It's only been in the last few weeks that my kids have started to express any interest in “The Simpsons,” but they fell in love with their first episode, and now they're looking forward to all the catching up they get to do.
“The Simpsons” has been on the air in one form or another since I moved to LA in 1990. At this point, the show feels like something permanent, like a cultural fixture, unchanging and permanent. That's ridiculous, of course. We've lost cast members along the way, and it still smarts when I see an older episode and Troy McClure shows up. I'm not sure I'd watch a version of the show that didn't feature the voice actors who have been there since day one, but I'm not sure anyone would actually keep making the show if they lost their voice artists.
Fox announced today that they managed to finalize deals with Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and, yes, even Harry Shearer. They'll all continue to play their roles for the 27th and 28th seasons of the insanely long-running show, which means that by the end of those seasons, these performers will have recorded 625 episodes.
One of the things that I find amazing about the show's longevity is the way viewers may tune in or out, but they always have an audience. To be able to produce any show for 25 years would be impressive, but to keep a show smart and funny and culturally relevant for that long is a magic trick. No one will ever top this particular feat. I can't imagine we'll have many more shows that become this sort of giant juggernaut, and part of the reason is because we just don't share these experiences the same way now. There are so many viewing options that it seems almost quaint to think back on a world with limited choices. It created a greater sense of shared pop culture, though, and I think it helped lay the groundwork for this record-breaking run, which now threatens to continue eternally.
After all, they got Shearer back. Anything's possible.