Spin the wheel, raggedy man!
1. "Blood Feud" -- The last episode of the second season, right when the show started to stretch its legs. This is the one where Mr. Burns gets a blood transfusion from Bart and, when no reward results, Homer gets furious. The show is full of terrific moments, from the opening scene where Mayor Quimby unveils the new nuclear disaster warning system -- "Core Meltdown: Repent Sins" -- to all the comedy milked out of the blood transfusion: "You know, it's funny, Smithers. I tried every tincture and poultice and tonic and patent medicine there is, and all I really needed was the blood of a young boy!" 8/10
2. "Fat Man and Little Boy" -- A fairly odd mishmash of stories, with Bart getting into the novelty t-shirt business with the Willy Wonka-esque Goose Gladwell and Homer helping Lisa out with the science fair, stealing real plutonium to make a working reactor: "Dad, we're supposed to do this without parental supervision." "Aw, sweetie. That's orphan talk!" Fair-to-middling. 5/10
3. "Pygmoelian" -- One of the rare Syzslak-centered episodes, this one features Moe getting plastic surgery after the Duff Beer calendar blocks out his pug-fugly face with stickers. Though Moe was the focal point, the best lines actually involved Duff Man: "Ew! You said if I slept with you, I wouldn't have to touch the drunk." "Duff Man says a lot of things. Oh, yeah!" And when Moe gets his revenge on him: "Duff Man! ... Can't breathe!" 6/10
4. "Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore" -- Mrs. Van Houten moves her cool son away to Capital City. Not a lot of great moments here, but there's a classic line from the deadbeat dad: "I got a court order bringing him back. The judge said I was the most pathetic person he'd ever seen in court. Pity custody! Boo-yeah!" 4/10
5. "So It's Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show" -- Framed around an April Fool's Day prank, where Bart shakes up a can of beer in a paint-store mixer and the resulting explosion sends Homer to the hospital. There's only a little original content in this one, but it's pretty solid:
Eddie: That sounded like an explosion at the old Simpson place.Hard to score this one though. N/A
Wiggum: Forget it. That's two blocks away.
Eddie: Looks like there's beer coming out of the chimney!
Wiggum: [gets out of the car] I am proceeding on foot. Call in a Code 8.
Eddie: [into radio] We need pretzels. Repeat, pretzels.
6. "Homer's Phobia" -- An episode from the tipping point of the eighth season, when the episodes started to become more hit-or-miss. John Waters guest stars as a campy kitsch store owner -- "It's camp! ... The tragically ludicrous? The ludicrously tragic?" "Oh, yeah. Like when a clown dies" -- who helps Homer overcome his gay panic, which is played for lots of laughs. "You know me, Marge. I like my beer cold, my TV loud and my homosexuals faaaaa-laming." "There's only two kind of guys who wear those shirts: gay guys and big, fat party animals!" "They're embarrasing me. They're embarrassing America. They turned the Navy into a floating joke. They ruined all our best names like Bruce, and Lance, and Julian. Those were the toughest names we had!" Plus, the gay steel mill. "Hot stuff! Coming through!" "Where you been, Homer? The entire steel industry is gay. Eh, aerospace, too, and the railroads. And you know what else? ... Broadway." Pretty damn good. 9/10
7. "A Milhouse Divided" -- Hmm, another step in the saga of the Van Houten divorce. This is the one where they break-up at the Simpsons dinner party. Kirk starts living the sexy, single life -- "I sleep in a racing car, do you?" "No, I sleep in a big bed with my wife." -- but eventually channels all his romantic instincts into a power ballad called "Can I Borrow a Feeling?" The Van Houtens are sunk, but Homer learns from their failures and asks Marge to marry him all over again, even writing his own vows: "Do you, Marge, take Homer, in richness and in poorness -- poorness is underlined -- in impotence and in potence, in quiet solitude or blasting across the alkali flats in a jet-powered, monkey-navigated... [consults the notecards] ... and it goes on like this." 8/10
8. "Yokel Chords" -- A fairly recent one, where Bart convinces his classmates the cafeteria is haunted and Lisa winds up tutoring the slack-jawed children of local yokel Cletus. Aside from the kids' names -- Whitney, Jitney, Dubya, Incest, Krystalmeth, International Harvester, Birthday -- there's not much here. Eh. 3/10
9. "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo" -- One of the less-than-thrilling "The Simpsons Go to ______!" episodes. Most of the jokes are a little flat, but it does have a nice exchange between Homer and Marge for the film nerds out there: "Come on, Homer. Japan will be fun! You liked Rashomon." "That's not how *I* remember it." 5/10
10. "The War of the Simpsons" -- Hmm, another dinner party leads to another marriage on the rocks, only this time it's Homer and Marge. To fix it, they go on a couples' retreat run by Rev. Lovejoy, but Homer's more concerned with catching the lake's legendary fish, General Sherman. "No one's ever caught him?" "Well, one fella came close. Went by the name of Homer. Seven feet tall he was, with arms like tree trunks. His eyes were like steel, cold, hard. Had a shock of hair, red like the fires of Hell." Pretty solid. 7/10
Alright, that's it. Feel free to reminisce about these episodes and criticize my wholly arbitrary rankings. And if anyone can decipher the subtitles on the John Waters image, speak up.