The Dad Who Knew Too Little
- "Dad, that information is all wrong! Maggie's a baby, not my best friend. You don't know anything about me!"
- ―Lisa Simpson
| "The Dad Who Knew Too Little"
| Episode Information
"The Dad Who Knew Too Little" is the eighth episode of season 14 of The Simpsons and the two-hundred and ninety-ninth episode overall. It originally aired on January 12, 2003. The episode was written by Matt Selman and directed by Mark Kirkland. It guest stars Elliott Gould as himself.
- "Lisa becomes angry after watching a horribly inaccurate video that Homer gave to her as a birthday gift. The video showcases Homer's complete lack of knowledge regarding his daughter, so he decides to hire a private detective to learn more about Lisa."
Bart and Lisa watch the reality TV show Padz, which has an episode about Krusty the Clown, and has a guest appearance by Elliott Gould. After the episode, an advert for the Turbo Diary comes on, which Lisa decides that she wants for her birthday. Lisa tells Homer and Marge that she wants the Turbo Diary and Homer and Bart go to the Springfield Mall to get one for her. At the Mall, the Food Court is giving out free samples, which Homer eats all of. Homer and Bart then go to Toys where they find that the last Turbo Diary was sold to Mr. Burns. As Homer and Bart walk through the Mall, not knowing what to get Lisa for her birthday now, they find Ned Flanders at the Make Your Child a Movie Star kiosk. Homer decides that he loves the idea so he makes a video for Lisa.
Lisa's birthday comes around and she opens her presents. Bart gives her a laser pointer, which he uses to shine a red dot on Principal Skinner's crotch from the house. When Lisa opens the present from Homer and Marge, she's surprised to find a video tape. She plays the tape and it's The Adventures of Lisa Simpson, Girl Cowboy, a personalized video made by Homer. However, Homer gets everything about Lisa wrong, saying that her favorite food is McNuggets, despite being a vegetarian, and that her best friend is Maggie. Lisa then runs from the room upset that her father doesn't know her at all.
The next day, Homer tries to make things up to Lisa, but fails. He then goes to drown his sorrows at Moe's Tavern, where the barflies and Moe tell him to go and see Dexter Colt, a private detective who can find anything. Homer hires Colt to find out what Lisa likes. Colt gets to work on this job, breaking into Lisa's locker, threatening Skinner to get Lisa's permanent record, and bribing and blackmailing her fellow students. Eventually, he puts together a report on what Lisa likes and leaves it for Homer.
Homer uses the report to become a better father to Lisa, playing her favorite music and taking her to places she likes, such as a protest against the Screaming Monkey Medical Research Center. When Homer goes to pay Dexter Colt for his services, he's shocked to find that Colt is charging $1,000, with many expenses piled on. Homer refuses to pay and flees the office. The next day, Homer and Lisa are shocked to find that the Research Lab had been vandalized and that the animals had been stolen from it. The evidence at the scene all pointed to Lisa and Homer realizes that Dexter Colt framed her. As the police come after Lisa, Homer and Lisa flee together in the car.
At The Three Seasons Motel, Homer phones home to talk to Marge. The police were listening in though and traced the call. Homer then confessed to Lisa that he hired a detective to find out about her, which is how he knew what to do to make her happy. The police then come to their cabin and Homer and Lisa escape through the window. They eventually make their way to a traveling circus where they find the stolen animals. When Homer and Lisa figure out that Colt had sold the animals to the circus, Colt appeared, with The Flying Giuseppe in a cannon. Colt then fires The Flying Giuseppe at Homer, who pushes Lisa out of the way to keep her from being hit. Homer then escapes into the Hall of Mirrors, with Colt following him. Colt shoots Homer in the arm but then Lisa enters and hears the story Homer was telling about how Lisa found him crying in the closet due to her excellent hearing. Lisa is happy that Homer remembers that, then shines a laser pointer into Colt's eyes. Colt is then arrested after Lisa is exonerated and Homer and Lisa make up. The stolen animals are then taken to Cletus's farm.
During the end credits, Bart takes Lisa's Turbo Diary and asks Homer to read him a bedtime story. Homer keeps trying to read the Turbo Diary but keeps getting shocked by it.
Episode writer Matt Selman got the idea for the self-insert video from the back of a magazine. He ripped the advert out and put it in a pile of plot ideas, thinking it could be funny one day. The Turbo Diary idea came from writer Joel H. Cohen, who got a verbally activated locking diary for his daughter. The diary, however, didn't work. In the season 2 episode "The Way We Was", Marge said that Elliott Gould was her hero. Gould then wrote a letter to the producers, thanking Marge for that. This led to the producers asking him to be in an episode.
Hank Azaria based Dexter Colt's voice on actor Robert Stack, who had played several detectives. Mark Kirkland based Colt's design on Robert Mitchum. The animators watched multiple noir films together to see how the acting was for the detectives.
Animator Matthew Faughnan animated the hall of mirrors scene, using the xerox machine to help. This was a very challenging scene to animate. The scene over the end credits of Bart getting Homer to read the Turbo Diary was actually taken from the middle of the episode. The episode was slightly too long so the scene was moved to the credits to make it fit.
Matt Selman created the email of firstname.lastname@example.org in real life so that nobody would steal it. Matt Selman actually answered emails sent to the account as Homer Simpson. He later changed the password, but forgot what he changed it to.
"The Dad Who Knew Too Little" won the 2004 Writers Guild of America Award for Animation. Other episodes nominated in the category included "My Mother the Carjacker" by Michael Price and "Moe Baby Blues" by J. Stewart Burns.
- Selman, Matt (2011). Commentary for "The Dad Who Knew Too Little", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season.
- Jean, Al (2011). Commentary for "The Dad Who Knew Too Little", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season.
- Kirkland, Mark (2011). Commentary for "The Dad Who Knew Too Little", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season.
- IMDb - "Writers Guild of America, USA 2004 Awards"
- IMDb - "The Dad Who Knew Too Little"