Friday, September 5, 2008

Top 5 Simpsons Episodes of Season 2

I have Season 2 of The Simpsons to thank for my obsession. My parents taped 8 of the first 10 episodes and I devoured them. Some of my earliest memories of life are of watching these tapes. I used to measure time in Simpsons episode. There was no “hour and a half,” there was only “three Simpsons”. Ironically, out of the 8 episodes I had, only one of them makes my list of Top 5 Simpsons Episodes of Season 2. There is a definite difference between the first half of the season and the second. Obviously, everything matures, the animation, the jokes, the stories. This was the season that started the Simpsons phenomenon that swept the early 90’s. Although the season is full of classic episodes, such as the first Halloween special and the one where Homer skateboards off Springfield Gorge (officially known as Bart the Daredevil), these are my personal favorites.

Rank: 5
Episode: Simpson and Delilah (Episode 2-2)
Synopsis: With the aide of a miracle hair growth formula, Homer begins a successful climb to the top of the corporate ladder at the power plant.

Commentary: This is the one episode from the octet of taped shows that makes my list. I like it because it has a beginning, middle, and end. It starts with Homer seeing a commercial for a hair growth product and leads him on a journey to the top of the corporate ladder, all thanks to his virile looks. This episode has one of the sweetest Homer/Marge moments in the history of the show. After Homer is demoted to his job as safety inspector and his hair falls out, he and Marge discuss the situation in bed. He voices his concerns about her not loving him anymore. Marge pulls him to her and begins singing “You Are So Beautiful to Me” in her raspy, off key voice and it convinces him entirely. I realize this makes me a cornball, but I’m prepared to live with that.

Quote: “Let the fools have their tar-tar sauce.” – Mr. Burns

Rank: 4
Episode: The Way We Was (Episode 2-12)
Synopsis: When the T.V. breaks, Marge and Homer tell the kids the story of how they met and fell in love in high school.

Commentary: I have a soft spot for the flashback episodes. Just to warn you, many of them make my Top 5 lists, so how could I not include the one that started it all? For a long while, this episode was my official Best Simpsons Episode Ever, but this was mostly because of a sentimental attachment related to a boy I used to like. But that’s a different story…any who, I love The Way We Was simply because it shows the origins of characters that I love. How exactly did a boob like Homer get a foxy chick like Marge? Watch this episode and all will be revealed. Jon Lovitz guest stars as Artie Ziff, the uber-confident debate nerd with “busy hands” and becomes and instant classic. This episode also has a great soundtrack, including 70’s favorites “The Streak,” “The Hustle”, and Marge and Homer’s wedding song, (as shown in The Simpsons Movie) “Close to You.” (Yep…for all you head scratchers wondering why in the hell The Carpenters made it on to The Simpsons Movie soundtrack, that’s why!)

Quote: [After Homer leaves the Bouvier house and Arnie shows up] “Now that that unpleasantness is behind us forever, let’s take a picture of the happy couple.” - Selma

Rank: 3
Episode: Brush With Greatness (Episode 2-18)
Synopsis: Marge rediscovers her talent for painting and is hired to paint a flattering portrait of Mr. Burns, something that proves to be more difficult than she originally thought.

Commentary: This one’s a bit of an enigma to me. I like this episode and yet, I can’t really put my finger on why. Perhaps it’s because of Ringo Starr’s gracious cameo. It’s hilarious to me that Marge would have a crush on the “geekiest” Beatle. Her crush is very sweetly portrayed with her paintings of Ringo. I especially like the one of him with his shirt off.

Jon Lovitz also appears again as the wonderfully upbeat Professor Lombard0. The “B” story is Homer trying to lose weight, which may seem a little predictable, but it is handled realistically. (Well, as realistically as The Simpsons handles anything). I also admire how the whole family supports Marge with her gift. It seems rare when Marge is encouraged with anything. Overall, it’s a strong “family episode.”

Quote: “Gear!” – Ringo Starr

Rank: 2
Episode: Principal Charming (Episode 2-14)
Synopsis: While trying to set Selma up with Principal Skinner, Homer mistakes her for Patty and inadvertently makes the wrong match.

Commentary: I really like Patty and Selma…especially the early Patty and Selma, when the former was sexually ambiguous, the latter was tragically single and suffering from a never ending case of baby fever and when both were still hot for MacGyver. This is the very first episode to feature the spinster Bouvier sisters as main characters instead of Homer’s annoying sisters-in-law. In all actuality, this is one of the most depressing episodes ever. Being an only child, I can’t possibly imagine a sister being wooed by my only chance for love, but that’s exactly what happens in this episode. Tragic. After all, Selma isn’t all bad…just because she hates Homer and we happen to love him shouldn’t mean that she should die alone. Of course, we all know that in the future she marries several times and adopts a Chinese baby…but back in 1991, who knew how things would pan out? And how about Patty? She actually seemed interested in Skinner…sort of. But in the end, she decides to throw away her last chance for happiness because of her bond with Selma.

Quote: Selma: “Bart, come cheer up your Aunt Selma. What did you learn in school today?”
Bart: “Principal Skinner’s going to ask Aunt Patty to marry him.”
Selma: “Thanks, kid. You made my day.”

Rank: 1
Episode: Lisa’s Substitute (Episode 2-19)
Synopsis: Lisa gets her first crush on her charismatic and tender substitute teacher.

Commentary: As I wrote before, I love Lisa episodes and this is, by far, hands down the Best Lisa Episode Ever. I’ve heard several times that this is actually Yeardley Smith’s favorite episode, which probably gives you a good indication of how fucking great it is. It’s a widely known “fact” in pop culture psychology that girls often seek men that remind them of their fathers. But Lisa steers clear of this cliché and becomes smitten with her sensitive substitute teacher, Mr. Bergstrom (voiced by Dustin Hoffman). Even though Lisa thinks she’s “in love” with Mr. Bergstrom, in truth, she really shares things with him (such as a love of literature and an appreciation of knowledge) that she wishes she could share with Homer. Thus, Mr. Bergstrom becomes everything she wants in a father…maybe even her substitute father? (Those writers are so clever!) In the end, Mr. Bergstrom must leave and Lisa is forced to return to her humdrum life and her insensitive, baboon of a father. In one of the sweetest moments of the show (yes, I know I write about the sweet moments a lot), Homer explains he doesn’t know how it feels to lose someone special, because everyone he cares about is under his roof. And once again, all’s well that ends well in Springfield. I am certain that when all is said and done and The Simpsons reaches its season finale and hundreds of nerds begin to make their official Best Simpsons Episodes list, this one will be a staple on every single one.

Quote: “So, if you don’t mind, I’ll just run along side the train as it speeds you from my life.” – Lisa

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