We are going to break into the Top 25 episodes of The Simpsons of all-time this week, as we get ever closer to unveiling our Top 10.
If you've missed any of our previous installments, check them out here:
Well, that's everything for the preamble--let's hunker down and check out the next 10:
30) Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk (Season 3, Episode 11)
"Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk" (an episode I know Dave is happy I am spelling, even though the German is...not technically correct) is one of the best early episodes of The Simpsons. Mr. Burns decides to sell the nuclear plant to the Germans, who realize Homer is an idiot and fire him, but through some drunken prodding, Mr. Burns decides to get his plant back...and rehire Homer....
Oh yeah...and it has The Land of Chocolate....
My Other Highlights (you know, other than chocolate):
- Snappy the Alligator
- Homer's 25$ fantasies vs. Bart's 5200$ fantasies
- Homer: Have a Duff boys!
Hans: (friendly, German accent) Oh thank you, my English is not perfect, but I have to tell you your beer is like swill to us. Do I have that right? I'm saying that only a swine would drink this beer?
Fritz: Ya, but thank you anyway!
- Mr. Burns is multilingual
- Horst, the non-threatening German
- Mr. Burns' odyssey through 'rich guy retirement'
- "The Germans are mad at me"
29) Boy-Scoutz 'n the Hood (Season 5, Episode 8)
This Bart centered episode (with a healthy does of Homer, Ned and Rod) is fabulous. I have to say that when I was younger, this was probably my favourite episode of The Simpsons: I love the song (and just recently watched On the Town, so the references make WAY more sense now than they ever have), I love the Junior Campers, and the two sides of the river trip, with one riding the 'lost at sea' motif, and the other splitting time between Deliverance and Friday the 13th.
Essentially if you don't remember, after a pure syurp squishee bender, Bart finds that he has joined the junior campers (not the boy scouts), and that the local club is led by Ned Flanders. Eventually he finds that he likes being a camper, at least until the father-son rafting trip, and becoming lost at sea...I think it's really interesting how this episode is really Homer at his...dumbest, but in the end he does save the day with his nose for Krusty Burger.
My Other Highlights:
- The Noiseland Arcades games ("Dinner with Andre"!), and security measures.
- Homer's brain explaining the concept of money = peanuts
- Bart learning about knives, and knife safety
- Bart learning to trap animals (read: Homer)
- Kids love From Here to Eternity (and Ernest Borgnine)
- Church-picnic flare gun firings, and happy dolphins
28) Hurricane Neddy (Season 8, Episode 8)
"Hurricane Neddy" follows the nervous breakdown of Ned Flanders after Hurricane Barbara strikes the town of Springfield, and for whatever reason, Flanders' house is the only one destroyed. This is one of those episodes that brilliantly fleshes out a secondary character (in this case, Ned Flanders) giving him a great deal more rounding. In this case, we finally see Ned break, after 8 years of abuse suffered with good humour, only to discover that thanks to his terrible beanik parents, he underwent an experimental treatment to deal with his rambunctious aggression. This is an episode that greatly increased my appreciation for Flanders as a character, and watching him slowly start to lose it while going through his rebuilt house is amazing...well almost as amazing as his actual freak out.
My Other Highlights:
- Homer: Oh Lisa, there's no record of a hurricane ever hitting Springfield.
Lisa: Yes, but the records only go back to 1978 when the hall of records was mysteriously blown away!
- Delicious Hurricane Chow
- The execution
- The Rubiks Cube
- All the One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest references
- Homer's annoying treatment
27) Whacking Day (Season 4, Episode 20)
Oh, Whacking Day, Oh, Whacking Day,
Our hallowed snake skull cracking-Day.
We'll break their backs,
Gouge out their eyes,
Their evil hearts
Oh, Whacking Day, Oh, Whacking Day,
May God bestow His Grace on thee.
What a strange premise "Whacking Day" is when you think about it: Springfield has an annual holiday steeped in...tradition...of everyone in town driving all of the snakes into the town square and then bashing them to death. Essentially, writer/producer George Meyer pitched an idea, wanting to talk about the mistreatment of snakes...and the episode even won a Genesis Award.
This is a fantastic episode, rife with so many classic moments, and an excellent cameo by Barry White (yet another example of a great use of a guest by The Simpsons). I also, as I have stated on numberous occasions, really like when the episodes work around building a character, and showing what Bart is like when he gets Marge's undivided attention (the student he becomes) is quite special. Not kung-fu Homer special, but special none-the-less.
My Other Highlights:
- The mountain bike scheme
- Principal Skinner (after locking Bart and the bullies in the utility room] Would the world judge me harshly if I threw away the key?
Groundskeeper Willie: No, but the PTA would tear you a new arse.
Skinner: Wise council, William. But the potty talk adds nothing.
Willie: Yes, sir. [after Skinner leaves] You bath-takin', underpants-wearin' lily hugger.
- Willie's lass
- Bart trying to fit in at the fundamentalist Christian school
- Homer's struggle between Good and Evil
- One of Grandpas many WW2 stories...as a cabaret...singer...
- Apu's poorly thought out promotion
- The entire ending. Seriously: the last 3 minutes
26) Marge on the Lam (Season 5, Episode 6)
"Marge on the Lam" is, as far as we are concerned, the fourth best 'Marge-centric' episode that The Simpsons ever did, and is just a delightfully constructed episode. I think it really took us making this list for me to realize how great the episodes where Marge gets to be the focus, away from the family, are.
"Marge on the Lam" reflects not only on Homer and Marge's relationship, but also lets Marge let her hair down with a friend in Ruth Powers...who it is really a shame that the series couldn't show more of, for Pamela Reed is fantastic as Ruth, and what a great character she could have been as a secondary/regular.
On top of all of that is an excellent plot reflecting on some Thelma & Louise, a great amount of Lionel Hutz, brilliant usage of Lesley Gore's "Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows", and putting the strangely, stupidly similar Homer and Chief Wiggum together.
- The opening, Garrison Keillor telethon (and Homer's endlessly quotable line)
- The rest of said telethon...and Homer's army experiment
- Best. Excuse. Ever.
- The basketball court ballet
- Marge's Night Out vs. Homer's
- Chief Wiggum: We're in pursuit of two female suspects. One is wearing a green dress, pearls, and has a lot of blue hair.
Homer: A lot of blue hair? Hee hee -- what a freak! [realizes] ...it's Marge! She's become a crazed criminal just because I didn't take her to the ballet.
Wiggum: That's exactly how Dillinger got started.
Homer: (interested) Really?
- Lessons on sticking together
- Special News...Editorial
- The Dragnet ending
25) The Boy Who Knew Too Much (Season 5 Episode 20)
What a fun, reference filled episode "The Boy Who Knew Too Much" is: there are so many little tips of the hat to so many different films, and just generally to pop culture in this episode, that it is rather amazing that it maintains such a cohesive and well-thought out story-line. Bart skips school, and ends up the lone witness in a crime on the Quimby Compound, wherein Diamond Joe Quimby's nephew Freddy is accused of beating up a waiter (which should have been called 'Waitergate') over the pronunciation of the word chowder.
Switching between spot-on film parody (seriously, if you haven't seen Westworld you need to...plus HBO is making it into a series...), pop culture references, and even slapstick comedy; this is one of those golden age episodes that sometimes gets forgotten about, as it gets overshadowed among the truly amazing episodes still to come on this list, but there are very good reasons why it is starting off our Top 25:
- Otto and his prison bus
- Of course Springfield Elementary has a crime lab...
- The interrogation of Lisa
- The intensity of Skinner's search for Bart
- Bart can read thoughts now?
- Homer is a great juror
- Freddy really screwing up his own defense
- Homer going all 12 Angry Men....for Free Willy
- What really happened in that kitchen
24) The Twisted World of Marge Simpsons (Season 8, Episode 11)
The Marge-centered episodes are coming thick and fast all of a sudden! By which I mean here is the second one on this list...which I believe is the only time that two Marge heavy episodes featured in the same segment of the Top 100. I've always really had a soft spot for this episode--it happens to be one with a very solid primary story, that the episode sticks to, of Marge starting her own food franchise: Pretzel Wagon, to rival the ladies in the investors group she used to be a part of (who kick her out for...being Marge).
When I first moved to the big city (coming from a small "city" that at the time was under 100,000 people), my Uncle lived here, and he would take me out to places to get me away from the University a bit, to see theatre, and to eat different kinds of foods. He's the reason I tried sushi (and eat pickled ginger...which is apparently rare), but more importantly to this story, he introduced me to Middle Eastern cuisine (specifically at a Lebanese restaurant). Now today, I eat a wide variety of stuff, but at the time, it was a gigantic leap from the 'pizza place, hamburger joint, Italian restaurant' my home town had...so he ordered for me.
And he literally explained what we were eating using episodes of The Simpsons; primarily this one...which is something I will never, ever forget. He's moved now, so I don't get to see him much, but this is an episode that always makes me think of, and miss him and his partner a lot...and that totally plays into why it's so high on my list...
Let's be fair though, as every episode at this point has to be high on both my, and Dave's lists: there are a lot of amazing moments in "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson" as well:
- Homer is terrible at eating hot dogs
- The Franchise Fair (and explaining to young me what a Franchise is)
- Frank: Congratulations, and welcome to the dynamic world of mobile pretzel retailing.
Marge: When can I start? Where's my territory?
Frank: Your..territory...well, lemme tell ya. Wherever a young mother is ignorant of what to feed her baby, you'll be there. Wherever nacho penetration is less than total, you'll be there. Wherever a Bavarian is not quite full, you will be there.
Marge: Don't forget fat people. They can't stop eating!
(Homer walks by.)
Homer: Hey, pretzels!
- The Pretzel Wagon video (complete with Space Girl Parade!)
- Free Pretzel Day
- The Pretzel Mafia Montage
- Fat Tony: Greetings, Homer.
Homer: Hey! Fat Tony! You still with the mafia?
Fat Tony: Uh, uh, yes, I am. Thank you for asking. Now Homer, as you no doubt recall, you were done a favor by our, uh -- how shall I say -- mafia crime syndicate.
Homer: Ohhh yeahhh.
Fat Tony: Now the time has come for you to do us a favor.
Homer: You mean the mob only did me a favor to get something in return?? Ohhh, Fat Tony! I will say good day to you, sir!
Fat Tony: Ok. I will go.
(Fat Tony leaves.)
Fat Tony: (Realizing what just happened) 'eyy.. Wait a minute!
- The Mafia v. Yakuza Fight
23) Itchy & Scratchy Land (Season 6, Episode 4)
Another thing that it took making this list for me to realize, is how much the writers of Golden Age Simpsons episodes love the movie Westworld. I mean, I had an inkling, but there are so many jokes across multiple episodes that work so much better when you have seen that film. This is the second 'theme park' episode to make it onto our Top 100, with "Selma's Choice", and the amazing trip to Duff Gardens pipping in at #94, but when talking about strange Simpsons family vacation episodes, this one is the best.
The kids convince Marge and Homer that they should spend their summer vacation visiting 'Itchy & Scratchy Land', a Disneyland/Jurassic Park/Westworld style island theme park all based on 'Itchy and Scratchy'. Inevitably, the trip ends up following Westworld wherein the robotic Itchy and Scratchy's revolt against humanity, and only the Simpsons are left on the island to fight them off.
I love the references, I love the spot-on parody of DisneyWorld (I've never been to Disneyland...just world), and references to two of the best 'theme parks gone awry' films ever made? Sold.
- The trips to Amish Country & Sandy Beach
- The magic of am radio
- Parking at a major attraction
- Helicopter Pilot: Welcome to Itchy and Scratchy Land, where nothing can possib-lie go wrong. Uh, possibLY go wrong. That's the first thing that's ever gone wrong.
- The robot parade and log flume
- BABIES LOVE THE BALL ROOM
- The saga of Bort
- The terrors of the Bird Sanctuary
22) Any Given Sundance (Season 19, Episode 18)
I am so very glad that I am the one to talk about "Any Given Sundance" because I can assure you that I am, 100% the reason that this episode is this high, as my enthusiasm for it meant that Dave watched it (and clearly also loved it, or it would not be this high on the list). This is essentially the only "new" episode of The Simpsons that even came close to making the list, and that it largely because so, so many of them are just awful: lazily written, all-over-the-place plot, terrible/overused jokes (if there even are jokes...sometimes they just give up and have a cameo for 20 minutes...). "Any Given Sundance" however, is easily the best episode of the series in years, but this comes at a cost: you almost need to be in the filmmaker, or at least film aficionado niche for this episode to work as well for you as it does for us.
Lisa decides to make a documentary called "Capturing the Simpsons" (based on the actual documentary Capturing the Friedmans) with the help of Principal Skinner and SuperNintendo Chalmers, and the whole of Springfield Elementary. The (very unflattering) documentary ends up getting into the Sundance Film Festival, so the family goes to Sundance (with a little reference to The Shining) where they finally see the film, get mad at Lisa, and then decide that one Simpsons movie is enough once the festival buzz over Lisa's film passes by.
The meta jokes toward The Simpsons Movie add an extra layer into what is an excellent satire of the film festival circuit and documentary films, adds a brilliant new layer to the Skinner/Chalmers relationship, and of course, has one of the greatest cameos that not enough Simpsons fans are able to appreciate (due to his rather cult director status): Jim Jarmusch
I cannot tell you the number of times Dave and I have sent each other the 'Chalmskinn' logo you see above, or go through Jarmusch's line about being able to eat a raw onion...
My Other Highlights:
- Homer's thoughts on/style of tailgating
- Lisa (after getting a 3/5, taking her film to Principal Skinner) The man (the art/film teacher) is an idiot!
Skinner: Agreed! The film has everything, emotion, conflict, Milhouse.
- Skinner's screenplays
- The montage of film-making (Set to "I Put My Camera On' -Spoon)
- So many dead film festival organizers...
- Homer's Film Festival
- Marge discovers film festival movies
- Skinner and Chalmers getting kicked out of the premiere
- Festival Goer 1: Brava Lisa!
Festival Goer 2: Shame on Marge!
Festival Goer 3: Death to Maggie!
Maggie dramatically turns, looking mad
- Nelson's movie "Life Blows Chunks"
- John C. Reilly's cameo at the very end, as himself...
21) The Joy of Sect (Season 9, Episode 13)
"The Joy of Sect" is one of those episodes that is just stuffed full of hilarious moments, and one off-jokes which means that despite the central premise of all of Springfield suddenly joining the Movementarian cult running thin by the end of the episode, it is still one of the best episodes of The Simpsons. "Sect" also speaks to just how good The Simpsons were during their Golden Age--take the premise of having every major character (really, every character period) joining a religious cult for an episode and attach it to any other sitcom/comedy of the era (1998), and you're looking at comedy suicide...but somehow The Simpsons make it work.
I also have to say I really enjoy the show taking the concept that Mr. Burns wants to be loved (or you know, fully exempt from taxes), and twisting it around within the context of the these of the episode, is really quite fun (and that scene of the new Burns religion is amazing).
- The spot-on airport bookstore (seriously, I got Timeline at an airport for a trip...)
- Homer's concept of free weekend
- Springfield welcoming the team back
- Homer's first taste of the Movementarian Compound
- Homer's safe from the 6-hour long indoctrination film
- The great, unbiased news reports
- Marge's Bad Ass Escape
- The attempt to knock-out Homer
- The Movementarians Deadliest Weapon
Join us again next week as Dave takes us into the Top 20 Episodes of The Simpsons!