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Recap / The Simpsons S2 E14 "Principal Charming"

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Original air date: 2/14/1991

Production code: 7F15

Worried that Selma is depressed over being single and childless, Marge orders Homer to find Selma a man — but ends up pairing Principal Skinner with Patty by mistake. Meanwhile, Bart is sentenced to reseed the school's field with Groundskeeper Willienote  after spelling his name out on it with a herbicide he created in science class.


Tropes used in this episode:

  • Awesomeness by Analysis: When Homer sets out to find a man to introduce to Selma, he starts doing The Terminator -like scans to everyone around him to analyze their pros and cons. He rejects Smithers ("Cons: Jerk") and one of his coworkers ("Cons: Not a man"), but later realizes that Principal Skinner is a good candidate ("Pros: Uses big words, dislikes the boy, well groomed." "Cons: Possible Homer Sexual.").
  • Blunt "Yes": Patty gives one to Selma when she asks if she's giving up her last chance of happiness for her.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase:
    • Bart quotes "Excellent" like Homer's boss, Mr. Burns, when he learns what herbicide is and that sodium tetra sulfate can be used in that manner, even tenting his fingers while saying it like Burns does. Homer does likewise after inviting Skinner over for dinner.
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    • Bart says "D'oh!" when he realizes he still has a whole field of grass left to mow.
  • Brick Joke: Bart being let off the hook for his reseeding punishment after Principal Skinner falls for Patty. When Skinner and Patty break up, Bart is back to his punishment.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Bart is able to make a rather effective herbicide during his fourth-grade science class. But he prefers to goof off and use it to write his name on the school lawn rather than apply himself to the class.
    • When forced to find a man for Selma, Homer proves himself smart enough to weed out the truly unsuitable candidates and find Skinner, who was almost perfect for her had he not encountered Patty first.
  • Call-Back and Funny Background Event: While Principal Skinner is talking about how much in love he is with Patty, we see the school plunging into chaos. If you look closely, there's a grafitti on the wall of Principal Skinner saying, "I Am Still a Weiner," a reference to the "I Am A Weiner" graffiti seen in season one's "Bart the Genius".
  • Couch Gag: The Simpsons sit on the couch, which opens into a bed, flinging the family into the air and landing on it.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Bart's vandalism plan. Skinner even calls him on it, especially with regards to a particularly significant oversight:
    Skinner: Bart, I'm flabbergasted. Surely you knew, as you were writing your name in 40ft high letters, that you would be caught?!
    Bart: Maybe it was one of the other Barts?
    Skinner: There ARE no other Barts!
    Bart: Uh-oh.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Principal Skinner threatens to suspend Bart, Milhouse, Wendell, and Lewis for dropping their pencils at 2:15 PM.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Patty's sexuality. In this episode, she is established as being willingly celibate note  due to her hatred of mennote , but has a crush on MacGyver just like her sister and warms up to Skinner (until she realizes how miserable Selma is). In later episodes, it's established that Patty is a lesbian (she comes out of the closet in "There's Something About Marrying") and has known about her sexual orientation since she was a child (while Marge was either too naive or in denial about it).
    • Similarly, Homer lists "Jerk" as the one and only reason not to set Selma up with Smithers (as opposed to "gay" or "Burnssexual", which would be a better reason). Then again, Homer may be unaware that Smithers is gay.
    • Selma is depicted as being loveless and alone in this episode. Later episodes would have her be a Serial Spouse with a slew of ex-husbands.
    • The character later known as Hans Moleman makes his first appearance here, but the name on his driver's license (which is briefly shown onscreen) is "Ralph Melish".
    • Several scenes in the episode revolve around a belltower that's apparently part of Springfield Elementary, and is very visible in exterior shots. The belltower has never appeared before or since.
    • Skinner implies that he rarely gets to enjoy a "home cooked meal". We later learn that he lives with his mother, and its very unlikely she doesn't cook for the two of them.
  • Good Night, Sweet Prince: Patty's parting words to Skinner are "Good night, sweet principal".
  • Hates Being Touched: Patty is this. Homer mistakenly thinks that it's Selma, at least until Marge corrects him.
  • I Told You So: Doubles as a Brick Joke. After Skinner dates Patty the first time, he lets Bart off his punishment. Bart promptly throws the bag of seeds to Willie and runs off but Willie doesn't seem deterred.
    Willie: You'll be back! You haven't seen the last of Willie!
    At the end of the episode, Skinner is dumped by Patty and retakes the school from Bart's control. His first order of business is having the boy reseed the field as punishment. Guess who's helping Skinner oversee this?
    Willie: I told ya ye be back!
  • Informed Attractiveness: Patty (according to Selma) has larger breasts, delicate skin, and is and looks two minutes younger, thus attracting more men than her love-starved sister.
  • Married to the Job: Skinner describes himself this way when Homer starts inquiring whether he's in a relationship. It's cemented at the end when Patty breaks up with him and he cries out, "Oh, Springfield Elementary, I will have you back again!"
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Moe, when he discovers it's Principal Skinner calling himnote .
    • An enraged Principal Skinner roars Bart's name after seeing his latest prank, and Bart gulps both audibly and nervously. He then has another moment when Skinner is yelling at him in his office:
      Skinner: Surely you realized that by writing your own name in forty-foot letters, you would be caught.
      Bart: Maybe it was one of the other Barts, sir.
      Skinner: THERE ARE NO OTHER BARTS!!!
      Bart: Uh oh.
  • One Steve Limit: It's revealed that there are no other Barts at Springfield Elementary. Skinner angrily tells Bart this when he tries to blame his prank on "one of the other Barts".
  • The One That Got Away: The twins go to a wedding of two coworkers that fell in love by chance (he initially was going to sit next to Selma in the cafeteria, but Patty scared him away, only to sit next to the woman he would eventually marry). Even worse, he says in their wedding vows that had he not sat next to her, "who knows what kind of woman would I have married?", implying that the memory with Selma meant nothing to him/does not even register anymore. Ouch.
  • Prank Call: Skinner forces Bart to call Homer as punishment for using sodium tetra sulfate to spell his name in the grass. Bart calls Moe's Tavern and asks for Homer, but he sees an opportunity for a prank and specifies "Homer Sexual" instead of Homer Simpson.
    Moe: One of you's gotta be Homer Sexual!
    [Everyone laughs.]
    Homer: Don't look at me.
  • Say My Name: Skinner angrily yells "SIMPSOOOOOOOON!" after finding Bart's name engraved with a herbicide on the school's field.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Spanner in the Works: Patty and Skinner meet after Marge gets Homer to try and find a man for Selma. Homer cons Principal Skinner into coming over to the Simpson house for dinner, as a way to introduce him to Selma. Unfortunately, when Skinner is sitting with Homer in the living room, Selma is too nervous to go out to join them. Patty goes in her place, and Skinner is instantly smitten.
  • Suddenly Shouting: When Bart tries to pass the blame for his herbicide prank to one of the other Barts in school, Skinner fires back with, "THERE ARE NO OTHER BARTS!"
  • Tuckerization: Hans Moleman makes his first appearance but his name is given as Ralph Melish in his first appearance. A reference to the "The Adventures Of Ralph Mellish/Hot Dogs And Knickers" song from The Monty Python Matching Tie and Handkerchief album.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Homer accidentally introduces Skinner to Patty instead of Selma (mistaking one for the other), setting off the plot.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Skinner wishes he could still do this after Bart's latest prank.
    Skinner: The sheer contempt of this display makes me wish I could pull the trusty Board of Education out of retirement.