Two Dozen and One Greyhounds
|"Two Dozen and One Greyhounds"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Directed by||Bob Anderson|
|Written by||Mike Scully|
|Original air date||April 9, 1995|
|Chalkboard gag||"The Good Humor man can only be pushed so far".|
|Couch gag||The family chases after the couch and the back wall as it slides down an endless hallway.|
"Two Dozen and One Greyhounds" is the 20th episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 9, 1995. The episode was written by Mike Scully and directed by Bob Anderson. Frank Welker guest stars as Santa's Little Helper and various other dogs. In the episode, Santa's Little Helper has puppies with a dog that he met at the greyhound racetrack.
The episode is inspired by Dodie Smith's 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians and Walt Disney Pictures' 1961 animated film adaptation One Hundred and One Dalmatians. The producers decided to have Mr. Burns communicate his horrific plan of making a tuxedo from the puppies through a song after determining that it would be a "fun and light" way to convey his plan of killing the greyhounds. "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds" received a generally positive reception from television critics. During the week of its original broadcast, the episode finished 55th in ratings, with a Nielsen rating of 7.3. Several reviews considered the episode to be one of their favorites of the series, and especially praised Mr. Burns' appearances.
The Simpson family's dog, Santa's Little Helper, becomes very excited and runs away from home to the dog racing track, where he falls in love with a female greyhound named She's the Fastest. She is given to the Simpsons, and soon gives birth to 25 puppies. Eventually, the puppies become difficult to manage, and Homer and Marge attempt to sell them. After his offer is rejected, Mr. Burns steals the puppies.
Bart and Lisa track the puppies to Mr. Burns' mansion, where they discover he plans to make a tuxedo out of them. Bart and Lisa sneak in and attempt to escape with the puppies down a laundry chute. However, Mr. Burns is waiting for them. He intends to kill the puppies, but is unable to and instead, buys all of the puppies from the Simpsons. He successfully raises all of them into world-class championship racing dogs, winning him millions, much to Homer's dismay.
Inspiration, writing, and music
"Two Dozen and One Greyhounds" was written by Mike Scully and directed by Bob Anderson. The Simpsons writers Al Jean and Mike Reiss came up with the original idea for the episode. The idea came to them after watching the 1961 Disney film One Hundred and One Dalmatians. David Mirkin, the episode's show runner, later jokingly said that Jean and Reiss liked to steal ideas from Disney, and pointed to an episode in season eight that they wrote as proof, titled "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious", which was based on the 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins. Mirkin thought that it was great that they could take stuff from Disney and do darker versions on The Simpsons "in a completely legal way".
Matt Groening was happy with the episode because he thought it felt like a callback to the first episode of The Simpsons, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", and because it features references to One Hundred and One Dalmatians. The Disney film thrilled Groening as a kid, and was one of the reasons he was first interested in animation and cartooning. In One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the puppies watch cartoons on television several times; the idea of a cartoon within a cartoon thrilled Groening, and said that this idea inspired him to create The Itchy & Scratchy Show, a fictional television show within the Simpsons universe.
Mr. Burns says in the episode that the puppy that stands up only on its hind legs reminds him of Rory Calhoun, an American actor who lived from 1922 to 1999. The Simpsons writer George Meyer came up with the joke, but Groening argued against it because he did not think the audience would know who Calhoun was. The writers decided to keep it in anyway, because it was later expanded into a key part of the episode's ending. Several years later, Groening stated that he was proven correct after pointing to discussions on the Internet about the episode asking who Calhoun was.
As Bart and Lisa sneak away to Mr. Burns' mansion, they see him loading a gun and singing a musical number called "See My Vest", in which he proclaims his intention to kill the puppies to make a tuxedo out of them. When the staff discussed how they could gloss over the horrifying things Mr. Burns would do to the dogs, one of the writers suggested that if they communicated his plan through a song, it would stay "fun and light". Scully, who agreed that the idea was good, came in the following day with complete lyrics that he wrote for "See My Vest", which was a parody of the song "Be Our Guest", sung by Jerry Orbach in the 1991 film Beauty and the Beast. Mirkin loved Scully's work on the parody song, commenting, "The rhymes are really clever. It's one of our very best songs [on The Simpsons]." He also liked the fact that songs could be used in episodes of The Simpsons without the episodes turning into musicals, saying, "We'll just do one song and that's plenty. We have fun with that and then we're out."
Animation and voice acting
Even though animals in cartoons often behave with "semi-human awareness", Groening said he preferred animals in cartoons to behave exactly the way they do in real life, claiming that this was how animals were depicted in "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds". Mirkin said there were some exceptions for gags, but most of the time they tried to keep the animals acting realistically. The animal noises for the episode were performed by Frank Welker, who was praised by Mirkin on the DVD audio commentary for the episode, saying, "He can do anything, and it fits perfectly. You forget you're listening to a guy, and he's a pleasure to work with." Welker was also praised by Groening, who said Welker was unbelievably good at doing animal noises.
The staff had a "big fight" with the Fox network censors over the scene in which Santa's Little Helper mates with a female greyhound named She's The Fastest. The writers were originally worried about the idea, but Mirkin knew that they could shoot it in a certain way to show the dogs having sex without being explicit. In the scene's final version, the dogs are only seen from the shoulders up; the crew's animatic showing the scene in full was later released on DVD. Anderson noted that during the episode's censor screening, there was a giant laugh at the depiction.
The overarching plot of the episode, as well as its title, was inspired by the Disney film One Hundred and One Dalmatians, which deals with a large number of puppies similar to "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds". Besides the film, less obvious references to Disney-animated films are made throughout the episode. The song, "See My Vest", sung by Mr. Burns, is a parody of "Be Our Guest", which is sung by Lumiere (voiced by Jerry Orbach) in the film Beauty and the Beast. The scene in which Santa's Little Helper and She's the Fastest are presented with a plate of spaghetti at Luigi's Italian restaurant parodies Lady and the Tramp.
The scene in which the greyhounds watch television is similar to the dalmatians of One Hundred and One Dalmatians. Instead of watching What's my Crime? like the dalmatians do in the film, the greyhounds watch the television series Models, Inc. The clerk that performs a mind-meld on Santa's Little Helper is a reference to the Vulcan mind-meld ability in Star Trek; the same music from the mind-meld scenes in Star Trek are played during the scene. At one point, Santa's Little Helper looks wistfully out the window of the Simpson family's car, and then morphs out of the car window in reference to a similar scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day; music from that film plays in the background. Four of the puppies are named Jay, David, Paul, and Branford, a reference to late-night talkshow hosts David Letterman and Jay Leno and their respective bandleaders Paul Shaffer and Branford Marsalis.
In its original broadcast, "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds" finished 55th in ratings for the week of April 3–9, 1995, with a Nielsen rating of 7.3. The song "See My Vest" from the episode, sung by Mr. Burns, was later released on the album Songs in the Key of Springfield in 1997. The Daily Bruin complimented the song's lyrics as witty, and claimed that by listening to the song, memories of the episode came to mind. They noted how the musical piece revealed Mr. Burns' essence of character, and that it also commented on some disturbing elements of humankind. MSNBC compiled a list of "TV’s top 10 scariest characters", placing Mr. Burns at number one. In the list, they noted, "Burns is terrifying because he will do absolutely anything, and since it's a cartoon, he just might", pointing to "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds" and his plans to make the puppies into a tuxedo as proof.
In a review by the Toronto Star, Ben Rayner commented that "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds" was one of his favorite episodes of the series, and concluded that Mr. Burns' "tour de force" performance was particularly captivating. The Toronto Star later produced a list of the best and worst The Simpsons episodes, in which they considered "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds" one of the best episodes of the series and concluded that the musical number was one of the best scenes involving Mr. Burns. In a review for the sixth season DVD of The Simpsons, IGN's Todd Gilchrist found Mr. Burns' performance to be memorable, commenting that he "flirts with copyright infringement with his rendition of 'See My Vest'". Michael Price of IGN also considered Burns' performance to have reached a level of excellence comparable to "The Monorail Song" in "Marge vs. the Monorail".
In a review for The Simpsons season six DVD, review website DVD Verdict gave the episode a grade of B−. DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson appreciated the spoofs of Disney films, and also complimented "the most bizarre references to Rory Calhoun imaginable", concluding that the combination of these elements formed a "fine show".
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