|"Old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be,|
ain't what she used to be, ain't what she used to be..."
Season 4 goes out with a bang with an episode full of guest appearances and good ol' fashioned hilarity. As Bart and Homer are watching TV, an odd commercial that simply flashes "GABBO" airs. Soon, the entire town catches on to the viral marketing sensation despite having zero knowledge on it. Eventually, though, Gabbo is revealed: its a ventriloquist variety hour that airs at the same time as Krusty the Klown.
Lisa is worried that Gabbo, as much attention as its gotten, will take ratings away from Krusty, and once Gabbo utters his catchphrase ("I'm a bad wittle boy"), Bart gets worried too. Sure enough, Gabbo becomes a big hit while Krusty's show finds itself unable to outdraw Mexican TV. Krusty attempts to get viewers back in, including a poor attempt at ventriloquism himself, giving out $40 checks (which wouldn't be honored) and, after the Itchy & Scratchy cartoons leave to be aired on Gabbo's show instead, an Eastern European cat & mouse team named Worker & Parasite. Despite the gold that cartoon is made of, its too little too late: nobody cares about Krusty anymore and his show is cancelled.
As Krusty struggles to find work again, Bart is angered by these turn of events and attempts to get Gabbo off the air. He is able to catch Gabbo calling the kids in Springfield "little S.O.Bs" off air, and quickly is able to turn a camera on to catch Gabbo in the act. However, it does little to slow Gabbo's momentum. Soon, Bart and Lisa find Krusty on the street, willing to drop his pants for food. Taking him back to his apartment, the kids see pictures of Krusty with a variety of stars such as Bette Midler, Johnny Carson and Luke Perry who is apparently Krusty's half-brother. Lisa comes up with a plan to do a comeback special with Krusty and these guest stars to get Krusty back into business. Krusty agrees with the plan, and has the kids go recruit the stars while he gets in shape.
Together, Bart and Lisa are able to recruit Midler, Hugh Hefner and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Carson and Perry also agree (though neither is shown). Elizabeth Taylor's agent refuses the offer before the kids could talk to her. Mostly successful in their efforts, the two return to Krusty only to see that he's become really out of shape, apparently having mistaken regular milkshakes for the diet kind. They invite him over to the Simpsons place where he quickly gets back in shape. Krusty tries to get Sideshow Mel to come back, but having remembered the tortures he endured while with the Klown, Mel refuses, having found some dignity working at a taco place.
Soon, the special occurs. Krusty opens up singing "Send in the clowns", and Mel suddenly appears to the delight of everyone. Luke Perry is shot out of a cannon, but Krusty aims it poorly, sending Luke out a few windows, through some sandpaper and acid, and ultimately into a pillow factory that was about to get imploded. Several other great acts by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Carson and Midler follow (which after some point Elizabeth Taylor, watching on TV, realizes she needs a new agent). The comeback ends up being a great success, and Krusty's back on the air.
This episode is a strong finisher to an excellent season. The Worker & Parasite cartoon was a classic moment, and many other portions of the episode were great as well. I will admit, though, that with the eight guest characters (when counting the Chili Peppers separately, and counting a Barry White cameo at the beginning), it seemed somewhat difficult to keep them in hilarious situations like was the case with Homer at the Bat. So, often times scenes featuring them (most notably the Chili Peppers) weren't as great as the rest of the episode but it doesn't detract that much from it. It's still a superb episode.
Final Score: 9.2