Welcome back to another day of Wrap-Up here on the Lifetime of Simpsons. Today we’re going to get into the weeds, dealing with some of the Simpson’s roughest and most dire seasons. But, no matter how much the show started to slow down and get boring, there was still at least one really great episode to highlight. But I don’t need to be bleak up top, let’s dive on into the episodes!
Season 13 – “Jaws Wired Shut”
If you’ve been following along with Lifetime of Simpsons at all, you can tell that there’s one type of episode that gradually driven me insane, becoming one of my most hated story structures. The stories where Homer and Marge’s relationship is thrown into turmoil, only to magically get fixed at the end. And, because of the prevalence of these episodes it’s always nice to come across a story about Homer and Marge’s relationship that has them being happy and functional. Seeing Homer learn to become a better husband, father, and son all because his jaw injury forced him to start listening to his family members is great. It’s a really sweet idea, and it’s carried even more by the idea that when Homer becomes a sane and rational person, Marge realizes their life needs some chaos, and tries to force that role upon herself. It’s a fun look at the structure of the show, and really gives a nice look into their marriage, and why it works.
“Jaws Wired Shut” was written by Matt Selman and directed by Nancy Kruse, 2002.
Season 14 – “‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky”
So often the best Lisa episodes revolve around Lisa finding some new way of life, and then proceeds to butt heads with Homer, trying to convince him that it’s the right way to live. But, episodes like this take it into a different direction. We get to see Lisa find a new passion in life, astronomy, and work to better Springfield with that discovery. She doesn’t really harp on anyone, and she’s not fighting against Homer or anything. She just found something beautiful and wants to share it with Springfield. Yeah, Springfield of course responds to this with ignorance, but even that doesn’t stop her. She keeps fighting because she found a way to make her small town better, and thinks that they deserve it. It’s the kind of thing that I love about Lisa so much. She just wants to better the world, even if it’s just teaching the people of Springfield to look up at the night sky every now and again.
“‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky” was written by Dan Greaney & Allen Grazier and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2003.
Season 15 – “Fraudcast News”
Speaking of Lisa, let’s talk about another episode where Lisa does her best to save Springfield and make it a better place! And, on top of that, we get to have a really fun Mr. Burns episode, something that was basically nonexistent at this point in the show’s run. And, it’s an episode that has become oddly prescient in recent months. It’s all about Mr. Burns trying to buy up all of the media in Springfield so that they can’t say anything bad about him, while Lisa makes it her goal to create a reliable and authentic news source in Springfield, once that becomes scarce. Plus, we get one of the most emotional endings that I’d seen in quite some time, with Homer starting his own newspaper and writing an editorial about how Lisa is his hero, and makes him strive to be a better person. This episode takes the basic idea of a Homer/Lisa episode, but removes the part where they butt heads so that all we get is Homer supporting Lisa in her goal to better the town. And I love that.
“Fraudcast News” was written by Don Payne and directed by Bob Anderson, 2004.
Season 16 – “Home Away From Homer”
Okay, I’m going to be real with everyone. Season Sixteen is kind of dreadful. I looked through every single one of these episodes again, read all of my thoughts, and even checked my old notes, and there really wasn’t a single episode that I loved. But, the one that I enjoyed the most was “Home Away From Homer,” the episode that I’m going to talk about, because it was the best that Season 16 had to offer. And, really, that all comes from the fact that I enjoy what it did with Homer and Ned’s relationship. We’ve gotten episodes before where Ned finally gets fed up with the way that he’s being treated, and demands respect, but this episode actually has him leave town, and realize that he kind of misses Homer too. Homer and Ned realize that they’ve fallen into a symbiotic relationship where they need each other’s presence to balance each other out. Without Homer Ned becomes more Homer-like, and without Ned Homer becomes more Ned-like. It’s a fun idea, and it leads to some nice moments between the two, which is enough to put it above all the other stinkers from this season.
“Home Away From Homer” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Bob Anderson, 2005.
Season 17 – “The Seemingly Never-Ending Story”
Let’s wash the bad taste of that luke-warm endorsement out of our mouths with an episode that I legitimately really loved. “The Seemingly Never-Ending Story” is an incredibly fun episode, one that takes us all over Springfield, lets characters who we don’t normally focus on shine, and even gives us some fun backstory that we’ve never seen before. Plus, it does all of that while playing with a very inventive episode format, switching rapidly between different stories, and stories within stories. The Simpsons, especially during this era of the series, wasn’t exactly an innovative show. They’d established a number of successful formulas and just kept churning out episodes that felt incredibly similar to one another. But, this episode was a breath of fresh air. It was something different, and it was a lot of fun. It had solid jokes, surprising heart, and was kind of everything that I want a good Simpsons episode to be. Which was a pleasant surprise in such a fallow period.
“The Seemingly Never-Ending Story” was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Raymond S Persi, 2006.
Season 18 – “Springfield Up”
Hey, speaking of an episode that plays with the format of an episode, I love “Springfield Up.” This wasn’t the first time that the show had done an episode in the style of a documentary, but this one works so wonderfully. It gets to be an elaborate flash-back episode, showing up some of the unknown histories of most of the adult characters on the show, while also referencing a series of wonderful documentaries. It does get a little bogged down in Homer’s inferiority complex during the episode, but by and large this was an incredibly fun little episode that was stuffed with great gags showing the trajectories that the various people of Springfield went on. Most of it’s pretty ridiculous and sad, but that’s kind of what you’re expecting when you’re talking about Springfield.
“Springfield Up” was written by Matt Warburton and directed by Chuck Sheetz, 2007.
Another day, another batch of episodes down. This era of the show wasn’t necessarily the best that the show ever had, but it’s nice to see that even when the show wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders. This is a good batch of episodes, and really shows what the series was able to do at this point in time. But don’t worry, we have more episodes to talk about tomorrow.
Oh, and as a side-note, man is is a bummer that Frinkiac.com stopped caring about the show at Season 17. I found out about it way too late, and only got to use its wonderful service for a few seasons before I ran out and had to start searching for images again, and they’re just nowhere as nice as the ones that Frinkiac had. Oh well.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
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