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Recap / The Simpsons S7 E12 "Team Homer"

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Original air date: 1/7/1996 (produced in 1995)

Production code: 3F10

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 on ether 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. However, it robs the children of their individuality.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: Even though Burns replaced him on the team, it's Otto who ultimately wins the league championship for the Pin Pals when he accidentally destroys the claw machine, which shakes up the floor enough to knock the last two pins needed to beat the Holy Rollers.
  • The Almighty Dollar: This trope, a higher power or deity of wealth, is name-dropped and parodied during this episode. Homer tries a magazine folding trick to answer the question: "What higher power do TV evangelists worship?"
    Homer: "The 'all-ighty ollar'"? I get it.
  • 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 is instituted after Bart wears a T-shirt sporting a "Down with homework" iron-on from an issue of MAD Magazine. The policy goes away 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.
    • When it seems Burns found out about the bowling check, Smithers inspects it and points out it was for his monthly boweling. Burns then inspects the next check, which turns out to be the bowling one.
    • Mr. Burns seemingly bowling a strike, only to reveal it was Homer who did it.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Inverted. When Mr. Burns describes Homer's trickery as embezzlement, Smithers offers "misappropriation" as "a much uglier word for it".
  • 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 four people who, at some point or other, nearly broke up Homer and Marge's marriage: Shauna Tifton (aka "Princess Kashmir"), Lurleen Lumpkin, Mindy Simmons, and Jacques (the French bowler).
  • 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. If anything, it makes them wilder than ever; even Martin goes wild when he was originally supportive of the uniforms.
  • Connected All Along: The Squeaky-Voiced-Teen is revealed to be the son of Lunch Lady Doris.
  • Couch Gag: The family sits, and the camera zooms in through a mouse hole, where a family of mice versions of the Simpsons rush to their couch and sit as well.
  • 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.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Chief Wiggum's bowling team includes Snake Jailbird, a notorious criminal with little to no sense of honor. Sure enough, as soon as he's unshackled, he drops the bowling ball and makes a run for it, forcing the team to forfeit.
  • Epic Fail: Moe's attempt at crippling Mr. Burns' bowling performance actually improves it.
    • Burns' first attempt at bowling; he can barely move the ball more than a few feet before he collapses in exhaustion, while Smithers runs down the lane to kick the pins down for him.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: The rain turns the students' gray school uniforms into bright rainbows.
    Skinner: I don't understand it; I got them at the same place I buy Mother's dresses — Good lord, Mother's in the park!
  • Gang of Hats: All the bowling teams the Pin Pals play against have a certain gimmick or association.
    • The Channel 6 team; Kent Brockman, Arnie Pie, Krusty the Clown, and Bumblebee Man.
    • The Springfield Police team; Chief Wiggum, Lou, Eddie, and Snake Jailbird (who runs away as soon as his shackles are taken off).
    • The Home Wreckers were all people that could have broken Homer and Marge up (see Call-Back entry above).
    • Patty and Selma are members of a DMV team.
    • The Stereotypes; Luigi (Italian stereotype), Groundskeeper Willie (Scottish stereotype), Cletus (hillbilly stereotype), and Captain McCallister (sea captain stereotype). They apparently wanted Apu on their team.
    • The Holy Rollers are all devout Christians; Reverend Lovejoy, Helen Lovejoy, Ned Flanders, and Maude Flanders.
  • 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 because they've got each other. Then they hug. Cut to Homer breaking into Burns' mansion to get the trophy anyway.
  • Greedy Televangelist: Invoked by the MAD magazine fold-in joke: "What higher power do TV evangelists worship? The Almighty Dollar."
  • Guilt by Association Gag: At the assembly where the students will now have to wear uniforms due to Bart's prank, as Lisa models the girls' uniform, she gets pelted with the same trash and spare shoe that Bart 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 (or at least having Apu or Moe pay for it, since they own their own businesses and would have plenty of money to burn).
  • 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 T-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.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Chief Wiggum, when Snake escapes their custody mid-game, wisely decides to cut his losses and forfeit the game rather than try to find a fourth player on short notice (and likely because they need to go chase Snake down).
  • The Millstone: 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.
  • Mushroom Samba: While high on ether, Mr. Burns mistakes Homer for the Pillsbury Doughboy and writes him a check for $500. Then he mistakes Hans Moleman for the Lucky Charms leprechaun and takes a power drill to Moleman's skull
    Moleman: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.
    • Moe puts on a mask, grabs a crowbar and goes Tonya Harding on Burns to eliminate him from the championship game. The thing is, Burns already was unable to play that day because his bum knee had started acting up, and the "precision assault" just pops it back into place.
      Burns: Thank you, masked stranger!
  • Noodle Incident: So, so many:
    • 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, for The Killing Fields (or Don Ameche, for Cocoon, in the edited reruns on TV/Disney+ or DVD) for unknown reasons.
    • Mr. Burns missing out on his monthly boweling once, and the result being "unpleasant for all concerned".
    • What will happen to Agnes Skinner 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 entails bouncing one pin off the side or back wall of the pit to hit the other pin.
  • Ow, My Body Part!: Moleman says "Oh no, my brains..." when Burns drills into his head.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Upon Skinner's realization that his mother is in the park wearing a dress that will turn tye-dye when rained on and likely change her behaviour...
    Chalmers: Now this I gotta see!
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: In Real Life there's no actual such thing as a "boweling", though one can easily infer from the context here that it's intended to be some kind of medical procedure involving one's bowels.
  • 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 Kashmirnote  (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 McCallister (sea captain and restaurant owner).
    • The Channel 6 Team: Kent Brockman (news anchor), Arnie Pye (helicopter reporter), Krusty the Clown (children's TV entertainer), and Pedro the Bumblebee Man (Mexican sitcom actor)
  • 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.
  • Series Continuity Error: For some reason, Ralph Wiggum is depicted as being in Bart's class early in the episode. In early seasons, it tended to vary as to whether Ralph was meant to be in Bart's or Lisa's class, but he had been firmly established as being in Lisa's class well before this episode.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: A couple to classic children's literature:
    • The uniformed kids briefly bounce their balls in creepy unison standing side by side, a la A Wrinkle in Time.
    • Shortly afterwards, when the colors return, Lisa claims to remember colors, starting with red.
  • Spock Speak: The kids, as a result of being sapped of all emotion by their uniforms.
    Todd: [while playing tag, Todd trudges over to Lisa] You're it.
    Lisa: [Trudges over to Milhouse] Now you are the one who is it.
    Milhouse: Understood.
  • Subverted Catchphrase: As the uniforms start breaking the students' spirits, Nelson forgets his Signature Laugh mid-sentence. "Haw...ho?"
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The episode ends with the remaining Pin Pals trying to steal back the bowling championship trophy from Mr. Burns. As the others cheer Homer on as he swipes it from Burns' manor, attack dogs run after him and even though he suddenly gains a second wind and looks like he'll outrun them, he's still morbidly obese and clearly no match for a pack of physically fit Dobermans who grab onto him as he tries to climb the gate and viciously maul him as the others run for their lives.
  • Take That!: To Mad Magazine's inability to move on with the times.
    Milhouse: They're really sticking it to this Spiro Agnew guy again. He must work there or something.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Chalmers is ready to give Springfield Elementary a perfect ten rating on his inspection. He writes the zero on his paper first for some reason ... then a horde of children, instigated by Bart's "Down with Homework" shirt, trample him.
    • After Homer tells his family nothing will stop his team, Mr. Burns finds a check about bowling. Smithers explains it's about "boweling". Then he spots the true bowling check.
    • When Skinner forces the students to wear uniforms, he tells them to pick between extra small or extra large and claims they have both. Lunchlady Doris then whispers something in his ear and he informs the students they're out of extra large uniforms.
    • Having not learned his lesson from earlier in the episode, Chalmers looks on approvingly at how obedient the children are in their uniforms and says: "Best of all, with less than a minute to go before I leave, absolutely nothing has gone wrong." Then it starts raining, the uniforms become all rainbow-colored, and the students' rebellious attitudes return.
  • They Killed Kenny Again: While high on ether, Burns mistakes Hans Moleman as the Lucky Charms leprechaun, and uses a drill to get his Lucky Charms.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Comic Book Guy for the kids' subplot. He makes Bart buy the Mad issue ("You fold it, you bought it") containing the iron-on that inspires the riot that leads to the imposition of uniforms.


Video Example(s):


Skinner's Vietnam Trauma

Principal Skinner recalls how he was captured in Vietnam and the true torture he endured.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheVietnamVet

Media sources: