This episode is amazing. It’s definitely one of my top favorites, and one I could watch over and over. It’s a wonderful episode full of sibling rivalry, which this show always portray perfectly, plus it’s about hockey, which is something I actually really love. Pee Wee hockey seems like something that isn’t used that often, and I feel like a normal show would have made it baseball or something more people are familiar with, and the fact that it’s hockey makes it so much better.
The episode starts off with a really great scene of the family watching Channel 6 Action News, which is just Kent Brockman reading normal news stories as if they were exciting. He talks about the impending apocalyptic blizzard that will assault Springfield. This is proof enough to Bart that they’re going to get a snow day the next morning, so he falls asleep waiting for snow. And he wakes up with Lisa smashing a snowball in his face and running off. So Bart chases after her, anticipating a snow war only to find the outside completely devoid of snow because Lisa made the snowball out of freezer ice, and various classmates there to mock him:
Jimbo: “Nice Pjs Simpson! Did your mommy buy them for you?”
Bart: “Of course she did, who else would?”
Jimbo: “Alright, Simpson, you win this round.”
So the kids head to school, while Bart realizes that he’ll have to present a book report he didn’t do because of the snow. Luckily for him though, as soon as he’s supposed to present his report, Principal Skinner makes an announcement for everyone to come to the Butthead Memorial Auditorium for an assembly. Turns out Skinner has these new academic alerts that will tell parents any time the kids are messing up in school. He then proceeds to call up each kid in school and give them their alert, which seems super shitty. Although it does lead to the wonderful response from Ralph when he finds out he’s flunking English class: “Me fail English? That’s unpossible.” But the episode really gets going when Lisa shockingly gets one of these, because she’s failing gym.
Lisa obviously freaks out about this alert, so she goes and talks with the gym teacher to see what she can do to help her grade. The gym teacher tells her that she’ll give her a passing grade if Lisa joins an extracurricular team sport. So she heads out and finds that she can’t play basketball because she can’t dribble and she can’t play volleyball because she popped the ball with her hair. And around this point we learn that Bart is super good at hockey, and has earned a lot of praise from Homer, who is proud that his son is good at something. So Lisa joins the family to go see Bart’s game, where we see the two coaches in town are Chief Wiggum and Apu. Bart is the star of the Pigs team and we see him deliver a powerful slapshot to Milhouse’s face, which ends up having Apu tie Milhouse to the goalposts since he can’t stand up on his own. Bart ends up winning the game, which leads to Homer’s wonderful line “here’s your turtle, alive and well,” which makes me laugh a lot. But as Homer and Marge wander off, Bart starts taunting Lisa and hitting trash at her with his stick, which she deflects wonderfully. Apu notices this, and decides she would make a good goalie, and starts whacking pucks at her to test this theory. And Apu ends up offering her a part on the team.
Marge is a little against this decision, because she’s too worried that the game is too violent. But Lisa wants to join the team, more to get the credit than anything else. She has a wonderful fantasy where she’s being elected President in the future, until it’s revealed that she failed gym in the second grade, which leads to her being sent to Monster Island, which is actually a peninsula. She she heads off to join the team, while Homer follows her to intimidate the boys on the team to ensure they don’t pick on her for being different. But that backfires when he ends up picking on Uter for having “bosoms.” So Lisa plays her first game, and it’s not going well. Bart and Homer are sitting in the crowd, mocking Lisa for screaming at the assault of pucks. But she ends up being a big part of winning the game, causing Homer to reward her competitive violence with getting the front seat of the car.
Time starts to pass, and it turns out Lisa is actually great at hockey, and she really gets into it. She becomes the saving grace of the team, and man do I love the quick little joke where Milhouse suggests Bart will be good at school now that Lisa is good at hockey, which leads to a montage of Bart raising his hand in class and getting all the questions wrong. But it does lead to the bullies beating up Bart, before getting stopped by Lisa, who is a badass now. And her being a badass really appeals to Homer, who starts hanging out with her. And man is it funny watching super intense Lisa run the rink. “Ralph Wiggum lost a shin guard. Hack the bone! Hack the BONE!!”
And it’s around this point that the episode becomes even crazier and more fun, because Bart starts to get really jealous of Lisa. There’s a great scene when Lisa comes into her room and finds Bart there, sitting in the dark, getting ready to intimidate her with the wonderful interaction:
Bart: Lisa, certain difference, rivalries if you will, have come up between us. At first I thought we could talk it over like civilized people, but instead…I just ripped the head off Mr. Honeybunny!
Lisa: Bart that was your cherished childhood toy.
Bart: Aaah! Mr. Honeybunny!
That’s seriously one of my favorite Simpsons gags of all time. But it gets even better, because they begin fighting in the most sibling way ever. The start swinging their arms around, saying that if the other gets in the way of their flying fists, it’s their fault. And the gag gets even better when Marge runs up to break up the kids fight, and Homer does the exact same thing with a pie, which causes him to bash his head into the stove as hard as he could. Marge gets up to tell the kids that there’s no reason to fight, because they aren’t in competition, and Homer marches in and informs them that their teams will be playing each other in some championship, and they’ll be in direct competition!
So the big game approaches, and we get the wonderful joke of Chief Wiggum letting all the convicts out of the jail on the condition that they go to the game. And the kids really start to give each other shit as the game gets closer, and I really love the scene when Moe shows up while they’re eating dinner to determine if the kids have any handicaps he can exploit when gambling, and it’s great to hear Marge’s line “I’m too tense to pretend I like you.” Yikes. The story then skips ahead to the game, where we see Bart and Lisa skate up to each other to trash talk before it starts, and we see Lisa wearing Mr. Honeybunny’s head on a string around her neck. The game then starts, and we see that it’s incredibly close, which causes Homer to keep changing his mind on which kid he likes better. And things become even more tense when Jimbo gets caught tripping Bart, and Bart gets to have a penalty shot. The game is about to end, and it’s tied, so if Bart is able to score on Lisa, his team will win. So Bart starts barreling down on Lisa, and the two begin to have flashbacks to previous times together. We see Bart helping Lisa get cookies, Bart making shadow puppets to entertain Lisa, Lisa helping Bart’s scraped knee, and Bart giving Lisa his ice cream when she drops hers. This causes the two to stop playing the game, and they end up just hugging each other while time runs out on the game, and it ends up being a tie. Which pisses the crowd off like crazy. They start rioting, and we get one of my favorite Hans Moleman lines, “We paid for blood!” which is something that my buddies and I will stay say to each other when we watch hockey games. The crowd then begins tearing up the stadium while Lisa and Bart skate off, being happy siblings.
This episode is amazing. The hockey stuff is just the icing on the cake, because the best part of it is the sibling stuff. The Simpsons really gets how siblings interact, and it rocks. Seeing them squabble and fight over this weird competition they get stuck in is just perfect. The way they fight with the spinning arms and kicks is just perfect, and one of the most siblingy things I’ve ever seen. My brother and I were never really in competition like this, because we haven’t really ever played a sport or anything, but I can still recognize so many aspects of this episode. Plus that ending is so sweet. Seeing Bart and Lisa be sweet to each other and remember that they love each other is always so great, and it really hits me in the feelings every time they do it. Plus, this episode is hilarious to boot. It’s not an overly sappy episode that just hammers their love in, it’s silly and full of squabbling, just like real childhood.
Take Away: Don’t get caught up with competition.
“Lisa on Ice” was written by Mike Sculley and directed by Bob Anderson, 1994.