In honor of Homer and his clan’s long awaited arrival to the big screen, I decided to offer up a special edition of the ‘My Favorite Things’ series.
The format for this edition is going to be a little different than prior installments. Rather than grace y’all with the details of why a particular episode hit me in the sweet spot or where my life was at during that particular evening when I first caught the episode, I decided to just let the shows speak for themselves.
My criteria in selecting the Top 5 was very simple. These are the five episodes that made me laugh the hardest and more importantly, prompt me to quote from endlessly. And that’s the mark of a great episode. As all guys know, one our favorite past-times is to stand around in a group and toss Simpsons references at each other (some may substitute Family Guy – but it’s all the same ritual). Call it a sophomoric sewing circle.
As a bonus, I’ve included my Top 5 Ralph Wiggum quotes and have sprinkled some classic Homerisms at the end of the piece. As always, please use the Comments below to let us know your favorite moments. It doesn’t need to be a full list – you can simply write “mmmmmmmmmm….. floor pie” and we’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.
One other thing – rather than adorn each entry with a clip from the show (too much damned work hunting all that down) – I decided to grab an assortment of random Simpson inspired clips and artwork and use those instead.
On with the show.
5. ‘Homer the Great’ – Season 7
‘Homer the Great’ is more commonly known as The Stonecutters episode. This is the one where Homer learns of a secret society in Springfield which apparently boasts anyone that is anyone in that beloved hamlet as its members. Hell, this is the group “that made Steve Guttenberg… a star.”
I knew we were in for a great episode when some random non-sequitor involving the Egg Council and their role in a vast governmental conspiracy paid off with the Egg Mascot being a secret member of The Stonecutters. Anyway, among the highlights is the revelation that in The Stonecutters world, Mr. Burns is lower on the totem pole than both Lenny or Carl. “Patience, Monty… Climb the ladder.”
This episode provided one of my favorite quotes – so funny yet bittersweet in the way it reflects my own station in corporate life:
Marge: Homer, a man who called himself “you-know-who” just invited you to a secret “wink-wink” at the “you-know-what”. You certainly are popular now that you’re a Stonecutter.
Homer: Oh, yeah. Beer busts, beer blasts, keggers, stein hoists, AA meetings, beer night. It’s wonderful, Marge. I’ve never felt so accepted in all my life. These people looked deep within my soul and assigned me a number based on the order in which I joined.
4. ‘Mr. Plow’ – Season 2
The Mr. Plow episode is near and dear to my heart. For starters, I can’t get that damned Plow jingle out of my head with it’s inspired lyrical simplicity: “I’m Mr. Plow. That’s my name. That name again is Mr. Plow.”
In fact, Homer’s alter-ego informed my own alias. In the Xbox Live Arena, I go by the handle Mistah Plow. Yup, somewhere out there is the real deal but I’m a close second. The great thing about the name is it gets instant recognition. You join a lobby and instantly somebody starts singing the theme song. I’ve even had a few faux Ralph Wiggum’s inform me that their cat’s breath smells like cat food.
Anyway, everyone remembers this episode as the one where Homer’s Mr. Plow battles Barney’s Plow King for road supremacy. But – much of the funny came earlier – when Homer dragged the kids to an autoshow where they came across the Fourth Reich Motors (with their eerily realistic crash test dummies – “Dis exh-i-but is cloooosed.”) And, Bartman comes face to face with Batman – but not Keaton, Clooney or Kilmer. He gets Adam West who rants about Catwoman and dances the Batusi. When Homer has a daydream that George Bush hires him to plow protestors from the White House steps, Mr. Plow is born. Of course, the following exchange is really what sealed the deal, and boasts one of the first appearances of Homer’s brain as a comic foil.
Insurance Agent: Now this place you were at, Moe’s, is this a business of some sort?
Homer’s Brain: Don’t tell him you were at a bar. But what else is open at night?
Homer: It’s a pornography store. I was buying pornography.
Homer’s Brain: Heh, heh, heh. I would never have thought of that.
3. ‘Mr. Burn’s Heir’ – Season 5
‘Mr. Burn’s Heir’ finds our beloved Monty in full-on crisis mode. He may have vast riches and the adoring affection of Smithers, but he lacks a son – someone who can carry on the family business. Thus, his sites are set on Bart.
As I mentioned above, I chose favorites based on quotability. This next phrase – as asinine as it may sound – has exited my lips well over 200 times in the last 10 years. I can guarantee one thing. Until Homer uttered this immortal phrase, there is no way on Earth these words have ever been stitched together in like fashion. This is why The Simpsons is genius.
Burns: I suggest you leave immediately
Homer: Or what? You’ll release the dogs or the bees? Or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you?
Just in case his bee shooting dogs were to fail, Burns enacted Plan B and cast a group of actors to play The Simpson clan in a bid to prove to Bart that his family did not miss him at all.
Actor Homer: I do not miss Bart at all.
Actress Marge: I am glad he’s gone.
Actress Lisa: As am I.
Actor Homer: [drops sandwich] Boh!
Bart: It’s probably my imagination but something about them didn’t seem quite right.
Mr. Burns: Really? Excuse me for just a moment.
Mr. Burns: [Mr.Burns walks from the control room out into the studio where cameras have been set up along with a fake living room of the Simpsons’ place] People, that was all wrong. Homer Simpson does not say Boh! He says.
Mr. Burns: Doh!
2. ‘Cape Feare’ – Season 5
Forget Frasier. Kelsey Grammer’s greatest comedic performance is in his recurring role as Sideshow Bob – Krusty the Klown’s murderous former apprentice. Bob used to return once a season to menace the Simpson clan for Bart’s role in locking him up (way back in Season 2).
The Cape Feare episode parodies Cape Fear (natch). In this episode, Bob has returned from prison and has begun stalking Bart throughout Springfield. What follows is a very funny parody of Scorcese’s remake. While providing a beat-by-beat retelling of that tale, this episode does find time to take some of this show’s classic departures – as evidenced by Lisa’s pen pal letter.
Lisa: Hey, a letter from my pen-pal, Anya.
Anya: [reading, Anya narrates] Dear Lisa, as I write this, I am very sad. Our President has been overthrown and…
Krull: …replaced, by the benevolent General Krull. All hail Krull, and his glorious regime. Sincerly… little girl.
Of course, the Bob menace lingers and The Simpsons are placed in Witness Relocation. Their identities stripped, they are reborn as The Thompsons (complete with a mid-episode opening title sequence).
FBI Agent: Tell you what, Mr. Simpson, from now on your name is Homer Thompson,at Terror Lake. Let’s just practice a bit, hmmmm? So when I say hello Mr. Thompson, you say hi.
FBI Agent: Hello, Mr. Thompson.
[Homer stares blankly]
FBI Agent: [pause]
FBI Agent: Now, remember, your name is Homer Thompson.
Homer: I gotcha!
FBI Agent: Hello, Mr. Thompson.
[again Homer stares blankly]
FBI Agent: [FBI agents stare at each other]
[hours pass by]
FBI Agent: [frustrated] Argh… Now when I say “Hello Mr. Thompson” and press down on your foot, you smile and nod.
Homer: No problem.
[stepping hard on Homer’s foot]
FBI Agent: Hello, Mr. Thompson.
[Homer stares blankly again for a few seconds]
Homer: [whispering to the FBI Agent next to him] I think he’s talking to you.
1. ‘Homer Goes to College’ – Season 5
Here it is. The single greatest episode in Simpsons history. No surprise that it was written by a comedic mastermind – Conan O’Brien – who was a scribe for both The Simpsons and Saturday Night Live before he grabbed his talk show gig. O’Brien wrote ‘College‘ as well as my bubble show – ‘Marge v. The Monorail’ – and his irreverant touch is all over this thing.
The episode begins with a great lampoon of those 80’s slob comedies – with Homer enjoying a repeat viewing of ‘School of Hard Knockers’. Between all the T & A on display, Homer picks up some serious lessons on college mores – including the various ways to harass the hard nosed Dean and the finer points of a bra bomb.
When Homer first pulls up to the college, he shouts at a guy in glasses – “NEEEEEERRRRRRRDDDDDDDDD.” After Marge chastises Homer, he brings her up to speed on the collegiate caste system.
Homer: Marge. There are two kinds of people in college. The Nerds… and The Jocks, like me. As a Jock, it is my duty to give the Nerds a hard time.
When I mentioned that many of these episodes feature lines quoted ad nauseum by me and my homies, this next exchange carries the granddaddy of ’em all.
[Homer – prank calling Dean Peterson]
Homer: Hello, Dean? You’re a stupidhead.
Dean Peterson: Homer, is that you?
[looks out window, sees Homer on a pay phone across the street]
Homer: [looks up, sees the Dean] AAH!
Here’s to all you Stupid Heads who enjoy this genius show!!! It’s one for the ages. As for the movie. Please let is NOT be – Worst. Movie. Ever!!!
As a bonus, here are My Top 5 Favorite Ralph Wiggum Quotes:
Ralph: [whispering] Lisa, what’s the answer to number seven?
Lisa: [whispering] Sorry, Ralph. That would defeat the purpose of testing as a means of student evaluation.
Ralph: [pauses] My cat’s name is Mittens
Ralph: That’s my swingset, and that’s my sandbox. I’m not allowed to go in the deep end. And this is where I met the leprechaun.
Bart: Right, the leprechaun.
Ralph: He told me to burn things.
Bart: [Racing fruit with Nelson & Ralph] Go orange!
Nelson: Go grapefruit!
Ralph: Go Banana!
Ralph: Me fail English? That’s unpossible
Ralph: I bent my wookie.
And finally, some classic Homer quotes:
Marge: Homer, the plant called. They said if you don’t show up tomorrow don’t bother showing up on Monday.
Homer: Woo-hoo. Four-day weekend.
Homer: Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.
Homer: Yeah, Moe, that team sure did suck last night. They just plain sucked! I’ve seen teams suck before, but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked!
Homer: I gotta go Moe my damn weiner kids are listening.
Homer: Aw, twenty dollars! I wanted a peanut!
Homer’s Brain: Twenty dollars can buy many peanuts!
Homer: Explain how!
Homer’s Brain: Money can be exchanged for goods and services!
Homer: Here’s to alcohol, the cause of—and solution to—all life’s problems.
Homer: I saw this in a movie about a bus that had to SPEED around a city, keeping its SPEED over fifty and if its SPEED dropped, it would explode! I think it was called … “The Bus That Couldnt Slow Down.”
Homer: Son, a woman is like a beer. They smell good, they look good, you’d step over your own mother just to get one! But you can’t stop at one. You wanna drink another woman!
Homer: A woman is a lot like a refrigerator. 6 feet tall, 300 pounds … it makes ice.
Homer: When I first heard that Marge was joining the police academy, I thought it would be fun and zany, like that movie Spaceballs. But instead it was dark and disturbing. Like that movie — Police Academy.