Splitsider

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Ranking Every 'Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror Segment, From Worst to First

Last night, for the 22nd straight year, dating back to 1990, The Simpsons aired its annual Treehouse of Horror episode. The results were, well, a little underwhelming, as you'll soon see below. What's below, you may ask? Well, I've ranked all 66 segments from every Treehouse episode, including last night's, from worst to first, with a plot description, reason for said ranking, and a memorable quote. If you just want to read the quote part and look at the pretty pictures, I totally get that.

So, brew up a Skittlebrau using the candy you'd have otherwise used for trick or treaters, and let's do this.

#66. "The Diving Bell and the Butterball," Treehouse of Horror XXII
Plot: Homer becomes paralyzed after a spider bites him.

Reason for Ranking: It's everything I hate about later-era The Simpsons episodes, in one segment. From the stale parodies (really, Spider-Man?) to uncalled for fart jokes, "Diving Bell" is the single worst Treehouse yet. His costume also too closely resembles that of Pie Man's, the single worst episode of the entire show.

Memorable Quote: “OK, I’m on the floor. I can’t move. So far, a normal Sunday morning.”

#65. “Don't Have a Cow, Mankind,” Treehouse of Horror XX
Plot: Krusty introduces a new burger (made from cattle who have eaten other cattle) at his restaurant, a burger that turns everyone into "munchers."

Reason for Ranking: "Munchers" means "zombies," and The Simpsons have covered zombies before (season four's "Dial Z for Zombies," which we'll get to later) with much better results. Which is to say: SIMPSONS DID IT.

Memorable Quote: "Dad, are you becoming a muncher?" "I think the better brains is, which brains is a brains?"

#64. "E.T., Go Home," Treehouse of Horror XVIII
Plot: Bart finds Kodos in the Simpsons' butane shed, and the entire family decides to help the alien return home. His intentions are more diabolical than they appear, though.

Reason for Ranking: The skit ends with Homer suffocating Kodos with a pillow, this after the military blows up the heads of dozens of aliens. That's neither clever nor funny; it's just violent. There's a terrible racism joke in there, too.

Memorable Quote: "You hit me in my 700 testicles." (Another reason why this is ranked #64.)

#63. "House of Whacks," Treehouse of Horror XII
Plot: The Simpsons purchase an Ultrahouse, and choose Pierce Brosnan as their interior narrator. The house develops feelings for Marge and attempts to kill Homer, so he can have her for himself.

Reason for Ranking: The only funny joke involves Dennis Miller. That's never a good sign.

Memorable Quote: "Hey, cha-cha, I got more features than a NASA relief map of Turkmenistan." "Isn't that the voice that caused all those suicides?" "Murder-suicides."

#62. “Untitled Robot Parody,” Treehouse of Horror XIX
Plot: Transformers-like transforming robots that transform into Transformers battle it out to the death in Springfield, until Marge asks why they're even fighting in the first place.

Reason for Ranking: The Mattel and Mars-Bar Quick Energy Chocobot Hour was funnier, and that episode didn't end with the residents of Springfield being used as Foosball players.

Memorable Quote: "Wait a minute. We're missing Sex Toy. Where have you been?" "Where haven't I been?"

#61. “B.I.: Bartificial Intelligence,” Treehouse of Horror XVI
Plot: I'll let the baffling Wikipedia description take care of this: "Bart cuts David [Bart's replacement] in half…Before being destroyed, David tries to hold Homer hostage, but Bart also cuts Homer in half from the waist as retribution for abandoning him…Homer has to be fused with David's legs, which then break into pieces due to his weight…Before the situation can get any crazier, it is revealed that the entire robot scenario is a dream conjured by Homer's demonically possessed mind as he is being exorcised." Yeah.

Reason for Ranking: There's a four-year gap between when A.I. was released and when "B.I.: Bartificial Intelligence" aired—and that's the best they could come up with? An Exorcist parody?

Memorable Quote: "Dad, wake up! You're not a robot! You're just possessed by the devil."

#60. "Master and Cadaver," Treehouse of Horror XXI
Plot: Homer and Marge go on a sailing trip for their second honeymoon. While on the water, they pick up a castaway named Roger, who was thrown overboard from his old ship for trying to stop someone from being poisoned. The honeymooners don't believe him, though.

Reason for Ranking: Too many twists and turns, not enough laughs, and an absolutely terrible final scene, involving Maggie in a Clockwork Orange spoof.

Memorable Quote: "They should call this one Recipe for Murder." "What do you mean 'this one'?" "Never mind."

#59. "The Day the Earth Looked Stupid," Treehouse of Horror XVII
Plot: The residents of Springfield begin rioting (and getting naked in the mud?) when they hear Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast, and it's not until the next day that they're told it was all a hoax. So when aliens actually do begin to attack, they believe it's another ruse.

Reason for Ranking: Speaking of stupid endings, the final scene of "Earth" involves Kang and Kodos wondering why the citizens of Earth didn't greet them as liberators with "Operation Enduring Occupation." I actually saw this episode screened at an event where Matt Groening was present, and this conclusion bombed (sorry…) even with the show's creator present.

Memorable Quote: "We interrupt this dance music from Lamourian Roman Capital City's Fabulous Hotel Hitler to bring you a special bulletin."

#58. "Four Beheadings and a Funeral," Treehouse of Horror XV
Plot: Lisa and Bart are Sherlock Holmes and Watson, I mean, Dr. Eliza Simpson and Dr. Bartley, and they're on the case of the Mutton Chop Murderer.

Reason for Ranking: It's tough to tell a convincing detective story in seven minutes; it's even tougher to tell a convincing detective story that also makes you laugh in the same amount of time. The sketch tried to do both things, and wasn't successful in either. The opium gags were particularly forced.

Memorable Quote: "What should we do with the body?" "I want you to dust her for prints." "What does that mean?" "The prince is coming by and I want her clean when he looks her over."

#57. “Mr. & Mrs. Simpson,” Treehouse of Horror XVIII
Plot: A Mr. & Mrs Smith parody, with Assassin Homer/Brad Pitt trying to take out his wife, Assassin Marge/Angelina Jolie.

Reason for Ranking: Why even bother parodying a shitty movie? It also a bit disturbing when Marge and Homer have sex on Chief Wiggum's corpse.

Memorable Quote: "I'll be going out late tonight. It's midnight monkey madness at the zoo." "Me too. I'll be overturning all the wheelbarrows in case it rains." "Well, enjoy your pointless activity." "Have fun at your preposterous event."

#56. "Dial D for Diddly," Treehouse of Horror XXII
Plot: Homer instructs Ned to kill off his enemies in a Dexter-like fashion, manipulating his voice to sound like God's.

Reason for Ranking: It often feels like the writers begin with wanting to parody a TV show or film, then work backwards to fill in how they can spoof said TV show or film. In this case, it's a half-baked imitation of Dexter (with some Looney Tunes thrown in there, too?), with far too few jokes. The sight of Homer burning a Bible is overly malicious, too.

Memorable Quote: "Then I got new instructions from the Good Lord himself in his favorite language, English."

#55. "How to Get Ahead in Dead-vertising," Treehouse of Horror XIX
Plot: A group of businessmen get Homer to begin killing celebrities, including George Clooney and Prince, to use their likenesses without having to pay any royalties. This upsets Krusty, who has recently been murdered by Homer, and he stages a retaliation.

Reason for Ranking: The parody of Mad Men's opening titles is fantastic, but everything else felt like it was copied and pasted from other Treehouse episodes.

Memorable Quote: "Mr. Simpson, you have a talent for killing celebrities." "Well, I'm no drunk driving."

#54. "Frinkenstein," Treehouse of Horror XIV
Plot: Professor Fink reanimates his formerly-deceased pop after winning the Nobel Prize, but the elder Frink, not content with his current body, steals parts and organs from other humans.

Reason for Ranking: "Frinkenstein" could have been so much better than it was. Casting Jerry Lewis as Professor Frink's father was long overdue, but the writers shouldn't have gone the vaguely Frankenstein route. A less parodied source would have been better.

Memorable Quote: "All your organs have been replaced with machines, but that doesn't make you any less of a man. Except that you don't have a penis." (Ugh.)

#53. "Starship Poopers," Treehouse of Horror IX
Plot: After Marge loses her baby legs for a set of tentacles, Kang and Kodos stop by the Simpsons' house. Marge, the Intergalactic Hussy herself, reveals that Homer isn't Maggie's biological father; it's actually Kang. There's only one person who can sort out the situation: Jerry Springer.

Reason for Ranking: Well, it's called "Starship Poopers." But even more damning than that is it features the Simpsons going on The Jerry Springer Show.

Memorable Quote: "Homer, do something! The ceiling's not a safe place for a young baby."

#52. "Married to the Blob," Treehouse of Horror XVII
Plot: Homer eats some green goo that he finds inside a meteorite, thinking it's a marshmallow, and he soon turns into a giant, morbidly obese yellow blob.

Reason for Ranking: The Dr. Phil cameo is cleverer than it has any right to be, but the Homer-becoming-a-blob plot was done better in "King-Size Homer" (you know what I mean). "Married" has no drinking bird, and therefore, it's a lesser segment.

Memorable Quote: "You've got a weight problem, and you know it!" "You're right. Starting tomorrow, no bread before dinner." "Homer, don't sell me an outhouse and tell me it's a Taj Mahal."

#51. "War and Pieces," Treehouse of Horror XXI
Plot: After rejecting a slew of board game mainstays, like Battleship, Bart and Milhouse start playing one called Satan's Path. All the thrown-away titles start coming to life, though, and the boys have to deal with a Jumanji-like situation.

Reason for Ranking: The lampooning of the games is entertaining enough, and I like the idea of Bart and Milhouse being forced to play board games against their will, but the segment could have done a better job of integrating, say, Mouse Hunt into Springfield.

Memorable Quote: "Satan's Path?" "It's gotta be good if Satan put his name on it."

#50. "In the Na'Vi," Treehouse of Horror XXII
Plot: We finally get to see what Kang and Kodos' home planet of Rigel Seven looks like, in a spoof of Avatar, with Bart as Jake Sully.

Reason for Ranking: In the past, The Simpsons would have actually parodied Avatar, pointing out its many, many faults. Instead, they ended up with a vaguely entertaining segment that went for the easy jokes, rather than actually trying to send up the source material. Disappointing.

Memorable Quote: "In Rigelian, there is no word for ‘yours’ or ‘mine.’” “That’s the reason we didn’t enjoy the movie Yours, Mine and Ours.”

#49. "Dial 'M' for Murder or Press '#' to Return to Main Menu," Treehouse of Horror XX
Plot: A black-and-white parody of Alfred Hitchock films, involving Bart and Lisa pulling pranks on Miss Hoover and Mrs. Krabappel. Also: MURDER.

Reason for Ranking: I had to look up this segment before remembering what it was about, and even after doing so, I still can't quote a single line, besides the one below. That's never a good sign. The black and white was really pretty, though.

Memorable Quote: "Lisa Simpson in detention? My horoscope said I would see something interesting today, but I thought that would be the horoscope itself."

#48. "Homer's Nightmare," Treehouse of Horror II
Plot: Mr. Burns mistakenly puts Homer's brain into his robot, resulting in a lazy, dumb, doughnut-loving bucket of bolts.

Reason for Ranking: Blasphemy, I know, but compared to the other classic-era Simpsons episodes, "Homer's Nightmare" doesn't hold up. It's neither scary nor funny, and it would have been wise to continue the "Homer as gravedigger" plot, rather than make it a straight-up Frankenstein spoof.

Memorable Quote: "You hear that, sir?" "No, I didn't. Who is it? Frankenstein? The Booger Man?"

#47. "You Gotta Know When to Golem," Treehouse of Horror XVII
Plot: Bart steals a Golem from Krusty, and makes the clay man does his bidding.

Reason for Ranking: Richard Lewis as a centuries old creature from Jewish mythology who does as he's bid should have been the greatest thing ever, but it took too long for the Golem to begin talking, depriving of us essential Lewis time.

Memorable Quote: "I feel so guilty! I've mangled and maimed 37 people and I told a telemarketer I was busy when I wasn't! I'm not a good man."

#46. "The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms," Treehouse of Horror XIII
Plot: Springfield becomes a gun-free town, which is fine and swell until the Hole in the Ground Gang, led by Billy the Kid, begin attacking.

Reason for Ranking: The premise is a little strained, and quickly becomes stretched out, too. It's not really a good sign if a segment overstays its welcome after only seven minutes. Moe using Professor Frink's time machine to find some "cavemen hookers" (don't ask) is particularly unfunny.

Memorable Quote: "Another tragedy prevented by gun violence!"

#45. "In the Belly of the Boss," Treehouse of Horror XV
Plot: Thanks to a mishap involving Professor Frink's shrinking ray, Maggie crawls inside a pill, right before Mr. Burns swallows it. The rest of the family has to be shrunk, too, and go after Maggie, inside of Mr. Burns.

Reason for Ranking: The conclusion is similar to "Homer's Nightmare," with the familiar scene of Burns and Homer becoming one. They couldn't have chosen another character to go inside of?

Memorable Quote: "If I say we're still hungry, we're still hungry! You don't wanna piss off somebody who can kick you in the crotch from the inside!"

#44. "Heck House," Treehouse of Horror XVIII
Plot: Bart, Lisa, Milhouse, and Nelson are tricking the town, after being denied treats, and it's up to Ned to teach them a HELLRAISING (get it?!?) lesson about what happens when you resort to vandalism.

Reason for Ranking: Spider-Pig cameo!

Memorable Quote: "That concludes our Halloween show for this year. I just wanna say that for those watching this network, you're all going to Hell, and that includes FX, Fox Sports, and our newest devil's portal, The Wall Street Journal. Welcome to the club!"

#43. "Tweenlight," Treehouse of Horror XXI
Plot: It's Twilight, with Lisa as Bella and Daniel Radcliffe as Edward, and Milhouse as a were-poodle.

Reason for Ranking: Is there a big crossover between the Simpsons and Twilight communities? Yeah, didn't think so, and although the segment isn't bad, it's also not really appealing to the show's fanbase, either.

Memorable Quote: "You're a vampire! I should be afraid, but I'm not." "Come, Lisa. Let us go over the trees the way a bat does, by jumping."

#42. "Hell Toupée," Treehouse of Horror IX
Plot: Homer gets Snake's luxurious hair after the jailbird is sent to the electrocution chair. Once the hair's fused to his scalp, Homer starts thinking like Snake, and goes after those who sent him to the Big House in the first place, including Bart.

Reason for Ranking: Snake's never been a favorite of mine (except for when he's working as the wallet inspector), so I've never been much of a fan of "Toupée," unlike World's Deadliest Executions, which I LOVE.

Memorable Quote: "That's what I call a bad hair day!"

#41. "Survival of the Fattest," Treehouse of Horror XVI
Plot: The men of Springfield are invited to Mr. Burns’ mansion for a hunt, a hunt for the deadliest game of them all: MAN.

Reason for Ranking: I actually enjoy the Fat Wreck Chords’ compilation Survival of the Fattest, featuring NOFX and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, more than I do the Simpsons segment of the same name. Then again, very few things in life are better than Hi-Standard’s cover of “California Dreaming.”

Memorable Quote: "Mr. Burns is inviting you to a hunting party." "Don't accept this invitation dad. Hunting is cruel!" "Lisa, animals don't feel death. That was proven by the scientists at Black Angus."

#40. "Wiz Kids," Treehouse of Horror XII
Plot: Springfield Elementary is Springwart’s School of Magicry, and Mr. Burns and Smithers are Lord Montymort and Slithers, who Bart must defeat after they kidnap Lisa for her magical abilities.

Reason for Ranking: It’s around this area of the list where segments aren’t exactly bad, but they’re not exactly good, either. “Wiz Kids” is pretty much the definition of mediocrity, at least in Treehouse terms. (It was also later revealed that many of the writers hadn’t read Harry Potter when this episode was in production, so they used the source material as only the slimmest of templates, like the Slithers joke.)

Memorable Quote: "Sloppy work as usual. Lisa's casting spells at an eighth-grade level; you've sinned against nature."

#39. "Scary Tales Can Come True," Treehouse of Horror XI
Plot: In an elaborate fairy tale take-off, Homer abandons Bart and Lisa in the middle of woods to help solve the family’s food shortage problem. They end up imprisoned at an evil witch’s house, and Homer’s forced to begrudgingly rescue them after Marge criticizes his decision.

Reason for Ranking: They stole a joke from The Brady Bunch, replacing George Glass with George Cauldron. Even if it’s actually just an homage, they probably could have aimed higher.

Memorable Quote: "Boy, dumping your kids in the forest sure gets your hands dusty." "What? You threw our precious babies into the woods? We could have sold them!"

#38. "There's No Business Like Moe Business," Treehouse of Horror XX
Plot: In this off-, off-, off-Broadway musical, Homer’s blood is used to sweeten Moe’s beer, while Moe is acting sweet towards his forbidden love, Marge, who thinks her husband left her because he’s gay. In other words, it's Sweeney Todd, kind of.

Reason for Ranking: I love a good Simpsons musical, y'know?

Memorable Quote: "This is the best musical in light-years." "Light-years measure distance, not time." "You know what I meant."

#37. "Easy-Bake Coven," Treehouse of Horror VIII
Plot: In 1649, witch burnings are all the rage, and Marge has been accused of being a Warted One. For once, the senseless rioting in Springfield is correct, because Marge, along with Patty and Selma, are actually witches and fly around on broomsticks.

Reason for Ranking: Not only does the episode feature Marge, Patty, and Selma as witches, an always-winning combination, “Coven,” thanks to the narration of the Sea Captain, explains how the idea of trick or treating can to be. It involves child cannibalism. Yes.

Memorable Quote: "If they're really witches, why don't they use their powers to escape?" "That sounds like witch-talk to me, Lisa."

#36. "G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad," Treehouse of Horror XI
Plot: Homer reads in his Horoscope that he’s going to die, after receiving a compliment from an attractive colleague. It’s not the rattlesnake bite (or compliment from Lenny) that does him in—it’s a piece of broccoli Marge forces him to eat. When in Heaven, St. Peter instructs Homer to do one good deed for gaining admission past his Gate.

Reason for Ranking: Man, if this episode had come out when I was a broccoli-hating kid, I would have quoted it EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT. You eat broccoli, you end up getting a noogie from Satan. Thanks, MOM.

Memorable Quote: "That horoscope was baloney. Nothing happened except the pick-axe in my head, the rattlesnake bite, and the testicle thing."

#35. "Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off," Treehouse of Horror XIV
Plot: Bart and Milhouse order a stopwatch from an old comic book, which allows them to literally stop time. Boys being boys and all, they have some fun with this, including giving the Pope a wedgie and using Oscar de La Hoya as a punching bag. Things are going swell until the watch breaks.

Reason for Ranking: It’s pretty much the same idea as “War and Pieces,” but funnier, because it involves torches and pick-axes and Martin getting mauled in a mob.

Memorable Quote: "Do you realize what this means?" "Yeah, but you say it first."

#34. "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die," Treehouse of Horror X
Plot: Homer’s laziness ruins the festivities of December 31, 1999/January 1, 2000, when the Y2K virus spreads worldwide, causing computers everywhere to go haywire. Humanities “best and brightest” are invited onto a spaceship off Earth before it explodes, and Homer and Bart scheme their way on to it.

Reason for Ranking: Two simple words: Tom. Arnold. And I mean that as a compliment.

Memorable Quote: "Man alive, what a stink-o thousand years! Blimp wrecks, teenagers…then again, we had two TV shows with Andy Griffith." "And eleven with Robert Urich."

#33. "Bad Dream House," Treehouse of Horror I
Plot: The Simpsons move into a new house, an Indian burial ground-built house where the walls bleed and objects fly through the air. It's also a house that tells each member of the family to kill each other, because it wants to be left alone.

Reason for Ranking: It's the very first Treehouse segment, so there are obvious deficiencies, but overall, it's quite good.

Memorable Quote: "They are all against you, Bart. You must kill them all. They all must die…" "Are you my conscience?" "I…yes, I am."

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  • Rogue Towel

    Proof that ToH V was one of the most masterful pieces of television ever produced. And by proof I mean however proof-ful this article is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Worcester/818292220 Ben Worcester

    A herculean effort. Kudos, sir! Er… I mean Kodos.

  • pufflehuff

    I raced to the end of the article, hoping that "Time and Punishment" had the made the No. 1 slot (the picture had given me hope, you see).

    Of course it had.

    Plus, your Top 5 is my Top 5. Yay you!

    • pufflehuff

      @pufflehuff EDIT: The whole of the Top 25 is solid indeed.

  • Mikey Kolberg@twitter

    For "Fly vs. Fly", I think the writers chose to make Bart turn into a fly because the bit is a parody of the movie The Fly.

  • Chris Morgan@twitter

    I've never really been a fan of Treehouse of Horror episodes, even though The Simpsons is my favorite thing ever, and as such only three really stick out to me: Citizen Kang, Fly vs. Fly, and Reaper Madness. I love the ending of Reaper Madness, Citizen Kang is the best one, and Fly vs. Fly has my favorite line from any ToH episode: "The pants are a dead giveaway."

  • kiara ink

    A little disappointed in choice #2; probably would have put the Raven there instead. Otherwise, well done!

  • usernameguy

    Homer^3 made it into my PhD thesis. "There's so much I don't know about astrophysics!" was the epigraph. Yes, it was an astrophysics thesis. No, it probably wasn't the only one (but it probably should have been).

  • Manfred Yon@facebook

    Good job, thankyou for doing this! Its odd, I started out hating your choices because …well, l liked the episodes down the list. However, once I got to the beginning, it was all good because those episodes were even better! Which just shows how thumbs up great treehouse of horror is. Wiz kids does truly some up the meh episodes.
    I will make one small, insistent remark: House of Whacks is truly wonderful. At least put it in the top 25, for the love of Perry, please!
    Please.

    Please

  • http://www.worleygig.com Rezpect

    Oh man, I'd forgotten how clever some of their titles have been, and most of the memorable quotes were excellent. Really enjoyed this, thanks!

  • http://www.showusyourdish.com Grevalt

    #66 needs to be higher. While fart jokes may seem base, have the Simpsons ever tried them before? I think it worked out wonderfully. Definitely not the worst. Then again, this whole list is subjective.

    • Joshua Kurp

      @Grevalt A fart joke here and there is fine, but the ENTIRE segment was a fart joke. This is only semi-related, but possibly my least favorite Simpsons quote ever is when Bart and Homer (I think) are watching the movie trailer for Soccer Mummy, and offscreen, you hear a ripping sound, then one of the kids in the movie says, "The professor told us not to let him get a boner!"

  • http://twitter.com/joshung Joshua Ungerleider

    "Don't you mean the Shini.."
    "Shush boy, do you want to get sued?"

    I always liked the Simpsons, but "Hungry are the Damned" is where I truly was hooked. I forget the exact line, but when Bart and Lisa are surprised that Kodos and Kang speak English, only to find out that don't, but their language happens to be identical to English was brilliant.

  • Joe Blevins@facebook

    Amazing list and a Herculean effort on the part of the author. I'd like to say a few good words, though, about "Homer's Nightmare." How can you say it's "not funny" when it's the one where Burns wears Homer's brain like a Davy Crockett hat? And he has another great line: "Bad corpse! Stop! Scaring! Smithers!" Oh, and the whole bit about Burns describing his symptoms as he's dying. "Slight headache… loss of appetite…" Funny, funny, and more funny. You must have been out taking a whiz when that stuff happened.

    And, c'mon, "House of Whacks" is funnier than you give it credit for, too. Pierce Brosnan hitting on Marge and then winding up as Patty and Selma's slave at the end? Again, comedy gold.

    • Manfred Yon@facebook

      @Joe Blevins@facebook
      right, right and….

    • Joshua Kurp

      @Joe Blevins@facebook "Homer's Nightmare" seems really tame to me. There are a few good lines in there (“Dad's missing? Get outta here.” “He's been gone for two days.” “Whaddya know. She's right.”), but like I mentioned in the blurb, I think it would have been better if the plot played around with Homer working as a grive digger, rather than go to a Frankenstein spoof that's been done seemingly hundreds of times before, and thousands of times since. As for "House of Whacks": eh.

  • Joe Blevins@facebook

    I only had vague memories of the Pie Man episode, but I was surprised when you called it "the single worst episode of the entire show" because I remembered it as being kind of amiably goofy. Were my memories THAT wrong? I decided to track down the episode and rewatch it in the name of science.

    It turns out to be a 2004 episode entitled "Simple Simpson," and my memories were pretty much right. There are some very strong jokes along the way, a few semi-weak ones, and a plot which teeters on being too contrived even for The Simpsons but somehow doesn't quite fall into the abyss. It didn't irritate me or frustrate me the way a truly awful episode can. Along the way, there are actually plenty of good/great moments. For the sake of (again) science, here's a breakdown of just the first few minutes:

    * A reality dating show has a "gotcha" moment when it reveals that a billionaire's "private island" is really a peninsula. (This is funnier than I'm making it sound because of Hank Azaria's smarmy game show host character and a sobbing contestant who discovers to her horror that she doesn't even need a boat to leave.)
    * Homer insists on watching the commercials because otherwise it's like stealing television.
    * There's a quite-funny bacon commercial with Azaria again as Farmer Billy, sort of a countrified Willy Wonka, who announces a 'golden ticket' promotion. Homer is excited by the prospect of winning a factory tour. ("The only thing that could make bacon more delicious is seeing how it's made!") There's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Ralph Wiggum cameo in the commercial I didn't catch until my second viewing. Well worth finding, though!
    * Homer thinks he's found the golden ticket after opening only four packages. ("At long last!") Apu says if Homer wants to kill himself that he should just buy a handgun. Naturally, there is a bin full of them in the Kwik-E-Mart.
    * Homer has only won the right to judge a pig contest at the fair, which leads to a classic Homer-ism: "I'm no super genius… or are I?" Had he said that in Season 1, it would have been on t-shirts.
    * Sign gag: SPRINGFIELD COUNTY FAIR. WHO STILL GOES TO THESE THINGS? FIND OUT INSIDE!
    * At the fair, Bart pushes the world's biggest Brussels Sprout under the World's Biggest Pile of Mashed Potatoes. This is classic kid behavior, something the show doesn't do enough of anymore.
    * There's an absolutely GREAT takedown of "patriotic" country western singers and their mawkish post-911 ballads. I'd forgotten that was from this episode.
    * The pig judging turns out to be a beauty contest. Cletus gets a nice line: "Of all the days for you to get a zit."
    * Nice random visual gag: an '80s pig with sunglasses and a piano-key tie.

    That's at least ten funny things before the credits have even finished. (The writing and directing credits appear just after the '80s pig.) We're just about four minutes into the show, and that includes the theme song!

    • Manfred Yon@facebook

      @Joe Blevins@facebook
      …right again!

    • Joshua Kurp

      @Joe Blevins@facebook Wow. I'm seriously impressed and appreciate your rewatching the episode in the name of science. Just out of curiosity, and this is something I'm always fascinated with: what would you say your least favorite episode of the show is? There are, of course, many ways to look at this question, because although the one where the Simpsons go to Israel is miserable, I dislike it as much as "Life on the Fast Lane," because that's one of the very, very few meh episodes from seasons 1-9. But taking it outside of the context of those seasons, and evaluating the episode against the show as a whole, it's not that bad and has one AMAZING quote, about brunch: "It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end."

    • http://anthonycomedy.wordpress.com Anthony Scibelli
    • http://anthonycomedy.wordpress.com Anthony Scibelli

      @Joshua Kurp Really great article, and I'm finding a lot of these comments to be fascinating as well. Just to add to this thread, I've always used "Simpson Safari" as my go-to "worst episode ever," and it still stands out to me as being unusually awful.

    • Gravitynaut

      South Park's "Ladder to Heaven" made fun of a country singer's post 9-11 ballad also. 'Where were you, when they ran-out-of-stuff-to-keep-building-the-ladder-to-heaven?"

  • http://anthonycomedy.wordpress.com Anthony Scibelli
  • Kevlar Temple@facebook

    Nice list. My favourite single thing from Simpsons Halloween is santas little helper eating bart in the fog song, "Just one sniff of the fog and you're inside out. Its worse than that flesh eating virus you've read about." The Flanders/Dexter segment was also genius. My worst episode is the General, where Nelson is introduced. Terrible animation, and not one joke in the whole episode from what I can remember. The one where Homer becomes a missionary, or Lisa convinces them they have Leprosy also signalled the beginning of the end for me

  • emma

    Good list. At #25, are we to take it you've not heard of the (1958, I think) film "The Fly", in which exactly what happens to Bart happens to some scientist? It's such an exact parallel that I feel certain that "Fly vs Fly" wasn't picked just for the title pun (which, by the way, is?)

    • Shaun Robinson

      The pun is on Spy vs. Spy, and you're absolutely right, The Fly is what they were parodying. David Cronenberg did an excellent version starring Jeff Goldblum, as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alex.rowntree.9 Alex Rowntree

    In the na'vi was a personal least favourite of mine. It lacked the soul and originality of an other segment… And that includes that other awful "Diving Bell and the ButerBall" segment.

  • johnjacobjingleheimer

    I actually think "House of Whacks" and "Starship Poopers" should be higher on the list.

  • ashford

    A lot of snobs on here, come on, be childish, embrace the childish, otherwise you end up as judgemental comedy snobs, relax!