Recap / The Simpsons S 1 E 8 The Telltale Head

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Episode - 7G07
First Aired - 2/25/1990

Cornered at the town square by a pitchfork and torch-wielding mob, Bart tells the rioting townspeople the story of how he stole the head of town founder Jebediah Springfield to impress some local thugs, Dolph, Jimbo Jones, and Kearney.

This is one of four episodes series creator Matt Groening has a writing credit on.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Is the Lincoln Memorial just a statue!? Is the Statue of Liberty just a statue?!"
  • Divergent Character Evolution: The first glimpse of Smithers' affection towards his boss.
    [after Bart puts the head back on the statue]
    Mr. Burns: I love you, Smithers.
    Smithers: The feeling's more than mutual, sir.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Sideshow Bob appears in this episode briefly on Krusty's show.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The statue of Jebediah Springfield does not have his motto, "A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man," engraved on it. The motto itself would not debut until Season 7.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney may be petty thugs, but when they hear that someone defaced the statue of Jebediah Springfield, they want to bash his face in, explaining that what they said about wanting to deface the statue themselves was just "cloud talk".
    • It may be a case of Early Installment Weirdness, but Mr. Burns — the Charles Montgomery Burns — actually cries at the sight of the headless statue and joins the angry mob in retaliation.
    • Sideshow Bob is among those seen smiling in gratitude after Bart restores the head to the statue. (Granted, at this point he hasn't undergone his Start of Darkness yet.)
  • Five-Finger Discount: Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney make off with a bunch of stuff from the Kwik-E-Mart while Bart is buying Squishees from Apu. Dolph even uses the trope-naming euphemism.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: When Homer was Bart's age, he "pulled a few boners" (in this context, a "boner" is a slang term for a mistake, not a Raging Stiffie. The "mistake" definition of "boner" is not used much these days).
  • Hearing Voices: A guilt-ridden Bart hears Jebediah Springfield's voice in his head when he buries the statue head in the backyard.
  • Heaven: Discussed in Bart's Sunday school class. Bart stumps the teacher by asking her who/what will be there.
    Bart: Um, ma'am, what if you're a really good person, but you're in a really, really bad fight and your leg gets gangrene, and it has to be amputated. Will it be waiting for you in heaven?
    Teacher: For the last time, Bart, yes!
    (later...)
    Teacher: (exasperated) The ventriloquist goes to Heaven, but the dummy doesn't. (Bart raises his hand) Bart?
    Bart: What about a robot with a human brain?
    Teacher: (frazzled) I don't know! All these questions; is a little blind faith too much to ask?!
  • Heel Realization: Homer has one when his advice to Bart (being cool is the most important thing in the world) backfires on him after Bart reveals he was the one who cut off the statue head. Though in his defense, he had no idea why Bart wanted advice.
  • In Medias Res: The episode begins with Bart and Homer carrying the statue's head and being chased by the angry mob. After they're cornered, Bart convinces the townspeople to allow him to explain How We Got Here.
    • The use of the latter trope is parodied when, after Homer agrees to come with Bart to put the head back on the statue, the opening sequence repeats until the mob interrupts the story, saying they already know that part.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: This is the first appearance of Sideshow Bob. His design is way off in his first scene.
  • Insult Backfire: Bart refers to Kearney and Jimbo as "the worst kids in school", prompting the latter to eagerly reply, "Thanks!".
  • Last-Second Word Swap: In church, Homer's listening to the football game on headphones. Homer's football team scores, causing Homer to jump up and shout, "It's GOOD! It's GOOD!" The whole congregation stares at him, and he adds more, "It's... good to see you all in church". Nobody buys it.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Marge takes away Bart's headphones before heading into church. When she's not looking, Homer swipes the headphones for himself and listens to them in church.
  • Limited Animation: In the third act, when Marge says, "Homer...", her mouth only has two unique frames: Open and closed. And it only opens and closes once, whereas a double syllable word like "Homer" should've at least opened and closed twice.
  • Medium Awareness: Bart tells the mob his story will take 23 minutes and 5 seconds to tell. note 
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Bart says, "Oh, what have I done?" after sawing off Jebediah's head.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Marge holds Homer responsible for inspiring Bart of his popularity advice that caused him to commit the crime in the first place. She also called him out for setting a bad example earlier in the episode.
  • Off-Model: When Sideshow Bob appears in the middle of the episode his hair is a giant red afro. At the end of the episode it's in its normal palm-tree style.
  • Special Edition Title: Downplayed in that the Title Sequence had Bart fall past the screen during the "Created By/Developed By" part (due to the Couch Gag having Homer force Bart out of the couch).note 
  • That Cloud Looks Like...: One of the things Bart, Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney do.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: First appearance of the Springfield Angry Mob, when they chase Bart and Homer with the head down the street.
  • Trilogy Creep: Space Mutants 4: The Trilogy Continues
  • Whole Episode Flashback

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Recap/TheSimpsonsS1E8TheTelltaleHead