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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?"

Original air date: 9/21/1997

Production code: 4F22

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:

  • 555: The boot on Homer's car has a sticker reading "CITY OF NEW YORK (212) 555-BOOT".
  • 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.
  • 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 took 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.
    • Per Rule of Funny, Homer has to go all the way up to the observation deck of the tower just to use the restroom. Both towers had public washrooms on the ground floor.
    • 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: Early on, Homer sums up his feelings on New York: "Nothing good has ever come out of New York City! [...] New York is a hellhole, and you know how I feel about hellholes!" He then reveals his hostility to the place is due to a previous visit during the 70s when this trope was in full force: a guy stole his camera, a pickpocket stole his wallet, a police officer stole his suitcase, 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 in a sewer.
    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.
    • At the end of the episode, Marge, Lisa and Bart absolutely love New York. After having been issued multiple parking tickets, forced to hold in his urine for several hours, harassed by the "jerks in Tower One" and destroying the car by driving with a wheel clamp, Homer is one tick away from exploding in rage as he gets smacked in the face by garbage from a truck.
      Lisa: Can we come back next year Dad?
      Homer: (darkly) We'll see, honey. We'll see.
  • Black Comedy Burst: The song "I'm Checkin' In" is already fairly dark, but during the performance, two ensemble performers dressed as orderlies can be seen removing the actor's belt and shoelaces so he can't tie off or potentially hang himself.
  • Bookends: The episode starts with Barney driving Homer, Carl and Lenny home oblivious to the fact that he's on the verge of a mental breakdown and ends with an equally unstable Homer driving his equally oblivious family home.
  • 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.
  • Couch Gag: The family comes in dressed as the Harlem Globetrotters, passing a basketball to each other. Maggie dunks the ball into the basket above the couch, hitting Homer on the head.
  • Creator Provincialism: Writer Ian Maxtone-Graham was a former resident of New York and conceived the idea of having the Simpsons travel to the city to locate their missing car and believed it to be "a classic Manhattan problem".
  • Crying Wolf: The owner of the Chinatown fireworks store when the fireworks start going off: "Oh, no! Chinese fire drill! Serious this time!"
  • Designated Driver: The patrons at Moe's are forced to have designated drivers after causing 91 % of all traffic accidents in Springfield.
  • 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?".
    • Bart tries to con some people out of money by pretending to lack a sense of taste and proving it by licking a subway pole. He immediately regrets his decision.
    Bart: Ew. I'm in over my head here.
  • Drawing Straws: The designated driver is picked the same way as the Pope: By everyone picking pickled eggs and the one who picks the black egg is the designated driver.
  • 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.note 
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • New York Is Only Manhattan: Justified as that's where Homer's car is parked, and they're only visiting to get it back.
  • 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 for sure that happened to Barney in the two months he was gone was that he somehow drove to New York with Homer's car and left it parked in the World Trade Center. When Homer questions Barney where he was, all that Barney can recall with his drunken haze is 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 that 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.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: In 1970s New York, Homer walks by porn theaters showing The Godfather's Parts, II, Five Sleazy Pieces, and Jeremiah's Johnson.
  • Parking Problems: Homer's car gets booted after Barney borrows it and parks it illegally at the World Trade Center. The enforcement officer sent to remove the boot and collect the fine doesn't show up on time, so Homer enters one of the buildings to use the washroom. The officer arrives just as he reaches the top of one of the towers, and leaves when Homer isn't there. Frustrated, Homer drives the car home with the boot still attached.
  • 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, standing by his car at the World Trade Center Plaza in order to get it unbooted, overindulges in "crab juice". He rushes to the top of the (original 2 WTC) South Tower... and finds that the bathroom is out of order. To his utter dismay, he realizes he now needs to go to the top of the (original 1 WTC) North Tower. He does make it there in time. We're treated to a shot outside the tower and hear Homer groaning happily for half a minute. (And coincidentally, the cop he was waiting for shows up as he's relieving himself and tickets the car again, much to his horror.)
  • Precision F-Strike: Technically, this is the first instance where a character yells a variant of the f-bomb without being bleeped out or cut off. Homer when struggling to get the boot off his car yells "come on off, you motherf***er!" This was presumably because he was trying to remove the bolt via his teeth at the time and thus wasn't heard clearly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ruritania: The khlav kalash vendor is some vague foreigner that's either from the Middle East or Eastern Europe considering that 'khlav kalash' is not a real food item. In "Lost Our Lisa" later this season, we see an identical vendor selling khlav kalash in Springfield's Russian district, suggesting the latter.
  • Sanity Slippage: Homer isn't necessarily pleasant beforehand, but his many, many misfortunes drive him completely insane and reckless by the end.
  • 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 (and destroys) 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.
  • The Trouble with Tickets: Barney is appointed the designated driver, but "forgets" to return Homer's car, which he then drives to Manhattan and abandons at the World Trade Center. Homer has to travel to New York to retrieve his car, which is covered in tickets and booted.
  • 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.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Barney somehow illegally parks Homer's car in New York, which sets off an unfortunate, and hilarious, chain of events for the latter.
  • 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):



Having been declared the designated driver for the evening, Barney isn't able to join in his friends' drunken escapades. Even worse for poor Barney, the Duff party he had won in a contest chose that evening to show up.

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (13 votes)

Example of:

Main / ColdTurkeysAreEverywhere

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