TV Review – The Best of The Simpsons Part 5

The Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie Show (Season 8, Episode 14)
Original airdate: February 9, 1997
Written by David S. Cohen
Directed by Steven Dean Moore

The Simpsons has always been focused on lampooning and critiquing the medium of television. The method of doing this frequently comes from episodes centered on Itchy and Scratchy, the in-universe children’s cartoon series featuring a hyper-violent cat and mouse. In 1990, the series did its first episode with Marge against Roger Meyers Jr. and the animation studio that makes Itchy & Scratchy. In 1997, with The Simpsons looking like it would last forever (and arguably has), the writers decided to comment on what happens when a show has been around for so long that it appears it might be going stale.

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TV Review – The Best of The Simpsons Part 4

22 Short Films About Springfield (Season 7, Episode 21)
Original airdate: April 14, 1996
Written by Richard Appel, David S. Cohen, Jonathan Collier, Jennifer Crittenden, Greg Daniels, Brent Forrester, Rachel Pulido, Steve Tompkins, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, & Matt Groening
Directed by Jim Reardon

In season four, the staff realized they were short a couple of minutes for the runtime of “The Front.” They tacked a very short “bonus” Ned Flanders cartoon complete with a theme song and title card, a la Looney Tunes, or Hanna-Barbera. The staff loved the silliness of the short they tried to find places for them over the ensuing years but just could never fit them in. 

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TV Review – The Best of The Simpsons Part 3

Deep Space Homer (Season five, episode fifteen)
Original airdate: February 24, 1994
Written by David Mirkin
Directed by Carlos Baeza (with David Silverman)

For some staff and crew, including creator Matt Groening, this episode felt like jumping the shark. If you aren’t familiar with that term, it is derived from a pretty ludicrous episode of Happy Days and has come to mean a moment when a television series goes off the rails, losing touch with what made it special, and instead becomes centered around an outlandish weekly gimmick. I can definitely see the argument for Deep Space Homer being that type of episode, but I still contend that the “jumping the shark” moment was later in The Simpsons’ development.

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TV Review – The Best of the Simpsons Part 2

Last Exit to Springfield (Season Four, Episode Seventeen)
Original airdate: March 11, 1993
Written by Jay Kogan & Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Mark Kirkland

It seems like a natural premise to feature on a show where the father is a blue-collar work, a company strike. There wasn’t much more to the idea when writing began other than mining the humor that would come out of Homer participating in a labor strike. The real hook came when the company dental plan was introduced as the driving reason Homer kept his fellow workers striking. What is surprising is that this episode is overflowing with cultural references and comedy that are seemingly unrelated to the core premise yet never feel disconnected from the story.

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