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Recap: The Simpsons S 3 E 1 Stark Raving Dad
Episode - 7F24
First Aired - 9/19/1991

When Homer is declared insane after coming into work wearing a pink T-shirt (that turned pink after Bart put his cap in the wash), he meets a big, bald mental patient who claims he's troubled pop singer Michael Jackson. Meanwhile, Lisa is depressed over her upcoming eighth birthday

This episode contains examples of:

  • But Now I Must Go: Leon Kompowsky at the end after revealing that he's not really Michael Jackson.
  • Comically Missing the Point: During a therapy session, a man suffering from agoraphobia speaks about his experiences. As he talks about the first time being unable to leave the house, however, Homer keeps interrupting him to ask if it was because it was raining or if the car was out of gas. Then he called him a "baby".
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Although Jackson's skin color had already lightened in 1991, people in this episode still refer to Michael Jackson as being black.
  • Evolving Credits: The theme music was re-arranged by Alf Clausen starting with this episode. This version of the theme song is still in use, and the animation (which debuted in Season 2) remained the same until the show went High Definition in Season 20.
  • Forgotten Birthday: Bart forgets Lisa's, which only compounds her loneliness because Marge is preoccupied with Homer's release from the asylum that day.
  • Ha Ha Ha No:
    Homer: So did I pass?
    Mr. Burns: (laughs) No.
  • The Operators Must Be Crazy: The hold music for the asylum is actually the country music standard "Crazy"!
  • The Parody: Homer enjoys an America's Funniest Home Videos-type show where the finalists are the clips "Man Breaks Hip", "Dog on Fire", and "Baby with a Nail Gun". He's rooting for "Dog on Fire"!
  • Pen Name: The real Michael Jackson indeed provided his own voice — and had previously written the song "Do the Bartman" for the infamous 1990 tie-in album The Simpsons Sing the Blues. But he was wary of appearing on a cartoon and in both cases went by the pseudonym John Jay Smith, with the producers legally barred from revealing it was really him. This was later relaxed and eventually, after many years of speculation, proven when the show did a "In Remembrance of.." repeat after Michael died. They're also completely open about it on the episode's DVD Commentary, causing a funny bit where they start talking about the fiasco and note that "apparently" it's okay to say it was Jackson now.
  • Pun-Based Title: The episode title is a play on the phrase "stark raving mad".
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Bart put his red hat in with the whites, making all of Homer's shirts pink. Homer didn't want to wear a pink shirt - not because he considers it unmanly, but because everyone else wears white shirts and he's "not popular enough to be different." His co-workers make fun of him, while Mr. Burns thinks he's up to no good. One psych form later, and he gets institutionalized.
  • Recognition Failure: A twist on this allows the whole plot to unfold — since Homer doesn't know who the real Michael Jackson is and thus wouldn't recognize him if he saw him, he has no problem believing "Michael"'s story. He thought it was cute hearing that Bart knows who he is.
  • Shout-Out: After Homer tells Michael he has no idea who he is Jackson names several things that made him famous like Thriller, MTV, Motown, and "Beat It". Since none of these things ring a bell with Homer he then performs "Billie Jean", including his famous moonwalk dance. Yet Homer still doesn't recognize him.
    • When Homer is scared in the asylum Jackson sings "Ben" for him, which was Jackson's first solo hit. After Homer falls asleep he says to his stuffed animal: "It's going to be a long night, Bubbles." Bubbles was Jackson's chimpanzee.
    • When Bart says he's unable to write a song for Lisa Jackson says: "Hey, when I was your age I had six golden records." A reference to Michael Jackson's early years with The Jackson Five.
    • The madhouse scenes provide shout outs to One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and The Silence of the Lambs.
  • Special Guest: Michael Jackson as "Michael Jackson"/Leon Kompowsky (speaking voice only; credited as "John Jay Smith"); Kipp Lennon as "Michael's"/Leon's singing voice.
  • To The Tune Of: Bart's joke song for Lisa is set to the Colonel Bogey March.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The unbridled excitement surrounding the prospect of the real life Michael Jackson coming to an North American town dates the episode to pre-August 1993. After Jackson was accused of child molestation in '93 and chose to settle the matter out of court, his reputation in the U.S. was permanently soiled, with his increasingly erratic and eccentric behavior overshadowing his fame as a musician. Tellingly, four seasons later Negative Continuity results in Bart (an unabashed fan of Jackson here) telling Milhouse in "Bart Sells His Soul" that Jackson is, like the boogeyman, a fiction that adults use to scare children.
  • The Voiceless: Homer meets a fellow patient — Chief — who's this. He immediately greets him and Chief responds in kind. As the doctors flock around him, he explains that nobody ever bothered to talk to him before, so he never spoke back.
  • When I Was Your Age: Bart says he can't write a song for Lisa, because he's only ten years old. Michael then snaps back (in reference to his Jackson 5 years): "When I was your age I had six gold records!"
  • You Have to Believe Me: The doctors at the mental hospital believe Homer is making up Bart. Marge finally sets them straight.
    Marge: If you would just talk to my husband for five minutes without mentioning our son, Bart, you'd see how sane he is.
    Doctor: You mean there really is a Bart?! Good Lord!

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