|The Simpsons: The Complete Ninth Season (1997)
Starring: voices of Dan Castalanetta, Julie Kavner, Harry Shearer, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria
What do you say about the ninth season of one of the most popular shows in TV history that hasn’t already been said? I recently wrote about 500 words with regards to the good and bad in “The Simpsons: The Complete Ninth Season,” then realized I was completely sucking the life out of the show. I decided to take a different approach and let the show speak for itself.
Here are some of my favorite moments from the ninth season of “The Simpsons.”
“The Joy of Sect,” where Reverend Lovejoy, after losing his flock to a sinister cult, douses his church with gasoline and says, “I never thought I’d have to do this again.”
“The Cartridge Family,” where Homer has Marge close her eyes so he can reveal his latest surprise to her. She opens them (we see the action from her POV), and Homer is pointing his new gun directly at her.
“Reality Bites,” where Lionel Hutz explains to Marge the difference between “the truth” (spoken ominously, shaking his head) and “the truth!” (upbeat, cheerful). Plus, any episode that prominently features Gil the luckless salesman is a winner.
“Bart Star,” where Bart joins a peewee football league, and Homer spends the time taunting coach Flanders, not the other team.
“The Last Temptation of Krust,” for the “Canyonero” theme song. “Well, it goes real slow with the hammer down / It’s a countrified truck endorsed by a clown! / Canyonerooooooooo…” Getting Hank Williams Jr. to sing it is sublime casting.
“Girly Edition,” where Homer makes his pet monkey so despondent from malnutrition that it types “pray for Mojo” on a Speak & Spell.
“Trash of the Titans,” where U2’s security staff beats up Homer and broadcasts it on the Jumbotron.
Lastly, “Treehouse of Horror VIII,” which has one of the greatest lines in the show’s history. In the installment “The Homega Man,” France launches a nuclear missile to strike Springfield, and we see Comic Book Guy walking down the street, hot dog in one hand and comic book in the other. “But Aquaman, you cannot marry a woman without gills. You’re from two different worlds!” He then looks up, sees the missile bearing down on him, and says, “Oh, I’ve wasted my life.”
So why a mere four-star rating, then? Because this season has more padding than any season up to this point. Sure, we’re talking about four episodes tops, but that is twice as many as any of the first eight seasons had. “The Trouble with Trillions” has one of the worst cop-out endings they had done up to that point. Mr. Burns, Homer and Smithers find a solution to all of their troubles – and they were in a lot of trouble – by bribing whatever jury was convened to convict them (pretty lazy by their standards). “Lost Our Lisa” is Seinfeld-esque in that it’s an episode about nothing. The most flagrant misstep here, though, is “The Principal and the Pauper,” which even Matt Groening acknowledges as one of his least favorite episodes. The premise is that Principal Skinner is not Skinner, but rather a tough from Capital City named Arman Tanzarian who assumed Skinner’s identity after the Vietnam War. This one idea has basically ruined all future references to Skinner and his mother, because the writers continue to act as if she is in fact his mother when we all know she is not. More trouble than one episode is worth.The good news about “The Simpsons: The Complete Ninth Season” is that the show was running out of steam. The following season was much better, so you can just stuff that “jump the shark” talk right here and now. As seasons go, it’s good, but probably the least essential set since the first season. Still, any other show (“South Park” excepted) would kill to claim these episodes as its own.