The Simpsons episode “How Munched is that Birdie in the Window” took conflict between pets and showed how complicated life with animals can be for a little boy. While not their strongest episode, there are plenty of good one-liners left in this series.
The couch gag opener begins with Professor Frink already seated before the family can sit. He shrinks them with a ray gun and they get into a quick set of near misses in scenes like “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” before being caught in a mouse trap.
A Pigeon Problem
Rod and Todd are cowering in their bed during a storm. Next door, Homer terrifies his children with a scary tale about the “Bloody Hangman”. He runs away in terror when a pigeon flies through the kids room. The bird’s owner shows no interest in retrieving him, so Bart is forced to adpot him. He spends some time helping it recover before getting ready to set it free into the wild. Realizing they had “shared too many seed bells”, Bart goes back to retrieve the bird. As he rides his bike home with the bird in the basket, he invites Nelson to mock him and the bully gives a half-hearted ha ha. Bart notes he wasn’t really into his usual mocking and Nelson responds, “My Mom ran off with my birthday clown.”
Back home, Homer attempts to make a pigeon coop that proves so flimsy it falls apart and puts itself back in the box after one pat. Bart explains to the bird he’s near the bottom of the pecking order, just above his friend Milhouse.
The Homing Pigeon is Put to Use
After watching an ad for color World War II movies extolling the virtues of the carrier pigeon, Bart suggests his new pet Ray could be used to send messages back and forth. He then puts the bird to use, pranking Miss Krabapple, who in turn borrows the pigeon to mock Principal Skinner. The bird gets further pranking use when it is sent to Monty Burns. “Perhaps an update from the siege of Khartoum,” Burns muses, before taking Homer and his pals suggestion up on doing a ballet dance in the nude. It’s then used as a form of text or chat between Bart and Milhouse.
Eventually, Moe suggests to Homer that they use the bird for racing. At the mention of racing, Homer has a fantasy with Danica Patrick and his wife fighting over him. Just as Bart gets into the idea, their dog eats the bird, at which point Moe admits it’s just as well. “It was just a trick to scam you out of your house. Good day!”
Bart is understandably upset with the dog, and neither a pet funeral with four-part harmony from his friends nor a, as usual, distrurbing Itchy and Scratchy from the 1930’s in which a dog is punished for crimes cheer Bart up. His pranks fall off and his grades improve as Skinner gleefully tell Bart’s parents. Bart and Santa’s Little Helper go into therapy, but the therapist tells his parents to give the dog away.
Giving Away Santa’s Little Helper
The Simpson decide to give him away to an ostrich farm upstate. While saying goodbye to the dog and blaming it, saying he shouldn’t have killed birds, an ostrich gets loose and attacks Bart. Santa’s Little Helper hesitates to kill the bird when asked by Bart, so Bart kills it himself. He decides to forgive the dog, and it comes home with them.
On the way home, Homer says, “Well, Bart learned a lesson and most important of all, we don’t have to pick up dinner!” The dead ostrich is then seen strapped to the roof of the car, moments before waking up and attacking Homer by punching a hole through the roof and strangling him.