We open on The Simpsons playing a rousing game of Scrabble, something I don't think we ever see them do again. Meanwhile, Maggie is on the floor playing with blocks that spell out EMCSQU while the rest of the family can barely eke out three-letter words for their game.
The next day at school, Bart is caught spraypainting an image of Principal Skinner on a brick wall saying "I am a weiner." I have to admit that it is pretty bold to be spraypainting this wall in broad daylight and at recess. But then again, Bart was a pretty bold kid in the early seasons. These early episodes make me miss Bart's friends, Richard and Lewis. Honestly, I miss all the kids at Springfield Elementary because it seemed more real to have all these background kids instead of the same half dozen that make all the jokes now. Back in class, Ms. Krabappel gives the children an aptitude test which also, I guess, doubles as an IQ test. The first question is a story problem about a train going some direction at whatever speed and another train going the other direction at another meaningless speed. It's a good joke on how complicated and problematic story problems can be especially if you can't visualize it. When Bart tries to visualize the problem, he gets confused, is taken away because he doesn't have a ticket and winds up getting into a train wreck.
|The animation on the dream sequence is great. It's like an even simpler
|Obviously a blatant forgery.
The school guidance counselor, Dr. J. Loren Pryor, then comes in under the pretense of discussing Bart's constant troublemaking and, based on his aptitude/IQ scores, determines that Bart is just a bored genius. Fulfilling the criteria of ignorant guidance counselor who doesn't understand that each child is their own individual, unique creation, Dr. J. Loren Pryor deems that Bart should go to a gifted school which Skinner happily agrees with. I'm glad that Dr. Pryor wasn't a character that stuck around. I could easily have seen him becoming a kind of co-principal with Skinner. I'm glad that didn't happen because he just does not pop as a character.
|Hate the man. Love the animation.
I think what's interesting is that I believe Lisa was originally supposed to be an average kid and that her intelligence was added later on. All through the first season, Lisa is shown to not be an overachiever. She does her work and gets good grades, sure, but being smart was not one of her initial traits. I say this because of the upcoming opera scene where she is happily joining in with Homer and Bart's snarking and Homer saying during breakfast that Lisa should eat the Krusty-Os because "it could be one of these chemicals in [the cereal] that makes [Bart] so smart". Might as well have two geniuses in the family in case Bart's brain blows out.
Homer then takes Bart to the gifted school where he meets a bunch of smug-ass little ants who speak in palindromes or backwards syllables and are going to dissect their pet hamster next week. The first day doesn't go well for Bart who winds up losing his lunch by making bad trades with the students ("I'll trade you the weight of a bowling ball on the eighth moon of Jupiter from my lunch for the weight of a feather on the second moon of Neptune from your lunch.") I always enjoyed this scene because it's very well written and shows that The Simpsons is much smarter than your average animated series but also because it shows what jerks smart people can be.
Aside from the Scrabble scene and the scenes at the gifted school, the opera scene is another one emblazoned in my head. Why Marge thought going to the opera would be a good idea for anyone involved is beyond me. I still use a lot of quotes from the opera scene in my day-to-day life and I love that Lisa joins in on Bart and Homer's mocking reminding everyone that she is still just a kid which is something present-day Simpsons forgot years ago.
|The boys had to do something to keep the boredom away. There's no guy with
peanuts. No beer. No opera dogs.
Bart locks himself in his bedroom while Homer furiously beats on the door, screaming for Bart to let him in. This episode is truly a classic and I wonder if it would be as classic as "Some Enchanted Evening" if that episode had aired first like originally intended. "Some Enchanted Evening" is a great finale--showcasing Marge and Homer's ever-in-trouble marriage and the kids being smarter than the adults but "Bart the Genius" has all the elements of a good Simpsons episode.