Thoughts on the 20th Anniversary of the Simpsons

The rake scene in "Cape Feare"

In marking the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons (which Fox marked last night with a documentary retrospective special assembled by Morgan Spurlock and featuring glowing testimonials from the beneficiaries of the show's trailblazing like Mike Judge, Trey Parker, and Seth MacFarlane), I could do a few different things. I could run down a list of my favorite and least-favorite episodes, but that's not that interesting. I could do a cataloging of minutia (I've done that a few times already, though). I could save us all some time and link to this site, where you can relive some of the show's best moments through screenshots and snippets of dialog.

Instead, I'll just point out that - based on this list and my own (admittedly sketchy) memory - there are roughly 90 episodes I haven't watched in their entirely, many of which I've not even seen a minute of. That's more than there are total episodes of The Sopranos. You don't need me to remind you of this, but it is just absolutely amazing the way they've managed to stay on the air and relatively popular for this long of a stretch of time. 

And really, when I have watched in the last three or four years, I've found that it's actually not half bad. It's certainly better than the so-called "jerk-ass Homer" period (seasons 9 - 14 or thereabouts). If you watched and enjoyed the 2007 movie, it's roughly that level of quality: occasionally great, but mostly just solid and watchable. Yes, they may repeat themselves in broad strokes (last night's episode involved Krusty's popularity plummeting followed by a comeback attempt for what felt like the 75,000th time), but they've earned that right. It's silly to keep holding out hope for a return to the quality level of the show's best years - which I place as seasons two through eight - but even now, twenty years later, I would still rather spend a half hour with the denizens of Springfield than with most of the rest of what's on television.

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