Hey! It’s Albert Brooks revising Hank Scorpio!
Oh, it’s just for a single line in the opening credits…
For some reason, Homer and the kids are off buying a returned wedding cake from a canceled wedding. After getting stuck in traffic and taking a short cut along Suicidal Moron Pass, the family gets home only for Maggie to lock herself in the car. In a panic, Marge rushes to the key drawer to get the spare car key, only by then Maggie has freed herself and Homer can suck the cake icing off her head.
But it seems the Simpsons have a lot of keys. Many are not really theirs. Marge wants to return them, but Bart grabs a bunch to cause some mischief, Homer nabs one for himself, Lisa offers to take one back to Springfield Elementary, and Marge stays behind to sort the rest of the keys.
Bart’s efforts don’t work out because every bit of mischief he causes ends up doing more good than bad, prompting a “Ha ha!” from Reverend Lovejoy.
Homer has a key to the Duff brewery, which he managed to get off a surprisingly suicidal Duffman once upon a time. Barney goes with Homer to the brewery, and Homer ends up taking the Duff Beer Blimp for a spin thanks to Barney playing with the message center. That leads to various blimp sight gags and I’ll stop here.
Lisa, meanwhile, is all set to return the key when Nelson points out what a goody two shoes she is, so she decides to try out the key and see what it opens. That takes her down to the basement, where there’s a locked room full of Banned Books, one for Band Books, and one for Banned Band Books. Lisa opts to try that one out. Inside there’s a weird classroom that is divided into five for different class types, like a math and science lab, and an experimental theater that every Elementary School needs. But the things are not quite right, short on details, and Lisa goes to ask Principal Skinner what it means. He denies all knowledge and even calls in Chalmers, a man in charge of 14 schools but who spends a lot of time in Springfield dealing with one of the Simpson kids.
While all this is going on, Marge finds a key for a wind-up toy, the Pooter Toot Express. It’s a train sidecar where a pair of overweight people fart in turn. Marge really hopes that isn’t her anniversary gift. But the train gets away, causing problems for Ned Flanders and an Irritable Bowel support group as Marge and Maggie try to catch the thing.
Meanwhile, Lisa goes to check the room again with Skinner and the school newspaper, only to find a bookshelf full of Banned Band Books there. What happened? She’s being called a liar in the school press, even by Ralph Wiggum, so she uses the photo of her with the mystery key to get a copy made and goes back to find the room behind the hastily-constructed bookshelf. There’s also a shadowy figure in there suggesting she look into Bus 23…
Bart doesn’t know what that means, but he can ask Nelson. Nelson’s been left behind more times than he can count, which may be why he’s been left behind so many times. At any rate, Nelson remembers an icy day when Skinner and Chalmers had Bus 23 drive down a slick road and was never seen again.
That’s a good time for Homer to show up with his stolen blimp. With Bart and Lisa, he flies over the river and when Lisa falls into the water, she finds the bus on the bottom of the river full of children. Homer falls in after her, and he lets the bus open. Good news! All those kids are mannequins! Bad news! There are so many of them floating to the surface that Homer and Lisa get pushed down and can’t get any air. Bart is flying that Duff zeppelin, and there’s nothing he can do to save his sister, the blimp, or the airship.
Fortunately, the Pooter Toot Express shows up, knocks over an old tree, and rescues Homer and Lisa. The little train breaks apart just as Marge and Maggie show up, and yes, it was an anniversary gift.
But then Otto shows up. He left Lisa that message, and he’s been filled with guilt over dead kids. He’s somewhat relieved they weren’t real kids. Back to the school for an explanation as Skinner and Chalmers try to make a break for Bolivia, but Bart has Skinner’s car keys.
So, what happened? Well, the school got a big federal grant, but Skinner cashed it and then his mother washed the pants with the wad of cash inside. The money disintegrated, and to avoid problems, he, Chalmers, and Groundskeeper Willie faked some photos with rented mannequins. Otto had to return them to avoid a late fee. And that was that. Skinner had plans made to keep it secret, but he never counted on Homer buying a returned wedding cake and Maggie getting locked in the car. He’d planned for Homer and the cake, but the plans were made before Maggie was born, so…
Otto feels better about it. You know, until the next day when he drives off a bridge in a bus full of real children.