First Aired - 1/7/1996
In order to play on League Night at Barney's Bowl-A-Rama, Homer assembles a ragtag group of bowlers (Apu, Moe, and Otto the bus driver) to play, but when he can't pony up the $500 fee, he asks Mr. Burns for the money, who is so high that he thinks Homer is The Pillsbury Doughboy (Poppin' Fresh). Meanwhile, Bart buys the latest issue of MAD and finds an iron-on T-shirt decal, which he wears to school — and the ensuing riot leads Springfield Elementary to implement a uniforms-only dress code.
This episode contains examples of:
- The Almighty Dollar: This trope, a higher power or deity of wealth, is named and parodied during this episode. Homer tried a magazine folding trick to answer the question: "What higher power do TV evangelists worship?"
- Answer Cut: When Bart says "These uniforms suck!", Marge scolds him for swearing and asks where he heard that word. At that moment, Homer is on the phone repeatedly saying "suck", as seen in the quote under Department of Redundancy Department.
- Anti School Uniforms Plot: Springfield Elementary institutes a uniform policy. This is depicted as a negative thing that turns the kids listless and depressed. The uniforms policy was instituted following Bart wearing a T-shirt that had a "Down with homework" iron-on from an issue of MAD Magazine. The policy was lifted when rain washed out the grey color of the school uniforms, turning them rainbow-colored and returning the children's playful spirits.
- Assimilation Academy: Superintendent Chalmers approves of Skinner's choice of uniforms sapping the kid's spirits, declaring that it ensures they're prepared for "tomorrow's mills and processing industries".
- Bait-and-Switch: Skinner spent three years of his life as a POW in Vietnam, forced to subsist on a thin stew of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk, and four kinds of rice. He came close to madness...trying to find it in the States, but no one can get the spices right.
- Bowling for Ratings: Homer gets an anesthetized Mr. Burns to sign a $500.00 check so he can register a bowling team with Apu, Moe, and Otto, called the "Pin Pals". When Burns recovers from his stupor and discovers the check he wrote to Homer, he replaces Otto in the team as revenge.
- Call-Back: One of the bowling teams Homer's team competes against is called "The Home Wreckers" and consists of the three women and one man who tried to break up Homer and Marge's marriage to each other: Shauna Tifton (the belly-dancing stripper known as "Princess Kashmir" from "Homer's Night Out"), Lurleen Lumpkin (the country singer from "Colonel Homer"), Mindy Simmons (the sexy Distaff Counterpart of Homer on "The Last Temptation of Homer"), and Jacques (the French bowler Marge almost slept with on "Life in the Fast Lane").
- Clothes Make the Maniac: The drab and monochromatic school uniforms turn the kids at Springfield Elementary into Incredibly Lame Fun-having zombies who even blink in unison and don't know what colors are. The uniforms turning multicolored in the rain (they weren't colorfast) turns them back to normal.
- Department of Redundancy Department: One of the most memorable examples.Homer: Yeah, Moe, that team sure did suck last night. They just plain sucked! I've seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.
- Epic Fail: Moe's attempt at crippling Mr. Burns's bowling performance actually improves it.
- Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: The rain turns the students' gray school uniforms into bright rainbows.Principal Skinner: I don't understand; I bought them the same place I buy Mother's dresses Oh dear God, Mother's in the park!
- Gave Up Too Soon: Believing nobody other than Homer would show up at his bar, Moe closes it earlier and turns the lights off just as Mayor Quimby and his brothers are about to enter with the intention to start a Drinking Contest.
- Gilligan Cut: Homer declares the Pin Pals don't need the trophy, they've got each other. Then they hug. Cut to Homer breaking into Burns's mansion to get the trophy anyway.
- Guilt by Association Gag: At the assembly where the school will now have to wear uniforms due to Bart's prank, as Lisa models the girl's uniform, she gets pelted with the same trash and spare shoe that her brother gets due to being related to him.
- Honor Before Reason: A funny version, with a dash of The Main Characters Do Everything. Homer takes it upon himself to get all $500 to start the bowling team, instead of each member pitching in $125.
- Hypocritical Humor: When Marge is impressed by the fact that Otto converted a 7-10 split, Homer states that the individual doesn't matter because it was a team effort and he came up with the idea of making a team.
- I Have No Son!: Played for Laughs — The Squeaky-Voiced Teen gets disowned by his mother (Lunchlady Doris) because he literally couldn't rent a bowling lane to his own mother on league night.
- Insult to Rocks: Inverted with Moe, who declares he's better than dirt. Most dirt, anyway. Not that fancy store-bought stuff.
- Irony: Jacques is the only professional bowler among "The Home Wreckers" and his teammates blame him for losing.
- Jerkass: Mr. Burns, angry that he gave Homer $500 for bowling, joins his team as revenge. He provides to be a poor bowler by always getting gutter balls, but then shows a kind side by giving his entire team new tee shirts and winning the match (because of Otto breaking a nearby machine by accident). Of course, he takes the trophy for himself and sends his hounds to attack his teammates when they try to take it back.
- The Load: Mr. Burns turns out to be this for Homer's team, as he's so weak he's unable to get anything outside of gutter balls.
- Made of Incendium: When the kids knock over Mrs. Krabappel's desk, it spontaneously catches fire.
- Major Injury Underreaction: Hans Moleman requests 17 dollars from Mr. Burns to fix his push broom. Mr. Burns, however, is high on ether and hallucinates him as the Lucky Charms leprechaun, and in order to get "his Lucky Charms", takes a power drill to his skull.Oh no... My brains...!
- Never My Fault: Played for Laughs when Homer tries to flush "his" Oscar down the toilet, only for it (obviously) not to happen and for him to moan to Marge that someone broke the toilet.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: No thanks to the school's new uniform policy, Bart instantly goes from hero to zero.
- Noodle Incident: So, so many in this episode:
- Homer once tried to borrow $1500 from Mr. Burns. When Marge asks why, Homer snaps, "Oh, I gotta get the third degree from you, too?"
- Homer stealing a Best Supporting Actor Oscar from Dr. Haing S. Ngor, who won it for The Killing Fields (or Don Ameche, who won it for Cocoon, if you're watching the edited reruns on TV or on DVD) for unknown reasons.
- Mr. Burns missing out on his monthly boweling, and the end result being "unpleasant for all concerned."
- What will happen to Principal Skinner's mom if she wears a dress made from the same material as the uniforms (which turn tye-dye in the rain)?
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Otto converting his 7-10 split. To do this, it's required to bounce one pin off of the side or back wall of the pit to hit the other pin.
- Pass the Popcorn: Upon Principal Skinner's realization that his mother is in the park wearing a dress that will turn tye-dye when rained on and change her behaviour...Superintendent Chalmers: Now this I gotta see!
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
- "The Pin Pals": Homer (nuclear technician), Moe (bartender), Apu (convenience store keeper) and Otto (bus driver and The Stoner). Otto was later replaced with Mr. Burns (Corrupt Corporate Executive)
- "The Home Wreckers": Jacques (professional bowler), Princess Kashmir (belly dancer/stripper), Mindy Simmons (nuclear power plant worker) and Lurleen Lumpkin (country singer)
- "The Stereotypes": Cletus (a hick), Luigi (Italian chef), Groundskeeper Willie (Scottish school janitor), and Captain MacCallister (sea captain and restaurant owner).
- Rhyming with Itself: "By the way, guys, rhyming Homer with Homer? Mwa!"
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: The Pin Pals, to a man, leave Homer to be ripped to shreds by Burns' guard dogs.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Parodied. Skinner darkly recounts his experiences as a POW that he claims nearly drove him to madness...because no one in America can properly make the stew the Vietnamese fed him.
- Spock Speak: The kids, as a result of being sapped of all emotion by their uniforms.Martin: (while playing tag, Martin trudges over to Lisa) You're it.
Lisa: (trudges over to Milhouse) Now you are the one who is it.
- Subverted Catch Phrase: As the uniforms start breaking the students' spirits, Nelson forgets his Signature Laugh mid-sentence. "Haw... ho?"
- Tempting Fate: After Homer tells his family nothing will stop his team, we get a scene of Mr. Burns finding a check about bowling. Smithers explains it's about "boweling". Then he spots the true bowling check.
- They Killed Kenny Again: While high on ether, Mr. Burns mistakes Hans Moleman as the Lucky Charms leprechaun, and uses a drill to get his Lucky Charms.Hans: Oh no, my brains.