First Aired - 11/15/1990
Homer is becoming increasingly annoyed by Ned Flanders inadvertently one-upping him in every possible way, what with having a better house, well behaved children, and a more attractive wife. Ned humbly tries to apologise for having things easier than Homer by sending him a letter, only to be met by ridicule. Things come to a head when Homer and Bart run into Ned and his sons at Sir Putt-A-Lot's Merrie Olde Fun Center, where Ned is quick to point out what a talented miniature golfer Todd is.
Todd and Bart are both interested in entering a miniature golf tournament, and Homer uses this as an excuse to try and show up Ned once and for all by goading him into making a bet where the father of the 'boy-who-doesn't-win' has to mow the winner's lawn in his wife's Sunday dress. Ned agrees, and Homer begins to put Bart through his paces so that he'll easily beat Todd.
Until season 29, this was the last Simpsons episode with music composed by somebody other than Alf Clausen. This episode was composed by Ray Colcord,note in his one and only contribution to the show.
This episode contains examples of:
- Actually Pretty Funny: After the boys forfeit, Homer insists this means he and Ned both must commit to the penalty (believing it will be worth so long as Ned suffers as well). To Homer's aggravation however, Ned finds humour in the situation and begins waving at the laughing public. (Bart can also be seen quietly snickering while the rest of the family mourns the embarrassment.)
- A Day in the Limelight:
- For Todd, though most of the plot focused on Bart.
- This is the first episode to prominently feature the Flanders family, rather than their just being a one-shot gag.
- Artistic License Sports: Upon their request to have the championship match declared a draw approved, Bart and Todd are each presented a check for $25, the $50 grand prize being evenly divided among them. In real life, when multiple players tie in a golf tournament, the prize money for that position plus the positions below involved in the tie are added together, and divided evenly among the players in the tienote . For example, if two players tie for third, and third pays $100,000, and fourth pays $50,000, then that money would be added together, and each player would get $75,000. So, the $50 grand prize should've been combined with the $25 runner-up prize, and Bart and Todd should've each gotten checks for $37.50.
- Characterisation Click Moment: Ned started off as merely an Always Someone Better foil for Homer, with few other characteristics besides his Verbal Tic. This episode not only fleshes out the rivalry between the two and introduces the other Flanders family members, but establishes most of Ned's God-fearing do-gooder personality (right down to his incessant bugging of Reverend Lovejoy).
- Dragged into Drag: Because of how the bet was worded, both Homer and Flanders end up having to mow each other's lawns in their wives' Sunday dresses.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Flanders drinking? Later episodes do feature a beer tap in the Flanders family basement so it is possible that Ned enjoys a good beer now and then. Also it is a way to avoid Moe's Tavern.
- Also the mention of him being in a fraternity- where he apparently wore a dress as a gag/hazing ritual. This is very inconsistent with the religious, overly moralistic persona he would take on a few seasons later.
- Todd is also depicted as a more self aware Adorably Precocious Child compared to the extremely influential Kiddie Kid he is in most later appearances.
- Homer is also perpetually miserable and agitated throughout much of the episode. Not much of his happy-go-lucky personality was visible here.
- While Lisa's precocious personality is mostly established by this point, much like in "Bart the Genius" she is still seen laughing unashamed at Homer and Bart's heckling over Flanders' letter.
- Both Bart and Flanders are right-handed in this episode.
- E = MC Hammer: The geometry Lisa used when preparing Bart for his match dont really make a lot of sense.
- Exact Words: Homer and Ned's bet states that the father of the boy who "doesn't win" has to put on his wife's Sunday dress and mow the other father's lawn; it initially says "father of the loser," but Ned changes the terms to sound nicer. When Bart and Todd decide to call the match a tie, Homer points out that a draw isn't the same thing as a victory, meaning that both boys "didn't win." As such, Homer and Ned are both made to fulfill the bet and mow each other's lawns (unfortunately, Homer is denied seeing Flanders embarrassed because the latter thinks it's funny).
- Giant Novelty Check: After Bart and Todd decide to call it a draw, each one receives a giant check worth half the money prize.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!:Ned: You have yourself a bet, you... jackaninny!
- Green-Eyed Monster: Homer's envy of Ned is the driving force in this episode.
- Heh Heh, You Said "X": Ned's apology letter is supposed to be taken seriously, but Homer and Bart and even Lisa just giggle that the letter contains the word "bosom".
- I Call It "Vera": Homer tells Bart to give his putter a name. Bart says "Mr. Putter," so he specifies it should be a girl's name. Bart selects "Mom," to which Homer snaps "Your putter's name is Charlene!"
- I Have No Son!:Homer: Remember what Vince Lombardi said: "If you lose, you're out of the family!".
- It's All About Me: Homer is basically a black hole in this episode, drawing in everyone he can in his crusade against Ned Flanders whether they want to or not. Even Ned himself has to be dragged into it kicking and screaming.
- Jerkass: With his petty antagonism towards Ned and the undeserved pressure he puts on Bart, this episode marked a really low point for Homer in the show's early years. As noted in the DVD Commentary, Homer is very irritable and full of rage in this episode for no real reason. He starts out angry and gets angrier as the episode goes on.
- Laser-Guided Karma: After all of his antagonism of Ned and unfair treatment of Bart, it's satisfying to see Homer get his comeuppance at the end of the episode.
- Not So Above It All:
- Marge scolds Homer and the kids for laughing at Ned's melodramatic apology letter, but she privately finds it amusing as well.
- Right after she regains composure, she objects again and notes she wished the family were as close as the Flanders were. She meekly shirks however when Homer suggests right off the bat they have a spontaneous family outing together.
- Off-Model: Krusty appears in one sequence with his face having yellow skin.
- OOC Is Serious Business: "Mercy is for the weak, Todd!"
- Rhetorical Question Blunder: Lisa asks Bart, "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Bart demonstrates by swatting his fingers into his palm.
- Screw Your Ultimatum!: Bart and Todd decided to end their game in a draw instead or egging their fathers' egos on.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Only the game announcer and Ned seem sincerely touched by Bart and Todd's sportsmanship. The rest of the audience storm out unimpressed.
- Serious Business: The championship match between Bart and Todd is broadcast in its entirety on KBBL Radio, complete with I Am Very British announcers.
- Take a Third Option: Bart and Todd decide to forfeit and declare a tie.
- Tender Tears: When Bart and Todd decide to call it a draw, the British announcer is so moved by their sportsmanship that he starts crying.
- Unishment: Bart and Todd end up competing against each other in mini-golf and Homer, always looking for an opportunity to mess with Flanders, makes a side bet: The "father of the boy who doesn't win"note would have to mow the other's lawn in his wife's best Sunday dress. In the end Bart and Todd both forfeit because the game isn't fun anymore; Ned thinks it's over, but Homer points out that neither boy won, so they both have to go through with the bet. However, Ned actually ends up having fun since it reminds him of his college days, while Homer made an ass of himself for nothing.Homer: D'oh! Oh my god, he's enjoying it!
- Unknown Rival: For most of the episode, Ned doesn't deliberately antagonize Homer or try to outdo him—Homer just perceives Flanders's seeming "perfectness" as a personal affront.
- Worth It: Homer doesn't mind facing the losing penalty if that's what it takes to make Ned face it as well. He changes his mind once he sees Ned enjoying it.
- X Must Not Win: Homer is willing to accept both Ned and him facing the losing penalty so long at it means Ned suffers. Unfortunately for Homer, Ned enjoys it due to being reminded of his fraternity days.