"The Simpsons" The Telltale Head (TV Episode 1990) Poster

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Becoming More Comfortable!
g-bodyl8 November 2013
The eighth episode of the first season, "The Telltale Head" really shows how much more confidence the makers had in this show. The show is really starting to come on in to it's own and this episode proves it. We meet some new characters such as the three bad bullies and the Kwik-Mart owner. There are some funny jokes here and I especially loved the scenes that features Bart and Homer.

This episode begins with Bart and Homer running away from an angry mob and as they are cornered, Bart tells his story about how he was pressured to cut off the head of the founder of Springfield's statue in order to impress some school bullies.

Overall, this is a very good episode and a Simpson's classic. I loved how this episode references Edgar Allan Poe's "The Telltale Heart." This was a very amusing episode and is one of my favorites so far. I rate this episode 9/10.
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An Early Simpsons Morality Tale
LedZep71225 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
The Telltale Head

This episode is in someways a strange episode for The Simpsons. Particularly in the layout where the "end" of the episode is placed in the beginning. The show seems to be getting comfortable with itself particularly the reference to the story length.

Much of the story is cleverly written with several good jokes. Homer has a lot of strong moments, particularly the football section in the beginning. The Sunday School scenes are also hilarious. Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney aren't as funny as future episodes and much more friendly, but are also good in their own way.

The main point of the story, the moral dilemma that Bart faces isn't exactly strong largely a parody that ends up flat, except for a few jokes. Overall, a lot of great aside gags but the main point isn't as strong.
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Bart cuts the head off the statue of Springfield's owner
SLionsCricketreviews3 January 2018
For some reason, I had a faint memory of this particular episode occurring in the second or third season of The Simpsons, when the show had well and truly found its stride. This was also an episode referenced in South Park's "Cartoon Wars: Part 2" whereby Eric Cartman and Bart Simpson discussed their most evil deeds to which Bart references his crime in "The Telltale Head" and it, to my great amusement, was cause for Cartman reminiscing his evil deed in the episode "Scott Tenorman Must Die".

Anyways, this is a Simpsons episode not a South Park one. "The Telltale Head" is perfectly fine and the outline for the show as it is known today becomes progressively clearer with each new episode of the first season. There's some very solid stuff here where Bart hangs out with a number of Nelson's cronies as they would now be remembered for. It feels very believable, is surprisingly entertaining and feels the most well aged part of this episode. Nothing about the episode is dated necessarily, it is merely that I find the show has not arrived at the point where it is invincible to any harm whatsoever. The Simpsons will still take a little while longer to be the show I and I would assume many cherish.

Humour wise, a lot of it misses the mark for me, largely in terms of the vocal performances and the timing that does not evoke too much confidence. What works is the concept of Bart cutting the head off the statue of the town's founder and had this episode occurred in almost any of the other seasons of the show's 'Golden Age', it would yield marvellous results. Some of the Bart and Homer stuff, particularly Homer supporting Bart after his terrible misdeed are touching and classic although I cannot help but be a little underwhelmed with the in media res narrative here. The story begins with Bart and Homer chased by an angry mob out to seek justice for Bart's actions and from there on in, the story is told up to that point. It might have helped the episode's narrative feel a little tighter and more purposeful if narration was sprinkled throughout the telling of the story. Narration is something that The Simpsons used to great comedic and even dramatic effect when the show was at its absolute finest.

Criticisms aside, "The Telltale Head" is perfectly watchable if a little unspectacular as far as an episode of The Simpsons goes. In any other great season of The Simpsons, this would be an absolute classic but in the first season, it is perhaps a little clunky and that is perfectly understandable in my opinion. It is well paced, has some nice humour beats even if a lot fall flat and has a touching core. It just does not reach the same comedic and dramatic beats that have made The Simpsons something of legend.
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First Time They Truly Nailed It.
Dr Moo5 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is the episode I would say marks the start of The Simpsons on its unstoppable rise to near-perfection, a status it would hold for between 8 & 10 years depending who you ask. The show has spent some time trying to figure out what it wants to be but that's all over now. It has found itself and can begin to deliver quality week after week from here on out.

The layout of the story is a clever one, in that the end is the beginning, with Bart's story being told from his perspective to an angry mob and a nice reference to the episode's running time further highlighting the comfort the show now has in itself. It's also a noteworthy episode for the first appearance of Jebidiah Springfield, Sideshow Bob (sadly, minus Kelsey Grammar) and the bullies Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney. All these characters are shadows of what they'll become in the future, but since it's still season one I'll let that one go.

Bart is the main character this time, but that doesn't stop Homer from stealing the show with his scenes being some of his greatest in 26 years and counting. "Being popular is the most important thing in the world." "A kid without mischief is like a bowling ball without a liquid centre." "Is the leaning tower of Pisa just a statue?" These are all extremely quotable and have found their way into the cultural lexicon, quite rightly too.

This episode focuses on the decline from one bad act leading along a path to worse things as Bart initially disobeys Marge and watches Space Mutants IV (The trilogy continues!) before later decapitating a statue. It has some hilarious moments throughout (too many to list) and also packs a powerful emotional punch as we go on Bart's journey of sought-after popularity and genuine remorse with him. This all works to make it arguably one of their finest.

This is an episode that has (putting the personal stereo aside) stood the test of time and stands to this day as one of the show's greatest and most iconic outings. 10/10
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