(Start close-up on a chalkboard that says ‘Career Day.’ Pull back to see Lisa’s classroom. Homer and a few other parents sit on chairs at the side of the classroom, while her teacher introduces a speaker.)
HOOVER: And now, children, Sally’s father is an Actor.
SALLYDAD: Who here watches Television?
CLASS: (raises hands) I do! I do!
SALLYDAD: Well, with the exception of the people on the news, and on the reality shows, and talk shows, and game shows, and the dumb criminals shows and half the people on C-SPAN, the people you see on television are all actors.
KID: Are you on television?
SALLYDAD: No, I’m a stage actor. Right now, I just completed a run of a play called ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ where I had the role of Oberon.
(Cut to Bart sitting behind the anchor desk in what looks like a news studio. Lisa’s classroom is shown on the display behind him with the caption ‘stock photo.’)
BART: You can all pretty well imagine the conversation, as Homer discovers a grown man who dreams that he plays with the ‘king of the fairies.’ I’d just like to take this opportunity to remind you that you only have 257 more shopping days to buy Bartman T-shirts, or Bart Action Figures for Christmas. And now, back to the humiliation!
(Cut to Lisa dragging Homer out into the hall as the whole class laughs behind them.)
LISA: Dad! What is wrong with you?
HOMER: (Laughing still) But Lisa, he admitted that he spent the summer dreaming of fairies! What was I supposed to do, argue with him?
LISA: Once again, father, you have shamed me before my peers, due to a complete disregard for anything resembling culture! (Runs off) Boohoohoo.(Homer watches her go, and his smile slowly fades)
(Dinner table at the Simpson house. Everyone sits quietly, eyes flicking back and forth between a quiet Lisa and a guilty looking Homer. Lisa asks Bart to pass her the Ketchup. Homer lunges for the bottle, and walks around the table to deliver it by hand)
HOMER: Here, sweety. Did you know that Marco Polo brought ketchup to Europe on his famous exploration?
LISA: (eyes on her plate) Actually, a salty pickled fish sauce that eventually became ketchup was imported from China by British seamen in the 1600s. Marco Polo’s travels were in the early 1300s. And he wasn’t a seaman. And he wasn’t British. (Homer’s shoulders and smile slump, and he slogs back to his seat. After he sits, Lisa delivers the final cut) And the history of ketchup isn’t exactly culture, is it? (Homer slumps more, the dinner continues in silence)
(Cut to Homer and Marge in bed, moonlit from the window)
HOMER: Dammit, Marge, how can I gain culture, so my daughter won’t look down her nose when she looks up at me?
MARGE: Oh, Homey. I don’t think it’s ‘culture’ as much as your attitude towards it. You never had any interest in learning about anything that doesn’t either taste good, feel good, or bounce slightly as it comes towards you.
HOMER: Oh, you’re right. But I’m interested now?! Where can I learn what I’ve only scoffed at before?
MARGE: Well, if you’re serious, there’s a Shakespeare Appreciation course being taught at Adult Learning by the famous British comedian-actor-writer Rowan Atkinson.
MARGE: Mr. Bean? Rat Race? Johnny Dangerously? Blackadder? (Homer shakes his head in confusion) Emile Mondavarious, from the Scooby Doo movie?
HOMER: Oh, him! But why would he be teaching an after-hours course in Springfield?
MARGE: Well, you know I don’t listen to gossip, but the source of a rumor that it involves gambling debts has a 11.3% credibility advantage over the group that maintains blackmail is involved. Personally, I favor the theory of a love triangle between him, someone on Mayor Quimby’s staff and the one of the other teachers. But that’s because I’m a hopeless romantic.
(Cut to a classroom. Homer is in the center of a room full of adult learners. Rowan Atkinson stands at the front. A bust of Shakespeare is on the desk)
ROWAN: Hello. Welcome to the Adult Learning Center course on Appreciating Shakespeare. Old Bill’s (pats the bust) work has endured for centuries, and includes some of the most moving examples of dialogue and imagery known to mankind. Quotes of his works and complete thefts of his plots are scattered throughout modern literature, movies and television. A delight to the ear as well as the intellect, his plays and sonnets allow us to touch, however vicariously, true genius. (pause. Distinct change of voice to a more scornful one) Why any of you lot would miss an hour of television for it is beyond me. (sits at his desk, puts up his feet) So, if you are here because you heard there are naked witches in MacBeth and want to get a glimpse, I’m sorry to disappoint you, there will be no nudity in this course. (Skinner, Hibbard, Willie get up and walk out) Further, if you are here because you think Shakespeare wrote Lady Chatterly’s Lover, that’s wrong. There will be no discussion of graphic sex in this course.(Otto, Selma and Patty get up and walk out) Finally, if you’re here because you have been challenged by your offspring to ‘get some class’ I have to say that you probably don’t reach the minimum standard to pass this course. (points to cardboard cutout of Mary Poppins, who holds out her umbrella and a word balloon says ‘You must have this much class to study English Literature’) (Homer steps to the cardboard, moans ‘D’ooooohhhh’ mournfully, then stops.)
HOMER: No. I have to restore my self image in my daughter’s eyes. I’m staying, even if I have to copy off every other student’s test! (turns around to see the last characters leaving the classroom (Apu and the Sea Captain), rows of empty desks. View shifts to see Rowan Atkinson collecting books and notes into his briefcase. He looks up in surprise.)
ROWAN: Oh. You’re, um, you’re staying in the course? (Fade)
(Return: find Homer in a desk scooted up to Rowan’s desk: )
HOMER: So you see, Mr. Atkinson, that’s the whole story.
ROWAN: And everyone in town agreed to accept him as the ‘real’ Principal Skinner, making no reference to the incident, ever? HOMER: Yup.
ROWAN: Well, that’s an interesting story, Homer, but I don’t understand why it makes you so interested in getting an education in Old English Literature.
HOMER: Oh, that. My daughter thinks I’m a disgusting, know-nothing slob.
HOMER: And I don’t want to embarrass her in public anymore.
ROWAN: Oh, well, we can do that. The thing is, Homer, you can either learn a great deal of information, and keep it all straight in your head, or you can learn how to convince other people that you have the information without years of study.
HOMER: Would that be like cheating?
ROWAN: Very like.
HOMER: Then that’s for me. When do we start?
(The two of them walk down Main Street)
ROWAN: You see, Homer, the secret to appearing to have culture, rather than actually spending the time (Zoom in on Rowan’s face) to learn dates, attitudes, taboos, facts, customs and gestures considered to be the basics of civilized behavior, is to convince…Homer?
(Looks around…behind him, Homer steps out of an alley, zips up his pants)
HOMER: Right with you, RA!
ROWAN: Don’t call me that.
HOMER: Okay, dude.
ROWAN: Don’t call me that, either.
HOMER: Yessir, Mr. Atkinson.
ROWAN: Anyway, Homer, the point of culture is to be percieved as having it, whether you really do or not. And the easiest way to do that would be to become British.
HOMER: What? Does that mean I have to salute the queen?
ROWAN: No. Just insult everyone else. Throw in big words, foreign concepts and ancient examples and no one will have the knowledge or brass to call you on it.
HOMER: That’s what the Brits do?
ROWAN: As far as any American who watches public television knows, yes.
HOMER: Wait. They have ‘public’ television, now? Since when?
ROWAN: Never mind. Look, you just have to act as if you and everything you care about are the most important things anyone could possibly imagine, but do it with an edge of cunning humor so that they’re laughing with you rather than throwing things at you.
HOMER: And that’s the secret of British Humor?
ROWAN: That’s the secret of the British Empire. And it’s humour, not humor.
HOMER: I don’t know…that joke only makes sense in print.
ROWAN: Well, it’ll be funny in rehearsal, they’ll take the scene out in post-production.
HOMER: Yeah, it wouldn’t be funny at all unless you could see the way Brits spell humor.
ROWAN: That’s ‘humour.’
HOMER: Of course. Let’s just hope the editor gets this far while he’s still sober, so he doesn’t take out the wrong
(After a confusing rip in the film, we find Rowan and Homer running down an alley and hiding behind a dumpster. 20-30 characters in a torch-waving lynch mob run pas the opening of the alley screaming for blood. Close up on Atkinson’s face)
ROWAN: Well, we probably should have avoided a crowd for your first attempt, Homer…Homer? (Turns to see Homer peeing on the wall)
HOMER: Ever have one of those days where you just can’t pass an alley?
(fade) (The two of them walk down Main Street, again)
ROWAN: Look, all it takes is a patronizing attitude, and an ability to avoid cliché. Let’s step in here. (They enter the Comic Book Guy’s shop)
COMIC BOOK GUY: Rowan Atkinson! Mr. Bean! The Thin Blue Line! The Secret Policemen’s Other Ball! Not the Nine O'Clock News! Sir! I have spent my whole life emulating your style of erudite patronising insults!
ROWAN: Your whole life, eh? Well, I would have thought you had dedicated your life to Monty Python.
COMIC BOOK GUY: Monty Python? Why would you think that?
ROWAN: Well, for one, the age would make more sense for your ‘whole life’ and far more telling, the entire troupe could fit into your trousers.
COMIC BOOK GUY: Oooh! I have been insulted by Blackadder! What an honor! And in riposte, sir, I must say that your humour is… is… um… Damn. This ALWAYS happens.
ROWAN: Alright, you go home, and at 2 a.m., when something finally occurs to you, write it down, and send it to my agent. I’m sure he’ll appreciate it. Come along, Homer, we’ll find someplace a little more challenging. (they leave)
COMIC BOOK GUY: I was insulted by Edmund, Lord Blackadder. This will become my new standard for a ‘high point’ in my life
(Takes the current page off the ‘page-a-day’ Ziggy calendar, writes ‘Insulted by Blackadder’ on it and pins it to the wall at the top of a line of Ziggy calendar pages. In order, the previous high points were ‘Sex with a woman!’ followed by ‘Sold Radioactive Man #1’ then ‘Paid off Car Loan’ then ‘Sex’ then ‘Star Wars #1 then ‘Met Spock at Convention’ and ‘Sex?’ pinned side by side as if unsure which was better, then Star Wars #3 (with the 3 crossed out to read 6), Star Wars #2 (with the 2 crossed out to read 5), Star Wars #1 (with the 1 crossed out to read 4)
(Homer and Rowan enter Moe’s Tavern)
MOE: Hey, Homer. How’s life treating you?
HOMER: (with a passable british accent) In a never ending series of disappointments, Moe, but I don’t wish to talk about my family. What utter rot are you pawning off on the unsuspecting public tonight?
MOE: Unsuspecting public, huh? Well, Barney’s drinking Duff as usual, and your other cohorts are into German Imports tonight.
LENNY & CARL: Hey, Homer. Yeah, hey.
HOMER: Ah, German beer. A liquid explanation for so many cultural mysteries.
LENNY: Uh, how’s that, Homer?
HOMER: It has a taste that would make even German cooking palatable, and an alchoholic content to make German sex possible. Without it, the whole stretch between France and Poland would be a wasteland of starving, childless loners, screaming at each other on the autobahn.
LENNY, BARNEY & CARL (Nod to each other and mumble agreement): Uh-huh, yeah, uh-huh.
MOE: (serving Homer and Rowan mugs of beer) Yeah, so Homer, where’d you learn so much about German Beer? You suddenly seem, I dunno, culturally superior, or something.
(Homer and Rowan wink at each other)
(Start close-up on a banner that says ‘Science Fair’ Pull back to see Lisa’s school gymnasium. Each child has a science project on a table)
HOOVER: …And since Lisa Simpson won the science fair last year, as a reward, her father gets to judge the entries this year, in a bizarre plot twist that makes no sense at all unless you accept the concept of an arbitrary, pitiless deity.
LISA: Oh, no! (She turns towards the door in time to see Homer walk in. A large button that says ‘JUDGE’ is pinned to his shirt. He walks to the front table, dons a white wig, and bangs on the table with a gavel)
HOMER: Court…I mean, Science Court…I mean, the Science Fair is now in session. Baliff, call the first entry.
SKINNER: Mr. Simpson, it’s not that kind of judging.
HOMER: I’ll be the ‘JUDGE’ (stretches his pin and shirt towards Principal Skinner) of that! Now, call your first witness.
HOOVER: (sighs) Judy? (Judy brings her project up to the table)
HOMER: (back to the slight English accent) Ah. The mysteries of metamorphosis. Are you sure you want to go with something that revealing, dear?
HOMER: Well, a young girl, justifiably insecure about her looks, fascinated by the idea of an ugly worm turning into a beautiful butterfly? It’s basically ‘The Ugly Duckling’ staged as science instead of a nursery story. You shouldn’t be worried about how others will see you after puberty, but see the value inside, that you have right now. And if you don’t blossom, you can always settle for Ralph. (Judy cries and runs to her table, the class laughs) NEXT!
HOOVER: Peter? (Peter brings up his project)
HOMER: Uh-huh. Computers. Wave of the future. Didn’t I see this project in Popular Mechanics…in 1959? Do you think it’s cutting edge to dredge up ‘new’ ideas that were accepted as fact by the writers of Star Trek? I mean, the good one, where they shot Klingons instead of promoted them?
PETER: But, I concentrated on the new technologies starting to…
HOMER: Pish-tosh. A better, faster, near-intelligent computer is still just a computer, right? An electronic tool that makes it easier to sort pornography. Come back when they aquire the right to vote. Then you’ll have something ‘new.’ (Peter swallows and walks away, the class laughs) NEXT!
(In a corner of the gym, Nelson Munch stands next to Lisa’s table. Behind Munch is his project. A large poster shows a fist. The caption: Effishent slugging. Small pictures on the side show fists with the thumb in and wrapped around the other fingers. He turns to Lisa)
NELSON: Hey, Lisa, your dad’s pretty cool.
NELSON: Yeah, he’s knocking those nerds down a peg or two. And with such style.
(On the other side of Lisa, Milhouse contributes)
MILHOUSE: Yeah, I can’t wait until he tears into me. Hopefully, it’ll be original enough that kids’ll be talking about me for months.
LISA: But Milhouse, they’ll be talking about how you were insulted!
MILHOUSE: At this point, my therapists say that any attention would be better than life as I know it.
MILHOUSE: Here I go! (picks up his project) Wish me bad luck!
NELSON: Wait. (Reaches over and snaps off the top of Milhouse’s model of a space station) There you go.
MILHOUSE: Hey, thanks. (walks towards his doom)
(Cut to a shot of Earth Orbit. The space station Milhouse’s project is modeled on spins slowly in space to the tune of ‘The Blue Danube.’ Suddenly, the top snaps off, exactly as the model did in Nelson’s hands. The music stops with the sound of a phonograph needle scratching to the edge. Inside, an astronaut calmly calls on the radio:
ASTRONAUT: Uh, Houston, we have someone practicing sympathetic magic on the Space Station again.
(Cut to Houston Control, where a technician turns to his superior)
TECH: We TOLD you the models were too accurate! We told you something like this would happen!
MANAGER: Yes. I shouldn’t have doubted your voodoo expertise.
(Back on Earth, Lisa and her father walk out of the school door.)
HOMER: Well, Lisa. Are you still ashamed of me?
LISA: I don’t know. (short pause) I mean, you’re certainly more popular, now. And kids are talking to me again, but you did it by being mean to children. And what’s with the British Accent?
HOMER: It’s what you wanted, sweety.
LISA: What? When did I mention ‘British’ anything?
ROWAN: (Steps out from behind a tree)You mentioned ‘culture,’ Lisa. And to an American, that means Britain.(the three start walking down the sidewalk)
LISA: But there are plenty of other examples of culture besides Britain!
ROWAN: Nonsense. You, and every other American with a reading level above 5th grade are fascinated by The English. (view changes to crop out Homer, shows only Rowan and Lisa) Without us you couldn’t even define your selves. Who’s your favorite spy?
LISA: James Bond.
ROWAN: Your favorite detective?
LISA: Sherlock Holmes.
ROWAN: Favorite Religious Leader?
LISA: Aha! Pope Adrian the IVth!
ROWAN: You mean, Nicholas Breakspear, the only English Pope? (Lisa gives a small D’oh!)
HOMER: Wait. There was a fourth Pope Adrian? Since when?
ROWAN: Favorite accent?
ROWAN: Favorite historical mystery construction?
ROWAN: And who do you want to be when you grow up?
LISA: Susan B. Anthony!
LISA: (looking down at her feet) Emma Peel.(small embarrassed giggle)
ROWAN: So you see, Lisa, whether you want to admit it or not, you are an Anglophile. As is most of America, did they but realize it.
LISA: I suppose. But does he have to be mean?
ROWAN: Your father is always going to be mean, child. The best we can hope for is to make him presentable to the public, and more entertaining than offending.
LISA: Yeah, I guess. So, ask me some more.
ROWAN: Alright. Favorite wax museum?
LISA: Madame Tussaud’s. But she’s French!
ROWAN: But she had to move to London to become famous. Oh, how about your favorite prince?
LISA: William. (Tee hee)
ROWAN: Mine, too. Favorite politically correct class traitor for economic reform?
LISA: Robin Hood.
ROWAN: Favorite bridge?
LISA: (sings) London bridge is falling down. (Rowan starts to sing with her as they walk into the sunset. Homer steps out from behind some bushes, zipping his pants.)
HOMER: Hey, you two! Wait up! (runs to catch up)