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Shaun's Top 25 Episodes of 'The Simpsons' (25-11) -2015-

{TV}

Shaun's Top 25 Episodes of 'The Simpsons' (25-11) -2015-

Shaun Cordingley

FOX's The Simpsons was a landmark television comedy for an entire generation of people.  Clever, sarcastic, and socially conscious, for years this "Kentucky" family had been a central pinion in pop culture.  Now while it's relevance has faded, and the premises have lagged behind the stellar earlier seasons, the adventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie (not to mention the cast of hundreds of other beloved characters) remain incredibly influential on the work we are seeing in comedy and television today.

What better way to christen the new television section of The Guys From... than with the list that has probably been the second most requested from the audience of The Guys From {PODCAST}: the Top 10 episodes of The Simpsons .  However, longtime readers and listeners would note that we have done our Top 10s before...thus the need to do something a little different and a little bigger or the shiny new website, so behold, the Top 25 episodes!

This week, we are going to go over numbers 25-11, and then next Wednesday, we will deliver our Top 10.

So without further ado, as Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "let's get busy":

25) 'The Homer They Fall' - Season 8 

Photo: http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/The_Homer_They_Fall?file=Homer_They_Fall_Painting.png

Homer, thanks to a fluid layer around his brain, is able to withstand a severe amount of punishment (as discovered when he tries to retrieve a fancy utility belt of Bart's from the fathers of Bart's bullies), and Moe, the bartender (or poet, boxer, dance teacher, etc.) decides to start training him as boxer. Homer does well to start, mostly fighting hobos on the amateur circuit, using his patented "stand there and get punched and wait until they get tired to shove the opponent over" strategy, when not Don King (Lucius Sweet) shows up to give Homer a shot at the big time, in a heavyweight championship fight against Drederick Tatum (The Simpsons tribute to Mike Tyson). 

'The Homer They Fall' is a great episode filled with excellent boxing film references, primarily focusing around Raging Bull  and the Rocky franchise. It is chock full with fun little moments and one-liners that early seasons of The Simpsons excelled at, including a great moment where Homer attempts to visualize his victory against Tatum, and sees himself winning thanks to a congenital heart defect.

24)  Homer vs. The 18th Amendment- Season 8

Prohibition comes to Springfield after Bart gets accidentally drunk at the St. Patrick's Day parade.  With the town dry, only Homer, with an imaginative system of bowling balls filled with booze, combined with Moe's hottest Pet Shop (Speakeasy) in town, makes himself out to be The Beer Baron.  Unable to halt the flow of alcohol into the town...plus being found drunk at Moe's, Chief Wiggum is replaced by hard-nosed U.S. Treasury officer Rex Banner, a still somewhat incompetent police chief, who is so hilariously anachronistic; it is a shame he was only in one episode.  

This episode is made by Rex Banner; while there are great little moments for others, we are going to leave you with one Rex Banner line to nail down our point: seeing Barney drunk on the street, Banner grabs him (through the diner window) and asks: "Listen rummy, I'm gonna say it plain and simple. Where'd you pinch the hooch? Is some blind tiger jerking suds on the side?" To which Barney could only answer with a confused "yes?" 

Awesome.  

Oh, and everything is solved by a catapult...so there's that too! 

23) Homer Goes to College- Season 5  

It is discovered that Homer does not have a college degree, which his job at the nuclear power plant requires, so he is sent to Springfield University to pass Nuclear Physics 101.  Homer bases his expectations of college on silly comedy films (ala  Animal House ), and finds himself in the company of three stereotypical nerds.  Homer teaches the nerds to party (sort of) and pull pranks, including one involving Springfield A&M's mascot, that gets the nerds expelled, which of course is rectified by another prank...that goes...well...

This is the final episode in which Conan O'Brien received sole writing credit, and you can clearly see his fingerprints throughout, particularly on the nerd characters.  This is one of those episodes that is so full of film and television references that you really must pay close attention to catch them all, but does not fall into the trap of the later seasons of relying on the references for the humour--it is very funny if you do not get The Untouchables  reference, but even funnier if you do. 

22) Marge on the Lam- Season 5

Marge and the Simpsons' neighbor (occasionally) Ruth Powers, become friends and start doing things together after Homer passes up an opportunity to go to the ballet, by which I mean he gets his arm stuck in a vending machine at work. As Marge spends more time with Ruth, it makes Homer jealous, and he decides to leave the kids in the care of "lawyer" Lionel Hutz, and he goes out on the town to prove (to himself?) that he can have a good time without Marge. Of course, through a set of circumstances, and blatantly being the point, the episode turns into a gigantic reference to Thelma and Louise.

Again, references aside, 'Marge on the Lam' is one of the few, great Marge focused episodes, with a strong supporting show by Lionel Hutz and Chief Wiggum, particularly in Wiggum and Homer's pursuit of Marge and Ruth toward the Grand Chasm.

21) Homer's Barbershop Quartet- Season 5

At a swap meet, Bart and Lisa discover an album by The Be Sharps, a Barbershop Quartet with Principal Skinner, Apu, Barney and Homer, and thus get told the story of Homer's few weeks at the top (including meeting George Harrison, winning a Grammy, and performing at the Statue of Liberty's Centennial in 1986). 

Aside from the myriad of funny Beatles references, Barney finding his Yoko, and the great song that is "Baby On Board", 'Homer's Barbershop Quartet' is one of those episodes of The Simpsons that maintains the balance between sweet and funny so well.

And we all know Dexy's Midnight Runners are coming back.

20) Homie the Clown- Season 6

Due to his massive gambling debts, Krusty the Clown opens a clown college, which Homer obviously goes to, in order to become a regional Krusty to do 'all the things Krusty would never do', which is thankless until Homer discovers some fringe benefits to being "Krusty"...that is until he is picked up by the mafia...

Between the Close Encounters of the Third Kind and The Godfather references, Krusty betting against the Harlem Globetrotters ("I thought the Generals were due...HE'S SPINNING THE BALL ON HIS FINGER- JUST TAKE IT"), this is a really funny, often over-looked episode.

19) Homerpalooza- Season 7

Homer realizes that he no longer rock and rolls all night, and parties every day, so in an attempt to reconnect with his youth and with Bart and Lisa, goes down to Lollapalooza, and in the process of being rejected, discovers that his gut is impervious to cannon fire. Joining the Lollapalooza freak show, Homer gets to go out on tour with The Smashing Pumpkins, Peter Frampton, Sonic Youth, and Cyprus Hill, until the wear and tear of being shot by a cannon catches up with him...

This episode is a perfect blending of humourous cameos (with the musicians playing themselves; Peter Frampton in particular stands out), weird humor, and an exploration of the very 1990s clash between those 70s rockin' dads and their MTV generation kids.  

18) The Boy Who Knew Too Much- Season 5

 

Bart skips school, but is put on the run by a Westworld like, pursuing Principal Skinner, and is forced to hide at the Quimby compound, where he witnesses a 'chowder' incident between a French waiter and Freddy Quimby, Mayor Quimby's young nephew, but is forced to hide it to prevent years of detention. 

This episode floats between the Huck Finn/Westworld style opening (which I know, most people probably figured was a different reference, but I can assure you, it is Westworld), and the courtroom drama that follows. Homer hanging the jury in order to get Free Cable and Free Willy, thankfully works out as Bart comes clean after realizing that he has to take responsibility in order for the truth to be heard, however strange and rat-trap filled it is. 

17) Kamp Krusty- Season 4

Bart and Lisa head to Kamp Krusty, which is run (for evil, via the purchase of Krusty's license) by Mr. Black where the children are trapped in a horrifying dystopia, featuring death marches and making wallets for export. Eventually, the campers revolt (lead, of course, by Bart) and the camp is taken over by the children, forcing the real Krusty to try and come in to negotiate and fix the situation.

This is just one of those episodes where every part works perfectly, and where the references (including those to The French Lieutenants Woman and Ben-Hur) work so well, that you do not need to get them in order to find them as hilarious as they are. 'Kamp Krusty' is also one of those times where the b-story gets out of the way and just compliments the main plot, rather than being its' own thing, and works incredibly well.

16) Lemon of Troy- Season 6

Marge lectures Bart on town pride, which drives him to realize how wonderful Springfield is, including its spectacular lemon tree (being the sweetest fruit known at the time of the town's founding). When some jerks from Shelbyville steal the tree, Bart leads the town's children off for some guerrilla warfare in Shelbyville to get it back, eventually pulling Homer, Ned Flanders and some of the other Springfield adults in as well. 

This episode is as good as it is because it really helps to flesh out the town rivalries, giving more depth to the story (and history) of Springfield and Shelbyville, establishing just how close the two really are. Utilizing a Trojan Horse, Mad Max 2, and even a Prince lyric (when Milhouse meets the Shelbyville Milhouse) throughout the story to punch up the referential humour is just icing on the lemon cake.

Plus, watching 'Shelbyville Homer' take a victory bite of a lemon is just great.

15) Bart of Darkness- Season 6

The Simpsons get a pool, and become the center of the kids community throughout a heatwave, however, Bart unfortunately snaps a leg falling from his treehouse, and is stuck indoors, where he begins to suspect that something sinister is happening over at the Flanders'.

I had not seen Rear Window when I first saw this episode (far from it), but I absolutely adore this episode; from Bart writing a play, to Lisa abandoning her brain because she has become popular, to a warm, breezy ending, this is one of those A+B story episodes with everything revolving around one principle source (the pool) and branching off into Bart's slow decent into paranoia. 'Bart of Darkness' is a treat of an episode that the old, Abe Simpson style phrase 'they just don't make 'em like this anymore' really applies to.

14) A Star is Burns- Season 6

Springfield decides to host a film festival to change their moniker as the 'Least Cultural City in America', and invites Jay Sherman (Jon Lovitz's character from the show The Critic to be head judge), inviting a competition among the townspeople, including Mr. Burns and Barney Gumble, to make films.

This episode deserves to be in any Top 25 for a few reasons:

a) It is one of the few 'crossover' episodes that really, really works out, not relying on an audience having seen The Critic to make the jokes work. The Simpsons gave their audience a great episode with a character that could just fit into their world.

b) The films, from Pukahontas to Moe Better Booze to the amazing Senor Spielbergo A Burns for All Seasons are hilarious.

c) The beautiful competition between Homer and Jay, including a belching contest that has a callback later in the episode (and a Pulitzer Prize joke) is priceless.

13) Any Given Sundance- Season 19

Lisa discovers that she has the soul of a filmmaker (having tried everything else by Season 19) and makes a documentary about her family, produced by Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers (called Capturing the Simpsons, a shoutout to the Sundance Festival Doc, Capturing the Friedmans) which gets into the Sundance Film Festival. The whole family go to the festival where the film is a hit, but are appalled at what Lisa has made, showing the family in a terrible, dysfunctional light.

I know I am one of the few who thinks this highly of this episode, however part of it, I feel, is a bias toward the largely miserable later seasons, and it could also partly be my film-making heart. The Chalmskinn Productions moments are hilarious (and spot on), the digs at festival films are perfect (and accurate as well), and the Jim Jarmusch cameo may be one of the most quotable things to come out of The Simpsons in 10 years. This is the closest any of the later episodes ever came to recapturing the magic of the earlier seasons, and I for one feel that it is an episode that gets better and better every time it is watched. 

12) Bart vs. Australia- Season 6

Bart gets into an argument with Lisa about the direction water drains in their hemisphere, so Bart collect calls Australia representing the "International drainage commission", and ends up getting indited for fraud. The Simpsons go to Australia so Bart can apologize to their Parliament.

This is one of those episodes where it takes The Simpsons out of their regular surroundings to excellent effect; the Australians are stereotyped (of course), but hilarious (I love that the Prime Minister is sitting in a pool inner tube), and the narrative build over the course of the episode is one of the very best The Simpsons ever did, where everything fits into place, and you do not need to get all of the references to find it fun.

11) Radioactive Man- Season 7

The 'it' superhero in The Simpsons universe, Radioactive Man, is getting the movie treatment, and some big Hollywood producers, wowed by Springfields' "Flim Springfield" ad in Variety, decide to shoot it there.  With Ranier Wolfcastle obviously set to star, the producers need to find his sidekick Fallout Boy, which goes to Bart's friend MIlhouse, who finds the life of a film star hollow and unpleasant, eventually running off and hiding, halting the production.

This is an episode that takes a lot of cues from the shifting of perceptions, showing the people of Springfield as the often terrible people they are, and the Hollywood production team being bamboozled and ruined by this town of shysters. The treatment of the film set, the realities of film ("we already did it, it took 8 hours, but we did it, it's done". "But we need different angles, again and again, again and again and again"), and the amazing bits of film junkie humour littered throughout make 'Radioactive Man' an episode that just misses out on the Top 10.

 

There you have it folks; what do you think of The Guys From's episodes 25-11? Let us know in the comments below, and come on back next Wednesday (October 14, 2015) for the Top 10.

-S (@Shauncord)