Simpsonspective - Mr. Plow

Richard Petro

twitter @ThePetroProject

November 24, 2019

Original Airdate: November 19, 1992
Writer: Jon Vitti
Director: Jim Reardon

     As he is having a few drinks at Moe's, Marge calls the bar advising Homer to return home because of heavy falling snow. On his way, Homer crashes into a car before realizing that it was their own station wagon parked in the driveway, ruining both cars. The family goes to an Auto Show to hopefully find a new vehicle. There, Homer sees and is infatuated with a snow plow truck – and, to a lesser extent, Adam West.
     Buying the truck, Homer begins his own plowing company; advertising with flyers, a flashy jacket, speeches at church, and even a commercial. Helping out in the town, Homer is praised and given the key to the city. At Moe's, as all give him best wishes, Homer inspires Barney to be his own hero. Waking the next morning, he sees that all the driveways have been cleared of snow. Barney has bought his own truck, the Plow King, and is now Homer's competition. Barney begins taking all of Homer's clients and jobs, leaving him without work. Mayor Quimby takes the city key back from Homer and hands it to Barney.
     As a massive storm looms, Homer calls Barney as a client and asks him to plow a "driveway" on Mount Widow's Peak. Barney travels up the mountain and gets stuck, prompting Homer to go up and rescue his friend. After numerous close calls, Homer rescues Barney and the two decide to become partners, claiming not even God could stop them. Just then, proving he has a sense of humour, God melts all the snow in town.

     With the winter season comes a winter Simpsons episode (eggnog is optional, unless it's me, at which point you can hook it to my veins).
     While it doesn't focus on the same emotional depth that most prior episodes I've written about, this episode does reinforce how white hot the creators were at this point, and I thought it'd be fun to look at an episode that isn't as heavy emotionally as the usual fare around here. They had been in a great swing for quite a while, but Mr. Plow is a good example of how they were able to take so many elements and bring them together in a satisfying whole. It also may be an episode that might have fallen to the forgotten side when revisiting some great ones from this era.

     Mr. Plow contains more verbal gags than visual, from subtle to obscure, to 'ranting' of sorts. The writers have always been fantastic at their use of references and the series may be one of the greatest in their general uses of them in the early years. Some great visual references to past cinematic works here include the snowmen melting in a 'Raiders' fashion and Bart being pelted by snowballs Godfather-style.

     The story isn't anything complicated, plot-wise. To me, it's more of an inciting incident after another, before culminating in the final big showpiece. The show reinforces that Barney is the closest thing to a best friend, or even a friend, that Homer has. I've written in the past about how, though he does have Barney, Homer doesn't really have friends. Even his relationship with Barney in their adult life doesn't seem to be based as what you would assume friends being. He, as one episode suggested, has more acquaintances. Homer hangs around them, but he doesn't have as big a connection with them as I'm sure we have with our friends. What was also great was to see some slight reference to Homer & Barney's past relationship, where they were closer, and that it was technically Homer who had ruined Barney's life by introducing him to alcohol.

     I have to take some time to talk about what a lot of people remember when it comes to this episode. In his, approximate, 2 or 3 minutes of screen time, Adam West proves to be an amazing addition to early guest stars. His friendly rant about new Batman versus old Batman is great to listen to, and he also brings up a question I'm sure we've all been pondering; "Why doesn't Batman dance anymore?" I'm not always the biggest fan of guest stars playing themselves, but most times the Simpsons crew knew exactly how to use the people they had at their disposal. So much humour is milked from West's Batman reputation in a small timeframe and all of it works. What makes it all better is that West plays along with it in good humour. He sells it incredibly well. Homer revisiting him at his home is also one of my favourite guest show readings ever.

     West isn't the only guest star, though. Linda Ronstadt makes an appearance and, though her performance is also minor, she hits it out of the park as well. Her rendition of the Plow King Spanish Theme is surprisingly beautiful, and she adds a level of class to an overtly silly episode. Ronstadt is a highlight that I feel is easily overlooked when remembering the episode, but she shouldn't be. She is wonderful in her limited screen-time.

     The episode is nothing more than a fun romp, and as such has a wonderful array of jokes that hit well. From the aforementioned meeting with Mr. West, to the revamped Mr. Plow commercial, to the carnival opening sequence, and the great sequence of Homer on his way up the mountain to rescue Barney. I think the joke that concludes the episode may be forgotten by a lot, but it's honestly one of the funniest 'screw you' twists that an episode has ever left on.

     And I didn't even mention Homer's rap.

Favourite Quotes And Bits
    * Homer's head severely dents the steering wheel when he crashes*
5) Homer: If you're going to get mad at me every time I do something stupid then I guess I'll have to stop doing stupid things.
4) Homer: Hey, kids. Batman!
     Lisa: Dad, that's not Batman.
     Adam West: Of course I'm Batman. See, here's a picture of me with Robin.
     Bart: Who the hell's Robin?
     Adam West: Oh, I guess you're only familiar with the new Batman movies. Michelle Pfeiffer. Ha. The only true Catwoman is Julie Newmar, Leri Meriwether or Eartha Kitt. And I didn't need molded plastic to improve my physique. Pure West. And how come Batman doesn't dance anymore? Remember the Batusi? (begins to dance) Hey, ya, cha, hey.
     Homer (backing away with the kids): Nice meetin' ya. (whispering to Bart and Lisa) Just keep moving. Don't make eye contact.
3) (disguising himself as a customer for Barney over the phone)
     Homer: There's a $10,000 bill in it for you.
     Barney: Oh yeah? Which president's on it?
     Homer: Uh, all of them. They're having a party. Jimmy Carter's passed out on the couch.
2) Homer: : Mr. West, I thought you wanted me to plow your driveway.
     Adam West (dramatically, staring off into distance): I did, when I called you, Forty. Five. Minutes ago.
1)(after Homer had crashed his car)
     Insurance Man: Before I give you the check, one more question. This place, Moe's, you left just before the accident—this is a business of some kind?
     Homer's Brain: Don't tell him you were at a bar. But what else is open at night?
     Homer (wipes tear): It's a pornography store. I was buying pornography.