It’s easy to take The Simpsons for granted. Twenty-four seasons and 500-plus episodes will do that. It’s not so much a show now as an institution; you just expect it to be there every Sunday night.
But will it be there for much longer? It’s hard to say. The Simpsons is akin to an animated Saturday Night Live – going through great and not-so-great seasons without much talk of ever ending.
For the record, The Simpsons is currently going through an ‘up’ phase, having survived post-movie gloom and (ratings) doom to emerge stronger on the other side. Recent years don’t rival the show’s best seasons, but there have been some real funny moments. Here are just a few memorable episodes from the last five years. But first, the opening couch gag:
THAT NINETIES SHOW (SEASON 19) – Homer as Kurt Cobain? Luv it! Homer recalls his college years when a breakup with Marge led to him forming a depressing grunge band called Sadgasm. Songs include Shave Me and Margarine – a tribute to Marge. Even Weird Al shows up to do a Sadgasm parody song:
A MIDSUMMER’S NICE DREAM (SEASON 22) – Cheech and Chong parody themselves - or do they? Homer is hired to replace a disgruntled Chong and the duo is renamed Cheech and Chunk. Chong’s teaming up with Principal Skinner to do experimental theater is priceless, as is a Fritz The Cat-inspired hallucination. Dave’s not here, man…
TAKE MY LIFE, PLEASE (SEASON 20) – Homer discovers he was cheated out of becoming high school Class President, and wonders how his life would have changed. A magical ‘sauce’ at an Italian restaurant holds the answer. Any episode with high school Homer is a winner.
BART GETS A Z (SEASON 21) – Bart gets cruel revenge on Mrs. Krabappel by spiking her drink. Unfortunately, the prank gets her fired (Not the first time that happened). Guess they don’t have a strong teachers union in Springfield:
THEM, ROBOT (SEASON 23) – Not a deep or innovative episode but a funny one. Only Homer is spared when Burns decides to fire everyone and replace them with robots (voiced by Brett Spiner of ‘Star Trek’ robot fame). Homer proceeds to accidentally destroy all the robots (the ones that don’t commit suicide that is) in hilarious and disturbing ways.
NED AND EDNA’S BLEND (SEASON 23) – An off-season vote asked Simpsons viewers to decide the fate of Ned Flanders and Edna Krabappel’s relationship. The result proved a little shocking. Ned and Edna….get married! Wow. Didn’t see that coming. Nor did I see the twist that finds Homer dressed as Jesus, and Ned having a Davey and Goliath nightmare.
ETERNAL MOONSHINE OF THE SIMPSON MIND (SEASON 19) – A parody of that dark Jim Carrey movie, this trippy, Emmy-winning episode finds Homer attempting to remember what happened to him the night before. I think this will explain the memory loss:
AT LONG LAST LEAVE (SEASON 23) – The 500th episode finds the town voting in secret to kick out the Simpsons.The family sets up a new life off the grid with the help of…Julian Assange? That Wikileaks guy? That’s one weird cameo.
TREEHOUSE OF HORRORS (SEASON 20) – This annual Halloween special features a truly creepy parody of It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. In it, the Great Pumpkin is horrified to see humans carving up pumpkins and proceeds to enact bloody revenge. In the past, Treehouse Halloween specials didn’t air until November – when American viewers will be enjoying another terrifying fall ritual:
The Simpsons airs Sundays on Fox and Global.