In Defence Of The Simpsons’ Relevance: Ten New-Era Classic Episodes

Last month the long-running animated hit TV show The Simpsons passed the 500th episode mark with the aptly titled, ‘At Long Last Leave.’ The episode featured a tongue in cheek disclaimer asking viewers to give it some time before hitting the internet to rip the Julian Assange-featured installment apart.

Obviously the show has been under fire for a while now with many viewers pining for a return to the ‘golden age’ of Matt Groening’s creation which most say is comprised of the show’s first nine seasons which ran from 1989 to 1998 in the US.

Gone are days when Homer, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and Marge celebrated the arrival of the Monorail, attempted to find out who shot Mr. Burns and came together with the rest of Springfield to find out how the town statue was beheaded.

But the show was always different from ‘Family Guy’ and ‘South Park’ in that it was always PG yet catered to adults which is a harder bull to ride week after week.

Maybe our expectations are too high regarding the show’s ability to keep us laughing in the same way after what…just under 25 (million) years now? There may never be another ‘Homer Badman’ (which is Genius) or another show penned by the extraordinary John Swartzwelder but Krusty, Moe, Comic Book Guy and Apu still bring in assured viewing figures to this day, regularly beating Seth MacFarlane’s hit sitcoms.

Maybe it’s because the show got started as I was climbing out of my mother, or because for me the ‘golden age’ of the show was everything in-between season 11 to the season 16 finale in 2005 – but I still tune in.

Admittedly the show is extremely patchy now and putting aside the money the show generates is probably only still broadcast due to nostalgic bastards like me alongside a new generation giving the show a go week after week. But the saddest thing about all of it is this: there are some real modern (after the summer 2007 Simpsons Movie) classic episodes being overlooked among all the rubble!

Google these episodes – give them a look, restore your faith in The Simpsons.

Season 23 Episode 9 – Holidays of Future Passed (2011)

I think this episode more than any over the last five years puts this show back in the ring…well for at least 20 minutes. This 2011 episode basically follows the family 30 years into future at Christmas time. Bart has two boys who don’t care for him and Lisa has a rebellious teenager girl…

Season 19 Episode 13 – The Debarted (2008)

Strong, strong, strong 2008 episode which sees new student Donny (voiced by Topher Grace of ‘That 70’s Show’ fame) arrive at Springfield Elementary and join forces with Bart. The subplot with Marge wreaking the family car is another load of Homer based nonsensical fun.

Season 23 Episode 11 – The D’oh-cial Network (2012)

‘South Park’ did something similar plot-wise to this episode regarding Facebook but this 2012 take on the ‘The Social Network’ is definitely worth a watch. Lisa is made to tell us how she destroyed Springfield with the invention of SpringFace, however for some reason the episode runs minutes short and is backed up with some animated skits towards the end…

Season 22 Episode 20 – The Homer Scissorhands (2011)

This episode from last goes hard right from the beginning with Homer starting up his own hairdressing business after successfully reinventing his sister-in-law Patty’s look after a Bart-induced paint based accident. Most of season 22 is a somewhat underwhelming but this is not and is loaded with laughs.

Season 19 Episode 14 – Dial ‘N’ for Nerder (2008)

This is a large gem within the rubble of Season 19 where Bart and Lisa think that they have killed classmate Martin Prince after a prank goes wrong. The subplot with Marge hiring a TV show to see if Homer is messing up on his latest diet is pretty hilarious.

Season 19 Episode 15 – Smoke On The Daughter (2008)

Smoke On The Daughter is another worthwhile episode from 2008 that sees Marge fail in her attempt to become a ballerina, but after teacher Busby notices Lisa’s amazing posture she takes it up instead to Marge’s delight. The episode is an example of when all the small things come together – plus there is a health lesson included for free! Happy Days.

Season 23 Episode 8 – The Ten-Per-Cent Solution (2011)

Written by Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer Simpson) and his wife, this 2011 episode is one of his more impressive outings as a writer on the show. I thought Joan Rivers’ guest spot as Annie Dubinsky – a showbiz agent – worked like magic and brought the script a slight edge. Apparently the PTC were pretty pissed off about some of the one-liners…

Season 21 Episode 20 – To Surveil with Love (2010)

I only realised how much stronger this episode was compared to the ones that sandwich it after watching a recent re-run of the 2010 show. The town becomes embroiled in a surveillance camera lock down after a terrorist alert, and the people of Springfield soon become very tired of Ned Flander’s prying eyes. The Lisa subplot is also kinda fun.

Season 19 Episode 9 – Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind (Dec 2007)

This episode is already praised as a new classic and won a Primetime Emmy Award in 2008, mainly because ‘Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind’ is well thought out and actually delivers in terms of plot and actual character development. Here Homer loses his memory and then goes home to find his family missing and Marge with a black eye…

Season 19 Episode 3 – Midnight Towboy (Oct 2007)

I’ve always liked this episode and although no-one has singled it out much I like the Maggie and Marge subplot and some of gags surrounding Homer are just spot on. After Homer’s car is towed he meets Louie (voiced by Matt Dillon) who introduces him to the joys of towing cars for a living – and naturally the power goes to Papa Simpson’s head until the town get their revenge.

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