Author’s Note: I realize that this post is a formatting nightmare and I apologize for that. Between being really late at night and my week old daughter screaming, I was in a bit of a hurry. That’s right, I am already blaming my blogging shortcomings on my daughter.
When I was a kid there were numerous TV shows that I was not allowed to watch. Roseanne, Married With Children, anything on MTV (I couldn’t watch channel 11 in college because the old TV I took with me still had it blocked with a password). Perhaps the most evil of television shows, the one that dangled so tantalizingly from the tree of Fox in the middle of the basic cable garden was the animated delicacy known as the Simpsons. It was strictly off limits, watching it would only result in knowledge of sarcasm and satire, characteristics that even as I child, I did not need any more of. As I got older I think that the fact I was not allowed to watch The Simpsons made me want to watch it more, and I was happy for it as it quickly became one of my favorite shows.
Making a list of favorite Simpsons episodes is like trying to come up with your favorite Beatles song, your favorite Wes Anderson movie, or your favorite Graham Greene novel (Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, The Life Aquatic, and The Comedians). You see I answered those questions but the fact is if you were to ask me the same questions tomorrow I might respond differently. Truth is, it is hard to classify greatness, even my own list of best Bob Dylan songs, which is great by the way, is lacking in some respects.
With that said here is a list of my favorite episodes of the Simpsons in no particular order.
Marge vs. The Monorail (Episode #71)
Plot Summary (all plot summaries are from The Simpsons Wiki): After collecting a $3 million fine from Mr. Burns (for illegal disposal of nuclear waste), Springfield holds a town meeting to decide what to do with the money. A smooth-talking stranger named Lyle Lanley talks the townspeople into spending the money on a needless monorail…built from shoddy materials.
Leonard Nimoy: [appraising the monorail] I’d say this vessel could do at least warp 5.
Mayor Quimby: Yes, and may I say, “May the Force be with you.”
Leonard Nimoy: [annoyed] Do you even know who I am?
Mayor Quimby: I think I do. Aren’t you one of the Little Rascals?
Marge Simpson: Well, I think we should spend the money on something the whole town can be proud of.
Homer: Like a giant billboard that says “No fat chicks”?
Marge Simpson: No.
Final Thoughts: Broadway (The Music Man) meets cartoons. I love this episode for numerous reasons. Leonard Nimoy has an excellent guest appearance. You will find Marge vs. The Monorail on most lists of top episodes.
Homer’s Phobia (Episode #168)
Plot Summary: A shop owner befriends the Simpson family, but after discovering he is a homosexual Homer fears Bart will emulate him.
Homer: It’s a miracle!
John: No, Ultrasuede is a miracle. This is just good timing.
[Homer places Bart in front of a sexy billboard]
Homer: Well, it’s been two hours. How do you feel?
Bart: I dunno. I kinda want a cigarette.
Homer: That’s good. Let’s get you a pack. What’s your brand?
Bart: Anything slim.
A Clip– Click the link, I couldn’t get this video to embed.
Final Thoughts: The steel mill scene shown above is one of my favorite moments from the Simpsons. This episode is a great commentary on the relationship, or lack thereof, between “manly,” straight males and homosexuals. In the end John ends up saving the guys from a group of angry reindeer.
Lemon of Troy (Episode #127)
Plot Summary: The children of Springfield wage war on Shelbyville, after their beloved town lemon tree comes up missing. The fathers of Springfield take Ned’s RV to search for their boys.
Quotes: There are too many to list. Check out this IMDB page for a list.
Final Thoughts: This is hands down my favorite episode ever. There are about twenty other clips I wanted to share but I had to restrain myself. If you do nothing else this weekend, go find this episode and watch it.
Bart The Murderer (Episode #39)
Plot Summary: After having a very lousy day of school, Bart accidentally stumbles into `The Legitimate Businessman Social Club’, a mobster front. He becomes a bartender, but when he shows up late at work and blames Principal Skinner, Skinner disappears.
Bart: [while working for Fat Tony] Gimme three fingers of milk, Ma.
Bart: Uh, say, are you guys crooks?
Fat Tony: Bart, is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family?
Fat Tony: Well, suppose you got a large starving family. Is it wrong to steal a truckload of bread to feed them?
Bart: Uh uh.
Fat Tony: And, what if your family don’t like bread? They like… cigarettes?
Bart: I guess that’s okay.
Fat Tony: Now, what if instead of giving them away, you sold them at a price that was practically giving them away. Would that be a crime, Bart?
Bart: Hell, no.
Final Thoughts: I love the Simpsons, I love mob movies, this episode is both. The idea of Bart making Old Fashioneds and Manhattans for the mob is great. Also, Fat Tony and his crew are some of my favorite secondary (tertiary?) characters.
Homer At The Bat (Episode #52)
Plot Summary: Mr. Burns bets $1,000,000 that his company team can beat a competing plant’s team. In order to do so, he replaced the regular company team with new security guard Roger Clemens, new janitor Wade Boggs, lunchroom cashier Ken Griffey, Jr., and other new employees like Steve Sax, Don Mattingly, Ozzie Smith, Darryl Strawberry, José Canseco, and Mike Scioscia.
[Marge is filming Homer sitting in the dugout at a softball game. Homer starts to scratch his crotch]
Marge Simpson: Oh, dear.
[points the camera at her feet]
Marge Simpson: Children, tell me when your father stops scratching himself.
Marge Simpson: Kids…?
Bart Simpson: We’ll tell you, Mom.
Homer Simpson: You’re Darryl Strawberry!
Darryl Strawberry: Yes.
Homer Simpson: You play right field.
Darryl Strawberry: Yes.
Homer Simpson: I play right field too.
Darryl Strawberry: So?
Homer Simpson: Well, are you better than me?
Darryl Strawberry: Well, I’ve never met you, but… yes.
[Mr. Burns made a bet that the plant softball team would beat Shelbyville]
Mr. Burns: I’ve decided to bring in a few ringers, professional baseballers. We’ll give them token jobs at the plant and have them play on our softball team. Honus Wagner, Cap Anson, Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown…
Smithers: Uh, sir?
Mr. Burns: What is it, Smithers?
Smithers: I’m afraid all of those players have retired and, uh… passed on. In fact, your right-fielder has been dead for a hundred and thirty years.
A Clip (commercial):
22 Short Films About Springfield (Episode #149)
Plot Summary: The untold stories of many people of Springfield, focusing mainly on recurring characters. This is one of several episodes which are considered anthology episodes that features mini-stories.
Lou: I went to the McDonald’s over in Shelbyville the other day.
Chief Wiggum: The Mc-what?
Lou: Yeah, I never heard of it either but they say they have over 2,000 locations in this state alone.
Eddie: Hmm… Must’ve sprung up over night.
Lou: But you know, it’s the little differences.
Chief Wiggum: Example.
Lou: Well, at a McDonald’s you can get a Krusty Burger with cheese. But they don’t call it a Krusty Burger with cheese.
Chief Wiggum: Get out. What do they call it?
Lou: A “Quarter Pounder” with cheese.
Chief Wiggum: “Quarter Pounder” with cheese? Well, I can see the cheese but? do they have Krusty’s “Partially Gelatinated, Non-Dairy, Gum-Based Beverages”?
Lou: Yeah, they call them “shakes.”
Eddie: Huh. “Shakes.” You don’t know what you’re gettin’.
[Superintendant Chalmers sees Principal Skinner’s kitchen on fire]
Superintendant Chalmers: Good Lord, what is happening in there?
Principal Skinner: The Aurora Borealis?
Superintendant Chalmers: The Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your kitchen?
Principal Skinner: Yes.
Superintendant Chalmers: May I see it?
Principal Skinner: No.
Principal Skinner: Superintendent, I hope you’re ready for mouth-watering hamburgers.
Superintendant Chalmers: I thought we were having steamed clams.
Principal Skinner: Oh, no, I said, “steamed hams.” That’s what I call hamburgers.
Superintendant Chalmers: You call hamburgers steamed hams.
Principal Skinner: Yes, it’s a regional dialect.
Superintendant Chalmers: Uh-huh. What region?
Principal Skinner: Uh, upstate New York.
Superintendant Chalmers: Really. Well, I’m from Utica and I never heard anyone the phrase, “steamed hams.”
Principal Skinner: Oh, not in Utica, no; it’s an Albany expression.
Superintendant Chalmers: I see.
[Chalmers takes a bite of the “steamed ham”]
Superintendant Chalmers: You know, these hamburgers are quite similar to the ones they have at Krusty Burger.
Principal Skinner: Oh, no, patented Skinner Burgers. Old family recipe.
Superintendant Chalmers: For steamed hams.
Principal Skinner: Yes
Superintendant Chalmers: Yes, and you call them steamed hams despite the fact that they are obviously grilled.
[shows Skinner the grill marks]
Principal Skinner: Uh… you know… one thing I sh -… ‘scuse me for one second.
A Clip (this is actually the entire episode sped up):
Final Thoughts: One of the strengths of The Simpsons has always been the ability to use parody. It is my contention that the show Community is nothing more than a less funny version of The Simpsons with real actors.
Homer Vs. The 18th Amendment (Episode #171)
Plot Summary: When Prohibition hits the town of Springfield, and with Bart’s help, Homer goes into the booze making business.
Rex Banner: Are you the Beer Baron?
Ned Flanders: Well, if you’re talking about root beer, I plead guilt-diddily-ildly as char-didily-arged.
Rex Banner: He’s not the Baron, but he sounds drunk. Take him in.
[Lou and Eddie arrest Ned]
Bart Simpson: Gee, Homer, you sure do suck tonight!
Homer Simpson: Yeah! Suck like a fox!
Homer Simpson: [Homer has a giant beer barrel over his head] Look at me! I’m the Prime Minister of Ireland!
Kent Brockman: Top of the morning to ye on this gray, grizzly afternoon. Kent O’Brockman live on Main Street, where today everyone is a little bit Irish, except, of course, for the gays and the Italians.
[At the St. Patrick’s Day Parade]
Kent Brockman: All this drinking, violence, destruction of property… are these the things that we think of when we think of the Irish?
Final Thoughts: Another classic in my mind. There is a lot of good material on not only the ills of drinking but also how certain people view those who do drink. Both sides of the argument are satirized, as is usually the case for The Simpsons. It is one of the reasons I love the show, they make fun of everyone.
Every Treehouse of Horror Episode
Every year I make sure to watch this one episode if nothing else. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and so these episodes are always great. I have been known to sit at a computer all night while trying to download these episodes from pirated wireless near Port au Prince hotels. For a complete listing of the Treehouse of Horror episodes, follow this link.
So there is my list. I am absolutely certain that there are others worthy of this list. Let me know your thoughts about my list and share your own in the comments section.