The Simpsons are celebrating 20 years of animated hilarity on television. The series is part of our culture, where we quote it or use examples of it in our daily lives. I’m a bit of a Simpsons nut, often quoting chunks of episodes, getting into (and winning) trivia contests with my friends and sometimes using its values at work (“It’s my first day!). So, here are my top five, favourite episodes of the popular yellow-skinned family.
5. Mr. Plow
Springfield is blanketed with a large dump of snow (for once!) and Marge calls Homer, who is at Moe’s Tavern. Homer, having trouble driving in snow, accidentally crashes his car into Marge’s station wagon in their driveway. Without a car, the family attends a car show, and Homer ends up purchasing a truck with snow plow, despite Marge’s objections.
Using the snow plow, Homer starts a snow shoveling business aptly named Mr. Plow, complete with a jacket and catchy theme song. At first, business is hard to come by, but then picks up after his commercial airs on late night television. Because of Homer’s success in clearing streets, he is awarded the Key to the City by Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby. A despondent Barney works outside wearing nothing but a diaper and hands out flyers for his job at Lullabuy$, but Homer gives him some advice on success.
Barney takes the advice and purchases a truck and plow to give Homer some “friendly” competition as the Plow King. Barney steals Homer’s customers and then beats up a cutout of Homer while performing a commercial with Linda Ronstadt. Adding further insult, Mayor Quimby retracts the Key to the City and hands it to Barney.
Upset that his best friend has betrayed him, Homer prank calls Barney to the top of the foreboding Widow’s Peak for a plow job. With Barney out of the way, Homer returns to plowing driveways, but later learns Barney is trapped in an avalanche on the mountain. Using his plow, Homer rescues Barney and the two resolve to work together. Unfortunately for them, God intervenes and changes the seasons, and Homer’s truck (with plow) is repossessed.
Why do I like this episode? The jingle (I’m a sucker for commercial jingles, e.g Luna or Menards): “Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name, that name again is Mr. Plow!” and the commercial. It’s just too funny watching Homer kick his father, who portrays Old Man Winter in the commercial, and Bart’s question asking if he’s licensed and bonded by the city to operate his business. There’s non stop laughs, and the $10,000 dollar bill with Jimmy Carter passed out on the couch.
4. El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)
Marge tries to keep Homer from attending the Annual Cook-Off, but her attempts end up driving him there. At the last event, Homer had drunk too much and ended up a cotton candy machine before stumbling around as a “pink puffy cloud”, so Marge pleads with Homer not to drink. Homer meanders through the cook-off and tastes each of the available sample with harsh criticism. However, Police Chief Wiggum is prepared with some hallucinogenic peppers imported from Guatemala. After his tongue touches the tip of the pepper, Homer runs off in pain and ultimately tries to soothe himself with beer. Marge catches him and then storms off. While Homer is sulking and downing more drinks, he drinks the wax from a candle so that it coats his tongue. Homer returns to Wiggum’s tent and downs a large number of chilies, which start taking affect as the townspeople around him change shape and voice.
Homer wakes up in a desert and ends up abusing the sun and a tortoise in his quest to escape. A coyote explains to Homer that he needs to find his soul mate, but questions Homer’s choice of Marge. Marge is seen wandering the festival as other patrons are leaving, only to be told that Homer has been drinking and leaves angrily.
Homer’s dream ends after being hit by a golf course, and realizes that his journey was in the sand trap at a local golf course, with the pro shop being the giant pyramid, and a lone dog as a talking coyote. Upon his return home, Homer is greeted by an upset Marge who tells him that she was humiliated by his actions (yet again). As a result, Homer ends up on the couch, but uses the opportunity to look into his thoughts to see if Marge truly is his soul mate. Homer then leaves in search for his true soul mate, but is turned down at each opportunity.
Eventually, Homer winds up at a lighthouse and believes the lighthouse operator would be the person he’s looking for. After finding the light is operated by a computer, Homer destroys the light in hopes that a passing ship will have someone board he can relate to. Just as Marge appears, a ship sails toward the coastline, but even after the light bulb is replaced, the ship crashes. The townspeople rush down to the beach and party in the water with hot pants that have escaped the wrecked ship.
Why do I like this episode? Homer does act stupid, but he does some real soul searching to see why he’s with Marge. It’s a chance to see in behind the stupidity that Homer and Marge have a true bond. The spiritual journey is entertaining as Homer has a little too much fun with a fragile sun and learning that kicking animals does have its consequences.
3. Lisa on Ice
Bart takes advantage of a news report stating a killer snowstorm that is supposedly bearing down on Springfield to blow off a book report. After Lisa lures her brother into thinking there’s snow outside, Bart winds up at school and fails his book report. Then Principal Skinner institutes a new program handing out “academic alerts” which is meant to alert students if their grades start slipping. Lisa ultimately gets called to the stage after hearing she’s failing gym, and we see why – she can’t throw a crumpled ball of paper (oh hey, just like me!).
In order to pass the second grade, Lisa needs to enroll in extra curricular sports, but she cannot dribble a basketball and her pointy hair inevitably ruins volleyball. Because Bart never forged his father’s signature, Homer rewards his son with a brand new pair of hockey skates. As a result, Bart plays for Police Chief Wiggum’s team, The Mighty Pigs. When the game ends, Bart taunts Lisa by slapping garbage at her — which she amazingly deflects. The rival team coach, Apu, sees this as an opportunity and shoots a puck Sami Salo-style and finds out that Lisa can catch. Lisa has now earned her keep as a goalie. Lisa rises as a goalie and becomes incredibly vocal and vicious against opposing team members. Lisa’s team, the Kwik-E-Mart Gougers, are experiencing their best season all because of her.
Homer uses this opportunity to show favouritism for his daughter and Bart takes offense upon losing his number one place with him. Hearing that Bart’s team will be playing Lisa’s team on Friday, Homer goes all out and competitively takes stakes out on his children. After Bart is tripped on the ice, he is awarded a penalty shot. As the clock counts down (it’s a long four seconds) both Bart and Lisa reflect on their happy moments, before Bart skates over to share a brotherly hug with his sister hug and congratulate themselves on a great game. The fans realizing the game is over with a tied score, end up rioting and ultimately trash the arena.
Why do I like this episode? I like hockey. I like Homer’s antics, especially his taunting of Uter, with the pie and his competitiveness in the final game. We’ve seen Lisa competitive before during other episodes, especially in band or with the dioramas, but never something where she’s calling hits on people because they’ve lost a shin guard. It’s just over all amusing to watch. Fight! Fight! Fight!
2. Cape Feare
Bart Simpson starts receiving multiple death threats in the mail, and becomes paranoid of the people around him. While trying to figure out who would want to harm a 10 year old boy, the scene switches to the Springfield State Penitentiary where Sideshow Bob is shown writing the letters in his own blood.
Bob is eventually paroled after being quizzed about his homicidal tendencies, which he downplays with good humor. The Simpsons finally encounter Bob in a movie theatre while watching a parody of an Ernest movie.
Frightened that Bob is now out of jail, the family appeal to the FBI for protection and wind up in Terror Lake under the new last name of “Thompson.” However, Bob is not far behind, and after the Simpsons move into their new houseboat, the ex-sidekick walks into his second most hated nemesis – the garden rake.
Bob again reveals himself to Bart while on the streets of Terror Lake and later that night sneaks aboard the houseboat. While the rest of the family is bound with rope, Bob goes after Bart with a machete. As a final request, Bart asks Bob to sing the entire score of the H.M.S. Pinafore to draw out time before the houseboat reaches Springfield. Just as the last act concludes, the boat hits a rock and the Springfield Police Department is able to apprehend Bob.
Why do I like this episode? I’ll be honest – I like Sideshow Bob, and Kelsey Grammer gives Bob that classy act usually not associated with a homicidal maniac. Bob and the garden rakes are just hysterical, and the groaning sound he makes after being hit is just perfect. The rendition of H.M.S. Pinafore is pulled off perfectly and showcases Bob’s refined class and culture. Of course, Homer’s lack of intelligence shows for the most part, especially when trying to learn his new identity from the FBI agents.
1. Homer Goes to College
This has to be my favourite episode of all time. When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission visits the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant to test worker competency, Homer is locked away under the pretense of bee watching due to his lack of training. Unfortunately for Mr. Burns and Smithers who gave Homer the critical task, the bee escapes and Homer ends up in the simulation van for the competency test. After pressing various buttons at random, Homer causes the van to meltdown and escape in a comical irradiated Hulk fashion.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials are angry that Homer has never completed Nuclear Physics and demands that he re-enroll in college to complete the course otherwise he’ll lose his job. Unfortunately, Homer’s idea of college is all about partying and making a fool out of over-authoritative deans which lands him rejects from multiple campuses. With a little persuasion, Mr. Burns is able to get Homer into Springfield University.
Homer ends up sharing a dorm with three nerds, which part of his role as a jock, is to taunt, somehow manages to cozy up to them and take them out for beer runs and cause general mayhem. In a prank against the neighbouring university, Springfield A&M, Bart, Homer and his college pals kidnap the rival university’s mascot pig. The pig ends up locked in a storage room, where upon being fed malt liquor, turns into expulsion for the three nerds (and appearance from a former President). Homer feels upset for his reckless behaviour and invites the techie trio to live with him and his family.
The nerds eventually wear out their welcome at the Simpson residence, so Homer drafts up another scheme to get them back into the college. After missing their queue, Homer runs over the dean in attempt to allow the nerds to “save” him. After the dean retracts the expulsion, the nerds help Homer cram for his final exam, for which he ultimately fails. The nerds use their skills to change Homer’s grade much to the chagrin of Marge.
Why do I like this episode? There are some pretty hilarious quotations and scenes, including the classic: setting Homer’s “legitimate” GED on fire and dancing while misspelling the word smart. Then there’s the bee scene with somehow Homer ending up with an enormous swelled ass. Then there’s the part where the professor dropping his papers and Homer laughing hysterically (I’ve done that myself, the laughing bit at at a teacher’s podium misfortune), Homer chasing the squirrels outside when he should be taking the extra study study periods, Homer prank calls Dean Peterson and calls him a “stupid head”, and classically pulling on the pig’s tail to watch change shape over, and over and over. We see Homer at his finest – as a lazy, know-nothing father.
TagsAnimation, hilarious, quotes, Television, The Simpsons, top 5
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