My Sister, My Sitter
couch gag: The Simpsons are on a boat, wearing raincoats. A large wave comes up and the family disappear.
Director: Jim Reardon
Synopsis: Inspired by pre-teen babysitting novels, Lisa forms her own babysitting business and winds up babysitting Bart and Maggie while Homer and Marge are at a waterfront party.
Discussion: This is a well-crafted episode which features moments of clear realism along with Simpsons-esque weirdness. What happens when you let a child babysit your other children? When the other kid is Bart, you know you’re in for a night of trouble. Bart, being a jerk, injures himself and Lisa, fearing her position as a responsible babysitter, takes Bart to a confidential clinic but things go awry and they end up at the very same squid port where Marge and Homer are celebrating the new revamp.
In terms of plot, this is a strong episode. It focuses on the relationship between Bart and Lisa, while also cementing Bart’s aversion to authority (previously seen in other babysitting episodes, such as Ms Botz from season 1 and grad student Ashley from season 6). Lisa does exactly what one expects Lisa to do, and Bart goes above and beyond what is expected of him as the babysittee.
Two things about this episode: 1) It features Eye on Springfield, which is a great little “local” show, quite often serving as a narrative point. In this case, it’s how Marge and Homer find out the squid port is now a revamped tourist area. 2) In the scene where Lisa takes Bart to Dr Nick’s clinic, she asks Smithers if he would mind if they went ahead of him. He replies he’d really rather get “this” taken care of. It’s only just occurred to me why Smithers is standing… Eww.
Some Enchanted Evening
I will not yell “Fire!” in a crowded classroom.
Couch gag: The family sit down normally and nothing happens.
Directors: David Silverman and Ken Butterworth
First Appearance of:
Bill Pie (Pie in the Sky radio traffic announcer).
Synopsis: Marge is feeling unloved and unappreciated by Homer and calls a radio therapist for advice. Homer hears the broadcast and turns to Moe for advice. Homer arranges a romantic dinner and overnight stay at the Off-Ramp Motel… but they’ll need a babysitter for the kids. Enter Ms Botz, whom is later identified on America’s Most Armed and Dangerous as being the Babysitter Bandit. Lisa and Bart apprehend her but Homer unties her and allows her to escape, believing she is the victim of another classic Bart Simpson prank.
Discussion: This episode has a long backstory, which I won’t go into here. Suffice to say it had a few issues which were largely resolved by the time of broadcast. There are some continuity errors, such as Barney’s hair is blonde as it was at the beginning of the series.
I’ve only just realised that Penny Marshall voiced Ms Botz (I know, a little slow on the uptake) and she does a fantastic job playing a thieving psychopath.
The main theme with the episode is again, the marital troubles between Homer and Marge. It’s a recurring theme throughout the first season (and occasionally, every other season as well) but this is a reflection of Groening’s desire for The Simpsons to be “real”. This is the last episode of the first season and in total, we’ve seen 3 episodes (out of 13) that feature marital problems between Homer and Marge (for the non-math geeks out there, that’s 23% of this season’s episodes- almost a quarter). So there’s a real issue going on here; it’s most definitely not a perfect family living in a perfect house in a perfect town. Other TV shows at the time didn’t really focus on marital problems the way The Simpsons did. It was probably deemed too uncomfortable for conservative audiences or something. But anyway, Homer and Marge always sorted out their problems within the half hour timeslot, ready for another episode ‘next week’. And that’s just the way it should be.