I want you all to do me a favour. Cast your mind back. Way back. The year is 2000. We had entered the new Millennium; Dora the Explorer had just aired its first episode, the Sydney Olympics gave Australia a reason to be happy (unlike this year, losers), and erm… Vladimir Putin had been elected President of Russia.
But one thing from the year 2000, and the many years before it (and to be fair, a small number after) really is worth mentioning.
The Simpsons was still funny. And arguably one of the best comedies on television at the time.
To be fair to Matt Groening, after 23 years and 24 seasons, there’s only so much you can do. For many, we would have liked to see the show cancelled in its prime, taken out back like Old Yeller and put out of its misery. It is now a shadow of its former self, bloated with the crème de la crème of celebrity cameos (Lady Gaga, Steve Coogan, even Ricky Gervais), poor gags, and contrived storylines.
So everybody, cast your mind back to that time, remember how good The Simpsons was, and join me as I recall some of my top moments from the show, courtesy of everyones favourite procrastination tool, YouTube…
1. Groundskeeper Willie vs the Wee Turtles
Groundskeeper Willie has to be one of my favourite underrated Simpsons‘ characters. The stereotypical ginger, growling Scotsman; I could have picked so many great clips, from his wrestling a wolf and winning, to demanding that Lunchlady Doris grease him up to find Santa’s Little Helper in the air vents. But my favourite moment has to be when Willie tries to save the school’s ‘wee turtles’ and gets more than he bargained for, in the episode ‘Bart’s Girlfriend':
After heroically breaking down the door, our man is downed by the vicious little beasts. One question remains; if he can take on a wolf, how did the turtles get him? We have been warned.
2. Lisa breaks Ralph Wiggum’s heart
Thicker than Jamie Carragher’s accent, yet still lovable, Ralph Wiggum provides a great bit of comic relief for whatever scene he is in. But it’s not all plain sailing for the little half-wit; in the episode ‘I Love Lisa’, poor old Ralph gets rejected quite strongly by Lisa Simpson. It’s cruel to watch, his first crush exploding before his eyes like a watermelon filled with fireworks:
But it perfectly illustrates how the show could tug on your heartstrings and make you feel for the fool. The clip has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance recently, with it being used to describe Branislav Ivanović’s reaction to being told he won’t play in the Champion’s League Final. The Simpsons: emotional and funny.
3. Sideshow Bob predicts Family Guy
Sideshow Bob stands out as The Simpsons’ greatest villain of all time. Voiced by the fantastically malevolent-voiced Kelsey Grammar, his determination to see Bart Simpson and the rest of Springfield pay for their continual corruption of his schemes is a joy to behold. But no-one could have predicted the way in which Bob would pave the way for animated comedy ever since:
Struggling to meet the running time, the producers decided to extend the scene from Bob stepping on one rake to nine. The result is fantastic, with executive producer Al Jean commenting ‘the idea was to make the scene funny, then drag the joke out so that it is no longer funny, and then drag it out even longer to make it funny again’. Anyone who’s watched Family Guy will know that they have copied this idea to death.
4. Homer fails to prepare
Personally, I don’t think there can be any doubt that Homer is the funniest character on The Simpsons. You can’t just help but laugh at nearly everything he says. This next clip shows just how simply he can have you laughing out loud, through sheer idiocy. After he sends his boss, Mr. Burns, a rather rude letter, Homer regrets his decision and tries to retrieve it before it is read. He goes to the local post office, with hilarious results:
The punchline is just fantastic; and the way he tries to blame it on Bart at the end is the icing on the cake. The result is a gag that is so simple, yet so effective, proving you don’t need to be clever to be funny.
5. Homer loses his mind
I don’t know what it was about the Halloween specials of The Simpsons; whether it was the bang-on-the-money parodies, the gruesome nature of them, or the fact you get three stories in one half-hour, I absolutely adore them. And my favourite moment throughout the whole collection must be The Shining parody ‘The Shinning’ in the fifth Treehouse of Horror. It again features Homer at his idiotic best, after having gone insane through having to spend his time in an old hotel with ‘no TV and no beer':
Genius. If you go up to anyone who is a fan of The Simpsons and quote that line: ‘No TV and no beer make Homer go something something’, chances are they will finish it off with you, it’s that memorable. Just don’t look at yourself in a mirror afterwards.
So there you have it! Five of my top Simpsons moments of all time. I’m intrigued to see what everyone else has to offer, so if you feel I’ve been grossly negligent and not included your favourite one, comment below and tell me how I know nothing of TV’s favourite yellow family. If I get enough, I’ll put them into an article for you all to enjoy, and you can say to your parents ‘Look mum and dad! A man I don’t know put my name on the internet!’ And let’s be honest; who doesn’t want to exclaim that to their family?