Definitions

Itchy & Scratchy

The Itchy & Scratchy Show

| network = Channel 6 | first_aired = | last_aired = Present | num_episodes = 80 | website = | imdb_id = | tv_com_id = }} The Itchy & Scratchy Show is a segment or "side-show" featured on The Simpsons which usually appears as a portrayal of the fictional Krusty the Clown TV show, watched regularly by Bart and Lisa Simpson and other characters on the animated series. Itself an animated cartoon, The Itchy & Scratchy Show depicts an anthropomorphic blue mouse, Itchy (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) who mutilates an anthropomorphic black cat, Scratchy (voiced by Harry Shearer).

They first appeared in the Tracey Ullman Show short "The Bart Simpson Show", which originally aired November 20, 1988. Their first appearance in the regular series was "There's No Disgrace Like Home".

Itchy and Scratchy follow the "cat versus mouse" archetype popularized by Tom and Jerry. In both instances, the cat (Scratchy or Tom) attempts to catch the mouse (Itchy or Jerry) with a disastrous outcome for the cat. Itchy and Scratchy features more gore and injury than its predecessor, in a send-up of the cartoon violence present in the original.

Fictional history within The Simpsons

Origins

According to the show, Chester J. Lampwick invented Itchy in 1919 and owns the rights to that character. Lampwick was also known as the "father of cartoon violence." (Before Lampwick started his work, cartoon animals only played the ukulele.) Roger Meyers, Sr. (1890–1985) plagiarized Itchy and established Itchy and Scratchy Studios in 1921. Originally Itchy was called "Itchy the Lucky Mouse" (a parody of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit). He starred in his first cartoon made by Lampwick, "Manhattan Madness" depicting Itchy running an Irishman through a washing board and decapitating Theodore Roosevelt with an axe.

Scratchy starred in his first cartoon in 1928, entitled That Happy Cat. The film, which is about fourteen seconds of animation showing the cat whistling and tipping his hat, did very poorly. It is unknown who created Scratchy, or if he was plagiarized by Meyers Sr. in the same way that Itchy was.

Later that year, Itchy and Scratchy starred in their first cartoon together entitled "Steamboat Itchy" a parody of Disney's Steamboat Willie featuring Mickey Mouse.

"Past"

Since The Simpsons exists in a form of floating timeline, "past" refers to events that occurred before the course of the series.

Along with the cartoon shorts, Itchy and Scratchy were featured in a wartime radio series, at least two films - Pinitchio and Scratchtasia, (parodies of Pinocchio and Fantasia), and television commercials for Laramie Cigarettes (spoofing The Flintstones).

At one point, additional characters were added to the pair on a show titled Itchy & Scratchy & Friends Hour: Uncle Ant, Disgruntled Goat, Dinner Dog, Flatulent Fox, Ku Klux Klam, and Rich Uncle Skeleton. Bart and Lisa agree that these characters weren't very funny, although Bart (who remembers them better, as he is the older of the two) thinks that Disgruntled Goat had his moments. These characters parodied the addition of superfluous characters to TV shows in an effort to draw viewer interest.

"Present"

Since The Simpsons exists in a form of floating timeline, "present" refers to events that occurred during the course of the series.

Itchy and Scratchy Studios is currently run by Roger Meyers, Jr. (born 1956), the son of the cartoon's "creator." Itchy and Scratchy Studios was bankrupted after being sued by Lampwick for $800 million, but was saved after receiving a large cash settlement from the government over its use of Mr. ZIP.

The Itchy and Scratchy Show airs as a segment on the Krusty the Klown show, though it moved to the Gabbo show during the latter's short-lived run. 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. The show has spawned an Academy Award-winning film adaptation, amusement parks, and a musical.

The show is animated in South Korea, just like The Simpsons cartoon itself. June Bellamy (a takeoff on voice actress June Foray) voices both Itchy and Scratchy.

Poochie

In the episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", Poochie was a dog character added to the Itchy & Scratchy lineup. According to the show's plot, the producers believed the cartoons were getting stale, and needed a new character to reinvigorate the show, despite the objections of one of the show's writers, who "at the risk of sounding pretentious", felt that Itchy and Scratchy comprised "a dramaturgical dyad". Homer Simpson gets the job of voicing Poochie, who is introduced in the Itchy & Scratchy 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. Both plots were a reference to TV shows which added new characters purportedly to reinvigorate the show (often in the show's waning years and/or to replace stars who had either departed or, if they were child actors, grown up). However, Poochie was seen and spoke in the second segment of "Treehouse of Horror IX", where he was seen riding on a skateboard down the road and suddenly get hit by Itchy & Scratchy chasing Bart and Lisa Simpson. Dan Castellaneta again voiced Poochie for this appearance. Another Poochie appearance was made as one of Scratchy's mourners in the installment Tears Of A Clone.

The Itchy and Scratchy Movie

In the season four episode, "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie," the cat and mouse duo release a movie that ran for eight months, becoming a commercial and critical favorite. Forty years in the future, it would be hailed as a "Classic of Animation". The novelization of the movie was written by Norman Mailer. Lisa described it as the defining event of her generation and compared it to the moon landing. One scene involves Itchy training to be a railroad engineer for the sole purpose of running Scratchy over with a train.

The Simpsons Movie

At the start of The Simpsons Movie, the Simpson family are seen attending another Itchy and Scratchy movie. In this movie, Scratchy and Itchy go to the moon, but Itchy stabs Scratchy repeatedly with the point of an American flag then leaves him for dead. Itchy then moves on to go back to Earth and become President and to raise a happy family. But then, one day, Itchy finds out that Scratchy is still alive, and is threatening to expose the truth (Itchy told the media that Scratchy died of an accident and that he "tried to save him"). Itchy contemplates over how to deal with Scratchy and decides to blow up the moon with nuclear arms launching a bunch of missles into Scratchy's open mouth causing him to inflate, a tiny boot kicks one of the missles in Scratchy's stomach causing them all to detonate and to blow Scratchy up from the inside. Homer then interrupts the movie and breaks the fourth wall.

Role in The Simpsons

Many aspects of The Itchy & Scratchy show are a parody of Walt Disney movies and include shorts such as "Steamboat Itchy", a parody of Steamboat Willie; "Scratchtasia", a parody of Fantasia; and "Pinitchio", a parody of Pinocchio.

Itchy and Scratchy often play out an exaggerated form of the conflict in the surrounding episode. For example, when the Simpson children are taken into foster care, they watch an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon with a similar theme, and when Homer is recruited by NASA, he watches an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon which directly (and gruesomely) parodies the films 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien.

Itchy and Scratchy have occasionally been used to parody the work of famous directors specifically. One episode, "Reservoir Cats" is supposedly guest-directed by Quentin Tarantino and parodies Tarantino's films Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. Another cartoon was "guest directed" by Oliver Stone and shows Itchy shooting Scratchy in a manner similar to Jack Ruby's murder of Lee Harvey Oswald, in reference to Stone's film JFK.

In the episode "The Day the Violence Died" there was a clip from a 1970s-era X-rated Itchy & Scratchy cartoon titled "Itchy & Scratchy meet Fritz the Cat". According to Comic Book Guy only bootleg copies are available "because of its frank depiction of sex and narcotic consumption".

Background

Origins

The Itchy & Scratchy Show first appeared in the Tracey Ullman Show short "The Bart Simpson Show", which originally aired November 20, 1988. They are based on Tom and Jerry and other cat and mouse cartoons. As a kid, 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. The names "Itchy" and "Scratchy" were inspired by "Pixie and Dixie", who were mice on the cartoon show Pixie and Dixie and Mr. Jinks. David Silverman, a director and producer for The Simpsons, states that the show is based on Herman and Katnip. Additionally, one possible explanation for the specific choices of "Itchy" and "Scratchy" can be found in a Bill Kaufman article written for the First Principles Institute for Scientific Information Web Journal. The article, which recounts a failed attempt by northern California and southern Oregon residents to secede from their respective states and found the State of Jefferson in 1941, describes a procession held in the proposed Jefferson capital of Yreka, California. Kaufman notes: "Inauguration Day featured a torchlight parade through Yreka led by brother bears named Itchy and Scratchy." As Groening, an Oregon native, took many show names from Portland, Oregon locations, such an explanation is plausible, though Groening has never publicly offered such an explanation.

Development

"Itchy and Scratchy" cartoons are often added when a show needs expanding or when there is an issue that the writers wish to satirize. 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. Writing the Itchy & Scratchy cartoons is quite often a group effort, with it being pitched out one gag after another. Itchy & Scratchy are a favourite of John Swartzwelder, who has written many of the episodes that centre around them and quite often pitches the ideas for the shorts. In several episodes centering around the production of The Itchy & Scratchy Show, such as "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show", the show's staff are shown. Almost all of them are caricatures of the actual staff of The Simpsons. In the first scene at the production table the person in the lower right corner, wearing a squid T-shirt, is David X. Cohen. On the left side, the furthest away is Bill Oakley with Josh Weinstein next to him. Next to Weinstein is George Meyer, who is the writer who speaks out and gets fired. The animator shown designing Poochie is supervising director David Silverman. Others who appear include Dan McGrath, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Donick Cary, Ron Hauge, Ned Goldreyer and Mike Scully, who had to be added in later, as the animators "didn't have his photo" from which to get an accurate likeness.

Cultural influence

In a 2006 article IGN.com 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. 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. Todd Gilchrist called it a masterpiece, stating it "could easily be packaged and sold by [itself]. Comic Book Guy's phrase "Worst. Episode. Ever" was named as a quote that could be used in everyday life, as well as being one of the most popular quotes from the show, by The A.V. Club.

On the BBC series The Daily Politics, "Itchy & Scratchy" is Andrew Neil's nickname for his co-stars from This Week (Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo).

Video games

A video game named The Itchy and Scratchy Game was released for Sega Mega Drive, Game Gear, Super NES and Game Boy. Another game, Itchy and Scratchy in Miniature Golf Madness, was released for Game Boy. A level of the SNES/Genesis game Bart's Nightmare also prominently features Itchy and Scratchy. Itchy and Scratchy play roles in "Grand Theft Scratchy" section in The Simpsons Game.

See also

References

External links

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