Monday, 12 March 2012

Top 5: The Simpsons Episodes

No explanation needed, it's The Simpsons.

When a TV show hits has been going as long as The Simpsons has, you know it is something special. As clich├ęd as it sounds, The Simpsons has been one of the defining shows of the last two decades, completely altering and owning the Zeitgeist and pop culture in the process. When the show's 500th episode, "At Long Last Leave" airs in Australia on Wednesday, the show will have reached a very special landmark. 

So, in order to mark the date, I've been mulling over the show's extensive back-catalogue, stretching all the way back to 1989 and picking what I feel are some of the Simpsons greatest moments. Check it out and let me know what you think...

1) You Only Move Twice (Season 8, Episode 2)

A hilarious homage to classic Sean Connery Bond movies like Goldfiner, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, this episodes premise, where the Simpsons move to idyllic village Cyprus Creek when Homer is recruited by "evil" corporation Globex is brilliant. Also "Bond villan" Hank Scorpio is simply genius.  "Homer, which is your least favouraite country, Italy or France?" quips Scorpio as he adjusts a giant laser cannon.  "France" retorts Homer. "Heh heh heh nobody ever says Italy."

 Also, who can forget the classic hammock conversation or the poor kids in Bart's remedial class. Entirely biased decision, but You Only Move Twice is my favourite Simpsons episode.

2) And Maggie Makes Three (Season 6, Episode 13)

A very touching and sweet episode, And Maggie Makes Three showed us all that the Simpsons wasn't always about the funny. Don't get me wrong, this episode still has the laugh-out-loud moments but it also manages to be incredibly emotional, as Homer recounts the story of how Maggie was born. 

Having quit his mundane job at the nuclear plant, Homer's life seems to be on the up, now working at the bowling-alley. However, when new baby Maggie is born, Homer has to sacrifice this all to get his old job back so he can support the family. It's a fantastic mix of gags and story-telling.

3) Homer Goes To College (Season 5, Episode 3)

At the other end of the spectrum is this Season 5 cracker; Homer Goes To College. Jammed-full of college stereotypes and hilarious pranks, this episode sees Homer sent back to college in order to pass a nuclear physics class and keep his job at the power plant (and instead spends his time chasing squirrels and then hitting the college dean with his car and putting him in hospital. Yes, really)

This episode didn't spawn just one instantly memorable quotes: it spawned three. Playing with a pigs tail, Homer squeals with delight, "Curly, straight, curly, straight!" and then later on plans to roll said pig "up in a carpet and throw him off a bridge!" Classic stuff which has stayed with me for years. And who can forget Homer singing "I am so smart, I am so smart. S-M-R-T. I mean, S-M-A-R-T"? 

4) Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo (Season 10, Episode 23)

In my mind the best "the Simpsons go abroad" episode, Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo sees the yellow-tinged quartet make the trip to Japan. From getting locked in jail (for wrestling the Japanese Emperor no less) and eating traditional Japanese cuisine at Americatown, the trip goes from bad to worse when the family are forced to appear on a sadistic Japanese game show (The Happy Smile Super Challenge Family Wish Show) to win plane tickets home after going broke. Star Trek legend George Takei guest appears as the show's host.

A host of jokes and references to all things Japanese, from haiku's to Pokemon, shows that nothing is off limits for The Simpsons.

4) King-Size Homer (Season 7, Episode 7)

Another classic episode, King-Size Homer sees Homer undertake the challenge of becoming 300 pounds; just so he can be classified as 'disabled' and be allowed to work from home and get out of doing exercise classes at work.

Sporting a blue and pink muumuu (because he wouldn't want to look like a werido), Homer has to save Springfield from a huge nuclear fallout after he leaves a toy bird in charge of his computer.

And the worst... The Principal and the Pauper (Season 9, Episode 2)

How do you upset millions of fans in the course of just half an hour? Change a well-loved and fleshed-out character's entire back-story that's how. Principal Skinner, a regular appearing character on the show since its inception suddenly got a complete rework in this episode, throwing away something built up over eight years for the sake of one controversial episode.

Claiming that Skinner has been an imposter all this time (really named Armain Tamzarian) whilst the 'real' Principal Skinner (voiced by Martin Sheen) has been locked away in a Vietnamese POW camp, the episode upset a lot of fans and worst of all; the "fake" Skinner stayed on and the plot-line was hardly ever spoken of again. Just plain lazy and insulting. 

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