Thursday, May 17, 2018

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: Number One - “Sir, I need some business hammocks.”

Season 8, Episode 2
“You Only Move Twice”
First Broadcast: November 3, 1996

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
A BUNCH OF STUFF THAT HAPPENED

A new company named Globex Corporation is headhunting experienced nuclear industry workers.  After Springfield Nuclear Power Plant’s longest-tenured employee Waylon Smithers turns down the opportunity to move to Cypress Creek, their idyllic workers' village, with a much increased income, they turn to the next longest server – one Homer Simpson.

Homer meets his new boss Hank Scorpio very early on.  Hank is an extremely personable manager, always available for a chat, quick with a joke and more than happy to reward loyal service.  He is also a megalomaniacal supervillain who is holding the world to ransom with his superweapon, Project Arcturus.  Homer, who is largely responsible for motivation and management of a small team working on one isolated aspect of the product, is utterly oblivious to this.

Homer is having the time of his life – respected, useful and effective at work, finally pulling down Tom Landry’s Hat money, and edging ever closer to his dream of owning the Dallas Cowboys.  But the rest of the family are unfulfilled, with Bart in the “Leg Up” programme and going slower to catch up, Lisa allergic to everything, and Marge so bored she drinks less than the recommended amount of wine per day.

Homer opts to do the right thing by his family and moves them back to their condemned home in Springfield, after saying farewell to Hank during a pitched battle against an enemy army.  Ever grateful for a good worker’s efforts, and now apparently now in charge of the entire east coast of America, Hank rewards Homer with ownership of…  The Denver Broncos.

MAGIC MOMENTS

Bart meeting his fellow students in the Leg Up Programme:


Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.

The then-shocking reveal that Scorpio, who had simply seemed to be an annoyingly casual multi-millionaire in the Richard Branson mould, is a villain determined to bring the United Nations to its knees.


Any, and this cannot be stated enough, ANY of the joyful, semi-improvised encounters between Hank and Homer that pepper the episode.  Whether discussing moccasins, shopping for hammocks, looking for sugar or simply not exchanging jackets, every one of them is pure gold.

ALL SINGING, ALL DANCING

It's even got a great song, albeit over the closing titles - a thematically-correct (if perhaps slightly over-jaunty) parody of a Bond theme, which features an excellent line about pensions and therefore covers all of my interests:


HISTORY/LEGACY

Hank Scorpio has actually appeared briefly twice more in The Simpsons, but in blink-and-you'll-miss them cameos.  I guess when you're the current (or former) ruler of the East Coast, you can't afford to be seen out and about.

Scorpio is an iconic character, largely due to his easy back-and-forth with Homer, in dialogue that was semi-improvised by Albert Brooks and Dan Castellaneta.  There is rumoured to be a much longer version of these conversations somewhere, which means there is always the tantalising possibility of a remastered and extended version...

The character was originally pencilled in as the antagonist in "The Simpsons Movie", but was later replaced by Russ Cargill, head of EPA, also voiced by Brooks.  I think this was a smart move; Scorpio, whilst clearly cut out for supervillainy, is simply too beloved for the role, and fans still got to see a Brooks-toned bad guy lock horns with Homer.

WHY I LIKE IT

This is The One.  The ultimate episode of The Simpsons.  Just crazy enough to be hilarious; just grounded enough to have genuine heart; a gentle parody of a nearly universally-recognised film series, but told from a slightly different angle, with Homer as the kind of unwitting henchman who would be routinely slaughtered by James Bond, but here thwarts his facsimile with ease.  All basic hallmarks of a good episode, delivered here with a panache and quality that shows a show in full stride and rude health.

BUT - and there is a but, I fear a single caveat on this holiest of holy episodes - this would never be the first episode I showed somebody who had never seen The Simpsons, if indeed such a thing exists.  In fact my whole top five are deeper cuts, entries that are best viewed with a working knowledge of the show.

You can't just throw someone in to this or "Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie" - something like a "Mr Plow", "Marge Be Not Proud" or even my proper starting point, "Bart The Daredevil" would seem more appropriate, as the keep the core characters on home soil and concentrate on the familial bond enduring through relatable situations.

Then once you've got them hooked, it's time to don Tom Landry's hat, take a trip to Cypress Creek, snuggle into one of Anne's Hammocks, and enjoy this writer's favourite nigh-on half hour of television, bar none.

And that brings us to the end of 22 Short Pieces About Springfield, and off we shuffle:


Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
But do stay tuned for “Each Holding An ORB”, which is 100% definitely coming very, very soon!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: - G.F. Hirons And His Heavy Friends Present "Simpsons Roundtable" 3


Phil Catterall: a stupid moron with an ugly face and big butt and his butt smells and… He likes to kiss his own butt.

Favourite Episode: You Only Move Twice
I know, this is probably an obvious pick, but even twenty two years after it's initial broadcast this one still makes me howl. The central premise of Homer getting a job working for a supervillain is such a strong core to build the episode around (especially as he only gets the job by dint of having worked at the nuclear plant for longer than anyone except Smithers), but it's all the quick gags that make it for me.

The panhandler in the Cypress Creek promotional video that turns into a mailbox, the UN's response to the destruction of the 59th Street Bridge ("Maybe it just collapsed on it's own"), Hank Scorpio's apparent habit of keeping loose sugar in his pockets, Grampa's plaintive cries ("I'm cold and there are wolves after me!") - it's full of genuine laugh out loud moments.

It also has those character beats that I think lie at the heart of all the really good Simpsons episodes - in particular, the fact that Homer is actually good at his new job and it's heartbreaking when he has to abandon it (even though he's doing it in the middle of a military assault on Scorpio's facility) and go back to the drudgery of working for Mr Burns. But abandon it he does because his family are desperately unhappy, and I honestly find that more moving than the "Do It For Her" moment of "And Maggie Makes Three", because he's giving up a better job, home, salary and his happiness to give them back theirs.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
And all of this is before we even get to Hank Scorpio himself, a Bond style supervillain who is also the best boss you could ever hope to have. Sure, he's power crazed and bent on world domination, but he knows where to get the best business hammocks (the hammock district, naturally) and he'll pay for them. He looks after his people, and even though he sends Homer the wrong NFL team, you know he’d give him that job back in a second.

Favourite Moment:

This is significantly tougher, so I’m going to cheat a bit - every second there’s a Phil Hartman character on screen. Troy McClure’s filmography never fails to make me smile (I remember him from such films as “P is for Psycho” and “The President’s Neck Is Missing”), I totally get why the people of Springfield bought Lyle Lanley’s monorail (it WAS a strong song), and basically everything that comes out of Lionel Hutz’ mouth is golden.

I don’t know how much of it is Hartman’s distinctive voice and how much of it is the writers knowing exactly what they can get from him and tailoring the lines accordingly, but it all just works. I don’t think there’s a bad episode with Hartman in. Well, maybe Bart Vs. Australia.


Drew Steiner, 'the guy the audience goes mad for when he walks in the room'.

EPISODE: "Bart On The Road" - classic moment followed by classic moment.  The 'can we stop for ice cream?' bit, the cruise control bit, the wig shop in the Sunosphere bit, the Al Gore doll, just class from start to end.

CHARACTER: I think I'd have to go for Bart.  But to narrow it down to one is really difficult.  If I can have a fave 5 I'd have Disco Stu, Moe, Hitler, Mr Teenie and Chief Wiggum.T: t

MOMENT: Carl (with big obvious pyramid hat on): So er, ain't anyone gonna ask about the hat?

Lenny: Hmm, hey Carl, what's with the hat?

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
Drew is chief beard coordinator for The Liverbeards, Liverpool's premier club for the facially hirsute.

Tom Williamson, skeptic, flag enthusiast, Internet wrangler and ex-scientist.

EPISODE: The Summer of 4 ft 2. It’s got everything. Homer is on top form, it’s got some great moments of fine animation, and it’s the source of the “You got the dud” meme. But most importantly the story revolving around Lisa has a warm and fuzzy ending.

CHARACTER: Lisa Simpson. I really empathised with her when I was a kid. A smart fish out of water
who subscribes to Junior Skeptic magazine, what’s not to love?


Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
MOMENT: the bit where Homer is in the cinema and he taps his drink to get the last few drops but instead gets a mouthful of ice, then pops up as if nothing happened. The craft and timing of that bit is top notch!

You can find Tom’s site at www.skepticcanary.com... And, you can find me and Tom's new podcast RETROSPECTICUS - a Simpsons/modern history podcast - at http://retrospecticus.org/.

Join us next week when - FINALLY - you will get to see what Atomic Sourpuss thinks the best episode of The Simpsons is!

Thursday, May 03, 2018

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: - G.F. Hirons And His Heavy Friends Present "Simpsons Roundtable" 2

Kat Alvarado, transplant from Obama’s America (all subsequent Americas are declared null and void). Beer swiller. Less annoying but somehow angrier feminist. Unrepentant lifestyle deviant. Addicted to dumplings.

Favourite Episode:


Lisa vs Malibu Stacey. This aired when I was about 8 and it wouldn’t have been long after that I managed to first watch it. This was a very important episode for me as I was struggling with those same issues - infuriating double standards, getting the shit choices in toys and basically everything else, and not only experiencing the pressures to be A Girl™ but also the active discouragement of being anything else (like a science-loving tomboy). I saw that it wasn’t just me that thought it was bullshit!



Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
Favourite Character:

From the above, it will likely be no surprise that Lisa was always my favourite character. I saw a lot of myself in her growing up, which was a double edged sword really. Her storylines gave me hope that my crazy progressive and egalitarian ideas were maybe not so crazy after all, and she helped show that it was ok to be a big nerd as a girl. Her philosophical and moral struggles were also echoed however (think Lisa the Iconoclast), which only reenforced the frustration and sometimes hopelessness that come with having to exist in society and in a reality with very few “right” answers.

Favourite Moment:


I’m veeeeery tempted by “stupid sexy Flanders!”...



Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.

...But I'm going to have to go with:

Willy: Yea I bought yer mutt. And I ‘ate him!
Bart: (Gasp!)
Willy: I ‘ate his little face, I ‘ate his guts, and I 'ate the way he's always barkin’. So, I gave him to the church.
Bart: Oh, I see. You hate him, so you gave him to the church.
Willy: Aye. I also ‘ate the mess he left on me rug. Ya ‘eard me!

Find Kat @girlsgamesgrog on FB, Twitter, Meetup, and Instagram. Thank you, I owe you some dumplings x

Rich Dorries, lover AND fighter, Cheap Beer Enthusiast, destroyer of the environment one petrol tank and set of tyres at a time.

EPISODE: Very difficult for me this.  I love so many.  After wrestling with Two Bad Neighbours, Homer Goes to College and Bart vs. Australia I think it's the latter.  I'll never forgive myself for casting the other two aside like a parent choosing to keep the one child they love just a bit more than the rest.

But anyhoo, this child has Prime Minister Andy, Big Beer, definitely no Coffee (B, E . . .) Chazwozzers, Knifey Spooney, a giant Boot, and 900 Dollarydoos.  I particularly like how Homer gets behind Bart regardless of how bad he behaves through pure blind patriotism and completely in defiance and against the advice of both governments.

CHARACTER: Oh this is easy.  Let me give you the 411 on this. Like Miller said, it's Moe.  I love how horrible he is, yet loveable.  His constant social faux pas, and his passive criminality with the whales and the pandas and such.  I look forward to a Moe episode.

“Man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?”


Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
MOMENT: Has to be in Two Bad Neighbours where it cuts to Homer at the breakfast table reading an encyclopaedia section on U.S. Presidents and then grumbling 'his story checks out' about George Bush only to immediately recognise Gerald Ford at the episodes conclusion.  As a lover of history it gets me every time that Homer wouldn't know one but would know the other.

Rich didn't give me a link, but he loves a bit of the ol' motorcycle racing, so... Er... Go and watch some?

Ben Baker, author, podcaster and ineffective goggles supplier

Favourite Episode: The 138th Episode Spectacular

It’s to the credit of show-runners and official Simpsons history geeks Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein that when faced with the grey uninvolving task of compiling a clip show to save on animation costs and increase the number of episodes Fox had for syndicating around the world they created this beautiful stew of repurposed classic moments from the series' already rich back catalogue, early scenes from when the family existed in short interstitials breaking up the sketches on "the nation's showcase for psychiatrist jokes and musical comedy numbers" "The Tracey Ullman Show" (the entirety of which have never been released despite the obvious demand, possibly due to an unpleasant court case Ullman had with the creators over getting a cut of royalties) and deleted scenes from a time where such things were discussed only in whispers and the internet or DVD had yet to make the mainstream.

As for the "twenty-three percent new footage" promised by host Troy McClure - who we may remember from "Alien Nose Job" and Five Fabulous Weeks Of "The Chevy Chase Show" - it is of a perfect vintage, half in love and half openly mocking the series and its creators.

The "early drawings" of Abe and Krusty being little more than children's scribbles alone always makes me weep laughing along with the line "they were never popular!" and the interpretation of Matt Groening as an embittered right-wing drunk. And of course it ends with what we've all come here to see - Hardcore Nudity! 

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
Favourite Character: While Homer, Burns and Lisa are undoubtedly at the top of my favourites pile, I think my love for Krusty the Clown just pips the lot. A truly awful, perverse and immoral man with no qualms about endorsing a product or service and yet, over the course of the first ten years, we get to see the range of Krusty's back catalogue of television which has seemingly taken in everything from an erudite talk show to huge budget celebrity spectacular.

In fact, is it too late to change my favourite episode to "Krusty Gets Kancelled"? It is? Lousy half-brother Luke Perry. If you need me, I'll be at the Sex Cauldron…


Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
Favourite Moment: The first ever episode finally airing after months of hyping. My family were fortunate, depending on how you look at it, to get a second hand Sky dish at a time when a subscription for regular channels wasn't needed and I learnt - out of sheer boredom, very much the theme of this article - that if you waggled the card around just right, you could also unscramble the movie channels too.

In my older much more aware years, I take pride in this little spit in the general direction of Rupert Murdoch and his, let’s be honest, bloody awful satellite service which now is full of new dramas and a big investment in comedy but prior to a certain yellow family moving in - more on which shortly - it was thin gruel of the old US sitcoms Channel 4 didn't want, very cheap game shows and imports from Fox TV in the States. Oh and “Lonesome Dove”.

When the Springfield five made their long awaited arrival in September 1990, I would happily watch the first Sunday showing at 6:30pm - a timeslot tradition that seems to have pleasingly held all these years - AND the same week repeats on Thursdays. Sky even had a “Simpsons week” once they'd reached enough episodes to fill five days in a row. And I'd have been there watching them all again.

It’s not even like season one is especially that good compared to what followed but it became an instant (and rare) family-centring ritual which was upheld until the end of the decade and my moving out in our household.

You can find my books including several quiz compilations and a bulging retrospective of classic British Christmas TV at benbaker.ecwid.com.

Also: Krusty saying "what the hell was that?" which is the funniest take on any line ever recorded in the history of TV.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Engine Blood: European GP Hi-Jinks

File:Flag of Azerbaijan.svg



* In the immortal words of Krusty the Clown:


Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.

* Engine Blood were on a train back from York at the time of the race, so we're largely going on hearsay, especially when it comes to blame apportioning. 

What we can say with no doubt though is that this has the makings of a classic season - and we may finally be seeing three teams in genuine title contention...

* ...If Red Bull can stop their drivers from fighting, that is.  It's easy to put the blame squarely on Verstappen, as he is a foetus and has had a terrible last, ooh, forty or so races in terms of hot-headed shuntiness, but all sources seem to think this was a 50-50 affair.

* Lewis Hamilton has, to his credit, been less than his usual level of smug about a victory that he seems to acknowledge was lucky as all get-out.  So, to *our* credit, we will state that you had to be in it to win it, and Lewis was there at the end; it was Vettel's race to throw away, then Bottas' to lose, and both did.

You really have to feel for Valtteri in particular, though; he did easily enough to merit the race win, and he really could have used the confidence boost as he looks forward to re-joining Williams next season.  Vettel’s move was apparently a no-win one, but we have to give him points for trying; it’s exactly the kinds of gutsy driving that British observers don’t believe he has in him.

* Speaking of which: the world's least deserving Formula One driver, noted daddy-cash recipient Lance Stroll, finished eighth for the cash- and integrity-strapped team, meaning all the teams on the grid have now scored some points.

However he was completely overshadowed by Charles Leclerc's performance to bring his Sauber-Alfa-Whatever home sixth.  We may have just seen the flowering of a future champion...  Or a fluke finish from the new Martin Brundle.  Only time, and a seat with Ligier, will tell.

* Just to highlight the level of unpredictability this year, the battle for best of the rest is hotting up in very unexpected ways.

McLaren have shown - shock horror! - consistency, whilst Force India's third for Sergio Perez suddenly kicks them back into contention.  Haas are solid but keep throwing points away (seriously, Romain - there's a reason they call it a "Safety Car"), and Hulkenberg was Renault's only missing link this time out, a heroic recovery drive being thwarted by a wall.

* Azerbaijan, though.  Azerbaijan, for heavens' sake.

A circuit that has clearly tried to be Monaco 2: Judgement Day, but has wound up as Monaco 2: Electric Boogaloo.  Most of the race's excitement was caused by Safety Cars - and frankly, wouldn't we all love one where the excitement was caused by high-speed overtaking?  Just a thought...

Engine Blood would like to apologise for forgetting to do something about the Chinese Grand Prix.  By way of apology, please enjoy this picture of a weasel:


Thursday, April 26, 2018

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: - G.F. Hirons And His Heavy Friends Present "Simpsons Roundtable" 1

Seasoned readers of the blog will have noticed that I hate finishing stuff - I will use any excuse not to finish, usually because I'm really liking the experience of writing about Bowie/glam rock/The Simpsons/Final Fantasy (yeah, like I'm going to get round to that!)

So here's my latest, thinly-veiled attempt to beat the dead horse that is this subject; and this time, I'm bringing my friends along for the ride!  Yes, I got a bunch of my groovy friends together (...on Messenger), and we shot the breeze about our favourite episodes, characters and moments.  "Wow", I thought.  "That really killed some time".

So here's my peeps, and if you like what they've got to say, and what I've been saying these past few months, why not give the ol' links a click and sample their wares?

Karl Miller, Musician/Dogsbody/Moron

EPISODE: As a fan of music and especially mid 90s alternative rock the "Homerpalooza" episode is one of my favourites.  Homer reminds me of my dad in this episode...  Trying to listen to “what it is” and not really knowing “what it is...  Is” ....IT’LL HAPPEN TO YOU.

CHARACTER: Hands down Moe Szyslak....  He appeals to me as a strangely warm hearted outsider...  Who won’t pay his bills.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
MOMENT: As a kid I remember the episode when The Ramones play at Mr Burns' Birthday Party....  Gets me every time.

Catch Karl's popular beat combo Code Break on Spotify at this link, hopefully.

Steven Rigby, home owner, occasional guitarist, millionaire, hero to all and massive over exaggerator.

EPISODE: Has to be "Cape Feare". As well as some truly great stand out moments, it’s written really well and as animated parody’s go, it’s never been beaten. I could watch it over and over again, it never gets old for me.

CHARACTER: Predictable but true; Homer Simpson. He’s quite simply the greatest character ever created. Not sure if it’s allowed but I also think special mention should go to Professor John I.Q. Nerdelbaum Frink Jr. aka Professor Frink. I don’t think he’s ever said anything that hasn’t made me smile.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
MOMENT: So many to choose from but, simply for my reaction to seeing it the very first time, it has to be the daring escape Homer attempts to make from Moe’s car in the episode Dumbbell Indemnity. To see him roll straight back into the drivers seat is a moment that will live with me forever.

Steven has no product to shill, so has asked that I use his link to promote the fantastic Athletico Mince podcast.

Tim Worthington, writer and occasional broadcaster

EPISODE: Without question, Who Shot Mr Burns? Parts 1 and 2. The Simpsons was (note 'was' - I think they forgot how to do this shortly afterwards) always at its best when you got one character dominating the storyline and the others having to be amped up wildly in the background just so that they were in there somewhere.

I
n these two, none of the lead characters are the lead character, and you get anyone and everyone being given ludicrously pointless and silly gags: "Drive-thru's not for parkin'", "us hotheads" tearing down the sun blocking machine, Tito Puente's revenge song, Dr Colossus...  I could go on and on. It was the high watermark both of international profile and of actually being any good, and The Simpsons was never quite as good again.


Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
I should get a word in for Itchy And Scratchy Land, though, primarily on account of Disgruntled Goat. He did have his moments.

CHARACTER: Assuming I'm not allowed Smilin' Joe Fission, Rich Uncle Skeleton or Grindcore Stu (who I've just made up), I'd have to go for...  oh, let's say...  Moe.

MOMENT: It's hard to choose between The Mediocre Presidents song (and the aftermath... "you're next, Chester A. Arthur!"), "top of the line in utility sports/unexplained fires are a matter for the courts", and EXTRA! EXTRA! TODD SMELLS!, so I'm having all three. My source on that IS reliable.

You can find my official site at http://timworthington.org/, and you can hear me chatting to Garreth about half-remembered popular cultural nonsense at https://timworthington.org/2017/09/08/looks-unfamiliar-2-garreth-f-hirons-piers-morgan-i-want-my-sizzlin-bacon-back/.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

22 Short Pieces About Springfield: Number Two - “The kids could call you Ho-Ju!”

Season 4, Episode 12
“Marge vs. The Monorail”
First Broadcast: January 14, 1993

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
A BUNCH OF STUFF THAT HAPPENED

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) catches Mr Burns dumping toxic waste in the park, so the city fines Springfield Nuclear Power Plant $3 million.  Stupidly, the city holds a meeting where all kinds of crazy ideas (and one good one - Mr Snrub's, obviously) are put forward.  The winner?  One Lyle Lanley - who makes the case for a city monorail, whilst dismissing all the townsfolk's fears through song.

Now you know Homer's got to be heavily involved, and after a gruelling training course he is selected pretty much at random to be the monorail conductor (driver, to us Brits), which finally makes Bart proud of him.  But Marge isn't drinking the Kool-Aid, and she investigates the other places Lanley quoted as having monorails.  On arrival in North Haverbrook she meets Sebastian Cobb, the designer of their monorail, who reveals that Lanley is a con artist, embezzling money from the project and using shoddy parts and labour.

They rush back to Springfield, but thanks to Sebastian's urgent haircut, they miss the start of the maiden voyage, which quickly goes tits up.  Not even Leonard Nimoy's presence and a total eclipse of the sun can stop the madness - but Sebastian suggests using an anchor, and Homer is able to embed the "M" from the monorail logo in Lard Lad's donut and save the day.  Lanley, meanwhile, flees for Tahiti - but his plane takes an unexpected stop in North Haverbrook, where he is savagely, savagely beaten.

MAGIC MOMENTS

Mr. Snrub.  I like his thinking!

Courtesy 20th Century Fox, via Frinkiac.
The first rule of Monorail Club: "MONO = ONE.  RAIL = RAIL."

"A solar eclipse...  The cosmic ballet goes on."  "Does anyone want to switch seats?"

ALL SINGING, ALL DANCING

Now it’s time for what you’ve been playing in your head since the start of this post… Monorail.  Monorail.  Monorail.  Monorail…


HISTORY/LEGACY

I believe – in that I can’t be bothered to check – that this was the first full ensemble musical-style number; and even if it isn’t, that’s what I’m writing about anyway, so let’s talk about that and fill this space with music, why not?

To be fair, many of the better known songs have been covered in this series thus far - "We Do", "Who Needs The Kwik-E-Mart?", "Mr Plow" (only a jingle - totally counts though), "Senor Burns" and now "Monorail".  So we're not missing too many of the classics - but here's "We Put The Spring In Springfield" from "Bart After Dark":



There's also the many songs in the "Mary Poppins" pastiche "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiali(annoyed grunt)cious" - I can't be arsed linking all of them.  Oh, and "Canyonero" - but Code Break's version is better.

It's an odd thing with these; I like them as a novelty, and a good musical number reals lifts an episode - though it can't save a bad one (looking at you, "Wild Barts Can't Be Broken") - but I really turned against the idea after the lazy clip episode "All Singing, All Dancing", which simply presented all the songs in a row.  Though even that had the "Paint Your Wagon" parody that was pretty good.

There is one more recent song that we can all agree is a jam, though:


(Oh, and it's probably worth mentioning that the EPA go on to be the main antagonists in "The Simpsons Movie"!)

WHY I LIKE IT

Here we are in the middle of Season Four.  To call Seasons One and Two "patchy" is a tad generous towards their quality, and Season Three was much more recognisable as the show I grew to love - but here, right here is where the writing staff, voice actors, hell even the animators seem to officially kick it up a notch and start delivering a stream of fantastic episodes.  This here is a show just hitting peak comfort and confidence.

And the results?  Well they're just so very, very much fun.  An excellent romp that, refreshingly, shows the whole city to be just as collectively clueless as Homer, focuses on the many follies they have wasted time and money on, and allows seemingly the only level-headed adult in the whole city to be the heroine of the piece.

Add in one of the all-time great celebrity cameos - Nimoy, despite being a repeat guest, didn't outstay his welcome in either episode - and the musical number by which all others should be judged, and you have a slice of The Simpsons...  Nay, animation...  Nay, television itself, which is nearly - so, so, SO nearly - the greatest of them all.

But it isn't quite.  Which only leaves...

Atomic Sourpuss would like to apologise for the lack of research exhibited in this article.  By way of an apology, here is a picture of a weasel – because weaselling out of things is important to learn:


Join us next time when we'll probably pull our usual trick of delaying the end of the series for no apparent reason.  Go us!