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Recap / The Simpsons S1 E7 "The Call of the Simpsons"

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Original air date: 2/18/1990

Production code: 7G09

The Simpsons go on vacation in a rickety RV — and end up lost in the woods when the RV goes over a cliff.

This episode contains examples of:

  • The Alleged Car: The RV that Homer purchases is the cheapest vehicle in the lot and it shows with its incredibly rickety looks and being much smaller than Ned's RV to the point that the family's packing fills the entire inside (what it actually has in terms of gadgets is never shown, but it's easy to guess it lacks even the satellite TV that was one of the things Homer envied the most from Ned's RV, and likely has none to begin with). Homer doesn't do it any favors by driving it too roughly through the forest (including straight through a river, flooding the inside) and then accidentally having it fall down a cliff.
  • Always Someone Better: Ned establishes himself to be this to Homer by purchasing an RV, and even if he's not wealthy enough to purchase it with cash he still has a better credit limit than Homer.
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: The grizzly bears that took Maggie in are smart enough to know to steal food specific for babies and test if a bottle of milk is hot or warm (in the classic way, by squirting a little on your forearm) before handing it to Maggie.
  • Are We There Yet?: Between Bart and Homer when they're lost in the woods.
  • Base on Wheels: The "Ultimate Behemoth" RV, in a nutshell. Two stories tall with the luxury to match... and so does the outrageous price.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Pretty much why the bears babysat Maggie when they could have mauled her.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Homer gets mistaken for a bigfoot.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: When Rod drives by Bart in the lawnmower, Bart says something that normally, Homer would say:
    Rod: Hot enough for you?
    Bart: Shut up, Flanders.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Before Homer and Bart head into the woods in search of help, Lisa reminds her father that the handle of the Big Dipper points to the North Star, the clear intention being that she's offering advice on how to find their way should they get lost, which completely flies over Homer's head.
    Homer: (chuckles) That's nice, Lisa, but we're not in astronomy class. We're in the woods.
  • Cool Car: The whole plot occurs because Ned purchases a top-of-the-line RV (with satellite TV, even) and Homer gets envious and exaggerated with the "Ultimate Behemoth", a two-story RV with an interior that resembles a manor and a gigantic TV with its own satellite.
  • Couch Gag: The first of two episodes (albeit the second produced) to subvert this. After the Simpsons rush in, they sit down, and nothing else happens save for Bart blinking twice and Marge blinking once.
  • Cryptid Episode: Variation played for laughs with Homer being mistaken by Bigfoot and having people out to capture him.
  • Denser and Wackier: This is easily the most surreal season 1 episode, which makes sense considering John Swartzwelder wrote it.
  • Driven by Envy: The plot is started by the envy Homer feels upon seeing Flanders' RV.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • This is the first episode in production order to feature Ned Flanders, who the creators seem to have envisaged at this point as having Elmuh Fudd Syndwome; during his conversation with Homer about his new RV he noticeably has a slight lisp, and pronounces "credit" as "cwedit."
    • Todd Flanders driving by Bart in the Flanders' far superior lawnmower and making a sarcastic but openly bragging remark...a bit like Bart would do, despite soon becoming Bart's polar-opposite.
    • It's also rather odd to see a silly, sensationalized news report done by a generic one-off character instead of by Kent Brockman.
  • Exact Words: When Cowboy Bob said Homer couldn't buy anything better than the rickety RV he was selling, he didn't mean it in a nice way.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Homer's new RV fall off a cliff, and after a string of disasters, he eventually ends up covered in mud and mistaken for Bigfoot. On the other hand, Marge and Lisa (who were asked to just stay put while Bart and Homer searched for help) were able to clean up their camping site and turn it downright paradisaical (and Maggie, who had been missing and taken by bears, turned out to have been found by "kind" bears).
  • Literary Allusion Title: The title is a parody of The Call of the Wild.
  • Macho Disaster Expedition: Lisa and Marge successfully build their own campfire and turn their camping site into something downright paradisaical (they even lampshade that — even if they knew absolutely nothing about camping — they had it easily made once they finally cleaned up the place) and Maggie got lost and found by grizzly bears, but they turned out to be of the 'kind' type and carried her to civilization, while Homer and Bart end up cold and naked, with Homer ultimately mistaken for Bigfoot.
  • Scenery Censor: Homer and Bart wind up naked after falling from a waterfall. After finding each other, Homer finds out his clothes are missing as he walks out into the open and a conveniently placed bird's nest covers his crotch.
  • Skewed Priorities: The news report about the "Bigfoot sighting" ends with the anchor saying, "We return you to the President's address."
  • Special Guest: Albert Brooks as Cowboy Bob (credited as A. Brooks).
  • The Talk: Discussed.
    Lisa: I heard a disgusting rumour on the schoolyard.
    Marge: Well, it's true, I'm afraid.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: When Homer tries to buy the Ultimate Behemoth, his poor credit score prevents him from buying it or any other RV except a barely functioning junker.
  • Tree Buchet: Homer's attempt at making a branch trap for obtaining some small game for dinner results in a bunny rabbit being flung well past the horizon.
  • Vacation Episode: Though just going camping in the woods is almost downplaying the trope compared to all the times the Simpsons will visit other states, countries, and continents Once a Season or more.
  • Women Are Wiser: Marge and Lisa manage to competently build shelter in the wild; while Bart and Homer, the latter being (allegedly) a more experienced woodsman, spend the night frozen, mauled, naked and starved. And Maggie takes over a tribe of bears.