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Lisa's Pony
Saturdays of Thunder
Flaming Moe's


"Dad, I don't know how to say this. I don't want to drive your car. It's slow, it's ugly, it handles like a shopping cart."
Bart Simpson

Saturdays of Thunder is the ninth episode of Season 3, and the show's 44th episode overall. It features cultural references to films such as Ben-Hur, Lethal Weapon, and Days of Thunder.

Synopsis[]

Bart becomes deeply immersed in competitive soapbox racing while Homer begins to realize that he is not as good a father as he thought. After attending a lecture at the National Fatherhood Institute, Homer becomes a more attentive father, helping Bart build the ultimate soapbox racer. But Bart chooses not to use it in his big race against Nelson, instead opting to borrow Martin's scientifically engineered aerodynamic racer.

Full Story[]

When the local Soap Box Derby is held in Springfield, Bart has his heart set on first prize. But the catch is that he must build his own soap box racer. In the meantime, Patty and Selma tell Marge that Homer is a bad father. Following the conversation and in a bid to prove them wrong, Marge gets Homer to take a fatherhood quiz to see how much he really knows about Bart. The questions are:-

  • Name your sons hobbies?
  • Name one of your child's friends?
  • Who is your sons hero?
  • Name another Dad you talk to about parenting?

Homer however, fails to answer a single question correctly. He doesn't know the name of any of Bart's friends, passes over the question about talking to another father, doesn't know who Bart's hero is and claims that his son doesn't have any hobbies. When Marge directs him to the garage, he sees Bart building a racer and breaks down in tears realizing that he knows nothing about his own son.

Hoping to fix his relationship with Bart, Homer goes to the National Fatherhood Institute. They they give a book about parenting and following the book and doctors advice, Homer offers to help his son by building the racer together, and Bart eventually agrees. Unfortunately, Homer's less than adept building skills gives Bart a very shoddy, rickety piece of junk for a racer (named Li'l Lightnin'). This is especially so in comparison to Martin Prince's personally designed and built space shuttle-like racer, Martin B-57. Martin and Bart form an alliance vowing that either must somehow beat Nelson and his very intimidating racer, the MIG-17, armed with every dirty trick in the book.

When the race is underway, Bart can barely reach any kind of noticeable speed with Homer's racer and becomes a laughingstock for it. Meanwhile, Martin has difficulty controlling his racer, as it is moving too fast, which eventually causes his racer to smoke-bust and burn. After getting injured, Martin finds that he can no longer race and opts for Bart and himself to combine forces by having Bart race Martin's racer over the racer he and Homer built. Bart seeing no other way to win agrees, which breaks Homer's heart. When Bart later apologizes and desires Homer's best wishes, Homer selfishly denounces both Bart and Martin, telling Bart to do whatever he likes.

Dejected, Bart trains for the final race with Martin's newly tuned racer. When the big day finally arrives, the family prepares to go and show their support for Bart. Everybody that is, except for Homer who is still sulking. Despite Bart's pleas he refuses to come to the race or at the very least wish his son luck, which leaves Bart devastated. Witnessing the whole thing, Marge's patience finally runs out and she scolds her husband for his selfish behavior. To illustrate her disappointment, Marge reminds Homer that for years, she defended him from his detractors, including her sisters, Patty and Selma, who repeatedly told her that Homer is a terrible and incompetent father. Her face falling, Marge reluctantly admits that she was wrong and everybody else was right. Though it clearly pains her to do so, Marge reluctantly admits that in light of Homer's recent behaviour and his inability to support his son for helping out a friend, Homer has proven beyond any doubt that he really is a bad father!

This statement only makes Homer feel worse. Turning away from his family, he orders them to leave him alone with his depression, which they do.

Some time later, Homer watches as the final preparations are made for the race. Quietly reflecting on his selfishness and depression, he goes to the fridge, which has the fatherhood test pinned to it. Looking at the questions, he starts to answer them: -

  • Name your sons hobbies - Building a soapbox derby racer.
  • Name one of your child's friends - Martin.
  • Who is your son's hero - Three times soapbox derby champion, Ronnie Beck.
  • Name another Dad you talk to about parenting - Homer cheats on this one. When Ned walks past the window, Homer goes outside asks him a random question and when Ned starts to answer, leaves before Ned can finish.

Realizing that he has come to learn a lot about his son, the now cheered up Homer, drives down to the race to support Bart. At the starting line, Homer wishes Bart luck and tells the boy that no matter how the race turns out he will still be proud of him. The race is tough as Nelson pulls every dirty trick in his arsenal, but eventually through his skill Bart comes out on top and the "team" enjoy their victory. Bart also meets his new hero, three time soap box champ Ronny Beck, who hands Bart his trophy. Bart and Homer act like sore winners, which embarrasses Marge who reminds them they should be good winners. Bart then protests that this is the first time he won something and he may never do it again. Bart shares a hug as Homer finally becomes a good father to his son.

Citations[]

Season 2 Season 3 Episodes Season 4
Stark Raving DadMr. Lisa Goes to WashingtonWhen Flanders FailedBart the MurdererHomer DefinedLike Father, Like ClownTreehouse of Horror IILisa's PonySaturdays of ThunderFlaming Moe'sBurns Verkaufen der KraftwerkI Married MargeRadio BartLisa the GreekHomer AloneBart the LoverHomer at the BatSeparate VocationsDog of DeathColonel HomerBlack WidowerThe Otto ShowBart's Friend Falls in LoveBrother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?
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