The fifth season of The Simpsons is another great year for television. Some things changed between the 4th and 5th season. After the completion of Season 4 pretty much all of the original writing team jumped ship and the last episode (Cape Feare) that they all made together was pushed over into this season. The show-runners of Season 4 left to make The Critic; Conan O’Brien left halfway during production to be on his own talk show and then later returned for a cameo in one of the episodes. So this season got new show-runners and an entirely new writing staff and did this sudden change affect the show in some drastic way?
Well I don’t think so because this is easily my favourite season so far in this series. This season had some of the best writing and some of the funniest jokes in the series thus far. This season proves we’ve gone past the days of Season 1’s terribly average episodes and the 2nd and 3rd seasons mixed bag of great to somewhat terrible episodes. From Season 4 and including this season I think we’re finally in The Simpsons Hay Days.
I think for this one I won’t do what I did last time but just mostly spend time on a couple of episodes I put at the bottom of my list and then focus more on the best episodes of this season. Just keep in mind the list you’re about to see was the hardest list I had to put together because over half of these were just that good, so I’m sorry if I don’t go into detail about one of your favourites.
The Bottom 5: Most of these episodes I feel like I could shuffle around a bit and still feel unsatisfied except for Number 22 Homer’s Barbershop Quartet where I feel very comfort able with where it is. I don’t hate this episode or any of these episodes – they’re just the weaker ones out of the bunch and especially this one which I found okay. Homer having his own Beatles like group for like a month sounds interesting but I think this episode would’ve been better if this was the length of 2 episodes to really get into this idea. Instead we get the CliffsNotes version. It’s an average episode for me with the only saving grace being Homer’s reaction to meeting George Harrison.
Lady Bouvier’s Lover is an episode I liked when I was younger but not anymore. Grampa falls in love with Granny Marge and the romance is kind of cute but also falls flat. Marge’s Mum is a very boring character and putting her next to the far more entertaining Grampa Simpson just doesn’t work for me. My favourite parts were Homer thinking about his kids becoming pink skinned with five fingers and Grampa being attacked by lawyers for imitating famous comedians. Burns’ Heir just never kicked off the ground for me. I liked a couple of scenes like the audition for being Mr Burns’ heir, the brain washer guy spending two weeks convincing Hans Moleman that he’s Bart and then Homer kissing him on the head and Mr Burns hiring a bunch of actors to play Bart’s family.
Another one of the later episodes The Boy Who Knew Too Much had a great opening and then got really boring after that. Bart can do the right thing but get in trouble from Skinner or he can say nothing and let the horrible kid go to jail. What a dilemma! Homer is the saving grace with his subplot of deliberately holding up the jury just so he can stay in a free hotel with free room service. Lastly we have the season finale Secrets of a Successful Marriage. I don’t know what’s with me and premieres and finales but they just never seem to hit. Homer messes up everything when he runs a class and ruins his relationship with Marge. I loved the opening but the middle with Homer trying to win Marge back dragged on for too long because we’ve seen this before in other episodes and we know they’ll always get back together.
Now that is out of the way here are my brief thoughts on 17 to 6:
- Bart’s Inner Child
First half was good but when Bart became the main focus the episode started to stumble a bit.
- $pringfield (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalised Gambling)
A pretty entertaining episode with two pointless celebrity cameos.
- Bart Gets an Elephant
An entertaining episode but there are 15 episodes that have something more than this one has.
This is the best Mr Burns episode of this season. It’s too bad Mr Burns and Smithers don’t have their own sitcom.
- Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood
The episode title sucks but the episode definitely doesn’t suck.
- Marge on the Lam
This Marge episode is more of a Homer episode but that’s okay and I think this episode did a better job with Homer and Marge’s relationship than the season finale did. Also Lionel Hutz and Chief Wiggum are excellent scene stealers.
- Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadsssss Song
This is a great Skinner episode and this episode reminds me of why Seymour is one of my favourite characters on the show. Also Chalmers returns for this episode which is another plus and Skinner’s mum is back after four years of having no spoken lines.
- Homer Goes to College
This episode was near the top of the list, like many of these lower episodes, prior to me shuffling them around. It is still a great episode and if I had to rank every episode I’ve watched over the first five seasons this would definitely be in the top 15.
- Lisa vs Malibu Stacy
Another one of my favourites. It’s really good – go and watch all of these yourself.
- The Last Temptation of Homer
Here’s a way to prove Homer’s love to Marge, Homer meets his hot sexy clone. (Only in fiction.) This would be higher if not for the subplot with Bart that kind of went nowhere and the ending where Michelle Pfeiffer’s character is replaced with Marge. I’ve always wondered did Michelle Pfeiffer just go home and Homer just called Marge up? But the thing is with Michelle Pfeiffer’s last line it makes me think that Homer only imagined that he was with Marge at the end. I’m probably wrong but here’s a theory to think about anyway.
- Treehouse of Horror IV
Too many good episodes to choose from and for me this one felt like just another Treehouse of Horror episode to make me rank it any higher. I still love it though.
- Homer the Vigilante
Another great episode and it’s got the best ending to an episode in this entire season.
The Top 5: Number 5 is Homer and Apu and it’s excellent from beginning to end. There are tons of memorable moments like when Homer and Apu travel to India and they meet the CEO of The Kwik-E-Mart and Homer completely blows their chance to talk to him or when Marge and Apu go to this Monster Mart or Homer constantly getting sick over the expired food and I feel like I could go on. James Woods has the best Celebrity Cameo as he plays Apu’s replacement and I can’t forget about ‘Who Needs The Kwik-E-Mart’ which I can still hear in my head as I type up this review.
Another Homer episode but this time he’s in SPACE. I love the concept of NASA sending some ordinary guy into space just to increase their ratings. I love the foreshadowing with the rod that ends up stealing all of Homer’s glory, twice. I enjoyed the competition between Homer and Barney and the reporters asking the NASA people if they’re serious and Kent Brockman thinking the spaceship has been taken over by Giant Ants. I don’t think I need to say anymore on this one so here is Number 3.
The Cape Fear parody episode and it’s awesome! There are tons of funny references to the movie like Sideshow Bob passing out from writing his shopping list with blood, Homer being more obnoxious at the theatre than Bob and driving through a cactus patch with Bob underneath. This episode also has one of my all-time favourite gags where the Witness Protection people try to get Homer to go with his new identity. Even in my youth I’ve always thought of this episode as not just my favourite Sideshow Bob episode but one of my favourites in the series.
Bart Gets Famous is my personal favourite. It’s got one of the best openings in the series where the children go on a field trip to the most boring place the writers could’ve thought of – The Box Factory. Homer’s reaction to the thought that his son has been turned into a box I would say had me on the floor if I hadn’t already seen this episode a million times when I was younger. I loved seeing Bart’s rise to fame being over a dumb catchphrase and when he tries to say something intelligent, like when he’s on Conan O’Brien’s show, he doesn’t care and only wants to hear “the line”. Which is a good way of showing how some people over the years have become big overnight and then forgotten once their peak has died down. Lastly I love how self-aware this show is sometimes and this episode gets 10/10, it’s that good.
I thought long and hard about this and I feel very confident with my answer (Breathes) Homer Loves Flanders is the best episode of Season 5 full stop. The concept is just perfect. What if Homer finally realises that Flanders is actually a really nice guy and they become friends and then from here it gets even better. What if Homer become so friendly to Flanders that good hearted Ned actually lost his cool and wanted Homer to get out of his life. It’s also really funny and it plays out perfectly too. Homer basically becomes a more obnoxious version of Flanders and Flanders becomes a more spiteful version of Homer. Again, this show is very self-aware and the episode ends with everything being back the way it was, like nothing ever happened. Perfect Episode!
Man, I don’t think I’ve been this positive before. It feels kind of weird. I feel the shivers tingling down my spine. Anyway, if you can, I’d appreciate if you could tell me what are your favourite episodes of Simpsons Season 5 in the comments. I’m genuinely curious to hear what you all think because I know I’ve most likely put someone’s favourite episode at the bottom of my list.
Anyway see you all here again next month for another season of America’s Animated Juggernaut.
(Without looking back) Season Rating: 10/10.