The Simpsons Folder
The Simpsons turns 10 today
January 14, 2000, By Bill Brioux, Toronto Sun
Ay, caramba! Don’t have a cow man, but it was exactly 10 years ago today that The Simpsons premiered as a regular series. Since then, the animated series has won a Peabody Award, 15 Emmy Awards and several international honours.
All I know is this: In my opinion, this is the funniest television series ever.
Any other show would have been ruined by now. The kids would be too old. The stars would be too rich. And the producers would have moved on to other projects.
Yet The Simpsons just keeps doing what no other show has done so consistently well: Flat-out funny comedy with a real satiric edge.
“Basically, my goal is not to wreck the show,” says executive producer Mike Scully, who spoke to the press at a special luncheon where meat loaf — one of Marge’s delicacies — was served.
“The show has a long standard of quality and we always want to make sure we keep it up to the previous year.”
At the lunch, which also featured life-sized Simpsons characters walking around and shaking hands, was Nancy Cartwright. She’s the voice of Bart Simpson as well as other characters such as Nelson The Bully and Ralph Wiggums.
Cartwright says that when she started doing the show, some people had a hard time believing that a woman did Bart’s voice. She remembers some guy in a parking lot who spotted her “5 SIMPS” licence plate. When he asked her if she was a fan, she shot back as Bart, “I’m Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?”
The unbelieving fan replied, “No you’re not. I know the guy who does it.”
Back in 1990, there was a lot of resistance to the series, especially from parents. Some still shun the series, convinced that their children will grow up like bratty Bart Simpson.
D-oh! Letting your kids watch pap such as Boy Meets World is far more damaging. The Simpsons is a smart show and even if your kids don’t get all the references now, it will resonate later, just as it did for me with shows such as Rocky & Bullwinkle.
How can I tell my seven-year-old son to stop laughing at Barney every time he emits a loud drunken belch when there are tears in my eyes from laughing, too? As Homer says, it’s funny ’cause it’s true.
So I’ll be there today when the cast and producers are honoured with the 2,151st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a first for an animated series.
The ceremony is part of a year-long Simpsons Global Fanfest, with contests and plenty of other interactive goodies posted throughout the year on the show’s official Web site, www.thesimpsons.com.
It all culminates this October, when 1,500 fans from around the world will be flown to Hollywood for a Simpsons weekend celebration.
It’s a fitting salute for not only the longest-running animated series ever, but the longest-running series currently in prime time.
“A lot of people do tell us that the show could go on forever,” Scully says. “It’s weird because you don’t see the characters age on screen, so it does seem like you could do that. We are very conscious of running out of stories to tell.”
Some of the stories yet to air involve all the Simpsons house-sitting for Mr. Burns. For some reason, Britney Spears guest stars. (“Try and control yourselves,” Scully told the mostly middle-aged critics.)
Another show will have Bart and Homer buying a race horse.
The season finale will be a musical parody of the MuchMoreMusic series Behind The Music called Behind The Laughter.
“Basically, we made up a phony history of The Simpsons as an Ozzie and Harriet-like TV series,” Scully says. “It will take you behind the scenes through all of their success and the back-stage battles and Homer’s addiction to painkillers.”
Guest voices coming up include Betty White, Canadian rockers Bachman Turner Overdrive, Willie Nelson and Stephen King.
Tonight, I plan to celebrate The Simpsons’ 10th anniversary in a way that would make Homer happy: With plenty of donuts. Heavy on the sprinkles.
Groening’s top 10 episodes
Simpsons creator Matt Groening’s picks for the top 10 episodes in the series’ 10-year history, as told to Entertainment Weekly:
10. There’s No Disgrace Like Home (1990): The Simpsons give each other shock therapy at Dr. Marvin Monroe’s therapy centre.
9. Krusty Gets Busted (1990): The clown suffers a heart attack after leering at frying bacon.
8. Natural Born Kissers (1998): Homer and Marge get the hots for each other.
7. Treehouse of Horror VII (1996): Drooling, one-eyed aliens Kang and Kodos turn into Bob Dole and Bill Clinton.
6. Homer’s Enemy (1997):The funeral of Frank Grimes, Homer’s stressed-out co-worker.
5. In Marge We Trust (1997):Homer goes nuts when he finds his double on a Japanese Mr. Sparkle soap box.
4. A Streetcar Named Marge (1992): The first major musical episode features Maggie plotting a Great Escape-style caper from the Ayn Rand School for Tots.
3. Much Apu About Nothing (1996): A satire on the anti-immigrant frenzy, featuring Apu the Kwik-E-Mart clerk and Police Chief Wiggum.
2. Life On The Fast Lane (1990): Marge has a near-affair with Jacques, her French bowling instructor.
1. Bart The Daredevil (1990): Homer accidentally tries to skateboard across Springfield Gorge, leading to even more hilarity.