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The Simpsons' Top 25 Episodes

Sarah Culp

Issue date: 2/19/03 Section: Arts and Entertainment
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In recognition of the 300th episode of The Simpsons, which aired on February 16th, Entertainment Weekly ran a feature listing their top 25 episodes of the show, which is set to become the longest-running primetime sitcom of all time (their list is available at www.ew.com). As a cranky, nitpicking, obsessively devoted Simpsons fan, I feel compelled to respond to their compilation and provide a list of my own.

First of all, EW, congratulations. You didn't embarrass yourselves. Few of the episodes you chose to highlight would find disfavor with any longtime fan, or, more amazingly, any alt.tv.simpsons denizen. Your top-rated episode, "Last Exit to Springfield," is certainly a classic worthy of praise. However, there are certain flaws that must be noted.

The most gaping of those mistakes: How could you possibly leave off not only "Lisa's Substitute" but also "Lisa's Wedding?!" Are you mad? That's the equivalent of leaving the Sistine Chapel off a list of Michelangelo's best work or forgetting kittens in a catalogue of Earth's most cuddly creatures! Serving well as bookends, these episodes are not only brilliantly funny, they among the most genuinely touching stories in the show's entire run. For shame, Entertainment Weekly. For shame.

There are other errors in judgment. While you commendably avoid the pretense that the latest episodes retain the quality of the early-to-middle seasons, the one token post-1997 episode you include, "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation," isn't worthier of acclaim than any other from the era. "Behind the Laughter" or "Trilogy of Error" would have been a better choice. Also, while the "Stop the Planet of the Apes! I Want to Get Off" musical number in "A Fish Called Selma" may have been among the most brilliant musical numbers in the show's history, the rest of the episode was fairly lackluster.

Rather than simply quibbling with your choices, however, I've assembled a list of my own top 25 installments. My ranking criterion was based on both the humor and the heart of each episode, as well as the memorability. While some of those listed are heavier in one area than the others, each is a fantastic viewing experience in itself (And I can't help it that three of the top five episodes center on Lisa, OK?).

1. Lisa's Wedding -- A fortune-teller reveals Lisa's future engagement to a wealthy British student.

2. Marge vs. the Monorail -- A scam artist convinces Springfield to invest in a monorail system.

3. Radio Bart -- Bart convinces the town that an orphan has fallen down a well - then falls into it himself.

4. Lisa's Substitute -- A charismatic substitute teacher helps Lisa find faith in herself.

5. Lisa Goes to Washington -- Lisa wins a family trip to D.C. and uncovers Congressional corruption.

6. Homer's Barbershop Quartet -- Homer recounts the story of his short-lived barbershop sensation, "The B-Sharps."

7. Last Exit to Springfield -- Homer is elected president of the plant union and crusades to keep the workers' dental plan.

8. Bart the Lover -- As revenge for a punishment, Bart answers Mrs. Krabappel's personal ad posing as a desirable bachelor.

9. Deep Space Homer -- Homer beats Barney to become the first Average Joe in space.

10. Cape Feare -- Sideshow Bob's best episode, although the Simpsons enter the Witness Protection Program to hide from him.

11. $pringfield -- Mr. Burns and Bart open competing casinos; Marge becomes addicted to gambling.

12. Homer the Great -- Homer joins the Stonecutters secret society.

13. I Love Lisa -- Lisa gives Ralph a valentine out of pity, causing him to fall in love with her.

14. Treehouse of Horror V -- Parody of the Shining; Homer changes the past with a time-traveling toaster; Principal Skinner kills and serves students in the school cafeteria.

15. Homer Bad Man -- Homer is mistakenly accused of sexual harassment by a feminist baby-sitter.

16. Bart on the Road -- Bart, Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin drive to Tennessee with a fake driver's license, then have trouble getting back home.

17. The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show -- The I&S producers add a new, overly hip character to boost ratings; meanwhile slacker Roy comes to live with the Simpsons.

18. 2 Cars in Every Garage, 3 Eyes on Every Fish -- Burns runs for governor on a platform of nuclear deregulation.

19. Mother Simpson -- Homer's long-long mother, a hippie on the lam, returns to Springfield.

20. Bart Gets Famous -- One of the first "meta" episodes, Bart becomes a star on the strength of a random catchphrase.

21. Summer of 4 Ft. 2 -- On a summer trip to the beach, Lisa becomes popular while Bart is ignored.

22. Krusty Gets Kancelled -- The kids organize a star-studded Krusty special to compete with new puppet star, Gabbo.

23. The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular -- Troy McClure hosts a tribute to the show, with outtakes and fake trivia.

24. A Streetcar Named Marge -- Marge stars in a musical remake of "A Streetcar Named Desire."

25. Das Bus -- The school bus crashes into the ocean on a field trip, resulting in an homage to "Lord of the Flies" among the Springfield Elementary students.
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