When I first opened Disney+ this week, I didn’t automatically go straight to the original content. I didn’t catch up on The Mandalorian so I could get some context for Baby Yoda. Nope. I started rewatching old episodes of The Simpsons. The animated show that has been going for over 30 years has plenty of great episodes and having them all in one place is too good an opportunity to miss. I know that it gets a lot of bad press these days and it can’t be denied that quality has gone downhill. But it’s not as if it isn’t watchable. There’ll always be something nice and familiar about it. To celebrate and justify my week of watching 90s episodes of a cartoon, I decided to discuss some of my favourite episodes. There are so many of them at this point that it was pretty difficult. This is by no means an exhaustive list because who can remember everything that’s happened in the past 30 odd years? But there are some genuine gems here.
Marge vs The Monorail – Season 4, Episode 12
As if I wasn’t going to mention this one. Written by Conan O’Brien, this has become one of the most memorable episodes in The Simpsons history. It’s a clever episode that takes inspiration from The Music Man. It also happens to be full of great one-liners, cameo appearances, and a really catchy song.
Homer’s Barbershop Quartet – Season 5, Episode 1
Ah, those early seasons where The Simpsons were super obsessed with The Beatles. This episode was by far the best as we are introduced to the Be Sharps. Just after Lisa was born, Homer joined a barbershop quartet with Skinner, Apu, and Barney. The foursome was shot to fame and won several awards. With many parallels to the Fab Four in the story, the episode also boasts a cameo from George Harrison.
Two Dozen And One Greyhounds – Season 6, Episode 20
I know that my first three choices are all episodes with super catchy songs but that doesn’t mean they aren’t also good episodes. Yes, the Beauty and the Beast parody son is one of the greatest in the show’s history but this is also a pretty good episode. Mr Burns goes all Cruella DeVille and kidnaps Santa’s Little Helper’s puppies. Talk about drama.
Homer Badman – Season 6, Episode 9
This is a Simpsons episode for the #MeToo generation. When Homer is accused of sexual harassment by the babysitter, he goes on TV to defend himself. unfortunately, as it’s Homer, this doesn’t go well. Not only is there a great deal of great comedy here but the ending of this episode is great.
Lisa vs Malibu Stacey – Season 5, Episode 14
Lisa has always been ahead of her time and this episode really is her at her best. When Lisa gets fed up by the sexist world of dolls, she takes matters into her own hands and designs her own. The Simpsons has always done well with social commentary and this is one of the strongest. It’s brilliant and still relevant. Unfortunately, it’ll be relevant for too long.
Homie The Clown – Season 6, Episode 15
This is one of those timeless episodes that never gets old. It’s pure silliness and is full of so many quotable lines. After seeing one billboard ad, Homer becomes obsessed with becoming a clown. Homer soon becomes a Krusty the Klown impersonator and runs into trouble with the mob. It’s a classic.
Cape Feare – Season 5, Episode 2
There are plenty of great Sideshow Bob episodes but this has to be one of the best. A parody of Cape Fear, this sees Bob trying to get his revenge on Bart. There are some fantastic site gags here and a fantastic sequence with Bob and his dreaded rakes. It pushes the idea of repetition in comedy to the limits.
Homer at the Bat – Season 3, Episode 17
Okay, so I don’t think I fully appreciate this episode because I have no knowledge of baseball in the 90s. However, this is undoubtedly an amazing episode. When Mr Burns hires a bunch of professional players for the plant’s baseball team, they all get into ridiculous situations that prevent them from playing. It’s pure silliness.
Mr Plow – Season 4, Episode 9
Mr Plow, that’s my name. That name again, it’s Mr Plow. This is iconic.