Er, you might be thinking? Firstly, why is he writing about The Simpsons, surely that’s a nineties thing at most? Secondly, has he been trying to draw his own pictures again?
Well, as it’s own show you would be kind of right about the 90s thing. The first episode actually aired December 17th 1989, so it only just squeezes in as a show of the eighties. However, as you are probably aware, the Simpson family first appeared as a series of short sketches on The Tracey Ullman show in 1987.
Strangely, Tracey Ullman was a British comedienne (remember her from the BBC’s Three of a Kind, with Lenny Henry and David Copperfield, and she even released a few records too) but she went to America and got her own show. When her US show was shown on the Beeb they cut out The Simpsons bits for some reason, so Sky went on to make the family it’s own when they got their own show.
But what about the picture? Well, this is what The Simpsons actually looked like on Tracey’s show. The story goes that creator Matt Groening was asked to provide characters for the shorts, so rather than use his existing Life In Hell characters he created a family based on his own family members, at least in name. His initial drawings were kind of rushed, and he expected the characters to be cleaned up a bit for the show by the animation team, but they used them verbatim (which is to be expected really).
The characters have of course become a little more rounded off now, and have actually gone through a series of tweaks and changes until we arrive with them as they are today.
The show is still running now, and this year is seeing lots of 20th anniversary celebrations being staged. More than 450 episodes have been broadcast and shows no sign of stopping, even if to my mind the cartoon has somehow lost a little of it’s original edge. I still enjoy it (though I’m a much bigger fan of Futurama personally) but since Sky moved new episodes to Thursday nights I’ve somehow lost track of the newer episodes. It does look really nice in HD though!
Anyway, to round off, and to add my input to the 20th birthday events, here is my run down of favourite episodes and moments from the annals of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie.
Deep Space Homer – The one where Homer goes into space, blocks the spacecrafts instruments with crisps (“Look out! They’re ruffled!“) but saves the day by locking the door with an inanimate carbon rod – and loses the glory to said rod on his return to Earth.
You Only Move Twice – The Simpsons leave Springfield when Homer gets a job at a new power plant – except this power plant is run by megalomaniac Hank Scorpio – a true Bond style villain, except he never really seems all that villainous! I must invest in a Business Hammock.
Any Treehouse of Horror – Some are better than others, but there always worth it if only to see Kang and Kodos, the space mutants. So many good stories here, but the one in particular that I like is…
Homer3 – From Treehouse of Horror VI (was it really that long ago). Homer finds a portal into the theoretical third dimension, and goes all CGI. Great stuff, although is there really such a thing as an Erotic Cake Shop?
Boy Scoutz ‘n the Hood – Has to be included if only for the “honey roasted peanuts” sequence. Remember, $20 can buy many peanuts!
Those are the ones that always come straight to mind when I think about classic Simpsons episodes. What’s your favourite episode or moment from the Simpsons? I’d love to know, so please post a comment below!