Well, a little late in getting this out, but here we go. I promised you one a day, and since that ain't happening, we'll do 2 today and 2 tomorrow...with the big finale on Friday.
So making this list has had me doing a great deal of Simpsons introspection. Some of the results surprised me. Some didn't, in a good way. But every episode & moment on this top 5 list is an absolute classic, so let's get this party started.
To both minimize & maximize anticipation of the final 5, here are my favorite episodes that DIDN'T make the list (in no particular order):
Homer vs. the City of New York
Mountain of Madness
Itchy & Scratchy Land
Lemon of Troy
Marge on the Lam
Homer at the Bat
Lisa the Vegetarian
Krusty Gets Kancelled
Last Exit to Springfield
Last Exit to Springfield just might be the greatest Simpsons episode ever put together, and leaving that and Homer v. the City of New York off my final 5 was truly heartbreaking. This was a hard list to put together, almost impossible, but I did. So...coming in at #5:
Episode 3F23, original airdate November 3, 1996
"You Only Move Twice"
"Can't a guy walk down the street in this country without being offered a job?!"
I contemplated reviewing each episode on the list with just quotes from each, but alas, not. I'll just pepper each review with my favorites.
"So long, stinktown!"
Perhaps Albert Brooks's greatest of all his guest performances is that of Hank Scorpio. Homer takes a job with Globex Corporation and the rest is history.
"Ever see a guy say goodbye to a shoe?"
This episode was written by the great John Schwartzwelder, who has probably written all the greatest, if not funniest, Simpsons episodes ever. The Simpsons has had plenty of amazing runs, but this episode contains one, if not the best, between Scorpio & Homer:
"Uh, hi, Homer. What can I do for you?"
"Sir, I need to know where I can get some business hammocks."
"Hammocks? My goodness, what an idea. Why didn't I think of that? Hammocks! Homer, there's four places. There's the Hammock Hut...that's on third."
"There's Hammocks-R-Us, that's on third too. You got Put-Your-Butt-There?"
"That's on third. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot... Matter of fact, they're all in the same complex; it's the hammock complex on third.
"Oh, the hammock district."
Now, I know when you break a joke down, it becomes less funny...but the fact that Homer, needing "business hammocks," knows the whole time that there's a "hammock district" in town...a town he's lived in for less than a week...and that he still feels the need to ask Scorpio about it...is just pure genius. I will never stop laughing at this scene.
There's another great scene that gets cut in the syndicated version of the episode that is just fantastic. It doesn't really translate when I write it out, but here you go anyway: Bart's been placed in the remedial class and he's depressed after realizing what's he's gotten himself into. In the syndicated version, the scene ends with him sitting at his desk all sad. The cut scene involves one of the kids coming up behind him and comforting him...slowly patting him on the back. But the pats quickly become harder and more rapid, until the kid just slaps Bart as hard as he can on the back and gets yelled at by the teacher. An amazing bit that had slipped through the cracks until I got the DVD.
On the commentary track, they talk about how Albert Brooks does a lot of improvising. Who knows which lines were scripted and which were improvised, but there are just too many to pick a favorite...hmmm...like this list in a way.
"Uh....you have any sugar around here?"
[Scorpio fumbles in his pockets, takes out a few handfuls of sugar]
"Here you go...sorry it's not in packages."
The b-story of Bart, Lisa & Marge not having the great time Homer is in this new town may not be the most compelling, but Homer's side of it make up for them in spades. Project Arcturus...the Denver Broncos...Homer getting "Mr. Bont" killed...the weather machine & germ warfare divisions...all amazing. So kudos to "You Only Move Twice"....coming in strong at #5.
GREATEST MOMENTS #5:
So after each of the top 5, I'll also be posting some of my favorite moments from episodes that didn't make the top of the heap. Here's batch number 5, from Itchy & Scratchy Land:
"We're now approaching our final destination, Itchy and Scratchy Land: the amusement park of the future where nothing can possiblye go wrong."
[Everyone looks worried.]
"Er...possiBLY go wrong. Heh...that's the first thing that's ever gone wrong."
"There's no need to murmur, ma'am. Here at Itchy and Scratchy Land, we're just as concerned about violence as you are. That's why we're always careful to show the consequences of deadly mayhem so that we may educate as well as horrify."
"When do you show the consequences? On TV that mouse pulled out that cat's lungs and played them like a bagpipe, but in the next scene the cat was breathing comfortably."
"Just like in real life."
"Hey, look over there!"
[family does so, he takes off quickly]
"Cool...personalized plates! "Barclay"..."Barry"..."Bert"... "Bort"? Aw, come on. "Bort"?
"Mommy, mommy! Buy me a license plate."
"No. Come along, Bort."
"Are you talking to me?"
"No, my son is also named Bort."
[as the bird sancutary is in chaos, Hans Moleman in the telephone booth making a call]
"I'll take the largest seed bell you have."
"No, that's too big."
"Dad, the flash must have scrambled their circuits."
"What are you, the narrator?"
"As Roger Meyers Jr., the owner of the park, I'd like to thank you for stopping the killer robots. And to show my appreciation, here are two free passes.
"But there are five of us."
"Here are two free passes!"
Man, I just gotta say that Itchy & Scratchy Land definitely comes in at a close 6th. Geez, what a classic.
Stay tune for pick #4...coming your way in a few hours. Oh, you know the anticipation is killing you...because I just assume all of you read my blog in real time. M'yes...