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Friday, July 3, 2009

Retro Review: Moaning Lisa

Or The One Where: A depressed Lisa meets Bleeding Gums Murphy

The Setup: Lisa is feeling depressed and melancholy, and no one can cheer her up.

A Work In Progress: Jazzman "Bleeding Gums" Murphy appears for the first time. He'll show up in the background from time to time before dying in the classic season six episode "'Round Springfield."

The groundwork for much of Lisa's characterization is laid here. She isn't quite the precocious genius we know her to be yet, but her relative sensitivity, empathy and ostracism from the rest of the family are all on display, and her love of jazz and the saxophone are established for the first time.

Favorite Lines:

Largo: Lisa, there's no room for crazy bebop in "My Country 'Tis of Thee''.
Lisa: But Mr. Largo! That's what my country's all about.
Largo: What?!?
Lisa: I'm wailing out for the homeless family living out of a car. The idle farmer whose land has been taken away by uncaring bureaucrats. The West Virginia coal-miner caught...
Largo: Well, that's all fine and good, but Lisa, none of those unpleasant people are going to be at the recital next week.

PE Teacher: Lisa! We are playing dodge-ball here. The object of the game is to avoid the ball, by weaving or ducking out of its path.
Lisa: In other words, to dodge the ball.

Marge: Lisa! Get away from that jazz man!
Lisa: But Mom! Can I stay a little longer? Can I Mom, can I?
Marge: Come on, come on. We were worried about you...Nothing personal, I just fear the unfamiliar.

Teebore's Take: I remember when I was younger and I'd watch this episode, I would get so enraged when, after Homer has received training from a local kid on how to finally beat Bart at a boxing video game, Marge unplugs the game just as Homer is about to deliver the finishing blow so he'll pay more attention to Lisa. I understood the importance of Homer paying attention to Lisa, but at the same time, it wouldn't have killed her if Homer took an extra second or two before hearing herannouncement. Now that I'm older, when I watch this episode, well, I still get enraged at Marge, but not as much as I used to.

Crank Call: Bart calls looking for Jock, last name Strap.


It does much to lay the foundation of Lisa's character, but isn't terribly funny or memorably aside from that.


  1. I feel like you should add another point to it being a classic simply for the video game scenes. As a kid I LOVED them.
    And Marge turning off the TV still enrages me.

  2. I'm glad I'm not the only who still carries a (probably unhealthy) amount of rage because of Marge's actions.

    The video game stuff was pretty good (in fact, while it's technically the subplot of the episode, that story is much funnier and engaging than Lisa's). I particularly liked how Homer sought out training from the best video boxer at the arcade.

  3. I loved the shockingly (for me as a kid) gruesome finishing moves in the game.
    Although, as an avid video game player, it was hard for me to swallow that the arcade version of the game would be anything like the home console version.
    At the time, arcade and home console games were never alike.


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