Episode 11 - Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk
30 December 2010
Synopsis: Mr Burns has grown weary of life at the power plant and decides to sell to some German businessmen. The speculation drives up stock in "Burns Worldwide" and all the plant employees make thousands except for Homer who already sold his stock. The Germans evaluate their new employees and decide they need to fire Homer. Mr Burns takes Smithers out to enjoy a night on the town and encounter Homer at Moe's. Burns is disgusted to see that no one fears him anymore.
The Good: The absurdity of Homer's position as safety inspector is brutally exposed here in a clever way. The Germans ask Homer simple questions about his job and he is unable to answer. As we have seen (305) Homer has no idea what he is doing and spends most of his working days eating or sleeping. This behaviour has little basis in reality and the new owners show us what would happen if people from outside the Springfield bubble were allowed in. So in the end Burns rehires Homer because he wants to keep this irritant in his employ to one day get revenge on him. It keeps Homer gainfully employed and covers neatly why he won't get fired in the future: first because Burns doesn't care about safety and second because Burns will forget who Homer is by next week.
Burns' desire to be feared is a neat way of restoring the status quo and makes his ogre-like behaviour more understandable. One of the best bits of characterisation was seeing Smithers put a toy alligator on his hand and counsel Burns on his malaise. It was smile worthy but also showed how Smithers ends up tending to all of Burns' needs. Later on we see Smithers working hard to keep his job by learning from an audio tape called "Sycophantic German."
Homer too has another revealing episode as his slavery to his carnal desires continues. Once he collects his stock money he spends it on expensive beer and then in the middle of his evaluation his mind wanders off to the "land of chocolate." The sequence showing Homer skipping through a fictional town made of chocolate was really imaginative and entertaining. His delirious happiness sees him take a bite out of a living chocolate dog and imagine a half price sale on chocolate at the chocolate shop within fudge town.
I also smiled at Homer and the stockbroker pretending to have small talk before they got down to business.
The Bad: The writers did surprisingly little with the Germans. Aside from a few clichés about the quality of their beer and their language skills there wasn't much in the way of real jokes. Burns' desire to be feared came a little out of nowhere as well, at least within the episode.
The stock sale wasn't exactly a huge mistake by Homer. It was a little short-sighted but no one would have expected him to know better. That whole part of the plot rather took away time that could have been spent on Burns or the Germans.
Best Joke: With Homer unemployed Marge encourages everyone to find ways to save money. Lisa makes sure no soap is wasted (and is praised) while Bart says he didn't pay for comic books, he just read them in the store (which is frowned on). Lisa then tied her jump rope back together after it broke (praise) while Bart announces "I didn't take a bath today and I may not take one tomorrow" leading to a predictable response from Marge. It was a nice realistic sequence.
The Bottom Line: This is another memorable episode which on closer inspection isn't as funny or strong as you might think.
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