The Simpsons is currently the longest running show on television. The series also holds the record for having the most guest star appearances. With the series entering its 21st season, it seemed fitting to comprise a list of some of its best episodes.
‘Stark Raving Dad’ (Original Air Date: September 19, 1991)
Homer has to wear a pink shirt to work after his laundry gets mixed-up with Bart’s red cap. Homer is immediately labeled a “anarchist” and gets carded off to a mental institution. At the institution, Homer meets a patient that claims to be ‘Michael Jackson’. The two men bond and when Homer is released, he asks ‘Michael’ to stay at the Simpson home. Meanwhile, Bart forgets Lisa’s birthday even after she reminded him repeatedly. Bart enlists the help of ‘Michael Jackson’ and the duo performs a song they wrote especially for Lisa. Shortly after Bart and Michael’s performance, ‘Michael’ reveals that his real name is Leon Kompowsky. Kompowsky left the Simpson home never to be seen again. The vocals heard in this episode were provided by Kipp Lennon. Leon Kompowsky’s speaking voice was in fact Michael Jackson. However, due to contractual obligations, Jackson was credited under the name ‘John Jay Smith’.
‘Radio Bart’ (Original Air Date: January 9, 1992)
In this episode, Bart receives a radio transmitter for his birthday from Homer. Bart initially sees the gift as a huge disappointment. However, after he starts playing pranks on people, he sees the gift in a different light. Bart drops his radio down a well and devises a plan to trick his neighbors. Bart scams his neighbors into thinking a boy named ‘Timmy O’Toole’ has fallen down the well. ‘Timmy O’Toole’ receives media attention and sympathy from all the residents of Springfield. Guest star Sting even wrote and performed a song dedicated to the ‘missing’ boy. The song was similar to “We Are the World”. Bart’s plan backfires when he falls in the well and injures himself. In the end, the residents of Springfield and Sting rally together and eventually save Bart.
‘Fish Called Selma’ (Original Air Date: March 24, 1996)
Marge’s sister Selma has always been unlucky in love. Selma would always seek comfort in her pet iguana Jub-Jub or her twin Patty. In an odd twist of fate, Selma is matched with movie actor Troy McClure. In a last stitch effort to save his career and take the attention off his questionable sexuality, McClure does the unthinkable. After being pressured by his agent, McClure decides to marry Selma. McClure’s publicity stunt worked in the beginning. McClure was back on top and the roles were pouring in. However, Selma grew tired of the charade and wanted out. Selma yearned for a real relationship and/or marriage. At the end of the episode, Selma packs her things and leaves Troy McClure dazed and confused. .
‘My Fair Laddy’ (Original Air Date: Feb. 26, 2006)
‘My Fair Laddy’ is a spin on the movie My Fair Lady. Marge sees a scruffy Groundskeeper Willie and invites him to stay at the Simpson house. Lisa decides to conduct an experiment to see if she can turn Groundskeeper Willie into a respectable socialite. Lisa unveiled the new Willie at her school’s Science Fair. Springfield Elementary was shocked by Willie’s transformation and Lisa won the fair. Unfortunately, Willie decided to go back to his old ways once he realized how much he missed his old self. This episode is full of cheesy jokes and spoof songs from My Fair Lady. Even if you’re not a Simpsons fan, you’ll definitely get a kick out of the random musical numbers performed throughout the cartoon.
‘New Kids on the Blecch’ (Original Air Date: February 25, 2001)
This episode mocks 90s Boy Band New Kids On The Block. After getting into trouble for the umpteenth time, Bart is offered a spot in a boy band. Bart, Nelson, Milhouse and Ralph all become members of a boy group called ‘The Party Posse’. Thanks to voice enhancers, the boys sound like a legit group. ‘The Party Posse’ is a huge hit and continuously perform all over the nation. After seeing one of The Party Posse’s music videos, Lisa gets suspicious of the man who put the guys together. After doing some digging, it is revealed that the Navy was using ‘The Party Posse’ to hypnotize people into joining the Navy. This episode is filled with cheesy boy band music and a few special appearances from the members of N*SYNC.
‘Mr. Plow’ (Original Air Date: November 19, 1992)
If you’re a Simpsons fan, then you definitely know the ‘Mr. Plow’ jingle. ‘Mr. Plow’ was one of The Simspons’ highest rated episodes. In this episode, Homer decides to help his fellow neighbors after the town has been hit with tons of snow. Springfield nicknames Homer ‘Mr. Plow’ after he voluntarily plows his neighbors’ sidewalks. Homer’s friend, Barney Gumble, sees the impact Homer has made and he too decides to go into the plowing business. The business puts a rift in between the two friends. The duos childish tactics eventually land Barney in danger. The two mend fences, after Homer saves Barney, and join forces to clean up the town.
‘Cape Feare’ (Original Air Date:October 7, 1993)
Sideshow Bob is probably one of the best recurring characters on The Simpsons. In the episode ‘Cape Feare’, The Simpson family is put into the Witness Relocation Program after Sideshow Bob makes parole. The FBI strips The Simpsons of their name, home and life. They are renamed ‘The Thompsons’ and put on a boat to start their new life in a new town. ‘The Thompsons’ dock their boat on Terror Lake, but unbeknownst to them, Sideshow Bob is hiding underneath the boat. Sideshow Bob ties up The Thompsons and cuts the houseboat loose from the dock. Bob corners Bart and gives him the opportunity to make a final request before he murders him. Bart asks Bob to perform the entire score from the H.M.S. Pinafore. Bob honors Bart’s request and begins his longwinded performance. Bob is so into himself that he doesn’t realize that the houseboat has floated back to Springfield. Bob’s plans to kill Bart are foiled when he’s arrested as the boat docks in Springfield.
‘Who Shot Mr. Burns?’ Part 1 & 2 (Original Air Dates: May 21, 1995 & September 17, 1995)
The ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns’ episode is ranked as one of the series’ highest rated shows ever. Mr. Burns devises a plan to block out the sun so the residents of Springfield will be solely dependant on his nuclear plant. After leaving an angry town meeting, Burns is shot by an unidentified assailant. Burns passes out on a sundial with his arms pointing to the letters ‘W’ and ‘S’. The first scenario shows Burns fighting with Maggie Simpson in a car over a lollipop. The gun on the car floor accidentally fires at Burns. After being shot, Burns makes his way into town. He attempts to identify his attacker by pointing to the ‘W’ on the dial. Burns assumed everyone would realize that he only pointed to the ‘W’ because from his perspective, it looked like a ‘M’. The alternate ending showed Burns’ assistant Waylon Smithers as the shooting bandit. This ending would have made more sense since Mr. Burns did point to a ‘W’ and an ‘S’ on the sundial.
The Simpsons have been going strong for over 20 years. The Simpsons is definitely not the model family, but they are entertaining. The series has paid its dues and deserves to be commended for its ability to keep striving.