[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.]
It's all over!
Day 12 of FXX's Every Simpsons Ever takes us from "A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again" through "The Yellow Badge of Cowardge" and that's the end of the road for "The Simpsons," at least so far.
To close things out, we have five Day 12 recommendations and only one to skip. And I'm probably going to be using this day to catch up on a few episodes I missed from last season when there was just too much TV on Sunday nights to catch "The Simpsons" every week. [I'd also add that "Bob's Burgers" has, for me, usurped "The Simpsons" as FOX's funniest Sunday comedy and the one I seek out first on Hulu or OnDemand. "Bob's Burgers" earned that Emmy this year. But let's see what "Bob's Burgers" looks like in Season 25.]
We've had a lot of fun going on this 12-day journey and I hope that these nightly collections of suggestions and highlights have been at least somewhat helpful or amusing for y'all as well.
Check out our recommendations for Day 12 and chime in with your own favorites...
Alan Sepinwall Recommends:
"A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again" (Midnight)
Why it's a classic: This homage to the writing of David Foster Wallace (the title is a tweak on Wallace's essay "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again") is yet another tale of a Simpson family vacation gone awry, but it's centered on a melancholy existential crisis for Bart, who realizes the luxury cruise the family is on could well be the high point of his life, and goes to extreme lengths to keep the adventure from ending, convincing the other passengers that they're the last survivors of an apocalypse that has claimed the rest of humanity. It's an absurd farce, but among the most touching Bart storylines since the show's earliest days.
Favorite lines: Lisa, overjoyed to be part of the ship's Kid Zone Elite, raves, "It's so diverse. I've died and gone to a PBS kids' show!"
Alan Sepinwall Also Recommends:
"The Day the Earth Stood Cool" (5 a.m.)
Why it's worth watching: There's a joke towards the end of of this episode — in which a group of Portland emigres (led by characters played by "Portlandia" stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein) bring their hipster ways to Springfield — where the hipsters are dismayed to see the New York Times name Springfield "America's Coolest City," because when the Times writes about a trend, it must already be played out. Because of the lengthy animation process the show uses, there have been times where "The Simpsons" has been to mocking new trends what the Times has been to identifying them. Fortunately, jokes about hipsters have had a long shelf life, and Homer's befriending of the new neighbors fits into a well-established "Simpsons" tradition of Homer desperately wanting to seem cool. It touches on "Portlandia" territory while still feeling like an episode of this show, and it's also to finally have Patton Oswalt (playing Armisen and Brownstein's son) voice appear here.
Favorite lines: Homer figures out the moral of the story, and tries to give it to the hipsters: "Well, guess what, cool people! Parents are supposed to be lame. That's so their kids have something to rebel against and be cool long enough to get married and have kids for whom they are lame. It's nature's way."
Daniel Fienberg Recommends:
"The Saga of Carl" (Noon)
Why it's worth watching: If you've ever said to yourself, "Why don't we get more Carl-centric stories on 'The Simpsons'?" this episode will either sate your appetites, or explain why it to 529 episodes to get here, as we learn more about Carl's Icelandic past in an episode that also concentrates heavily on the Homer/Lenny/Moe/Carl relationship. It's not the funniest of episodes, but what it lacks in punchlines it makes up for in quirky Icelandic details and in really unexpected narrative unfolding. This is definitely one of those episodes where you look up after 20 minutes and go... "Hmmm... This isn't where I expected we'd be." And I appreciate that after 529 episodes, "The Simpsons" is still willing and able to digress with this level of oddness and commitment. The music and the visuals probably supersede the humor, but it's still a nice change of pace. Oh and Sigur Ros.
Favorite lines: As the friends go in search of the departed Carl. Moe: "Say, have you seen our friend? He's about this tall, wears a jacket, has no visible tattoos..." Homer: "Just say he's black." Moe Szyslak: "You say he's black!"
Daniel Fienberg Also Recommends:
"Steal This Episode" (5 p.m.)
Why it's worth watching: Not the best of the show's Hollywood-flavored episodes, but still a reasonably good example of the type, with Homer pirating movies and facing legal trouble only to be betrayed by an unlikely sour. The FBI/movie piracy stuff isn't bad and the A-list cameras led by Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and Channing Tatum aren't overbearing. If most shows did an episode with this much to say about the contemporary media landscape and our attitudes towards paying for our media, we'd praise their savvy. With "The Simpsons," the episode was barely mentioned and taken for granted. That's a pity.
Favorite lines: Homer: " If I wanted to pay for commercials I can't skip, I'd sign up for Hulu Plus!" Judd Apatow: "Homer Simpson is an enemy of art. Art created by writers, directors, and the guy who uses a computer to erase or enhance nipples." And, summarizing the themes of the episode... Bart: "So what do you think, Lis? Who are the good guys here? The media companies or the Internet freedom guys?" Lisa: "Well, both groups claim their intentions are noble, but at the end of the day, they're both trying to steal as much money as they can." Bart: "So everyone's a pirate?"
Katie Hasty Recommends:
"Specs in the City" (6 p.m.)
Why you should watch it: Because we're all destined to become Glassholes. This poke at Google Glass has Homer discovering (erm, SPYING) that Marge goes to therapy, and that her troubles seemingly always start with him. He starts spying again to try and have her admit to her "secret," though discovering it's done her some good, that she's always in a good mood whenever she comes from therapy on Wednesdays. At the same time, Bart taps into a Valentine's Day crisis that turns into an education for Nelson. See, it's all about the love, people. Some relationships require secrets. And eye-contact. And some apparently require fear.
Marge: I'm afraid wives don't make passes at husbands in those glasses.
Homer: I'll let you try them on, right after I decide if these videos are Funny Or Die. Funny, funny, die, die, funny, funny but the guy died.
Marge: Jesus says to love your enemies.
Bart: That's because Jesus knows, one day, he gets to look his enemies in the eye and say, "It was me who sent you to Hell."
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:
"Lisa Goes Gaga" (1:30 a.m.)
Why It's a Dud: Actually, "Lisa Goes Gaga" is an interesting episode and if you've committed to a lot of the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon, you want to watch this one because it's the most the show has ever gone all-in on a vocal guest star playing themselves. So it's interesting to see Lady Gaga as Lady Gaga trying to teach steer Springfield out of its depression. It just isn't funny. And it's awkward, because "The Simpsons" has rarely felt like a shill to this degree, giving itself over to a 22-minute commercial for Lady Gaga's awesomeness, basically buying into Lady Gaga's self-generated hype without any reservations. This is animated Lady Gaga in real Lady Gaga costumes talking about real Lady Gaga things as everybody on the show praises and celebrates Lady Gaga. So obviously if you're a Lady Gaga fan, you don't want to miss this one, but it doesn't feel much like an episode of "The Simpsons."
Redeeming Lines: Bart: "Without awards shows, how would I know what movie has the best beheading or that 'Glee' is a comedy?"
Chime in with your own favorites and skippables...