After Bart gets caught writing his name in wet cement, Marge scolds her son and tells him that he should show more respect for his town. In one of the series’ most ambitious, structurally daring episodes, “Trilogy of Error” is split into Homer’s Day, Lisa’s Day, and Bart’s Day, and they all intersect. It’s like the cabin scene from A Night at the Opera, but with everyone involved trying to prove they’re worth saving because the door won’t close and someone needs to be booted. Instead of Homer putting down his dessert so he could be appropriately starstruck by George Harrison, he eats an endless stream of brownies. Homer puts his money where his mouth is when he becomes the newest food critic for the Springfield Shopper. But “I Married Marge” focuses solely on Marge and Homer’s firstborn. In classic Moe fashion, the main plot of “Moe Baby Blues” starts with a suicide attempt, where, before he can jump from a bridge, he catches Maggie (who had been flying through the air after a fender-bender). Homer loses the plant’s Employee of the Month contest to an inanimate carbon rod that ends up stealing his space-hero glory, too, earning a ticker-tape parade and a magazine cover that announces “In Rod We Trust.”. You can literally pinpoint the second when audiences fall in love with “I Love Lisa”: It’s that fateful scene in which Ralph clutches his chest after Lisa, who is fed up with his courting, explodes and tells the poor guy, “Now, listen to me, I don’t like you! But this impressively adult episode is not about Bart; it’s about the two grown-ups, who bond over their mutual sadness. “Lisa’s Rival” shows what happens when she meets her match. The final moment returns to that sign, now surrounded by pictures of Maggie. This also contains the immortal scene in which Principal Skinner invites Superintendent Chalmers over to his house for a meal, ruins it, and ends up serving him Krusty Burgers, which he passes off as “steamed hams.” The Marx Bros. would approve. But when Homer faces death in the final at the hands of Professor Frink’s creation, and reveals himself as human, the robot obeys Asimov’s first law of robotics and will not hurt him. The episode where Homer goes to work for the Bond villain. “Now hold on a minute, missy,” he tells Marge. The show does a particularly special job with Mindy’s character (perfectly voiced by Michelle Pfeiffer). “El Viaje Mistierioso” is the one in which homer eats a super chili “grown deep in the jungle by the inmates of a Guatemalan insane asylum.” But replace the chili with a bowl of peyote, or take a bowl of peyote yourself, and you’d get to the same place — a clever and gorgeously drawn episode in which Homer hallucinates a talking coyote (voiced by Johnny Cash) and a Marge with no face. One was plenty.”), “Any Given Sundance” may bear a resemblance to season six’s A Star Is Burns, but it focuses much more on Lisa’s vision and her negative perception of her parents and brother. Spoofing the VH1 series Behind the Music (with voice-over by that show’s regular narrator, Jim Forbes), it’s a rise-and-fall story that seems to occur not within the Simpsons universe, but adjacent to it. He gets stuck on a roller coaster; she thinks she’s the Lizard Queen. The pool story shows Lisa (and poor pantsless Martin) how fickle popularity can be, while the Bart plot delivers its own unrelated humor, including a incredible sight gag (Bart’s leg in a trashcan, in a patch of grass, etc.). Except unlike our Homer, this other Homer is cool, calm, and not just a cop, but a POLICE cop. When we talk about The Simpsons at its best, we talk about maximizing the space of television, including as many jokes, ideas, and parodies as the space can hold, and this episode achieves that sort of density, covering eight different types of Halloween. #4 Now everyone knows that an episode of the Simpsons is usually 22 minutes long. “If there had to be a bastardized version of Krusty, I’m glad it’s you,” Lisa tells her dad. FIGHT!” upon finding out Bart and Lisa will square off in a match. Plow, that’s my name. Anne Washburn’s 2013 experimental stage drama Mr. Burns envisioned a postapocalyptic world in which the plot of “Cape Feare” is handed down with reverence, as if it were Oedipus Rex or the story of Cain and Abel. Eventually, they badger their parents into taking them to the most violent place on Earth, Itchy & Scratchy Land. Not even the plot twist that parodied "The prison" was good at all. “It all happened in 1990,” Homer says. Though it’s always implied that Homer and Marge have a solid sex life (or “snuggle life,” as Marge would likely call it), “Natural Born Kissers” foregrounds that assumption when the couple reignites their lost spark by realizing they like to do it in public. While viewers get a better insight into Apu’s life and commitment to his work, it is ultimately Homer who incites the adventures. Bart and Lisa and Krusty’s half-brother Luke Perry (playing himself) come to Krusty’s aide as he spirals into depression; the kids finally defeat Gabbo by letting kids see him trash-talking them on a live feed that was supposed to go dark for a commercial (that same trick that undoes the reactionary talk show host in 1957’s A Face in the Crowd). Luckily, the second half is pretty great, too. Lisa’s battle with the sexist Malibu Stacy doll company may be permanently stalled when her rival doll is dropped in favor of a last-minute hat upgrade, but it still results in Lisa’s strongest feminist statement on the show yet. He seems perfectly content living the sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle, minus the sex and drugs, in “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation.” After receiving a one-week crash course in rock from Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Tom Petty, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, and Brian Setzer, Homer scores a gig opening for the assembled musicians at a benefit show. “Much Apu About Nothing” shows what happens when you put a face to your ignorance. Our list of 100 probably gives Marge the shortest shrift, but in this episode, we encounter her neuroses head-on. When a Lego episode was first announced, it was hard not to be skeptical, given how much it felt like a shameless promotional tie-in. It’s one of the best jokes The Simpsons has done in its last decade. Homer has yet another job, this time, as an adult-education teacher of a class that shares its name with the episode title. The Simpsons’ mythology has been rejiggered so many times that it’s hard to tell what really happened in the years leading up to Bart’s birth. This terrifies Bart, so with some help from Treat Williams, he convinces everyone on board that a fatal virus has spread on the mainland and it’s up to them to keep humanity alive. Although The Simpsons has always been aware of how chaotic the kids’ home lives are, they never really dealt with it on somewhat real terms until this episode, which finds Homer and Marge going away for a spa vacation. And sometimes it’s worth it. In a scene in which Flanders is trying to mediate the conflict between Homer and Armisen’s character, Homer goes, “Can we at least agree to both hate Flanders?” To which Armisen replies, “I like him. The darker terrain inspires some outstanding storytelling while never forgetting the gags. But that’s all part of the fun of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “This one spent two hours in the broiler!” Homer declares. (“I liked this movie more than the one by that little girl because I saw it today.”). Also, the characters didn’t necessarily feel settled yet. While The Simpsons has always parodied pop culture, a degree of laziness has entered the process in recent years, as if reference alone to contemporary culture – minus any commentary – is worthy of our applause. Never one to shy away from a reference, only The Simpsons could pull off an episode like this following an NFL game. Sending up film festivals, film critics, the artist’s mentality, and the anti-intellectual tendencies of American culture, “A Star Is Burns” is one of the series’ rare crossover episodes (with the short-lived The Critic, by Simpsons producers Al Jean and Mike Reiss, which had recently come over to Fox after getting canceled by ABC). Already a subscriber? These 100 episodes best paint a picture of all the things the series does best. Formatted like a classic sitcom flashback episode, “That ’90s Episode” succeeds as a perfect send-up of the ’90s and deepens our understanding of Marge and Homer’s relationship, telling the story of how Marge went to college and fell for one of her professors. She snaps at Lisa, and Homer sadly suggests, “You kids should thank your mother. Patty and Selma are everything Marge is not: cynical, mean, un-beehived. That might be why it’s lighter on belly laughs than a lot of the other episodes on this list, though it has its share of sly jokes, including Lisa mournfully regarding a picture of Gore Vidal and lamenting that he’s “kissed more boys than I ever will.” “Girls, Lisa,” her mother replies. Yet “Like Father Like Clown” showed early on that it could train its eye on other character histories and find humor, pathos, and universality. "Brother from Another Series" - I adore Cecil and Bob's sophisticated banter here, and I haven't even seen a lot of Frazier. “Gone Maggie Gone” is a classic example of this, where it’s still able to feel fresh and super funny, despite the reference text being a bit dated. (Most memorably, he takes Bart to a very gay steel mill.). It would seem childish if we didn’t think that, under different circumstances, Homer wouldn’t do the same thing. “Bart on the Road” tweaks the trope, though, by ditching the coming-of-age nonsense and replacing it with something completely absurd — a story about Nelson threatening to beat up Bart, Milhouse, and Martin if they don’t go to an Andy Williams concert (“Bam, second encore!”). You should hate Homer for basically making Grimey commit suicide, yet there’s something so innocent, so sweet, so dumb about him, you just can’t. Bart and Lisa investigate and learn that Krusty’s dad, Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky, didn’t want to perform the ceremony because he was afraid Krusty (a.k.a. As much as it pains him to reject the offer, Homer has to, because he can see how much his daughter loves the stuffed animal. They’d be allowed to go at their own pace.”) The omnipotent malevolence of Bond villains is played for laughs here: At one point, Scorpio asks Homer if he likes France or Italy better, then launches a missile at Homer’s second choice, France. Homer becomes a part of traveling music festival, Hullabalooza … as a guy who takes a cannonball to his stomach. Homer’s unable to sit still while working in his living room, and during the conclusion, his daring climb up the power-plant tower to prevent a “potential Chernobyl” is paired with Mr. Burns’s surprisingly lively “push out the jive, bring in the love” exercise class. Or so he thinks: Homer’s actually just a roadie, but once he sees his family cheering for him in the audience, he starts acting like a headliner. His catchphrase: “Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs.” Where once Homer adored his friends mistaking fiction for fact, he now rejects it completely by changing his name to Max Power. It’s an ingenious way of connecting the first act to the third, making “Mayored to the Mob” feel more conceptually complete than other “Homer gets a new job” episodes. After the rumor well dries up, Homer begins making up stories, including one about how the government is controlling our minds through flu shots. “Holidays of Future Passed” just feels like the show operating at its very best. It’s not that the residents of Springfield are particularly mean or hateful; they’re just easily agitated and quick to riot. “Homer’s Phobia” and “Much Apu Nothing” are maybe the most classic examples. Tonally, “The Last Temptation of Homer” is one the show’s greatest achievements. There’s also a legitimately terrifying nightmare sequence with Bart as the only child in Springfield who doesn’t have a soul. It’s ostensibly a parody of the thriller Cape Fear (more the 1991 Martin Scorsese remake than the 1962 J. Lee Thompson original), has a similar-sounding score, and it hews closely to that template, which gives the episode a propulsive quality that’s unusual for this digressive show. The late, great Phil Hartman guest-stars as Lyle Lanley, who convinces the citizenry to spend an unexpected windfall on a monorail. The show had dealt with infidelity in the past — namely, “Life on the Fast Lane” and “Colonel Homer” — but “The Last Temptation of Homer” surpasses them both. Any number of the newer episodes which seem to be competing with each other for most disjointed surreal crap ever. This is also the first Simpsons episode in regular run to compact its opening credits and cut straight to the couch gag (in this case, a repeat of the one from season two’s “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge,” in which the family enters the living room and finds the couch missing). This felt more like 35, because it was the longest and most boring episode of the Simpsons. I’ve created life!” Marge: “Lisa, breakfast! No episode of The Simpsons - or anything really - … When Lisa’s regular teacher Miss Hoover is stricken with Lyme disease, her class is taken over by a substitute named Mr. Bergstrom (guest-star Dustin Hoffman), a gentle, funny, guitar-strumming, everybody’s-best-friend-and-mentor type. Over its many seasons, The Simpsons has been able to take culture and filter it so thoroughly through its lens that the source material become less essential than the episode. In the episode, Homer is introduced to Mindy, a new female co-worker who happens to be his perfect match. If anything, “Sideshow Bob Roberts,” which mocks both “cold-hearted” Republicans and “guilty” Democrats equally, has only gotten better with time. It becomes increasingly apparent to Homer how frustrating and isolating the world is for intelligent people. Log in or link your magazine subscription, 98. Though we know Moe’s life is going to reset, it’s nice to see him happy. Take one scene: Homer gets onstage and a shirtless member of the audience comments to his buddy in the de rigueur ironic tone, “Here comes that cannonball guy. There is something profoundly unsettling about seeing The Simpsons’ characters outside their familiar milieu, which is one of the reasons why most episodes set in the future with grown-up versions of Bart and Lisa fall flat. There she sees her local congressman take a bribe to raze a forest in Springfield. What happens when the kids of Springfield Elementary are trapped in the school with Principal Skinner and Groundskeeper Willie because of a devastating blizzard? This is a sentimental episode, but also a serious one, treating the conflict between generational sensibilities at least as seriously as the two versions of The Jazz Singer that it spoofs. Voice acting on The Simpsons is often taken for granted, but Dave Thomas’s performance as the humorless Banner is such a perfect homage to The Untouchables and Dragnet that’s it’s hard to imagine the episode succeeding without it. In 2000, Patrick Stewart told the BBC, “I think my appearance in The Simpsons and an appearance that I did on Sesame Street … were perhaps the two most distinguished bits of work that I’ve done in the U.S.” Do we agree? For Simpsons’ diehards, the title recalls a Lionel Hutz court case mentioned in series four and this episode could hold its own in that era. Moe is easily The Simpsons’ darkest character, so a lot of comedy and heart can be gotten out of him in the rare instances when something good happens. It’s all fairly ridiculous, ending in a Good, Bad and the Ugly Mexican standoff, but it’s extremely lively and includes a genuine spit-out- your-water moment involving an aggressive goat and a bracelet. They’re obvious outsiders, but Marge wants to be on the inside, so she keeps tailoring her suit, afraid that she won’t be accepted if she wears her usual attire.You can’t help but sympathize with Marge’s desperation, even if the country club is a “hotbed of exclusionist snobs and status-seeking social climbers.” Ultimately, Marge unknowingly gets what she wants — Evelyn sponsors the Simpsons’ membership — but at a cost. It’s a twist that works so well because of how “Strummer” treats the actual rock gods. Homer isn’t particularly political; he’s just reactionary and, well, stupid. 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