The Simpsons

Season 23 Episode 2

Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts

3
Aired Sunday 8:00 PM Oct 02, 2011 on FOX
7.3
out of 10
User Rating
121 votes
7

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT

Principal Skinner challenges superintendent Gary Chalmers to take over Bart's education after one of Bart's pranks leads to a school fundraiser debacle. Chalmers takes an unconventional approach to teaching American history which sparks a fascination in President Teddy Roosevelt. Encouraged by Bart's educational renaissance, Chalmers takes Bart and his band of "Rough Riders" on an overnight excursion to Springfield Forest, but after a minor accident, the school administration fires Chalmers for taking the boys on an unauthorized field trip. Determined to get Chalmers' job back, Bart and the boys hold the school hostage until the administration reinstates Chalmers, and they stand up for the teacher who made a meaningful impact.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • A better episode than the previous ep

    10
    Principal Skinner challenges superintendent Gary Chalmers to take over Bart's education after one of Bart's pranks leads to a school fundraiser debacle. Chalmers takes an unconventional approach to teaching American history which sparks a fascination in President Teddy Roosevelt. Encouraged by Bart's educational renaissance, Chalmers takes Bart and his band of "Rough Riders" on an overnight excursion to Springfield Forest, but after a minor accident, the school administration fires Chalmers for taking the boys on an unauthorized field trip. Determined to get Chalmers' job back, Bart and the boys hold the school hostage until the administration reinstates Chalmers, and they stand up for the teacher who made a meaningful impact. I thought this episode was perfect and it was better than the season 23 premiere since the storyline was interesting. I was surprised on the couch gag design because it was made by John K (creator of Ren and Stimpy)...that explains the familiar animation. Funny parts were any of Homer's appearances here, the beginning, and the last minutes of it, etc. The other parts were very great to watch. Score 10/10moreless
  • Pretty great episode for the most part!

    9.0
    In my opinion, this episode was a little better than the season premiere. I really got into the plot, and it was good to see that Bart was actually interested in something historical for once. There were a few parts I thought were kind of boring, but the good things in this episode far outweighed the bad. There were several parts I thought were funny, like all of Homer's scenes, Milhouse going crazy after not having his nap, and Bart and Lisa arguing about who was a better president, Franklin or Teddy Roosevelt. I also thought the scene with the breakfast/fight club was hilarious, and the ending was good too. So, overall, I thought this was a pretty awesome episode for the most part even though maybe one or two scenes could have been better. Final grade: A-. Marebear2009, out!



    ~dedicated to tigerdude22~moreless
  • The Simpsons makes a comeback.

    9.0
    Surprisingly good episode, came out of nowhere. The last episode was bad.Principal Skinnerchallenges superintendentGary Chalmersto take over the education ofBartafter one of his pranks leads to a school fundraiser debacle. Meanwhile, Chalmers takes an unconventional approach to teachingAmerican historywhich sparks a fascination of President Theodore Roosevelt. Encouraged by the educational renaissance of Bart, Chalmers takes Bart and his band of "Rough Riders" on an overnight excursion to Springfield Forest, however after a minor accident, the school administration fires Chalmers for taking the boys on an unauthorizedfield trip. Determined to get Chalmers' job back, Bart and the boys hold the school hostage until the administration reinstates Chalmers, and they stand up for the teacher who made a meaningful impact to them. Extremely interesting plot from The Simpsons considering they haven't done anything to speak of recently. Next week i will reviewThe Food Wife.moreless
  • great

    8.5
    This was a decent episode. I liked Bart caring about Teddy Roosevelt. Some people I have seen argue that it seemed Out of character, and rushed, because of how fast it happened, but i felt it was good. Episodes are only 22-23 minutes, and this episode didn't have many jokes that dragged on too long. Speaking of jokes, things i liked in this episode; the ending with bart and chalmers on the horses, the school shirts from other schools, the breakfast/fight club, "Stupid fish. Don't you want to be my DINNER!" amongst other things. I liked the plot of this episode more than anything. It was a good plot with not a whole lot of humor, but when there was a joke it was usually pretty funny. B- or so as m final grade.moreless
  • It had its strengths!

    6.5
    I usually only write reviews when I have a strong reaction (exceedingly positive or negative) to a show and/or episode. This was an average episode on the whole, but I still want to point out some things that I liked about it, since (a) my past couple of "Simpsons" reviews were so negative and (b) "average" is a substantial step up from the quality we've been seeing lately, so it might be a good idea to look at some of the ways in which this episode was an improvement.



    Synopsis (some spoilers): After Bart's crank call to Skinner ruins Springfield Elementary School's auction, Skinner challenges an angry Chalmers to do something that no educator can seemingly do: get through to Bart. Chalmers accepts the challenge and becomes Bart's mentor. Surprisingly, Chalmers is successful in turning Bart into a motivated student. Chalmers' approach is to teach Bart about type-A males in American history - most notably T. Roosevelt - and gear his whole pedagogy towards the interests and proclivities often-year old boys(with an emphasis on student-initiated discovery, exploring, adventure, etc). Encouraged by his success with Bart, Chalmers begins mentoring other males from Springfield Elementary. During an archaeological expedition led by Chalmers (in search of Pres. Roosevelt's lost "spectacles" in a national park), Nelson falls and injures his arm. The Muntzes sue the school, and the district accordingly fires Chalmers. Upset that the district fired the only educator who ever got through to him, BartralliesSpringfield Elementary's males andorchestrates a lock-in to protest the district's actions.



    Why was it just an average episode? Two reasons. First, none of the jokes were punch-you-in-the-gut funny and there were moments (especially during the act breaks) when you could easily tell that a more ambitious writing room would've come up with something really funny. Second, some (but - importantly - not all!) of the characters were caricatured a little too much for the sake of easy humor, namely Homer and Milhouse. But this episode did have a lot going for it, such as:



    A decent plot! - See how the synopsis above actually made sense? Characters' motivations were actually plausible this go-around. They responded to circumstances as their characters would, rather than because a senseless plot dictated. The plot didn't revolve around a guest character or a wacky adventure completely removed from everyday life in Springfield. This episode was grounded in some modicum of realism. Of course, it wasn't totally realistic, but the marriage between realism and fantastical absurdity is what makes "The Simpsons" such a great show - there's a magical quality when we transcend the all-too-relatable dreariness of everyday life in everyday Springfield. The show's been a bit lacking on the realism front recently (thus making the absurd elements more Saturday morning cartoonish than sublime)so it's nice to see this episode returning the show to its roots, so to speak.



    Chalmers' characterization - This is the most impressive aspect of this episode, IMO. Whereas many secondary characters have become reduced to one-joke wonder over the years, this episode did a great job developing Chalmers' character. Think about that for a moment. A recent "Simpsons" episode actually invested in a character enough to give him a little more dimension. And the characterization was excellent as well, and didn't contradict our previous understanding of Chalmers or weaken the impact of his trademark "Skinn-nnner!" He's portrayed as a rugged "guy's guy" and a committed educator at heart who's a bit disillusioned by the system (more on that below). He was compelling, dammit, way more compelling than any secondary character has been in a long time. Another thing about "The Simpsons" that makes it such great "comfort food" even when the episodes aren't too terrific is the way that all these secondary characters are identifiable as part of a greater community, and you know their back stories and idiosyncrasies even when they're just drawings in the background. It's sort of like driving around your hometown after being away for a while and seeing people you've known for, like, forever, and it brings a certain grounding to your existence just to know that they're there and they're real and they're a "part of us all, part of us all" (as Marge would say). This episode did great justice to Chalmers and helped make him a more important part of Springfield as we see it.



    Bart's characterization - This episode also seemed to understand why Bart was *The* iconic ten-year-old for so many kids for such a long time: he's a type A guy. He likes to explore, have adventures and conform to no one. When he sees injustice, he does exactly what he wants to rectify it, when conformists or burned-out-on-life adults would roll over and let life beat them a little more. Because his adventures are so cool and because he does what every ten-year old would like to do (but probably wouldn't do) in those situations - especially when the injustices of being a child in a world run by the most pathetic of adults are implicated - he rightfully deserves his legendary status. Staging a lock-in to protest the firing of his most successful educator due to that educator's transgression of a repressive bureaucracy (the school district, a legal system that punishes teachers for letting boys be boys) was quintessentially Bart.



    Skinner's characterization - Skinner wasn't in this episode very much, but - in a rare moment - he actually took charge of a situation by standing up to Chalmers following Bart's prank. After years of being depicted as a feckless nebbish, hopefully we'll start seeing Skinner return to his old form: the no-BS, staunchly bureaucratic, hard-nosed disciplinarian. That characterization, after all, was what made the whole Bart/Skinner dynamic work so well. (The fact that he was cast as such a militaristic hardnose also made glimpses into Skinner's emasculation - usually the result of Agnes and later Edna - funny and compelling, before that emasculation became his defining, then only, characteristic). So, in short, another encouraging return to form.



    Social satire! - This episode actually had some decent social satire! It presented a good argument as to how education in America fails to accommodate children's learning styles, despite top bureaucrats knowing about this dilemma and sincerely wanting to (and being able) to do something about it but for the bureaucratic strings that bind them (e.g. fear of being sued if anything goes wrong and subsequently getting fired). While I may have attributed this dilemma to the post-No Child Left Behind teach-to-the-test paradigm more than "feelings-oriented" pedagogy that Chalmers thinks is responsible for American education's inadequacies, the mere fact that this show even has me thinking about the sad state of education in this country is a testament to this show's enduring power to be thought-provoking and entertaining at the same time.



    Loose Ends - The shoutout to Penn Law professor Kermit Roosevelt goes down as the most random academic/pop culture reference that I've picked up on throughout the show's 23-season run. Also, it wasnice to see there's still some love for John K. out there in the animation community. Finally, giving guest star credit to President T. Roosevelt was pure class.

    Bottom line, even though the humor could have been sharper and some caricatures for the sake of easy laughs should have been sacrificed for the greater good (even though Milhouse's take on "It's Cool to Cry" had me laughing), there are some very good things to be said for this episode. This one deserves its place in "The Simpsons" canon, and hopefully the writers will expand upon this episode's strengths as the season moves along.moreless
Dan Castellaneta

Dan Castellaneta

Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Groundskeeper Willie, and others

Julie Kavner

Julie Kavner

Marge Simpson, Patty Bouvier, and Selma Bouvier

Nancy Cartwright

Nancy Cartwright

Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Ralph Wiggum, Todd Flanders, and others

Yeardley Smith

Yeardley Smith

Lisa Simpson

Hank Azaria

Hank Azaria

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy, Lou, and others

Harry Shearer

Harry Shearer

Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Kent Brockman, and others

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Himself -archival audio-

Guest Star

Chris Edgerly

Chris Edgerly

Voice of Unknown

Recurring Role

Pamela Hayden

Pamela Hayden

Milhouse Van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo Jones, and others

Recurring Role

Tress MacNeille

Tress MacNeille

Agnes Skinner, Brandine Del Roy, Dolph and others

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (1)

  • QUOTES (1)

    • Bart: (Over the PA system) Attention, teachers: we have taken over the school.
      Mr. Largo: (Sarcastically) Oh no, please don't make us start our weekend early!
      Ms. Hoover: Our paychecks are in there...
      Mr. Largo: Aaahh! Why didn't I sign up for direct deposit?!

  • NOTES (2)

    • Music:


      Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds

    • Show Title: The Channel 6 traffic helicopter flying upward, then the reporter, shocked by hearing the show title, repeats it upon seeing it up close and falls out.
      Billboard Gag: Learn to Speak Parrot (with the Sea Captain pictured with a parrot on his shoulder with a tropical island background).
      Chalkboard Gag: It's too early to speculate about the 2016 election.
      Lisa: Seen with a tuba instead of her usual saxophone when kicked out of the music room.
      Couch Gag: Seen in the animation of Ren & Stimpy, Homer demands a beer and Marge obliges him by going into the kitchen to get one for him as he enjoys the sight of watching her in motion. As he's distracted, Bart uses the opportunity to put a whoopee cushion under his father's seat before he sits down. Sure enough, Homer makes a loud fart noise to his son's amusement. Enraged, Homer then strangles Bart to death as his small peanut-shaped brainpops out and lands on the tip of the beer bottle that Marge brings to him. Homer pours his brain and some beer into the hole in his head as he continues blubbering and Maggie crawls on the floor. The TV then shows the autographed image of "John K", aka, John Kricfalusi, creator of Ren & Stimpy.

  • ALLUSIONS (2)

    • The Breakfast Club:


      Superintendant Chalmers fantasizes about being a principal and five students were beating him up and walking on him and the music was playing (Don't You) Forget About Me by Simple Minds. This is a parody of the 1985 John Hughes movie The Breakfast Club, where five students spend Saturday detention in the library. Starring Emilio Esteves, Judd Nelson, Paul Gleason, et al..

    • The part at the end in which Milhouse shouts "it's beautiful man!" was taken from the end of the 1981 film "Taps" where Tom Cruise's character Cadet Captain David Shawn shoots a machine gun from a window and shouts "it's beautiful man!"

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