Last night’s episode of The Simpsons was not your typical Springfield adventure – no brick off the old block, if you will. Viewers were treated to a universe-busting installment that plunged Homer into a land of Lego, where he would have to figure out a way back to the squishy-meat world. Over the last two years, co-executive producer Brian Kelley, who wrote “Brick Like Me,” and executive producer Matt Selman, who oversaw the episode, had quite a challenge on their flesh-monster hands trying to pull off this ambitious installment. (Click here for a Q&A with the pair.) “It was like assembling an incredibly complicated Lego kit without the instructions,” says Kelley. “And all the bags were mixed together on the rug,” chimes in Selman. The episode is stacked with fun inside jokes, and now that you’ve seen “Brick Like Me,” the duo can share the stories behind their favorite ones and how they snapped into place. Check it out below:
The writers spent a considerable chunk of time brainstorming Lego versions of iconic Springfield places (such as the Brik-E-Mart), and Lego-centric new ones (such as Brick, Block & Beyond), which you can enjoy while Homer drives through town. “While the animators were busy making Lego Springfield look really cool, we focused madly on puns,” says Kelley. “But you very quickly run out of them. We did everything humanly possible. This sequence has one of my favorite jokes in the whole show, which is the Adult Blocks store. I’m happy all out of proportion with the fact that there’s an adult block store, and it’s a little seedy and off to the side, and almost no one will ever see it. It’s really fun to reward careful viewing.”
The moment in which we pan across the ruins of the school and see Martin Prince so focused on the Lego mini-fig version of the human anatomy poster that he doesn’t notice the school has collapsed around him was a late addition. “There was a thing where Wendell was vomiting up Lego pieces because Wendell is kind of a barfer,” says Selman. “And Lego didn’t want any stuff where kids were putting Legos in their mouth because kids can choke on them, so we replaced it with the anatomy joke.” (Wendell remained in the scene, but instead was given an involuntary toilet dunking. And check out Superintendent Chalmers and Lunchlady Dora, sneaking kisses! ) As for the anatomy poster joke, “We needed some poster for the wall here, and what I was surprised to discover is how many parts there are to a mini-figure,” says Kelley. “I thought there would be torso, feet, and head, but there are tons.”
If you scan (darkly) across the paperback titles in Comic Book Guy’s Android Dungeon, you will notice that the writers paid props to beloved sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick. “The plot of this episode was loosely inspired by the type of mind-bending, reality-questioning stories written by Philip K. Dick,” says Selman, adding: “The toy Homer buys for Lisa, ‘Perky Patty’s Princess Shop,’ is a reference to The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, a story in which space colonists project their consciousness into ‘Perky Pat’ playsets, because living in a toy world is vastly preferable to the harsh life on Mars.” Eagle-eyed viewers will also notice that another part of the episode includes a poster for Block Runner, a play off Blade Runner, which is based on a Dick novel. “We were going to have a contest where fans could write in with a worse Philip K. Dick brick pun,” cracks Kelley, “but we realized it’s impossible to win that.”
The Android Dungeon is block full of Lego gags. “That may be the most dense part of the whole show to look for these jokes,” says Kelley. Selman guides you to the comic that Lego Comic Book Guy is reading: “It has a Lego version of the classic X-Ray specs ad on the back, with a mini-fig using the specs to look into the ‘bones’ of his plastic claws.” Elsewhere in the store, you may notice the mention of Block-go Comics on the Radioactive Fig poster, which is a wink at Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s Bongo Comics.
NEXT: Moe’s Tavern makeover