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How many people on AMF are avid or even casual watchers of The Simpsons? If so would anyone be interested in doing a favourite episode poll because I’d happily run one if you are?
I know this has been done before by Entertainment Weekly and various other publications, along with probably thousands of fan sites. I just thought it might be something different of interest for the miscellaneous section of the forum.
If many people are interested we could start talking about provisional rules and a deadline, and I’ll bring up links to a list of episodes and online streaming.
i sense a lot of cricket chirping in this thread, but i'd be in..
ps: and to my very own surprise, there'd be actually a lot of Simpsons episodes from their Nuke-the-shark-era on my list..
It's good to see someone apart from me thinks The Simpsons worthy of a favourites list!
Maybe it'll pick up once the Artist Poll is over with and the final hundred for the Movie Poll are decided. I haven't got too long to run it though - this is my last nostalgic whimper before I'm off to uni (or college to Americans).
Personally, the last episode I can think of making my list off the top of my head is "Trilogy of Error" (Season 12), though I quite liked a lot of Season 20 even. I think the shark-jumping/fridge-nuking of "Principal and the Pauper" is wildly exaggerated. Still, if they had stopped around Season 12 or 13, it probably would have preserved the legacy of the show a bit more.
The Simpsons is one of the few series I cannot get into. I've tried to start watching it a few times and I've seen a few episodes here and there, mostly episodes on lists of "Best Simpsons episodes", but I definitely prefer to watch South Park or Family Guy when it comes to animated comedy.
I'd do it, although "casual" is a good way of describing my watching of the simpsons. Best episode is the Sideshow Bob one where his brother comes and they basically reenact Frasier. So brilliant . And then of course Cape Feare, and the one where Burns gets shot. Top 3 for me.
If you run a Simpsons poll I'll vote in it, though I hope you're just planning a straight vote or maybe a nomination round then a ranking, and not a long term bracket type deal.
I've seen like every episode from seasons 1-12 and maybe half the episodes since. It was really good in the first few seasons, then declined for several seasons (When it became just 'Homer's wacky adventure of the week'), but lately has gotten much better and more satirical.
My favorite episodes are:
-The one where social services took the kids away and Flanders was their foster father, and tried to baptize them
-The one with Hank Scorpio
-The one where they separated boys and girls in the school
-The first one with Uncle Herb
-Lisa writes a patriotic essay, then an unpatriotic one
-Bart gets a job from gangsters and is accused of killing Skinner
-Homer is accused of sexual harassment. ("I noticed she had a sweet-CAN! So I grabbed her swee-swe-swe-sweet-CAN!")
-Marge stars in Streetcar Named Desire/Maggie escapes from Ayn Rand
-Homer quits church
Of course, just about everything from seasons 2-4 is genius.
I'd prefer to watch an episode of Family Guy on TV because if you live in the UK, having a good episode of the Simpsons on TV feels like winning the lottery. They ALWAYS show the Principal and the Pauper, as if they purposefully are trying to piss us off. Or they're stuck on season 16. With Family Guy, you know what you're gonna get, and you always get it.
Okay, to answer your questions:
BillAdama, I was planning on it being a straight poll, vote for your favourite episodes in a list, preferably ranked, 5-200 long (though to my mind what most people term "the golden age" of the show only lasted about 180 episodes, not all of which were that golden, so I doubt we'd need 200 as the upper limit). I don't see the point in dividing this poll into brackets, since we'd only be voting within a relatively small medium of about 460 episodes anyway, of which I reckon about half might not garner a single vote. All the same, I'm leaving it open to consensus. So if there is going to be a poll, whatever people agree on will be the format.
midaso, I understand that people recognise an episode by what happens in it rather than by its name, especially because the episode names aren't introduced at any point in the show. That's why, if the poll goes ahead, I'll post the Wikipedia page which lists every Simpsons episode up to the 21st season, and has links to individual episode pages, which in turn document the plot and trivia of each episode.
I also realise that in other AMF polls, voters can listen to the music or watch the films that they are considering so as to make a more informed judgement when they vote. So (hopefully) I'll post a link to a site which streams Simpsons episodes online. I myself have done this a couple of times and used Watch The Simpsons Online, a site which has every single Simpsons episode available for streaming and claims to be entirely legal. The problem is that this site is rumoured to pose a virus threat and although I personally haven't encoutered any problems on it, it does activate the odd pop-up when you click on a video. Because of this, I'm dubious about posting a link to WTSO on this thread, and I've looked at other episode streaming sites but they don't seem much better. As a result, you might just have to vote from memory and from reading articles on Wikipedia or other info sites, or buy the boxsets if you're really interested.
As for the Simpsons vs Family Guy debate, in terms of an animated family sitcom which transcends boundaries while satirizing its predecessors, The Simpsons is the original and the best. Family Guy, as a satire-on-a-satire (there is no question that it takes a lot from The Simpsons, but with completely different goals in mind), is just as groundbreaking and sharp.
However, I agree with BillAdama that the frequent reliance on lazy pop culture references as well as its rather more average spin-off The Cleveland Show point to a decline in the quality of Family Guy in recent seasons; I’m also getting tired of the Disney and Fox = Hitler jokes. The chicken fights are always funny though, and it’s things like this, where the structure of the sitcom is disregarded entirely in favour of pastiche, which separate Family from The Simpsons.
And if you want to say Family Guy has declined, the only thing in The Simpsons which now resembles what it used to be is the amount of yellow. In fact, the writers have taken to copying motifs and even plots of their own imitators, as in the last five seasons I have noticed The Simpsons lamely attempting to do what Family Guy does to 21st century culture.
But if you go back to Seasons 1-8/9 Simpsons, you’ll see fully developed characters, plots, and scenarios beyond anything Family Guy or South Park could do. Whenever Family Guy has ever incorporated a moral, it either seems forced and phony, or like a page straight out of Seth MacFarlane’s book of how to live your life. Family Guy and South Park both go for abstract concepts (Stewie, Brian, Cartman) as a way of illustrating real life scenarios both more comically and more effectively. But through these abstractions, they lose the opportunity to have the comic effect which The Simpsons at its best so often had. The Simpsons was always at its funniest and most endearing when it reflected real life directly, when its characters came out and did or said things you could imagine or even had experienced people saying or doing. There are always times when we see the real person in Stewie or Peter Griffin, or Eric Cartman, but Homer Simpson (of the early seasons anyway) may as well be a real person. That’s why when we see Bart believing he’s a father (a blatant Family Guy rip off) in a later episode of The Simpsons, it surely isn’t as engaging or as funny as the story of how Homer and Marge got together and had Bart. Family Guy does the pastiche thing well, like when Stewie plays a married man living in a box in the Griffins’ garden – as opposed to the Bart scenario, this I found quite funny.
Stephan, I can see where you’re coming from when you say Family Guy gives you more entertainment. You and I obviously have slightly different tastes when it comes to television comedy.
But, for the reasons above, I will always put The Simpsons a peg above Family Guy.
I could never compare The Simpsons to South Park, because the two are so vastly different, one key difference being that South Park is much more politically driven.
And I also think the Sideshow Bob Simpsons episodes rank among the best, Zorg. Sideshow Bob Roberts (the one where he runs for mayor) is another classic.
Don't get me wrong, I love the really early Family Guy episodes. If I were to rank my ten favorite, they'd probably all come from the first year. My favorite all time is the first one with Death where Norm McDonald did the voice. But also, the millennium one was brilliant, the reality show one, and almost all of the first six episode run. It used to be a great show, but I think ever since it's return to the air it's been trying too hard to appeal to the late night comedy central crowd. (The roasts used to be good. Now they've become unwatchable.)
Family Guy still has a lot of really good laughs, but I find for every one really good laugh there are about three groans. It's not just the lazy pop cultural references, their use of characters has been lazy. Can't think of something to do with Stewie? Just have some homoerotic thing on the screen and Stewie seem strangely curious, then have Brian comment on it. Can't think of a joke at all? Just have Quagmire do something lecherous.
South Park is a totally different ballgame altogether. There was the 'dirty minimalism' of the first season that ran out of steam really quickly, then it turned totally into anti-conventional libertarian social satire. It's always been hit or miss, but the hits are homeruns.
If I were to rate the 'eras' of Simpsons, it'd be something like this:
Season 1: 5/10
Season 2-4: 10/10
Season 5-8: Gradually from 9 down to like 6, with several individual episodes that are 10.
Season 9-15: 1/10
Season 16-now: 5/10
On second thoughts, maybe a nomination round would be better. That way we might get a bit more of a consensus with not that many people voting, and more people might be inclined to vote if they know what they're voting for, based on Midaso's point that episode names are so elusive.
Does anyone want to start nominating, or shall I open up a separate nomination thread, or just start the poll?
hmmm... looks like a poll between netjerk, BillAdama and you (+ plus maaaybeee Zorg & Stephan) after all... whatever, i'm fine with everything coming and calling next..
nj, I'm hoping more people will vote once they have a set list to work within in the final poll. The biggest problem with this poll seems to be either that people like watching The Simpsons but think it's too much trouble to make a list for so narrow a subject or that people want to vote/nominate but can only do this by 'the one with...', because episodes aren't as clearly defined by their titles as albums are, for example. Hopefully limiting the actual poll to fifty-ish episodes will solve both of these problems. And it seems like in yours and BillAdama's lists, and in mine and Zorg's to come, there will be a pretty good spread of episodes to choose from.