[Scott takes a look at some of the best latter day Simpsons moments. Scott is not kidding -- his Simpsons Memory is kind of frightening. I add in some of my own along the way].
People have been lamenting the decline in quality of The Simpsons for over a decade and, while Seasons 3-8 are almost universally accepted as the show’s ‘golden age,’ people have been bemoaning its gradual decline since the 9th season (most point to that season’s ‘Principal and the Pauper’ as the first crack in the show's quality). I personally feel the show remained at it’s peak at least through the 10th and most of the 11th seasons. Having just purchased season 12 on DVD, you definitely get a sense that the show was not quite what it used to be. But what are you gonna do? The Simpsons has sort of passed that point of ‘just being a show’ and has now pretty much become an institution. What else are you going to watch Sundays at 8? I imagine it would kind of be like the funny pages not having Peanuts.
In the show's defense, it has never tried to be anything else or follow trends set by other popular cartoon shows: it doesn’t load itself with the random pop-culture references of Family Guy (think about how much of the ‘humor’ of Family Guy is just you recognizing some obscure pop-culture reference from your youth) or crassly (but always intelligently) overstepping boundaries like South Park. Also, while I don’t find myself laughing as much as I used to, the show can still deliver a great zinger or even the occasional all-around solid episode. In fact, some episodes are so good that, if you were unaware of what season you were watching, you might assume that you were watching a long-forgotten episode from somewhere in the show’s golden age.
So, I propose a challenge of sorts: What are some of your favorite latter day Simpsons moments or episodes? Any episode or moment after season 8 is fair game and bonus points if you can think of some from the last five years or so.
Here are a few of mine (I’ll list Season and Episode titles when I can remember them… as Geoff knows my encyclopedic knowledge of the show really only applies to it’s first 10 seasons or so):
“Lisa The Skeptic”
This one is pretty well known; an archeological dig finds what appears to be the skeleton of an angel. Lisa, of course, refuses to believe. Because of this episode, whenever I hear “This is the End” I always want to say “The End of High Prices!”
“The Joy of Sect”
Homer joins the Movementarians. “Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Leader!”
“Mayored to the Mob”
After becoming the Mayor’s bodyguard, Homer discovers the mobsters are supplying the school with rat milk; the image of hundreds of rats hooked up to tiny milking machines is one of the most disturbingly hilarious images in the show’s history.
Homer becomes a missionary. This of course gave us the classic line “But I don’t even believe in Jeebus!”… I also really like the part where, in the absence of beer, Homer resorts to licking toads…
“Behind the Laughter”
A Behind the Music style ‘expose’ of the family.
[This one has a great parody of VH1's Behind the Music's overwrought writing style, something along the lines of "but would the olive branch Homer was extending be accepted, or torn apart by woodpeckers of mistrust?" and "They were on a wing and a prayer, but wing was on fire and the prayers were answered ... by Satan." Oh, and at one point they go to commercial break on "But would this be the end of the Simpsons? No. No it would not." These are especially funny as they actually have the narrator from Behind the Music, I think. -- Geoff]
It is discovered that Homer’s stupidity is the result of a Crayon being lodged in his brain, after having it removed Homer attains the whopping IQ of 105 but, unable to be happy as the result of his newfound intelligence, has the crayon shoved BACK into his brain.
“Worst. Episode. Ever.”
After Comic Book Guy has a heart attack, Bart and Milhouse are left in charge of The Android's Dungeon. The two get into a fight after Milhouse orders 1000 copies of Biclops, “The World’s First Superhero with Glasses” (published by Lenscrafters!) and discover Comic Book Guy’s secret stash of Bootlegged Videos including ‘Gotfather III: Good Version.” (Interestingly, when I watched Godfather III for the first time I could not take it seriously since Joe Mantengna’s voice in the movie was EXACTLY the same as the voice he uses for Fat Tony on the Simpsons) This episode also has a great Ralph Wiggum line when, after wondering into the ‘adult section’ he exclaims, “Everybody’s Hugging!” [That is a great line.]
“Treehouse of Horror XII”
Two great moments here: 1) Yoda officiating at the wedding of a Leprechaun and a Gypsy. 2) After not studying his homework in a Harry Potter parody, Bart creates a half-man/half-frog abomination which prompts Mrs. Krebaple to say “Lisa is casting spells at a tenth grade level, YOU have sinned against nature”
“Homer the Moe”
Homer opens his own bar out of his garage and, when guest stars REM learn that they have been tricked into playing there, Michael Stipe breaks a bottle and advances on Homer only to be stopped by Mike Mills saying, “No Michael, it’s not the REM way!” [I also like Homer singing "It's The End of the World as You Know It" with his own nonsense lyrics, the last one leading to the chorus is That's right, Flanders, I'm TALKING BOUT YOU!"]
“Weekend at Burnsies”
While the final act featuring Homer and Smithers pretending that a presumed dead Mr. Burns is still alive (thus the title) is pretty weak, the first two acts which feature a story in which Homer is prescribed medical marijuana are probably some of the funniest moments the show has seen in the last 10 years. My favorite: Homer ask Flanders, “Could Jesus heat a burrito so hot that not even he could eat it?” [Is this the one where Otto says "They call them fingers but I never seen them fing. Oh. Wait. There they go."]
“That 90’s Show”
We get a glimpse of Marge’s ‘College Days’ in the bygone era of the ‘90s. There was a line in the episode that went something like “All penis shaped objects are oppressive”
And, there was a moment from a couple of years back that I can’t remember the anything else about the episode other than Bart is sent to a psychiatrist. At one point while he’s on the couch he says something like, “Last night I had a dream that I was part of a cartoon family and our show became the key to the success of a TV channel that would go on to be the cornerstone of a media empire that would include a cable news channel that was nothing more than a mouthpiece for the far right”
I’m sure I could think of a lot more… but I’ll leave that up to you guys.
[The only other one I can thing of right now off the top of my head is the one where Homer become part of a private security force or something, and at one point says something to Marge about how this is the most rewarding off all the jobs he has had: and then proceeds into a long list of the ABSURD number of jobs he has had since the show began.]
[I am also a big fan of the flashback episode that shows Homer and Marge kissing at camp when they were kids. We see all the cast when they were young and get little jokes like Selma starting smoking or whatever. At one point Moe gets a prank call and gets really angry about it, then calmly turns to the camera and says "Aaaaaand that's the origin of THAT!" which has become my perennial short hand for lazy "origin" easter eggs -- as in the Wolverine movie, where they felt the need to explain where the got the motorcycle jacket and bike from. Cause you can't just have a jacket without there being a story behind it about how this old couple had a son who died...]