Season Five Revisited (Part Four)

17. Bart Gets an Elephant

  • Every time I force myself to clean the house, I always think of Homer in this episode (“What’s the point of all this cleaning? Are we so vain?!”)
  • Bill Clinton’s cameo is pretty “unrealistic,” but as he’s playing his sax with the little girl group Lisa was supposed to meet up with, it works as a payoff to that earlier set-up that now Lisa is stuck at home cleaning when she could have been jamming with the President.
  • The shot of the revolving door to the kitchen revealing it to be completely trashed again within less than a second is amazing. There’s been a couple of jokes over the years that magically place a door between the kitchen and TV room that’s never been there before, but a lot of the time, it’s worth the minor inconsistency (the only other one I recall is in “Treehouse of Horror IX” when Bart slams the door on hobo Homer’s harmonica song, which is a great joke too).
  • Nice touch when Bart is waiting for the phone to ring, he’s eating just the chocolate section of the neapolitan ice cream. Could he have been the guilty party all along from that old joke of Homer annoyedly opening up two packs of chocolate-less neapolitan?
  • We get Bill & Marty’s first, and only (correct?), extended appearance within an actual plot, and it’s damn good. The on-air yucksters are quick to try to cover their ass and gloss over any controversy, but can’t do damage control quick enough before the station manager threatens them with her secret weapon: the DJ 3000. I love the mild characterization that Bill is the slightly dimmer one, who is instantly impressed by his possible new replacement (“Don’t. Praise. The Machine.”) Also, whenever I read a political news report I don’t quite understand right away, my mind always goes to “Those clowns in Congress did it again. What a bunch of clowns.”
  • The Jurassic Park shot is another perfect use of parody: completely recontextualizing a famous movie moment so it’s an actual joke if you get the reference, but also works if you don’t.
  • The second act is basically a bunch of bits related to the Simpsons’ new life living with an elephant, but it’s mostly pretty silly and funny, so whatever. My favorite moment is Homer’s adoption of a little bird to help groom his delicate two hairs (“Mmmm… elephant fresh.”)
  • As we saw with “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacey,” we have Lisa’s advocacy cries fall upon deaf ears, which is logical that Homer would barely understand her complaints about animal rights let alone care about them. It’s the perfect balance where we have Lisa acting as the smart, concerned party, but having her righteous concerns rebuffed by an ignorant populus makes sense in the crapsack world of the show. Later seasons would treat her crusades with much greater seriousness, which kind of ruins the joke aspect of it.
  • Kirk demanding Homer get off his property after he attempts to shake them down for money is probably his boldest moment. It’s all downhill from here, Kirk, get ready for a decade of suicidal single dad jokes!
  • “Lisa, a guy who’s got lots of ivory is less likely to hurt Stampy than a guy whose ivory supplies are low!”
  • Stampy marching through the RNC (We Want What’s Worst for Everyone, We’re Just Plain Evil) and the DNC (We Can’t Govern, We Hate Life and Ourselves) is the greatest political gag of the entire series, and the fact that it plays even stronger today than it probably did in 1994 is very depressing. Although maybe not so much about the Democractic establishment hating themselves, a lot of them probably do in secret, but there’s a whole lot of inflated self-importance in there too.

18. Burns’ Heir

  • I wonder what those Extra Fancy Potato Chips Burns is eating taste like…
  • I like that the episode gets Smithers out of the way of the plot regarding who will inherit Burns’ estate, with Burns revealing his intentions for them to be buried together. He paid some sculptor to make that terrified Smithers figure.
  • The THX bit was repurposed and used by THX to play in movie theaters for a while in the late 90s. I’m pretty sure I saw it in the theater at least once.
  • Mr. Burns’ pitch trailer to find the heir to his vast, vast, VAST fortune (vast) is great, but also a weird dated reference to the teaser trailer for the film Toys where Robin Williams stood in a field and just riffed for a minute and a half. Boy, we were just absolutely over-the-moon for his stupid impressions in the early 90s, huh? I watched Mrs. Doubtfire for the first time in decades a few months back and it gave me a headache.
  • It’s great that even in Marge’s wildest fantasy, she’s very demure and timid, simply replying with “Ummm, sure” when Lee Majors proposes to sweep her away. I also love that we cut back to her with her eyes closed still fantasizing, so Homer and Bart just continue their conversation without her. I love whenever this show snaps back to reality after a fantasy sequence and everyone else is just awkwardly standing around waiting for them to come back to.
  • “I guess I’ll have to leave all my money to the Egg Advisory Council. Eggs have gotten quite a bad rap lately, you know.” Between this and “Homer the Great,” I think around this time, there was discussion about whether eggs were actually good for you or not. Is that correct?
  • “You can have anything you want to eat. Even some sort of gelatin dish! It’s made from hooves, you know.” It’s funny hearing Burns pitch Bart on some gelatin when in one of his first appearances, he was absolutely sick of the stuff after everyone at the company picnic brought nothing but Jell-O. Maybe he’s just got a ton of it leftover in his giant freezer and wants to unload it on someone.
  • “Being abusive to your family is one thing, but I will not stand idly by and watch you feed a hungry dog!”
  • It’s impossible to hear Homer yell “Go ahead, do your worst!” and not immediately think Burns is about to unleash the robotic Richard Simmons. It definitely feels like a quick edit, since we cut right on Burns and Smithers walking inside. I do love Homer’s incredulous high-pitched “He locked the door!” And before all that, I always laugh when Homer mows down Bart’s bike at the start of the scene.
  • “You know, we should really stop hiring him.” I love how Lionel Hutz’s appearance in this episode is condensed to the end of act two, where it’s just a distilled version of how incompetent he is, where he loses the case as bad as possible, and has taken to mending shoes as a side business. Again, the show is openly acknowledging and commenting on its overused elements, but still in a hilarious way.
  • Burns’ hustle to kick the football ending up knocking out Smithers and himself is such a great piece of animation.
  • Is the Homer actor supposed to actually be Michael Caine? Either way, it’s hilarious. I also like that his Homer voice kind of sounds like the early Walter Matthau-esque Homer. It’s odd that at the end, the Simpsons tell Bart that the actors followed them around to study their characters, like why would they let them do that, and effectively aid Mr. Burns in his scheme to brainwash Bart? But whatever, it doesn’t matter.
  • “Homer, I want that thing out of my house.” I love the rare moments where Marge has just had it and stops being nice, and Homer compulsively kissing a confused senior citizen’s forehead definitely feels like one of them.

19. Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song

  • “How would you like it if, twenty years from now, people were laughing at things you did?” Twenty-six years and counting from this episode!
  • Santa’s Little Helper keeping himself under the box while walking behind Bart, and then staying stationary until he takes the box off, reads as absolutely hysterical to me now that I recently got a rambunctious puppy.
  • “My geode must be acknowledged!” I really love Martin, he’s kind of becoming like a dark horse favorite character in this latest rewatch.
  • I love that as we see Skinner’s day get worse and worse, it already started out pretty horribly, as we first see him sweaty and disheveled in his office trying to put out a fire with some angry parents (“I know Weinstein’s parents were upset, superintendent, but… but I was sure it was a phony excuse! I mean, it sounds so made up, Yom Kipp-pour!”)
  • From moment one, Willie is just so fucking happy to see that dog. I also like that Willie getting greased up for the vents is done as a joke (“Grease me up, woman!”), but then actually becomes how he ends up catching the dog, in the great sequence of him building up momentum to slide fast enough to catch up with the mutt.
  • Great performance by Marcia Wallace as Mrs. Krabappel taunts Skinner by telling him Chalmers is coming. Just absolute gleeful torment as Skinner is having his worst day ever.
  • Ah, Leopold. Two appearances with the same exact joke both times. It’s a great voice by Dan Castellaneta, and I like that he seems weirdly protective of his boss Chalmers when he leaves in a huff (“Now look what you’ve done, you little freaks!”)
  • We get some great glimpses into Skinner’s psyche in this show, where he goes through all the different detergents, carefully considering which to try, and him mime-composing classical music in his room. I also kind of like the more kindly Agnes in this episode, she hadn’t turned into a complete vicious crone yet, which definitely helps to make Skinner seem more sad.
  • “Nobody’s mentioned me, have they?” “I thought I heard someone say your name in the cafeteria, but they might have been saying ‘skim milk.’”
  • Skinner walking past the school at night and remembering his past is a scene that should feel more schmaltzy than it is, but the strength of the characters and how much you care about them really helps it feel like it has weight. Those humanizing moments for Skinner I mentioned earlier and Harry Shearer’s great performance really makes you feel bad for the guy.
  • “How do I get out of the army?” “No problemo. Just make a pass at your commanding officer.” “Done and done. And I mean done.” So, Skinner as bi confirmed?
  • This episode really openly displays Chalmers’ absolute disdain toward children, first with him storming out of the assembly hall after not getting any laughs from his jokes (“It’s just a damn popularity contest with you kids!”) and then at the end with his absolute ambivalence toward getting Springfield Elementary back from the brink of anarchy (“The way America’s public schools are sliding, they’ll all be this way in a few months. I say, lay back and enjoy it! It’s a hell of a toboggan ride!”) That’s actually kind of been my viewpoint on America during this past year, funnily enough.

20. The Boy Who Knew Too Much

  • I continue to be impressed with how many varied expressions they’re able to create with such simple characters. I love Otto’s haunted, sinister expression driving the prison bus; with his slow head turn, it’s pretty disconcerting (“Now take a seat before I blow your heads off!” “Otto!” “Oh, sorry. This bus and I have sort of a Shining thing going on.”
  • “Now unfortunately, our school clocks have been running fast all semester. So today we all have to stay two extra hours to make up for the time we lost!” This line alone is great in further piling on how much Bart wants to skip school, but the reveal that it was actually his fault from a prank biting him in the ass (Li’l Bastard Clock Tampering Kit) makes it even better.
  • Lisa giggling at Skinner and Willie doing Good Cop, Bad Cop is a really sweet moment. Over time, Lisa would end up becoming a surrogate member of the faculty, talking with Skinner and company about school matters like they were boring equals, so it’s sweet to see her in this setting acting like a little kid.
  • When Bart is running from Skinner, for some reason, they reuse shot from “Kamp Krusty” of him running from Mount Avalanche. I guess they wanted to have a different shot of him running last minute and didn’t want to pay to animate something.
  • I love that this episode features Skinner as a genuine threat to Bart. As I’ve said before, their dynamic is much funnier if it seems like there’s actual risk in Bart’s mischievous deeds. That Skinner goes from woefully misguided (“There are no children here at the four-H club, either! Am I so out of touch? …no, it’s the children who are wrong,”) to doggedly pursuing Bart up a mountain to bust him is tremendous; it doesn’t feel like those two depictions conflict with each other at all.
  • Freddy Quimby basically sounds like if Mayor Quimby sucked some helium. Also, his loud, obnoxious laugh is just wonderful.
  • The drawing of Homer’s face when his mind is singing the Meow Mix song is so damn funny. Also I assigned that sound clip as my shutdown noise on my old PC when I was younger, so I’ve heard him sing that song a lot.
  • Freddy Quimby’s lawyer sounds like the Blue-Haired Lawyer, but it’s not him, which is kind of weird, considering he always represents the powerful and well-to-do. It’s also interesting that an unnamed female judge is subbing in for Judge Snyder. I feel like she made one other appearance, but I like that we see that there’s actually more than one judge in Springfield, be it very briefly.
  • I’ve always loved Bart’s cafeteria nightmare; “Watch the potty mouth, honey” was another quote my best friend and I used to say all the time, much to the annoyance of anyone around us.
  • “Justice is not a frivolous thing, Simpson, it has little if anything to do with a disobedient whale.” This line goes by so quick, but I love Skinner’s bizarre, yet natural disdain toward Free Willy.
  • McGonigle makes his triumphant return, and basically is semi-responsible for the grisly murder of a child (“Well, McGonigle, Billy is dead! They slit his throat from ear to ear!” “Hey! I’m trying to eat lunch here.” This is immediately followed by another child death when Homer watches the Free Willy Director’s cut (“Oh no! Willy didn’t make it! And he crushed our boy!” “Ewww, what a mess.”)
  • The animation of the waiter’s ridiculous pratfalls in the kitchen is really well done, it’s a fantastically staged sequence.
  • Skinner’s confrontation with Bart outside the courthouse is probably my favorite Skinner moment of the whole series. The pause between “three months detention” and “Wait… make that… four months detention” always kills me.

21. Lady Bouvier’s Lover

  • The episode opens with Homer and the kids watching TV in the elusive “rumpus room,” a sort-of play room that’s appeared in a couple episodes, most notably “Three Men and a Comic Book” with Homer in his bean bag chair. Could they not have staged this scene in the TV room because of the credenza joke?
  • I’ve seen a few real-life versions of Marge’s special cake for Homer to ruin, they’re pretty cool.
  • It’s funny that Maggie’s baby nemesis Gerald appears in two episodes in a row, then disappears for who knows how long. But thankfully we can see him every single week in the new opening titles where Maggie lifelessly shakes her fist at him!
  • Maggie’s horrifying POV of the family holding cameras and the candle flames is really cool.
  • I love the Armor Hot Dogs/Chicken Tonight scene, it feels very appropriate that the Simpsons (and the Bouviers) have no real family traditions that don’t revolve around commercial jingles.
  • Another scene with endless shitposting potential: “Can I come too?” 
  • Homer’s vision of his freakish inbred children is actually pretty disconcerting, I’m not gonna lie.
  • It’s pretty shocking how many delivery men have no qualms about punching a child square in the face (“Don’t write no more letters to Mr. Sinatra.” “Stop stealing golf balls from the driving range!”)
  • Nelson having an out-of-body experience in order to laugh at Bart from across town feels like the ultimate version of the “Haw haw!” joke. Nelson would keep laughing regularly throughout the rest of the classic years, mostly just played straight, but as the years would go on and on, all the Haw-Haw subversions they’d do would always feel so unfunny to me. And they still do it; last season, Nelson had Milhouse stuffed in the freezer and laughed, “Thaw thaw!” Just awful.
  • Is the “Play It Cool” sequence a reference to anything specific? I like it even if it feels kind of random and strange. I never quite got Homer’s giggle after Abe tries out his yawn-and-stretch move; is he actually trying to give his dad dating advice, or is he just messing with him?
  • Smithers’ quiet (and not so quiet) annoyance at Mr. Burns’ courtship in the third act is wonderful, from him purposefully tricking Burns into calling Homer and Marge the Flintstones, to his reciting of a poignant, heartfelt message for Burn to write as a MASH note (“That’s marvelous! How did you think of that so fast?” “I sent it to you on your birthday!”)
  • Bart’s ketchup and mustard gun gambit is actually pretty clever. I love that Bart’s animation cel B-story had been completely separate up to that point, but bringing Burns into the A-story gives Bart an opportunity to get back the money he owes Homer perfectly organically. And of course, Homer is none-the-wiser (“Three hundred and fifty dollars! Now I can buy seventy transcripts of Nightline!”) Remember when buying scripts of TV shows was a thing? What was up with that?
  • I want to know the story of Mr. Burns’ only friend, an older German with a Kaiser helmet.
  • I always forget about “The Sound of Grampa” over the credits. It’s one of the only classic era songs to not make it onto any of the soundtrack CDs, I guess because it’s a direct parody of an actual song?

22. Secrets to a Successful Marriage

  • “Every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain!” As I get older, I find this quote to be more and more accurate.
  • Moe’s Funk Dancing for Self Defense class is definitely the MVP scene of the episode.
  • I guess it makes sense that we go from Homer feeling bad people think he’s stupid to him wanting to be a teacher to get respect, but him proceeding to showboat and brag about it for multiple scenes feels very Jerkass Homer to me. Then seeing him actually in class just standing there and not doing anything… I dunno, it’s just not very funny to me. It helps if Homer is actually driven by something in his own story, not if he just feebly falls into the next plot turn.
  • I like the miniature game of telephone as Homer’s, “I told Marge in bed this wouldn’t work” is turned into Moe’s “So something wasn’t working in bed, huh?”
  • Homer’s obnoxious movie-quote monologue to Marge is still pretty annoying. Despite that, it’s a very passionate performance from Dan Castellaneta, and actually, when I was in school for 3D animation, I used that long audio bite for a lip sync assignment on a character model.
  • For a while, I wanted to use Homer’s “Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘wedding’ as ‘the process of removing weeds from one’s garden’” as the opening line for my future wedding.
  • The act two climax of Homer’s class gathered around the Simpson dinner table furiously writing in their notepads strikes me as bizarre. They like his class because he dishes out juicy gossip, that makes sense, but what scandalous news are they hoping to gain from openly hoarding in on a family dinner?
  • Homer stuck in that treehouse, getting dirtier and smellier each time we see him, is pretty disturbing. But just like when he tried nothing as a teacher, he’s also trying nothing to get Marge back in most of act three. His only attempt is the scene where he tries to emotionally manipulate Marge in the car, pretending to be her inner voice. It’s a pretty gross moment.
  • Silver medal for best moment goes to Moe’s gobsmacked face when Homer returns home after he just attempted to pick up his wife. The two frames of Homer and Moe have also become famous in the shitposting world.
  • After this episode left kind of a bad taste in my mouth almost a decade ago, I was curious how it would hold up seeing it again, and yeah, I feel about the same. The ending with Homer’s eureka moment about providing “complete and utter dependence” just doesn’t work for me. The world of this show is dripping with cynicism and defeat, and you could say the same about Homer and Marge’s marriage, how Marge really could have possibly married a better man for her, but highlighting her sorry lot in life of picking up after this absolute slovenly oaf this sharply as the emotional climax of the episode doesn’t feel right. On top of that, Homer’s assurance he’ll never lie to her again after Marge feebly asks, “How do I know I can trust you?” really falls flat considering the amount of bullshit she would have to put up with for twenty-plus more years. Too much of this episode feels like I’m watching the selfish, asshole Homer of the Mike Scully years.

Season Five Revisited (Part Three)

11. Homer the Vigilante

  • It’s funny watching now that Bart’s most prized possession was his very small portable TV. I remember having one of those in my room as a kid.
  • Nelson delivering his “Haw haw!” via telephone to Bart is not only a great joke, but a great example of how at this point, the show acknowledges its own running jokes by exaggerating them to the nth degree. At this point, “Haw haw!” was only a little over two seasons old, and they’re already making fun of it. Later this year, they do an even crazier version of this joke where Nelson literally has an out-of-body experience to laugh at Bart from miles away. It’s just interesting how they were already demonstrating how played out these gags are, and meanwhile over twenty years later they will continue to come up with new variations of “Haw haw!” after the joke has already been done to death.
  • Chief Wiggum erroneously reports the Simpsons’ robbery at 723 Evergreen Terrace. Which was the episode that cemented in their actual address? We’re midway into season 5 and it’s still not set in stone yet.
  • The scene of Professor Frink’s walking house model bursting into flames is absurd enough (“The real humans wouldn’t burn quite so fast…”), but it becomes even funnier that in the next scene we see the real walking house that breaks down the exact same way. One of the show’s great immediate callbacks.
  • “Lisa, never, ever stop in the middle of a hoedown!”
  • I like out of all of Homer’s gang’s brought-from-home uniforms, Barney’s is clearly one from a fast food restaurant.
  • This episode is another great usage of Homer as “the bad guy” in perfectly representing the average American. He and his crew quickly abuse their power, relishing in being unchecked authority figures, just like real-life neighborhood watches or absolute psychopaths who harass or even kill people in public for “justifiable” reasons. Jimbo accurately surmises this absolutely pathetic mindset, “it makes me feel like a big man.”
  • The pause after “I’d be lying if I said my men weren’t committing any crimes!” is just the perfect length before Kent finally responds.
  • Sam Neill feels like an underrated guest star. I’m honestly not that familiar with him outside of Jurassic Park, and Taika Waititi’s wonderful Hunt for the Wilderpeople, but he gives a very subtle, charismatic performance. You want to let him off the hook just as much as the mush-headed people of Springfield do.
  • “Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?” “Yes I would, Kent.”
  • The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World ending mostly works. As an homage to a movie featuring a wacky cast of easily manipulated people getting tricked by their sense of greed, it definitely works contextually with the ending of the episode. But then you have them directly recreating the bit of Phil Silvers’ car drowning in the lake, with Bart replacing the waving kid. It’s funny on its own, I guess, but really makes no sense if you don’t know the source material.

12. Bart Gets Famous

  • “‘Today will be a day like every other day.’ D’oh! It just gets worse and worse!” This always stands out as an essential Homer quote to me, a man who enjoys life’s simpler pleasures, but is always painfully aware of his sorry lot in life. When later seasons would depict Homer as too carefree or becoming an immediate success at something, I’d always think back to this quote.
  • The Box Factory may be the funniest individual set piece of the whole series, every single line the tour guide gives is so damn good, from him talking about how the completed boxes are actually finished in Flint, to talking about how the neighboring TV station films “Krusty the Klown and other non-box-related programs.” The best bit is the tour of his office; the fact that he has a yellow line painted on the floor indicates how much he’s devoted to this tour, and I love that.
  • When I was younger, I had a tie featuring a towel-clad Homer saying, “You’ll have to speak up, I’m wearing a towel.” What a bizarre joke to put on a tie, and even more bizarre for a kid to wear said tie to their 8th grade dance. 
  • I love the gag revealing Bumblebee Man’s real accent, as with its first act break callback where he subs in for a disgruntled Kent Brockman. Also, isn’t he on Channel 6’s competitor station, Channel Ocho? What’s he doing filming on their set?
  • Two great Homer deliveries related to the box factory: his loud, passionate “Damn you! A box!!” and his panicked build-up to Marge (“I have some terrible, bone-chilling news!!”)
  • It’s great that Homer’s rant about poor people is met with complete silence by the rest of the family who just continue to have their conversation as normal
  •  The gag where Bart desperately tries to point his name out in the credits reminded me of how annoyed I was when I was younger when networks would squish credits to the side of the screen. I was of the thought that it’s “disrespectful” to the crew that worked on it, which is a fair point, but looking back on it, the aesthetics of having the credits on one side and a commercial on the other just looks off to me. It’s become even worse in recent days, in the few bits of live TV I’ve seen, where they have the credits play at 500% speed at the very bottom of the screen as the next program starts, it looks like absolute shit. Anyway, I like how Nelson stands up for the hard-working crew of Krusty’s show by punching Bart in solidarity (“That’s for taking credit for other people’s work!”)
  • I love how absolutely remorseless Krusty is in abusing Bart through the entire episode: overworking a child to the point of them longing for death in act two, and shamelessly exploiting his image for his own gain in act three. Then when he ceases to be useful to him, he slams the door in Bart’s face. That’s show business, kid.
  • I’d love to hear the full recording of Dan Castellaneta doing Sideshow Mel’s nauseous ranting from the bathroom.
  • This frame has been used for a bunch of different shitpost trends. A recent, topical example would be, “All the other networks waiting for FOX News to call it for Biden.”
  • “Ah, Oliver North. He was just poured into that uniform.” Totally forgot about this line. I guess Homer’s man crush on Oliver North confirmed? C’mon, Homey, you can do better.
  • I think they wrote the Conan bit before his new show even premiered, but it makes me happy to think how thrilled the writing staff was for their friend to get his own late night show, that they jumped at the chance to honor him at his old stomping grounds at The Simpsons. And, of course, we get the immortal line, “Sit perfectly still. Only I may dance.”
  • I like that toward the end of this goofy show, we do get an actual real emotional beat with Bart feeling discouraged that he’s just some flash-in-the-pan fad with a dumb catchphrase (also very meta as well.) I feel like later versions of Bart would make him more ignorantly bratty in success, but I like that he has enough self-awareness to feel some shame about his integrity. But of course, he bounces back  (“I’m in television now. It’s my job to be repetitive. My job. My job. Repetitiveness is my job.”) When I’m not angrily reviewing new Simpsons episodes through gritted teeth, I cut TV promos, and whenever I worry about leaning on the same editing tricks or reuse the same sound effects one too many times, I always think back to that Bart quote. It’s my job. My job. My job.
  • I just talked about the show making fun of Nelson’s “Haw haw!,” and here, the entire ending is making fun of the show’s own overused catchphrases. Again, when you reach this level of self-awareness, it feels like you should be nearing the end of your run, or you need to come up with some new material. It’ll be interesting going through these seasons again and seeing how the show pushes past these on-the-nose self-aware moments of its own shelf life to soldier on, be it by breathing new life into itself (the Oakley/Weinstein years) or devolving into a dumb, goofy cartoon version of itself (the Mike Scully years).

13. Homer and Apu

  • The Bite Back barking dog is so funny, I love how long it goes at the front and back of the scene, and then you hear it again later when Apu comes under fire. Semi-related, did you know McGruff the Crime Dog had his own music album? I’d highly recommend listening to the whole thing, it’s incredible. The Alcohol song has a strong Steely Dan feeling, and I imagine would be a real chill listen to get hammered to.
  • The animation of the hot dog rolling towards camera is so great, as it quickly gets more detailed and disgusting as it comes closer to view.
  • “Sir, I was only following standard procedure.” “True. But it’s also standard procedure to blame any problems on a scapegoat, or sacrificial lamb.” “Uh-huh, and if I can obtain for you these animals?”
  • At the start of act two, Homer gives a prolonged plea for his life to Apu, but in that time, Apu is just frozen in place, still with an angry scowl and gritted teeth. Obviously it’s just a held drawing before he gets to speak, but it always feels a bit weird to me, given he’s immediately apologetic and explains the bait-and-switch joke of him asking for forgiveness, despite the fact he was just staring daggers at a begging Homer for five seconds. Apu was right, many probably have died needlessly.
  • Ah, James Woods. Despite being exposed in the last few years as a complete piece of shit, he’s really one of the funniest guest stars, his delivery and cadence are so good, he totally elevates every line of dialogue he has. Him telling Jimbo not to jerk him around, having a one-sided conversation with his agent, cursing loudly about the cheese in the microwave, all great stuff.
  • It’s always funny to me hearing the Simpsons talk about picking up simple grocery items at the Kwik-E-Mart when they have an actual grocery store in town. Springfield’s geography is purposefully inconsistent, but I assume the Kwik-E-Mart is within walking distance that if Marge needed to pick up a carton of milk or some other food item real quick, it’s more convenient to go there than drive to the grocery store. I grew up in a suburb, so this concept might be a bit alien to me, but do people in smaller towns go to 7-Elevens or other gas station stores to pick up basic groceries? The Kwik-E-Mart is a convenience store, so I guess it could also sub in for like a local corner store, but more often than not, it feels like a place to just buy a bunch of junk food on impulse like I do at 7-Elevens.
  • Monstro-Mart’s slogan always makes me laugh: “Where Shopping is a Baffling Ordeal”
  • “That’s even worse than the album Grampa released.” Now that’s an episode I’d like to see. What a bizarre line, I’d forgotten all about that.
  • “Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart” is still one of the classics. I love Hank Azaria’s sorrowful “I doooooo” in the reprise, almost like a sad dog howling, and of course, Homer’s anger at being lied to through song (“I hate when people do that!”)
  • It’s almost funny how casually Homer and Apu just up and fly to India for just a few minutes of screen time and then they go home. 
  • Another praise for Azaria for Apu’s hummingbird noises. I’m always a fan of using the doppler effect for comedy, so hearing that “eeeeeee” fade in and out is incredibly funny to me.
  • Why is the robber who shoots Apu not Snake? He’s literally held him up at gunpoint at least a dozen times by now, maybe it felt too real to show him actually do it, and decided to replace him with some nameless mook (“Well, Mr. Woods, your next song is gonna be number three, with a bullet!” “I’m not a singer.” “Shut up!”)

14. Lisa vs. Malibu Stacey

  • My only knowledge of Matlock comes from it being referenced on this show as something old people like, so I was surprised not only to find the title character was played by Andy Griffith, but it was an at-the-time currently running series, ending in 1995. I always assumed it was an older show that seniors had nostalgia for, but now, seeing that it’s about a heroic older attorney, I totally get why such a show would be revered by the elderly.
  • The moment Homer stepped on the giant piano, my brain immediately played yet another amazing Dankmus remix. Also, I have never seen Big. Does that movie hold up?
  • God, I could listen to Abe’s rants forever. Act one is just full of him rambling on and on and on and I love it (“There’re sure a lot of ugly people in your neighborhood. Oh! Look at that one!”
  • This camera move is really tremendous, just capping off Lisa’s frustration. I also love before this when she’s shaking the doll in Bart’s face, there’s extra attention paid to Stacey’s ruffled hair being flung back and forth, really emphasizing Lisa’s shaking.
  • Once again, the show is examining its own tropes and characters in showing the family getting a bit tired of Lisa’s frequent moral stances (“Ordinarily, I’d say you should stand up for what you believe in… but you’ve been doing that an awful lot lately.”) This episode is probably the pinnacle of a righteous Lisa show, in depicting her believably upset about an issue that would affect her as a child, but also realistically depicting her and those around her. Also, we get this great newspaper photo.
  • The Malibu Stacey video calling her “America’s favorite eight-and-a-half-incher” is yet another amazing covert dirty joke.
  • Kathleen Turner is another tremendous guest star, and probably the perfect person to voice Stacey Lovell (“I was forced out in 1974. They said my way of thinking just wasn’t cost effective.” “That’s awful!” “Well, that, and I was funneling profits to the Viet Cong.”) The “I’m too drunk” bit is hilarious, of course, and I wonder if that’s actually Turner doing her own slurping drink noise.
  • While Abe is doing his knee-slapping dentures-in-the-hamburger-bun bit, his sullen teenager coworker is stuck in an animation cycle of repeatedly wrapping burgers and dropping them into a bag for the drive-thru. Including the teeth burger he grabs from Abe, it’s seven burgers that we see go into the bag, which is a pretty hefty order for the drive-thru. 
  • “You all have hideous hair! …I mean, from a design point of view.”
  • Krusty’s VO session is one of his greatest scenes of all time, I just love how absolutely disinterested he sounds through the whole thing. Bonus points for forgetting Sideshow Mel’s name and not even skipping a beat to pick the line back up.
  • The joke with Bart desperately trying to get everyone’s attention is funny in concept, like as a meta gag that he’s gone underutilized this episode and wants a highlighted moment, but in execution, it’s kind of weird how Homer, Marge and Lovell are just kind of standing there awkwardly not saying anything while Bart goes off in the background.
  • It feels very strange how much Kent Brockman’s daughter looks like him. But hey, she was right about the Berlin Wall. She’s the real brains behind the family (“Though it was unusual to spend twenty-eight minutes reporting on a doll, this reporter found it impossible to stop talking. It’s just really fascinating news, folks.”)
  • I really don’t know how this show manages to have its cake and eat it too in regards to having moralistic endings and undercut them at the same time without undermining the emotion, but my God, when it does, it’s just perfect (“You know, if we get through to just that one little girl, it’ll all be worth it.” “Yes. Particularly if that little girl happens to pay $46,000 for that doll.” “What?” “Oh, nothing.”)

15. Deep Space Homer

  • “Union rule 26: Every employee must win ‘Worker of the Week’ at least once, regardless of gross incompetence, obesity, or rank odor.” The first scene really perfectly tees up Homer’s motivation for the episode, that a literal inanimate object gets more respect than he does. I also love the long shadow he casts upon challenging the carbon rod to an “inanimate-off.” Like, it’s just so dumb, but I love it.
  • Hank Azaria doesn’t do a great Tim Allen, but he’s got kind of a non-descript voice, so no matter. I also assume that “I guess it’s back to jail for me” is in reference to him getting arrested for cocaine and squealing on his dealers. Allen is also a shithead who compared to being conservative in Hollywood to living in 1930s Germany.
  • I love the minor joke that Homer pronounces NASA as “Nassau” when he’s yelling at them on the phone.
  • This definitely feels like a better version of a Homer/Barney rivalry than “Mr. Plow.” Unlike his snow plow business, Homer actually has a specific goal in going up into space, so the friction between them feels less vindictive and more comically exaggerated (“Here I am, right on time! I don’t see Barney ‘Let’s crash the rocket into the White House and kill the President’ Gumble!”)
  • When I found out about this, I went through a wide range of emotions. First I was nervous, then anxious, then wary, then apprehensive, then… kind of sleepy, then worried, and then concerned, but now I realize that being a spaceman is something you have to do.” Julie Kavner delivers this line so beautifully, but moreover, I appreciate that even in one line we establish that Marge actually had her own emotional grappling with her husband going off into outer space and not just said “I’m so proud of you, Homey” like she would later mindlessly say in later season episodes when Homer has some new stupid dumbass job. Marge says, “I’m so proud of you” later in the episode, but it’s after Homer gains his courage back in wanting to go through with the launch, so it actually genuinely feels earned when she says it.
  • Buzz Aldrin’s “Second comes right after first!” is the greatest line ever written for a guest star. Even better is the awkward pause as Homer, Barney, even the NASA staff is completely silent and not knowing what to say. The man literally went into outer space, and the fact that the writers are taking the piss out of him immediately on their stupid little cartoon show is just astounding. And if that weren’t enough, they later have the trained astronaut say, “Make rocket go now!” Fantastic.
  • Great drawing of a petrified Homer after watching the all-too-relevant space-themed Itchy & Scratchy.
  • Homer at the gay station payphone talking to Marge is one of my favorite scenes of the entire series. It completely grounds this otherwise absolutely ludicrous story. Homer going into outer space is still, thirty-two seasons in, one of the craziest things they’ve ever done in concept, but everything in the show plays out “believably” within its established context. And here, they sell it even more in depicting Homer as genuinely frightened to leave the planet, just as anybody would. On top of that, Homer tearfully talking about not getting to see Mr. T at the mall as a comparable missed opportunity as not going into space is one of the absolutely brilliant bits of writing (and performing) that feels completely emotionally on point, but is so damn funny. And on top of that, you have the touch tone joke too. Such a fucking great scene.
  • Homer floating in zero-G eating the potato chips is undeniably a classic scene, just beautifully animated. I especially love how when he screams out as he floats toward the ant colony, big chunks of mushed chips fly out of his mouth.
  • NASA’s complete obsession over TV ratings over any actual real work feels a little different after we’ve just had four years of Donald Trump basically operating the same way.
  • James Taylor is another slam dunk guest star, maybe one of the best guests appearing as themselves. Right off the bat, he openly subverts his public image (“Listen, Aldrin, I’m not as laid back as people think. Now here’s the deal: I’m going to play, and you’re going to float there and like it.”) Every bit that follows is great: him editing Fire & Rain on the fly, then his suggestion to fix the shuttle’s dilemma (“But I’m sure you high-tech NASA people could care less about our resort-town ways…”), and then when the situation goes sour, he swiftly makes his exit.
  • HAIL ANTS! (“This reporter was… possibly a little hasty earlier and would like To reaffirm his allegiance to this country and its human president. It may not be perfect, but it’s still the best government we have. For  now.”)
  • Abe’s “Of course he’ll make it, it’s TV!” line is such a brilliant double-layered joke. It plays perfectly in-universe as an Abe senility gag, but it’s even better as a meta joke, like yeah, of course Homer’s going to return to Earth just fine, and you’re a dope for thinking otherwise.

16. Homer Loves Flanders

  • “Warning: tickets should not be taken internally.” “See? Because of me, now they have a warning.”
  • It’s great how Homer is slow to anger realizing Bart easily conned him with the wig store coupon, then he immediately retreats into one of his more bizarre fantasies. He really is a sick, sick man.
  • I love Homer’s rapid succession “D’oh”s when he pops all of his tires driving over the road spikes. Also, for some reason, his car is green throughout the first act?
  • Mr. Burns giving a pep talk to the team about the little boy he crippled is definitely a syndication cut that I can’t say that I missed.
  • Homer’s nacho hat feels like it would be really cool in concept, but in reality, that thing can’t be very stable or functional. You could only break off so much of the brim before it would start to fall apart, and then you got a big basin of hot cheese right above your head just waiting to scald you. Some dreams are better left as just dreams.
  • The religious sheep cartoon is so great, as is Todd’s displeased commentary (“It’s all well and good for sheep, but what are we to do?”)
  • Moe reading to sick children and the impoverished is a great character detail exposing his softer side, which feels a lot more endearing than later seasons when they’d beat you over the head with how pathetic and sad he is. Watching Greta Gerwig’s Little Women, I’d be lying if I said Moe’s tearful reading of the ending of the book didn’t cross my mind before the credits rolled.
  • “Can’t talk, seeing Flanders, later, sex.” I like that even Marge is bothered by how much time Homer is spending with Ned. She knows him better than anyone, that when he gets laser-focused on something, it’s really hard to pull him away.
  • I love how Homer gingerly eats Ned’s food as he crawls through the window inviting himself for dinner. It somehow makes him even more aggravating than if he had just plopped himself down and started making a pig out of himself.
  • It’s a short moment, but I love at the picnic when Marge and Lisa have their displeasure brush with Maude over their Advisory Board-approved fruit punch (“I’m sorry. Our boys don’t eat sugar.” “But why would the Advisory Board give us bad advice?” “No sugar!”)
  • I absolutely love the third act where Ned is dealing with the strange new emotion of actually hating somebody. Right away, he tells Homer a lie in front of his kids to get out of spending time with him, but is unable to talk his way out of rationalizing it to Rod and Todd (giving us the great line, “Lies make baby Jesus cry.”) It’s all about Ned slowly unraveling until the climax, and it’s all done so wonderfully. I also like that part of Ned’s irritation is partly from him accidentally stealing his spotlight as a charitable person, showing even more that he’s not immune to basic human pettiness.
  • Oh, and of course, this episode gave us this incredible gif.
  • Homer’s nose whistling being the final straw for Ned is just perfect, this mildly irritating behavior that just eats away at him (the sound design just getting louder and more nasally is excellent) until he just bursts (“Breathe through your damn mouth!!”)
  • I really love this episode, and the ending is an absolute triumph. Homer’s speech in defense of Ned is a living contradiction. We know he’ll go back to hating his annoying neighbor-eeno. In fact, it happens one minute after he gives the speech. But within the episode’s context, it’s absolutely authentic and brings about a heartfelt mending of fences between the two men that is inherently “wrong” for the show, but feels completely right. Following this is the actual ending, which leans right into showing how the status quo has been restored, with a wonderfully bizarre tag highlighting another TV trope: a dead relative’s will forcing the Simpsons to spend the night in a haunted house. Again, it feels telling that the show is getting this meta and deconstructionist already in season 5. You can only strip the show down so much before you either have to build up something new (something the Oakley & Weinstein years attempted) or just tear it all down and cancel it (season 32 and counting!!)

Season Five Revisited (Part Two)

6. Marge on the Lam

  • “Marjorie, please! I enjoy all the meats of our cultural stew.”
  • As Homer is desperately trying to reach for the soda can in the vending machine, I like how we cut back to Lenny and Carl’s blank expressions two times, then for no real reason, they run off in terror when Homer gets stuck (“He’s done for!”)
  • The opera performing at Springfield High School definitely feels more appropriate than the fancy performance hall we saw back in “Bart the Genius.”
  • I really like how Homer’s protests against Marge going out alone never comes off as chauvinistic. He’s more like a little kid asking his mom when she’ll be back. As we follow him wandering aimlessly by himself to create a fulfilling night out, we see that married life has given his life a sort of comforting structure, and without Marge, he’s lost. It’s a sweet through-line running through the episode.
  • Mr. Burns talking on the phone like a teenage girl from the 50s is one of those gags that’s just so bizarre, but it only works because it goes by so quickly. Random humor works best when it’s not dwelled upon, and also in this case, only if there’s some thread of logic to the joke (Burns being an old man whose mind is mostly stuck in the past).
  • It goes by really quick, but I love the gag at Shotkickers where we see Willie on the mechanical bull, yelling to anyone who’ll listen, “How come no one else’s chair is doing this?!”
  • Marge’s awkward dancing at the underground club is really adorable.
  • The tone switch between young Homer’s manic glee at smashing the weather machine and his dumbly serious fawning over Marge (“You got real purty hair…”) is so funny, but also weirdly sweet. Homer may love being a craven buffoon, but he loves it even more if Marge is there with him.
  • “She’s become a crazed criminal just because I didn’t take her to the ballet!” “That’s exactly how Dillinger got started.”
  • Kent Brockman’s bizarre on-air breakdown gives way to another amazing “Please Stand By” card.
  • I’ve never seen Thelma & Louise so I really don’t know how closely the Marge/Ruth story mirrors the movie, outside the famous driving off a cliff ending. I guess Ruth was sort of retro-fit to fill the role of whichever one was the live wire, but it still stays in line with what little we learned about her from “New Kid on the Block.” I definitely feel like Ruth would have been a welcome recurring character, a great instigating element to push along Marge stories. Instead, she came back only one time ten seasons later as a female bodybuilder in that episode where Marge got roided up and rapes a whimpering Homer in their bed. Sigh.

7. Bart’s Inner Child

  • What exactly is Krusty doing with a normal house in a residential area? Maybe it’s just for storing hot, under suspicion items like that trampoline of his. Whatever the reason, I love how serious he is once he offloads it to Homer, and of course his amazing reappearance when he aims a shotgun right at Homer from the porch (“You just keep right on drivin’.”)
  • Very nice POV shot of Homer looking down on Marge from the trampoline.
  • The first act features Homer at his silliest, a grown man who throws down everything at the chance to make a paltry couple bucks having neighborhood kids bounce on a trampoline. Between that and the Looney Tunes homage with him throwing it off a cliff, this is one ridiculous first act. But it works within the context of contrasting Homer’s spontaneous, childlike behavior with Marge’s grounded, worrywart nature, setting the plot into motion.
  • Man, I love how absolutely painful some of the sound design is in this episode with kids eating shit off the trampoline. My favorite is when Wendell’s arm just smacks down on the metal bar with an incredibly loud hit, followed by his cry in anguish. It really sells just how much excruciating pain this demon trampoline is causing.
  • It’s kind of interesting following Homer’s accusation that she’s too straight-laced and no fun, Marge sits up in bed, revealing she’s sleeping in the nude, which we’ve seen her do every so often. We also get a pretty obvious reuse of animation where in the following single shot of Marge, we see the hem of her nightgown, since it’s an old shot they retimed the lip sync to.
  • This little strut of Homer walking in and greeting his wife with, “What up, Marge?” is one of my favorite pieces of animation of the whole series. I guess it’s meant to re-establish how carefree Homer is versus Marge, and it’s so damn charming to me.
  • Another slam dunk from Phil Hartman as Troy McClure in the Brad Goodman presentation. His reading of “My God, it’s like you’ve known me all my life!” always makes me laugh out loud.
  • I still love the joke when the Simpsons pull up to the Brad Goodman seminar and Homer recaps why they’re there. It’s one of those gags that’s so weird and makes no sense if you’re not really thinking about it, how it’s commenting how “unrealistically” shows and movies are structured that characters will repeat information for the benefit of the viewer to other characters who should already know said information. As TV has evolved over the decades, some cliches and narrative devices have grown as well, but there are still tropes like this that bug me. My biggest eye roll is when shows will unnaturally recap what’s happening immediately at the beginning of a new act after the commercial break. I understand why they do it, but sometimes it just sounds weird how a character will just reiterate what’s happening for no real reason. As much as I love the show, Bob’s Burgers is a big offender of this.
  • Brad Goodman may not be as infamous as Hank Scorpio, but he’s a perfect Simpsons character with a ton of great lines (“I may not have a lot of ‘credentials’ or ‘training,’ but I’ll tell you one thing: I’m a PhD in pain.” “There’s no trick to it. It’s just a simple trick!”) He’s actually a more grounded version of Lyle Lanley, a sweet-talking shyster who blows into town, hawks a feel-good solution and gets the hell out of there with a briefcase full of cash. While Lanley was a song-and-dance man selling an extravagant monorail, Brad Goodman is a more realistic figure, an unqualified, soothing manipulator who, as Lisa keenly observes, is “just peddling a bunch of easy answers.”
  • Thanks to this episode, I always pronounce “iced cream” like Mr. Burns.
  • This is probably my favorite depiction of Springfield devolving into mob violence, where we see a bunch of our favorite characters slowly get more and more at each other’s throats specifically (“You know, you really irritate me, Skinner, what with your store-bought haircut and excellent posture!”) I also love how in this episode and “Rosebud” we see how easily the mush-brained mob can be redirected (“They’re heading for the old mill!” “No, we’re not!” “Well… let’s go to the old mill anyway and get some cider!”)
  • The McGarnigal ending feels like it was a late addition, especially since the last fifteen seconds are playing over an exterior shot of the house. I wonder if they had a different ending that they scrapped in favor of a funny TV parody.

8. Boy Scoutz N The Hood

  • The honey roasted peanuts scene was included as a track on one of the old Simpsons soundtrack albums, and I honestly don’t know why. They would sometimes include dialogue leading up to or out of songs from the show, but this is the only track that’s literally just an entire scene with no music. It does immediately precede the “Springfield, It’s a Hell of a Town” scene, but there’s no narrative connective tissue between the two, so it still doesn’t make any sense. But having listened to those CDs over and over again, I can recite the entire scene flawlessly decades later. Who knows what that memory space could be better suited for? I’ll never know…
  • In every 7-Eleven I’ve ever walked into, I always think they’re called Squishees before remembering they’re actually Slurpees. At my high school, they had a Slush Puppy machine in the cafeteria and I’d get slushies there all the time, and they were a greater ratio of syrup to ice than Slurpees were.
  • I collected the Playmates Simpsons action figure line when I was younger, and one of the final figures they produce in the last wave was Brain Freeze Bart, modeled after Bart’s Squishee-induced freakout. It was such a weird choice for a variant, removed from the episode’s context, he just looks really strange. But I still bought him anyway.
  • The face on the Toothless Joe gum packaging is power plant employee Gummy Joe. Guess it’s a lucrative side hustle for him.
  • Speaking of the Songs in the Key of Springfield CD, the “Springfield” song track has an extensive intro (Apu making the syrup Squishee) and outro (Bart finding out he joined the Junior Campers and the opening of act two at the kitchen table) As a kid listening to it, I thought Bart’s line “I’ve made my bed, and now I’ve gotta weasel out of it” was about him literally making his bed.
  • Speaking of Playmates, Scout Leader Flanders was another variant figure I had. I got into collecting the figures a year into their production, so I missed out on a lot of the major characters who were older and much harder to find or more expensive. That being the case, the variant figures released in later waves were good for me to have major secondary characters in my collection. But for every interesting or logical variant like Prison Sideshow Bob or Plow King Barney, you had more uninspiring ones like Scout Leader Flanders or… Resort Smithers.
  • Bart’s debt collecting badge is an amazing blink-and-you’ll-miss-it joke.
  • I think Ernest Borgnine is only second to Buzz Aldrin for greatest sport of a guest star who just gets ridiculed and abused. He’s literally introduced walking out of the bathroom, and things just continue to go downhill from there. He’s so funny though: his petering out laugh to cheer up his camper, his quiet defeat upon finding his pocket knife missing upon being cornered by a bear, and one of the best lines of the whole show (“Hey, where are the sissy and the bald guy goin’, huh?”) And if that wasn’t enough, the last scene is him getting killed by Jason Vorhees. RIP to a great one. In real life, that is, not in the episode.
  • My favorite Sea Captain jokes are the ones that show just how incompetent and miserable he really is. This might be his best random appearance, unable to even keep an inflatable raft afloat (“Yarrr, I don’t know what I’m doin’.”)
  • It’s a great touch that we see Homer wearing a map as a paper hat in Bart’s fantasy on how he’d be a screw-up, then in reality, we see Homer doing just that, and ending up having his map hat get blown away.
  • Sugar-posting became its own category for Simpsons shitposting, and it’s produced some amazing content.

9. The Last Temptation of Homer

  • Bart’s faculty parking lot prank is definitely one of his smartest. It’s kind of another example of how Bart is actually a pretty smart kid, just not in the way most adults probably want him to be.
  • “It’s ‘photosynthesis’! Damn your feeble brain!”
  • The emotional journey Homer goes through in this episode is just fantastic. At first, he’s completely stunned at his immediate physical attraction to Mindy and chooses to just ignore these feelings. When he finds them unavoidable, he tries everything he can to try to squash them, but it proves to be to no avail. As we get into act three with him and Mindy in Capital City, it’s as if the fates are manufacturing everything into place to get these two together, and Homer can feel it, and it’s torturous to him. While “Life in the Fast Lane” depicted Marge as semi-understandably conflicted about choosing Homer or Jacques in the end, it’s appropriate that the flip-side episode would have Homer thrust into a possible infidelity scenario through no fault or action of his own, instead of him just being a horny two-timer. Homer definitely works best when his perversions are more innocent, like him talking about being attracted to Wonder Woman, or him dreaming about naked… Marge. 
  • “Homer, what’s with you? You’re talking during a coffee break!” “Yeah, you usually just take the box of donuts into the bathroom.”
  • Who knew that bar napkins were so wise?
  • I think Michelle Pfeiffer is kind of underrated as Mindy. Not only does she do a great job emulating Homer’s vocal mannerisms (her “Mmmm”s and “Can’t talk. Eating,”) but she also plays her as just as flummoxed by her crush with Homer as he is to her. The scene with her and Homer in the hotel room at the end is really so beautifully acted, with her clearly open to having sex with Homer, but not wanting to unless he did, communicated in a quiet, honest way.
  • Gotta love that Ringworm ad. I also feel like they wrote out “National Ringworm Association” for the end card, realized the acronym was NRA, and threw in the “The Other N.R.A.” in as a bonus joke.
  • “All I’m gonna use this bed for is sleeping, eating, and maybe building a little fort! That’s it!”
  • Burns releasing his Wizard of Oz monkeys in response to Homer and Mindy ordering room service is not only a syndication cut, but I also definitely saw “Another Simpsons Clip Show” more times in syndication in this episode, so my brain not only forgets the monkeys scene, but immediately jumps to Madame Chow’s, because that’s the scene that comes next in Homer’s retelling of the story in the clip show. Anyway, the joke’s not that great anyway, so whatever.
  • The “As Seen on 60 Minutes” mention on the Springfield Power Plant booth is great. There’s also a bunch of copies of Burns’ book from “Blood Feud” for sale, which is a nice callback.
  • Again, I just love the end scene with Homer and Mindy. And it’s lit so beautifully too. I absolutely love Homer’s innocent “Well… maybe I want to” regarding he and Mindy doing anything. Dan Castellaneta effortlessly imbues Homer’s voice clearly in turmoil with himself. He doesn’t know what he wants at that moment, and you can tell just in the performance.

10. $pringfield (or, How I l Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)

  • I love how Mr. Burns just awkwardly walks away from Henry Kissinger at his office door. He doesn’t even bother wasting energy shutting the door in his face. It’s also pretty sweet that we later hear he walked into a wall without his glasses, that’s more karmic suffering than that detestable war criminal has gotten in real life.
  • “I propose that I use what’s left of the town treasury to move to a more prosperous town and run for mayor.  And, er, once elected, I will send for the rest of you.”
  • Burns’ 24-hour laughing fit about the crippled Irishman is such a hilarious sequence. Him guffawing on his knees in church is one of the funniest images of the whole series.
  • You know when you have false memories about something you remember watching on TV but never actually happened? When we first see Burns Casino, after Burns mentions his new venture needs to have “sex appeal and a catchy name,” for some reason, my brain remembers a tag on that scene where someone says, “What a catchy name!” and Smithers standing next to him says, “What sex appeal!” Clearly, I am remembering this wrong, but every single time I watch this episode and get to that part, my brain thinks this imaginary scene is going to happen but it never does.
  • Speaking of celebrities who are good sports, Gerry Cooney makes a pretty pathetic appearance, getting knocked the fuck out by Otto. I guess he’s known for his glass jaw? I don’t know anything about him, but I’m all for more celebrities getting punched in the face on TV.
  • The Rich Texan makes his first appearance here, a character who would many seasons later get dusted off and reused ad nauseum (he shot his guns again and screamed “Yee-haw!” I love it when he does that!) But for now, he was a great one-off character (“Homer, I want you to have my lucky hat. I wore it the day Kennedy was shot, and it always brings me good luck.” “Why thanks, Senator!”)
  • Much ado has been made in the last year or so of The Simpsons predicting future events, most of which are bullshit, but the show most certainly called Roy getting mauled by that tiger a decade prior to it happening.
  • There’s just so much going on in Homer’s “photographic memory.”
  • The Rain Man scene definitely makes no sense if you don’t know the context, which is a real strike against it. I haven’t seen the movie, but I know Dustin Hoffman is supposed to be an autistic savant or something, and the punchline of the scene being Homer mimicking his screaming fit doesn’t feel very appropriate nowadays. They’d have been better off cutting this and replacing it with the James Bond deleted scene, which is much funnier anyway.
  • Gotta love Krusty’s herpes song. I also love how the scene just ends in bitter silence between disgruntled performer and disgruntled audience.
  • “Freemasons run the country!!”
  • The Boogeyman scene is the basis of yet another tremendous Dankmus remix. Also, if you haven’t gone to their account and binged all their remixes at this point, what the hell are you waiting for?
  • Robert Goulet is a great example of an appropriately used guest star. It’s logical that he would arrive in Springfield because Burns paid him to play at his casino, and it’s funny seeing him get roped into playing in a kid’s treehouse (“You from the casino?” “I’m from a casino.” “Good enough, let’s go.”) His rendition of the kiddie “Jingle Bells” is just lovely.
  • I love the dramatic camera turn when Homer finally confronts Marge (“You broke a promise to your child!”) The whole episode has been mostly all goofs, but the effects of Marge’s addiction have been slowly building, leaving Homer a powderkeg that eventually erupts in him going wild in the casino, but when he finally settles back down (“Think before you say each word,”) the scene becomes appropriately serious, but just long enough for it to feel meaningful, before the cruel hands of the status quo prevent any real change from happening (“Maybe I should get some professional help.” “No, no, that’s too expensive.  Just don’t do it anymore.”)

Season Five Revisited (Part One)

1. Homer’s Barbershop Quartet

  • The “I WILL NEVER WIN AN EMMY” chalkboard gag is a bit odd to me. Yes, they had lost the Primetime Animated Program Emmy the year previous, and this year wasn’t even nominated, but they already had two Emmys for their first two seasons. I guess they felt discouraged that their favor by the Academy seemed to have slipped after their initial explosion of success at the start of the series. The show wouldn’t nab another Emmy for another two years until season 6’s “Lisa’s Wedding.”
  • The Springfield Swap Meet sign is my favorite visual sign gag of the series. The design of the trash cornucopia is absolute brilliance.
  • In all the times I’ve gone to Disneyland, and of those times I’ve only seen the Dapper Dans perform twice, I really should ask them if they can do “Baby on Board.” All the original members who performed the singing for this show are presumably retired, but I wonder if the song is still in the newer Dans’ repertoire.
  • Lovejoy’s “Ching-ching!” as the collection plate fills up during the Be Sharps’ set is so funny.
  • It’s great that Apu’s new stage name, Apu de Beaumarchais, isn’t any shorter for a marquee, so it really was all in the name of whitewashing (“Isn’t it true that you’re really an Indian?” “By the many arms of Vishnu, I swear it is a lie!”)
  • ”Far out, man. I haven’t seen a bong in years.” Not only did they show a bong on screen, Homer names it as such! How did they get away with this in 1993?
  • “I would prefer we kept your marriage a secret. You see, a lot of women are going to want to have sex with you, and we want them to think they can.” “Well, if I explain it to Marge that way, I’m sure she’ll understand.” The smash cut to Marge crying is perfect. Also, I always thought her sobbing sounded weird here, almost like it was Julie Kavner not quite crying “in character.”
  • “We had fame and fortune, now all we needed was the approval of record company low-lives.” Their relentless Grammy bashing I think is an extension of their saltiness about the Emmys. Or maybe they thought “The Simpsons Sing the Blues” got snubbed.
  • Love this frame, recreated from a famous photo of the Beatles and Yoko Ono looking absolutely haggard in a recording studio.
  • I like how the ending has Bart and Lisa making the same criticisms about the episode conflicting with series continuity as fans would make, and Homer just dismisses them and sends them off to bed. The show would do a lot more openly thumbing their nose up at fans, or anyone hoping to watch a coherent story on their televisions, but an episode like this I can go along with. It’s not like Homer was a mega rock star who was raking in millions. Although Grammy-winning, he was in a successful barbershop quartet, the very premise itself is a joke, so it’s not worth trying to piece together the timeline and go into detail in answering Bart and Lisa’s questions.
  • This episode is a classic for sure, but I think The Powerpuff Girls’ “Meet the Beat-Alls” is the superior Beatles parody, which must break a record for most pop culture references made in 11 minutes.

2. Cape Feare

  • The “Up Late with McBain” announcer is a literal armband-wearing Nazi, which is pretty crazy. Rainer Wolfcastle was of course largely based on the Austrian Arnold Schwarzeneggar, so I don’t really know what that’s about. Years later, McBain would be viciously fighting those fiendish Commie-Nazis!
  • I like that in the gag where everyone runs in as Homer reacts to the letter, we see a very Itchy-like mouse run in as well, even better considering the previous scene was an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon.
  • This episode has the most egregious use of recycled, redubbed animation in the back-and-forth between Bart and Abe talking about Matlock and his false teeth. It’s such a lengthy conversation and isn’t particularly funny, so the fact that it was refitted animation makes it stand out even more.
  • “Who’s someone you’ve been making irritating phone calls to for years?” “Linda Lavin?” “No, someone who didn’t deserve it!” Exactly why would a little boy be prank-calling the star of Alice, and how did he get her number? This definitely rings as a joke written by a writer with a weird bug of their ass about Lavin. Does anyone know what this joke means?
  • Bernard Herrmann’s Cape Fear theme is utilized to great effect here, and since this episode has kind of become Sideshow Bob’s theme music. I don’t know if they reorchestrated it just enough to be legally distinguishable, or if they had to pay for music rights, but either way, it’s such a chilling piece of music. My wife was recently watching Netflix’s Ratchet, and I was surprised to hear them just straight up rip-off the Cape Fear theme and use it as part of their score several times. I guess The Simpsons basically did the same thing, but it feels different when a comedy lifts a piece of music in service of a parody, versus a serious-business prestige drama. I kept expecting Kelsey Grammar to emerge from the shadows.
  • “We object to the term ‘urine-soaked hellhole’ when you could have said, ‘pee pee-soaked heckhole.’” “Cheerfully withdrawn!”
  • The scene at the movie theater always felt weird to me. I haven’t seen Cape Fear, but I know it’s lifted from the scene where Robert De Niro is smoking and laughing at Problem Child, where here it’s Bob doing the same but to an Ernest movie. I get it’s the famous scene from the movie, but Bob is such a culture snob that the idea of him guffawing at “Ernest Goes Somewhere Cheap” doesn’t compute with me. Or was he purposefully being obnoxious because he knew the Simpson family was there?
  • Honestly, “Cape Feare” is probably my least favorite classic era Sideshow Bob episode. It suffers from two issues for me: one, the bulk of it really is just a bunch of gag scenes strung together, especially the first two acts, where the only story beats are Bart’s afraid and Bob gets out of prison. Disconnected jokes were certainly a trope of the Al Jean/Mike Reiss years, which they would proceed to carry on with them onto The Critic, but the structure doesn’t hold as soundly without a strong, focused story for the jokes to hang off of. Secondly, this is the only Bob episode without some kind of elaborate scheme or plot related to his character, so it really is just twenty-two minutes of this man chomping at the bit to viciously murder a ten-year-old boy, which is not nearly as interesting as his other stories.
  • The Homer Thompson scene is so funny, and impossible for me to watch without thinking of the fantastic Dankmus remix.
  • The infamous rake gag really does go on for too long. As far as lengthened gags go, I prefer Bob getting trampled by the elephants. The absurdity of how many there are in a row is much better, and I also have always loved this bit of animation where Bob’s face just bugs out as it’s getting stepped on.
  • I love that Bart successfully stalls for time by appealing to Bob’s vanity, but the scene gets too silly for my tastes, with Bart reading the Playbill and the English flag unfurling behind Bob from God knows where.
  • “It’s a good thing you drifted by this brothel!” Chief Wiggum shouted as he and his men were wearing bathrobes. I like that it’s just unspoken that the police force was busy screwing prostitutes.

3. Homer Goes to College

  • “The watchdog of public safety. Is there any lower form of life?”
  • Homer’s bee-stung butt is a fantastic drawing, but I love the scene prior where he chases after the bee, with his little float in the air before he lands and trounces down the hall.
  • “Gentlemen, I’ve decided there will be no investigation, now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go away.” How fast Quimby says this line and exits is funny, but even better is the comically large $5000 price tag hanging off his new fur coat.
  • I love the random time-filling TV commercial we hear Bart watching (“Finally, the great taste of Worchestire sauce… in a soft drink!” “Steaky!”)
  • My friend and I in high school could recite “School of Hard Knockers” in its entirety, and I still can today.
  • Mr. Burns really does have an impressive chair on the university board.
  • It’s funny going back to read fan reviews around this era, as some of them were quick to bemoan what seemed like the declining point of the series. This episode seems to have been quite polarizing, if the reviews on the capsule at Simpsons Archive are to be believed. As I think I talked about in my original review, Homer’s behavior in this episode is explained due to his slavish belief in college life being just as he knows it from television, contrasted with reality. He’s emulating what he thinks he should be acting like as a college man, but never goes far enough to become aggravating, at least not to me. Even when he runs down the Dean with his car, there’s an innocent naivety to his actions, as wild as that sounds, like he didn’t intend for him to get hurt.
  • Homer laughing at the professor dropping his notes might be one of my favorite jokes of the whole series. I just love how long it goes, and that multiple sets of rows slowly turn to look back at this idiot.
  • This episode has my favorite syndication cut, featuring the doomed construction project because of the six missing cinder blocks (“There’ll be no hospital, then, I’ll tell the children.”) It’s just so absurd.
  • It’s funny that Richard Nixon has a featured role in this episode, and later in “Treehouse of Horror IV,” before dying just half a year later. It’s especially ironic in the latter, of course, appearing on the Jury of the Damned, despite his protests of not being dead yet.
  • Hearing the “crazy noises” from Marge’s phone took me back to those halcyon days of early dial-up. Remember when you couldn’t make a phone call if you were logged on-line? Remember when you’d leave your computer on overnight to download a 150MB episode of Futurama off of Limewire? I do.
  • Another memory of a by-gone era: missing something off live TV. Bart and Lisa freak out when they miss the climax of “Itchy & Scratchy,” but nowadays I’m sure there’s some kind of Krusty streaming service you can watch all ten thousand I & S episodes instantaneously on or something. I’m surprised they haven’t done an episode like that yet.
  • I like how the episode turns into Homer’s relationship with the nerds, and then as we get midway through act three, the actual plot sneaks back up on us as much as it does Homer, in the form of his final exam.
  • I miss little animation flourishes like Homer gleefully turning in his paper.
  • The photos over the end credits of Homer’s full college experience are great. I like how they kind of give the college characters their well-earned due: the nerds take over the football field in a tank, and Homer and the Dean rock out behind a disgruntled Richard Nixon, newest victim of the Bra Bomb.

4. Rosebud

  • Upon being woken up, Mr. Burns tells Smithers, “The bedpan’s under my pillow.” I guess he moved that himself? And I hope it has a lid on it so his pillow isn’t soaking in his own pee. I never quite got this joke.
  • It goes by kind of quick, but I like how after Homer’s story about how he always gets abused at Burns’ birthday parties, we see Marge has gone back to sleep and Homer shoots her annoyed look. 
  • I just love Homer’s absolute glee in writing Burns’ roast speech, which then spills into him just trying to funny by insulting people (his instinctual “Okay, stupid!” response to Marge always makes me laugh). It all comes from this purely innocent, childlike place within Homer that’s really charming and infectious to watch.
  • What a subhead. And where’d they get that photo?
  • The Ramones scene is fantastic, of course. I like the drummer genuinely commenting, “Hey, I think they liked us!” after the set.
  • I love the idea of Burns opening up all of those gifts we see strewn about his gigantic table as everyone just stands there and patiently watches, like a kid at a child’s birthday party, except it’s a joyless plutocrat giving as little interest to a pile of gold coins as a dust buster.
  • I love Mr. Burns’ face reacting to Homer pulling down his pants. It’s just the perfect mixture of confusion and rage and you just don’t know which emotion is going to overtake the other. I also love that his order is, “Destroy him.” Not take him off the stage, not beat him up, not even kill him. Destroy him.
  • Hitler in his bunker screaming, “This is all your fault!!” at a stuffed bear will never be not funny.
  • The final gag in act one where the camera zooms in on the 100% Cotton tag as a “mistake,” we hear the record scratch, then the camera searches for the Bobo tag really doesn’t work. Like, I get what they were going for, but at least to me, it’s just too weird in execution.
  • I don’t want to know what Burns intends to do with Smithers in the Bobo costume, but I have a feeling that Smithers wouldn’t have a problem with it.
  • Homer being absolutely oblivious to Bobo is the subject of not one, but two absolutely fantastic scenes. The first scene with Kent Brockman’s on-the-nose news report is so funny, with continuous cuts to Homer’s absolutely blank face as Brockman is trying to make it as clear as possible what he should be doing. The second scene adds onto this by setting the scene perfectly for Homer to finally acknowledge that stuffed bear, but he still doesn’t quite get it for a few seconds (“How long have we had these fish?!”)
  • Professor Frink’s robot bear is an understandable syndication cut, but I still love how stupid it is. “BEAR WANT TO LIVE” was a common quote with my best friend and I, and I also like how the bear has a wind-up gear on its back, like it’s a gigantic mechanical toy.
  • Something I don’t think I ever noticed, when we see the police and firefighters outside the Simpson house after Burns and Smithers’ first break-in attempt (“More cocoa, Mr. Burns?” “Yes!!”), you can see the firetruck has just plowed through the Flanders’ front yard fence.
  • The point of the conflict in act three is Homer choosing his family over money, but really, you could’ve just bought Maggie another teddy bear and called it a day. For one million dollars, I think she’d get over it. Hell, they have the joke where he tries to entice her with an empty box, and Maggie is actually interested in playing with it before Homer hogs it all to himself. Just give her the box! The box!
  • A great blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gag: Otto watching a portable TV while clearly driving.
  • Burns and Smithers’ sitcom is just so stupid on so many levels that I absolutely love it. And Harry Shearer’s “Yes” is the funniest goddamn thing ever.
  • Burns confronting Maggie at the end is one of the best examples of the show being sincere and snarky at the same time. Burns’ plea to Maggie to not make the same mistake he made is surrounded by gags (him not able to out-muscle a baby, the shutterbug reporters popping up behind the fence), but they never undercut that 100% sincere moment. Nor does the gag following (“From now on, I’m only going to be good and kind to everyone!” “I’m sorry sir, I don’t have a pencil.” “Ehh, don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll remember it.”) Yes, we know Burns will go back to being a heartless monster in the next episode, but that doesn’t make his emotional climax any less meaningful.
  • I always used to consider this my favorite episode, but now, I really don’t know. I love it dearly, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like it’s missing that strong character through-line that I maybe value more now than I did ten years ago. I love the idea of Mr. Burns finding no happiness in his immense wealth and chasing his carefree childhood innocence, but that raw nerve is only tapped in act one and at the very end of act three, and the rest is just a series of gags. They’re great gags, but I dunno. Of the episodes I’ve watched so far, “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie” really stuck out to me as being a fantastic example of a show that balanced a really strong character story with gags, it’s kind of emerging as one of my new favorites. But I don’t know if I can really label one episode as my favorite anymore, the playing field is way too crowded with greatness to pick just one.

5. Treehouse of Horror IV

  • I know next to nothing about Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, but Bart’s introductions to each segment are still really great. Completely removed from its context, the wraparounds still work as they’re intended. I also love all of the different paintings parodying famous works of art. My favorite is the recreation of Jacques-Louis David’s “The Death of Marat,” but instead of the deceased holding his final written letter, it’s a tired (or hung over) Homer writing a grocery list. These paintings just go by in the background as delightful little Easter eggs, unlike the recently aired “Now Museum, Now You Don’t,” an episode where the art history “parodies” were completely in the spotlight, and much, much more terrible.
  • Devil Flanders’ “true” form is such a beautiful design (clearly inspired from Fantasia’s Chernabog), and I love that when he disappears in a puff of smoke, you can see Flanders’ face in it just before he vanishes.
  • Considering Homer’s words were “I’d sell my soul for a donut,” I don’t think him not eating the last bite counts as a loophole. He got the donut, the Devil gets his soul, that’s the transaction. But besides that point, why in the hell would he not just throw it away? Why keep it in the fridge? It’s almost as if this is some kind of ha-ha laugh-’em-up comedy show or something.
  • This episode has got to be one of the most beautifully animated in the entire series, I feel like I could highlight every other scene and there’d be a great moment of note. The vortex in the Simpson kitchen, the trial, almost the entirety of act two on the bus, Count Burns’ castle, Bart as a vampire… I can’t post a hundred gifs, so I’ll just settle on Homer plunging into Hell.
  • I love how the pets scamper as the fire lights from under them and forms Homer’s cage of flames. A lovely little touch they didn’t need to have.
  • I think this is Lionel Hutz’s best appearance, every single bit with him is just hilarious, from his intro walking in, combing his hair with a fork (“I watched Matlock in a bar last night. The sound wasn’t on, but I think I got the gist of it”), his stressing of unbreakable not realizing it’s against his case, and his escape from the bathroom window. Even the deleted scenes with him we’d later see in “The 138th Episode Spectacular” are fantastic
  • What a great drawing. It’s like a great piece of promo art within the show itself.
  • Hutz is the MVP of act one, but runner up has got to be Blackbeard, from his fear of heights (“This chair be high, says I”), to his shameful admission of illiteracy (“My debauchery was my way of compensatin’!”)
  • I love that in Bart’s nightmare, right before the crash, it flashes to show his skeleton before he wakes up. I also like his quiet “I hope this is sweat…” upon realizing he’s in his bed.
  • The gremlin is such a great design; I love how he’s clearly taking so much absolute joy in taking his time causing the impending death of a bus full of small children. Also great is how uncomfortable he is when Ned Flanders rescues and embraces him.
  • I wanna see the segment about the dogs playing poker. Also, it’s great how we transition from the painting to see it hanging behind the Simpson couch at the beginning of the segment.
  • I’ve spent every night this October watching a different spooky movie, but Bram Stoker’s Dracula really should have made the list. I’ve heard it’s good, and I’m sure I’ll appreciate it even more because of this episode. Ehh, maybe next year.
  • “Well, well, if it isn’t little… boy!” Just the right length of a pause. So funny.
  • Boy, Burns must be a real deep sleeper to not even flinch at Homer repeatedly hammering a stake into his crotch
  • The Addams Family-style end credits is one of my favorite remixes, it perfectly blends the motifs of both theme tunes expertly.

103. Secrets of a Successful Marriage

(originally aired May 19, 1994)
We haven’t seen a balls-to-the-wall marriage crisis episode since season 2’s “War of the Simpsons,” and they’re always really hard to get invested in. As we would see in the many many future episodes like this to come, most involve Homer being stupid and thoughtless to betray Marge and him having to make it up to her in the end. Homer is just barely in his wife’s good graces as it is, and when he screws it up further, he really needs to up the ante in his efforts to make Marge, and us watching, truly believe that he deserves to be taken back. “Homer’s Night Out” in season 1 is a perfect example, though that’s kind of a horse of a different color as Homer’s escapades weren’t entirely vile. Here, Homer’s dumbassery is truly ramped up, a “Jerkass” if you will, his actions really do go too far, and the payoff of his redemption isn’t nearly as satisfying as the writers may have hoped. In the end, I just don’t buy the two getting back together so quickly, and that’s kind of a fatal flaw.

The show starts with Homer bemoaning at the revelation that he’s a bit slow, so he takes a trip to the adult learning annex. From there, he stumbles into the position as teacher of a class about marriage, which goes nowhere until he inadvertently brings up personal information about Marge. His gossipy class is riveted at these juicy tidbits, and Homer feels proud of himself for being able to captivate an audience. Now, we’ve seen Homer’s personality bounce around a bit this season, but his behavior always seems to make sense for the story. Episodes featuring a more obnoxious Homer like “Homer Goes to College” and “Boy Scoutz N The Hood” at least featured situations that made the way Homer acted make sense. Homer’s initial concern is that he’s none too bright, which then turns into a desire to be looked up to, so he breaks his promise to his wife and continues to reveal intimate details about Marge, then turns a family dinner into a humiliating class session. As an audience, we should never feel negative toward Homer, as his actions are always innocently misguided, but when act two ends with him being thrown out of the house, he absolutely deserved it.

Act three involves Homer’s descent into madness, living in Bart’s treehouse a filth-ridden mess, pining for Marge back. It’s a truly pathetic sight that seeks to set the groundwork for his great revelation at the finale. Lisa gives her father some advice, to remind Marge of the one thing he can give her that no other man can. In the end, Homer’s got it: he can give Marge complete and utter dependence. He needs her to put up with him because he loves her, and has learned that since he can’t even begin to survive on his own, he’ll never betray her again. I get it’s supposed to be half jokey, but something really rubs me the wrong way about this ending. Marge’s marriage/servitude to Homer is already an unspoken sad story throughout the series, but bringing it to the forefront like this, as a joke, doesn’t seem right. Out-right saying Marge will put up with all of Homer’s shit because he loves her. I get the message here, and there could have been a way the scene could have really worked, but instead… it doesn’t. There’s some select scenes and jokes that work, but in the end, it’s a flat trouble-in-paradise episode with Homer being way too bombastic. And this was almost a flawless season too.

Tidbits and Quotes
– The opening with the card game is a pretty great set-up, perfectly illustrating how slow Homer really is. His dragging contemplation keeps him at Lenny’s well into the night, and when Lenny finds him, he starts his thinking over, and Lenny kicks him out. This show looked pretty strong up until Homer got the teaching job… which really makes no sense. There could’ve been other ways this episode could have went, like Homer acquiring a new skill or taking an interest in education in a bizarre way. I dunno.
– The other classes at the annex are great: Moe’s gangsta rap self-defense class, which is so well-animated, Lenny’s class on tobacco spitting, who stare at him with such revery, and Hans Moleman’s class on eating an orange (“Just eat the damn orange!”)
– The best scene of the show is seeing Smithers’ past marriage, which starts as Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (with a great performance by Shearer screaming “You leave Mr. Burns out of this!!”) then turns to A Streetcar Named Desire with Burns calling for Smithers. It’s a visually gorgeous black-and-white fantasy.
– I do like how petty and ravenous the class gets about Homer’s gossip. Homer bemoans the failure of his class (“I told Marge this wouldn’t work the other night in bed!”) which Moe quickly turns to be (“So something wasn’t working in bed, huh?”)
– The scene where Marge first asks Homer to stop gossiping to his class is an example why this episode doesn’t work, when Homer rambles on his various movie quotes in a row. It’s a great performance, but has no business in this scene. You need to maintain that Homer is some kind of a human being reacting to the needs of his wife, but here he’s just completely out of his mind.
– Great line at the start of Homer’s first gossip-less class: “What is a wedding? Well, Webster’s Dictionary describes a wedding as, ‘The process of removing weeds from one’s garden.'” The class leaves in droves. Another great line from Otto: “I can’t believe I paid $10,000 for this course! What the heck was that lab fee for?”
– Speaking of “War of the Simpsons,” we get a similar bit from there of the Lovejoys convincing Marge should get a divorce. When asked if that’s a sin, Lovejoy sighs whilst holding a Bible: “Marge, everything is a sin. You ever sat down and read this thing? Technically, we’re not allowed to go to the bathroom.”)
Another scene I don’t care for is when Marge is driving and seems to be thinking of Homer’s voice saying he loves her, but turns out to be Homer in the back seat. The joke completely back fires, and just reads as manipulative and creepy. I’d be even more pissed if I were Marge. But the episode’s only get three minutes left so we got to patch them up quick.
– Homer pep-talks his brain to think of something quick or they’ll lose Marge forever. Homer’s brain is on other matters (“Eat the pudding eat the pudding eat the pudding eat the pudding eat the pudding eat the pudding eat the pudding eat the pudding.”) Exactly eight times, mind you. A good friend of mine counted.
– I’m not positive, but this may be the first time Moe’s been shown to have a real shining toward Marge. I love the truly sleazy and manipulative way he tries to get himself into the house and openly admits to horning in on his best friend’s territory. Now, seedy behavior like this makes sense for Moe, but not Homer. I love the tension and dramatic angles when Homer walks in, wondering what’s going on, which sends Moe into panic mode, who runs off, smashes through a window and runs away.

Season 5 Final Thoughts
What a season. This show really has changed from humble beginnings. With David Mirkin in the show runner seat, we’ve seen The Simpsons become a little more wacky. Did I say ‘little’? I meant a lot. The series has drifted from its grounded emotional stasis as was in season 3 and 4, and become more focused on over-the-top jokes and ridiculous bits. This would be catastrophic if not for two things: the stories and characters are continuously engaging, and the jokes are fucking funny. Season 5 is the funniest season by far so far, with more laugh out loud moments than I can even remember, and I just watched the damn episodes. In that season 3 was perfect in that it was full of heartfelt episodes that got you invested in the characters and their plights, season 5 is perfect in that it was consistently hilarious each and every episode. I greatly await this streak to continue in Mirkin’s second run in season 6.

The Best
This is the hardest list I’ve had to choose so far. I got my top five, but I have two amended runner-ups. It’s the best I can do.
“Homer Goes to College,” “Rosebud,” “Treehouse of Horror IV,” “The Last Temptation of Homer,” “Deep Space Homer” (Runner-ups: “Homer and Apu,” “Homer Loves Flanders”)

The Worst
“Secrets of a Successful Marriage.” And they were so close.