Stop, or My Dog Will Shoot
"Stop or My Dog Will Shoot!" is the twentieth episode of The Simpsons' eighteenth season and first aired May 13, 2007. When Santa's Little Helper rescues a lost Homer, he becomes a local hero and the Simpsons decide to enroll him in Police Dog Academy, where he is teamed with Lou and they become a crime-busting duo. Bart's excitement quickly vanishes after an incident with a jaded Santa's Little Helper, so to appease Bart's depression after the loss of his dog, Marge agrees to buy him a huge pet snake, which causes a life-threatening situation at Bart and Lisa's school. It was written by John Frink and directed by Matthew Faughnan. Friend of the show Stephen Hawking makes his third guest appearance on the show as himself, while Maurice LaMarche does the voice of the Horn Stuffer. Rudy Giuliani makes a guest voice appearance as himself, although not in the original airing. The episode was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award.
Homer, excited about going to Oktoberfest, is disappointed when he discovers that Marge has tricked him and the kids into going to a Harvest Festival which allows no alcohol. While attempting to leave, Homer accidentally leads the family into a cornfield maze. Lisa crafts an escape plan with Tremaux's Algorithm, a real life maze-solving method, but Homer is left behind.
Santa's Little Helper is called upon by Bart to find Homer. The dog manages to sniff out Homer and drag him out of the maze. Santa’s Little Helper becomes a hero and the Simpsons, persuaded by Chief Wiggum, enroll him in the Springfield Animal Police Academy, where he is teamed with Lou, managing to help fight crime in Springfield.
Santa's Little Helper catches Snake Jailbird who is taken to court, but freed on a technicality. This makes Santa's Little Helper jaded, and when he returns home, he bites Bart on the leg out of frustration. Considering the fact that the pressure from the fight against crime is what led to the dog's actions on Bart, the Simpsons send the dog away to live with Lou. As a replacement, Marge buys Bart a huge pet python, which he names Strangles. Bart takes Strangles to show and tell at school, where Strangles escapes into a school lab and unintentionally knocks over beakers of ethanol and nitric acid, mixing both substances and creating a toxic cloud.
Bart, being the only person still stranded in school trying to find Strangles, collapses from the smoke, (remarking "It smells like some chemicals cut one"). Both Santa's Little Helper and Strangles arrive to save Bart, who chooses his faithful dog to save him. Santa's Little Helper goes back to living with the Simpsons. Groundskeeper Willie adopts Strangles, and places him in the fire hose coil.
Rudy Giuliani was originally announced in the official press release as appearing in this episode. As a result, several images of him recording his part as well as a promotional image of him in Simpsonized form, were released. However, his appearance was not included in the final version of the episode. According to executive producer James L. Brooks in an interview with Charlie Rose, the show was not allowed to use Giuliani's appearance because he had become a presidential candidate. Giuliani's absence marks the second time during the eighteenth season that a guest was announced in the official press release but did not appear in the final episode. For the episode "Homerazzi", Harry Hamlin and Peter Wolf were announced as guest stars but neither appeared.
However, Giuliani's appearance is present in the syndicated version of the episode where he gives the commencement address at the police animal academy graduation ceremony. His speech to the trained animals includes a large amount of condescending "animal talk" such as talking about their fluffy tails and stomachs. He also said they should get a treat, prompting Homer to wish someone had said that on his graduation day.
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- The title is a reference to Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot.
- In Bart's vision, Santa's Little Helper becomes a dog version of RoboCop and shoots down a math book, Jason Voorhees (from Friday the 13th parts 3+) and Pinhead (from Hellraiser).
- The song played when Santa's Little Helper looks for Homer in the maze is Korn's "Freak on a Leash".
- The song played when Martin presented his show & tell is The Great Gates of Kiev by Mussorgsky, from Pictures At An Exhibition.
- The themes for Police Academy, NYPD Blue and Miami Vice are heard.
- During his training Santa's Little Helper destroys a bust of Ludwig Van Beethoven.
- The music playing over the scene where Santa's Little Helper, along with the other animals, are in training is from the 1975-1976 television series S.W.A.T. (by Rhythm Heritage).
- When showing an example of "violent imagery" to let off his stress, Chief Wiggum shows a sweater with a picture of Big Bird putting Elmo on a circular saw.
- Clippy, the Microsoft Word icon appears on the computer at school, when Strangles tries to eat it (it says "You look like you're trying to eat me. Need some help?").
- Lou tells Santa's Little Helper that police work isn't like it was in Air Bud V: The Long Arm of the Paw, a parody of Disney's Air Bud series.
- At the end, Groundskeeper Willie's last words to Strangles ("That'll do, snake. That'll do") parody the last words in the movie Babe.
Robert Canning of IGN describes the episode as "average", and was only a build up to next week's 400th episode. He does, however, say the episode had bright bits, including Stephen Hawking's appearance. Adam Finley of TV Squad states the episode "fell flat halfway through the middle act, and all of the third". This episode was nominated for a WGA Award in 2007, but lost to "Kill Gil, Volumes I & II", another episode this season.
- "The Simpsons: "Stop or My Dog Will Shoot"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved 2008-06-08.
- Simpsons Channel | Your Source For Simpsons News[dead link]
- Listings - SIMPSONS, THE on FOX | TheFutonCritic.com
- Rose, Charlie (Host, Executive producer) (July 30, 2007). Charlie Rose:A Conversation About The Simpsons Movie (Television production). Charlie Rose, Inc. Event occurs at approx. 28 minutes in. Retrieved 2007-07-31.
- Cultural references for the episode
- Santa's Little Helper joins the force, Bart gets a snake.
- TV Squad Review
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