Skinner's Sense of Snow is the eighth episode from season twelve of the animated TV series The Simpsons. This episode originally aired on December 17, 2000 which marks the 11th anniversary of the series' debut "Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire".
While the Simpsons attend a French Canadian
circus, a freak blizzard
(specifically, a "classic nor'easter
meeting a classic sou'wester
") hits Springfield, turning it into a winter wonderland overnight. However, Springfield Elementary School
is the only school that did not declare a snowday
on the day before Christmas break. Only some students from both Bart
's classes show up while Skinner
are the only faculty members to still be working. To pass the time, Skinner plays the ultra-boring movie "The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, But Then Was". While they are watching the movie, the snow piles up and traps everyone in the school.
Skinner, whose incompetence in not closing the school due to the blizzard caused everyone inside the school to be trapped, quickly determines that they will be unable to get out and will have to remain there for the duration of the storm. The kids complain about things they have to go home for, but Skinner firmly declares that no one can escape. The kids are forced to eat relish and mayonnaise. After Nelson fails in an escape attempt, the kids begin to go beyond Skinner's control. Reminded of when he could maintain order in his army days, he dons his old uniform. Meanwhile, Homer and Ned set off to rescue the kids. When Homer decides to use Ned's car with Ned's (sawed off) roof in front as a wedge to clear the snow, Ned protests by asking what happened to Mr. Plow, Homer's old snow removal service; Homer is oblivious, despite wearing the jacket, and humming the jingle. While driving, they hit a fire hydrant, encasing their car in ice. This allows carbon monoxide to enter the car, causing them to black out from the fumes and Homer to hallucinate that he's being pampered by exotic belly dancers.
In the middle of the night, Bart tries to dig a tunnel to get everyone out. He gets caught by Skinner, who orders Willie to destroy the tunnel. Willie refuses, and when Skinner insults him, he quits. Skinner decides to destroy it himself, but he again messes up and gets trapped in the cavern. The kids take advantage of this and take over the school, wreaking havoc and burning books in the school library (Bart, ironically, burns a copy of Johnny Tremain, which he fondly read in the episode Whacking Day). Skinner uses the school hamster, Nibbles, to roll in his ball to get a message to the outside world. Nibbles makes it to Ned and Homer crashing through the car window, and they break the ice and get free them. Homer releases the wheel after turning on the car's cruise control, causing the car to lose control and crash into a salt silo. However, Homer's blunder fortunately releases a massive amount of salt that melts the snow around the school, freeing the kids, but rusting the car's body completely. During the drive home, the carbon monoxide makes Homer hallucinate again; this time, Lisa is seen as a braying camel and Bart is a belly dancer that Homer tries to kiss. Before the credits roll, Lisa (still as a camel) wishes everyone a Merry Christmas.
- The writer, Tim Long, based this episode on his own experiences as a kid. When he was young a public school near his, (Usborne Public School) was snowed in and the students were stuck there for 3 days.
- The blackboard punishment, "Science class should not end in tragedy" is an oblique reference to the season one Simpsons episode Bart the Genius where Bart blows up the science lab at the school for gifted children.
- The episode title is a reference to Smilla's Sense of Snow, a film based on a book by Peter Høeg.
- The circus "Cirque du Puree" is a parody of Cirque du Soleil.
- Skinner says the film The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, But Then Was is about "a Grinchy character who tries to steal Christmas", which gets the children excited as they think he is referring to How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. The film also contains elements similar to those found in the 1934 film Babes in Toyland and the title may be a spoof of The Halloween That Almost Wasn't.
- When the kids ride on the school bus that is swerving on the ice, Bing Crosby's version of "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" plays.
- Bart refers to an episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show where "they finally kiss", parodying a much-anticipated incident in The X-Files between Fox Mulder and Dana Scully which finally occurred (for American viewers) five months after this episode's broadcast, in May 2001. This line was later referenced by Comic Book Guy in Lisa's level in the video game The Simpsons Hit & Run. (Itchy and Scratchy actually do kiss in the very next episode "HOMR".)
- Principal Skinner refers twice to Kristi Yamaguchi as an idol, possibly added to poke fun at Skinner's sophisticated interest in the fine arts of ice skating.
- Bart tortures Principal Skinner by poking him with a stick and shouting at him in Vietnamese, reminiscent of the way the soldiers were treated in Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter. In Vietnamese, đi đi mau means "go fast". This is also a reference to Skinner's own experiences as a Vietnam P.O.W.
- Homer claims he wrote Bad Company's song "Feel Like Makin' Love" as a tribute to Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al-Fayed, who died four years before.
- Bart Simpsons's PA announcement at the school is similar to all the PA announcements on M*A*S*H.
- Homer mispronounces the name of Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre similar to how Ben Stiller's character pronounced it during Favre's cameo in There's Something About Mary.