(originally aired December 17, 2000)
Another one of those shows that just kind of falls into the ether; there’s nothing terribly wrong with this episode, but there’s just as much nothing notable about it. The kids get snowed in the school, and eventually run wild? It’s just kind of a very base and simple idea with no real unique or interesting twist added to it. As such, there’s not a lot I can comment on, but I’ll try and scrounge up something. So we have our select kids who chose or were forced to come to school on the snow day, so few which explains why they’re put in one class, so that’s fine. But we have a mix of the bullies and smart kids like Lisa and Martin, and the entire ending is of the school going under kid rule and them wrecking up the place. The more sensible thinkers either disappear, or the more minor characters show up in montages, like Allison for some reason accepting a mouthful of relish from Nelson. Maybe some more interplay between the kids regarding a plan of escape or co-existence would be good, but then maybe it’d just be a rehash of “Das Bus.”
Before that we have Skinner’s feeble attempts to keep the kids in line, who are quickly beginning to override his orders. He’s then inspired by his old sergeant days in ‘Nam to take charge of the situation. He sits atop his old army chest, which is brazen with “S. Skinner,” and reminisces of the “good ol’ days.” Now either Skinner stole the real Skinner’s chest, or perhaps this is from when Skinner re-enlisted in “Baaadasssss Song.” This is the first time since “Pauper” that they’ve tried to bring up Skinner’s old past, and it definitely does ring a bit sour. Certainly Skinner wouldn’t remember something that just didn’t happen. Or maybe he’s deluded himself to a point where he thinks he actually was Sgt. Seymour Skinner. Maybe that’s fodder for another episode, that Skinner has gotten so ingrained in the lie that he can’t distinguish himself and the character anymore. I know this is a long, nonsensical tangent, but I honestly don’t have much to say on this episode.
The kids’ havoc through the school is pretty much what you’d expect, and as such is not all that funny. Meanwhile, Homer and Flanders attempt to drive through the storm to rescue their kids. And wouldn’t you know that Homer is actually kind of a nice guy in this time of crisis? Just kidding, he’s still an asshole, somehow sawing off part of Ned’s roof to use as a plow blade, wrecking his car and insulting him at nearly every turn. Pretty insufferable, as always. Also, considering we have Ned to the rescue, why don’t we get anything from Rod and Todd? Even though we’ve seen them a few notable times (including the opening titles), I always have a hard time remembered that Rod and Todd even go to Springfield Elementary. You barely see them there. Here, they do appear in the background, but they don’t have one piece of dialogue. They just silently get into Ned’s car at the end and drive off. But then again, they certainly would clash with the havoc that goes on in act three. Maybe they could have been huddled with fear under a desk or something. I dunno. Anyway, am I done here? Looks like it. One of the most banal episodes ever.
Tidbits and Quotes
– There’s been a bizarre multi-season running gag with Homer holding up pennants for various events (or non-events; last episode he held a “Justice” one up in the courtroom.) I certainly didn’t laugh the first time they did it, and each future re-appearance has always left me scratching my head. Here we get a payoff(?) of seeing Homer has a whole bin of pennants; he swaps out “TV Sports” with “French Circus.”
– The Cirque de Puree is okay; there’s a few amusing bits, mostly from Marge, commenting on the obvious plant in the audience (“They always pick the guy with the wires”) and commenting to Homer that the contortionists are giving her ideas (mainly on how to become more efficient with housework.)
– Quick bit, but I love Captain McAllister hunkered down, but actually was just tied there by teenage pirates.
– Love the radio announcer jerking around the kids of Springfield regarding school closings (“The following schools are closed today: Shelbyville, Ogdenville, Ogdenville Tech, and Springfield ‘Elementary… My Dear Watson’ Detective School. And lastly, Springfield Elementary School… is open. And it’s open season on savings at Springfield Menswear… which is closed.”)
– “The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t But Then Was” feels like it should be a lot funnier; the show has done a lot of bits like this in the past that were way better. I do like the stagehand sheepishly trying to get out of frame though.
– We see a lot of establishing shots of the school in this show, and up until the very end when the entire building is covered in snow, we see that the second floor windows are basically out in the open. While I don’t recall ever seeing people go up the stairs inside, there’s definitely a second floor, which everyone could have easily escaped out of. Then later when Skinner sends out the hamster ball for help, they’re on the second floor, and he squeezes him out, through a hole they easily could have dug through. Kind of a huge plot hole.
– “And where are the city’s snowplows? Sold off to billionaire Montgomery Burns in a veritable orgasm of poor planning.” Guys… seriously, stop with the sex jokes. Stop it. And Burns playing indoor soccer with a snowplow? Very out-of-character and not funny.
– Homer knocks into a fire hydrant, which erupts, and then immediately the water freezes and encases the car with ice along with it. Is it below zero out there? The water froze in less than three seconds. Between this and the goddamn ending with the giant salt silo… I hate everything about the Homer and Ned segments.
– “Okay, Skinner, that’s the last time you’ll slap your Willie around. I quit!” Now that’s a good dirty joke! That works. One gold star for you, writers.
– It’s a small joke so I can hand wave it, but that the permanent record page Milhouse rips up reattaches itself, puts itself back in the book and the shelves slam shut by themselves… is a bit much.
– I like this exchange between Skinner and Nelson (“If you get me out of this, there’s a hall monitor position coming open in the spring.” “I spit on your monitors.” “I know. That’s why the position’s available.”)
– “You did it, Nibbles! Now, chew through my ball sack!” Again, writers, stop. Way too easy. Way.