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Dancin' Homer
Dead Putting Society
Bart vs. Thanksgiving


That shot is impossible! Jack Nicholson himself couldn't make it!
Homer Simpson

Dead Putting Society is the sixth episode of Season 2.

Synopsis

When Homer and Bart bump into Ned and Todd Flanders at the Miniature Golf course, Homer is convinced that his son could beat Todd in the upcoming miniature golf tournament. They both enter, and they place a bet on who will win - the loser having to mow the lawn in his wife's Sunday dress. Lisa researches and helps Bart, but when it comes down to the final, the pair give up and split the prize in half.

Full Story

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On a beautiful day, Homer is mowing his lawn. Ned Flanders invites Homer into his beautiful rumpus room to have some beer and club sandwiches. Homer accepts, but eventually protests against Ned and accuses the Flanders family of having things better than the Simpsons do, and in a rare example of anger, Ned asks Homer to leave. After discussing things with Marge, who reminds him that Ned is a perfect neighbor, Homer goes for a walk. Meanwhile, Maude Flanders suggests to Ned that he should try to patch things up with Homer, and he writes a note to Homer with humorous "Flanderisms" in it, after hearing from Reverend Lovejoy that the Bible says that a gentle answer turns away wrath. Homer doesn't take the note seriously, and he, Bart and Lisa laugh at it.

Later on, Homer takes Bart for a round of miniature golf at Sir Putt-A-Lot's Merrie Olde Fun Center, where they unexpectedly run into Ned and his sons Rod and Todd. Homer continues to have a bad attitude towards Ned. Bart and Todd learn of a miniature golf tournament in a few days, with the first prize being $50, and they both choose to enter. Although Todd is very good at miniature golf, Homer is confident that Bart will win the tournament. Homer unsuccessfully tried to help Bart practice for the tournament, complete with putting a picture of Todd Flanders in Bart's room and making him stare at it for 15 minutes every day. Lisa provides better help for Bart through her reading spiritual books that calm Bart's mind, and she goes to the fun center to help him practice. Homer, still ticked off with Ned, makes a bet with Ned: the father of the boy "who does not win" the tournament will mow the lawn of the house of the boy who wins, in his wife's Sunday dress.

Good ol fraternity days.jpg

It is the day of the tournament, and Bart and Todd are doing well, proceeding to the final round of the tournament. In an extremely close match, Bart and Todd each do well, and are tied by the time they reach the eighteenth hole. Bart and Todd are both nervous, so they agree they are equally good, and call it a draw. Because of the way the bet was written down, both Homer and Ned must wear each wife's best Sunday dress and mow each other's lawn (Homer namely didn't care if he had to suffer the humiliation, as he felt that as long as Ned was humiliated as well, he will be comfortable with it). Ned actually enjoys the experience, much to Homer's disgust.

Transcript

Production

"Dead Putting Society" was written by Jeff Martin and directed by Rich Moore. Martin was an experienced miniature golfer and based much of the golf-related scenes in the script on his own experiences. Parts of this episode are also based on the film The Karate Kid (1984), including the way Bart practices for the miniature golf tournament by balancing on a trash can in a "crane position". For "Dead Putting Society", the animators went on a field trip to a local miniature golf course to study the mechanics of a golf club swing. Moore commented that the reason for this was that much of the humor on The Simpsons comes from making the scenery look lifelike; "The realism of the background serves as the straight man for the absurd situations."

This episode was the first to prominently feature Ned Flanders and the rest of the Flanders family, and contained the first appearances of Maude and Rod Flanders. Maggie Roswell was given the role of Maude, Ned's loving wife, and became a regular cast member with this episode. She had previously played supporting parts in the show's first season. Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart, commented on Roswell's acting: "Maggie has been blessed with a skill in creating one of the hardest things to create: the 'normal sound', whatever that is. So she can easily slip into the gal next door."

Reception

"Dead Putting Society" originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 15, 1990. In its original American broadcast, the episode finished 35th in the ratings for the week of November 12–18, 1990, with a Nielsen rating of 14.3, equivalent to approximately 13.3 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on Fox that week.

Since airing, the episode has received positive reviews from television critics. Doug Pratt, a DVD reviewer and Rolling Stone contributor, praised the episode as one of the best from season two. He commented that the miniature golf challenges "are delightful, the denouement is highly amusing ... and the beauty of the whole episode is that it could just as easily be an episode in a live action TV sitcom, though the slight touches of fancy enabled by the animation enhance its comic impact." Dusty Sanders of the Rocky Mountain News commented that the title of the episode is "funnier than the content of most TV sitcoms". DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson commented that "considering what a prominent character Flanders became, it's strange to realize that 'Dead Putting Society' was the first show to feature him heavily. He'd made some token appearances in the past—most notably in season one's 'Call of the Simpsons'—but 'Dead Putting Society' much more clearly defined the Ned we'd come to know and love. It also featured scads of good little bits and gags and seemed like a solid program."

The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, commented that apart from "the memorable lawn mowing sequence at the end, this episode is notable for our first viewing of the gaudy, gadget-filled, God-fearing splendour that is the Flanderses' home." The Orlando Sentinel's Gregory Hardy named it the ninth best episode of the show with a sports theme. The reference to The Karate Kid was named the 21st greatest film reference in the history of the show by Total Film's Nathan Ditum.

Season 1 Season 2 Episodes Season 3
Bart Gets an "F"Simpson and DelilahTreehouse of Horror (aka "The Simpsons Halloween Special") • Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every FishDancin' HomerDead Putting SocietyBart vs. ThanksgivingBart the DaredevilItchy & Scratchy & MargeBart Gets Hit by a CarOne Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue FishThe Way We WasHomer vs. Lisa and the 8th CommandmentPrincipal CharmingOh Brother, Where Art Thou?Bart's Dog Gets an FOld MoneyBrush with GreatnessLisa's SubstituteThe War of the SimpsonsThree Men and a Comic BookBlood Feud
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