Recap / The Simpsons S 6 E 1 Bart Of Darkness
Episode - 1F22
First Aired - 9/4/1994

A summer heat wave's hit Springfield and beating that heat is a challenge for everyone. Hans Moleman gets set on fire after his Coke bottle glasses refract the sun the way a magnifying glass does to ants, Principal Skinner is up to his knees in the original cast of M*A*S*H at the Springfield Wax Museum, and a hippie singing "Sunshine On My Shoulders" on the street gets punched in the face by an angry passerby.

The kids on Evergreen Terrace get brief respite when a travelling pool (driven by Otto) stops by, but soon enough it has to move on. Bart and Lisa, having "developed a taste for" swimming, ask Homer to get them a pool of their own. Not wanting to spend the summer being nagged about the issue, he agrees to it.

Once the family's set up their new above-ground pool in the backyard, the Simpson house is the place to be for the neighborhood kids. Unfortunately, on the first day Bart falls from his treehouse when a Nelson Muntz prank goes awry, and breaks his leg. He is subsequently confined to his room, and, able to see the pool from it, becomes jealous of the newly-popular Lisa. He's also bored out of his mind, and (bitterly) accepts Lisa's offer of her telescope to occupy his time. Spying on the various neighbors, in true Rear Window fashion he comes to believe that Ned Flanders has murdered his wife Maude and buried her in the yard.

When Martin Prince gets an even nicer pool in his backyard, the neighborhood kids desert Lisa's house for his. When she visits Bart, he tells her about Ned and forces her to sneak into his house while he's out and figure out what's going on. When he comes home and it looks like she's in danger too, Bart drags himself over there to save her. But in truth, what Ned buried in the yard was a dead houseplant. (Maude was out of town at a Christian retreat, and she had entrusted the plant to his care. As for the scream that sounded like her getting killed? That was Ned, after he saw that the plant had died.) Meanwhile, Martin's own surge in popularity comes to an abrupt end when his pool is overcrowded by kids and bursts apart.

Of note, this is the first episode since season 1 to debut on Sunday night, in a new timeslot (8 PM/7 central), a slot the show has occupied ever since.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Bad Humor Truck: Downplayed with the ice cream truck that looked normal, but really had no more ice cream; parodied with a rebuilt ice cream truck that only sells Texas-style chili and boiling hot ginger ale.
    Chili! Red-hot Texas-style chili! And we got ginger ale; boiling hot Texas-style ginger ale!
  • Big Brother Instinct: When Bart sees Flanders walking into his house with an axe while Lisa is exploring it for him, he immediately tries to save her. First, he tries calling the police since he can't walk on his leg, he then drags his way there.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: After Homer says, "She's such a fox" in reference to Maude, he changes the line to "What's on FOX tonight? Something ribald, no doubt." At the time the episode first aired, the live-action sitcom Martin had moved to 8:30 pm (eastern standard), and, as elaborated on further in "Bart's Girlfriend," the show was ribaldnote  — though not as much as any other show on the line-up at the time, and that included Married... with Children.
  • Busby Berkeley Number: The Esther Williams variant is parodied as the kids make Lisa the star of the pool.
  • Captain Obvious: When Homer and Bart are underneath the tent that's connected to the fridge, Homer tells Bart, "It's cool in here, boy."
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Martin wears 17 bathing suits at the pool mobile, knowing that bullies will take his. When he brags about it, the bullies take them all instantly. "I brought this on myself."
    • Apparently, the Springfield police have a code for regicidenote .
  • Critical Encumbrance Failure: Martin's pool gets so filled with swimming kids that just one more jumping in makes it explode.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: Nelson pulls the "your epidermis is showing!" joke on Bart, and not only feels the need to explain it to Kearny, he explains it wrong. (He claims "epidermis" means "hair"; it actually means "skin".)
  • Early Installment Weirdness / Old Shame: In-universe: the Classic Krusty reruns (which Krusty doesn't like, judging by his disgusted tone in introducing the episodes) reveal that The Krusty the Klown show was originally a socio-political talk show.
  • Epic Fail: The whole family's first attempt to assemble a pool in their backyard results in them building a steel barn instead.
  • False Friend: The neighborhood kids only befriend Lisa for her pool. When Martin gets a bigger one, everybody abandons her.
  • For Inconvenience, Press "1": Bart's attempt to call the police. He gives up after he accidentally presses the code for regicide and a recorded message tells him which code to push if he knows the victim's name.
  • The Fundamentalist: Maude spent the episode at a bible camp learning to be more judgmental.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Bart getting Grampa tarred and feathered 20 minutes before telling the rest of the family about Flanders' possibly murdering Maude. We don't know what Bart did to Grampa to make that happen.
    • We also don't get to see how Lisa gets out of the pool after being stranded when it empties (though it can be assumed that Marge got her out or she struggled to pull herself out).
  • Sanity Slippage: Bart when he confines himself to his room after breaking his leg.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Ned.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Rear Window. Lampshaded when Bart starts spying on the town and finds Jimmy Stewart, also with his leg in a cast, doing the same thing.
    • The Itchy & Scratchy episode has one to the pilot of Star Trek: The Original Series.
    • To Witness, when the Simpsons accidentally make a barn instead of a pool, it references the barn raising scene. It's even Lampshaded when a random Amish guy shows up to point out Homer's Epic Fail.
      Homer: All right, everybody in the pool!!
      Amish Man: 'Tis a fine barn, but sure 'tis no pool English.
      Homer: DOH'ITH!!!!
  • Sincerity Mode: Homer sounds sarcastic near the end of the episode but he was being serious.
    Bart: Oh. Well, I guess that explains everything.
    Homer: Not everything! There's still the little matter of the whereabouts of your wife!
    Maude: Um, I'm right here.
    Homer: (in a sarcastic-sounding tone) Oh, I see. Then everything is wrapped up in a neat little PACKAGE! (everyone looks at him) Really, I mean that. Sorry if it sounded sarcastic.
  • Tempting Fate: Bart assumes he can just spend the whole summer watching Krusty. At which point Krusty announces he's going on vacation and showing boring re-runs.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: When Lisa becomes popular, she decides she doesn't need her brain anymore. It returns when everyone leaves for Martin's pool, mostly to gloat.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Homer and Marge have one late at night, but are interrupted by the police, who tried surveillance.
    Chief Wiggum: ''Do not be alarmed! Continue swimming naked! Aw c'mon, continue! C'mon!...Open fire, Lou."