Bart & Lisa participate in a focus group, along with several other kids including Milhouse, Nelson and Ralph.
MAN: Alright, thanks for participating in our focus group, kids. Today, we're going to show you some Itchy & Scratchy cartoons.
The kids cheer in delight. ...
MAN: We want you to tell us what you think. And, be honest, because no one from the show is here spying on you. (chuckles)
A sneezing sound comes from a large mirror on the wall.
LISA: Why is that mirror sneezing?
MAN: Ah, look, it's just an old, creaky mirror, y'know, sometimes it sounds a little like it's sneezing, or coughing, or talking softly.
The man gives a thumbs-up to the mirror.
MAN: Now, you each have a knob in front of you. When you like what you see, turn the knob to the right. When you don't like what you see, turn it left.
RALPH: (with knob in mouth) My knob tastes funny.
MAN: Please refrain from tasting the knob.
First up, Itchy & Scratchy play pool. Itchy knocks out Scratchy's eyeballs with a cue ball and Scratchy replaces them with two pool balls. The kids laugh turn their knobs to the right. The next cartoon is set on an island. While Itchy & Scratchy sunbathe, a muscle-bound man in bikini trunks flexes in front of the camera. Nelson turns Milhouse's knob repeatedly to the right.
MILHOUSE: Hey, quit it!
From behind the mirror, Meyers and two other people watch on a monitor.
MEYERS [owner of Itchy & Scratchy, Intl.]: They like Itchy, they like Scratchy, one kid seems to love the Speedo man... what more do they want?
Back with the focus group.
MAN: Okay, how many of you kids would like Itchy & Scratchy to deal with real-life problems, like the ones you face every day? (the kids all cheer and agree) And who would like to see them do just the opposite - getting into far-out situations involving robots and magic powers? (more cheering) So, you want a realistic, down-to-earth show... that's completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots? (The kids agree)
NELSON: Yeah, good.
MILHOUSE: And also, you should win things by watching!
The man sighs. The light is turned on in the observation booth, and Meyers appears at the mirror.
MEYERS: You kids don't know what you want! That's why you're still kids: 'cause you're stupid! Just tell me what's wrong with the freakin' show!
He turns the lights out. Ralph starts crying and turns his knob to the left.
LISA: (talking to the mirror) Um, excuse me sir. The thing is, there's not really anything wrong with the Itchy & Scratchy show, it's as good as ever. But after so many years, the characters just can't have the same impact they once had.
Meyers turns the light back on.
MEYERS: That's it. That's it, little girl! You've saved Itchy & Scratchy!
A lawyer enters the room, holding papers.
LAWYER: Please sign these papers indicating that you did not save Itchy & Scratchy.
At Itchy & Scratchy, Intl., Meyers has called a meeting of the writers (who look strikingly similar to the real Simpsons writers [i.e., the Harvard Mafia whom my old-next-door neighbor, who was a writer on "Married with Children," used to denounce for ruining the business]) along with Krusty and a female network executive.
MEYERS: I have figured out how to rejuvenate the show. It's so simple, you egghead writers would've never thought of it! What we need is... a new character! One that today's kids can relate to!
The writers look at each other, uncertain.
OAKLEY [writer]: Are you absolutely sure that's wise, sir? I mean, I don't want to sound pretentious here, but Itchy and Scratchy comprise a dramaturgical dyad.
KRUSTY: Hey, this ain't art, it's business! (to Meyers) Whaddya got in mind? Sexy broad? Gangster octopus?
MEYERS: No, no. The animal chain of command goes mouse, cat, dog. (to the writers) D-O-G.
WEINSTEIN [writer]: Uh, a dog? Isn't that a tad predictable?
FEMALE EXECUTIVE: In your dreams. We're talking the original dog from hell.
OAKLEY: You mean Cerberus?
FEMALE EXECUTIVE: (pause) We at the network want a dog with attitude. He's edgy, he's "in your face." You've heard the expression "let's get busy"? Well, this is a dog who gets "biz-zay!" Consistently and thoroughly.
KRUSTY: So he's proactive, huh?
FEMALE EXECUTIVE: Oh, God, yes. We're talking about a totally outrageous paradigm.
MEYER [writer]: Excuse me, but "proactive" and "paradigm"? Aren't these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I'm accusing you of anything like that. I'm fired, aren't I?
MEYERS: Oh, yes.
MEYERS: The rest of you writers start thinking up a name for this funky dog; I dunno, something along the line of say... Poochie, only more proactive.
Meyers, Krusty and the network executive leave.
OAKLEY: So, Poochie okay with everybody?
An animator, who looks like David Silverman, draws a sketch of a dog.
MEYERS: No, no, no! He was supposed to have attitude.
SILVERMAN [animator]: Um... wh-what do you mean, exactly?
MEYERS: Oh, you know, attitude, attitude! Uh... sunglasses!
FEMALE EXECUTIVE: Can we put him in more of a "hip-hop" context?
KRUSTY: Forget context, he's gotta be a surfer. Give me a nice shmear of surfer.
FEMALE EXECUTIVE: I feel we should rastafy him by ... ten percent or so.
Silverman redraws Poochie. They're still not totally satisfied.
MEYERS: Hmm... I think he needs a little more attitude.
Silverman blackens in Poochie's sunglasses.
FEMALE EXECUTIVE: Oh yeah, bingo. There it is, right there!
KRUSTY: Yeah, that's it!
MEYERS: I love it!
The next morning, The Simpsons eat breakfast. Bart notices the headline in the newspaper Homer is reading: "Funny Dog To Make Life Worthwhile". ...
[After Homer's debut as the voice of Poochie]
In the Android's Dungeon...
COMIC BOOK GUY: Last night's Itchy & Scratchy was, without a doubt, the worst episode ever! Rest assured that I was on the Internet within minutes, registering my disgust throughout the world.
BART: Hey, I know it wasn't great, but what right do you have to complain?
COMIC BOOK GUY: As a loyal viewer, I feel they owe me.
BART: What? They're giving you thousands of hours of entertainment for free. What could they possibly owe you? I mean, If anything, you owe them.
COMIC BOOK GUY: (pause) Worst episode ever.
Kent Brockman delivers the news.
KENT BROCKMAN: It looks like the end of the venerable Itchy and Scratchy program. For years, TV critics, such as yours truly, Kent Brockman, have waited impatiently for cracks to appear in the show's hilarious facade. Yesterday, our prays were finally answered when Poochie the Dog made his howlingly unfunny debut. Far be it from me to gloat at another's downfall, but I have a feeling that no children are gonna be crying when this puppy is put to sleep.
Krusty and the writers are watching the report.
KRUSTY: What the hell happened?!
FEMALE EXECUTIVE: Well, I'd attribute the product failure to fundamental shifts in our key demographic, coupled with the overall crumminess of Poochie.