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The Simpsons - The Road to Cincinnati - Review: Dead on Arrival


*NOTE – This review may contain spoilers.

Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers have a long history of a love-hate relationship, which we usually see as a side gag, or at best, a B-side storyline, but this week they take the lead and leave room for nobody else, so it's definitely a risk.

The episode gets off to a bumpy start as the first act is spent giving Chalmers and Skinner a believable reason to be on a road trip together. The act is pretty lacklustre and lasts much longer than it should. The pair are in a meeting which results in Skinner being mocked and somewhat ignored, and then he catches Chalmers just as he is about to head to the airport. However, the set-up doesn't end the Superintendent's reaction to not having his anxiety pills gets the pair kicked off the only flight to their destination, Cincinnati.

We end this extensive portion of the show with the upsetting gag that the only place that will go to Cincinnati is Cincinnati Air, who do not want the pair to fly with them. So here begins the road trip.

The issue at this point of the episode is that the overall focus is the road trip, yet we have spent almost half of it explaining the reason for it when in reality, we can pretty much get into it earlier. 'The Simpsons' has been around long enough that we can just predict how characters will behave and move on. We do not require an entire act to explain why two characters with a love-hate relationship will be seen in a love-hate storyline, particularly when Skinner and Chalmers both work at the same school.

This initial act does more damage than good by giving us a slow start, but it does improve as soon as we get into act two.

When the road trip officially begins, the comedy finally kicks in. There are many few funny gags throughout these few scenes, but it's the digs at cyclists having no upper-body strength but tons of leg strength that pulls through as the most memorable. This entire sequence of events becomes the highlight of 'The Road to Cincinnati', giving life to what may have been a redundant episode.

After this part of the episode, we go back to a lull in the narrative, as we no longer have our go-to cliche's that the cyclists offer us. There are some sweet moments between our leads, particularly at the end when the pair realise how much they truly care for each other, but overall, it proves to be a filler episode that won't exactly be pitted as the go-to for the 'For Your Consideration' Emmy campaign.

'The Road to Cincinnati' proves something that this season has been fighting against, and that is that sometimes side characters should remain as such. Skinner and Chalmers are two not-so-charismatic characters that are great at quick gags and B-storylines, and this episode is no anomaly in proving that. We have next to no involvement of the Simpson family, and it ends up being a risk not worth taking.

It goes unsaid that a show labelled 'The Simpsons' would require the Simpson family to carry the majority of the programme, but with many iconic episodes starring other characters, there is room for leniency. However, those characters include charismatic and well-developed personalities such as Mr. Burns and Krusty the Clown, who can take on the lead and play a supporting role. Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers unfortunately do not fall into this category.

The premise is practically a road trip between two monotonous characters, so the potential here falls flat upon arrival. And although the episode does have a great sequence half-way, and the ending isn't exactly awful, it could do with the addition of a decent B-storyline to give us something else to chuckle at whilst the leads deal with their own issues.

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