Episode 16 - Bart the Lover
11 January 2011
Synopsis: A Yo-yo troupe inspire the children of Springfield to go Yo-yo crazy. Bart's antics land him in detention for a month where he learns of Mrs Krabappel's desire for a man. He decides to respond to her personal ad as a prank and arranges a date. When he sees her sadness he asks his family for help in making her feel better. Meanwhile Ned Flanders asks Homer to try and cut down on his cursing.
The Good: There is a really feel-good tone to this episode. It's more subtle than some of the show's attempts at happy endings have been. Perhaps it's because Homer and Bart learn their lessons in an organic way that really makes you smile.
Bart is a child and so doesn't understand Edna's loneliness as he constructs his prank. But he understands tears and when he sees what he has done to her he learns his lesson instantly. For once Bart is fully redeemed because he understands that a prank isn't fun when it causes genuine sadness. So he turns to his family for help, again the right thing to do. The best part of this is that Marge realises telling the truth isn't the best solution. So instead of humiliating Edna, the family work together to write her a letter which might spare her feelings. The scenes of the family working together were a nice unrelated development. A simple demonstration of bonding which added to the warmth of the conclusion.
The writers give us a nice overview of Edna's life with her lonely grocery store and garage visits, her conversation with Miss Hoover and explaining why none of the men at the school were viable options. The letters Bart wrote were put together in a really fun way. He would use his detention time to learn what Edna would like to hear and then we got to see her reading them putting an imaginary masculine voice to his words. This led to several amusing moments as Bart quoted a drunken post card from Homer and assured her that he (Woodrow) hated Yo-yos.
Homer had quite the episode for silly lines. His drunken post card went along with his insistence that writing "p.s. I am gay" would help finish off the final letter. He also took offence at Marge's helpful suggestion that the dog needed a dog house by suggesting "You're a tool of the dog house makers." He learnt his lesson about not swearing in a montage of predictable situations but it was quite effective at bringing in the cash for the dog house (through a swear jar) and showing him that he could change his ways.
The Bad: I suppose the family should have still punished Bart for his prank.
Best Joke: There were lots of low level fun moments without any jokes to steal the show. The opening scenes contained an old fashioned video about the importance of zinc which implausibly contained a thwarted suicide attempt. Funnier was probably Homer telling Bart to go apologise to Edna and admit the truth. When Marge tells him that would humiliate her he very believably grumbles "Oh Marge! I only said it because I thought that's what you wanted to hear."
The Bottom Line: A rather sweet episode allowing us to get to know Bart and his teacher a little better.
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