Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Simpsons Trivia: Who Shot Mr. Burns?

I thought I’d share with you one of the pieces of trivia I learned from the commentaries on the Simpsons Season 7 DVD.

At the end of Season 6, which ended with Part 1 of Who Shot Mr. Burns, Fox had a contest. People were supposed to guess who shot Mr. Burns, and the winner would be animated on the show. The same night the episode aired, one guy on the internet got the answer right, and posted the answer on a newsgroup (I’m guessing, which is a newsgroup I used to go to quite often, at the time—hey, I might even have read this guy’s post, although I don’t remember it), giving his reasons. (Which were correct, not just a random guess.) However, he didn’t enter the contest—he just posted the answer to the newsgroup.

The people who make the Simpsons had wanted to send him some kind of prize, as a reward for being the first person, but they weren’t allowed to contact him, because of the rules of the contest. So they waited until the contest was over, and then tried to contact him—but they couldn’t, because he had posted the answer from his email address at college/university, and the email address was no longer valid. They tried to find him, but to no avail. (They tried again, ten years later, when they were putting out the DVD for that season, but still couldn’t find him.)

Now here’s the funny part: The rules of the contest said that Fox would look through the first 1,000 correctly-entered entries to find a winner—but nobody in the first 1,000 entries got the right answer. And so, because of the rules of the contest, they had to pick a winner, from that first 1,000 people, and they chose someone who had picked Smithers. (They had specifically written the show to make it look like Smithers was the guilty one, so most people voted for him.) They never ended up animating her, though; they just paid her off with a bit of money, and tried to sweep the whole thing under the rug, because it was a bit embarrassing that the person who won their contest wasn’t even correct. (And the one person who did get it right, and for the right reasons and everything, they were never able to contact, to at least congratulate him.) (Well, maybe others did too; but if so, they entered after the first 1,000 entries, so they’ll be forgotten by history. Burn.)

Personally, I had always wondered whatever happened to that whole “we’ll animate you on the show” thing, and had just assumed that they’d done it some time. So I found it funny that they never did—and the reasons why.