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Recap / The Simpsons S 12 E 2 A Tale Of Two Springfields

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"Look, Lisa! Daddy's in The Who!"

Original air date: 11/5/2000

Production code: BABF-20

When the Springfield Phone Company introduces a second area code, Homer, angry over being forced to remember three new digits, notices that the people who still have the original area code are all part of the affluent part of the town, and rallies every citizen who were given the new code into dividing the city between Old and New Springfield. Tensions mount as the divided Springfield spirals into town rivalry overnight, and the struggles only get worse as The Who is supposed to be stopping by for a performance.

Tropes appearing in this episode

  • Actor Allusion: The members of The Who are particularly pissed at Homer and Bart trying to trash their hotel room, alluding to the notorious history of them performing this act themselves which famously got them banned from Holiday Inn for life.
  • Animated Actors: Spoofed. Homer tries to ask the character in an educational film a question. Lisa tries to explain to him that he's not real, but he tells her to be quiet.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: invoked The angry, defiant Who songs Homer lists include "Won't Get Fooled Again," "My Generation" (which fit the description) and "(Mama's Got A) Squeeze Box" (which the bandmembers admitted is a joke song, "squeeze box" being a slang term for breasts).
  • Art Imitates Art: Homer standing up to speak at the town meeting is framed to resemble the Norman Rockwell painting "Freedom of Speech."
  • Artistic Licence – History: Parodied.
    • Homer apparently followed The Who back when they were The Hillbilly Bugger Boys (of course, this could just be Homer being Homer).
    • Krusty tells Sideshow Mel about how he opened for The Who at Woodstock.
  • Artistic License – Law: When Springfield gets a new area code, half of the town is forced to switch to the new one. In real life, when a new area code is introduced in a city or particular location (i.e. a certain area of a state), customers retain their original number, but are now required to dial the area code as well when making a phone call.
  • Bad Ol' Badger: Homer is attacked by a badger who has taken over Santa's Little Helper's doghouse. At the end of the episode, a horde of badgers descend on an unsuspecting Springfield.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Homer goes to get "liquid persuasion" for The Who to come to New Springfield, which is implied to be alcohol, but turns out to be chloroform. Then while sneaking into the hotel to find The Who, their security guard grabs Homer and Bart and leads along a hallways before throwing them through a pair of double-doors yelling "Here's your Who!!" While it looks like he's bouncing them out of the hotel, he's actually bringing them to their hotel room (in a humorously aggressive way). And Homer then tries to bribe the Who into playing on his side of Springfield... with the chloroform.
  • Body Horror: Despite Homer only sticking his head into the doghouse, the Badger that attacks him somehow manages to tear off the flesh and muscle on his belly!
  • Bowdlerize: When Homer tries to blow up the dynamite and it does not work, he chastises Bart for the wiring to which Bart replies "it worked on the test corpse", but the closed-captions say "test goat". This was likely changed for the same reason as the "dynamite cat" scene in "The Front", to avoid referencing animal cruelty in a comedic manner.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The badger from the first act reappears at the very end, leading an army of other badgers to attack Springfield.
    • Homer finally uses chloroform the right way when Marge protests against him blaming her for his crazy idea.
  • Call-Back: When Homer gives The Who a list of songs he wants them to play, they point out they're mostly Grand Funk Railroad songs. The Season 7 episode "Homerpalooza" reveals that Homer is a huge Grand Funk fan.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Marge laments how the people in Olde Springfield are their neighbors and that they see each other every day. Homer's solution? Build a wall to block them from their sight. Later, Homer brings a bottle of chloroform with him when he tries to sneak into The Who's hotel room... and offers it to the security guard in exchange for him letting them in.
    • Homer keeps insisting that the area code change was just dumped onto the citizenry all of a sudden even after Carl and Lenny mention that the city did everything to warn them in advance for the last few months, including dropping leaflets from a balloon and a training camp.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Homer gets a bottle of chloroform to apparently kidnap The Who. He instead tries to bribe their bodyguard with it.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Among other stuff, The angel skeleton from "Lisa the Skeptic" and the Olmec head from "Blood Feud" are part of the wall dividing New and Olde Springfield.
    • Homer's being a major fan of Grand Funk Railroad, established back in "Homerpalooza", is referenced again here when he tries to get The Who to play a bunch of their songs.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: As Roger Daltrey mentions, the whole area code situation could have been fixed if everyone bought phones with speed dial.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Homer doesn't like the new area code, so he attempts to blow up city hall. During a town meeting. With a suicide vest. He also is the one that orders the wall to be built. The rest of the Springfield citizens don't get away clean, either, treating their literal neighbors like invaders from a foreign country if they have a different area code.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: While listening to the radio, Homer hears the two DJs make a crack about Joan Collins being in town when a mattress on the freeway causes a traffic jam. He laughs and exclaims to himself "Joan Collins?? That girl sleeps with everybody!!"
  • Dreadful Musician: Homer tries to demonstrate how "Pac-Man Fever" "...plays itself" by grabbing Pete Townshend's guitar and strumming some random noises on it as Townshend and Roger Daltrey exchange glances.
  • Even the Dog Is Ashamed: After Homer reveals that their resources have been cut off due to the wall, almost everyone in New Springfield immediately cross over the wall for Olde Springfield, including the badger that took over Santa's Little Helper's doghouse. And then a tumbleweed goes over the wall too.
  • Facepalm: Bart does this after Homer gives the guard a bottle of chloroform instead of knocking him out with it.
  • Fantastic Racism: Some stuff in act two really drives this home, with Apu charging Marge an "out-of-towners tax".
    Marge: I don't know why, but I just didn't feel comfortable until I was back here in New Springfield with my own kind.
    Lisa: (aghast) Mom!
    Marge: They were looking at me, with their eyes.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: The angry mob does this to Homer during his off-key performance of "Pac-Man Fever".
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Who's bodyguard that confronts Homer and Bart when they try to sneak in angrily replies that if he wants to see The Who when Bart asks to meet them, grabs them and goes "well, here's your Who!" after shoving them through a door (in a way that makes it look like he had kicked them out)... then Daltrey and the others get angry because the guard dumped the Simpsons on their green room and it's made clear that he's done that repeatedly. The guard's response is sarcastically reply that "sure, I got fired by The Who" and walk out of the room doing the typical "that guy is cuckoo" finger-near-ear motion (so he's essentially calling the whole band crazy).
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": After Homer accidentally leads Olde Springfield to gold, Kent Brockman thanks him, saying "Thanks to you, we're all taking golden showers now". His crew are heard chuckling from offscreen while he asks what's so funny.
  • Hypocrite: Apu discriminating against outsiders is pretty damn rich coming from a guy who wasn't even living in the US legally for the longest time, and who was in turn on the receiving end of prejudice when Springfield underwent a wave of anti-immigration policy. Doubly so when the person he's shown discriminating against is Marge, who helped him achieve proper American citizenship.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Homer addresses the town meeting by saying that he's not one to make trouble... with dynamite strapped to his chest.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: When Lisa informs Bart that stoats don't come in cans, Bart attempts to invoke this trope by holding up a random can to her, only to have it backfire on him when Lisa immediately identifies it as a can of corn.
    Bart: Must you embarrass me?
  • Involuntary Smile of Incapacitation: Marge sports a dazed smile after Homer chloroforms her.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    Kent Brockman: (on TV reporting about New Springfield) And while we speak in a well-educated manner, they tend to use lowbrow expressions like "Oh yeah?" and "C'mere a minute."
    Homer: Oh yeah?! They think they're better than us, huh? Bart, c'mere a minute!
    Bart: You c'mere a minute!
    Homer: (shaking his fist) Oh yeah?!?!
  • Kent Brockman News: As seen in the above quote, Kent can't hide his disdain for New Springfield.
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title is a reference to A Tale of Two Cities.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: is a real URL. It formerly led to a Flash item about info on badgers, but then redirected to the Simpsons official website and later the Fox site.
  • Logo Joke: We hear phone disconnection sounds during the Gracie Films logo.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Although Homer screams plenty while the badger is attacking him, he goes back to calm the moment it's over. He's not even panicked over the gaping hole in his abdomen.
  • Make Room for the New Plot: Parodied and subverted. The badger in Santa's Little Helper's dog house is immediately forgotten about once the issue of the areas codes comes into play. Homer even shoos it away when it tried to get his attention in the next scene, and it can later be seen scaling the wall between Ye Olde and New Springfield, then again at the end, leading more badgers to attack the town.
  • Mayor of a Ghost Town: Bart deems Homer the Trope Namer on the third act, when everybody else on his side of Springfield has left.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The badgers are visibly European badgers instead of American ones.
  • Never Heard That One Before:
    Krusty: I opened for The Who at Woodstock. I came out in a Beatle wig with a ukulele. Hendrix said he almost plotzed. His exact words.
    Sideshow Mel: Oh, I never tire of THAT story.
  • Never My Fault: After everything is back to normal, Homer tells Marge "[her] insane experiment is over" and chloroforms her just before she can bitch him out about it.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: An act of vengeance against Olde Springfield ends up making its rich citizens slightly richer when Homer drains their lake, revealing gold underneath. Later, he reduces New Springfield to a ghost town when his dividing wall cuts the city off from all of its resources.
  • Number of the Beast: Discussed by Carl when evaluating the new 939 area code compared to their old 636 area code:
    Carl: I'm not sure which one's better. The "6" is closer to the "3", so you got convenience there, but the "9" has less to do with Satan, which is a plus in this religious world of ours.
  • Posthumous Collaboration: At the band's request, The Who's long-deceased drummer Keith Moon is animated with the rest of the then-surviving members during their concert.
  • The Power of Rock: An especially rockin' performance of "Won't Get Fooled Again" brings down the dividing wall.
  • Product Placement: Parodied.
    • The Who concert is staged at Springfield's "historic" Yahoo Search Engine Arena.note 
    • Humorously avoided when Bart's "novelty flying disk" gets stolen by the bullies.
    • Roger Daltrey recommends that everyone in Springfield buy speed dial telephones at Radio Shack, though Pete Townshend seems to disapprove.
  • Reduced to Ratburgers: After the wall is built, Homer tells the citizens of New Springfield that it has cut them off from necessary resources in Olde Springfield and begins to read a list saying "The following breeds of dog are edible." He doesn't get to say much though, as the citizens quickly bail on him and climb over the wall.
  • Reverse Psychology: The school bullies steal Bart's Friz- er, novelty flying disk, then his pants, when he's on their turf. Bart tells them that his homework is as well and they immediately steal it... and do it.
  • Rule-Abiding Rebel: The members of The Who, not wanting to lose their pool priveleges, are quite annoyed at Homer and Bart trashing their hotel room in the name of rock n' roll.
  • Rule of Three: After New Springfield is abandoned, Homer punches out a storefront window to get some hot dog links to eat. When Lisa points out he cut his hand punching the window, Homer punches out a second window for a bandage to wrap his hand around. After Homer gets the idea to have The Who perform at New Springfield, he punches out a THIRD window to get some chloroform.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: The citizens of New Springfield quickly abandon it for Olde Springfield when Homer reveals that all of their hospitals, schools and food supplies have been cut off due to the wall. Soon it's just him, his family and the tumbleweed... until the tumbleweed crosses the wall too.
  • Serious Business: Apparently, The Who's handshake agreement with their concert promotor is a sacred bond.
    Roger, Pete and John: (in unison) Sacred bond...!
  • Shout-Out
    • Todd's woodpecker, which Bart tries to feed to the badger, flies away while laughing like another, more well-known cartoon woodpecker.
    • Homer's Imagine Spot of being the mayor of New Springfield spoofs the title sequence for The Rifleman.
    • There are, of course, many references to The Who as well: the "file photo" of Homer and his friends sitting on a stoop spoofs the band's cover of Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy.
  • Silly Reason for War: Who would have thought that memorizing a new area code would cause the town to implode the way it does? The members of the Who, who eventually solve the problem by telling everyone to get speed-dial phones, seem rather disgusted and only agree to finish their show if the wall gets torn down.
  • Special Guest: The Who as themselves, of course. Plus Frank Welker as the badgers.
  • Take That!: While "New" Springfield "...[sits] back and waits for an NFL franchise."
    (a businessman approaches Homer, who's sitting in a lounge chair)
    Businessman: Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear. I represent the Arizona Cardinals and-
    Homer: Keep walkin'.
    (the businessman walks sadly away as Homer innocently whistles)
  • Tempting Fate: After the Olde Springfielders decide to retaliate for Homer stealing their WHO concert by using a catapult to fire flaming missiles into New Springfield, their first shot misses and hits the Tyre Yard Fire, prompting Homer to laugh and taunt that they can't hit anything. The next shot is a direct hit that sets him on fire (fortunately for Homer, Roger Daltrey quickly puts him out with a water bottle).
  • Too Dumb to Fool: While Everybody else bought the telephone company's animated film, Homer questions it on the grounds that the company made the film on purpose.
    Lindsay: Well, of course we did.
    (shocked gasp from the crowd)
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Upon finding out about the new area code, Homer decides to call everyone he knows and tell them about it. However, when he picks up the phone and hears the "please dial with area code" tone, he immediately forgets it and curls up into a ball.
  • Visual Pun: The grass in Olde Springfield is literally greener.
  • Waxing Lyrical: When the citizens of Olde Springfield hear "The Seeker" playing from across town, revealing that Homer has stolen their Who concert, Moe angrily quips "That fat, dumb and bald guy sure plays some real hardball!"
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The town is split into two area codes — 636 and 939, which serve Missouri and Puerto Rico respectively and are over 2,000 miles apart.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: The side of Springfield with the old 636 area code declare themselves Olde Springfield.