LAST UPDATED: August 14, 2018. Season one full write-up is complete!
As I have stated in the past, my all time favorite TV show is the Simpsons. I’ve been a fan since that day one-ish, and I have loyally followed America’s favorite dysfunctional animated family through all sorts of wacky adventures. On this page, I will watch and review every single episode of the series as I do a full binge of the show. As the Simpsons are currently still on the air as I write this, expect to see updates as new episodes are produced. Although, between you and me, I hope the show’s conclusion is happening sooner rather than later.
For full disclosure, I am reviewing only the Simpsons as the half hour sitcom on Fox, and not covering the Tracy Ullman shorts that started the show. I’ve made this choice because I haven’t seen all those skits, they aren’t easily accessible to watch, and some of them are so short and simple that there’s little point in covering them.
I will try to make this fun with trivia about the episodes as I watch them without going too in depth. Obviously if you wanted just a generic review of each episode, you wouldn’t be reading this to begin with.
Anyway, let’s move onto the ultimate Simpsons countdown!
EPISODE 1: SIMPSONS ROASTING ON AN OPEN FIRE (SEASON 1, EPISODE 1)
PLOT: It’s Christmas time in Springfield. Bart wants to get a tattoo for Christmas, and after being denied by his parents, gets one anyway, forcing Marge to spend all of their Christmas savings to get it removed. Homer, being a lackluster employee, is denied a Christmas bonus by his boss, and after Homer realizes the jar of money is gone, is worried his family will be denied a Merry Christmas. In order to make some cash, he becomes a mall Santa and tries to increase his measly $13 paycheck at the dog track. Unfortunately, his dog, Santa’s Little Helper, finishes dead last and all of his hopes are lost, that is, until the dog’s owner kicks him out for being a loser and he finds a new home with the Simpson family.
MY THOUGHTS: For a Christmas themed episode and unofficial pilot to the series, I think that this is one of the best episodes in the early run of the series, especially for the first season. The episode delivers some excellent jokes and visual gags (Homer hitting his head on the Santa workshop is one) while also having a lot of heart and adding a permanent member of the Simpsons family in the form of Santa’s Little Helper. This episode is a great re-watch around the holidays, and is still probably the best Christmas episode of the entire series. I highly recommend this one to everyone.
TRIVIA: If you exclude the Tracy Ullman show, the following characters appear for the very first time: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie Simpsons, along with their new dog Santa’s Little Helper, and new cat Snowball II. This also marks the first appearance of Homer’s father, Grampa Simpson, and Marge’s twin sisters, Patty & Selma. Principal Skinner makes his debut leading the Christmas pageant at the beginning of the episode, and Homer’s boss Mr. Burns makes his first appearance too, cutting out the plant’s Christmas bonus. Technically, Waylon Smithers also debuts here, but only as an intercom voice. We also meet Homer’s neighbor Ned Flanders, and his youngest son Todd, as well as Bart’s schoolhouse friends, Milhouse and Lewis. The debuts conclude with Moe and Barney, during the scene where Homer is sulking at Moe’s Tavern.
EVEN MORE TRIVIA: This episode has raised awareness of the issues plaguing racing dogs being abandoned by their owners. Barney’s hair is blonde at first, but was later redesigned with dark hair in later episodes. Series creator Matt Groening has stated that this episode is wrongly accused of starting the infamous “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells” song that Bart sings during the choir. This episode was originally written eighth for the series, which is why Santa’s Little Helper does not appear in the immediate following episodes. Lisa’s tribal dance number is often criticized as she’s depicted as being naked, but is in fact wearing a full bodysuit. And finally, which the Simpsons is officially considered a 90’s show, this is the only 30 minute episode to air in the 1980’s, debuting on December 17, 1989. It was moved to be the first episode in the series because it was Christmas themed, and thus made sense to debut around Christmas time.
EPISODE 2: BART THE GENIUS (SEASON 1, EPISODE 2)
PLOT: Bart takes an aptitude test, which he switches with the class brain (and class squealer) Martin Prince. While being disciplined for a spray painting a crude drawing of Principal Skinner on a brick wall, the school’s psychiatrist suggests that “Bart’s” test score indicates he’s a genius, and Bart is moved to a school for the gifted. Unfortunately, Bart becomes miserable at his new school, learning that he has no chance to keep up with his new classmates, while his old friends don’t want to associate with him anymore. Bart sticks with it, because he’s closer than ever with his father, and doesn’t want to jeopardize that. Bart accidently causes a negative chemistry reaction, and when he’s discussing it with the psychiatrist, admits his wrongdoing and goes back to his old life – but not before he enrages Homer with the truth, who chases the naked and green stained Bart to his room.
MY THOUGHTS: I like this episode. Despite season one being pretty weak on both stories and animation, this one does a decent job. Bart’s antics are nothing new, and this just shows that consequences have ramifications, which Bart has to learn the hard way. It’s nice to see Bart and Homer bond, even if it is temporary. The biggest thing I have a problem with is Martin. While the character would later be fleshed out to be a little more interesting, there’s nothing likable about him here. He’s a total teacher’s pet (not to mention principal’s pet) and even gloats about snitching on Bart. He’s that unpopular kid who kind of deserved the bully’s attention. Thankfully he doesn’t stay this one-dimensional for very long. This one is absolutely worth a watch for those early Simpsons days,
TRIVIA: This episode features the first full Simpsons intro, so we’re treated to our very first chalkboard and couch gag, two staples that continue on to this day. Also when Maggie is scanned, we see she’s worth $847.63. Two major characters debut here, Martin Prince and Bart’s teacher, Edna Krabapple. Bart’s “game winning” Scrabble word is “Kwyjibo,” a big fat dumb balding North American ape with no chin – meanwhile, Homer has no word to play, as his letters only spell out “Oxidize.” There was a scene written into the script that never got animated, in which Martin met with Dr. J Loren Pryor about HIS test, which would’ve seen him moved to a school for the mentally challenged. There were a few issues with color and lip syncing in this episode from the Korean animation team, and the episode that went to broadcast is the best attempts at everything put together.
EPISODE 3: HOMER’S ODYSSEY (SEASON 1, EPISODE 3)
PLOT: Bart and his classmates go on a field trip to the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, where Bart is witness to his father’s termination after Homer causes an accident. Homer slumps into a depression being unemployed, and even contemplates ending it all, when he saves his family from a speeding motorist and gets a new lease on life – bringing safety awareness to the town of Springfield! He winds up challenging his biggest adversary, his former employer, the nuclear plant as well as his old boss Mr. Burns. Burns tries to tangle with Homer and his mob of followers, but decides to make him an offering of becoming the plant’s new safety inspector, which Homer accepts, vowing to make the nuclear plant as safe as can be.
MY THOUGHTS: This isn’t one of my favorite episodes. The plot alone is sort of ho-hum, but what I really don’t like about it is Homer’s suicide attempt and Marge’s extremely casual (and horribly animated) reaction to it. Homer does a good deed for the community, but overall, this episode’s only real purpose is to serve as a plot point to put Homer in his iconic job. There’s nothing overly interesting or funny about this one. Unlike Martin, Sherri & Terri never truly redeem themselves and become likable characters. They just sort of exist to make Bart’s like miserable and fill out the character roles when more female kids are needed. This one is best skipped over.
TRIVIA: Bart makes his very first prank call to Moe’s Tavern, looking for I.P. Freely. This episode also marks the first time we hear Mr. Burns’ catch-phrase, “excellent.” We are also introduced to Homer’s favorite beer of choice, Duff Beer. Our character introductions include Sherri & Terri, the twins in purple who antagonize Bart, Wendell, the pale kid who gets car-sick on the bus, Springfield’s Police Chief Clancy Wiggum, Otto the bus driver, Jasper the bearded old man, and Waylon Smithers. Smithers is first depicted to be African-American in this episode, although his skin color was later made caucasian so the writers wouldn’t take any heat for his “man-servant” role to Mr. Burns. The film the kids watch about nuclear power starring Smilin’ Joe Fission is actually accurate to how nuclear power works. In one interesting piece of trivia, the old couple who makes an off-kilter remark about Homer going to kill himself was going to be a recurring gag throughout the series, but was thankfully dropped. Homer may be dim-witted at times, but seeing some miserable old couple cheering on his faults would’ve gotten really old, really fast.
EPISODE 4: THERE’S NO DISGRACE LIKE HOME (SEASON 1, EPISODE 4)
PLOT: Homer and his family attend a company picnic at Mr. Burns’ manor, where Marge gets drunk on wine and his kids act like…well, kids. Homer is embarrassed by his family’s antics, especially when he sees another “perfect” family leaving the party and genuinely being excited to be a family. Homer begins to take steps on bringing his family closer together, even going so far as to pawn the family television so they won’t be distracted by TV, but when all else fails, he turns to Dr. Marvin Monroe’s family therapy clinic. All of Dr. Monroe’s tests prove useless, so he tries out shock therapy, which causes the family to electrocute each other so much that the town has a power surge. Homer holds Dr. Monroe to his “double your money back” guarantee, and the therapy proves effective, as the family goes off to celebrate with a brand new TV.
MY THOUGHTS: I do enjoy this episode, although I’m not the biggest fan of how it begins. The party at Burns Manor seems out of character (yes this is season one, but still) from Burns being a chivalrous host to Marge drinking too much wine. And kids WILL be kids after all. I even like how Bart attempts to beat Mr. Burns in the potato sack race, and Homer tackles him so his boss can win. The second and third act is where the story picks up, as Homer’s attempts to bond his family together are pretty touching, and the Marvin Monroe part is just plain funny. The shock treatment scene alone is worth the price of admission for this episode. And hey, the treatment worked, AND they got double their money back! You can’t beat that!
TRIVIA: Dr. Marvin Monroe debuts in this episode. He will later die, come back, and die again. We also meet Itchy & Scratchy for the first time on the Simpsons as an actual TV series, as well as police officers Eddie and Lou. In his debut, Lou is caucasian, but is switched to black in future appearances (the opposite of Smithers, who is caucasian in this episode). This episode is one of Matt Groening’s top 10 favorite episodes and is even featured in Die Hart II. You’ll also hear Mr. Burns mention his hounds for the first time, and Bart deliver his catch-phrase “don’t have a cow, man.” As I mentioned previously, the out of character traits (Homer selling the TV, Marge getting intoxicated, Lisa being bratty) were all noted as experiments by the show’s writers, which is common for character development in a series inaugural season. My favorite piece of trivia is the perfect family that Homer is jealous of leaving the party later comes back as patients of Dr. Marvin Monroe. You can spot them in the waiting room of the clinic, all scowling and facing away from one another. I guess Homer didn’t have much to be jealous of after all!
EPISODE 5: BART THE GENERAL (SEASON 1, EPISODE 5)
PLOT: Lisa brings cupcakes to school for her teacher, but a couple of bullies wrangle them away from her. When Bart steps up to defend his sister, he incurs the wrath of their bully leader, Nelson Muntz. Nelson ends up beating Bart up after school, again and again and again until Bart finally asks for help from the toughest Simpson he knows – Grampa. Grampa takes Bart to meet war veteran Herman, who helps formulate a declaration of war against Nelson. Bart becomes a general and recruits all the neighborhood kids to join in, training them until the day of the battle, where Nelson and his cronies are pelted his water balloons until the bully is defeated. In order to keep the peace, Bart and Nelson sign a proper peace treaty, and celebrate with more of Marge’s delicious cupcakes. Bart even ends the episode with a PSA about war.
MY THOUGHTS: This episode is a season one highlight for sure. It’s well written, has some great jokes, and makes you both sympathetic for Bart as well as wanting to root for him to take down a bully. There are excellent film parodies and references, a lot of solid humor, and even some touching moments with Bart standing up for his sister. The training montage is an episode highlight, as is the war itself. Saturation bombing is an expression I never thought I’d utter in my lifetime, yet here we are. This episode starts off with a slow build and really picks up steam in act two, which is why I think it works so well. The entire ride goes uphill. Highly recommended.
TRIVIA: While we’ve met some of these characters before, we’ve given proper introductions to Milhouse and Grampa, as well as Lewis, although he becomes less prominent as the series progresses. We’re introduced to Nelson Muntz for the first time, along with Janey Powell (Lisa’s on again, off again best friend) and Herman, who runs a military antique shop. Herman’s missing arm is referenced two episodes prior in Homer’s Odyssey, as the boy who stuck his arm out the bus window and lost it, although in later episodes Herman’s story changes so it could be fabricated. This episode features a reference to General Patton where Bart slaps the soldier dealing with his nerves, parodying Patton doing the same thing to an officer dealing with PTSD in an infirmary. This episode was also controversial when it came out, for both violence and the use of the words “family jewels” which they parody by having Grampa complain about the word in a letter to the censors. Finally, this episode is the first of many by writer John Swartzwelder, who would go on to write the most Simpsons episodes in the history of the show.
EPISODE 6: MOANING LISA (SEASON 1, EPISODE 6)
PLOT: Lisa is feeling sad. She can’t quite explain why, but nothing is working to cheer her up. Her mom and band instructor offer no help in consoling her, so she treads on. Suddenly, jazz music calls to her, and she meets a musician named Bleeding Gums Murphy, who shares a jam session with Lisa and teaches her the importance of singing the blues. Lisa winds up finding happiness even though Marge attempts to stifle her feelings, and Bleeding Gums even performs the song she wrote at his jazz club. Meanwhile, Bart keeps beating Homer in a boxing video game, so Homer recruits a boy at the arcade to help him clobber Bart, but his dreams are dashed when Marge turns the game off to announce Lisa’s happiness to the family.
MY THOUGHTS: I’ve noticed this episode isn’t widely popular, which would later become a common trend for episodes that focus on Lisa. In my opinion, this is one of the strongest episodes of the first season, because it’s the first episode to establish Lisa’s complex character traits. Before this she was the above-average middle child, but now she’s flushed out even more, and would continue to evolve and grow as the show progresses. This episode also does a good job focusing on why her saxophone is so meaningful to her, as well as her musical influences. Lisa may not be my favorite character on the Simpsons, but she’s definitely the most interesting, and I enjoy seeing this side of her.
TRIVIA: As already mentioned, we meet Bleeding Gums Murphy for the first time, voiced by theater performer and musician Ron Taylor. Ralph Wiggum is introduced, but his character isn’t established until much later. We meet Mr. Largo for the first time, one of my least favorite characters on the series, and Marge’s mother, albeit only in flashbacks. The episode was suggested by James L. Brooks who wanted to try something other than just jokes, and I think his efforts paid off. In fact, Brooks had wanted to do a similar episode back in the days of Taxi, where the character Alex was sad but no one knew why, but the script never came to be. Finally, the bridge where Lisa meets Bleeding Gums is the same bridge Homer planned to jump off of in Homer’s Odyssey.
EPISODE 7: THE CALL OF THE SIMPSONS (SEASON 1, EPISODE 7)
PLOT: Ned Flanders has a brand new state-of-the-art RV, and Homer becomes jealous, so he sets out to get an RV of his own. He ends up with a small dilapidated camper, and takes the family deep into the wilderness for a camping trip. Unfortunately, the RV is destroyed over a cliff, and the Simpsons are stuck in the middle of the woods. Homer and Bart venture off in search of help and food, and experience a ton of peril along the way, while Marge and Lisa do well for themselves, and Maggie becomes a surrogate cub to a family of bears. During Homer’s journey, he ends up covered in thick mud, tricking a nature videographer that he’s spotted the legendary Bigfoot, prompting an immediate media frenzy that leads to Homer’s capture, and the eventual realization that he’s a below-average intelligent man instead of an above-average ape.
MY THOUGHTS: This episode is one I’m not too big on. It’s cool to see the family fall into a big wild adventure, but there isn’t a lot of good humor to run the episode. What happens to Bart and Homer is goofy, but also somewhat preposterous. In fact, the only real highlight of the episode is that Albert Brooks guest stars in his first of many Simpsons cameos, playing the cowboy-themed RV salesman, Bob. As great as Albert Brooks is, Bob isn’t a great character. His fast-talking sales-pitching is amusing, but it really doesn’t amount to much more than a quick character gag that’s quickly dropped and forgotten about. You aren’t missing much with this one.
TRIVIA: We meet the other Flanders child for the first time, Rod. This episode’s character designs were used for toys you could obtain at Burger King. Albert Brooks ad-libbed so much dialog during his scenes that they could’ve been used to film the entire episode! Brooks also wasn’t sure about being credited in a cartoon, which is why his name appears as A. Brooks in the credits (a trait he’s since held onto). During the campfire scene with Marge and Lisa, a long dialog with Marge discussing boys with her daughter was cut out from the script. My favorite piece of trivia is that this episode was designed to satirize the Fox Network’s overuse of “Bigfoot” specials airing at the time. This would be far from the last time that the Simpsons took a shot at the network that ran them, which they are able to do because their contract specifically prevents interference from Fox in their creative process. A brilliant decision if you ask me!
EPISODE 8: THE TELLTALE HEAD (SEASON 1, EPISODE 8)
PLOT: Bart and Homer ate walking through town with the severed head of the statue of Jebediah Springfield when they encounter an angry mob, out for blood. Before they lynch Bart, he quickly tells the story of how he came to be in this predicament. Bart was on a journey to befriend the bullies Jimbo, Kearney, and Dolph, and was insistent on earning their respect and friendship. After hearing them discuss how cool it would be to cut the head off the statue of the town founder, Bart actually performs the act of vandalism, only to be hit with instant regret because the bullies become angered and the town becomes extremely aggressive. Bart is forced to take the head to Homer for help, which he does when he discovers that Bart was only acting on Homer’s crappy advice that being popular was everything. The town hears Bart out, and forgives him for doing the right thing.
MY THOUGHTS: This may not be the best episode of season one, but it’s probably the most iconic. Everyone remembers that time that Bart cut the head off the statue of Jebediah Springfield. It’s one of the most discussed and remembered pranks that Bart has ever pulled, along with his phone calls to Moe’s. It’s become a staple of the early Bart evolution, and is usually the moment that’s often discussed when references to Bart’s antics come up (or in South Park’s case, mocked through homage). I also like how the story is told out of sequence, which makes it stand out from other episodes. Definitely worth a watch.
TRIVIA: Krusty the Clown makes his first post-Tracy Ullman show appearance in this episode, and Sideshow Bob is introduced for the first time, although not properly yet. We also meet Apu, who isn’t given a name yet, and the rounding members of the eventual bully foursome in Jimbo Jones, Kearney, and Dolph. As the Simpsons were one of the few families to go to church during this era of television, we also get new characters in Reverend Lovejoy, and the Sunday School teacher, Ms. Albright. This is one of the few episodes to credit series creator Matt Groening as a writer, and one of the few episodes to have the actual title appear on screen. We also get our first real introduction to who the town founder is, and did anyone else catch Smithers telling Mr. Burns that his love is “more than mutual?”
EPISODE 9: LIFE ON THE FAST LANE (SEASON 1, EPISODE 9)
PLOT: It’s a happy birthday celebration for Marge! Only one problem: Homer forgot his wife’s birthday! After he races to the mall to find a gift, he ends up getting her a bowling ball, under the assumption that she’d hate it and give it back to him. Marge decides to take up bowling to stick it to Homer, and catches the eye of a bowling professional named Jacques. Jacques takes a fancy to Marge, and winds up trying to seduce her in several ways, including inviting her out to brunch where she has a dream about them falling for one another. As she prepares to go see Jacques, Homer makes one final plea to remind Marge that he loves her, and she ends up going to surprise him at his job, in a scene straight out of “An Officer and a Gentleman.”
MY THOUGHTS: Infidelity episodes aren’t usually my favorites, but they can be forgiven in early episodes as experiments in writing. This episode is meant to strengthen Homer and Marge’s unlikely marriage, and I think it does a perfect job of that. Albert Brooks returns to lend his voice again, this time using a French accent and going worlds above his first character of Bob with Jacques. Jacques is sleazy and unlikeable, but is a good character despite that. Homer being forgetful is a common troupe used in sitcom men and dads, so it’s a little cliche that he forgets Marge’s birthday, but the payoff works out well. The movie parody at the end is great, especially Homer’s closing line about returning in ten minutes.
TRIVIA: We meet one of my favorite and least favorite characters in this episode. Lenny, Homer’s coworker and drinking buddy, is the former, and the obnoxious gossipy minister’s wife Helen Lovejoy is the latter. Albert Brooks created three hours worth of dialog from Jacques by improving (including his four onion rings line), and even got Marge’s voice actress, Julie Kavner, to laugh for real, which was used in the scene where Jacques makes Marge laugh at the bowling alley. This episode was originally going to be about Marge taking tennis lessons from a handsome tennis pro named Bjorn, and was originally titled “Bjorn to be Wild.” The moon behind Marge when Jacques drops her off at home is designed to look like a bowling ball. This is also Matt Groening’s second favorite episode of all time.
EPISODE 10: HOMER’S NIGHT OUT (SEASON 1, EPISODE 10)
PLOT: Bart orders him a mini spy camera, which he uses to take a lot of candid photographs. He brings it with him to his family’s dinner out, which his father doesn’t attend because he’s at a stag party. Bart realizes the bachelor party is next door, and spots his old man dancing with a belly dancer. Bart snaps a photo and shows it to his classmates, which results in the entire school, and then the entire town, seeing Homer and Princess Kashmir together. When Marge sees it, she tosses Homer out of the house, and Homer goes on a mission to apologize to his wife and teach his son a lesson about respecting women. Homer’s plan works after he accidentally crashes Princess Kashmir’s stage performance, and his impassioned speech about women is heard by Marge, who immediately forgives him.
MY THOUGHTS: The last episode dealt with Marge facing the temptation of infidelity, and how worrisome it made Homer. This episode deals with Homer being a drunk guy, and Marge completely losing her cool over it. It’s more or less a stereotype of the husband/wife reaction role to their partner doing something scandalous, but I don’t care for this episode like I enjoyed the last one. Jacques is a sleazy character, but he creates a nice villain dynamic, and fails to seduce Marge, even though her temptation is strong. This time we get Homer just being goofy, and even though he doesn’t touch the girl, his scolding over the viral photo is justified. The problem is that Princess Kashmir isn’t an interesting or witty character, she’s just a foil piece to tease a rift in Homer and Marge’s marriage. And really, other than Bart’s spy camera dialog with the postal service lady, this one isn’t all that funny. It’s a bottom tier season one episode – not bad, but easily skipped over.
TRIVIA: Although Princess Kashmir is rarely focused on again, she appears in a lot of background shots, so we can count this as a first appearance episode. Also debuting is Homer’s other coworker Carl, who is not established as Lenny’s friend yet, and doesn’t even have the same voice. In fact, Lenny and Carl’s voice actors are reversed in this episode, with Hank Azaria voicing Carl and Harry Shearer voicing Lenny! Bart’s piggy bank is shown to be taped up, back from when Homer smashed it in Homer’s Odyssey. To achieve the photo lab effect, the animation cells were painted in real color, and then filtered with a red gel. The episode was based partially on the reaction to the release of Rob Lowe’s infamous sex tape. The staff used real Hollywood strip clubs to draw inspiration for what a strip club in Springfield could look like, and the Fox censors made it so Kashmir isn’t a stripper, but rather a belly dancer who moonlights as one.
EPISODE 11: THE CREPES OF WRATH (SEASON 1, EPISODE 11)
PLOT: After laying his father up from tripping on his toys left carelessly on the stairs, Bart is up to his old tricks when he discovers a lone cherry bomb in his toy box. He and his friends flush it down the toilet at school, causing an explosion of water that injures Principal Skinner’s mother who was visiting. Fed up with Bart’s antics, Skinner and Homer decide to put part in a student exchange program, sending him to live at a winery in France. Bart’s European vacation dreams are quickly shattered as he is put to work through backbreaking labor and forced to sleep on the cold floor. He is continuously overworked and forced into the city to buy anti-freeze for the winemakers, but ends up being rescued when he realizes he can actually speak the language. Meanwhile, the Simpsons receive an Albanian boy who is most interested in Homer’s job at the nuclear plant. It turns out that little Adil is actually a spy sent by the Albanian government to learn the secrets of American nuclear power. Adil’s cover is blown and he is deported back to Albania, while Bart comes home with gifts for the family as a way of an apology for his behavior.
MY THOUGHTS: I’ve seen this episode get a decent amount of hate, mostly for the way Bart is tortured, but I think this episode is pretty good. While seeing Bart in such an unpleasant condition certainly is unsettling, especially given that his antics didn’t exactly earn him that kind of punishment, the fact that he overcomes his situation and possibly saves a lot of lives by putting away two dangerous criminals is a welcome and heartwarming ending. The French winemakers are some of the most detestable characters in the history of the show, which is saying something. I also enjoy the side-plot of Homer almost causing an international incident by accidentally allowing Adil to photograph everything he wants inside the nuclear plant. Homer’s stupidity has always been a subject of many episodes, but it is rather humorous to see his ignorance almost cause some pretty top secrets to fall into the hands of a dangerous country. Some people may not like this episode, and I can understand why, but I’d encourage everyone to give it a second chance.
TRIVIA: This episode introduces Agnes Skinner for the first time, although her personality had yet to be established as here she is very friendly and loving of her son. On the DVD commentary, the writers jokingly state that Bart’s cherry bomb prank is what caused her bitter personality to be released. The writers took the extra step to make sure that real French and real Albanian were used in the foreign language scenes. John Belushi, who was well liked by the staff, was Albanian, so the effort was to pay respect to him. When Ugolin is driving Bart to Chateau Maison, the background used are all real French paintings. Cesar and Ugolin are named after the antagonists of two classic French novels by Marcel Pagnol, titled “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Spring.” Adil’s last name is Hoxha, which was shared by then Albanian president, Enver Hoxha, purely by coincidence. This is the first time a Simpson travels abroad, a common theme in later episodes. Finally, according to production codes, this episode was originally meant to be the finale of season one.
EPISODE 12: KRUSTY GETS BUSTED (SEASON 1, EPISODE 12)
PLOT: As Homer is escaping a “lovely” evening with his sister-in-laws, he ends up witnessing a robbery at the Kwik-E-Mart. Homer identifies the assailant as Krusty the Clown, Bart’s hero and idol. The police arrest Krusty and charge him with armed robbery, much to Bart’s horror and dismay. Krusty even pleads to Bart as he ascends the courtroom stairs that he didn’t do it, and Bart believes him when no one else will. Fortunately, Lisa suspects that Bart’s feelings are true, and the brother and sister duo do some sleuthing. None of the evidence seems to match up, as Krusty was using a microwave at the Kwik-E-Mart despite having a pacemaker, and was reading a magazine despite being illiterate. In a last ditch effort, they talk to Krusty’s closest friend and confident, Sideshow Bob, who has taken over as host of the TV show. Bob gives the kids tickets to his show and even invites Bart on stage to discuss how Bart is feeling regarding Krusty’s situation, when Bart finally finds the last piece of the puzzle – Krusty has small feet, where as Bob has huge feet, and Homer stepped on Krusty’s large shoe, causing pain, and revealing that Bob had framed Krusty. Bob is sent away while Krusty is released, and Krusty publicly thanks Bart for never losing faith in him.
MY THOUGHTS: Out of all of the season one episodes, this one is easily my favorite. Not only is it extremely well written as a funny Simpsons episode with heart and soul, it is also a brilliant mystery plot, with all of the pieces being there from the beginning. Sideshow Bob is my favorite character on the Simpsons, as he is brilliant and insane – a dangerous combination. His voice actor, Kelsey Grammar, definitely puts all of his heart into bringing Bob to life. This episode is the best season one has to offer. I cannot recommend this one enough. If you watch only one episode from season one, make it this one!
TRIVIA: This episode properly introduces both Krusty and Sideshow Bob, as well as news anchor Kent Brockman. We also get introduced to minor character Scott Christian and Judge Snyder (whose name and skin color changes in future episodes). Itchy & Scratchy also get a proper introduction in this episode, being based on the antics of Pixie & Dixie taking on Jinx the Cat in the old Huckleberry Hound Show, and are called a “more violent Tom & Jerry.” Krusty’s on air heart attack is based on a true event – British comedian and magician Tommy Cooper suffered an on air heart attack on the variety show “Live From Her Majesty’s” in April 1984 and unfortunately did pass away. James Earl Jones was considered for the role of Sideshow Bob. The number on Krusty’s uniform, “A113,” is an in-joke from director Brad Bird of Pixar fame as a nod to the classroom he and many others studied in during their time at Cal Arts College, and can be seen in just about every one of Brad’s works, including all of the Pixar movies. Brad Bird is also responsible for animating Krusty’s heart attack scene, and making sure that all of the robbery events at the Kwik-E-Mart were staged properly so a security camera could have captured them. Bob’s line about “getting away with it if it wasn’t for you meddling kids” is a direct homage to the old Scooby-Doo cartoons. All three acts in this episode open with a character’s face – Krusty’s, Krusty behind bars, and finally Sideshow Bob’s. Sideshow Bob, much like his replacement Sideshow Mel, speaks only through a slide-whistle on air, yet is quite eloquent and well spoken when he IS allowed to speak. This is also the only time in the series that Krusty is shown to have actual human skin, instead of the running gag that his clown makeup IS his skin.
EPISODE 13: SOME ENCHANTED EVENING (SEASON 1, EPISODE 13)
PLOT: Marge is feeling unappreciated by her family, especially her husband. She calls into Dr. Marvin Monroe’s radio show to voice her displeasure, and Homer (and all his coworkers) hear this. While Marge prepares to lay into Homer, Homer surprises her with flowers and a romantic evening. This means that they’ll have to leave the kids in the hands of a babysitting service, who are reluctant to send any more sitters due to the rambunctious nature of the kids. They get a lady named Mz. Botz, who turns out to be a criminal named the Babysitter Bandit, known for tying up the children and ransacking the house. Bart and Lisa end up onto her after seeing a TV special about her, but are both captured before they can foil her plans. Fortunately, Maggie comes to the rescue, and the kids are successful. Marge calls home to check up on them, and when she gets no answer, her and Homer race home and find Mz. Botz tied up in front of the TV watching the Happy Little Elves. Homer frees her and apologizes, and she she leaves right before the authorities arrive, causing Homer to look foolish on television for letting the bandit escape.
MY THOUGHTS: This is my least favorite episode of season one. The plot is okay, but the bad guy escaping isn’t a fun ending. My biggest problem with this episode is the animation itself. Since this episode was originally produced to be episode one, it clearly has some botchy animation in it. Specifics include the family eating breakfast, and Lucille Botzcowski’s design and movements. This episode has some heart and some jokes, but it just feels…weak. Maybe it’s because it was supposed to go on first? Anyway, even though I’m not personally a fan, I’ve seen that other people are. In fact, Al Jean even stated that viewers cited this episode as their favorite in season one. I say give it a watch and formulate your own opinion.
TRIVIA: As I just mentioned, this was originally supposed to be episode one of the Simpsons, but it came back from Korea ruined, and had to be re-done. The producers convinced Fox to move the premiere back, and by the time the premiere was set, it was the holiday season, hence why “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” aired as the pilot of the series. The Happy Little Elves videotape is rated GGG and even has an FBI warning at the beginning of it. Matt Groening got the name Botz from a lady who used to babysit him as a child. The caption under Homer’s name on the TV newscast lists him as a “local boob.” As this was the first episode created for the show, the trademark couch gag at the beginning is just the family sitting on the couch, with no real gag other than the tight squeeze of the couch. Penny Marshall of “Laverne & Shirley” fame provides the voice for the Babysitter Bandit. June Foray, known for her role as Granny in Looney Tunes, voices the receptionist for the Rubber Baby Buggy Bumper Babysitting Service. The florist Homer talks to is voiced by Paul Willson, who played one of the Bobs in Office Space and made a cameo on the Big Bang Theory. The host of America’s Most Armed & Dangerous is voiced by Christopher Collins, who provided the voices of many 80’s cartoon icons, like Cobra Commander on G.I. Joe and Starscream on Transformers.
EPISODE 14: BART GETS AN “F” (SEASON 2, EPISODE 1)
PLOT: With a big history test coming up, Bart fakes being sick to get out of it, and cheats off of Milhouse in an attempt to cover for himself. Unfortunately, none of Bart’s plans work, and the resulting F reveals that Bart may need to repeat the fourth grade. He ends up befriending class nerd Martin Prince in an attempt to tutor him in exchange for helping make Martin popular. This backfires too, once Martin decides popularity is better than studying. Bart’s final resort, prayer, is answered with a snow day. Rather than enjoy the day off from school, Bart truly buckles down and studies. Despite his best efforts, he still fails, and when the realization hits him, he breaks down and cries. Mrs. Krabapple tries to console him, and Bart ends up making an obscure history reference, proving that he has some applied knowledge. Bart’s grade is changed to a passing one, and he celebrates by…kissing the teacher? Yuck!
MY THOUGHTS: This episode is the most viewed episode in Simpsons history, one of the most popular of all time (and of season two) and is even listed as some critics favorite episode ever, such as Doug Walker, the Nostalgia Critic. Ironically, despite all that, I don’t care that much for this episode. I acknowledge it has real heart and real applications, and paints Bart in a much better picture than just the little hellraiser, but I just find it to be rather droll. When this episode airs, I tend to tune out or change the channel. But that’s just my opinion. With how popular this episode actually is, I recommend you watch it yourself and judge it accordingly.
TRIVIA: Other than being the most watched episode of all time, this episode also debuted the new intro, which would remain with the show until the switch to HD. The animation is also notably polished up, creating what would truly become the modern look of all the characters. This episode was the first to air on Thursdays at 8 PM, directly against the Cosby Show, and the subsequent success of the Simpsons in the ratings battle led to Cosby’s cancellation in 1992. This episode was not produced first, but ordered to air first because of Bart’s popularity. The creators also were mindful of Bart’s personality and shortcomings in school, and didn’t want him to be a perfect role model like many parents and conservatives had pointed out – rather they crafted Bart to be a failure and bad kid on purpose. Mayor Quimby debuts in this episode, without his trademark sash, added later because the writers were concerned he wouldn’t be recognized. The animators experimented with different designs for Martin, which can be seen if you compare his abandonment of Bart to his tutoring session. Bart’s fantasy with the founding fathers is grayed out except for subtle reds, whites, and blues. Bart cries into his test paper to avoid animation of his sobbing being considered off-putting.
EPISODE 15: SIMPSON AND DELILAH (SEASON 2, EPISODE 2)
PLOT: Poor bald Homer just can’t seem to get over the disrespect he gets from not having hair, but a new miracle cure called Demoxinil could change all that. To afford the product, Homer charges it to the company’s health insurance plan through fraud. The product works, and Homer’s newfound hairstyle gets him recognition, promotion, and even a secretary named Karl. Homer even gets a lot of positive attention from his boss, Mr. Burns. Smithers isn’t pleased that Homer is stealing Burns’ attention away from him, so he does a little investigating and discovers Homer’s insurance form fraud. Smither goes to fire Homer, but Karl takes the fall, claiming he doctored the forms for Homer. He gives Homer one last piece of motivational advice and even a kiss on the lips right before Homer’s big presentation. Unfortunately, Bart spills all of Homer’s remaining Demoxinil, and without it, Homer’s hair falls out. No one takes him seriously anymore, and he is demoted back to his old job.
MY THOUGHTS: This is a prime example of an episode that takes what would otherwise be an average story and increases it with a perfect guest voice. Harvey Fierstein’s portrayal of the flamboyant Karl is perfect, and his manic delivery makes this episode stand out rather than just be a story about Homer with hair. The episode is Homer-centric, which for me are usually stand-out episodes anyway. It’s nice to see Homer succeed when he’s so accustomed to failure, but it is kind of sad that he’s only taken seriously because of his hair. From what I understand, male pattern baldness can cause this to happen in real life, so I appreciate the writers bringing this situation to light.
TRIVIA: The animators made an effort to make sure Homer had a different hairstyle in every scene. Mr. Burns informs Homer he is only 81 years old, although in future episodes his age is placed at 104. Demoxinil is a play on the word monoxodil, an ingredient in real life hair restorer product Rogaine. Homer and Karl’s man-on-man kiss predates the “revolutionary” one on Dawson’s Creek by nearly ten years! Karl is also the first openly gay character on the series (even though Matt Groening doesn’t outright say it, but rather strongly hints at it) and was supposed to return in the 2003 episode “Three Gays of the Condo” but the role was turned down by Harvey Fierstein because that episode already had enough clever gay jokes in it. Harvey Fierstein helped design the character of Karl, after it was originally going to look like him, to create an image of what a real gay man should look like. Harvey Fierstein is also credited as the first Simpsons guest star was wasn’t ashamed of his cameo appearance.
EPISODE 16: TREEHOUSE OF HORROR (SEASON 2, EPISODE 3)
PLOT: It’s Halloween time, and Homer is excited about his trick-or-treat haul. He overhears Bart and Lisa in the treehouse and decides to eavesdrop on their conversation, discovering that they’re telling each other scary stories. Bart kicks us off with Bad Dream House, in which the Simpson family moves into a spooky possessed house that makes the walls bleed and encourages the family to turn on one another. The family refuses to be scared out of their new home, and reason with the house forcing it to implode. Bart tells a second story titled Hungry Are the Damned in which the family is kidnapped by aliens during a summer barbecue. The aliens keep feeding them, making Lisa suspicious that they’re cooking them up to eat them, and discovers a cookbook titled “How to Cook Humans.” The book is actually covered in space dust, and was an instruction book about cooking FOR humans, which makes the aliens discard the Simpsons in disgust. Lisa ends the night with a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic poem The Raven with Homer as the man in the story, and Bart as the pesky raven perched above his chamber door. The kids go to bed tired but excited from the stories, unbeknownst to them that they scared their father silly in the process.
MY THOUGHTS: Not only is this episode one of my favorite Simpsons episodes of all time, it is also the start of my favorite Simpsons tradition: the annual Halloween episode! Even during newer seasons when I’m not exactly going out of my way to watch the newer episodes, I never ever miss a Treehouse of Horror, no matter what. This is one of the few Treehouse of Horror specials where I can honestly say I’m a fan of all three stories. Bad Dream House is entertaining with its intense paranormal elements, Hungry Are the Damned introduces us to two of my favorite characters on the Simpsons, the aliens Kang & Kodos, and The Raven is a brilliant retelling of a classic story done with a pinch of Simpsons goodness. I never miss a Treehouse of Horror, and always marathon them every Halloween, always starting with this one. This is a must see for any Simpsons fan, any Halloween fan, and any fan of good animation in general.
TRIVIA: Matt Groening was worried about the Raven, thinking it would be a pretentious segment and a failure, but it is extremely revered and even studied in lecture halls at prestigious universities! This is the only Treehouse of Horror special to take place in the treehouse, and the only one to be labeled as “The Simpsons Halloween Special.” Kang & Kodos debut in this episode, as well as Serak the Preparer, making his one and only appearance. James Earl Jones provides a guest voice in all three specials – the moving man, Serak, and the Raven’s narrator. The Bad Dream House takes its design from the Amityville Horror house, its implosion from the Fall of the House of Usher, and the Indian gravestones from the Shining. Hungry Are the Damned is a parody of the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man” but in that case, the cookbook really was a cookbook about serving humans. The opening disclaimer actually attracted more kids to the show, and was later abandoned when the segments became too tedious to write. The books that the Raven drops are all stories by Edgar Allan Poe, and Mr. Poe is credited as a writer for this episode. Among the gag gravestones at the beginning of the episode, one is Paul McCartney, parodying the Paul is Dead hoax from the 1960’s. Finally, this is one of the few specials to feature a narrative story in between the shorts to tie them altogether, a device that was discontinued when the writers ran out of clever ideas for a tie-in.