13 Pretty Good Simpsons Episodes From the Past Few Seasons

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  • There's been a lot of lamenting lately about the current state of the Simpsons. In an effort to think positive, I offer you thirteen pretty recent episodes that were good if not great. These are the ones that stood out in my mind:
  • 1. Skinner's Sense of Snow (Season 12) - Trapped in school by the snow, Springfield Elementary students rebel against their authority figures, with the wonderfully anarchic humor of the show's early days.
  • 2. Trilogy of Error (12) - Actually a real masterpiece. An extremely well-plotted parody of Run Lola Run. Definitely the greatest episode of the past five seasons.
  • 3. The Blunder Years (13) - Homer is hypnotized and remembers a long-suppressed memory that leads to an age-old mystery. His screaming fit is too funny.
  • 4. Half-Decent Proposal (13) - They bring back Marge's sleazy prom date Artie Ziff (voiced by Jon Lovitz) with hilarious results.
  • 5. Weekend at Burnsie's (13) - Maybe it shouldn't be here, but Homer is just so funny when he's stoned...
  • 6. Special Edna (14) - The Simpsons wreak havoc in Orlando with hilarious results.
  • 7. I'm Spelling As Fast As I Can (14) - Hurt by a really rushed ending, but before that we have a pretty great episode. Includes a great subplot that satires Deadheads.
  • 8. C.E. D'oh (14) - Sure, it does have a pretty stupid moment where it is revealed the SNPP is owned by a canary, but other than that a really solid episode.
  • 9. Three Gays of the Condo (14) - Weird Al guest starring? Good enough for me.
  • 10. Today I Am a Klown (15) - Eh, I just really love Jewish humor. And the subplot about Homer's TV show is awesome too.
  • 11. The Ziff Who Came to Dinner (15) - Another Artie Ziff episode, so instead I'll just tell you a quote: Homer has just been released from a wrongful imprisonment. Homer: Can I apply my time on a future crime? / Guard: You can either steal a car or kick me in the crotch. (Homer kicks the guard in the crotch; he falls to the ground in pain) No one ever picks the car...
  • 12. Simple Simpson (15) - Very fun, campy superhero parody, even if the plot is a tad over-the-top.
  • 13. Bart-Mangled Banner (15) - Plotless and ridiculous political satire, but edgier than the show has been in a while, and how can you dislike a send-up of the Patriot Act called the "Government Knows Best Act"?
  • I have seen very few episodes from the current season (the 16th), so someone else will have to comment on good episodes from that one.

I have to put in a plug for "The Old Man and the Key" from season 13, which has Abraham Simpson getting into trouble with a rival gang of retirees and running off to Branson, Missouri ("Las Vegas if Ned Flanders had invented it").

That's actually one of the four or five episodes I missed in season 13, unfortunately. If I don't catch that one in reruns, I'll have to check it out when season 13 comes out on DVD in, say, 2009.

I love Trilogy of error.

Ah, ToE.. the only post-S9 ep in my top 10. All good choices!

Thanks! Actually, I looked at your top 100 again and agree that Moe Baby Blues and Poppa's Got a Brand New Badge should probably be up here, except I kinda like the unlucky number 13 for the total. If it were 15, those two would definitely make it.

We'll have to agree to disagree, however, on Little Girl in the Big Ten and The President Wore Pearls. I normally like Lisa-centric episodes, but I thought both of those were pretty lame (although I did laugh at the Bob Dylan reference in the latter).

This season I've only seen Treehouse of Horror XV, All's Fair in Oven War, Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass, and There's Something About Marrying. I wasn't impressed with any of them, although TSAM was decent. What's your favorite of this season so far?

Fair enough comments all around there. :)

You didn't like Little Girl In The Big Ten? I'm quite suprised actually.. didn't you even smile at Homer's Tubthumpin' parody? Or the best Lisa characterisation in several years? Ah well.

This season I'm also lacking.. I've seen most so far but they've all been so damn forgettable I can barely tell one from another. That's the problem the show is currently facing IMO, episodes fit the bill for humour technically but are as forgettable as the latest Britney Spears fluff, or an episode of Newlyweds.

Favourite of the season, "Sleeping With The Enemy", a grade B+ episode IMO. Which doesn't say much for S16 as a whole! The post-Scully years have been a mixed bag though:

S13, I was hailing a return to the classics. "Weekend at Burnsie's", "LGITBT", "Jaws Wired Shut".. a new set of classics for a new era of fans.

S14, uh-oh. Almost as bad as S12. Perhaps the return to classic era wasn't to be. "Helter Shelter", "Large Marge" and "Strong Arms Of the Ma" had me seriosuly worried.

S15, yay! We're on the up again. "Tis The Fifteenth Season", "My Mother The Carjacker", "The President Wore Pearls".. perhaps S14 was just a blip.

..or not. S16 so far, a series of mediocre-to-meh (they're both parctically the same thing) episodes which whilst conforming to some good humour, are lacking a certain quality that draws you in wanting more seasons 2-8 had in leaps and bounds.

I dunno how the rest of S16, and indeed S17 turn out. BUt if S17 turns out to be great, a la S13 or 15, I hope they stop there and end on a high rather than the lows that S12 and 14 have already brought us.

I did like the Tubthumpin' parody, but the idea that someone could confuse an 8-year-old (even a very smart one) for a college student hurt the plot for me. Still, what really dragged it down IMHO was the Bart subplot, especially that stupid ending with the cake.

I definitely agree with your comment that recent episodes have been really forgettable - although that may just be because I've seen the older episodes so many times in syndication. But I don't think that the seasons have been all that uneven, when you get right down to it. Every season has its failures, it's few good episodes, and its [many, many] episodes that are just plain bland. You might convince me that the odd seasons have better peaks and the even seasons have lower valleys, but I don't think the difference is all that significant.

S13 gave us some good ones, but it also gave us the tedious Homer the Moe (that not even REM's appearance could save); the abysmal Brawl in the Family, one of my all-time least favorites; another lame clip show; the boring Sweets and Sour Marge, among others. S15 was better, I agree (oh yeah, My Mother the Carjacker, that was damn good), but it also gave us the idiotic I, D'oh-bot and The Fat and the Furriest; the lame Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples, and Teens, and Gays; Smart and Smarter (what a dumb ending), Co-Dependent's Day, etc. S14 gave us some stinkers (oh yeah, Large Marge... including a really half-assed musical number and a twist in the end that is telegraphed before the episode even begins), but we also got Special Edna, I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can, C.E. D'oh, Three Gays of the Condo, Moe Baby Blues, etc. Some S14 episodes were uneven but had some really inspired moments (the tape Homer makes for Lisa in The Dad Who Knew Too Little; the first act of Dude, Where's My Ranch?).

Well, anyway. I think you could convince me that S15 was better than any season after S10, but I think S13 and S14 were of pretty equal quality, and S16 about the same from what I've seen.

I agree the Bart subplot was a weak link in LGITBT, but for me, when discussing the episode, I practically ignore it.. maybe I'm subconsciously looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses.

You brought some good points to ym attention in that writing there - I had forgotten Brawl In The Family and Special Edna entirely there while making my points, but I stan dby most of what I said, mainly for the reason that a lot of the episodes you mentioned I actually disagree with your opinions on.

For example, whilst I didn't like Homer the Moe (bar REM) much, I actually did like Sweets and Sour Marge (I like Marge episodes more than most) and .. *shock* .. Gump Roast (I have a soft spot for clip shows, and whilst parts were weak, the song, some of teh clips and the opening with the Forrest Gump parody make up for that).

I also enjoyed S15's I D'oh-bot (grade B) and Marge Vs. Singles, Seniors, etc. (I gave it the highest rating out of everyone at www.nohomers.net, Simpsons fan forum, when it first aired, an A-); admittedly The Fat and The Furriest was a major clunker though.

S14 did indeed have more good episodes than I first remembered, though I'd still say S13 had more; but you're right, I enjoy all of those you mentioned, especially Moe Baby Blues, and except CED'oh, which I thought was one of the worst of S14. I thought Dude Where's My Ranch was OK overall (C+) but didn't like The Dad Who Knew Too Little much (C-), *especially* that video card for some reason.. must have hit me the wrong way on first viewing.

Looks like I won't convince you after all, but here's a hierarchy of how I think post-S12 works out, roughly:

S15 best > S13 best > S14 best > S15 middling > S14 middling > S13 middling > S16 so far > S13 worst > S15 worst > S14 worst

I didn't like I, D'oh-bot or Fat and the Furriest because both are just Homer imitating actions on stupider TV shows (Battlebots and Jackass, respectively). Oh, and I also really hated the cat dying subplot of I, D'oh-bot. As for Marge vs. Singles, Seniors..., I just remembered the ending which I did think was pretty clever. Okay, it wasn't among the worst of S15.

I can stand clip shows, but I like them better when it's the family realistically reflecting on their lives. A roast of Homer is just too easy. And Kang and Kodos coming down was pretty ridiculous. I do, however, love The Simpsons' 138th Episode Spectacular.

Really? The video sequence brought down TDWKTL for you? I found that pretty amusing. "Maggie's a baby, she's not my best friend!" / "Wow, she's pretty upset. You're her best friend, you talk to her" or maybe "My favorite food isn't McNuggets. I'm a vegetarian." / "Oh, then you probably won't like the other gift I got you." (cut to a turkey in wrapping paper)

What didn't you like about C.E. D'oh? I remember laughing a lot at that one, especially the Moroccan items that are made out of drugs, or Homer hearing that a tip of success is to live every day as if it's your last, and then crying about how he's too young to die. Burns in the end is pretty funny too.

Your ranking looks pretty good, but Brawl in the Family is bad enough to drag S13 worst down for me, below S15 and possibly below S14 (that episode alone is worse than anything in S14, but S14 has a greater quantity of bad episodes than S13). I think that S15 is probably best in all categories, with S13 and S14 pretty comparable.

Out of this list, I really love Simple Simpson, Weekend at Burnsies, and Trilogy of Error. Nice choices.

Thanks!