First Aired - 12/5/1991
Depressed that he's spending his autumn years working at the nuclear plant, Mr. Burns decides to sell his beloved plant to German investors, who are planning to get rid of all that is considered "inefficient" with the plant (which means that Homer is once again out of a job).
This episode contains examples of:
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Burns begs the Germans to buy the plant back. When he hears they're eager to sell, though, he puts the screws in them.Burns: Advantage: Burns.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: All it takes is a mention of "the land of chocolate" for Homer to get lost in thought imagining a literal land of chocolate for ten minutes while he's interviewing to keep his job.
- Bait-and-Switch: When Bart goes to pick up Homer at Moe's after making a prank phone call there:Bart: Excuse me. I'm looking for—
Moe: (ominously) Wait a minute. I know that voice.
Moe: (cheerfully) If it isn't little Bart Simpson! I haven't seen you in years!
- Beware the Nice Ones: For most of the episode the German businessmen are depicted as honest, friendly, workaholic people who want nothing but the best for their employees and the power plant. Even Lenny puts aside his initial prejudices. Only near the end the Germans get frightened when the safety levels of the power plant become dangerous and let Mr. Burns buy it back from them. When Burns pays them a low price, they naturally feel angry and warn Burns that "We Germans aren't all smiles und sunshine". As they say this, some sinister music starts playing. The Mexican Spanish dub changes the "We Germans aren't all smiles und sunshine" line with "Los alemanes no perdonamos nada" (We Germans do not forgive anything), turning them into outright jerkasses.
- Comically Missing the Point: The German who looks like Sgt Shultz asked Homer if they could talk, Homer said no. But the German thought maybe Homer didn't understand him, so he tries to make himself clearer until Homer screams "NOOO!!". Since asking didn't work, the German likely demanded he comes with him.
- Dream Sequence: Homer imagines a literal "land of chocolate".
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Seeing Burns hoot and holler for joy at the price the Germans give him for his plant, given his wealth has reached Scrooge McDuck levels of ridiculousness over the years.
- While the plant as usual is depicted as poorly maintained, the episode singles out Homer as the only employee the Germans consider inefficient. From a very quick point afterwards, the show would make endless gags about the plant being incompetently managed as a whole, including bizarre choices of employment by Burns such as hiring a duck.
- Gilligan Cut: Upon realizing the townsfolk won't fear him unless he's employer to most of them, Mr. Burns decided to buy the plant back. After doing so, he wanted to put Homer in a position where Burns could exact revenge on him. Cut to Homer gleefully telling Marge he recovered his job.
- Gratuitous German: Naturally a lot, since German industrials buy the power plant. Even Smithers tries to learn German. The title is a horribly mangled translation of "Burns Sells the Power Plant." For one thing, "Kraftwerk" ("power plant") is a neuter noun, so it would need "das" (which is a neuter definite article) instead of "der" (which is used for masculine nouns). For another, "verkaufen" (the infinitive) is used instead of "verkauft" (which is the third-person conjugation). The correct German title of this episode would be "Burns verkauft das Kraftwerk." On the DVD Commentary, the writers simply give up and refer to it as "The German Episode."
- Hidden Depths: Mr. Burns is revealed to be fluent in German (though some of what he says wouldn't be considered correct if you're a native German speaker). This becomes Fridge Horror when, in a later episode, "A Star Is Burns", he reveals that he's a lot like Oskar Schindler (of Schindler's List fame) in that he made artillery shells for the Nazis (with the only difference being that Burns' shells actually worked, damnit!).
- Hypocritical Humor: Moe is infuriated by the prank calls he receives and always vows revenge, but he finds the idea of Bart doing that to people (not knowing he's Bart's victim) hilarious.
- Imagine Spot: The famous "Land of Chocolate" sequence.
- Insult BackfireHomer: Let me ask you something, does your money make you happy?
Mr. Burns: Yes.
Homer: Okay, bad example.
- Keeping the Enemy Close: The reason Burns re-hires Homer.Burns: I keep my enemies close, and my enemies even closer. He'll slowly regain his confidence as the months and years drift by, blissfully unaware that the sword of Damocles is dangling just above his head. And then one day, when he least expects it...
- Loud Gulp: Bart gets this when Marge orders him to get Homer from Moe's right after he plays his prank phone call on Moe. Also counts as an Oh, Crap! moment.
- Mathematician's Answer:Horst: Then you must have some plans for the future as well?
Homer: I sure do!
(really long beat)
Hans: ...Such as?
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Horst tries to arrange a private meeting with Homer but he keeps nervously refusing. Horst thinks that it's because his English is poor, but in reality it's because Homer doesn't want to be outed as a terrible employee.Horst: Homer, could we have a word with you?Homer: (nervously) No.Horst: I must have phrased that badly. My English is, how you say, inelegant. I meant to say, may we have a brief, friendly chat?Homer: Nooo!Horst: Once again I have failed. (takes out a German-English dictionary) We request the pleasure of your company for a free exchange of ideas.Homer: NOOOOOO! (runs out of the room)
- Never My Fault: Homer grumbles about losing his job, insisting the Germans have no right to declare him unsafe....while rummaging a fork inside a toaster...connected to an overloaded mains. He later says it's Mr. Burns' fault for wanting an extra hundred million dollars.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Homer repeatedly screws him and his family out of fortune and eventually ends up jobless and bankrupt. He sells all his company stocks just before they shoot up tremendously, he obliviously gives the Germans a price to buy out Burns' position, and then gets himself fired when they discover his incompetence.
- Oh, Crap!: Mr. Burns when he realizes the people of Springfield aren't afraid of him anymore.
- Perpetual Poverty: The state of the Simpsons' life gets worse once Homer loses his job, leading to compromises like Lisa having to do Marge's Beehive Hairdo (making it look more like a pair of bunny ears in the process) and Bart refusing to take baths and reading comics without actually buying them (which Marge scolds him for).
- Revenge: The Germans swear this at the end.
- Sarcasm Mode: Mr. Burns's response to the Germans swearing revenge is full of this.
- Scare Chord: When Marge enters the kitchen with a bunny-eared version of her usual Beehive Hairdo.
- Mayor Quimby welcomes the new German bosses with the phrase: "Ich bin ein Springfielder", which is a reference to John F. Kennedy's famous 1961 quote during his visit to Berlin: "Ich bin ein Berliner".
- Homer sings "Na Na Na (Hey Hey, Kiss Him Goodbye)" by Steam
- One of the Germans (drawn to resemble John Banner) relaxes the workers by telling them to think of him as the lovable Sgt Shultz from Hogan's Heroes.
- Special Guest: Phil Hartman as Stockbroker/Horst
- Status Quo Is God: Double Subverted at the end of the episode, when it seems like Mr. Burns is planning to get revenge on Homer at some point. In later episodes, Burns has completely forgotten who Homer is and Smithers has to remind Burns of his past interactions with Homer.
- Surprisingly Good Foreign Language: Mr. Burns' German during the dinner with the German businessmen is correct, even if it has a few grammatical errors. On the other hand, the Mexican Spanish dub replaced Burns and the other Germans' speech with German-sounding gibberish, as neither one of the voice actors spoke German.
- Take That!: When Homer originally leaks Burns' asking price ($100 million) to the German businessmen, they observe that "[they]'ll still have enough left to buy the Cleveland Browns."