Last Sunday, The Simpsons broadcast it’s 500th episode. 500th. I mean, that’s just ridiculous. And whilst it’s become a cliché to say that it’s gone considerably downhill in the last ten years, it should never be overlooked that for about 5-6 years, The Simpsons was the funniest, wittiest, cleverest thing on TV, and when it was at it’s best, I’d say it was the greatest thing that has ever been on television.
Thus, I have decided to do a little celebratory post, specifically my top 10 episodes ever, in honour of the greatest programme that ever was, that has now become a sub-Family Guy crapfest. Never forget the good times.
10. Homer the Heretic
Having been raised Catholic, going to church every Sunday was probably the worst part of my week, so Homer’s attitude towards it in this episode is something I can really get on board with. This episode brings together all the best bits of the Simpsons for me. It’s thought-provoking, clever, sweet and hilarious in equal measures, and I have been using the “Why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I’m going to hell?” argument for the last 15 years.
Best quote – Homer: “I’m not a bad guy! I work hard, and I love my kids. So why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I’m going to hell?”
9. Homer the Great
Two words: Stonecutters song.
Best quote – Bart: “Dad, remember those self-hypnosis courses we took to help us ignore Grampa?” Homer: “Do I ever! It’s five years later and I still think I’m a chicken. I’m a chicken, Marge!” Marge: “I know, I know.”
8. Lisa’s Wedding
Depressingly, this “set in the future” tale actually happened two years ago, and there’s still no digital Big Ben. Boo-urns. But some of my favourite episodes involve Lisa and Homer together, proving just how much they love each other, and this is the only show on Earth that can prove a daughter’s love using pig cufflinks.
Best quote – Marge: “How are you doing in England? Remember, an elevator is called a “lift”, a mile is called a “kilometer” and botulism is called “steak and kidney pie”.”
7. Lisa’s First Word
Like the previous entry, a lot of this episode’s charm comes from looking at the Simpsons from another point in their history, this time their past. And it says something for an episode when moments like Bart’s attempts to be noticed, Krusty losing it over his Olympic failure, or Lisa refusing to say “Daddy” but will say “David Hasselhoff”, the best moment is right at the very end with Homer and Maggie. Possibly the sweetest moment in Simpsons history (although it might be topped by the “Do it for her” at the end of “Maggie Makes Three”. This is the better episode over all though.)
Best quote – Maggie: “Daddy”
No one does spoofs like the Simpsons and this is just majestic from the start to finish. I still know all the words to “A Boozehound named Barney”.
Best quote: Grampa: “So long, Superman!”
5. Marge vs the Monorail
Again, that song and dance sequence is a big part of my love for this episode (That’s right, I love musicals, sound the “homosexual stereotype klaxon”) But this has so much more, what with Leonard Nimoy being awesome, Marge getting her own story and being magnificent or the hilarity that inevitably comes with Homer, a runaway monorail and a family of possums.
Best quote – Homer: (to the tune of the Flintstones) “Simpson, Homer Simpson. He’s the greatest guy in history. From the town of Springfield, he’s about to hit a chestnut tree. AAH!”
4. Cape Feare
Sideshow Bob is obviously the greatest recurring character the Simpsons has ever had (I’m not including proper Springfield residents in that, otherwise we’d be here all day) and this is without a doubt, his greatest episode, with or without the epic, minute long sequence of Bob stepping onto numerous rakes and shuddering. Note to Family Guy makers: THIS is how you do a “sequence goes on for too long and becomes funny again”, NOT by just reusing another fucking Conway Twitty sequence.
Best quote – Prosecutor: “What about that tattoo on your chest? Doesn’t it say ‘die Bart die’?” Sideshow Bob: “No, that’s German for ‘The Bart The’.” Parole Board Member: “No one who speaks German could be an evil man.”
3. King Size Homer
We all know what a moo-moo thanks to this episode, I can’t go into KFC and see a slightly see through bargain bucket without hearing Dr Nick’s “nutritional” advice and of course there’s the finale of Homer saving us all by using his butt to PREVENT the release of toxic gasses. I don’t think there’s a scene in this that doesn’t have a classic moment. Phew. Where’s my Tab?
Best quote – Lady on phone: “The fingers you have used to dial are too fat. To obtain a special dialing wand, please mash the keypad with your palm now.”
2. Homer’s Enemy
Possibly the darkest episode of the Simpsons, where a “normal” hard-working guy comes in and sees Homer for what he is, a useless, lazy, stupid drunk. This just destroys every cliché that has been the cornerstone of every American sitcom ever, and yet somehow you’re still supporting Homer, despite knowing that Frank is absolutely correct to despise him.
Best quote – Frank: “God, he eats like a pig”. Lenny: “I dunno. Pigs tend to chew. I’d say he eats more like a duck.”
1. You Only Move Twice
Perfection. Everything about this is amazing. Every joke, every storyline, every character. It manages to squeeze a really good plot into just over 20 minutes, and managing to return the show to it’s status quo, without it ever feeling forced. The idea of seeing a Bond villain “behind the scenes” is genius and I can’t believe it hasn’t happened more often (without it turning into high-camp ridiculousness, like Austin Powers)
Best quote – Homer: “Uh… you have any sugar around here?” Hank Scorpio: “Sugar? Sure.” *takes two handfuls of sugar out of his pockets* “There you go. Sorry it’s not in packages. Want some cream?” *reaches back into his pockets* Homer: “Uh… I… no.”