Hello, and welcome to another edition of…
NOT ANOTHER TOP (X) LIST!
And Season 10 of The Simpsons was subpar.
But it also didn’t suck too much.
Excellent, now that I have both sides of The Simpsons fandom declaring war against this stupid little blog, let me explain.
Yes, Season 10 of The Simpsons was a noticeable step down from Season 9 – which was itself a step down from Season 8. Many of the complaints I had in Season 9 – sketchy characterization, weaker plots, sillier endings, a thinner reliance on effective social analysis, etc. – not only remained in Season 10, but also became more egregious, neutralizing any sort of positives found in those episodes such as the jokes that I laughed at, any decent social insight, etc.
Most fans will remember this season for an overreliance on two cliches – the guest stars and the plot thread of “Homer Getting A Job”. Alone, they resulted in some dodgy moments – Homer helping Mr. Burns become loved, Dolly Parton breaking Homer and his acquaintances out of Super Bowl jail with her lipstick, etc. Together? …oh, boy.
But if it seems like I’m being too negative, there were a fair number of episodes that ranged from “fair” to “good”. The good ones really would hold their own in the golden era, while the “fair” ones still contained some level of societal insight, quirky comedy, or a combination of both – as well as flaws that were less egregious or more forgivable overall. (And before I continue, I’ve decided in the act of fairness to honor the three best episodes of the season, in ascending order. Stand up, “Lisa Gets an A”, “Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken”, and “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”. Kinda interesting that my favorites were Lisa-centered episodes, for various reasons.)
So let’s dive into the worst of the worst. X=10, and we are looking at…
THE 10 WORST EPISODES OF SIMPSONS SEASON 10!
10. “Mayored to the Mob”
It was either this or “Mom and Pop Art” – either a forgettable affair or an intriguing satire on modern art weighed down by Jerkass Homer and a ripoff of Venice. I gave it to the less memorable episode for, well, the rather simple reason of being less memorable. Still… Mark Hamill… consider “Mom and Pop Art” to have escaped by the thinnest of margins.
9. “Homer To The Max”
Much like “Mom and Pop Art”, a rather interesting satire on television and how it interacts with reality, as well as how character can be changed at the drop of a hat, is damaged – not only does it come off as hypocritical given the presence of Jerkass Homer, but it rips off an earlier episode and replaced the character-driven climax there with tree dominoes.
8. “The Old Man and the C Student”
Boring episode. Not much to add here, except that “Old Money” outdoes this episode by leaps and bounds. Not even sending up One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest does it any good – because it doesn’t stand on its own merits. The boring and idiotic B-plot does not help matters. At all.
7. “Marge Simpson in: “Screaming Yellow Honkers”
Oh, man, I forgot about this episode. Seriously – this episode is that unmemorable to me. It’s cartoonish, soulless, and simplifies its characters to their thinnest possible personalities. The climax features a rhino stampede that can only wish to be 1/10th the brilliance of Stampy. And it was all so boring. In short, meh.
6 – “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday”
The Family Guy episode that aired after this one was better. Far better. Mainly because that episode actually had something of emotional levity. Here, we just have idiots derping around the Super Bowl, getting bailed out by Dolly Parton, meeting Rupert Murdoch, and getting wasted in the winning locker room. It’s a tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
5 – “When You Dish Upon A Star”
Oh, god, the quintessential “Homer Gets A Job” episode and the apex of the show starting to fawn over celebrities rather than mock them (except for Ron Howard). Downright unfunny because I think the writers loved Basinger and Baldwin too much, ends with a chase that would become a staple of the Scully era, and it is another example of how Homer began to tip as a character. (Yeah, notice how he’s the reason why a lot of these episodes stink?)
4 – “Viva Ned Flanders”
Ned Flanders’ midlife crisis is destroyed by Homer, and his impulsive antics get the duo married to Vegas wives. The start of Homer becoming the town’s guru to life (although not the worst example) is not helped by him being an impulsive idiot, as well as a plot that barely makes sense. Vacation episodes would get less returns as the years go on, and this was the first “vacation episode” to really fall apart.
3 – “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love”
Here’s the worst example of Homer becoming Springfield’s guru to life, because at least Flanders stayed like Flanders in that episode. Burnsie? You only need to look at this .gif here. Not only do you get two character disasters for the price of one, but you get a free side of the incredibly shrinking Loch Ness Monster! I wouldn’t show this episode on a Kwik-E-Mart TV, let alone a Fortune Megastore.
2 – “Homer Simpson in: Kidney Trouble”
Ah, yes, the “Homer Kills His Father because he’s a coward” episode. Almost universally reviled amongst fans for being too dark and making Homer odious, I don’t think any other episode is as much of a sign of things to come as this one was. It starts “meh”, gets bad by the end of the first act, and just left me facepalming by the end of the third. South Park handled episodes like this better – partially because I expect the Cartman to be a sociopath and/or a coward. This episode gets damned to a ship of lost souls… but even they would throw this episode off for being too irredeemable.
1 – “Make Room For Lisa”.
I’ll concede to the fact that the prior two episodes on the list got lower scores – meaning that they were worse episodes, right? Well, what put this one over the top is simple – those two episodes were merely sad and depressing.
“Make Room For Lisa”, in contrast, made me apoplectic – more than any other episode in the series bar “Lisa Goes Gaga” (and maybe some episodes from Season 11.)
It tries to be a heartwarming take on the bond between father and daughter. Yet the writing is miserable – relying on our protagonist being a complete and utter jackass and being forgiven for it because the deuteragonist felt like her complaints held no weight when she was suffering severe health concerns. There’s no stupid guest star, either – this is the attempt at being a heartwarming character piece. Instead, it showcased just how soulless, idiotic, and vapid the show was becoming. In trying to be poignant, it instead comes off as awkward at best, and disgusting at worst. Brian Scully never wrote another episode for The Simpsons, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was one of the reasons.
Now, this list is merely my own. Feel free to argue below in the comments section. And this doesn’t mean I won’t watch anything from Season 10 again – hell, I might watch one of these episodes in the future, as something of a reappraisal. Still, as it stands, these are my 10 least favorite episodes of The Simpsons season 10.
I’ll be honest – I dunno when I’m gonna be starting Season 11. I still have to finish up Steven Universe Season 1B, as well as write up my reviews of Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis.