We are back, and we are starting the Top 50 Episodes of The Simpsons of all time! There's no real point in rambling here about how good these episodes are, because that's literally why they are here...
If you are just joining us, here are the previous entries on our list:
Now without further ado, let's start talking episodes:
50) Mom and Pop Art (Season 10, Episode 19)
"Mom and Pop" art has given us perhaps the greatest, and most often quoted line in the entire history of The Simpsons. That, however, is not the only reason why "Mom and Pop" art graces this list as high as it does: the celebration, and simultaneous satire of the modern art scene is hilarious, featuring both the perfect casting of Isabella Rossellini, and one of the greatest "cameos" ever: Jasper Johns.
Mostly about Homer...somehow...lucking his way into become a moderately famous 'outsider artist', and how he is really living what we have known forever to be Marge's dream. Eventually it falls apart, as Homer's lucky strikes always seem to, and yet then it somehow rebounds and becomes another, somewhat ridiculous, yet beautiful commentary on art.
My Highlights include:
- The beer in the coconut song
- Homer building the BBQ & getting discovered
- Astrid Weller: Your husband's work is what we call outsider art. It could be by a mental patient, or a hillbilly, or a chimpanzee
Homer: (gasps) In high school I was voted most likely to be a mental patient, hillbilly, or chimpanzee
- Lisa: Dad, chew with your mouth closed--you're losing your mystique.
- The trip to the art museum
- Snorkeling the animals & The Grand Canals of Springfield
49) Sideshow Bob Roberts (Season 6, Episode 5)
It is definitely a good thing that I am handling this one because a) I am the politics junkie of the two of us, and b) there's a very good chance I'm the only one who has seen Bob Roberts. I mean in the end, I know that the film is a wide-ranging political satire, ranging from All the President's Men, to the 1960 Presidential Debate, but it really does make "Sideshow Bob Roberts" that much funnier if you are a bit steeped in US politics. I love the Rush Limbaugh...wait...no...uh...Birch Barlow character, and the fascinating (and hilarious) take on Populist Rebulicanism, which thankfully was totally eradicated before it caused any serious problems...
If you're not a politics fan though, there is still a pile of excellent jokes in this episode, plus it's more Sideshow Bob, and rolling through the shortest American campaign ever, with a staged campaign event, pre-crazy American political ads, and a mayoral "debate"
Who doesn't love Sideshow Bob?
I mean, other than Bart...that's pretty self-evident.
- Lisa an apparently drive...and digs "St. Elmo's Fire"
- Moe and his box of grenades
- The Republican Party HQ & Meeting
- Bob's Victory Speech
- Bart being left back
- "Deep throat"
- Bob's Court Speech
48) Bart Sells His Soul (Season 7, Episode 4)
A fascinating, and rather dark episode of The Simpsons, that actually delves into a sort of reflection on what a soul is/could be, and what it would mean to not have a soul. "Bart Sells His Soul" is such a strange, and wonderful episode, not only because it dedicates a great deal of time on a philosophical bent, but because it handles it with a great deal of grace and humour--this undoubtedly deserves to be considered one of the best episodes of the series from a writing standpoint.
What does often happen to "Bart Sells his Soul" is it does get a little overshadowed by a couple of its' better jokes (and let's be fair, the first 3 minutes are spectacular), and I personally have always been fond of Uncle Moe's Family Feedbag (the fun B-story of the episode), but in the end, this is an absolutely great episode.
My Other Highlights:
- The Kwik-E-Mart Door
- Lisa: Pablo Neruda says that laughter is the language of the soul
Bart: I am familiar with the works of Pablo Neurda
- Bart trying to buy his soul back
- Bart's dream
- Bart's Odyssey to find his soul
- The touching ending
47) Summer of 4 Ft. 2 (Season 7, Episode 25)
This is one of those episodes of The Simpsons that largely focuses on Lisa that really works very well: the family gets the opportunity to spend their summer vacation at the Flanders' beach house (seriously, how great of a neighbour is Ned Flanders) in Little Pwagmattasquarmsettport, where Lisa (having discovered that despite her perfect attendance, and work on the Yearbook, Retrospecticus, is not popular) refashions herself as a 'popular' kid to hang out with some locals.
This is a fun episode; taking the Simpsons away from their standard location usually works fairly well, and this 'Northeastern Summer' vibe to the episode (which was the season finale by the way, meaning it aired in May...right before we all started thinking about vacation) was a great choice, and one they never were able to recapture in other "summer vacation" episodes.
My Other Highlights:
- Milhouse's favorite sprinklers
- Bart's yearbook signing
- Ned's "helpful hints" around the beach house
- Lisa's Library fantasy
- Lisa's righteous anger at Bart
- Lisa's friends signing her yearbook, and surprising her...with...some consequences:
46) Bart the Fink (Season 7, Episode 15)
This is yet another one of those episodes that every time I watch it, it reinforces how great it is, with so, so many great moments and jokes, but then after a few weeks, I seem to forget a whole pile of the little bits that make "Bart the Fink" amazing, and say "Oh yeah, that's the one where Bart gets Krusty in trouble with the IRS".
But it is so much more than that: starting with the death of Homer's Great Aunt Hortense, meaning that the kids need bank accounts, and Bart getting his snappy Hindenburg Flipbook Series cheques, to Krusty losing all of his money and still working, to the glory that is Handsome Pete
My Other Highlights:
45) Treehouse of Horror VI (Season 7, Episode 6)
Yet another "Treehouse of Horror" graces our Top 100 List with "Treehouse of Horror VI" (which makes this the fourth straight episode from Season 7) coming in here to start the second half of this weeks' 10. I love the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, and this is definitely one of the very best:
First up is 'Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores', a tribute to Attack of the 50 Foot Woman wherein Homer steals the Lard Lad's doughnut, and thanks to a freak storm, all of the giant advertisements in Springfield attack the town, only to be felled by the cleverness of Lisa and Paul Anka...weird...Probably my least favorite of the three segments, but that's not so much by any fault of its' own, but rather the greatness of the next two:
Second up is 'Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace', The Simpsons absolutely PERFECT satire of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. This is one of the best single segments ever in a Treehouse of Horror episode (coming in at #5 on the iHorror.com rankings), and is one of the funniest (Martin's death is amazing), and most quotable segments. Who hasn't complained about the "lousy Smarch weather"?
The third and final segment is 'Homer3' (Homer Cubed)--while the 3D technology does not hold up (when compared to the models we have now--though it is better than most from the era), at the time, this was a completely ground-breaking and cool segment where we got to see Homer and Bart in a 3D computer space (with a Tron vibe to it). To escape a visit from Patty and Selma, Homer, in a tribute to "Little Girl Lost" from The Twilight Zone, is transported through a portal behind the bookshelf into the third dimension, where everything goes fine until the universe collapses on itself.
Although he gets to go to a cake store...
My Other Highlights:
- Lard Lad sounding like Gojira
- Homer: He came to life....good for him
- Marge: Homer just give him the doughnut, once he has it will end this horror
Homer: Well OK...if it'll end horror
(Lard Lad starts smashing houses and kicks a dog)
Homer: Don't you ever get tired of being wrong all the time?
- The true story of a PTA meeting, and death of Willie
- Maggie saves the day. Again
- The hiding family
- The various attempts to save/help Homer back in Springfield
- Homer: (seeing 3D fish) MMMMMMMM...unprocessed fish sticks
- Frink: (drawing a square): Here is an ordinary square
Wiggum: Whoa, whoa. Slow down egghead.
44) Bart the Murderer (Season 3, Episode 4)
I have always been a fan of mafia movies, and "Bart the Murderer" is the first episode of The Simpsons to delve into satirizing, and paying tribute to them. This also happens to be the first episode that everyone's favorite mobster, Fat Tony (not to mention Legs & Louie), makes his first appearance as Bart, in a very Goodfellas way, ends up becoming the bartender at the Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club after a rough, stamp filled day at school while everyone else is at the chocolate factory. It's just chock full of great little tributes and references, primarily (it seems) to Scorcese's Goodfellas (I mean, that working montage...am I right?), and of course The Godfather.
- Troy McClure's Chocolate Video
- Bart earning Homer's trust, and the news report after...that Homer fails to notice anything odd about
- The FBI are great at their job
- The search for Seymour & his miraculous escape
- Bart's dream sequence
- Blood on the Blackboard
43) Raging Abe Simpson and his Grumbling Grandson in the Curse of the Flying Hellfish (Season 7, Episode 22)
Apparently continuing our journey through Season 7, "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in “The Curse of the Flying Hellfish" is a gem of an episode which focuses heavily on an oft-ignored (in show and out) character of Abe Simpson. What I've always loved about this episode is that it starts off with the usual "oh man, it's just Grandpa being Grandpa with his usual ramble-y stories", but then it turns out to be true, and we get to watch Grandpa grow and develop into a much more "human" character, both to us, and perhaps more importantly, to Bart.
All of this awesome story and character building is also wrapped up in one of the best "adventures" The Simpsons has ever done, as Mr. Burns and Grandpa attempt to get the stolen Nazi art. While this episode contributes some amazingly funny moments (on top of the poignant ones)... it is much more a stretch of the writers' wings in demonstrating that they can do something in a different genre, and still absolutely nail it.
- Why does everyone (except for Uncle Norbert) in Milhouse's family look like Milhouse? It's creepy and weird....
- That sweet Fighting Hellfish Logo
"Das Bus" is a brilliant extended parody of Lord of the Flies wherein the A Story has the usual kids from Springfield Elementary lost on a Model-UN field trip (their bus sinks...you know, so the title makes sense) and a B-Story where Homer starts his own internet company without a computer because Flanders' Flancrest Enterprises is making some extra scratch.
This is largely amazing, however, for the A-Story (I mean sure, I enjoy watching Bill Gates' goons smash up Homer's business as much as the next guy, but seriously), as the trials and tribulations of the kids on the island are quite funny, and just nails a Simpsons take on the Lord of the Flies
- The opening Troy McClure biblical epic
- Bart's report on Libya
- The fruit race
- The sinking of the bus & Bart's story
- Ralph's lunch of the purple berries
- Milhouse is so (hilariously) bad in this episode...
- Sudden James Earl Jones appearance!
41) The Secret War of Lisa Simpson (Season 8, Episode 25)
I love this episode for many, many reasons: after another one of Bart's ridiculous pranks (this time happening on a field trip to the Springfield Police Department), he is punished, by being sent to Rommelwood Military Academy (A Tradition of Heritage). Lisa, who doesn't feel challenged by Ms. Hoover's film strips (and getting no help from Skinner), sees the Academy studying poetry, and decides she will stay, becoming the first female student in the academies history.
"The Secret War of Lisa Simpson" has many moments in it that I love, and it offers a glimpse into a way that Bart *could* develop into a more realistic character (think about it: after seeing this, do you not think in a real situation, Bart would return to Rommelwood, and probably end up in the Army/Marines?)...I understand why that's not possible for The Simpsons but, it would've been cool if they were developing Bart beyond being 10...
Again though, all that said, this is insanely quotable, and a very funny episode, with an excellent bit of work by Willem Defoe as Rommelwood's Commandant
My Other Highlights:
- The (before they were dating) celebration of Mrs. K and Skinner when Bart's taken away
- I love that an American Military academy is called Rommelwood...
Commandant: (to Lisa) Let's go over this one more time just to make sure I understand the situation. (Clears Throat) You're a girl.
Instructor (to Bart): Since you've already attended public school, we're assuming you've already had experience with small arms. So, we're gonna give you something... a little more advanced. (Hands Bart a grenade launcher)
(Bart begins firing away at his targets, destroying four. The last rocket flies off into the distance)
Instructor: Four out of five, Simpson. Impressive. But you missed your last target.
Bart: (slyly) Did I?
(Cut to Springfield Elementary. Principal Skinner is standing next to the smoldering crater that was his car--see the GIF above)
Nelson: (from the school window) Ha ha!
Bart helping Lisa at The Eliminator ("That was some goooood corn")
The Commandant's Graduation Speech
I cannot wait to keep going with these lists; re-watching these episodes as we are writing has been a real joy.
See you again next week when Dave takes us from 40-31!