Has Cincinnati ever looked better on national TV than on The Simpsons Sunday?
The riverfront and iconic Roebling Suspension bridge… A flying pig statue at The Banks… Skyline Chili at Clifton and Ludlow?
And the WKRP In Cincinnati music during the credit roll?
The Simpsons, which can be brutally savage in its satire, sent a love letter to the Queen City in Sunday's episode, "The Road To Cincinnati." (Spoiler alert! Every word of this story is a spoiler. If you didn't see Sunday's episode, I've put the video at the end of this story.)
None of the Simpsons family members actually visited Cincinnati. The plot featured Springfield Elementary School Principal Seymour Skinner and his boss, Springfield Schools Superintendent Gary Chalmers, driving 800 miles to Cincinnati to attend "Edu-Con," a convention for "non-teaching administrators" at the Duke Energy Convention Center. Chalmers speech would be in the convention center's "Procter & Gamble room."
Nerdy Skinner was selected for the trip after Finch, principal at Springfield's "magnet school for gifted test takers" falls ill. Finch had promised he'd take Chalmers to a Cincinnati restaurant owned by his buddy, a former long snapper for the Bengals.
Skinner and Chalmers drive because they're kicked off an Air Cincinnati flight after Chalmers' panic attack. No other planes fly to Cincinnati "since the demise of Cincinnairy," Skinner explains. Most of the half-hour was about their tumultuous travels, during which Skinner reads about Cincinnati chili choices from a guide book called The Lonely Person's Guide To Cincinnati.
The trip was worth it. When they reach their destination in the final five minutes, The Simpsons broadcast a breathtakingly detailed cartoon version of Cincinnati's riverfront, with the Suspension Bridge, barge, B.B. Riverboat, The Banks, Great American Ball Park, Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, Heritage Bank Arena, One Lytle Place, the I-471 "Big Mac" bridge and the twin Procter & Gamble towers.
Next came a close-up of a flying pig statue holding a Pete Rose joke, and a generic downtown convention center.
After Chalmers' convention speech, he and Skinner are shown eating chili in the Clifton Skyline window seats. The views pulls out to show distinctive C-H-I-L- I sign, gas lights and red brick buildings on the Clifton streetscape.
The writers even slipped a P&G punchline into the subplot for the Simpsons family. While Skinner and Chalmers are away, they attend a performance by a three-person Improv Shakespeare troupe. When they ask for audience suggestions, Marge shouts, "Washing machine!"
And the actress says, "Out damn stain! For there's a Tide pod in the affairs of laundry."
It ends with the closing WKRP theme and gibberish lyrics playing under the voice credits.
What a trip! Well done!