2016 is just about done, thank goodness, and like last year, Fox cable channel FXX in America is hosting their “The Simpsons 600” marathon. Beginning on Thanksgiving day, they give 600 episodes of “The Simpsons” starting from episode one, and they’ve given every episode non-stop and completely uncut. This marathon has reminded me how much I adore “The Simpsons” and will always adore “The Simpsons” even when it’s at its lowest. Ninety five percent of the episodes from season one to season ten are brilliant and absolutely hysterical, while the other five percent being mediocre to forgettable episodes still end up being rather funny, offering at least two instances of chuckles here and there.
With the series nearing thirty record breaking seasons, I thought I’d fondly remember five of the best guest spots from celebrities popular among fan boys and fan girls alike. As always if you have your own choices, let me know in the comments!
“Look I don’t want to be rude, but you sad losers should go suck somewhere else.”
Like every other hardcore Simpsons fan, I was a bit surprised that the series decided to not go with “Treehouse of Horror” this year. But FOX publicists assured fans that the following week would bring a new “Treehouse of Horror.” Even the characters address it in the first few minutes, as Homer has to appease Flanders, who asks why Halloween isn’t being celebrated in a treehouse this year. Thankfully “Halloween of Horror” is an experiment, and a damn good one. In all of the twenty seven seasons of “The Simpsons,” there were Christmas and Thanksgiving episodes, but Halloween was a special event with standalone non-canon horror stories meant to pay tribute to everything from Stephen King to Edgar Allen Poe. This year, the series treats us to two Halloween based episodes! Thankfully, “Halloween of Horror” is quite great and reminded me of a time where “The Simpsons were hilarious.
“Futurama” deserves so much better than to become a sight gag in future episodes of “The Simpsons,” but hey, at least “Simpsorama” is a hilarious meta-crossover. Not to mention it’s kind of a closer to the “Futurama” series that gets the official goodbye by Matt Groening’s first really popular show. It’s a respectful and dignified farewell to what was a great companion to “The Simpsons.” Not to mention, an animation crossover I actually give two craps about. At least “Futurama” deserved this crossover.
1. Mother Simpson
All the years we watched “The Simpsons” we never quite knew about Homer’s mother. We know that Homer grew up with an overbearing occasionally mean father who didn’t care much for Homer, but we barely garnered a glimpse in to Homer’s other parent. I naturally assumed for many years that she died when he was a baby and Homer was stuck with an awful dad. Truth be told, Homer’s father Abe isn’t even that much of a mean dad, just someone who grew up in a different time. There was that stern belief that dads couldn’t and shouldn’t be friends with their sons. That idea still carries over today with some parents. In either case, we’re finally given an idea of what happened to Homer’s mother and why he never really spoke of her all this time.
2. Deep Space Homer
All hail the inanimate carbon rod! Homer is able to finagle a trip to space by NASA thanks to his usual bumbling and insanely good luck. NASA, just like every other organization, wants to attract public interest to their space launches (that are losing out to “A Connie Chung Christmas”), and decide to find an average man to go to space with them. Little does Homer know that they’ve picked him after he spends an unusual amount of time calling them to complain about their boring space launches. After a twist of fates, Barney becomes Homer’s competitor for the spot as an astronaut allowing for one of the wackiest and most memorable episodes of the series bar none.
3. Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in “The Curse of the Flying Hellfish”
Not much was ever made of Grandpa Simpson until the later seasons of the series, where we learned that he was a mean old codger. And sometimes for a good reason. Often times just because he was a jerk. In “Raging Abe Simpson,” it’s one of the most entertaining Grandpa-centric episode where we’re given an interesting dimension in to his youth. Bart Simpson also gets a crash course in to Grandpa’s life, when he learns he’s a part of a blood oath to collect priceless art as he’s close to being the last one standing in his troop of the Flying Hellfish. But Monty Burns breaks the oath by sending assassin Fernando Vidal out to get Grandpa.
Before the series wore out the gimmick like a bad pair of pants (Homer was a Seattle grunge rocker? Seriously?), “The Simpsons” had the tendency to evoke some of the most heartfelt nostalgic episodes of all time. They not only were hilarious and infinitely quotable, but they also packed a lot of heart. “The Way We Was” chronicles the beginnings of Homer and Marge’s tumultuous romance, and how they managed to find love in one another in spite of being polar opposites. The episode has great meaning to me, if only because it introduced me to one of my favorite songs of all time, “The Joker” from Steve Miller.
5. Bart of Darkness
“Flanders is going to kill Rod and Tod, that’s horrible…! In principle.” This episode drew a little bit of a connection for yours truly, as I could pretty much sympathize with Bart’s situation, sans the lunacy. Breaking my arm years ago, I was excluded from many summer activities including sports, and yes, going to public pools. In possibly one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen, the summer heat wave is so bad in Springfield that a guitarist singing “Sunshine on my Shoulders” gets knocked cold by a passerby, and the ice cream man drives around the neighborhood announcing that he’s all out of Ice Cream.