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The Simpsons. Season 3 Episode Guide


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By TM
Alternate Names: 

Simpsons
The Simpsons Show



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Aired between September 19, 1991 and May 7, 1992. This season could be considered as the one which made The Simpson to finally take off for good. During this season 24 episodes were aired.

During this season Hank Azaria became a regular cast member. He joined the show aged 22, having previously performed only one voice over, as an animated dog in the Fox pilot Hollywood Dog. The first voice he performed was that of town bartender Moe Szyslak, replacing Christopher Collins who had voiced the character in several previous episodes. At the time he was doing a play, in which he performed the role of a drug dealer, basing his voice on Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon. He used that voice in the audition, and was told by Matt Groening and Sam Simon to make it more gravelly, with it becoming the voice of Moe. Groening and Simon thought it was perfect and took Azaria over to the Fox recording studio. At that point he was given a contract and made a permanent member of the cast. As well as Moe, Wiggum and Apu, Azaria provides the voices of Comic Book Guy, Carl Carlson, Cletus Spuckler, Professor Frink, Dr. Nick Riviera, Lou, Snake, Kirk Van Houten, the Sea Captain, Superintendent Chalmers, Duffman, the "Wise Guy" and numerous other one-time characters.

Regarding the animation and style of the characters, this season was the one that standardized many of their aspect. They had other artists joining the staff, and different layout artists would bring different ideas. When they were working on the "Flaming Moe" episode, Rich Moore really got to develop Moe as a character, coming up with little traits like scratching his ear. In the second season, the directors had fewer episodes, so they could really focus more on each episode. They were all beginning to clarify how these characters should move and act. The third season saw the introductions of four characters: Lunchlady Doris, Fat Tony, and Kirk and Luann Van Houten.

This was the final season released on VHS. All later seasons were released on DVD only. The DVD edition featured commentary for every episode, keeping to tradition.

On January 27, 1992, the first President Bush proclaimed "We're going to strengthen the American family to make them more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons" during a speech of his re-election campaign at the National Religious Broadcaster's convention in Washington.

Afterwards, the show retaliated when Bart responded, in the next broadcast of the Simpsons which was actually a rerun of "Stark Raving Dad" (first aired on September 19, 1991) on January 30. In that broadcast there was hastily included a new opening, which was a response to Bush's speech. The scene begins in the Simpsons living room. Homer, Patty, and Selma sit on couch. Maggie is in her high chair next to the couch. Bart and Lisa are sprawled on the carpet. They all stare at the TV, watching Bush's speech. When Bush says "We need a nation closer to the Waltons than the Simpsons", Bart replies "Hey, we're just like the Waltons. We're praying for an end to the Depression, too". The animation for this scene was recycled from the Season 2 episode Simpson and Delilah.

Due to the popularity already aquired by the show; they were also transported to the Video Games world with The Simpsons: The Arcade Game. It's an arcade game produced by Konami in 1991. It is a beat 'em up based on the cartoon series of the same name. The voice actors of the immediate family (Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, and Yeardley Smith) provide their talents for their respective characters. The game was ported to the Commodore 64, and PC.


Episodes: 

Aired between September 19, 1991 and August 27, 1992

Number of episodes: 24

  1. Stark Raving Dad:

    Original Air Date: September 19, 1991

    Writer: Al Jean, Mike Reiss.

    Director: Rich Moore.

    Starring Characters: Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson).

    Recurring Characters: Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others).

    Guest Star: Michael Jackson (Michael Jackson/Leon Kompowsky), Kipp Lennon (Michael Jackson/Leon Kompowsky (Singing)).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I am not a dentist".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Lisa wakes Bart up and reminds him that her birthday is coming up and that he neglects or forgets her birthday every year. Bart promises to get her the best present ever. Meanwhile, Bart washes his red hat in with a white load, and Homer has no choice but to wear a pink shirt to work. As a result, Mr. Burns has Homer detained for being a "free thinking anarchist". He is examined by Dr. Marvin Monroe who administers a 20 question quiz that Homer has Bart fill out. The results cause Homer to be sent to a mental institution, where he shares a cell with a large white man who thinks he is Michael Jackson. Not knowing who Michael Jackson is, Homer believes him.

    Marge comes to visit Homer and convinces his doctors that Bart is the primary cause of Homer's problems. Homer gets the official certificate that says he is not insane. Homer calls and tells Bart that he is bringing Michael Jackson to stay for a few days (he says it softly, in a non-threatening tone, to avoid having to stay in the hospital). Bart lets the word out and all of Springfield turns out to see Michael Jackson. All the town's excitement is deflated when the faux Michael is revealed by Homer.

    Then the supposed Michael and Bart write a song specifically for Lisa's birthday. Lisa is thrilled and hugs her brother, saying that he has given her the best present ever. Suddenly, "Michael" reveals that he is Leon Kompowsky, a brick-layer from Paterson, New Jersey. He explains that he does his Michael voice due to the fact he felt angry for the majority of his life and that he earned people's respect when he did the vocal impersonation. With his confidence renewed after composing a good song, he soon bids farewell to the Simpsons, singing Lisa's Birthday song to himself as he strolls off down the road.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons hit the sofa with such force that it topples backwards and smashes through the wall.
    • There are so many cameos outside the Simpsons' house at the end we could be here all day - but notables include Princess Kashmir and the twins dated by Mr Burns and Smithers, both from Homer's Night Out.
    • Many scenes and lines are taken from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Milos Forman, 1975). Floyd, the idiot savant at the rest home, comes from Rain Man (Barry Levinson, 1988).
    • The guy in the crowd with the rainbow Afro wig and the John 3:16 placard is the Rainbow Man, a born-again Christian who in the late seventies and early eighties attempted to appear on television as often as possible, often showing up at big televised events.
    • It was Michael Jackson's idea to have the scene where Bart and "Michael" stay up and write the song for Lisa.
    • Before this episode was released various Simpsons eternal media such as book, magazine's, Arcade Game etc. had Lisa's age printed as Age: 7, and in this episode Lisa celebrates her 8th birthday, thus this episode is the only time in the series where a member of the Simpsons family officially ages.
    • With this episode, Hank Azaria is added to the show's regular ensemble, thus establishing what some fans call the "big six".
    • The real Michael Jackson performed the speaking voice (not singing) of the white man under the pseudonym Jon Jay Smith. The producers of the show were also legally prevented from confirming this at the time, and would only say "read between the lines". Later on Season 3 DVD producers commented that the voice was provided by Michael Jackson.
    • While Michael Jackson played the voice of Leon Kompowsky (under the pseudonym of Jon Jay Smith), the songs were sung Kipp Lennon.
    • Jackson composed the song Happy Birthday Lisa (a.k.a. Lisa It's Your Birthday). Although the Lennon's version was featured in the televised episode, Jackson has also recorded a remixed version featuring him singing with Bart (Nancy Cartwright) that was intended to be officially released on a special edition of his Dangerous album.
    • In retaliation to the January 27, 1992 comments of then-current President George H. W. Bush in a campaign speech in which he said "We're going to strengthen the American family to make them more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons"; in a rerun of this epìsode aired on January 30, 1992, it was hastily included a new opening, which was a response to Bush's speech. The scene begins in the Simpsons living room. Homer, Patty, and Selma sit on couch. Maggie is in her high chair next to the couch. Bart and Lisa are sprawled on the carpet. They all stare at the TV, watching Bush's speech. When Bush says "We need a nation closer to the Waltons than the Simpsons", Bart replies "Hey, we're just like the Waltons. We're praying for an end to the Depression, too". The animation for this scene was recycled from the Season 2 episode Simpson and Delilah.
    • A year after the episode aired, the writers decided to make a sequel where Leon Kompowsky returns and thinks he is the musician Prince. It was slated to air during the fifth season. According to Reiss, the plot of the episode saw Kompowsky/Prince manage to get everyone in the town to "loosen up, become more flamboyent and become more sexually open." The script was sent to Prince who agreed and sent back a page of notes about what he would be wearing in various scenes. The writers were confused when the notes didn't correspond to the script and it was soon found out that Prince was referring to a completely different script. Accounts of who wrote the script vary, according to Reiss it was just sent to him by someone, Oakley says a friend of Prince's wrote it and in an interview Matt Groening said Prince's chauffeur wrote it. Prince hated the writer's script and demanded the other one be made, but the writers didn't like it. The episode eventually fell through and never made it past written form. It became one of the few completed scripts to never be produced.
    • The episode title is a play on the popular saying "Stark Raving Mad", suitably appropriate for the episode.
    • Homer watches America's Funniest Home Videos where the three nominated clips are all extremely over the top violent.
    • In the hospital Homer has to do the Rorschach Test.
    • Many of the scenes in the hospital (including the character "Chief") are directly out of the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, based on Ken Kesey's novel of the same name.
    • One of the mental patients is Hannibal Lecter.
    • Homer has no idea who Michael Jackson is. Even when Michael sums up several things which made him famous, such as Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever (where Jackson first performed his famous moonwalk), MTV, Beat it, Thriller and Billie Jean (Michael even sings and performs his moonwalk, complete with high screams and grabbing his crotch) he still does not have a clue.
    • Michael demonstrates how to do the moonwalk, but it causes Homer to go forward instead of backwards.
    • Michael says people thought he was crazy for the way he dressed and references his famous white glove.
    • When Homer reaches the hospital phone to call Marge the names of various talk show hosts can be read on the pre-programmed buttons. These include Larry King, Oprah Winfrey, Phil Donahue, Geraldo Rivera and Ski Report.
    • When Bart tells Marge Homer is in the hospital he hums the tune of Beat it and performs the moonwalk himself.
    • When Marge phones the hospital she is told to wait a few moments. The muzak she hears is the song "Crazy" by Patsy Cline, which causes her to cry.
    • The song Michael sings to make Homer get thru the night is Ben. This was Michael's first solo hit, while he was still a boy. When Homer starts mumbling in his sleep, Michael tells his stuffed animal: "Bubbles, it's going to be a long night." Bubbles was the name of Michael Jackson's chimpanzee.
    • Bart tells Michael he cannot write a song for Lisa, because he's only 10 years old. Michael tells him: "When I was your age I had six golden records," a reference to the fact that Michael Jackson's career started around that age, while he was a member of the Jackson Five.
    • Bart shows Michael his Thriller album. It was and still is the biggest selling music album of all time, so it can be found in many houses all over the world.

  2. Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington:

    Original Air Date: September 26, 1991

    Writer: George Meyer

    Director: Wesley Archer.

    Starring Characters: Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others), Tress MacNeille (Agnes Skinner, Brandine Del Roy, Dolph and others), Jo Ann Harris (Additional Voices), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others).

    Guest Star: Lona Williams (Minnesota Girl).

    Chalkboard Gag: "Spitwads are not free speech".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: After a free copy of Reading Digest magazine is sent to the Simpson residence, Homer gets very interested in the magazine. When he sees the kids are loafing in front of the TV, he shuts it off and orders them to read a book instead. He also encourages Lisa to enter a contest in which an essay must be written about what makes America great. Lisa takes a trip to Springfield Forest and is inspired to write her essay when she sees the forest's natural beauty and when a bald eagle lands right by the branch she is sitting under. Lisa's article is approved for entry in the national finals in Washington, DC after the contest judge observes Homer's poor vocabulary and realizes that he could not have written Lisa's essay for her.

    While Bart and Homer abuse the all expense-paid perks of their trip, Lisa visits famous monuments for inspiration. At one particular monument, she overhears a bribe taking place about demolishing Springfield Forest. Distraught and disillusioned by the dishonesty of government officials, Lisa tears up her essay and writes a more painful yet truthful essay to show the patriotic judges.

    The new essay, entitled "Cesspool on the Potomac" disdains and condemns the government system, and mentions the names of those involved in the bribery. Lisa's essay causes a ruckus and elicits a hostile reaction from the judges and audience. Of course, everyone is shocked by her speech. Messages are quickly sent around the capital regarding Lisa's speech and the corrupt congressman is arrested. Lisa's essay does not win because of its content, but with the congressman arrested, her faith in government is restored.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons sit, then Homer pulls Santa's Little Helper from under him.
    • This is the first episode to be presented in Dolby Surround.
    • This is the first episode with a sax solo in the opening credits that is different from the one used throughout the first two seasons.
    • This episode also shows a shot of a state map, showing four states divided by two intersecting lines at right-hand angles, with Springfield in the top left hand state. The only state that this could be is Utah, although, as the shot fades out, the initials of the state can be seen as NT. This apparently stands for fictional state "North Takoma." On the other hand, the congressman representing Springfield wants to drill for oil on Teddy Roosevelt's head on Mount Rushmore, which is in South Dakota. There is a Springfield in South Dakota, but the actual state cannot be determined.
    • The plot (and title) of this episode is a play on Frank Capra's Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.
    • Among the Washington DC landmarks visited are Dulles Airport, the Watergate Hotel (where the family stays), the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the IRS Building, the National Air and Space Museum, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial.
    • Truong Van Dinh had already won both the Westinghouse Talent Search and the NFL Punt, Pass, and Kick competition.
    • The piano-playing satirist at the end of the episode is a reference to Mark Russell and Tom Lehrer. The song "The Deficit Rag" is very similar to Lehrer's "The Vatican Rag".
    • The woman's suffrage display Lisa visits is likely a parody of Susan B. Anthony. When Lisa mentions "she later appeared on the highly unpopular 75¢ piece" this is a reference to the Susan Anthony dollar coins, which were often mistaken for quarters by vending machines and cashiers.
    • The banner that reads "Brevity is... wit" is a reference to a line in Hamlet where Polonius says: "brevity is the soul of wit". The joke is that the banner is applying greater wit by increasing the brevity of the original Shakespeare line.
    • Bob Arnold tells Lisa that there are quite a few women senators, but Lisa asserts that there are only two. At the time of airing there were indeed only two female senators: Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland.
    • Then-President George H.W. Bush is featured briefly in this episode, and is portrayed in a positive, albeit hokey, light. Shortly after this episode aired, Bush disparaged The Simpsons in a speech. Thus, Bush appears in four later episodes in a much more negative light.

  3. When Flanders Failed:

    Original Air Date: October 3, 1991

    Writer: Jon Vitti.

    Director: Jim Reardon.

    Starring Characters: Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others), Tress MacNeille (Agnes Skinner, Brandine Del Roy, Dolph and others), Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others).

    Chalkboard Gag: "Nobody likes sunburn slappers".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Ned Flanders invites the Simpsons to a barbecue party. During the barbecue, Ned announces his plans to open a store for left-handed people; the Leftorium. Homer sarcastically replies that it is a ridiculous idea. During the pulling of the wishbone, Homer, who has been constantly jealous of the material success of the Flanders family, wishes for the Leftorium to be a failure and go out of business. Homer frequently checks on Ned to ensure that business is going poorly. However, Homer sees left handed citizens struggling with items made for right handed people. Homer thinks about informing these people about the Leftorium, but decides against it.

    Unfortunately for the Flander, Ned is forced to close the store for lack of business and sell his possessions. Homer gleefully buys many of Ned's things. Homer starts to regret what he did, but when he goes to return Ned's possessions, he find Ned’s house repossessed and the family living in their car. A depressed Ned is actually grateful to Homer, as he believes Homer was trying to warn him against engaging in a high risk venture. Homer wrestles with the guilt his wish has brought, and tells Ned to open the store for one final day. He tells all the left handed population of Springfield about the Leftorium. They all travel to the store and buy many things, and their business helps Ned keep the store and get his house back.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in and break into an Egyptian dance.
    • The Springfield Martial Arts Academy is next door to Shakespeare's Fried Chicken.
    • Among the production credits on Itchy and Scratchy are Mobile Medical Unit Trauma Staff on Call, Arson Control, Bomb Squad, Fire Prevention Team, Catering for the Director (Fine French Cuisine), Catering for Staff (Krusty Burgers), Production Supervisors in Charge of Coffee, Miscellaneous Dirty Work Staff and, of course, Assistants to the Assistants.
    • Several sequences are lifted from It's a Wonderful Life.
    • The Art of War by Sun Tzu is a genuine ancient text.
    • Akira gives Bart's karate class the ancient Chinese military treatise The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Later in the episode, he is amused to find "left-handed nunchucks" in the Leftorium; in fact this Japanese ninjutsu weapon is ambidextrous. This is similar to a practical joke often played on unsuspecting trainees in the movie industry, where they are sent to purchase a "left-handed screwdriver".
    • Homer watches the CFL Draft, which mentioned the Saskatchewan Roughriders, on television, but the CFL draft is not broadcast on TV, not even in Canada. However, the NFL Draft is with ESPN and later the NFL Network broadcasting every round including the first round which can last up to six hours with up to 10 minutes between picks.
    • The episode ending -- in which Homer gathers the townfolk to rush to the aid of a beleaguered friend, culminating in a happy song -- is a reference to the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Homer's line at the end, referring to Flanders as "the richest left-handed man in Springfield" is a reference to Harry Bailey's toast line.

  4. Bart the Murderer:

    Original Air Date: October 10, 1991

    Writer: John Swartzwelder.

    Director: Rich Moore.

    Starring Characters: Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel), Phil Hartman (Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure and Additional Voices), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others), Jo Ann Harris (Additional Voices).

    Guest Star: Neil Patrick Harris (Himself), Joe Mantegna (Fat Tony and Himself).

    Chalkboard Gag: "High explosives and school don't mix".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Bart falls in with a particularly bad crowd - the Springfield Mafia. He befriends mobster Fat Tony, Louie, Joey and other gangsters, who take him on as their bartender and errand boy. As Bart adopts more and more gangster-like traits, a worried Marge grows anxious and tells Homer to go and meet the Mafia, but he actually approves of them. Once Principal Skinner catches Bart spraying graffiti at school, Bart tucks some money into his pocket and dismisses him.

    Skinner naturally refuses to go quietly and sentences Bart to detention, making him late for a meeting with the Mob and he frustratedly tells Fat Tony that Skinner is responsible for his tardiness. Fat Tony and his friends leave to confront Skinner who, soon after their 'meeting', disappears from the public. After nearly a week, Skinner is presumed to have been murdered. Rumors spread fast and Bart is psychologically tortured by his nightmares after overhearing his friends' theories about Bart's crooked employers and how they could easily be murderers. The police soon suspect that Bart and his new friends are responsible and charge them with first degree murder. During the sensational trial, Fat Tony turns stool pigeon and tells the court that Bart is the kingpin of his organization and Skinner's insane killer.

    Judge Snyder is about to convict Bart when Skinner bursts through the doors, disheveled, and explains that neither Bart nor the Mob assaulted him. After talking with the Mob, he became trapped beneath tons of old newspapers in his garage. He explains how he survived for weeks by living off his mother's "delicious preserves" before he was able to escape. As a result, Bart and the Mob are cleared from all charges.

    Bart decides to resign after learning that "crime doesn't pay" and that gangsters make lousy friends. In the end, the Simpsons settle down at home and watch a new show called "Blood on the Blackboard: The Bart Simpson Story", starring Neil Patrick Harris as Bart and Joey Mantegna as Fat Tony. Bart seems to like it, but Homer wonders when the producers will send a check to the family for the show. Marge explains that due to the artistic license taken, they will be able to avoid paying them. Homer concludes that Hollywood producers are the real criminals.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the family form a pyramid, with Maggie on top.
    • This episode is a parody of "A Bronx Tale", GoodFellas (Martin Scorsese, 1990), in which a young boy is employed by the Mob as their messenger (the sequence when Bart falls down the steps into the cellar club is very similar) - but also The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972). Bart sings Frank Sinatra's Witchcraft in the kitchen.
    • All of the horses in the race are named after a famous animated character's catchphrase:

      -"Ain't I a Stinker?" (Bugs Bunny)

      -"Yabba Dabba Doo" (Fred Flintstone)

      -"Sufferin' Succotash" (Sylvester)

      -"That's All Folks" (Porky Pig)

      -"I Yam What I Yam" (Popeye)

      -Bart's catchphrases, "Eat my shorts" and "Don't have a cow" are also horses.
    • The Itchy and Scratchy Episode portrayed in this episode starts with Itchy dressed up as a policeman as a variety of cats including Scratchy line up along a brick wall. Itchy then pulls out a Tommy Gun and kills all the cats. Laughing at the show, Fat Tony remarks that "It's funny because it's true", a reference to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
    • The scene at the chocolate factory where the kids are watching an old film narrated by Troy McClure, the Aztec who smokes the cocoa bean, mimics the Cleveland Indians' mascot, Chief Wahoo.
    • When Bart is running beside the bus, Lisa smiles and waves at him in a way similar to Fernando Rey in The French Connection.
    • The scene at the chocolate factory where the kids are slurping up the chocolate from the vat refers to Augustus Gloop from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
    • Vanity Fair called "Bart the Murderer" the eighth best episode of The Simpsons in 2007. John Orvted said, "This episode makes the cut because of the inspired Mafia satire and because it goes deeper into Bart's ongoing conflict with authority figures".

  5. Homer Defined:

    Original Air Date: October 17, 1991

    Writer: Howard Gewirtz.

    Director: Mark Kirkland.

    Starring Characters: Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Jon Lovitz (Aristotle Amadopolis and Mr. Deveraux), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others), Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others), Russi Taylor (Martin Prince, Sherri, Terri and others).

    Guest Star: Chick Hearn (Himself), Earvin Johnson (Himself).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not squeak chalk" (While Bart writes this, he makes a horrible squeaking noise)

    First Appearances: Luann Van Houten.

    Plot: The plant is on the verge of a nuclear meltdown, and Homer seems to be the only person who can stop it. He has no skills and cannot remember any training, however, and in desperation chooses a button via eeny, meeny, miny, moe. Miraculously, Homer presses the button that averts the meltdown; Springfield is saved, and Homer is honored as a hero.

    Mr. Burns rewards Homer for saving the plant with an "Employee of the Month" award (displacing longtime holder Smithers), a ham, a plaque, a discount coupon book, Burns's personal "thumbs-up", and a congratulatory call from Magic Johnson. Even Lisa begins to admire Homer as a role model, but Homer's conscience haunts him. He knows (and fears that everyone else will realize) that his "heroism" was nothing but luck. Burns introduces Homer to Aristotle "Ari" Amadopoulos, the owner of the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant. Ari wants Homer the hero to give a pep talk to his plant's lackluster workers. Homer is hesitant to accept, but Burns forces him into it.

    As Homer gives his fumbling "motivational" speech, an impending meltdown threatens the Shelbyville plant. The crowd marches Homer to the control room, asking him to perform his heroic deeds once again. In front of everyone, Homer repeats his juvenile rhyme and presses a button blindly. By sheer dumb luck, he manages to avert this meltdown as well. Ari thanks Homer for saving the plant but is angered to find out that it was done with just dumb luck rather than heroic intelligence. He is even more widely derided as a lucky imbecile than he was hailed as a hero, and "to pull a Homer" becomes a widely-used phrase meaning "to succeed despite idiocy" (even entering the dictionary illustrated with a small portrait of Homer).

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag as the Simpsons run in, an alien escapes through a trapdoor.
    • Smithers' Yorkshire Terrier is called Hercules.
    • Smithers also tells us that Homer was employed under Project: Bootstrap, for which Mr Burns blames ex-President Gerald Ford.
    • The calm female voice in the nuclear plant counting the seconds to meltdown comes from The Andromeda Strain (Robert Wise, 1970).
    • Homer Defined features many references to nuclear incidents. The news coverage of the crisis at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant parodies the coverage of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.
    • The children duck under their desks in a fashion taught to U.S. elementary school students during the early years Cold War. When Homer stops the first meltdown, the timer stops on 007. This is reminiscent of the ending of Goldfinger where James Bond stops a timer on a bomb and the timer ends on 007, his agent number. The timer in the plant also looks exactly like the one in the movie.
    • While desperate, Homer looks back to his nuclear plant training and sees himself attempting to solve the Rubik's Cube. He then blames the puzzle for distracting him.
    • Otto hums Frankenstein by The Edgar Winter Group while driving the bus to the Kwik-E-Mart.

  6. Like Father, Like Clown:

    Original Air Date: October 24, 1991

    Writer: Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky.

    Director: Brad Bird, Jeffrey Lynch.

    Starring Characters: Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson).

    Recurring Characters: Doris Grau (Lunchlady Doris), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others), Tress MacNeille (Agnes Skinner, Brandine Del Roy, Dolph and others).

    Guest Star: Jackie Mason (Rabbi Krustofski).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will finish what I sta".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Krusty the Clown has agreed to have dinner with Bart and his family as repayment for Bart's help in exonerating him in the episode "Krusty Gets Busted". Krusty comes to dinner at the Simpson house. When asked to say grace, he recites the Hebrew blessing over bread, HaMotzi. Realizing that Krusty is Jewish, Lisa reminds him of his heritage, making Krusty cry. He tells the family his real name, Herschel Krustofski, and of his upbringing in the Russian District of the Lower East Side of Springfield.

    His father, Hyman Krustofski, was a rabbi dispensing Talmudic wisdom and car-buying tips to the neighborhood and strongly opposed to young Herschel's wish of becoming a clown and making people laugh, wanting the boy to go to yeshiva instead. Krusty did attend the yeshiva school, where he said he made the other students laugh by acting as his father. As a result, Krusty performed slapstick comedy behind his father's back. When Rabbi Krustofski found out, he seperated himself from his son, and it has been 2.5 decades since they have seen or spoken to each other.

    Bart and Lisa resolve to help reunite father and son, but the rabbi still refuses to accept Krusty's career choice. An attempt by the kids to reunite the Krustofskis at a deli fails when the rabbi leaves early after seeing a very non-kosher sandwich bearing his son's name on the menu. Bart calls into a religious talk-radio show that Rabbi Krustofski appears on ("Gabbin' About God"), asking if a father should forgive his son for defying his wishes if the son is making millions of children happy, but the rabbi angrily answers in the negative.

    Finally, Bart is able to convince the rabbi to reconcile with a quote from Sammy Davis, Jr., a Jewish entertainer like Krusty, which finally convinces Rabbi Krustofski of his foolishness. A deeply depressed Krusty is glumly doing a live taping of his show, but when Rabbi Krustofski appears, they joyously hug and make up before the audience of children.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag Bart runs on late and lies across the rest of the family.
    • Where Krusty re-unites with his father, Homer is wearing a long-sleeved shirt in one frame and then a couple of seconds later he is wearing his usual short white sleeved shirt whilst at the dinner table.
    • Bart is Krusty Buddy #13602.
    • The episode title is a parody on the popular saying, "Like Father, Like Son".
    • The Springfield X cinema is showing: For Your Thighs Only, Crocodile Done Me and Doctor Strangepants.
    • Among the magazines on sale in the shop are: Ballooning Monthly, Cooking With Coconut Magazine, Faberge Egg Owner, Ballpoint Pen Digest and Modern Jewish Father.
    • The KBBL religious radio show featuring Rabbi Krustofski and Rev. Lovejoy is called Gabbin' About God.
    • Lisa's research into the Jewish people leads her to the books The Big Book of the Church People, Jewishness Revisited and Views on Jews.
    • This episode draws heavily on The Jazz Singer (Richard Fleischer, 1980) for its main theme of a Jewish father disowning his son for going into showbusiness. The song played at the end is 0 Mein Papa, a 1952 hit for Eddie Fisher.
    • The Itchy and Scratchy episode entitled "Field of Screams" is a reference to "Field of Dreams".
    • The scenes in which Krusty calls his father without saying anything is reminiscent of Robert De Niro in Raging Bull.
    • In the deli, Rabbi Krustofski apparently dislikes the movies of Bruce Willis; seeing a sandwich named after him, he remarks "I don't even like his work!".
    • Likewise, Rabbi Krustofski declines a sandwich named after Jackie Mason, his own voice actor.
    • Krusty's secretary, Miss Pennycandy, is a reference to the secretary for M in James Bond Miss Moneypenny.
    • Bart and Lisa try to trick Rabbi Krustofski into meeting with Krusty by arranging a lunch date between him and Saul Bellow, the "Nobel Prize-winning Jewish novelist." In the original script, this was intended to be Isaac Bashevis Singer, who died on July 24, 1991, before the episode was completed.
    • The disc jockey who hosts Gabbin' About God is seen wearing a t-shirt featuring the band Foghat.
    • The Concert for Bangladesh was satirized in this episode, when Krusty plays it while a visitor at the Simpsons household. It would later be satirized again when Apu owned an album called "The Concert Against Bangladesh".

  7. Treehouse of Horror II:

    Original Air Date: October 31, 1991

    Writer: Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jeff Martin, John Swartzwelder, Sam Simon, George Meyer. (But they are credited as Atrocious Al Jean & Morbid Mike Reiss, Jittery Jeff Martin, Gasping George Meyer, Slithering Sam Simon, Spooky John Swartzwelder)

    Director: Jim Reardon.

    Starring Characters: Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier).

    Recurring Characters: Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel), Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others).

    Chalkboard Gag: None.

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Homer, Bart and Lisa each have nightmares after eating too much Halloween candy. Marge warns them that if they eat too much candy, they'll have nightmares. The family thinks she is paranoid and refuse to let her get in the way of stuffing their faces

    In Lisa's nightmare in a trip to Morocco, Homer finds a small booth at a bazaar displaying a monkey's severed hand. The crippled vendor - who claims to be a former president of Algeria - warns that, although the Monkey's Paw grants four wishes, it also brings grave misfortune upon the well-wisher. Homer dismisses his concerns and buys the paw. Back in Springfield, the family argues about what to wish for. When Maggie picks up the paw, a limousine suddenly arrives outside. Homer praises her and cuddles her into his bosom, but is annoyed when the limo driver delivers a new pacifier for Maggie and then drives off. Bart grabs the paw and states that there will be no more fooling around. He then wishes for the Simpsons to be rich and famous. Marge rushes in, announcing that her purse exploded with money, and Homer takes the family to the fanciest restaurant in town, The Singing Sirloin. Whilst there, they soon discover that people have quickly tired of the family's annoying antics, cheesy merchandise and celebrity treatment. Horrified by these wasteful wishes, Lisa wishes for world peace with the best intentions. All countries declare peace and are eager to destroy all weapons by throwing them into a giant furnace. Military personnel and Police forces take up jobs baking cookies and all nuclear weapons are disposed of. Before long, Kang and Kodos realize the human race is "ripe for the plucking" and enslave the Earth armed only with a slingshot and a club. Kang then crowns himself king of Earth. The people angrily blame the Simpsons, wishing they were dead. Determined to make a wish that cannot be twisted, Homer demands a turkey sandwich which, to his horror, turns out to be a little dry. "Oh, foul, accursed thing! What demon from the depths of hell created thee?" he sobs. As Homer throws the paw in the trash can, Ned Flanders asks if he can have it. Homer gladly hands the paw over to Flanders, hoping to see his neighbor's wishes backfire as well. Ned wishes for the invading aliens to depart, which is accomplished by Moe chasing the aliens away with a board harbouring a nail. As they retreat, the aliens proclaim that one day humans will make bigger boards with bigger nails and eventually destroy themselves with their own power. Everyone celebrates and after Flanders wishes to "spruce up the ol' homestead", his house is converted into an opulent castle (resembling Cinderella Castle in Disneyland). Homer angrily mutters to himself, "I wish I had a monkey's paw."

    In Bart's nightmare Springfield is held in a grip of terror by Bart, who has near-omnipotent powers. No one dares to displease him; his family, his teachers, and everyone else in town are all forced to continuously smile and submit to Bart's every whim. He renames America 'Bonerland' and changes the flag to stars and stripes to a black flag with a skull and two crossbones. Anyone who thinks unhappy thoughts is immediately punished. When Homer refuses to switch an American football game so that Bart can watch Krusty the Klown, Bart transports him into the football stadium in place of the ball for an extra point kick. As Homer creeps back into the house, thinking to himself, "slowly, slowly, don't make a sound, don't even think, 'cause he can hear your thoughts. Then, when he's least expecting it, bash his head in with the chair; end of the monster for him", Bart transforms him into a jack-in-the-box. Marge suggests that the two see Dr. Marvin Monroe, who says that Bart is desperate for paternal affection. Despite being a jack-in-the-box, Homer spends quality time with Bart, and they soon become a normal, loving family. Bart restores Homer's body and tells him he loves him. But when he is kissed by Homer, Bart wakes up in a screaming fit, terrified from his nightmare.

    In Homer's nightmare he answers a classified ad to become a grave digger. Meanwhile, Burns is nearing the completion of his giant robotic laborer, whom he hopes will eventually replace weak-bodied human workers. The only remaining step is to implant a human brain into the machine's body. Searching a graveyard the following night, Burns and Smithers mistake Homer, snoring in an open grave, for a newly buried corpse. Burns removes his brain with an ice cream scoop ("Dammit, Smithers! This isn't rocket science, it's brain surgery!") and places it in the robot. However, Robo-Homer is just as lazy and incompetent as he was as a human, using his x-ray vision to locate donuts. Burns declares the experiment a failure and, after restoring the brain to Homer's still-living body, kicks the robot, which topples over and crushes Burns. After the psychotic scientist tells Smithers to get some surgical tools and ether, Homer wakes up screaming from this nightmare and discovers that Smithers has transplanted Burns's head onto his right shoulder. He thought it was a dream, but was it? This episode ends with a joke announcement of what will happen on the next Simpsons episode. The Simpsons are eating breakfast and Homer is seen with Mr. Burns' head, and is told that he has to do everything Burns does. Homer laments how he hates having two heads.

    Trivia:

    • Homer tries to smuggle a Honk if you're Moroccan bumper sticker through customs.
    • Simpsons merchandise in Lisa's nightmare includes the album The Simpsons Go Calypso! (available on CD and 8-track cartridge), a Bart T-shirt (price $18), and Bart's Get a Mammogram, Man public health campaign.
    • It looks like the head of Jebediah Springfield's statue wasn't very well glued back on after The Tell-Tale Head.
    • The horse's head in Lisa's bed is similar to The Godfather (Francis Ford Coppola, 1972).
    • Marge's hair recalls Bride of Frankenstein (James Whale, 1932).
    • The big influence is The Twilight Zone TV series; the episodes A Small Talent for War and It's a Good Life form the basis for Lisa's and Bart's dreams respectively. It's a Good Life was remade as part of Twilight Zone - The Movie (Various, 1983).
    • There are also references to the seventies Charlie Brown TV cartoons - the crowd of trick-or-treaters at the start of the episode, and The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939) - Mr Burns' scolding of his robot creation.
    • Homer's attempt to smuggle the Monkey's Paw into America by taping it to his body and his discovery by customs guards, recalls the attempt to smuggle drugs out of Turkey in Midnight Express (Alan Parker, 1978). We draw a blank on the identity of the baker in Lisa's nightmare.
    • In the opening segment Marge says: Hello, everyone. Before last year's Halloween show, I warned you not to let your children watch, but you did anyway. Well, this year's episode is even worse. It's scarier, more violent, and I think they snuck in some bad language, too. So please, tuck in your children and... [sighs] well, if you didn't listen to me last time, you're not going to now. Enjoy the show.
    • In the opening credits, we see Jim Morrison's grave, along with Walt Disneys.
    • Jim Morrison's grave includes graffiti references to various songs by The Doors and to pop culture of the time, including "MR. MOJO-RISIN-" from "L.A. Woman", "Hotel" scribbled after "Morrison", (a reference to "Morrison Hotel"), "PEOPLE ARE STRANGE" (song of same name; "ARE" is underlined), "The End?" (a reference to the Doors song of the same name), "I (heart symbol) L.A." followed by an underlined "(WOMAN)", numerous peace symbols as well as the word "Peace" repeated numerous times, the phrases "They've got the guns but we've got the numbers" and "WE WANT THE WORLD AND WE WANT IT NOW!". It also includes an image of a lit marijuana cigarette and a bottle of liquor, the first a cultural reference to the prevelence and importance of marijuana use in the late 1960's, and the latter likely a reference to the cause of Jim Morrison's death. In addition, two people dressed in commonly accepted "hippie" clothing sit around a campfire adjacent to Morrison's graves.
    • In Lisa's dream, the Monkey's paw, is a homage of the story of the same name by W.W. Jacobs.
    • In the opening sequence of the episode, the Peanuts gang appear wearing their costumes from the popular animated television special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
    • Homer's nightmare is based on much of the film Frankenstein. The end of the episode parodies The Thing with Two Heads.
    • In Lisa's nightmare, just as the Simpsons are about to board the plane, they are stopped by Moroccan soldiers who all aim rifles at them in the kneeling position. Homer is then searched and found to have trinkets attached to his body which he was attempting to smuggle out of the country without paying a tariff. This is a parody of the opening scene in Midnight Express.
    • While Mr. Burns scoops out Homer's brain, he hums the tune of "If I Only Had a Brain" which is sung by the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Burns also calls the robot that had Homer's brain a "clinking, clattering cacophany of colligenous cog and camshifts", similar to the Wizard's line to the Tin Man: "You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of colligenous junk!"
    • In a "Ren and Stimpy" episode "Jimmy lummox", while Stimpy is changing the channels, homer's last line, "Do'h, I hate having 2 heads" is heard, but is voiced by someone else.

  8. Lisa's Pony:

    Original Air Date: November 7, 1991

    Writer: Mike Reiss, Al Jean.

    Director: Carlos Baeza.

    Starring Characters: Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Doris Grau (Lunchlady Doris), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others), Tress MacNeille (Agnes Skinner, Brandine Del Roy, Dolph and others), Frank Welker (Santa's Little Helper and Additional Animal Voices).

    Chalkboard Gag: "'Bart Bucks' are not legal tender".

    First Appearances: Lunchlady Doris.

    Plot: Lisa requires a reed for her saxophone because there is a talent show that evening. So she calls Homer for help. He agrees but goes into Moe's before the music shop, which is right next door. The shop closes in 5 minutes. Homer, thinking he has enough time to drink the beer, enters Moe's. He walks out with 15 seconds to spare but is too late as the shop is closed. Dejected, he goes back to Moe's where the shop owner is enjoying a drink. Moe helps Homer convince the man to re-open his store. Homer, purchases the reed and heads for the school but he arrives just in time to hear Lisa humiliate herself by butchering the song she chose to play.

    To make Lisa love him again, Homer decides to purchase a pony. However, the ponies range from $5,000 to $500,000. To afford the pony, he applies for a loan through the Power Plant Credit Union. Mr. Burns personally reviews the loan, and approves it only after determining that Homer does not intend to eat the pony and has no knowledge of the "state's stringent usury laws".

    In order to pay for all the care it requires, Homer takes a second job working for Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart. He becomes more and more exhausted after trying to work both jobs. Finally, Marge admits to the kids that their father has been working two jobs to pay for the pony. Making a heart-rending decision, Lisa agrees to give up the pony, allowing Homer to go back to solely working his regular job. Lisa tells Homer that there's a "big dumb animal" she loves even more than her horse, that being Homer himself.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in and sit on Homer.
    • Princess is bought from the Grateful Gelding Stables.
    • When Lisa was taking her first steps, Homer was busy watching the cheesy seventies TV series Fantasy Island.
    • The sequence in which Homer's sleeping self drifts away is inspired by the US cartoon strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, which dates from the beginning of the twentieth century.
    • There is a scene recycled from Bart's Dog Gets an F when we see Lisa lying on the couch with the mumps as she says on the phone to Homer "I just called to say I love you, Dad!". This was added in deliberately to see if any fans were alert.
    • Ralph Wiggum is seen, drawn as he is now, having previously been drawn differently. However, he speaks in Nelson's voice.
    • The season eleven episode Saddlesore Galactica revisits the idea of the Simpsons adopting a horse as a pet, with the Comic Book Guy pointing out that The Simpsons have already done it (by stating the plot of this episode) as a metajoke about Simpsons fans (particularly those on alt.tv.simpsons) accusing the show of recycling old plots for new episodes to keep the show alive.
    • The episode starts off with a Dawn of Man sequence spoofing the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • Part of the song playing when Homer falls asleep in his car is "Golden Slumbers" from The Beatles' Abbey Road album, though much of the beginning is based on part of Bohuslav Martinu's Sonata No. 3. In syndication, the song is replaced with a dream-like guitar piece due to copyright laws. The original music remains in the DVD.
    • The scene in which Lisa first awakes with the pony in her bed is an obvious homage to the famous scene of Part I of The Godfather, in which a movie producer awakens to discover the head of his favorite horse removed and placed in his bed. The musical chords used in the episode are the same, but shortened.
    • Millicent, the woman at the horse stables, is modeled after Katharine Hepburn.
    • When Lisa first rides Princess, the theme song from The Magnificent Seven can be heard.
    • The boy before Lisa in the talent show sings the Chuck Berry song "My Ding-A-Ling" before being stopped by Principal Skinner, who angrily exclaims, "This act is over!".
    • In a flashback we see Homer watching the tv serial Fantasy Island instead of paying attention to Lisa.

  9. Saturdays of Thunder:

    Original Air Date: November 14, 1991

    Writer: Ken Levine, David Isaacs.

    Director: Jim Reardon.

    Starring Characters: Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Jo Ann Harris (Additional Voices), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others), Russi Taylor (Martin Prince, Sherri, Terri and others), Phil Hartman (Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure and Additional Voices).

    Guest Star: Larry McKay (TV Announcer).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not fake rabies".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: The local Soap Box Derby is held in Springfield, and Bart has his heart set on first prize. However, the catch is that he must build his own Soap Box Racer. In the meantime, Homer takes a fatherhood quiz and discovers he knows next to nothing about his son. He offers to help his son by building him one as a surprise.

    Homer can only manage a very shoddy, rickety piece of junk for a racer (named Li'l Lightnin'), especially so in comparison to Martin Prince's personally designed and built space shuttle-like racer, Honor Roller. Unable to gather the courage to tell his father that his racer is terrible, Bart attempts to use it in the preliminary match, where he and Martin form an alliance vowing that either must somehow beat bully Nelson Muntz and his very intimidating racer, the Roadkill 2000.

    When the race is underway, Bart can barely reach any kind of noticeable speed with Homer's racer, which eventually falls apart. Meanwhile, Martin has difficulty controlling his racer, as it is moving too fast, which eventually causes his racer to crash while he catches fire due to the combination of velocity and friction of the racer. After being injured, Martin finds that he can no longer race and opts for Bart and himself to combine forces by having Bart race Martin's racer over the racer he and Homer built. Bart seeing no other way to win agrees, breaking Homer's heart.

    When Bart later apologizes and desires Homer's best wishes, Homer selfishly denounces both Bart and Martin telling Bart to do whatever he wants.

    Dejected, Bart gets ready to race in the final match with Martin's newly tuned racer. As he does this, Homer thinks to himself about how selfish he has been, realizing he has learned a lot about his son, and that Bart needs his support regardless of whose racer he is using and he rushes off to the race. At the starting line, Homer wishes Bart luck and tells him that no matter how the race ends he'll still be proud of him. The race is tough as Nelson pulls every dirty trick in his arsenal, but eventually through his skill Bart comes out on top and the "team" enjoys their victory.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the sofa collapses in on itself, leaving the Simpsons' legs in the air.
    • Videos for hire at Video Village include in the foreign section Da Da Da, Border Siesta and in the spoils section The Bad Football, Speedboat Bloopers, Frisbee 1991, Super Jock III, Go Fight - A Cheerleader's Story, Death by Knockout, Bench Clearing Brawls, Blood on the Ice and Football's Greatest Injuries.
    • At the hairdressers, Patty reads Idle Chatter magazine, while Selma pores over Peephole.
    • The McBain movie seen at the start of the episode, with its scenario of the retiring cop being shot, is drawn from Lethal Weapon (Richard Donner, 1987).
    • The race recalls the chariot scenes from Ben-Hur (William Wyler, 1959) and Days of Thunder (Tony Scott, 1990).
    • The closing song is Wind Beneath My Wings, a hit for Bette Midler in 1985, used as the theme to Days of Thunder.
    • In the episode, Homer reads and quotes Fatherhood by Bill Cosby, the book can be seen again in the episode Dog of Death, burning in the fireplace.
    • While on hold, the song being played is "Cat's in the Cradle" by Harry Chapin.
    • The song "Watching Scotty Grow" by Bobby Goldsboro is played in this episode.

  10. Flaming Moe's:

    Original Air Date: November 21, 1991

    Writer: Robert Cohen.

    Director: Rich Moore, Alan Smart.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Phil Hartman (Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure and Additional Voices), Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel), Russi Taylor (Martin Prince, Sherri, Terri and others).

    Guest Star: Brad Whitford (II) (Himself), Tom Hamilton (Himself), Joey Kramer (Himself), Joe Perry (Himself), Steven Tyler (Himself).

    Chalkboard Gag: "Underwear should be worn on the inside".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Moe and his tavern are in serious financial trouble. After he runs out of beer, Homer decides to tell him about a drink recipe that he accidentally invented one night, called the "Flaming Homer".

    Homer explains that after Patty and Selma made the Simpson family watch slides from their latest vacation, he was unable to find a beer. He decided to mix together drops of liquor from near-empty bottles and accidentally included a bottle of cough syrup. When Patty dropped cigarette ash in the drink and set it on fire, Homer discovered that fire greatly enhanced the flavor of the drink.

    Moe steals Homer's recipe and begins serving the "Flaming Moe" as his own concoction. Moe sees his business boom, and his tavern soon becomes one of the trendiest nightspots in Springfield and Aerosmith's official hangout. Homer becomes angry with Moe and vows never to return to the tavern. He subsequently becomes obsessed with Moe and how he betrayed him.

    After the waitress Moe has hired discovers that Moe stole the recipe from Homer, she convinces him to sell the drink and give half of the money to Homer. Restaurant chain owners become interested in purchasing the secret ingredient for the drink, offering Moe $1,000,000 for it. Moe is about to accept the deal, and share half of the money with Homer, when Homer arrives at the tavern and climbs on top of Aerosmith's set. He gets his revenge on Moe by revealing to everyone in the bar that the secret ingredient is ordinary cough syrup.

    Within days, nearly all restaurants in Springfield are serving Flaming Moes (under slightly altered names, such as Flaming Meux), and Moe's business has greatly decreased. Homer stops in and finds that Moe is not angry at him. Moe even gives Homer a "Flaming Homer" on the house.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in to find the sofa's been stolen.
    • Catherine O'Hara originally played the female bartender, but after she recorded the producers found that her voice didn't sync up well in animation, and a cast member played her instead.
    • Moe's Tavern is on Walnut Street.
    • Aerosmith and Moe perform Walk This Way, the 1986 hit single they performed with Run DMC. Aerosmith perform the closing track Young Lust. There's a brilliant tribute to the Cheers title sequence, as Moe's Tavern becomes Flaming Moe's.
    • The notion of a brewery buying out a bar for one drink is a nod to Cocktail (Roger Donaldson, 1988), while Homer plummeting from the rafters recalls The Phantom of the Opera. The sequence in which Frink analyses a Flaming Moe comes from The Nutty Professor (Jerry Lewis, 1963).
    • A Flaming Mo is American slang for a camp homosexual.
    • In phone prank Bart says: Hello, can I speak to Hugh Jass.
    • In the MIB Alien Attack ride, in Universal Studios Florida, one of the bars the aliens hide in is called "Flaming Moe's".
    • The song, "Flaming Moe's" is sung by Kipp Lennon, lead singer of Venice.
    • The InTouch application produced by Wonderware contains a Symbol Factory icon of a Flaming Moe.
    • This is the first time Eye on Springfield appears, with the full montage and Homer saying "Wow, info-tainment".
    • In this episode Lisa's sax solo during the opening sequence is different from the one used in all previous episodes. The solos are different in all subsequent episodes.
    • The Flaming Moe could have been the influence for the southern drink "syrup" also known as "lean", or purple drank.

  11. Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk:

    Original Air Date: December 5, 1991

    Writer: Jon Vitti.

    Director: Mark Kirkland.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson).

    Recurring Characters: Phil Hartman (Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure and Additional Voices).

    Chalkboard Gag: "The Christmas pageant does not stink".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Homer learns he owns stock in the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant and sells his 100 shares for 25 cents apiece to a shady stock broker, netting $25, which he spends on beer. Soon after the sale he learns that the value of the stock was $52 per share. While Homer misses out on the windfall—he could have made $5,200—other employees make small fortunes.

    The reason for the stock’s inflated value is because a depressed Mr. Burns wants to sell the plant to pursue other interests. The sale is completed at a value of $100 million to two German businessmen, Hans and Fritz, who have been hanging out in Moe’s looking for just such an opportunity (provided the purchase leaves them with enough change to buy the Cleveland Browns). They immediately begin a thorough evaluation of the plant and its employees. When they interview Homer, he is unable to intelligently answer their questions and begins slipping into a now-infamous fantasy about cavorting through "The Land of Chocolate." It isn’t long before Homer gets laid off.

    A depressed Homer mopes around the house, insisting he is a competent safety-minded worker. Meanwhile, Burns is having a good time in retirement and decides to go to Moe’s Tavern to have a drink. There, Homer and the other bar patrons, along with Bart (who Marge sent to pick up Homer) mock scornfully at Burns for losing the power plant. Burns realizes that only his ownership of a nuclear plant gave him power over ordinary men and is resolved to buy back the plant.

    The German investors, who will make several more silent appearances in Springfield in the future, are more than willing to sell the plant back to Burns because as they say, it will cost another $100 million dollars to bring the plant up to code. Burns, noting their desperation to sell and saying so offers them $50 million for the plant saying that, "you will find it [his offer] most unfair." Homer is re-hired, and Burns plots his revenge on him at some unspecified point in the future.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in and back off as Santa's Little Helper rears up menacingly.
    • This episode's title is German and is, apparently intentionally, grammatically wrong. If it would be right, it would be: "Burns verkauft das Kraftwerk".
    • Homer owns a 5000-piece Battlestar Galactica jigsaw ('Based on the hit TV show!').
    • 'Come here, I want you' were the first words spoken by Alexander Graham Bell on his invention, the telephone.
    • Mr Burns quotes from the poem Barefoot Boy (With Cheek of Tan) by John Greenleaf Whittier.
    • In the phone prank Bart says Hello, can I speak to Bea O'Problem.
    • Mr. Burns has a photo of himself with Elvis Presley (similar to a real life photo of Richard Nixon with Elvis).
    • The German supervisor, Horst, mentions he looks like Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes.
    • Mr. Burns says “I keep my friends close, but my enemies even closer.”, a reference to a quote in The Godfather, Part II.
    • Mayor Quimby saying "ich bin ein Springfielder" is a reference to Kennedy's "ich bin ein Berliner".

  12. I Married Marge:

    Original Air Date: December 26, 1991

    Writer: Jeff Martin.

    Director: Jeffrey Lynch.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others), Doris Grau (Lunchlady Doris).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not torment the emotionally frail".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Homer tells Bart, Lisa, and Maggie about how he and Marge got married, and Bart's birth thereafter.

    In 1980, Homer works at a miniature golf course and continues dating Marge. When Marge discovers that she is pregnant. Homer decides to propose to Marge, and she eagerly accepts. The two marry in a small wedding chapel across state lines, while Marge is visibly pregnant. The two spend their "wedding night" at Marge's parents' house, sleeping on a couch in the living room. Needless to say, this aggravates Marge's mother and sisters extremely.

    Unfortunately for Homer and Marge, Homer's wages at the miniature golf course are insufficient to pay for his new family. Homer attempts to get a job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, but fails. When Homer and Marge's newly purchased baby supplies and Marge's wedding ring are repossessed, Homer decides to leave and find a job, in order to provide for Marge and his unborn son, leaving a letter to a sleeping Marge explaining his actions. Marge is brought to tears by Homer's absence. However, even in sorrow, Homer still winds up irritating Patty, who complains for Homer to "not scratch the pen so loud".

    Homer gets a job at a "Blow 'N Gulp" taco restaurant, where Patty and Selma find him. Selma, feeling sorry for Marge and some pity for Homer, decides to tell Marge the truth in spite of Patty's reluctance. Marge, now well into her third trimester of pregnancy, finds Homer and convinces him to come back home with her. When Homer says he cannot provide much material wealth for Marge, she reminds him that anything he gives her is valuable, because it is from him. Homer decides to try to apply for a job at the Nuclear Power Plant once more, this time marching into Mr. Burns' office and telling him dramatically that he will be the perfect spineless employee. Mr. Burns is so impressed that he hires Homer on the spot. Homer, glad that he has this well-paying job, is able to now reclaim the repossessed wedding ring and baby items.

    When Homer returns to Marge's house, he discovers she has gone into labor and is already at the hospital. He arrives at the hospital with Marge's mother, telling Marge of his success. After the baby is born, Homer and Marge decide to name him Bart. Bart takes Homer's cigarette lighter and lights his tie on fire. Homer quickly dips the tie into a glass of water, gets mad at Bart ("Why you little--!!") and tells Marge that he did it on purpose, but Marge tells Homer that Bart is only ten minutes old.

    After Homer finishes telling his flashback story, he tells Bart that the day he was born, Homer received the greatest gifts for the family, and has always been overjoyed to have Lisa and Maggie join the family.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons cartwheel into the living room wearing fixed grins and adopt a cheesy showbiz pose on the sofa.
    • The episode title is a play on the 1950s American TV sitcom "I Married Joan".
    • At the nuclear plant, doughnuts are delivered by Rolling Donuts, and one of Homer's keen co-interviewees is reading Fission Illustrated magazine.
    • Homer works briefly at Ye Olde Candle Shoppe, as a door-to-door salesman for Slash-Co Knives, and as a target at the Pitiless Pup Attack Dog School, before ending up at the Gulp 'n' Blow Drive-thru.
    • And a poster announces that the first Space Mutants movie is coming soon to the Springfield Aztec cinema.
    • Homer and Barney are watching seventies glamour crime series Charlie's Angels when Marge phones with news of her pregnancy.
    • The episode's title is a reference to the US sitcom I Married Joan.
    • John Anderson ran alongside Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in the 1980 US Presidential election.
    • When Marge is suspected to be pregnant, Bart wants to name the baby after rapper Kool Moe Dee, while Lisa wants to name her after Ariel, from Disney's The Little Mermaid.
    • In Homer's flashback, the Blow 'N Gulp logo looks like the 1970s logo of Jack in the Box. Homer tries his hand at selling "Slashco" knives, a parody of "Cutco" knives which are sold almost exclusively by young adults.
    • While exiting the movie theater, Homer spoils the ending of The Empire Strikes Back for dozens of moviegoers awaiting the next show. He exclaims to Marge, "What an ending! Who would have known that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker's father?!" and compares Marge to Princess Leia and Yoda.
    • Nearing the end of the episode, Homer is seen wearing a t-shirt exclaiming "I shot J.R.".
    • Marge's job is a reference to American Graffiti.
    • Mr. Burns is seen playing Ms. Pacman.
    • In a ninth-season episode, "Natural Born Kissers", the location of Bart's conception is incorrectly noted/retconned as the windmill at the mini-putt course.

  13. Radio Bart:

    Original Air Date: January 9, 1992

    Writer: Jon Vitti.

    Director: Carlos Baeza.

    Starring Characters: Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier).

    Recurring Characters: Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others), Russi Taylor (Martin Prince, Sherri, Terri and others), Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others).

    Guest Star: Sting (Himself).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not carve gods".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: The Simpsons are busy preparing for Bart's birthday party. Homer sees an ad on TV for a prank microphone (the Superstar Celebrity Microphone) that can be used to tap into localized radio systems and instantly decides to buy one for Bart. At first he is also disappointed by the microphone, but later finds a use for it in creating practical jokes.

    However he then uses the microphone to make the townspeople think that an orphan named Timmy O'Toole has fallen down the town well. Although they are unable to get "Timmy" out, as the well is too small for any adult to fit in, the entire town offers moral support and do everything they can to give him hope (as well as a little surreptitious profiteering, e.g. t-shirt concessions and sacks of "authentic Timmy O'Toole baby teeth"). Krusty even gets Sting (whom he once fired) to join other celebrities in recording a charity single, "We're Sending Our Love Down the Well".

    However, Bart - after realizing that his name is on the walkie-talkie thanks to his label-maker - really does fall in the well while trying to retrieve it. When the townspeople find out, Bart confesses that Timmy O'Toole did not exist. Angry at being tricked, the townspeople decide to leave Bart in the well.

    Despite efforts by Homer and Marge to mobilize a rescue operation, the entire town remains adamant. Finally, Homer has had enough and decides to dig a tunnel and rescue Bart himself. Groundskeeper Willie sees this, yells, "Whah din' aye think o' tha'? (Why didn't I think of that?)" and joins Homer. With a little help from a few symapthetic townsfolk, and Sting, an excavation operation is started. A very sorry Bart is finally rescued, and Willie puts up a small warning sign near the well the next morning to prevent future incidents ("Tha' should dew it! (That should do it!)").

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in and sit down and start to bounce about.
    • Bruce Springsteen was originally asked to appear instead of Sting.
    • Video games seen at Chuck E. Cheez include Coffee Fiend and Comic Shop.
    • A man called Quint suggests using chocolate attached to a fish-hook to save Timmy - he's straight out of Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1976).
    • Funky-See, Funky-Do with their hit I Do Believe We're Naked resemble late-eighties lip-sync fraudsters Milli Vanilli.
    • Due to the show's floating timeline, Bart celebrates what is assumed to be his 10th birthday. He is always referred to as ten years old both before and after this episode. This is also the first episode in which Sideshow Mel speaks.
    • When Bart is in the well, two of the things he said he'll miss out on is to "use a fake ID" and "shave a swear word in my hair".
    • The season five episode Boy-Scoutz N the Hood also made a reference to someone shaving a bad word into his hair (only it was Milhouse who did it, not Bart) and the season seven episode Bart on the Road revolved around Bart creating a fake ID after spending the day at the DMV with Patty and Selma.
    • Two of the names on The Krusty the Klown birthday list are the names of people who would later become part of the Simpsons staff: Ken Keeler and Patric Verrone (listed as "Patric M. Verrone").
    • In the DVD commentary for the episode, the staff expresses their disbelief that this episode lost the Emmy for animated program to Claymation Easter. Al Jean said they thought this episode or Ren & Stimpy would win and were absolutely floored when neither did. David Silverman said he believes The Simpsons and Ren & Stimpy split the vote, allowing Claymation Easter to grab the Emmy.
    • The song that plays as Bart descends the well (to retrieve the incriminating radio) is based on the theme song Axel F from Beverly Hills Cop. The Itchy & Scratchy cartoon "Cat Splat Fever" makes use of the title of the 1977 Ted Nugent album/song Cat Scratch Fever.
    • The media circus and carnival that results after news breaks about "Timmy" being trapped in the well mirrors that of the 1951 movie Ace in the Hole. The movie in turn was based on the real incident and media circus that resulted when cave explorer Floyd Collins was trapped and died in a cave in Kentucky in 1925.
    • The episode parodies Charity singles. The song "We're Sending Our Love Down the Well" is a spoof of various 1980s charity songs, including "Do They Know It's Christmas?" (on which Sting was one of the vocalists) and "We Are the World".
    • The Wall E. Weasel pizza restaurant ("We cram fun down your throat") is a parody of the family pizza restaurant franchise Chuck E. Cheese's. Seen in this episode: The restaurant's mascot (here in his first appearance), the franchise's pizza, video games, and poorly maintained animatronic robots.
    • The song in the commercial (used to demonstrate the Superstar Celebrity Microphone) — and later "performed" by Homer — is the 1975 novelty song Convoy by C.W. McCall.
    • The Superstar Celebrity Microphone is based on the late-1970s era toy microphone Mr. Microphone. The television ad pitching the microphone is also similar.
    • Upon hearing Bart cry about being trapped in the well, Homer decides to dig Bart out himself, declaring "That's all I can stand, and I can't stand no more!" echoing a line Popeye frequently used before getting into a fight.
    • Soul Mass Transit System, the TV dance show in the first act (on which Funky-See Funky-Do is guest performing) is a parody of the long-running syndicated program Soul Train. Funky-See Funky Do's single, titled "I Do Believe We're Naked," is a parody of the song I Think We're Alone Now recorded by Tommy James & the Shondells, Tiffany and Girls Aloud.
    • As the camera pans down the well after the excavation has begun, a flying saucer containing a skeleton of a Rigellian alien can be seen.
    • Homer stating that Sting is a good digger while he is helping dig Bart out of the well is appropriate and somewhat ironic due to the fact that Sting worked as a ditch digger (as well as a few other professions) before he became a full time musician.
    • During the episode , while they are digging to rescue bart from the well they fled due to a canary dead in its cage, this can be referred to a song that The Police (Sting's band) sang called "Canary In A Coalmine".

  14. Lisa the Greek:

    Original Air Date: January 23, 1992

    Writer: Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky.

    Director: Rich Moore.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others), Phil Hartman (Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure and Additional Voices).

    Chalkboard Gag: None.

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Ignored by Homer when she tries to show him a shoebox apartment she made for her Malibu Stacy dolls while he is watching football, Lisa complains to Marge, who suggests spending some "quality time" with Homer by taking up his interests. Lisa decides to join her father on the couch, and an annoyed Homer reluctantly agrees. Meanwhile, Homer loses his bet on Denver.

    Homer turns to Lisa to pick a winner, and she picks the Miami Dolphins, prompting Homer to call Moe's Tavern to place his $50 wager, in spite of Lisa's moral concerns. In the end, the Dolphins win, and Homer and Lisa celebrate. Meanwhile, Marge has taken Bart shopping for new (dorky) clothes, but the bullies taunt him.

    Lisa becomes very adept at choosing winners of football games, and Homer declares every Sunday "Daddy-Daughter Day." With his new money, he starts buying expensive presents for the family and treating them to fine dining. Marge eventually wants to know where Homer's extra income is coming from and gets the truth, but Homer says it is not really a big deal. Eventually, Lisa realizes all Homer wanted was to exploit her prognostic abilities to help him gamble. Completely heartbroken, Lisa then gives up all the Malibu Stacy toys that Homer bought for her.

    Homer realizes he needs to make amends with Lisa, but she is too hurt to even talk with him. Homer briefly cheers her up, but shows that he still only wants to win a bet. She agrees to tell Homer who she thinks the winner will be, but she fears that she may be so distraught that she subconsciously wants Homer to lose his bet, leading her to a cryptic prediction: If she still loves Homer, Washington will win; if she does not, Buffalo. Homer becomes even more anxious over his relationship with Lisa as Super Bowl Sunday approaches.

    Homer mopes throughout the game as he watches it at Moe's Tavern, especially after Buffalo gets a 14-7 halftime lead. In the end, Washington rallies in the second half and scores at the last second to win the game. Homer becomes happy and Bart proudly says to Lisa that she still loves Homer, in which she agrees. Homer cancels his bowling date with Barney and on the Sunday after the Super Bowl makes good on his promise to go hiking up Mount Springfield with Lisa.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in and sit on Santa's Little Helper.
    • Lisa, angry at Homer for tricking her into helping him gamble on football, makes a bet that if she loves him the winner of the Super Bowl will be the Washington Redskins and if she doesn't the Buffalo Bills would come out on top (Washington won). Actually when this episode premiered just before the Super Bowl those two teams were actually squaring off in Superbowl XXVI and Washington came out on top 37-24. Over the next three years Fox made it a tradition to air this episode just before the Super Bowl and change the dialog so that the teams would include whatever teams were playing that year. According to the DVD commentary Lisa accurately picked the winning team every single year.
    • Springfield's children's clothing store is called 'Wee Monsieur'.
    • Lisa's favourite song is The Broken Neck Blues.
    • The title is a reference to US sports commentator Jimmy 'the Greek' Snyder.
    • The Duff Bowl is an obvious parody of the Bud Bowl advertisements for Anheuser-Busch's Budweiser family of beers.
    • Malibu Stacy (and all related accessories) are based on the Barbie doll franchise. The sports commentators in the episode are references to several famous American sports commentators.
    • Troy McClure's new sitcom, Handle with Care (starring a retired cop who resides with a retired convict) is a sitcom patterned after the 1970s series Switch starring Eddie Albert and Robert Wagner (a detective series about an ex-police officer partnered with a reformed con artist).
    • Lisa mentions that she and Homer used to have burping contests; which is a reference to one Simpsons short on The Tracy Ullman Show called Burp Contest.

  15. Homer Alone:

    Original Air Date: February 6, 1992

    Writer: David M. Stern.

    Director: Mark Kirkland.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others), Phil Hartman (Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure and Additional Voices).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not spank others".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Marge decides she needs a vacation, after all the stress at home causes her to have a mental breakdown. She leaves for a place called "Rancho Relaxo", putting Bart and Lisa into the care of Patty and Selma and leaving Maggie at home with Homer.

    Homer invites Barney over to help him take care of the baby, but he soon realizes how much he needs Marge to take care of things. Maggie, upset about her mother's absence, makes her way out of the house looking for Marge and goes missing. After a long search from Homer and Barney, Homer calls a baby search. Meanwhile, Marge has done everything she wanted to do in her vacation and calls Homer to tell him she is coming back and he should pick her up at the train station. Maggie is found on the edge of the top of an ice-cream shop and is returned to Homer just in time for Marge's arrival, and everything is back to normal.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons land on all fours in a pyramid fashion, with Marge and Homer at the bottom, Lisa and Bart in the middle and Maggie at the summit.
    • Patty and Selma live in apartment 1597.
    • There is a beauty salon in Springfield called Le Pamperie and a jewellers called The Family Jewel, as well as an English themed garage known as Buckingham Palace, complete with a cockney-accented, busby-wearing guard.
    • Maggie falls asleep atop the Phineas Q Butterfats ice-cream parlour.
    • Rancho Relaxo is Springfield's only Health Spa (although Marge takes nearly an hour's train journey to get there).
    • Marge's hair tops six feet, and her criminal number is 50763.
    • Movies available at Rancho Relaxo are Thelma and Louise (which Marge selects), The Happy Elves Meet Fuzzy Snuggle-duck and The Erotic Awakening of S.
    • The activities in which she takes part are bungee jumping, kayaking, calligraphy, cigar making and hula dancing.
    • In the beginning when the screen freezes on Bart and Homer, the reference is to the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons.
    • At the train station, the list of stops is a reference to the Jack Benny radio show.
    • The song that plays while Homer is on hold on the missing child hotline is Baby Come Back by Player.
    • Les Claypool, the bassist and founding member of the band Primus named his house Rancho Relaxo after the hotel in which Marge stays.
    • This is the first appearance of Chief Wiggum's blue hair.
    • When Marge is at one of the Bowling stores, you can see a picture of Jacques from the episode Life on the Fast Lane on the wall.
    • When Marge is on the Springfield Bridge and the bus driver says "Look lady, this better be good" Marge reacts with a lions roar, a sped-up version of the Leo the Lion roar from the MGM logo.
    • When Bart rummages through Patty and Selmas closet, finding a bra he says: "I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Ay Caramba!". This first happened in Krusty Gets Busted, commenting the sisters' slideshow.

  16. Bart the Lover:

    Original Air Date: February 13, 1992

    Writer: Jon Vitti.

    Director: Carlos Baeza.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others), Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others).

    Chalkboard Gag: None.

    First Appearances:

    Plot: As a yo-yo craze sweeps through the elementary school, Mrs. Krabappel feels increasingly isolated and places a personal ad in the newspaper. He discovers her personal ad, and decides to pull a prank and respond by mail with a new alter ego. Bart pretends to be an adult male called Woodrow, named after former President Woodrow Wilson, with a photograph which actually belongs to ice hockey player Gordie Howe. Bart as Woodrow writes Mrs. Krabappel other letters, telling her what she wants to hear. Bart then sends a letter asking for them to meet at the Gilded Truffle. Bart sees Mrs. Krabappel waiting for Woodrow, and then he sees "Ernest Needs a Kidney" and sees Mrs. Krabappel still at the restaurant and on the verge of tears. Bart is upset and guilty to see her crying. He tells the family what he had done, and The Simpsons then write a romantically diplomatic letter to tell how Woodrow must go, which heals Krabappel's wounds.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in and the alien watching TV on the sofa escapes through a trapdoor.
    • Ms Krabappel eats Chef Lonely Heart's Soup For One on a regular basis, it seems. Her choice this time is for Chicken Noodle.
    • The restaurant chosen by Bart for Edna to meet Woody is The Gilded Truffle, while he nips next door to the cinema to see Ernest Needs a Kidney, which he finds very amusing.
    • Marge only ever received one love letter from Homer, a drunken message scrawled on a postcard from the Duff Beer factory, site of the world's largest pull-tab.
    • The Simpsons appear to live at 94 Evergreen Terrace in this episode.
    • Woody's name is adapted from that of ex-President Woodrow Wilson, although the picture Bart selects to accompany his letter is of National Hockey League player Gordie Howe.
    • When Mrs. Krabappel is telling Bart about the men she won't date, she mentions that she won't date Principal Skinner because "...his mommy won't let him out to play." The season eight episode Grade School Confidential, Mrs. Krabappel does indeed start dating Principal Skinner and his mother does impede on their romance. Also, Mrs. Krabappel tells Bart that she doesn't like Groundskeeper Willie because "I won't even tell you what that guy's into!" According to the second season three DVD commentary, this ended up being a foreshadowing into the season six episode Homer Badman, where it's revealed that Willie is a peeping Tom who uses a videocamera to tape people in their cars at night.
    • The writers originally wanted to use a picture of Johnny Unitas in the episode.
    • The 1950s educational film at the beginning of the episode (presumably titled "A World Without Zinc") is a reference to the short animation and live action film "A Case of Spring Fever", which would later be seen in episode 1012 of Mystery Science Theater 3000. It is also very similar to a sketch from the film Kentucky Fried Movie.
    • In the scene where Bart asks for Lisa's help with writing a love letter, one of Lisa's suspects is "The girl with the lazy-eye patch", which is a reference to the singer Gabrielle.
    • At the very end of the episode, Gordie Howe's stats in the NHL and WHA are shown.

  17. Homer at the Bat:

    Original Air Date: February 20, 1992

    Writer: John Swartzwelder.

    Director: Jim Reardon.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson).

    Recurring Characters: Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel).

    Guest Star: Terry Cashman (Himself), Darryl Strawberry (Himself), Ozzie Smith (Himself), Mike Scioscia (Himself), Steve Sax (Himself), Don Mattingly (Himself), Ken Griffey Jr. (Himself), Roger Clemens (Himself), Jose Canseco (Himself), Wade Boggs (Himself).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not aim for the head".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: It is softball season in Springfield and many of the workers at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant are reluctant to sign up for the Power Plant team due to their previous unsuccessful year. Homer reveals that he has a secret weapon, a homemade bat named "Wonder Bat" and his co-workers eagerly join the team. Thanks in large part to Homer, the team goes through its season undefeated and earns the right to play in the championship game against the Shelbyville Nuclear Power Plant.

    Mr. Burns makes a million dollar bet with Aristotle Amadopoulos, owner of the Shelbyville plant, that his team will win. To secure victory in the game, Mr. Burns hires nine Major League Baseball players - Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ken Griffey, Jr., Steve Sax, Ozzie Smith, José Canseco, Don Mattingly, Darryl Strawberry and Mike Scioscia. He gives them token jobs at the plant so that they can play on the team, much to the dismay of the plant workers who got the team to the championship game in the first place.

    However, before the game, eight of the nine players are involved in incidents that prevent them from playing. Clemens is made to think he is a chicken due to a bad hypnotist, Boggs is knocked unconscious by Barney, Griffey, Jr. takes an overdoses of nerve tonic, resulting in an extreme case of gigantism, Sax is arrested, Smith disappears in the "Springfield mystery spot", Canseco is too busy rescuing a woman and her possessions from a fire, Mattingly is kicked off the team by Mr. Burns due to sideburns only he can see and Scioscia is hospitalized due to radiation poisoning. Mr. Burns is forced to use eight of his original employees, along with Strawberry, the only star who can play. Homer remains on the bench as Strawberry plays his position. With the score tied and bases loaded with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Burns elects to field a right-handed hitter against a left-handed pitcher and pinch hits Homer for Strawberry. The very first pitch hits Homer in the head, rendering him unconscious, but forcing in the winning run. The team wins the title and Homer, still unconscious, is paraded as a hero.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons crash into each other, leaving them senseless apart from Maggie.
    • The SNPP poster advertising safety at work shows how the Heimlich Manoeuvre works - and shows a man coughing up an entire lobster.
    • The lucky baseball bat that was struck by lightning comes from The Natural (Barry Levinson, 1984).
    • Mr Burns suggests baseball players Honus Wagner, Cap Anson and 3-Finger Brown for his team - all of whom are long dead.
    • "Homer at the Bat" took a long time to produce. It was written by John Swartzwelder, who is a big baseball fan, but was suggested by Sam Simon, who wanted an episode filled with real Major League Baseball players. Executive producers Al Jean and Mike Reiss doubted that they would be able to get nine players, thinking that they would be able to get three at best. However, they succeeded, and the nine players who agreed to guest star were recorded over a period of six months, whenever they were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers or California Angels. Each player recorded their part in roughly five minutes and spent the next hour writing autographs for the staff. In several cases, the writers were unable to get the player who was their first choice. The two players who turned down the chance to guest star were Ryne Sandberg and Carlton Fisk.
    • All of the players were cooperative except for José Canseco, who was intimidating. He disliked his original part and insisted it be rewritten, and the writers grudgingly made him as heroic as possible. He was originally slated to wake up in bed with Edna Krabappel and miss the game, but Canseco's then-wife, Esther Haddad, objected. He disliked his caricature, stating that "the animation looked nothing like him", but that he found the acting was very easy. When asked about his part by the San Jose Mercury, he responded, "that was 100 years ago," hung up the phone, and did not answer any of the paper's subsequent calls for an interview about his guest spot.
    • Ken Griffey, Jr. did not understand the line "there's a party in my mouth and everyone's invited" and got quite frustrated when he was recording it. He was directed by Mike Reiss, and his father Ken Griffey, Sr. was also present, trying to coach his son.
    • Roger Clemens, who made his own chicken noises, was directed by Jeff Martin, as was Wade Boggs.
    • Mike Scioscia accepted his guest spot in half a second.
    • Ozzie Smith has stated that he would like to guest star again "so he can get out of the Springfield Mystery spot".
    • Don Mattingly, who was forced to shave off his "sideburns" by Mr. Burns during the episode, would later have an actual "haircut controversy", while he was playing for the New York Yankees. The coaching staff forced him to cut his long hair, and was briefly dropped from the team line-up for not doing so. Many people believed the joke in the episode to be a reference to the incident, but "Homer at the Bat" was recorded a year before it happened.
    • One of the hardest pieces of editing was the hypnotist segment, which featured several of the guest stars speaking in unison. It was difficult because the parts were recorded over a period of several months and thus it was hard to sync their voices.
    • The episode makes several allusions to the film The Natural. Homer's secret weapon, his self-created "Wonderbat", is akin to Roy Hobbs's "Wonderboy", and both bats are eventually destroyed. The scene featuring the explosion of stadium lights as Homer circles the basepaths is also taken directly from the film.
    • The end song "Talkin' Softball" is a parody of "Talkin' Baseball" by Terry Cashman. Jeff Martin wrote the new version of the song, but Cashman was brought in to sing it.
    • The scenes of the Power Plant team traveling from city to city by train, overlaid with the pennant of the city they are going to, is a reference to the 1942 film The Pride of the Yankees.
    • Carl batting with a piano leg is a reference to Norm Cash of the Detroit Tigers, who once tried to bat with a table leg in a game where Nolan Ryan was extremely overpowering.
    • This was the first time that a new Simpsons episode beat a new Cosby episode.
    • Former executive producer Sam Simon and current showrunner Al Jean named it as their favorite episode.
    • Regular cast members, Harry Shearer and Julie Kavner disliked the episode because of its focus on the guest stars and its surreal tone.
    • Chris Turner, the author of the book Planet Simpson, said that the episode was the indication that the Golden Age of the show had arrived.
    • The episode has helped to save several people's lives. During the scene in which Homer chokes on a donut, a poster explaining how the Heimlich Maneuver works is on the wall behind him. In December 2007, Aiden Bateman was able to save his friend Alex Hardy's life by performing the Heimlich Maneuver on him, having seen it in the episode. In May 1992, Chris Bencze was able to save his brother's life in the same way, having seen the poster in "Homer at the Bat".

  18. Separate Vocations:

    Original Air Date: February 27, 1992

    Writer: George Meyer.

    Director: Jeffrey Lynch.

    Starring Characters: Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson).

    Recurring Characters: Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others), Russi Taylor (Martin Prince, Sherri, Terri and others), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others), Tress MacNeille (Agnes Skinner, Brandine Del Roy, Dolph and others), Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel).

    Guest Star: Steve Allen (Himself).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not barf unless I'm sick".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: After taking career aptitude tests with a malfunctioning computer, Lisa discovers that the occupation she is best suited for is homemaker while Bart is pegged as a future police officer. Each takes the opportunity to explore their options as Lisa spends the day doing chores with Marge and Bart goes on a ride along with the police.

    Lisa hates her role (and the impovershed isolation therein) and rebels by becoming a troublemaker at school. Police life fits Bart like a glove (he even ends up stopping Snake Jailbird during a car chase, thanks to an alley that gets narrow in the middle) and he becomes a hall monitor, handing out demerits to his classmates for minor infractions. When Lisa secretly steals all of the teachers' editions, it is up to Bart and Principal Skinner to figure out who did it. Realizing his sister is the culprit, Bart takes the rap and returns to his life as a bad student and detention regular, while Lisa goes back to playing her saxophone.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag Bart jumps across the other Simpsons.
    • CANT results predict that Janey is to be an architect, Milhouse a military strongman, and Martin a systems analyst (his dream job).
    • After the first ad break in this episode, a caption comes up, proclaiming ACT II- DEATH DRIVES A STICK, in homage to the TV series The Streets of San Francisco and numerous other Quinn Martin-produced crime shows.
    • The car chase comes straight from the classic Bullitt (Peter Yates, 1968).
    • The Wild One (Laslo Benedek, 1954) supplies Lisa's answer to Miss Hoover's question 'What are you rebelling against?'
    • Bart imagines himself as a Mafia narc who is shown with Steve Allen's voice. Allen would appear again in "'Round Springfield". Dr. Pryor would not speak again until "Lisa's Sax".
    • The episode features the first reference to Principal Skinner having fought in the Vietnam War ("I saw some awful things in 'Nam..."). This would later become an important character trait. His Puma Pride belief would be seen again in the later episode "Pokey Mom". The Puma was also used in early stories for Simpsons Comic Books.
    • Ralph's paste eating habit is mentioned again as well.
    • When Principal Skinner is questioning Lisa about her newfound sense of irresponsibility, he asks "What are you rebelling against?" She responds "Whaddaya got?" like Marlon Brando in the movie The Wild One.
    • Bart imagines he is a drifter who is thrown out of a town by a sheriff, just like Sylvester Stallone's John Rambo character was in First Blood.

  19. Dog of Death:

    Original Air Date: March 12, 1992

    Writer: John Swartzwelder.

    Director: Jim Reardon.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Frank Welker (Santa's Little Helper and Additional Animal Voices), Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I saw nothing unusual in the teacher's lounge".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: When the family discover that Santa's Little Helper is sick, they rush him to the hospital to undergo an emergency operation of bloat. Homer is saddened to tell Bart and Lisa that they just can not afford the $750 for the operation, but seeing how much everyone (including himself) loves the dog, he resolves to find a way to pay for it.

    To save up the money, everyone must make sacrifices and give up their small luxuries. These sacrifices put a great strain on the family: in the next lottery, Marge's regular numbers would have won $40,000; but since she's saving money for the operation of Santa's Little Helper she didn't buy it. Homer has to beg drinks of beer at Moe's by singing; Lisa has to do a report on Copernicus using a dog-eared third rate reference book; Maggie's clothes rip to shreds leaving her in a modified Crown Royal potato sack; and Bart suffers from an awful haircut. All the family members take their resentment out on the dog.

    Feeling unloved, Santa's Little Helper runs away from home and goes off on an adventure, only to be captured, taken to the pound, and adopted by Mr. Burns, who trains him to become one of his vicious attack hounds. After a long brainwashing process, consisting of the Ludovico technique, and Santa's Little Helper being trained by attacking Smithers who is in a protection suit, Santa's Little Helper in turn becomes a bloodthirsty killer.

    The family begin to regret all the nasty things they said about the dog, Bart decides that his mission is to get Santa's Little Helper back. When Bart goes to Burns's mansion to retrieve his dog, Santa's Little Helper (along with other vicious dogs) tries to attack him but remembers all the good times they had and snaps out of his brainwashed state. After that, the other vicious dogs try to attack Bart, but Santa's Little Helper growls at them to leave Bart alone. The dog then returns to the family who starts loving him again.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in - and the others sit on Homer.
    • Marge's regular lottery numbers are 3, 6, 17, 18, 2 and 29.
    • The eldest of Burns' hounds is called Crippler.
    • Santa's Little Helper's odyssey recalls The Incredible Journey (Fletcher Markle, 1963), while his aversion therapy at the hands of Mr Burns and Smithers owes a lot to A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971), complete with eye-opening clamps, distressing film footage, and Beethoven's 9th Symphony.
    • There are nods to the Lassie film series in his rescuing of a child from a burning house.
    • Shirley Jackson's novel The Lottety has no clues on winning the lottery at all but is in fact a chilling tale of conformity gone mad.
    • The medic seen at the beginning of this episode is very similar to Ben Casey, the central character in a US TV medical show of the same name.
    • Unlike in Lisa's Pony, you can not hear Homer moaning when the rest of his family sits on him in the couch gag.
    • While we're tracking Santa's Little Helper's movements on the map, the road the car travels down when he gets picked up is called 'Michael Jackson Expressway', a reference to the season three premiere episode Stark Raving Dad.
    • Ned Flanders is seen wearing his "Assassin" running shoes from the episode Bart's Dog Gets an F.
    • The poster on the wall when Homer puts the lost pet notice up is Principal Skinner's "Have you seen my body?" poster from Bart the Murderer.
    • Lisa corrects Homer, indicating Nixon's dog was named Checkers.
    • The veterinarian bears a striking resemblance to Vince Edwards, who played Ben Casey on the 1960s drama of the same name.
    • Among the books that end up in the Simpson's fireplace are The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (which ironically enough, is about a society where books are burned), Fatherhood by Bill Cosby and a book entitled "Canine Surgery". Fatherhood was heavily referenced in the episode Saturdays of Thunder earlier this season.
    • Music from Peter and the Wolf, a children's story composed by Sergei Prokofiev, is played over the wanderings of Santa's Little Helper through Springfield's outer domains.
    • This episode contains some references to facts or rumors about Michael Jackson; for example, Kent Brockman's butler telling Kent that his pet llama bit Ted Kennedy, and Mr. Burns is sleeping in an iron lung as part of his longevity treatment.
    • The episode ends with a disclaimer: "No dogs were harmed in the filming of this episode. A cat got sick and somebody shot a duck, but that's it."

  20. Colonel Homer:

    Original Air Date: March 26, 1992

    Writer: Matt Groening.

    Director: Mark Kirkland.

    Starring Characters: Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson).

    Guest Star: Beverly D'Angelo (Lurleen Lumpkin).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not conduct my own fire drills".

    First Appearances: Lurleen Lumpkin.

    Plot: The Simpson family goes to the Springfield Googolplex to see a movie. Bart and Lisa go see "Space Mutants VI", while Homer and Marge "The Stockholm Affair," a political thriller. In their movie, Homer starts acting loud and obnoxious and even gives away the film's ending, leading him and Marge to get splattered in snack bar refreshments. But when Marge tells Homer that no one cares about what he thinks out loud, the crowd cheers for Marge and Homer is angry with her. During the car ride home, Marge tries to apologize for what she had said before, but Homer will hear none of it. He drops Marge and the kids off at home and says he is leaving and does not know when he will be back. Homer goes off on a long drive into the night, and finally stops 100 miles out of town at a hillbilly tavern called the "Beer N' Brawl." Inside Homer has a "Fudd" beer while he listens to the attractive young waitress named Lurleen Lumpkin perform on stage. She sings a song that follows Homer's current state with every detail. After she is finished and ready to continue her shift, he then introduces himself to her.

    The next morning, Homer finds himself humming her song at everything that he does. When he can't get her song out of his head, he drives to her mobile home and asks her for a copy. She tells him that all her songs are not on recording; they are in her mind. Homer insists that she come to a recording company to make a CD. Upon hearing her song, the clerk tells him his brother owns a radio station in Weevilville, and Homer grants him permission to play the song. Lurleen's songs have an incredible effect on people. At home, Marge asks Homer about Lurleen; he claims that she is just a waitress who is budding into a music superstar. Marge does not approve of him seeing her, as she fears that one thing can lead to another. Homer sees Lurleen again, this time she wants him to be her manager. To fit with the theme, he buys a cowboy suit and wears it home. Marge is furious with him, asking if he is having an affair. He denies it, but then says whether she likes it or not, he is going to help Lurleen become a music celebrity. The family is at a recording studio with Lurleen as she is prepared to record more of her songs. Her new single, a suggestive love metaphor called "Bagged Me a Homer," leads Marge to gnash her teeth in anger.

    One night, Homer ends up getting her a gig on a country western series called "Ya-Hoo!" He suggests that she make up a new song for the show, but her new song she just made contains a hint which is not very subtle (asking Homer to sleep with her). Homer knows that would violate his martial vows and leaves. At home, Marge tells Homer to please not forget the family when he goes out tonight, but Homer does not pay much attention. During her gig, Homer is approached by a business agent who asks to buy Lurleen's contact, but Homer refuses. In Lurleen's dressing room, Homer ends up locked in an embrace with Lurleen, but then comments on how his love life (involving lots of slapping before he met Marge) is flashing before his eyes. Homer tells Lurleen that all he wanted to do was share her voice with the world, and he did it. He figures he must leave before he does something to lose his family. Homer again confronts the agent, and ends up selling Lurleen's contract for $50. At home, a naked Marge watches the feeble "Ya-Hoo!" show when Homer enters the room. When Homer gets into bed, Marge hears through Lurleen's bluesy song about what Homer did and concludes it by saying she hopes Marge knows how lucky she is.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the sofa collapses in on itself.
    • The local beer in Hicksville is Fudd.
    • The radio station that promotes Lurleen is KUDD.
    • Lurleen lives in the Spittle County Royal King Trailer Park which, on Homer's first visit has not had a tornado for fourteen days. On his next visit, it's become two days!
    • Lenny sings There's a Kind of Hush (All Over the World), a 1976 hit for The Carpenters.
    • Lurleen's songs include I'm Basting a Turkey with My Tears, Stand By Your Manager, Don't Look Up My Dress Unless You Mean It and I'm Sick of Your Lyin' Lips and False Teeth.
    • The episode marks the debut appearance of Lurleen Lumpkin on the series. She later appears in "Marge vs. the Monorail", voiced by Doris Grau, as she is briefly interviewed by Kent Brockman during the monorail's maiden voyage party. When he asks her what she has been doing lately, she responds, "I spent last night in a ditch". She looks dirty and scuffed up, and the beautiful singing voice of Beverly D'Angelo is replaced with a harsh, croaky, gravelly voice (apparently, since Homer left her, her personal and professional life went downhill).
    • The episode is a play on Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager. The country comedy show, "Ya-Hoo!" is a play on the landmark country tv series, Hee Haw, which ran from 1969-1992.

  21. Black Widower:

    Original Air Date: April 9, 1992

    Writer: Jon Vitti, Thomas Chastain, Sam Simon.

    Director: David Silverman.

    Starring Characters: Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson).

    Recurring Characters: Kelsey Grammer (Sideshow Bob Terwilliger).

    Chalkboard Gag: "Funny noises are not funny. Funny noises are not' at cutoff".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: The Simpsons are set to have dinner with Aunt Selma and her new boyfriend, who they are forewarned is an ex-con; the man who arrives on Selma's arm is Bart's archenemy Sideshow Bob. During dinner, he relates the story of his time spent languishing at the Springfield prison. He spent much time seething with desire to exact revenge on Bart, but after receiving Selma's response to his Prison Pen Pal ad, he is inspired to become a model prisoner and earns his release. Bob's tale of supposedly turning over a new leaf wins over the family, except Bart, who remains suspicious. Bob thanks Bart for putting him on the path which led him to Selma, and surprises the family by asking Selma to marry him. She eagerly accepts.

    Sideshow Bob makes an appearance at a Krusty the Clown telethon and makes amends; Lisa encourages Bart to be as forgiving as Krusty, but he refuses to believe Bob has changed. When Selma discovers that Sideshow Bob detests her beloved MacGyver and cannot hide his hatred, it is nearly a deal-breaker. Homer explains his solution for his and Marge's dissonant tastes in television: when Marge watches her non-violent programs, Homer goes out for drinks and returns "in the mood for love." Bob agrees to take a "vigorous constitutional" whenever Selma watches MacGyver.

    They got married. Selma takes to videotaping her honeymoon with Bob, including his tirade over the omission of the hotel room fireplace he had requested. She retires one evening to watch MacGyver in their suite, and as Bob is downstairs having a drink, we see their hotel room explode behind him. Bob feigns a frantic phone call to the front desk about the "accident."

    Sideshow Bob makes his way back to the room to survey the damage, only to find Bart, very much alive, awaiting him. We discover that Selma too is unscathed, Bart having saved her life at the very last moment. Bob is apprehended by police, vowing to return as soon as the Democrats are back in power. Everyone thanks Bart for not losing his mistrust of Sideshow Bob. When Patty came to the Simpsons' house to watch MacGyver for another hour, Bart remembered that Selma promised to smoke only after meals and MacGyver. Bart also remembered that Bob seemed very glad near the fireplace, which rang a bell in Bart's mind: the gas. Fire generates an explosion when a very unstable gas air fills a room. Bart explains it to Homer a few several times and Marge, who is shocked. They raced to the hotel; where Bart saves Selma from puffing a smoke. Bob asked why did the room explode when Bart already stopped Selma. Chief Wiggum reveals that he, Lu, Eddie, and Homer smoked in celebration, Wiggum, forgetting the gas, threw his match into the room which made it explode.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in to find the sofa being stolen.
    • Sideshow Bob's prison number is 24601, in reference to Jean Valjean's prison number in Les Miserables.
    • 24601 was also the prison number of Hank Jennings in "Twin Peaks" (1990) and Principal Skinner's number in Vietnam.
    • Working in prison, Sideshow Bob makes number plates for cars, producing ones that read DIE BART, RiP BART, BART DOA, and 1148 BART.
    • Krusty's telethon has raised $385,382.35.
    • Sideshow Bob wins the Best Supporting Performer in a Children's Show Emmy. His co-nominees are Droopy Drawers, Colonel Coward, Pepito the Biggest Cat in the World, and Suck-Up, the vacuum.
    • Black Widow (Bob Rafelson, 1987) provides some of the main plot elements, particularly nobody believing Bart's pleas that Sideshow Bob is dangerous.
    • The episode begins with a parody of the show Dinosaurs.
    • The sequence at the end with Bart explaining how he foiled Sideshow Bob's plan is a reference to the classic Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! cartoons, complete with the lame joke at the end "Now let's get out of this gas-filled hallway before we all suffocate!".
    • At the Karaoke bar, Sideshow Bob and Selma duet on the Frank Sinatra/Nancy Sinatra song "Somethin' Stupid".
    • In the Krusty telethon where he and Bob are reunited, the man who surprises him is referred to as "The Chairman of the Company," a reference to Frank Sinatra's nickname, "The Chairman of the Board." This is a reference to a surprise reunion between former comedy partners Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin on a 1970s telethon.
    • The prison where Sideshow Bob is picking up road side trash is a take off of the movie Cool Hand Luke.
    • When Bart seems gleeful that Selma and Bob's fight means their engagement is off, he says "Fiddle-dee-dee, tomorrow is another day," a reference to two lines spoken by Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind.
    • When Sideshow Bob goes into the room to see Selma's corpse, he turns around the chair, only to see Bart sitting in it. Sideshow Bob freaks, hits the light, and turns around to see Selma in the doorway. These shots, from Bob turning the chair to Selma in the doorway, is a reference to the ending of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, when Lila sees Norman's mother.

  22. The Otto Show:

    Original Air Date: April 23, 1992

    Writer: Jeff Martin.

    Director: Wesley Archer.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Russi Taylor (Martin Prince, Sherri, Terri and others), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others).

    Guest Star: Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (Nigel Tufnel).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not spin the turtle".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Bart and Milhouse attend a Spinal Tap concert, but it turns into a comedy of errors and degenerates into a riot. Nonetheless, Bart is impressed by the aging heavy metal band and wants to become a rock guitarist. Homer and Marge decide to buy Bart his own electric guitar, but Bart struggles to learn how to play it.

    The next morning on the school bus, Bart asks Otto to show him how to play, and Otto - with the bus still stopped in traffic - wows his passengers with an impromptu concert. However, Otto loses track of time and is forced to drive recklessly to school. The bus runs Spinal Tap’s bus off the road (causing it to crash and burst into flames, presumably killing Spinal Tap), and causes other chaos before turning over onto its side in the town square. Thankfully, no one else is hurt.

    Numerous people call Springfield Elementary School to report the incident, earning Otto a reprimand from Principal Skinner. However, when Officer Lou asks for Otto’s driver’s license to complete his report, Otto is forced to admit he doesn’t have a license (or wear his own underwear). Otto loses his job, and Skinner takes over his route.

    Skinner finds driving the bus hard going, being a less aggressive driver than Otto, and ends up being trapped at a busy intersection for an entire day. At first he takes an insulting song the children sing (called "Hail to the Bus Driver") with good humour and even sings along, but after being stuck at the intersection, he becomes irritated and snaps at Ralph Wiggum when he tries to continue singing.

    Meanwhile, things quickly go downhill for Otto. He fails his driver’s test at the Springfield DMV (not helped when he mistakes the examiner, Patty for a transsexual); he is also unable to find a new job, and therefore cannot pay his rent and is evicted from his apartment. Bart finds him living in a dumpster, and agrees to let him live in the Simpson's garage. Homer and Marge disapprove of this, and Bart tries to convince them that Marge in fact has agreed to let Otto stay, presenting a tape recording where she did so; in reality though, it features Bart doing a poor impression of his mother. Marge is not fooled by this (although Homer is), but reluctantly agrees to let him stay.

    Otto quickly makes a nuisance of himself. He becomes comfortable laying around, playing Bart's guitar at high volume, and hogging the bathroom. When he clogs up a sink with hair while washing in it, Homer begins to lose patience with him. However, Marge convinces him that at least Otto is good with the kids. At that moment, Otto terrifies Lisa with a scary story, and her scream startles everyone. This is the final straw for Homer, and he demands that Otto be sent on his way.

    Otto is now uncertain about his future, even considering faking his own death. Marge and Bart, however, encourage him to give the driving test one last try. Otto goes to the DMV to take the test again, saying that he has something to prove to Homer. This quickly changes Patty's demeanor out of spite for her brother-in-law. Despite performing even worse in his second test, Patty grants Otto his license anyway, allowing him to regain his job. As Otto drives off into the sunset with the children singing "Hail to the Bus Driver," Skinner proudly remarks, "Yes, hail to the bus driver, bus driver man."

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in to find an aggressive, snarling Santa's Little Helper on the sofa.
    • Spinal Tap's world tour has taken in London, Paris, Munich and Springfield. (There's a possible reference in that list to the chorus of M's 1979 hit Pop Muzik).
    • Otto's driving licence gives his details as 'Ht 5'10 wt 150 DOB 01-18-63'.
    • Mainly based on "This Is Spinal Tap" (Rob Remer, 1984). There's also mention of "Happy Days".
    • We hear Homer singing a vocal version of Herb Alpert's 1965 hit Spanish Flea, and Otto practises the guitar solo of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird.
    • Otto's father's occupation - an admiral - and their estranged relationship suggest a parallel with Jim Morrison of the Doors.
    • On the Commentary, the crew states that Otto is one of their least favorite characters to use. Also Harry Shearer stated that Otto's is the most irritating voice to do on the show. The Song, 'Spanish Flea'; was very hard to get rights to until writer Jon Vitti, who is related to the drummer of the band, could finally get rights to it at the last minute.
    • Bart’s electric guitar seems to work just fine without being plugged into an amplifier. This is because it has a built in speaker which can be seen under the tremolo.
    • On the DVD commentary, the producers reveal that actor Christopher Guest was (in jest) difficult to work with.
    • Bart is a lefthand guitarist.
    • The door to the bus is frequently on the wrong side.
    • The area between the first and second floors in the Simpson's house is, in this episode, stuffed with gold and jewels. Other episodes sometimes show differing things.
    • The title is a pun on auto show.
    • Homer finds a can of Billy Beer in his old jacket. This is a reference to the beer endorsed by Jimmy Carter’s brother, Billy Carter.
    • Otto's statement that he'd prefer to be sleeping in a Dumpster brand trash container over the one he's in alludes to the word's status a registered trademark for a brand of large trash containers.
    • When Otto leaves the bathroom (after Homer says that he has to go), Otto refers to Homer as "Poppin' Fresh", the nickname for The Pillsbury Doughboy. Homer would later be referred to as Poppin' Fresh by Mr. Burns (who, like Otto the bus driver, is voiced by Harry Shearer) in the season seven episode Team Homer.

  23. Bart's Friend Falls in Love:

    Original Air Date: May 7, 1992

    Writer: Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky.

    Director: Jim Reardon.

    Starring Characters: Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others), Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson).

    Recurring Characters: Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others), Russi Taylor (Martin Prince, Sherri, Terri and others), Pamela Hayden (Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others), Phil Hartman (Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure and Additional Voices), Marcia Wallace (Edna Krabappel).

    Guest Star: Kimmy Robertson (Samantha Stanky).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not snap bras".

    First Appearances: Kirk Van Houten.

    Plot: After a close encounter (Indiana Jones style Indiana Bart), Bart Simpson manages to retrieve Homer's jar of change to take to school. His best friend, Milhouse, in the meantime, has chosen to take his Magic 8 ball. Bart asks the ball whether he and Milhouse will still be friends by the end of the day, and the ball predicts no. Both are puzzled by how this could happen.

    A new girl from Phoenix, Arizona, called Samantha Stanky starts at Springfield Elementary School and Milhouse falls in love with her. She also starts falling for him. To Bart's dismay and anger, Milhouse and Samantha start a relationship and, rather than playing with Bart after school in his treehouse, Milhouse brings Samantha with him and spends the entire time kissing her. They ignore Bart, leaving nothing for him to do but leave. In order to restore the previous status quo, Bart calls Samantha's father and lets him know what's going on. So Mr. Stanky rushes to Bart's treehouse and takes her away before she can even explain. She is sent to St. Sebastian's school for Wicked Girls, an all-girls convent school. Bart lets Milhouse know that he told on him and Samantha and they fight over Bart's actions. Milhouse visits Samantha at the convent school and Bart apologizes to her, but she say it is OK - she loves Saint Sebastian's. However, she still has feelings for Milhouse and gives him a goodbye kiss, despite her knowingly violating school rules.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the Simpsons rush in and the sofa topples backwards.
    • Samantha is keen on the Doomed Romance series of comics, including the adventures of Bonnie Crane: Girl Attorney.
    • The opening sequence, as Homer steals Bart's money, is a direct lift from Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981) - and the closing sequence is a direct lift from Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942).
    • We see a singing nun singing Dominique, the Singing Nun's hit from 1965.
    • Lisa's reading a magazine with the headline The Year 2525 - were Zager & Evang Right? Zager and Evans were behind the song In the Year 2525.
    • After watching a sex education film, Bart inquires about how to create a half human, half ape hybrid. He is rebuffed by Edna Krabappel, who tells him that would be playing God. Bart then says, "God-schmod. I want my monkey man!".
    • The moment where Bart reaches behind him for a weapon with which to fend off Milhouse is a spoof of the murder in Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M for Murder.
    • Milhouse has a Spinal Tap poster on his bedroom wall.
    • Bart takes a distracted Milhouse's Carl Yastrzemski baseball card in exchange for one of Omar Vizquel with the head cut out.
    • Lisa imagines Homer buried in a piano lowered by a crane due to his obesity. This is in reference to Robert Earl Hughes, the world's widest man, who is sometimes incorrectly referred to have been buried in this manner.
    • The Itchy and Scratchy cartoon in this episode features a top hat similar to Oddjob's hat in Goldfinger. Scratchy launches it at Itchy's wife-to-be, which cuts her head off and then Itchy's.
    • Empire named the episode's opening the best film parody in the show, calling it the series' "most famous opening sequence". They noted Homer played "both his roles half-naked native; big fat boulder with consumate aplomb. Unga-bunga indeed."

  24. Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?:

    Original Air Date: August 27, 1992

    Writer: John Swartzwelder.

    Director: Rich Moore.

    Starring Characters: Hank Azaria (Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others), Julie Kavner (Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier), Yeardley Smith (Lisa Simpson), Nancy Cartwright (Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others), Dan Castellaneta (Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others).

    Recurring Characters: Maggie Roswell (Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Hoover, and others).

    Guest Star: Joe Frazier (Himself), Danny DeVito (Herb Powell).

    Chalkboard Gag: "I will not fake seizures".

    First Appearances:

    Plot: Homer "wins" the "First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence", a fictional $2000 prize awarded by Montgomery Burns. The name of the "award" was hastily concocted by Burns on the spot in an attempt to convince Homer to sign a waiver freeing the nuclear plant of all liability for Homer's recently discovered sterility after taking a routine physical at work. Joe Frazier is the host of the award ceremony, which features extraordinary extravagance (including a lengthy opening) but only the one $2000 prize is awarded to Homer.

    Despite planning on using the money for the Spinemelter 2000 vibrating chair, Homer agrees to loan the money to his bitter half-brother Herb Powell who, ruined by Homer previously, is now a hobo. After hearing a baby cry while in the park, Herb's idea to become rich again is by making a machine to translate a baby's babbling into actual English. He uses Homer's money to develop his invention, which is an instant money-making success. Herb becomes rich once again.

    Along with returning the money to Homer, he buys several gifts for the Simpson family. Herb then tells Homer that his gift to him is forgiveness for ruining him in the first place, and he and Homer re-establish a brotherly relationship. Finally, Homer is rewarded for his generosity and faith when Herb has a truck pull in with Homer's vibrating chair, which both Homer and his few remaining sperm enjoy.

    Trivia:

    • In the couch gag the family cartwheels onto the couch
    • Joe Frazier and Barney get into a fight. Originally Barney was going to win the fight but Joe Frazier objected so the script was changed so Barney lost.
    • On the commentary, Al Jean states that Frazier was very hard to record, especially saying the word 'Excellence' in the award title. George Meyer was the director and, after almost twenty takes, Frazier got the word down. Afterwards Meyer said to Frazier that the take was 'excellent', but he did not get the joke.
    • Even though Homer eventually got the Spinemelter, it was never seen again in the series. However, it does appear in the games Virtual Springfield and The Simpsons Hit and Run. It appears in the attic in the Treehouse of Horror episode "The Thing and I". However, Treehouse of Horror appearances are considered non-canon.
    • So far in the series, this is the last major appearance of Herb. The next time he is even mentioned is thirteen years later in the episode "The Heartbroke Kid". When Homer questions who else would need to lose weight, the last person he mentions is "my seldom-seen half-brother Herb", quickly going to a shot of a picture of him on the wall.
    • The song played during the opening of the "First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence" is referred to as "The Field of Excellence" on the album Go Simpsonic with the Simpsons and is track 14.
    • The chair salesman is named Akira, a character who frequently appears throughout the series, often as a waiter or cook.
    • The episode title is a play on the Great Depression-era tune "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?". (Mr. Burns sang this song in the second season episode "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish"). Additionally, "two dimes" is gambling slang for two thousand dollars, which is the amount Homer lends Herb.
    • One of the men that sits with Herb by the fireplace in the beginning of the episode looks very similar to Charlie Chaplin's character The Tramp. The Tramp also eats a boot in the Chaplin movie The Gold Rush.
    • The images Homer sees when sitting in the Spinemelter chair parodies the penultimate scene of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • Homer reminisces about sitting on the couch while watching Dallas (specifically Kristin's revelation that she shot J.R. Ewing), the Hands Across America charity event (Marge and the kids take part with the Flanders while Homer schlumpily sits on the couch), and the Berlin Wall coming down, which he switches over to Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
    • Homer's line "excuse me while I kiss the sky" is based on the Jimi Hendrix song "Purple Haze".
    • When Herb is giving gifts to the family, Homer despondently says, "I don’t think there's a vibrating chair in that bag for me". This is a reference to The Wizard of Oz.
    • In Homer's flashbacks of the couch the viewer can see the painting from the first season hanging on the wall.


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