The Simpsons: Bart the Genius
December 29, 2022 8:06 PM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Bart cheats on an IQ test and gets sent to a school for the gifted.

After Martin rats Bart out to Principal Skinner, Bart gets revenge by swapping the class IQ test results. Convinced he is a genius, the school district psychiatrist moves Bart to a school for the gifted. Marge tries to nourish his "gift," and Homer and Bart grow closer together. When he fails to flourish, Bart confesses to his crime and everything goes back to normal.

I call the big one "Bitey"
  • Homer: Wait a minute, you little cheater. You're not going anywhere until you tell me what a Kwyjibo is. Bart: Kwyjibo. A big dumb, balding North American ape with no chin. Marge: And a short temper...
  • Mrs. Krabappel: Now I don't want you to worry, class. These tests will have no effect on your grade. They merely determine your future social status and financial success. [she eyes Bart] If any.
  • Homer: Why, there's nothing wrong with a father kissing his son. I think.
  • Lisa: I think Bart's stupid again Mom.
  • The first appearance of the opening sequence and Danny Elfman's theme song. Matt Groening had this to say about the music:
"I gave Elfman what I called a 'flavors' tape, featuring the kind of sound I wanted for The Simpsons theme. The tape included The Jetsons theme, selections from Nino Rota's Juliet Of The Spirits, a Remington electric shaver jingle by Frank Zappa, some easy-listening music by Esquivel, and a teach-your-parrot-to-talk-record. Elfman gave it a listen and said, 'I know exactly what you're looking for.' A month later we were recording the now-famous Simpsons theme on the 20th Century-Fox lot with a huge orchestra. I think all the producers were a little nervous and fidgety about the untrendy audacity of the music. But then-executive producer James L. Brooks came in, listened a bit, then said, 'My God! This is great! This is lemmings-marching-to-their-death music!'
  • The first time Bart says "eat my shorts!"
  • The first blackboard joke: "I will not waste chalk."
  • Written by John Vitti, who would go on to write classics such as "When Flanders Failed," "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk," "Radio Bart," "Mr. Plow," and "Cape Feare."
  • First shown on a Sunday opposite 60 Minutes and The Wonderful World of Disney.
  • "Kwyjibo" on a triple word score should net you 152 points.
I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder
  • In the opening scene, the bananas in the fruit bowl are tan coloured.
  • In Scrabble, Marge plays "hi" for 2 points. But "hi" is actually worth 5 points.
Worst. Episode. Ever.
  • "Another decent but unspectacular episode. Its early vintage seems clear both through the awkward animation and the lack of appropriate character development. Some elements feel out of place for Simpsons, such as Bart’s dream sequence when trying to complete a math problem." Colin Jacobson
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posted by Paragon (6 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Anyone who went to a school or program for gifted kids in the nineties has seen this episode many times. I use "kwyjibo" as my handle in video games sometimes.
posted by potrzebie at 1:35 PM on December 30, 2022 [1 favorite]

As a balding North American ape (and former supposedly-gifted student) I have always been a bit offended by this episode.
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:36 PM on December 30, 2022

Yeah, I was stuck in a couple of different "gifted" programs in high school*, and saw this episode only 3 years later, and it was definitely a hard hitter for me. I haven't re-watched it yet but in my memory it really seems like "quintessential Simpsons" and I'm surprised it was only Episode 2.

* I'm pretty sure one of them was based on test scores and the other specifically targeted people with Bart-like behavior to teach them to "apply themselves".
posted by mmoncur at 2:03 AM on December 31, 2022

Rewatching this one, I was struck by how off the pacing felt. I actually prefer the first Christmas episode, as I think the jokes land a little better.
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:16 PM on December 31, 2022

I love the screaming portrait of Homer in the rumpus room? Is it the rumpus room?

Someone posted on Twitter* that Bart is actually really smart, he just doesn't have an appropriate outlet. The show isn't kind to Bart's intelligence in terms of testing, but I think he understands people very well. Also, when he's interested in something, like soapbox racing or Whacking Day, he'll hit the library.

In undergrad, I was working with another student research assistant when a large glass bottle of 12 N hydrochloric acid was dropped on the lab bench. I could have prevented the hallway from flooding with hydrogen chloride and saved all of the doorknobs from turning black if I had closed the door behind me (Invidious, YouTube). When I walked into the apartment at the end of the day, the first thing my roommate said was, "You smell like chemicals." Yep, I feel you, Green Bart.

* I couldn't find the post.
posted by chinesefood at 1:30 PM on December 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Bart's always struck me as a street-wise, book-dumb con artist-type -- with, of course, a heart of gold. He's great at reading people (usually), but I think he's not always as good at manipulating people as he could be because he is also an immature kid who likes to stick his tongue out at people.

Don't have a plate of beans, man!
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:23 AM on January 3, 2023

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