Season Seven Revisited (Part Four)

19. A Fish Called Selma

  • As a diehard Muppet fan, I very much love “Muppets Go Medieval,” and it’s the perfect venue to depict Troy McClure’s status as an older celebrity out of the spotlight. Watching The Muppet Show as a kid, I never knew who any of the guests were, and in the case of a lot of them, I still really don’t. Also, Bart and Lisa having no idea what the Muppets are still stings, though they’ve basically been culturally irrelevant for decades, despite Disney’s many botched attempts to jolt life back into them in mostly misguided and tonedeaf ways (except Muppets Most Wanted, which was fucking great.) 
  • I get that Troy driving a DeLorean is supposed to make him look dated, but I always just think of Troy’s driving the Back to the Future time vehicle, as I’m sure a lot of other people do. Considering I was born seven years after the DeLorean Motor Company closed down after John DeLorean’s famous cocaine trafficking arrest, I can’t view the DeLorean as a “normal” car in any sense. Speaking of, has anyone seen that recent Framing John DeLorean documentary, that’s like part-documentary, part scripted re-enactments with Alec Baldwin, part meta-documentary with Baldwin and the crew talking about filming it? Was that any good?
  • We get our only (I think?) appearance of Fat Tony voiced by Hank Azaria, who sounds like a more gravelly Disco Stu. 
  • The dinner scene with Troy and Selma is so fantastic. Troy obviously doesn’t want to be there, but he also clearly feels awkward making conversation with another human being. Meanwhile, Selma isn’t just some fawning dolt head over heels to be out and about with a celebrity, she’s a bit uncomfortable herself, and best of all, she clearly understands the quid-pro-quo nature of the evening (“Thanks for holding up your end of the bargain. I had a pretty good time.”) Their mutual understanding of their chemistry-free relationship is established from the start, which carries through the entire episode.
  • I love that the first thing we see of Troy in private at his home, he’s sewing back together a bean bag. Just the most innocuous and meaningless thing, but it’s perfect, showing just how much listless time he’s got on his hands not working.
  • Phil Hartman is absolutely stellar in this episode. Troy McClure is recharacterized as not just a show biz phony who is just as shallow in real life, but a man who’s lived in his own bubble for so long he literally can’t feel things like a normal human being. It’s kind of tragic, really. Hartman’s scenes with Julie Kavner are so incredibly compelling, just two great actors bouncing off each other. Shortly before his death, Phil Hartman said he was interested in doing a live-action Troy McClure movie, and it’s a shame we never got to see it.
  • “Jub-Jub is fantastic! He’s everywhere you wanna be!”
  • Has there been a fan-created full musical of “Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off” yet? I think a full-length musical would wear the joke out a bit, but maybe like a one act production with like eight or nine songs would be fun.
  • Homer’s mind singing “Rock and Roll, Part 2” immediately made me think of this.
  • The running gag of Troy’s “fish fetish” gets repeated a little too much (as much as I love Troy’s elated “I’m going to Sea World!!”) but it’s all worth it for the bit where Selma asks point blank about his sexuality and Troy gets gravely serious about his “romantic abnormality” as ominous music plays. It’s so bizarre and I love it.
  • Act three is exclusively scenes from Troy and Selma’s perspective, which is really wonderful to see. Selma agrees to continue their mutually beneficial “sham” relationship once it’s revealed Troy has very few actual emotions (“Don’t you love me?” Sure I do! Like I love Fresca! Isn’t that enough?”) The ending scene of the two of them attempting to “initiate” and talking through their problems is just fantastic, as it feels like a true emotional conclusion to this story, as Selma realizes she can’t bring a new vulnerable life into their fake family (along with some great animated acting that really takes its time.) This is the kind of meaty material I wish the show would have done more from this point, really dig deep and explore the world of Springfield, but sadly, outside a few examples, the series instead would dig its heels into the same old formulas, staying hyper-focused on the family to a fault. We all know how that turned out by this point.
  • The Contrabulous Fabtraption of Professor Horatio Hufnagel.” That’s all.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review:This one’s almost not worth reviewing in my opinion. It was a case of too many missed opportunities. Troy in a full length show turned out to be a bore. Was it just me or did they forget to give him much of a personality? Also the fish joke was just tiresome. It was just flat and repetitive, and this is from someone who thought the rake scene in Cape Feare was classic!  Even things like the Planet of the Apes musical have been done better in other episodes. Sad.”

20. Bart on the Road

  • “Parent’s occupation… please note: homemaker is not allowed, as it is not real work, that’s why you don’t get paid for it.” What disgruntled Springfield Elementary staff member put in that acid-tinged remark?
  • As a kid, a not-so-small part of me wanted to try eating cereal with milk right out of the box. I’m sure the bottom would have given out much faster than it does with Bart here.
  • Martin’s tumultuous adventure playing the stock market definitely feels as fresh as ever after the Robnhood/GameSpot/AMC debacle.
  • Bart, Milhouse and Nelson ordering beers at Moe’s but leaving after observing the depressing atmosphere veers a bit close to PSA-territory, but it feels self-aware enough that it doesn’t seem weirdly preachy. Plus making Moe’s look like a demoralizing hellhole for emotional effect was already pulled off well by the ending of “Duffless,” so this wasn’t much different.
  • This computer-assisted camera turn shot still looks pretty impressive so many years later, as simplistic as it seems by today’s standards. I also like that we go directly from this cool road trip vibe with “Radar Love” to Milhouse fiddling with the radar knobs on the radio like a big dork. Pamela Hayden’s excited effort noises as he does so are so damn funny.
  • Bart calling Martin “Milton” is a great little moment, a reminder that he only invited this wuss to tag along because he had money to burn and was able to be manipulated. Episodes like this and “Lemon of Troy” throw different kinds of kids together, but actually gives us reasons as to why, and we see their personalities clash with each other. Later episodes would have Bart, Milhouse, Martin, Nelson and all the other bullies either friends or on the same team if the plot needs them to, without bothering to explain why these kids are putting up with each other.
  • As a lifelong fan of Disney theme parks, the kids choosing to go to the Knoxville State’s Fair over Disney World always baffled me as a kid. You pick the Sunsphere over EPCOT Center? Blasphemy.
  • Lisa and Homer’s power plant shenanigans are incredibly adorable (regarding jostling treats out of the vending machine, Homer tells her, “It’s a two man operation, and you’re the only man here I trust!”) I also like that Lisa’s quick thinking gets Homer out of trouble, promptly quieting Smithers’ questioning with a treat of his choosing (“Well, I am partial to Jolly Ranchers.”)
  • MVP of the episode is Dan Castellaneta’s psychotic father screaming at his rowdy kids. One cavalier slap from Nelson, and it’s “BACK TO WINNIPEG!!”
  • Hilarious drawing of Nelson completely enraptured by Andy Williams.
  • Homer getting Lisa to admit her crush’s name is such a sweet scene, where Homer promises he won’t tell anyone… because he already forgot his name. I also like the bit later where Lisa admits she doesn’t like her crush anymore, the fickle eight-year-old she is.
  • Marge being completely shut out of the story is a funny running gag, but it gets pushed a little too far when we get the extended scene of her looking at the empty rooms as sad music plays. It makes it seem like Marge getting abandoned is going to come into play in the story, but it doesn’t. I do love how she purposefully wakes Maggie so she can tend to her crying so she actually feels needed.
  • I like how Homer actually comes up with a creative solution in the end in ordering a new workstation. Also great is the dinner scene where Homer and Lisa are rightfully pissed at Bart, but Marge just gives a naive smile, completely none-the-wiser. At least until she gets inundated with calls late into the night (”Hello? Tennessee State Police? No, my son’s car was not crushed in Knoxville! I don’t know where to begin telling you what’s wrong with that!”)
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Not a *bad* episode, just a bit anemic. Weak premise, weak stories, weak gags. A few good chuckles here and there, and a welcome Homer-Lisa subplot, but overall, nothing all too memorable. Like Bart’s rental car, this one seemed to be on cruise control.”

21. Twenty-Two Short Films About Springfield

  • As we just saw in “A Fish Called Selma,” it’s clear how rich with potential the lives of the supporting cast is. This episode was a novel experiment, but it just leaves me wanting to see more of the Simpson-less lives of Moe, Apu, Mr. Burns, Dr. Nick and so forth. Inspired by this episode, there was some brief consideration at a spin-off show “Tales From Springfield,” but apparently was nixed as Matt Groening claimed they didn’t have a big enough writing team to handle two simultaneous series. Well… then hire some more? If a series gets greenlit, you can hire a whole new writing staff. Anyway, we’d see looks into secondary/tertiary characters past this point on occasion, but I really wish this episode was a much bigger harbinger for this series.
  • Another detail I never noticed: the man at the barbeque Apu attends has an apron that reads, “In My Next Life, You’re Cooking.”
  • I like that Apu being a lady killer has been a consistent characteristic, as we see him scoring with a woman at the BBQ in mere minutes (Don’t worry, I’ll tell everybody you were untouchable!”)
  • Dr. Nick propping a cadaver up in his carseat in order to use the carpool lane is pretty grim, yet, I’d almost like to see a whole Dr. Nick episode with that scene in it. Again, limitless possibilities. 
  • Is there anything new I could possibly say about the “steamed hams” scene? There are just so many great memes, but here are some particular favorites of mine. The craziest thing to me is looking back to find that the big explosion of Steamed Hams memes was three years ago, and despite that, I still see shitposts and image macros of the scene in brand new and clever ways. And again I’ll say it’s curious that one of the most celebrated and beloved scenes in show history involves a day-in-the-life of two non-Simpson characters. Clearly inspired by the meme, the show tried to capture some goodwill this season with “Road to Cincinnati,” a well-intentioned episode that sadly got bogged down in its own tracly, unearned sentimentality.
  • Deadbeat Dad Beat Dead. Home run newspaper headline.
  • The Pulp Fiction Krusty Burger conversation is a classic, and like all the greatest parodies done on this show, is funny and clever beyond its actual reference material. The Pulp Fiction dialogue is iconic in and of itself, but lying on top of that Krusty Burger’s absurdly literal menu (“Do they have Krusty partially gelatinated non-dairy gum-based beverages?” “Mmhmm. They call ’em ‘shakes.’” “Huh. ‘Shakes.’ You don’t know what you’re gettin,’”) but I also love the characters’ complete ignorance of a megachain like McDonald’s, living in their fictional universe (“I never heard of it either, but they have over 2,000 locations in this state alone.” “Must’ve sprung up overnight.”)
  • The rock version of the Simpsons theme playing in Snake’s car kind of reminds me of the music from The Simpsons: Hit & Run game. Ahh, memories.
  • Ned slamming Lisa’s hair with a hammer and her screams in pain is pretty disconcerting. I’ve also seen a few dark shitposts that take that scene to a much more violent place…
  • It’s kind of interesting how late in the classic era we’re seeing some of the most beloved secondary characters really come into focus. This season, it seems like almost every episode has had a Comic Book Guy appearance, and here we have “Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel.” He’s made a handful of appearances here and there, first appearing a mere two seasons ago, but this segment feels like it cements his status as a beloved Springfieldian. The entire scene was included on one of the soundtrack albums, and having listened to it so many times as a kid, having maybe seen this episode once or twice, I never really got what Cletus meant when he said, “Hey, what’s going on on this side?” A line that doesn’t quite translate in an audio medium.
  • I actually have two nice photo prints of the Sean Connery signed by Roger Moore portrait. I put one in a nice frame and gave it to a friend at work for Secret Santa. He was thrilled by it.
  • Very Tall Man is neck-and-neck with the Cayman Islands banker as my favorite one-off character (he made one or two other non-speaking appearances, but this was his moment.) His lumbering chase after Nelson, his hilarious voice, all culminating in a tremendous finale of Nelson getting his comeuppance for one of the show’s longest running gags. It’s just absolutely perfect.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “C-plus – I was expecting fast-paced plotless comedy. What I got was the occasional chuckle in what almost makes the two clip shows look good.”

22. Raging Abe Simpson and his Grumbling Grandson in “The Curse of the Flying Hellish”

  • Abe is at his orneriest at the start, which perfectly sets up his conflict with Bart. I love how he carefully lifts his feeble legs up onto the desk to get comfortable in telling his ridiculous stories, having full “command” of the room (“Now, I’d like to digress from my prepared remarks to discuss how I invented the terlet.”)
  • “This junk was hardly worth getting up for. Maybe if I go back to sleep for a few days, some good mail will build up.” This line definitely hits harder after ten months of quarantine.
  • It seems like a pretty simple effect, but I love the flashing lights and Abe’s silhouette before he runs through the door.
  • I don’t know if I can really explain why, but “It’s plenty moist!” is my favorite line of the whole show. The offended nature of his attitude as he smacks the cloth away from Lisa’s hand, it almost feels like a microcosm of Abe, this ever-agitated man who’s stuck ranting and raving as an old person.
  • You could say that Sheldon Skinner’s appearance contradicts Skinner’s later reveal as an imposter, but he doesn’t look and sound exactly like Skinner, so it’s possible that he could still have been the real Skinner’s father. But more importantly, who the hell cares?
  • “They took a photo of my keister for Stars and Stripes! …at least they told me it was for Stars and Stripes.” One of those great lines that tells a crazy story in so few words, that a gentleman’s magazine somehow convinced Abe to take pictures of his ass, with Abe thinking it was for a real-life reputable newspaper for some reason? Amazing.
  • A special kudos to Dan Castellaneta and Harry Shearer in the flashback scenes for making Abe and Burns sound younger. Young Abe we’ve seen several times, but I love how young Burns’ voice is just so subtly lighter and more measured.
  • There’s a line in this episode that I never understood. In the flashback where the Hellfish agree to the tontine, Burns instructs right before they sign, “Remember, you can’t all sign with an X.” What does that mean? I know an ‘X’ could be used to take the place of an actual signature, but why would anyone want to sign with an anonymous ‘X’ when they presumably all want the portraits? Am I missing something? Anyone have an explanation?
  • The third act of this episode is really beautiful, with the night time color scheme and the great shadow work throughout. I love how the characters’ yellow skin is tinted a shade of purple in the almost darkness.
  • Kicking Bart into the safe and it plummeting to his almost certain watery grave does seem a little too far for Burns, but the man’s pulled a gun on the boy at least two other times I can remember. I think it works as a genuinely shocking moment without feeling too crazy. Going along with that, I can get why some might think Abe becoming kind of an action hero in getting onto Burns’ boat and subding him is too unbelievable, but I don’t agree. We’ve seen Abe get temporarily spry when given actual motivation, and considering this episode is about him proving himself to his grandson, giving him a nice hero moment at the end feels earned. He doesn’t do anything superhuman or completely incredible, it still feels within the elastic reality of the show for me.
  • Ah, sweet, sweet generational wealth. A happy ending everyone can get behind!
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Sadly, the funniest thing about this episode is the title. Grampa went from senile idiot to lean mean fighting machine too quickly. Yeah, I know it was part of the joke, but it still didn’t make much sense. Burns was both too healthy and too evil. The WWII scenes were pretty amusing, but the entire third act was silly.”

23. Much Apu About Nothing

  • I love this drawing of Homer from the bear’s POV, this pathetic dope frozen in terror in his underpants.
  • “Won’t somebody please think of the children?!” was born in this episode, which feels very appropriate, as the first act features the townspeople whipped into a frenzy about a stupid non-issue that doesn’t really have anything to do with children.
  • The Homer-Lisa back-and-forth about specious reasoning is great, and I love how Lisa just gives up and takes the money from her father in exchange for the “magic” rock.
  • The mail person who delivers Homer his latest check is Lunchlady Doris… for some reason. We’ve never seen her in that job before, right? Maybe they had a joke line in there before, but had to cut it, as Doris Grau died around this time? It’s still kind of weird.
  • “Ducking this issue calls for real leadership!” This feels like an underrated Quimby line, as it can accurately describe almost every politician’s MO.
  • Abe’s story about his family immigrating to America is one of his craziest, second only to him performing for Hitler, mostly in that it’s just one silly thing after another. Talking about the Old Country, but not knowing what exact country it was, Abe’s father giving the “maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow” speech, then Abe saying later that very day, they went to America… and then showing them living in the Statue of Liberty itself, which is one of those great insane classic moments (“We had to move out once we filled the entire head with garbage.”
  • The Uncle Sam “I Want You Out” poster is a fantastic design, the perfect bastardization of a patriotic symbol for xenophobic purposes.
  • Apu offering Yoo-Hoo to the Ganesha statue to ward off protestors is kind of an odd moment (apparently this is a reference to a recent event in India of a Ganesha statue “drinking milk” when offered.) The Yoo-Hoo logo is accurately depicted and pretty prominent in the close-up shot. Compared to “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield” which had the ‘Chanel’ logo purposefully covered throughout, this almost felt like deliberate product placement.
  • Hank Azaria nails it with Apu’s “American” voice. At times it seems a bit too divorced from the Apu voice, but I still buy it. It makes sense that Apu has had a lot of time to study American accents working for years behind a counter. Also, similar to Krusty’s vocal transition from “Rory B. Bellows” back to Krusty, I love Apu’s pained transition back to his normal voice, unable to stomach his sacrifice of his spiritual beliefs in exchange for hollow American celebrity worship (“Who needs the infinite compassion of Ganesha when I’ve got Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman staring at me from Entertainment Weekly with their dead eyes?!”)
  • Great little piece of emotional animation when Apu takes off the big cowboy hat and his hair’s all bunched up. He attempts to muss it back, but can’t even muster the energy before bursting into tears.
  • “Maybe we should start all over with the electrical college.” My sentiments exactly.
  • The “just say ‘slavery’” gag was made even better after listening to the commentary where David X. Cohen says that scenario actually happened to a friend of his during his citizenship interview.
  • I absolutely love that after Homer starts his toast, “If I could just say a few words… I’d be a better public speaker,” Bart cracks up at it. It’s such a sweet moment that Bart got a genuine laugh out of Homer’s dad jokes.
  • “When are people going to learn? Democracy doesn’t work!” My sentiments exactly.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Grade: C-. I dunno, I just like the old days, and there just wasn’t much to the episode…I might be flamed for this, but IMO if they can’t consistently put out better material than this, OFF should be allowed to pass on before it turns to utter boring sitcom-style drek…”

24. Homerpalooza

  • To get this episode’s plot started, we need to create a scenario that would result in Homer needing to form a carpool for the other kids. Therefore, the school bus needs to be out of commission, and because of that, we get the amazing sequence where it’s driven straight into a car crusher at the dump with the kids barely escaping with their lives. This hilariously smash cuts to Marge reading a letter from the school, covering their asses of any liability (“Due to yesterday’s unscheduled field trip to the auto wrecking yard, the school bus will be out of commission for two weeks. By reading this letter out loud, you have waived any legal responsibility on our part in perpetuity throughout the universe.”)
  • As a fellow lover of Grand Funk Railroad and 70s/80s music in general, I can very much relate to Homer in this episode. There’s many elements of this episode that make it a 90s time capsule, but the emotional core of the show is pretty evergreen, with Homer trying to relate to his kids and is devastated to find he’s culturally out-of-step, as encapsulated by Abe’s harrowing warning: “I used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now, what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me.”)
  • Suicide Notes (formerly Good Vibrations) has got to be top 3 of store names on this show.
  • What computers?” is definitely the most hilarious in hindsight moment in the entire series. If only Homer had bought some Apple stock then…
  • The flashback with young Homer trying to befriend the cool kids at their “Second Base-mobile” is great. He gets closer and closer with each flashing light, and I love how when he realizes he’s not wanted, it just cuts to him far off into the background, not even bothering to show him walking off.
  • “It may be bleak, but this music is really getting to the crowd.”
  • I really like the scene where Marge finds out about the freak show tour and is annoyed Homer agreed. Her saying “You don’t have to join a freak show just because the opportunity came along,” almost feels meta in a way. Like, yeah, of course he had to say ‘yes,’ otherwise the plot wouldn’t continue.
  • “My kids think you’re the greatest. And thanks to your gloomy music, they’ve finally stopped dreaming of a future I can’t possibly provide.” “Well, we try to make a difference.”
  • This is a little random, but one of the attendees in the crowd is wearing a Dr. Zaius T-shirt, the same design used from “A Fish Called Selma.” It feels like too specific of a detail to be random, I just don’t know why.
  • I love how Homer literally vibrates backstage thanks to the massive oomph of the giant stereo kicking in.
  • It’s kind of hard for any of the guest stars to make that big an impact, considering there are three bands with each member needing to say at least one line. Cypress Hill jamming out to the classical version of “Insane in the Brain” is a great moment. Peter Frampton probably stands out the most, seeming perpetually exasperated by his younger colleagues and his inflatable pig being sabotaged.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “To paraphrase a line from the episode, ‘Homerpalooza’ isn’t about writing or characterization. It’s about marketable guest voices. It was saved from a failing grade only by its rips on corporate America and its drug jokes.”

25. Summer of 4 Ft. 2

  • Similar to “Kamp Krusty,” the opening to this show really gave me lovely flashbacks to the last day of school, where you really don’t really do much but just mess around with your friends in class before you’re finally set loose for a whole three months. 
  • Damn, I really messed up not calling this Revisited series ‘Retrospecticus’ instead.
  • Nelson’s jab at Lisa regarding the yearbooks weirdly stuck with me (“If you hadn’t done it, some other loser would have, so quit milking it!”) It sounds ridiculous, but it kind of represents my feelings about people’s work and accomplishments at large. Yes, some people are uniquely talented and have a specific vision or a drive or a method of doing things, but I also feel for a lot of jobs, someone else can probably do it just as well. I’m speaking mostly of people in higher level positions who are less likely to be removed or change jobs because they’re “indispensable,” when there are probably lots of people who can do their jobs just as well if not better if given the chance. But I think I should quit while I’m ahead before this incredibly larger point gets even more rambly and unwieldy.
  • I really like Marge’s slight level of annoyance at the Flanderses in this episode, asking Homer if he’s sure they won’t be at the beach house, and her grumbling at the thoroughly labeled ice tray. She’s definitely the most cordial of the Simpson family to their friendly neighbors, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she wants to be stuck on a vacation with those goody two-shoes.
  • “These are my only friends. Grownup nerds like Gore Vidal, and even he’s kissed more boys than I ever will.” “Girls, Lisa. Boys kiss girls.”
  • Being able to spell Little Pwagmattasquarmsettport would make a killer Simpsons trivia question. As a young fan, I memorized how to spell ‘Nahasapeemapetilon,’ brain space that probably could have gone toward something more important.
  • I really like how bratty and sarcastic Lisa is after she decides she wants to reinvent herself, first in deflecting Homer’s questioning of her light suitcase (“Maybe you’re just getting stronger.” “Well, I have been eating more,”) and later with Marge (“It must be exciting to make a different set of beds.” “I know you’re joking, but it is!”)
  • I like how the beach kids are a “tanner” shade of yellow than Lisa, it’s a nice subtle design choice.
  • When Bart shows up to show up Lisa, I love that in introducing him, Lisa does so as “Bart… tholomew.” It’s such a great acting choice, you can hear Lisa’s brain determine that it’ll make Bart sound less “cool” if she uses his full name.
  • Homer’s incredibly slow smile as he puts together the connection between Milhouse and the “dud” has always made me laugh. I was so incredibly happy when it became a huge meme in Simpsons shitposting. Homer’s smile and Burns’ “Yes” from “Rosebud” were two specific and minor moments that I didn’t know if they struck many fans like they did me, and seeing them take on new life with everyone talking about how fucking funny those moments are to them, really made me happy as a fan.
  • Every Fourth of July, when the fireworks start going off, I always think of “Celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it!”
  • Hilarious manic animation of Homer freaking out on what to do with the dynamite.
  • Marge washing the dishes her husband destroyed while vacantly staring at the sunrise with a big Stepford smile may be one of the saddest (yet still hilarious) shots in the whole series.
  • Absolutely fantastic performance by Yeardley Smith, ripping into her brother through gritted teeth at the breakfast table (her read on “meeeeeeeaaaaan little sneak” is a real highlight.)
  • I love that Milhouse is basically in the episode to just be abused through the whole show, from getting jammed into a carseat at the start of the trip, to being the unfortunate victim of friendly fire by Bart and Lisa throughout their whole carnival visit.
  • My best friend in high school wrote “See You in the Car” in my yearbook at least two or three years in a row.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “It’s hard to watch this episode and not come away with the feeling that it could have been better. A good concept — Lisa recasts herself to fit in with the hip crowd — is weighed down by her off-target characterization and a too- formulaic ending. It’s not so much that the script was bad, as it was that it wasn’t quite true to ‘The Simpsons.’ Amusing enough to score a B-, but just barely.”

22 thoughts on “Season Seven Revisited (Part Four)

  1. A personal favorite Steamed Hamspost is the one online sports commentator UrinatingTree adapted from a Reddit post last year (for context, the Capitals had been stagnant since winning the championship in 2018 and seeing their longtime coach subsequently leave after a dispute with management; tellingly, the replacement mentioned here would be fired literally the day after the vid was posted.) []

  2. I like how this is a run of some of the best episodes of the entire series and the people at Simpsons Archive still didn’t think they were any good. Like, what episodes did they like?

    1. To be fair, I’m cherry picking the worst reviews. Some episodes are mixed, and some have mostly positive with like two or three negative.

      1. Still, you’ve got to wonder that if someone doesn’t like Summer of 4 Ft. 2 or A Fish Called Selma what episodes do meet their high bar? And what did they think when the show started to decline? I wonder if they changed their ratings.
        Also, I used to browse Simpsons Archive in the school library when I was supposed to be looking up information for essays, so I also have a bit of nostalgia for it and those Simpsons episode guides that I read until they fell apart. Before the DVDs came out, they were the best source of sometimes obscure Simpsons trivia facts and info on episodes I hadn’t seen yet. Man, I wonder how many hours of my life I’ve used up watching and reading about this show? I’m guessing it’s a lot.

  3. I’ve always assumed the “sign with an x” line was Burns jabbing at his platoons intelligence. He clearly doesn’t think much of them, so maybe he’s suggesting they couldn’t spell their names. Might be wrong.

    ’22’ is a great episode, particularly how it connects its stories, but I’m quite glad they didn’t do ‘Tales of Springfield’. As good as the secondary characters are, I’m not sure that all of them would hold up under closer examination, especially across an entire season. Besides, would they really have gotten writers as good as they already had? The way the show began to drop off after season eight suggests otherwise.

    A Troy McClure movie would have been wonderful. It’s a tragedy we lost Phil Hartman so early. He still had so much to offer. Reminds me of ‘Lookwell’, Conan’s unsold pilot, which had Adam West as a deluded star believing he was a detective. Ah, what could’ve been…

  4. Something that’s long intrigued me about “22 Short Films About Springfield” is that, although it’s commonly speculated to have been testing ground for further material focusing on the supporting characters, it pretty much fails in its mission. If it wanted to prove that life in Springfield needn’t revolve around the family themselves, then it defeats the point by repeatedly circling back to them, and having Lisa’s hair saga as the episode’s overarching narrative through line. Honestly, “A Fish Called Selma” makes a much better case for the possibility of non-Simpsons characters having potential to sustain their own stories – it’s an ultra-rare episode where not only is the focus on supporting characters, but said characters actually manage to resolve the conflict by themselves, without input from the Simpsons. “22 Short Films”, by contrast, ends up upholding their status as the centre of the Springfieldian universe – it’s neat getting all these brief glimpses into the lives of the other characters, but it makes no bones about whose lives are fundamentally driving this series. “Tales From Springfield” didn’t stand a chance.

    1. I’m always surprised when fans add seasons nine and ten into the classic years. They both have good episodes but for my money eight is the last near perfect season before the walls really start to crack.

      1. I’ve seen people include all of Mike Scully’s run in the classic years. At the same time, I’ve seen people say that the show started falling off in season eight, and season seven was the last time the show was consistent.

        Personally, I think a case can be made for season nine at least. There are classic episodes in it and for what it’s worth, the show is still really funny at that point. But as the season goes on, you can tell the stories aren’t as tight as they used to be and the little things that make the show great don’t have the same polish. Season ten and anything beyond that? Nope, can’t include them.

      2. Scully’s tenure lasted until 2002. I don’t understand how that can be considered part of the golden age, even ignoring how the overwhelming majority of his episodes were awful.

      3. My metric is that… Season 10 is the end of the series. It does feature some terrible episodes (“Homer Simpson in Kidney Trouble” and “Make Room for Lisa” are notorious offenders), but there is still some quality. The Mike Scully effect is starting to show but it’s not too blatant.

        It’s just, when you go from Season 11 after Season 10 is when there is a huge decline in quality for me with the episodes, and everything beyond that starts to feel more of the same. The only difference is Season 13, when Al Jean came back and turned the show into his glorified celebration of conquering the animation world, which meant no more effort was needed to be “good”.

      4. The way I see it, “The Simpsons” ended after eight seasons in 1997, and was replaced by “Zombie Simpsons” which is now in its 24th season.

      5. I dunno, I still feel like Behind the Laughter would have been a great last episode, and apparently it was intended to be if the show hadn’t been picked up again. It’s probably controversial but I consider it the last really classic episode. It’ll be interesting to hear Mike’s thoughts on it now.

      6. If you ask me, “The City of New York v.s. Homer Simpson” would have been a suitable finale for the series.

  5. “A fish called Selma” is my fav Selma episode. To me her character development there is amazing and it’s sad how she is now so underrated. After this, there is nothing that feels interested to explore more her character. The closest thing to that is “Goo Goo Gai Pan”, but that was just a cheap exploration of China and not really develops Selma at all. “Principal Charming” and this one are two underrated masterpieces that explore the best of both Patty and Selma.

    “Bart to the Road” is another fav. I love how they made Nelson enraptured by Andy Williams without overdoing it. Nowadays they make Nelson look totally sappy and pathetic with moments like that.

    Ah “Steamed Hams”… Good times when Chalmers was actually a superintendent and was able to be away from Skinner’s buttocks for at least 5 minutes.

    Some people say that “Summer of 4 Ft. 2” should’ve been the finale, but from me is a NO… If the show stopped at the 90’s, season 8 was needed, no matter if is a bit weaker than the previous seasons. Eventually I will say my personal reasons why I think that.

  6. “Even things like the Planet of the Apes musical have been done better in other episodes. Sad.”

    I didn’t know Trump was a Simspons fan back in the day!

  7. On the “offering Yoo-Hoo to Ganesha” bit, there’s an interesting and kind of awkward moment on the DVD commentary where Matt Groening makes it clear that he really doesn’t like that joke. In an episode that attempts to show Apu as a real person and treat his Indian heritage with respect, he thinks it’s tacky to do a throwaway gag where he offers a cheap chocolate drink to his god. He says something like “Why go out of our way to be wrong?”

    I think that’s commendable, that this is something he’s aware of and wants to avoid. Likewise, Hank Azaria has been in the news lately for issuing a public apology to the Indian-American community for his portrayal of Apu, and he’s been getting flak from people who are like “Oh my god, it’s just a cartoon, who cares?” But man, good for him for owning up to his missteps, no matter how well-intentioned they may have been. Representation matters, especially in one of the most popular and influential TV shows ever made.

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