S2, E8: “Bart The Daredevil”

“TRUCK-O-SAURUS!!” – Homer & Bart.

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Written by: Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky.

So here’s a thing I’ll freely admit: when this episode first aired, I really didn’t like the ending. It felt “too cartoony” to me, and here’s why: after spending most of the back half of the episode explaining how dangerous and deep Springfield Gorge was, to have Homer fall into it – twice! – just stretched the bounds of credulity.

Of course, this was still during the era where the focus was on Bart, and the writers really hadn’t established Homer’s absolute indestructibility as a series trope, so this first instance of that felt weird to me.

I was an idiot.

In an episode that featured the Simpson family car getting destroyed by a giant fire-breathing robotic monster truck, cats and dogs laying down together so Bart could jump them and the brilliant site gag that illustrates this piece (one of my favorite Simpsons moments ever), Homer falling into the Springfield Gorge – twice! – was actually the perfect ending.

Pure, brilliant slapstick, continually topping itself and culminating with the ambulance crashing into the tree and Homer rolling out and back into the gorge. 

The whole sequence was definitely a reminder to smarty-pants overthinkers like me that, yes, The Simpsons was very very much a cartoon, and therefore would sometimes be governed by the same laws as previous cartoons.

From the historical standpoint, this episode marks the first appearance of Dr. Hibbert, a character created to reference the fact that The Simpsons had moved to Thursdays to directly take on The Cosby Show.  However, as is often the case with first appearances, neither the writers quite had a take on the character, so there wasn’t any inappropriate statements followed by laughter – just a straight, stern doctor.

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