This may be a bit of a controversial opinion but I believe The Simpsons decline might actually have begun in Season 6!
While still being another solid season for the show, some of the things that contributed to The Simpsons eventual downfall do pop up in this season, but it’s mostly subtle. By that I mean if you’re just watching them on TV or watching them out of order or watching them in a non-analytical way then you’ll probably miss the issues I’m about to point out.
This season has 25 episodes altogether which is the highest amount since Season 3 and that’s my main problem. The other 4 seasons also had about 2 dozen episodes per season, but they were well written and very entertaining unlike Season 6 which was mostly decent, occasionally very entertaining and sometimes poor writing making it feel kind of weak compared to earlier seasons. That may have something to do with most of the writing staff having never done a season of this show before and also coming up with ideas for 25 episodes is no easy task.
In the end they sort of half succeeded so to give you an idea of my big picture I’m going to give you some examples of the type of episodes you will find in Season 6:
- Good Premise but Poor Execution
- Entertaining Episodes but nothing deeper than that.
- Thoughtful Episodes but not very entertaining
- The Actual Good Ones
The only one I wouldn’t put in any of these categories is The Clipshow episode which is just another Simpsons Clipshow. Marge has the kids talk about all their romances throughout the show and again if you wanted a reminder go back and watch the previous episodes. What makes this even more annoying is that Bart enters a romance four episodes later which just makes this episode even more pointless.
Good Premise but Poor Execution
A good example is the first episode of the season. The Simpsons get a swimming pool and Bart breaks his leg shortly after so he won’t be able to use the pool for the rest of the summer. Great start but a very weak conclusion. The last 10 minutes of the episode becomes a Rear Window parody where Bart watches from his window and discovers that Flanders has murdered his wife. But don’t worry it was all a misunderstanding! (Laugh it up you fools!)
The second episode, Lisa’s Rival, is another good example. Lisa meets someone who is better than her at everything she loves and of course she is extremely jealous. Perfect! But this episode moves very slowly and the writers don’t take full advantage of this excellent idea. Allison Taylor is just simply an uninteresting character and Winona Ryder probably gave the most forgettable voice performance on this show thus far. The best parts of this episode is whenever they focus on anyone other than Lisa and Allison.
Entertaining Episodes but nothing deeper than that
Every season of The Simpsons has at least 3 or 4 of these except in this season I felt there were more than usual. The first episode that comes to mind is Homie the Clown. If you didn’t know, long before the show was even created, Homer worked as a clown and Krusty was his alias, but that idea, of course, was eventually scrapped. In this episode Homer goes to Clown College and becomes another Krusty, kind of like in the first episode of the show where he became Santa. This episode is entertaining and I enjoyed it alot, like Bart’s reaction to Homer deciding to go to Clown College or Homer trying to talk his way out of being captured by Fat Tony and his goons.
Bart’s Comet is another great example – it’s a fun time but I wouldn’t say it’s amazing or anything. All the scenes with Skinner are great and the buildup to the comets arrival is very entertaining too. It’s just a fun episode – aren’t I allowed to have fun? One final example would be Two Dozen and One Greyhounds or the 101 Dalmatians episode. I adore this one – it’s very funny and lighthearted. If you ever wanted to get a child into this show, this would be the first episode I would show them because it’s very much up their alley. The highlight of this episode is Mr Burns’s musical number about killing The Simpsons puppies and turning them into a tuxedo and this is the only episode to feature sexual intercourse on the show. (I swear this is for kids!)
Thoughtful Episodes but not very entertaining
Round Springfield came to mind when coming up with this category. This episode has a pretty good start but my interest level dies when Lisa is reunited with Bleeding Gums Murphy a very minor, forgettable character from the first season. I say its thoughtful because this is the first episode to kill off a recurring character and Lisa wants to honor the memory of this character that no one remembers. This episode isn’t bad but I think this role would’ve been better suited for another character like Krusty or Kent Brockman instead of this character that no one remembers, either before this episode aired or after this episode aired!
Homer Badman would be my other example. Fun opening then it’s quite serious and the humour becomes quite distracting when the episode focuses on how the media exploit s drama as a way to create more drama while completely ignoring the facts I like the story that it’s trying to tell but it isn’t overly funny like the others. This episode tries to have it both ways and it really doesn’t work.
The Actual Good Ones
Like I said at the start this is still a solid season with some minor issues that will spawn into something bigger as we move forward. One example is something I don’t hear many people talk about and that’s The PTA Disbands where Mrs Krabappel gets fed up with how cheap Skinner is and Bart uses this to his advantage to cause a teachers strike. It just gets better from there with Bart becoming more undisciplined and Lisa losing her mentality because she is not being challenged. This episode is insightful and it’s very entertaining while also being one of my personal favourites.
My favourite episode of this season is Lisa on Ice. It is everything you want from an episode of The Simpsons. Great premise, funny as hell, insightful, pulling your heart strings and a great half hour of television. Treehouse of Horror 5 is really good too but at this point that’s not really a surprise anymore. Another episode I really liked is the Emmy winning episode Lisa’s Wedding. This is the first “what if” or “future” episode and it’s about an older Lisa in college meeting her dream Hugh Grant type guy. They have a cute romance but that is ruined when Hugh meets Lisa’s family and he is completely disgusted by them. Mandy Patinkin gives out a good performance as Hugh, one of the better Simpsons Guest roles. It’s very much like Lisa’s Substitute where it’s a good character examination on Lisa’s feelings for her family and even though she may be embarrassed by them or want to be as far away from them as humanly possible, deep down she still loves them for what they are and is happy to be a part of their lives. I think that’s quite beautiful and for once I agree with the Emmys – isn’t that a surprise.
Let’s close this season with the finale episode Who Shot Mr Burns (Part One) which as far as I’m aware it’s still the only two parter in the series. We see Mr Burns at his worst as he ruins the lives of many of our favourite characters including Smithers who finally says no to his evil boss’s desires. Most of this episode is set-up but it still works out very well as you can understand why everyone wants this evil man to die. By the end of the episode Mr Burns is shot and now you have to wait three months, until the next season, to find out who did it!
I can’t really imagine what it must’ve been like back in the 90’s when this episode first aired but I can imagine what it would be like if it came out today, with a 100 theorist channels analyzing every single frame of it, some jerk would call the writers out for making an obvious publicity stunt and once the answer is revealed someone will rant about how their answer is wrong and that’s the writers fault. I’m not going to give away who did it in case anyone hasn’t seen it, but this episode is another great episode that perfectly sets up the mystery of the episode and nicely sets up the shooter with some subtle foreshadowing. It’s really entertaining. You will not be bored watching it.
Season 6 is still really good but it has some issues that I don’t think are a big of deal yet and when they do I’ll be sure to address them. If you agree or disagree with my opinions let me know at the bottom of this blog. That’s it for another month and I’ll be back for Season 7.
I’m The Blog Complainer, Signing Out.
Season Rating: 8/10
25: Another Simpsons Clip show
24: Lisa’s Rival
23: Fear of Flying
22: Bart of Darkness
21: Bart vs Australia
20: Itchy & Scratchy Land
19: Bart’s Girlfriend
18: Round Springfield
17: Homie the Clown
16: The Springfield Connection
15: Bart’s Comet
14: Homer Badman
13: Grampa Vs. Sexual Inadequacy
12: Two Dozen and One Greyhounds
11: Sideshow Bob Roberts
10: And Maggie Makes Three
9: Homer vs Patty and Selma
8: Homer the Great
7: A Star is Burns
6: Who Shot Mr Burns (Part One)
5: The Lemon of Tory
4: Lisa’s Wedding
3: The PTA Disbands
2: Treehouse of Horror V
1: Lisa on Ice