REMINDER: The Internet Even Hated On ‘The Simpsons’ During The Golden Era

Contributing Writer
08.07.14 49 Comments


As it’s been noted around these parts, FXX will be airing all episodes of The Simpsons over 12 days in August along with an all encompassing website. As with anything regarding The Simpsons on the internet, there are also plenty of comments about it being nowhere near as good as it used to be (“So only three days of good episodes?,” “It’s all downhill after season x.” etc.). It made me wonder what the internet thought of the classic episodes when they first aired. Well thanks to The Simpsons Archive, we can observe just that, via the Usenet reviews in their episode capsules.

The results were as expected: while there was plenty of praise to go around, many episodes highly regarded today were drawing as much ire as the more recent ones. Here are some criticisms starting in season four:

“Kamp Krusty”

Larry Schwimmer {las}: Kamp Krusty had a few good gags and a lot of potential, but
it was often predictable and drawn out.

Chris Baird {cjb}: Rushed. In the past I’ve attributed poor storylines to
the unsuccess of a show, but the voice direction for the first part of
this episode (including that from the usually splendid Ms. Smith) was
that abysmal, it should accept the responsibility for most of the jokes
falling flat. If this happens again, I’m buying a tin of red grease paint.

By the time season six rolls around, there are much stronger critiques, where even the compliments are backhanded.

“Itchy and Scratchy Land”

Bailey Irwin: This makes my Top 5 worst list of all time, easily. The
racing form in the 1st 60 seconds of the show was the only thing
that made me laugh out loud. After that, it was nothing but about
10 jillion stupid “Jurassic Park” jokes. Killer robots? Puh-LEEZE.

Scott Oak: I thought the beginning was good, but those silly robots
kinda killed it for me.

Carl Mueller: I’d have to say this WAS a pretty mediocre episode, but
compared to what has been shown so far this season, it was a marked
improvement. Mainly it was the Disney jokes that got me, the last
10 minutes (w/ the Robots and stuff) seemed to drag quite a bit. C-

Matthew Kurth: This episode was a vast improvement over most of Season
The “Jurassic Park” refs were well done, although the
revelation that flashes disabled the berserk robots was poorly done
with no atmosphere. And finally – a decent ending! 8/10

“Treehouse of Horror V”

Carl Mueller It didn’t disturb me, at least not in the way that it
perhaps disturbed you. What disturbed me is how the Simpson’s
writers can keep putting out crap like this. When a show makes last
year’s Hallowe’en episode look GOOD, you’ve got something truly
awful on your hands.

Matthew Kurth: “The Shinning” did not stand up on its own; “Time and
Punishment” was mediocre; “Nightmare Cafeteria” was an undeveloped
fit of pure tastelessness. More sick than scary. Easily the worst
of the five. 6/10

Marc Singer: Halloween specials III and especially II were fantastic. I
and IV had their moments. This one, with the exception of one
sketch and one brief opening segment, wasn’t all that great. Since
I’m a Shining fan, I’ll give it a charitable .500, but the Simpsons
should be better than half-funny.

“Lisa on Ice”

Charles D. Hall: Grrrr! Who was responsible for last night’s
monstrosity? He should be forced to apologize on the air, and then
be fired from the show, sterilized, and sent to live like an animal
in the sewers below Los Angeles for the rest of his life.

Carl Mueller: The stories are no longer clever, instead they’re complete
crap. I think they are trying to fill an obvious lack of story
creativity with gags, and it’s getting REALLY old. Duh, me lose
brain? Why I laugh?

Bailey Irwin: The only nice thing I’ll say about this episode is that a
few of the throwaway lines and gags were quite good. But a handful
of isolated jokes don’t atone for a completely unoriginal and
unbelievable plot that violated most of what we know about Homer,
Marge, Lisa and Bart, and just plain wasn’t funny. My grade: D.

“Bart’s Comet”

Martin Crim: Tonight’s episode was an embarrassment and a
disappointment. If I were trying to get a friend hooked on The
Simpsons, I would never show them that episode. The plot was
extremely lame and contrived. There were a couple funny moments,
but that was all.

Joe Manfre: what the hell? I seem to remember when Simpsons episodes
had plots which related to rather than hopelessly contorting real
life. This continued in the recent trend of episodes being little
more than jokes barely strung together by a thin, unbelievable plot.

Christine Tiplady: This episode was a KLUNKER. No exploration of
characters or real issues; just a wild premise. The Simpsons is
still one of the funniest shows going, but it takes more than that
to make it the truly amazing show it usually is.

David Sobecki: I never thought an episode of the Simpsons could be that
bad. I can honestly say it’s the only one I’ve ever even considered
saying it was into this one today.

“And Maggie Makes Three”

Aaron Varhola: Two weeks ago, an A episode, and now this? The cutting
was too fast to tell a coherent story, and (except for two gags),
the gags seemed forced, too “Saturday Night Live”-ish. Dumb Homer
made an unwelcome appearance as well, but his “Awwww” fawning over
Maggie at the end pulled it above “Fear of Flying”. C-/D+

Vanessa Cameron: I’m not usually one to dump on OFF, but last night’s
episode was a real disappointment. While it must be hard for the
writers to contain the overpowering urge to play up Maggie’s mind-
boggling cuteness, I think they went a bit overboard. I say it’s
the tackiest episode ever. Not a real laugh grabber either.

Don Del Grande: A-minus (“of course Don would like this one; it’s a
Maggie episode”) – this one was loaded with gags, but there’s just
something about a “sappy ending” that spoils it.

Bailey Irwin: First they did a great flashback episode about Homer and
Marge meeting; then a very good one about Bart as an infant; then a
fairly good one about Lisa as an infant; now a truly awful one about
Maggie as an infant. I’m going to start a collection so the writers
can BUY an original damn idea! GRADE: F.

Tara Ariano: This whole season, there has been at least one continuity
error per episode, but this one was the worst, with at least six
that I can think of offhand. I laugh, but then I’m ashamed to have
been sucked in when the jokes are so weak.

Matthew Kurth: The first time I ever turned off the TV and walked away
during an episode. Repetitive, expository, tired, predictable, and
a waste of potential. Not even the superb ending could save it.

So yeah, while I don’t expect anyone to say, go back to season 19 with a change of heart, this is just another example that even in the 90s, internet commenters were taking things a bit too far.

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