The TV gods are smiling upon us.
This Sunday, March 26, Fox will air an episode of The Simpsons written by and guest starring Ricky Gervais (BBC's The Office and HBO's Extras.) He'll be playing a David Brent-like character who seduces Marge when the two of them are paired up on a Trading Spouses-type show. It's a bit of an experiment for the show (it was creator Matt Groening's idea) and Gervais told the press he's prouder of this episode than anything else he's done. It's hard to imagine it won't work, but if it is as funny as it sounds, it could shoot up to the top of our list of the greatest Simpsons guest stars of all-time (recurring characters, like Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob, or Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony don’t count.)
20. U2 – "Trash of the Titans" – Homer tries to boost his campaign for sanitation commissioner by crashing a U2 concert (back in the PopMart days.) But he finds the band is an unwilling audience.
Bono (To Homer): "Ray Patterson is a fine civil servant. Why should the people vote for you?"
The Edge (aside, to Larry Mullen): "Here we go. What do you say we slip out to Moe's for a little bit?"
Adam Clayton: "Can I come too?"
The Edge: "No."
19. Spinal Tap – "The Otto Show" – Spinal Tap play a gig in Springfield that ends in chaos, inspiring Bart to dream of one day becoming a guitar hero himself. Of course, one of the members of Spinal Tap (Derek Smalls) is played by utility cast member Harry Shearer (voice of Mr. Burns, Principal Skinner, and Ned Flanders,) so it's not like they were tough to get.
David St. Hubbins: "Good night Springton. There will be no encore."
18. James Taylor - "Deep Space Homer" - While "average-naut" Homer Simpson is floating in space, NASA brings in folk-pop-rocker James Taylor to sing to the crew (which includes Buzz Aldrin.) Homer reacts accordingly by expressing his awe of "former President James Taylor."
Taylor: "Listen, Aldrin, I'm not as laid-back as people think. Now here's the deal: I'm going to play, and you're going to float there and like it."
17. Johnny Cash - "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer" - Cash voices Homer's spirit animal, a talking coyote who insists Homer must "find his soulmate." (Spoiler alert: it's Marge.)
Homer: "Well, what should I do? Should I meditate? Should I get rid of all my possessions?"
Coyote: "Are you kidding? If anything, you should get more possessions. You don't even have a computer!"
16. Ann Bancroft - "Fear of Flying" - Bancroft plays Dr. Zweig, the therapist Marge consults to help her get over her fear of flying.
Dr. Zweig: "The Monkees weren't about music, Marge. They were about rebellion and political and social upheaval!"
15. Jackie Mason - "Like Father, Like Clown" - Mason plays - what else? - a rabbi. He's Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky, the estranged father of Herschel Krustofsky, a/k/a Krusty the Klown. Rabbi Krustofsky disowned his son after he discovered his ambition to become an entertainer, and Bart and Lisa take it upon themselves to reunite the two.
Bart: "We came to talk to you about your son"
Rabbi Krustofsky: "I have no son!"
Bart: "Great. We came all this way and it's the wrong guy."
Rabbi Krustofsky: "I didn't mean that literally!"
14. Stephen Hawking - "They Saved Lisa's Brain" - Hawking shows up to see Springfield now that it's been run by the town's MENSA members. Of course, the town is rapidly deteriorating and Hawking narrowly escapes yet another one of Springfield's many riots.
Hawking: "Your theory of a donut-shaped universe intrigues me, Homer. I may have to steal it."
13. Ron Howard - "When You Dish Upon a Star" - Not sure where they got this idea, but when Homer crashes into Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin's house, he finds that Howard is a frequent visitor. And he's a frequent visitor of the Baldwin/Basinger liquor cabinet.
Howard: "Homer, we're out of vodka."
12. Mark Hamill – "Mayored to the Mob" – Hamill, appearing at the bi-monthly sci-fi convention, gets mobbed by nerds. Homer rushes to the rescue, causing him to pursue yet another profession – bodyguarding. Hamill, meanwhile, apparently likes Springfield so much he stays in town long enough to play Nathan Detroit in a bizarre diner theater profession of Guys and Dolls featuring such songs as "Luke, be a Jedi Tonight."
Hamill: "Hey pal, that's my headshot up there next to the pepper steak, and don't you forget it!"