By REBECCA CALDWELL AND DAVID SHOALTS
Saturday, February 1, 2003
What some noted Canadians have to say about The Simpsons:
The Simpsons is the single most important influence on progressive social commentary on the world.
I might be the only federal leader who has every Simpsons episode on tape, although I don't want to claim the credit for this -- this was done by my son. One time we were debating whether or not Toronto should send its garbage to the north, to the Kirkland Lake abandoned mine, I think it was called the Adams mine. It was a huge story, a national story: "Mel Lastman wants to send his garbage to an abandoned mine and dump it in there for 20 years."
I said to my son, "Wasn't there some Simpsons episode about that?" And he said, "Yeah, Homer was put in charge of garbage and put it in some mine."
He said "I have a copy," he went down and got it, ran it to the section and we played it. It was absolutely stunning, it was so accurate to what was going on.
So we showed it at a strategic moment of the debate -- because I was doing most of the speaking, we showed it during my wife [fellow Toronto city councillor] Olivia Chow's turn. We cued the guys upstairs who run the video, and there was nothing the deputy mayor could do about it at that point. It was running, and we had tipped off the media about it and they were there with their cameras all lined up, so there's Olivia speaking and you could see on the screen up above Homer shoving garbage with a bulldozer down a mine. And they make lots of money, but suddenly the garbage starts popping up everywhere, and it just makes the point you can't just put the stuff out of sight, out of mind. We used that little bit of satire because it's a very efficient technique to deliver social commentary.
It is a famous conundrum, the Simpsons Conundrum. People have tried to determine the all-time best Simpsons episode, but nobody has ever succeeded. People who make their living in television can avoid work and argue over this one for days.
Off the top of my head, I think: Homer goes into space; Homer becomes intentionally obese so he can work at home; Homer joins Lollapalooza; Homer eats blowfish and has only one night to live and of course Homer beats the crap out of [former] president George Bush. There are literally hundreds of episodes I would watch again and again. The Simpsons is the only show I can say that about.
My personal favourite episode, though, is Homer's Enemy. Frank Grimes (or "Grimey" as Homer calls him) is a new employee at the nuclear power plant. This hardworking decent man cannot reconcile "Homer the slob with no work ethic," with "Homer the guy with the beautiful wife and great kids who lives in a huge house where there are lobsters in the pot and a Grammy on the mantelpiece."
Homer's very existence drives Frank Grimes so crazy that the Grimes basically has a complete breakdown and accidentally kills himself while doing an impression of Homer. The episode ends with Homer nodding off and snoring through Grimey's funeral. This is a great episode, and one of the darkest ever produced.
Seth, cartoonist of Palookaville
I would say I am [a big Simpsons fan]. I wasn't initially, I didn't watch it for the first few years, and I was actually kind of disdainful of it. But then I started watching it, and I would say I've pretty much obsessively seen every episode of it many, many times.
My favourite episode of the Simpsons is the Lemon Tree episode [Lemon of Troy], where the kids have to go to Shelbyville to retrieve the lemon tree that's been stolen. It's a very tight episode that's very well-written -- the structure of it is really good. Plus it's very funny -- there are a lot of really good lines in it.
The Simpsons and hockey
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Wade Belak says he is the most dedicated Simpsons fan on the team because he's "seen probably every episode."
But he does not go to unusual lengths to watch the show.
"No, I don't tape it, I'm not that psycho," he said.
After a game in Anaheim, Calif., a few years ago, the Leafs were taking a bus to their next game when it was discovered there were no videos for the VCR.
Team captain Mats Sundin ordered the bus driver to pull over and went into a variety store. He returned with several Simpsons videos and they nicely filled in the time on the drive.
One of the episodes was about a boy from Albania. Since Tie Domi is a proud Albanian, he was ribbed mercilessly by his teammates about the show for the rest of the road trip.
Sundin, who counts Seinfeld as one of his passions, says he has outgrown his attachment to the Simpsons.
"I used to watch it when I was younger, like two years ago," he said with a laugh. "I liked Homer."