FXX’s Every Simpsons Ever Marathon: Day 11 – HitFix Picks

[As you probably already know, starting on Thursday, August 21, FXX is running the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon, running through all 552 episodes of “The Simpsons,” plus “The Simpsons Movie.” To aid in your viewing process, Team HitFix is selecting our favorite episodes from each day, plus an episode or two that you can skip and use as a bathroom or nap break.]

We're nearing the end!

Day 11 of FXX's Every Simpsons Ever Marathon takes us from “The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed” (mid-Season 21) through “Beware My Cheating Bart” (late-Season 23).

Personally, I was shocked to see at least one or two episodes in this period that I haven't seen, as well as a lot of episodes I haven't seen multiple times, which was almost unheard-of for the first eight or nine days of the Marathon.

But we still have preferences for you. Yup! We're gonna make it through this whole darned Marathon, for which we're unlikely to receive a prize. But we've got commitment. 

[Oh and the episode guest-starring Katy Perry is “The Fight Before Christmas,” airing at 7:30 a.m. It was neither good nor bad enough to get mentioned here, but it makes for a good picture.]

Check out our recommendations for Day 10 and chime in with your own favorites…

Katie Hasty Recommends:

“The Bob Next Door” (3 a.m.)
Episode #463

Why it's worth watching: The best Sideshow Bob is an evil Sideshow Bob. And the best kind of Nicolas Cage movie is “Face/Off.” The premise of Bob getting his revenge on Bart is pretty far-fetched, which is part of why it's so great: Kelsey Grammer (the voice of Bob) gets some great lines, delivered with his penchant brand of insane, and a revamp of an ever-funny stepping-on-rake gag. Bob's just the best, even when he's terrible. 

Favorite Lines:
Sideshow Bob: A fitting epitaph. 
[Bart doesn't register] 
Sideshow Bob: Ugh. That means last words! 
Bart: Are you here to teach me or to kill me? 

Ted: Howdy do to you, Cousin Ned. How are Roddy and Toddy? 
Ned: Flantastic times two. How are Connie and Bonnie? 
Ted: Dandy as candy, like every good Flandy. 

Bart: Sideshow Bob could never resist singing along to a Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta

Daniel Fienberg Recommends:

“MoneyBART” (5:00 a.m.)
Episode #467

Why it's worth watching: One of the great post-HD innovations for “The Simpsons” has been the periodic outsourcing of the opening credits to established artists encouraged to bring their own unique perspectives to the tried-and-true sequence. Perhaps the best of the couch gags preceded this episode and came courtesy of Banksy, who lampooned the show's use of Asian sweat shops, among other things. From there, the appeal of the episode will probably be governed by how amused you are by sabermetrics and the very idea of Bill James doing a “Simpsons” guest voice. Mike Scioscia also pops up in a callback to “Homer at the Bat.” There's enough geeky inside-baseball fun to compensate for what is another “Lisa is a killjoy about sports” episode.

Favorite lines: Bill James: “I made baseball as much fun as doing your taxes.” Professor Frink: “Baseball is a game played by the dextrous, but only understood by the pointdexterous.” Tee-hee. Moe: “The only thing I know about strategy is that everything the manager does is crap. Unless it works, in which case he's a button pusher.” Oh, and I love Ralph's version of “juicing.”

Alan Sepinwall Recommends:

“The Food Wife” (5:30 p.m.)
Episode #491

Why it's worth watching: In many ways, this is a spiritual successor to “Co-Dependent's Day,” which I wrote about earlier in the marathon. This time, though, it's Marge who does the evil thing that endangers her spouse, when she sends Homer away from a food tasting to what turns out to be a meth lab, all because she doesn't want “Fun Dad” Homer intruding on an activity the kids have begun enjoying with her. Just as in “Co-Dependent's Day,” Marge realizes her error and fixes things with Homer, but the story gets at a fundamental tension in the marriage, and in killjoy Marge's struggle to remain close to the kids. Plus, all the foodie jokes – up to and including Homer understandably confusing the meth lab with a molecular gastronomy restaurant – are excellent. 

Favorite lines: Homer, standing up to the foodies, tells them, “Reality check: All the food in those pictures is poop by now. Minds blown? You're welcome.” And when Homer gets the kids into a video game convention with VIP passes, he notes, “Is there any better feeling than cutting in line because a plastic badge says you're special?”

Alan Sepinwall Also Recommends:

“Holidays of Future Passed” (7 p.m.)
Episode #495

Why it's a classic: When the most recent round of negotiations with the show's voice cast grew bumpy enough that there was a chance the series might not continue, “Holidays of Future Passed” was written as a potential series finale, showing what happened to all our favorites 30 years in the future (and bookending “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” by also taking place at Christmas). Instead, the show was renewed, and “Holidays” just turned out to be a marvelous late-period episode. The emotional stories of how both Bart and Lisa feel disconnected from their children – while Homer in his golden years has turned out to be a very wise and sweet old man – are genuinely touching, while all the jokes about future society (including the horrors of air travel and an army of Ralph Wiggum clones that keep accidentally killing each other) are hilarious. It was such a success that it got a direct sequel, “Days of Future Future,” in the most recent season.

Favorite lines: Lisa suggests an evening out, asking, “Want to go to a concert tonight? 68% of the original Cher is playing.” When Homer asks Marge for “some future sex,” she asks, “Why do you say 'future'? This is now.” “I meant a week from tomorrow,” he replies. “That's when the new penis gets here.”

Daniel Fienberg Also Recommends:

“At Long Last Leave” (9:30 p.m.)
Episode #500

Why it's worth watching: By this point, you've presumably watched an awful lot of “The Simpsons” in the last 10 days and “At Long Last Leave” was a fitting episode to serve as the show's 500th, a rather mindboggling number if you stop to think about it. “At Long Last Leave” begins with a Milhouse chalkboard gag — “Bart's earned a day off” — and features a montage of previous couch gags, panning back into the number “500.” And the episode itself, which finds the residents of Springfield voting to evict the Simpsons from town, has a pleasantly cumulative feel to it. Although the events of one “Simpsons” episode can usually be forgotten by the next, the idea that Springfield has a sort of unconscious institutional memory that leaves everybody sensing the sheer amount of chaos that the Simpsons have brought to the community is almost soothing. It says, “The events of this show matter, even if you can rest assured that all will be back to normal again after 22 minutes.” The episode recalls many familiar characters and storylines and also has callbacks to the primitive animation of the early days. Oh and Julian Assange is one of the show's odder vocal guests, though hardly the most reclusive “get” for the show.

Favorite Lines: Mayor Quimby: “Marge, you're a kind, compassionate woman who makes us see your family in a new light.” Marge Simpson: “Thank you.” Mayor Quimby: “Which is why you're the worst Simpson of all!”

Of course, if you happen to need a bathroom break or a nap or a brief window communicating with the outside world…

Daniel Fienberg Recommends Skipping:

“Judge Me Tender” (3:30 a.m.)
Episode #464

Why It's a Dud: First off, you can't do two Moe-centric episodes out of three, especially since “Moe Letter Blues” is a much, much better episode. In general, this episode is just three or four years too late to be making “Simon Cowell Being Mean Is Awesome” jokes, especially since this is Cowell's second funniest “Simpsons” appearance, following the more effective “Smart & Smarter,” which paired him with Maggie. But instead of having something savvy to say about “American Idol” and the surrounding phenomenon, this episode is most effective as a time capsule of that brief and not-very-successful moment in which the “Idol” judging panel included both Kara DioGuardi and Ellen DeGeneres. None of the “Idol” stars are actually funny here, but that's because they've all be treated with kid-gloves. Even the jokes about TV and FOX seem flat and mocking Jay Leno was hardly worth the effort at that point. Easy targets and weak execution just make this a rare Hollywood-centric misfire for “The Simpsons.”

Redeeming Lines: This episode does contain the brief sequence with Lisa trying to get Ned Flanders to believe in evolution. That's a funny 30 seconds.

Daniel Fienberg Also Recommends Skipping:

“The Real Housewives of Fat Tony” (1 p.m.)
Episode #483

Why It's a Dud: This is yet another example of poorly distributed concentrations on the “Simpsons” supporting cast. “Donny Fatso,” while not a classic by any means, was a decent Fat Tony episode and as much as I like Joe Mantegna's sad-eyed mobster, he shouldn't be getting multiple episodes in the same season and he certainly shouldn't have to be the latest character forced into mirthless marriage with Selma. I really don't get that there's a corner of the “Simpsons” writers' room that proposes marrying Selma off to somebody different every couple seasons, but I assume they're coming up with brilliant stuff the rest of the time. This, unfortunately, is an odd blend of “Jersey Shore” and Bravo TV cliches, mostly so lame that it would be racist except that nobody's likely to remember the episode existed within five minutes of the next episode starting. Oh and Bart as a Truffle Pig? That's not much of a B-story, is it? No. It's not. And how is it possible that Luigi has an actual truffle pig and it ISN'T Spider-Pig? For shame.

Redeeming Lines: Marge: “The only husband of Selma's I ever liked was Disco Stu. He was so upbeat until he found out she didn't like disco music.”

Chime in with your own favorites and skippables…