The Simpsons: Season 20, Episode 11

How the Test Was Won (1 Mar. 2009)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Animation, Comedy
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 557 users  
Reviews: 1 user | 1 critic

Bart and his fellow underachievers are taken on a "field trip" to Capital City so that they can miss the standardized test, and Homer makes sure that nothing bad happens until their insurance goes back into effect.



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Title: How the Test Was Won (01 Mar 2009)

How the Test Was Won (01 Mar 2009) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Episode cast overview:
Homer Simpson / Barney Gumble / Homer's Doppelgänger / Homer Clones / Groundskeeper Willie / Bus Thief (voice)
Marge Simpson (voice)
Bart Simpson / Dil / Nelson Muntz / Ralph Wiggum / Kearney / Scared Girl (voice)
Lisa Simpson / Dil / Francine Rhenquist (voice)
Carl Carlson / Mr. Becker / Superintendent Chalmers / Coach Krupt / Motorist / Garbage Cutter Captain (voice)
Edna Krabappel (voice)
Martin Prince / Sherri / Orphan (voice)
Karl Wiedergott ...
SNPP Security Guard / Crane Operator (voice)


Superintendent Chalmers decrees that the school sit a test but Bart and the other under-achievers are sent to Capital City with Seymour so that the bad marks they would inevitably get will not let the school down. Once in Capital City Seymour proves himself to be an unlikely hero to the boys when he saves Ralph from danger. Back in Springfield he proves himself a hero to Lisa,who is having problems with the test. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Animation | Comedy


TV-PG | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

1 March 2009 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


During the opening sequence spoof to Cheers (1982) 'Sideshow Bob enters the bar. Sideshow Bob is voiced by Kelsey Grammer who played Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers (1982). See more »


Bart Simpson: I can't believe we have to start another year at school. I never learned anything at that suck shack.
Homer Simpson: Hey! Who taught you language like that?
Bart Simpson: Kid at school.
Homer Simpson: So you *did* learn something!
See more »


References Apocalypse Now (1979) See more »


Written by Kenny Loggins and Dean Pitchford
Performed by Kenny Loggins
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User Reviews

This episode perfectly captures everything wrong with modern Simpsons.
30 July 2015 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This episode is an extremely poor one. Let's take a look at why that is.

We begin with a daft joke that doesn't work as Homer and Marge celebrate "happy new year... of school", the kids are "the government's problem now" and the parents are "free at last, free at last" because of it. That seems like what modern Homer would do but Marge is totally out of character here because that's what the so-called joke demands. She'll be posing for Playboy next! Oh wait...

Then we get into our main 'story' as the school announces a new nationwide test that must be undertaken by the students, which leads into a dumb montage of how the teachers are not teaching kids the subject but the exam. This could've been a(n unoriginal but) funny satire but the jokes are so forced that it doesn't seem natural and as a result fails to get the laughs it's going for and instead feels like padding, as if this episode doesn't have enough of that already.

Then after the practise test Skinner and Chalmers pull the same stunt they already did better in season 4 fan-favourite Whacking Day of secretly hiding away all the school's underachievers (and Chalmers goes one better by throwing Skinner in with them) so as to improve the school's standing in the test. This was funny back in Whacking Day because it didn't drive the plot but instead was a funny throwaway gag that simply set the plot in motion, here it's the ENTIRE STORYLINE OF THE EPISODE and it doesn't work.

This leads to them being stranded in Capital City where Ralph gets stuck on a barge because... well... I don't know why, he just does. I would guess the writers write a scene that explains this but it got cut but at this point I'm beginning to think they've stopped caring about why the characters do things beyond the fact that they can write it. Skinner saves him using science WHICH HE NARRATES IN CASE WE COULDN'T PICK UP ON IT so that the kids think they're learning (despite not learning anything, like, at all) and then they all take the boat back to the school because Springfield Elementary backs onto the ocean now.

Then we conclude the episode with Skinner throwing out the test (Chalmers is right next to him but says nothing) which apparently will not affect the school in any way (despite the test being forced on them by the Vice President of the United States, you know, the second most powerful man in their country) because he's learnt something, even though just one minute earlier we saw that it was only the kids with him learning the thing.

That's the end. Or it should be because what comes next is horrendous. It's like the writers just stopped trying at this point because rather than address anything that's happened everyone starts dancing to Kenny Loggins's song 'Footloose' and that's it. Not even a parody, this is a full-on recreation of the scene from the end of that movie.

There's also a B-story about Homer having to wait until 3PM to renew his (unspecified) insurance and worrying about people getting hurt at his home. This should have been the main storyline here because there's more material for the writers to work with on this premise, even if we have seen it all before. But that's not what happens as we only get two scenes. The first is Homer having hallucinations of Marge and Lindsay Neagle killing everyone and then making out (that's what Homer dreams about apparently because this isn't like The Simpsons anymore, now the show is a Family Guy clone) and then we get a scene of him being a ninja with cheese cubes in order to save Luanne Van Houten from being impaled on cocktail sticks leading to Mr Burns getting a knife in his head complete with squirting blood. I kid you not, that's what qualifies as a Simpsons episode nowadays and if it sounds stupid that's because it is.

The fact that that last paragraph accurately describes this episode says it all really. This show has lost its way a long time before this episode, and there are many others that are much much worse, but if you want an episode that demonstrates what's wrong with The Simpsons today this one captures it beautifully.

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