We’ve been watching a lot of episodes of “The Simpsons” in my household lately. Not new episodes, but classics from old DVD collections.
My son has discovered the show and is currently obsessively watching the fifth season which, I’m startled to realize, aired several years before he was born.
I haven’t watched “The Simpsons” in years. As I’ve noted previously in this blog, I think the show ran out of steam somewhere around the 10th season. The few episodes I’ve seen in the past decade seemed cheap and obvious.
The fifth season, currently in “play all” mode at my house, was a whole different story.
Consider this: Bill Clinton was president and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was still just an awful movie and had not yet become a classic television series.
But “The Simpsons” was at a creative peak.
The episodes of that fifth season included:
“Homer’s Barbershop Quartet,” in which Homer, Apu and Skinner form a chart-topping pop music group and even beat Dexys Midnight Runners for the Grammy award. Don’t worry, Homer assures, we haven’t hear the last of them.
“Cape Feare,” in which Sideshow Bob gets out of jail and vows revenge on Bart. It all ends up at Terror Lake, where Bob finally catches up with his tormentor … after stepping on dozens of rakes.
“Homer Goes to College,” in which Homer thinks the mean old dean from “Animal House” is typical of college administrators.
“Bart’s Inner Child,” in which a self-help guru advises the town of Springfield to “be like the boy,” “Boy Scoutz N the Hood,” in which Homer ruins a perfectly good father-and-son rafting trip and Ernest Borgnine proves himself more than a match for a bear, “Bart Gets an Elephant,” which introduces Stampy; and so many more.
“The Simpsons” is quickly becoming one of the longest-lived shows on TV, despite threats that come up every few years when the wonderful voice cast asks for a raise and Fox says the show isn’t making enough money to be able to afford it.
The show’s 500th episode is set to air Feb. 19 and I might tune in. I want to enjoy the show like I did when acid-washed jeans were all the rage. I’m afraid both are cultural icons whose time has passed, though.