Sunday, June 1, 2014

35 Reasons “Bart of Darkness” Might Be the Greatest Episode of The Simpsons

Not long ago my friend Sam Downing put up a gif-heavy post titled “48 Reasons ‘Cape Feare’ Might Be the Greatest Episode of The Simpsons,” and my response was “Hey, I want to do that!” Two problems: for one, I underestimated how long it would take to reduce a half-hour TV show down to gifs and screencaps, and for another, I don’t know what my favorite episode of The Simpsons actually is. I have a lot of favorites, and though “Last Exit to Springfield” just might come out on top, there’s just too much to like in dozens of other episodes.

So then I give you this: a great episode of The Simpsons to kick off the summer. It’s “Bart of Darkness,” a.k.a. the one where they get a pool, a.k.a. the one where Bart breaks his leg, a.k.a. the one where Flanders is maybe a murderer. I will maybe do another one some time, most likely when I forget how long this took to complete.


One: a single example of the many tragedies that befall Hans Moleman.

Two: “And here we have the world-famous Beatles, exactly as they looked performing on The Ed Sullivan Show.”

Three: vicarious punching.

Four: the remarkable ingenuity of Homer Simpson. He got the idea when he realized the refrigerator was cold.

Five: one of the two things Maggie gets to do.

Six: the disappointment of childhood.

Seven: hubris and nemesis.

Eight: People who observed Homer’s parenting style as children may actually employ this tactic today.

Nine: Children who observed Bart and Lisa’s method of persuasion also attempted to employ it back in the day. It was not successful in real life.

Ten: Simpsons puns are better than the puns you make, generally speaking.

Eleven: the other thing Maggie gets to do.

Twelve: The 90s had more Amish jokes than we have now. Why is that?

Thirteen: And this is how you close out a first act.

Fourteen: American healthcare, circa 1994.

Fifteen: Milhouse Van Houten, for once, gets to be the sucky friend.

Sixteen: the Esther Williams spectacular.

Seventeen: “Klassic Krusty.”

Eighteen: Homer learns a lesson in pool hygiene.

Nineteen: Bart grows isolated and weird.

Twenty: So dark as this, in fact.

Twenty-one: It does not go unnoticed.

Twenty-two: a sliding scale for evil.

Twenty-three: “Soon I’ll be queen of summertime!”

Twenty-four: how I learned the word “ribald.”

Twenty-five: a selection from Bart’s isolation-born play that, in retrospect, may have influenced this.

Twenty-six: Schuman Farms.

Twenty-seven: Springfield Rescu-U-Fone, or how I learned what “regicide” meant.

Twenty-eight: the determination of Bartholomew J. Simpson.

Twenty-nine: Hitchcockian terror in Simpsons yellow.

Thirty: resolution of terror.

Thirty-one: probably the best line Maude Flanders ever got.

Thirty-two: a joke The Simpsons has only rarely revisited.

Thirty-three: Dan Castellaneta’s perfect pronunciation of the word “package.”

Thirty four: Martin brings it on himself, again.

Thirty-five: And then despite dumping on poor Martin the whole time, the episode closes in an oddly beautiful way. Martin, bare butt hanging out there for the world to see, looks off wistfully and sings a Sinatra standard. The camera pulls back for a shot of Springfield at sunset. It’s lovely. And to me it represents how good this show was during its best seasons. This is why I love The Simpsons.

The Simpsons, previously:

No comments:

Post a Comment