My Simpsons Ultimate Episode Ratings and Rankings: Season 16, Part 1
by, 06-17-2011 at 05:38 PM (505 Views)
So now we move onward to Season 16 of the series, which originally aired from November of 2004 until May of 2005. This means that I was a Junior in High School when this season originally aired. That also means that all of these episodes are now over 6 years old. This was Al Jean's fourth year as showrunner by himself. Until that point, only Mike Scully had been showrunner for that many years and considering the quality of his episodes people were, understandably, concerned that Jean might be overstaying his welcome. Perhaps ironically, as we know now, Jean hasn't ever left the show, but at the time his tenure was still looked upon favorably. He was still considered to be the man who brought the show back from the depths of the Scully years. That perception began to change, slowly but surely, with this season. For reasons I can only speculate many people found Season 16 to be a considerable drop in quality from the 3 before it. I don't know if they just though the jokes or stories were getting stale or what, but when you ask someone to name the best seasons of the Post-Classic Era you usually hear 13 through 15. Why was Season 16 after this cutoff? As you'll see it truly baffles me, but enough speculation, let's get on to the episodes:
1.)There's Something About Marrying - 5/5
2.)The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star - 5/5
3.)Don't Fear the Roofer - 5/5
4.)Fat Man and Little Boy - 5/5
5.)Mobile Homer - 5/5
The top 5. Why top 5? Well as you'll see this was probably the easiest division to make, at least without each part of this blog having way too many episodes. I usually like to examine every episode of a specific grade at one time but I couldn't do that here as there were simply too many perfect scores.
Let's begin with the top 2, and they both interestingly enough have something related to religion. Ranking all the episodes for this season, after I graded them, proved very difficult. It was far more difficult than Season 15. The differences between the top 2 are negligible really and I had them both at the top spot at one time. The reason why I ultimately decided to go with Marrying first is two fold: First, it has a funnier Homer. Not by much, but Homer is definitely consistently funnier here. The character's entire attitude is just so great, as if he's just along for the ride as the story flows around him just like the audience. He doesn't break the fourth wall or anything, but he never really believes what he's doing or saying is wrong. This confidence, along with the many great one liners he has and other fantastic jokes such as his thought of himself making out with himself ensures that this is Homer's best episode of Season 16. The other reason I put this first is the character development we have for Patty. The show didn't have Patty being gay from the beginning, but it was hinting at it for several years before this. This is probably her best episode, from a story standpoint, since Principal Charming 14 years earlier. The only bad thing about this is that they haven't done anything with the character since. Understandably I suppose that may hurt the episode to some, but not me. In fact, as I watched this season I decided that if, as some are speculating, the Season DVD sets begin having 2 people on them starting with this year, the two on this Season's DVD should be Patty and Selma. This, coupled with Goo Goo Gai Pan, really makes Season 16 their most involved one of the post-classic years. I should also mention that the satire here, while now aged, is still great. I don't consider satire to be as nearly as important a factor as others, but my top 2 episodes both managed to have it in droves. Speaking of which, The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star is an episode that, when I just read the list of episode's before re-watching this season, I thought would be my number 1 for sure. As I mentioned slightly in its review I was born and raised Catholic so the ideas here really spoke to me. For example, I was so very happy that I knew the answer to the question Homer eventually cheats to get right was transubstantiation that when the nun asked it I actually shouted the answer out loud when I first saw the episode! Dorky, I know, but the episode had already managed to put me in such a great mood by then that I didn't care. Father Sean is the best one time character of the Season, just narrowly beating out Ray Magini. Liam Neeson's performance is to be praised. It is understated, but still manages to somehow at times come off as a bit arrogant, but in a great way. Homer is great here, Bart has a great story too, Marge suffers for the sake of the plot, but despite what some might think I find that her concerns are within her character. Of course the Simpsons has satirized religion many, many times before this but I think that this episode's satire is remarkably strong, perhaps the strongest of the last 12 years.
Don't Fear the Roofer is interesting in that it doesn't satirize, and it isn't a laugh riot either, nor is it a great character episode for some secondary character. Those are usually found in all of my 5/5s, but not here. What makes this episode succeed despite this is a well told and genuinely interesting story, a fantastic one time guest star, not always laugh-out-loud, but still great jokes, and another excellent use of Homer. I'm almost tempted to describe this one as Colonel Homer if Lurleen was a man. Don't the first few minutes just give off that vibe? I loved Colonel Homer's first few minutes and I also love this episodes. The stories branch wildly from there but they both begin with a downtrodden Homer seeking companionship. As with Liam Neeson Ray Romano does an excellent job here. Stephen Hawking is also used well. Homer comes off as something of a child here, but I genuinely mean that in a good way. He's really relatable here, while still managing to be funny. The ending conversation over the credits while Homer and Ray look out into the sky solidifies this episode's greatness.
The last 2 here are here for much more obvious reasons: humor and story. I was remarkably surprised with my last viewing of Fat Man and Little Boy. I never remembered the story being so interesting, or the jokes being so great. Homer is great here, but Bart is as good or better. Goose Gladwell is a brilliant Willy Wonka-esque character voiced well by Hank Azaria. The idea of Homer building a small nuclear bomb is also both great, and pulled off rather well. I never remembered this episode before, but now, thanks in no small part to Osama bin Scratchy, I'll never forget it. Mobile Homer somehow manages to tell a Homer and Marge marriage crisis with as many great jokes as any of their marriage crisis episodes ever had. Considering it's other plot about Homer buying an RV seems pretty bad, it is rather remarkable that it manages to be this consistently funny. The voice work of Dan Castellaneta and Julie Kavner is really great here too. I don't know why, but they just seem to both be really into it here, at least to me. The kids are good here too, but this is a Homer and Marge episode that may be their best of the post-classic years. Although I will admit many will probably disagree with me on at least this episode, and I can see why, but I stand by my position.
So yeah, at least as far as I'm concerned, Season 16 has started very, very strong. Thoughts?