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Recap / The Simpsons S6E22 "'Round Springfield"

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Original air date: 4/30/1995

Production code: 2F32 note
In this partial Very Special Episode, Lisa discovers that her friend and jazz mentor, Bleeding Gums Murphy, is in the hospital, and when he dies on the night of her recital, Lisa works to keep the musician's memory alive. Meanwhile, Bart comes down with appendicitis from eating Krusty the Clown's new cereal, which comes with a jagged metal "O", and sues the clown for personal harm.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: Mufasa mistakenly calls his son "Kimba" instead of "Simba".
  • Actor Allusion: Bleeding Gums' apparition in the clouds is joined by Darth Vader, Mufasa, and CNN's announcer, all of whom were voiced by James Earl Jones.
  • Affirmative Action Girl: In-universe: Krusty's forced to add a dour-looking policewoman named "Ms. No-Means-No" to his cast due to an expensive sexual harassment suit. Krusty immediately hits on her live on the air.
  • Amoral Attorney: Lionel Hutz pretty much stole all but $500 of Bart's $100,000 settlement.
  • Anyone Remember Pogs?: The Ultimate Pog, which bears the likeness of Steve Allen. Amusingly, like in the next season's "Bart Sells His Soul", this was actually made at the height of the Pogs craze - Steve Allen is supposed to be the "forgotten and outdated fad" they're poking fun at.
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  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: The charges Kent Brockman lists before Krusty starts his press conference.
    Kent Brockman: Krusty the Klown staged a press conference today to defend himself against charges that his products are unsafe, his theme park is a death trap, and that he's marketing videos of Tonya Harding's wedding night.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Eating jagged metal doesn't cause appendicitis. It would have given Bart horrible internal bleeding and possibly killed him, but that's not very family-friendly, is it?
  • Back for the Dead: Bleeding Gums Murphy returns, although he was never a regular character, as pointed out by Troy McClure in the season seven episode "The Simpsons' 138th Episode Spectacular".
  • Bears Are Bad News: Homer notes he learned the hard way to not ignore signs that say "Do not feed the bears." He then lifts up his arm, revealing a bear cub firmly holding on.
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  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Bart buys Lisa the rare Bleeding Gums Murphy album because she was the only one to believe he was really ill.
  • Big Brother Instinct: When Lisa is absolutely crushed that she can't get the last copy of Bleeding Gums' album for a tribute after his death, Bart spends all the remaining money from his recent legal settlement involving Krusty's cereal to get it for her. He was thanking her because she was the only one who believed him when he said his stomach hurt.
  • Big Eater: Homer, as usual. He is unable to resist buying some hot dogs during Bart's operation and Bleeding Gums funeral.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: In-universe, Krusty accidentally does it when he speaks ill of Percodan in his show right before learning that the company that makes it became his new sponsor.
    Bart: I'm surprised he doesn't blame it on his Percodan addiction.
    Krusty: It wasn't my fault, it was the Percodan! If you ask me, that stuff rots your brain! And now, a word from our new sponsor...PERCODAN?! Ah, crap!
  • Bittersweet Ending: Bleeding Gums Murphy is dead, but Lisa gives him a major tribute and even shares a duet with him.
  • Blind Mistake: Blind Willie Witherspoon apparently spent 30 years mistaking an umbrella for a saxophone. How he didn't notice that the umbrella wasn't making the sounds a saxophone is supposed to make isn't explained, as the conversation he holds with Bleeding Gums Murphy proves he isn't deaf.
  • Blind Musician: Bleeding Gums' mentor, Blind Willie Witherspoon. Subverted in that, for 30 years, he thought he was playing the saxophone...when he was actually playing an umbrella. No one said anything because they thought it was funny.
  • Boring Broadcaster: Springfield's jazz radio station KJAZZ, which has a very weak signal under normal circumstances, boasts on its sign that "152 Americans can't be wrong", and has a morning show hosted by Hans Moleman.
    Hans: This is Moleman in the Morning, good Moleman to you. Today, part four of our series on the agonizing pain in which I live every daaaaaaaay.
  • Call-Back: After the news of Bleeding Gums' death, Lisa cries on the bridge where the two first met.
  • Cassandra Truth: No one except Lisa believes that Bart is truly sick, knowing his tendency to try to get out of tests. Though Marge was close to believing Bart too.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Trope Namer. Groundskeeper Willie, due to budget cuts, is forced to teach French, and he calls the students this.
    "Bonjour (holds and rolls "r"), ya cheese-eating surrender monkeys!"
  • Comic-Book Time: Lisa says that "it's been a long time" since the events of 1990's "Moaning Lisa," though the kids are all still the same ages they were.
  • Continuity Snarl: Lunchlady Doris is working as the school’s nurse due to budget cuts, even though "Whacking Day" revealed that Lunchlady Doris took the school nurse job so she can get two paychecks. It could be that her second paycheck is still less than what a qualified nurse would make, so the school still saves money.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Bart gets hospitalized just in time for Lisa to find out that Bleeding Gums is in the hospital too. Since he's without connections in Springfield, there would have been nobody to tell her.
  • Couch Gag: The family's sizes are reversed with Maggie now being the largest while Homer is now the smallest. Bart's height is still the same.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Springfield Elementary's school charter states that no teacher is to be held accountable if Bart dies or if Milhouse gets eaten by the school snake.
  • Crying Wolf: When Bart claims to be sick, his parents only think he's trying to get out of his test.
  • Dead Artists Are Better: Lisa finds Bleeding Gums' only album at Comic Book Guy's store, costing $250. But when Lisa mentions that Bleeding Gums has recently died, he immediately doubles the price to $500.
  • Description Cut: Lisa decides she needs to talk to someone with more experience about Bleeding Gums' death. Cut to Grampa Simpson telling her "Death stalks you at every turn!"
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Krusty immediately hits on and asks out Ms. No-Means-No. He tries to save face by saying he has dinner with all his employees, only for Sideshow Mel to say they've never spoken off the set. Krusty then tries to blame this whole mess on his Percodan addiction (which he says rots the brain), only to learn that's his show's newest sponsor.
  • Drunk on Milk: Bleeding Gums spent all of his earnings from his one record on Fabergé Eggs, which is treated like an addiction to alcohol, complete with him telling the man at the store "I'll tell you when I've had enough!"
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Bleeding Gums tells Lisa how his own mentor Blind Willy Witherspoon tried to give him his saxophone, only for Murphy to tell him it was an umbrella — meaning that Willie had been playing an umbrella for thirty years. When Willie asks why no one told him, Murphy chuckles and says, "We all thought it was kinda funny!" Willie's reply is, simply, "That's not funny."
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: Homer apparently got a tattoo of Starland Vocal Band, but now he thinks they suck.
  • Epic Fail: Blind Willie Witherspoon spent 30 years trying and failing to make it as a jazz musician. He gave Murphy what he thought was his saxophone, only to learn he spent all these years trying to play an umbrella.
  • Eye Cam: When Bart is being put under anaesthesia, his eyes are closing and his point of view is visualized with this eye-shaped cam effect.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Lisa is talking to her mentor Bleeding Gums Murphy in the hospital while Dr. Hibbert is taking his blood pressure. Sadly, neither of them get the hint and Murphy passes away later in the episode.
    Murphy: I don't really have a family... All I had was a younger brother who grew up to be a doctor. He used to laugh at the most inappropriate times.
    Hibbert: Ah, heh, heh, heh! You know, I have an older brother I'll never see again... He's a... jazz musician or something...
  • Fantasy Twist: Bart's fantasy of what he might do with the $500: go to a casino and lose it all on a single bet.
    Bart: Cool.
  • Free Prize at the Bottom: The jagged metal "O" on Krusty-O's, which Bart accidentally eats, giving him appendicitis. At the end, the new prize is flesh eating bacteria.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: It would appear that Krusty is this to the cast and crew of his show.
    Krusty: (lamely explaining himself to his new sidekick, Mrs. No Means No) I have dinner with all my employees, right, Sideshow Mel?
    Sideshow Mel: (sullenly) We've never spoken outside of work.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": At Bleeding Gums' funeral, Reverend Lovejoy refers to him as "Blood and Guts Murphy", mistakenly calls him a sousaphone player in the eulogy, and Homer uses the event to look for a hot dog vendor (who follows him everywhere, because Homer is apparently putting his kids through college). On a much sadder note, Lisa was the only mourner present (not counting her parents).
  • G-Rated Drug: Bleedin' Gums recalls squandering money on his "$1500 a day habit". Cut to a flashback of him buying Faberge Eggs.
  • Gambler Groupies: Bart has an Imagine Spot in which he's in a casino, surrounded by attractive woman.
  • Here We Go Again!: Bart plans to re-earn the $500 he spent on the jazz album by suing the Krusty corporation over their new Krusty-O's cereal...with flesh-eating bacteria.
  • Heroic Vow: "He was a jazz musician! You didn't know him! Nobody knew him, but he was a great man! And I won't rest until all of Springfield knows the name Bleeding Gums Murphy!"
  • Hope Spot: Right as Lisa wonders where she can find the $500 to buy Bleeding Gums Murphy's album, she sees a large stack of money bills lying on the ground. She approaches it only for it to be dragged away on a string by Mr. Burns.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Hibbert hears how Bleeding Gums had a brother who grew up to be a doctor and always laughed at inappropriate times. He responds by saying he had an older brother that became a jazz musician.
    Hibbert: Oh, well. Bye-bye.
  • I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Bleeding Gums Murphy reveals in flashback that his lost his music fortune on his $1500 a day habit, buying Fabergé eggs. Cue Murphy at the counter of a jewellery store demanding another egg while the jeweller asks "Don't you think you've had enough?", then a down-and-out Murphy in an alley surrounded by broken Faberge eggs...
  • Imagine Spot: Bart has two: what he could do with $500 (losing it immediately on roulette) and torching the school after he's reincarnated as a butterfly (and watching Principal Skinner get blamed for it).
  • Implausible Deniability: Krusty invokes this during his press conference while trying to explain away a Noodle Incident at his theme park.
    Krusty: And I contend that those tourists were decapitated before they entered the Krustyland House of Knives.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Bleeding Gums was interned for it. And then he died.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Homer tries to comfort Lisa when she cries over Bleeding Gums' death. Only to say something stupid which made her feel worse.
    Homer: Oh, I blew it again. (Maggie puts her pacifier into Homer's mouth) Mmm...
  • It Always Rains at Funerals: Bleeding Gums' funeral. Poor Lisa is let down that it's such a lonely funeral as well as only she showed up, and her parents who were just accompanying her and did not really know Murphy. The rain clears when Lisa swears to let Murphy's name be known.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • When Bart is very visibly suffering something mid-test and it doesn't looks like he's faking it he begs Mrs. Krabappel to let him go to the nurse and asks how would she feel if he died on her watch. Not only Krabappel says that she wouldn't care, she shows Bart an item in the school's charter that releases the school of legal responsibility if Bart dies under their watch (or if Milhouse gets eaten by the pet snake... which it just did). She however shows concern when Bart finishes the test in about a minute and hands it to her before asking again if he can go... but makes Bart wait a little longer while she's painting her nails before giving him permission.
    • Comic Book Guy immediately raises the price of Bleeding Gums' album the moment Lisa mentions he died in the middle of her trying to plead a bargain, ensuring that Lisa can't afford to buy it. And just to add insult to injury, Mr. Burns taunts Lisa with a $500 bill immediately afterwards.
  • Killer Rabbit: Invoked when Bart explains why he wants to get reincarnated as a butterfly. As he puts it, "nobody ever suspects the butterfly." Cue Imagine Spot of him setting the school on fire and Skinner being taken to the madhouse because he's trying to warn everybody that "it was the butterfly, I tell you!".
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Like increase a radio station's broadcasting range from a mere 20 feet to being able to overpower every other form of radio communication in the entire city.
  • Logo Joke: The Gracie Films jingle is redone in a jazz style.
  • Lonely Funeral: The only person who goes to Bleeding Gums' funeral is Lisa. Marge and Homer don't even actually attend the funeral, they just wait for Lisa at the edge of the cemetery, Homer buying hot dogs. Reverend Lovejoy doesn't even get his name right.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Apparently, Bleeding Gums and Dr. Hibbert are brothers... not that either of them realize it. This is in addition to another episode suggesting there's another lost brother out there in the world.
  • Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: What was apparently Bleeding Gums' role in his guest spot in an In-Universe episode of The Cosby Show. Lampshaded by one of the Cosby children, who points out that there's been an awful lot of up-to-recently-unknown relatives appearing lately (and one other was also a jazz player, to boot).
  • Look, a Distraction!: When Superintendent Chalmers sees Bart on the floor in the nurse's office due to his appendicitis, Skinner tries to distract him by directing his attention to the school's snake...who had just swallowed several kids.
  • Meaningful Name: We learn the school snake is named Lumpy... mere moments before we see that it's swallowed several children.
  • Mistaken for Insane: Bart hopes to get reincarnated as a butterfly, leading to an Imagine Spot of Principal Skinner being arrested and declared insane for burning down the school and saying that "the butterfly" did it.
  • Mooning: While Lisa is speaking with Bleeding Gums in the hospital, Bart shows off his butt and introduces himself as "Doctor Cheeks."
  • My Little Panzer: Who in their right mind would put a piece of jagged steel or flesh-eating bacteria in a box of children's cereal? Krusty doesn't does himself any favors by unwillingly revealing in public television that the regular cereal is poisonous, either.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lisa prompts Comic Book Guy into doubling the price of Bleeding Gums' album after revealing he died.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Krusty opens his show by talking about his sexual harassment suit, which because of his plea bargain, requires him to introduce Ms. No-Means-No to the cast. He doesn't say anything about the actual incident.
    • Homer once learned the hard way that, when a sign says "Do Not Feed the Bears", you definitely shouldn't feed the bears. We don't know what exactly happened, except that Homer now has a bear cub clamped down on his arm. Also: Homer once liking Starland Vocal Band enough (or mistaking them for a band he actually likes) to get their named tattooed on his arm.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • Krusty's cereal had metal in it. Krusty ends up in severe pain just by eating a regular piece of cereal, calling it "poison".
    • There's also the fact that his theme park has a knife-filled attraction that puts anyone who goes in at risk of being decapitated.
    • Springfield Elementary has a pet boa constrictor that the staff are under no obligation to do anything about (even if it eats a student).
  • Not So Similar: When Homer talks to Lisa, he recalls how she was sad about Snowball I dying. Unfortunately, the point he builds to is that, since adopting a new cat made her feel better, they can just go to the pound and get a new jazz musician. Lisa doesn't take this well.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Mrs. Krabappel only believes that Bart's really in pain when he completely finishes his test before asking to go to the nurse again. She still lets him suffer a few more seconds of pain before sending him off, though.
  • Overly Long Gag: Mrs. Krabappel humming and filing her nails before finally giving a miserable Bart permission to go to the nurse's office.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Maggie offers Lisa her pacifier to try to cheer her up. She does so again with Homer later in the scene after he screws up.
    • Subverted when Homer and Bart each talk to Lisa about Bleeding Gums' death. They try to be supportive and cheer her up, but they mess up for different reasons.
    • Played straight when Bart buys Lisa the Sax on the Beach album because she was the only one who believed him when he said his stomach hurt.
  • Platonic Kissing: After Lisa reassures and calms Bart down while at the hospital, she then gives him a quick kiss on the cheek.
  • Playing Sick: Subverted. This time, Bart really is sick, and with something that could have killed him had it been left untreated for too long at that. Unfortunately for him, he just happened to get sick on the day of a test, leading everyone except Lisa to assume that he's faking like he normally does. Mrs. Krabappel is so convinced he's faking, in fact, that she more or less dares him to finish his test and then go to the nurse for a diagnosis. This backfires spectacularly when Bart immediately gets to work on the test, finishes it before anyone else does and desperately asks Krabappel to let him go, which finally convinces her that he's telling the truth.
  • Primp of Contempt: A visibly ill Bart tries to tell Mrs. Krabappel that he's sick and needs to go to the nurse's office. But she ignores him, saying that the school isn't responsible for anything happening to Bart, and then she starts filing her nails humming "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Stars And Stripes Forever" before finally allowing him to go.
  • Product Placement: Appears in The Cosby Show segment.
    Cliff: Y'see, jazz is like Jello pudding pop... no, actually, it's more like Kodak film... no, actually, jazz is like the new Coke - it'll be around forever.
  • Recycled Animation:
    • The shot of Grandpa listening to Bleeding Gums' album from an old-time radio was taken from "Homer's Barbershop Quartet".
    • Likewise, Kent Brockman going live to Krusty's press conference seems to reuse animation from his infamous 'the following people are gay' stunt from "Bart's Comet".
  • Reincarnation: Bart says he believes this is what happens when people die.
    Bart: I'll be a butterfly.
    Lisa: Why?
    Bart: Because nobody ever suspects the butterfly. [evil laugh]
  • Riddle for the Ages: How, when and why Homer got a tattoo of a band he hates.
  • Running Gag: The hot-dog vendor that always shows up at events where Homer wants a hot dog.
    Marge: What do you do, follow my husband around?
    Vendor: Lady, he's putting my kids through college!
  • Serial Escalation: Bart tries suing Krusty, again.... by now trying out the current version of his cereal: "Now with flesh eating bacteria!"
  • Shout-Out:
    • Bleeding Gums was a special guest on a (fictional) 1986 episode of The Cosby Show. The scene parodies the fact that quite some famous jazz musicians like Dizzy Gillespie, Tito Puentenote  and Lena Horne were once guests on the show. It also references Bill Cosby's tendency to clown around, talking gibberish and focus most of the attention to himself, exaggerated here to the point that Bleeding Gums doesn't even have a line.
    • Bleeding Gums appears in the sky to Lisa, together with Mufasa from The Lion King, Darth Vader from Star Wars, both characters voiced by James Earl Jones, who also appears saying "This is CNN". Mufasa mistakenly calls his son "Kimba" instead of "Simba".
    • The song "Jazzman" by Carole King is covered by Lisa and Bleeding Gums towards the middle of the episode.
    • Bleeding Gums mentions he's got a date with Billie Holiday.
    • The episode's name is a reference to 'Round Midnight, a film about an unappreciated jazz musician, which got its title from a jazz standard by Thelonious Monk.
  • Sky Face: The finale features Bleeding Gums' visage in the clouds over Lisa's head. Along with Mufasa, Darth Vader and James Earl Jones himself from CNN.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Bart sues Krusty for damages after getting appendicitis from eating his cereal. He wins a 100,000 settlement but only get $500 due to Lionel Hutz's astronomical fee. However, since Bart is only 10 and has no real concept of the value of money, he happily accepts the $500 cut without protest.
  • Sucky School:
    • Springfield Elementary’s charter has a rule stating that they are not responsible if Bart dies or if Milhouse gets eaten by the school's pet snake.
    • Lunchlady Doris works as Springfield Elementary's nurse due to budget cuts.
    • The very Scottish Groundskeeper Willie (and school janitor) is now a French teacher.
  • Take That!:
    Homer: Lisa, honey, if you really wanna preserve his memory, I recommend getting a tattoo. It preserves the things you love...(Homer rolls up his sleeve to reveal a heart with the words...) "Starland Vocal Band"?! They suck!
    • "You must avenge my death, Kimba...dah, I mean Simba!
    • One against New Coke, in Bleeding Gums' flashback, courtesy of Bill Cosby.
      Cosby: "Jazz is like the New Coke. It'll be around forever."
  • Tempting Fate: Krusty, to dispel Bart's lawsuit, eats a piece of the Krusty cereal to prove its harmless...only to collapse in agony.
  • This Is Going to Be Huge: Bill Cosby compares jazz to Kodak film and "the New Coke: It'll be around forever (heh heh heh!)"
  • Triangles Are the Worst Instrument: At Lisa's big performance for the school band, the majority of the band is getting unnecessary appendix surgery to skip school. Of the remaining members, perennial dork Martin's on the triangle and only looks good in comparison to Ralph Wiggum with a flute up his nose.
  • Wham Episode: This is one of the most important episodes of the series. For the first time ever, a major recurring character is killed off, it's permanent, and treated very seriously. This episode, alongside Lisa the Vegetarian, ushered in a wave of character changes the series had never experienced before and showed that Status Quo Is God would no longer be absolute.
  • Wham Line: "I'm sorry. He passed away." It's with this line when the generally lighthearted episode makes a shocking swerve towards drama.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: After Bart wakes up from surgery, the family is all relieved.
    Homer: Oh, this is wonderful. You're alive!
    Bart: No thanks to you, Homer!