|"Lisa's Date with Density"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8|
|Directed by||Susie Dietter|
|Written by||Mike Scully|
|Original air date||December 15, 1996|
|Couch gag||The living room is upside down, and after the family sits down, they fall off.|
"Lisa's Date with Density" is the seventh episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 15, 1996. It was written by Mike Scully and directed by Susie Dietter. The episode sees Lisa develop a crush on Nelson Muntz, which eventually leads to Lisa and Nelson dating.
Superintendent Chalmers visits Principal Skinner at Springfield Elementary School to show off his newly purchased 1979 Honda Accord. Chalmers is distraught when he discovers the car's hood ornament is missing. Skinner orders a search of every student's locker which reveals that Nelson Muntz, the school bully, is the culprit. As punishment, Nelson is forced to return all stolen items found in his locker to their owners; he is also made to perform janitorial work with Groundskeeper Willie.
Lisa is caught staring at Nelson during band practice and unwittingly causes a commotion among the band students. After she receives detention and is forced to write a contrite message on a chalkboard, she wonders aloud how Bart manages to do this each week. Lisa realizes she has a crush on Nelson and gets Milhouse to pass a love note to him in class. Nelson thinks Milhouse wrote the love note and beats him. Lisa confesses to Nelson that she wrote the note and soon they share a first kiss at Springfield Observatory.
Lisa vows to turn Nelson from a troublemaker into a sweet, well-behaved young man. However, the influence of Nelson's friends Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney prevails when they convince him to vandalize Principal Skinner's house. After Skinner calls the police, the four boys flee. Nelson takes refuge at Lisa's house and insists he is innocent; Lisa believes him until he unwittingly reveals he was involved in the boys' prank. Lisa realizes that she cannot reform Nelson and gently ends their relationship.
In the subplot, Chief Wiggum arrests a scam artist for telemarketing fraud. Homer witnesses the arrest and retrieves the discarded autodialer from a trash bin. He uses the machine for a telemarketing scheme to persuade everyone to send him money under the name "Happy Dude". His phone calls annoy the whole town and Chief Wiggum catches him. Instead of confiscating the autodialer and taking Homer into custody, he shoots it and asks Homer to bring it to his court hearing lest the charges be dismissed for lack of evidence. In the closing credits, the repaired autodialer plays Homer's new, court-ordered message asking residents to forgive him by sending money to "Sorry Dude".
The idea of Lisa dating Nelson had been around for a while, with several different versions being pitched. The writers wanted a "silly" Homer story to balance the episode out, and the idea of using the telemarketing scam for this had also been around for a while. By this time, the show had begun to have episodes revolving around secondary characters. This was the first episode to revolve around Nelson, and was done to partly explain why Nelson acts the way he does. The words to Nelson's song were contributed by Mike Scully's daughters. The scene in which Milhouse passes Lisa's note to Nelson was written by Bill Oakley, with the line, "He can't hear you, we had to pack his ears with gauze", being George Meyer's line. There was a debate as to how injured Milhouse should look without it looking disturbing, and the drop of blood coming from his nose was decided to be enough. Milhouse liking Vaseline on toast was based on a child from Josh Weinstein's school days who everyday would get onto the bus with a piece of toast, which had Vaseline on it.
A majority of the story is a reference to the film Rebel Without a Cause. Lisa remarks that Nelson is "like a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest", a reference to "a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma"; this was Winston Churchill's opinion of Russia at the outbreak of World War II.
In its original broadcast, "Lisa's Date with Density" finished 63rd in ratings for the week of December 9–15, 1996, with a Nielsen rating of 7.4, equivalent to approximately 7.2 million viewing households. It was the fifth-highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files, Melrose Place, Beverly Hills, 90210 and Party of Five.
The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called it "impressive" how "even after Nelson has beaten [Milhouse] up for apparently making a pass, [Milhouse] will still do anything for uncaring Lisa."
Josh Weinstein called it one of the most "real" episodes, commenting that every character in the episode, from Superintendent Chalmers to Lisa, acts like a real person throughout. The medic's line "He can't hear you, we had to pack his ears with gauze" is one of Matt Groening's favorites. Marge's line "When I first met your father, he was loud, crude and piggish. But I worked hard on him, and now he's a whole new person", is one of Susie Dietter's favorites, as it explains why Marge is still married to Homer despite his actions.
This is also one of several episodes that has been performed live by the cast in front of an audience.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: "Lisa's Date with Density"|