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Recap / The Simpsons S11 E9 "Grift of the Magi"

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A Christmas Episode in which Springfield Elementary blows its already-small budget on ramps to accommodate the wheelchair-bound Bart (who broke his coccyx while jumping on Homer's bed in drag), but the school ends up bankrupt and shut down after Bart is cured and after Principal Skinner discovers that the construction workers are mob-connected...and a toy company buys out the school and turns it into a focus group to create the next "must-have" Christmas gift.


  • Aluminum Christmas Trees:
    • Krusty wishes his audience "a Merry Christmas, a happy Hanukkah, a 'kwazy' Kwanzaa, a tip-top Tet, and a solemn, dignified Ramadan." Because Islam runs on a lunar calendar, it is possible for Ramadan to coincide with the other December holidays, and it actually did in 1999 when this episode aired.
    • Many fans see Gary Coleman's job as a security guard as another aspect of his Cloud Cuckoolander character. In reality, Gary Coleman did work as a security guard, which was brought to the public eye the previous year when he assaulted a fan that kept pestering him.
  • Amusing Injuries: When Dr. Hibbert diagnoses Bart with a broken coccyxnote , this prompts the family to laugh at him for a few seconds.
  • As Himself: Gary Coleman as a security guard.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Lisa falls victim to this trope, from getting detention for doing math to being brushed off by people who want Funzo in spite of its dangerous method.
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  • Christmas Carolers: Bart and Lisa do this in order to battle an evil corporation. Kid First Industries releases a new toy, Funzo, that is programmed to destroy all other toys kids get for Christmas. Lisa and Bart go from door to door singing carols as a way of distracting the families while Homer steals the toys (dressed as Santa Claus, of course).
  • Confusing Multiple Negatives: Bart's stance on Springfield Elementary after Kid First Industries bought it?
    Bart: Alls I know is I'm gettin' straight A's, and that ain't not bad.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Gary Coleman. He called up a Chinese food place to complain about his "Galaxy of Prawns" order... despite the phone not being plugged in. He then "gets" a call from the President.
  • Epic Fail/Blatant Lies: Moe suggests to quell the money woes of the school that they sell liquor and says he's doing great by it, yet he wears Wonder bread bags for shoes.
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  • Exact Words: The Kids First Industries representative defends his company's actions by pointing out that all the profits for Funzo will be going to children. "We're all somebody's children" after all.
  • False Reassurance: When Principal Skinner told the students they no longer had to worry about The Mafia threatening them for money, it was because they already have it (and the school ends up bankrupt as a result).
  • Funny Background Event: While Bart and Lisa go caroling at various homes, Homer dressed as Santa goes into their homes to steal the Funzos, but run into trouble when the Hibberts' dog attacks him.
  • Hero of Another Story: Mr. Burns and Moe both had their own offscreen adventures, going through Yet Another Christmas Carol and It's a Wonderful Plot respectively.
  • Humiliation Conga: Bart suffers this early in the episode; aside from breaking his coccyx on a bowling ball while dressed in drag and the family laughing at him for doing so, he also has to endure lying in a sling, having to wear a "fanny cast" for his butt, having a team of interns watch this happening and for Dr. Hibbert to explain that the cast has a "viewing window" (which he removes) as the interns take notes and one even murmurs that he should exercise more.
  • I Lied: Bart says even though his homework assignment under the Kids First administration is easy (bringing his favorite toy to class), he's still not going to do it. The next scene, however, shows he brought his Krusty doll to school anyway.
  • Ignored Expert: Flanders comes up with a great idea about selling the old motorhome of his he doesn't use to help pay to keep Springfield Elementary open, which Homer shoots down immediately. Even Marge and Skinner agree about this, calling it a terrible idea.
  • Ironing: Bart points this out in regards to Lisa having to write "I will not do math in class." on the chalkboard after class.
    Lisa: The word is "Irony".
    Bart: Huh?
  • It Makes Sense in Context: One such summary of the episode, which appears in a tie-in episode guide book:
    "Bart gets injured playing dress-up and is temporarily wheelchaired."
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: When Lisa leads Chief Wiggum to the broom closet where she found the Kid First surveillance room and prototype Funzo, she discovers that it has been converted back into an ordinary broom closet. Lisa continues to insist the room was there, but Wiggum sarcastically replies, "And I'm Ed Sullivan." He then does a good impression of him (after a false start, that is).
    Homer: Ugh, is this going to be like one of those horror movies where we open the door and everything's normal and we think you're crazy, but then there really is a killer robot and the next morning you find me impaled on the weather vane? Is that what this is, Lisa?
  • Noodle Incident: As explained by Homer, who is trying to determine the number of past Christmases:
    "Let's see, this will be three Christmases I saved, versus eight I ruined...two were kind of a draw..."
  • No Sympathy: What's Skinner's reaction to seeing Bart falling to the ground after trying to get into the school on a wheelchair? Scold him for fooling around.
    • However, it's implied he was unaware that Bart was actually crippled.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bart when he and Milhouse are dressed in drag and Homer, outside the bedroom, tries to open the locked door. This causes him to fall off the bed and land on a bowling ball. Ouch.
  • Opening Shout-Out: When Lisa is caught doing math while brainstorming a name for a toy, we see her Writing Lines in a shot very similar to the opening sequence, complete with the camera panning in through a window. Compare the real opening with the imitation.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Special Guest: Tim Robbins as Jim Hope, Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony and Clarence Clemons as the narrator.
  • Swapped Roles: Lisa's punishment for doing math in class? Bart's usual punishment: writing on the chalkboard. Bart himself arrives to comment on the ironing.
  • Take That!: When Gary Coleman catches Homer, Bart, and Lisa destroying the Funzo toys.
    "Well, well, well. If it isn't the biggest rip-off since Webster."
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Gary Coleman after being conned and mocked throughout the episode ends up spending Christmas with the Simpson family.
  • Villain Has a Point: Kid First Industries actually had the right idea in getting kids to design a toy. What better way to know what the consumer wants than asking them directly? However, their method of doing so, taking over a school and substituting a proper education and tricking the kids into doing the work, was wrong.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The two executives from Kid First Industries just disappear after the third act.
  • Worst Aid: Why does Dr. Hibbert use the defibrillator on Bart's ass? "It's good for the batteries."


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