The 20 Most Cromulent Simpsons Episodes of All-Time: #20 Tuesday, March 20, 2007Posted by cdnmoose in CDNMoose, mordecai "three finger" brown, mouth parties, the simpsons, total cromulence.
20 19 weeks leading up to its release, DeadOn is gonna celebrate every Tuesday at this time by counting down the 20 bestest Simpsons episodes ever.
How did we decide on a Top 20? Why, through pure science, of course!*
* – no actual science was used to determine this list
Okay, maybe not “pure” science. But on St. Patrick’s Day, CDNMoose and SA stayed up all night at the DeadOn offices drinking Amaretto & orange juice and debated the merits of all 388 aired episodes to assemble the definitive “Cromulent 20”.
Okay, that’s not entirely correct, either– we actually stopped discussing somewhere around Season 12 because, really, what’s the point?
And yes, we know that coming up with a list of the Top 20 Simpsons episodes is about as fruitful an exercise as other impossible ventures, like choosing the best Beatles album (“Revolver”, *duh*), or which Baldwin brother is dreamiest (Stephen, of course).
Okay, bad examples– those are ridiculously easy actually, but you know what I mean. Hmmmm….Name the Top 20 Cures for Cancer. Stumped? Yeah, it’s just like that. But *way* harder.
Naturally, there will be questionable calls and glaring omissions in the Cromulent 20, so we’ll say up front that if we don’t include an episode you think that should be here, you’re absolutely right: we totally left that episode off to be controversial. Seriously.
Anyway, come with us as we kick things off today with the worst of the best: the 20th Most Cromulent Simpsons Episode of All-Time…
Written by John Swartzwelder
Originally aired February 20, 1992
|20. Homer At The Bat
Mr. Burns recruits pro baseball ringers for the plant’s softball team to win a million-dollar bet. Hilarity ensues.
Figure 1 – Monty’s Second-Choice Dream Team
This episode came in the middle of Season 3, smack dab in the “Golden Years” of the show. There is a run of about 20 episodes from Season 3 to Season 4 that could pretty much comprise this Top 20 list in its entirety.
But of course, there are gems to be had all over the years with The Simpsons, but we’ll foreshadowingly admit that you’ll find that a wealth of the Top 20 comes from these here parts.
Why This Episode Is Particularly Cromulent
- A smattering of high-profile ballplayers as guest stars showed that you didn’t have to be a great actor to generate laffs.
- It’s nice to have the rare episode where Homer is the hero (albeit a clumsy one) instead of being the cause of the show’s problems every week.
- “Talkin’ Softball“, the re-working of Terry Cashman’s “Talkin’ Baseball” that plays over the closing credits. Jeff Martin is Jaweh.
- Being fantastical (and yet still being rooted in some kind of reality) kept the show fresh and unpredictable; you really didn’t know what to expect every week.
- Seeing Darryl Strawberry as a nice guy/ultimate suck-up/team player is ironically hilarious
- The shot of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s gigantism makes me giggle like a schoolgirl every time I see it. Look! There it is over on the right! Tee-hee!
- I have a soft spot for episodes that reference Monty’s fondness for things particularly ancient, like his attempted recruiting of a right fielder who has been dead for 130 years.
Umpire: Okay, let’s go over the ground rules. You can’t leave first until you chug a beer. Any man scoring has to chug a beer. You have to chug a beer at the top of all odd-numbered innings. Oh, and the fourth inning is the beer inning.
Chief Wiggum: Hey, we know how to play softball.
Burns: You, Sciosia, sign up!
Sciosia: Thanks just the same, but I’m here to run the solid contaminant encapsulator.
Burns: One more outburst like that, and I’ll send you back to the big leagues!
Homer: You’re Darryl Strawberry!
Homer: You play right field.
Homer: I play right field, too.
Homer: Well, are you better than me?
Darryl: Well, I never met you, but…yes.
Ken Griffey, Jr.: Wow!
It’s like there’s a party in my mouth, and everyone’s invited!
Homer: Clemens, did I make the team?
Clemens: You sure did!
Homer: I did? Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo! In your face, Strawberry!
Clemens: Wait a minute…are you Ken Griffey, Jr.?
Clemens: Sorry– didn’t mean to get your hopes up.
Bart & Lisa: Daaarrrryl! Daaarrrryl!
Marge: Children, that’s not very nice!
Lisa: Mom, they’re professional athletes; they’re used to this sort of thing. It rolls right off their backs.
*Strawberry silently wipes away a tear*
Well Mr. Burns had done it,
The power plant had won it,
With Roger Clemens clucking all the while,
Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness made us smile,
While Wade Boggs lay unconscious on the barroom tile.
We’re talkin’ softball,
From Maine to San Diego.
Mattingly and Canseco.
Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw.
Steve Sax and his run-in with the law.
We’re talkin’ Homer,
Ozzie and the Straw.
Notes and Observations
- In the DVD commentary for some episode I can’t remember, the producers talk about someone being the worst guest voice ever only to be interrupted by someone else who claimed that a certain ballplayer (Canseco) was actually the worst. Robust agreement ensued.
- Canseco’s wife also vetoed a “Bull Durham”-esque plot point that involved Jose having an affair with Mrs. Krabapple as a Susan Sarandon-like character. They came up with the fire rescue thing instead (“The dryer goes on the right…“).
- When it aired, this episode marked the first time “The Cosby Show” was beaten in its immutable Thursday night time slot.
- The players’ voices were recorded over six months when their teams came to LA to play the Dodgers or Angels.
- John Swartzwelder (the writer of this episode) is a huge ball fan, and rents out Safeco field in Seattle once a year to play 8 hours of baseball with his friends.
- Harry Shearer and Julie Kavner hated this episode.
- Fox was adamant about censoring Homer’s crotch scratch and they eventually cut it down to one quick itch, but it ended up being extended for use in repeated promos for the show.
- A news story (that Matt Groening doesn’t believe, actually) credited the show with a kid saving his brother’s life by knowing the Heimlich from seeing the poster at the start of the episode. Groening said, “We’re shocked! We never intended to teach anything to anybody. It will never happen again”.
Much like the climax of the episode itself, this episode is a winner and is worthy of inclusion in the Cromulent 20.
The episode avoids the “big game cliche” of Homer winning it with a homer (and even bypasses the “reverse ‘Bad News Bears’ cliche” of losing the big game). Homer wins it all by basically “pulling a Homer“, which was the crux of the show’s charm in the Golden Years– just enough heart mixed with general silliness.
It caps the episode in a picture perfect way.