The Simpsons, Season 24, Episode 10: A Test Before Trying, Review

Springfield: Worst school in the country? Could be . . .

The couch gag remains at the opening of this episode of The Simpsons! This time, it’s a movie trailer for a movie called, The Couch, where five heroes will be called. Once they get inside, the house is bombed and explodes in a ball of fire. Strange, but it’s a new couch gag, so I’m not going to complain. It’s one of my favorite parts of the show.

Mr. Burns announces his annual rate hike for electricity, releasing his hounds onto a group of economists. The “winner” (eaten by the dogs) reveals that the hike will be 17% and the hike immediately affects Springfield. Marge starts throwing all unnecessary appliances away, including the shrimp peeler and shrimp deveiner. Lights go out all over town and Mole Man’s family decides to take him off life support. He’s kind of like Kenny from South Park, though…he “dies” but never really goes away.

The school is broke and only a standardized test will be able to save them, providing the students do well. A group of proctors come in with a van that looks like an FBI vehicle and the students take the test to the theme from The Exorcist, with the ones who pass out being swept to the front of the room by Groundskeeper Willy. In the end, the school has done worse than the worst school in the state and all the kids are about to be sent off to new districts…until Lisa finds out that Bart skipped school the day of the test. To torment a beetle. Of course. 

So, the school’s entire future hangs on Bart doing well on the standardized test. Is he ready? No. He admits this to Principal Skinner, convincing him to pull the fire alarm to stall the testing. “Looks like Mr. Vanilla just grew some chocolate chips,” Bart proudly tells him.  

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Homer, on his trip to the dump, finds a parking meter and brings it home to start bilking innocent people of their change. When he gets caught by Wiggum, he flees but breaks the meter. Later, Marge catches him dragging a pillowcase full of change upstairs and confronts him. She says they can turn the change into something better…so they end up throwing it all in a wishing well. I guess they could have gone to CoinStar, but maybe that doesn’t exist in Springfield.

Bart keeps refusing to study for the test, but ends up having a horrible dream about Springfield being overrun by idiots, including a bunch of Popeyes farming spinach at the former school. Lisa offers her help, telling Bart that he should answer what he knows first and then to pick “B” if he’s not sure. Bart ends up passing by one point, after the beetle he had previously tormented landed on the test in the “C” answer slot and the school is saved. 

Final review:  

This was a pretty neutral episode. Not really funny, not really touching, not really pointed in terms of ripping anyone apart, which this show is usually good at and they do it well. 

Best quotes:

“Driving you crazy instead of picking off your legs… I’ve really matured.”  Bart to his little beetle friend, the reason he missed the test.

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“You’ve been in public education a long time, haven’t you?”  Marge asks the DST lady in the Kwik E Mart, as the lady picks up a cartful of vodka.

This episode was also dedicated to the late Huell Howser, friend of The Simpsons.