Stealing First Base
"Stealing First Base" is the fifteenth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 21, 2010. In this episode, Bart falls in love with a girl named Nikki from a second fourth grade class, but when he kisses her, Nikki begins treating Bart like dirt. Meanwhile, First Lady Michelle Obama teaches Lisa that there is no shame in being an overachiever, and Nelson Muntz teaches a blind boy how to be a schoolyard bully.
The episode was written by John Frink and directed by Steven Dean Moore. The episode was also watched by 5.69 million households and received a 2.8/8 in the 18-49 Nielsen Rating. The episode received mixed reviews from critics. The episode guest stars Sarah Silverman as Nikki and Angela Bassett as Michelle Obama.
Bart's fourth grade class is merged with another fourth grade class when teacher Mrs. Krabappel is absent. In the crowded classroom, Bart is forced to sit by a new student named Nikki. At first they dislike each other, until Nikki admires Bart's artistic skills. Bart seeks romance advice from Homer, who passes him off to Grandpa Abe. After Grandpa advises Bart to kiss Nikki, however, when Bart does so after the two skateboard together, she recoils in disgust. Nikki's attorney parents threaten to sue the school unless it is declared an "affection-free environment". Superintendent Chalmers causes a play in which Willie plays Nikki and Skinner plays Bart, meaning they are forced to kiss. Bart is confused at the outcome of this seemingly innocent action, and his confusion is later amplified when Nikki hides in his locker and kisses him again.
Meanwhile, Lisa becomes more popular when she receives an F on a test, but becomes unpopular again when it is revealed that her test was mistakingly given to Ralph and really got an A+++, both tests were mixed up as the F grade was supposed to be given to Ralph who had written Lisa's name on his test. She blogs about being ostracized as an overachiever, and her post is noted by a mysterious blogger known as Flotus 1 who turns out to be First Lady Michelle Obama. Obama drops by Springfield Elementary to give a speech about the importance of academics and recommends that the students should be nice to Lisa and other overachievers, including Martin Prince and Allison Taylor.
Bart and Nikki have been watching this speech from the roof, and Bart confesses to Nikki he does not understand her ever-changing moods. They argue and Bart stumbles, falling off the roof. Nikki says "I love you," but seeing that Bart is breathing treats him badly again. Bart stops breathing again, but the school's "no touch" policy prevents anyone from performing CPR. Nikki defies the policy and revives Bart via mouth-to-mouth, thus setting off a montage of kiss scenes from various movies. When Bart awakes, Nikki's mood changes yet again and Bart remains in a state of complete confusion over female behavior. He tells her he does not care what happens between her and him, but then changes his mind and yells out "I love you!" after she kisses him once again.
Throughout the episode, Nelson Muntz has befriended a blind boy and teaches him how to laugh at the misfortunes of others. At the end, the blind boy tricks Nelson into believing that a punch he sustained after insulting Nelson restored his sight. When he reveals to Nelson that this was a prank and laughs Nelson's signature "haw haw", Nelson is as impressed as he is touched by the achievement.
The episode is written by John Frink and directed by Steven Dean Moore, his second director credit for the season after "O Brother, Where Bart Thou?". The episode features guest star Sarah Silverman as Nikki (Bart's crush) and Angela Bassett as Michelle Obama.
In the scene where Nikki performs CPR on Bart, recreations of kissing scenes from a variety of films and television shows are shown. These scenes are (in order); From Here to Eternity (1953), Gone with the Wind (1939), The Quiet Man (1952), Lady and the Tramp (1955), Planet of the Apes (1968), On Golden Pond (1981), Ghost (1990), Spider-Man (2002), Star Trek (2009), Beauty and the Beast (1987–1990), The Public Enemy (1931), WALL-E (2008), Alien 3 (1992), The Godfather: Part II (1974), and an All in the Family (1971–1979) episode in which Sammy Davis, Jr. guest starred. The sequence, and the accompanying musical score, are a nod to Cinema Paradiso (1988), directed by Giuseppe Tornatore, with score by Ennio Morricone. The Itchy & Scratchy cartoon is a parody of the 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi.
In its original American broadcast, "Stealing First Base" was watched by 5.69 million households getting a 2.8/8 in the 18-49 Nielsen Rating. The episode came in second in its time slot and was the second most-watched show on Fox that night, after a new episode of Family Guy.
Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club criticized the episode, calling the harassment storyline "pointless and stupid" although praised the Nelson subplot. However, Jason Hughes of TV Squad praised the storyline, writing "I applaud the series for facing such an issue with such intensity, and handling it with humor and compassion". Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode an 8 out of 10, saying that "Nikki turned out to be a fun and memorable character." Overall he stated that "Although "Stealing First Base" fed us some old ideas, it did so with a lot of great bits...and some very strong guest voices." Ariel Ponywether of FireFox News gave the episode a B- saying that "Taking the above into consideration, I can only give “Stealing First Base” a mild recommendation. It’s funny but the fact that it grates on the nerves prevents me from raving about it wholeheartedly.".
The scene where Bart and Nikki were performing a skateboard parkour contains the song "Chase" by Giorgio Moroder on the original FOX broadcast. When the episode is shown in syndication, "Chase" is replaced by a musically similar composition.
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