One of the best — and most experimental — episodes of The Simpsons‘ golden age is “22 Short Films About Springfield,” which presents series of vignettes featuring the characters who make up our beloved town.
You may be wondering, are there actually 22 short films? Well, no. The Wikipedia entry for the episode lists 19 separate scenes. I guess “19 Short Films About Springfield” just wasn’t as a catchy a title. In any case, it’s a fine show. So, let’s have a little fun and rank the various sequences that make this episode up. None of them would really qualify as bad, but some are definitely better than others.
19. Lovejoy’s Dog Takes A Dump On Flanders’ Lawn
Just a short little bit before the next scene, but I love when Lovejoy tells the dog to do his “dirty sinful business.”
18. Bart Throws Gum In Lisa’s Hair
Not a bad little scene, but it’s really just here to set up the much better bit where everyone advises Marge on how to get the gum out.
17. Lisa Gets Her Haircut At Jake’s Unisex Hair Palace
Again, this scene mostly exists to set up up the confrontation between Nelson and the Very Tell Man. I still get a kick out of, “You keep squirmin’, there’s gonna be a little bald girl with no lollipop.”
16. Bart And Milhouse Conclude There Are Interesting Stories In Springfield
The ending scene, except for the bit with Professor Frink. It’s cool, but I like the beginning scene better…
15. Bart And Milhouse Spit On Cars And Contemplate Life In Springfield
Yeah, I slightly prefer this scene to the one that concludes it, if only for this exchange:
Bart: “Do you ever stop and think about the people in those cars?”
Milhouse: “I try not to. It makes it harder to spit on ’em.
14. Snake And Chief Wiggum Roll Into Herman’s Military Antique Shop
A perfectly fine scene. It comes out of a better one, and it leads into another better one, so I could only rank it so high.
13. Moe Collects Barney’s Bar Tab, Promptly Gets Robbed By Snake
I’m not sure what I enjoy more, Moe actually calling NASA to calculate Barney’s bar tab, or Barney just randomly having $2,000 in his pocket. Either way, it’s a great scene, punctuated by Moe barricading himself behind three feet of bulletproof glass…. making it much easier for Snake to rob him.
12. Smithers And Mr. Burns Go For A Bike Ride
A fine bit of cruelty from Mr. Burns — when Smithers is stung by a bee and needs to go to the hospital, Burns only way to get him there is to scream at him until he pedals their himself. Hey, you can’t argue with results.
11. Everyone Advises Marge On how To Get The Gum Out Of Lisa’s Hair
Easily, the best part of the ongoing Lisa-gum plotline. I always lose it when the Capital City Goofball shows up.
10. The Cops Discuss Krusty Burger And McDonald’s
The famous inversion of Pulp Fiction, where the menu items at McDonald’s come under scrutiny. “A Quarter Pounder with cheese? Well, I can picture the cheese, but they have Krusty Brand Non-Dairy Gelatinated Beverages?” “Yep, they call ’em shakes.” Not too much to say about this one. Just an amusing little scene that Tarantino fans surely love.
9. Milhouse Needs To Use The Bathroom
First off, I will always love Comic Book Guy’s deadpan delivery of “the answer is fries,” but the real payoff comes when Milhouse and Kirk walk into Herman’s, where he already has Snake and Wiggum tied up. Kirk is about to be screwed, too, until Milhouse inadvertently knocks out Herman with a mace. One thing I really don’t get: If the entire episode is supposed to be Bart and Milhouse watching everything happen, how is Milhouse involved in a story? For that matter, how does Bart throw the gum in Lisa’s hair? Well, this episode is too good for little things like that to matter.
8. Nelson Gets Humiliated By The Very Tall Man
Nelson finally gets what’s coming to him, but let’s be honest, there’s no way you’d be able to get away with pulling a kid’s pants down in public and marching him through the streets, even if you are just trying to teach him a listen. In real life, he’d be a Very Tall Registered Sex Offender.
7. Apu In The Jolly Bengali
Tightly-wound Apu finally lets loose by cramming as much partying as he can into five minutes. Unfortunately, by closing the Kwik-E-Mart, he evokes the rage of Hans Moleman. “You took four minutes of my life, and I want them back! Eh, I’d only waste ’em, anyway.”
6. Homer Accidentally Traps Maggie In A Newspaper Vending Box
I still have no idea how Homer manages to get her stuck in there, nor I do understand how he manages to bring the vending box home with him, but this scene cracked me up either way.
5. The Tomfoolery Of Professor John Frink
Poor Professor Frink races to get in his bit before the episode ends, but all he can manage is mangled version of the theme song. That monkey is going to pay!
4. Bumblebee Man Suffers A Number Of Catastrophes
Bumblebee Man really got to shine in this one, as he has easily the worst day of his life. The part that really cracks me up is when is, while destroying the house after numerous oranges fall on his head, his wife goes on a lengthy rant that ends with her flashing a piece of paper with the word “divorcio” written on it. Donde esta mi tequila?
3. Dr. Nick Handles A Crazy Abe Simpson
Easily my favorite Dr. Nick appearance ever. He invents the diseases “skin failure” and “bonus eruptus,” in which the skeleton tries to jump out of the body.
2. Cletus The Slack-Jawed Yokel
I just put the song in your head for the rest of the day. You’re welcome.
1. Skinner And The Superintendent
The tension between Skinner and Chalmers has been a running gag throughout the show, but this was its absolute peak. This was the segment that gave us the phrase “steamed hams” as a descriptor for hamburgers, even ones that are obviously grilled. Then, there was Skinner explaining the fire in the kitchen by claiming it’s the aurora borealis. “May I see it?” “No.” Really, this whole bit was brilliant, and in an episode full of hilarious bits, it stands out as the finest of them all.