Toward the end of the 20th century, the most successful popular humor in our society had largely shifted from the written word to television and film. Even family humor had developed a sharp edge, gleefully exploring the hypocrisies of our society, sometimes flirting with sexual, religious or scatological themes. One of the best (and most widely imitated) comedy shows at the turn of the millennium was "The Simpsons," a cartoon created by American Matt Groening. It began as a newspaper comic strip, but reached its greatest success as a weekly television cartoon show.

The Simpson family consisted of Homer, the lazy, doltish, violent father; Marge, his practical and long-suffering wife; Lisa, his precocious goody-two-shoes daughter; Bart, his delinquent prankster son; and Maggie, the infant who never spoke and was always sucking on a pacifier. This excerpt from the episode "Homer vs. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment" was written by Steve Pepoon.

ACT ONE

Fade in: EXT. FOOT MOUNT SINAI

(Super: "Sinai Desert, 1220 B.C.")

It is a panorama of evil. ISRAELITES fighting, lusting, partying.

ON HOMER THE THIEF, who is Homer's distant ancestor. He wears a robe. He approaches HEZRON, who is carving a golden calf. Other little golden calves stand nearby, a la a souvenir stand.

Homer the Thief: Hey, good evening, Hezron, Carver of Graven Images.

Hezron: Hey, good evening, Homer the Thief. How is business?

Homer the Thief: Been a little slow these past few months. Not much to steal in the desert, you know.

Hezron: Ah, do not worry, my friend. I figure we'll be wandering out here another two weeks, tops.

Hezron turns to pick up a tool. Homer the Thief swipes a tiny golden calf and sticks it in his robe.

Homer the Thief: Heh, heh, heh.

Another man, ZOHAR, joins them.

Homer the Thief: Ah, good evening, Zohar the Adulterer. My wife sends her warmest regards.

Zohar: Ah, yes, she's a good woman. (Insinuating) VERY good.

Homer the Thief: Thank you, my lusty friend.

As Homer the Thief pats Zohar on the back, he filches Zohar's money purse.

Homer the Thief/Zohar: Heh, heh, heh.

There is lightning and thunder as MOSES returns from the mountain, carrying two stone tablets.

Hezron: Oooh, Moses is back.

Homer the Thief: Quick, everybody look busy.

Cut to:

MOSES ON THE MOUNTAIN. He is carrying two stone tablets.

Moses: (Booming voice) The Lord has handed down to us Ten Commandments by which to live. I will now read them in no particular order: Thou shalt not make any graven images.

Hezron: Oh for God's (muffled curses).

Homer the Thief: Tough break, Hezron. Heh, heh.

Moses: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Zohar: (Sad but suave) Ah, well. Looks like the party's over.

Homer the Thief: (chuckling) Hey, Moses, keep 'em coming.

Moses: Thou shalt not steal.

Homer the Thief: (incredibly annoyed grunt)

ZOHAR and HEZRON laugh derisively at Homer the Thief.

Hezron: Sorry, Homer.

(EXT. SIMPSON HOUSE -- BACK YARD)

TITLE: "SPRINGFIELD: THE PRESENT"

HOMER is lying in a hammock, snoring loudly. The two trees it's tied to bend under his weight. There is a glass of soda by his side which Santa's Little Helper drinks out of, unseen by Homer. Homer is awakened by FLANDERS yelling at the CABLE GUY, who is an overweight, loutish-looking guy with a lot of tools hanging from his belt.

Flanders: This is the most dishonest thing I've ever heard.

Homer: (Waking up) Huh?

Flanders: I should box your ears you, you . . . Sneaky Pete!

Cable guy: Easy, tiger.

Flanders: Hey, you, easy. Now, get off my property! Off! Go on, off. Take your tools. Come on, scramble now. Scram! Scram!

The cable guy leaves. Homer approaches.

Homer: Hey, Flanders. Who put that bug up your butt?

Flanders: Ohhh. I wanted to subscribe to that new Arts and Crafts Channel. Well, sir, they send over this flimflam man to install it, and do you know what he did? He offered to hook me up illegally to every cable channel for only 50 bucks.

Homer: (shaking head) Boy, what's this world coming to?

Flanders: You know, that's exactly what I . . .

Homer: Gotta go. (Homer starts running after the cable installer.)

(Later, INTERIOR SUNDAY SCHOOL CLASSROOM)

Bart and Lisa are in class. The Ten Commandments are written on the blackboard.

Teacher: All right, children. Now, I don't want you to get frightened, but it's my responsibility to teach you this. Today's topic will be "Hell."

The children ad-lib: "Yeah," "Cool" and "It's about time," as the teacher writes "Hell" on the blackboard.

Teacher: Hell is a terrible place. Maggots are your seat, worms your blanket. There's a lake of fire burning with sulfur, you'll be tormented day and night forever and ever. As a matter of fact, if you actually saw Hell, you'd be so frightened, you would die.

(CLOSE-UP, Lisa looking terrified, gasps.)

Bart: Wouldn't you eventually get used to it, like in a hot tub?

Teacher: No. Millhouse?

Millhouse: How can you burn forever? Unless you're real fat.

Teacher: You just do.

Bart: Oh, Miss Albright?

Teacher: Yes, Bart?

Bart: Are there pirates in Hell?

Teacher: Yes, thousands of them.

Bart: Oh, oh, baby!

Martin: (raising hand) So what you're saying is, there's a down side to the afterlife. How does one steer clear of this abode of the damned?

Teacher: By obeying the Ten Commandments. (She indicates them on the board.) Ten simple rules that are easy to live by.

(Lisa focuses on Thou Shalt Not Steal.)

(INT. SIMPSONS' CAR)

Lisa is still terrified and is shuddering.

Marge: So what did you children learn about today?

Bart: Hell.

Homer: Bart!

Bart: Well, that's what we learned about. I sure as hell can't tell you we learned about Hell unless I say "hell," can I?

Homer: The lad has a point.

Bart: Hell, yes!

Marge: Bart!

Bart: (sing-songy) Hell, hell, hell, hell, hell.

Marge: Bart, you're no longer in Sunday school. Don't swear.

(Later, INT. SIMPSONS' HOUSE, LIVING ROOM)

Family watching stolen cable TV.

We see the DEVIL between Homer and Bart, with the rest of the family, on the couch.

Devil: Come on, Lisa. Watch a little cable with us. (He chuckles. He clicks the remote and we see adorable little ponies running around on TV.) Oh, I bet you'd like the pony channel. It won't cost you a thing . . . (laughter) except your soul!

(Lisa screams, ending her vision. She runs off to her room.)

Marge: What's gotten into Lisa?

Bart: Beats the hell out of me.

Homer: Bart!

Bart: Ehhhhh!

END OF ACT ONE