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Recap / The Simpsons S 21 E 20 To Surveil With Love

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After a radiation scare due to Homer's usual brand of idiocy, Springfield is placed under closed-circuit TV surveillance but has a group of civilian control, which includes Flanders. At the same time, Lisa is forced to dye her hair brown after being called out for not being a Dumb Blonde

Tropes of this episode: (YMMV Here)

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  • Ad Hominem: Lisa is humiliated in the debate at the beginning (and thus starts her sub-plot) when the defense the other speaker at the debate uses (and ends up working) is constantly pointing out that she's blonde, so that means that she's a Dumb Blonde, so anything she says must be automatically wrong because she's a dumb blonde.
  • Adults Are Useless: With the exceptions of Ned and Marge, pretty much not a lot of don’t listen to Lisa because she’s a blonde. Despite near everyone in Springfield knowing that Lisa is a genius.
    • When Lisa calls out the judges for agreeing with her deliberately weak argument simply because she dyed her hair brunette rather than the content of her words, the male judges try to deny it, while the female judge all but admits to it.
  • Expy: That bomb squad specialist is clearly based on Clint Eastwood
  • Big Brother Is Watching You: Ned Flanders literally nags Springfield into submission in this episode. Even referenced by Ned when he has his My God, What Have I Done? moment, saying that he didn't wanted to be a "Big Brother", but rather a "little sister".
  • Call-Back:
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    • Prince Charles tells Queen Elizabeth II that "My cat's breath smells like cat food". This line was also said by Ralph Wiggum in "Lisa's Rival". Prince Charles says the line right after the Queen comments that Ralph reminds her of him.
    • The music heard when Homer and Flanders are destroying all of the security cameras was last heard in Treehouse of Horror II (when Homer and Bart are spending quality time together in the latter's nightmare).
  • Comically Missing the Point: Abe pretty doesn’t help Lisa.
  • Drunk with Power: The closed-circuit television system is meant to keep track of actual crimes, terrorist threats, and emergencies. Ned instead uses it to literally nag the whole town into becoming a submissive fascist milquetoast dystopia.
  • Dumb Blonde: Lisa's subplot involves people thinking that she's this. She tries proving to people that she's not this and that generalizing people based on certain traits is a bad thing.
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  • Everyone Has Standards: Marge soon leaves her job because she felt uncomfortable with getting involved with peoples privacy. This is also why she tattles on Homer and Bart's leading the civilians' troublemaking in the blind spot to Ned.
  • The Fundamentalist: Ned, as usual. He takes over the surveillance station and spends 24/7 watching through the cameras and literally nagging anything and anybody he deems wrong into submission. Being who he is, "anything he deems wrong" is an absurdly long list.
  • Genius Ditz: Bart maybe a rebellious student, but he did find a blind spot... the Simpsons’ backyard.
  • Jerkass Ball: Most of Springfield forgets for this episode that Lisa is a genius and treat her like a dumb blonde.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Upon discovering a blind spot in their backyard where Ned can't see them through the cameras, Homer and Bart exploit it by turning it into a hotspot where people pay them for access to it so they can do the things Ned nagged them for over the cameras. When Ned finds out and goes to put an end to it, Homer defends his actions by pointing out Ned's invasion of everyone's privacy forced their unwholesome behavior into one small spot, causing them to act out more than if Ned left them alone.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Nelson is like this to Lisa.
  • Knight Templar: Ned tried to force Springfield into a paradise by oppressing them via surveillance cameras and then directly speaking to them by microphone in order to ruin their activities. When Homer finally tells Ned that the town is sick of Ned's actions and demands that Ned should allow them to keep their privacy as well as allow them to have the freedom of choice. Ned tells him that he was trying to mould Springfield into a paradise by tattling on them.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ned feels like this when Homer tells him that he inadvertently drove people to the Simpsons' backyard to do all the things Ned chastised them for doing.
  • Mythology Gag: This episode is basically a less terrifying version of the Dictator Flanders timeline in "Time and Punishment" from Treehouse of Horror V, with Flanders watching over Springfield into a fundamentalist dystopian society.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Ned would have never found out about the blind spot in the Simpsons backyard and the shenanigans Homer and Bart were leading the rest of the town in there if Marge hadn't tattled on them to Ned.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Bart discovers the blind spot by trying to moon the cameras when he gets fed up with Ned's nagging and doesn't has Ned instantly tattling on it.
  • Playing God: Homer claims that Ned trying to control the whole towns actions came off as him trying to be God. This horrifies Ned.
  • Police are Useless: At least we found out who can do better than Wiggum.
    Lou: Uh, Chief, I Think we got a misuse of police equipment on ZZ-99.
    (Wiggum looks, before switching the cameras back to normal after looking at Edna sunbathing topless.)
    Chief Wiggum: Killjoy
  • The Reveal: The entire episode — at least the main story — is a hidden-camera reality show that airs on British TV and is considered the Queen's and Prince Charles' favorite show.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: That bomb squad specialist decides to break up the plutonium rather than do the countdown
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Gay Bar is full with Sesame Street like people.
    • Flanders becomes a one-man milquetoast Thought Police. Nineteen Eighty-Four gets a more direct reference once Ned actually understands what he's done, by saying that he didn't wanted to be anybody's "Big Brother".
    • While watching Bart's reckless skateboarding, Ned warns him to "Stop gleaming that cube!"
  • Something Completely Different: As part of FOX's "FOX Rocks" gimmick at the time, the opening for this episode was redone as an animated music video for the Ke$ha song "TiK ToK.
  • Take That!: After The Reveal is discovered, the Queen says that she will miss Ralph Wiggum, comparing him to her son. Cue Prince Charles coming in with his own cat and spouting Ralph's famous line about his cat's breath.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Where did the Van Houtens, Helen Lovejoy, Julius Hibbert, and Elizabeth Hoover go after Ned Flanders and Marge Simpson took over with cameras?
  • Wretched Hive: After discovering that the surveillance network has a blind spot located on the Simpsons' backyard, Homer and Bart invite everybody to do whatever they can't do because of Ned's incessant nagging right there. It quickly becomes a miniature den of debauchery, and Homer's What The Hell Hero Speech at Ned (once he finds out about the blind spot, courtesy of Marge) is that this is the result of his actions, saying that in no uncertain terms that no matter how hard he tries, he can't make evil go away. He just makes it more determined to find a place where it can go on undisturbed.
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