Yes, Dustin Hoffman did The Simpsons, but was listed under an alias as “Sam Etic,” which is apparently another way of saying Semitic. Since his character, Mr. Bergstrom, is actually Jewish, that makes some sense.
Does Hoffman outrank a Beatle? I dunno. Maybe.
Anyway, back to the episode in question.
This is one of those episodes that showcases Lisa in a way to really show how this poor girl is starving for intellectual stimulation. She sure isn’t getting it from Miss Hoover. She probably wasn’t getting it from Principal Skinner either, and we may never know that man’s intense thoughts on the schwa.
Then in walks Mr. Bergstrom, dressed as a cowboy to start, here to teach the kids of Lisa’s class…well, whatever. No one seems to have given him a lesson plan, so he may be making it up as he goes along. But Mr. Bergstrom really cares. He turns down an offer from Mrs. Krabappel for whatever it is Mrs. Krabappel wants since his real love is the children; Lisa is truly smitten.
But, why is Lisa smitten? Is she in love with Mr. Bergstrom, or is she finally getting that stimulation and learning she’s always dreamed of? The episode doesn’t really say and it can go either way, truth be told.
By the way, if you are going to make Hoffman an unlisted cameo, maybe not having a recreation of The Graduate would make it less subtle. I mean, it was funny, but then who are they trying to fool with the fake name in the credits? Were they even trying to hide the fact that it was him?
Here’s another question: why is it whenever Lisa is suspected of getting parental help, everyone assumes it came from Homer? Is Marge just that discounted? I realize being ignored to a certain extent is Marge’s thing, but really, people assume only a father can help with homework?
Really, Lisa loses it here, calling Homer a baboon when he is less than reassuring to learn Mr. Bergstrom left town for a new gig in Capital City. And this after Homer spent the day with Lisa and Mr. Bergstrom in the Springfield Natural History Museum the day before it closed due to lack of interest…
Homer may be embarrassing, but the thing is, only Lisa seems to be bothered by him at the museum. Mr. Bergstrom never talks down to him or even appears all that frustrated despite Homer’s blatant ignorance about, oh, everything around him.
As it is, Homer redeems himself for all of his kids, even Maggie, when the episode draws to a close. He actually can offer love, support, and advice when necessary.
Wait, what did Bart need? Well, he ran for class president, and lost due to nobody (including himself) remembering to vote for him over Martin. Bart’s campaign seemed to consist of spouting off nonsense and saying what it seemed like the kids in his class really wanted to hear over the more substantive campaign from Martin. Martin may be a teacher’s pet, but he wasn’t calling for more asbestos in the ceiling.
But really, a candidate for high office just spouting meaningless nonsense and being loved by the crowd anyway? That just seems nutty.