552 episodes spread out over 25 years is an achievement almost beyond description in the entertainment world/business. The Simpsons can claim to be the greatest cartoon and greatest sitcom of all time. I grew up in an era and media market where the show had syndicated reruns airing two to three times a day, five days a week. I can quote more episodes, word for word, than any human being should.
The show’s universally agreed upon “prime” is between 1993 and 1998. Those are the years when every episode of every season was a home run let alone a hit. Starting in 1999 the show, in my opinion became more hit than miss. The rise of South Park and Family Guy, along with stagnation saw the consistency steadily decline during the first half of the 00s.
The Simpsons Movie came out in 2007 and was an adult, comedy, cartoon tour de force. It was everytIhing a fan of the franchise could have wanted or hoped for from a movie that at the time was 20 years in the making. I was told that the seasons that aired after the movie were akin to the show’s prime years from those I knew who never stopped watching the show during its lean years.
The Every Simpsons Ever marathon on FXX was an opportunity to rediscover classics of the golden years and discover new classics of recent years. 552 episodes airing 24 hours a day for 12 consecutive days, what a concept. The marathon was used to promote the upstart FXX network itself, the FXNow streaming content app, the new season of The Simpsons, and The Simpsons-Family Guy crossover episodes that both debut at the end of the month.
I partook in some binge watching during the marathon. The highlights for me where;
- Getting to see my two favorite episodes of all time
- Tree House of Horror V (Season 6, Episode 6)
- You Only Move Twice (Season 8, Episode 2)
- Discovering the show’s second golden age
The seasons that have come after the movie, especially season’s 19 and 20, contained a quantity of quality episodes that stand up to the show’s prime in the mid 1990s. After losing its way from 1999-2005, the show truly found its mojo again. Some of the things the show changed after the movie came out are;
- Improving the animation
- Embellishing the opening and closing credits
- Recalibrating the levels of pop culture vs political parody/satire
- Spotlighting and increasing the relevance of all secondary characters
I am still surprised as I type, just how great the show became again. If you were a fan of the show for any stretch of time, the recent seasons are worth going out of your way to see. Considering FXX will be airing the show five days a week, with a four-hour block on Sundays, it won’t be the toughest task in the world to do.
The Simpsons is at it’s best when it hits the full range of emotions in a given episode. The show in its prime years of the 90s knew what buttons to press with which characters to make their audience laugh, cry, get happy, and/or upset. They truly found that stride again in the five seasons since the movie came out in 2007. Truly a second golden age as there were not just a couple, but rather a couple of dozen episodes that stand up to the best of the best from the mid 90s.
My only complaint is that the marathon aired during the last week of summer rather than in the middle of winter. I’m sure myself and the millions of others who partook in the marathon of marathons would have preferred seeing snow and ice outside as opposed to sunny skies and mid 70s.