We’re going to assume that you’re reading this from home as you settle in for the Every Simpsons Ever marathon on the FXX network. That’s with every single episode of The Simpsons being aired in sequence for 24 hours a day over a 12-day period. It takes that long when you have a show that’s been running for 25 seasons.
The marathon officially began at 10 am, and we know that a lot of people are having a great time right now with the The Simpsons’ first season. Everyone’s going to be laughing hard for several days. And then–well, we think people will be laughing less. It may be a cliche, but the fact remains that The Simpsons began to limp along after the first ten seasons. Then it began to get seriously unfunny around the time of Season 13. Nowadays, we can’t imagine who watches the show.
Well, we’ll make an exception for all of the “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween episodes. We can understand wanting to watch those. For the other seasons, though, you need to be very selective. We sure are–and that’s why we’re listing the day and times for each of the best episodes from Season 11 through Season 25.
We know that some Simpsons fans will make the case for the occasional season that almost counts as a comeback, but you’ll already invest a lot of time at the start of the marathon. Now let’s enjoy some cherry-picking from the best of latter-day Springfield…
“Missionary: Impossible” (Season 11): Tuesday, August 26, 10 am
Homer tries to ditch those fund-raising bastards at PBS by seeking sanctuary with Reverend Lovejoy, who ships him off to serve as a missionary in Microasia.
“Trilogy of Error” (Season 12): Tuesday, August 26, 10:30 pm
This is one of those Simpsons where they intercut among different stories–starting with Homer intercutting his thumb off the rest of his body, and then following Lisa’s epic struggle to get to a Science Fair, while Bart is looking to experiment with fireworks.
“A Hunka Hunka Burns In Love” (Season 13): Wednesday, August 27, 2 am
Homer goes to work at a fortune cookie factory and ends up inspiring Mr. Burns to seek out true love.
“How I Spent My Strummer Vacation” (Season 14): Wednesday, August 27, noon
This one combines the Good Homer of the original ten seasons with the irritating Really Bad Homer of the later series–but his trip to a Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camp triumphs over the usual lame celebrity cameos to end on a very sweet note.
“Diatribe of a Mad Housewife” (Season 15): Thursday, August 28, 3 am
A rare opportunity for Marge to shine in a later episode, with lots of laffs in this tale of her attempt at writing a novel. The script’s strong enough to get past way too many token celeb cameos–and an appearance by Dr. Marvin Monroe, who’s supposed to be dead.
“Pranksta Rap” (Season 16): Thursday, August 28, 1:30 pm
Bart fakes his own kidnapping as a big rap concert comes to town, and Chief Wiggum gets his chance to actually prove that he’s competent by arresting the wrong man. This plays like the kind of plot that would’ve been tossed out as too obvious in the show’s early seasons, but this one has some nice human touches, and Lisa once again being reminded about why she hates Springfield.
“The Italian Bob” (Season 17): Thursday, August 28, 11:30 pm
“The Simpsons are going to Italy!”–and that travel cry is usually the sign of another lousy episode with even more forced celebrity cameos. This time, however, we get a new twist on the legend of Sideshow Bob, and one of the last good reasons to go anywhere with the Simpsons.
“24 Minutes” (Season 18): Friday, August 29, 5 pm
Yeah, it’s an episode of The Simpsons done as 24–which would’ve been a disappointingly lazy idea back in the glory days, but now it’s just great to see how the writers don’t bungle the execution.
“Dial ‘N’ For Nerder” (Season 19): Saturday, August 30, 2:30 am
Forget the Marge/Homer subplot and enjoy the main story of Bart and Lisa worrying that they’ve accidentally killed Marvin Prince–and Nelson Muntz getting a great turn as an amateur sleuth.
“How The Test Was Won” (Season 20): Saturday, August 30, 11 am
There’s one lazy storyline about Homer trying to protect his uninsured house, but the main story is a lot of fun–and even adds a new twist on Lisa once again worrying that Bart will turn out to be the smartest Simpson.
“The Squirt and the Whale” (Season 21): Sunday, August 31, 1:30 am
The usual crap about Homer trying to go off the electrical grid ends up as a touching tale of Lisa trying to save a whale–with a closing line from Homer that should be used as the basis for a Syfy Original Movie.
“Love Is A Many Strangled Thing” (Season 22): Sunday, August 31, noon
Somebody remembered that Dr. Monroe is dead, so Homer is sent off to Dr. Zander to stop instinctively strangling Bart–and gets turned into a pushover in this nice take on A Clockwork Orange. And, yeah, that’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“Moe Goes From Rags To Riches” (Season 23): Sunday, August 31, 8:30 pm
Not everyone got into this bizarre episode, but it was fun to see Moe’s bar rag tell its tale of how it went from majestic splendor to ending up as…well, Moe’s bar rag. It’s a nicely ambitious episode–and Hank Azaria really gets a workout. Rag voiced by Jeremy Irons, though.
“Dark Knight Court” (Season 24): Monday, September 1, 9:30 am
The Simpsons tries a storyline goofing (again) on superhero obsessions, and scores a lot higher than when the show attempts to parody hipsters in the same season.
“The Man Who Grew Too Much” (Season 25): Monday, September 1, 7 pm
Sideshow Bob returns to Springfield, and Lisa once again has to examine her love/hate relationship with her home town. The story is refreshingly straight, and it’s pretty exciting to see Sideshow Bob still seeming fresh over the years. Over those long, long years that give us about one good episode a season.