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Recap / The Simpsons S 14 E 3 Bart Vs Lisa Vs The Third Grade

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Original air date: 11/17/2002

Production code: DABF-20

Bart and Lisa end up in the same third-grade class after the latest standardized test shows that Lisa got the highest grade and gets to skip ahead while Bart got the lowest grade and has to repeat third grade.

"Bart vs Lisa vs The Third Grade" contains examples of:

  • Adults Are Useless: Mrs. McConnell not only refuses to help Lisa when she is being ridiculed by Bart, but she outright condones his actions.
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  • Big Brother Bully: Bart spends the episode as this towards Lisa. She calls him out on this, as he's supposed to protect her from horrible things, not bring them to her.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Despite cheerfully introducing her new students, Mrs. McConnell is quite a nasty person and makes Miss Hoover and Mrs. Krabappel look downright pleasant in comparison.
  • Book Dumb: Double subverted with Bart. He had such a low score in his test that he was sent back in third grade, where he had better grades than Lisa. It's not that he is smarter, he just remembers the correction grid by heart (not even what they mean, he just knows question one's answer is A).
  • Bowdlerization: On Channel 4 in the UK, the following scenes were cut:
    • The news anchor on satellite TV lamenting over being fat and forcing himself to puke in a trash can.
    • The third-grade teacher, Mrs. McConnell, cough-snarking that Mrs. Krabappel is a slut.
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  • The Cameo: Bender from Futurama appears in Bart's Imagine Spot.
  • Carload of Cool Kids: Bart and Lisa are forced to hold hands as field trip partners in Capital City. They are mocked by a random group of four young hipster-looking guys in a retro convertible.
    Cool guy: Hey, dude, who's your girlfriend? (all cool kids laugh) Did you see his face?
    (They drive off, Bart and Lisa groan and let go of their hands; kids return.)
    Cool guy: Well, what happened, dude? Did your girlfriend dump you? (cool kids laugh and drive off again)
  • Comic-Book Time: Bart was in third grade "last year," despite having been in Mrs. Krabappel's fourth-grade class for the entire 13-year run of the show. Try not to think about it too hard.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Mrs. McConnell pretty much establishes herself firmly as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing when she introduces Lisa and Bart but also adds that Miss Hoover has a drinking problem and calls Mrs. Krabappel a slut.
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  • Exact Words: Homer reassures Marge that he knows how to get enough money for the satellite dish with no risk. Cut to Homer, Bart, and Lisa at the racetrack betting on a winning horse named "No Risk."
  • Fun with Acronyms: Bart devises abbreviations to help remember things on the test. Lisa doesn't find it very helpful.
    Bart: Quiet Nerds Burp Only Near School.
    Lisa: Bart, I'm doing my geography homework.
    Bart: I know. That's how you remember the four original provinces of Canada. Quebec, New Brunswick, Ontario, Nova Scotia. "Quiet Nerds Burp Only Near School." Here's how you remember their principle exports: "Dogs eat barf solely on Wednesday, Mabel."
    Lisa: Stop!
    Bart: Canada's Governor's General: "Clowns love haircuts, so should Lee Marvin's valet."
    Lisa: Get Out!!
  • Horrible Judge of Character: The third-grade teacher relies on a buddy system by pairing two students together. This backfires when she forces Bart and Lisa, who hate each other, into the buddy system in class and on the field trip, where a fight between them gets them lost, and all she was concerned about was whether the students all had their buddies, not who's actually missing.
  • Imagine Spot: Bart has one in class, due to TV withdrawal.
    Clown: It's finally happened, Bart: You've lost your mind!
  • Insult Backfire:
    Ned: I'm spending all my money on religious pay-per-view. Or as I like to call it, "pray-per-view."
    Homer: Damn your sparkling wordplay.
    Ned: And bless your humble home.
    (Homer seethes)
  • Jerkass: Mrs. McConnell constantly treats Lisa like crap and encourages Bart to belittle her.
  • Jerkass Ball: Bart spends the entire episode making sure that Lisa gets a nightmare in the grade he was degraded to.
  • Kick the Dog: Mrs. McConnell telling Lisa crying will make Bart's grade go higher.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When Lisa gets promoted to third grade, Bart humiliates her in front of the school by bringing up a shameful and personal incident she once had. For this, Skinner announces Bart's demotion to third grade in front of the student body (he was going to tell Bart in private, but told him in front of the school for humiliating Lisa).
  • Mood Whiplash: Homer sees Bart and Lisa both being assigned to the third grade (through satellite TV, no less), and reacts with shock. He then changes the channel and immediately grows bored... which doesn't last long:
    Homer: (gasps) An old army buddy is visiting Mannix?!
  • Noodle Incident: Bart has a fascinating one involving Lisa's bike and an unattended steamroller and that Lisa got diarrhea on a trip to Carlsbad Caverns.
  • Prayer of Malice: When Bart and Lisa wake up to find themselves against shotgun-wielding hillbillies telling them to say their prayers, Bart goes into a praying position and says, "Oh, Lord, please strike these mountain folk dead."
  • Sadistic Game Show: "Touch the Stove," which Homer watches and criticizes, provides the page image.
    Host: So, Kevin, I hear you collect amusing postcards.
    Kevin: Uh, yeah. It all started when—
    Host: (presses Kevin's hand down on the glowing burner) Touch the stove!
    Kevin: AAAAAAHHHH!!
  • Sadist Teacher: Audrey McConnell, on Lisa's account.
  • Status Quo Is God: It was even praised after Bart returned to fourth-grade and Lisa returned to second.
  • Toilet Humor: Bart altered Lisa's "To Fraternal Love" flag so it read "Learn To Fart" instead. He also arranged other parts of the flag to make the sun look like a giant butt that's farting hard enough to cause stick men to go flying.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: The NBC news anchor randomly starts puking in a garbage can during a break. While we don't get to see the vomit, we see the action on screen and clearly hear realistic vomiting noises.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Springfield is in a Northern state — that somehow has a Confederate Stars and Bars on their flag. A shot of the Earth after the family activates their satellite early in the episode suggests the town is the fictionalized version of real-life Springfield, Illinois.