Marge and Homer go to Parent Night at Springfield Elementary School and Ms. Krabappel tells them that Bart needs more discipline, saying that Bart could become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Marge and Homer return home, where Bart had been wreaking havoc and had broken Grampa's false teeth. Bart is sent up to his room without dinner, but eventually Homer breaks and brings him some food (just as Bart was beginning to think that they might not give him any food after all, and that he would have to worry about consequences for his actions). Bart continues to get in trouble, and Homer does not enforce any of the punishments he gives out. Marge scolds Homer and he agrees that the next time he punishes Bart, he'll make it stick. Meanwhile, it is announced that there will be an Itchy & Scratchy Movie and in anticipation, Bart buys himself a ticket. Later on, Bart is left to babysit for Maggie and he neglects to watch her. Maggie escapes and takes Homer's car for a joyride, finally crashing through the wall of Springfield's prison, which allows many of the prisoners to escape. Homer angrily blames Bart and punishes him by forbidding him to ever go see The Itchy & Scratchy Movie. Homer takes Bart's ticket to the movie and tears it up in half. Bart begs to be given a different punishment but Homer refuses.
After the movie's release, Bart becomes sad and jealous of everyone who has been able to see it. After a while, Marge and Lisa beg Homer to change his mind, saying that Bart has been very well behaved. However, Homer refuses to change his mind, saying that if he sticks with the punishment, Bart could become a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Eventually, the movie closes and Bart tells Homer that he won, to which Homer replies by saying that they both won.
In a flashforward to forty years into the future (which would make it the year 2032 at the time of this episode's premiere), Bart, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Homer are walking down the street and discover that the movie is back in theaters. Homer decides that Bart has learned his lesson and the two watch the movie together, which turns out to be no different than an average episode of "Itchy & Scratchy" that normally airs on "The Krusty the Klown Show".
This was the first episode that Rich Moore directed at Film Roman. The shot of the Korean animation studio really angered the Korean animators and Greg Vanzo, the overseas director, was really insulted and almost sent the scene back. Whilst drawing the Steamboat Itchy sequence, the animators jokingly referred to it as "Steamboat Lawsuit". David Silverman explained that he did not know "why [they] weren't sued because there's a shot right out of Steamboat Willie in [the episode].
The episode features the first appearance of Bumblebee Man, who is a caricature of "El Chapulín Colorado" ("The Red Grasshopper"), a character created and portrayed by Mexican television comedian Roberto Gómez Bolaños (aka "Chespirito"), and his show consists of simple skits, often involving heavy slapstick. According to the producers whenever they watched Telemundo, this character was always "on", and then they created Bumblebee Man, who is also always "on".
The opening Star Trek film is a parody of how old the crew of the original Star Trek cast looked in the later movies. The 1928 "Itchy & Scratchy" short "Steamboat Itchy" is a spoof of the 1928 Disney short, Steamboat Willie, the debut of Mickey Mouse. Lisa's line about Michael Jackson and Dustin Hoffman appearing anonymously in The Itchy & Scratchy Movie is a reference to the fact that both had made guest appearances on The Simpsons using fake names in "Stark Raving Dad" and "Lisa's Substitute", respectively. Homer is seen listening to "Yummy Yummy Yummy" by The Ohio Express instead of watching the moon landing. In the flashforward sequence, Homer says "Mmmmm ... soylent green", a reference to the 1973 science fiction film Soylent Green.
Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide called it a "superb episode", especially "[Homer]'s suggestion for punishing Bart's misbehaviour is to give him a present, and his trick for avoiding jury duty is 'to say you're prejudiced against all races'." "Steamboat Itchy" is one of Matt Groening's favorite moments in the history of the show.