The Simpsons

Well, I started my Simpsons rewatch. I don't have much to say about the first season, honestly. It's a shakedown. It's clumsy in places, but there's a genuine heart and sense of character behind it. The animation gets better after this one. So, yeah, it's not a perfect season, and there's not much hinting at the greatness to come, but here are my reactions.

1. Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (my rating: 3 out of 5)
As far as I can remember off the top of my head, this is just about the only Simpsons Christmas episode that I like. I tend to really hate their Christmas episodes. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it is a nice Christmas special and balances out its cynicism with some earned emotions. It's also a nice episode for introducing the characters; they can get away with some of the voiceover stuff because it's Marge's Christmas letter, for example.

2. Bart the Genius (2/5)
I've never been a fan of this one. Maybe because this came on when I was in junior high, and I knew too many little assholes like the ones in the genius school. That "hardy-har-har" joke is pretty brutal, though. I just like the bits about the way Bart and Homer's relationship changes when Bart pretends he's a genius. There's a genuine kernel of emotion there that's pretty universal. And it did give us the word "kwjyibo."

3. Homer's Odyssey (3/5)
It's okay. I'm surprised how packed with plot it is given the state of today's episodes, which are so thin. Very character-driven, which I like.

4. There's No Disgrace Like Home (1/5)
Everyone seems kind of out of character in this one, and Dr. Marvin Monroe is just grating.

5. Bart the General (2/5)
Mostly what I remember about this episode is the Patton music and that it was actually a mini-controversy in 1990 that a primetime TV show (and a cartoon at that) would say "family jewels." The episode itself actually anticipates that and makes a joke out of it. Now, 20 years later, Family Guy is on in afternoon syndication. Things change. The episode itself is merely okay. I think this is one of the only times where Nelson seems like a credible bully.

6. Moaning Lisa (2/5)
This one always bothers me. I was sad all the time as a kid. Lisa not knowing why she's sad is just a little irritating to someone like me, who has an imbalance and a short fuse. Maybe this episode is why she's always been the hardest Simpson for me to warm up to. I always dug Bleeding Gums Murphy, though. I think it's amazing that they got away with a jazz club called "The Jazz Hole" after "family jewels" was considered risque.

7. The Call of the Simpsons (3/5)
I always thought this one was cute. I think it's cartoonier than they'd been going for so far, and more rooted in situation than in character, so I look at it as something of a fun little break. I love Albert Brooks, too. "Have you ever known a siren to be good?"

8. The Telltale Head (1/5)
Pretty predictable, even without 20 years on it. Lizzie McGuire ripped this one off..

9. Life on the Fast Lane (3/5)
The first of many tests Homer and Marge's marriage will go through. This is the kind of emotional realism the show can really reach at its best, and I really appreciate that. We're not just watching a cartoon, we're watching emotionally believable characters, and seeing Marge undergo a moral dilemma--considering cheating on Homer with a charming French bowling instructor (itself a hilarious concept)--is compelling. Albert Brooks is funny as Jacques. The end of this episode is one of my favorites.

10. Homer's Night Out (1/5)
Despite my using an image from this episode as the frontispiece up there, I've never cared for it. It seemed dated to me even at the age of 13, and it seems much more so now in the digital age. It's ridiculous to me that this picture of a guy dancing with a clothed burlesque dancer would ever get around that quickly or really be that much of an embarrassing scandal. Maybe I'm just a deviant. I also think they repeated this same thing in season 8 with "Bart After Dark," another episode I don't like at all.

11. The Crepes of Wrath (5/5)
In my humble-yet-vocal opinion, the first truly good episode of The Simpsons. It has a strong grasp of its characters, but is still sympathetic to them (there are episodes where I end up truly hating Bart, but not here). It has a premise that gets broad as it goes on, but not in a way that abandons the story for jokes. And it has some neat animation flourishes, particularly Bart riding through famous French paintings when he's in the French countryside. This is the first one where I think everything works more or less perfectly.

12. Krusty Gets Busted (4/5)
The first of many times Bart will save Krusty, this time from a robbery charge. And the first of many... oh so many appearances of Sideshow Bob. I always used to look forward to him, and at some point that changed... I'll discover that when I get there. But this is a good episode and a good introduction to Krusty. Weird that they had him as one of the mob leaders in "The Telltale Head" without establishing who he was first.

13. Some Enchanted Evening (2/5)
You can't hold a lot of this episode against it, seeing as how parts had to be re-animated because it looked so bad and the balance doesn't hold. So-so concept, so-so execution, inauspicious way to end the first season. I like all the stuff with Homer and Marge's date, though; it's very sweet and reminds me of my parents (who at the time of airing had been divorced for less than a year).

Like I said, not much to say. Looking forward to some real meat, but by this point I think the show really knows who its characters are.