Even if this wasn’t intended to become a list, you could call this a countdown of my ten favorite Simpsons episodes. #10 was “Homer’s Enemy” from Season 8, and #9 was “Homer Goes to College.”
Next on this list is what would be #8 on my list: “Lisa on Ice.”
Obviously, spoiler alerts ahead.
One reason why I love this episode is that we get to see Lisa, often seen of as the logical one of the family, go through her own challenges and forced to grow. While she’s usually enraptured in academia, she realizes that sports have their own artistry and magic to them. Additionally, like the previous one, it’s exceptionally hilarious.
The episode opens with Kent Brockman’s newscast predicting outlandish things (“President Reagan dyes….his hair”) before asking for the death count from a killer snowstorm. Currently, it stands at zero. The meteorologist also admits he’s an aspiring comedian, so his credibility is already in question. Bart is unable to see past this obvious facade, and thinks that he’s able to avoid a book report due the following day. Waking up the next morning, Lisa smacks him with a snowball. He’s intent on getting revenge…except instead of snow, there is an unseasonably warm day. Lisa made the snowball from leftover ice in the freezer. Bart is now stuck.
Mrs. Krabappel announces that the book reports will be done from the letters A-M. Except that it’s by first name, so Bart has to give his. Fortunately, Bart is bailed out by an announcement over the intercom.
“Attention, this is Principal Skinner, your principal, with a message from the Principal’s Office. All students please proceed immediately to an assembly in the Butthead Memorial Auditorium. (Under his breath, he says) Damn it, I wish we hadn’t let the students name that one.”
Once in the assembly, Skinner mentions that lower test scores have led him to try a new solution. Only Martin Prince, the class bookworm, seems to like it. Ralph Wiggum’s name is called first (“I won! I won!!!“). Any joy Ralph feels is quickly tempered. He’s failing English. Ralph’s response is below.
Ralph’s response to this is legendary. Video courtesy of YouTube.
School bully Nelson Muntz is called up next. He’s failing history, geography, and math. But one topic he is doing surprisingly well in is home economics. Of course, he doesn’t want anybody to know that. Everybody is shocked when Lisa is called next. She wonders what she’s failing – she calls herself smart and a teacher’s pet. As it turns out, she’s failing gym class. She refuses to believe it but can’t throw the wadded up paper in the trash can.
Back home, Marge mentions that Lisa should do better. Meanwhile, Bart has an entire stack of the same slips, which Homer signs, and rewards him for it (largely for not trying to forge Homer’s name). The gym teacher agrees to pass Lisa if she joins a sports team outside of school. Lisa is reluctant to do so, but doesn’t want her perfect record affected. She tries volleyball, but her spiky hair deflates the ball accidentally, which is the only one they have. She also has trouble dribbling a basketball. Lisa is legitimately terrified that she’ll get her first “F” in her academic career. Marge rebukes her, telling her that sports aren’t that important. Homer enters, and of course, disagrees.
Homer’s competitive side comes out in this episode. Video courtesy of YouTube.
Having mentioned that some parents push too hard, Lisa finds out that her own dad is like that with Bart on the way to a pee-wee hockey game. He semi-jokingly threatens to kill Bart if his team loses. Fortunately, his team, the Mighty Pigs, does win. Homer keeps another end of a perverse “bargain” he made with Bart: “Here’s your turtle, alive and well.” Unfortunately, there is one down side. Chief Wiggum, the coach of Bart’s team (and Ralph’s father), mentioned that he bet on the other team, so they won’t be going out for pizza. The kids dejectedly drop their heads.
The other team, the Gougers, coached by Apu, has lost their goalie (Milhouse) to injury. They even tie him to the goal with ropes, but it doesn’t work. Lisa refuses to congratulate Bart and he furiously starts shooting trash at her with his hockey stick. Lisa blocks it and Apu notices it. He begins to notice this. He fires a shot at her with little warning. She catches it with one hand. Apu tries a second shot, to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Now carrying Bart’s stick, Lisa smacks the puck back the other way, which knocks out two of Milhouse’s teeth. Apu recruits her for the Gougers.
In her first game, Lisa is terrified at the shot of facing a hockey puck shot at her. Bart and Homer watch from the stands and laugh at her, despite Marge’s protestations. But Lisa is actually good at playing goaltender, and her team wins.
Lisa as a hockey goalie. Photo courtesy of http://www.simpsons.wikia.com.
Homer rewards her by letting her sit in the front seat of the car on the way home, rather than Bart. Lisa wants to do it because of his love for her, not because she’s good at sports. But Homer claims it is about the sports. Over the next few games, Lisa has her moments of fear, but after a while, she begins to overcome them and becomes angry and aggressive. She begins to embrace the idea of stopping goals. In some ways, she becomes better than Bart. Milhouse wonders if Bart will subsequently be better than her academically now. Bart does become more willing to participate in class, but he doesn’t get a single answer right. Nelson beats him up in the hallway for “wasting teacher’s valuable time.” Lisa stands up to them and they lay off Bart. But Bart is getting laughed at. Even Milhouse would rather hang out with her for protection (and in his own words, “to be seen!”).
Lisa and Homer begin spending more time together, and Bart feels excluded. Marge offers to spend more time with him, but she’s worse at sports than Lisa is. As bratty as Bart can be, he does have a little bit of a confidence shake-up in this episode that shows his more human side.
Also, though, it does show some of Homer at his worst. His competitive streak takes over, and he can’t find room in his heart to reward both. With Lisa doing better, he says that practicing with Bart was a waste of time – right to his face. Even Marge seems to reward Lisa more, giving her extra hugs right before bedtime. But Bart can’t reconcile that.
Returning to her room, Lisa finds Bart waiting for her. He shows how he’s ripped the head off of a stuffed rabbit called Mr. Honey Bunny. But Lisa reminds him it was his cherished childhood toy. Bart freaks out, trying to repair Mr. Honey Bunny, kissing the head and trying to jam the head back on. Bart and Lisa begin making motions, Bart with his arms and Lisa with her legs, with both claiming it’s their own fault if they get in the way. This leads to a big fight. Suddenly, Homer bursts into the room, saying that Bart’s team is facing off against Lisa’s team. “You’re in direct competition!” And Homer encourages them to be competitive. He wants them to fight for his and Marge’s love. As well-meaning as he usually is, this episode shows how difficult it can be to support kids on opposing teams, and why a lot of kids feel pushed.
The entire town seems to be caught up in the fever. Bartender Moe randomly stops by the Simpsons’ house during dinner time. He claims that he’s just saying hi to Homer, but he mentions that he is $64,000 in debt from gambling losses. Marge ushers him out despite his protests.
Bart and Lisa trash-talk each other before the game, and Marge has taken the head of Mr. Honey Bunny and wears it as a good luck charm. This leads to a brawl before the game has even started. Homer tries to cajole Marge into favoring of the kids, but she can’t choose between them and mentions that he wouldn’t like it if they did the same to them. Bart and Lisa both skate over and acknowledge her, but not Homer. He doesn’t seem to notice or care.
The game starts, following a disastrous attempt by Krusty the Clown to sing the National Anthem (he doesn’t know the words). Bart scores early in the game, and Homer claims he loves him more. Then Lisa stops Bart later in the game and Homer changes his mind. Marge brings him beer and he changes his mind again. Late in the game, with the score tied 3-3, and only four seconds left, another school bully named Jimbo trips Bart with his stick. Even Marge is furious.
“I demand vengeance! I want vengeance!” Photo courtesy of http://www.simpsons.wikia.com.
Bart earns a penalty shot. Homer turns to Marge and says one of the kids will be showered with cheers and praise, the other will be hissed and booed – most of it coming from him. Both sides try to persuade their respective player to win as well; Bart and Lisa can’t remember when it was fun.
Bart skates up but begins flashing back to nice memories he and Lisa had together – taking cookies from the jar, and she helping him bandage a scraped knee after falling off a skateboard. Lisa has the same memories from the goal mouth: Bart making shadow puppets is one. She also remembers how he helped her stop crying by sharing part of his ice cream cone after hers fell off. They both drop their equipment and embrace. They wish each other a great game, and the game ends in a tie as the buzzer runs out. Most of the audience is furious and starts a riot, including some of the local inmates that were released by Chief Wiggum (he wanted a crowd, so he promised that they didn’t have to come back if they promised not to commit any more crimes, which they of course don’t agree to, but he relents anyway). Marge is proud of both of them, but Homer is crying disgustedly, calling both of them “losers.” Bart and Lisa skate off as the audience continues rioting. All differences aside, their bond as brother and sister is still more important to them than hockey.
Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.
Although Homer has some of his worst moments in this episode due to his hyper-competitiveness, it actually makes the story very compelling this way. Also, I liked how he never got over it in the end. It’s assumed he learned his lesson later, but it’s a great example of parents that push their children too hard. Lisa and Bart just want to play, and not be distracted by anything. The adults seem to let them down throughout the episode, even with something minor like Chief Wiggum betting against his own team. Plus, it opened Lisa’s mind and boy to a new endeavor, and hopefully got her to appreciate the magic of sports a little bit more.
References and Sources