The Simpsons and The Tracey Ullman Show

The Simpsons (1989-    )
The Tracey Ullman Show (1987-1990)
Type: Spin Off

   Even though most crossovers imply a common reality between the shows involved, there are some common sense exceptions to this idea. This is one of them.

   The Tracey Ullman Show was a half hour music/comedy/variety show on FOX starring (duh) Tracey Ullman. For the most part the series served as a platform to showcase Tracey Ullman's ability to do characters. Every show featured various comedy and musical skits. It also occasionally featured various funny animated shorts.

   One series of shorts stood out and soon became the exclusive animated series on the show. The series was called The Simpsons. Created by Matt Groening, the shorts told the story of the antics of a yellow colored family named the Simpsons. The shorts were inspired by a comic strip Groening produced called Life In Hell. Life In Hell starred a family of bunnies who, aside from being bunnies, bore a striking resemblance physically and in there characters to the Simpsons. The folks at the Ullman show wanted some degree of ownership on the characters or something along those lines. To protect his bread and butter, instead of giving them Life In Hell, Groening quickly morphed his bunnies into a new set of very similar but expendable characters. Homer was the easily angered not too bright dad, Marge was the loving but out there mom with the mile high blue hairdo, Lisa was the bright daughter, Maggie was the baby and Bart was the troublemaking son who drove Homer crazy. The characters were for the most part voiced by cast members from The Tracey Ullman Show.

   Eventually every episode of The Tracey Ullman show would have around three Simpson's shorts linked by some common plot such as Bart going to get a haircut. The art slowly changed as well. The Simpsons seen in the first shorts look like only rough sketches of what the characters became. In some they look downright frightening.

   After a good run on The Tracey Ullman Show, the idea popped up of giving the Simpsons, who now even had billing in the opening credits, there own show. The only thing was there hadn't been a successful prime time animated series on network TV in years. It was a risky proposition. So FOX gave the idea a test run. They produced a Simpson Christmas special.

   The Simpson Christmas Special is typical Christmas fare presented with a Simpson point of view. Mom plans to use money the family has saved to do the Christmas shopping. Only while at the mall, Bart cons a guy at a tattoo parlor into giving him a tattoo. Mom exhausts the Christmas money having the tattoo removed. Marge doesn't think it will matter since they still have Homer's Christmas bonus from his job at the nuclear power plant.

   Only, unknown to Marge, there is no bonus money to use. Not wanting to tell Marge this horrible news, Homer takes a job as a Mall Santa to earn some money for Christmas. Bart goes to the mall and in abusing Santa discovers Santa is Homer and the horrible truth that there is little money for Christmas presents. Getting his paycheck, Homer finds it is less than he expected.

   Eventually he and Bart find themselves at a dog track. One of the dogs is named Santa's Little Helper. It seems like a sign from above! Homer bets his whole paycheck on the greyhound. He loses. Homer is now utterly crushed feeling he has ruined Christmas. As he and Bart leave, Santa's Little Helper is run off by his owner for being such a poor racer. Homer and Bart take the dog in figuring he's one of them: a loser.

   Bart and Homer return home, dreading having to admit the truth. When they get home though, everyone is thrilled and estatic to see Santa's Little Helper, thinking dad has bought the family a dog! The Simpsons end up with a new member of the family and a merry Christmas after all.

   The special aired and went over like gangbusters! FOX threw production on the series into high gear to get it on the air and the next thing you know a media sensation was born. Simpson merchandise was everywhere and the makers of the show were wise enough not to let it go to their heads, often satirizing themselves and the frenzy they had created. The show has been on over ten seasons and only now is showing slight signs of age. It is now the longest running prime time cartoon series ever, crushing the six year run of The Flintstones.

Other Simpsons Crossover Links
The Simpsons and Cheers
The Simpsons and The Critic
The Simpsons and The Flintstones
The Simpsons and Futurama
The Simpsons and King Of The Hill
The Simpsons and 24
The Simpsons and The X-Files

Links To Simpson Web Sites
New Springfield: It's a helluva town!
The Simpsons Emporium

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