Brush with Greatness

Brush with Greatness                                Written by Brian K. Roberts
                                                        Directed by Jim Reardon

Title sequence

Blackboard :- `I will not hide behind the fifth / amendment'.
              `I will not hide behind' at cutoff.

Driveway   :- no oil on the driveway.
              Homer does not shake his fist at Bart.
              Homer says `D'oh!' when Lisa scoots past.

Couch:     :- The couch tips over, and Maggie sits where the couch used to be.

Didja notice...

    ... the water slide schematic looks like the human digestive system?
    ... Bart was eating left-handed?
    ... the Picasso-style painting of Burns in the discard pile?
    ... the substantial number of curlers Marge needs?
    ... the string quartet played `For He's a Jolly Good Fellow' when
        Burns came in?
    ... this is Marge's second run-in with full frontal nudity?
    ... John Lovitz voiced Mr. Lombardo (the art teacher) and the donut
        delivery man?
    ... Ringo said `gear!' when he saw Marge's painting?

[Jym Dyer]
    ... that they're reading the `Springfield Shopper' in the
        first new episode to air since `Simpsons Illustrated' was released?

[Scott Amspoker]
    ... the runners up in the art contest? ("dogs playing ping pong" and
        the sad unicorn asking "Why?")
    ... the number of different "camera shots" in which the genitalia
        in Mr. Burns' portrait were kept hidden from view?  It was so
        conspicious it became a joke in itself.

        Here's the list of things that blocked the view of Mr. Burns'
            the feather of a woman's hat
            Burns' head
            Marge's hairdo
            Marge's head
            Marge's hand
            Marge's upper lip
            Marge's wine glass
            Dr. Hibert's wine glass
            Smithers' head

And for those who weren't sure of Lisa's age, Marge says, ``Mr. Burns, it's
hard to discover your inner beauty while you're shouting at an eight-year-old

Movie References

    Howdy Doody Show
        - Shamelessly pitching products on a kids show
          and getting the kids all riled up to buy the stuff.
  + Ascending and Descending, an etching by M. C. Escher
        - the line for H2WHOA!
  ~ Batman
        - Krusty wipes make-up from his face, cf. The Joker. {evl}
  + Gone With the Wind
        - ``As God as my witness, I'll always be hungry again!!''
  ~ Back to the Future
        - ``Hello!  Hello, taste?  Where are you?''  Now change `taste'
          to `McFly'.
  + Rocky
        - Music as Homer works out.
  + The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
        - Music as Homer approaches the scale. {gh2}
  ~ The Empire Strikes Back
        - When Marge walks in on Burns in the bathroom, cf. Darth Vader.
    Yellow Submarine
        - The cartoon of Ringo is largely the same.

Freeze Frame Fun

Things in the attic

    A `Burns for Mayor' placard.  [ (Dale Gass)]

    A half-empty bottle of pills labelled, `Dr. Nick Riviera's Gym'
    superimposed on a picture of a weightlifter lifting barbells.
    Presumably, it contains steroids. [ (Mike Melnyk)]

Blurbs from TV, courtesy of Ron Carter {rc}

   - Two hours free parking
   - Nose plug rental
   - Trauma center on premises

At the park, courtesy of Ron Carter {rc}

   - This park is not copless. So please don't go topless.
   - Wavewalker. Caution. You will get wet.
   - Rock-a-bye riptide. Water changed hourly. 1" 1 1/2" 2".
   - Stop if you have - Athlete's foot - Hepatitis - Yeast infection.
     [Many others have given the middle item as `Impetigo'.]

In the attic, courtesy of Ron Carter {rc}

   - Burns for governor.
   - Gluteus Maximizer.
   - Dr. Nick Riviera's Gym.
   - Gee, your pecs look terrific.
   - Football jersey #17

The envelope, courtesy of Ron Carter {rc}

   - Marge Bouvier, Springfield USA
   - Ringo Starr, c/o The Beatles, Liverpool England, S.W.A.K.

Misc stuff, courtesy of Ron Carter {rc}

   - Springfield Community College Extension Center.
       - "Where old dogs learn new tricks"
       - Lombardo Method
   - The Rolling Donut
   - Burn's mirror is 'monogrammed' CMB
   - The cubist (with three eyes, fishy, eh?) painting and mobile of Burns.

Other stuff

Gary Bisaga {gb2} observes:

Right before Burns insults Homer's new reduced waistline, Homer is shown
standing in front of the staircase and two pictures are shown on the wall
behind him.  One appears to be a baby picture of Bart, on all fours but with
the same spike hair.  The other appears to be a female ancestor of Marge's,
looking just like Marge; she had blue hair done up like Marge's (and her
mother's) current style, except it didn't go up nearly as far - more of an
afro with a little peak on the top.  It was in a little ellipsical frame.
The picture appears to be from the early part of the 20th century because
the dress she is wearing has mutton sleeves (those big puffy shoulder/sleeve
units that they wore back then).  But the picture was in color (you can see
the hair is blue).  They probably would not have given the woman that type of
dress unless they were attempting to portray a picture from, say, the 20's,
so I say the picture should have been B/W.  What does everybody else say?

Audrey Rosen kindly provides the jumprope rhyme:

    Lincoln, Lincoln, I've been thinkin'
    What the heck have you been drinkin'?
    Is it water?  Is it wine?
    Oh my gosh, it's turpentine!

Except that Lisa and Bart say `hell' instead of `heck', just to give it
a little more edge.

Assorted comments and observations

Paintings of Monty Burns

Chris Baird {cjb} notes that paintings of Monty Burns already existed,
such as the painting of a younger (blushing) Burns in his office in
`Homer's Odyssey'.

The Rolling Donut

Jym Dyer {jd} explains (for the benefit of non-Americans) that a common
American unpleasantry is to tell somebody (presumably male) to `go take a
flying fuck at a rolling donut.'  On a visit to Los Angeles, Mr. Dyer
found a shop named


It has since been taken over by Dunkin' Donuts, but the sign remains.

Quotes and scene summary

 The Krusty the Klown Show is on location at Mt. Splashmore.
   Krusty: Okay kids, it's time to...
   Kids:   Kroon Along With Krusty!  Yeah!
           I want to go to Mt. Splashmore,
           Take me, take me, take me, take me now!
           Now! Now! Now! Now! Now!
           Mt. Splashmore, take me there right now!  Yay!
   -- ``A rather shameless promotion'', ``Brush with Greatness''
 Lisa and Bart are taken in.
   Homer:      [asleep on the couch, drool dripping out of his mouth]
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No.
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No.
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No!
               [following Homer walking down the hallway]
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No.
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No.
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No.
               [at the dinner table]
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No.
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No!
               [as Homer watches television with a beer in his hand]
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No.
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No.
               [as Homer takes a shower]
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      No!!
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      NO!!!!
               [as Homer tries to get some sleep]
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      NO!!!!!!
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      NO!!!!!!!!
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      NOOO!!
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      NOOOOO!!!
               [Marge pulls her pillow over her head]
               If I take you will you two SHUT UP AND QUIT BUGGING ME!
   Bart:       Yeah!
   Lisa:       Of course!
   Bart:       Well?
   Bart+Lisa:  Will you take us to Mt. Splashmore?
   Homer:      Yes!
   Bart+Lisa   Thanks, dad!
   -- The persistence of memory? ``Brush with Greatness''
 Homer has trouble fitting into his swimsuit (which doesn't leave much to
 the imagination), nor does he find it easy to get into the car without
 his spare tire hitting the horn.  When they arrive...
   Everybody stick together.  We don't want to get separ...
   [turns around, everybody is gone]  D'oh!
   -- Homer's instructions to the family at Mt. Splashmore,
      ``Brush with Greatness''
   Challenge the raging water of DEATH.
   Dare to discover what water is really made of!
   -- Mt. Splashmore announcer, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Bart is pleased that there is no line, but he's mistaken.
   Bart: Okay, Lis.  Turn on the water works, babe.
   Lisa: [crying] Mommy!  I want my mommy! [sob sob]
   -- How to get to the front of the line for a ride at Mt. Splashmore,
      ``Brush with Greatness''
 Lisa, then Bart go down.  Marge watches Maggie in the kiddie pool.
 Homer gets to the front of the H2WHOA line by claiming to be the
 line inspector, and when he goes down, he gets stuck.  One technician
 notes, ``It's too big to be human'' and tells the spotter to send
 down some kids to dislodge it.  They don't, and the section of pipe
 has to be removed to get Homer out.  The family watch the TV news.
   Eyewitnesses estimate the man's weight at somewhere between four and
   five hundred pounds.
   -- Newscaster on Homer's getting stuck in the water slide,
      ``Brush with Greatness''
   Krusty: [surrounded by reporters]
           No, this slide is perfectly safe.  This was an isolated incident.
   Kent Brockman:  I understand that Krusty... [lost in the reporters' yelling]
           Krusty!  Was that exactly what you said just before the recall of
           tainted `Krusty Brand Mayonnaise'?
   Krusty: Now kids, you know that question is out of bounds.
           This interview is over.
   -- ``Brush with Greatness''
   Homer:  All right, family.  I want the truth.  Don't pull any punches.
           [sweetly]  Am I just a little bit overweight?
           [angrily] Well, am I?
   Lisa:   Forgive us, Dad, but it takes time to properly sugar-coat a response.
   -- Ooh, and a split infinitive, too, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Homer weighs himself.
   Oh!  Four hundred and thirty-seven...  Fifty pounds?
   Oh my God!  Three hundred and...  A hundred and fifty?
   OH! Ooh. OH! Ooh.
   Oh my God!  It's two hundred and sixty pounds!
   I'm a big fat pig!
   -- The ups and downs of dieting with a shaky scale, ``Brush with Greatness''
   Marge: You do have big bones.
   Homer: Marge, no one gains thirty pounds of bones!
   -- Homer finds he weighs 260 pounds, ``Brush with Greatness''
   I am going on a diet.
   From this day forward, I pledge there will be no pork chop too succulent!
   No donut too tasty!
   No pizza too laden with delicious toppings
   to prevent me from reaching my scientifically-determined ideal weight!
   As God as my witness, I'll always be hungry again!!
   -- Homer, upon realizing he needs to lose weight, ``Brush with Greatness''
 then his stomach growls. [End of Act 1.  Time: 5:38]

 Homer takes Bart up to the attic, where Bart scares Homer with the lights.
   Bart:  Hey, Homer, I found your weights.
   Homer: [admiring] Oh, the Glutemus Maximizer...
   -- Up in the attic, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Bart stumbles across a large cache of paintings of Ringo Starr, signed
 by `Marge B.', one of which depicts Ringo and Marge getting married.
 Homer confronts Marge.
   Marge: Oh Homer, don't be jealous.  I was a schoolgirl.
          The Beatles were very popular, and I had a crush on him.
   Homer: A likely story...
   -- Marge explains her collection of Ringo Starr paintings,
      ``Brush with Greatness''
 At dinner...
   Oh, why did I have to start my diet on pork chop night?
   -- Homer, setting out on his diet, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Marge gives Homer steamed vegetables and rice cakes.
   Hey, I've been setting my drinks on these things!
   -- Homer admires a rice cake, ``Brush with Greatness''
   Hello!  Hello!  Hello, taste?  Where are you?
   -- Homer bites into a rice cake, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Marge suggests Homer could put something on it for flavor.
   Hey Mom, these paintings are good.
   While I know first-hand how fragile young talent is,
   I'd love to hear the particulars of how <your> gift was squashed.
   -- Lisa asking Marge to explain her schoolgirl painting talent,
      ``Brush with Greatness''
 Marge tells her story of how Mr. Schindler scolded her for drawing Ringo,
 and how she sent Ringo a picture of him for an honest opinion.  But she
 never got any response and never painted again.
   Lisa:  Maybe you could take a class at Springfield Community College.
   Marge: I think it's a very nice idea.  Don't you, Homer?
   Homer: Do I have to do anything?
   Marge: No.
   Homer: Great!  Fine!  Go nuts!
   -- A loving, supportive husband, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Homer takes his rice cake out of the microwave, loaded with goodies.
 ``Mm.  Only 35 calories.''  At SCC...
   I've just enrolled in the screenwriting class.
   I yearn to tell the story of an idealistic young Hindu,
   pushed too far by convenience store bandits.
   I call it `Hands Off My Jerky, Turkey'.
   -- Apu, at Springfield Community College, ``Brush with Greatness''
 With Lisa's moral support, Marge shows Prof. Lombardo her portfolio
 and he lets her enrol in the painting class.
   -- Prof. Lombardo sees a handyman paint the handrail, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Homer is wearing weights on his wrists and ankles, and he can't move.
 Bart takes advantage of the situation and takes Homer's wallet.  Back
 at SCC...
   Now, using the Lombardo method, you learn to see everyday objects
   as a simple grrouping of geometrical shapes.  Heah, we see how two
   concentric circles, various trapezoids, ellipses, and yes! even a rrhombus!
   can create an adorable little bunny-rabbit.  It's just that easy!
   -- Professor Lombardo's art lecture, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Homer tries to lift weights, he skips rope with Bart and Lisa (as Marge
 `visualizes' him geometrically), and he tries a second time to lift
 weights, and suceeds after all the weights fall off and he raises just the
 bar.  At SCC...
   Bravo!  Walk away from it.  Now it belongs to the ages.
   [to next student]
   You!  Not another stroke!  Oh well, maybe one more, that's it!  Perfect!
   -- Professor Lombardo's art lecture, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Prof. Lombardo is very impressed with Marge's work and enters her `Bald
 Adonis' in the Springfield Art Exhibition.
   Marge, please, I don't take praise very well!
   [sees a sign painter]
   Oh!  Another triumph!
   -- Prof. Lombardo, ``Brush with Greatness''
 At the art show, Marge wins first prize.  At the power plant, Burns
 bawls out yet another artist hired to paint his portrait for the
 opening of the Burns Wing of the museum.  Smithers discards the painting
 into a room filled with other failed paintings.
   Damnation, Smithers.  This idea of yours to immortalize me in a portrait
   was as half-baked as your idea about me having children!
   -- Burns chews out Smithers, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Smithers notes that Burns has alienated every artist in town.  Then suggests
   Smithers: Mrs. Homer Simpson.
   Burns:    Who?
   Smithers: She won first prize in the Springfield Art Fair,
             and she's the wife of an employee, she'll be easily
   Burns:    Excellent.
   -- Searching for an artist to do Burns' portrait, ``Brush with Greatness''
   Burns:    Somebody up there likes me, Smithers.
   Smithers: Somebody down here likes you, too, sir.
   Burns:    Shut up.
   -- Too much of a good thing? ``Brush with Greatness''
 [End of Act 2.  Time: 11:41]

 Homer weighs himself again (again with a shake scale), and he weighs 249.
 He comes down and announces it to the family.
   Marge:  That's wonderful, isn't it kids?
   Lisa:   [to Bart] Pass the moo juice.
   Marge:  Kids, remember what I told you about showing a little support?
   Lisa:   Way to go, Dad!
   Bart:   You look mahvelous!
   Maggie: [toasts Homer with her bottle of formula]
   -- Homer reaches his weight goal, ``Brush with Greatness''
 At the plant...
   Donut man:  Hey, what gives?  These donuts are piling up.
   Worker:     Heh.  Yeah, Homer Simpson went on a diet.
   Donut man:  Oh my God.  And I just bought a boat! [slaps forehead]
   -- Homer's diet depresses the local economy, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Burns struggles to rap the knocker on the Simpsons' door, and Smithers
 bangs on the door until Marge answers.  They invite themselves in.
   Smithers:  Have you ever painted the rich and powerful?
   Marge:     Well, no.  Just Ringo Starr.
   Burns:     Ring-Go?
   Smithers:  He was the drummer for a rock-and-roll combo called
              the Beatles, sir.
   Burns:     Beatles, eh?  Oh, yes.  I seem to remember their off-key
              caterwauling on the old Sullivan show.  What <was> Ed thinking?
   -- Burns commissions Marge to paint his portrait, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Burns requires that Marge make him look beautiful, and she agrees.
 Posing for the portrait...
   Smithers: Ah, sir.  At least the world will see you as I always have.
   Burns:    [trying to get him to shut up]  Yes, yes, yes.
   -- Preparing for a portrait, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Homer arrives home and panics when he sees Burns.  He takes Marge into
 the kitchen and begs her to make him look handsome.  Marge assures Homer
 that all she needs to do is find his inner beauty.  She returns to work.
   Marge:  What were you like as a boy, Mr. Burns?
           Did you have a dog that you loved?
   Burns:  Well...  Daah!  There's something on my leg.  [waves his leg]
           Get it off!  Get it off!  [Maggie is clutching his leg]  Ugh!
   Marge:  [takes Maggie, holds her up] Mr. Burns, she's just a baby.
   Maggie: [suck suck suck]
   Burns:  [still scared] Ooh!
   -- Trying to find Mr. Burns' `inner beauty', ``Brush with Greatness''
   Homer:    All right, all right.  Who took the funny pages?
   Smithers: [reading to Burns]  So Ziggy goes to the repair shop,
             there's a sign on the doorbell reading `out of order'.
   Burns:    Heh heh.  Ah, Ziggy.  Will you ever win?
   -- ``Brush with Greatness''
 While collecting laundry, Marge accidentally bursts in on Burns
 naked in the bathroom.  She backs out, apologetically.
   Bart:  Hey Mom, did he have those spots all over his body?
   Burns: [opens the door] I heard that.
   -- Marge accidentally bursts in on Burns (naked) in the bathroom,
      ``Brush with Greatness''
   Smithers: Would you feel more comfortable if I left, too, sir?
   Burns:    Of course not, Smithers.  You're.  You're like a doctor.
   -- Marge catches Burns naked in the bathroom, ``Brush with Greatness''
 In the kitchen...
   Burns:    [off camera]  Smithers!  I want my tea!
   Marge:    Doesn't it bother you that he orders you around like that?
   Smithers: Oh ho ho.  Actually, I value every second we're together.
             From the moment I squeeze his orange juice in the morning,
             til I tuck him in at night.
             He's not just my boss.  He's my best friend, too.
   Burns:    [sipping the tea]  Bah!  Too hot!  [spills it on Smithers]
   Smithers: Right, sir.  It's scalding me as we speak.
   -- ``Brush with Greatness''
 Meanwhile, somewhere in England...  Ringo is surrounded by bags of
 mail with the word `mail' on them, in various languages.
   Dear Sally.  In response to you letter of December the 12th 1966,
   me favourite colour is blue, and me real first name is Richard.
   Thanks for the snapshot.  You're a real cute bird.  Love, Ringo.
   PS: Forgive the lateness of my reply.
   -- Ringo Starr answering his backlogged fan mail, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Ringo explains to his butler that he insists on responding to every
 single piece of fan mail.  The next letter is Marge's painting.
 Meanwhile, back in Springfield...  Burns snaps at Lisa's saxophone
 playing.  Marge scolds him, but he tells Marge to shut up and paint.
 Homer steps onto the scale, and he weighs 239 pounds.
   Look!  I'm using the original notches that came with my belt!
   -- Homer is proud of his weight loss, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Burns tells Homer he's the fattest man he's ever seen.
   If you need me, I'll be in the refrigerator. [leaves, crying]
   --Homer reacts to Burns' insulting his weight, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Marge sends Burns away, then stops Homer from spraying whipped cream
 directly into his mouth.  Marge has lost faith in her painting
 ability.  A letter comes in for Marge...
   Dear Marge.  Thanks for the fab painting of Yours Truly.  I hung
   it on me wall.  You're quite an artist.  In answer to your question,
   yes, we do have hamburgers and fries in England.  But we call French
   fries `chips'.  Love, Ringo.  PS: Forgive the lateness of my reply.
   -- Ringo Starr answering his backlogged fan mail, ``Brush with Greatness''
 Homer tells Marge she can do it, and she sets to work.  Marge paints
 with Homer, Lisa, and Maggie watching.  Later, Homer has left, and Lisa
 and Maggie look sleepy.  Even later, Lisa has gone, and Maggie is asleep
 on the floor.  Marge gets inspired and starts on a fresh canvas.  At
 the museum...
   Friends, art lovers, security personnel...
   -- Burns begins his speech on the opening of the Burns wing of the
      art museum, ``Brush with Greatness''
 The painting is unveiled, and it depicts Burns, naked.  All are shocked
 at first, but Marge gives a touching speech.
   He's bad, but he'll die.  So I like it.
   -- Art critic, on Marge's portrait of Mr. Burns, ``Brush with Greatness''
   You know, I'm no art critic, but I know what I hate.
    And... I don't hate this."
   -- Burns to Marge on her portrait of him, ``Brush with Greatness''
   Burns:  Thanks for not making fun of my genitalia.
   Marge:  [sotto voce]  I thought I did.
   -- On Marge's portrait of Mr. Burns, ``Brush with Greatness''
 [End of Act 3.  Time: 20:07]
   Episode summaries Copyright 1991 by Raymond Chen.  Not to be redistributed
   in a public forum without permission.  (The quotes themselves, of course,
   remain the property of The Simpsons, and the reproduced articles remain
   the property of the original authors.  I'm just taking credit for the

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