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Recap / The Simpsons S9 E1 "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson"

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"What the hell is this thing?"
Episode - 4F22
First Aired - 9/21/1997

In this, the ninth season premiere, Homer's car is illegally parked (by Barney Gumble) in New York City next to the World Trade Center and Homer (who had a bad experience in NYC when he was a teenager) is forced to take his family there to retrieve it.

This episode contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Bart mistaking Hasidic Orthodox Jews for a well known Blues Rock band.
    Bart: It's ZZ Top! *shouting out from the bus* You guys rock!
    Orthodox Jew: Eh, maybe a little.
  • Answer Cut: When Homer sits down on the hood of the car and tries to count how many hours he has to sit there, he asks, "Where's Lisa when you need her?" Cut to the subway, which the other Simpsons are riding.
  • Anything but That!: Barney becomes the designated driver. He expected Duffman to show up, but not that night. He hears him coming and realizes he'll miss out.
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  • Artistic License – Engineering: Homer is able to go from the top of one of the Twin Towers to the other in less than ten seconds, including running between the buildings. In reality, the express elevator takes about a minute to go from the lobby to the observation deck and vice versa in both towers.
  • Artistic License – Geography:
    • The Simpsons arrive in Manhattan via either the Lincoln or Holland Tunnel. Afterwards, Marge sees the Williamsburg Bridge, 4th Avenue, and Governor's Island in rapid succession. However, they stop at the Port Authority Bus Terminal, which is on the other side of Manhattan from anywhere that these sights can be seen.
    • When Homer reaches the top of the (original 2 WTC) South Tower, he discovers the men's restroom is out of order. He has to travel back down to the ground, run across the plaza, and go up the (original 1 WTC) North Tower. When he gets to the summit, the North Tower's 360 ft. tall TV antenna is noticeably missing. It's worth noting because all other shots of the roof in this episode show it. This could also be considered a goof by the animators. Further, there were washrooms on the ground floor of both towers.
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    • Additionally, the towers stood at an angle from each other. In multiple shots, they stand parallel to each other.
    • Also, when Homer sees the two guys yelling from between the towers. One man tells Homer that "they stick all the jerks in Tower 1." However, he is actually in Tower 1 (the North Tower), which had the antenna mentioned above.
    • When the Simpsons are leaving New York, the sun is setting behind them, which means they are not actually leaving the city but going into the borough of Queens.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    • In Chinatown, Lisa sees dead rabbits hanging in a butcher's window and nervously asks Marge if they're dead.
    • Later, in a Shout-Out to MAD's "Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions":
      Bart: Excuse me, is this MAD Magazine?
      Receptionist: No, it's Mademoiselle. We're buying our sign on the installment plan.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: A variant. Homer makes it to the bathroom in time, only to see to his horror that Officer Steve Grabowski is at his car. Seeing no one, he tickets the car again. Homer screams "D'OH!" in fury, and it echoes around the city for emphasis.
  • Bad Vibrations: The approaching Duffmobile makes the peanuts at Moe's bar shake.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Homer asking for something to drink from the Khlav Kalash Vendor.
    Homer: Now, what do you have to wash that awful taste out of my mouth?
    Vendor: Mountain Dew or Crab Juice.
    Homer: (groans) Blecch! Oh, geez... I'll take a Crab Juice.
  • Big "NO!": When Barney realizes he's picked the black rotten pickled egg, thereby becoming the designated driver.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: Homer visited New York during The '70s. A conman stole his camera, a police officer stole his suitcase, a pickpocket stole his wallet, a pigeon stole his hot dog, Woody Allen dumped garbage on his head, and he got chased through the streets by an angry pimp until he fell down a manhole.
    Homer: ... and that's when the C.H.U.D.s came at me.
    Marge: Oh Homer, of course you'll have a bad impression of New York if you only focus on the pimps and the C.H.U.D.s.
  • Brain Bleach: Inverted when Bart sees what really goes on at MAD.
    Bart: [dreamily] Wow! I'll never wash these eyes again.
  • Butt-Monkey: Homer Simpson puts up with ridiculous amounts of abuse in New York, with the rest of the family oblivious to his suffering. This happened to him the last time, where he got robbed of everything, chased by a pimp, and fell into a sewer where he was attacked by C.H.U.D.s. His subsequent time in New York is still pretty painful.
  • The Cameo:
    • In the flashback, Homer gets Woody Allen's trash on his head.
    • "The Sphere" sculpture (which used to sit in the Austin J. Tobin Plaza) makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance when Homer sees his car get ticketed from the men's restroom in the North Tower.
    • Bart visits the MAD office and sees the magazine's mascot Alfred E. Neuman in real life.
  • Captain Obvious: Homer points out to Barney that he selected the black pickled egg.
    Homer: You got the black one.
  • Competition Coupon Madness: Barney did this offscreen, resulting in Duffman's debut.
  • Crying Wolf: The owner of the Chinatown fireworks store when the fireworks start going off: "Oh, no! Chinese fire drill! Serious this time!"
  • Didn't Think This Through: Homer drinks several cans of crab juice to wash the taste of Khlav Kalash out of his mouth, then he realizes he has to go to the bathroom, badly, and can't leave his car. He lampshades it while doing a Potty Dance: "Why did I drink all that crab juice?".
  • Drives Like Crazy: When he starts trying to drive out of New York, Homer doesn't treat the car too well. He tries driving out of the plaza with the boot still attached, before driving down pathways and through a picnic in Central Park to meet up with the others, honking the horn the whole time.
  • Eye Scream: As Homer rushes to the bathroom, he throws a woman out of his way so he can get in ahead of her, and she says she hopes someone stabs him in the eye.
  • Foreign Queasine: "Khlav kalash." Doesn't stop Homer from eating the whole thing though.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When we cut to the Empire State Building during Homer's Skyward Scream, you can see Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie on the observation deck. Marge's hair moves, suggesting that she can hear Homer.
  • Gave Up Too Soon: Homer tries to hold off his Potty Emergency so he can stay with his car, but can't hold it in anymore and goes to both towers to relieve himself. He ends up getting his car another ticket.
  • Humiliation Conga: The time Homer visited New York back in the '70s, which left him a bad impression of the city. Goes through this again when trying to retrieve his car, which had numerous parking tickets as well as a boot on the front wheel.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Bart agrees that it's wrong to speak ill of a place without ever being there and says it's what people do in Russia.
    • When Homer butts in front of a woman, she says, "How frightfully rude! I certainly hope someone stabs him in the eye!"
    • A bicyclist calls Homer a jackass who should get off the road... while being dragged by a taxi he presumably crashed into and got tangled up in.
  • Imagine Spot: After Homer sees a city bus with the destination of Flushing Meadows (a public park in Queens), he thinks of it as a big field with numerous toilets all flushing several times.
  • Incoming Ham: Duffman makes his first appearance in truly memorable fashion.
    "Are you ready... to get... DUFFED?!"
  • Jaw Drop: Bart upon seeing Alfred E. Neuman and the antics going on at MAD.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Fans usually point to this episode as the first one where Homer is an unsympathetic lout compared to his bumbling self. Considering his misfortunes throughout, his anger is fairly well-justified.
  • Karma Houdini: Barney doesn't get any comeuppance for stealing Homer's car and illegally parking it in Manhattan.
  • List of Transgressions: In the play Marge and the kids watch, a defendant is found "guilty of mayhem, exposure indecent... Freaked-out behavior both chronic and recent... Drinking and driving, narcotics possession... And that's just page one of this ten-page confession."
  • Nice Guy: The guy in Tower 2 who defends Homer from "one of the jerks in Tower 1" and tells him what he needs to do to get his car unclamped.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The protagonist celebrity in the musical "Kickin' It!" is inspired by Robert Downey Jr., who had serious drug issues that led to numerous arrests at the time this episode was made. He's even dressed similarly to Downey Jr.'s character in Less Than Zero.
  • Noodle Incident: The only thing we know that happened to Barney in the two months he was gone was that he supposedly delivered a guest lecture at Villanova. Or possibly just a street corner.
  • No Sympathy: The rest of the family believe Homer is overreacting from his bad memories of New York and insist they go. The fact they have a thoroughly pleasant and carefree time compared to Homer didn't help.
  • Now That's Using Your Teeth!: When Homer's initial attempts to pry the boot off his car by hand fail, he tries unscrewing the lugnuts on it with his teeth. All he gets for his trouble is some jaw pain and mockery from a tower employee.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Homer has one after he drinks too much crab juice and realizes he has to go to the bathroom, but can't leave his car until Officer Steve Grabowski gets there.
    • The Chinatown fireworks store owner when the fireworks start going off.
    • Homer when he gets to the men's room in the South Tower and finds it's out of order.
    • Homer again when after he finally gets to the men's room in the North Tower, he looks down and sees Officer Steve Grabowski at his car.
  • Planet of Steves: If the Parking Violations Bureau hotline is any indication, every officer there is named "Steve" something.
  • Potty Dance: Homer does one as he asks himself: "Why did I drink all that crab juice?".
  • Potty Emergency: Homer has a self-inflicted one after he drank too much crab juice. A mailman stopped him from going between some mailboxes, and while waiting for Officer Steve Grabowski to arrive, he sits awfully uncomfortably for a while before rushing up to the top of the South Tower, only to find the men's room is out of order. He rides back down to the ground, runs into the North Tower, and makes it to the men's room there in time, moaning loudly in relief for a good half-minute.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Homer finally gets the boot off his car and escapes from New York, but he had an absolutely miserable time doing so and horribly damaged said car when he removed the boot.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After suffering a Potty Emergency and missing the parking officer again, Homer finally has enough, stealing a jackhammer and removing the boot by force. He spends the remainder of the episode pissed off as a result.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Drinking 17 cans of anything, let alone crab juice, will give most people a Potty Emergency.
    • Homer tries to remove the boot on his car with a jackhammer. He ends up damaging the car even more, breaking the windows through the force of the vibrations and filling the car with holes when he misses. At least the boot eventually comes off.
  • Rule of Funny: Realistically, any major office building would have bathrooms on almost every floor, but that would spare Homer a Potty Emergency where he had to go to the top of one of the world's tallest buildings twice.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: This episode features a play where a judge says he should send the defendant somewhere he can't hurt or maim people but, since they live in L.A. and the defendant is rich and famous, he'll be sent to the Betty Ford clinic instead.
  • Shout-Out: Carl, Lenny, and Homer get drunk, and sing "The Macarena" in the car.
  • Shown Their Work: It took a lot from the animators, but they got New York right, from the architecture to the sidewalks. Except for some scenes involving the World Trade Center. The Twin Towers stood at an angle from each other, not parallel, and there are moments where they are either at an angle or parallel.
  • Skyward Scream: When Homer is in the North Tower taking a whiz, he sees his car get another ticket. He then unleashes a "D'OH!" the entire city can hear.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Barney only figures into the beginning of the episode, but if it wasn't for him, the Simpsons would never have gone to New York City in the first place.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • While Homer is trying to escape New York, "Everything is Beautiful" starts playing on the car radio. Homer kicks the radio in response.
    • At the end of the episode, during Homer's Twitchy Eye moment mentioned below, Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" begins playing and continues over the credits.
  • Take That!: When offered a choice of Mountain Dew or Crab Juice, Homer reacts in prolonged disgust before picking the latter.
  • Twitchy Eye: After the day he's had, Homer develops a pronounced twitch while driving away after Lisa asks if they can come back next year.
  • Vacation Episode: The Simpsons travel to New York City.
  • What a Drag: As Homer is driving his car slowly on a street in Manhattan (due to the car boot still being attached to the left front tire), a taxi driver passes him and is dragging a bicyclist underneath the rear bumper.
    Taxi Driver: [to Homer] Get off the road, ya freakin' maniac!
    Bicyclist: Yeah, ya jackass!
    Homer: Shut up, shut up! SHUT UP!
  • The Worst Seat in the House: One unlucky lady who sat behind Marge during a Broadway production couldn't see a thing, and after some impatient movement, she finally gave up on seeing anything.


Video Example(s):


Homer Simpson

Homer regales a chapter of his life he hoped would stay closed forever.

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Example of:

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