It’s fair for people to have been unaware of The Simpsons during its first season, however by its second the show was inescapable. There was merchandising, Butterfinger commercials, a music video, and The Simpsons even appeared at the Emmys that year. The show really had a sense of what it could do in the second season and the potential of what it already had. It didn’t seem like a cartoon anymore, it was now a sitcom that had more to say than any other sitcom on television. This was no longer a show with a core group of characters, what The Simpsons found was that they had a town full of core characters with plenty of stories to tell.
Season 2 contains twenty-two episodes. Here are the highlights:
Bart Gets an F
I always love the spirt of Christmas episodes on sitcoms, they’re always about a lesson to be learned, and they are at the last moment with a wink of divine intervention. This episode is exactly that minus the Christmas setting. Bart is failing all his classes but doesn’t care until he is told he will need to repeat the school year and fall behind his fellow classmates. It’s an episode that we all relate to as school children. We see Bart actually trying to study and everything is trying to distract him from it. There’s a lot of emotion from Bart this episode that we don’t normally see that sets this one out from the rest in what becomes a rather moving episode.
Bart the Daredevil
If there’s an episode of The Simpsons I can recall being repeated on tv time and time again it’s this one. The Simpsons go to a monster truck rally where there are daredevils pulling wild stunts, which leads Bart on a quest to do the same. Bart keeps upping the danger to appeal to the growing fans he’s gathering, which eventually leads him to an impossible jump across a canyon. It’s at this point we see Bart and Homer’s relationship at its best as Homer is willing to do the jump in place of Bart so he won’t hurt himself. It’s an incredibly heartfelt moment followed by one of the funniest bits of the show to date as Homer misses the jump and tumbles down over and over again down the cliffside.
Itchy & Scratchy & Marge
This episode is striking for the fact that this episode is about Marge fighting for censorship against the violence in Itchy and Scratchy. The moral at the end of the episode is that it doesn’t really work because where do you stop and for her it was when people wanted to rally against the nudity shown on the statue of David. The hypocrisy of this episode comes in the form of next season’s episode Stark Raving Dad when a mental patient calls himself Michael Jackson and Michael Jackson did sing, but because of allegations against the man and having been thirty years since airing the episode has been pulled from broadcast. I’m for the original message of this episode and it’s a great episode that is relevant in today’s culture, but maybe the producers of the show should rewatch it too.
One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish
Homer decides to eat everything on the menu at a Sushi bar and unbeknownst to him, he orders a fatal fish that if prepared wrong could kill him. The doctor says he has a day left and we watch Homer deal with his mortality as he makes a checklist of everything he wants to resolve before he dies. It’s a terribly sweet episode that even today feels dire even with the knowledge that he won’t die.
Treehouse of Horror
Most children have probably first experienced the horror genre in the popular Treehouse of Horror segments. This is the first of what became an annual special that shows three spooky tales. At first, these specials are a little jarring because the characters become very different over the course of the episode. The very first segment, for example, has the Simpsons move into a haunted house that tries to get them to murder each other. And in the next segment they are abducted by aliens. This segment is particularly good as the aliens are showing hospitality to the Simpsons, who in turn think they are trying to fatten them up for eating. Finally, the episode ends with a segment recreating the famous Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven.
These five episodes are the standouts of season two for me, yet I could go on because Season 2 is jam-packed with so many other great episodes that you may have in here over my own selections. There are a ton of memorable moments like the naked portrait of Mr. Burns, Homer meeting his rich brother, the marriage counseling trip where Homer gives up the legendary fish for Marge, and so much more.
The Simpsons: Season 2 overall is fantastic.
Previously The Simpsons: Season 1
Next time The Simpsons: Season 3