Tag Archives: TV

The Top Simpsons Episodes

If you are now in your mid-20s to mid-30s that means you grew up, at least partially, in the 90s–you know, that decade Buzzfeed won’t let us forget about.

The 90s produced a lot of terrible things, but the decade did produce the best Simpsons episodes ever made. Believe me, I know it’s kind of hackey to rag on the show’s newer episodes. I’ve heard from people who say the newest episodes have improved, but I wouldn’t know. I stopped watching 10 years ago.

Maybe it makes me a curmudgeon or a snob, but I firmly believe of the Simpsons as seasons two through 10.  The first season was still working out some of the kinks and, for me, things just started to fall apart after season 10. But, in between, lie some of the cleverest TV ever broadcast.

WFLD, the Chicago FOX affliate, played The Simpsons three times a day–twice around dinner time and then a late episode around 10 p.m. As a kid, I saw pretty much every episode from the golden era…multiple times. It was difficult to choose, but here are my favorite episodes from each season.

Season 2 – “Lisa’s Substitute”

Initially, I was going to select another episode–possibly “The Way We Was,” “Simpson and Delilah,” “Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment” or “Three Men and A Comic Book”–because I laughed more. I thought about it and realized that, even though this episode has less laughs, it’s better overall. It also has possibly the best cameo of the series: Dustin Hoffman playing Mr. Bergstrom, the substitute.

When Miss Hoover gets Lyme disease, Mr. Bergstrom takes over the class. He’s engaging and interesting and basically the antithesis of all the other teachers at Springfield Elementary. Lisa is immediately taken with the new substitute. Shortly thereafter, she runs into him at a local museum and is embarrassed by Homer’s graceless behavior.

Miss Hoover’s Lyme disease turns out to be psychosomatic, and she comes back to class. Thus, Mr. Bergstrom will be leaving town. Lisa panics and rushes to the catch him before he leaves town for another job, admitting she won’t know what to do without him. Mr. Bergstrom writes her a note and tells her it’s all she’ll need if she’s feeling alone. The note simply says “You are Lisa Simpson.”

Upset by his departure, Lisa takes it out on Homer, calling him a baboon. Homer, in his own clumsy way, is able to console Lisa. He expresses, again clumsily, that he’s never lost anyone like Mr. Bergstrom because all the people he truly cares about and loves are living under the same roof as him.

This episode is great and unique because it doesn’t really follow the conventional path of a sitcom. The story arch is more like a drama with a few laughs thrown in here and there. It didn’t need a bunch of Homer or Bart’s shenanigans or goofball one-off characters to make a memorable TV. It was done in a way that only The Simpsons (or possibly Futurama) could have pulled off.

If you were exactly the right age to see this episode when it aired (pre-teen/teenager) or even in reruns, I can’t help but think it would be extremely comforting to see someone like Lisa–smart and resourceful but not necessarily popular–on  a popular TV show go through many of the same things you might be feeling.

Perhaps The Simpsons wasn’t the menace to society that talking heads in the media depicted it as.

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Songs That Should Be TV Themes

Even though it’s an unrealistic, even absurd, notion, sometimes I wonder what it would be like if I had my own TV show. I have no idea what it would be like–whether it would be a comedy or drama–but the dream remains. Naturally, I started thinking about what the theme song would be to my hypothetical show.

You see, the theme is an important, but often overlooked, component of a show. It sets the tone and gives the audience a taste of what they’re in for. Some shows opt for a wholly original theme like New Girl, and countless other sitcoms from the 70s, 80s and 90s, while others, like 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and The Americans, opt for entirely instrumental themes.

I, however, would prefer an honest-to-goodness track from an artist.


“Stupid Kid” – Alkaline Trio

“Stupid Kid” would be perfect for a show kind of like Freaks and Geeks, a comedy with a strong point of view and value on reminiscence. It’s short, fast and almost everyone can relate to it.

“Trouble in River City” – The Ergs 

I want this to be a theme song strictly because its brevity will allow it to be heard in full.

“Fix My Brain” – The Marked Men

Whadya know? Another punk song! Anyway, I see this as an update to Weird Science, well,  a better update

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Things My FavoriteTV Shows Make Me Want to Do

I don’t have an idea for a substantial post at the moment, so I went with this lazy post instead.

*I’m only including shows that are currently on the air, and I’m also excluding Futurama because I’ve done enough posts about it.

Sons of Anarchy

  • Get some tattoos
  • Learn to ride a motorcycle
  • Buy a leather jacket
  • Continue to stay away from guns

Burn Notice

  • Become a spy
  • Befriend Bruce Campbell
  • Develop an alter ego
  • Eat yogurt
  • Visit Miami (or at least someplace warmer than the Midwest)

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5 Commercials I Hate

I watch a lot of TV, probably too much, so I’m a veritable commercial expert (I don’t have Tivo). Let’s just agree that most commercials are terrible and really, the only time people get excited about them is during the Superbowl. However,  there are some commercials that go the extra dreadful mile. They’re so bad I can’t in good conscious let them go unchecked.

So here’s a list of five commercials I absolutely hate.

*I’m not including any local commercials because everyone expects those to be awful. I’m only including national spots that in theory should be well produced and well acted. In theory.

Any Commercial For Any College Ever

If you watch college sports you’ve probably seen a commercial similar to this one. They’re supposed to make you want to go to their school, but every time I see one of these commercials it seems like they reek of desperation. That’s especially true if the school has no famous alumni or top ranked schools. If that’s the case, you get a commercial bragging about Southeastern North Dakota State’s “top” animal husbandry program.

Plus, they’re not needed. The basketball game is the commercial. Unsurprisingly, people respond much better to slam dunks than suspect production values and dubious claims. It’s science.

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Futurama References That Are Now Part of My Everyday Life

As a pop culture fiend sometimes quotes and references from TV shows find their way into my everyday life. Futurama is probably the best example of this (with Seinfeld, The Simpsons and The League in the runner-up spots). That was perfectly acceptable, nay, encouraged when I was living with a couple of other Futurama fanboys, but now that I’m not…psych. I’m totally going to continue to quote Futurama.

“I’m not hearing a no…”

I mentioned this previously in my post on the best five Futurama episodes. It’s from the episode where the Planet Express crew travels to the past and winds up in Roswell, N.M. The government takes Zoidberg prisoner as an alien invader and it thinks Bender is a UFO.

President Harry Truman shows up to kick some alien ass and take some alien names. He starts interrogating Zoidberg and in the process, Zoidberg accuses Truman of coming on to him. Naturally he takes offense (HOT CRACKERS!), and Zoidberg shoots back with a coy “I’m not hearing a no…”

When I was in college, my friends and I would put on our best Jackie-Mason-meets-space-monster accent and throw that line out every time we suspected someone was hiding something. Hell, sometimes we would say it even it didn’t particularly make sense in the conversation. Then we would all laugh because we’re awesome (citation needed).

“What about what?”

This comes from the episode where Fry eats a “toilet sandwich” and becomes home to a group of smartass parasites. The professor shrinks down the Planet Express crew a la’ Innerspace and while in Fry’s ear, Professor Farnsworth lets out an ill timed WHAT!?, as old kooks are wont to do. In turn, Fry asks “What about what?”

Somehow that phrase infiltrated my daily vocabulary. It was gradual, cunning even. So, when I didn’t hear someone right or didn’t understand, I started to say “What about what?” instead of the standard “What?” Friends who got the reference found it funny, but everyone else just thought (I assume) I was an idiot (and I am, but that’s not the reason).

“Good news everybody!”

Anyone who watches Futurama knows this phrase, as Professor Farnsworth says it just about every episode, whether he has good news or not.

My roommates and I used to say this sarcastically, especially in reference to our simultaneously awesome and crappy house. I’m almost positive someone said this when we got a gas bill for $400 during the winter and probably when the raccoon that sneaked its way into our walls and ceiling subsequently died in the ceiling…where we couldn’t get him out.

Those are both terribly true stories.

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