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Recap / The Simpsons S2 E16 "Bart's Dog Gets An F"

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Original air date: 3/7/1991

Production code: 7F14

Santa's Little Helper is forced to go to obedience school after ruining Marge's heirloom quilt, Homer's new Assassin sneakers, and Homer's giant "macamadamia" nut cookie, and, if he doesn't pass, he'll be given away.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue notes that Santa’s Little Helper bit Bart, and that Homer didn’t mind.
  • Bait-and-Switch: When SLH successfully passes his test, Emily Winthrop's "You son of a bitch" comment sounds contemptuous...until she follows it up with a very approving and warm "Good show."
  • Big "NO!": Homer does this when he sees that Santa's Little Helper has chewed up his Assassins. It coincides with SLH howling, causing every dog in the neighborhood to start barking.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: How SLH interprets most human speech, until he clearly hears Bart saying "sit."
  • Blunt "No": Homer responds "no!" when Bart and Lisa ask if they can still keep SLH if he passes obedience school and becomes trained to not destroy anything else in the house.
  • Call-Back: "In "Bart Gets An 'F'", Bart is shown hearing adults as saying "Blah, blah, blah". In this episode, Santa's Little Helper is shown interpreting human speech the same way.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Homer thinks the smoke alarms Marge bought are unnecessary since they haven't had a single fire.
  • Compressed Vice: Santa's Little Helper has apparently been unmanageable ever since the family adopted him, but (aside from the moment where he's kicked out of the house for stealing food in "Bart vs. Thanksgiving") this is the first we've heard about it.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Couch Gag: The Simpsons, along with Snowball II and Santa's Little Helper, sit on the couch.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Emily Winthrop when Bart hasn't persuaded Santa's Little Helper to succeed.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: For most of the episode, Emily Winthrop is rude and unhelpful. But when Bart gets SLH to pass, she warmly comments "good show".
  • Dramatic Irony: Played for Laughs when the Simpsons' neighbor calls to complain about SLH being in her pool while Homer claims it isn't him as he's outside, unaware that he has escaped until he looks out the window.
  • Eat the Camera: Used by SLH to symbolize his voracious devouring of the sneakers.
  • Early Instalment Weirdness: Lisa asks Bart to get her homework from Mrs Hoover.
  • Evil Gloating: Homer indulges in this a little to the kids when Marge says she agrees with him about getting rid of the dog.
  • Fair-Weather Mentor: Of a sort. Emily Winthrop is full of praise for those dogs and owners who do well, but will belittle and be mean to those that fail.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Homer tries to calm Marge down about SLH eating the Bouvier family quilt (which had been in her family for six generations) by saying that you can't get too attached to things. But when he sees that Santa's Little Helper has also eaten his giant macadamia nut cookie, he freaks out.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Emily Winthrop is voiced by Tracey Ullman, on whose show the Simpsons first started out on.
  • Jaw Drop: Bart slowly drops his jaw when he realizes what Homer is trying to say.
  • Insult of Endearment: "You son of a bitch. Good show!"
  • Law of Disproportionate Response: Santa's Little Helper eats Marge's old quilt, which was a family heirloom for centuries. She is understandably very upset and Homer tries to comfort her by telling her it's just a quilt. Then he discovers the dog also ate a cookie he wanted to eat, which sends him into a hysterical despair. This also turns to be the final straw for him to get rid of the dog.
  • Logic Bomb: Lisa is sick. Bart says if Lisa gets to stay home from school, he will too. Lisa says if Bart stays home, she's going to school. Bart spends a few seconds pondering this paradox before being herded onto the bus.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Dr. Monroe's obedience school is about disciplining the owners, citing that they're the ones at fault.
  • Murderer P.O.V.: During the moments when Santa's Little Helper eyes Homer's cookie and attacks Marge's quilt, this is used, complete with ominous music.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Emily Winthrop is a parody of Margaret Thatcher in her mannerisms. She was actually based on British dog trainer and author Barbara Woodhouse.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Santa's Little Helper's antics early in the episode infuriate Homer, to the point where he threatens to get rid of him. Marge, still sore about the loss of her coveted heirloom quilt to the dog, sides with Homer, much to the kids' shock and Homer's delight. She's usually one to advocate for her family members when they do wrong, but SLH crossed a line. Luckily, both parents ease off by the end of the episode, once SLH graduates from obedience school with Bart's help.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • A neighbor calls up Homer about his dog playing in her pool, and Homer is rudely insistent that it isn't his, even calling the neighbor an idiot. Then, he looks out the window and sees that SLH had escaped the yard, and he reacts with a particularly frustrated "D'OH!"
    • Bart shows some apprehension upon realizing Homer is threatening to get rid of SLH.
      Bart: We never had a family meeting before.
      Homer: We never had a problem with a family member we can give away before.
      Marge: Homer, what are you saying?
      [A brief cut to Bart shows his mouth wide open in shock. Even SLH looks up at Homer with concern.]
      Homer: I'm saying... [The perspective switches to SLH's.] Blah blah-blah blah, blah blahblahblahblah blah blah blah!
  • Parental Neglect: It's stated in the epilogue that SLH bit Bart and Homer didn't mind.
  • Potty Failure: SLH does this at obedience school, and Ms. Winthrop forces Bart to clean it up.
  • Rage Breaking Point: When it comes to Santa's Little Helper's misbehavior, the last straw for Homer is when he discovers he ate his giant macadamia nut cookie. At this, threatens to get rid of him.
  • Rocky Roll Call: When Homer brings home his new Assassin sneakers:
    Marge: Those are very elaborate sneakers.
    Bart: They better be for a hundred and twenty-five big ones. note 
    Homer: D'oh!
    Marge: $125?!
    Homer: Bart!
    Bart: Aah!
    Marge: Homer!
    Homer: D'oh!
  • Sarcastic Clapping: When Santa's Little Helper graduates, Homer at first gives a bitter slow clap, before gradually finding himself pleased by this little moment of success, and starts legitimately applauding.
  • Selective Enforcement: Homer shows little concern for the dog destroying one of Marge's quilts that went back six generations, but freaks out after his cookie was eaten (despite a cookie being of much less importance than a priceless heirloom spanning centuries of family history).
  • Shout-Out: To the famous "touching fingers' scene from E.T. The music is even the same.
  • Soap Within a Show:
    A disheveled priest interrupts two lovers in an apartment.
    Woman: Father Mcgrath, I thought you were dead!
    Father Mcgrath: I was!
  • Sound Effects Bleep: When Homer starts yelling that Santa's Little Helper has to go, it immediately switched to the dog's POV, so all we hear is Blah, Blah, Blah.
  • Suddenly Shouting: "PULL THE BLOODY CHAIN, BOY!!"
  • Special Guest: Tracey Ullman as Emily Winthrop; Frank Welker as the dog noises/animal walla.
  • Toilet-Drinking Dog Gag: Santa's Little Helper drinks from the toilet before he ends up tearing apart Marge's family quilt.
  • Training the Pet: After everyone else has had enough of Santa's Little Helper's misbehavior, Bart takes him to obedience school so he'll learn to behave and not be given away.
  • Translation Convention: Inverted. In Santa's Little Helper's POV, the human characters can't speak and can only say Blah, Blah, Blah.
  • Truth in Television: While Homer's and Bart's adopting Santa's Little Helper might have been a heartwarming ending to "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", here the whole family ends up finding out the hard way that it can be extremely difficult for a racing dog that hasn't been housebroken to adapt to domestic life. For all the insults that are made against Santa's Little Helper's intelligence, it's to both their credit that Bart was able to domesticate him at all — with some former racing dogs in real-life, that ends up being simply not possible.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Santa's Little Helper. According to the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, he bit Bart, even though Bart was the only one actively trying to keep him from being exiled from the family.
  • The Unreveal: How Marge managed to get Dr. Hibbert's home phone number.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The end showing what happened to all the dogs after they graduated obedience school.


Video Example(s):


It. Is. Not. My. Dog!

Unaware that the dog had gotten loose, when Homer receives a call from his neighbor complaining about Santa's Little Helper being in her pool, he tells her off, firmly stating it's not his dog...until he looks out the window.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / DramaticIrony

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