|The thing that impresses me the most is how good a driver Bart is.|
Principal Skinner plans to go to Hong Kong for Spring Break, but an error on his plane ticket has him leaving a day earlier than expected. Rather than pay over $7000 to fix this, Skinner instead has the school take that last day off by having a 'take your child to work' day instead.
Lisa reluctantly goes with Homer to the nuclear plant (where the two do have some fun), while Bart plans to stay at home with Marge. However, Marge's "job" as homemaker doesn't count, so Bart instead spends the day with his aunts, Patty & Selma. Its not a total loss, however, as Bart stumbles upon an opportunity to create a fake ID, and does so with no hesitation. The next day, he, Milhouse and Nelson try to take advantage of the card but aren't having much fun. Martin comes across them, having made $600 playing the stock market the previous day. Together, the four realize that with that money and Bart's fake driving license, they can rent a car and go on a road trip. Bart sets up an alibi about some national grammar rodeo in Canada, and off the four go.
Although Lisa is skeptical about Bart's trip to the rodeo, she's having fun spending time with Homer at the plant, getting candy and playing truth or dare during a night shift. Homer makes sure to keep a secret of Lisa's, that she has a crush on someone named Langdon Alger (though later she admits she doesn't like him anymore). While that's happening, the four boys are on the road, but they have no idea where they're going. Milhouse finds a copy of a AAA Travel Guide (from 1982, but nobody has noticed this), and advises the group to head for Knoxville, Tennessee to go the World Fair complete with a Sunsphere being held there (or was held there in 1982, again, nobody notices this). The other boys agree with Milhouse and they go off to Tennessee. There, they learn that indeed they're decades too late, and the World's Fair already happened a long time ago; the Sunsphere holds only unsold wigs now. Further complicating issues, Martin has spent the last of his $600 on a talking Al Gore doll ("You. Are. Hearing. Me. Talk."), and Nelson, in a fit of anger, topples the Sunsphere with a single rock, crashing it into the rental car, essentially stranding the four boys in Knoxville.
Unable to get money or return to Springfield on their own, Bart has no choice but to call Lisa for help. Revealing the truth to Lisa, she advises Bart get a job as a courier (using his fake ID), and hope for a package that goes to Springfield. However, after a trip to Hong Kong (where Skinner spots him) and maybe also Marlon Brando's Island, Bart needs more help from Lisa, asking her to have something sent to Springfield that's big enough to hold Martin, Nelson and Milhouse. Distraut, Lisa tells Homer her plight under the notion that it remains a secret. While Homer is outraged over this, Lisa calms him down and the two work together to get Bart back. Homer comes up with a plan to have the nuclear plant near Knoxville ship to Springfield a new workstation (care of Langdon Alger, as Homer can't use his real name or else Bart will know). The plan works, and Bart and pals are all able to come home. While Lisa and Homer are upset with Bart, whose still playing up his broken alibi, Marge is just happy the family is back together again, though the suspicious phone calls she gets later that night leave Homer holding in some laughter.
Bart on the Road is an excellent episode. There are plenty of jokes throughout the episode, the dynamic between the four boys works very well, and Homer and Lisa play very funny roles in the episode as well. While there's nothing that really sets the episode apart from others, there's nothing that drags it down either, which leaves it as one of the better episodes in the series.
Final Score: 8.9