This Season’s Oddest ‘Simpsons’ Episode Was Almost The Next ‘Simpsons’ Movie

Slobbering aliens Kang and Kodos have for the most part been relegated to “Treehouse of Horror” episodes of The Simpsons, give or take the random roast. Their first non-Halloween episode was “The Springfield Files,” which makes conceptual sense, followed by “Behind the Laughter” and the aforementioned “Gump Roast.” But in recent seasons, they’ve appeared in an alarming number of “normal” episodes — four in the past year, according to the Simpsons Wiki, including the wildly weird and disappointing “The Man Who Came to Be Dinner,” which the AV Club succinctly described as “The Simpsons have met the Great Gazoo” moment.

It’s a fantastical episode that has the Simpsons transported to Kang and Kodos’ home planet Rigel 7, where they’re placed in a zoo until one of them is turned into dinner (sound familiar?). Fan reaction has not been kind, so The Simpsons probably dodged a bullet by placing the episode in the middle of a season, and not have be the next movie, which was the original plan.

Simpsons executive producer Al Jean, who recently tweeted this factoid, tells EW that the Jan. 4 episode, which he co-wrote with David Mirkin, was originally planned to air in 2013 as the season 24 finale, but then he and executive producer James L. Brooks opted to hold it back as a possible plot for a sequel to 2007’s The Simpsons Movie.

“Two of the allures were exploring the rules of the new world and the cinematic nature of doing something in space,” says Jean. “But then we were worried that people might think it’s an idea that’s not canonical — it doesn’t really happen, unlike all of other 560 episodes that really ‘happened’ — so the ultimate decision was to air it as an episode,” Jean explains. “It just got to the point where if we were unsure about it as a movie, then it would be good to air the episode. And then if we do a movie, we’d just think of something else…So if you want to know what was thought of a possible Simpsons Movie 2, we just aired it—for free. You can see it for free!” (Via)

It would have worked better as a movie than a episode, yes, but that doesn’t mean it would have been a good movie. The first film already took the Simpsons out of Springfield, and while most of the Alaska scenes were solid, it wouldn’t work again — setting the action in SPACE would deprive viewers of Milhouse, Moleman, and hundreds of other beloved characters who put the “spring” in Springfield. There’s only one America’s Crud Bucket, and it ain’t Rigel 7.

Via EW