$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)
- "Remember when I let that escaped lunatic in the house because he was dressed like Santa Claus? Well, you have a gambling problem."
- ―Homer to Marge
| $pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)
| Episode Information
- "During a town meeting, Principal Skinner pitches the idea of opening a casino. Mr. Burns adopts this notion and builds the "Mr. Burns' Casino." Homer takes a job as a blackjack dealer and Marge takes up gambling. At home, Lisa is having difficulties with her school project and Bart opens a treehouse casino."
The economy of Springfield is in decline, and Mayor Quimby listens to suggestions from citizens on how to improve the economy. Principal Skinner suggests that legalized gambling has helped rejuvenate run-down economies, and that it can work for Springfield as well. Everybody likes the idea including Marge, despite everyone's initial belief that she believes legalized gambling is wrong and would suggest different ideas to help rejuvenate the town and they agree to it. Mr. Burns and Mayor Quimby work together to build a casino, but Burns objects to several prototypes until he develops his own design: Mr. Burns' Casino, with "sex appeal and a catchy name".
At the house, Lisa tells Marge of an upcoming 50 US States pageant at Springfield Elementary School. Marge suggests she goes as Nevada in honor of the legalized gambling in both the state and Springfield. Lisa objects and Marge suggests Florida since she has always dreamed of going there. The casino opens, and Homer gets a job as a blackjack dealer, a popular one at that since he is so poor at it that everyone at the table wins as he loses. Also visiting the casino are Marge and Bart. Bart wins a jackpot, but is kicked out, as minors are not allowed in casinos, unless accompanied by an adult. Bart says the casino was stupid anyway and the security guard laughs, sarcastically recommends Bart to build his own casino. Bart decides to open a casino in his treehouse, featuring Milhouse and Jimbo as entertainers. The guard shows up and pays the price for insulting Bart after seeing his treehouse casino.
While Marge waits for Homer's shift to end at Mr. Burns' Casino, she finds a quarter on the floor and uses it to play a slot machine. She wins and almost immediately becomes addicted to gambling. Meanwhile, while Mr. Burns' Casino is a success, he becomes even more reclusive and eccentric, developing a profound fear of microscopic germs. Burns grows a long beard, long fingernails and toenails and wears pajamas all the time, and forces Smithers to wear a hospital gown and makes a model airplane, the Spruce Moose, which he seems to think is real.
Due to her addiction, Marge spends all her waking moments at the casino and neglects her family. When Lisa wakes from a nightmare of the boogeyman, a gun-toting Homer hides himself and his children behind a mattress in terror, shooting from his cover at anything he thinks might be the boogeyman. When Marge finally returns home and sees what has happened, she promises to spend more time with her family instead of gambling. The next day, Bart intercepts Robert Goulet to perform at his casino, when he was hired to perform at Mr. Burns' Casino; Goulet is a hit for singing the children's favorite "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells", despite accidentally smacking Milhouse with his microphone.
Marge quickly goes back on her promise and returns to the casino. She does not help Lisa make a Florida costume for her geography pageant. Homer makes a primitive costume of "Floreda" for her, which is not just misspelled, it is also shaped like California. Lisa is heartbroken she looks like a monster, but Homer swears he will save Marge from the real monster even if he must drag her out of the casino and forcing her to return home.
Back at Mr. Burns' Casino, Burns has mentally degenerated, wearing Kleenex boxes on his feet and designing a plane called the Spruce Moose. Smithers admires what appears to be a scale model of the plane, but Burns insists that it is the full-sized version. Homer bursts into the casino and barges around searching for Marge, as every thing he passes by causes players to win jackpots. The security cameras capture Homer's destructive rampage, and when Burns sees him he orders Homer to be fired. Smithers promises to send Homer back to the power plant. Realizing how much he misses the plant, Burns decides to return and orders Smithers to prepare a shave and get rid of the Kleenex boxes, although he decides to hang on to the jars of urine he has been preserving. Desiring to fly back to the plant, he forces Smithers to board the model plane at gunpoint.
Homer spies Marge who is gambling and winning more money. With that, he stops her by pulling Marge away from the slot machine. Homer proceeds to tell her how angry he is for breaking her promise to Lisa and making her cry. He reveals that the only ones who were able to put up with that are Bart and Maggie. Homer persuades Marge to admit that she has a gambling problem. She finally realizes the neglect the family has been suffering and returns home, ashamed of herself. She considers therapy but Homer objects, claiming that it's too expensive.
At Springfield Elementary, Lisa, along with Ralph Wiggum, who dressed up as Idaho using nothing but a sheet of loose leaf paper that says "Idaho" taped to his shirt, both receive special awards for being "children who obviously had no help from their parents".
Homer then rubs it in Marge's face and tells her that her gambling addiction was worse than his flaws. She tells Homer he is supposed to be helping her, not rubbing it in. Homer tells Marge this is what she gets for neglecting their family and breaking her promise in helping Lisa make her Florida costume. He eventually agrees to let it go as long as she makes the effort to stop heading back to the casino.
In its original American broadcast, "$pringfield" was watched by eleven million households. The episode was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics.