The Simpsons: Season 2

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.

Simpsons_Family

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.

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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

Robert Ring

The Simpsons: Season 1

Remember when The Simpsons first aired and it was considered controversial television. Well, time’s have changed, so let’s jump in that time machine and pull back the curtain on the show that changed pop culture for the better.

Tracy_Ullman_Simpsons

You wouldn’t know it, but The Simpsons started off as a series of short skits that played on The Tracy Ullman Show. The creator Matt Groening was at the time primarily known for his comic series Life in Hell. Life in Hell was more mature than The Simpsons and primarily followed a rabbit staring down the absurdities of life. The comic already contained a lot of the DNA that would come to be found in The Simpsons including the art style. They’re worth a read if you enjoy comics like Dilbert. After The Tracy Ulman Show, Fox ordered a season of the show and thus turning those little skits into one of the finest sitcoms ever made.   

Simpsons_Christmas

Season 1 contains thirteen episodes. Here are the highlights:

Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

From the very beginning, the first episode is a representation of the best The Simpsons has to offer. That’s heart and humor. The episode is similar to Christmas Vacation. We see that Homer doesn’t receive his Christmas bonus at work and has to take on a night job as a store Santa so his family can celebrate Christmas. Even with all Homer’s hard work things don’t go as planned. By the end we see Homer may not be the smartest man or the richest but he is the man we admire for trying.

Homer’s Odyssey

Already by episode three, you can tell this is definitely not a children’s show. Why? Well, Homer writes a suicide letter and sets himself in motion to kill himself after losing his job and believing himself to be a failure. Homer changes his mind when his family come out to stop him and are almost killed from a speeding car through a busy intersection. This arc ends with Homer becoming the safety officer of the Nuclear Plant.

Life on the Fast Lane

This is the first episode we see Marge and Homer’s marriage on the rocks, and Marge actually gets close to leaving Homer. There’s a lot of subtlety between Homer and Marge when she’s out every night “bowling” in the acting. When animation typically can become outrageous this episode relies a lot on human emotion… err Simpson emotion. Homer not being able to come straight out and say how much Marge means to him decides to say it in an offhand way by explaining how much the sandwiches Marge makes every day are like no other, essentially saying she’s perfect.

These three episodes are the standouts of season one for me and really go to show why this show became the enduring hit it still stands to be.

Next time The Simpsons: Season 2

Robert Ring