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Recap / The Simpsons S7 E3 "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily"

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Original air date: 10/1/1995

Production code: 3F01

The Simpsons kids are unfairly taken out of their home by the local child welfare office due to a series of contrived coincidences that make it seem as if Homer and Marge are neglectful parents, such as;

  • Bart catching lice from the monkey he was playing with at Milhouse's house, resulting with his clothes being burned in the school incinerator to disinfect them.
  • Lisa having her prescription shoes being stolen by some bullies. She then bites her tongue when she's hit in the head with a ball, leaving her speaking with a lisp.
  • Maggie being left to roam the house unsupervised when Grandpa falls asleep, resulting in her drinking out of the dog's water bowl with a sign (that was originally intended for Lisa) saying that 'I'm a stupid baby' stuck to her back.
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  • The house itself being unusually untidy; Marge was whisked away from her chores by Homer with the promise of a spa trip and had intended on completing the chores on her return. Of note are the twenty year old newspapers on the table; Marge had actually found those for Lisa for a school project.
Fortunately Bart, Lisa and Maggie are placed with the Flanders family next door. While Homer and Marge are forced to take parenting classes, Bart and Lisa worry that Maggie may love the Flanders family more than The Simpsons.

This is the first episode featuring Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein as showrunners; they took over the job from David Mirkin, the showrunner for seasons 5 and 6.

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Tropes:

  • Abuse Mistake: Due to Lisa not having shoes, Bart having a case of head lice and wearing a potato sack, a social worker finding the house a mess, Maggie drinking out of the dog's water bowl and wearing a sign that reads "I'm a stupid baby!", Grampa asleep on the couch, and the toilet paper hung in the "improper" overhand position, Marge and Homer are deemed unfit parents and had to take parenting classes in order to get their kids back from their foster parents, the Flanders family.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: During the chase to prevent the kids' baptism, Homer figures that "to find Flanders, I have to think like Flanders!" The resulting Inner Monologue consists entirely of insults ("I'm a big four-eyed lame-o! And I wear the same stupid sweater every day..."), but it's somehow enough to get him to realize that Ned is heading for the Springfield River.
  • Apophenia Plot: Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are mistaken for being neglected and abused when the child workers walk in after a variety of unrelated circumstances (Grampa is left in charge of the kids, Lisa's shoes are taken away by bullies, Bart has head lice from playing with a monkey, there's a bunch of old newspapers on the table intended for one of Lisa's school projects). They're sent to live with their next-door neighbors the Flanders, as Homer and Marge are made to take a parenting class. Eventually, they pass and are able to get their kids back.
  • Artistic License – Religion: You may be tempted to look up the "Serpent of Rehoboam" or the "Bridal Feast of Beth Chedruharazzeb" but they do not exist in the Bible.
    • When Flanders prepares to baptize Bart and Lisa, he asks them, "Do you reject Satan and all his empty promises?"—except that he kind of omits "and all his works", and the question he asks is a part of the baptismal vows (which are actually "the renunciations required of an adult candidate for baptism just before the sacrament is conferred") in the Roman Ritual of the Catholic Church, which often happens at one's First Holy Communion and Confirmation, as well as annually during the Easter Vigil. Also combines with Dated History: if this episode were made in The New '10s, Flanders would have asked the children, "Do you renounce Satan, and all his works, and all his empty show?"
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • The Simpsons are told Bart, Lisa and Maggie will be taken to a place where Homer and Marge will never see them again. Then they're left at the house next door (which actually is a violation on the 100-foot restraining order Homer and Marge were given against their own children).
    • This happens a couple times with Bart and Lisa at the Flanders' house. First, Ned tells the kids he made "nachos, Flanders style" which is just cucumbers with cottage cheese. Later when Ned invites the family to play a game, Bart and Lisa are initially excited since he referred to it involving a "bombardment" until Ned continues with "of Bible trivia questions".
  • Bat Deduction: When Homer's attempt to "think like Flanders" somehow manages to help him realize Ned is at the Springfield River in seconds with no logical train of thought presented.
  • Big "NO!": When Homer sees Ned is about to baptize his children.
    Ned: Do you reject Satan, and all his empty promises?
    Homer: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! (skin burns on contact with holy water)
  • Bowdlerise: When the episode first aired, Milhouse tells Bart that he found the monkey that gave Bart lice in a wicker basket from Pier One. When the company complained about the joke, the reruns had the line changed to "Trader Pete's", an entirely fictional store. On DVD, overseas markets (as Pier One isn't known outside of America), and the "Every Simpsons Ever" marathon on FXX (as well as normal cable reruns on that channel), the "Pier One" line is used. The "Trader Pete's" dialogue is on Disney+ as well as Freeform.note 
  • Call-Back: Mrs. Skinner mentioning that her arguing with her son over an inflatable bath pillow harkens back to the previous season's "The Springfield Connection".
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Poor Marge has a near-perfect parenting game going, but loses access to her kids after a CPS investigation that starts when she unwittingly sends Bart to school with lice. While the investigation mainly turns up Not What It Looks Like occurrences, it is true that Homer and Marge left the house messy (planning to tidy up later) and left Maggie in the care of sleepy and senile Abe (for only three hours).
  • Captain Obvious: The parenting class Homer and Marge are forced to take to get their kids back largely consists of an instructor explaining such advanced concepts as the need to refrigerate milk. Marge is humiliated; Homer is taking notes.
    Homer: "Garbage in garbage can." Hmm. Makes sense.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The "I'm a Stupid Baby" sign Bart puts on Lisa's back. It bites the family in the ass because Marge didn't get rid of it, and it somehow winds up on Maggie.
  • Children Are Innocent: Rod and Todd are so sheltered by Maude and Ned that they have no idea what blood is.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • On both sides with the newspaper printing scene - Bart smiles innocently on handing Todd the paper reading "Todd Smells", as if genuinely expecting them to go with it, and Rod and Todd just seem confused by it, rather than offended. It then became less funny to an annoyed Bart.
      Rod:Bart, I don't know if this should be an extra.
      Todd: Is your source on this reliable?
    • The children's aid worker sees the "I'm a Stupid Baby" sign on Maggie and, instead of seeing it as a cruel thing to do to a child, just remarks that stupid babies need more attention.
  • Couch Gag: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Grampa (who’s sleeping), Santa's Little Helper, and Snowball II are in a Brady Bunch-style nine-square grid, with the couch in the center square. Everyone except Grampa runs to the center square.
  • Diving Save: Homer, to save Bart from a baptism.
  • Empty Bedroom Grieving: At one point, Homer and Marge walk through the house sadly looking in on their deserted bedrooms, with Homer eventually going into Lisa's bedroom and pretending to play her "saxo-mo-phone".
  • Entertainingly Wrong: A combination of bullying, monkeys and Grandpa's senility result in Homer and Marge being mistaken for bad parents.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Krabappel, Skinner and Willie don't like Bart, but they panic when he's discovered to be carrying headlice and dispose of them accordingly, even giving him a blanket to keep him warm.
  • Exorcist Head: Maggie's head spins around after she says, "Daddily doodily!"
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Ned owns "The Song of Solomon" (one of the racier parts of the Bible) and "Today's Family Gnostic Bible".
  • Friend-or-Idol Decision: Maggie, who's enjoyed her time with the Flanders far more than her own brood, is left standing between them and forced to choose who to go to. Bart, Lisa and Homer are shown standing in the river surrounded by dead trees, while Ned, Maude and their children are in a happy meadow filled with flowers. At first, it seems that Maggie will choose the latter...until Marge comes around the corner.
  • Fun with Acronyms: After Marge passes her drug test again (the first time she failed because the test mistakenly had her tested positive for crack and PCP). Her response?
    "The only thing I'm 'high' on is love. Love for my Son and Daughters. Yes, a little LSD is all I need."
  • Good Parents: The opening of the episode emphasizes Marge as a supermom, making an effortless breakfast, packing her kids' lunches to perfection ("Keep the lettuce separate until 11:30. That way the lettuce stays moist and the bread stays dry!"), and explaining how she obtained the newspapers Lisa needed for a class project even though she had to track them to the dump, showing that she's far from the abusive and neglectful parent CPS believes her to be. Downplayed with Homer: he has plenty of parental failings, but he loves and wants the best for his children, and Bart and Lisa miss him as much as they miss Marge. And of course, there are obvious goodies Ned and Maude, who take in the Simpson kids in addition to their own brood and do their best by them even though their parenting style's considerably different; Bart and Lisa find them dull and unsettling compared to Homer and Marge, but Maggie soaks up their attention.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: During the parenting session, Homer goes into a rage because of Cletus saying he cut himself on a screen door, and starts trying to strangle him.
  • Hollywood Law: No, the Department of Child Disservices probably wouldn’t be allowed to put the kids in the house next door to their original one.
  • Holy Burns Evil: Homer takes a baptism for his kids to keep them from becoming Flanderses. It doesn't seem to do any lasting damage (except briefly make Homer peaceful and knowledgeable of religious events, like St. Augustine of Hippo being converted by Ambrose of Milan), but the sound effect and Homer's demonic growl fit pretty well.
  • Humor Dissonance: In-universe. Bart and Lisa cackle madly on seeing an episode of Itchy & Scratchy where Itchy violently murders Scratchy by pretending to be a baby just to commit theft, while Rod and Todd are completely traumatized.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Homer mocks Ned for "wearing the same stupid sweater every day" despite the fact that he himself (and most of Springfield) wear the same outfit every day.
  • Idiot Ball: More like "average ball" for Lisa, who proves just as clueless about the Bible as Bart despite typically being seen with a significant store of theological, philosophical and historical knowledge. In fairness, most of Ned's references are made up.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: When Bart is discovered to have head lice on class picture day (as a result of playing with a monkey Milhouse found), he comments "I get lice and nothing bad happens to Milhouse." We then see Milhouse standing there pale, wrapped in a blanket, muttering "So cold, so very, very cold."
  • Incredibly Lame Fun: At the Flanders house, the Simpson kids are subjected to Bible trivia, Rod and Todd's pretend printing press, and "nachos, Flanders style":
    Ned: That's cucumbers with cottage cheese!
  • Informed Flaw: Lisa apparently needs "prescription shoes".
    • The Simpson children also apparently need to be baptized to the standards of The Flanders.
  • It's All My Fault: Marge is quick to blame herself for the kids getting taken because she left the house for three hours. Homer is upset by this as he's obviously the "bad" parent of the two.
  • Jerkass Ball:
    • Grandpa. He's confronted about being left with the kids for a few hours and getting them taken away and just says "Oh, bitch, bitch, bitch!" and walks off.
    • Flanders, he forcibly tries to baptize Bart, Lisa and Maggie and calls Homer and Marge bad parents because they never baptized them, and by the way they talked, he and Maude intended to keep the Simpson children permanently despite that being outside the scope of being a foster parent.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • While Abe is called out for his irresponsibility, he brushes it off with a simple "Oh bitch, bitch, bitch!" in response and leaves with no proper comeuppance.
    • The girls that bully Lisa and steal her shoes also fall into this, as they disappear completely after their appearance and are never seen again.
  • "Kick Me" Prank: Bart sticks a sign on Lisa's back that reads, "I'm a stupid baby!" That sign somehow finds its way on Maggie and was mistaken for a label Homer and Marge put on the baby when the Child Protective Services officers inspect the Simpson house.
    Officer: Stupid babies need the most attention!
  • Kill It with Fire: Willie burns Bart's clothes on Skinner's orders, to get rid of his lice. They squeak in terror before being incinerated.
  • The Lopsided Arm of the Law: All it takes is a few misunderstandings for Child Protective Services to deem Homer and Marge bad parents and take their kids away. Meanwhile, kids like Nelson and The Spucklers live in homes that are rife with squalor, poverty, neglect, and more, yet they've never had a visit from Child Services.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • In a rare thoughtful moment, Homer shows his appreciation for Marge's tireless effort as a wife and mother by surprising her with a well-deserved spa trip, calling Abe to babysit Maggie and telling her not to worry about the housework until later. This means that Marge isn't around when CPS arrives to find the house in some disarray and Abe passed out on the couch, and draw a series of inaccurate conclusions which Marge could easily have cleared up had she been present.
    • Several of the Contrived Coincidences that make the family look bad are actually signs of Marge's good parenting when seen in context: the out-of-date newspapers left on the kitchen table were tracked down at great hassle because Lisa needed them for a school project, and the "I'm a stupid baby" sign only ends up stuck to Maggie because Marge noticed that Bart had stuck it to Lisa and took it off her.
  • Noodle Incident: Ned rewards correct Bible trivia answers with a star sticker. After some time has passed, Rod and Todd are covered in stickers while the Simpson kids remain stubbornly stickerless...except for Maggie, who's managed to obtain one star somehow.
  • Not Helping Your Case:
    • When Lisa tries to argue that Marge and Homer are good parents who've never neglected she and her siblings, one of her teeth fall out. She insists that it was a baby tooth and it was loose, but it's clear the Flanders don't believe her.
    • As usual, Homer is the king of this. While in court he speaks up after Marge claiming to the judge that he's the last type of guy who should have any children, and then when mentioning loving Bart and Lisa he forgets about Maggie. He realizes the first and lampshades it, with the judge and Marge pointing out the second. Fortunately, the judge seemed to reasonably overlook it and sent both parents into a parenting class.
  • Papa Wolf: Homer goes into full defense mode to keep the kids from being baptized, up to hurling himself down a hill and shoving Bart out of the way to prevent Ned from anointing him.
  • Parenting the Husband: On their way out the door Marge reminds the kids that when they grow up they'll have to take care of themselves. Cue a frightened Homer coming in to tell her there's a spider near his car keys.
    Marge: (patting his hand) You did the right thing by telling me. (walks into adjoining room while Homer looks after her adoringly) Shoo! Get outta here!
  • Parents as People: Explored with Homer and Marge in this episode; despite the conclusions CPS draws about them, they're both doing the best they can and—while Marge's best is considerably better than Homer's best—really love their kids. While Homer's short temper and not-infrequent Parental Neglect come in for the scrutiny you'd expect, even the scrupulously correct parenting we see from Marge can't prevent the occasional oversight, in this case sending Bart to school without realizing he's just contracted lice, which shocks the teachers and kicks off the whole investigation.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Bart and Lisa don't explain to the authorities that most of what they're seeing is Not What It Looks Like (bullies took Lisa's shoes, etc). Heck, the school itself doesn't bother telling them that Bart is only wearing a sack because they took his clothes as part of their delousing procedure.
  • Road Trip Across the Street: The social worker drives Bart, Lisa and Maggie the few feet from the Simpsons house to the Flanders'.
  • Rule of Funny: Ned expresses shock that Bart and Lisa are unfamiliar with the story of "the Bridal Feast of Beth Chedruharazzeb".
  • Serious Business: In-universe. The Flanders boys appear to treat newspaper printing seriously as they scold Bart for printing a headline that says "Extra Extra! Todd Stinks", demanding to know whether it's really worth printing and what his sources are. Never mind that their own headlines like "Playtime is Fun" are overtly kiddy.
  • Shout-Out: After she calls Ned "daddily-doodily" while they're heading to their "emergency baptism", Maggie's head twists around, Exorcist-style.
  • Skewed Priorities: Bart may be a major contagious health risk for the entire school with head lice, but Milhouse appears to have caught a severe southern hemisphere related disease from the monkey that came from the store that leaves him in shakes and an extremely high fever.
  • Take That!: Ned says he used to let Rod and Todd watch My Three Sons before bedtime, but it got them "too worked up" to go to sleep.
  • Vertigo Effect: When the social worker announces to Bart, Lisa and Maggie that they're being taken to "a FOSTER HOOOOOOME!"
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!: For all his niceness, Bart and Lisa find Ned extremely bland compared to Homer, reminiscing fondly about how he "used to call the radio station with fake traffic tips."

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