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Recap / The Simpsons S14 E12 "I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can"

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Airdate - February 16, 2003

Lisa gets involved in the seedy world of spelling bees while Homer follows around fans of Krusty's latest sandwich.

Tropes featured:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Skinner admonishes the children for laughing at Milhouse misspelling the first letter of "choke", but quickly admits that the laughter is infectious.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Lisa attempts to spell 'intransigence' instead of taking a dive. She ultimately loses, allowing George Plimpton's preferred champion Alex to win.
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  • Bitter Sweet Ending: Even though she loses the spelling bee, Springfield still honors Lisa for being the greatest success to come from Springfield and carves her head into a nearby mountain.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Lisa lets out a Homeresque "Woo-hoo!" after Skinner announces that the school is holding a spelling bee.
  • B-Movie: Bart watches Frankenstein and the Harlem Globetrotters... Meet the Mummy and the Washington Generals. Unfortunately, he doesn't get to see the full movie since Ray Romano sues to keep it from being shown.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Averted:
    Kent Brockman: In business news, 3M and M&M have merged to form, get this: Ultradyne Systems!
  • Brutal Honesty: When Principal Skinner mentions during school assembly that he was maître d' at the Springfield Country Club, Jimbo Jones tries to insult him:
    Jimbo: My dad says you were a bus boy!
    Skinner: You mean your dad, the raging alcoholic? (cue Jimbo shrinking back while the rest of the kids, bullies included, stare open-mouthed in shock)
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  • Catapult Nightmare: Lisa has a nightmare where she's pressured to take the bribe. She wakes up screaming, which causes Marge (in the next bed) to also wake up screaming.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Alex, the kid who competes against Lisa and ends up winning the Spellympics. It's actually a plot point and why George Plimpton wants him to win the contest — to boost the popularity of spelling bees by having a charismatic champion. Alex is a smart boy who wears big black round glasses, a red bowtie and a baseball cap backwards. He has a speech impediment, replacing "l" and "r" sounds with "w" sounds. Lisa refers to him as the "boy that everybody loves" and Plimton calls him crowd-pleasing and cute.
    George Plimpton: Women in the audience toss their thick glasses at him.
  • Epic Fail: Milhouse's attempt at the spelling bee.
    Skinner: Alright, Milhouse, your word is "choke".
    Milhouse: I know this one, it's so easy. F... OH MAN!
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  • Exact Words: The Ribwich commercial claims the sandwich is made from "letter-graded meat." It never specifies which letter.
  • G-Rated Drug: Homer becomes addicted to the Ribwich. It's no coincidence that the scene where he eats his first one is a Shout-Out to Requiem for a Dream.
  • Honor Before Reason: Lisa vocally turns down the generous bribenote  she was offered to throw the spelling bee and attempts to win. She ends up losing naturally and thus gets absolutely nothing.
  • Instant Fan Club: Marge is impressed that Lisa has her own cheering section. Homer notes he also has one, consisting of Lenny, Carl, and Moe.
  • Jerkass: George Plimpton tries to bribe Lisa to take a dive so Alex can win. He intentionally rigs the finals, makes it impossible for Sun Moon to win and mocks Lisa for losing the contest. And he gets away with everything.
  • Milestone Celebration: Parodied with the episode proudly declaring itself the 301st episode.
  • Morton's Fork: Sun Moon is eliminated by one when George Plimpton intentionally makes it impossible to tell if he's using "weather" or "whether", stressing both when she asks for usage in a sentence. His finger hovering around the buzzer makes it clear he would've failed her regardless of which one she picked.
  • Mystery Meat: Krusty has to announce that they had to stop making the Ribwich since they drove the animal it came from to extinction. The meat didn't come from cows or pigs.
    Krusty: You're way off! Think smaller. Think more legs.
  • Nutritional Nightmare: The Ribwich is so unhealthy that there is a scene where we see barbecue sauce flowing in Homer's bloodstream. The Ribwich has a label with Krusty saying "Will Cause Early Death".
  • Old Shame: The KBBL Booberella show Matine of Blood and Commercials shows Frankenstein and the Harlem Globetrotters Meet the Mummy and the Washington Generals starring a young Ray Romano. The broadcast stops as Booberella warns that Romano sued for a temporary injunction for stopping them from showing the movie, and that they will fight the injunction as they show something else.
  • Retroactive Recognition: In-Universe by George Plimpton, the host of the Spellympics:
    Plimpton: I also played the evil Dean in Boner Academy.
    Homer: You Monster! Why did you expel Boogerman?!
    Plimpton: He replaced my tennis racquet with a rubber phallus.
    Homer: (laughs) That was awesome.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: When Homer learns about the Ribheads and the Ribwich tour:
    Homer: Maybe I should hook up with you guys. After all, how long do any of us have to live?
    Ribhead: Well, if you like the Ribwich, not very. (holds up a Ribwich box with a warning label for early death)
    Homer: D'oh!
  • Running Gag: "And a hot plate!"
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Lisa gets second place in the Spellympics and is hailed as a winner in Springfield - after all, second place makes her "the biggest winner this town's ever produced". Heck, because she lost honorably instead of taking a bribe to take a dive, they fashion a sign that says: "2 good 2 be #1."
  • Spelling Bee: The main plot of the episode.
  • Tempting Fate: Milhouse is given the word "choke" to spell. After brushing it off as an easy word, he started spelling with an 'F'.
    Milhouse: Oh man!
  • Testosterone Poisoning: The commercial for the Ribwich frames the creation of one like industrial metalwork, with a cow tossed into a furnace to be melted down and cast molded into rib shape.
  • Throwing the Fight: Lisa is bribed to take a dive so Alex could win. She is about to do it until Homer arrives to cheer her on, but ends up misspelling 'intransigence' and loses.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Kent Brockman reports on Lisa getting into the Spellympics before discussing the destruction of Paris.

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