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Recap / The Simpsons S8 E7 "Lisa's Date with Density"

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Original air date: 12/15/1996

Production code: 4F01

After stealing Superintendent Chalmers' car emblem off his new Honda Accord, Nelson is sentenced to janitorial work. While Lisa is serving detention for snickering at Nelson spraying Groundskeeper Willie with a hose, she becomes fascinated with and develops a crush on the bully. Meanwhile, Homer takes an autodialer that was recently used in a telemarketing scam and creates a telemarketing scam of his own.


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Tropes:

  • 555: This occurs when Homer demonstrates the autodialer for Marge.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • After Chalmers' hood ornament was stolen:
      Skinner: Well, I'll tell you something that's not so funny. Right now, Superintendant Chalmers is at home crying like a little girl. (Among the subsequent laughter of the students, he chuckles.) I guess it is...a little funny.
    • Later, Lisa is amused by how Nelson keeps pranking Willie.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Discussed on the DVD Commentary, with those present ruefully concluding for all the nice guys out there that, "it's nice to be a nice guy, but with the ladies...steal a hood ornament...otherwise you'll have to wait to be someone's second husband".
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Milhouse, as usual, doesn't have his feelings for Lisa returned and is forced to deal with the fact that she openly crushes on Nelson right in front of him. He's not the only one, however; Janey is implied to have a crush on Milhouse, which he doesn't return, and Uter is implied to have a crush on Janey, which she doesn't return either.
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  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Skinner says his mother makes him pay for the food he ate as a child. This actually happened to author, Ernest Thompson Seton whose father presented him with a bill on his 21st birthday for all his childhood expenses including the doctor delivering him.
  • Ambulance Cut: Milhouse passes Lisa's note to Nelson, and when he reads it and looks back, Milhouse waffles his eyebrows. Cut to paramedics wheeling an unconscious Milhouse into an ambulance.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Chief Wiggum and his handling of the telemarketing fraud perpetuated by Jimmy the Scumbag ... and later Homer Simpson.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • It appears Chief Wiggum has tracked down Nelson and shot him ("Chief, no!"), but it turns out he was actually taking out Homer's autodialer, and Wiggum has no idea where Nelson is.
    • When Milhouse is carted off to the hospital, one of the paramedics tells Lisa, "[Milhouse] can't hear you now..." making viewers think Milhouse died, before adding, "We had to pack his ears with gauze."
    • Instead of singing "Uter likes Janey!", the class sing "Uter likes Milhouse!" even though they were already saying "Janey likes Milhouse!".
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Nelson and Lisa have the G-rated Puppy Love equivalent.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Bart admits at being a crappy brother and that he feels a need to prevent Lisa from committing a huge mistake in a single sentence:
    Bart: I'll probably never say this to you again, but... you can do better!
  • Big "NO!": Skinner's reaction to Nelson's Noodle Incident listed below.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Homer to Ned and Maude.
  • Booby Trap: Bart has his locker rigged to launch a dozen eggs at the would-be accesser, as Skinner discovers to his sorrow. He quickly moves on to the next search target rather than risk more where that came from.
  • Butt-Monkey: Groundskeeper Willie is made this: verbally by Skinner and more physically by Nelson.
  • Conforming OOC Moment: During the Mocking Sing-Song section, Janey and Uter can be seen singing "Milhouse likes Lisa" and "Janey likes Milhouse" respectively along with the rest of the kids, even though they both refute it immediately afterward.
  • Couch Gag: The living room is upside-down, and the family (also upside-down) come in and sit on the couch, but end up falling on the ceiling/floor.
  • Detention Episode: Lisa gets detention when Mr. Largo thought that she was disrupting class by laughing at the word "tromboner". What Lisa was really laughing at was Nelson spraying Groundskeeper Willie with a hose and misunderstanding what he was saying.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Jimmy the Scumbag is looking at a twenty-year sentence for a telemarketing scam, the same sort of scam Homer was later punished for with an Ordered Apology to everyone he scammed.
    • Nelson beats Milhouse into the hospital merely because he mistook a love note that Lisa asked him to give to him was from Milhouse.
    • Mr. Largo gives Lisa detention and makes her write lines on all the chalkboards just for briefly snickering in class once. While her giggling did spark off a chain reaction of Mocking Sing-Song taunts from the rest of the class, that was more on the other students, who Largo doesn't punish at all.
  • The Dreaded Pretend Tea-Party: Lisa shows Nelson around and tries to put Snowball II into a baby carriage for play. As the cat resists, she claims that Snowball usually loves to do it, but it's clear that Snowball hates it.
  • Driven to Suicide: Arresting Jimmy the scumbag, Wiggum describes all the other things he'll endure in prison and say this is the only way out.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Lisa mentions that Milhouse likes Vaseline on toast.
  • First Kiss: Nelson's "Shut Up" Kiss turns out to be this for Lisa (and seemingly for Nelson).
  • Gilligan Cut: After Nelson receives a love note from Lisa and initially thinks Milhouse wrote it. Cut immediately to an unconscious Millhouse being carried out of the school on a stretcher, having been badly beaten up by Nelson.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Of a sorts. When Principal Skinner punches the wall after thinking Superintendent Chalmers' hood ornament was gone for good, he starts with a colorful metaphor and ends with its kid-friendly counterpart.
    Principal Skinner: Damn! Dang! Darn!
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Loving someone is not enough to change them for the best, no matter how hard you try.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": Mr. Largo mistook Lisa laughing at Nelson's antics for her laughing at the word "tromboner".
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Zig-Zagged. Lisa gets a crush on Nelson Muntz, and even Bart thinks this is crazy, telling her, "I'll probably never say this to you again, but you can do better!" It's not that Lisa doesn't know that Nelson is a rotten kid, she just honestly believes that he might have a sensitive side, and she might be able to change him. By the end of the episode, however, she realizes that Nelson is rotten through and through, and they break up. Although, in a subsequent episode, she does a favor for him, and when asked why, she shrugs and says, "Well, we used to date." Some later episodes also do show them being on friendly terms with each other, with the Flash Forward episodes outright implying they still regularly talk.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • After Skinner finds out Nelson stole Chalmers' H from his Honda, among everyone else's stuff.
      Skinner: Well, sir, who's "haw-haw"-ing now, hm?
      Nelson: I don't know, but he's got lethal tuna breath.
      [The other students (except Lisa) all "ooh" at his remark.]
      Lisa: (disgusted) Who does Nelson think he's impressing anyway, acting so "cool" all the time?
      Milhouse: (standing next to Lisa) Not me!
    • Homer's autodialer keeps calling the Flanders house, which infuriates Maude since Ned won't just unplug the phone.
      Maude: That is it, Ned! If you don't unplug that phone right now, you're sleeping on the lawn!
      Homer: WILL YOU TWO SHUT UP?! PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO SLEEP!
  • I Can Change My Beloved: Discussed; played straight with Marge and Homer (Marge insists that she has changed Homer, despite the evidence that he's still an often-inconsiderate slob) and averted with Lisa and Nelson (Lisa comes to realize that she could never change Nelson).
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Lisa ultimately concludes that Nelson is this. Downplayed in that he does develop a soft spot for her over the course of the episode.
  • Karma Houdini: Nelson walks off scot-free from all his actions: his punishment for stealing Chalmers' H is more of a punishment for Willie, he suffers no implied punishment despite beating Milhouse to the point he needs to be sent to an emergency clinic, and he finally finishes the episode away from legal trouble for pelting Skinner's house with spoiled coleslaw along with his buddies (along with tauntingly mooning him for good measure).
    • Homer got off a lot easier than Jimmy The Scumbag for the whole telemarketing debacle; the most he is forced to do is apologize to all he scammed, and even then it's implied he found a new way to scam people.
  • Lead In: Homer's subplot begins with him attempting to shoplift by trying to disguise candy as sprinkles on a self-serve donut.
  • A Lesson Learned Too Well: Homer pays his debt to society from his telemarketing scam... with another telemarketing scam.
    "Hello, this is Homer Simpson, a.k.a. Happy Dude. The court has ordered me to call every person in town to apologize for my telemarketing scam. I'm sorry. If you can find it in your heart to forgive me, send one dollar to Sorry Dude, 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield. You have the power."
  • Literal Ass-Kicking:
    Lisa: Why do you have to be such a pain all the time? Don't you realize you're getting a bad reputation?
    Nelson: Don't you realize your butt sticks out?
    Lisa: It does not!
    [Nelson kicks Lisa in the butt]
    Lisa: Hey!
    Nelson: Ha ha!
  • Mistaken for Gay: Probably what's implied when Nelson mistakes Milhouse, the emissary of a love note from Lisa, for the writer. He gives Milhouse an unusually rough beating even by his standards to the point where the poor kid's taken away in an ambulance.
  • Mocking Sing-Song: After Lisa is caught looking at Nelson during music class.
    Class: [sing-song] Lisa likes Nelson!
    Milhouse: She does not!
    Class: [sing-song] Milhouse likes Lisa!
    Janey: He does not!
    Class: [sing-song] Janey likes Milhouse!
    Uter: She does not!
    Class: [sing-song] Uter likes Milhouse.
    Mr. Largo: Nobody likes Milhouse! Lisa, you've got detention!
  • Mooning: After egging his house, Jimbo, Dolph, Kearney and Nelson moon Principal Skinner and his mother.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Lisa, because she asked (begged) Milhouse to give Nelson her love letter, and Nelson assumed the letter was from him, getting beat up badly for his trouble.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: When Lisa starts dating Nelson, Bart tries to get her to break it off.
    I'll probably never say this to you again, but you can do better!
  • Never My Fault:
    • Lisa claims that it was Nelson's fault that she got detention, because she laughed at his pranks on Willie, rather than admit that it was her own fault for watching Nelson instead of paying attention to the teacher.
    • Homer yells at Ned and Maude to be quiet and go to sleep, despite him being the one responsible for keeping them up with his auto-dialer scam.
  • Noodle Incident: Who knows what Nelson left in the bird bath after the attack on Skinner at his home?
  • Not Me This Time: Skinner's search for the H from Chalmers' Honda naturally begins with Bart. Once he gets pelted with a dozen eggs that Bart left in there (presumably as security), he decides to subvert Tempting Fate and move along to the next locker.
  • Not so Above It All: Skinner's first instinct to addressing the missing H in Chalmer's car is to steal one from someone else's. He only abandons the plan when its owner (Kearney) catches him in the act.
  • Pet Dress-Up: Lisa dresses Snowball II in a bonnet and booties when Nelson comes over to her house. Nelson is not impressed, and Snowball is not happy.
  • Pet the Dog: Nelson actually does help Lisa with the line's punishment.
  • Pooping Where You Shouldn't: Heavily implied near the very end. The morning after Nelson and the other bullies threw expired coleslaw at Principal Skinner's house, he and Lisa are looking through some coin operated binoculars on a hilltop:
    Nelson: Hey, check it out, Skinner's mopping the goo off his house. Wait till he finds what I left in his birdbath!
    Skinner: NOOOO!!
  • The Precious, Precious Car: Chalmers is quite proud of his 1979 Honda. Pity Nelson vandalizes it by stealing the H.
    Chalmers: What's the point of having a Honda if you can't show it off?
  • Prefers Proper Names: Just in this episode, post-makeover Nelson calls Jimbo "James".
  • Puppy Love: Nelson and Lisa's brief romance and all of the other schoolyard crushes by extension. Lisa is over Nelson in what seems to be a matter of days and even admits when asked that her next crush "could be almost anybody."
  • A Rare Sentence: When Bart finds out that Lisa has invited Nelson over to their house as a friend.
    Bart: I'll probably never say this to you again, but... you can do better!
  • Really 17 Years Old: Kearney yelling at Superintendent Chalmers and Principal Skinner to get away from his car (in yet another example of Kearney being older than he looks)
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Lisa describe Nelson as "a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest."
  • Scary Stinging Swarm: Punished with working for Willie, Nelson sticks a rake into bee's nest.
    Nelson: Hey, Willie, catch the football. [flings it at him]
    Willie: All right, I'll—AHHHHH!
  • Selective Enforcement: Exaggerated, as well as overlapping somewhat with Protagonist-Centered Morality. Homer is punished for his autodialer scam by being ordered by the court apologize to the people he scammed, which Homer does with the same autodialer he scammed people with. As if that wasn't lenient enough, Homer then takes it upon himself to make up another scam by doing this. Meanwhile, the previous autodailer scammer got 20 years in prison. So, in summary (and for the exact same crime):
    • Homer (the protagonist) was merely forced to apologize (which backfired against the people he was apologizing to).
    • Some random guy we've never seen before got thrown in the slammer for two decades (and forced to endure horrible conditions from which suicide is the only escape).
  • Shout-Out:
    • The title refers to Back to the Future, when George McFly introduces himself to Lorraine Baines as "[her] density", fixing it to "destiny".
    • A majority of the story is a reference to Rebel Without a Cause, most notably the observatory setting and Lisa's red jacket.
    • Skinner finding the secret compartment in Nelson's locker is straight out of The Shawshank Redemption.
    • When Nelson is playing the guitar, he does a move similar to Angus Young's (and Chuck Berry's) "Duck Walk." He also mimics Pete Townshend's "Windmill", doubling as another shout-out to Back to the Future, as Marty did the same things during his performance of "Johnny B. Goode" at the "Enchantment Under The Sea" dance.
  • "Shut Up" Kiss: Nelson gives Lisa her first kiss to shut her up.
    Lisa: (thinking) My first kiss! I always wondered what it would be like!
    Nelson: (thinking) This oughta shut her up. (beat) Hey...this isn't so bad.
  • Skewed Priorities: Homer runs a telemarketing scam that promises to give people eternal happiness if they send him one dollar. When the exceedingly wealthy Mr. Burns gets this message, he responds:
    "One dollar for eternal happiness? ...I'd be happier with the dollar."
  • Spit Take: Lisa confesses to Milhouse that she has a crush, leading Milhouse to drink milk suavely before she finishes, "...on Nelson." Milhouse proceeds to spit milk back into the carton, ruining it with force.
    Nelson: Way to drink, poindexter!
  • Tempting Fate: Defied when Skinner gets hit in the face with a dozen eggs after looking in Bart's locker.
    "All right, rather than tempt fate, I'll move along now."
  • The Unapologetic: Skinner has those who Nelson stole from go to him for an apology. Unfortunately, the bully is in no apologizing mood:
    Nelson: (to a kid) Bite me. (to Janey) Cram it. (to Ralph) You're dead. (to Mrs. Krabappel) Get bent, Ma'am.
  • Unishment: Principal Skinner tries to punish Nelson by having work for Groundskeeper Willie. Too bad he didn't count on Nelson taking gleeful advantage of this to put poor Willie through the wringer.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Nelson doesn't care either way that Lisa likes him and listlessly goes along with her attempts to date him. By the end of the episode she's lost interest in him after realizing that she was mistaken in believing he was hiding a better nature, while he's developed feelings for her simply because she made that mistake (and gave him his First Kiss).
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Homer doesn't seem at all amazed or shocked when the auto dialer starts rolling out the door, just angry that it's trying to leave.
  • Whole Costume Reference: At the end of the episode, Lisa wears a red jacket similar to Jim Stark's in Rebel Without a Cause.
  • Writing Lines: Mr. Largo makes Lisa write "I will not be a snickerpuss" on the chalkboard after school as punishment for disrupting class. Nelson suggests saving time by using the music staff chalk holder to write five lines at once.
  • You Wouldn't Hit A Guy With Glasses: Oh yes, Nelson would ... after he gets a note from Milhouse (who is acting as a go-between to deliver Lisa's note to the bully) proclaiming love for him. Nelson gets the wrong idea and we see the outcome in a Gilligan Cut.

 
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Lisa Writes Lines

Lisa gets detention and has to write âI will not be a snickerpussâ. Things get easier when Nelson shows her how she can get the punishment done faster.

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