As I mentioned in my previous Top Simpsons Episode List (up to season 8), I am a lot kinder to the Mike Scully (9-12) and Al Jean (13+) seasons of The Simpsons than many others because I grew up with these episodes. Sure they were muddled in with the re-runs of classic era episodes, but at the time I couldn’t see much of a differentiation, funny was funny and The Simpsons continued to make me laugh, with season 9 and onwards providing me many hours of enjoyment. Having said that, it’s easy to now see a differentiation in the quality and tone of the show. The laughs were still there, but they came from a sillier place. The show became broader, cruder and targeted towards a younger audience. The satire was blunted in favour of Stupid Homer, or worse, Jerkass Homer as he came to be not-so-affectionately titled.
The plots and characterisation became more outlandish and bizarre. Season 11’s ‘Saddlesore Galactica’ is a prime example, where Bart becomes a jockey and finds himself in competition with woodland elven creatures of some kind. Any episode where the Bill Clinton cameo is the least bizarre element has clearly gone a tad too far. Now as I said in my previous post, I watch The Simpsons for it’s comedic value and in truth I could probably laugh as much during a strong season 12 episode as I could in a strong season 5 episode. But the laughs would come from a sillier, hollower place and would emerge not organically from character or situation but rather from non-sequiturs and pop-culture references like ‘Family Guy’.
Of course these are all generalisations. There are some genuinely strong episodes from season 9 onwards and I aim to highlight the episodes that I enjoyed the most. I am less confident of my choices here as I haven’t re-watched these episodes as much as I have their ‘classic period’ counterparts. As such I’ll have less to say about these episodes and I will be relying a lot more on memory. Unfortunately I stopped watching the show on a regular basis at Season 19. I’ve seen most of season 20 and only a couple of episodes since then, so I’m not in the position to extol the virtues of post-season 19 episodes, with one exception.
This was a much harder list to write than the previous one for two reasons: Firstly because my affections for certain episodes were solidified when I was younger and less discerning, and secondly because there is both more and less consensus about what are the superior late season episodes. More consensus in the sense that there are less high-quality episodes to choose from, less in the sense that these episode are less considered and talked about less often. For example, as I’ll explain below, season 16 is possibly my favourite post classic season and season 13 is perhaps my least favourite. But this is far from the consensus and I’m sure there are people who hate season 16 and love season 13. Anyway, without further ado: My top 25 episodes of The Simpsons (post-season 8).
25. Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore (Season 17)
24. Catch ‘Em If You Can (Season 15)
23. The Dad Who Knew Too Little (Season 14)
22. C. E. D’oh (Season 14)
21. Dial ‘N’ For Nerder (Season 19)
20. Last Tap Dance in Springfield (Season 11)
19. A Totally Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again (Season 23)
18. The President Wore Pearls (Season 15)
17. I Am Furious (Yellow) (Season 13)
16. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star (Season 16)
15. E-I-E-I-(ANNOYED GRUNT) (Season 11)
Of all the post season 8 seasons, I have the greatest affection (or is it weakness?) for seasons 11 and 16. Why? It’s hard to say. Season 11 was probably the height of stupid, wacky Homer-centric episodes with a high laugh quotient. If it wasn’t already the case before, Mike Scully seasons were the time when Homer was really positioned as the main character of The Simpsons. I remember watching this series with my older brother. He would literally laugh at everything Homer said. I could see why: The man could not be judged. He could be cruel, he could be stupid, he could be drunk and violent, but he was always Homer; a representation of all us at our laziest, angriest and happiest moments. But there was always a thin line when it came to Homer; too crazed and the show was just plain stupid and unwatchable, just crazy enough and you couldn’t stop me from laughing. I have good memories of ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner’ and ‘Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder’, but looking back now, those plots veered wildly and turned crazy on a dime, although I still enjoy them for their comic value.
But now to a season 11 episode that has a single plot line that focuses on the family and moves in a relatively straightforward manner towards a conclusion that, while silly and heightened, at least makes narrative sense and develops logically from the story. The plot is actually quite interesting as The Simpsons inadvertently create a healthy/addictive hybrid fruit, ‘Tomacco’, that grows too addictively in-demand for their own good. The opening set piece at the cinemas to watch a ‘Mask of Zorro‘ type film is particularly amusing, ‘What part of stop cutting my dress off don’t you understand?’
Homer: "Go get Lassie" Bart: "Lassie?" Homer: "I mean Lisa" Lisa: "You know, Dad, that's probably something you should go to the hospital for". Homer: "After pie" Homer: "I have to go to ze lobby"
14. Skinner’s Sense of Snow (Season 12)
In the previous Simpsons list, I talked at length about my enjoyment of the episodes where the kids are the focus, particularly when they are left to their own devices and can run wild. These episodes have a great sense of nostalgia for the looseness and no-frills, effortless fun of youth. ‘Skinner’s Sense of Snow’ along with ‘Das Bus’ are good examples of this type of episode. This episode balances out the children’s run of mayhem with the adventures of Homer and Ned, a comedic team made in heaven. Ned’s inquiry about Homer’s Mr. Plow business is a nice callback and a solid gag as Homer naturally chooses to saw the roof off Ned’s house for a makeshift snow plow.
The scenes at the school are a lot of fun, particularly the crappy movie they have to watch, as well as the indestructible permanent record and the children grossly over-estimating how well Skinner gets paid, ‘He’s a billionaire! Wooooow’.
Skinner: "I fixed the DVD" Kids: "AAAAAARRRGGHHH" Marge: "How are the kids supposed to get home?" Homer: "I dunno. The internet" Willie: "All right Skinner, that's the last time you'll slap your Willie around." Ned Flanders: "I think we hit something" Homer: "I hope it's Flanders"
13. Springfield Up (Season 18)
It’s a bit sad that the only post season 16 episodes to make the list are the episodes that do something different conceptually. These episodes are often more clever than hilarious. At a certain point, The Simpsons forgot how to do ‘normal’ episodes successfully. Like ‘The Seemingly Never Ending Story’ this episode succeeds because its format allows it to move quickly from gag to gag. With little room for embarrassing jokes, dead space and crazy character antics, the show is kept focused and tight.
This is a classic example of that, taking Michael Apted’s 7Up documentary series and tracking the lives of Springfield’s best and brightest. It’s a clever conceit that allows us a humorous, fast paced look into the past of a vast array our favourite Springfieldian characters, while also focusing on how Homer and Marge aren’t completely happy with their lot in life. The latter plot has been told a million times over, but the time jumping structure keeps the audience on their toes as we try to discover how the Simpsons amassed such great wealth since we last saw them. Overall it’s one of the more sprightly, well written episodes of the latter seasons. That might seem like it’s damning with faint praise, but really it’s a very enjoyable episode.
Declan Desmond: "I can't believe it! Homer Simpson a bloody millionaire?" Homer: "why are you so shocked? This is our fifth take" Homer: "You won't find a couple of rugrats tying me down" [Cut to Homer and Marge with young Bart and Lisa] Homer: "I hope you don't use this shot after the one where I say I won't have kids, because that would be a devastating edit." Homer: "You can have the boy. Just don't beat him" (Whispering) "You can beat him, just don't leave marks"
12. Das Bus (Season 9)
Yes I like this. Yes because it has kids acting like kids, but also because the new setting emphasises all the flaws and fun of being a kid, much like season 6’s ‘Lemon of Troy’ did. Also I won’t lie, I spent much of my childhood fantasising about living on a tropical island. But I also had magic powers in these fantasies and friends called Harry, Ron and Hermione (no relation to the somewhat popular fantasy series whose name currently escapes me) who thought I was the coolest. We seemed to spend much of our time cooking.
I particularly like Bart’s portrayal as the optimistic leader who promises monkey butlers and fairly finds Milhouse not guilty of eating their food supply, despite the fact that the result of his own verdict upset him. Speaking of Milhouse, his role in this episode as a bit an annoying prick was also a highlight (“You guys go on……………and carry me with you”). But almost the entire cast of children got to shine in this episode from Ralph’s “Meow” to Nelson’s role as prosecutor during the makeshift island court session. The ending of the episode where they choose to eat the pig over delicious rock slime is a great laugh out loud moment. Sure, the episode didn’t really resolve, but better an off-screen deus ex machina ending than an onscreen one.
Nelson: "How many monkey butlers will there be?" Bart: "One at first, but he'll train others" Ralph: "Go banana!" Ralph: "They taste like burning" Homer: "This industry moves so fast it's really hard to tell. That's why I need a name that's cutting-edge, like CutCo, EdgeCom, Interslice. Come on, Marge, you're good at these! Help me out!" Marge: "How about... Compuglobalhypermeganet?" Homer: "Fine, it's not important. What really matters is my title. I think I'll make myself... vice president. No, wait! Junior vice president!"
11. Lisa Gets an ‘A’ (Season 10)
Probably the most straightforward episode in season 10 and all the better for it. This episode features 2 very simple, very funny plot lines. Story A has Lisa cheating on a test, Story B has Homer buying a Lobster and both stories wring out about as much comedic potential as possible. Lisa’s story works on 2 levels: one one level, it matches ‘Lisa’s Rival’ as a tale of how low Lisa will stoop to be seen as perfect and the great guilt that causes her. On the other level it’s an hilarious examination of the schooling system: notably how ready everyone is to play along with the Lisa’s fraudulent test score in order to obtain more funding – all of which goes to the teachers lounge and none of which makes it to the classroom.
The Pinchy the lobster storyline isn’t overly substantial, but it’s a classic somewhat zany b-plot to balance the straightforwardness and moralising of the A plot. The memorable scene of Homer eating Pinchy, alternating between disgust and elated satisfaction is a great moment and a great way to cap off this highly enjoyable episode.
Ralph: "Hi, Principal Skinner! Hi, Super Nintendo Chalmers!" State Comptroller Atkins: "This grant ensures a light bulb in every classroom, and a high-definition TV for the teachers lounge." Skinner: "I've just received some rather unusual news regarding your unprecedented A-triple-plus. To be honest, I'm surprised and saddened. Eh, no, not saddened. What's the word? Ah, yes, delighted!"
10. Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken (Season 10)
If the David Mirkin seasons were notable for their scathing attacks on news media and it’s increased tabloidisation, Mike Scully’s were filled with cracks at the shittiness of network television output and the corporate mindlessness that leads to their production. Think of ‘Police Cops’ and ‘Admiral Baby’ from season 10’s ‘Homer to the Max’ or ‘Ethnic Mismatch Comedy #644’ form season 11’s ‘Missionary: Impossible’ (‘Shut uppa yo mouth‘). This episode is not about the complete dearth of original ideas in network television, but it is an active undercurrent in so many Scully-showrun episodes.This episode is a classic kids vs. adults tale, where the kids are fed up at being blamed for all of society’s problems but it also offers the television gems of ‘Don’t Go There‘ and ‘Talk To the Hand’.
This is one of the more enjoyable storylines of the Scully era, because even though the narrative moves erratically in many different directions and the story has a nonsensical ending that once again can’t be bothered pulling back everything to the status quo, the connective tissue that binds the narrative together at least makes sense and is borne out of character and our knowledge of how Springfield works. In fact, the plot is quite clever and surprising in how it flips the ageist power dynamic of the episode. Also the episode benefits from not having an insignificant ‘B’ story that adds nothing to the plot, another staple of Scully episodes (think of the useless Marge/Lisa ‘B’ stories in ‘Sunday Cruddy Sunday’ and ‘Maximum Homerdrive’) .
I also have to admit I’m a sucker for episodes that end with an impromptu musical sequences and this episode has quite a catchy one. And lastly, I cannot possibly dislike any episode that features Homer’s poor recollection of his night out drinking. Classic!!
Lisa: "And guess who's been practicing medicine without a license?" (Hibbert looks nervous) Lisa: "That's right. Homer Simpson" Wiggum: "Let this be a lesson to you. Kids never learn"
9. Future-Drama (Season 16)
Although it may not be representative of this list, in my mind season 16 is the most consistent post classic season which, after a bumpy start delivers a commendable hot streak of engaging, warmly animated and amusing episodes that are mostly grounded in family dynamics and character based humour.
Now Lisa’s Wedding may be the one true ‘future Simpsons’ episode but this episode, which cuts in second, somewhat dilutes the pathos and fine, emotional character work of that episode in favour of a broader scope that revels in the delights of the future as much as it checks in on our favourite family several years down the line. Now don’t get me wrong, there is still a strong character focus here and some nice emotional beats, but the focus is more evenly spread across the entire family and the episode has a lighter touch than ‘Lisa’s Wedding’.
I particularly enjoy how the now-divorced Homer’s desire to be relevant leads him to buy the world’s very first hover car and an underwater house that requires hours in a depressurisation tank before one can leave. Lisa’s settling for a bulked-up Milhouse and Bart’s fling with Jenda are also both well handled and satisfactory updates on the lives of the Simpsons family. Final note: cloned Moe is a great gag.
Marge: "It's great. We can do anything now that science has invented magic" Skinner: "I'd like to say good-bye to those who are going off to college, or to fight in Gulf War Five: "Operation Find Our President's Head." Jenda: "Sex on prom night is as American as our 51st state: Saudi-Israelia" Bart: "Why'd you buy the first hover car ever made? Didn't you know it'd take time to work out the kinks?" Homer: "I know! It's a hover car"
8. Little Girl In the Big Ten (Season 13)
Season 13 is possibly my least favourite season until season 18. It represents The Simpsons at their zaniest and crudest, with stories that were often uninteresting, half-formed and made with no regard for narrative coherency or any modicum of realism. But for an episode where Bart spends much of his time in a bubble, this is one of the more effortlessly funny and down to earth episodes of the season. Both the bubble-Bart story and the ‘Lisa as a college student’ story hit the mark, but naturally I’m drawn more to Lisa’s plight to find her place in the world; a place where eagerness to learn and intellectualism are not only encouraged, but are considered favourable traits.
Again like many of my favourites here, this episode isn’t gut-bustingly funny, but I always find that jokes on The Simpsons hit harder when they’re told in harmony with a solid and coherent storyline that stems from character rather than just as non-sequiturs, or random stupid Homer antics. The moment where Lisa listens to Robert Pinsky reading Impossible to Tell and becomes adrift in a sea of soy lattes, flowery prose and smooth jazz is invigorating because it’s impossible for me not to want her to enjoy that moment and savour it. There’s no joke really (although I do enjoy Pinsky’s following lamentation that Lisa didn’t chip in for the pizza) but it’s a rare character moment that shines in a season where character is all but forgotten in favour of mediocre wackiness.
Homer: "I take a whiskey drink, I take a coffee drink, and when I have to pee, I use the kitchen sink. I sing the song that reminds me I'm a urinating guy." Tina: "I can't believe I cheated off an eight year old" Marge: "I knew things were serious when he said he didn't want ice-cream" Bart: "I DID want ice-cream" Marge: "Well your father ate it all" Lisa: "Doogie Howser went to college at my age" Homer: "Against my wishes"
7. The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson (Season 9)
Ahhh. The very first episode of the the post classic period and a good ‘un at that. This is one of the best of the ‘The Simpsons are going to X’ episodes, probably second after ‘Bart Vs. Australia’. But the best jokes aren’t derived from hackey ‘look at how things are different over here’ type jokes, rather they come from the simple story of an impatient, impulsive man who has to wait by his car all day.
It’s not that the other subplots of the family exploring New York are unfunny (I particularly like the Betty Ford Clinic musical), but they feel as though they’re just checking off a bunch of NYC tourist sights. Everything in Homer’s story from the automated phone message explaining how long the wait will be, to the Klav Kalash, to the crab juice, to his desperation to relieve himself and finally when he reaches breaking point, drives off with the boot and gets into a Ben Hur style chariot race with a central park carriage is near perfection.
Homer: "Now, what do you have to wash that awful taste out of my mouth?" Klav Kalash salesman: "Mountain Dew or Crab Juice" Homer "Blecch! Ew! Sheesh! I'll take a crab juice." Lisa: "Shhh. They're strapping down Liza Minnelli"
6. Eternal Moonshine Of The Simpsons Mind (Season 19)
I’m not going to lie, this episode, along with ‘The Seemingly Never Ending Story’ are episodes which I have only seen once. As such, I have little to say about these episodes specifically. It might seem strange to have these episodes nestled in between favourites that I’ve re-watched many, many times over, but the sad truth is, it is not difficult to note a quality episode in the latter period of The Simpsons because very few interesting, creatively sharp pieces of writing and direction have been produced in the last few years (some would even say, the last 15 years, which is a scary thought).
This particular episode certainly has a lot in common with the late-period, structurally fresh concept episodes like ‘Story’, ‘Gone Maggie Gone’, ’24 minutes’ and ‘Springfield Up’ however it is not as constricted by the episode’s structural and conceptual framework as those examples. Rather it has more in common with mystery episodes like ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns’ and ‘The Blunder Years’ which have a tone and structure that feel a tad unlike a standard Simpsons episode, yet still comfortably fit into the highly malleable and diverse world of The Simpsons. No this wasn’t a world beater episode but it’s a late period episode with an interesting premise, nice characterisation, a healthy dose of callbacks to earlier episodes and some fun moments like the parody of the man who takes a photo of himself everyday.
Homer: "What did I do?" Ned: "Well, I can't say for sure, but as a Christian, I assume the worst." (Homer assumes he see Marge and Duffman together) Homer: "The mother of my children with the reason for my children!" Krusty: "Quick, I need to forget the last 24 hours. I tried to do a Don Rickles about Arabs, but I ended up doing a Mel Gibson about Mexicans." Grandpa: "You come to me for help rememberin'? That's like asking your horse to do your taxes - Which I did in 1998. (Shows photo of horse using an adding machine.)"
5. Mom and Pop Art (Season 10)
Back when I was a young lad, I distinctly remember considering this to be my favourite episode of the show. Yes it’s another ‘Homer gets a random job’ episode, yes the conclusion is ludicrous and unresolved. But darn it, it still makes me laugh. And it has so many lines which I remember (and quote) to this day, half of which centre around Homer’s unsuccessful building of the BBQ pit. ‘Ahhhh. Stupid Lisa’, ‘Why must l fail at every attempt at Masonry?’, ‘Le Grill? What the hell is that?’, etc.
Does this episode truly deserve a spot so high? Probably not, but any episode that coins the phrase ‘everything’s coming up Milhouse’ really does have to be in the top 5; I’m sorry, it does. But this is also an episode where Homer really tries to be good at his stumbled-upon profession. He works endlessly to create passionate artwork, with some helpful taunting from the kids, only to fail due to the restless whims of the artistic community. He then picks himself up and with a little help from Lisa and artistic precedence (‘Killer Umbrellas?! Of course! Exquisite’), he creates an art work that will be his legacy. Very rarely is Homer allowed success, but he achieves it here (to a degree). I also enjoy that the show doesn’t forget Marge’s previous artistic inclinations and dreams as it becomes a central conflict in the episode, ‘It’s like Marge’s dream come true. For me, Marge. For me’.
It’s all very silly and follows some sketchy narrative logic, but it’s consistently funny (OK Homer drawing Lenny and Carl naked is just stupid) and has some clever commentary on the idea of art and artistic merit.
Marge: "By the end of his life, he was just painting crank letters to the editor They call this his angry jerk period" Homer: "I've screwed up everything I've ever done. I mean, look at Bart". Bart: "Well I'm flunking math, and the other day I was a little attracted to Milhouse." Homer: (SCREAMS) Ned: "Looks like Heaven is easier to get into than Arizona State." Bart: "Can I burn evidence in it?" Homer: "We can ALL burn evidence in it"
4. The Seemingly Never-Ending Story (Season 17)
Read everything I’ve written about my top 3 episodes as well as ‘Eternal Moonshine’ and ‘Springfield Up’ and that’s pretty much all I have to say about this episode (yeah, I’m tired, what of it). Cleverly structured, fast paced, funny, fun, nice showcase for a variety of characters; one of the best of the last 10 seasons.
Moe: "Ah, these are some of the local alcoholics I told you about." Carl: "Don't Pigeon-hole us. We have other vices" Edna: "At this point, all I want is a man with a healthy libido." Moe: "Uh-huh. Well, this is where it gets awkward again" Rich Texan: "Yee-haw! I'm gonna win me a nuclear plant!" Burns: "Dream on bitch" Snake: " I've been robbed! I'll take my revenge on society....by which I mean convenience stores! And who would suspect me, Professor Jailbird!"
3. 24 Minutes (Season 18)
By a great distance, this episode is the best of the Al Jean era. There are almost no gags that don’t deliver. This is a smart, stylish, funny and completely successful retooling of The Simpsons as a 24-style crime thriller. While I don’t usually enjoy parody for parody’s sake, this episode cleverly uses the established character types of its Springfieldian residents and tweaks them ever so slightly to fit into the 24 universe and it’s done in a way that feels organic and unforced.
The episode starts off very well with introductions to all the characters and their new roles in this universe (Lisa: love ponies, hates phonies, Bart: Two months sober, Marge: Unemployed, Homer: ATM user) and continues along with it’s low stakes, yet highly satisfying school terrorist plot. Even Homer and Marge’s subplots, which could have been throwaway and time killing serve their purpose and offer sizeable laughs. This episode is the best example of a quality late-in-the-run episode and serves as proof that this show didn’t become completely disposable after season 8.
Bart: "Lisa, are you on a secure line?" Lisa: "I am. You're on a blue tooth cell wire, the most vulnerable device known to man." Bart: "But it looks so cool" Milhouse: "Lisa, if I don't make it, there's a letter in my locker I want you to read." Lisa: "I've already read it" Skinner: "We've all read it" Homer: "This is our life now Milhouse, we're dumpster folk!" Willie: "Teens? In Willie's hidey-hole?" Homer: "Rice Krispie Treats?! Way to phone it in, Sarah Wiggum"
2. Behind the Laughter (Season 11)
This is the sort of episode that can only really be done once and thank goodness it was done so well first time around. As an episode of The Simpsons, ‘BtL’ feels surprisingly organic for such an out-there premise and as a parody of those tacky ‘truth behind the scenes’ TV series, this episode is pitch perfect. You could argue that episodes like this hurt the integrity of the show, but seriously go watch ‘Homer Simpsons in: Kidney Trouble’ and you tell me which episode hurts the integrity of the show more.
The format of the episode allows for a different rhythm that stimulates the humour. Sure the episode still has to follow a beginning, middle and end structure, but like Arrested Development, the narrator is able to quickly explain situations and intentions to maximise the time for gags. The format also provides a perfect ground for parody: the overuse of stupid analogies, the teasers before the ads that ask pointless rhetorical questions, the bleeped curse words are all tackled with aplomb. This episode is a perfect example of Mike Scully’s skill at satirising network television of the time and managed to maintain the spirit of Oakley and Weinstein’s more conceptual episodes.
Homer: "I want to set the record straight: I thought the cop was a prostitute" Lisa: "To prolong the run of the series, I was secretly given anti-growth hormones." Homer: "That's ridiculous! How could I even get all five necessary drops into her cereal? What?" Homer: "Why did I take such punishment? Let's just say that fame was like a drug. But what was even more like a drug was the drugs." Krusty: "Homer gave me a kidney: it wasn't his, I didn't need it, and it came postage due - but I appreciated the gesture!" Narrator: "The dream was over. Coming up: Was the dream really over? Yes, it was. Or was it?"
1. Trilogy of Error (Season 12)
The fact that the top 4 episodes barely resemble the structure of a standard episode of The Simpsons is both very telling and also expected. How many episodes can you do about Bart getting in trouble at school or Lisa feeling as though she is surrounded by morons. As the years go on you have to jazz it up a little and play with the formula in order to keep the show fresh. Changing the inherent structure of the show also forces the writers to be more vigilant and economical in their writing. The new story conceits demand snappier writing and stop the plot from sagging and becoming rote and repetitive; ‘Trilogy of Error’ is a great example of this. Who ‘da thunk that a 1998 German film would create the structure for The Simpsons best post classic episode. Of course the episode works without prior knowledge of Run Lola Run, seeing as it is only the structure (and the music) this being reproduced rather than any real plot elements.
This episode is impeccably constructed, endlessly watchable and consistently funny all the way through. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen this episode so I don’t have much to say about the particular storylines, all of which fit together perfectly, but for me the scene where Lisa walks into the class at the wrong school is classic and I often laugh ‘frenchily‘ whenever France is a topic of discussion. One of the most clever, satisfying, and laughed-filled episodes of the show. “Liguo, dead?”. “Linguo….is….dead”. (tear)
Linguo: "Sentence Fragment" Lisa: "Sentence fragment is also a sentence fragment" Liguo: "Uh. Must conserve battery power" Lisa: "Don't worry Dad. I'll get us out of this. (Louder) Hey Dad, do you wanna see my science project. (Winks)" Homer: "No, Lisa. (Winks) But I sure don't want to eat this crappy breakfast. Dr. Nick: "Inflammable means flammable? What a country." Milhouse: "This is where I come to cry"
And so ends my list. Feel free to post any disagreements or suggestions in the comments. These lists are highly subjective; even I don’t know if I agree with these choices half the time, but I’m interested to hear what other people would put in their list.
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Just so you know, The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson is actually a holdover from Season 8, as are The Principal and the Pauper and Lisa the Simpson. Lisa’s Sax and Simpson Tide are holdovers from 1995 (those weird, Season-less ‘3G’ episodes with Al Jean and Mike Reiss as showrunners, along with The Springfield Files and Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious which appear in Season 8). Funnily, with the exception of tPatP (but I’d go as far as saying even that’s debatable), these episodes are of the richest quality Season 9 has to offer.
Thanks for bringing that up james. TPatP isn’t quite as bad as it’s reputation. Although IMO Simpson Tide is one of the most bizarre episodes The Simpsons did. It seems like one of those episodes that was so late in the production order that the writers were too tired to make it work properly. When Soviet Russia decides to reform 5 minutes before the end of episode after never being refernced before, you know the plotting has been a bit haphazard ha
I rewatched Simpson Tide the other day. It’s not perfection but I felt that the writing and humour encapsulated the essence of the classic era, standing out from the remaining tedium Scully episodes in that season (although IMO the following episodes are pretty good: Treehouse of Horror VIII, The Cartridge Family, The Joy of Sect, Das Bus, Trash of the Titans and Natural Born Kissers). Season 9 has its moments but unfortunately it’s plagued with really frustrating-to-watch episodes like Bart Carny and Realty Bites.
I don’t think the holdovers from Seasons 7/8 are terribly essential, but at the same they’re needed for a sense of golden-year Simpsons completion. I like to watch the episodes in production code order and think of them as belonging to whatever Season they were supposed to be in. It makes you look at each Season quite differently. Surprisingly the original Season 8 isn’t brilliant if you take away the holdovers. In fact it’s noticeably worse than Season 7, but otherwise the holdovers in that Season make it seem like one of the best.
Yeah the disconnect between production order and airing season always makes for some interesting viewing and seasonal variation.This is especially true for the post-transition seasons like 5,7 and 9. But then again Al Jean and Mike Reiss also came back for a couple of episodes in season 6 and 8, I believe. So all of those seasons had a good mix of voices in their writing and production that kept things interesting.
The Cartridge Family is one of those episodes that I forget wasn’t released in season 5, 6, or 7. It has that spirit.
Season 9 had some weird contradictions like the Simpsons gene where one episode Bart’s a genius until the second grade, and in the very next episode (Lisa’s Sac) it flashes back to Bart having mental developmental problems in Kindergarten.