Lifetime of Simpsons

S04 E09 – Mr. Plow

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Well let’s take a break from heavy topics like censorship, sexual harassment, and young love and talk about the dog-eat-dog world of the snow-plow business! This is such a ridiculous episode, and really seems even crazier when taken in with the more realistic and down to Earth episode that it’s sandwiched in between. But I think these types of episodes are necessary, the breath of fresh, crazy air that we need as a palate cleanser.

We begin this episode with Homer hanging out at Moe’s watching some crazy show called Carnival of the Stars, that’s just celebrities doing weird tricks in beautiful Molokai Island, It’s Not Just for Lepers Anymore! It’s of course hosted by the always wonderful Troy McClure, and I think his best role this time was “Dial M for Murderousness.” And the show is so captivating that Homer stays at the bar way longer than he should watching it, and when he finally leaves a blizzard has rolled in, and he has to make his way home in a white-out. I’ve lived in Denver my whole life, and man is driving in snow no fun. I would honestly rather drive in snow and ice than hydroplaning torrential downpours, but it’s still no fun, especially in a white-out. And of course, since Homer’s been out all night drinking and driving in a blizzard, he ends up hitting another car…that turns out to be Marge’s. At least he made his way home. The next morning, as a tow-truck drags away the two totaled cars Homer has to speak with an insurance agent, and decides that he shouldn’t tell the man that he was at a bar, so tells him Moe’s is a “pornography store. I was buying pornography.”

Homer then has to find a new car, and after briefly stopping by some crazy Eastern European car dealer that tries to give him some little thing that runs on kerosene, Homer heads to an auto show with the kids. They wander around looking at cars, Bart sits in Bonnie and Clyde’s death car and finds cash in the glovebox, and Lisa watches a demonstration from a German company about crash test dummies that shows a live human in a dummy suit involved in an accident. And then we get our first crazy cameo of the episode, Adam West! He’s there with the Batmobile, and is crazy, which I feel is the schtick he’s been running with for quite a while now. I really, unironically love the 66 Batman TV series, and it’s always great to see the crazy dude in stuff, especially when he’s able to poke fun at himself as a crazy person that scares the Simpsons off. But the real plot gets going when Homer bumps into a display for a snow-plow for sale. He’s of course intrigued by it, even having a weird fantasy where George Bush Sr. asks him to use the plow to run over protestors, but is worried about the cost. Lucky for him the salesman starts to imply that he’s whipped, so Homer shells out the cash and gets his own snow plow. The American Dream!

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Marge is understandably upset that Homer made such a stupid decision without consulting her first, leading to an amazing Homer line “If you’re just going to get mad at me every time I do a stupid thing, I guess I’m just going to have to stop doing stupid things.” But Homer is convinced that he can become a successful snow-plow driver, and markets himself as Mr. Plow, and he starts canvasing the city with fliers, running into a pathetic Barney who is dressed as a giant baby trying to get people to go to a baby supply store. Homer even offers to read something from the Bible at church, and just makes it an ad for Mr. Plow, unfortunately apparently Reverend Lovejoy has goons, and they carry him away. But things really get going for Mr. Plow when Lisa has the idea of making a commercial for the public access channel, which she demonstrates with the weird commercial Captain McCallister has made for a CD of him singing sea shanties. So they make a ridiculous and terrible commercial that would be a huge phenomena on Youtube nowadays. Grandpa dresses up as Old Man Winter, and Homer beats the lousy season up as Mr. Plow, and even has a wonderful jingle that will get stuck in your head for days.

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And the ad is a success! Homer becomes a local celebrity and his business is booming. Everyone is hiring him to plow their driveways, and the Elementary School even hires him to make sure the school bus can get to class on time, which leads to all the student attacking Bart with snowballs like he’s goddamn Sonny Corleone. Mr. Plow is such a success he even gets the Key to the city, and a free beer from Moe. And those honors are enough to inspire Barney to do something with his life, especially after Homer encourages Barney to find a new path. I love the quick scene of Homer and Marge getting ready for sex, and her requesting him to wear his Mr. Plow Jacket, and he struts around singing his jingle. Unfortunately Barney decides to just steal Homer’s idea, and the next morning Homer wakes up to find the city already plowed, and Barney’s new role as the Plow King to blame. Homer complains the Barney about just stealing his idea, but Barney insists competition is good, and then shoots Homer’s tires out. Things are escalating quickly.

Turns out Barney also stole his idea for a weird local ad, and makes one where the Plow King beats up a cutout of Mr. Plow, eventually getting help from Linda Ronstadt, who then sings a song about how much Mr. Plow sucks and Plow King is rad. Homer is understandably upset with this turn of events, although we feel a little less bad for him when we find out through a flashback that Barney was actually a genius in highschool, but Homer made him an alcoholic the night before the SAT’s sealing his fate. Homer’s career starts to fall apart as Barney gets all the good snow-plow business in town. Even Flanders pays Barney instead of Homer. We also get to see Adam West again, who has also paid Barney, who is driving away shouting “So long Superman, your secret identity is safe with me,” out the window as he goes. And since Homer’s only idea is to make a new commercial where he raps, he hires an advertising firm to make him a good commercial. But they end up turning in some crazy perfume commercial that makes no sense, and does nothing to help Mr. Plow.

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Homer then has a terrible idea. It turns out the blizzard is really bad someplace called Widow’s peak, so he puts in a fake call to Plow King, telling Barney that he’ll give him a lot of money to plow up there. So Barney heads out, even though he was enjoying a hot-tub with Linda Ronstadt. But as soon as Barney gets up there, he burps and triggers an avalanche, trapping him on the mountain. Homer learns this from a news report, and heads up to Widow’s Peak to save his friend. It’s very treacherous, and he even has to drive over a wooden rope-bridge, which I think is a reference to that movie Sorcerer. But after almost falling off a cliff, Homer saves Barney, and the two decide to make-up and become partners in the plowing business. Unfortunately this insults God, and he makes spring come early, ruining their business. Homer is depressed, and even gets the plow repossesed, but the episode ends on a cute note when he and Marge have more “snuggling” when he puts the jacket back on, and sings the jingle all sultry, ending with a sexy weather report. “Extended periods of getting it on.”

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This episode is pretty dumb, but it’s such a blast. The idea of Homer becoming a plow driver is so strange but had so many great jokes in it. The terrible commercial, the weird perfume one, all the strange townsfolk he helps, it was really just a genius idea. And I really love that Barney just straight up screws him over by stealing his idea and his business. We didn’t really get any sort of insight into Homer and Barney’s friendship, but this isn’t that type of episode. It’s just a zany cartoon, and it’s great to have some of those every now and then.

Take Away: Plowing is a lucrative, but short lived business. Don’t become your friend’s business competitor.

“Mr. Plow” was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Jim Reardon, 1992.

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