Episode 14 - Lisa the Greek
5 January 2011
Synopsis: Lisa is frustrated that Homer pays her no attention. Marge suggests she watch the football with him and they manage to bond. Lisa has the uncanny ability to pick the winners successfully and Homer loves to gamble. Homer uses his winnings to spoil his family and all seems well. However Homer agrees to go out with Barney on the Sunday after the Super Bowl and Lisa realises he only spent time with her for the money.
The Good: This is a really enjoyable episode. The exploration of Homer and Lisa's relationship is terrific and the satirical humour sparkles throughout leaving no target un-mocked.
Homer's selfishness is presented in a very relatable fashion. He is once more primarily interested in his own vices. He is happy to share them with Lisa but doesn't think much further than that. He does genuinely enjoy the time they spend together and he does buy her thoughtful gifts but his real joy is in his gambling and snacking.
It's a balanced story because Lisa understands that they have little in common and doesn't want to throw away what they have developed. But she knows that love bought isn't real and so her morality forces her to test Homer's devotion to her. In the end it's quite the lovely moment when he forgoes bowling to take her hiking to Mount Springfield instead.
In the meantime the jokes come thick and fast, never hilarious but consistently entertaining. Homer begins to display the classic foolish thinking which has made him a pop culture icon when he feels heart burn and announces that "a little beer will put out that fire!" Lisa also explains that the last activity she shared with her father was a burping contest which she outgrew. Even in triumph at winning back his daughter's love Homer exclaims "Money comes and money goes but what I have with more daughter can go on for eight more years!"
Meanwhile the football provides a heavy dose of opportunity for satire. Two pundits announce their best picks of the week complete with a giant lock for one and a big shoe for the other to add some colour. Homer concludes that "they both make a good case." The Coaches Hotline scam was also funny as he charged by the minute to reveal the likely winners and then talked at a snail's pace much to Homer's bemusement. The Super Bowl ramps the satire up with Troy McClure on hand to plug his new sit com. When asked why he decided to do the show he replies "Well I fell in love with the script Bret and my recent trouble with the IRS sealed the deal!" The silliest line was spawned by the commercial showing the "Duff Bowl" where two brands of the beer competed in a fictional game. The drunks at the bar cheered Duff Dry's victory and Moe solemnly comments "They wanted it more."
The Bad: Nothing much. It's interesting that this episode comes fairly quickly on the heels of "Lisa's Pony" (308) which had a very similar theme. The producers are still basing most stories around simple family dynamics at this point. I don't think in this case that it's a drawback because this is a better episode and is different enough not to feel like a repeat.
Best Joke: Nothing stood out as too hilarious but this exchange was pretty amusing. We have reached the playoffs and the announcers comment on it being five degrees below zero yet one loyal fan is in the stands in nothing but a g-string with the team colours painted on his body. "He doesn't look to happy" Jimmy Apollo comments and the other announcer replies "Well maybe the paint has shut off his pores and he's slowly suffocating still that is a real fan!"
The Bottom Line: Lisa's ability to pick the winners of football games was a fun concept in itself. She's been established as the wise and brainy member of the family and this ability doesn't stretch credibility (as common sense and luck could play a part). It does lead to an easy to follow story and lots of accessible gags. This was one of the best morality plays we have seen from the show so far as it hit on a very relatable story and was drenched in humour.
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