Recap / The Simpsons S1 E1 "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire"

Marge: Isn't Bart sweet, Homer? He sings like an angel.
Bart: (close up) Oh, Jingle bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg. The Batmobile broke its wheel, and the Joker got awa- (cut off)

Episode - 7G08
First Aired - 12/17/1989

"Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" (production code 7G08), also known as "The Simpsons Christmas Special" was the first full episode of The Simpsons ever aired, although it was originally produced as the eighth episode.

After going to the Springfield Elementary School Christmas pageant, Marge asks Lisa and Bart for their letters to Santa. Lisa wishes for a pony, while Bart instead wants a tattoo. When Marge, Lisa and Bart go shopping the next day, Bart slips away to the tattoo parlor and gets a tattoo that reads "mother". Counting on Homer's Christmas bonus, Marge spends the Christmas money getting the tattoo removed. However, at the Power Plant Mr. Burns announces that there will be no Christmas bonus for this year.

When Homer discovers that Marge has spent the Christmas money on removing Bart's tattoo, he decides not to worry the family by making them think that they're might be no presents for the year, and so starts working as a Mall Santa. On Christmas Eve, Bart goes to the mall deciding to harass the fake Santa. When he pulls off the beard he discovers that the Santa is actually Homer.

Homer is paid less than he expected at the end of the day, and is convinced to go to the racing dog tracks. He bets all his money on a last-minute entry called Santa's Little Helper, who then loses. As they leave the track, Homer and Bart see the dog's owner abandon him for losing the race. Bart asks Homer if they can keep the dog as a pet, and Homer reluctantly allows him to. When Homer comes home, thinking he'll have to come clean, the family think that Santa's Little Helper is meant to be a present for the whole family and all is forgiven.

This episode contains examples of:

  • All Girls Like Ponies: Lisa asks Santa for one in her letter.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: This episode has all of the Christmas tropes tangled up Christmas lights, the next door neighbor who puts your lights to shame, crowded malls with over worked Santa’s and bored elves, taking your son to a dog racing track
  • Christmas Episode: An odd example of the Christmas special being the first episode.
    • However, it's only the first full length episode. Shorts had been running on The Tracey Ullman Show for the previous three years.
    • And it was eighth in production order (note how Santa's Little Helper isn't in half the season one episodes) because the actual first episode ("Some Enchanted Evening") had a lot of production problems to overcome in order to air.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Lisa's letter to Santa. She requests a pony six times on her list.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Homer does everything he can to make sure the family has a merry Christmas.
  • Irony: When Bart sits on Homer's lap, Homer announces himself as "Jolly Old St. Nick" in an angry tone of voice.
  • Licked by the Dog: After losing a race, Santa's Little Helper is chased off by his angry owner and jumps into the arms of Homer (who lost all his money betting on him).
    Bart: Aw, can we keep him, Dad? Please!
    Homer: But he's a loser! He's pathetic! He's... (the dog licks him and Homer smiles) a Simpson.
  • Mall Santa: Homer becomes one half-way through the episode in order to help pay for Christmas after he doesn't get his Christmas bonus. Barney is also one, though we never see him in action.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Patty and Selma make their first appearance.
    Bart and Lisa: Dad, we're so glad to see you!
    Homer: Why? (sees Patty and Selma) Oh.
  • Oh Crap!: Having already lost out on his bonus, Homer when he sees that Marge's savings jar is empty.
    "We're ruined. Chrismas is cancelled. No presents for anyone!"
    • And again, when Marge suggests using Homer's Christmas bonus.
  • Refuge in Audacity: How easy it was for Bart to get a tattoo at the mall by claiming he's 21 without showing the store owner any form of I.D. (though that could also be Idiot Ball on part of the tattoo store owner).
  • Shout-Out:
    • The episode's title is a reference to "The Christmas Song", also known as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire".
    • One of the race dogs is called "Dog o' War", similar to the actual racehorse Man o' War.
    • In one scene Bart is strapped to a table with a laser moving towards him, like the iconic scene in Goldfinger.
    • When talking about Christmas miracles, Bart mentions Tiny Tim, Charlie Brown, and The Smurfs.
    • Bart's version of "Jingle Bells" includes Batman.
  • Tempting Fate: Right after Marge comments that Bart "sings like an angel", he sings a Batman-themed version of "Jingle Bells".
  • Wise Beyond Their Years:
    Patty: Where's Homer anyway? It's so typical of the big doof us to spoil it all.
    Lisa: What, Aunt Patty?
    Patty: Oh, nothing, dear. I'm just trashing your father.
    Lisa: Well, I wish you wouldn't, because aside from the fact he has the same frailties as all human beings, he's the only father I have. Therefore, he is my model of manhood, and my estimation of him will govern the prospects of my adult relationships. So I hope you bear in mind that any knock at him is a knock at me, and I'm far too young to defend myself against such onslaughts.
    Patty: ...Mm-hmm. Go watch your cartoon show, dear.