Moaning Lisa

Moaning Lisa                                  Written by Al Jean and Mike Reiss
                                                      Directed by Wesley Archer

TV Guide synopsis

The meaning of life and her existence in the second grade have Lisa
playing the blues solo---until she jams with a kindred spirit.
Meanwhile winless Homer seeks tutelage from the Champ to beat Bart at
video boxing.

Title sequence


    {I will not instigate revolution.}
    {I will not instiga} at cutoff.


    Maggie squirts into the air.  Marge catches her and places her on her lap.

Voice credits


    Dan Castellaneta    (Homer, Barney, Political advisor, Scott Christian)
    Julie Kavner        (Marge)
    Nancy Cartwright    (Bart)
    Yeardley Smith      (Lisa)
    \:    and
    Harry Shearer       (Burns, Smithers, Dave Shutton, Inspector, Darwin)

Also Starring

    Hank Azaria         (Moe)
    Susan Blu
    Miriam Flynn
    Pamela Hayden       (Phys ed teacher)
    Ron Taylor

Didja notice...

    ... the two video boxers look like Bart and Homer, respectively?
    ... even though Marge is worried, she takes the time to not only get fully
        dressed, but she also puts on her pearls?
    ... Bart...ahem...firing the surgeon general while video boxing?

Movie References

    + Gleem Toothpaste
        - Glum Toothpaste

Freeze Frame Fun

The video arcade

    * Time Waster  (Sherry and Terry play tandem)
    * Freeway (a car racing game)
    * Pac-Rat
    * Eat My Shorts
    * Nuclear Disaster
    * Robert Goulet Destroyer
    * Escape from Grandma's House
    * Itchy and Scratchy

    - Kids there:  Sherry and Terry, Lewis, Martin.

Animation goofs

- The front door has a skeleton lock, but Homer's key isn't a skeleton key.
- Some of the cards that Bart vacuums up are wrong (a black ace of diamonds,
  two aces of spades--one red and one black)

Quotes and scene summary


 With tears in her eyes, Lisa stares forlornly into the bathroom mirror,
 as Homer waits impatiently to use the facilities.  Lisa leaves the
 bathroom, looking up at Homer as she go past.  Bart slips in.  ``Sorry Dad,
 women and children first!''

 Breakfast time at the Simpsons.  Homer runs frantically into the kitchen.
 Lisa pokes at her breakfast.
   Homer: Where the hell are my keys?  Who stole my keys?  Come on, I'm
          late for work!  [lift Maggie and looks underneath]
   Marge: Oh Homer, you'd lose your head if it weren't securely fastened to
          your neck.
   Bart:  Did you check the den?
   Homer: The den!  Great idea!  [heads into the den.  Bart follows]
          [Homer pulls the couch apart]
   Bart:  Warm.
          No, cold.
          Ice cold.
   Homer: You know where my keys are?
   Bart:  No, I'm talking about your breakfast.  [laughs]
   Homer: Grrrrrrrrrr!
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Lisa finds the keys in the front door, putting an end to Bart's amusement.
   Marge:  I'm sorry everybody, but I've only got two cupcakes for the three
           of you.
   Bart:   Well Mom, one of us has scarfed down more than enough cupcakes
           over the past three decades to keep his...
   Homer:  Bart!
   Lisa:   Just take mine.  A simple cupcake will bring me no pleasure.
           [Homer and Bart watch Lisa trudge out of the room]
   Homer+Bart: Yeah!  [exchange high-fives]
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Mr. Largo (the music teacher) conducts the school band through a horrid
 rendition of ``My Country 'Tis of Thee''.  Lisa improvises wildly.
   Largo: [tapping on music stand]  Lisa.  [taps louder]  LISA SIMPSON!
          [finally attracting her attention]  Lisa, there's no room for
          crazy bebop in ``My Country 'Tis of Thee''.
   Lisa:  But Mr. Largo!  That's what my country's all about.
   Largo: What?!?
   Lisa:  I'm wailing out for the homeless family living out of a car.  The
          idle farmer whose land has been taken away by uncaring
          bureaucrats.  The West Virginia coal-miner caught...
   Largo: Well, that's all fine and good, but Lisa, none of those unpleasant
          people are going to be at the recital next week.  Now class, from
          the top.  Five, six, seven...
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Lisa conforms.

 At lunchtime...
   Lisa: Every day at noon a bell rings, and they herd us in here to
         feeding time.  So we sit around like cattle, chewing our cud,
         dreading the inevitable...
   Bart: A-ha!  Food fight!
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Everyone except Lisa gets into the act.  Janey packs a mashed
 potatoes-ball and asks, ``Come on Lis, what are you waiting for?''
 Lisa responds, ``I choose not to participate.''  She is the unhappy
 recipient of a glob of mashed potatoes.

 Phys ed.  Lisa is pelted by multiple utility balls.
   Lisa:  OW!  Ooh, ow!  Ooh!
   PE Teacher: [blows whistle]  Lisa!  We are playing dodge-ball here.
          The object of the game is to avoid the ball, by weaving or ducking
          out of its path.
   Lisa:  In other words, to dodge the ball.
   PE Teacher: Listen missy, just tell me why you weren't getting out of the way
          of those balls.
   Lisa:  [despairingly]  I'm too sad.
   PE Teacher: Too sad to play dodgeball?  That's ridiculous. [to the rest of the
          class]  Now let's see some enthusiasm.  Play Ball!
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Several more enthusiastic utility balls hit Lisa.

 At home, Homer and Bart play the ``Super Slugfest'' video boxing game.
   Homer: Come on, come on, let's go.
   Bart:  [as announcer]
          In the red trunks, with a record of 48 wins and no losses, the
          undisputed champ of the town, Battling Bart Simpson!
          [whistles] whoopee, wo wo wo!
          And in the lavender trunks, with a record of zero wins and 48
          defeats... oh, correction, <humiliating> defeats, all of them by
   Homer: Must you do this every time...
   Bart:  Homer ``the human punching bag'' Simpson!
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Round 1.  Homer immediately hits the canvas.  ``Whoa, three seconds folks,
 a new record!''  Homer manages to jiggle the joystick enough to get his
 man off the canvas, to suffer more at the hands of Battling Bart.  Marge
 and Lisa come in, as Homer's boxer bleeds.
   Marge:  They sent a note from school.
   Homer:  [to Bart]  What did you do this time you little hoodlum?
   Bart:   I didn't do it, no one saw me do it, there's no way you can prove
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 But this note is about Lisa.  Even Bart finds it hard to believe.
 When Homer takes the note, Bart literally knocks the video boxing
 character's block off.  Lisa sighs.

 [End of Act One.  Time: 4:48]
   Homer:  [reading the note]  Lisa refuses to play dodgeball because she is
           sad.  [end of note]  She doesn't look sad.  I don't see any tears
           in her eyes.
   Lisa:   It's not that kind of sad.  I'm sorry Dad, but you wouldn't
   Homer:  Oh sure I would, Princess.  I have feeling too, you know, like
           ``My stomach hurts', or ``I'm going crazy!''
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 She climbs up onto her father's knee.  Lisa muses, ``I'm just wondering
 what's the point.  Would it make any difference at all if I never existed?
 How can we sleep at night when there's so much suffering in the world?''
 Unable to respond to these deep questions, Homer says, ``Come on Lisa, ride
 the Homer horsey!  Giddy up!  Wheee!  heh heh heh.''  Marge offers to
 run her a hot bath like when she feels sad.
   Lisa:  Sorry Dad, I know you mean well.  [kisses him]
   Homer: Thanks for knowing I mean well.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
   Bart:  Gee Homer, it looks like you've got yourself a real problem on
          your hands.
   Homer: You're right... Uhh... Bart!  Vacuum this floor!
   Bart:  Hey Man!  I didn't do anything wrong!
   Homer: In times of trouble you've got to go with what you know.  Now hop
          to it boy!
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 With Maggie watching from the couch, Bart grouses as he vacuums the living
 room floor... and a pack of playing cards from the table.  Lisa enters
 wearing her bathrobe.
   Bart:   [sarcastically]  Enjoy your bath?
   Lisa:   No, not really.
   Bart:   Oh, too bad.  Well I've certainly had fun vacuuming.  Maybe now
           I'll get the pleasure of scrubbing your tub.
   Lisa:   [to Maggie] So typical of Bart.  All he thinks about is himself.
   Bart:   Hey!  Don't say stuff like that about me to Maggie.  She's on my
           side anyway.
   Lisa:   Is not!|       |Is not!|       |Is not!
   Bart:          |Is too!|       |Is too!|
   Bart:   Is too!  Watch, I'll prove it.  Maggie, come to the one you love
   Maggie: [hops off the couch, looks at Bart]
   Lisa:   No Maggie!  Come here girl, come to me.
   Bart:   [shaking a rattler]  Come on Maggie, the choice is obvious.
   Lisa:   [beckoning her]  No Maggie, don't go for the glitter, look for
   Maggie: [looks at them both, uncertain]
   Lisa:   [giving up] All right Maggie, just go to Bart.
   Bart:   Egg-zactly, come to the one you love best.
   Maggie: [looks at them both, then walks away and embraces the TV set]
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Homer and Bart sit down to play another game of video boxing.  Homer
 wields his joystick furiously.  Bart uses a single finger to dispatch
 his opponent and dances on the grave of the defeated.  Homer's
 excuse is the ``infernal racket'' coming from upstairs.

 Homer runs into Lisa's room.
   Homer: Lisa!  What did I tell you about playing that saxamuhthing in the
   Lisa:  I was just playing the blues... Dad. [sobs]
   Homer: Lisa, I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to yell.  Go ahead, play your
          blues if it'll make you happy.
   Lisa:  No, that's okay, Dad.  I'll just work on my fingering, unless my
          fingers clacking on the keys is too loud for you.
   Homer: Let's hear it.  [Lisa clacks away]  You just clack as loud as you
          want, Lis.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 The tones of another saxophone reach through the bedroom window.
 ``Gotta find that sound,'' says Lisa.  Out the window, to the treehouse,
 then down the ladder.  She treks through Springfield, locating another
 musician sitting on the Springfield bridge.
   Lisa:   That was beautiful.  What's it called?
   Murphy: Oh, it's a little tune that I call ``The `I Never Had an Italian
           Suit' Blues''.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Marge sleeps restlessly.  She dreams of her childhood.  Marge's mother
 (who looks just like Marge, but with a puffier hairdo) tells her
 daughter, ``Wait Margey, before we go out that door, let's put our
 happy face on, because people know how good a mommy you have by the size
 of your smile.''  Young Marge sports a ridiculous smile.
 Homer meanwhile lapses into a video game nightmare, except the video
 characters are real, not pixels.  The two combatants are, of course,
 Bart and Homer.
   Homer:  [in a dream] What the?!?!  [Homer is a video boxing character]
   Bart:   [his opponent] Put up your dukes, Homer.
   Homer:  Agggh!  Bart!  Go easy on me!  I'm your Dad!
   Bart:   I <am> going easy on ya.  [pow] You're so old, [pow] and slow,
           [pow] and weak, [pow] and pathetic.  [Bart winds up for the kill]
   Homer:  No!  Son!  No!  [the fist impacts]
           [wakes up screaming]
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Homer promptly settles back to sleep as if nothing happened.
 Marge wakes up Homer, wiping off the drool.
   You know Marge, getting old is a terrible thing.  I think the
   saddest day of my life was when I realized I could beat my Dad at
   most things, and Bart experienced that at the age of four.
   -- Homer, ``Moaning Lisa''
 Marge is still trying to figure out what's bothering Lisa.
   Marge:  I don't know... Bart's such a handful, and Maggie needs
           attention, but all the while, our little Lisa's becoming a young
   Homer:  Oh, so that's it, this is some kind of underwear thing.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Homer returns to sleep, but Marge remains awake.

 Murphy tutors the fine art of the sax to Lisa on Springfield Bridge.
   Lisa:    [improvises]
   Murphy:  Now now now, low B flat.
   Lisa:    [jams down low]
   Murphy:  Okay, Lisa.  Altissimo register.
   Lisa:    [another wild riff]
   Murphy:  [applauding]  Very nice, very nice.  I once ruptured myself
            doing that.
   -- All you ever wanted to know about sax, ``Moaning Lisa''
 Lisa thanks Mr. Murphy for the compliment, but he would rather be known
   Murphy:  My friends call me `Bleeding Gums'.
   Lisa:    Ewwww, how'd you get a name like that?
   Murphy:  Well let me put it this way... You ever been to the dentist?
   Lisa:    Yeah.
   Murphy:  Not me.  I suppose I should go to one, but I've got enough pain
            in my life as it is.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Lisa adds, ``I have problems too.''  Murphy responds, ``Well I can't help
 you kid.  I'm just a terrific horn player with tones of soul, but I can
 jam widcha.''  They do.
   Murphy:  Oh, I'm so lonely,
            Since my baby left me.
            I got no money,
            And nothing is free.
            Oh, I've been so alone
            Since the day I was born.
            All I got is this rusty,
            This rusty old horn.
   Lisa:    I got a bratty brother.
            He bugs me everyday.
            And this morning my own mother,
            Gave my last cupcake away.
            My Dad acts like he belongs,
            He belongs in the zoo.
            I'm the sa-a-a-addest kid,
            In gra-a-a-de number two.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa'
 But none of this makes Lisa feel any better.
   The Blues isn't about feeling better, it's about making other
   people feel <worse>, and making a few bucks while you're at it.
   -- Bleeding Gums Murphy, ``Moaning Lisa''
 Marge drives by.
   Marge:  Lisa!  Get away from that jazz man!
   Lisa:   But Mom!  Can I stay a little longer?  Can I Mom, can I?
   Marge:  Come on, come on.  We were worried about you.
           [to Bleeding Gums Murphy]
           Nothing personal, I just fear the unfamiliar.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Lisa gets in, and Murphy solos through the night.

 [End of Act Two.  Time: 13:03]

 Homer chows down on Pork Rinds Light in front of the TV set.
   Kent:  ... through downtown Springfield today gutting Symphony Hall, the
          Springfield Museum of Natural History, the Springfield Arts
          Center, and Barney's Bowl-o-rama.
   Homer: Waugh!  [chokes]  Oh no!  [walks into kitchen]  Marge!  Marge, you
          all right?
   Marge: No, I'm very upset.
   Homer: Oh then you've heard.  Oh God!  What are we going to do?  The
          lanes were kinda warped, but all the food...
   Marge: I'm upset about Lisa.
   Homer: [realizing]  Oh, me too.
   Bart:  Me three, whatawe talking about?
   Homer: Bart!
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
   Marge: Do you think you could be nice enough to your sister, Bart?
   Bart:  Oh yeah, easy.
   Marge: You do love her don't you?
   Bart:  [whining] Oh Mom...
   Marge: Well you do, don't you?
   Bart:  [uncomfortably]  Don't make me say it.  You know the answer, I
          know the answer, he knows the answer, let's just drop it, ok?
   Marge: Okay, Bart, you don't have to say it, but you do have to have a
          loving attitude.  Be nice to your sister.
   Bart:  [reluctantly]  Okey dokey.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Bart sees Lisa coming down the stairs with her saxophone.  ``Hi, man!''
 But she doesn't want his pity.  Bart offers to cheer her up.

 Moe picks up the phone.
   Moe:   Yeah, Moe's Tavern, Moe speaking.
   Bart:  Is Jock there?
   Moe:   Who?
   Bart:  Jock, last name Strap.
   Moe:   Uh, hold on.  [to everyone in the bar]  Uh, Jock... Strap...
          Hey guys I'm looking for a Jock Strap.  [laughs from all]
          Oh... wait a minute... Jock Strap...
          It's you isn't it ya cowardly little runt?  When I get a hold of you,
          I'm gonna gut you like a fish and drink your blood.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Bart rolls on the floor laughing.  Lisa isn't impressed.  ``Where's your
 sense of humor man?''  Marge leaves with Lisa for band practice.
 Meanwhile, Homer pays a visit to the Noiseland Video Arcade.
   Homer: Give me some quarters... I'm doing my laundry.
   Clerk: Yeah, right.  [gives him the quarters]
   Homer: [looks around] Where's the video boxing?
   Clerk: Over there in the corner.  If I were you I really would use
          those quarters for laundry.
   Homer: [sotto voce]  Wise guy.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 The line for video boxing is quite long.  Homer learns that the kid at
 the game has played over two thousand fights and is still on his first
   Howie:  Ok, who's next?  [every one raises their hands, `memememememe']
   Homer:  [rising from above the crowd]  No, me!  No, meeee!  Now listen...
           can you teach me how to fight like you do?
   Howie:  No.
   Homer:  Aw, come on...
   Howie:  I'll tell you what.  I'll do it if you'll bark like a dog.
   Homer:  Whyyoulittle... Woof woof woof!
   Howie:  Hah!  You've got yourself a deal, Fido.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Much later, the arcade is empty, save for Homer and Howie.  Homer has
 run out of quarters, but with the tips he's learned, he's ready to
 ``pound the tar out of a cer-tain little smartypants tonight''.
 Howie's mother scolds her son for wasting his money, and says to Homer,
 ``You should be ashamed of yourself.''  Homer makes his escape.
 ``Excuse me, I think I hear my wife calling.''

 Marge drives Lisa to band practice.  Silence.
   Lisa:   Ahem.  [Marge waits for her to say something, but Lisa turns
   Marge:  Now Lisa, listen to me, this is important.  I want you to smile
   Lisa:   But I don't feel like smiling.
   Marge:  Well it doesn't matter how you feel inside, you know?  It's what
           shows up on the surface that counts.  That's what my mother
           taught me.  Take all your bad feelings and push them down, all
           the way down, past your knees until you're almost walking on them.
           And then you'll fit in, and you'll be invited to parties, and
           boys will like you, and happiness will follow.
   Lisa:   [feeble attempt at a smile]
   Marge:  No, come on.  You can do better than that.
   Lisa:   [a much brighter smile]
   Marge:  Aww, that's my girl.  [rubs Lisa's hair]
   Lisa:   [through her teeth]  I feel more popular already.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 At the entrance to the school building.
   Boy1:  Hey, nice smile.
   Lisa:  Thanks.
   Boy2:  Hey, what are you talking to her for?  She's just going to say
          something weird.
   Lisa:  Not me!
   Boy1:  You know, I used to think you were some sort of a Brainiac, but, I
          guess you're okay, and...
   Lisa:  Uh-huh.
   Boy2:  Hey, why don't you come over to my house after practice.  You can
          do my homework.
   Lisa:  [forced]  Okay.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Marge (who had been observing) fumes.  (``Mmmmmmmm!'')
   Miss Simpson, I hope we won't have a repeat of yesterday's
   outburst of `Unbridled Creativity'.
   -- Mr. Largo, ``Moaning Lisa''
 Lisa responds, ``No, sir.''  Growling, Marge U-turns the car, pulls Lisa
 inside and speeds off.  Notes Mr. Largo, ``Hummph.  So that's where she
 gets it.''

 Marge stops the car.  ``Lisa, I apologize to you, I was wrong, I take it
 all back.  Always be yourself.  If you want to be sad, honey, be sad.
 We'll ride it out with you.  And when you get finished feeling sad, we'll
 still be there.  From now on, let me do the smiling for both of us.''
 Lisa smiles and embraces her.  ``Okay, Mom.''  ``I said you could stop
 smiling, Lisa.''  ``I feel like smiling.''  Marge is touched.

 The Main Event.  Homer and Bart prepare for one final round of video
 boxing.  Homer looks like a man with an ace up his sleeve.
   Bart:   I'm gonna knock you out one more time and that's it, this is
           getting boring, man!
   Homer:  [smirking] Try not to kill me too hard, son.  Heh heh heh.
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Game console:  Ding-ding, ROUND1.  (Akbar's speech balloon says `Fight!')

 Bart lunges, but Homer ducks out of the way and returns with a jab,
 knocking Bart onto the ropes.  Homer wallops Bart.  Marge and Lisa enter.
   Marge:  I'd like your attention, please.
   Homer:  Quiet Marge!  This is my big moment!  Bart the Bloody Pulp
           Simpson is on the ropes.  He's hoping I'll put him out of his
           misery.  Wow, you're in luck Bart!  Here comes my right!
           [Marge pulls the plug]  Oh, no!!!!
           My game!  My game!  I could've beat the boy!  Marge, how could
           you!  I was so close!
   Marge:  I'm sorry, but this is more important than that silly loud game.
   Bart:   You're right Mom.  I'd just like to use this occasion to announce
           my retirement, undefeated from the world of video boxing.
           [Homer collapses into a whimper]
   -- ``Moaning Lisa''
 Marge tells Homer to clam down.  Lisa has an idea for a fun night out.

 At the Jazz Hole, Bleeding Gums Murphy on stage.  ``This next song was
 written by a friend of mine, one of the great little ladies of jazz.''
 He sings Lisa's song.  (When he gets to ``My Dad acts like he belongs-ah,
 belongs in the zoo,'' Homer says, ``What!?'')

 [End of Act Three.  Time: 20:24]

 Credits are displayed over an exterior shot of The Jazz Hole.  Murphy
 plays the sax until the Gracie credit.

Boring distribution restrictions

Episode summaries Copyright 1992 by Chris Baird and Raymond Chen.  Updated
1999 Andrew A. Gill.  Unattributed discrepancies between this and the previous
revisions are mine.  Firing the surgeon general may result in hairy palms.
Not to be redistributed in a public forum without permission.  (The quotes
themselves, of course, remain the property of The Simpsons, and the reproduced
articles remain the property of the original authors.  I'm just taking credit
for the compilation.)

HTML conversion by
Howard Jones( on Sat 10 Sept 1994