Talking about comic books, TV shows, movies, sports, and the numerous other pastimes that make us Gentlemen of Leisure.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Retro Review: Dog of Death

Or the One Where
The Simpsons have to cut their expenses to pay for Santa's Little Helper's expensive operation.

The Setup
Caught up in lottery fever, the family fails to notice the dog's failing health.

Notable Notes
The veterinarian in this episode is based on the main character from TV's Ben Casey show.

In addition to referencing several films (notably A Clockwork Orange, in which Santa's Little Helper is brainwashed into becoming an attack dog via scenes of animal cruelty), the episode also refers back to several previous episodes: Flanders is seen wearing his "Assassains" shoes from "Bart's Dog Gets An F", Homer places a missing poster for the dog over a missing poster for Principal Skinner from "Bart the Murderer", Santa's Little Helper gets picked up on a street named "Michael Jackson Expressway", a reference to "Stark Raving Dad" and Homer, upon learning the book The Lottery doesn't contain any tips for actually winning the lottery, tosses it into the fireplace, where Bill Cosby's Fatherhood book from "Saturdays of Thunder" can also be seen burning.

Favorite Quotes
Marge: Honey, $750 is a lot of money. We really can't afford this operation.
Bart: You're gonna just let him die?
Marge: I know you're upset...
Bart: Darn right, I'm upset!
Marge: Bart, watch your language! ... Oh, you did. Sorry.

Marge: I found a way to stretch the food budget. Fried chicken night will now be organ meat night. Ham night will be Spam night. And pork chop night...
Homer: Oh...
Marge: ... will now be chub night.
Homer: Chub!? I don't even know what that is!

Homer: Marge, I've figured out an alternative to giving up my beer. Basically, we become a family of travelling acrobats!

Bart: I'm not giving up. I don't care if I have to knock on every door in this two-bit town. I'm going to find my dog!
Homer: And I'll be right here watching TV.

Teebore's Take
For whatever reason, this is probably my least favorite episode of the season. It's not bad, and the weakest episode of this strong season is still pretty good, but I've never been a fan of it. Frustratingly, I'm not entirely sure why. There's plenty of good material here, from Homer's lottery fever to the family's reactions to their cost cutting and a sweet ending in which Bart's love for his dog overcomes Mr. Burns' attack dog training that make the episode a spiritual sequel to the last Santa's Little Helper-centric episode, "Bart's Dog Gets an F". Maybe it's just because I'm a total sap for pets and not a fan of "animals in peril" stories so I feel too bad when the family gets angry at the dog post-operation to truly enjoy it. I certainly wouldn't begrudge anyone loving this episode, but for me it's a rare misstep in an otherwise strong season.


A decent Santa's Little Helper episode with plenty of callbacks to past episodes and some strong pop culture parodies earn it some points, but for me, this is one of the least classic episodes of the season.


  1. wow, you haven't done one of these in a while.
    And yeah, i'm totally with you that it bugs me when they don't appreciate him after the operation

  2. @Sarah: wow, you haven't done one of these in a while.

    Yeah, it has been awhile. Hopefully, this will be the new Monday feature (barring random posts that take precedence) at least until the fall TV season starts up again.

  3. yeah i'm with you on 'pets in peril' episodes (or anything)
    damn our soft hearts!

  4. I had more or less forgotten about this episode. But I recall thinking it was relatively funny.

  5. @Anne: damn our soft hearts!

    Indeed. They make us weak!

    @Dr. Bitz: I had more or less forgotten about this episode. But I recall thinking it was relatively funny.

    It is, really. And I always remember the first part, with the lottery stuff, then forget the rest until I see it again and say, "oh yeah, the lottery episode is the one where Santa's Little Helper gets sick".


Comment. Please. Love it? Hate it? Are mildly indifferent to it? Let us know!