Lisa's Pony

"Lisa's Pony" is the eighth episode in the third season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 7, 1991. In this episode, Homer goes drinking at Moe's Tavern instead of buying a new reed for Lisa's saxophone, resulting in her flopping at the school talent show. Desperate to win back his daughter's love, Homer gives Lisa the one thing she has always wanted: a pony. Homer struggles with two jobs to cover the cost of sheltering and feeding the pony. Lisa, upon seeing what Homer must go through to pay for the pony, decides to give it away.

The episode was written by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, and directed by Carlos Baeza. Lunchlady Doris, a recurring character on The Simpsons, made her first appearance on the show in this episode. "Lisa's Pony" features cultural references to films such as The Godfather and 2001: A Space Odyssey and the comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland.

Since airing, the episode has received positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 13.8 and was the highest-rated show on Fox the week it aired.

"Lisa's Pony"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 8
Directed byCarlos Baeza
Written byAl Jean
Mike Reiss
Production code8F06
Original air dateNovember 7, 1991
Guest appearance(s)

Frank Welker as Princess

Episode features
Chalkboard gag"'Bart Bucks' are not legal tender."
Couch gagHomer gets on the couch first and lies down. The rest of the family arrive and sit on him. Homer flails his arms.
CommentaryMatt Groening
James L. Brooks
Al Jean
Dan Castellaneta
Julie Kavner
David Silverman
Mike Reiss

Plot

Lisa Simpson is participating in a school talent show and needs a new reed for her saxophone. Her father, Homer, agrees to buy one, but decides to visit Moe's Tavern first. When he arrives at the music shop next door, it has closed for the night. Dejected, Homer goes back to Moe's to find its owner. Moe convinces the man to re-open his store. By the time Homer reaches the school with the new reed, however, Lisa has already butchered her performance. Humiliated and upset, she completely ignores Homer. While watching old family videos, Homer soon realizes how much he has neglected her either from watching too much television or having to deal with Bart's shenanigans over the years.

When Homer's attempts to mend his relationship with Lisa fail, he buys her a pony with help from a loan through the Power Plant Credit Union. When Lisa wakes up one morning to find the pony (which she names Princess) lying next to her, she gallops into her parents' bedroom telling Homer she loves him. While Homer is happy, Marge is upset he ignored her warning that they could not afford the pony.

To pay for Princess's stabling, Homer takes a second job at the Kwik-E-Mart, which makes him more exhausted over time. Marge tells the children what he has been doing, but she will not make Lisa give up the pony, as she must decide that for herself. After watching Bart taking advantage of a sleep-deprived Homer at the Kwik-E-Mart, Lisa shares a heartbreaking goodbye with her pony. She then tells Homer there is a "big dumb animal" she loves even more than Princess{snd}her father. Homer quits his job. Apu admits that, despite being crude and lazy, Homer was one of his best employees.

Production

The Simpsons show runners Al Jean (left) and Mike Reiss (right) wrote the episode.

Al Jean by Gage Skidmore
Mikereiss

"Lisa's Pony" was written by Al Jean and Mike Reiss,[1] who were show runners of The Simpsons when the episode was produced. According to Reiss, being a show runner is a stressful job as he has to supervise all the processes the episodes go through. Jean and Reiss were working approximately 80–100 hours a week when they were assigned to write an episode on top of their regular job. "Lisa's Pony" was written between 10.00 p.m. and 1.00 a.m. every night after they had finished their 12- to 14-hour workday.[2] They came up with idea for it while going through a list of Lisa's interests, and Jean told Reiss, "Lisa likes ponies; we [should] give her a pony."[1] While writing down ideas for the story, they decided to explore the consequences of having a pony in a suburban house.[1]

Carlos Baeza served as animation director for the episode.[1] The Simpsons creator Matt Groening said animating horses is "the most difficult thing to do".[3] The animators used Eadweard Muybridge's famous animation of a horse galloping and other photo references as models for Princess.[4] In the talent show scene, Lisa is lit up by a spotlight when she performs with her saxophone. After the episode came back from the animation studio in Korea, the staff noticed the light was colored blue, making Lisa look like "a Smurf".[2] The scene had to be re-animated in the United States, and the spotlight effect was reduced.[1][4]

The woman who sells the pony to Homer is based on actress Katharine Hepburn. Cast member Tress MacNeille provided the voice for the character.[1] Lunchlady Doris, a recurring character on The Simpsons, made her first appearance on the show in this episode as one of the judges in the talent show. She was voiced by the show's script supervisor Doris Grau, who had a "beautiful, tobacco-cured voice" the staff thought was perfect for the role. Following Grau's death in 1995, the characters she voiced were retired out of respect, with the exception of Lunchlady Doris, who stayed on the show without speaking roles.[2]

Cultural references

The beginning of the episode, in which Homer has a dream of himself as an ape, is a reference to the Dawn of Man sequence from the 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey.[1][5][6] The Simpsons director David Silverman had difficulties with making the ape resemble Homer and struggled with the design for several hours.[4] After hurting Lisa's feelings at talent show, Homer watches old home movies of him and Lisa, including one in which a young Homer is seen watching Fantasy Island on television instead of paying attention to Lisa's taking her first steps.[2] The scene in which Lisa wakes up in her bed and discovers the pony lying next to her is a reference to a scene in the 1972 film The Godfather, in which Jack Woltz awakens to discover the severed head of his favorite horse placed in his bed. The musical chords used in the episode are the same as in the film but shortened.[1] While driving home from the Kwik-E-Mart, Homer falls asleep behind the wheel and dreams that he is in Slumberland, drawn in the style of Winsor McCay's Little Nemo in Slumberland. The song "Golden Slumbers" by The Beatles plays during the sequence.[1]

One of the children at the talent show performs the song "My Ding-a-Ling" by Chuck Berry. According to Jean, it was a "huge difficulty" to clear the rights for the song so it could be used on the show. John Boylan, who produced the album The Simpsons Sing the Blues, personally appealed to Berry to clear the song for them.[1] The lyrics to "My Ding-a-Ling", with their sly tone and innuendo, caused many radio stations to ban the song. This is parodied in the episode when Principal Skinner rushes the child off the stage before he is able to finish the first line of the refrain.[1][2] The man who owns the music shop Homer visits is based on actor Wally Cox.[2]

Reception

Dan Castellaneta cropped
Dan Castellaneta won an Emmy for his performance in this episode.

In its original American broadcast, "Lisa's Pony" finished 35th in the ratings for the week of November 4–10, 1991, with a Nielsen rating of 13.8, equivalent to approximately 12.7 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on Fox that week.[7] "Lisa's Pony" was released with the episode "Treehouse of Horror II" on a VHS collection in 1999, called Best of the Simpsons.[8] Homer's voice actor, Dan Castellaneta, received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992 for his performance in the episode.[9][10]

Since airing, the episode has received positive reviews from television critics.

The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called the episode "good stuff" and praised the "nice flashbacks to Lisa as a baby".[11]

Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict said "Lisa's Pony" is a "priceless part" of the show because of its "meshing of old storylines with new experiences, combined with some of the best jokes in the series". Gibron gave the episode a perfect score of 100.[12]

Cinema Blend's Bryce Wilson called "Lisa's Pony" one of the best Lisa episodes, and added that the only words to describe it are "funny as hell".[13]

Nate Meyers of Digitally Obsessed rated the episode a 5 (of 5), praising it for its references to The Godfather and 2001: A Space Odyssey which "film buffs will find uproarious". Meyers added that Homer's and Lisa's relationship is "the heart of the episode, showing Homer to be more than just a brute".[14]

The episode's reference to The Godfather was named the seventh greatest film reference in the history of the show by Total Film's Nathan Ditum.[15]

The Star-Ledger named this episode's reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey one of their favorite references to Stanley Kubrick on The Simpsons.[5]

Niel Harvey of The Roanoke Times called the episode a "classic bit of Simpsonia,"[16] and

The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Valkenburg named it one of the "truly classic" The Simpsons episodes.[17]

The Guardian's David Eklid said episodes such as "Lisa's Pony" and "Stark Raving Dad" make season three "pretty much [the] best season of any television show, ever".[18]

Molly Griffin of The Observer commented that "Lisa's Pony" is one of the third season's episodes that "make the show into the cultural force it is today".[19]

DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson, however, gave the episode a less positive review, commenting that episodes "in which Homer has to redeem himself to others aren't a rarity, and 'Lisa's Pony' falls in the middle of that genre's pack. Homer's escapades at the Kwik-E-Mart definitely add life to the proceedings, and some of his other antics make the show good. I like 'Lisa's Pony' but don't consider it to offer a great program."[20]

According to Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits, "Lisa's Pony" is considered a fan favorite.[21] In a list of the show's top 10 episodes, compiled by the webmaster of the fan site The Simpsons Archive and published by USA Today, this episode was listed in seventh place.[22]

Paul Cantor, a professor of English at the University of Virginia, utilized "Lisa's Pony" as an example that The Simpsons does not promote negative morals and values, which some critics have criticized the show for.[23]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Jean, Al (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa's Pony" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Reiss, Mike (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa's Pony" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  3. ^ Groening, Matt (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa's Pony" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. ^ a b c Silverman, David (2003). The Simpsons season 3 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa's Pony" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. ^ a b "Readers point out more evidence of 'Simpsons'-Kubrick connection". The Star-Ledger. March 13, 1999. p. 43.
  6. ^ Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia (eds.). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
  7. ^ Associated Press (November 13, 1991). "Nielsen Ratings /Nov. 4-10". Press-Telegram. p. D5.
  8. ^ Tuckman, Jeff (May 8, 1999). "Six of the 'Simpsons' most outrageous episodes now out". Daily Herald. p. 7.
  9. ^ "Primetime Emmy Awards Advanced Search". Emmys.org. Archived from the original on 2009-04-03. Retrieved 2009-02-05.
  10. ^ "Briefing–'Simpsons' score big in Prime-Time Emmys". Daily News of Los Angeles. August 3, 1992. p. L20.
  11. ^ Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Lisa's Pony". BBC. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  12. ^ Gibron, Bill (December 15, 2003). "The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on June 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  13. ^ Wilson, Bryce (June 18, 2004). "The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season - DVD". Cinema Blend. Retrieved 2009-08-01.
  14. ^ Meyers, Nate (June 23, 2004). "The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season". Digitally Obsessed. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  15. ^ Ditum, Nathan (June 6, 2009). "The 50 Greatest Simpsons Movie References". Total Film. Retrieved 2009-07-22.
  16. ^ Harvey, Niel (September 4, 2003). "'The Simpsons' Is A Consistent Slam Dunk". The Roanoke Times. p. 8.
  17. ^ Valkenburg, Kevin (May 17, 2007). "In vote for hearts, neighs have it: Mr. Ed isn't alone in speaking to us". The Baltimore Sun.
  18. ^ Eklid, David (April 29, 2008). "Notes & queries: Homer's oddities". The Guardian.
  19. ^ Griffin, Molly (January 21, 2004). "'Simpsons' DVD set delivers the goods". The Observer. University of Notre Dame. Archived from the original on August 10, 2011. Retrieved 2009-07-03.
  20. ^ Jacobson, Colin (August 21, 2003). "The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season (1991)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2009-06-06.
  21. ^ Suarez, Greg (November 2, 2001). "Greg Suarez talks Simpsons with Al Jean". The Digital Bits. Archived from the original on May 11, 2008. Retrieved 2009-08-01.
  22. ^ Paakkinen, Jouni (February 6, 2003). "10 fan favorites". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
  23. ^ Warren, James (June 16, 2000). "Professor Hits A Homer For 'The Simpsons'". Chicago Tribune. p. 3.

External links

Anthony Bell (director)

Anthony Bell (born 1965), sometimes known as Tony Bell, is an American animator, film director and screenwriter. After getting his start as a character layout artist and cleanup artist for The Simpsons in the early nineties, he got the opportunity to direct a number of episodes for the Nickelodeon hit, Rugrats. Most recently, he has directed four episodes for the Adult Swim animated television series The Boondocks, and directed the animated comedy-drama film, Alpha and Omega, along with Ben Gluck. The film earned a cult following, despite its mixed-to-negative reaction. Anthony returned to co-direct its sequel Alpha and Omega 2: A Howl-iday Adventure, after leaving the production of Norm of the North.

Carlos Baeza

Carlos Baeza is an animation director. He has worked for The Simpsons and Futurama.

Dan Castellaneta

Daniel Louis Castellaneta (; born October 29, 1957) is an American actor, voice actor, comedian, producer and screenwriter, best known for his long-running role as Homer Simpson on the Fox Broadcasting Company animated sitcom The Simpsons. He also voices many other characters for the show including Abraham "Grampa" Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Sideshow Mel, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor Quimby and Hans Moleman. Castellaneta also had roles in several other programs, including Futurama for Fox Broadcasting Company, Sibs and Darkwing Duck for ABC, The Adventures of Dynamo Duck for Fox Kids, Back to the Future: The Animated Series for CBS, Aladdin for Toon Disney, Taz-Mania for Warner Bros. Animation and in Hey Arnold! as Grandpa Phil for Nickelodeon.

In 1999, he appeared in the Christmas special Olive, the Other Reindeer, and won an Annie Award for his portrayal of the Postman. He released a comedy album I Am Not Homer, and wrote and starred in a one-person show titled Where Did Vincent van Gogh?

Grampa Simpson

Abraham Jebediah "Abe" Simpson II, better known as Grampa Simpson, is a main character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He made his first appearance in the episode entitled "Grampa and the Kids", a one-minute Simpsons short on The Tracey Ullman Show, before the debut of the television show in 1989.

Grampa Simpson is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, who also voices his son, Homer Simpson. He is also the grandfather of Bart, Lisa and Maggie Simpson. In the 1000th issue of Entertainment Weekly, Grampa was selected as the Grandpa for "The Perfect TV Family". Grampa Simpson is a World War II veteran and retired farmer who was later sent to the Springfield Retirement Castle by Homer. He is known for his long, rambling, often incoherent and irrelevant stories and senility.

Homer Simpson

Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character and the protagonist of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and first appeared on television, along with the rest of his family, in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Homer was created and designed by cartoonist Matt Groening while he was waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic strip Life in Hell but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the character after his father, Homer Groening. After appearing for three seasons on The Tracey Ullman Show, the Simpson family got their own series on Fox that debuted December 17, 1989.

As patriarch of the eponymous family, Homer and his wife Marge have three children: Bart, Lisa and Maggie. As the family's provider, he works at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant as safety inspector. Homer embodies many American working class stereotypes: he is crude, obese, incompetent, lazy, clumsy, dim-witted, hot-tempered, childish and addicted to beer, junk food and watching television. However, he often tries his hardest to be a decent man and is fiercely devoted to his family, especially when they need him the most. Despite the suburban blue-collar routine of his life, he has had a number of remarkable experiences, including going to space, climbing the tallest mountain in Springfield by himself, fighting former President George H. W. Bush and winning a Grammy Award as a member of a barbershop quartet.

In the shorts and earlier episodes, Castellaneta voiced Homer with a loose impression of Walter Matthau; however, during the second and third seasons of the half-hour show, Homer's voice evolved to become more robust, to allow the expression of a fuller range of emotions. He has appeared in other media relating to The Simpsons—including video games, The Simpsons Movie, The Simpsons Ride, commercials, and comic books—and inspired an entire line of merchandise. His signature catchphrase, the annoyed grunt "D'oh!", has been included in The New Oxford Dictionary of English since 1998 and the Oxford English Dictionary since 2001.

Homer is one of the most influential characters in the history of television, and is widely considered to be an American cultural icon. The British newspaper The Sunday Times described him as "The greatest comic creation of [modern] time". He was named the greatest character "of the last 20 years" in 2010 by Entertainment Weekly, was ranked the second-greatest cartoon character by TV Guide, behind Bugs Bunny, and was voted the greatest television character of all time by Channel 4 viewers. For voicing Homer, Castellaneta has won four Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance and a special-achievement Annie Award. In 2000, Homer and his family were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Lisa the Greek

"Lisa the Greek" is the fourteenth episode of The Simpsons' third season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 23, 1992. In the episode, Homer begins to bond with his daughter, Lisa, after learning her unique and convenient ability to pick winning football teams, but, secretly, uses her ability to help him gamble. When Lisa finds out Homer's secret, she refuses to speak to her father until he fully understands her. "Lisa the Greek" was written by Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky, and directed by Rich Moore.

The episode was designed to satirize the Simpsons staff members' "love affair with gambling, particularly on football." "Lisa the Greek" references both the Super Bowl and the National Football League (NFL). It aired only days before Super Bowl XXVI, and correctly predicted that the Washington Redskins would win the game. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 14.2, and was the highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.

List of The Simpsons cast members

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom that includes six main voice actors and numerous regular cast and recurring guest stars. The principal cast consists of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer. Chris Edgerly, Pamela Hayden, Tress MacNeille, Kevin Michael Richardson, Maggie Roswell, and Russi Taylor have appeared as supporting cast members, along with former supporting cast members Karl Wiedergott, Marcia Mitzman Gaven, Doris Grau, and Christopher Collins. Repeat guest cast members include Marcia Wallace, Albert Brooks, Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Joe Mantegna and Kelsey Grammer. With one exception, episode credits list only the voice actors, and not the characters they voice.

Both Fox and the production crew wanted to keep their identities secret during the early seasons and closed most of the recording sessions while refusing to publish photos of the recording artists. The network eventually revealed which roles each actor performed in the episode "Old Money", because the producers said the voice actors should receive credit for their work. Every main cast member has won an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance. Shearer was the last cast member to win, receiving his award in 2014 for the episode "Four Regrettings and a Funeral." Castellaneta and Azaria have won four, while Kavner, Cartwright, Smith, Shearer, Wallace, Grammer, and guest star Jackie Mason have each won one.

Matthew Luhn

Matthew Luhn is an American writer, story consultant, animator, creative writing instructor and keynote speaker known for creating stories and characters, most notably at Pixar and The Simpsons.

Mike Reiss

Michael L. Reiss (born September 15, 1959) is an American television comedy writer and author. He served as a show-runner, writer and producer for the animated series The Simpsons and co-created the animated series The Critic. He created and wrote the webtoon Queer Duck and has also worked on screenplays including: Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, The Simpsons Movie and My Life in Ruins.

My Ding-a-Ling

"My Ding-a-Ling" is a novelty song written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew. It was covered by Chuck Berry in 1972 and became his only number-one Billboard Hot 100 single in the United States. Later that year, in a longer unedited form, it was included on the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions. Guitarist Onnie McIntyre and drummer Robbie McIntosh who later that year went on to form the Average White Band, played on the single along with Nic Potter of Van der Graaf Generator on bass.

"My Ding-a-Ling" was originally recorded by Dave Bartholomew in 1952 for King Records. When Bartholomew moved to Imperial Records, he re-recorded the song under the new title, "Little Girl Sing Ting-a-Ling". In 1954, the Bees on Imperial released a version entitled "Toy Bell". Doug Clark and the Hot Nuts recorded it in 1961, and it was part of their live act for many years. Berry recorded a version called "My Tambourine" in 1968, but the version which topped the charts was recorded live during the Lanchester Arts Festival at the Locarno ballroom in Coventry, England, on 3 February 1972, where Berry – backed by the Roy Young Band – topped a bill that also included Slade, George Carlin, Billy Preston and Pink Floyd. Boston radio station WMEX disc jockey Jim Connors was credited with a gold record for discovering the song and pushing it to #1 over the airwaves and amongst his peers in the United States. Billboard ranked it as the No. 15 song for 1972.

The song is based on the melody of the 19th century folk song "Little Brown Jug".

Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance

The Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance is a Creative Arts Emmy Award given out by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is awarded to a performer for an outstanding "continuing or single voice-over performance in a series or a special." Prior to 1992, voice-actors could be nominated for their performance in the live action acting categories. The award was first given in 1992 when six voice actors from The Simpsons shared the award. From 1992 to 2008, it was a juried award, so there were no nominations and there would be multiple or no recipients in one year. In 2009, the rules were changed to a category award, with five nominees.

Usually, the winner is a voice actor from an animated show, but some narrators of live action shows have won such as Keith David in 2005 and 2008. No winner was named in 1996 or 2007.Nine voice actors from The Simpsons have won a combined 14 Emmys. Of those, Dan Castellaneta has won four and Hank Azaria has won three. Ja'net Dubois has won two for The PJs, Keith David has won two for his narration of various documentaries and Maurice LaMarche has won two for Futurama. Voice actors from shows on Fox have won 17 of 27 awards.

In 2014, the category was separated into two categories – Outstanding Narrator and Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance. As with longform and reality, this split acknowledges and accommodates a general industry uptrend in the distinctly different achievements that are VO narration and VO character performance.

Saddlesore Galactica

"Saddlesore Galactica" is the thirteenth episode of the eleventh season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 6, 2000. In the episode, the Simpson family rescues a diving horse named Duncan from the abuse of his owner and keeps him as a pet. When the cost of keeping Duncan rises, Homer and Bart train him to be a racehorse. Duncan wins several races and, as a result, Homer is threatened with death by a group of jockeys. Meanwhile, Lisa is upset over her school unfairly losing the musical band competition at a state fair and writes a letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton in protest.

The episode features several guest appearances; horse race caller Trevor Denman stars as himself, commentating the races in the episode, and voice artist Jim Cummings provides the animal sounds made by Duncan. Randy Bachman and Fred Turner appear as themselves as their rock band Bachman–Turner Overdrive performs at the state fair. "Saddlesore Galactica" was written by Tim Long and directed by Lance Kramer. A number of meta-references are included in the episode, such as the character Comic Book Guy telling the Simpsons that they have owned a horse before in the episode "Lisa's Pony".

Around 9.6 million American homes tuned in to watch the episode during its original airing. In 2008, it was released on DVD, along with the rest of the episodes of the eleventh season. "Saddlesore Galactica" is despised by many television critics and fans according to Long. It has been described by About.com's Nancy Basile as one of the season's worst episodes, by Marco Ursi of Maclean's as the worst episode of the series, and has frequently been cited by fans as an example of the show jumping the shark. Criticism has been directed at its outlandish plot, which, among other things, features elf-like jockeys who lure Homer into their secret lair where they threaten him to stop Duncan from winning.

Saturdays of Thunder

"Saturdays of Thunder" is the ninth episode of The Simpsons' third season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 14, 1991. In the episode, Homer takes a fatherhood quiz and realizes he knows nothing about Bart. He strives to be a better father and learns that Bart is participating in a Soap Box Derby. Homer and Bart make a racer together; however, it is not very good. Bart decides to drive Martin's far superior racer instead, after Martin is involved in an accident. Homer is at first devastated, but decides he must be a good father and support Bart.

The episode was written by Ken Levine and David Isaacs, and directed by Jim Reardon. American actors Larry McKay and Phil Hartman both made guest appearances as a television announcer and Troy McClure respectively. "Saturdays of Thunder" features cultural references to films such as Ben-Hur, Lethal Weapon, and Days of Thunder.

Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics, who praised its sports theme. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 14.9, and was the highest-rated show on Fox the week it aired.

She of Little Faith

"She of Little Faith" is the sixth episode of The Simpsons' thirteenth season. It first aired in the United States on the Fox network on December 16, 2001. In the episode, Bart Simpson and his father Homer accidentally launch a model rocket into the Springfield church, causing the church council to accept funding plans from Mr. Burns for reparation.

Discontent with how commercialized the rebuilt church has become, Lisa abandons Christianity and seeks out to follow a new religion.

The episode was directed by Steven Dean Moore and written by Bill Freiberger, whom executive producer and show runner Al Jean had met while working on the television series Teen Angel. The plot idea for the episode was pitched by Jean, who wanted to expand on Lisa's personality, even though some of the Simpsons writers were concerned over the episode's originality. Lisa has remained a Buddhist since this episode. The episode features actor Richard Gere, who agreed to star as long as Buddhism was portrayed accurately, and as long as Lisa would say "Free Tibet".

The episode was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming less than One Hour) in 2002, which it ultimately lost to the Futurama episode, "Roswell That Ends Well". Following the thirteenth season's release on DVD and Blu-ray, the episode received mostly positive reviews from critics.

Simpson family

The Simpson family consists of fictional characters featured in the animated television series The Simpsons. The Simpsons are a nuclear family consisting of married couple Homer and Marge and their three children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. They live at 742 Evergreen Terrace in the fictional town of Springfield, United States, and they were created by cartoonist Matt Groening, who conceived the characters after his own family members, substituting "Bart" for his own name. The family debuted on Fox on April 19, 1987 in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" and were later spun off into their own series, which debuted on Fox in the U.S. on December 17, 1989.

Alongside the five main family members, there are a number of other major and minor characters in their family. The most commonly recurring characters are Homer's father Abraham "Grampa" Simpson; Marge's sisters Patty and Selma Bouvier; and the family's two pets, Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II. Other family members include Homer's mother Mona Simpson, Homer's half-brother Herbert Powell, Marge's mother Jacqueline Bouvier, and other minor relatives.

The Simpsons (season 3)

The Simpsons' third season originally aired on the Fox network between September 19, 1991 and August 27, 1992. The showrunners for the third production season were Al Jean and Mike Reiss who executive produced 22 episodes for the season, while two other episodes were produced by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, and Sam Simon. An additional episode, "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?", aired on August 27, 1992 after the official end of the third season and is included on the Season 3 DVD set. Season three won six Primetime Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Voice-Over Performance" and also received a nomination for "Outstanding Animated Program" for the episode "Radio Bart". The complete season was released on DVD in Region 1 on August 26, 2003, Region 2 on October 6, 2003, and in Region 4 on October 22, 2003.

Treehouse of Horror II

"Treehouse of Horror II" is the seventh episode of The Simpsons' third season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 31, 1991. It is the only Treehouse of Horror episode to date where each segment name is not stated inside the episode. It is the second annual Treehouse of Horror episode, consisting of three self-contained segments, told as dreams of Lisa, Bart and Homer. In the first segment, which was inspired by W. W. Jacobs's short story The Monkey's Paw and The New Twilight Zone episode "A Small Talent for War", Homer buys a Monkey's Paw that has the power to grant wishes, although all the wishes backfire. In the second part, which parodies the Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life", Bart is omnipotent, and turns Homer into a jack-in-the-box, resulting in the two spending more time together. In the final segment, Mr. Burns attempts to use Homer's brain to power a giant robotic laborer.

The episode was written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jeff Martin, George Meyer, Sam Simon and John Swartzwelder while Jim Reardon was the director. The episode is presented in a similar format to the previous season's "Treehouse of Horror" and contains several similarities to the previous episode, such as Marge's opening warning, the tombstones in the opening credits and the appearance of the alien characters Kang and Kodos. "Treehouse of Horror II" was the first episode that employed the "scary names" idea, in which many of the credits have unusual names. The episode contains numerous parodies and references to horror and science fiction works, including The Twilight Zone, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Thing with Two Heads and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

In its original airing on Fox, the episode had a 12.1 Nielsen rating and finished the week ranked 39th. The episode received positive reviews, and in 2006, IGN listed the third story as the eighth best Treehouse of Horror segment. The episode was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special and Alf Clausen for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series.

Wildfire (Michael Martin Murphey song)

"Wildfire" is a song written by Michael Martin Murphey and Larry Cansler. It was originally recorded by Murphey, who had yet to add his middle name to his recorded work, and appears on his gold-plus 1975 album Blue Sky – Night Thunder.

Released in February 1975, as the album's lead single, "Wildfire" became Murphey's highest-charting Pop hit in the United States. The somber story song hit #2 in Cash Box and #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in June 1975. In addition, it hit the top position of the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, displacing "Love Will Keep Us Together".The single continued to sell, eventually receiving platinum certification from the RIAA, signifying sales of over two million US copies. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.

Season 3
Themed episodes
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