|"Well, the character of John Homer is only partly based on me."|
Bart is still terrible at school. Marge helps organize an event where an "parenting expert" tells parents that children do better with self-esteem, and that self-esteem comes from praise, endless praise preferably from trophies. As Marge attempts to give Bart trophies for nothing, Homer gets the idea from Lisa to sell participation trophies to everyone while the fad is still hot. Despite the success, Homer has Bart assemble the trophies, and Bart does so poorly. Soon, Bart overhears Homer exclaim how big of a screw-up Bart continues to be.
Depressed, Bart catches Grampa's eye, who decides to pass on the Simpson family heirloom to Bart: an old pocket watch that's been passed down ever since it was stolen. Feeling an accomplishment from "earning" the watch, Bart's self-esteem goes through the roof. Meanwhile, upset her hard-earned trophies now mean nothing, Lisa helps organize another event where a different "parenting expert" no-nos trophies and advices parents be hard on their children again. In the process, Homer's trophy business goes under.
Homer then catches Bart with the pocket watch, an item he had been hoping to acquire for some time, and is super jealous about it. With the watch, Bart's self esteem and confidence continue to rise, until he loses the watch in the forest. Bart tries to get Milhouse to help him find it but he only hurts Milhouse in the process. Frustrated, Milhouse does find the watch but instead just sells it to a pawn shop. Homer just happens by it to sell off his remaining trophy stock and buys his precious possession. Bart, unaware of this, is in full panic mode when he learns Grampa set up an interview with the two of them about the watch. Homer is about to go in and gloat but gives in to Bart's sadness and hands over the watch.
A pleasant surprise! This episode was good! (go figure, it wasn't even written by one of the series' regular "writers", Simon Rich filled in for this one)
The jokes were aplenty, the social commentary was limited but used to set up some good gags and the overall plot involving Bart, Homer and Grampa was as good as it'll probably ever be at this point. Lisa wasn't even that annoying!
This season so desperately needed a gem, and now it has one. Given what the next episode will probably be about, I suppose this score will be cancelled out soon enough.
Final Score: 8.0