As they reach their 500th episode, The Simpsons aren't the provocative button-pushers they once were
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/02/2012 (3885 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
By any TV-show count you choose to employ, 500 is a very large number.
And in this case, it’s a 5 followed by two big D’oh!s. That’s right, The Simpsons reaches the 500-episode mark this weekend with an instalment titled At Long Last Leave (Sunday at 7 p.m., Fox and Global), which sees TV’s most enduring nuclear family finally wearing out their welcome in their hometown of Springfield.
So the Simpsons are out. The Simpsons, on the other hand, isn’t going anywhere. At this point in its existence, halfway through its 23rd season, the series is as much an American TV institution as it is a regularly scheduled prime-time series.
It has been a long time since the cartoon created by Matt Groening regularly made headlines (other than for celebrations of its various century-mark achievements), and there’s now an entire generation of TV viewers who have no memory whatsoever of the hell-in-a-handbasket fuss its early episodes and Bart’s rude-boy catchphrases caused.
The Simpsons is, in 2012, something of a perpetual-motion machine, an efficiently run enterprise that cranks out episodes on time, on budget and of an acceptable quality, requires very little network oversight, and continues to generate decent ratings and mind-boggling revenue streams.
There’s little reason to believe Fox won’t let the show continue until it matches and surpasses the only prime-time longevity record that remains out of reach — Gunsmoke’s mark of 635 episodes (the CBS western ran from 1955 to ’75).
In recognition of the show’s latest big day, here’s a collection of decidedly random Simpsons-inspired lists intended to jog a few memories, offer some historical context and, hopefully, start a few Homer-riffic debates (NOTE: like most viewers, I haven’t watched The Simpsons as faithfully in recent seasons, so please forgive my favourite-episodes list’s emphasis on the early years):
10 BEST SIMPSONS CATCHPHRASES:
1. D’oh! (Homer)
2. Ay carumba! (Bart)
3. Woohoo! (Homer)
4. Eat my shorts (Bart)
5. Exxxcellent! (Mr. Burns)
6. Hi-diddly-ho! (Ned Flanders)
7. Don’t have a cow, man! (Bart)
8. Release the hounds! (Mr. Burns)
9. Okily-dokily! (Ned Flanders)
10. Hmmmm…. (Marge)
10 MEMORABLE BART-SCRAWLED BLACKBOARD MESSAGES:
1. I will not waste chalk.
2. I will not draw naked ladies in class.
3. It’s potato, not potatoe.
4. I will finish what I sta
5. No one is interested in my underpants.
6. I will never win an Emmy.
7. I will stop talking about the twelve inch pianist.
8. I will stop phoning it in.
9. The world will end in 2012 but this show won’t.
10. I will not celebrate meaningless milestones.
10 CHARACTERS (OTHER THAN HOMER) VOICED BY DAN CASTELLANETA:
1. Barney Gumble
2. Krusty the Clown
3. Groundskeeper Willie
4. Sideshow Mel
5. Abe (Grampa) Simpson
6. Mayor Joe Quimby
8. Santa’s Little Helper
9. Gil Gunderson
10. Hans Moleman
10 COOL CANADIAN REFERENCES:
1. SIGN: Welcome to Winnipeg — We were born here, what’s your excuse? (Season 16, Midnight Rx)
2. “That’s it! Back to Winnipeg!” (S7, Bart on the Road)
3. Marge and Homer join the U.S. Olympic curling team (S21, Boy Meets Curl)
4. The Simpsons travel to Toronto (S13, The Bart Wants What It Wants)
5. “It’s BTO — they’re Canada’s answer to ELP. Their big hit was TCB.” (S11, Saddlesore Galactica)
6. Homer and Marge go over Niagara Falls (S15, Catch ‘Em If You Can)
7. Gordie Howe’s career-stats list (S3, Bart the Lover)
8. “Friendly Manitoba” licence plate (S21, Thursdays With Abie)
9. Homer watches the CFL draft on TV (S3, When Flanders Failed)
10. Elvis Stojko in Krusty’s Kristmas on Ice (S18, Kill Gil Volumes I & II)
10 NOTEWORTHY GUEST-VOICE CONTRIBUTORS:
1. Phil Hartman (various characters, several seasons)
2. Kelsey Grammer (Sideshow Bob, several episodes)
3. Michael Jackson (S3, Stark Raving Dad)
4. Johnny Carson (S4, Krusty Gets Kancelled)
5. Dustin Hoffman (S2, Lisa’s Substitute)
6. Elizabeth Taylor (S4, Lisa’s First Word and Krusty Gets Kancelled)
7. Meryl Streep (S6, Bart’s Girlfriend)
8. Randy Bachman (S11, Saddlesore Galactica)
9. Paul Newman (S13, The Blunder Years)
10. U2 (S9, Trash of the Titans)
10 ALL-TIME FAVOURITE EPISODES:
1. Marge vs. the Monorail (January1993)
2. Who Shot Mr. Burns? (May/Sept. 1995)
3. A Streetcar Named Marge (October 1992)
4. Flaming Moe’s (November 1991)
5. Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (December 1989)
6. Treehouse of Horror (I) (October 1990)
7. Homer’s Barbershop Quartet (September 1993)
8. How I Spent My Strummer Vacation (November 2002)
9. Homerpalooza (May 1996)
10. Krusty Gets Kancelled (May 1993)
After three decades spent writing stories, columns and opinion pieces about television, comedy and other pop-culture topics in the paper’s entertainment section, Brad Oswald shifted his focus to the deep-thoughts portion of the Free Press’s daily operation.