Maximum Homerdrive - Production

Production

"Maximum Homerdrive", originally called "Homer the Trucker", was written by staff writer John Swartzwelder and directed by Simpsons director Swinton O. Scott III. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 28, 1999. The meat-eating contest seen in the beginning of the episode was conceived by Simpsons writer Donick Cary during a story pitch-out, according to writer and executive producer Matt Selman. When rewriting the episode, the writing staff was divided into two groups, so that one group wrote the A-story, while the other wrote the B-story. After the second act, the writers were "stuck," as executive producer and former showrunner Mike Scully recalled in the DVD commentary for the episode. Eventually, staff writer and co-executive producer George Meyer pitched the idea that the truckers would have "a secret device, that actually did all the driving for them," called the Navi-Tron Auto-Drive System.

In the season 10 deleted scenes where Homer turns on the radio listening to a song about a who crashed his truck out on I-95, and one more where some of the truckers try to flattin Homer's truck.In order to animate Barclay's truck in "Maximum Homerdrive", Scott bought a model truck, which he also based the design of Barclay's truck on. According to storyboard consultant Mike B. Anderson, the trucks in the episode were very difficult to animate, as the Simpsons animators did not have access to computers at the time. In a scene in The Slaughterhouse, an employee is shown killing a number of cows with a captive bolt pistol, however the death of the cows are not shown. Originally, the writers wanted to show the cows being killed, however when Scott saw the scene in the storyboards, the Simpsons staff instead decided to make the deaths "indirect". During the meat eating contest, Homer becomes exhausted and sees two wine glass holding cows, who appear as "wavy" figures. In order to achieve the "wavy" effect, the Simpsons animators put a ripple glass on the cels and moved it around while shooting the scene. After the contest, Barclay dies of "beef poisoning". The Fox censors were uneasy with including any mention of "beef poisoning" in the episode, as talk show host Oprah Winfrey had recently been sued by "some Texas ranchers" for defaming the beef industry. In a scene in the episode, Homer buys a jar of "Stimu-Crank" pills in order to stay alert while driving during the night. He swallows all the pills at once, to the clerk's dismay. Homer replies, "No problem, I'll balance it out with a bottle of sleeping pills," and proceeds to swallow an entire jar's worth of sleeping pills. According to Scully, the censors had "a lot of trouble" with the scene, but it was included anyhow.

When Homer turns on the truck radio, the song "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls can be heard. Originally, a "trucker song" about "a horrible wreck out on old 95" would be heard. The song, which was sung by main cast member Dan Castellaneta, included mentions of "scraping blood and guts off the road" and was eventually dropped because it was considered too gruesome by the staff. The song was later included as a deleted scene on The Simpsons - The Complete Tenth Season DVD box set. While eating dinner at Joe's Diner, "12 Bar Blues" by NRBQ can be heard playing from a jukebox. According to producer Ian Maxtone-Graham, the doorbell tune in the episode "has a history with The Simpsons," as it is also Homer and Marge's wedding song. "Maximum Homerdrive" features the first appearance of SeƱor Ding-Dong, who is a recurring character in the series. He is portrayed by Castellaneta, who also plays Homer among other characters in the series. Red Barclay, the trucker who dies of "beef poisoning" in The Slaughterhouse, was portrayed by regular cast member Hank Azaria, who voices Moe Szyslak among other characters in the series. Barclay's voice is slightly based on that of American actor Gary Busey. The two Jehovah's witnesses were portrayed by Pamela Hayden and Karl Wiedergott.

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