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Recap / The Simpsons S9 E10 "Miracle on Evergreen Terrace"

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In this (rather bleak) Christmas Episode, Bart accidentally destroys the family's Christmas presents and blames the disaster on a burglar, resulting in the rest of the town opening its hearts and wallets for them, but when Santa's Little Helper finds the melted wreckage and Bart confesses that he lied, the town turns on The Simpsons and shuns them.

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  • Advanced Tech 2000: Bart's fire truck is called the "Inferno Buster 3000".
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The Simpsons used to have one, but this year, "From now on, it's plastic all the way!"
  • As Himself: Alex Trebek, who doesn't take kindly to Marge's -$5200 loss, and later joins Springfieldians in repossessing the Simpsons' possessions.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: When Marge and Lisa decorate their family's Christmas tree, Lisa comments that she's glad about not using a tree made of aluminum like in the past, suggesting they're using a real tree this time. Marge then reveals that they're using a plastic tree.
    • As Lisa starts strangling Bart, Homer yells "Lisa, no!", then adds "Your hands are too weak!", and Homer starts strangling Bart himself.
  • Blatant Burglar: The phony description of the burglar who robbed the Simpsons given to the police by Bart matches this trope, as he mentions the burglar wearing a striped convict shirt and holding a big sack with a dollar sign on it. Lou quips "Classic burglar".
  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: When Bart confesses that he's the one who ruined Christmas, Lisa strangles him, complete with a "Why you little—!"
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  • Cassandra Truth: Homer tries to warn his coworkers of a poison leak, but they think he's lying to steal their snacks.
  • Christmas Episode: Probably the most depressing one in the series, alongside "Marge Be Not Proud".
  • Comically Missing the Point: After Marge reads Moe's letter (wherein he curses and denounces the family), Homer expresses disappointment... because he thinks it obligates them to send him a Christmas card back.
  • Continuity Nod: Barney is shown plowing the roads in the "Plow King" truck.
  • Crappy Holidays: The family's Christmas tree and presents burning down is only the beginning of their misfortunes.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Just when it seems the town has forgiven the Simpsons, we see the actual reason why the Springfieldians are at their house: They're repossessing the Simpsons' belongings.
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  • Didn't Think This Through: Bart buries the melted tree/presents in the snow next to the house. It was going to be discovered sooner or later, even if the snow wouldn't melt for a while.
  • Deconstruction: Of probably the first episode of The Simpsons, and the melodramatic Christmas special episodes as a whole. The episode goes to show what would happen if the ever petulant and corrigible population of Springfield outside of The Simpson family engaged in the spirit of Christmas, but never meant it, while much like the first episode of the series, the family's Christmas gets worse as they try to salvage what they can, but escalates it Up to Eleven, as every one of Springfield's populace begins to harbor materialistic priorities by putting them in personal debt to pay back out of selfish gain, and claims them as thieves and liars when they don't.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Homer pulling Lisa away from strangling Bart...so he can do a better job.
    Homer: Lisa, no! Your hands are too weak!
  • Downer Ending: The townspeople and Alex Trebek make off with all of the Simpson family's possessions (including Apu taking the cat and dog) just so they can repay the debt, but the part where The Simpsons play with a lone washcloth and the show's penchant for resetting their continuity (unless it's a character dying) prevented this from being too depressing.
  • Epic Fail: Marge losing so bad on Jeopardy that she now owes $5200 to Alex Trebek.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The car the family buys with the $15000 from the townspeople blows up from just sinking into icy water.
  • From Bad to Worse: Bart accidentally destroying the family's Christmas, but his attempt to cover it up ultimately leads to the entire family being shunned by the townspeople, and then eventually robbed for real when the citizens reposes all of their belongings to pay of their debt.
  • Game Show Appearance: Marge goes on Jeopardy! to try to repay Springfield, but ends up with -$5200 instead.
  • Gift Shake: By shaking Lisa's gift, Bart is not only able to tell that she's getting a sweater, but also that it's hand-knitted and yellow.
  • Honest John's Dealership: The Simpsons blow the $15,000 on a $12,000 car and Homer failed to notice that the salesman was blatantly ripping him off.
  • I'll Kill You!: "No, I'm killing him first! You wait your turn!"
  • Irony: Bart sets fire to the Christmas tree with a toy fire truck.
  • Ironic Episode Title: By the end of the episode, the only "miracle" the Simpsons probably have been recipient of is the fact they're still alive.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: The scene where the Springfielders give the Simpsons money is a parody of the same scene in It's a Wonderful Life.
  • It's All About Me: Bart really wanted to open his presents before everybody else, which kicks off the rest of the story.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Subverted. On one hand, it's understandable why the Springfield residents feel angry at the entire Simpsons family, since they feel they were ripped off by them (even though they didn't rip them off in reality). On the other hand, the way they treat the Simpsons family makes it impossible to sympathize with them.
  • Lead In: Homer and Marge going to Try-n-Save, where Homer tricks the crowd by pretending to be a cashier and stealing gifts from other shoppers.
  • Mood Whiplash: "Wow, this really restores your faith in—LISA, DO YOU HAVE TO PRACTICE THAT STUPID SONG NOW?!"
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Bart feels horribly guilty about what he did throughout the whole episode.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Bart accidentally burns down the Christmas tree and presents.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Bart has a water-based one when he engineers a Potty Emergency in order to wake up earlier than the rest of the family.
  • Potty Emergency: Invoked; Bart drinks a dozen glasses of water in order to wake himself up early for Christmas. It works...after he's subjected to a dream involving rivers, garden hoses, various other forms of water imagery, gigantic letter "P"s, and a cheerleader and a crowd saying pee-related puns.
  • Present Peeking: Bart intentionally drinks lots of water to wake up early (but not before going to the bathroom). He goes peeking at the presents before everybody else, and he ends up destroying the tree and the gifts in a fire.
  • Produce Pelting: After the Springfieldians realize they've been scammed, they bombard the Simpsons' house with fruit.
    Lisa: They're running out of tomatoes.
    (loud smash)
    Bart: But they still got plenty of pumpkins.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: The Simpsons are still alive, together, and back in the town's good graces. It only cost them (almost) literally everything they own. And the house and the rag Homer had in his pocket is all they need (at least by the time the episode cuts to credits) to be happy.
  • Same Content, Different Rating: This episode aired with a G-rating, but it features Bart calling Homer's Christmas display craptacular, the seniors on pharmaceutical drugs, the Simpsons' prescriptions being looted, and Lisa giving Bart a Groin Attack.
  • The Scrooge: When the townsfolk were donating money to the Simpsons, Mr. Burns asked if somebody had change for a button.
  • Shout-Out: The scene of the Simpsons getting the money donated to them as well as Homer yelling at Lisa for playing the piano is a reference to It's a Wonderful Life.
  • Spiteful Spit: As the family heads inside, two Krusty Burger clerks are shown spitting into customer food just because they can, not because of the Simpsons (who they don't even care about).
  • Tiny Tim Template: Lisa introduces a pair of sickly orphans in ragged clothing named Patches and Poor Violet to Bart, who give him a ragged one dollar bill they had been saving when everyone at their orphanage heard what had happened, which unfortunately does not help his extreme guilt over the truth. When the truth does get out, the orphan duo are just as furious as the rest of the townsfolk, as the dollar they gave Bart was their vitamin money.
  • Toilet Humour: Bart's dream sequence where a cheerleader tells the crowd to give them a 'P' then chants "Go Go Go! P P P!"
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: This episode is not kind to the Simpsons family. First the town gives them a generous donation of $15,000 to make up for the presents the family lost. It becomes All for Nothing when the family blows it all on a new car and loses it immediately. Then the truth behind the missing presents comes out, Springfield as a whole turns against the Simpsons, and Marge makes an enemy of the Jeopardy crew. And just when it seems like the city has finally forgiven them, it's because they've decided to just rob the family of everything they're worth.

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