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Recap / The Simpsons S4E15 "I Love Lisa"

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"You Choo-Choo Choose Me?"

Original air date: 2/11/1993 (produced in 1992)

Production code: 9F13

It's Valentine's Day at Springfield Elementary, and in Ms. Hoover's classroom, all the second-graders are getting tons of cards from each other... everyone, that is, except Ralph Wiggum, who's left empty-handed. Lisa, taking pity on him, gives Ralph one of her Valentines, a card with a train on it saying "I 'Choo-Choo-Choose' You!". Overcome with joy, Ralph gets a crush on Lisa. Meanwhile, Krusty the Clown is holding a 29th Anniversary Show, and Bart and Lisa would do anything to get tickets for it.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Itchy rips Scratchy's heart out but the latter remains alive until he reads a newspaper headline saying he needs a heart to live.
  • The Ahnold: Bart, playing a Terminator-esque John Wilkes Booth. Who then tries to go after Chester A. Arthur before Mrs. Hoover restrains him.
    Bart: [As John Wilkes Booth] Hasta la vista, Abie!
  • Better as Friends: After Lisa gives Ralph the Valentine's Day card she made, and he begins expressing a romantic interest in her, she goes to Homer and Marge for advice, and Marge ultimately tells Lisa to tell Ralph, "I'm flattered that you like me, but I'm just not ready for that sort of thing." After the play at the end of the episode, Lisa gives Ralph a bumblebee-themed card that says "Let's Bee Friends," which he likes, and they stay Just Friends.
  • Big "NO!": Lisa, right after Ralph confesses his love for her at the Krusty anniversary show.
  • Blackmail: How Chief Wiggum ensures that Ralph is chosen to play George Washington in the school play, and later how he gets him the tickets to Krusty's show.
  • Bowdlerization: In-universe — Flanders' love song to Maude is a cleaned-up version of Rod Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy".
  • Brick Joke: The episode begins and ends with Bill and Marty from KBBL accidentally playing "Monster Mash" on both Valentine's Day and President's Day.
    Bill: You played the wrong record, didn't you?
    Marty: Why are you doing this to me, Bill?
  • Characterization Marches On: In this episode, instead of being portrayed as a non-sequitur spewing idiot, Ralph is just shown to be a very awkward and naïve kid. That said, this is still the first episode where Ralph behaves anything like the character we know; before that, his character and personality (and sometimes even whether he was supposed to be in Lisa's class or Bart's) were completely dependent on the writer.
  • Classically-Trained Extra: Rex, the thespian second-grader, is outraged when Ralph is picked as George Washington. He ends up in a bit part as Washington's servant.
  • Collector of the Strange: Played for Laughs. Bart is such a big fan of Krusty that he even bought the Krusty Brand Home Pregnancy Test, even though he can't use it.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    Homer: You know, one day honest citizens are going to stand up to you crooked cops.
    Wiggum: (worried) They are!? Oh no! Ha-have they set a date?
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Upon seeing Ned serenading Maude, Homer rushes to the Kwik-E-Mart to get a last-minute Valentine's Day gift for Marge. Apu offers him a heart-shaped box of chocolates... for $100. With no other choice, Homer pays but angrily vows to never shop there again. Apu, realizing that if Homer finds the much cheaper store across the street his business is doomed, offers him a small discount on damaged canned food, and wins him back.
  • Couch Gag: The family forms a chorus line joined by Vegas dancers and animals.
  • Description Cut: Lisa bemoans that in order to get tickets to a Krusty show, her parents would have to be a part of Springfield's cultural elite. Cue Homer walking in, brushing his teeth with a toothbrush he found in Flanders' trash.
    Homer: Can you believe Flanders threw out a perfectly good toothbrush? (brushes his teeth).....Ew
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Groundskeeper Willie comments that his father was hung for stealing a pig.
  • The Ditz: This is the first episode to really showcase Ralph being himself (Although he shows Hidden Depths of being a very good dramatic actor and he wasn't as dumb as he would be in the later episodes. In the early episodes, Ralph was just a little dim and socially awkward).
  • Don't Explain the Joke: "It says 'Choo-Choo-Choose Me', and there's a picture of a train!" Ralph does it again when Lisa gives him a "Let's BEE friends" card.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Ralph Wiggum is shown to be just a little dim-witted and awkward, but not unrealistically so, especially for an 8-year old. He is shown to have decent emotional awareness and rather impressive acting talent (see Hidden Depths below). In later episodes, however, Ralph is portrayed as oblivious and mentally handicapped to the point where he has no survival instincts or emotional depth, and is just there to be a walking punchline. While some later episodes like This Little Wiggy portray Ralph as more relatable and intelligent, almost all modern viewers today see him only as a source of extremely quotable lines that are stupid for the sake of being stupid.
  • Epic Fail:
  • Everyone Has Standards: Even Krusty is shocked by Lisa's outburst at Ralph.
  • Expy Coexistence: Notwithstanding the existence of Rainer Wolfcastle, Bart plays John Wilkes Booth as a clear Terminator Shout-Out.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Skinner has a flashback to one of his war buddies getting gunned down while preparing to send a valentine to his lover back home.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Milhouse-as-Abraham-Lincoln says he’d like to “clear [his] head” with a trip to the theatre. Cue John Wilkes Booth arriving to do just that.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In-universe:
    Bart: Watch this, Lis: You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half. (demonstrates) And.... now!
  • Hidden Depths: Ralph is revealed to be a very good actor.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After Lisa wonders aloud if she should go to the Krusty Anniversary Show despite not liking Ralph, Bart tells her she should because it wouldn't be honest. Then immediately proposes that he should go disguised as her instead.
  • Innocuously Important Episode: This episode reveals Ralph is Wiggum's son. This was a case of Throw It In!, as, prior to writing this episode, the writers didn't think to have the town's incompetent cop and the dim, chubby kid in Lisa's class be father and son and the fact that they had the last name "Wiggum" was a coincidence.
  • In Vino Veritas: When, in an old Krusty show clip, Sideshow Mel gets "whacked out on wowie sauce":
    Sideshow Mel: Everyone's always kissing your ass. Well, I'm not afraid to tell you you're a [BLEEEEEEEEP]!
  • I Think You Broke Him: Bart's reaction to Skinner's traumatic Valentine's Day flashback from 'Nam.
    Bart: Cool, I broke his brain!
  • Jaw Drop: The entire audience except for Homer has this reaction during the reenactment of Lincoln's assassination, as Bart's take on John Wilkes Booth becomes Terminator-style.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Chief Wiggum using his gun to crack a nut open.
  • Kick the Dog: Bart takes a lot of enjoyment out of Ralph's heart being broken, and replays it to Lisa, despite her already feeling guilty about it.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Wiggum goes from merely useless to an all-out Dirty Cop where his son is involved, whether he's blackmailing civilians to get him what he wants or knocking out Homer's taillight as payback for Lisa rejecting Ralph.
  • Literal-Minded: When Homer responds to Chief Wiggum's Police Brutality by saying that one day the people are going to stand up against crooked cops, Wiggum nervously asks if they've set a date, clearly assuming the statement to be more definite than it was meant to be.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lisa feels guilty for publicly humiliating Ralph and breaking his heart, by angrily declaring that she is not Ralph's girlfriend and only gave him a card because she pitied him during Krusty's anniversary show.
  • Noodle Incident: Zigzagged. We see the flashback of how Chief Wiggum got tickets from Krusty the Clown (Krusty was at a porno theater, Chief Wiggum walks in to enjoy it as well, and Krusty thinks he's under arrest, even though he's not indecently exposed, with a prostitute, or with anyone under 18 note ) before Lisa cuts off with, "That story isn't suitable for children." However, Chief Wiggum implies that the version he told was where he kept his pants on. We don't see the version where he doesn't keep his pants on, nor do we get any further info as to why he would have his pants off in the first place. And Lisa doesn't want to know.
  • Old Shame: Krusty’s in universe reaction to his seventies shows. See What Did I Do Last Night?.
  • Palette Swap: Sideshow Raheem bears a striking resemblance to Disco Stu, except that he's dressed like a militant black man from the 1970s rather than a disco dancer.
  • Papa Wolf: Chief Wiggum doesn't take kindly to Lisa breaking Ralph's heart.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration: Chief Wiggum pulls Homer over and does the classic cop example by saying he has a busted taillight and, when Homer asks which one, smashes a perfectly functional taillight with his nightstick and says "That one."
  • Properly Paranoid: Rex, a more talented classmate who auditioned for the role of George Washington, suspected correctly that Miss Hoover was being blackmailed.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Because Lisa humiliated Ralph on TV, Chief Wiggum stops Homer by saying that "[his] taillight's out", and starts smashing it.
  • Rooting for the Empire: In Universe. Homer cheers on Bart during his re-enacting of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (though this could just have been because Lincoln was played by Milhouse).
    Homer: Come on, boy! Finish him off!
  • Say My Name: Skinner yelling, "JOHNNY!" after having a 'Nam flashback.
  • Scary Black Man: Sideshow Raheem is so scary Krusty doesn't dare abuse him with pies to the face and other such pranks like he does to Sideshows Bob and Mel.
    Krusty: (Reminiscing) Angry, angry young man.
  • Shaped Like Itself:
    Miss Hoover: Bart! Do you want to play John Wilkes Booth, or do you want to act like a maniac?
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Inverted by Lisa to Ralph. On a date. On live television. Preceded by a Big "NO!". And painfully recounted by Bart slowing down the video footage.
    Bart: You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half!
  • Short-Lived Leadership: In the "Mediocre Presidents" song it was remarked that William Henry Harrison "died in thirty days" (which is Truth in Television).
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson: Krusty shows clips of "classic" episodes, including an incarnation of the show suggesting that he once hosted a Tonight Show knockoff. The clip shown – a urine monkey relieving itself on Krusty's head, while a Joan Embry-type zoologist is a guest – is Springfield's version of a classic incident involving Carson and Embry's marmoset. The clip of Sideshow Mel "whacked out on wowie sauce" is a reference to a clip of Ed McMahon sitting and talking with Carson at the desk and being obviously drunk- although McMahon's drunkenness was more subtle and not at all hostile, the way Mel's is.
    • In one clip Krusty sings "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" by The Doors.
    • Pop-Culture Pun Episode Title: The title is a reference to I Love Lucy.
    • Chief Wiggum busting Krusty in a porno theatre resembles Paul Reubens' widely-publicized 1991 arrest for indecent exposure after Pee-Wee's Playhouse ended.
    • Lisa's Valentine's Day card that says "I choo-choo-choose you" directly references a Thomas & Friends Valentine's Day card that was released the prior year. But since that card was inspired by a moment from Al Jean's life, it might be a coincidence.
    • When Willie is ordered to water down the orange drink again by Principal Skinner Willie's response mirrors Scotty from Star Trek: The Original Series.
    • During lunch, Bart grabs a beef heart from the cafeteria and pretends that it's a baboon heart that his body is violently rejecting, referencing Baby Fae, an infant who was infamously given a baboon heart thanks to her human one being defective (her doctors planned to replace it with a more durable allograft, but she died from a blood mismatch before this could happen).
  • Side Effects Include...: Bart's Krusty collection includes the Krusty Home Pregnancy Test, which "May Cause Birth Defects!"
  • Special Guest: Michael Carrington (a writer for The Simpsons and Martin and host of the Nickelodeon game show Think Fast) as Sideshow Raheem.
  • Stock Footage: An audience shot from the Springfield Elementary Christmas Paegent "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" is recycled for the President's Day Pageant in this episode, and the improved animation that the show had experienced in the intervening years causes the crowd members to go from looking slightly wonky in that episode to appearing incredibly different next to the rest of the animation in this one. Not least because the woman who was drawn without her nose in the earlier episode apparently still hasn't found it.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Chief Wiggum's encounter with Krusty in a porno theater.
    Krusty: Is this a bust?
    Wiggum: Uh... yeah! That's just what it is, a bust!
  • Tempting Fate: Johnny really should’ve known better than to talk about his loved ones back home while out in the open in enemy territory...
  • Terminator Impersonator: In the school play, Bart plays John Wilkes Booth as an expy of The Terminator, wearing sunglasses and speaking in an Austrian accent as he opens fire on Milhouse-as-Lincoln (and an offscreen Chester A. Arthur) with his toy gun.
  • Title Drop: "I love Lisa Simpson!"
  • Two Words: Added Emphasis: When Lisa asks her parents for advice on how to deal with Ralph, Homer tosses out several suggestions for rejection lines, including "Six simple words: 'I'm not gay, but I'll learn.'"
  • Valentine's Day Episode: The episode focuses on a crush Ralph Wiggum has on Lisa.
  • Vocal Dissonance: The little boy playing William Henry Harrison speaks in what is clearly an adult male’s voice (specifically that of the Blue Haired Lawyer.)
  • Weather Dissonance: Despite taking place in February, there are no signs of winter anywhere (no snow, no bare trees, etc.) and appears to already be spring. In fact, Lisa lampshades this when introducing a scene from this episode as a flashback in Season 6's "Another Simpsons Clip Show."
    Lisa: It was an unusually warm February 14th, so the children walked home without jackets.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: More like "What Did I Do In 1973?", when Krusty replays an old clip of him performing "Break on Through" by The Doors, complete with psychedelic background.
    Krusty: (facepalms) What was I on?
  • You Don't Want to Know: Variation, in regards to Bart's plan to make sure Lisa doesn't have to go to the Krusty show with Ralph:
    Bart: I'll go, disguised as you.
    Lisa: What if he wants to hold hands?
    Bart: I'm prepared to make that sacrifice.
    Lisa: What if he wants a kiss?
    Bart: I'm prepared to make that sacrifice.
    Lisa: What if he—
    Bart: You don't want to know how far I'll go.


Video Example(s):


How Wiggum Got the Tickets

Chief Wiggum was able to get tickets to Krusty's show by encountering Krusty at a porno theater and Krusty assumes he's here to bust him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (18 votes)

Example of:

Main / SureLetsGoWithThat

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