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Recap / The Simpsons S 10 E 22 They Saved Lisas Brain

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Original air date: 5/9/1999

Production code: AABF-18

After a riot breaks out at a local gross-out contest, Lisa writes an open letter to the town about the people's lack of intellectualism, which captures the attention of the local MENSA chapter, who end up running the town after Mayor Quimby disappears. Meanwhile, Homer "wins"note  a chance to pose for erotic pictures as a gift to Marge.


  • Adam Westing: Stephen Hawking plays himself as an egotistical, handicapped, badass genius with a souped-up wheelchair.
  • Ambiguous Syntax:
    Skinner: Might I have a peek at your Gazebo reservation form?
    Lenny: Beat it.
    Skinner: (chuckles) Yes, well, we each have a strong case.
    Carl: What part of "beat it" didn't you understand?
    Skinner: I guess it would be the "it", I'm not exactly sure to what that refers... (a beer can hits his head)
  • Artistic License: The "real" Stephen Hawking couldn't "talk" as fast as he does here if his life depended on it; it took him about five minutes or so to input a complete sentence into his synthesizer. While he gives his I.Q as 280, in real-life tests had put Hawking at 160 which is below Comic-Book Guy's (self-professed) I.Q, though Hawking was still gifted at the same level as Einstein and moreso than the majority of people in real life.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Barney at the gross-out contest. He goes onstage, drinks a whole six-pack of Duff, and burps. The audience cheers and he gets scored pretty high for it, but that wasn't what he wanted to do. He was apparently going to juggle chickens, before getting shooed offstage. Ironically, he probably got a better score than if he had juggled chickens.
    • The contest prize itself was this as well. The commercial said first prize was a trip to Hawaii but when the contest actually happens, the announcer says the destination is Hartford, Connecticut.
      Otto: I thought it was Hawaii!
  • Couch Gag: The family moves through shallow water and sit on the couch. Afterwards, an iceberg passes by and the couch sinks vertically like the Titanic and the family clings for dear life as it goes under. Maggie resurfaces on a couch cushion with a remote in her hand.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Comic Book Guy so much so that he causes Frink's sarcasm detector to blow up.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Before Frink announces his idea of banning "barbaric sports", to include almost any kind of sport, he gains the town's approval with a decision to ban bullfighting and cockfighting, indicating that even Springfield's idiotic citizens disapprove of them.
  • Extendo Boxing Glove: Skinner and later Homer learn the hard way that Hawking has one in his wheelchair.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Hawking is portrayed as one here, his wheelchair being equipped with things such as a spring-loaded boxing glove, collapsible - and functional - helicopter blades and jet thrusters for making the chair fly, and a robotic claw for saving Lisa from the collapsing gazebo.
  • Handicapped Badass: Stephen Hawking.
    Hawking: If you're looking for trouble, you've found it. *knocks Seymour out with a spring-loaded boxing glove*
  • A House Divided: Springfield's MENSA members eventually begin butting heads over what the perfect Springfield should be like.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After the talent show:
    Homer: Look, I got runner-up prize!
    Lisa: You won second place?
    Homer: No, but I got it! (walks out, but pokes his head back in) Stealing is wrong.
  • Insufferable Genius: The Springfield members of MENSA.
    Dr. Hibbert: When are we gonna get to my broccoli juice program?
    Comic Book Guy: Quit butting in, please. Your IQ is a mere 155 while mine is a muscular 170. (singing to the theme of Star Trek: TOS)'' I am smart, much smarter than you, Hibbert!
  • I Resemble That Remark!: When Wolfcastle declares himself the winner of the gross-out contest, an infuriated Lenny accuses him and the rest of the judges of taking his dignity...while wearing a urinal costume.
  • Jerkass Ball: Marge grabs this during the stupidity contest. Lisa is clearly unhappy being there, and when Marge asks if anyone forced her to go, Lisa reminds Marge that she did. Marge then tells her no one's stopping her from leaving, but the second Lisa gets up Marge grabs her and says she's not going anyway.
  • Logo Joke: This was one of the episodes that repeated characters' lines for the Gracie Films logo.
    Homer: Larry Flynt is right! You guys stink!
  • The Metric System Is Here to Stay: When MENSA starts changing the town, one of the things they do is have the trains run on metric time.
    Skinner: Remember this moment, people: Eighty past two, on April 47th, it's the dawn of an enlightened Springfield!
  • Mistaken Confession: When MENSA meets with Mayor Quimby to reform gazebo reservation laws.
    Skinner: The jig is up, Quimby.
    Quimby: Oh, God!
    Hibbert: (holding a book) When you see what's in this report, things are going to change in this town...
    Quimby: I earned that lotto money, I swear!
    (Quimby frantically presses a button, summoning the bodyguards to put folders through a shredder and put that shredder through another shredder, while he exits the room.)
  • Mundane Made Awesome: How MENSA gets people to show up for jury duty:
    Moe: (reading jury duty notice) "You have been chosen to join the Justice Squadron, 8 a.m. Monday at the Municipal Fortress of Vengeance." Oh, I am so there!
  • Nerds Are Virgins: During Springfield Mensa's proposals.
    Comic Book Guy: Inspired by the most logical race in the galaxy, the Vulcans, breeding will be permitted once every seven years. For many of you, this will mean much less breeding. For me, much, much, more!
    Groundskeeper Willie: Ye cannae do that, sir! Ye don't have the power!
  • Noodle Incident: Homer's line about playing a "non-traditional" Santa, which got him in trouble with the neighborhood block association for public indecency.
    • Whatever corrupt actions Mayor Quimby assumed the MENSA chapter had uncovered. "I earned that lotto money, I swear!"
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: When Homer gives Marge his erotic pictures, she's more turned on by the fancy decor in the backgrounds than Homer's body.
    Marge: (impressed) That's our basement? (...) It looks so elegant. And all it takes are some lace curtains and a beaded lampshade. You've got to show me exactly what you did!
    Homer: But I was gonna score!
    Marge: No you weren't.
  • Partially-Concealed-Label Gag: Lisa sees Reverend Lovejoy driving the "Book Mobile" and she advises him to get Fahrenheit 451. Later, as the van moves away from the branch hiding part of the vehicle, this car read the slogan "Book Burning Mobile".
  • Powder Keg Crowd: During the gross-out competition, a stray urinal cake hits Krusty, to which he angrily replies, "A URINAL CAKE?! You, sir, have crossed the line!" A riot soon breaks out afterwards.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Stephen Hawking's daughter Lucy knew one of the show's writers at the time, so he got written into the episode.
  • Recognition Failure: Homer initially mistakes Hawking for Hustler founder Larry Flynt, who, like Hawking, is also wheelchair-bound (only Larry Flynt was paralyzed from an assassination attempt).
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Rainier Wolfcastle dubs himself the gross-out contest's winner "for being seen with you freaks." Naturally, the participants don't take this well, and it helps spark the riot.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Special Guest: Stephen Hawking, whose appearance on this show (and later Futurama) has made him more famous than his studies. How ironic, considering the episode makes fun of intellectualism vs. anti-intellectualism and how people seem to love lowbrow entertainment more than highbrow entertainment.
  • Super Wheelchair: Stephen Hawking's wheelchair is portrayed as this, having numerous built-in gadgets like a helicopter propeller, a toothbrush, and a spring-loaded boxing glove.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Dr. Hibbert's reaction to Chief Wiggum's refusal to help them.
    Hibbert: Why do we live in a town where the smartest have no power and the stupidest run everything?
  • Take That!: Professor Frink's refers to the phenomenon of an intellectual joke being funny to one person out of a million as "The Dennis Miller Ratio."
    • Springfield rises from being the 300th to 299th most livable city, beating East St. Louis. Other cities on the low end of the list are the fictional Ebola, Rhode Island, Dawson's Creek, North Carolina, and the non-fictional Flint, Michigan.
  • Thing-O-Meter: Professor Frink builds a "sarcasm detector", which explodes after some particularly choice sarcasm from Comic Book Guy.
    Comic Book Guy: Ooh, a sarcasm detector. That's a real useful invention.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The list of top cities explicitly avoided giving a location, instead calling Springfield "Springfield, USA" even though every other city on the list had a statecode. It isn't in Alabama, since Dr. Hibbert explicitly says "Maybe I should just move back to Alabama." Nor is it Connecticut, since KBBL's Bill and Marty say that the gross-out contest's grand prize was "a free trip to Hartford, Connecticut", not simply "Hartford".
  • Wiper Start: When Hawking first tries to activate his wheelchair's flight mode, he presses the wrong button, causing an arm with a toothbrush attached to it to pop up and start brushing his teeth.
  • With Us or Against Us: In the climax, it's the smart people (MENSA and Stephen Hawking) vs. the dumb people, who make up the majority of Springfield. During the riot, Carl says, "Let's make litter out of these literati!" Lenny suspiciously remarks, "That's too clever, you're one of them!" and punches him.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Lisa would've been seriously maimed and beaten by the angry town if Stephen Hawking hadn't stepped up to save her.