|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4|
|Directed by||Jeff Lynch|
|Written by||John Swartzwelder|
|Original air date||April 29, 1993|
|Chalkboard gag||"I will return the seeing-eye dog".|
|Couch gag||The Simpsons walk in, while the couch is replaced by a small wooden chair that the family all sit on.|
"Whacking Day" is the twentieth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 29, 1993. The episode revolves around the fictional holiday "Whacking Day", celebrated annually, in which the citizens of Springfield drive snakes into the town square, then fatally club them. After Bart is expelled from school when he injures Superintendent Chalmers, he applies the knowledge he gains from Marge's homeschooling to help Lisa expose the fraudulent and cruel nature of the holiday.
The episode was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Jeffrey Lynch; Barry White, who had expressed a wish to appear in the show, guest stars as himself. It was pitched by George Meyer, who wanted to create an episode against the mistreatment of snakes. The episode includes the first appearance of Superintendent Chalmers, and features an Itchy & Scratchy parody of Oliver Stone's film JFK. "Whacking Day" won a Genesis Award for "consciousness-raising on behalf of animal issues".
During an inspection by Superintendent Chalmers, Principal Skinner locks Bart, Jimbo, Kearney, Dolph and Nelson into a utility basement under the guise of gifting them free mountain bikes. Bart escapes through a ventilation shaft and takes Groundskeeper Willie's tractor for a joyride, accidentally crashing into Chalmers. After Chalmers furiously passes him over for a promotion, Skinner expels Bart. After he is quickly expelled again from a new private Christian school, Marge decides to homeschool Bart.
Meanwhile, Kent Brockman announces that Springfield's annual "Whacking Day" is approaching. Each year on May 10, the people of Springfield drive snakes to the center of town and beat them to death. The tradition appals Lisa, who finds no support from any of the adults of the town. Barry White arrives to begin the festivities, but is disgusted and quickly leaves when he discovers what the holiday is about.
After Marge takes Bart on a field trip to Olde Springfield Towne, Bart discovers that the origins of Whacking Day, which supposedly involved Jebediah Springfield, is a lie because it conflicts with a major Revolutionary War battle in which he took part, and suggests to Lisa that they lure the snakes to safety by playing music with a lot of bass and putting the stereo speakers to the ground. White, who just happens to have been walking by, agrees to help by singing "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" (with different lyrics to fit the situation), attracting hundreds of snakes into the house.
The pursuing crowd arrives, but they are soon turned around on the subject of Whacking Day by Bart's newfound knowledge. It turns out that the day was actually invented in 1924 as an excuse to beat up the Irish. Lisa also tells the town about the positive influences that the snakes have had on the town folks, such as killing rodents, and the townspeople agree to give up the tradition. Impressed with Bart's efforts, Skinner offers him to come back to school. Upon mentioning that he would be reunited with his "friends" Nelson, Jimbo Dolph, and Kearney, he realizes in horror that he completely forgot about them; still trapped in the basement, the four boys have passed the time talking about their feelings and giving each other hugs. Skinner and Willie race to the school with mountain bikes to avoid a potential lawsuit. When Willie asks Skinner what they will do if they boys have died after being forgotten for days, Skinner assures him that the two of them will ride the bikes into Mexico; Willie mutters to himself that he plans on turning Skinner over at the Mexican border.
Writer George Meyer, who was very "animal conscious", was interested in writing an episode related to an annual ritual held in a Texan town, where the townspeople would beat rattlesnakes with sticks. Meyer did not have time to pen the episode himself, so the idea was given to John Swartzwelder. The subject matter of "beating snakes" worried the staff who thought that many would deem it cruel, even though the episode's message is against the mistreatment of snakes. The episode's first act was one of the shortest the staff had ever written at that time, roughly ten pages in length, but with no ideas to expand, they left it as it was. Due to this, the main plot does not start until the beginning of the second act, as the writers could not come up with much material for it.
In order to speed up animation, director Jeffrey Lynch "begged" storyboard artists Kevin O'Brien and Steve Markowski to help him with the episode. They three spent months on the episode. Barry White wanted to guest star on the show, so he was written into the plot. He sang "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" specially for the episode, rather than using a recorded version.
The song Grampa was supposed to sing in his flashback, showing how he posed as a German cabaret singer in World War II, was "Lili Marlene" by Marlene Dietrich. The staff could not get the rights to it because, according to the people who own the song, "everybody makes fun of it". Much of the flashback was pitched by Conan O'Brien.
The episode marks the first appearance of Superintendent Chalmers. The staff wanted to introduce a boss for Skinner, and Wallace Wolodarsky pitched his name. Much of the dialogue and interactions between Skinner and Chalmers were ad-libbed by Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria, respectively.
The untitled Itchy & Scratchy short, with "guest director" Oliver Stone, is a parody of the scene where footage is shown of Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald in Stone's film JFK: someone is heard to shout, "Oh God! Get his gun!" as the screenplay draws to a close. The song "O Whacking Day" uses the same tune as the Christmas carol "O Tannenbaum", known in English as "O Christmas Tree". Additionally, Bob Woodward is shown to be the author of the book The Truth About Whacking Day.
In its original American broadcast, "Whacking Day" finished tied for 25th in the weekly ratings for the week of April 26 – May 2, 1993 with a Nielsen rating of 12.2. It was the highest rated show from the Fox Network that week.
Jeffrey Lee Puckett of The Courier-Journal cited "Whacking Day" as "the series' richest episode". He wrote: "In 22 remarkable minutes, 'Whacking Day' skewers the quality of America's educational system, self-aggrandizing politicians, greed, the mob mentality, sexuality in the age of political correctness and the whole notion of political correctness, and makes a hero of Barry White."
A 2003 article in The Journal News reported that records show genuine "Whacking Days" having taken place in Eastchester, New York from 1665 onwards: "That one day every spring be chosen for the destroying of rattle snakes." The article quoted show runner Al Jean as saying: "I agree with the premise of the episode: leave the snakes alone. They didn't hurt anybody."
Since 2009, citizens in North Queensland, Australia, have held an annual "Toad Day Out" every March 29 in which thousands of cane toads (an invasive and highly destructive species not native to Australia) are captured and humanely destroyed. The event was inspired by the episode.
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- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Whacking Day". BBC. Retrieved February 12, 2008.
- Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season Commentary for the Episode "Whacking Day" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Lynch, Jeffrey (2004). The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season Commentary for the Episode "Whacking Day" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Reiss, Mike (2004). The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season Commentary for the Episode "Whacking Day" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- "Nielsen Ratings/April 26 – May 2". Press-Telegram. May 5, 1993. p. C-6.
- Lycan, Gary (June 20, 1994). "Using Awards to Fight Cruelty to Animals – Preview: Show Cites Media and Entertainment Contributions to Cause of Humane Treatment". The Orange County Register. p. F-10.
- "Free Willy, Simpsons Win Genesis Awards". Rocky Mountain News. January 30, 1994. p. 56A.
- Puckett, Jeffrey Lee (March 27, 1999). "Toons for Our Times". The Courier-Journal. p. 12S.
- Vognar, Chris (June 18, 2004). "A Fine Song and Dance: Simpsons Musical Spoofs are Worthy of an Encore". The Dallas Morning News. p. 16-H.
- Groening, Matt (2004). The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season Commentary for the Episode "Whacking Day" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Martin, Andrew (October 7, 2011). "Top 10 Best Musical Guests On 'The Simpsons'". Prefix Mag. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Serico, Chris (July 31, 2003). "Move Over, Homer! Eastchester Had Its Own 'Whacking Day'". The Journal News. p. 9-A.
- Kym Agius & Evan Schwarten (March 27, 2011). "Thousands killed in "Toad Day Out"". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: "Whacking Day"|
- "Whacking Day" at The Simpsons.com
- "Whacking Day episode capsule". The Simpsons Archive.
- "Whacking Day" at TV.com
- Whacking Day on IMDb