It’s been awhile since I’ve reviewed a season of this show, not because I got tired of doing so, in fact quite the opposite. I’ve just been busy on new exciting adventures and exploring new avenues. It’s only now that its almost Christmas time that I’m ready to settle back into something more familiar and comfortable.
If you don’t recall from any of the previous eight reviews I’ve done, I was once a huge fan of The Simpsons. How that started was because of watching the 2007 movie at the cinema and buying this particular season in a DVD box set. They were some great times, but sadly those times didn’t last. It wasn’t easy hearing that the season that started it all for me, was also the same one that many fans have declared the start of the shows decline. Revisiting Season 9 I can completely understand where they’re coming from, but I wouldn’t write it off as the first terrible season of The Simpsons. Sorry Season 1, that title still belongs to you.
The big reason for the hate against Season 9 is one episode, The Principal and the Pauper. Out of nowhere we find out that the beloved character Principal Skinner stole his identity from a Vietnam Vet played by Martin Sheen, and Skinner is really nothing more than a no good street punk named Armin Tamzarian. I have ranked this as the worst episode of this season, but still I wouldn’t call it one of the worst of the entire show nor would I say it’s a bad episode. There are some good jokes, mainly from Homer, the dramatic stuff isn’t too bad and there are some good performances from Harry Shearer, Martin Sheen and Tress MacNeille who plays Mumma Skinner. The problem with this episode is that the execution of the reveal is utterly atrocious. This is due to the writers refusing to tease this big reveal throughout multiple episodes because then it wouldn’t be a status quo show anymore. That’s it, I don’t really have an issue with the Tamzarian reveal, other than for the god awful ending where Sergeant Skinner is banished from the town and the residents of Springfield are told to just forget this whole episode ever happened because it may possibly get some severe backlash and you know things are just better if they forever remain the way they always are.
The Principal and the Pauper is nothing but a huge misfire, while the other 24 episodes in this season are mainly above average with certain exceptions of course. I would consider this a pretty good outlook for a show that has been going for nine years and is consistently releasing 25 standalone episodes a year, even though compared to the masterful earlier seasons there is a noticeable drop in quality, but not so bad that it’s enough to drive you away from the show. Unless for you it only takes one episode!
Which episodes of season 9 should you be watching?
- There’s Lisa’s Sax if you desire the warm and fuzzy emotions. Homer is there looking out for his gifted baby girl and also Apu is there because, why not?
- Das Bus is not just a fun Lord of the Flies parody, but also shows the school kids in a new setting and Homer starting up an internet business.
- Realty Bites only because of Phil Hartman’s superb comedic timing as Lionel Hutz in his final appearance as the character before the actor’s tragic death. Its not a particularly great episode, other than for the humour thanks to stuff surrounding the Flanders’, the introduction of recurring character Gil and of course this episode has Lionel Hutz as a real estate agent!
- All Singing, All Dancing is a lazy clip show of all your favourite Simpsons’ musical numbers but it’s still a guilty pleasure of mine, especially since The Simpsons are singing in between the clips and it’s just so silly that I can’t help but smile.
- Simpsons Tide sees Homer lose his job and become a navy cadet who is then promoted to captain because the old captain finds him funny, but that was after Homer fired him out of the torpedo slot into another sub. It’s just a really silly episode of Homer being a dumb lovable oaf.
But if you want the really good episodes that prove The Simpsons is still great, look no further than these episodes that jab at our culture.
I don’t think I have ever reviewed a season of The Simpsons where I love both the premiere and the finale. The City of New York vs Homer Simpson is a personal favourite in my household. The Episode nicely shows the two famous sides of New York. Through Homer you see the absolute worst and gritty side, while with Marge, Bart and Lisa you see the more glamourous and magical side of this famous city. The highlight of the season is when Homer drives through the busy streets of New York with a car boot still attached. Natural Born Kissers I have only recently found a new appreciation for with Marge and Homer resuscitating their sex life by doing stupidly risky things, which made for some fun and thrilling scenarios.
Two more great commentary episodes include Trash of the Titans & The Joy of Sect. Trash of the Titans, the 200th episode, I only really like it because of what it’s satirising. After the brand new corporate holiday, Love Day, Homer is now fed up with the garbage men and decides to run against the sanitation commissioner, played wonderfully by Steve Martin. I’m not the biggest fan, only because the episode wants you to root for Homer, but I don’t because he’s so clearly in the wrong here. I am glad the writers are aware of this, but still, I’m not watching this one for the story. I like Trash of the Titans, and its definitely not just because it had a catchy musical number in it. The Joy of Sect I’m a bit backwards/forwards on if it’s my favourite of this season. Homer joins the culture of the Movementarians, a cult obsessed with brainwashing and peer pressuring people into submitting to their beliefs and losing all sense of free will in favour of bowing down to The Leader. I love the concept, the subject matter surrounding it and how The Simpsons give a more cartoony over the top take on it.
I’m just about done talking about Season 9, its mainly good stuff. I did leave out some of the average episodes, to keep this more positive in the hope of maybe getting some of you to check out or revisit the ones that I just mentioned, or even encourage some to try out the ones that I failed to highlight. Don’t expect frequent season reviews for The Simpsons again, as I more did this as a special treat for long time readers, but who knows it might be sooner than you think, as I am kind of curious to remind myself of what happened in Season 10.
Season Rating: 7/10
25. The Principal and the Pauper
24. The Last Temptation of Krust
23. All Singing, All Dancing
22. Lost Our Lisa
21. Bart the Carny
20. King of the Hill
19. Lisa’s Sax
18. The Trouble with Trillions
17. Bart Star
16. Treehouse of Horror VIII
15. Realty Bites
14. This Little Wiggy
13. Simpsons Tide
12. Das Bus
11. Girly Edition
10. Miracles on Evergreen Terrace
9. Dumbbell Indemnity
8. The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson
7. Trash of the Titans
6. Natural Born Kissers
5. Lisa the Skeptic
4. The Two Nahasapeemapetilions
3. Lisa the Simpson
2. The Cartridge Family
1. The Joy of Sect