|"Bart the Daredevil"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2|
|Directed by||Wes Archer|
|Written by||Jay Kogen|
|Original air date||December 6, 1990|
|Chalkboard gag||"I will not drive the principal's car".|
|Couch gag||Homer's weight tips the couch.|
"Bart the Daredevil" is the eighth episode of The Simpsons' second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 6, 1990. It was written by Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky and directed by Wes Archer. In the episode, the Simpsons go to a monster truck rally that features famous daredevil Lance Murdock. Bart immediately becomes enamored and decides he wants to become a daredevil too. His first stunt ends in injury and, despite the family's and Dr. Hibbert's best efforts, he continues to attempt stunts. Bart decides to jump the Springfield gorge, but Homer learns about Bart's plan and makes him promise not to do it. However, Bart breaks his promise and goes to jump the gorge. Before the act, though, Homer stops him just in time and gets Bart to swear he will stop being a daredevil.
Series creator Matt Groening said that the episode is his favorite of the series, and it is also considered among the series' best by television critics.
The Simpson family attends a monster truck rally featuring Truck-o-Saurus, a giant robotic dinosaur which crushes their car. The rally's grand finale features a death-defying stunt by legendary daredevil, Lance Murdock. Although the act leaves Murdock badly injured and hospitalised, Bart is enamored by his performance and dreams of becoming a daredevil.
Bart injures himself while trying to jump over the family car on his skateboard. At the hospital, Dr. Julius Hibbert shows Bart a ward full of children who have been hurt from attempting stunts. Nonetheless, Bart is persistent and continues to pursue his daredevil interest by jumping over a swimming pool and Homer on his hammock.
While on a class trip to Springfield Gorge, Bart announces that the following Saturday he will jump the gorge on his skateboard. Lisa talks him into visiting the hospital, hoping Murdock will talk him out of it, but Murdock encourages Bart to continue on his legacy. Bart plans to do it against the wishes of Homer, who insists it is too dangerous.
Even after a punishment, several orders, and a "heart-to-heart talk" with Homer, Bart still goes to the gorge. As he is about to start his stunt, Homer arrives at the last second and decides to jump the gorge himself to show him what it is like to see a family member unnecessarily risking their life. Bart, not wanting to see Homer killed on his account, abandons the stunt and promises to never again try being a daredevil.
However, when Homer hugs Bart to complete their reconciliation, the board he is on rolls down a hill and flies over the gorge. At first, it appears as though Homer will make it safely across, but he loses momentum near the end and falls down the jagged rocks, progressively injuring himself, until he hits the bottom.
Homer is airlifted into an ambulance, which crashes into a tree, causing him to fall down the gorge a second time. He is eventually put in the same hospital room as Murdock's.
The episode was written by Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky and directed by Wes Archer. The character Lance Murdock was based on Evel Knievel, an American motorcycle daredevil and entertainer famous in the United States and elsewhere between the late 1960s and early 1980s. Kogen, Wolodarsky, and many other members of the Simpsons' staff were fans of Knievel's stunts, and Wolodarsky named "Bart the Daredevil" as his favorite episode among the episodes that he wrote for The Simpsons, because it is "near and dear to [his] heart".
Dr. Hibbert makes his first appearance on the series in the episode. In Kogen and Wolodarsky's original script for "Bart the Daredevil", Hibbert was a woman named Julia Hibbert, who they named after comedic actress Julia Sweeney (Hibbert was her last name, through marriage, at the time). When the Fox network moved The Simpsons to prime time on Thursdays to compete against the National Broadcasting Company's (NBC) top-rated The Cosby Show, the writing staff instead decided to make Hibbert a parody of Bill Cosby's character Dr. Cliff Huxtable.
The episode was originally too short to air, so Al Jean and Mike Reiss wrote a filler piece which was a parody of cartoon shorts from the 1940s called "Nazis on Tap." In the short, amongst other things, Mr. Burns would be making planes for the war effort at his aircraft plant, Bart's spiky hair would be replaced by a pointy Jughead cap and Moe Szyslak would be a dog. Matt Groening thought the piece was too weird and nixed it, thinking it was too early in the series to present something so offbeat to the audience. Audio from the piece was released online by Simpsons storyboard artist John Mathot in 2006. Simpsons character designer Phil Ortiz adapted the short as a four-page comic book and handed out copies at Wizard World Philadelphia on June 2, 2016.
The music video for the "Do the Bartman" single premiered after this episode.
The episode has been referenced in numerous clip shows and flashback episodes throughout the series. In particular, the scene of Homer plummeting down Springfield Gorge has become one of the most used The Simpsons clips. In the scene, Homer falls down the cliff on the skateboard, bouncing off the cliff walls and finally landing at the bottom, where the skateboard lands on his head. After being loaded into an ambulance at the top of the cliff, the ambulance crashes into a tree, and the gurney rolls out, causing Homer to fall down the cliff again.
In the season thirteen episode "The Blunder Years", when the family is trying to find out why Homer cannot stop screaming after he is hypnotized, Homer flashes back to his greatest moment: jumping the Springfield Gorge, only to be interrupted by Lisa saying "Everyone's sick of that memory," referring to the fact that the scene has been referenced so many times.
The scene was first featured outside of "Bart the Daredevil" in the season four episode "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show". When the clip is shown in that episode, additional footage is seen of Homer bouncing down the cliff the second time, and after he lands at the bottom, the gurney lands on his head. Contrary to popular belief, the second fall down the gorge (ending with Homer getting hit by the gurney) was not a deleted scene from "Bart the Daredevil", but rather a scene animated exclusively for the clip show.
The scene is also referenced in the season fourteen episode "Treehouse of Horror XIII", in which a large number of Homer's clones created in the episode fall down the gorge. "Bart the Daredevil" was once again referenced in The Simpsons Movie when Bart and Homer jump over Springfield Gorge on a motorcycle, and when they land on the other side, the ambulance from this episode can be seen in the background (still smashed against the tree). It is also referenced in the Family Guy season thirteen episode "The Simpsons Guy", where Homer and Peter Griffin fell down to Earth in Kang and Kodos' ship and jump the gorge during their fight.
At the beginning of the episode, Lisa, Bart and Bart's friends watch professional wrestling. The Russian wrestler in the ring, Rasputin, is named after mystic Grigori Rasputin. The monster truck at the rally, Truck-o-saurus, is a parody of the Robosaurus monster truck. In the hospital, Dr. Hibbert shows Bart a patient who tried to fly like Superman, and he also mentions the "three stooges" ward.
Lance Murdock is a parody of famous daredevils such as Evel Knievel and Matt Murdock, the alter ego of the Marvel Comics superhero Daredevil. Bart's attempt to jump over Springfield Gorge is a reference to Knievel's 1974 attempt to jump Snake River Canyon at Twin Falls, Idaho, with a Skycycle X-2. Bart appearing at Springfield Gorge in the distance is based on Omar Sharif's entrance in Lawrence of Arabia.
In its original American broadcast, "Bart the Daredevil" finished 20th in Nielsen ratings for the week of December 3–9, 1990, making The Simpsons the highest-rated television series on the Fox network that week. To promote The Simpsons Sing the Blues, the music video for the album's lead single, "Do the Bartman", premiered shortly after this episode's first broadcast.
In an interview conducted by Entertainment Weekly in 2000 celebrating the show's tenth anniversary, Groening named "Bart the Daredevil" his favorite episode of the series, and chose the scene in which Homer is loaded into an ambulance and then falls out of it as the funniest moment in the series. Since airing, the episode has received positive reviews from critics.
DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson enjoyed the episode, and referred to its opening by claiming that "any episode that starts with the brilliance that is Truckasaurus has to be good." He liked the decent morals explored in the episode, and called the conclusion a "great one", making it a "consistently fine episode".
Jeremy Kleinman of DVD Talk considered "Bart the Daredevil" one of his favorite episodes of the season. He found the daredevil scenes to be funny, but also appreciated the episode's scenes with "true heart". Kleinman concluded by noting that the episode helps The Simpsons stand apart from other animated and live action sitcoms by focusing more on the relationships between the characters than "just a humorous weekly plotline".
Writing for the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky noted that "Bart the Daredevil"'s sequence in which Homer falls down the gorge is the one that "everyone remembers", noting that "he's getting much stupider by this point."
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