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Recap / The Simpsons S 3 E 24 Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes

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"Homer, I bought you the damn chair!"

Original air date: 8/27/1992

Production code: 8F23

The finale of season 3 of The Simpsons. In this sequel to "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou", Herbert Powell, Homer's once-wealthy half-brother, is now homeless and searching for the next new idea to take him back to the top — and all he needs is Homer's $2,000 prize money he got at a (rigged) award show and a place to stay (the Simpsons' house).

This episode contains examples of:

  • As Himself: Joe Frazier
  • Attack Hello: When Herb first arrives at the Simpsons house, he has no idea how to greet Homer, since on one hand, it's his fault Herb was ruined, but on the other hand, they're still family. He ends up punching Homer in the face before saying a single word.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Homer is impressed with the drinking bird.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Homer somehow has 104% body fat. The extra 4% is implied to come from the chicken drumstick he's eating while suspended in the buoyancy tank.
  • Bookworm: Lisa really wishes to get a subscription for the greatest books of Western canon. Herb obliges.
  • Boring, but Practical: While the rest of the family wants to get more extravagant things like a vibrating chair (Homer), a machine gun (Bart), or classic literature (Lisa), Marge simply finds it best that they get a new washing machine and dryer.
  • Bowdlerise: On BBC Two in the UK, the chalkboard gag in the opening sequence "I will not fake seizures" is replaced with "Funny noises are not funny".
  • Bullying a Dragon: Barney at Moe's has been apparently been heckling former Boxing Champion Joe Frazier all night since he got there.
    Barney: Hey Frazier, shut up!
    Joe Frazier: Barney, you've been riding my back all night!
    Barney: Oh yeah?! Care to step outside?!
    Joe Frazier: Let's do it. (They leave Moe's... followed by the sounds of Barney on the receiving end of a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown)
  • Captain Obvious: Joe Frazier's speech at the Excellence Awards:
    Joe Frazier: Webster's Dictionary defines "excellence" as "the quality or condition of being excellent."
  • Charlie Chaplin Shout-Out: The Little Tramp appears among the hobos sitting around the fire with Herb.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Upon discovering that Homer has unwittingly become sterile from working in the power plant, Mr. Burns writes him a $2000 settlement check to forestall any future lawsuits, preventing him from reading the fine print by telling him he's the recipient of a made-up employee award. When Homer asks if he's going to get a "big awards ceremony," one of Burns' lawyers advises him to deliver, which he does in such an over-the-top manner that Herb winds up reading about his brother's minor windfall in a non-local paper.
  • Cool Uncle: Herb is still seen as one to his nephew and nieces even before he once again dotes on them with gifts.
  • Couch Gag: The family cartwheels to the couch and lands with a "ta-da" pose.
  • Curbstomp Battle: The fight between Joe Frazier and Barney Gumble. We don't see it happen as they go outside, but the "fight" ends with Barney pummelled and hanging upside down in a trashcan.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: When Herb loses all his money in a game of Monopoly, Homer laughs at how he's just as broke in-game as he is in real life. Herb gives him a punch in the face for that.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Mr. Burns despises his own lawyers for essentially making a living off of people's misery.
  • Going Commando: It's implied Lenny does this because he arrived to the plant physical naked while the rest of the staff were in their underwear. Homer asks Lenny if he forgot there was a physical that day and Lenny asks to borrow Homer's underwear which Homer refuses.
  • "Good Luck" Gesture: Homer crosses his fingers on both hands when he's expected to receive the First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence.
    Homer: (crossing fingers) Please, please, please, please, please!
    Lisa: Dad, you know you won!
    Homer: Don't jinx it!
  • Hobos: Ever since his automobile company folded, Herb's been living as one and with a group of them out in the sticks, living in a Cardboard Box Home, subsisting off garbage, and stowing away on trains to travel.
  • Hope Spot: For Homer when he sees Herb at his door. The way that his face lights up shows how much he still cares about his older half-brother...and then he gets punched in the face.
  • It's All About Me: Homer insults the look of Herb's baby translator prototype, saying it's a stupid idea that will never work and a waste of the $2000 he had given him, then complains about how he could've been relaxing on the vibrating chair he had planned to buy with it instead. Herb calls him out on it.
    Herb: Homer, will you stop thinking about your ass!?
    Homer: *shamefully* I want to but I can't...
  • Jerkass Ball: The one time Homer has a chance to make Herb accept his forgiveness (getting comments for Herb's baby translator), Homer complains that it's a stupid idea that will never work.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Herb. He treats Homer pretty badly (due to still not forgiving him) and only hunts him down to use his money, but he is a good uncle and gives every family member their own gift on top of paying the money back. And Herb eventually does forgive Homer, calls him "brother" again, and bought him the massage chair he wanted.
  • Just Train Wrong: In the scenes where Herb and the other hobos are squatting at the train yard, diesel locomotives are seen going by but they make whistle and chuffing sounds like steam engines.
  • Literal Ass-Kicking: Specifically requested by Homer as an alternative to Herb's desired method of engagement.
    Herb: I'm sorry, Homer, but I'm still mad at you. Every word you say just makes me wanna punch you in the face.
    Homer: Well, while you're a guest in my home, could you just kick me in the butt?
    Herb: I'll try, but I'm not making any promises.
  • Man Hug: Homer and Herb after patching things up. Homer admits he feels awkward hugging another man. Then Herb says he bought him the massage chair. Homer proceeds to give him a Bear Hug and kisses him on the cheek.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: Mr. Burns tries to bribe/trick Homer with $2000 to keep him from potentially suing the plant for millions for sterilizing him. The glitzy award ceremony he has to cook up to validate the scheme probably cost as much as a settlement would have. Furthermore, Homer does not have the means to take up a long, drawn-out court proceeding against Springfield's most competent and ruthless lawyers.
  • Mood-Swinger: An epic display from Mr. Burns as he flips back and forth between anger and courtesy when talking to his team of lawyers.
    Mr. Burns: Before you begin, let me make one thing clear to you. I want your legal advice, I even pay for it. But to me, you're all vipers! You live on personal injury, you live on divorces, you live on pain and misery...! (friendly) But I'm rambling. Anybody want any coffee?
    Blue-Haired Lawyer: I'll have some coffee.
    Mr. Burns: Want it black, don't you? BLACK LIKE YOUR HEART?! It's so hard for me to listen to you. I HATE YOU ALL SO MUCH!! I'm sorry, it's my problem, I'll deal with it. Please continue.
    Blue-Haired Lawyer: If you offer Mr. Simpson a token sum, say a couple thou, he'll be so dazzled he'll sign anything you shove under his nose.
    Mr. Burns: (sarcastic) Oh, brilliant. A cash settlement. I COULD HAVE FIGURED THAT OUT, YOU BUTTONED-DOWN MAGGOT!!
    Blue-Haired Lawyer: You have any cream?
    Mr. Burns: Oh yes, of course. Where are my manners?
  • Mundane Luxury: Unlike the somewhat extravagant ideas of Homer and the kids, Marge just wants to spend the money on a new washer and dryer. The old ones still work, albeit barely, but the motors are so worn out the machines drag themselves across half the basement when in use. In the end, Herb not only buys new ones, but also sold the old ones.
  • Not the Intended Use: Herb bought Marge a new washer and dryer, and sold the old ones for $50... to Moe's tavern, where everyone is using them in a race (the vibration of the machines moves them along the floor).
  • Rags to Riches: Herb, who ends up making his fortune back virtually overnight after the baby translator is a huge hit at a convention.
  • Random Events Plot: The commentary notes halfway through "As you can see, we still haven't figured out the plot of this episode. We just wanted to bring Danny back."
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Herb is determined to rebuild his fortune. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done:
    Herb: I'm telling you, all a man needs is an idea. And I've got an idea!
    Fellow Hobo: Then why are you still a bum?
    Herb: All right, a man needs two things. An idea, and money to get it off the ground.
    • One of the bums Herb hangs out with at the start had been operating Disney massage parlors, which were obviously unlicensed. Once Disney found out, they sued him for every penny, both for the copyright infringement and the PR damage his wildly inappropriate use of their characters caused. Even now, he still thinks they were being unreasonable.
    • Lisa was a little upset that Herb didn't write to her. Herb pointed out that he couldn't because he didn't want to tell her how his life is now that he's a hobo. Lisa then understood Herb's point.
    • Unlike the rest of the family, Herb couldn't give Bart what he wanted to buy with the original $2000 (a machine gun) since he's underage. Instead, he got Bart a membership in the N.R.A, which does accept junior members. Bart is perfectly happy with this, knowing he can get any weapon he wants once he's old enough.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Mr. Burns gives one to his team of lawyers for profiting off the misery of others.
  • Recycled Animation: The scene where Homer bemoans Herb's treatment of him to Marge in bed was taken from "Saturdays of Thunder" because they decided to explain the plot a bit more.
  • Self-Made Man: Herb became one again.
  • Sequel Episode: To "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou".
  • Shoddy Knockoff Product: The award Mr. Burns gives Homer is literally an Emmy Award with Mr. Burns's head replacing the head of the woman on the statuette; and Mr. Burns is holding up a lithium atom, instead of the generic vector model of the atom that the Emmy holds.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Homer's fantasy while on the massage chair is reminiscent of the 'star gate' sequence in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • Herb presenting the family with gifts is reminiscent of The Wizard of Oz, when The Wizard gives gifts to Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.
  • Skewed Priorities: When Herb wants to do a demo of his product for the family, he says it will only take twenty minutes but will change the world. Homer's reaction:
    Homer: (whiny) Twenty minutes?! Ohhh...
  • Special Guest: Danny DeVito as Herb Powell
  • Sperm as People: Homer and Smithers' sperm samples are seen with their owner's faces. Smithers' healthy sperm swim in organized swarms. Homer's swim randomly and knock into each other, demonstrating that the nuclear plant has rendered him infertile.
  • Take That!:
    • Done by Bart and Lisa during Homer's award ceremony. Note that the show had lost at the Emmys the previous year.
      Lisa: This show is the biggest farce I ever saw.
      Bart: What about the Emmys?
      Lisa: I stand corrected.
    • Herb insists that his hideous and overpriced car, "The Homer", was not the "blunder of the century". That was New Coke. note 
  • Talk to the Fist: Herb's first greeting to Homer in a long while.
    Herb: (standing at the door) What am I gonna say? This is the guy who ruined me! But on the other hand, he's family. So many conflicting emotions, how to express them?
    Homer: (opens door) ...Herb? (Herb punches him out cold)
  • Tempting Fate: Played with. At the power plant, Lenny and Carl try to comfort Homer after the loss of his couch. He says his life can't get any worse, then waits a few moments and nothing happens... he repeats himself, and Smithers finally calls him to Mr. Burns' office. Turns out it's good news actually. He is getting a cash settlement for an infliction that the plant caused. He doesn't know what it is and even if he did, since he didn't want any more kids he wouldn't care.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Herb stays with the Simpsons while he tries to get back on his feet. Justified in that he's destitute and has been living as a hobo until now. Also subverted in that Herb moves out once he regains his fortune, pays the Simpsons back the $2,000 they lent him, and gets them all gifts for believing in him.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: Each member of the family has a different idea about what to do with the $2000 check from Burns—most prominently, Homer wants a highly expensive massage chair to replace their broken couch. Instead, they lend the money to Herb for his new invention. It succeeds and he buys each member of the family what they wanted (a monthly subscription of classic literature for Lisa, an N.R.A membership for Bart, and a new washer and dryer for Marge). To Homer, he simply offers his forgiveness, which Homer, despite his disappointment, ultimately accepts with gratitude...only to find that Herb also bought him the chair.
    Herb: *smiling* Homer, I bought you the damn chair!
    Homer: *begins hugging and kissing Herb on the cheeks in gratitude*
  • Turn Your Head and Cough: Part of Homer's description of his physical:
    Marge: How was your day at work, dear?
    Homer: Oh, the usual. Stand in front of this, open that, pull down this, bend over, spread apart that, turn your head that way, cough.
  • Wasteful Wishing: Downplayed when Herb is repaying Homer and his family for believing in him:
    Herb: Maggie, who brought me my fortune, I'll give you anything you want in this world.
    Maggie: (via translator) I want what the dog's eating.
    Homer: D'oh!
    Herb: I'll get you something nice.