My trusty DVR has afforded me the opportunity to record every episode of The Simpsons that airs in syndication here in Houston. It's been a pleasure catching back up with the older episodes in the series because I have so many fond memories of seeing them the first time around in their original time slots.
Obviously the show's current status is always debated, with most people wailing about the decline since those golden days in the '90s, and some completely checked out of the show since the early '00s.
I will admit there have been dog seasons over the past decade and a half, but overall it is still one of the best written shows on TV. There is a new breed running things that keeps propelling the show forward, still making it interesting.
But getting back to what I have been seeing in syndication. For the past month or so, I have seen most every episode from seasons six and seven, both of which are usually brought up in the conversation when it comes to which season has been the best of the series' 26 years.
Season five seems to be the fan favorite, filled with episodes like "Deep Space Homer", "Bart Gets an Elephant", "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song", and "$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)".
But to me, seasons six and seven are The Simpsons at its most hilarious and fulfilling. 1995 was a great year for the show. Mr. Burns was shot, Bart angers Australia, Homer becomes a (literal) clown, and Sideshow Bob wreaks havoc not once, but twice. Hell, it was even heartwarming and tender at times.
Plus, this year had too many quotable quips to list. I could do a series of blogs on just the best lines from 1995 alone.
Here are some of the highlights.
"Homer the Great"
The Stonecutters episode had a great song ("We Do") and guest star Patrick Stewart, along with some fun references to The Last Emperor. "And Maggie Makes Three"
This is what I meant by heartwarming. Before this episode, Homer and Lisa's relationship hadn't been explored too terribly much. That last scene, with Homer's collage covering Burns' "motivational" plaque is a killer. Dude's an oaf, but at his core he's a great father.
"A Star Is Burns"
The film festival one, with The Critic's Jay Sherman, and "Man Getting Hit By Football". Burns' biopic is pretty classic too.
Kinda funny that everything in this episode took place in 2010, three years ago. We still haven't had that World War III just yet. No, that wasn't Hugh Grant as Lisa's beau, it was Mandy Patinkin.
"The PTA Disbands"
Purple Monkey Dishwasher.
Bart discovers a comet, and the town goes bonkers, and Flanders' "sheltereenie" gets overtaken by the entire town.
"Who Shot Mr. Burns?" Part 1
Mr. Burns blocks out the sun in Springfield and someone takes his revenge.
"Who Shot Mr. Burns?" Part 2
And it ends up being Maggie who shoots Burns, somehow, and all is well.
Milhouse is cast in the new superhero picture, and his life is turned upside down. Bonus points for another appearance by the Estonian midget. Up and at them.
"Bart Sells His Soul"
Bart sells his soul to Milhouse and undergoes a life crisis. Pretty weighty for Bart, who up to this point hasn't had his foundations rocked, aside from Bob trying to kill him.
"Lisa the Vegetarian"
Paul and Linda McCartney ease Lisa into vegetarianism. Oddly enough, this season -- the 24th -- Lisa flirts with eating bugs in the "'Penny-Wiseguys" episode after she is led to believe it doesn't go against her life choice.
"Treehouse of Horror VI"
In a year filled with gimmicks and guest stars, it was Homer stepping into our own world that wowed me the most.
Homer gains 61 pounds to get on disability. Frankly this one now seems prophetic. In 1995, people being obese to seemed far-fetched.
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The third or fourth heart-string-tugger of the year, Homer discovers his mother is alive and on the run. Guest voice Glenn Close plays Mother Simpson, former hippie radical.
"Marge Be Not Proud"
Marge and Bart's mother-son relationship is tested after Bart is found to be a thief around Christmas time. What stands out to me, other than Marge being so saddened by Bart stealing, is spoiled-rotten kid Gavin yelling at his mother. I found that infinitely hilarious. "Shut up, mom!"