|"Monty Burns' Fleeing Circus"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 28|
|Directed by||Matthew Nastuk|
|Written by||Tom Gammill and Max Pross|
|Original air date||September 25, 2016|
|Chalkboard gag||This arm needs Tommy John surgery.|
|Couch gag||The introductory sequence of Adventure Time recreated with characters from The Simpsons.|
"Monty Burns' Fleeing Circus" is the season premiere of the twenty-eighth season of the animated television series The Simpsons, and the 597th episode of the series overall. It aired in the United States on Fox on September 25, 2016. It's named as a parody of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
The Simpsons are on a walk through Springfield when they see a group of people looking at the sky in terror. They soon found out that the Lard Lad statue disappeared. With the police unable to do anything, the town's residents are split between rioting and not rioting, which made the total damage from the riot $0. But because of that, the Lard Lad company decided to rebrand themselves with a new chrome statue. However, they soon found out that the statue has a major issue, as it starts reflecting sun rays into the town, burning it down almost completely. Mayor Quimby promises people that they will rebuild the city. Six months later, the people of Springfield haven't done any progress. Because of that, the Simpsons beg Mr. Burns to fund the town's reconstruction. He agrees with the condition that he can put a variety show on the Springfield Bowl.
During the audition, Burns has a flashback to when he was a child, about to go on stage for the Pee-wee Pageant of 1913 with his mother licking him to wish him good luck. Later that day, he goes to Springfield Elementary School looking for other people to perform on stage for him when he has problems opening a clasp on a clipboard. Lisa Simpson helps him and Burns decides to hire her as his personal assistant. Back at the audition, Mr. Burns has another flashback to his childhood presentation, showing that he was the laughingstock for everyone at the bowl and even his mother failed to comfort him. After Lisa unintentionally upsets Mr. Burns, who flashes back to the traumatic event, he decides to cancel the show.
Feeling bad for Mr. Burns, Lisa decides to go to his mansion to try to convince him to do the show, without any success. She then gets curious about what happened to him, so Waylon Smithers shows her an old recording of his presentation, showing that his suspenders snapped in the middle of his tap-dance presentation, making his pants fall. As he went to put them back, his underwear also fell, resulting on everyone laughing at him. Later, Lisa manages to convince Burns to make the show. Meanwhile at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant with Mr. Burns gone, the employees started treating the plant as a resort complete with a pool and games. When Homer Simpson was preparing for a prank, Marge Simpson reminded him that he is the safety inspector for the plant and he was the one who should be stopping that. Later, Homer manages to put the employees back to work, but some bags of popcorn that were inside the core caused a fire.
At the Springfield Bowl, everything goes according to plan, but at the ending they were interrupted by what looks to be fireworks, which is later revealed to be the power plant exploding. However, Mr. Burns isn't done with the show yet, as he wants to reenact his presentation, but his second try doesn't go any better, as he gets pushed away by a spotlight into a lamp, which causes his pants to burn down, and making him the laughingstock at the bowl once again. Burns gets mad at Lisa, but he ends up forgiving her and letting her play the saxophone on stage for an empty crowd, having finally gotten closure from his childhood incident.
Lisa asks Homer why Simpsons always fail and he answers that it is because of a curse as their ancestors didn't let Joseph and Mary stay at their home for Jesus' birth. Lisa then commented that Homer made it up, which Homer refutes, saying "They look just like us, didn't they?".
In the final scene, the Lard Lad statue is being melted in the Springfield Tire Fire and engulfs Ralph Wiggum in it.
The couch gag for this episode is a crossover with the animated series Adventure Time, recreating its opening sequence with Simpsons characters in place of the show's usual cast, such as Bart as Finn the Human and Homer as Jake the Dog. The lyrics to the Adventure Time theme were rewritten accordingly, with series creator Pendleton Ward, who sings the original lyrics, also performing the parody version.
"Monty Burns' Fleeing Circus" received mixed reviews from television critics. Dennis Perkins of The A.V. Club gave the episode a C commenting, "There’s room for audaciousness, even cruelty, in The Simpsons’ comedy, if it’s earned. ‘Monty Burns’ Fleeing Circus’ wears its breezy brutality and laziness like a sign reading ‘It’s just a cartoon.’ But at its best, The Simpsons is a much better cartoon than this."
Jesse Schedeen of IGN was also very critical of the episode giving it a 4.8/10 calling it "Bad", when elaborated he wrote "The Simpsons' 27th season reminded us that the show can still entertain and even find moments of greatness this far removed from its golden age. However, that was only after kicking off the season with a particularly weak and unsatisfying premiere. Maybe it's going to become an annual tradition to start off poorly and work up from there? At this point I'm hoping that'll be the case. ‘Monty Burns' Fleeing Circus’ wasn't as offensively bad at last year's ‘Every Man's Dream,’ but it did feature this long-running animated sitcom as its most bland and uninspired."
However, Tony Sokol of Den of Geek gave the episode four out of five stars stating "This is the reason I stuck up for Harry Shearer when he was in contract negotiations. Leave it to Mr. Burns to bring life back into The Simpsons after 28 seasons. The old, old man has more life in him than Satan itself. So it makes perfect sense that the lowly residents of Evergreen Terrace make a contract with him to rebuild the town after the devastating unveiling of the new Lard Lad billboard. And breathe new life he does. This season’s opener seems fresh. Maybe as fresh as season 20, but who’s counting? From the very opening, which puts an Adventure Time spin on Springfield...'Monty Burns Fleeing Circus' is a full variety show, the likes of hasn’t been seen since about aught nine. Or at least the Pee Wee Pageant of 1913. The voice acting is superb. I especially like how the entire Simpson family reassures Burnsy that his trap door system was indeed unexpected and, really quite frightening."
"Monty Burns Fleeing Circus" scored a 1.4 rating with a 5 share and was watched by 3.36 million people making The Simpsons Fox's highest rated show of the night.