We’ve had a lot of fun preparing for “The Simpsons” 500th episode over the last few days, with you guys choosing your favorite episodes, quotes and (non-Simpson family) characters. Now it’s time to discuss episode 500 itself, with a quick review coming up just as soon as I spend $800 on dragon insurance…
500. That’s a staggering number for any era in TV (even “Gunsmoke,” the all-time durability champ in primetime, “only” made it to 635 episodes). At this incredibly advanced – but by no means decrepit – age, “The Simpsons” has no choice but to present variations on themes and stories you’ve seen at least two or three times already. So “At Long Last Leave” presented a bit from “The Simpsons Movie” (the family brings great misery on the town and has to start a new life away from Springfield as a result) and a bit from the 200th episode “Trash of the Titans” (the town essentially relocates), among others (the revamped opening credits for “The Outlands” reminded me of “The Thompsons” gag from “Cape Feare,” for instance).
And while I wouldn’t call it one of this season’s strongest episodes (“Holidays of Future Passed” still probably has the crown, and there are others like “The Food Wife,” “The Book Job” I’d put ahead of it, in what’s been a strong year overall), I laughed enough at various gags (particularly anything to do with Maggie’s new life in The Outlands), and I appreciated the various nods to the past, from the couch gag montage of past couch gags (which was edited together in a fashion I found very moving) to Homer briefly going back to his Walter Matthau soundalike voice from the early days to the appearance of so many familiar faces and voices (like Rabbi Krustofsky) at the secret town meeting.
There was a lot of love and enthusiasm for the show expressed over the other posts I did this weekend, but not surprisingly most of it was concentrated on the series’ first decade. I’m curious if the 500th episode was a notable enough milestone to bring back anyone who hasn’t been watching in a while, and, if so, what you thought of this one.
Also, Fienberg has become obsessed with Lisa playing the tuba in the opening credits, and now I’m wondering if there were any other What’s Wrong With This Picture?-type Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the episode. Call ’em out if you spotted ’em.
What did everybody else think?