“The Dad Who Knew Too Little” is the eighth episode of the fourteenth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 12, 2003. In the episode, Homer disappoints Lisa on her birthday when he gives her a thoughtless present. He realizes that he knows little about her and decides to hire private detective Dexter Colt to spy on her.
To keep her secrets confidential, Lisa wants a Turbo Diary, which electrocutes anyone who tries to read it besides the owner. Homer and Bart go to the mall to get the diary, but Homer gets sidetracked by the loads of free food samples and by the time they get to the toy store, the diaries are sold out. After seeing a personalized animated film Ned made for Rod, Homer does the same for Lisa, but when Lisa watches it, she realizes Homer knows nothing about her, upsetting her.
Feeling sad, Homer gets an idea from Moe to hire Dexter Colt, a private detective, to find out facts about Lisa. Colt spies on her and builds up information for a report, which Homer uses to bond with Lisa by playing songs she likes and going to a protest against animal testing at a research lab. When Homer goes to Colt to thank him, he gives him a bill for $1000. Homer refuses to pay the bill and runs off to his house as Colt swears revenge.
The next morning, someone has vandalized the research lab and stolen all the animals. Chief Wiggum says that, based on the clues, Lisa is the main suspect. Lisa says she is innocent and Homer realizes that she has been framed by Colt. They escape as fugitives, in disguise. While on the run, Homer confesses about the report and Colt to Lisa, upsetting her once more.
The police track the pair to a motel, but they escape again and find themselves at a circus, where they discover all the stolen animals. Colt shows up and chases Homer into a hall of mirrors. As Colt is about to kill Homer, Lisa catches up. After Homer mentions her strong sense of hearing, Lisa, impressed he actually remembered something about her, blinds Colt with a laser pointer (Bart’s gift to her), and Colt is soon arrested. Lisa is exonerated, and the animals are all released back into the wild, until Cletus and his family adopts them.
Later, Lisa eventually gets her Turbo Diary, which Bart uses one night to play a prank on Homer.
“The Dad Who Knew Too Little” was written by Matt Selman and directed by Mark Kirkland as part of the fourteenth season of The Simpsons (2002–03). American actor Elliott Gould guest starred in the episode as himself, appearing in the television show Padz that Bart and Lisa watch at the beginning of the episode. Padz, which is a parody of the reality show MTV Cribs, takes its viewers inside the luxurious homes of celebrities. The celebrity featured in the episode that Bart and Lisa watch is Krusty the Clown, and he is seen having a fight with his neighbor, Gould, whose son has been bitten by Krusty’s tame chimp. Gould had been referenced in a previous episode of The Simpsons, in which it was revealed that he was Marge’s hero when she was in high school. According to The SimpsonsshowrunnerAl Jean, Gould wrote a letter to the producers of the show thanking them for the reference. This prompted them to ask him if he wanted to do a guest appearance in the series. When Gould assaults Krusty, he names his fists and feet Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice, a reference to the film of the same name that Gould starred in.
The Simpsons cast member Hank Azaria provided the voice of Dexter Colt, basing it on actor Robert Stack who has played several detectives and agents. Kirkland was enthusiastic about directing the episode as he enjoys film noir detective films and is a big fan of actor Humphrey Bogart, who has appeared in many films of the genre. Kirkland based the design of Colt on Robert Mitchum, who, in addition to being a film noir actor, played a detective in the 1991 film Cape Fear, while playing the villain in the original film. A viewing of detective films from the film noir period was arranged by Kirkland for his animation crew so that they would get inspiration on how to animate the scenes featuring Colt, including how to design the environments and how to make Colt act.