New Kid on the Block
"New Kid on the Block" is the eighth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 12, 1992. After meeting his new neighbor, Laura, Bart develops a crush on her, only to later discover that she has a boyfriend, Jimbo Jones, whom he attempts to scare off so that he can have a relationship with Laura. Meanwhile, Homer sues the Sea Captain Horatio McCallister after being kicked out of his all-you-can-eat restaurant while still hungry. It was written by Conan O'Brien and directed by Wes Archer.
The Simpsons' neighbors, the Winfields, decide to relocate because of Homer's regular inappropriate behavior. Bart and Lisa explore the Winfield's house while it is empty and up for sale, but Bart scares Lisa away from the basement with stories. Bart turns around to see his new neighbor, Laura Powers. Surprised, he falls down in shock and is helped back up by her and the pair become acquainted. Bart instantly develops a crush on her.
After Marge visits Ruth Powers to welcome her to the area, she tells Marge that she is divorced, and the two become friends. Meanwhile, after seeing a television advertisement about The Frying Dutchman's all-you-can-eat offer, Homer insists that Marge come dine with him, so he arranges for Laura to babysit Bart and Lisa. Homer quickly earns himself the ire of the Sea Captain, devouring nearly every morsel of food in the buffet, and is eventually forced to leave despite not being sated. Much to Marge's embarrassment, Homer sues the restaurant for deceptive advertisement. Lionel Hutz is employed by him to represent him in court and the case is successful after Hutz convinces the mostly overweight jury that a similar buffet mishap could befall them. To avoid further legal trouble, the Sea Captain and Homer eventually agree that Homer shall be displayed in the restaurant as "Bottomless Pete: Nature's Cruelest Mistake" to draw in more customers to the restaurant and offset the cost of his eating.
Meanwhile, Bart is delighted at having Laura babysitting him and attempts to impress her. She later asks him to come to his treehouse, as she has important news. She tells him she is dating Jimbo Jones, which upsets Bart. When Laura invites him over to the household, Bart, in an attempt to break the pair up, prank-calls Moe's Tavern, giving his name as Jimbo Jones, and telling Moe where he lives. Mistakenly believing Jimbo was the one who had been pranking Moe throughout the entire series, he races into the Simpson house with a kitchen knife looking for Jimbo, causing Jimbo to cry and plead for his life. Afterwards, Laura breaks up with him for not being the tough "outlaw" she thought he was. Laura tells Bart that she would date him if he were old enough to grow a mustache and the episode ends with the pair laughing after prank-calling Moe again.
The episode was written by Conan O'Brien and directed by Wes Archer. The episode's original subplot was intended to include American actor and comedian Don Rickles as a guest star presenting a comedy show and Homer laughing excessively at his jokes, until Rickles ridicules him. The pair were intended to start fighting and end up having to go to court. Despite O'Brien and other production staff being sure that Rickles would appear in the episode, he was reportedly upset by the concept of the storyline, as he did not wish to be portrayed as a "mean guy".
When attending a Fox Broadcasting Company publicity event in New York with Rupert Murdoch, show producer Matt Groening was introduced by Murdoch to Rickles. Rickles began shouting at Groening, accusing him of spying on his Las Vegas act and using material from that for the episode. The cast actually had been receiving recordings from Rickles from the 1950s to use as ideas on how to get the style for his animatic portrayal. Another side story the writers produced was for Homer to become an outstanding barber and hair dresser, but this was never used.
In its original broadcast, "New Kid on the Block" finished 23rd in ratings for the week of November 9–16, 1992, with a Nielsen rating of 14.4, equivalent to approximately 13.4 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, beating Beverly Hills, 90210. Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide commented that it was "a fun episode, introducing the Powers family [and featuring] the last appearance of the Winfields". In a 2008 article, Entertainment Weekly named Sara Gilbert's role as Laura Powers as one of the sixteen best guest appearances on The Simpsons.
- "The New Kid on the Block". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- "New Kid on the Block". BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-15.
- O'Brien, Conan (2004). The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season Commentary for the Episode "New Kid on the Block" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt (2004). The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season Commentary for the Episode "New Kid on the Block" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Jean, Al (2004). The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season Commentary for the Episode "New Kid on the Block" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Elber, Lynn (November 19, 1992). "Jackson 5? Nope, it was no. 3 last week". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
- "16 great 'Simpsons' guest stars". Entertainment Weekly. 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
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