Season Seven Revisited (Part One)

1. Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)

  • The opening misdirect of Smithers’ dream is another great example of the show making cultural references that work without knowing what they are. Hell, “Who Shot Mr. Burns” itself was directly inspired by Dallas’s “Who Shot J.R.,” and now the beginning of this episode where Smithers finds Burns alive and well in the shower is a reference to an infamous season premiere of Dallas where they brought back Patrick Duffy’s character after killing him off, effectively erasing the entire previous season where he was dead as just a dream. Speaking of which, considering how “Part One” ended, it’s easy to interpret that Mr. Burns might actually be dead, with some online and print speculation from fans at the time before “Part Two” talking about the identity of Burns’ “killer” rather than the “shooter.” But whether you know about Dallas or not, it’s still funny how quickly the opening descends into fantasy madness (Speedway Squad! In Color!) before revealing it’s actually a dream, and it’s kind of cool how they dance around the question of whether Burns is actually dead or not for a few minutes before finally revealing he is in fact alive.
  • The rickets gag never felt that successful to me. Lack of sunlight apparently gave Homer a bad case of rickets, but it’s basically been just one day since Burns activated the sun blocker and was shot. Also, am I dumb for not automatically knowing rickets is caused from a lack of vitamin D? It’s a bit too much to put together for a joke where Homer walks funny.
  • I guess this episode shows why we don’t see much of Dave Shutton, he’s an awful reporter, even compared to Kent Brockman (“Dave Shutton, Springfield Daily Shopper. Who are you? Where are you going?” “Oh, do your research, Shutton!”)
  • Smithers is obviously the most likely suspect, and I like how the first act works as quick as it can without feeling rushed to cross him off the list. It’s great how the episode itself remarks on this too with Marge and Lisa (“I guess it’s never the most likely suspect.” “Actually, Mom, in 95% of cases, it is.”)
  • Lisa’s given titles on her suspect list are a great touch: it’s odd hearing Moe being called a “nightclub owner,” but Barney as “liquor connoisseur” is just perfect.
  • Tito Puente’s “Senor Burns” still really slaps, as the kids say. And MVP of this episode is unquestionably the guy at the condom machine.
  • All the other characters’ alibis are fantastic, from Skinner’s awkward bathroom encounter with Chalmers, Willie’s Basic Instinct nod and Space Invaders obsession (“That was a pretty addictive video game.” “Video game?”) and, of course, Moe’s polygraph test, which is the subject of, you guessed it, another amazing Dankmus remix.
  • Just like the Dallas opening, Wiggum’s Twin Peaks dream still works without knowing the source material. Twin Peaks is a show I’ve been meaning to watch forever, and even though the dream scene is incredibly specific to the series, I still think it plays if you think of it as a weird, cryptic dream Wiggum is having, which makes it funnier when Lisa just breaks down and tells him the information point blank when Wiggum fails to pick up the clue.
  • Gotta love the DNA guy who’s easily bribed by a carton of cigarettes.
  • Even though Homer obviously wouldn’t be our shooter, I like how there’s still credible evidence that must be unraveled. Sure, someone could have planted the gun in the Simpson car, but how did the fingerprints get on there? It’s enough to keep the audience thinking until the final reveal. Going along with that, I love how Homer continues to get more erratic to the point he threatens Burns and points Wiggum’s revolver point blank at his head in impulsive rage. Again, he’s not our man, but I love how dramatic the ending gets.
  • Yeah, Maggie shot Mr. Burns, and it’s the perfect fuck-you reveal that doesn’t feel like an insult whatsoever, especially since Burns’ desire to take candy from a baby was set up in “Part One.” That the entire incident was just a complete accident “caused” by an infant is a great ending, but as one commenter mentioned, it did set the stage for a whole lot of future jokes involving Maggie being an expert marksman or weirdly violent (like breaking her baby bottle to threaten Mr. Teeny in the movie), completely missing the point of the joke.
  • During my rewatch, I’ve been using the Simpsons Archive to help copy-paste quotes. As a young fan, they were always one of my favorite sites, I’d look through all their different lists and guides for hours. The episode capsules were their crown jewels, especially in an era before the DVDs were released. A curious time capsule to look back at now is their reviews section, featuring fan reviews of the episodes as they aired, and it’s really intriguing to hear negative feedback for episodes most fans would consider bonafide classics. The archived reviews start at season 5, when the show was getting a bit wackier, and clearly there were some fans that were absolutely not having it. If you’re curious, pull up the capsule for your favorite episode that you consider a flawless peak for the series, and you’ll find two or three people who just fucking hated it when it aired. Y’know, I think I’ll feature one negative quote per episode for novelty purposes. I might even retroactively do it for seasons 5 and 6.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “That was the worst Simpsons ever. I would’ve rather seen an old repeat.  If you hadn’t figured it out before, you can figure it out within the first few minutes. I would’ve expected more from the talented Simpsons writers.”

2. Radioactive Man

  • The hats flying into the air gag really feels like it shouldn’t play, but I still laughed at it anyway. This episode actually has a lot of cartoony gags in it, like Homer running so fast it leaves a Homer-shaped dust cloud and Bart looking at the six corners of the treehouse before seeing Milhouse, the latter being especially brilliant and mindfucky.
  • Comic Book Guy’s waddle over to the computer is such a funny piece of animation. This scene is also a fascinating look at the dawn of Internet nerds circa 1995, back when they were stuck on landlines staring at gigantic monitors. I still don’t understand the joke where the last nerd shown is an incredibly tiny Prince. Is that really Prince, or just a nerd dressed like him? And yeah, Prince is short, but he’s not like a little person.
  • It’s so great how Quimby effortlessly goes from sucking up to the film production (“We’ll blow up our dams, destroy forests, anything! If there’s a species of animal that’s causing problems nosing around your camera, we’ll have it wiped out!”) to relentlessly bleeding them dry once they’ve set up shop. The whole town is on the same page about sucking Hollywood ass to drain as much money out of them as possible (as seen from the great signs around town, “Welcome Hollywood Money” and “We [heart] Phonies.”)
  • It’s very funny to me that Fall Out Boy, a hugely popular band still to this day, is named after one of the most obscure Simpsons characters ever. Not even a character, a fictional sidekick in Bart’s favorite comic book.
  • I love the moment where Nelson laughs at himself in the mirror after whiffing his audition, finally realizing how demoralizing his catchphrase is (“Ohhh, that hurt. No wonder no one came to my birthday party.”) It’s a brief and humorous moment of clarity that holds more weight than any of the countless future subplots featuring Nelson the sad, poor dirt urchin. Also, I previously talked about how the show was already mocking its own catchphrases and tropes by season 5, but “Haw haw!” still plays if they can find an applicable situation.
  • “George Burns was right: show business is a hideous bitch goddess.”
  • Bongo Comics published a dozen or so Radioactive Man comics over its lifespan, which is really interesting on several levels. First, the idea that you can read a fictional comic book from a fictional TV show in real life is novel in and of itself. There’s not a ton of Radioactive Man lore in the show, so the writers pretty much had to create their own superhero canon for the most part. Also, the comics spanned over Radioactive Man’s fictional lifespan as a comic; issue #1 “released” in 1952, while issue #1000 came out in the then-modern day 1990s. The rest of the comics are issues scattered between those years, and they would parody different comic book tropes within those decades. For instance, issue #679 “released” in 1984 featured a more gritty tone, as well as clearly referencing the likes of Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. One of the final issues released is the comic book tie-in to the Radioactive Man movie, featuring the likenesses of Rainier Wolfcastle, Milhouse and Krusty in the roles in the film. It’s a really neat read, as you get to see how the isolated snippets we see in this episode were retrofitted into an actual narrative in the comic to make a complete story. I’d highly recommend seeking it out.
  • Even though this episode is mostly goofy, I like the throughline of Milhouse the tortured child actor. Pushed into the job by his uncaring parents who cared only for their own potential windfall, he has absolutely no interest at the start, which turns into bitter, seething resentment by the end. Pamela Hayden kills it with Milhouse’s acid-tinged disdain for the “jiminy jilickers” scene.
  • “My eyes! The goggles do nothing!” is a bonafide classic scene, of course, but what exactly was the outcome going to be had Milhouse been on set? Was a ten-year-old boy expected to swoop across the chasm and hoist Rainier Wolfcastle away before the acid hit? Ah, but who cares?
  • Slot car racers feel like a thing of the past. I’m sure kids don’t play with them anymore, but do any incredibly niche nerdy adults? I never had any race tracks of my own, but friends of mine did when I was a kid. Spirographs, on the other hand, I was all over.
  • Like Tito Puente, Mickey Rooney randomly appears as characters shout his name aloud, but he’s so damn funny and makes story-sense for him to be there, a former child star hired by Hollywood suits to talk sense into Milhouse. Then he tries to take his job, right before his next big break subbing for a little girl in a Jell-O commercial (“I could play that!”)
  • Having lived in Los Angeles for many years now, I have to say the ending depiction of Hollywood is 100% accurate.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Yeesh. That was about as subtle as a L.A.P.D. interrogation.  Only not as funny. Is it too early in the season to choose a ‘worst episode this year?’”

3. Home Sweet Home-Diddly-Dum-Doodily

  • Cute touch of Maggie karate chopped her toast before eating it. Also, I always thought Marge said that she “marbleized” the toast, but she was actually saying it was melba toast, which I never heard of until this moment.
  • Marge is in prime characterization in the first scene, the ultimate super mother for the whole family. She works her ass off for her family, but she loves to do it. It’s sweet that Homer goes out of his way to secure a gift for Marge in the form of a trip to the spa, but because this is the horrible world of The Simpsons, one half-day off for Marge leads to complete disaster. How the perfect storm is set up from the start with the old newspapers, Bart and Lisa’s troubles at school, the “Stupid Baby” prank, this entire first act is just perfect.
  • “Stupid babies need the most attention!” is a line I think of all the time.
  • Skinner is quick to call CPS on the Simpson house, but still uncaring enough to just send Lisa home wearing garbage bags on her bare feet and Bart wearing an onion sack.
  • Great work from the audio department adding whistling noises to Lisa’s dialogue when she loses her tooth.
  • “Oh bitch bitch bitch!” is another line I think of all the time.
  • Of course the one episode of Itchy & Scratchy Rod and Todd see is like the most traumatizing one of all time. A seemingly innocent “baby” Itchy stabs Scratchy twice with a broken baby bottle; just how slowly he pulls the bottle out of Scratchy’s bright red wound makes it feel extra painful. I also love that Itchy runs out with Scratchy’s TV, which really feels like pouring salt into the wound; it makes it feel even more scornful that he’s robbing him versus just his usual cartoon violence. As Scratchy weakly chokes out, “Why? My only son?” and sadly dies, we roll credits, and Rod and Todd are scarred for life.
  • The emotional scenes in this episode are incredibly potent, with Homer and Marge despairing walking to the kids’ empty bedrooms to Bart and Lisa fondly swapping memories of their parents. These are tender, heart wrenching moments, particularly the former, as the kids’ absence have left gigantic craters in Homer and Marge’s lives that they’ll do anything to get back.
  • Alongside the already emotional premise, I also really like how the emotional stakes of this episode is about the fate of Maggie’s soul. As Lisa helpfully explains, she hasn’t been a Simpson as long as she and Bart, as the impressionable young Maggie becomes more and more adjusted and comfortable with her new adopted parents. It may be incredibly silly when Maggie does a Linda Blair-esque head turn after saying, “Daddily-doodily,” but seeing her lovingly reunited with Marge at the end, reaffirming her identity as a Simpson, still feels like a powerful moment.
  • We get not one but two great drug jokes from Marge: first when she and Homer return from the spa, the CPA officials overhear her incredibly unfortunate comment, “It’s like I’m on some wonderful drug.” Later, at the Family Skills graduation, Marge gets an erroneous fail on her drug test, which she confidently rebukes (“The only thing I’m high on is love. Love for my son and daughters. Yes, a little LSD is all I need.”) I feel like if I came up with that line in the writer’s room, I would be so damn proud of myself.
  • Only on The Simpsons is the third act ticking clock to prevent a baptism, but it’s not played as cynical or ripping on religion at all. The happy ending of the Simpsons reuniting is played straight, and feels completely genuine without being saccharine. It feels so effortless how the show manages to toe that line.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Does anyone else agree that there is something missing this season?  It seems like the voices are a bit different and that the plot lines have a horrible Critic-esque quality. They just aren’t as good as the weekday reruns.”

4. Bart Sells His Soul

  • I definitely watched this episode before knowing about “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida,” so I didn’t quite get Bart’s prank. He picked an extra long hymn and that’s his fault? Though to be fair, surely one member of the congregation had to recognize the song after ten minutes of singing before Lovejoy, right? (“Wait a minute, this sounds like rock and/or roll!”) But who cares, it’s great. They included it on one of the soundtrack CDs, but considering it’s just a reorchestration of another song, did Iron Butterfly get paid royalties for that?
  • Milhouse’s innocent question as to why organized religion would manipulate or obfuscate truth (“What would they have to gain?”), followed by the immediate cut to Lovejoy’s loud money-counting machine is so damn good.
  • Bart’s cheeky “Any time, chuuuuuuuu-mp” always makes me laugh.
  • It’s always funny when we see Dr. Hibbert’s children, reminding you that he and his whole family are basically just references to The Cosby Show. I don’t know the last time they’ve been seen on the show, but they certainly are an out-of-time parody at this point. I’d say a Dr. Hibbert episode could be kind of interesting, but… you know. Also, I’d love to go eat at Professor P. J. Cornucopia’s Fantastic Foodmagorium and Great American Steakery.
  • I love that Bart’s turmoil through the entire episode is completely internal. He didn’t “lose” his soul, but his uncaring attitude to his sense of self led to this weird crisis within himself that he’s unable to make sense of. It’s sort of similar to the series’ early morality play episodes like “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment.”
  • I really like how this episode features Milhouse finally getting one over on Bart. After being used and abused as a second banana for six seasons, he’s now in the position of power over a timid Bart, and he knows it. I love this little bit of animation (and Pamela Hayden’s performance) of Milhouse’s smug “yeeeeessss” as Bart walks up to him. Milhouse coldly demands $50 for Bart’s soul back, and cackles dorkily as he somberly leaves. So great.
  • The ending of the Uncle Moe’s commercial was cut in syndication, but I love how dumb it is. The uncreative simplicity of the extended jingle (“It’s good good good good, good good good!”) as Moe struggles in vain to keep a big grin to the camera, twitching wildly. Watching this silly subplot also reminded me of the Playmates Simpsons action figure line, and one of the dozen or so planned figures that was cancelled when the line ended was an Uncle Moe variant. That would’ve been a neat collectible, with a little Million Dollar Birthday Fries hat to put on his head. What a shame.
  • The scene where Marge naturally senses something is wrong with Bart is really, really sweet, further emphasizing that this is Bart’s mental struggle, so of course an obsessively loving mother like Marge would see something is wrong… but not quite know what (“It’s not fear of nuclear war… It’s not swim-test anxiety…”)
    – The little girl with the cold teef that causes Moe to lose it looks a lot like Samantha Stanky to me. I also love the ominous reprise of the Uncle Moe’s jingle right before everything goes to shit, really great music cue.
  • The street sweeper running down Bart is a fantastic double joke, where it looks like it just thoroughly cleaned Bart’s bike, but then quickly falls apart. Then the street sweeper is apparently a madman who drives down the subway stairs and crashes.
  • Speaking of madmen, Dan Castellaneta gives a dynamite performance as the homeless man Wiggum attempts to placate (“Who’s been stealing your thoughts?”)
  • Gotta love those ALF pogs. Speaking of ALF, if you think my episodic reviews are humorous and thorough, I’ve got nothing on Philip Reed’s ALF project, a writing exercise where he exhaustively reviewed every episode of ALF, as well as bonus articles about the characters, other ALF media, and so forth. I remember watching ALF reruns when I was younger and liking the show, but looking back on it now, it really was quite terrible, and Philip really digs into why. I’d say even if you haven’t seen ALF, they’re still really engaging in how in depth he goes into explaining every part of every episode and why it’s shit. I’ve read the entire thing several times at this point, I’d highly recommend checking it out.
  • I love Bart’s desperation by the third act. The time lapse shot of him sleeping all night in front of the Android’s Dungeon is pretty sad, all leading to his final desperate moment of prayer, with an absolutely fantastic performance by Nancy Cartwright. It’s probably the most vulnerable we’ve seen Bart in the entire series.
  • Lisa buying Bart’s soul back for him feels like a thank you for Bart buying the Bleeding Gums record in “‘Round Springfield.” Funny how there’s two endings where a Simpson sibling saves the day by buying something from Comic Book Guy. 
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “This was one of the stupidest episodes I’ve seen. It was corny and predictable and it had the humor of Erkle’s show. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with the writers of the show, but I think the good ones have been replaced with nephews and beer buddies of the show’s producers.”

5. Lisa the Vegetarian

  • The sound design in Storytown Village is really strong, from Mama Bear’s busted speaker to the axe cutting off Mother Goose’s head. That latter gag is executed absolutely perfectly, together with the timing, the animation of how swiftly the axe goes through the goose, and the sound effect.
  • The Simpsons returning home with their busted up back window is such a wonderful joke in how it’s not even highlighted. It’s a great coming back to earth after the sweet bit of Lisa bonding with the lamb, where right as the gruff voiced “Mother Goose” comes on the PA system (“The following cars have been broken into,”) we cut right to the Simpsons pulling up the driveway. Like, of course they were among the unlucky ones
  • Gotta love Lord Thistlewick Flanders. And hey, have I mentioned Dankmus recently?
  • The Independent Thought alarm is a perfect Springfield Elementary feature. I also love Willie’s vindication at Skinner’s order to remove all the colored chalk (“That colored chalk was forged by Lucifer himself!”)
  • The Itchy & Scratchy in this episode really is one of the strangest, where Itchy serves Scratchy his own bloated stomach on a plate at a fancy restaurant. Even when he repeatedly eats a piece and it flies back out of the hole in his meal, he’s completely none the wiser. It just feels so gross, with Scratchy’s shaved pink belly and the sound effect of it flopping onto the plate. Of course, Scratchy only dies when he receives the exorbitant bill and his head explodes. Brilliant.
  • I’ve definitely thought “Yo, goober! Where’s the meat!” at least a few times waiting for my food at a restaurant. 
  • “A certain… agitator… for privacy’s sake, let’s call her… Lisa S. No, that’s too obvious. Let’s say L. Simpson.”
  • “Meat and You: Partners in Freedom” has got to be the best filmstrip of the entire series. Every moment in it is basically a classic bit: Troy forgetting the kid’s name, sliding a finger on the cow’s back and tasting it, the “kill floor,” the “science-tician” who gets cut off, the very memeable shark eating the gorilla, and of course, the very helpful diagram of the food chain.
  • The gas grill gag is great by itself, but made even better for knowledgeable fans who recall “Treehouse of Horror.” While Homer’s excessively doused grill caused a mini-mushroom cloud to erupt in that episode, here, he just lights a match and the grill lights up like normal. Really great bait-and-switch.
  • Barney’s “Go back to Russia!” always makes me laugh.
  • Paul and Linda McCartney’s appearance skews very close to the impending deluge of guest stars who show up just to be fawned over, or worse to hawk their image/beliefs/products/etc. But their interplay with Apu ends up mostly saving it. I love that Lisa, an eight-year-old girl’s natural reaction to seeing the vintage rock star is, ”I read about you in history class!”
  • I feel like some might complain about Lisa’s actions and behavior in the third act to be too mean and spiteful, but that’s kind of the whole point. She’s really devoted to this new cause, but, as a child, ends up getting too wrapped up in it and ends up ostracizing herself from the family. Homer is equally as petulant, of course being a dimwitted manchild. The ending when the two reunite (I absolutely love their back-and-forth “you looking for me?” dialogue. Both know they have to apologize, but have to muster up the courage to do so) is so very, very sweet, capped out with Lisa getting a veggie-back ride.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Kind of a disappointing episode. It seems like a WSB episode where every character is given a few token lines to say. Only Apu brought any sensibility to the show. And a message to the writers. Please do not devote entire episodes to your celebrity guests’ pet causes.”

6. Treehouse of Horror VI

  • Pimply Faced Teen shouting “You don’t scare us!” when Homer storms out is so funny.
  • Homer steals the Lard Lad donut entirely out of spite, but seems to be having a grand old time lying in the donut hole in his underwear drinking beer. Never mind how he got that thing in the house though.
  • “Panic is gripping Springfield as giant advertising mascots rampage through the city. Perhaps it’s part of some daring new ad campaign, but what new product could justify such carnage? A cleanser? A fat-free fudge cake that doesn’t let you down in the flavor department like so many others?”
  • The captain of the high school basketball team that Wiggum shoots dead is literally taller than the building he walks out of. He’s got to be over ten-feet-tall. Forget what Lou says, that kid is a monster.
  • Lard Lad’s giant angry face through the door frame is such a memorable image to me. I always think of Lard Lad’s as one of the most iconic stores of Springfield, but I think this is its first appearance. I just love Lard Lad, he’s such a great design. I wish they had like a little statuette of him, I’d love to have that on my desk. Though maybe one does exist, there’s endless amounts of Simpsons merch, it’s possible.
  • I love the performance by the head of the ad agency (Harry Shearer, I think?) with his warbling attempt to sing the anti-monster jingle (“Don’t watch the mo… don’t watch them… mon-steeeeeeerrrrrssss…”) 
  • “Children, I couldn’t help monitoring your conversation. There’s no mystery about Willy. Why, he simply disappeared. Now, let’s have no more curiosity about this bizarre cover-up.”
  • Truly disturbing performance by Russi Taylor doing Martin’s death screech before he falls to the floor getting killed by dream Willie. It’s just so genuinely horrifying, but in classic fashion, is immediately followed by Nelson’s “Haw-haw!” and the great scene of Martin’s twisted, rigid corpse being exposed to the class, and then rolled into the kindergarten.
  • I got Simpsons calendars for a few years when I was younger, and I remember more than one year had a thirteenth page for Smarch, which featured a bunch of fake holidays on the calendar. It was a really nice touch.
  • While “Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace” plays the Elm Street premise mostly straight, I like how Willie’s origin story is almost like the inverse of Freddy Krueger’s. While Freddy was a school groundskeeper who murdered and/or molested children that the parents burned alive to protect them, Willie senselessly dies due to ignorant and uncaring budget cuts made by the parents (“Recharge fire extinguishers? Now, this is a free service of the fire department…” “Nay!” Also, there’s one shot of the parents toward the end of this scene that always stuck out to me. I know the kids’ desks are low to the floor, but jeez, look at those guys. The shot also makes poor Ned and Martin’s dad look as fat as Wiggum.
  • Willie’s “compost-mortem” line is some damn good writing. I also like how he takes a bunch of different (tartan patterned) forms before he sinks down into the sandbox. I don’t exactly know why he does it (the rocketship makes sense for him trying to get out, but the elephant and tank would serve more to weight him down), but I still think it’s cool.
  • I’m certain I mentioned this the first time around, but Homer^3 always reminds me of Cyberworld 3D, an 2000 IMAX film that acted like an anthology showcase of different early CG animation: shorts films, music videos, a sequence from Dreamworks’ Antz, and what I cared most about, the Homer^3 segment. Getting to see the Simpsons in IMAX was a real treat for my young self. I really, really wish the film was available in some form so I could see it again, but given the different rights holders of the different segments, that’s never gonna happen.
  • Even though it’s very rudimentary, I think the 3D animation holds up in the sense that Homer has basically been transported into an early 3D demo reel, walking past primitive CG assets and first-pass water effects. He’s trapped inside the concept of 3D; if this were some crazy, elaborate 3D environment, it would kind of sully that idea.
  • Can you believe there are actually people out there still excited for a Tron 3? Takes all kinds, man…
  • The meta aspect of Frink explaining the concept of three dimensions is so great. I love that the characters are all completely befuddled by the concept of the z-axis, which pairs nicely with the x/y/z directional sign 3D Homer walks up to.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “I thought this Simpsons episode sucked. I mean, did it suck or what? And Homer^3 was just trying to camouflage the fact that…it sucked! And you know, what a way to cap an episode. Homer’s in the real world and goes into Erotic Cakes stores. So? What happens next. Credits…It sucked.”

13 thoughts on “Season Seven Revisited (Part One)

  1. The digital animation in “Radioactive Man” is so jarring. I remember seeing that “Cows don’t look cows on film” clip on YouTube without remembering which episode it came from, and I thought it was from that Season 13 episode where Bart met the old Western star. I know that sounds like sacrilege, but it has that “Experimenting with digital colors” feel that episodes from that season had.

    Also, I know I’ve said this before, but I wonder if any of those early internet commenters would be willing to come forward and talk about if their opinions have changed or not.

    1. A. The only other episodes that “experimented” with digital ink before the switch in season 14 were the 138th Spectacular coming up and Tennis the Menace in season 12.

      B. It’s been 25 years, the people who wrote those reviews on Simpson Archive are probably all dead or old, or they lost interest in The Simpsons a long time ago.

  2. “If you hadn’t figured it out before, you can figure it out within the first few minutes.”

    Indicating he knew it was Maggie before this aired? Maybe he should have entered the contest. No one else worked it out or even guessed it was her. Maybe he was the guy they mention on the commentary that worked it out but, as they didn’t enter officially, couldn’t award the prize too.

    I think both halves are exceptionally well-written and excellently put together. Some of the direction and editing, like the mob closing in on Homer at the end, is top-notch.

    But the Archive, despite being an incredibly thorough source, is littered with odd eccentricities and strange opinions, especially in the reviews. I wonder if their expectations were just too high at the time. Lots of media suffers from that, only to be fully appreciated later, but I doubt we’ll look back on the modern era with much fondness…

    1. I used to enjoy the Simpsons Archive (back when it was SNPP), but the ravages of time haven’t been kind to it, particularly in the fact that folks just stopped caring enough to continue maintenance. As newer episodes started airing in the mid to late 2000s, scripts and information stopped being uploaded despite a constant assurance that there would be, presumably due to the fact that people who had dedicated a good portion of their lives to the community had either were too busy with other things or were no longer interested in the Simpsons to care. Most other Simpsons fansites, like Last Exit to Springfield, Springfield Files, and The War of the Simpsons (amusingly, all named after episodes) are all sort of internet time capsules where you can look back and carbon date when they stopped uploading content. Even more recent services that helped give folks the content they needed for meme purposes, like Frinkiac or, don’t appear to have plans to add additional Simpsons seasons beyond the 17th season despite DVDs being available for Seasons 18 & 19 (ironically, the final DVD sets ever made with additional content like commentary before they finally gave up on the laborious process of making those long-ass menus and require us to purchase digitally or stream on Disney+).

      It’s not like the later, or more recent seasons, are deserving of preservation or recognition, in my opinion, but I think it says a lot about the series that virtually all of the old guard beyond No Homers have up and quit due to the show’s extreme longevity.

      I do agree that time will not look back at the show’s later years with much respect. There will always be defenders of the double digit seasons, but I think The Simpsons may end up going down in history as proof that things do need an expiration date.

  3. That Treehouse of Horror will always have a soft spot for me, as my uncle actually recorded that episode, and the premiere of the following one, on VHS 2 years before I was born, and I honestly had no idea until finding it in his closet in 2017. (He’s had a checkered past, I’ll just leave it at that, so that may be why he forgot about it.)

  4. Aww, yeah… Oakley & Weinstein, here we come, baby! Woo! Season 7 is awesome! It’s like the product of mixing the emotional stories of Seasons 2 & 3 with the wackiness of Seasons 4, 5 and 6!

    Okay, time for my Who Shot Mr. Burns review. Both parts are absolutely brilliant. So well constructed to bring so much hype to a character seemingly being killed with Part 2 twisting and turning everything to make it purposefully anti-climatic. It’s the perfect parody to those big cliff-hanger episodes that you see on lesser shows that desperately need a ratings boost. *cough*Nedna*cough* Oh, and Part 1 may feature Burns at his most top peak, even more so than “Last Exit to Springfield.”

    “Y’know, I think I’ll feature one negative quote per episode for novelty purposes. I might even retroactively do it for seasons 5 and 6.”

    I’m already enjoying these. Naturally, I have to read them all out loud in CBG’s voice. Hey, maybe when you get to Seasons 10 & 11, you can look for positive reviews of episodes that are widely hated. I’d love to see the opinion of someone who thinks that “Kill the Alligator & Run” is a timeless classic.

    And now onto the final Mirkin episode. Great satire on Hollywood, still has that wacky Mirkin feel (We even get to see Estonian Midget one last time), and damn I had no idea that this episode was the inspiration for a popular punk band from the 2000s. Oh yeah, and being the only classic episode to be digitally colored, it looks weird but it’s way better compared to the lifeless aesthetic from 2003 onward.

    What better episode for the O&W saga to kick off with than “Home, Sweet tl;dr”? One of the most emotional episodes in the entire show in a season that’s full of them. Yet somehow, despite all the heart-wrenching family drama, it manages to be funny as hell. Plus, it kickstarts the Season 7 theme of episodes ending with characters walking off into the susnet, which may or may not be a metaphor on the show’s eventual decline starting next season…

    “Bart Sells His Soul” is regarded by fans as one of the greatest episodes of all time, but I wouldn’t really put it on my top 20, but that’s only because there wasn’t enough room for it. It would certainly grab a spot in my top 40. It’s just such a brilliant and surreal morality tale that almost feels movie-like in quality. Oh yeah, and the B-plot is great, too. God, I miss the old Moe. By the way, who the hell is Erkle?

    “I’ve got nothing on Philip Reed’s ALF project, a writing exercise where he exhaustively reviewed every episode of ALF, as well as bonus articles about the characters, other ALF media, and so forth.”

    Thanks for giving me something to waste my entire night on, Mike. I’m looking forward to learn about a “classic” sitcom from the 80s.

    Hey Zombie Simpsons! You wanna write an episode featuring Lisa as a smug, self-righteous crusader of social justice and not have her come of as an unlikeable liberal mouthpiece? Go watch “Lisa the Vegetarian” and see how it gets it right. Lisa still acts like a kid, she is able to learn when she’s taking things too far, and you’re able to understand the motivations and feelings of both sides. Also, it’s got tons of great jokes that many still remember to this day. Even the Ralph non-sequitur is a bonafide classic line. “When I grow up, I’m going to Bovine University!” Such a great character study on Lisa that latter Simpsons would try and beat to the ground.

    Alright, almost done. Time for a Halloween special? Yes. Time for a Halloween special. And while the Season 7 TOH may not be as legendary as the previous two, it still manages to be legendary than the first three. And the first three were also legendary. So will the next one. Man, I love the Halloween specials. Oh, and it was nice to see the original script on Dead Homers Society. I’m sad that “My beloved Ankabello!” didn’t make the final cut.

    See you next week when, oh boy can’t wait to revisit “Marge Be Not Proud” again! Spoiler alert: I still love that episode despite its problems.

    1. I think “Erkle” was him misspelling “Urkel” and alluding to Family Matters on how everything after Season 1 became “The Urkel Show”.

      Now, technically, Mirkin isn’t done yet. Season 9 is a weird, Frankenstein’s monster of a season with showrunners. It’s Mike Scully’s first year, but Oakley & Weinstein are wrapping up their episodes before leaving to do “Mission Hill”, Al Jean and Mike Reiss are wrapping up their 4 episode deal with Disney (before Jean would return full time), and Mirkin would do a clip show and “The Joy of Sect”.

  5. I will say that Ned trying to baptize the Simpsons kids himself always struck me as an early indicator of crazy religious zealot Ned. Like I get that he’d be concerned over the kids’ souls, but why wouldn’t he call Homer and Marge to ask them about it? Or just ask them in person, since he lives literally next door?

    But yeah, that scene where the sun’s behind Marge as she rounds the corner to pick up Maggie is very sweet.

    1. Considering the writers probably did not think about the ethics of forcing baptism on more pragmatic (if that’s the appropriate word to describe the level of faith the Simpsons family are, given that they go to church, but as a whole, aren’t devout) individuals, and that the Flanders’ estate is clearly a fundamentalist household (complete with Ned referring to the Simpsons as a whole as a “hell-bound family”), combined with the staff probably only doing base level child protective services research, which likely would mention not engaging in contact with the birth parents for legal reasons, they skipped all that just to set up the whole climax in Act 3 and rushed along. I should also mention syndication cuts out a good line from Lovejoy where he asks God, “Why do you hate my trains?”

      Though I would agree this is probably the jumping off point in which the crew started dabbling in Ned going from the good-natured neighbor that happened to be religious to the fundamentalist asshole that the show would use as a straw man to bash the Religious Right given how *boring* Ned is in this episode. I think “Hurricane Neddy” is the last genuine episode to tackle Ned’s faith without making him either old fashioned to mock him or to insult his faith cause he believes everyone else is a sinner destined for eternal damnation.

      1. I get your point and I agree the writers don’t really care about this so why should we, but I dunno man, classic Ned Flanders is a mild-mannered and extremely thoughtful person. There’s no way he wouldn’t ask Homer and Marge about it first.

  6. “Also, I’d love to go eat at Professor P. J. Cornucopia’s Fantastic Foodmagorium and Great American Steakery”

    How did you rate The Texas Cheese Cake Depository? 😉

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