Reviews & Ratings for
"The Simpsons" The Secret War of Lisa Simpson (1997)

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4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Lisa on the ropes

8/10
Author: gizmomogwai from Canada
7 March 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There's no denying it: I'm a sucker for Lisa episodes, from Moaning Lisa (season 1) to Lisa Gets an A (season 10). It's no surprise, then, that I'd recommend the season 8 finale The Secret War of Lisa Simpson (though it's also a Bart episode); I think it's slightly underrated.

In this episode, Bart's latest prank causes Homer and Marge to think he could be better disciplined through military school. The family goes to a military school to enroll Bart, who doesn't like the idea at all. While there, Lisa becomes attracted to the academic side of the school and decides she wants to enroll too. She's accepted, becoming the school's first female student. The other kids reject her, however, and Bart distances himself from Lisa to avoid being an outcast too. On a final test (moving along a rope), Lisa struggles but Bart cheers her on, and she passes.

This isn't the funniest episode, but it's well-written, entertaining and touches on the elemental subjects of hazing at a new school, sexism, and loneliness. It's interesting to see Lisa handling a gun- ineptly, unsurprisingly since it's not in her nature to use them. It's also nice to see Bart supporting Lisa- they don't always get along, but they do love each other.

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A Very Pleasing Finale to the Eight Season,

8/10
Author: Dillon Harris from Ireland
27 May 2014

The Secret War of Lisa Simpson is a great Simpsons episode with a very well written storyline and plenty of really funny scenes. It's a very solid Lisa episode, many fans are usually not impressed with these, but this one is an exception, we sympathise with her more here than we have in any other episode, she is in a bad place, and we support her as she strives to succeed, there is also some very sweet parts between her and Bart, they are very different siblings who don't particularly get along, but it's moments like these that remind us that they're always there for each other. I think it had too many cut always from the military school, we are shown a scene with Homer at home at one stage, and another lengthy scene where Lisa phones Grampa, this episode wanted to be dramatic, which is definitely succeeded at, but I think it would have helped the atmosphere if they didn't have any parts outside of the military school that were only there for the sake of a few laughs. Willem Dafoe is fantastic in this episode as the Commandment, his voice is completely unrecognizeable and he really owned his performance, certainly one of the most memorable once off characters. One of the most dramatic episodes of the entire series, the Secret War of Lisa Simpson is a very pleasing finale to the eight season.

Bart's antics have gone too far so Marge and Homer decide to send him to Military school, Lisa decides to join him because she dosen't feel academically challenged.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

S8: Broader narratives weaken it a bit – particularly when some of the self-referential joking hits close to home

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
1 November 2014

Although it is now in its 20-somethingth season, at one point The Simpsons seemed like a miracle of longevity by virtue of having 8 seasons of very high quality television and still appearing to be going strong. In some ways the strain of that does appear to be showing a little bit in this season. This is not all a bad thing because I did enjoy some elements of the in- joking about this, however it is in the plotting where it has a slightly negative impact on the show. Some of the plots here are smaller character driven things, but mostly it is bigger wider things that drive the stories. The examples run from the start to the end of the season: Homer working for a Bond villain; Homer becoming a boxer; long-lost sons and quite a few others in the same ilk.

Of course such plots have always been part of the show, but here I thought they did it too much, with the more 'sitcom' fare pushed to back rather than being something subverted and expanded upon. It is still funny though but I found that it was happening for me in the side plots and smaller characters rather than in the main plots – plus, with them being crazier, they tended to fill more time rather than acting as the spine down the middle of a strong episode. The second half of the season produces some stronger episodes, and better narratives. As a result of this some of the in-jokes about trying to keep things fresh (one of them an entire episode) don't land quite as well as intended. The regular cast are good as ever, and the guest voices are mostly good and well used – although a couple feel forced in for the sake of it.

Another enjoyable season overall, however the plots do feel like the show is occasionally reaching for ideas – making it look a bit less effortless and hurting some of those in-jokes in the meantime.

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