"Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood" is the eighth episode of The Simpsons' fifth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 18, 1993. In the episode, Bart, intoxicated from an all-syrup squishee, mistakenly joins the Junior Campers, a Boy Scout-style organization that's not affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America. After finding advantages to being a member, Bart gets taken in by the group and eventually goes rafting on a father-son outing with Homer.
The episode was written by Dan McGrath and directed by Jeffrey Lynch. Ernest Borgnine guest starred in the episode as himself. He recorded his lines at the Village Recorder in West Los Angeles. The episode makes cultural references to the films My Dinner with Andre, The Terminator, On the Town, "Crocodile" Dundee, Deliverance, Friday the 13th, and Boyz n the Hood (in the title) as well as the song "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies. Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 13.0, and was the highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.
After being forced to leave the amusement arcade for being out of money, Bart and Milhouse find $20 that Homer lost and order a Super Squishee made entirely out of syrup from Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart. With their senses reeling from the high sugar content of the drink, they spend the rest of the money on a night out in town. The next morning, Bart wakes up with a hangover and realizes that in the revelry of the night before he joined the Junior Campers, a Boy Scout-style organization that is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.
Although Bart initially intends to drop out of the group as soon as possible, he decides to attend a meeting to avoid a pop quiz at school. Bart dislikes the first meeting, but when he finds out that he gets to have a pocket knife, he decides to keep attending. After a while, Bart starts to enjoy being a member of the Junior Campers, which Homer mocks him relentlessly for. Next, a father-son rafting trip is to be held, so Bart has to bring Homer. Homer does not enjoy the experience, especially when he learns that he and Bart have to share a raft with Ned Flanders and his son, Rod. Due to Homer losing the map after making it into a makeshift hat, they accidentally take the wrong turn and find themselves lost at sea. They stay stranded with no food or water for several days, as no rescue is forthcoming; the Springfield Police Department refuses to search for them because the Coast Guard boat they were using is out of refreshments. After several other failed attempts at being rescued or finding food, the raft springs a leak after Homer accidentally drops a pocket knife he was intending to gift to Bart. All seems lost, but then Homer smells his way to a Krusty Burger on an off-shore oil rig. They are saved, and Bart is proud of his father.
Meanwhile, the other Junior Campers, led by Ernest Borgnine, take the correct route, ironically they end up in an even worse position: after finding themselves trapped in a dark, tangled swamp (while being hunted by mountain men), they are attacked by a bear that Borgnine tries but fails to fight off (due to Homer stealing his Swiss Army Knife), and they finally flee to an abandoned summer camp. At the camp, they start singing songs, but are soon attacked by an unseen figure lurking in the woods, and their fates are left unknown.
"Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood" was written by Dan McGrath and directed by Jeffrey Lynch. The episode was recorded at the Village Recorder in West Los Angeles. Ernest Borgnine guest starred in the episode as himself. The staff liked his work on the films Marty and From Here to Eternity, so they asked him to do a guest appearance on the show. Borgnine felt he could not say no to the offer because his grandchildren were fans of the show. In the final scene of the episode, Borgnine plays a guitar and sings campfire songs with the children. Borgnine was a guitar player in real life, so he brought his own guitar with him to the recording studio. Borgnine apologized because he felt that he was not being able to sing very well, but Nancy Cartwright, who provides the voice of Bart, thought his voice "added to the authenticity of his character". The Simpsons's creator Matt Groening thought the recording sessions with Borgnine were "so much fun". Hank Azaria, who provides the voice of Apu, commented that Borgnine "had no idea what the hell he was doing. He's a good actor, and he read his lines just fine, but he had no idea what the show was, no idea what we were doing."
In her book My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy, Cartwright comments that she was a fan of Borgnine's performance in Marty. She writes that the film had "changed [her] forever", and that it made her "realize that actors have the power through their work to inspire and enlighten others." She recalls that when Borgnine arrived for the recording session, she "lost all coolness" and ran up to him and exclaimed "ohmygod, Marty!"
In its original American broadcast, "Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood" finished 35th in the ratings for the week of November 15 to November 21, 1993, with a Nielsen rating of 13.0, translating to 12.3 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. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, wrote: "A terrific episode, with Homer so stupid it isn't true, yet still saving the day. Seeing Ned Flanders get it wrong is great, but the show-stealer is a toss-up between Borgnine's great self-deprecating role, the ironic seagull, and the dolphins." DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson called it a "brilliant episode from start to finish". He commented that "We see what an amazing amount of goods and services one can purchase in Springfield with only $20, and we get a fun spoof of scouting. Add to that terrific rivalry moments between Bart and Homer and the show excels." Patrick Bromley of DVD Verdict called the plot of the episode "typically inspired", and gave it a grade of A. Bill Gibron of DVD Talk gave the episode a score of 5 out of 5. TV DVD Reviews's Kay Daly wrote: "And just when you think the Simpsons' creators have taken parody as far as it can go, they air an episode like this. The writers cram the 22-minute episode with allusions to movie genres including disaster movies, Broadway musicals, adventure-suspense and classic teen horror." Adam Suraf of Dunkirkma.net named it one of his ten favorite episodes of the show. He called the musical sequence a "classic". Rick Porter of Zap 2 It wrote in that he was not a "fan" of the episode's second half: "Despite the presence of Borgnine, Homer is a little too aggressively stupid for my taste". He thought the first part was "absolutely brilliant", though.
Kurt M. Koenigsberger analyzed a scene from the episode in his piece "Commodity Culture and Its Discontents", published in the compilation work Leaving Springfield: The Simpsons and the Possibility of Oppositional Culture edited by John Alberti. He commented that The Simpsons' literary and cultural awareness extends to the "conventions of its own medium" in this episode. Bart criticizes an Itchy & Scratchy episode because Itchy stakes down Scratchy's appendages and props his belly to form a tent with faulty knots. With Homer looking on from the couch, Lisa reminds Bart that cartoons do not simply reproduce reality, a point hammered on as a second Homer meanders past the living-room window. Koenigsberger said that "this moment and many others like it reveal a strong sense of self-awareness within the show, an awareness especially characteristic of high modernism."
In the United Kingdom, when the 300th episode was shown, Sky 1 held a Golden D'ohnuts evening, in which viewers voted for their favourite episodes to win in each category. This episode won the category of: Best School Jinx.