D'oh Canada

BILL BRIOUX

, Last Updated: 6:09 PM ET

Tonight, as all good citizens of Springfield know by now, The Simpsons come to Toronto (8 p.m. on Global and Fox).

The long-running comedy, which has goofed on Washington, Knoxville, Australia and Germany in the past, has finally picked Toronto as a ripe target to tweak.

The story has the Simpson family travelling to T.O. after Bart falls for Rainier Wolfcastle's daughter (voiced by Reese Witherspoon). Wolfcastle is the Ahnold-like actor who stars in all those cheesy McBain action movies.

"It's a fairly common notion these days that Toronto is a place where they shoot movies, but they're never set there," says Tim Long, one of two Canadian-born writers on The Simpsons staff who had a hand in this episode.

As Simpsons fans know, Canadian references have been popping up in this series almost since it began. In addition, several Canadians have lent their voice to the series, including the late Phil Hartman (who was Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz), Donald Sutherland, Dave Thomas, Alex Trebek, Paul Anka and Bret "The Hitman" Hart.

There are some fans who have taken this Canadian connection a bit far (check out the Web site Simpsons, Eh? at ccr.ptbcanadian. com/simpsons/).

Some insist that Springfield is in Canada. There are Springfields in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Newfoundland and Manitoba. Others point to Springfield's main highway, Route 401, as our own 401.

"That's just wrong," Long says. "It has nothing to do with the Canadian highway."

Finally, there's Homer's diet. After all, the guy eats doughnuts and drinks beer.

What's not in doubt: The Simpsons loves poking fun at Canada. Here are the Top 10

Canadian Simpsons salutes. (Celine Dion music optional):

1. Bart The Lover (1992)

A great early episode with Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, featured front and centre. Bart used a photo of the Red Wings legend to woo Edna Krabappel, his lovelorn teacher. Bonus: Howe's hockey stats (including his World Hockey Association totals!) are flashed on screen at the end of the show.

2. Das Bus (1998)

Chief Wiggum's son Ralph, dressed as a Mountie, is the Canadian delegate at Lisa's model of the UN. When a fight breaks out, Ralph starts singing O Canada.

3. Saddlesore Galactica (2000)

Bart and Homer watch Canadian rockers Bachman-Turner Overdrive warm up at a state fair. Bart: "Who are those pleasant old men?" Homer: "It's BTO -- they're Canada's answer to ELP. Their big hit was TCB. That's how we talked in the '70s. We didn't have a moment to spare."

4. You Only Move Twice (1996)

When Bart is moved to a remedial class, he meets his new pal Gordy. "I moved here from Canada, and they think I am a little slow, eh?" the new kid says.

(After this episode, I interviewed Simpsons creator Matt Groening about what seemed like a snub. Far from it, said Groening, who sold his first Life In Hell strip to a Toronto weekly. Groening insisted that the student gag was "a comment on the insularity and xenophobia of the U.S. We are so self-absorbed that if somebody talked with a Canadian accent, we would assume that there was something wrong with them.")

5. When Flanders Failed (1991)

Homer is so bored, he's watching the 15th round of the CFL draft. Note: two of the picks are actually Simpsons producers Jay Kogan and Wallace Wolodarsky.

6. The PTA Disbands (1995)

During a teachers strike, Marge takes over Bart's class. How did it go? "Exhausting," Marge says. "It took the children 40 minutes to locate Canada on the map." Says Homer: "Marge, anyone could miss Canada, all tucked away down there."

7. Skinner's Sense of Snow (2000)

Instead of Cirque de Soleil, the Simpsons watch the French-Canadian circus Cirque de Puree.

8. Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo (1999)

The Simpsons agree to participate in a dangerous Japanese reality show. At one point, Canadian contestants are covered in scorpions and the host (voiced by Star Trek's George Takei) laughs, "Sting those Canucks!"

9. Homer vs. New York State (1997)

Bart yells out from the Statue of Liberty, "Hey, immigrants! Beat It! Country's full!" The boat captain says, "Okay, folks. You hear the lady. Back into the hold. We'll try Canada." Loud groans are heard.

10. Bart On The Road (1996)

Bart, Milhouse and Martin tell their parents they are travelling to the "National Grammar Rodeo" at the Sheraton Hotel in Canada as a cover for their trip to Knoxville. They're joined by Nelson ("I'm goin' away for a week. See ya!") At one point, a father driving next to them threatens to take his screaming kids "back to Winnipeg." Also in this episode, the kids see the David Cronenberg film Naked Lunch. Nelson's comment: "I can think of at least two things wrong with that title." (More on The Simpsons).


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