Lifetime of Simpsons

S08 E16 – Brother From Another Series

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Well look what we have here. We’re ending the week on one of my favorite types of episodes, Sideshow Bob ones. And not only is it a Sideshow Bob episode, but it’s also based around one of the goofiest ideas they ever put him in. They’re just blatantly accepting the fact that Kelsey Grammar was on Frasier at the same time, and brought David Hyde-Pierce in to be Bob’s brother. And it’s genius.

The episode starts off by having Krusty performing country songs at Springfield Prison, like he’s Johnny Cash, which was some some sort of community service. The Simpsons are watching it from home, because apparently this is a perfect thing to be televised, and they get to see Krusty insulting the prisoners. And after roasting a couple of the inmates, he ends up running across Sideshow Bob, and as happens in every Bob episode, he has to fill the viewers, and the characters that are so intimately aware of his crimes, in on their previous encounters. So Bob rattles off a laundry list of crimes he’s committed since the show began. And this understandably freaks Bob out, since they’ve had such a tumultuous history, and ends up running up to his room to hide. The family come up to talk with him, and do a generally terrible job at making Bart feel better, but he’s a little assured with the knowledge that Bob surely won’t get out of jail again.

But of course since this is a Bob episode, we immediately see how he’s getting out of jail. Turns out this time he’s been working with Reverend Lovejoy, and has found God, becoming a model prisoner and some sort of deacon or something in the church prison. And this convinces Lovejoy to recommend Bob for some sort of work-release program, the only issue becoming who would hire Bob, a several time convicted felon. Why his brother of course! Bob’s brother Cecil is a hydroelectrical engineer and has a contract to build a new dam for Springfield, and offers Bob the chance to come be a foreman in the construction. Bob agrees and the two brothers leave the jail, only to have a big crowd waiting outside to protest Bob’s release. But Bob is able to give an impassioned speech that quickly converts the entire crowd, except for the Simpsons of course.

We then see what life is like between Cecil and Bob, as they go to Cecil’s apartment, which is exactly the one from Frasier, while a title-card explains what Frasier is for posterity. They trade intellectual insults with each other while discussing the dam. But things come to a head when Bob claims Cecil hates him for getting the gig as Krusty’s sidekick, and we’re treated to a hilarious flashback where we learn that Cecil had actually been the big clown fan. He made Bob bring him to his sidekick audition, and after giving a terrible performance to Krusty, is passed on. But before they leave, Krusty has a pie thrown at Bob, since he has dignity, and the result was so hilarious that Krusty had no choice but to hire Bob as his sidekick, pushing Cecil to the side.

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But they let bygones be bygones at this point, and Bob gets to work as the foreman of the dam. And it’s not going well, since the only construction workers they got were members of Cletus’ family, and he’s being stalked by Bart and Milhouse. Bart’s convinced Bob is up to something, and drags Milhouse along, even though his theory is that Bob wants to pee in the reservoir. And I guess that was enough to cut Milhouse from the plan, because Bart just starts stalking Bob solo from there. He follows Bob on a date with Mrs. Krabappel, and ruins Bob’s chances of getting lucky. But Bob still doesn’t threaten or do anything to Bart, which is really starting to confuse him.

Bart just can’t accept the fact that Bob has actually reformed, so he decides to trick Lisa into helping him by sorting through Bob’s garbage to find something incriminating. But they don’t have any luck, and Bob ends up catching them and dragging them back to the Simpsons house for Marge and Homer to punish. They apparently do not to this though, because Bart and Lisa go right back out, and decide to check Bobs trailer/office at the work-site. They break in, and start looking for clues. And almost immediately they find a briefcase full of money, which is pretty incriminating. And just on time, Bob comes smashing into the trailer, looking crazy. So the kids flee, and Bob goes chasing after them, through the dam.

And after a goofy chase scene, Bob ends up finding them in a turbine room, and confronts them. Bob ensures that he did nothing wrong, and is just trying to live a good life now, and when the kids show him the embezzled money he’s flabbergasted. Mainly because he wasn’t involved with any money, that was Cecil’s job. Turns out Cecil is the evil one in this episode, and he’s been embezzling the money from the dam, which is actually hollow, and ready to crumble. He shows up to monologue to the three, and admit that his plan was to steal all the money he got to make the dam, cause an explosion that will cover his coverup, and blame the explosion on the master criminal he happened to hire. So Cecil locks them in the turbine room, and goes to blow up the dam with them inside.

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But as soon as Cecil is gone, Bob springs into action, even though Bart and Lisa keep saying it’s hopeless, which he finds a little insulting. Bob is able to stop the turbine, and the three jump down the shaft under it, which gets them outside. Bob and Lisa then start to disarm the dynamite while Bart goes to distract Cecil, which he does by jumping on his head, leading to the hilarious line of Cecil wondering if he’s being attacked by “Marris.” Bart grapples with Cecil, and ends up getting the money in the briefcase loose, which flies off in the wind. And this pisses Cecil off enough that he wants to just throw Bart off the cliff. But Bob sees the attempted murder about to happen and ends up using the dynamite wire to swing across the dam and save Bart. He’s able to grab Bart, and they decide to die heroe’s deaths and cut the wire, saving the dam, but killing themselves. Luckily though they’re saved when Bob lands crotch-first on a pipe, letting them live. And when the police show up, they arrest Cecil and Bob, just in case Bob was actually involved. And as they arrest the two brothers and take them off to jail where they can squabble like siblings, the cops accidentally set off the dynamite, which destroys the dam, and actually doesn’t even flood the town much at all, which is kind of a letdown for Cecil.

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This is a hell of a Sideshow Bob episode. I think it’s such a hilarious idea to have brought David Hyde-Pearce into the episode, and just make him and Grammar reprise their Frasier roles essentially. There was a good little mystery in the episode with Bart and Lisa solving clues, which I always love in a Bob episode, but I think the thing that I love most about this one was the fact that Bob actually was reformed. Basically every other Bob episode he’s lying the whole time, trying to convince people that he’s turned over a new leaf, and this is the only time that he was actually being honest, and he still gets screwed over. Seeing Bob help the kids in foiling his brother was great, and I really loved how bitter he got when Lisa said that Cecil’s plan was impossible to ruin, whereas they foil his plans right away. It’s just a great episode with some incredibly solid jokes, and remains one of my favorite Sideshow Bob episodes.

Take Away: If you’re planning a dam explosion, make sure you have a good scapegoat, because even if you get caught in the act, they’ll blame the criminal.

“Brother from Another Series,” was written by Ken Keeler and directed by Pete Michels, 1997.

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