Episode 24 - Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes
7 February 2011
Synopsis: Homer is awarded two thousand dollars by Mr Burns, essentially to prevent his suing the power plant for making him sterile. Homer's brother Herb is living under a bridge but is determined to fight his way back to the top. When he reads about Homer's good fortune he comes to Springfield to ask for investment in his new idea.
The Good: This is a pleasant story to finish season three with. It allows Homer to repay Herb for ruining his business (215) and end any bad blood between them.
The baby translator is one of those fictitious devices which is fun to theorise about. It also gives Herb the chance to spend time with the family as he puts his idea together.
The humour throughout was solid. Homer's utter delight at the drinking bird was fun as was his claim to Joe Frazier that his couch was more valuable than the heavyweight boxing championship ("there's like three of those!"). I smiled at one of Herb's fellow bums claiming he used to own a chain of "Mickey Mouse Massage Parlours." He elaborates "Those Disney sleaze balls shut me down. I said 'Look I'll change the logo, make Mickey put his pants back on.' Some guys you just can't reason with." There were also a couple of typical TV satire moments, the first being when Homer is talking to Lenny and Carl at work. He explains that now that his couch is broken his life couldn't get any worse. The three of them pause as if waiting for something. Homer repeats himself and then Smithers announces over the P.A. system that Homer should report to Mr Burns' office. It was a nice simple dig at the conveniences involved in TV storytelling. The other being when Herb boards the train to Springfield avoiding the toxic waste and lion cage and settling into the conveniently open compartment carrying "Emily's Fluffy Pillows."
The Bad: The recovery of Herb's fortune was swift and easy. This episode was designed in part because fans complained about the downbeat end to Herb's first appearance on the show. The episode was also forced into the schedule for FOX marketing purposes and you can sense from the simplistic plot that the writers didn't have the time to really flesh this out. However that is more of a qualifying remark than a criticism, this is still pretty good.
Best Joke: The comedy value of Herb's baby translator is enhanced by having Herb's deadpan voice doing the translating. So when Maggie makes a baby noise we hear him announcing "Lavish attention on me." Towards the end of the initial demonstration she makes a noise of discomfort and Herb's monotone announces "I have soiled myself. How embarrassing."
The Bottom Line: A fun episode to round off both Herb's story and season three of The Simpsons.
This was the season when the show began to cement itself as a pop culture icon with several celebrity cameos, some episodes focussing on non-Simpson family members and a relaxing of the morality play stories. The humour and satire begins to branch out too becoming more adult and occasionally surreal.
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