Our record, Love Hard, just came out in February. Give it a listen here. With that out of the way, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE SIMPSONS! It’s my favorite show, and if this article is any indication, I could talk about it for hours. I have chosen, for your reading pleasure, my five favorite episodes in the order in which they aired. I’ve handpicked some of my favorite jokes as well. Let’s get to it.
Season 4, Episode 20: “Whacking Day”
Written by the eminent John Swartzwelder, this one didn’t jump into my mind because of the plot (which is pretty weak) but the individual jokes themselves. Superintendent Chalmers, one of my favorite characters, makes his first appearance in this episode. When Principal Skinner puts up banners to welcome the superintendent for his visit, Chalmers is not impressed, calling it “transparent toadying.” Skinner then claims it was the children’s idea. “It’s always the children’s fault, isn’t it Seymour?” he asks sarcastically. “Yes. Yes it is, sir.” Principal Seymour replies gravely. The grim portrayal of the American education system is particularly appealing to me.
There’s one gem in particular that I consider one of the best jokes in the history of the show. Homer is discussing the primitive appeal of Whacking Day to Lisa at the dinner table. “Inside every man is a struggle between good and evil that cannot be resolved.” he explains. Cut to inside of his brain:
I also love how Bart actually has fun learning from his mother after he gets expelled. She gives him a copy of Johnny Tremain, explaining how it’s about a boy during the American Revolution whose hands are deformed. “Woowww! They should call this book Johnny Deformed!”
Season 5, Episode 10: “$pringfield (or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)”
In this episode they build a casino to bolster Springfield’s failing economy. Reporter Kent Brockman summarizes things for the viewers. “Things aren’t as happy as they used to be down here at the unemployment office.” he explains. “Joblessness is no longer just for philosophy majors. Useful people are starting to feel the pinch.”
Mr. Burns’ transformation in this episode is a highlight. After opening the casino he undergoes a Howard Hughes-type metamorphosis, complete with jars of his own urine and fingernails. While staring at his assistant Smithers’ face he sees a horde of microscopic germs that announce “Freemasons rule the country!” He builds a wooden airplane about the size of a shoe called the “Spruce Moose.” (A play off of Hughes’ “Spruce Goose”) When he decides they should return to his power plant he orders Smithers to get in the plane. “But sir…” he responds. Burns pulls a gun, “I said get…in.”
Season 6, Episode 14: “Bart’s Comet”
Another one by John Swartzwelder and another one that makes a mockery of our education system. Bart discovers a comet while he’s helping Principal Skinner with his amateur astronomy as punishment for a prank. Later they discover that it’s headed straight for Springfield. Bart is inducted into the “Super Friends,” the nerd clique of Springfield Elementary. I love these characters (maybe because I hung out with such people during my childhood), with names like Cosine, Report Card, and Database. Homer is optimistic about their chance to survive the comet. “Big deal. It’ll burn up in the atmosphere and what ever’s left will be no bigger than a chihuahua’s head.” That ends up being true.
Bart: “But what’s really amazing is that this is exactly what Dad said would happen.” Homer: “I know kids, I’m scared too…” They huddle together in fear and the episode ends.
Season 7, Episode 13: “Two Bad Neighbors”
George Bush Sr. moves to Springfield! This episode premieres Disco Stu, a character who was created for a single joke but ended up becoming a recurring character. Homer is selling a jacket that reads “Disco Stu” in studs. “Who’s Disco Stu?” Marge asks. “I wanted to write ‘Disco Stud,’ but ran out of room.”
Later, when he’s selling the jacket at a yard sale, a man says it and turns to his friend. “Hey, Stu, you should buy that jacket!” The camera pans to a man in a Saturday Night Fever-style getup. “Disco Stu does not advertise.”
Season 8, Episode 8: “Hurricane Neddy”
We really get to see what makes good ole Ned Flanders tick, from his childhood to the turbulent breakdown after his house is destroyed in a hurricane. The town gets together to rebuild the house but does a less than stellar job. After walking down a hallway that gets smaller and smaller, Ned finds a tiny door. He opens it to find Barney Gumble on the other side. “This is your master bedroom!” he exclaims.
Ned tries to be his optimistic self but has a mental breakdown, turning his rage on everyone in the town. “I don’t know who you are, but I’m sure you’re a jerk!” he shouts at Lenny. “Hey, I’ve only been here for a few minutes, what’s going on?” Lenny replies. Then Ned turns to Moe the bartender. “You ugly hate-filled man.” Moe responds, “Hey, I may be ugly and hate-filled but I…what was the third thing you said?” Finally he gets to Homer and his voice dies down to a sinister whisper. “Homer, you are the worst human being I have ever met.” Homer smiles as Ned walks away. “Hey, I got off pretty easy!”
And that’s the last of em! Of course it was nigh impossible for me to simply choose five. Some honorable mentions include “Homer At Bat,” Boy Scoutz in the Hood,” “Marge vs. the Monorail,” and “Lemon of Troy.”
Come up to me after a show and we can sing some Simpsons songs together!
Flagland’s Love Hard is out now on Father/Daughter Records.