There are countless good episodes of “The Simpsons”. From Homer failing miserably at his attempts to build a Barbeque, to Ned and Homer’s rivalry reaching such a point that they force their sons to fight it out in a game of mini-golf, “The Simpsons” is more than a meaningless animated laugh.
Nearly all the early episodes – many of the listed are from Seasons 2-10 – convey a special message.
But, if I had to pick 15 that I’d watch over and over again, these would probably be the ones I pick.
So, let’s see which episodes made the cut.
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NUMBER 15: You Only Move Twice (Season 8, Episode 2)
It’s practically impossible to forget the staggeringly evil super-villain Hank Scorpio.
Homer, accepting a job at the mysterious yet prestigious Globex Corporation, finds himself in love with his new workplace. His new found confidence gives him the kick in the backside he needed, resulting in him buying Tom Landry’s hat. The rest of the family struggles to adapt to their new surroundings and end up convincing Homer to leave his job and return to Springfield – not before Scorpio seizes the West Coast and buys Homer the Denver Broncos.
There are countless witty gags in this episode. From Hank’s explanation of where Homer can find a hammock…in the “hammock district”, to Homer ending James Bond – Bont actually – once and for all. This one, in all its profound weirdness, cannot be forgotten.
NUMBER 14: Lisa the Iconoclast (Season 7, Episode 16)
Introducing one of the great Simpsons quotes ever, Lisa the Iconoclast deals with the subject of “heroes and villains” exceptionally.
It’s not the funniest episode ever, but it’s got soul and purpose. Donald Sutherland’s role as Hollis Hurlbut, the town historian, is as good a cameo as you’ll see in any episode. The role was written specifically for Sutherland, which further enhanced the powerful meaning of Lisa the Iconoclast.
Dealing with the public perception of everyone’s hero, Lisa’s brain wants everyone to know the truth about the vicious pirate Hans Sprungfeld, but her heart knows the legacy of a hero is more important than the hero himself. After all, “…a noble spirit embiggins the smallest man.”
NUMBER 13: Homer’s Enemy (Season 8, Episode 23)
Homer’s Enemy introduces Frank Grimes, a seemingly normal guy who grows incredibly annoyed and frustrated at Homer’s “half-assed” attitude towards the workplace. In the end, Grimes never ends up effecting Homer’s attitude. Instead, Grimes ends up killing himself imitating Homer’s sloppy performance at work.
It’s certainly one of the darker episodes, but it doesn’t back off. It’s a seriously sad episode and it’s a favourite of many of the writers – including Matt Groening and Bill Oakley. Even Ricky Gervais has said it’s one of his favourites. The thing about Homer’s Enemy is that even though Homer, our basic protagonist, feels nothing for Frank, the viewer ends up feeling a lot for him – a lot for a man who was, in essence, driven to death by another.
Then, later down the line, Frank’s son tries to kill Homer. It doesn’t work.
NUMBER 12: Lemon of Troy (Season 6, Episode 24)
“…you must be stupider than you look!”
“Stupider like a fox!”
The best thing about Lemon of Troy is undoubtedly it’s wit. The writers didn’t back off, and delivered line after line of clever jokes and puns. It’s among the best episodes in the humour category for sure.
Lemon of Troy dissects the origins and enhances the already fuming rivalry between neighbouring towns Springfield and Shelbyville. But in the end, the fact that the towns are so similar gives the story that much more of a kick. It’s a very well written episode and goes further than just a story about a Lemon Tree – it’s about the importance of heritage.
“Wait a minute! There’s a lemon behind that rock!”
NUMBER 11: Homer Goes to College (Season 5, Episode 3)
Homer Goes to College, Conan O’Brien’s last sole writing credit before leaving to host his own show, has a distinct wit and relatability about it. In the episode, Homer must go to college and get a degree in Nuclear Physics in order to keep his job. Seeing as he never passed his college tests when first taking them, Homer’s perception of college is entirely built around film and television. Expecting frat parties and misbehaviour, Homer finds anything but.
It’s one of the few episodes where Homer stays true to his character – childish sense of humour, displayed when Homer stops in the middle of an important meeting to chase a dog with a leg of Ham in its mouth – and must overcome his completely overestimated perception of college life to pass the tests.
But whats great about this episode, is that Homer takes it upon himself to find the fun in college life, and undergoes a crazy prank to kidnap the rival university’s mascot – Sir Oinks-a-lot. That’s a really fun inclusion into the story.
It’s a fantastic episode with classic Simpsons writing in every sense.
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In the coming weeks: Numbers 10-6 in the Simpsons Best Episodes list; a review of The Place Beyond the Pines, and a review of a Kubrick Award recipient!