My entire family is fond of animation. My late husband, Rick, collected Popeye memorabilia, my son was primarily a Warner Bros. aficionado (Foghorn Leghorn in particular), my daughter was partial to Disney heroines, and I was a fan of Hanna Barbara, especially The Flintstones and The Jetsons.
If The Flintstones represented the stone age family and The Jetsons, the futuristic family, it was only a matter of time that someone created the modern animated family. Matt Groening did just that in 1989 with The Simpsons, an average, albeit dysfunctional, family.
Originally spun off The Tracy Ulman Show, The Simpsons are extraordinary. It isn’t only their physical traits (blue hair, orange toned skin) that are unique but their personalities as well. We’ve come to love not only the core family: befuddled, often clueless Homer, wise and motherly Marge, smart and sensitive Lisa, silent Maggie, and of course, devilish Bart, but the supporting cast of characters as well (Grandpa Simpson, Patti and Selma, Mr. Burns, Apu, Principal Skinner, Moe, Chief Wiggum, and so on).
The voices of Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, Julie Kavner, Dan Castellaneta, and the late, great Phil Hartman have given us years of entertainment. And the stars who have clamored for guest appearances are numerous. They include: Bob Hope, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Michael Jackson, Mel Gibson, Robert Goulet, and Barbra Streisand to name a few.
Some parents discouraged their kids from watching The Simpsons but I certainly wasn’t one of them. On the contrary, the thing I admire most about the series is that the writing assumes a certain degree of intelligence on the part of the viewer. (Recall the Halloween parody of Poe’s “The Raven”)?
We all have our favorite episodes. My two favorites starred Marge (the ‘double-boloney’ episode in which she has a nervous breakdown on a popular thoroughfare and the other in which she appears in a Springfield production of A Streetcar Named Desire).
Incidentally, I should mention that my friend, Alf Clausen has been responsible for the phenomenal Simpsons music for over twenty years. Kudos to you, Alf, for a terrific job.
The Simpsons has been a springboard for many animated series. Its influence can be seen on series such as: Family Guy, Futurama, King of the Hill, South Park, Beavis and Butthead, and others.This Sunday The Simpsons’ 500th episode will air on Fox. Congratulations to a truly legendary show.
Have a great weekend and thanks for joining me this week along RHODES LESS TRAVELED,