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Recap / The Simpsons S 11 E 2 Brothers Little Helper

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When Springfield's Volunteer Fire Fighters put on a demonstration of fire prevention and safety at Springfield Elementary, Bart is his usual mischievous self, culminating in using the hose to fill the school gym with water until the doors burst and he rides out on a basketball backboard. Principal Skinner tells Homer and Marge that Bart has Attention Deficit Disorder, and unless they agree to put him on an experimental, untested new drug called Focusyn intended to treat ADD, he'll be expelled. Marge is dubious, but a visit to the company that produces Focusyn persuades her to give it a shot. She, in turn, persuades Bart to start taking the drug.

To the amazement of all, including Bart himself, the drug appears to work, and he becomes focused, productive, and well-behaved, and begins tutoring a Navajo boy in his spare time; however, Lisa notes that he also seems to have lost his sense of fun. Homer and Marge decide to celebrate Bart's turnaround by going to see Showgirls, but when they return, Lisa tells them Bart's behaviour has taken a turn for the bizarre. They find him in his bedroom in the grip of intense paranoia, having hung coat hangers from his ceiling, wrapped himself in tin foil, and tied a metal trash can lid to his head; he tells them that Major League Baseball are spying on everyone in Springfield and collecting their personal information.

Homer and Marge take Bart back to the lab for observation, and are told that a change in his medication might alleviate his paranoia. An alarmed Bart refuses, downs a large dose of Focusyn, and flees the drug lab. He proceeds to sneak onto the Fort Fragg military base and steal a tank, which he drives to the playground of Springfield Elementary before his family catch up with him. But before he agrees to Marge's plea to get out of the tank, he fires a single round into the sky... and a satellite with the MLB logo falls to Earth, confirming Bart's accusations. Before the townsfolk can process this revelation, then-single-season home run record holder Mark McGwire shows up and distracts them with a home run demonstration while he hides the printout of their personal details. Their adventures over, Homer and Marge decide to take Bart off Focusyn and put him on Ritalin instead.



  • Accidental Hero: Bart's unrelated prank of flooding the gymnasium accidentally saved Flanders' life by dousing the flames when Flanders set himself on fire. This doesn't stop him from being punished for it, and isn't even acknowledged.
  • As Himself: Mark McGwire, who arrives to provide a distraction with his home run showcasing while the MLB satellite's data is taken away... hidden (poorly, not that the townsfolk notice) under his cap.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Bart tells Lisa, "Did you know most people use ten percent of their brains?" Instead of saying something like, "Thanks to these pills, I'm using more than that.", but instead he says, "I am now one of them."
  • Bland-Name Product: Subverted with Focusyn, which seems to be a stand-in for Ritalin until the end of the episode, when Marge says she's getting Bart off of Focusyn... and back on Ritalin.
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  • Borrowed Catch Phrase: When Bart aims his tank at Springfield Elementary, Mrs. Krabapple, in an uninterested tone, utters Helen Lovejoy's "Think of the children."
  • Call-Back: Homer mentions that he was banned from a water park for ten years (which, at the time of this episode's premiere, would be incorrect), which could be a reference to when he got stuck on the H2-WHOA! ride at Mt. Splashmore on the episode "Brush With Greatness." If it's not, then it's a Noodle Incident.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Major League Baseball was indeed spying on people, but rather than explain why, Mark McGwire dazzles the crowd with some dingers.
  • Deranged Animation: The poses when Homer tries Focusyn.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Skinner is horrified when Willy suggests killing Bart by dragging a hoe through his back and making it look like suicide.
  • Milkman Conspiracy: Bart seemingly goes crazy by the third act and starts to think that the MLB is spying on the city... which they are. With a Spy Satellite and memorabilia with a Spy Cam implanted in it somewhere. Though Mark McGwire dodges the question of why, the satellite recording mentions it's really aggressive market research.
  • Of Course I Smoke: The straight-edged Ned tries to smoke a cigarette while performing in the fire safety play, though his coughing is actually the least of his problems as he inadvertently sets his pants ablaze.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Hosey the Bear, which can be seen in the beginning of the episode, is a reference to the United States Forest Service's mascot Smokey Bear.
    • After Bart has flooded the school gym, Skinner can be seen wiping mud off his eyes in an homage to Oliver Hardy.
    • Homer and Marge go to see Showgirls.
    • When Marge reports Bart's disappearance to the police (tow-headed, snub nose, often seen with a slingshot), Lou the police officer makes a drawing of Dennis the Menace.
      Chief Wiggum: Looks like the kid who roughed up the Wilson widow.
    • As Bart rolls through the streets of Springfield in a tank, he sings the refrain of "Don't Stop" by Fleetwood Mac.
    • "When I can't stop my fiddlin', I just takes me Ritalin, I'm poppin' and sailin', man!"
    • The title references The Rolling Stones song "Mother's Little Helper", which is also about drug addiction.
  • Take That!: When Homer and Marge try to get Bart on board with the idea of taking (prescription) drugs, they name several of his "favourite stars" who take drugs, all of whom had made headlines for their substance abuse in the years leading up to this episode's air date.
    Bart: I don't wanna take drugs!
    Homer: Sure you do! All your favourite stars have used drugs. Brett Butler, Tim Allen...
    Marge: Tommy Lee...
    Homer: Andy Dick...
    Bart: He's just flamboyant!
    Homer: Yeah, and I'm a size 4.
  • Tank Goodness: The climax of the episode is Bart stealing a tank from the local army base and going on a rampage. At first it looks like he's going to blow the town up, but then he manages to shoot the MLB's Spy Satellite with the tank's main gun.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: The only thing the doctors that diagnosed Bart can think of after the Focusyn seemingly drives him nuts is to give him more drugs (which is standard procedure for weaning someone off, but Marge still calls them out on this for good reason).


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