Monday, April 19

The Joy of Six: the most important sports episodes of The Simpsons | The Simpsons

1) Homer at bat

Or the best sports episode of The Simpsons or simply the best episode of The Simpsons. Ironically, though relying on a large number of celebrity cameos has marked the decline of this great comedy, 1992’s Homer at the Bat. – juggling nine major league stars – is a masterpiece. Mr. Burns buys MLB champions to replace the suckers at his nuclear power plant so he can win a $ 1 million bet on a company softball game. Until now, oligarch of football. The genius is in the way each ring is brought out, from Roger Clemens being hypnotized and thinking he’s a chicken to Don Mattingly getting into a fight with his new employer over a hairstyle misunderstanding (“Mr. Burns, I don’t know what he thinks it’s the sideburns ”).

José Canseco was reportedly the most difficult player to deal with, and he nullified his original plot. of waking up in bed with Mrs. Krabappel and demanding a more heroic excuse of absence. Killjoy. However, the true miracle of this episode is not that Homer finally scores the game’s winning run after being hit by a pitch. It’s that an episode full of baseball jokes, and with largely unknown guest stars outside of the US, it’s so beloved around the world.

2) Dead Putting Society

In which Homer’s rivalry with neighbor Ned Flanders sees them pit their 10-year-old sons against each other in a contest on the sacred greens of Sir Putt-A-Lot’s, the Augusta National miniature golf courses. Bart receives old-school training from his father, who encourages him to develop hatred for his Bible-loving opponent and to name his putter. Superbly, he leans on “Mr Putter”.

Bart receives an education from his sister.
Bart receives an education from his sister. Photography: FOX

While Homer warps Bart’s mind, Lisa fills it with oriental philosophy and precision tactics. The image of Bart posing at sunset, in the style of a Karate Kid crane kick, with Mr. Putter in hand is one of the great cinematic nods to this series. The miniature golf tournament is here and brings with it an English commentator in the style of Peter Alliss. He sheds a tear when Bart and Todd Flanders, having traded windmills, dancing gorillas and a giant Abraham Lincoln, find themselves tied for 18th and declare a tie instead of hitting the other hole. Heartbreaking sportiness. Still, our favorite moment is definitely Ned “praying that no one gets hurt” before the big boys’ showdown.

3) Lisa on ice

Sibling rivalries are explored through ice hockey in this 1994 classic. Bart is the star player of Springfield’s Mighty Pigs and the apple of his father’s eye, until it turns out that book lover Lisa is blessed. with the reflections of Dominik Hasek. The competition between the pair, fueled by Homer’s preferential treatment of whoever is on top, makes Lisa bloodthirsty (her cry of “Cut the bone!” Was inspired by a quote from the real-life hockey goalie Billy Smith). Meanwhile, Bart is so poor at mind games that he cuts off the head of his beloved childhood toy. When he finally faces Lisa’s Kwik-E-Mart Gougers on ice, sibling love wins out. Bart refuses to take a penalty to win the game against his sister and the two skate arm in arm around the rink, much to Marge’s joy and Homer’s chagrin.

Er, Bart gets an education from his sister.
Er, Bart gets an education from his sister. Photography: FOX

4) The Falling Homer

No episode nails as many sports tropes as this 1996 classic on boxing. There’s Luscious Sweet, the scheming promoter featured with the hilariously provocative line of lawsuits: “He’s exactly as rich and famous as Don King, and he looks just like him too!” The writers also couldn’t decide which old-time nickname was funnier for Homer’s official boxer, giving him two. “They called him Brick Hithouse and he’s also known as Southern Dandy,” intons guest star Michael Buffer.

The plot is Rocky’s standard fare. Homer and Coach Moe are boxing bums in dirty bars until Sweet offers them the chance of a lifetime: a fight in Las Vegas against Mike Tyson pastiche Drederick Tatum, fresh out of jail. The Springfield Shopper announced this with the winning headline: “Champ To Whale On Local Man.” Tatum is a perfect blend of grumpy ultraviolence and Tyson’s lisping bombast. At one point he promises to leave Homer’s children orphans (when reminded that they have a mother, he replies: “I imagine he would die of pain”), the next, he recommends sautéed sea bass to a Charlie Sheen in the front row in the middle of a fight. The finale comes early with a nod to Riddick Bowe v Evander Holyfield II, as Moe enters the ring with the Fan Man team to prevent Homer from taking a savage beating.

Champ whales in the local man.
Champ whales in the local man. Photography: FOX

5) Lisa the Greek

Episodes based on Homer-Lisa’s uneven dynamic, in which the cheeky man tries to bond with his child prodigy, are among the best. This one opens with the introductory credits to an NFL broadcast, in which a CGI defensive player beheads a rushing ball carrier. That sets the tone for an episode that lovingly pokes fun at the NFL’s mix of cartoonish glitz and physical violence, but the plot involves both gambling and pro football. Frustrated gambler Homer loses wads of cash to illegal bookmaker Moe until he realizes that Lisa, when drawing on her brain power, is a gambling genius. Heartbreak follows when she realizes that this is the only reason her father spends Sundays with her. The climax comes with Lisa’s advice that if she still loves her father, Washington will win the Super Bowl; if he doesn’t, the Bills will prevail.

Interestingly, this episode first aired three days before Super Bowl XXVI in 1992 and correctly predicted the outcome when Washington triumphed. It’s the first instance of the Simpsons’ alleged ability to predict the future, particularly since the episode was cut short before next year’s Super Bowl, with Lisa this time tipping the Dallas Cowboys, who also prevailed. This was in a more innocent time, before the show infamously predicted President Trump, 16 years before his election. Frankly, the way things are going now, we expect the one-eyed aliens Kodos and Kang to invade at any moment.

A shot from Lisa the Greek.
A shot from Lisa the Greek. Photography: FOX

6) The cartridge family

A cheeky choice, as this is an episode from season nine, the year the show’s golden age unofficially ended, and it’s mostly about Homer buying a gun, rather than a sport. But in the first five minutes, he sublimely cuts through enough perceptions of American football to last a lifetime. The television ad for a friendly between Portugal and Mexico in Springfield is so wonderful that we are surprised Sky did not steal it wholesale. “It’s all here! Quick kicks, low scores, and draws? You can bet! “enthuses the voice-over.

The Simpson family arrives at the game and Pelé (not a guest star) is there to wearily back the Crestfield wax paper from the crowd, before walking off the court with a bag of money. Some skits hit too close to home. The same could be said for the action on the field, which consists solely of Mexican players tediously stroking the ball around the center circle. Boredom and a massive rush to the exits causes what host Kent Brockman labels a “traditional soccer riot” to erupt and then spread across the city. After this, it’s pretty downhill for the episode and indeed the show as a whole for years to come. But damn, if this cartoon did not offer us an excellent sport during its best years.

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