Brother's Little Helper

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"Brother's Little Helper"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 11
Episode 2
Directed byMark Kirkland
Written byGeorge Meyer
Production codeAABF22
Original air dateOctober 3, 1999 (1999-10-03)
Guest appearance(s)

Mark McGwire as himself

Episode chronology
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The Simpsons (season 11)
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"Brother's Little Helper" is the 2nd episode of the 11th season of The Simpsons. It was first shown on the Fox network on October 3, 1999. The episode is about Bart Simpson getting a prescription to take a drug.

The episode was written by George Meyer. Mark Kirkland is the director of the episode. Meyer did not like his first writing of the episode. He used a fake name when he showed others his writing. The episode makes humor of children in school being misdiagnosed (diagnosed wrong) with ADHD.[1] Mark McGwire is a guest star for the episode.

Story[change | change source]

Principal Skinner teaches his students about fire prevention. However, Bart makes a very big wave that floods the school's gym and schoolyard. Skinner is very angry at Bart. Skinner tells Homer and Marge that Bart has been diagnosed with ADHD. Bart must take the drug Focusyn (a parody of Ritalin).[2] Marge is worried because Focusyn is a new drug and it might not be safe.

Bart takes Focusyn and does better in school. He is good to his parents and he is the tutor of a Navajo boy. However, Bart starts to feel paranoid. He thinks that Major League Baseball is spying on the town with satellites. A doctor tells Bart to stop taking Focusyn. Bart does not want to and overdoses.

Bart goes to a military base and takes a tank. He drives the tank to his school. Bart shoots at the sky. A satellite from Major League Baseball falls from the sky with documents on what everyone does. Mark McGwire comes from the satellite and distracts everyone. He puts the documents under his cap. He gives Bart a baseball bat so he can keep spying on the Simpson family.

Production[change | change source]

Mark McGwire is a guest star as himself in the episode.

"Brother's Little Helper" was written by George Meyer. The episode was first named "Bart a Go Go".[3] "Bart's Inner Child" was the last episode he wrote himself before this one. He was tired after writing that episode. He came back to writing with this episode.[4] He thought it was not easy to write the episode because he was going through "psychological problems".[4] He did not like what he wrote, so he showed it to the other writers using a fake name (a pseudonym).[4] Tim Long said that it was "an amazing draft".[3] Matt Selman came up with the idea of Bart getting a tank. He said that he got the idea after watching the news on a guy who died going "nuts with a tank".[5]

The side effects of Focusyn on Bart were shown with many small changes to him. When Bart is reading a book, a line below his cheek is added. Bart is later seen speed reading and his pupils are smaller. The animators were not sure if Bart's pupils should be bigger or smaller than normal. Kirkland said that there were many model sheets (pictures that help animators draw characters) "going back and forth over the fax machines". The animators made Bart's pupils smaller in the episode.[6] When Bart is with a doctor, he swallows many pills. He was first going to swallow all of the pills in the jar, but the censors did not like it.[4] Mark McGwire is a guest star for the episode. Mike Scully said that McGwire was "probably the biggest man" he had seen and that he "did a great job".[7]

Reception[change | change source]

Robert Canning from IGN thought that the episode is "funny" and that it is better than other episodes from the 11th season. However, he thought that the part of the episode with McGwire was not as funny as it should have been.[8] Brian Tallerico from The Deadbolt thought that it was one of the best episodes of the season.[9] Colin Jacobsson from DVD Movie Guide said that the episode has "some good laughs". He likes the morals of the episode but he did not like how Bart acted when he was on too much Focusyn.[10]

Deroy Murdock from Scripps Howard News Service said that the episode "predicts the news." He says this because Bill Clinton had a conference five months after the episode was shown on television. The conference was about students taking too much drugs.[11] The word "exorcism tongs" was made up in the episode. Cracked.com put the word in a list of the best words that were made up by The Simpsons. In the episode, Homer eats taffy with Focusyn inside it and starts to act crazy. Todd Flanders asks his father Ned if Homer has "a demon". Ned tells him "Looks like it. Run and get daddy's exorcism tongs."[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. Koski, Genevieve; Josh Modell; Noel Murray; Sean O'Neal; Kyle Ryan; Scott Tobias (July 23, 2007). "Inventory: 15 Simpsons Moments That Perfectly Captured Their Eras". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 10, 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Peters, Mark; Daniel O'Brien (July 23, 2007). "From Cromulent to Craptacular: The Top 12 Simpsons Created Words". Cracked.com. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Long, Tim (1999). The Simpsons season 11 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother's Little Helper" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Meyer, George (1999). The Simpsons season 11 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother's Little Helper" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. Selman, Matt (1999). The Simpsons season 11 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother's Little Helper" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. Kirkland, Mark (1999). The Simpsons season 11 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother's Little Helper" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  7. Scully, Mike (1999). The Simpsons season 11 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother's Little Helper" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  8. Canning, Robert (July 28, 2008). "The Simpsons Flashback: "Brother's Little Helper" Review". IGN. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  9. Tallerico, Brian. "The Simpsons: Season Eleven/Family Guy: Volume Six". The Deadbolt. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  10. Jacobson, Colin (November 19, 2008). "The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season (1999)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  11. Murdock, Deroy (November 9, 2002). "Keeping up with The Simpsons". American Outlook. Archived from the original on March 19, 2005. Retrieved January 10, 2021.

Other websites[change | change source]