21 May 2007

20 Moments of Simpsons Ingenuity (16-20)

In honor of the Simpsons 400th episode, I put together a little top 20 list. There are plenty of "Top Episode" lists out there, so I thought I wouldn't bore you with another one of those. Instead I though I would put together a list of the most innovative/influential episodes of the Simpsons. These certainly aren't all on the best lists, but they did all mix up the formula... with mixed results. Feel free to tell me that I am way off base in the comments, or to add your own picks. I will try to give you 5 episodes to chew on every couple days this week. So, with no further ado, I give you:

20 - Simpsons Bible Stories - Season 10

While this wasn't the first episode to bring in alternate realities, it was the first to present the 3 short stories formula with the Simpsons playing various other roles in a non-Halloween setting. There are quite a few qualifiers there, that's why this only comes in at #20. This has become a perennial favorite, and themes for this "wacky" episode have become tougher to come by with the last two outing being themed with "Water Stories" and "Tales of Revenge." episodes following this formula include: Simpsons Tall Tales, Tales from the Public Domain, Margical History Tour, Simpsons Christmas Stories, The Wettest Stories Ever Told, Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times.

19 - 'Round Springfield - Season 6

One of the things that has kept the Simpsons around do long is that nothing ever changes. No one ages and at the end of the episode, all is back to normal (or at least it is by the time the next episode starts). This episode dared to kill off Bleeding Gums Murphy. Though a fairly minor and unimportant character, it was still surprising that next week, the dude was still dead. Other "permanent" changes would come in the Simpsons universe including the Van Houten divorce, death of Maude, adoption of baby Ling Bouvier, and Barney's sobering up.

18 - Springfield Up - Season 18

This episode isn't he first to offer peeks into the past, but the flashbacks are done in a new way. Documentarian Declan Desmond has visited Springfireld in 8 year intervals chronically the journeys of several Springfieldians including the surprising origin of the "crazy cat lady." The fact that any innovation is left in season 18 is impressive.

17 - The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase - Season 8

Chief Wiggum PI, The Love-matic Grampa, and The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour all nailed ridiculous spin-off formulas in these 3 parodies. It takes clever writing to make such bad television on purpose. This episode also introduced the idea that The Simpsons are just actors, an idea that will be masterfully revisited higher on this list.

16 - The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular - Season 7

Troy McClure hosted this "behind the scenes" episode. While this wasn't the first (So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show), or last (Gump Roast) clip show, it was by far the best. Instead of rehashing old episode plots, this Spectacular offered new material in the form of deleted/alternate scenes from previous episodes, and trivia. If you HAVE to make a clip show, this is how its done. Other, less cool clip shows included Another Simpsons Clip Show and All Singing, All Dancing.

The Simpsons - The Complete Sixth Season

The Simpsons - The Complete Seventh Season (Collectible Marge Head Pack)


finky the kid said...

When it aired, the 138th Episode Spectacular was pure genius. It's still fun to watch now, but obviously feels so limited in coverage of the series. It's too bad the "400th episode" was no where near as special.

Chip Chief said...

yeah, 400 was a letdown after 399 (which may or may not be on this list). at least is was the 400th episode though as opposed to the 300th, which aside from being ho-hum was actually number 302.