Saturday, April 13, 2024
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The Simpsons: Episodes I Love And You Probably Do Too

The Simpsons is something I cherish. Every day after school, my younger sister and I would drive my parents insane with our evening television routine. BBC 2 at 6 pm, we would tune in to watch our favourite yellow animated family, then at half 6, this would be followed by Malcolm In the Middle. Once that show had finished (I also adore that show so that I may make a whole nostalgia trip on that soon enough), we would turn over to Sky One at 7 pm to watch a further two episodes of the Simpsons. The thing is, this went on for years. Sundays were also a treat because Sky One would drop the show’s new episode, which we eagerly anticipated each week. 

The show is well past its golden era now. Still, seasons 1 to 12 are some of the best-written, funniest and, sometimes, very relatable pieces of television that have ever been produced. Matt Groenig’s creation was a total powerhouse during these years. When the writing staff moved on to focus on Futurama, they created even more quality television, but the Simpsons suffered because of it. I’ve cherry-picked two of my favourite episodes to write about. I typically make a more extensive list, but I’m a total Simpsons nerd. As it’s a feature piece, I decided to express my knowledge of the show I’m most fond of.

Homer Goes To College

Conan O’Brien penned this classic. He alone can be credited for some of the show’s best episodes. He wrote classics like Episodes like “New Kid on the Block” and “Marge vs the Monorail”. These exemplify Conan O’Brien’s ability to blend heartwarming storylines with outrageous humour, showcasing his comedic brilliance. In his final complete episode, “Homer Goes to College,” O’Brien continues to demonstrate his talent by crafting memorable moments for well-established characters like Mr. Burns. Additionally, he skillfully captures Homer’s immature side; I mean, he ran over the Dean. 

The episode begins when Homer performs poorly in a work evaluation; Mr. Burns sends him to Springfield University, where he befriends a group of nerdy students. Although Homer intends to provide them with a genuine college experience, their attempt to steal a rival mascot, Sir Oinks-A-Lot, needs to be revised, resulting in their expulsion. This episode again highlights Conan O’Brien’s knack for creating standout moments for the show’s well-established characters. 

Mr Burns’ comical endeavour to replicate Robert De Niro’s baseball bat scene from The Untouchables, only to struggle with lifting the bat due to his weakness, is a testament to O’Brien’s comedic touch. The actual amusement lies in O’Brien’s portrayal of Homer at his most immature, attempting to embrace the wild college life depicted in movies like Animal House, only to encounter studious peers and a sympathetic dean, accentuating Homer’s foolishness. It’s worth noting that while writing this episode, O’Brien secured the hosting role for Late Night, leading him to break his contract with The Simpsons.

His plan to pass his final exam is pure genius, and Homer Goes To College is a genius also. When his fellow roommate asks how he intends to pass the exam, considering he hasn’t studied, Homer responds with a line that still makes me laugh out loud to this day.

“Actually, I’ve been working on a plan. During the exam, I’ll hide under some coats and hope that somehow everything will work out”.

I feel Conan left the show too early. This is a selfish thought, of course, as the next step in his career made him a household name. Still, the quality of his work in his short two-year stint with the show is undeniable, and I would have loved to have seen more of his work.  

Deep Space Homer

Deep Space Homer was written by then-executive producer David Mirkin and, as its name suggests, was inspired by a NASA scheme. The episode underwent adjustments to balance its large concept, focusing on Homer’s family relationship and hero attempts. Guest stars Buzz Aldrin and James Taylor played themselves. Both Taylor and Aldrin received an excellent reception for their cameo appearances. NASA loved the episode so much that they even requested a copy to send to the International Space Station, which remains for astronauts to enjoy.

Deep Space Homer begins with the “Worker of the Week” award ceremony. Despite the general indifference of everyone, Homer is confident he will secure the award, as per the plant’s union agreement, which mandates every employee to win at least once, “regardless of incompetence, gross obesity, or rank odour.” To Homer’s dismay, Mr. Burns surprisingly awards an inanimate carbon rod the accolade. This hilariously infuriates Homer.

Seeking solace, Homer turns to the television and stumbles upon a channel broadcasting a live space shuttle launch. Unimpressed, he changes the channel. Simultaneously, NASA realized a decline in Nielsen ratings and decided to send an “average shmoe” into space, capitalizing on the popularity of blue-collar comedy programs. Coincidentally, Homer calls NASA to express dissatisfaction with their “boring space launches,” inadvertently becoming the chosen candidate. When NASA arrives at Moe’s Tavern to confront Homer, he mistakenly blames Barney for the prank call. The NASA team approaches Barney to be an astronaut, but Homer steps in and takes credit for the call.

Homer and Barney undergo astronaut training at Cape Canaveral, with only one chosen to go into space. Despite Barney’s initial advantage due to his sobriety, he reverts to alcoholism upon toasting his victory with non-alcoholic Champagne. Homer wins by default.

“Default? The two sweetest words in the English language! DeFAULT!”

Homer’s antics with potato chips and the mishap with the ant farm are some of the most memorable moments in the show’s history if not all of television history. This episode is a core childhood memory. I love it. 

If you are an old man like me, I hope you’ve enjoyed reminiscing about this wacky animated show. My girlfriend is only 26 and has never watched any of the old episodes of The Simpsons. This saddens me as the younger generation is missing out on something wonderful. The fact the show may have outstayed its welcome in recent years could be a factor, but the first few seasons are so good I feel they are a must-see. 

I will probably be doing this again with more episodes, so if you enjoyed it, you won’t have to wait too long for more.