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[personal profile] local_max
So I was just watching The Simpsons with a friend who is sadly undereducated in it, and wow. Do you realize that Season 5, Disc 1 (on the DVDs) contains:

- Homer's Barbershop Quartet (i.e. the pitch-perfect Beatles parody)
- Cape Feare (i.e. the best Sideshow Bob episode)
- Homer Goes to College (i.e. the second best of Conan O'Brien's episodes after the immortal "Marge vs. the Monorail," but not too far behind)
- Rosebud (i.e. possibly the best Mr. Burns episode and a pitch-perfect Citizen Kane parody)
- Treehouse of Horror IV (i.e. the...okay, personally I'd say SECOND best Halloween special, but still)

I mean, WHAT? I am pretty sure I have seen all five of those on top-twenty lists. I mean, that really is incredible.

Date: 2013-11-23 02:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beer-good-foamy.livejournal.com
Yeah, Dave Mirkin really came on guns blazing, didn't he? Say what you want about the later seasons of the show, but I honestly don't think they would have been able to make it past 7 or 8 seasons if not for the growth spurt they went through in s5-s6. The show was in danger of becoming just an animated sitcom, and instead they decided they could do absolutely anything.

Date: 2013-11-23 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
IIRC, Homer's Barbershop Quartet and Cape Feare were made by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, who were still mostly locked in to "reality," which is especially amazing when you consider how much of a nutjob mould-breaker Cape Feare is, especially, where Sideshow Bob can produce an entire one-man show with props, costumes, playbill and adoring offscreen fans out of thin air, and Homer can be so overtly terrible he is relieved *MORE THAN ONCE* that there was a direct murder threat but it's at Bart and not him. But then, "Cape Feare" is a bit of a lucky accident anyway, considering that its most iconic moment is probably Sideshow-Bob-with-the-rakes and that was done because *they ran short* and seemingly just needed to get the episode out.

But anyway, it's also pretty clear that they absolutely needed SOME kind of force like Groening to keep insisting on tying the show to reality even as Mirkin's pulling in the opposite direction, because as "the later seasons" (universally defined for each individual viewer as "the first season I don't like onward") basically do take "we can do absolutely anything" to the point where nothing matters, and s5-6 each step into surrealism has to be absolutely justified. Dave Mirkin talking in the audio commentary about the care taken to ground "Deep Space Homer" in a traditional, mundane emotional Simpsons family Homer-self-esteem story so that they could have a Homer in a space capsule pursuing his hunger for potato chips until he crashes into a pane of glass protecting a sentient ant farm. ("Protect the queen!" "Which one's the queen?" "I'm the queen!" "No you're not!")

I mean, they were already using Rule Of Funny to justify breaking with reality in earlier seasons, like in "Homer at the Bat," but the secret of Rule of Funny is that it has to be really, really funny to invoke it.

I was talking to my girlfriend about these episodes, and it occurred to me how much this era of The Simpsons, especially, is basically one parody after another -- The Beatles' history, Cape Fear, Animal House (and other college movies), Citizen Kane, Faust/Nightmare at 20,000 Feet/Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula. And yet the episodes are also wholly distinct somehow, to the point where Cape Feare is a favourite episode of people who don't know who Robert Mitchum is. (...Or Robert De Niro, I guess.) (I've never actually seen the Scorsese/De Niro Cape Fear, okay?) I mean, I am reasonably sure that I saw ALL OF these episodes well before I saw the things they were parodying, and it was still funny when I was too young to understand or care, and then is even funnier when I know what they're parodying. And, in some cases, like "Homer Goes to College," I can't actually think of any instances of the genre they're parodying that I like as much as the episode. ("And then we roll him in a carpet and throw him off a bridge!")

ETA: Also, a propos of nothing, "Hello Homer, I'm George Harrison." "Ohmygod. Ohmygod. WHERE DID YOU GET THAT BROWNIE?"
Edited Date: 2013-11-23 02:52 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-23 05:45 pm (UTC)
molly_may: (Spiderpig - jade_plume)
From: [personal profile] molly_may
Homer Goes to College (i.e. the best of Conan O'Brien's episodes

While it's a tough choice to make, I'm not sure I can agree with that in a world where "Marge vs. the Monorail" exists.

Treehouse of Horror IV (i.e. the...okay, personally I'd say SECOND best Halloween special, but still)

So which would you say is the first best? I would have to go with Treehouse of Horror V, because of The Shinning, which I think is as close to perfect as could be.

It's basically impossible to choose a favorite Simpson's episode, but Cape Feare would be way up there on my list, from "the, Bart, the", to "bake him away, toys!" I never get tired of it.
Edited Date: 2013-11-23 05:45 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-23 06:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
D'oh! I can't believe I forgot "Marge vs. the Monorail"? I will have to edit it. I was just thinking of "New Kid on the Block" which is also fantastic and my brain didn't progress from there.

And I was definitely thinking of "Treehouse of Horror V." The Shinning, and also Time and Punishment. "WHAT OF DONUTS? WHAAAAAT?" And Nightmare Cafeteria, while arguably the least of the three, has possibly my favourite individual line of the episode:

"Oh, relax kids. I've got a gut feeling Uter's around here somewhere. (starts to laugh) After all, isn't there a little Uter in all of us? (laughs harder) In fact, you might say we just ate Uter and he's in our stomachs right now! (laughs, then realizes his faux pas) Wait. Scratch that one."

It's basically impossible to choose a favorite Simpson's episode, but Cape Feare would be way up there on my list, from "the, Bart, the", to "bake him away, toys!" I never get tired of it.

"Now when I say 'Hello Mr. Thompson' and press down on your foot, you smile and nod." "No problem." "HELLO MR. THOMPSON." (stamp stamp) "...I think he's talking to you."
Edited Date: 2013-11-23 06:06 pm (UTC)

Date: 2013-11-24 09:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] eilowyn.livejournal.com
I highly recommend you check out Watching the Simpsons by Jonathan Gray. He's one of my favorite television/fan theorists, and he pretty much thinks you can use The Simpsons to explain everything you ever wanted to about TV.

Date: 2013-11-25 08:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] local-max.livejournal.com
Thanks, I've got to check that out!

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