Not too long ago I was talking with my friend Jeff. He is also a Simpsons fan, and he has every episode on tape. He has been a fan from the very start, and thatís why it was quite unsettling to hear him say, "I think The Simpsons is running out of ideas." This was in reference to the episode that had aired the night before I talked with him. The name escapes me at the moment, but it was the one when Marge made friends with some rich snobs, and The Simpsons were invited to their country club. I will admit that I had seen better episodes in the past, but I did enjoy this one. It succeeded in making me laugh more than a few times, and though it wasnít the best it certainly did not prompt me to wonder if, perhaps, The Simpsons was indeed running out of ideas. Which is why I compiled this list. This list, which I have entitled "33 Short Films About Springfield" is a list of what I consider to be the best 33 episodes of The Simpsons of all time. The purpose of this list is to point out that even if it is true, and The Simpsons run out of idea, that they should not be abandoned as a great show, because they have made us laugh so many times in the listed episodes, that they have certainly earned a permanent place in our hearts, and a high spot on the list of the best programs of all time list. (I already feel it is the best cartoon.) So take a look below, at my list, and see what you think. And remember that just because an episode was not included in this compilation, does not mean that I did not enjoy it. It simply means that it was not one of my favorites.
*NOTE!* Just today, July 27, at 8:00 I saw, for the first time ever, "Mountain of Madness." I really wish I was able to see it when it was new because it DEFINITELY would have had a place on my list. It was one of only about six that I have ever missed. Anyway, I am very sorry that I could not add this SUPERB episode onto this list because then it would have to be updated far too often, and there is a lot of HTML here. I do apologize, but let's just say that, for my life as of July 26, these are the 33 best episodes of all time. Other notables include "Bart Sells His Soul" and "Homie the Clown." (Happy now Jonelle? =)
33) "Bart the Murderer" Bart finds himself an after school job, working under Fat Tony, the local mobster, as a bartender. He learns when everyone else does that he can mix a mean Manhattan. But when a punishment from Principal Skinner forces him to miss a very important drink-mixing session his mobster friends vow that it wonít happen again. Principal Skinner is then declared missing, and Bart feels they may have murdered him. This episode is a great parody of "Goodfellas" and other such mob movies, highlighted with many great, hilarious lines, such as Fat Tony explaining why it is not wrong to hijack a truckload of cigarettes.
32) "Dead Putting Society" Homer snaps and scolds Ned Flanders for being better than him at everything, prompting Ned to snap in return, feel sorry, and write Homer a heartfelt note. The note is accepted by the Simpson children (and Homer) with little appreciation, and so Homer challenges Flanders to a game of mini-golf, in which their children must compete. And "the father of the boy who doesnít win must mow the lawn in his wifeís Sunday dress." Very few other episodes capture the rivalry Homer has going with Flanders as well as this one, and once again there are many great lines and sequences, such as Homerís pep-talk with his son. "If you lose, youíre out of the family."
31) "Call of the Simpsons" When Homer sees Flanders with a brand new RV, he understands quite clearly that he must purchase on himself, and so he does. His credit didnít allow him to buy a particularly GOOD one, but nonetheless he took his family on a camping trip. Losing his way, his clothes and his camper. An episode like this is what makes the Simpsons great. Not only does it make you laugh, but it makes you take a long, hard look at greed, and the results it can have. (Also the Big Foot sequence is pretty funny too.)
30) "Homer the Great" Something seems to be odd in the town of Springfield. Everybody Homer knows seems to be wearing a strange ring, which allows them certain gifts and privileges that Homer has never been fortunate enough to have. He soon learns that they are a part of a secret organization called the Stonecutters, which consists of almost everybody, and thus has much power and influence in the town. Numbers (and seniority) are assigned based on the order in which you joined, so Mr. Burnsís underlings have the ability to kick him around and make him beg for more out of the workplace. Homer gets in for being the son of a Stonecutter (grandpa) but destroys the sacred parchment amongst his various screw-ups. When he is stripped of his clothes a birthmark is displayed with an odd shape; which means that he is, in fact, the chosen one. I particularly liked this episode due to the large cast, and the whole idea of the secret society really appealed to me. A lot of great lines and sequences in this episode, including a great Stonecutterís theme song. Some very funny stuff that is very much deserving of a place on this list.
29) "Cape Feare" One of the best Sideshow Bob episodes, this features The Simpsons entering the witness protection program to escape a murderous Bob. This episode is obviously a parody, and a superb one at that. In fact, everything but the ending really stands out in this episode as wonderful. Definitely an enjoyable, light hearted romp that any true Simpsons fan can enjoy.
28) "The Springfield Files" Another parody, this is also a standout, stellar episode. Once more the ending leaves a bit to be desired, but this episode was so packed with laughs (including a great joke on "The Shining) that it is not even worth worrying about. Of course a satire of "The X Files," another FOX show, this episode was complete with Scully and Mulder who came to investigate Homerís alien sighting. (Check out Mulderís photo ID.) Partially narrated by Leonard Nimoy, this Simpsons episode is perhaps one of the most complete and enjoyable episodes to date.
27) "Kamp Krusty" Bart and Lisa are stuck at the krustiest place on Earth for six weeks of unexpected, agnoizing hell. The counselors are the same three bullies the kids had finally escaped for the summer, and the promise of a Krusty appearance hits the dust when, alas, it is only Barney in a "Krunchy" outfit. Once again the Simpsons did a stand out job on the writing (Lisa asks the counselor if a shoddy wooden canoe slamming against the dock in the water is safe before getting in. His reply: "It ainít getting any safer.") Also a funny little story about Martin Prince in fat camp tops off yet another thoroughly enjoyable episode.
26) "Deep Space Homer" In an effort to boost poor ratings, NASA decides to blast "the average joe" into space. The finalists? Homer and Barney. Though Barney wins it turns out to be Homer on the shuttle after all, smuggling aboard a bag of chips which leads to one of the funniest sequences I have ever seen on this show, and perhaps any. The whole effort is great, with an enjoyable dose of irony thrown in for the ending. This episode also has a few great parodies of some of the shows Americanís are infamous for loving!
25) "Homer vs. The Eighteenth Amendment" Bart unwittingly gets drunk at the St. Patrickís Day parade, and immediately concerns over the availability of alcohol arise. In all the hustle and bustle it is discovered that there has, for the most part, ALWAYS been a prohibition in effect in Springfield, it has just never been enforced. And so all alcohol in Springfield must cease to exist, until Homer digs up the last remains of the Duff treasure-trove, and becomes the Beer Baron, supplying booze to Moeís Pet Shop. The highlight of this episode is by far the character of Rex Banner, who steps into town and immediately takes charge in stopping the booze once and for all. He fires Wiggum, and makes it his duty to whip up the other cops into shape. Another very fun episode, and quite recent. One really has to wonder how somebody can think they are running out of ideas when such examples are prevalent in even some of the newest episodes.
A hint as to the identity of the number one episode...