Brother from Another Series
"Brother from Another Series" is the sixteenth episode of The Simpsons' eighth season and originally aired February 23, 1997. Sideshow Bob is released from prison into the care of his brother Cecil and claims to be a changed man. However, Bart does not believe him and tries to find out what Bob is up to. It was the first episode directed by Pete Michels and was written by Ken Keeler. The episode guest stars Kelsey Grammer in his sixth appearance as Sideshow Bob and David Hyde Pierce as Cecil. The title is not only a pun on the movie The Brother from Another Planet (used for a previous episode as well), but also a reference to the fact that guest stars Kelsey Grammer (Frasier Crane) and David Hyde Pierce (Niles Crane) also played bickering brothers on the sitcom Frasier.
Former criminal Sideshow Bob is declared a changed man by Reverend Lovejoy and released from prison on a work program, despite the protests of Bart. Bob is surprised to be taken into the care of his brother Cecil as the two had previously not spoken for ten years. A flashback reveals the cause of this rift: Cecil had auditioned to become the new sidekick for Krusty the Clown, a job he had long desired, but Bob was chosen instead. Cecil, who is Springfield's chief hydrological and hydrodynamical engineer, employs Bob to supervise the construction of a hydroelectric dam in a river near Springfield, while Bart, believing that Bob is still evil, continuously follows him around. Bob begins to become intensely annoyed by Bart's intrusions into his personal life and the dam's incompetent laborers (Cletus and his family), and he expresses a desire to see the dam burst and obliterate Springfield.
Meanwhile, Bart enlists Lisa to help find out what Sideshow Bob is up to, but only ends up being discovered rummaging in Bob's trash and angrily escorted home by him. They finally decide to search in Bob's trailer at the dam construction site, and discover a briefcase full of cash being stolen. On being interrupted by Bob, the children run and hide inside the dam's turbine room, but are cornered. When confronted with the money, Bob denies knowing anything about it. Cecil shows up with a gun and reveals that he is the one who embezzled the money by cutting back on construction materials; now he plans on framing Bob and using him as a scapegoat when the poorly constructed dam collapses. He officially declares the money motivated him to enact his plan, though he privately admits to Bob that his true motivation was because of Bob being chosen as Krusty's sidekick instead of Cecil. Without hesistation, Cecil locks Bob, Bart and Lisa in the dam and prepares to blow it up, taking the money with him.
Deciding to work together, Bart, Lisa, and Bob escape and try to save the dam. While Lisa and Bob set about defusing Cecil's dynamite, Bart jumps at Cecil before he can press the plunger. Cecil attempts to swat him off with the briefcase of money, but the case bursts open and the money is lost. Cecil manages to throw Bart off the cliff, declaring he will kill Bart as Bob never could; ironically, Bob grabs the cord of the dynamite and dives down in an effort to save him. As the two dangle down the side of the dam, Bob decides to cut the cord on the dynamite in an act of self-sacrifice to prevent Cecil from destroying the town, but his and Bart's perilous fall is broken by a conveniently placed pipe.
The police arrive and Cecil is immediately arrested. Bob gloats over his victory, having gaining the respect from Bart and Lisa, who now believed that Bob has truly changed. Unfortunately, Chief Wiggum suddenly arrives and arrests Bob, believing him to be involved in the plot as well, despite Bart and Lisa's protests. As they are taken away, Cecil tricks Bob into swearing revenge on Bart and incriminating himself. Upon realizing that he just made Bart his enemy again, Bob gets angry at Cecil for it. Just after the brothers are taken away, the dam crumbles and releases a torrent of water on Springfield, only to do apparently minimal damage. Wiggum muses on the evil the brothers could concoct while locked up together; in reality, the brothers merely continue to bicker childishly, as Bob is still angry at Cecil for making Bart his archnemesis again.
The episode was written by Ken Keeler, who had been watching a lot of Frasier at the time and had been assigned to write a Sideshow Bob episode and he thought it would be a good idea to mix the two. Pierce was cast as Sideshow Bob's brother, causing Pierce to joke, "Normally, I would not do something like this. But how often do you get a chance to work with an actor like Kelsey Grammer and, more importantly, play his brother?" While Sideshow Bob is addressing the crowd, a man near the back raises his hand and says "probably"; he is also voiced by David Hyde Pierce, who had wanted to be a man in a crowd.
An early draft of the episode originally featured an Opera house explosion, which was changed because the writers felt using a dam would be more exciting. An early rule of Sideshow Bob episodes was to recap what had gone on in previous Bob episodes, in case the viewer had forgotten who he was. The original script was run by the Frasier producers to make sure they were okay with it, and they only had one problem. There was a very brief scene in which Cecil talks to a visible character and refers to her as "Maris", who in Frasier is an unseen character, and the producers of Frasier said the scene should go. The writers spent a long time trying to figure out a civilization that considered chief hydrological engineer a true calling and chose the Cappadocians, who were famous for underground cities although not specifically dams.
Cecil was drawn to resemble David Hyde Pierce, but still look similar to Bob. According to director Pete Michels, it was difficult to draw Bob and Cecil standing together because their feet are both so big. There was a scene featuring Hans Moleman and his house, which was cut, but his house can still briefly be seen in the scene where Cecil throws Bart off a cliff. The sequence was cut in order to make room for the explanation of why Bob was sent back to prison. Ken Keeler has said that it is his favorite deleted scene.
The "Krusty the Clown Prison Special" is based on Johnny Cash's 1968 appearance at Folsom Prison. Krusty's song is a parody of "Folsom Prison Blues". The mention of Arthur Fiedler's wake is an apparent reference and parody of Frasier Crane's upper class Boston life. The episode contains several references to Frasier, with the intention of making it obvious that The Simpsons was parodying the series. These include a title card just before the start of the second act which says "Frasier is a hit show on the NBC Television Network" in the same font and style as Frasier's intertitles, and when Bart jumps on Cecil and says "guess who," Cecil replies with "Maris?" Cecil's inability to see Bart also refers to the fact that Maris, Niles' wife in Frasier, is never actually seen.
In its original broadcast, "Brother from Another Series" finished 39th in ratings for the week of February 17-23, 1997, with a Nielsen rating of 9.1, equivalent to approximately 8.8 million viewing households. It was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-files, King of the Hill and Melrose Place. Beforehand, the media said the episode "looks promising," and afterwards journalist Ben Rayner called it one of director Peter Michels' "classics." This episode was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or Special. In a 2008 article, Entertainment Weekly named Pierce's role as Cecil as one of the sixteen best guest appearances on The Simpsons. Grammer and Pierce were ranked second on AOL's list of their favorite 25 Simpsons guest stars.
- "Brother From Another Series" The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on March 29, 2007
- Brother From Another Series BBC.co.uk. Retrieved on March 29, 2007
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- Keeler, Ken (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother from Another Series" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- "TV Tidbits". The Hamilton Spectator. 1997-02-20.
- Weinstein, Josh (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother from Another Series" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Michels, Pete (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother from Another Series" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Grammer, Kelsey (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Brother from Another Series" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Associated Press (February 27, 1997). "Movies lift NBC to big ratings win". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
- "Volcanic thriller among Sunday watchables," Edmonton Journal, February 23, 1997, pg. D.2.
- Rayner, Ben, "Fans react to Family feud; FOXy The Family Guy pinches plots but also steals The Simpsons' thunder, to some fans' dismay," Toronto Star, November 5, 2006, pg. C.6.
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- "16 great 'Simpsons' guest stars". Entertainment Weekly. 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-05-11.
- Potts, Kimberly. "Favorite 'Simpsons' Guest Stars". AOL. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
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- "Brother From Another Series" episode page at The Simpsons.com
- "Brother from Another Series" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "Brother from Another Series" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Brother from Another Series" at TV.com