Friday, March 4, 2011

I Have Been Mostly Watching The Simpsons

And so here are my all time favourite Simpsons moments:

1. When Homer is driven from Moe's and finds a dive bar, the surly bartender gives him a beer and Homer meekly asks for a clean glass. To which the bartender utters the most divinely sarcastic, rude, aggressive line: "Grrrr. Here you GO, your MAJESTY." I routinely say this to people in real life, in that exact same big hairy man tone, when they ask me things like "Charlotte, please can I have my clothes back?"

2. "The goggles do nothing." As internet-meme as this has become, the whole moment is truly a masterpiece. The fact that they'd ludicrously decided to do it all in one take and Millhouse somehow isn't there, the real acid, the use of goggles to somehow hold back something that melts an entire metal room... And then the capper. That Rainier Wolfcastle actually somehow believed the goggles would save him, and feels like commenting on the insane fact that they don't.

3. Even when The Simpsons started to go down hill (around season ten, I'd say), there were still shining moments of loveliness. Like when Homer says the following: "This is a very, very proud day for us, especially me. Your father, me, beat city hall. It's just like David and Goliath, only this time, David won." And we turn to Lisa, eyes narrowed, her mind murmuring to her: "I know. I heard it too. Here's some soothing music." Oh, how many times have I wished for some soothing music, to drown out a world that starts hero-worshipping woman beater Charlie Sheen.

4. The best guest star to ever grace The Simpsons is not Michael Jackson. It's not Albert Brooks, though he does play one of my favourite ever Simpsons characters. It's not Aerosmith or any other number of big names, like Alec Baldwin or Elton John. No-the best guest star The Simpsons has ever known is indisputably James Woods. It just is. Everything - from Woods' timing to the ridiculous writing of him as an insane method actor who can travel through time, to the way he's been drawn and how flawlessly it captures some of his facial expressions - is pure glory. My favourite part, though, is when he asks Jimbo if he found him believable as a Kwik-E-Mart employee, and when Jimbo won't comply he says "Hey. Don't. JERK me around. Fella." With one crazy eye on him, as big as a moon. Again, I feel this reaction applies to my everyday life, almost constantly.

5. The escalator to nowhere, from the monorail episode. This fairly small side gag so brilliantly embodies the genius of The Simpsons. How it can take one fairly simple idea - that the town builds stupid things like a monorail - and then pushes it to its most absurd and yet somehow logical, reasonable conclusion. You still believe it. That's the majesty of it. It's ridiculous that a town would build an escalator to nowhere, but with Marge's practical, earthy voice over the top, and the visible evidence so carefully put on a screen for the viewer- it's magical. It makes the cut aways on Family Guy look like something a four year old did.

6. And now we come to a version of the above done to its most extreme, nth degree. The episode with Scorpio. That's right. Homer somehow ends up working for a supervillain, but doesn't know it because the villain is an orsum, progressive boss who treats his employees like gold. And then the final, most logical and wonderful conclusion of this: Homer sadly telling Scorpio he has to quit, while around them both the world he's just threatened to destroy fights back, complete with orsum Bond villain control room, bombs going off, nukes- the works. Though that isn't really my favourite part of the episode. No. My favourite part is after Homer and family have gotten home, and everything's normal, and then you hear on the news that Scorpio has siezed control of the East Coast. Just like that! So throwaway, so barely there- you hardly even hear it! And yet such a flawless conclusion to a brilliantly executed joke.

7. "Remove the rock of shame. Attach the rock of triumph."

8. When Bart is forced to wear support shoes, and then finally he's told he can take them off. He kicks them - and herein lies the beauty of the gag, because he makes a little noise as he does so and I can forever hear it in my head "uh uh" he goes - and the shoes fly off and through the Flanders' window. Ned quite calmly asks Rod and Todd if anyone prayed for big shoes and, of course, one of them pipes up that he did.

9. Another example of pushing things to their absurd yet logical conclusion. Homer agrees to donate a kidney to his Father. But the night before he's scared, and he says to Marge that she has to promise him one thing if he dies. Naturally, she agrees - and you can hear every movie or TV show that ever existed ringing in your head at that moment, every single one where the husband or wife asks for a promise like that and it's always something sappy like "kiss the kids every day for me". But of course, Homer then says "blow up the hospital". Though that's not the funny part. No, the funny part is the absurd, logical conclusion: Marge saying "well, I said I'd do it, so I guess I'll have to". Completely matter of fact. Flawless perfection.

10. And finally, my all time favourite Simpsons moment. It is the ultimate in progression through absurdity via logic. It is resplendent, magnificent, it pushes until you're sure there's no more juice to be had from this joke and then suddenly, there's a glorious world of funny you never knew existed. It's the Russian doll of gags. It's perfect in every way. And it's done in about half the time than any other TV show and it's funniest gag. That's the true beauty of The Simpsons. It doesn't pause for you to laugh. It knows that you can catch up.

And that is my entirely incomplete list of total Simpsons love. I've missed out stuff - Lenny carving Carl's face into a mountain, Homer imagining some weird creature when it says "pearls and a lot of blue hair" over the police radio, the slow reveal that the lawyer we're seeing on screen turned into the crazy cat lady, Troy McClure's secret vice, Homer's inability to respond to his new witness protection alias, Frank Grimes, Super Nintendo Chalmers, Moe kicking out an obviously disguised Homer only for it cut to outside where Homer's stepping over the "fake" one, the many times something blows up or sets on fire though there's no earthly reason for it to, Homer's bare ass dragging up that glass church just as the preacher commands the congregation to stare up at God's miraculous creation, the show's blase acceptance that CHUDs are real, Homer in the sensory deprivation tank, all work and no play makes Homer something something...

God, how I love The Simpsons.


  1. I didn't think anyone loved the Simpson's as much as my sister and I. I was nodding and laughing with each moment (I quote the goggles line a lot!)

    And though it has slowed down, I still watch.

  2. I LOVE the James Woods episode.

    I never fail to laugh uproariously at Sideshow Bob stepping on all the rakes in the witness protection episode, plus Homer coming into Bart's bedroom in Chainsaw Massacre mode. It probs makes me v unsophisticated but they work every time.

  3. Shut up. Shut Up! I can't believe you don't shut up!!

    You've forgotten the moment when Bill Clinton is dancing with Marge at a wedding and he tells her he does it with pigs.

    Cletus the slack-jawed yokel song.

    My all time favourite has to be the whole insanity pepper-soulmate episode - where Homer goes on his voyage of spiritual discovery, and you see him on a couch wondering if Marge is really his soul mate, and the camera pans back to reveal he's in a sofa shop and the squeaky kid is going, 'I can't really help you Mr Simpson, I'm just a furniture salesman'.

    That was genius.

  4. Sasha- oh yes, here is me. Loving it as much! Me and my husband practically bonded over Simpsons. And tho we don't love new episodes, we do still watch.

    Justine- hooray! And that's one of hubby's fave moments! I love the chainsaw more. And there is no unsophisticated when it comes to The Simpsons.

    Jo- ah yes, Apu's shut up! Great moment. Love that last one, too!

    Have remembered others I forgot, too: Homer thinking about Ned Flanders in a skintight ski suit saying "it feels like I'm wearing NOTHING at all", then cursing himself "stupid sexy Flanders". And "Who the DEVIL are you?", from Who Shot Mr Burns.

  5. Ahaha, stupid sexy Flanders!

    Oh, and Mmmmm, Erotic Cake.

  6. My favourite moment was when Ned Flanders goes in to see the Reverend Lovejoy, who clearly dreads the sight of him, for some important theological advice, and the Reverend in utter desperation says something like "Look Ned, have you considered one of the other major religions? They're all pretty much the same."