?Easily one of the most popular fringe characters in The Simpsons universe, actor Troy McClure is the quintessential not-quite-has-been, taking any and all acting jobs in a desperate attempt to stay relevant. No role is too small, too strange, or too humiliating. In fact, more than a few of his jobs were the result of some quiet settlement brought about because of his (many, many) personal indiscretions. Whatever else can be said about his career, however, it can’t be denied that he boasts a great many film credits.
Voiced by the late and great Phil Hartman, McClure made guest appearances on The Simpsons for the first ten seasons before Hartman’s untimely death in 1998. After McClure’s last appearance, the character (along with Lionel Hutz, Attorney-at-Law) was retired out of respect — really, no one else could or should have taken up the role — and we’re happy to present 10 of his best appearance. Alas, Fox’s iron grip and philosophy of fun-killing, I could hardly find any Simpsons video clips at all, let alone ones that were episode specific. Somehow, though, a Troy McClure retrospective without any footage of Troy McClure seems somehow… appropriate.
10) Video Tour Guide at Rancho Relaxo
?When a hectic home life gets to be too much for Marge, she takes herself off for a much-needed vacation – leaving Bart and Lisa with her sisters Patty and Selma (shudder!) and Maggie alone with Homer. Marge’s destination? Rancho Relaxo, featuring a video tour of all its amenities led by none other than Troy McClure, star of such films as “Today We Kill”, “Tomorrow We Die” and “Gladys, The Groovy Mule.” With Troy’s help, Marge relaxes her way through all Rancho Relaxo has to offer, taking advantage of hot fudge sundae- and tequila-delivering room service. She takes the train home just in time to greet her children and Homer, who’d managed to both lose and find Maggie (barely!) during Marge’s absence. (“Homer Alone”)
9) Narrator for Sex-Ed Films
?Beginning with a fantastic homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark, Bart makes his way to school after stealing Homer’s jar of loose change. Despite such a promising start, Bart’s day gets worse and worse after a Magic 8 Ball predicts that his friendship with Millhouse won’t last until the end of the day. A new student named Samantha manages to capture Millhouse’s heart, which just happens to coincide with Mrs. Krabapple showing the class “Fuzzy Bunny’s Guide to You-Know-What” narrated by Troy McClure, star of such educational films as “Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly” and “Here Comes the Metric System!” Troy guides the class through Fuzzy Bunny’s biological changes, his courtship of Fluffy Bunny, and the ensuing honeymoon (“Nine months later, Fluffy gave birth to fourteen beautiful bunnies. Eight survived.”). (“Bart’s Friend Falls in Love”)
8) Meat Council Video Host
?Lisa’s moral decision to stop eating meat and her subsequent requests for a vegetarian option at Springfield Elementary’s cafeteria set off the “Independent Thought” alarm at the school. Though to be fair, it probably would have set off the alarm even if she had merely asked for actual food. In order to curb the potentially dangerous wave of students thinking for themselves, Principal Skinner wastes no time in showing Lisa’s class an educational film for the Meat Council called “Meat and You: Partners in Freedom”, hosted by Troy McClure – star of such educational films as “2 Minus 3 Equals Negative Fun!” and “Firecrackers: The Silent Killer”. Troy takes his fellow actor Jimmy through a cattle slaughterhouse – which, while traumatizing for little Jimmy, inspires Ralph Wiggum to attend “Bovine University” when he grows up. (“Lisa the Vegetarian”)
7) Infomercials with Dr. Nick Riviera
?Troy McClure is not above using his name and influence to shill, as long as he gets paid. Some fine examples of this would be his infomercials with Dr. Nick. After introducing himself as the star of such films as “Buck Henderson: Union Buster” and “Troy and Company’s Summertime Smile Factory”, Troy engages in patter to sell Dr. Nick’s Spiffy Stain Remover. After a brilliant demonstration of the product on Edgar Allan Poe’s tombstone, Dr. Nick barely escapes the studio audience with his life before lowering the price and including a State of Kansas Jello Mold.
Troy (star of such films as “P is for Psycho” and “The President’s Neck is Missing”) reprises his role as shill for Dr. Nick by trying and failing to juice oranges with his face. This gives Dr. Nick the perfect opportunity to introduce his new invention: the Juice Loosener. Belive it or not, it can turn an entire bag of oranges into a few drops of juice, and it’s whisper-quiet! Springfield’s subsequent Juice Loosener craze results in an epidemic of imported Osaka flu, and eventually Marge’s incarceration. (“Saturdays of Thunder” and “Marge in Chains”)
6) The Simpsons Spin-off Show Host
?Troy McClure, star of such TV spin-offs as Son of Sanford and Son and After Mannix, lends his likable persona to host a showcase of the TV series The Simpsons creators came up with to fill the gap in Fox’s programming. Starting with Chief Wiggum P.I., this New Orleans-based series starred our favorite overweight cop and Principal Seymour “Skinny” Skinner. Wiggum’s adventures in the Big Easy involved attempted murder by alligator, Ralph getting kidnapped, and Mardi Gras. Troy then moves on to The Love-Matic Grampa, a sitcom starring Moe Sizlac and the spirit of Grampa Simpson trapped in a Love-Tester machine. Grampa’s advice actually leads to a relatively successful date for Moe, with all of the hi-jinks and bad jokes you’d expect from a sitcom. The final spin-off, The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Show, starring Homer, Marge, Bart, Maggie, and a brand-new “Lisa”. This sketch-show, despite a guest appearance by Tim Conway, couldn’t hope to compare to the original. (“The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase”)
5) Drivers’ Ed Video Host
?When Homer gets busted in Barney’s place for a DWI, he is ordered to attend traffic school and two months of meetings before he can get his license back. Joining his fellow class members, they are first subjected to a slightly horrifying clip from Police Chief Wiggum’s home movies. Once the police officer gets the right film in the projector, Homer and the rest of the traffice school attendees are scared straight by Troy McClure, star of such drivers’ ed films as “Alice’s Adventures Through the Windshield Glass” and “The Decapitation of Larry Leadfoot”. Troy’s cheeful narration and a surprisingly jolly musical soundtrack provide an odd counterpoint to video footage of terrible car accidents. (“Duffless”)
4) Spokesperson for Brad Goodman
After Homer nearly decimates the population of the neighborhood children by picking up a free trampoline from Krusty the Clown, Marge’s frustration leads her to search for ways to improve communication in their marriage. Patty and Selma point her in the direction of Brad Goodman’s video “Adjusting Your Self-O-Stat”, featuring Troy McClure, who you might remember from such self-help videos as “Smoke Yourself Thin” and “Get Confident, Stupid!” Troy relates his own experience with Brad Goodman’s method, which brought him from more than fifty drinks per day down to one. Or two. Three, at the very most. When Brad Goodman comes to Springfield, he encourages the townspeople to adopt Bart’s free-wheeling lifestyle. (“Bart’s Inner Child”)
3) Nature Video Host
Though Troy’s appearance in this episode is brief, it is poignant for being his last. When Bart kills a nesting bird with a BB gun, his overwhelming guilt causes him to take over mothering the two eggs in the bird’s nest. In order to find out how best to care for them until they hatch, he ventures into the uncharted territory of the Springfield City Library. The nature film he digs out features Troy McClure, star of such nature films as “Earwigs, Ew!” and “Man vs. Nature: The Road to Victory”. Armed with this newfound knowledge, Bart succeeds in hatching the eggs, which turn out not to be birds, but are in fact Bolivian Tree Lizards. Though the townspeople of Springfield initially want to kill the baby lizards (in the most brutal ways possible), the lizards glide their way to freedom and wreak havoc on the local pigeon population. (“Bart the Mother”)
2) Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off!
?Probably one of the finest performances of his long and varied career (“It’s the part I was born to play, baby!”), Troy starred in a musical adaptation of Planet of the Apes, which is frankly the best incarnation of the franchise since the original film. Unfortunately, we only get to see bits and pieces of of it, but we are treated to the musical’s signature numbers “Dr. Zaius” and “You Finally Made a Monkey out of Me”. That’s Tony Award-winning material right there! And it even wins the approval of Bart and Homer, who don’t typically go for “legitimate theatre.” At the curtain call Troy takes his bows and acknowledges the support of his finance Selma. (“A Fish Called Selma”)
1) Selma Bouvier-Terwillager-Bouvier’s Second Ex-Husband
?This is the episode in which we learn the most about Troy McClure’s sordid personal life, which includes a need to wear glasses when driving and an odd fish fetish. When Troy is photographed during a date with Selma (a human female), his career suddenly begins to take off. With the public reassured about his sexual tastes, the offers for movie rolls start to come in. This newfound success leads Troy to propose to Selma during a screening of “The Muppets Go Medieval”. When Selma eventually finds out that her marriage to Troy is just a publicity stunt, she’s hurt but goes along with it – a prospective role as McBain’s new sidekick in “McBain IV: Final Discharge” is almost Troy’s for the asking. But when Troy’s agent suggests that a baby would seal the deal and make Troy’s career for life, Selma refuses to bring a child into a loveless marriage and the two of them split up. Troy’s short-lived resurgence ends when he decides to direct and star in his pet-project “The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel.”
(“A Fish Called Selma”)