Lisa on Ice
"Lisa on Ice" is the eighth television episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It was first broadcast on Fox in the United States on November 13, 1994. In the episode, Principal Skinner hands out academic alerts to the Springfield Elementary students, and Lisa discovers that she is in peril of failing a class for the first time in her life. When trying to salvage her gym grade, Lisa finds she possesses a skill for ice hockey. Rivalry between Lisa and Bart in the rink escalates into their home life and beyond, fueled considerably by Homer and coaches.
The episode was written by Mike Scully and directed by Bob Anderson, whose passion for hockey inspired the plot. It features cultural references to films such as Rollerball and The Pope of Greenwich Village. The episode was well received by critics, and acquired a Nielsen rating of 11.6.
Principal Skinner calls all the Springfield Elementary School students down for an assembly to tell them which subjects they are failing. When Lisa is called up, she discovers to her horror that she is failing gym class. When she appeals to her teacher, they reach a compromise: Lisa can get a passing grade if she joins a sports program outside of school. She immediately attempts to join several, but fails, and her self-esteem is devastated. Later, the family goes to see Bart play hockey for his team, the Mighty Pigs, coached by Chief Wiggum. After the game, Bart, while ridiculing his sister for being poor at sports, begins shooting pieces of litter at Lisa with his hockey stick, and Apu, the coach of the Kwik-E-Mart Gougers, notices that she is a natural at hockey goal-tending and makes her goalie for his team. Although Lisa has no interest in hockey, she accepts, seeing this as the only way to maintain her academic credentials. As it turns out, she is remarkably talented, and leads her team to their best season ever.
Due to Homer's increasing pressure, a sibling rivalry develops between Bart and Lisa, and it peaks when the town learns that the Gougers will face the Mighty Pigs in their next match. The game proves to be a vicious one, but very close, with both Bart and Lisa playing their best. With four seconds left, Bart is tripped by Jimbo, giving him a penalty shot against Lisa that will decide the game. However, as they face each other, Bart and Lisa remember the good times they have had together as children before they began fighting. They each throw aside their equipment and hug, and the match ends in a tie. Marge admits she is proud of them, while a sobbing Homer declares them both losers and turns his attention to Maggie. Unsatisfied with the outcome, the residents of Springfield begin rioting and tear the stadium to pieces while Bart and Lisa blissfully skate together across the rink.
The idea for the episode came from The Simpsons writer Mike Scully, who wanted to do an episode involving hockey because of his passion for the sport. Bob Anderson, who also had an interest for hockey, directed the episode.
The episode starts out with Lisa tricking Bart into believing it is a snow day by throwing a snowball at him which she made out of the ice in the fridge. The scene was inspired by Scully, who as a child loved to sit and listen by the radio waiting to see if there was going to be school snow day. Scully thought, because of his experience as a child, that there was nothing more disappointing than to wake up expecting a snow day, only to find out there was no snow. The academic alerts the Springfield Elementary School students receive were based on those Scully received in junior high.
When Moe visits Bart and Lisa at the Simpson house to see if they have any injuries that may affect the odds of the upcoming game, Marge sends him away and he pleads: "They're gonna take my thumbs". This is a reference to Eric Roberts' line, "Charlie, they took my thumb", from the 1984 film The Pope of Greenwich Village. The episode features several references to the 1975 film Rollerball. At the academic alerts assembly, bully Kearney has Dolph take a memo on an Apple Newton, a personal digital assistant. When Dolph writes "Beat up Martin" on the screen, the handwriting recognition turns it into "Eat up Martha", and Kearney throws the Newton at Martin instead, referencing the MessagePad's poor handwriting recognition.
In its original American broadcast, "Lisa on Ice" finished 34th in the ratings for the week of November 7 to November 13, 1994, with a Nielsen rating of 11.6. It was the second highest rated show on the Fox network that week. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. 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 "a fabulous episode for Lisa and Bart, although with a special mention for a few seconds of tremendous Edna Krabappel wickedness." DVD Verdict's Ryan Keefer said the episode "is one of the few episodes centered on Lisa that I enjoy watching", and gave it a B. DVD Talk's Aaron Beierle said "there are definitely some funny moments in this episode, the sweet-natured way that the episode ends never sat right with me." ESPN.com named this episode the fifth best sports moment in the history of the show. The Orlando Sentinel's Gregory Hardy listed it as the seventh best episode of the show with a sports theme.
TV Squad's Adam Finley gave the episode a positive review, commenting that it is "a skewering of parents who become too involved in their children's sports and turn what should be a lesson in teamwork, trying your hardest, and losing gracefully into a kind of Roman Coliseum where grown adults live out violent fantasies and their own failed ambitions through their children." He added that "Homer is an absolute jerk in this episode, taunting his children when they lose and praising them when they win and humiliate their sibling" and that "it's not just Homer. Marge, characteristically so, tries to remain diplomatic, but even she starts screaming for blood when Bart is tripped by an opposing player."
- "Lisa on Ice". The Simpsons.com. Archived from the original on 2008-09-07. Retrieved 2008-09-27.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Lisa on Ice". BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family. Created by Matt Groening; edited by Ray Richmond and Antonia Coffman. (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. ASIN 0006388981. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M. ISBN 0-00-638898-1, 978-0-00-638898-2. p. 157.
- Scully, Mike (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa on Ice" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Anderson, Bob (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa on Ice" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Mirkin, David (2005). The Simpsons season 6 DVD commentary for the episode "Lisa on Ice" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- "What we watch, what we don't...". Austin American-Statesman. November 20, 1994. p. 24. Retrieved on September 28, 2008.
- Keefer, Ryan (August 29, 2005). "DVD Verdict Review - The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
- Beierle, Aaron. "DVD Talk Review: Simpsons: Season 6". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
- Collins, Greg (January 23, 2004). "The Simpsons Got Game". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2008-09-28.
- Hardy, Gregory (February 16, 2003). "Hitting 300 - For Sporting Comedy, 'The Simpsons' Always Score". Orlando Sentinel. p. C17.
- Adam Finley (2006-06-20). "The Simpsons: Lisa on Ice". TV Squad. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
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- "Lisa on Ice" at the Internet Movie Database