The next episode is The Simpsons Season 8 Episode #12: Mountain of Madness. This episode first aired February 2nd 1997. I viewed this episode at home on DVD, Thursday February 25th 2010 by myself. The couch gag for this episode features the Simpsons entering the living room to find the couch folded out into a bed with Grampa asleep on it. They fold the bed back into a couch with Grampa still on it and sit down to watch TV.
The story starts out with Mr. Burns running a fire drill at the nuclear power plant. Homer is the first man outside to safety and it takes him fifteen minutes. In response to the dismal reaction time of his workers Mr. Burns decides to hold a corporate retreat in the mountains to teach them about teamwork. The plant’s employees are split into teams of two and tasked to use maps to find their way to a cabin somewhere on the mountain with the last team to arrive being fired. Homer ends up paired with Mr. Burns, guaranteeing him success. In fact the two cheat by using a snowmobile to take them straight to the cabin.
While waiting for the others to arrive Homer and his boss eat and drink and celebrate their ill-gotten victory. They bond for a while but clinking their champagne flutes together in toast causes an avalanche that buries the entire cabin and trapping them inside. Homer is able to tunnel to the surface but when he and Burns celebrate they once again cause an avalanche trapping them right back in the cabin. Lenny and Carl find another cabin and are soon joined by their co-workers. Meanwhile, to keep busy Homer and Burns build snowmen inside their cabin.
The two strip down to their underwear and use their clothes to dress the snowmen. Soon they begin to lose their minds and hallucinate. They begin to suspect one another of plotting. When the confrontation turns physical Mr. Burns attacks Homer with a fireplace poker. An errant swing misses Homer and strikes the cabin’s propane tank causing it to rupture. The subsequent explosion forces the cabin out from under the snow and hurtling down the mountain at high speed. The cabin comes to a stop and the two emerge safe and sound. Mr. Burns reminds everyone of the competition and they all hustle to get inside. When Lenny is that last inside Burns fires him.
When Burns asks if they all learned something about teamwork an unenthusiastic “Yes” suggests that that learned nothing. However, Burns takes the statement at face value and announces that no one will be fired after all. Of course he neglects to inform Lenny of this. Mr. Burns and Homer come to the conclusion that after going through something like that with someone you never want to see that person again. They share a long laugh interspersed with dirty looks and sideways glances to end the episode.
It had to happen eventually. As I pointed out in a previous review a low rating for an episode of The Simpsons is better than a high rating for most shows. However, I still have to give this episode a rating of one. The reason I believe it deserves a one is simple. While this episode is funny it is not funny enough to counter-balance its complete lack of heart. The plot while unconventional is simplistic. There is no real character development, nor is there really any reinforcing of character traits that we’re already familiar with except in the most cursory of ways. The almost non-existent sub-plot featuring Smithers and the Simpson kids is a go-nowhere affair that provides a few chuckles at best. Also lacking is any sort of lampooning of popular culture or any connection to the events of the time which are features that most great Simpsons episodes have in spades.
While on its own this episode is funny and entertaining it does not live up to the other episodes of this season or those that came before it. Though memorable because of its bizarre plot it offers little in that department. One point of interest is that we do briefly get to see Homer and Burns in a position of sympathy toward one another rather than their usual adversarial, frightened drone versus god-like boss relationship. This gives an interesting minute or so of dialogue between the two very different characters but this quickly vanishes into hallucination.
The Simpsons Season 8 Episode #12: Mountain of Madness
Rating: 1 out of 5