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Recap / The Simpsons S 11 E 20 Last Tap Dance In Springfield

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After seeing a film about a shy, bookish, Spanish girl who becomes a tango dancer's partner in a contest, Lisa begs Marge to let her take tango lessons, but ends up taking tap lessons from a former 1930s child star modeled after Shirley Temple and tries to hide the fact that she's terrible at tap from Homer and Marge. Meanwhile, Homer gets laser eye surgery and Bart and Milhouse hide out at the mall after Nelson announces that he's going to summer camp with them.


  • Aborted Arc: Homer's laser eye surgery and eyes crusting over subplot comes to an abrupt end after he's tricked into driving Kearney and the other bullies trick him into buying them cigarettes and Jack Daniels by Kearney impersonating Marge's voice. By his next appearance, his eyes are back to normal.
  • Anti-Mentor: Vicki is a dance instructor who expects her students to get by with almost no actual instruction. This is on top of being a tremendous Jerkass who uses the class to relive her glory days, showing no regards to her students' wellbeing (she made sure they smiled during a show by stapling their mouths in place), and openly demeaning her less gifted students.
  • Anvil on Head: Wiggum gets it when going "a million-to-one" with the giant mousetrap. The first lion the cops let out does the exact same thing but to presumably more fatal results.
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  • Bait-and-Switch: In "Tango de la Muerte":
    Coach: As your wise but alcoholic dance coach, I know that somewhere your father is looking down on you and smiling. Oh, there he is!
    (father waves from balcony)
  • Bowdlerise: Vicki's line after discovering Lisa's shoes ("I'm ever so pissed") is sometimes cut out on television and follows on with Lisa apologising.
  • Chekhov's Gag: There's an entire bit focusing on Chief Wiggum setting off a cheese-baited mouse trap rigged to a suspended anvil in an attempt to catch the mall rat. After a scene where Professor Frink helps out Lisa, Wiggum releases a mountain lion to hunt down the rat... and the lion immediately goes for the cheese. Cue Anvil on Head.
    Lou: Should I get the backup lion, Chief?
    Wiggum: Would you?
  • Credits Gag: The entire ending credits sequence was done in the style of old-time movies.
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  • Cutting the Knot: Lisa's automatic self-tapping shoes go haywire, and soon Lisa is out of control. Almost everybody flees except for Marge and Homer, who saves the day by tripping Lisa.
    Lisa: Whew! Thanks, Dad.
    Homer: I didn't think, I just acted.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: During "Tango de la Muerte", a Milhouse-esque character says after being dejected, "Que malo. Once again, I must sugar my own churro."
  • Dirty Communists: Referenced:
    Lisa: But my parents are counting on seeing me dance. And I've worked ever so hard.
    Vicki: I'm sorry, Lisa, but giving everyone an equal part when they're clearly not equal is called what again, class?
    Girls: Communism!
    Vicki: That's right. And I didn't tap all those Morse code messages to the Allies till my shoes filled with blood just to roll out the welcome mat for the Reds.
  • The End: The episode ends by cutting away to a "The End" title card right as Homer is about to get electrocuted by a weasel ball toy.
  • Exact Words:
    Vicki: You've just got to turn that frown upside down!
    (Lisa smiles)
    Vicki: That's a smile, not an upside down frown! Work on that, too.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Bart writes "I 8 PP" on Homer's eye test, which he reads ("I ate pee pee.").
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: The shy librarian in Tango de la Muerte turns out to be beautiful when she takes her glasses off.
  • Hidden Depths: Ralph Wiggum turns out to be the best student in the class.
  • Hypocrite:
    • Lisa initially criticises the Tango Dancer's choice of partner until said partner shares Lisa's name.
    • Vicki yells at Marge "Don't live through your child!" when that's clearly what she's doing with her students.
  • I Can't Dance: Subverted in that Lisa is terrible at tap. However, it's implied that she could have been much better at it if she got some more specialized instruction than the rote "tappa tappa tappa" method Little Vicki used.
  • I Like Those Odds: Police Chief Wiggum asks Lou the odds of seizing cheese from a trap before the anvil falls on him. Lou says the odds were a million to one, and Wiggum says the trope name word-for-word.
  • Instant Expert: In one of Vicki Valentine's old movies, she claims she can't dance, but is able to instantly copy her butler's advanced tap dancing.
  • Involuntary Dance: Lisa's automatic self-tapping shoes go out of control when the audience at her recital applauds, and she can't stop dancing.
  • It's All About Me: Vicki Valentine, as she is still intent on throwing herself behind everything. Even the curtain pulling.
    Vicki: No one upstages 'Little' Vicki! (growls)
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As snooty and condescending as Little Vicki is, she is right that Lisa isn't able to tap dance and to not put her in the play.
  • The Last Title: The name of the episode.
  • Le Parkour: Lisa ends up doing this once her tap-dancing shoes go out of control.
  • Logo Joke: The Gracie Films Vanity Plate has the logo moving up to show the cat in the old Little Vicki movie rubbing it is eyes. (This was the only visual change to the Gracie logo for a Logo Joke until Season 28's "Looking for Mr. Goodbart".)
  • Magic Feather: At the very end, Frink tries to make Lisa feel better by saying that his tap-dancing shoes were deactivated, prompting Marge to tell her It Was with You All Along. Then Homer (in typical Jerkass Innocently Insensitive fashion) brings Lisa's dawning hopes down when he then says that the shoes were active and shows everybody the switch as proof.
  • My Little Panzer: When Lisa arrives to Dr. Frink's home asking for help, Frink shows her a weasel ball toy and says like a Mad Scientist that he will make it a weapon. The last scene of the episode is Homer noticing the toy running around and bending to grab it while Frink yells to not touch it... Smash to Black with sounds of high voltage and Homer screaming in pain.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Vicki is not only based on Shirley Temple, but the butler in her old movie is based on Bill "Mister Bojangles" Robinson.
  • Noodle Incident: Vicki Valentine mentions that she once ruined Buddy Ebsen's credit rating. When asked why she would do that, she says Buddy knows why.
  • Retool: The Cyborganizer does this in the first episodenote , much to Homer's dismay.
  • Shirley Template: Little Vicki, of course.
  • Shout-Out: Tango de la Muerte has some similarities to Strictly Ballroom.
  • Show Within a Show: The Cyborganizer, as well as an old Little Vicki movie an envious Lisa watches.
  • Special Effects Failure: In-universe; the old "Little Vicki" movie Lisa watches has Vicki's sick cat Powderpuff react to Vicki suddenly being able to tap-dance by rubbing its eyes in disbelief with obvious fake prop arms held offscreen. This is shown again during the Gracie Films logo at the end.
  • Special Guest: Frank Welker as the lions Wiggum lets out in the mall.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The Bait-and-Switch moment were it looks like Vicki is going to get Lisa to sub for the star of the show when Ralph gets sick at the last second, only for her to ask Lisa to help her (Vicki) into Ralph's costume. Vicki didn't think Lisa was good enough to play any part in the show to begin with, so she isn't going to let her sub for the star of it.
  • Tempting Fate: Bart and Milhouse note that one advantage of spending a week at the mall instead of camp is not having to hear "stupid camp songs". Then they pass by "Stan's Keyboards", where a man at the store is singing an advertising jingle based on "If You're Happy And You Know It".
  • Too Dumb to Live:
  • Tricked-Out Shoes: Lisa tries to perform in her class's recital with a pair of automatic self-tapping shoes. Unfortunately, they were designed by Professor Frink and end up going haywire.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Homer's laser eye subplot stopped with him blinded by his eye crust and taken to the liquor store by Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney (with Kearney driving and pretending to be Marge). It's never brought up again nor do viewers see what happened when Homer tried to buy Jack Daniels and cigarettes for the trio. Next we see, Homer is at the dance recital, and his eyes are fine.
    • It's never explained how Bart & Milhouse got out of the mall, since the plot disappears after the puma eats the ball.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Homer leads the audience in giving Lisa standing ovation for her performance, causing her self-tapping shoes to overload and go crazy. In his defense, nobody knew she was wearing them.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: After Lisa gets her Tricked-Out Shoes, she asks Vicki for a spot in the recital other than operating the curtain. Little Vicki tries to discourage Lisa, but then Ralph gets sick from eating the plastic candy props for the recital. Vicki declares that only one person can fill in the leading role left by Ralph, so she turns to Lisa, and asks her to... help her into Ralph's costume.


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