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Recap / The Simpsons S3 E14 "Lisa the Greek"

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Original air date: 1/23/1992 (produced in 1991)

Production code: 8F12

Homer and Lisa find a way to bond approaching their vastly distant interests (and intellects), with Homer using Lisa's uncanny ability to accurately predict the winning team on football games to win a fortune under the guise of Sunday being "Daddy-Daughter Day". When Lisa realizes at the end of the football season that she was only being used, she gives him the silent treatment, forcing Homer to expect to lose his gamble for the Super Bowl... but can he?.


Episode Summary

Homer is never able to pick the winners of football games in which he bets heavily—He first follows "Smooth" Jimmy Apollo's prediction that Denver will beat New England, only to get smashed 55-10 (with the Patriots starting the game with a touchdown). Meanwhile, Lisa complains to Marge that Homer always ignores her; Marge suggests that the two watch football together, which she does reluctantly. For the the Miami-Cincinnati game, Homer resorts to other experts but even "The Coach's Hotline" (a very pricey service) turns out to be a ripoff (given ... his ... ve ... ry ... slooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwww ... sp-sp-sp- tal- ... -king ... ). Out of options, Homer turns to Lisa to help him pick a winner; Lisa, not sure what to say, picks Miami, prompting Homer to call Moe, who is running a betting ring under Chief Wiggum's nose, to place his bet. The Dolphins beat the Bengals, and Homer and Lisa appear to have found a common interest in football, and Homer declares Sunday "Daddy-Daughter Day". Meanwhile, Marge takes Bart to an embarrassing experience at the kids' clothing store.

Lisa quickly becomes an expert in picking winners of games, attaining a perfect record for eight straight weeks. Homer uses this knowledge to win thousands of dollars from Moe, and proceeds to spoil the family with fancy dinners and toys for the kids. But, Homer being Homer, he manages to ruin a good thing when Super Bowl Sunday approaches—When Lisa asks her father to go hiking with the Sunday after the game, Homer tells her that he already has plans for bowling with Barney that day and that "Daddy-Daughter Day" is over until next football season. Lisa realizes that Homer was only using her to correctly bet on football games and win money and becomes terribly crushed by Homer's thoughtless words, running to her room in tears, while Homer is scolded by Marge for gaining money illegally.


A shaken Lisa has a nightmare about growing up to be a worn out gambling addict and gives away her Malibu Stacy toys (all purchased with "dirty money") while Homer starts to realize he screwed up and tries to apologize to Lisa, but she refuses his invitation to watch the Super Bowl together as an insincere attempt at making amends. With Homer begging her for a pick, Lisa relents and tells him her pick is Washington, but she makes it clear she subconsciously wants him to lose out of rage, so she recommends he do the opposite of what she tells him and bet on Buffalo—As this confuses Homer, a resigned Lisa tells him, "If I still love you, Washington; if I don't, Buffalo".

Come Sunday, Homer realizes that he has much more than just a few dollars in game. When Buffalo builds a solid lead early in the game and Bart begins taunting him, a distraught Homer goes to Moe's to try to relax and forget about Lisa's words. In the end, Washington rallies from behind to score a last-second victory... and Homer happily celebrates the win, in spite of not winning any money, conscious that Lisa's love is far more valuable than money and that said love is secure. Lisa is also relieved that Washington won, meaning she still loves her father. Homer then cancels his bowling engagement with Barney to make good on his promise to go hiking with Lisa next Sunday.

This episode provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Parodied with the intro to "Inside Football Today".
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game:
    • The drama at the climax happens because Lisa gives Homer the name of the team she believes will win, but adds that she doesn't know whether she's subconsciously sabotaging him or not ("If I still love you, Washington; if I don't, Buffalo"). Homer doesn't put any actual money on the game; he's desperate for Washington to win because he sees it as an indicator of whether Lisa still loves him. This gets not only him, but the whole family (including Lisa) cheering when Washington wins.
      Bart: I guess you love Dad!
      Lisa: I suspected as much.
    • Also taken more literally when a man asks Homer about his bet since he seems to be so nervous about it: he replies "my daughter", leading the man to think that Homer is a hardcore enough of a gambler to use his own children as collateral.
  • Adults Are Useless: Marge doesn't realize she embarrassed Bart. And Homer doesn’t realize until after the Super Bowl game starts that he royally screwed up in trying to bond with Lisa.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Homer subverts this when Marge reproaches him for gambling on football games.
    Homer: But Marge, it's a victimless crime. The only victim is Moe, heheheheh...
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Bart and Marge go shopping for clothing and she does things such as suggest he try on some cute underwear when other kids are around, and opening the door to the changing room without warning while he's still getting dressed. It comes off as less of 'Marge is embarrassing' than 'Marge is a Cloudcuckoolander'.
  • Author Appeal: Several of the writing staff were avid gamblers, especially betting at football. According to Al Jean, the episode was written to satirise that.
  • Butt-Monkey: Moe, once Homer starts using Lisa's predictions to soak him.
  • The Cameo: When the sportscasters say the Superbowl is being broadcasted all over the world, the scene cuts first to a group of Pacific Islanders and then to Ugolin and Cesar, the French winemakers from Season 1's "The Crepes of Wrath". But they don't like it and switch to a movie featuring Jerry Lewis.
  • Couch Gag: The family sits on the couch, and Homer pulls out Santa's Little Helper from underneath him.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: "Smooth" Jimmy Apollo predicts that the Denver Broncos will beat the New England Patriots, and Homer bets on Denver. New England crushes Denver 55-10.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Two mall security guards go after a girl who is the same age as Bart, doing what appears to be shoplifting a pair of socks, with shotguns (Lock-and-Load Montage included).
  • Exact Words: Homer takes the advice of "Smooth" Jimmy Apollo, who's right 52% of the time. Unfortunately, Homer didn't realize that Jimmy was wrong 48% of the time.
  • Felony Misdemeanor: At first, the mall security guards consider going after Bart for insulting them with a "Get Bent" sign aimed at the surveillance camera, but then they notice a girl wearing socks different that the ones she came in, so they grab their rifles and head out.
  • The Gambling Addict: Lisa has a nightmare that she might end up becoming one after learning Homer only used her to help him gamble.
  • Holding the Floor: Homer calls a pay-per-minute hotline for gambling advice, only for the Motor Mouth in the commercial to talk very slowly about the game's minutiae.
  • Honor Before Reason: Lisa gives away all of her Malibu Stacy gear, everything she had ever wanted and Homer bought for her because she wanted it and he could finally afford to, because it was bought with money obtained from gambling—"dirty" money. She also decides to bet whether or not she will love her father for the rest of her life on a football game, because it may signify whether or not her gift was tainted by (subconscious) anger on the moment Homer asked her who would win.
  • Iconic Item: "Smooth" Jimmy Apollo uses a giant novelty lock as part of his "Lock Of The Week", a prediction that Jimmy guarantees will turn out the way he says (accuracy rate: 52%).
  • Kids Prefer Boxes: Maggie puts aside the stuffed elephant Homer bought her to play with the wrapping paper instead.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: "Smooth" Jimmy Apollo considers himself an expert at predicting the outcomes of games, even though his actual accuracy rates are barely better than a coin toss.
  • Logo Joke: The Gracie Films jingle is done in the style of a marching band, and the "shh" is replaced with a whistle.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Homer after realizing he used Lisa.
  • Mythology Gag: Lisa mentions that she and Homer used to have burping contests, a reference to the "Burp Contest" short from The Tracey Ullman Show.
  • Name-Tron: The Gamble-Tron 2000, invested by Professor Frink, which predicted that Cincinnati would win over Miami by 200 points.
  • Never Heard That One Before: At a fancy restaurant, the waiter introduces himself to the Simpsons and says he'll be their waiter. Homer replies by saying he's Homer and will be the waiter's customer. The waiter dryly says he never heard that one before.
  • Never Trust a Title: The Simpson family don't visit Greece in this episode (the title is a play on football commentator Jimmy Snyder's nickname "Jimmy the Greek").
  • Noodle Incident: Ralph's class presentation ends with "And when the doctor said I didn't have worms anymore, that was the happiest day of my life."
  • Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: The title plays on Zorba the Greek and refers to the American bookie and sports commentator Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder.
  • ReCut: Whenever this episode was repeated on Fox, several lines were redubbed to reflect which teams would be playing in the Super Bowl in real life. The DVD version of this episode (and the rerun on the cable channel FXX) has the original lines.
    • Some later airings of the episode on Fox had the line referring to their "new affiliate in Tel Aviv" redubbed to reference the CBS stations that left for Fox because of the NFL network switch (see Disaster Dominoes for more on that snafu).
      • The portion of the Super Bowl pre-game show that does make it into the episode previews Troy McClure's new show which premieres after the game (see Take That! below).
  • Shout-Out/Expy: Both the episode's title and the character "Smooth" Jimmy Apollo are references to Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder.
    • The pregame show at the beginning of the episode is a clear parody of CBS's NFL pregame show, The NFL Today, as it was in the mid 1980s, complete with the opening intro (a 3D football field against a black background; CBS Sports loved intros that had animation against a black background during this period; here's an example), and a screen behind the host's left shoulder, along with the obvious parodies of Brent Musburger and Jimmy the Greek.
  • Smelly Feet Gag: Invoked in this exchange between Homer and Moe, in a Shout-Out to Apocalypse Now:
    Homer: Give me the usual, Moe...a beer, and a wad of bills!
    Moe: Eh, ya lucky moron...(takes off his boot and drops out Homer's gambling winnings, and hands them to Homer).
    Homer: (sniffing the money) I used to hate the smell of your sweaty feet, but now it's the smell of victory!
    Moe: Ah, shaddup.
  • Special Guest: Phil Hartman as "Smooth" Jimmy Apollo and Troy McClure
  • Take That!: The episode takes jabs at the Super Bowl broadcasts of the 1980s, which consisted on rather bland family-friendly half-time shows built around a theme while the game would be followed by the premiere of a new TV show that would usually be cancelled after one season (The A-Team, which premiered after S.B. XVII being one of the few exceptions).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The subplot of Marge buying clothes for Bart ended with Bart stuck in the car as the bullies shake it, yelling, "You have to come out some time, Simpson." It's never mentioned again and the story just ends there. Though he did somehow get out of there.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: It's implied that Springfield is either on the Mountain or Pacific time-zones, as the Miami-Cincinnati game ends at 7PM Eastern (following a game between New England and Denver at 1PM EST) and there's still broad daylight in a fall afternoon.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Lisa is upset that her father used her to bet on football games and calls him "Homer" instead of "Dad".