We're back with yet another installment in our epic list of the Top 100 Episodes of The Simpsons. If you missed any of the previous installments, you can check them out here:
It's really hard writing these preambles because they will all basically sound the same; "these episodes keep getting better", "really a lot of fun", "what happened to this series", and in the end, you're here for the list...so here we go:
70) The Homer They Fall (Season 8, Episode 3)
This is one of those episodes that I often forget about when it comes to lists like this...I don't know if it's because I do not see it all that often, or if I just dismiss it as "the boxing episode" but every time I watch it, I absolutely love it. I'm a sucker for old boxing films (even though I've never been the biggest fan of the sport itself), and this has references to them in spades. I love how Homer has a medical condition that makes it "like he has a football helmet on the inside" so he uses that to become a "boxer"
Which obviously lead him to get a shot, via Lucius Sweet (not Don King), at the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Drederick Tatum (totally not Mike Tyson)...and it goes...well...but honestly the whole build up, fight, and ending are just amazing--I'd call it one of, if not the best sports episode The Simpsons ever did.
- Bart's snappy "ultimate belt"
- Homer's Drago-like punching power
- The pre-fight commerical
- "That cactus is right"
- The over-credit Moe as the Fan-Man montage
69) The Otto Show (Season 3, Episode 22)
Every once in a while, The Simpsons, take one of their secondary (or in this case, I would argue tertiary) characters and move them into the spotlight. I cannot say it always works, but "The Otto Show" just has so much going for it that I'm quite pleased to see that it ends up on this list.
An excellent opening involving an epic reference to This is Spinal Tap to start (it's a reference in a reference to a meta-reference! BWAHHH), which still works as funny if you haven't seen the film (I hadn't first few times through this episode)...something that sadly got rarer as The Simpsons continued...I really do like how the concert blends into bringing Otto to the forefront, as the story essentially flows completely together (there's very little by way of B-Story).
In the end, laughs aside (which are largely in the first half), it's really nice to connect with Otto, as I am sure that most people, like me, thought a lot more about him when he had one-liners in later episodes, thanks to the little connection we dug out here.
My other highlights:
- The "World Tour"
- Homer has great times in the back of cars...
- The plethora of guitars the family has, Bart's rock fantasy, and Otto shredding
- The epic drive to school
- Skinner's bus driving...
Sign: EVICTION NOTICE. You are ordered to vacate the premises immediately.
Otto: Hey landlord, some clown changed my locks, padlocked the door and put up an eviction notice.
Landlord: Yeah, that was me
Otto: You? But, why?
Landlord: Because you haven't paid your rent
Otto: Well, can't I at least get my stuff?
Landlord: I already got all your personal possessions for you. All I found in there was a jar of mustard and a couple of old cycle magazines.
Otto:(astonished) Whoa... I have mustard?
68) Mountain of Madness (Season 8, Episode 12)
There's something special about the few episodes that stick Mr. Burns and Homer together, and this is definitely one of the best ones. On a corporate team-building exercise (that Homer obviously brings his family for), everyone in the plant is taken out of their regular element and stuck on the side of a snowy mountain to do some orienteering. I don't know if y'all had to do orienteering in school, but we did...and I hated it.
Primarily because, like "Mountain of Madness" we had to be partnered up, and my partner decided that orienteering was stupid, so she wouldn't go into the woods...so I got to do all of the work myself...
Anyway, this is a great episode, not only for the opening fire drill, but also because Lenny and Carl are hilarious together, and everything with Homer and Burns connecting over their totally legitimate victory , and avalanches leading inevitably to madness. is top notch, weird Simpsons.
Plus I always like a good Lovecraft reference.
My Other Highlights:
Lisa: We'll help you.
Bart: I have a watch with a minute hand.
Smithers: All right, you can come. What time is it?
Bart: 12:80. No wait. Wait. What comes after 12?
Bart: No, after 12!
Smithers:Sir, this can't be right. You assured me this drawing was rigged so we'd be teammates.
Mr. Burns: Yes, well, frankly you've been a bit of a pill lately.
Smithers:Why do we always fight on vacation?
67) The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace (Season 10, Episode 2)
This is one of those episodes of The Simpsons that hit syndication hard, and really (really) got overplayed, but when you take some time away from it, it is a very fun episode, which largely rides on one liners and quick gags, rather than a super compelling story. I mean sure, don't get me wrong, Homer becoming an inventor to counter the fact that he's "wasted half his life"...despite....everything...in the series...going so far to imagine his terrible funeral.
Eventually the episode rounds mostly into another road-trip for Bart and Homer (and any excuse to enjoy some Bart and Homer bonding is good with me) to the Thomas Edison Museum (so Homer's one "good" invention isn't discovered to be Edison's), but at the end of the day, he came up with some pretty great things...and there's something quite special about the writers playing with our expectations of what Homer can do, and delivering us a disappointing ending.
My Other Highlights:
- Homer (while eating flour): Marge, no matter what happens in the future, promise me you won't vote for Lenny.
- The video montage of "Homer Simpsons Welcome To Your Life", including KIT
- Homer visits Bart's school library. Plus: there's a White Heat reference--a deep pull
- Homer: From this day forward, I am an inventor
Dog Walker: Do us all a favor: invent yourself some underpants
66) The Last Temptation of Homer (Season 5, Episode 9)
"The Last Temptation of Homer" is quite an interesting episode of The Simpsons. The A-Story, wherein Homer finds himself having feelings for his new, almost identical personality to Homer, co-worker Mindy (brilliantly cast as Michelle Pfeiffer), is amusing, but actually tackles the concept of (potential) adultery in a smart, touching, and real way. While this topic does come up in "Colonel Homer", there is not the same attraction from Homer--Homer is more of a naive character as to what is happening with Lurleen, so there's no real tension there, aside from Marge jealousy...which is why (spoilers) that episode did not make the cut.
"Temptation" has Homer legitimately tempted to stray with someone who is, admittedly, perfect for him... As proven by Homer's guardian angel.
This is inter-cut with the much more amusing journey Bart undertakes in the B-story as he temporarily transitions into being a "Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor" nerd. Packed with classic movie references, from The Wizard of Oz to It's a Wonderful Life, with even a Sandro Botticelli painting!
My inner Art-History student is grinning.
My Other Highlights:
- Bart's opening prank and Mrs. K's punishment
- Homer's prank leading to the job opening for Mindy
- Cherub Lenny: Homer, what's the matter?
Cherub Carl: Ain't you never seen a naked chick riding a clam before?
- Homer's "friend"
- The refuge of the damned
65) Bart the General (Season 1, Episode 5)
The fifth ever episode of The Simpsons still stands up--sure the animation is cruder, the voices are not where they will be (I mean Grandpa barely sounds like Grandpa), and it does not have that Simpsons feeling to it we all know now, however, largely thanks to it's pitch-perfect story, and expert war film references, stands out as one of the Top 100.
The episode is the first introduction of Nelson Muntz, who is really a one-dimensional bully who eventually gets his comeuppance...but when you get right down to it, it is rather amazing to see how far that character has come (I mean he dated Lisa for crying out loud)...but he serves and excellent purpose here in this episode as a seemingly unbeatable force. The use of the much less creepy Herman, coupled with Grandpa helping Bart turn the neighborhood kids into a plucky army (thanks in large part to Full Metal Jacket, The Longest Yard, and clearly Patton)
- Bart's terrifying Nelson daydreams
- The endless garbage can trips
- The shot at the critics over "Family Jewels"
- Herman: The key to Springfield has always been Elm Street. The Greeks new it, the Carthaginians knew it, now you know it. First you'll need a declaration of war...that way everything you do is nice and legal...OK we can use this one from the Franco-Prussian war, we'll just change Otto von Bismark to Bart Simpson.
- Herman: A classic pincers movement, it can't fail against a 10 year old.
- The War and Armistice
64) Realty Bites (Season 9, Episode 9)
It's fun when Marge steps out of being at the house and takes a job. I mean, this isn't our favorite (more on that in future weeks), but this one...which also happens to be the final appearance of Lionel Hutz (Phil Hartman passed away 5 months later), is one of those solid episodes of The Simpsons that might not have a lot of super-quotable lines, but is just fun all the way through. Marge as a realtor is fun, especially with her having to learn how to "tell the truth", and Homer owning Snakes' muscle car leads to a few great moments
My Other Highlights:
- Admit it, like Homer, you've tried eating popcorn out of a bowl like a frog. I know I have
- GIl. Gil Gunderson is a one-note Mamet reference that I love every time I see him...unless the whole episode's about him (again, one-note)
Moe Szyslak: Geez, this hot rod is souped up six ways from Sunday! Never had you figured for a gearhead, Homer.
Homer Simpson: Oh yeah, I'm a real expert.
Moe Szyslak: What is that, a six barrel Holley carb?
Homer Simpson: You betcha!
Moe Szyslak: Edelbrock intakes?
Homer Simpson: Nothing but.
Moe Szyslak: Myohoff lifters?
Homer Simpson: Oh, yeah.
Moe Szyslak: I made that last one up.
Homer Simpson: I see.
How Snake tries to get his car back (as in the picture above)
Everything Murder House.
63) Lisa's Rival (Season 6, Episode 2)
I have to admit that I thought this episode was from an earlier season than six, but to be fair, that really is the heart of the Golden Age of The Simpsons so I'm not too shocked....although I am a little surprised that "Lisa's Rival" is not higher on this list...but hey, too many good episodes.
While we may never see Allison Taylor all that much after this episode (she is in the odd crowd scene, but it's not like they can keep Winona Ryder around) she is the absolute perfect rival to Lisa: smarter, younger, better sax player, better family...
This is one of those Lisa-focused episodes that really works quite well (even though the B-Story with Homer dealing in sugar is amazing) , as she tries to figure out how to beat Allison at something, eventually leading up to one of the greatest finales' in any Simpsons episodes: Diorama-rama , including Lisa's attempts, Bart's help and the surprise winner.
My Other Highlights:
- Love in the Time of Scurvy
- Jimbo nailing his tambourine audition
- Lisa's band fantasy
- Milhouse, The Fugitive
- The anagram game. Dave and I play it all the time...by which I mean we say these:
Professor Taylor: Hi Lisa. I'm Alison's father, Professor Taylor. I've heard great things about you.
Lisa: Oh really? I...
Professor Taylor: Oh, don't be modest. I'm glad we have someone who can join us in our anagram game.
Alison Taylor: We take proper names and rearrange the letters to form a description of that person.
Professor Taylor: Like, er... oh, I don't know, uh... Alec Guinness.
Alison Taylor: [thinking] Genuine class.
Professor Taylor: Ho ho, very good. Alright Lisa, um... Jeremy Irons.
Lisa: [looks worried] Jeremy's... iron.
Professor Taylor: Mm hmm, well, that's... very good... for a first try. You know what? I have a ball. Perhaps you'd like to bounce it?
62) Marge Be Not Proud (Season 7, Episode 11)
Christmas episodes are rather hit-and-miss, even during the best years of The Simpsons, but "Marge Be Not Proud" is definitely one of the best ones...I suppose it's difficult as the writers are trying to put a holiday twist on the episode, but dance the line around being able to actually make fun of the holiday (Christmas isn't as ripe for parody as Halloween when you have censors to worry about).
This episode however is a wonderful look at both sides of Bart; the "bad" Bart (shoplifting), and the "good" Bart--it's a really fascinating examination of what happens when a boy who is attempting to get attention by getting into (mostly harmless) trouble, steps a bit too far.
- "It's A Krusty Kinda Khristmas"
- Bart changing the answering machine to 'Camp Grenada' to hide his crime
- Troy McClure's Shoplifters Beware
- The horrifying juvie Christmas
- The Marshmallow
- The greatest video game ever made
61) Homer the Moe (Season 13, Episode 3)
This is yet another example of an episode that primarily focuses on a secondary character, in this case, Moe, that really works well. Now it does begin to establish a problem that later seasons of The Simpsons has, in starting with a story that inevitably has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the episode, but "Homer the Moe" covers it in such a clever way, that I don't really mind. That's not to say that I care at all about Bart digging a hole...I don't...but it is one of the first to creep that story structure in. Thankfully because it's a "bar story' that launches the rest of the episode where Moe is trying to find himself, and in the process rejuvenates the bar (through one of the best one-off characters of all time...whose name must never be spoke).
It's a bit of a strange ride, but "Homer the Moe" holds together through some excellently quotable sections, a pitch-perfect cameo by REM (as themselves, both through a song Homer totally knows, after the song, and bringing Thanksgiving Curds/Gluten), and a whole lot of Moe.
My Other Highlights:
Whew...another ten episodes down, and next week Dave will be wrapping up the first half of our list!
Have a great one, and we will see you again next week!