TV Club: The media’s on trial in Harry Shearer’s first-ever Simpsons script

When Harry Shearer announced he was leaving The Simpsons last year, it was big news. After all, Shearer, like the rest of the principle cast, has been playing his roles on the series since 1989, and a Shearer exit would take along indispensable mainstays like Monty Burns, Smithers, Principal Skinner, and Ned Flanders, along with supporting Spingfieldians like Kent Brockman, Reverend Lovejoy, Otto, Jasper, and [fill in your own Shearer favorite]. When the Simpsons powers-that-be announced those parts would simply be recast and not respectfully retired (as were characters voiced by late co-stars Marcia Wallace and Phil Hartman), the statements that came out had a tinge of that time Kirk Van Houten got canned from the cracker factory to them.

As shocking as the prospect of a Shearer-less Simpsons was, anyone who’s followed the Shearer-Simpsons relationship over the years knows it was a long time coming. Apart from …

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