Episode - 9F12
First Aired - 2/4/1993
After soccer practice, Bart waits patiently to be picked up by Homer. And waits and waits, as Homer has forgotten about it and pays no attention to Marge's reminder. When he finally remembers, hours have passed, it's long since started raining, and Bart is bitterly awaiting him at the field.
Homer thinks the whole matter should be brushed off ("We could argue about who forgot to pick up who until the cows come home"), but this only makes Bart madder. Later that night, while watching a crappy episode of Tuesday Night Live
(hosted by Krusty the Clown, who makes the already moribund sketch show even worse with his crummy jokes), Bart sees a commercial for kids who need a father figure in their lives and makes a phone call, declaring that he doesn't have a father. The next day, he comes by the office, dressed as a Brooklyn orphan and tells his heart-wrenching story of how his alcoholic, gambling addict father abandoned him one day, leaving the poor boy to fend for himself.
Bart starts spending happy days with Tom (voiced by Phil Hartman), a good-natured guy who believes Bart's sob story of Parental Abandonment
. Homer eventually finds out Bart's secret, and when a confrontation culminates in Bart admitting he prefers Tom's company, Homer sets out for revenge...by becoming a Bigger Brother himself.
Homer is matched with Pepi, a street urchin who is grateful for Homer's attention. But he decides to take him on an outing to the Seaquarium at the same time that Bart and Tom are there. Tom is not happy to see the man who "abandoned" Bart, and the adults wind up brawling; eventually the police break up the fight. With the truth about Homer in the open, Tom decides to become Pepi's new Bigger Brother while Homer and Bart reconcile over how surprisingly capable Homer was in the brawl.
In the B-plot, Marge discovers that Lisa has become addicted to the expensive 1-900-number "Corey Hotline" (enjoy a different message each day from Teen Idol
Corey!) and eventually forces her to go cold turkey by challenging her to go one night without calling it. Lisa does pick up the phone by night's end...but goes no further than the time-and-temperature number, and Marge is satisfied to see her daughter's willpower.
This episode contains examples of:
- Amusing Injuries: Homer suffers a lot of these near the end of the episode.
- Body Horror: Bart's Imagine Spot of Homer's face melting.
- Call Back: Bart and Tom watch an episode of Ren and Stimpy, while later Homer and Pepe mirror this by watching an episode of The Itchy and Scratchy Show together.
- Comically Missing the Point: Homer forgets to pick up Bart after school, even when he hears the word "Bart" repeatedly around him.
- Creator Backlash: According to the DVD Commentary, almost everyone on the staff hated this episode—to the point where James L. Brooks was alleged to have shown it to then-upcoming showrunner David Mirkin and said, "We don't want anything like this."
- The jokes about Tuesday Night Live being lame and unfunny are this to the writers of The Simpsons who used to be on Saturday Night Live (George Meyer, John Swartzwelder, Conan O'Brian, and Jon Vitti, all of whom worked on the show during its 11th season, which had such a disparate cast and bizarre writing that didn't appeal to anyone that the show nearly got canceled for it).
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Homer catches Bart coming home after his time with Tom, he is at first aggressive but then tries to get Bart to remember the fun times they had, like when he pushed Bart on the swing. Bart coldly replies, "I was faking it." Homer, aghast, shouts, "Liar!" Bart teases him: "Oh yeah, dad? Remember this? Higher, dad! Higher!" Homer is deeply hurt and runs out shouting, "STOP IT!" Obviously, this whole bit is a euphemism for faking orgasms during sex.
- I Have No Son: Inverted. Bart calls the Bigger Brother program and says he doesn't have a father, then poses as an orphaned street rat whose father abandoned him.
Bart: My name is Bart Simpson, and I don't have a father.
- Imagine Spot: "Now how 'bout a hug?"
- Also Homer has one in which he finally goes to pick up Bart from soccer practice, only to find a spiky-headed skeleton.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After driving Homer from the room by claiming he faked enjoying the fun times he had, Bart lowers his head sadly. He's also deeply apologetic after Homer's fight with Tom ends badly.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Homer calls Pepe "Pepsi" at one point.
- Naked People Are Funny: When Homer finally remembers to pick up Bart, he leaps out of the bathtub to get to the car without bothering to put on clothes first. Fortunately, he shows up fully dressed.
Lisa: Dad, hide your shame!
Ned: (off-screen) Hey, Homie, I can see your doodle!
Homer: (off-screen) Shut up, Flanders.
- Never Trust a Trailer: Original promos for this episode suggested this was a going to be a serious, dramatic episode, with Bart saying "Tom's a better father than you ever were!", followed by a shot of Homer crying. In the actual episode, Homer was crying after confessing that he fell for a record and tape club scam that promises the first couple albums for a penny before jacking up the prices.
- While Bart waits for Homer, the wind begins to pick up and a nun is sent flying as a result.
- Milhouse writes "Trab Pu Kcip" on a mirror when Bart tries to psychically project a message to Homer.
- Homer compares a Dumpster-dwelling hobo to Oscar the Grouch.
- Bart and Tom watch Ren and Stimpy on TV. They actually got the show's artists to do the layouts for the scene.
- The scene where Homer confronts Bart after returning from having fun with Tom is taken from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
- Special Guest: Phil Hartman as Football Commentator, Nelson's Dad, Tom, and the Tuesday Night Live Announcer
- Take That: Bart watches Krusty guest-hosting an episode of Tuesday Night Live, which is so bad that Bart remembers the days when Joe Piscopo was on the show. At the time, most critics were claiming that Saturday Night Live was going into another period of Seasonal Rot due to bad host choices and thin sketches with one-note characters note . The writers on the DVD commentary claimed that this was more of a backhanded Affectionate Parody, as most of The Simpsons writers on the show at the time got their start on SNL and left because they pretty much used their time on the show for extra money and a stepping stone for bigger and better projects.
- Taxonomic Term Confusion: Homer does this twice. He learns Pepe wrong constellation names and claims that Tom's correct explanation that dolphins are mammals is actually untrue.
- Unintentional Period Piece: By the Turn of the Millennium, 1-900-numbers fell out of fashion, so this episode's B-plot may seem alien to those who were too young to remember them.
- What Could Have Been: Tom Cruise was supposed to play Tom.