Category Archives: List

Top Ten Simpsons Episodes Part 2

Bart’s Comet, A Streetcar Named Marge, Last Exit to Springfield, Rosebud, Cape Feare. What will be in my top 5?

5. Who Shot Mr Burns Part 1 & 2 (Season 6, Episode 25 & Season 7, Episode 1)

whoshotMrBurns

“Burns was rushed to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was then transferred to a better hospital where doctors upgraded his condition to ‘alive’,”

I know it’s a bit of a cheat, putting two episodes in the same space, but hey, let’s be realistic here. When an oil well is discovered below Springfield Elementary, Mr Burns pirates the oil and builds a giant machine to block out the sun. The town goes into an uproar, with many swearing revenge. Mr Burns is subsequently shot by an unseen assailant.
The episode was famously a competition for the viewers to solve between seasons. The producers of the show went to incredible lengths to keep the culprit’s identity a secret. Even the director was kept in the dark, and only one animator knew. Thankfully this was before the days of the internet.
Aside from the fact that there’s a ton of great jokes and character moments, this is a genuinely good mystery. It’s well paced, nicely developed, there’s a great deal of suspense, and the mystery is actually solvable. There’s a ton of very clever clues peppered throughout Part One. It’s actually a lot of fun to go back and watch the episode to see the hints and red herrings.
But even if you know who shot Mr Burns (and come on, we all do!), it’s still an excellent episode which remains one of a kind. To date, this is the only two part episode The Simpsons has ever produced.

4. Hurricane Neddy (Season 8, Episode 8)

hurrican neddy

“Well my family and I can’t live in ‘good intentions’, Marge! Oh, your family’s out of control, but we can’t blame you because you have GOOD INTENTIONS!”

Hurricane Barbara sweeps through Springfield, but only the Flanders’ house is destroyed. The townspeople rebuild the house in the most inept fashion imaginable, and Ned Flanders finally cracks. His resulting breakdown causes him to commit himself into a mental institution, and it’s up to his childhood therapist to find the root of Ned’s trauma.
This was actually the very first episode of The Simpsons I ever watched, aged 6. I didn’t get three quarters of what was going on and I was genuinely worried that Lisa was going to be in a pie.
It might have been my age, but Ned Flanders and his outburst was completely lost on me. Of course, as I grew older, I realised what a truly inspired episode this is. My older brother used to say “Be a Christian, but don’t be Ned Flanders,”
The comedic value of Ned Flanders is his nauseating optimism, and his unshakeable faith in God. He’s the perfect neighbour, and Homer hates him for precisely no reason.
This is the episode where we finally see Ned become a three dimensional character. Sure, they’ve had a couple of other episodes where he shows an emotion other than optimism (When Flanders Failed, Dead Putting Society), but here is the first time he actually loses his temper. It’s hilarious to see Ned finally put the town in their place, and the flashbacks to his childhood are always a riot. Not only was it a milestone from a character point of view, it was the episode which sparked the fire in me, however insignificant it seemed to me at the time. But it’s a fire that rages inferno to this day.
Confession: Reciting Ned’s massive rant is currently my favourite party trick.

3. Marge vs. the Monorail (Season 4, Episode 12)

margevsthemonorail

“Mono….D’OH!”

This episode needs no introduction. Mr Burns is fined $3 million for illegally dumping nuclear waste in the park. A smooth talking con-man (Lyle Lanley) convinces Springfield to build a monorail, and Homer becomes the conductor. However, Lanley embezzles the money and creates a faulty monorail, putting everyone on board in danger.
Marge vs. the Monorail is the quintessential example of everything that makes The Simpsons great. Tons of jokes that hit bullseyes, a hilarious set up, parodies and pop culture references that actually work in the world of the story, and a perfect celebrity cameo from Leonard Nimoy.
I don’t need to say anything else about this episode. You all know the song, you all know the jokes, you can all quote these lines. It’s just brilliant from beginning to end.

2. Lisa’s Substitute (Season 2, Episode 19)

lisa's substitute

“Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand”

Lisa’s Substitute is usually touted as the most touching episode, the most dramatic episode, the most heartfelt. And….yeah. It really is.
Miss Hoover is replaced by  substitute teacher Mr Bergstrom while she recovers from Lyme disease. Mr Bergstrom nurtures Lisa’s intelligence and vivacity and she develops a crush on him.
Lisa is probably the most three dimensional character in the series. Creator Matt Groening has said Lisa is his favourite character as she is the “only one with a hope of escaping Springfield”. But that’s a discussion for another blog.
I identify with Lisa a lot in this episode. She feels isolated from people because she’s different. Her brain and creativity separates her from everyone. Mr Bergstrom teaches her that her uniqueness is something to be embraced, not hidden. He recognises her frustration with Homer. He encourages her. And when he leaves, it’s genuinely tragic.
We’ve all lost important people in a variety of ways, and seeing this episode can bring it all flooding back. Mr Bergstrom has to go, and he doesn’t ever reappear in the show. And you know what? That’s life. That’s how it works. People can appear in your life for only a season.
Homer of course has a beautiful scene with Lisa where he finally shows the kindness in his heart. But Marge has one of her finest parenting moments in this episode too, and it’s always overlooked. I would like to call attention to Marge’s brilliant line right here and right now.

“Homer, you’re not allowed to have hurt feelings right now! There’s a little girl upstairs who needs you. Her confidence in her father is shaken and no little girl can be happy unless she has faith in her daddy,”

Bravo Marge. Bravo. This is a mothering lesson to behold. She recognises Lisa’s need is far greater than Homer’s, and she refuses to let him wallow in self pity or elicit sympathy from her. She makes him step up and be a man.
Yes, Homer ideally should do this himself but that’s not the point. The point is that Marge sides with her daughter over her husband, and basically forces him to take responsibility. Go Marge.

With Lisa’s SubstituteThe Simpsons showed us why we love the show. They have this ability to splice crazy scenarios which could only exist in the world of animation with dramatic touching life lessons. This episode will always have a very special place in my heart, and the hearts of fellow fans.

you are lisa simpson


The time has come to unveil my number one favourite episode. But first, the runners up. 

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

Radio Bart

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Blood Feud

bloodfeud

Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy

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Bart vs. Australia

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The PTA Disbands

theptadisbands

Homer’s Enemy

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  1. THE CITY OF NEW YORK VS HOMER SIMPSON (Season 9, Episode 1)

“I’m getting out of this town alive if it kills me!”

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Barney is designated driver one wild night at Moe’s and afterwards disappears for two months with Homer’s beloved car. Homer discovers the car is illegally parked in New York, between the Twin Towers. Having had a bad experience years ago in New York, Homer reluctantly travels with the family to retrieve the family sedan. Marge and the kids have a magical experience in the big city, but Homer has the worst day of his life.

To be honest, I wasn’t aware of this episode for a long time. The episode was immediately pulled from syndication following the 9/11 attacks, and only appears on TV with several jokes permanently edited out.
All that aside, this is the episode which kills me. Homer stuck in New York doesn’t sound like a particularly funny concept, but believe me, it is. The simplicity of the setting allows for a number of hilarious scenarios pulled directly from real life. Homer is trapped with a car that he can’t drive anywhere. Having had my first flat tyre experience this year, I can now join the club of the Stranded Motorists. Homer has to wait for a government official. Again, we’ve all had to wait for someone to turn up who was taking their sweet time. And finally, he becomes increasingly desperate for the bathroom.

Raise your hand if you HAVEN’T been in that situation.

*looks around, crickets chirp* I didn’t think so.

The best kind of comedy comes from misery, and is based in truth. We have ALL been where Homer is in this episode. The pain of those memories allows us to laugh along with him and share his agony. Interweave Homer’s terrible situation with the rest of the family having the time of their lives, and you have an episode which is side-splitting. The way Homer gets the boot off his car absolutely kills me every time. No other Simpsons episode makes me laugh like this. And the really amazing thing is that it was the opening to season 9. What a way to open!
The City of New York vs Homer Simpson is just as hilarious now as it was the first time I watched it all those years ago. And that alone is enough to make it my number one episode.

Didn’t see your favourite episode here? Wondering why I didn’t talk about the Halloween specials? Well, stay tuned.  2016 will be kicking off with the Top Ten Touching Simpsons Moments.

Next week: Best and Worst Disney Princesses!

 

Top Ten Simpsons Episodes Part 1

Who of my generation remembers the years where The Simpsons was on at 6pm each night? Wasn’t that a great time of our childhoods? Every night, switching the TV to Channel Ten and trying to guess what episode would be on? Ok, ok, maybe only I did that. But I’m not ashamed to say that I love The Simpsons. Not so much the newer stuff, but the older seasons are comedy gold. It has great humour, razor sharp satire, unforgettable characters and defined so many people’s sense of humour. I for one, can quote entire episodes off the top of my heads, and I recently went through a phase where I watched entire seasons back to back, reliving the glory days (I was sick, ok? I had nothing else to do!).
Picking my ten favourite episodes is like trying to pick my favourite dog. But heaven knows, I have to try, so here goes.
By the way, the category I’m following here are the episodes I personally enjoy most. There’s a ton of great episodes that won’t make the list. You may not see your favourite episode here, and I’m not necessarily going by the general consensus either. These are my favourites. I will do other lists of Simpsons episodes in different categories. So if you don’t see an episode up here, there’s every chance it will appear in my future blogs about the show. Crack open a can of Duff beer, grab a donut and enjoy Part 1!

10. Bart’s Comet (Season 6, Episode 14)

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After a prank, Bart is ordered to assist Principal Skinner in his astronomy. Bart discovers a comet about to hit Springfield. With the only bridge out of town destroyed due to a failed attempt to stop the comet, all of Springfield crams into Ned Flanders’ bomb shelter in a panic.
Bart’s Comet is one of those episodes with a ton of great jokes. From the weather balloon prank Bart pulls to the townspeople kicking Ned Flanders out of the bomb shelter, it kills me every time. It’s not a particularly complex or deep episode. I love it because of the scenario, the animation and overall, it’s downright funny.

“So there’s a comet. Big deal. It’ll burn up in our atmosphere and whatever’s left will be no bigger than a Chihuahua’s head,”
“Wow Dad, maybe you’re right,”
“Of course I’m right. If I’m not, may we all be horribly crushed from above somehow,”
And let’s not forget, Homer was right about the comet.
I’m scared too.

9. A Streetcar Named Marge (Season 4, Episode 2)

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Despite a controversial song about New Orleans, this episode is simply a classic. Marge auditions for Oh Streetcar!, a musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams. She wins the role of Blanche Dubois and finds the character in her relationship with Homer. Like many others, the majority of my knowledge of the world came from The Simpsons and this is no exception. This was the episode that introduced me to Streetcar (and many of the other viewers), and they mirror the Stanley/Blanche dynamic with Homer and Marge so beautifully. However, Homer has a lovely redemption at the end as usual, and he definitely isn’t as bad as Stanley. The songs are hilarious, guest star Jon Lovitz steals the show, and Maggie’s Great Escape side plot remains one of her greatest moments. What’s not to love?

“I’m Lionel Hutz, and I’m filing a class-action suit against the director on behalf of everyone who was cut from the play. I also play Mitch,”

8. Last Exit to Springfield (Season 4, Episode 17)

lastexit

This episode usually tops Best Simpson’s Episodes lists, and for a long time, I didn’t really get why. I remembered watching this episode once or twice as a kid, and I didn’t find it especially hilarious or even that memorable.
Well, having re-watched it a few times through the more mature eyes of my early twenties, it is one of the most clever episodes they ever produced. Homer becomes head of the union at the nuclear power plant to save the dental plan. Through a series of very funny miscommunications, Mr Burns sees Homer as a legitimate threat, and the power plant workers go on strike.
There are so many great scenarios and potential for great jokes, and the writers take advantage of them all. From movie references and flashbacks to Mr Burns’ childhood, this is satire at its best. The episode is full of pop culture and historical references, but they never feel forced. Neither does the lack of a subplot, since Lisa needing braces is directly branched to the main story. Lisa’s dentist is a riot, and the climax mirroring How the Grinch Stole Christmas could not be more perfect.  If you don’t remember this episode being particularly funny, go back and watch it. Even if you do think it’s funny, go watch it anyway. I guarantee there’s a joke or two you missed.
There’s only one thing left to say.

“DENTAL PLAN!”
“Lisa needs braces”

7. Rosebud (Season 5, Episode 4)

Rosebud

Who doesn’t love Mr Burns? He’s one of the most enjoyably evil villains ever created for television. He concocts elaborately wicked schemes, his age makes for a lot of hysteria and his fawning assistant Waylon Smithers is a perfect sidekick.
Rosebud, from Season 5, shows us a hidden side to him. See, it turns out Mr.Burns had a happy childhood with a loving family and a teddy bear named Bobo, all of which he abandoned to live with a ‘twisted loveless billionaire,”. Years later, Mr Burns remembers Bobo and falls into a depression. When Bobo appears in the Simpson household, Maggie grows very attached to the bear and refuses to give it up.
The earlier seasons of the show had a great mix of heartfelt drama and comedy. The whole episode is obviously a parody of Citizen Kane, and it lends itself to a lot of hilarious scenarios. It’s really the first time we see Mr Burns as a human with feelings, and it’s over something we can readily identify with. Homer has one of his best parenting moments too, when he gives up a lifetime of riches so Maggie can keep Bobo.
Every joke hits the mark, the parody is great, Homer comes through for his daughter, and you actually feel a lot of sympathy for one of TV’s most dastardly bad guys. It’s the perfect blend of comedy and heart, and that alone makes it a classic.

6. Cape Feare (Season 5, Episode 2)

cape feare

 

When I think of episodes that had me laughing the whole way through and continues to make me smile just thinking about it, I look no further than Cape Feare, and everyone who has seen this episode will know why. In a parody of the movie of the same name, Bart receives death threats in the mail, and the culprit turns out to be Sideshow Bob (voiced by the great Kelsey Grammar). The Simpsons go into the Witness Protection program only to be followed by Bob who thirsts for nothing but vengeance on his spiky-haired nemesis.
The previous appearances of Sideshow Bob were both mysteries (framing Krusty the Klown for armed robbery and attempting to murder Aunt Selma), but this episode wasn’t. Of course, the best thing about Sideshow Bob is that while he is a bloodthirsty maniac, it is juxtaposed with his highbrow tastes and love of good culture. I am a HUGE Frasier fan, and Kelsey Grammar is so utterly perfect as Sideshow Bob you can’t imagine anyone else in the role. It’s like they were made for each other. Bob is an excellent comic foil while also maintaining his diabolical edge, and his desire to get Bart is riveting.
Every joke in this episode hits a bullseye and remains ingrained in pop culture, that other TV shows to this day try to replicate (I’m looking at you, Family Guy!). Sideshow Bob singing HMS Pinafore, “BARTDOYOUWANTSOMEBROWNIESBEFOREYOUGOTOBED?”, “Hello, Mr Thompson,” It’s a comedic goldmine, and I’ll never get tired of it.

And of course, need we forget the most famous joke in the episode? No words necessary, just the picture….

rakes

Next Week: Part 2!