Tag Archives: Principal Skinner

SSR #27: “Principal Charming”

Introduction:
I think it’s time we take the spotlight off the main family and focus on some secondary characters that we’ve had some experience with. This episode doesn’t just focus on one secondary character, but three characters that we’ve grown very familiar with since their debuts early in the 1st season (technically two if you count Patty & Selma as one collective character) . And what’s the best way to focus on them? Why, creating a one-episode long romance of course! It’s time for “Principal Charming!”

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SSR #11: “The Crepes of Wrath”

Intro

Introduction:
When Bart Simpson is starting to become too much of terror at home, the adults decide that maybe it’s time for the little hell raiser to take a little vacation to the other side of the globe. Although he is very excited about the journey, life in Paris, France for Bart Simpson is getting ready to open his eyes to a world that perhaps he never should have experienced. “The Crepes of Wrath” is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons first season. It aired on April 15th, 1990 and even though it wasn’t the last episode of the season, it was the last episode written for Season 1. The chalkboard gag for this episode is “Garlic Gum is Not Funny,” which I agree, garlic is never a good flavor for gum, and the couch gag features the entire family squeezing onto the couch and forcing Homer to get pushed off onto the ground (aka: another repeat).

 

SkinnerVisitSkinner: “I think it behooves us all to consider deportation.”
Marge: “Deportation? You mean kick Bart out of the country?”
Homer: “Eh…hear him out, Marge!”

Plot:
The episode starts at the Simpson house with the immediate revelation that Bart is having a bit of an issue with keeping things tidy. His toys and possessions are strewn all over the house and after Homer trips on Bart’s skateboard, falling down the stairs and hurting his back, Marge punishes Bart by making him clean his room. While cleaning, Bart finds a cherry bomb and decides to use it to play a prank at school. He flushes it down the toilet, causing every toilet in the school to explode, including one that happens to be in use by Principal Skinner’s mother. Principal Skinner takes Bart home and discusses with Marge and Homer a way to punish Bart for his mischievous ways; not by suspension or expulsion, but by deportation.

Principal Skinner suggests signing Bart up for the student exchange program, where he would be sent to another part of the world to learn and study in a brand new environment. In exchange, the Simpsons will take in another student from a different country. This way, Bart will have a golden opportunity to see another part of the world, while both Skinner and the Simpsons get a break from Bart’s mischief. Marge and Homer are on board and when Bart hears of the opportunity, he becomes excited as well. Principal Skinner and Homer then celebrate on being rid of the boy’s shenanigans for a few months.

Bart is sent to Paris, France to live with two very strict winemakers; Cesar and Ugolin. They live in a worn-down, dilapidated chateau, and they don’t treat Bart as a member of the family, but as a slave to their business. All of Bart’s clothes and possessions are taken by the two French men and some of them are even given to the donkey. Bart very quickly starts to hate his temporary home. Back in America, the Simpsons have opened their home to a little Albanian boy named Adil. Adil is very kind to everyone and is very helpful around the house and Homer takes an immediate shine to him, even to the point of showing more love to him than his own son. During a talk with Marge though, Homer does admit that he does miss and love Bart, he just appreciates the more loving side of Adil.

Things start to get a bit suspicious though when Adil starts asking to go with Homer to the nuclear power plant. Homer thinks Adil is just inquisitive about his work and is unaware that Adil is taking pictures to send back to his home country of Albania. It turns out Adil is actually a spy working for the Albanian government and is trying to find out top secret information from American nuclear power plant generators. However, Adil’s signal is traced by the FBI and Homer unintentionally blows Adil’s cover, leading to the prompt arrest of the young boy. Charges are not pressed on Adil as the kid is exchanged for a young American spy who was caught in Albania for a similar act of espionage.

Back in France, Bart’s living conditions do not improve and on one rainy day, he catches the winemakers adding antifreeze to their product in order to make a shipment deadline. While being sent on an errand, Bart runs into a French police officer and he tries to tell the man about his predicament, but is unable to relay his information because they don’t speak the same language. Bart starts to feel depressed that he can’t speak French despite living in the country for the past few months, but during his monologue, he realizes that he does know how to speak some French and immediately goes back to the police officer to confess everything. When Bart reveals that Cesar and Ugolin have been putting antifreeze into their wine, the two brewers are arrested and Bart becomes a hero in France. He returns home with gifts and souvenirs for the entire family as the episode comes to a close.

 

Welcome to France“Welcome to your new home. Escape is impossible. My name is Cesar, this is my nephew, Ugolin. You may find life here at the chateau hard, but if you shut up and do exactly as we say, the time will pass more quickly!”
~Cesar

My Personal History:
As usual, I didn’t get to see this episode until the Season 1 DVD came out, but when I did get around to watching it, my god, I was surprised at how depressing the episode was, at least in terms of Bart’s story. Yeah, Bart can be a bit of a hell-raiser, and sometimes you feel like the bad karma train has to start sometime, but damn, Bart definitely did not deserve what he ended up with. I’ll get more into that later though, when I’m actually reviewing the episode.

 

Adil Speech“Although, oficially, I am required to hate you, I want you to know that I do not feel it in my heart!”
~Adil Hoxha

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
When examining this episode for favorite moments, there are definitely a few things that really click with me. For one, I love how invested Homer gets in Adil being part of the family. I don’t agree with him completely shutting out Bart or making jokes about exchanging Lisa too, but I think you have to realize that when it does come to Bart, he has been testing Homer’s patience for a long while now. Being a trouble maker at home, and having to endure that trauma, even on a physical level (with him falling down the stairs and hurting his back), and then having to hear about his son’s transgressions at school, and from around the neighborhood…honestly, Homer just really wanted a break from that and he got that from Adil, even if Adil’s actions came from a place of dishonesty and deception. Then, when Homer is completely clueless and unaware of what Adil is actually doing, I think it really adds a nice bit of humor to the equation as well. I think one of my favorite lines in the whole episode is near the end when the Simpson family is saying goodbye to Adil and Homer weepingly says, “Good bye Adil, I’ll send you those civil defense plans you wanted!” showing that even after the situation was explained to the family, Homer still didn’t understand that Adil was an Albanian spy committing foreign acts of espionage for his own government. You could say it just makes Homer look like an even bigger idiot, and I would see your logic, but from an entertainment perspective, that was a great line to close that story on.

I also think it’s very clever how the writers portrayed International affairs between America and other countries. I feel like this could have been a risky episode to release because some people could watch the episode and think that Albania is trying to spy and steal information from the US and they must be a bad country because of it. However, the last scene of that story shows the FBI informing the Simpson family that Adil is not going to be locked up or imprisoned, but rather sent back to his country at the exchange of an American spy who was pretty much doing the exact thing Adil was doing, giving the message that, “yeah, he was doing something bad, but we are definitely guilty of it too, so we don’t really have room to determine what needs to be done here.” I’m not saying that’s the way all politics work or should work; clearly if nations have to resort to spying, then there is obviously something not right with that relationship and something needs to be worked out, but again, as far as this “television show” is concerned, I think it was a funny route to take. In other words, I think it did a good job of trying to avoid International controversy. I’d say the same goes along with all the France stuff too, although I feel like there was less to worry about there because the evil nature of the two winemakers had nothing to do with them being French, but with them being bad people in general.

I also think the conclusion of Bart’s story was well-done as well, albeit a bit predictable and cliche. It’s the classic formula of “living under bad circumstances,” but then coming through or learning something at the end to make it a worthwhile venture. It’s something we’ve seen a lot in television, it’s something we’ll see a lot of in this show; it will just vary in how different the routes are that take that path. I think what makes it good in this path is just the fact that it’s an end to Bart’s suffering and the end of two bad guys who are up to no good. Bart really does go through some terrible experiences, which, despite his behavior at home, is not something he or anyone should ever deserve, no matter the circumstances. I will say though, it will definitely give Bart some things to think about at home. At the very least, I would hope he would try a little harder to keep his room clean, because after three months of sleeping on the floor or in a bale of hay, he’d probably be thankful for just having a bed.

Goodbye Adil“Goodbye Adil, I’ll send you those civil defense plans you wanted!”
~Homer Simpson

My Review:
I don’t actually have a lot to say about this episode (especially compared to the last episode I looked at). Overall, I don’t think it’s a bad episode, but once again, I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest episode either. It’s got a good story with nice conflict resolution, it has a side-story that’s entertaining to watch, and seeing how this is supposed to be a Bart episode, we get some good moments and some great development with our little yellow-skinned trouble-maker. I think one of the greatest character traits of Bart that gets shown here is that despite Bart’s resume for causing trouble and making mischief, he’s actually got a very strong sense of justice and for the way the law should work. He knows that what his “host parents” are doing is wrong and doesn’t hesitate to go to the police at his first available opportunity. You could say he does it out of convenience, as he is being treated as a slave, but still, we’ll see in future episodes that when it comes to Bart Simpson, he does not let criminals get away with anything. In fact…we may have an episode OR TWO coming up that complements this  very well, but of course, I’ll get into that when it’s relevant again. Basically, what I’m trying to say here is that Bart isn’t a bad kid at all. He’s a fun-seeker and a little rebellious at times, but he does know the difference between right and wrong.

In fact, I’d almost say the lowest point of this episode is just the act of watching and witnessing Bart go through the trauma of living with his strict host parents. When watching this back, I really felt sorry for Bart and disgusted that he had to live under those conditions. I believe in being punished for something if you do something bad, or that karma is boomerang, but I don’t believe anyone should endure what Bart had to go through, regardless of past acts. It was a little hard to watch honestly, but at least those evil men got what they deserved at the end of the day and it seemed like Bart was handsomely rewarded and given reparations for the few terrible months he had to endure. And hey, Bart learned how to speak French; that’s honestly pretty cool, am I right? So yeah, overall, I’d say it was a good episode and worth a watch, even if the middle of the plot was a bit rough to get through.

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We only have two more left guys, and coming up, we have a candidate for best episode of the season, and a candidate for worst episode of the season. I’m not going to spoil too much, not to mention it seems like a lot of my opinions have changed or been modified to a rather large extent after doing these rewatches, but at the very least, it’s been a lot of fun doing these retrospectives and I’ve enjoyed it very much. I do apologize for this one going up a bit late, as I meant to post it last week, but I had a lot of work I had to get done which resulted in this getting pushed back a little. And honestly, don’t be surprised if the same happens to the next episode as well, just because I am hitting a very busy point with all of my mediums. I’m still hoping to be done with Season 1 by the end of May, so here’s to hoping that all the cards will fall into place for that to happen!

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SSR #5: “Bart the General”

Intro

Introduction:
Bart Simpson may be the troublemaker at Springfield Elementary, but he’s definitely not a kid that could be classified as a bully or ruffian. He’s a fun-loving boy with a tendency to be a class-clown at times, and he may not be the smartest kid around, but on the whole, he’s a normal kid like everyone else. However, recent developments have put Bart in the crosshairs of the local school bully, and now he must find a way out of this predicament, unless he wants to have daily school beatings for the rest of his life. The Simpson universe is about to become a warzone with Bart on one side and Nelson Muntz on the other. “Bart the General” debuted on February 4th, 1990, and was the fifth episode written and aired for The Simpsons first season. This episode, alongside “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” and “Life on the Fast Lane,” did not feature any chalkboard or couch gags, probably because the episode ran a bit longer than usual.

BloodKid: “Nelson, you’re bleeding!”
Nelson: “Naw, happens all the time. Somebody else’s blood splatters on me. Hey wait a minute! You’re right! You made me bleed my own blood.”

Plot:
We start the episode at the Simpson household where Marge is helping Lisa bake cupcakes for her teacher’s birthday. Here we find out a little more that Lisa is the “smart one” of the family. She studies hard, tries to develop a good relationship with her teachers, and is generally just a more pleasant student than what Bart is in his classes. Bart gives Lisa a hard time for this, calling her a “butt kisser,” an “egg sucker,” and an “honor student.” However, even Bart is kind enough to take it all back and apologize when he’s gone too far, showing that he really does love and care about his sister…even if he does it for the prospect of a free cupcake.

The sibling bond is developed further when a kid takes Lisa’s cupcakes and starts eating them. Bart steps in to defend his sister, threatening to beat up the kid if he doesn’t give them back, but his threats go in one ear and out the other. Bart starts to rough up the kid, unaware that the kid’s superior, and big bully of the schoolyard, Nelson Muntz, has come to step in, leading Bart into punching Nelson in the nose accidentally. Instead of taking him out right there, because school is about to start, Nelson tells Bart that he will take care of him after school. Bart spends the entire day worrying about his fate, having a vision of him being chased by a giant version of Nelson, and even a daydream of what his funeral would be. After school, Bart tries to leave before anything can happen, but he runs into Nelson, who proceeds to give Bart a beating and then stuffs him into a trash can. Nelson remarks that this will now become a daily part of Bart’s life as he sends Bart on a wild ride down the hill, still rolling in the trash can.

When Bart gets home, Marge and Homer learn that Bart is being harassed by a bully and give him advice on how to deal with the situation. Marge tells Bart to either tell the principal or try to talk to Nelson and try to find common ground. Homer scoffs at this advice and takes Bart with him to teach him how to fight back and fight dirty in response. The next day at school, Bart tries to implement Homer’s teachings, but is still completely outmatched by Nelson, and is once again beat up. Lisa suggests Bart talk to Grandpa Simpson, as he is the toughest Simpson alive. Grandpa is enthusiastic to help, but in his old age, is unable to give Bart the advice he needs for dealing with young blood, so he takes Bart to meet a friend of his who may be able to help.

Bart meets Herman, Grandpa’s acquaintance who works at a military antiques store. Herman is quite knowledgeable, and quite obsessed, with the subject of war and turns Bart’s plight into a war scenario. He has Bart round up a number of kids who are tired of Nelson’s tyranny and trains them to take on Nelson once and for all. What follows is a very entertaining montage of Bart training the other kids with obstacle courses, fighting exercises and inspirational march songs. Herman, Bart and his troops gain intelligence on Nelson’s daily schedule and lay an ambush for him with hundreds and hundreds of water balloons.

Nelson and his two cronies are completely overwhelmed by Bart’s assault, forcing Nelson to the ground and his two goons to surrender. Nelson is tied up and captured, but threatens to beat up Bart even more once he gets untied. Bart realizes that Nelson cannot be tied up forever and Herman suggests an alternative method for solving their conflict. Bart and Nelson sign a peace treaty; an agreement that states that while Nelson can no longer forcefully beat up Bart or other children on a regular basis, he can continued to be looked at as a physical threat and menace of the schoolyard. They celebrate their new agreement by sharing a plate of cupcakes with each other and everyone else in the room, ending the story on a peaceful resolution. The actual episode ends with Bart giving a small speech and message to the episode viewers on the subject of war and how it isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be…with the exception of the Civil War, World War II, and the plot of the original Star Wars trilogy. It’s obviously not trying to be a super serious message, but I always found the inclusion to be a fun little joke and nod to those “viewer discretion” messages.

Herman“The key to Springfield has always been Elm Street. The Greeks knew it. The Carthaginians knew it. Now you know it.”
~Herman

Personal History:
Once again, I did not see this episode until I owned The Simpsons Season 1 on DVD, but thankfully I have a little more to say than just that. When I initially viewed the DVD in its entirety, this was probably my favorite episode of the entire first season. I just really enjoyed the story, the jokes, and the epic Act 3 montage and conclusion at end. It just really rounded out to be a great episode for me and was probably one of only a few episodes I really got excited about watching in the first season. Since then, I have gained an appreciation for other episodes of this season as well, so is it still my favorite? We will just have to wait and see; not just for the final episode review, but also for the end of the Season 1 retrospective as it is.

Grandpa Speech“Sorry, Bart. You can push them out of a plane, you can march them off a cliff, you can send them off to die on some godforsaken rock, but for some reason…you can’t slap them. Now apologize to that boy right now.”
~Abe Simpson

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
I don’t even know where to begin with this one, just because there are just so many great jokes and great moments of this particular episode, so I’m really going to need to narrow things down for this particular section. And please, do not be surprised if this section is quite a bit longer than other sections in these retrospectives. The first thing I want to call attention to are the daydreams/fantasies Bart has in the first act. They just seem so appropriate to what a child would be scared of when being terrorized by a bully. It’s that scary, childhood dream where you are being chased by a monster and you try everything you can to stop it, just to find out that it’s completely unavoidable and pointless. Heck, Bart used knives and a GUN in that daydream and nothing could phase Giant Nelson. The funeral daydream is also pretty humorous too, especially when Nelson shows up to give Bart a few last punches before they bury him.

I also really like the dynamic between Homer and Marge during Act 2 of this episode, how they both try to do everything they can to help Bart, even if their advice falls on deaf ears and doesn’t work. It really shows their two different parenting styles and shows that even though they are married, they can still have conflicting opinions and they don’t back down from their respective arguments. I feel like future seasons kind of overplay the “Marge and Homer have marital problems,” plot line, and heck, we’ll be starting to take a look at some of those plots later on this season, but here, I feel like it works because they both want what’s best for their son and there are merits for both of their sides. Marge is correct in saying that fighting isn’t always the answer, but Homer is also correct in saying that people do need to learn to hold their own and stand up for themselves. Not all parental arguments need to be marriage-ending. And in response to Homer’s advice, I also like when Bart is imagining what Homer is saying to him during the second exchange with Nelson. He reminds Bart of what he taught him, Bart tries and fails immediately, and Homer in Bart’s thoughts shrugs, being out of any other ideas and forcing him to watch Nelson just take him down.

Now we get into all the war stuff, which is definitely just the best part of the episode, in my opinion. Everything during the end of Act 2 and the entirety of Act 3 is just amazing and very well written and directed. First I’ll start with Herman, who was just absolutely hilarious in this episode and who I honestly wish would have been given a bigger role in future episodes. Everything he says is just so over-the-top and hilarious and the fact that he is so obsessed with war, to the extreme of turning this childhood scuffle into one, just works so well here. “The key to Springfield has always been Elm Street! The Greeks knew it, the Carthaginians knew it, and now you know it!” That’s a line that has just always stuck with me just because it is so over the top. And the fact that Grandpa knows the guy is nuts and confirms it to Bart just makes his character even better. They need him to win this war.

Speaking of Grandpa, another line, or speech rather, that I always remember from this episode is during the montage when Bart starts punishing a kid for not wanting to fight. Grandpa stops Bart immediately with a lecture, saying “Sorry, Bart. You can push them out of a plane, you can march them off a cliff, you can send them off to side one some godforsaken rock, but for some reason…you can’t slap them. Now apologize to that boy right now!” That may be my favorite quote of the entire season, just because of how it starts to set up some kind of important message for Bart, before Grandpa just forgets the message, and just tells Bart that it’s wrong to slap someone and to apologize. I remember for the longest time, I actually had that quote as my signature on message boards just because of how silly it is. I also like the following exchange where after Bart apologizes, the kid just remarks, “it’s cool,” when the kid was terrified and scared beforehand, so it wasn’t even a big deal anyway.

The training montage is honestly just a really solid scene to begin with though. It has the classic cartoon humor of watching kids trying to perform obstacle courses, and generally not performing super well (because they are only around ten years old here). It has a scene where you watch the kids beat up on a sandbag, while Herman absolutely destroys the sandbag, stabbing it with a bayonet, and ripping it apart saying, “Die! DIE!” And I don’t know what it is about Bart’s military chants, but it’s just so endearing to watch a 10-year old boy try to mimic an army general, and his march rhymes are pretty catchy as well, with most of them being about how he is a subpar student in school and various other child comebacks and sayings (like the “We are rubber, you are glue” saying). Then, the war with Nelson itself, despite being incredibly one-sided, is just worth the entire build-up of the episode. The kids, just being through with Nelson’s bullying, much like us being tired of seeing Nelson beat up on poor Bart, just get complete satisfaction from watching him get paid back, in full, with the wrath of hundreds of water balloons.

And finally, the last thing I want to point out, actually goes back to a little nod that was written in the second act when Bart is being introduced to Herman. The Simpsons is definitely a show where once an episode ends, it’s very rare that they will call attention to that particular episode or storyline again, almost like each episode is starting new without any memory of the previous episode. There are some very obvious exceptions, like when a character is written into the show and has a big connection with another character, or very important lifestyle choices and changes (like Lisa becoming a vegetarian in Season 7). For the most part though, everything seems to find a way back to the status quo. This is why I found this particular moment kind of funny though, because when Bart asks Herman about his missing arm, Herman gives a speech saying, “When your teacher tells you to leave your arm inside the bus at all times, YOU DO IT!” This is a nod to the 3rd episode, “Homer’s Odyssey,” when Mrs. Krabappel tells the children to keep their arms inside the bus at all times because of some kid losing his arm that way. I always thought that reference was cool, especially when considering the prospect of Herman being the kid Mrs. Krabappel was alluding to, just from many years ago. So yeah, I felt like sharing that little reference before moving on, just because I’ve always been fond of it.

Birthday BalloonsHerman: “Got the water balloons?”
Bart: “200 rounds, sir! Is it OK if they say ‘Happy Birthday’ on the side?”
Herman: “I’d rather they say ‘Death From Above,’ but I guess we’re stuck.”

My Review:
As I said before, when I first watched “Bart the General,” it was definitely my favorite episode of Season 1. And honestly, even after many years have passed, it probably still is my favorite Season 1 episode. I do like a lot of other episodes a little more than I used to, but this one definitely hasn’t lost any favor with me either, and if even possible, I like it even more, now that I can see why I like it so much. It’s a good story that doesn’t have to rely on any other plots to keep it fresh, and unlike many of the other episodes so far, I feel like the main point of this episode is dropped on us pretty much from the get-go. In the first act we get introduced to Bart’s plight and actually see some substance to it and how it’s affecting him. In the second act we watch him try to deal with it from a variety of different angles before deciding on a final measure. And finally, in the third act, we watch the final conflict unfold in a very exciting conclusion that keeps you on your toes, wanting you to know how everything is going to go down. Some could argue that the ending of the episode seems very forced and nonsensical, making you wonder if a conflict and rivalry that heated could end so peacefully. But, for the purpose of the show, I can see the logic being used here. They didn’t want to send the message that “all you need is strength in numbers, and you can take down anyone with no consequences,” and they didn’t want to just get rid of or permanently disable the trademark “bully” character either, just because they could definitely use him for future stories and episode plots down the road, which is definitely true considering the future legacy and popularity of the Nelson Muntz character. His “Ha, Ha!” laugh clip is probably one of the most famous Simpson catchphrases, after all the Homer and Bart ones anyway.

So yeah, overall, just a very exciting episode. It has great moments, great jokes, a great story…just everything that makes a great Simpson episode, and this early in the first season as well…that’s not too shabby. I have to say, I’m really pumped now to see what the rest of the season will bring as well, now that I’ve set the bar pretty high for the rest of the episodes to beat this one. I think once I’m done with all the Season 1 episodes, I’ll try doing a post where I personally rank all the episodes of the season in order of my favorite to least favorite. That should be fun in determining, at least, what my favorite episodes are from that particular season, and maybe then, sometime in the future, I can use that list to help determine a much grander ranking if I ever decide to rank all of the episodes (of every season). For now though, I think it’s time to bid farewell to “Bart the General,” and I give my salute on a job well done!

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This episode really was so much fun to watch and look at for this post and I think it will put a lot of things in perspective when we start getting to some of the following episodes…for reasons I won’t quite reveal yet. Anyway, as you may have noticed, I’ve stopped doing these once per week and have been kind of on a “one entry per week and a half” pattern as of right now. Things have just been really busy as of late and I’m trying to do as much as I can without stressing myself out too much. Not to mention, I do have a vacation coming up soon, and I want to make sure a lot of my Youtube stuff is taken care of beforehand. That vacation starts on March 31st, so I’m hoping to have the next two entries done before then, but as usual, if stuff comes up, it comes up and the next post will be delayed by a small bit.

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SSR #2: “Bart the Genius”

BartTheGenius
Introduction:
Now that The Simpsons has done its first episode and Christmas special in just one airing, it’s time for us to move on to the next episode and see what the Simpson family looks like without the holiday season. “Bart the Genius” aired on January 14th, 1990, being the second episode written for the series and the second to air on television. As I mentioned in the last episode, the episode titled “Some Enchanted Evening,” was written before this episode, but due to the crude nature of the animation, it was pushed to the end of the season instead (with not much improvement in between). The Christmas special was written later and pushed up in the airing order to release it during the holiday season. This was also the first episode of the show to air in the 1990s, bringing the start to what will be known as the golden decade of The Simpsons. Will this episode be a benchmark of greatness with more greatness to come? Or did it come up short? We’ll find out very soon.

But first, It’s also worth mentioning that this the first episode to feature the classic opening sequence that the show is known for, also being the debut for the famous “chalkboard gag” and “couch gag.” The chalkboard gag is shown at the very beginning of the sequence and features Bart writing a phrase on the chalkboard numerous times as a punishment. These phrases are usually comical in nature and some are downright silly in the sense that Bart actually got in trouble for doing something incredibly outrageous and outlandish. The phrases change from episode to episode and from my knowledge, a chalkboard gag has never been done twice (I could be wrong though). The couch gag is generally a little more interesting, being shown at the end of the sequence. They usually show the entire Simpson family coming in the house to sit down on the couch (or try to) with something unique happening during the process; usually to a comical degree. It’s not uncommon to see a certain couch gag used in multiple episodes. In fact, certain couch gags are reused and brought back due to their length because if an episode runs shorter than the episode run time, they may use a certain couch gag to make the episode air time a little bit longer to compensate for the shorter run time.

It’s also worth pointng out that the first season had a unique opening compared to the one used for Season 2 through Season 20. While the premise is pretty much the same and has a similar flow, there were a few scenes in the first season intro that were cut shorter and the animation was in general improved for future iterations. The “highlights” of this first season intro is a section where we see a bunch of unnamed adult characters running to chase a bus (caused by Bart stealing the “Bus Stop” sign), and a slightly extended scene of Lisa biking home to the Simpson house. Aside from those features, the animation improving, and the inclusion of more permanent Simpson characters, there really isn’t too much different. I do like the improved intro more, but it is always fun to go back and take a look at what the intro used to be.

Anyway, I know I’m talking a lot about the intro and not really about the second episode yet, but I think it is important to take a look at this now while it’s relevant because the opening sequence of the Simpsons is pretty iconic. It’ll be around for the long haul and it introduces (almost) every single episode of the show. And a show with over 600 episodes; I think that’s very important. So for every episode, I’ll try to mention and highlight the chalkboard gag and couch gag in the Introduction before I get to the actual episode. For this episode, the chalkboard gag is “I will not waste chalk,” which is pretty funny considering the circumstances of Bart’s punishment. The couch gag shows the entire family trying to crowd onto the couch with Bart getting launched to the ceiling when the combined forces of the entire family cannot fit them all on one piece of furniture. And as an added bonus for the continuation of this couch gag, when the camera focuses on the TV and the writing credits for the show, Bart can be seen falling to the ground in front of the TV with a loud thud.

kwyjibosimpsons
Homer: “Wait a minute, you little cheater. You’re not going anywhere until you tell me what a ‘kwyjibo’ is.”
Bart: “Kwyjibo; uh..a big, dumb, balding, North American ape, with no chin.”
Marge: “And a short temper…”
Homer: “I’ll show you a big, dumb, balding ape!”
Bart: “Uh-oh! Kwyjibo on the loose!”

Plot:
In the first episode, we got a few glimpses of the kind of child that Bart Simpson is. Unlike his sister Lisa, Bart is a bit more outspoken and is more prone to getting into mischief, disobeying his parents wishes, and is not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to his schoolwork. This episode really hits that point hard when one of Bart’s stunts miraculously puts him on the other side of that coin; in an environment that he’s not used to, and in a place where he probably doesn’t belong. How long can Bart keep the charade up, and how far is he willing to go before he gets caught or before the guilt catches up with him?

The episode starts with the Simpson family playing a nice game of Scrabble. We find out that the reason for this family game night is because Bart is scheduled to have a big intelligence test the following day and the game was a way to get Bart’s brain working before the big exam. Instead of taking the exercise to heart, Bart spends the game mouthing off and making up words, leading to Homer chasing him through the house when trying to pass off “kwyjibo” as a serious word. Bart continues his escapades into the next morning when he gets caught defacing school property with spray paint and gets into verbal scuffles with fellow honor student and teacher’s pet Martin Prince. After a few choice words and tongue-faces from his rival, Bart decides to get his revenge on the boy by taking Martin’s finished exam and swapping the names on the two exams when nobody was looking.

Later that day, Homer and Marge come in for Bart’s punishment for defacing school property,and while Principal Skinner is lecturing the two parents on Bart’s behavior, the school’s psychologist, Dr. Pryor, comes in to reveal that Bart has a 216 IQ and is classified as a genius. This comes as a shock for the entire room, but Dr. Pryor suggests that Bart’s behavior may be the result of him feeling suffocated in the public school environment and suggests they move him to a private school where Bart can learn at his own pace and set his own boundaries and assignments. The thought of no boundaries and no homework assignments pleases Bart and he accepts the offer without question.

During his first few days of private school, Bart starts to feel incredibly out of place. The lessons are extremely advanced and the other kids are very aware that Bart is not as smart as they are; teasing him and taking advantage of Bart’s actual intelligence. To make things worse, Bart’s friends at his old school will no longer talk to him anymore because he is now a brainiac himself, making Bart feel even more like an outsider. Even Marge tries to nurture her son’s newfound intelligence by taking the family to the opera and experimenting with different forms of culture, but as we discover, these are things completely out of the Simpson family’s element. The one thing that does improve with his new life is the relationship Bart has with Homer, who tries to encourage and positively reinforce his son, without being the loud and obnoxious authority figure he normally is. This new attitude of Homer’s convinces Bart to stick with the act for a bit longer, even though it is painfully eating at him.

On the next day of school, Bart has an accident in chemistry class which causes the entire room to explode in a giant mess of green goo. Bart is sent to talk to Dr. Pryor about the incident, where he reveals that he wants to go back to his old school and classroom as the new set-up is not working for him. He disguises his intentions to move back to the old class by claiming he wants to investigate the behavioral patterns of kids at public schools, but when writing his proposal, Bart decides that keeping up the act will no longer work because he is not smart enough for this kind of study and decides to write a confession letter instead, explaining how he cheated on the intelligence test.

When Bart returns home, Homer decides to give his son a bath after the chemistry accident. During the bath, Bart comes clean with his father, telling him that he is not a genius, but that he really appreciated and loved how much closer they got during the last few days. In classic Homer fashion, Homer gets angry and chases Bart through the house for lying to him. After Marge asks what’s going on, Lisa responds, “I think Bart’s stupid again, Mom.”

class
Now go on, boy, and pay attention. Because if you do, one day you may achieve something that we Simpsons have dreamed about for generations. You may outsmart someone.”
~Homer Simpson

Personal History:
This will more than likely be the case for the rest of the Season 1 episodes, but for this episode, I had not seen it until it came out on DVD much later on in the early 2000s. Although I was alive when this episode and Season 1 was on the air, I did not have much of a memory of the show until it got to Season 2. After all, when Season 2 came around, I was at least 3 years old by that point. However, like most of Season 1, it was definitely an interesting experience going back to this first season and seeing how the show used to be. Even though the animation was weirder and characters seemed to act or look different than what they were supposed to be, as a Simpsons scholar, it was good to get that much needed history lesson.

Bath
“Don’t be discouraged, son. I bet Einstein turned himself all sorts of colors before he invented the lightbulb.”
~Homer Simpson

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
I have to say, Bart has quite the audacity for looking his father straight in the eye, and calling him a big, dumb, balding ape, and that’s pretty much what he does in the first few moments of the episode when giving his official definition for what a “Kwyjibo” is. I think it’s a a pretty iconic moment of not only this episode, but also for the season and series as a whole. It shows the kind of relationship that Bart and Homer have for not only the early parts of this episode, but also for the entire series moving forward, and it also makes their bonding in this episode even more special.

I also really like Lisa’s line at the very end of the episode as well, the one about Bart being stupid again. I think it works very well because throughout the entire episode, Lisa was skeptical and doubtful of Bart’s intelligence results and she made that doubt incredibly clear. So at the end of the episode, when things return to normal, Lisa isn’t at all surprised by the newest development of Bart not being a genius. She let the big change run its course and is ready for the next adventure to unfold at the end of the day/episode. I think this is why I like Lisa so much as a character, just because she isn’t just the voice of reason, but she’s also very aware of what’s going on around her and she often makes it a point to have a little fun and still be a child at the end of the day.

Another line I really enjoy from this episode is when Homer tells Bart, “Don’t worry son, I bet Einstein turned himself all sorts of colors before he invented the light bulb.” I like this saying because it’s a funny line and it’s also incredibly true and very wise words coming from Homer. Sure, Bart was faking his intelligence the entire time and Einstein was an incredibly smart man, but isn’t the best form of intelligence, “learning from your mistakes?” We get wiser and smarter the more mistakes we make because we know how to not make them again, and with all things considered, that was just a really good and inspiring thing to tell his son and I really appreciated that when watching this episode back.

Although not really a funny or favorite moment of mine, I also think the opera scene of this episode is very important. This scene shows the Simpson family at the opera with Homer and Bart making wise cracks and inappropriate noises during the entirety of the performance. While embarrassing to Marge, I think this is a golden moment for the family because it really shows the type of family they are. They aren’t used to high-class entertainment or being quiet during a show or sitting still. They’d rather be going out for burgers or frosty chocolate milkshakes and sitting around the family room watching television. Even Lisa, who is very much into the performing arts can laugh and snicker at Homer and Bart’s antics. I think it’s good that they show this family dynamic early because it perfectly personifies what I think is the prime example of the typical American family. For years we have been taught how to act or how we display good manners, or what is acceptable forms of entertainment, but at the core of it all, families (and people in general) have their ways and have their unique identities, and those lessons are just going to go to waste or fall on deaf ears. So when the Simpson family goes to the opera, they aren’t going to think, “wow, the vocal range on this group of performers is impressive,” they’re going to think, “how much longer is this going to be?” Every family is different, and you can’t expect them to act in a certain way or enjoy the same things as other families. They are going to do their thing and act in their own way, and rightfully they should. This is something that will be further looked at and developed in the episode “There’s No Disgrace Like Home,” so I’ll definitely come back to this topic later in the season, but for now, it was nice to see the family out of their element to get a further understanding of who they are (especially this early in the series).

StupidAgainMom
Marge: “What’s going on out there?”
Lisa: “I think Bart’s stupid again, Mom”
Marge: “Oh, well…”

My Review:
I have to admit, I actually kind of enjoyed rewatching this episode and taking notes from it. It’s interesting how when looking at something you love from an analytical side of things, your perspective kind of changes a bit and start looking at things in different ways. Truth be told, before doing this analysis, I wasn’t really a big fan of this episode. I don’t think it’s bad or unwatchable or anything like that, it just lacks a lot of substance because it does fall in the show’s first season when things aren’t as established and the writers are focused on setting up characters and plot lines for the show’s future as well as the present. It’s a pretty typical storyline though; bad kid gets away with something, he starts to bask in his success, but then he feels guilt, and in the last moments is either caught or does the right thing and comes clean. Many shows, both animated and non-animated, have done this story before and for what it’s worth, the Simpsons do a pretty decent job with it. I particularly enjoyed the growing relationship between Bart and Homer and how the only good thing to come out of Bart’s actions was them growing closer. It definitely hit a spot that I had overlooked for many, many years.

On the opposite side of the coin, I also found the episode to be a little unfinished in a few respects. One thing that kind of bothered me on this rewatch was how easy Bart was able to get out of the situation without any sort of punishment (that we know of). Yeah, Homer angrily chased him around the house, and in theory, the schools may have given him punishment later on, but as far as we know, Bart pretty much got off scot-free here. It’s one of those things that’s not really a negative, but it’s something I would have liked to have seen if the episode time went on longer, or if they cut out some of the other parts of the episode that could be seen as padding. Speaking of which…what even happened to Martin Prince after the exam? Wouldn’t the psychologist notice that an honor student got a really low and uncharacteristic score? Wouldn’t that raise some questions? And aside from the random shot of him and his family at the opera, he’s not even in the episode anymore after the test scene. And for being the person who got swapped with Bart, wouldn’t he be the one with the most to lose from this escapade? And finally, it always struck me as odd that Bart’s old friends treated him badly when he visited his old school. I always thought it should have been a case where maybe his friends were off doing something and Bart couldn’t come because he had a conflict with his new life and that would make him depressed as opposed to his friends just being mean. It just seemed like an odd choice.

But yeah, I can’t really classify those things as negatives, they’re just things I thought about on my most recent watch. At the end of the day, I was honestly surprised by how much fun it was to watch this episode again. I wouldn’t say it’s top tier or high quality Simpsons viewing, but for a first season episode, I think it accomplishes what it set out to accomplish, which is all that needs to be said really. The’re still plenty of Season 1 episodes left; some I’m looking forward to and others not so much. But until then, remember folks; cheating on intelligence tests will only take you so far, so don’t do it!

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Hey guys! You have just read my second episode retrospective. I do apologize for the extreme lateness of this entry, but I’ve been dealing with a lot of things going on in my personal life as you may have read about on my Twitter account or heard on my Youtube channel. Long story short, I went on vacation, got sick when I returned, and had my computer break down when I recovered. Because of this, it took me awhile before I could continue on with this series and for that, I apologize. I’m hoping I can get the next episode ready by the end of next week. Like I said in this entry, I had a lot of fun working on this second episode, so maybe that will give me some more motivation moving forward. I’m still trying to get used to this and am still playing with the format, so there may be some changes in future episodes, but for now, I think I’m going to leave this one at a close.

If you have any feedback or suggestions, feel free to go to Contact page and submit some fanmail with your remarks. You can also tweet at my SlimKirby Twitter account as well, but since this is a website project, let’s try to keep messages at the former, if at all possible. Thank you everyone and have a good day!

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