Springfield's advice to Seattle on Monorail: D'oh!

Hello, I'm Kent Brockman.

On Jan. 14, 1993, "The Simpsons" debuted the episode "Marge vs. The Monorail." Since then, it has turned out to be an animated example of art imitating life — or vice versa.

The episode focused on con man Lyle Lanley, who convinces the town of Springfield to spend its $3 million windfall on a monorail. "I'd like you to explain why we should build a mass-transit system in a small town with a centralized population," Lisa asks. Fatter heads prevail, particularly the head of Homer Simpson, who lives out his dream to become a monorail conductor.

But during the monorail's launch, every mechanism fails, including the brakes, sending the six-car train barreling 180 mph toward certain disaster. Were it not for Homer's rigging an anchor that eventually stops the monorail, all aboard, including Leonard Nimoy, would have perished.

At the end of the episode, Springfield is left with a worthless, broken monorail, and Marge, who cautioned against it, declares it one of Springfield's greatest follies.

Twelve years later, with apologies and a tip of the cap to original scriptwriter Conan O'Brien, we propose an adaptation for a localized sequel we like to call: "Marge vs. The Monorail 2: The Phantom Menace."

(Roll opening credits. Bart writes repeatedly on the chalkboard: "I will not finance with 50-year junk bonds." As the Simpsons scramble to the sofa to watch TV, they are run over by a Metro bus.)

(The sequel begins at Moe's Tavern, where the people of Springfield have gathered for a town-hall meeting on the fate of the monorail.)

Ned Flanders: This town sure is in one dilly of a pickle.

Mayor Quimby (at the podium): Citizens of, uh, Springfield: It is with great fear for my political career that I convene this meeting on the monorail, the first of 375 public meetings the city has scheduled over the next 14 years. The monorail's financial team has informed me the $3 million we invested is not enough to fix the cars and salvage the system. (A collective gasp rises from the crowd.) So with that, I now introduce someone else for you to blame, the chairman of the Springfield Inflated Transportation Company, Otto the Bus Driver.

Otto: Dudes!

Grampa Simpson (shouting from the audience): So how much more is this wagon train going to cost? And what is it we're here for again?

Otto: Senior-citizen dude, when I first heard the new cost, I thought, "Ho, man!" But then I was, like, "Whoa!"

Crowd in unison: How much is it?!

Otto: Oh, yeah. Dudes, it's $11.4 million.

Crowd in unison: $11.4 million?!

Selma (to Patty): That's enough money to buy a truck full of the DVD collector's edition of "MacGyver."

Patty (lighting a cigarette): Ha. That's enough money to buy Richard Dean Anderson.

Mayor Quimby (trying to quell a crowd growing riotous): Citizens of, uh, Springfield, I order you to keep calm!

(Chief Wiggum has his officers shoot half the crowd with pepper spray. Ned Flanders vomits on Mrs. Krabappel. Chief Wiggum shocks both of them with a Taser.)

Mayor Quimby: I have a solution to save the monorail! We'll build it higher. Ten stories high! No! Twenty stories! Thirty!

Marge (grabbing the microphone from Quimby): Hello? Is this thing on? My name is Marge Simpson. (Grumbling from the crowd.) I tried to tell you from the beginning that we should have spent our money on fixing the roads instead of building a monorail. But nobody listened!

Homer (yelling from the crowd): Oh yeah? Listen here, lady. An "I told you so" is worth about as much as a dozen doughnuts in this town. Ohhh! Doughnuts!

Marge: Homie, is that you? Anyway, instead of wasting more money on the monorail, I think we should fix our crumbling Springfield Way Viaduct.

(Cut to cars stuck in traffic on the lower deck of the viaduct, as Itchy and Scratchy, wearing construction helmets, work on the pillars. In one car, Principal Skinner is driving, with Nelson Muntz bound to the passenger seat with several yards of rope.)

Skinner: Damn traffic!

Nelson (loudly): Ha-ha!

(The upper portion pancakes, flattening their car and all of the others.)

(Cut to Quimby, who has taken back the microphone from Marge. Mr. Burns is beside him.)

Mayor Quimby: I have another solution. (Burns whispers in his ear.) Instead of building a monorail (Burns stuffs money into Quimby's coat pocket and again whispers in his ear), we build a streetcar (more pocket-stuffing, more whispering) to go to the South Lake Springfield Nuclear Plant.

Krusty the Clown (grabbing the microphone from Quimby): That's a horrible idea! Hey! Bwa-ha-ha! I know! Let's put on a show to raise the money. I'll play J.P. Patches.

Smithers: And I'll be Gertrude!

Voice from the crowd: I'll volunteer to perform!

Crowd (gasping): Eddie Vedder!

Eddie: I'll get the guys together and we'll play an acoustic gig at the Experience Springfield Project.

Barney (to Moe): The what? (Belches.)

Moe: Y'know, the building that looks like a psychedelic can opener in the center of town.

Mr. Burns: I heard that! Smithers, who is that ugly little man?

Smithers: That's Moe, sir. He owns this tavern.

Mr. Burns: Moe, eh? I like his spunk. Pay him a fortune to coach my basketball team.

(The phone rings at Moe's.)

Moe: Moe's Tavern.

Bart (on the other end of the line, disguising his voice): Um, yes, I'm looking for a Mr. Doggle. First name Boone. Might have come in through the back door.

Moe: Hold on, I'll check. Is a Mr. Doggle in the house? Boone Doggle? Has a Boone Doggle slipped past us?

(Bart falls over laughing.)

Apu (from the crowd): I can help, too! I will sell a special Green Line Super Squishy and give all the proceeds to the monorail.

Milhouse: Lime? Green apple?

Apu: Coriander chutney.

Homer: Ohhh! Coriander!

Ralph Wiggum (goes to the podium and reads from a piece of paper): I think we should use the... the... (Chief Wiggum yells from the crowd: "Tax money!") to, to hire more police officers.

Marge: Now that's a great idea!

Ralph Wiggum: The first person we'll hire is Angie Duh... Dee... (Chief Wiggum from the crowd: "Dickinson!")

Mrs. Krabappel: I have a better idea. Let's sell sponsorships for each part of the monorail to raise the money. Maybe Tom Cruise will sponsor a car. It could be called the Cruise Car.

Lionel Hutz: Or the Tom Car.

Another voice from the crowd: I'll be the first to chip in. I'll sponsor the horn.

Crowd (gasping): Seattle Mariners pitcher Joel Piñeiro!

Moe: The Piñeiro Horn? That doesn't have a ring to it.

Lisa (softly): A monorail doesn't have a horn.

Homer (to Lisa): Shut up, girl. You're ruining the joke.

Marge (at the microphone): Maybe we shouldn't spend any money to rebuild the monorail. Maybe we roll back taxes instead.

Ned Flanders: Okely-dokely, neighboreenos. That would be swell-diddley-o. I'll file an initiative!

Dr. Hibbert: Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you the monorail is already dead. (Silence from the crowd.) Just kidding! Oh ho ho ho!

Lennie: I say we rebuild the monorail!

Groundskeeper Willie: I say we kill it!

Lisa (softly): I say we spend more money on the underfunded public schools.

(Suddenly, from the back of the crowd, a familiar face. Lyle Lanley, the slickster who sold Springfield the monorail in the first place.)

Lanley: Now, I know most of you are upset at me, but I prefer to think of this as an opportunity. The town of Springfield has a chance to be cutting edge. That's right, my friends, in the fast-moving world of transportation, the monorail is already a relic. So allow me to introduce you to the latest in mass-transit technology. (A tattered curtain opens behind him.) Ladies and gentlemen: Light rail!

Groundskeeper Willie (to Lisa): The people of Springfield can be as stupid as a Welshman after downing a cask of stout, but even they won't fall for that one.

Crowd (chanting): Light rail! Light rail! Light rail!

(Lisa sighs. The End.)

Stuart Eskenazi: 206-464-2293 or seskenazi@seattletimes.com