36. ^ John Orvted (2007-09-22). "Springfield's Best". Vanity Fair. http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/08/top10simpsons200708. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  37. ^ Gilchrist, Todd (2006-09-22). "The Simpsons - The Complete Eighth Season". http://uk.dvd.ign.com/articles/725/725343p1.html. Retrieved 2007-07-31. 
  38. ^ Canning, Robert (2008-12-01). "The Simpsons: "Mypods and Boomsticks" Review". IGN. http://tv.ign.com/articles/934/934359p1.html. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  39. ^ "The Itchy and Scratchy Game". IGN. http://gameboy.ign.com/objects/010/010551.html. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  40. ^ "Itchy and Scratchy in Miniature Golf Madness". IGN. http://gameboy.ign.com/objects/010/010414.html. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  41. ^ Saltzman, Mark (2007-10-25). "'Simpsons' game delivers big laughs for devoted fans". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/tech/columnist/marcsaltzman/2007-10-25-simpsons-game_N.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  42. ^ (2007) Commercials–Butterfinger, in The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  43. ^ Brooks, James L.; Groening, Matt; Jean, Al; Scully, Mike; Silverman, David; Castellaneta, Dan; Smith, Yeardley. (2007). Commentary for The Simpsons Movie [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  44. ^ Bevil, DeWayne (2008-04-29). "New Simpsons Ride gives Universal Studios patrons a taste of Springfield". Orlando Sentinel. http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sfl-flzsimpson0429sbapr29,0,5759324.story. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  45. ^ "Mr. Burns Sucks in Real Life Too". TMZ.com. 2008-04-15. http://www.tmz.com/2008/04/15/mr-burns-sucks-in-real-life-too/. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 

References

  • Richmond, Ray; Antonia Coffman (1997). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family. New York City: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-638898-1. 
  • Turner, Chris (2004). Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation. Toronto: Random House Canada. ISBN 0-679-31318-4. 

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