Tito’s Simpsons Countdown 3-1

3. TIE: Marge vs. the Monorail (Season 4) & $pringfield (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling) (Season 5)

Two very similar episodes: both deal with the town of Springfield getting all worked up over a terrible idea, both give each member of the family more or less equal screen time, and both are equally brilliant. Also, these two episodes together have some of the most frequently quoted lines:

Marge: Homer! There’s a family of possums in here!

Homer: I call the big one Bitey.

Lyle Lanley: Mono means one and rail means rail.

Mayor Quimby: Let me just say… uh… may the Force be with you.

Leonard Nimoy: Do you have any idea who I am?

Mayor Quimby: I think I do… aren’t you… er… one of the Little Rascals?

Homer: Hehehe… Oh Andy Capp… you wife-beating drunk…

Marge: Well I think we should spend the money on something the whole town can enjoy.

Homer: Like a giant billboard that says “No Fat Chicks?”

Bart: (Impressed with Homer’s new job as conductor) I want to follow in your footsteps.

Homer: Do you want to change your name to Homer Junior? The kids can call you HoJu.

Bart: Um… I’ll get back to you.

Marge: Homer I’ve got someone here who can help you.

Homer: Batman?

Marge: No, he’s a scientist.

Homer: Batman’s a scientist.

Marge: It’s not Batman!

Marge: …And that was the only folly the people of Springfield ever embarked upon. Except for the popsicle stick skyscraper. And that 50 foot magnifying glass. And the escalator to nowhere.

(Or from the gambling episode…)

Homer: I got a job at Burns’ casino. As you know, it’s been my lifelong
dream to become a blackjack dealer.
Marge: Your lifelong dream was to be a contestant on “The Gong Show”,
and you did it in 1977, remember?
[Flashback to Homer and Barney playing a giant harmonica,
wearing a pair of two-man large overalls, getting gonged and
Homer: We got more gongs than the break-dancing robot that caught on

Homer: (as blackjack dealer) Uh, let’s see… eighteen, twenty-seven, thirty-five…Dealer busts! Looks like you all win again.
Texan: Yee-haw! Homer, I want you to have my lucky hat. I wore it the day Kennedy was shot, and it always brings me good luck.

Bond (playing blackjack with Homer dealing): I’ll take a hit, dealer. Joker? You’re supposed to take these out of the deck. What’s this one? Rules for Draw and Stud Poker?

Lisa: There’s nothing to eat for breakfast.
Homer: You gotta improvise, Lisa: cloves, Tom Collins mix, frozen pie crust —

Burns (loosing his grip on reality like Howard Hughes): Smithers, I’ve designed a new plane. I call it the “Spruce Moose”, and it will carry two hundred passengers from New York’s Idyllwild Airport to the Belgian Congo in seventeen minutes!
Smithers: That’s quite a nice model, sir.
Burns: Model?

Lisa: Dad, Mom said she’d be home to help me with my costume and she’s not, and the geography pageant is tonight!
Homer: Lisa, your mom still loves you. It’s just that she has a career now. She’s a slot-jockey.
Lisa: But Dad, if I don’t show up in a rubber suit shaped like the state of Florida, I’ll be the laughing-stock of the whole school!
Homer: [disgusted] Oh, it’s always _something_, isn’t it? First I have to drive your pregnant mother to the hospital so she can give birth to you. And now this.

Homer: You promised Lisa to help her with her costume. You made her cry. Then I cried. Then Maggie laughed — she’s such a little trooper.

There’s really no analyzing here- these are just damn funny episodes, worth watching again and again.

2. Last Exit to Springfield (Season 4)

Frequently called the greatest episode of the Simpsons, and with good reason. You need to watch it a few times to pick up on the unbelievable amount of humor crammed in to every second. It’s every bit as smart as it is funny, particularly in the scenes where newly elected union leader Homer is trying, and failing to negotiate terms with Mr. Burns. It contains one of the most memorable sequences in the show’s history (I am, of course, referring to the “Dental plan”/”Lisa needs braces” train of thought.)

Lots of great stuff worth mentioning scattered through the episode. After Marge tells the dentist that they don’t have a dental plan, he tells Lisa that her braces pre-date stainless steel, so she can’t get them wet. Homer envisions life as a union boss, where he’s dressed like a mafioso and sampling donuts from bakeries. Burns is flabbergasted by the protesters singing after he’s killed power to the town, ala the Grinch, and starts speaking in Seussical nonsense.

There are two other great conversations between Homer and Burns that make for some of the episode’s funniest moments. The first is based on a simple misunderstanding, showing Homer isn’t quite cut out for the work of facing Burns:

Burns: We don’t have to be adversaries, Homer. We both want a fair union contract.
Homer”s Brain: Why is Mr. Burns being so nice to me?
Burns: And if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.
Homer’s Brain: Wait a minute. Is he coming onto me?
Burns: I mean, if I should slip something into your pocket, what’s the harm?
Homer’s Brain: My God! He is coming onto me!
Burns: After all, negotiations make strange bedfellows.[chuckle] [wink]
Homer’s Brain: Aaaaaagh!
Homer: Sorry, Mr. Burns, but I don’t go in for these back door shenanigans. Sure, I’m flattered, maybe even a little curious, but the answer is no!

The second joke is even simpler, but written brilliantly:

Homer’s Brain: Oh, man. I have to go to the bathroom. Why did I have all that beer and coffee and watermelon?
Burns: Now Homer, I know what you’re thinking. I want to take the pressure off. Now, it doesn’t take a `whiz’ to know that you’re looking out for `Number One’. Well, listen to me, and you’ll make a big splash very soon.

Homer then runs off to find the bathroom in Burns’ mansion, trying every door he can find with no success. The scene cuts back to Burns for a minute, and Homer later returns. Burns asks if he found the bathroom alright, and Homer reluctantly responds, “…uh… yeah…”

Among all the humor and all the cleverness, what really makes the episode shine is Homer himself. The combined efforts of writers, animators, and Dan Castellaneta all land in the right spots to create Homer at his finest- as a well-meaning, good-hearted, simple-minded oaf who at the end of the episode wins nothing more than being a hero to his family.

1. Bart Sells His Soul (Season 7)

To be perfectly honest with you, I don’t know why I love this episode so much. I doubt anyone else is going to agree with my selection, and hell, I’ll probably change my mind about it by tomorrow. As far as I can tell, it just gets everything right. Perfect balance of humor and heart.

The opening scene is brilliant. Bart switches out the church hymnals so the congregation sings “In the Garden of Eden” by I. Ron Butterfly. As punishment, he and Milhouse are forced to clean the pipe organs that they have “fouled with their so-called popular music.” An argument about souls ensues, ending with Bart selling his soul to Milhouse for five bucks. When weird things start to happen to Bart (animals don’t like him, his sense of humor vanishes, automatic doors no longer respond to him) he becomes increasingly desperate to get it back.

The episode sees the kids acting as kids, something often forgotten after 18 years on the air. It’s great to see each of the different perspectives on what a soul is, from Milhouse’s “It’s kind of in here, and when you sneeze, that’s your soul trying to escape. Saying ‘God bless you’ crams it back in” to Bart’s “It’s just something they make up to scare you. Like the boogeyman or Michael Jackson.” Growing up in the nineties, it’s hilarious to see the stuff that Bart and Milhouse spend the money they make off each other on- inflatable dinosaur sponges and ALF Pogs. (While the joke of the episode is “Remember ALF?” the joke has since become “Remember Pogs?”)

And let’s not forget the B plot. While it’s only loosely connected, it’s damn funny. Moe tries to convert the bar into a family restaurant.

Moe: I need a name that says friendly, all-American cooking.
Homer: How about, “Chairman Moe’s Magic Wok”?
Barney: I like it!
Moe: Mmm, nah. I want something that says people can have a nice relaxing time.
Homer: [pounds fist] I got it! “Madman Moe’s Pressure Cooker”!
Barney: I like it!
Moe: Hey! How about, “Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag”?
Barney: I hate it.
[outside, a truck horn honks]
Moe: Oh, boy! The deep fryer’s here. Heh heh, I got it used from
the navy. You can flash-fry a buffalo in forty seconds.
Homer: Forty seconds? But I want it now!

His plan falls apart when he says “freakin'” in front of a kid, the sort of language Flanders “would expect at Denny’s, but not here!” Everything is converted back to a dank bar, including Moe getting rid of the fire extinguishers because he has “too many bad memories.”

Still, Bart selling his soul is really the highpoint. His search to get it back is hilarious, as the writers repeatedly acknowledge how absurd it is that what is important to Bart is important to anyone else. Bart asks the exterminator at Milhouse’s place if Milhouse was carrying a piece of paper with him, and the exterminator responds, “Oh yeah. You don’t forget a thing like that.” The Comic Book Guy ends up buying Bart’s soul, and immediately selling it off. This leaves Bart powerless, and just as he admits that he needs his soul back, his prayers are answered. By Lisa, who turns out to be the buyer from the comic book store. It’s actually a pretty touching moment, one of the best in the history of the show, and the perfect way to end my favorite episode.

6 Comments on “Tito’s Simpsons Countdown 3-1”

  1. i will have to argue that the “sideshow bob runs for mayor” episode is, perhaps, the best simpsons episode of all time. the show so very “got” American politics (especially 90s politics) in that episode. And it was very, very funny.

  2. titocf says:

    Hey, any idea why none of the images I posted are showing up?

  3. no, i have no idea! i try and fix it.

  4. Steve says:

    Watched: $pringfield (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling) tonight! Had forgot how funny it was. So much going on and the burns smithers dialogues were mad.

  5. […] when we had that Top Fifteen Best Simpsons Episodes list? That was pretty […]

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