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    Junior Camper db105's Avatar
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    My Simpsons rewatch: Season 1

    I'm trying to do a rewatch (for latter seasons a first watch) of the whole series. I don't know if or when I'll get tired, but fortunately the better part is in the beginning, so if I abandon the project I will have watched the good stuff again.

    This is a summary of my reviews for season 1:

    Season 1 (19891990)
    1 101 Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire December 17, 1989 7G08 Rating: A
    2 102 Bart the Genius January 14, 1990 7G02 Rating: A+
    3 103 Homer's Odyssey January 21, 1990 7G03 Rating: A-
    4 104 There's No Disgrace Like Home January 28, 1990 7G04 Rating: A
    5 105 Bart the General February 4, 1990 7G05 Rating: A-
    6 106 Moaning Lisa February 11, 1990 7G06 Rating: B
    7 107 The Call of the Simpsons February 18, 1990 7G09 Rating: B
    8 108 The Telltale Head February 25, 1990 7G07 Rating: A
    9 109 Life on the Fast Lane March 18, 1990 7G11 Rating: B+
    10 110 Homer's Night Out March 25, 1990 7G10 Rating: B-
    11 111 The Crepes of Wrath April 15, 1990 7G13 Rating: A-
    12 112 Krusty Gets Busted April 29, 1990 7G12 Rating: A
    13 113 Some Enchanted Evening May 13, 1990 7G01 Rating: B

    Season Rating: A-

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    Junior Camper db105's Avatar
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    And these are my individual reviews of the episodes:

    Season 1


    1 101 Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire December 17, 1989 7G08

    Not the funniest episode, although it has its good moments, but it makes up for it by having a lot of heart. Great character work and storyline. I love how it manages to satirize heartwarming Christmas shows (through Bart's expectations, based on Christmas cliches, which invariably end up in disappointments) but all the same eventually becomes a touching and heartwarming Christmas story in an unexpected way. The tension between Homer and Marge's sisters is great too. A classic.

    Grade: A


    2 102 Bart the Genius January 14, 1990 7G02

    Flawless and classic. The first Bart-centric episode has a very well-written story, genuinely funny moments and really nails the character, both at home and at school. Very nice job on the Homer-Bart relationship too.

    Grade: A+


    3 103 Homer's Odyssey January 21, 1990 7G03

    Another classic. This one is jokes-light even by season 1 standards. There are very funny moments, though, like Homer carrying the boulder to the bridge to kill himself only to find another boulder there when he arrives, and the "killing myself would be the last thing I'd do" line. However, the story and character work is very good. The characters, Homer in this case, are so "human-like" in their feelings and reactions... this grounded style is a trademark of season 1, and I love it. I liked the plot device of having Homer become a safety advocate. It's funny because it's true: there are people like that. The ending, with Homer's negotiations with Mr. Burns, is memorable.

    Grade: A-


    4 104 There's No Disgrace Like Home January 28, 1990 7G04

    Strong throughout, from the party at Mr. Burns' mansion, to the looking through the windows to the excellent conclusion at the family therapy (truly classic scene). The writers seem to be churning out extremely solid stories without effort. Characterization a bit strange (Homer worried about them being a dysfunctional family, which is something that would be out of character in the following seasons), but I do like when they are grounded and relatable, so no complaints. Others, like Mr. Burns, are spot on. Rough animation and attention to the drama instead of just focusing on the comedy, as usual in 1st season.

    Grade: A


    5 105 Bart the General February 4, 1990 7G05

    Story: Very solid and well-crafted. I thought the army training went on for too long, and that prevents the episode from being flawless, but the rest was all good. Bart's moral speech at the end breaking the 4th wall was a bit odd, but I didn't mind.

    Characterization: Excellent. No complaints here. We keep finding out more about the supporting cast and OFF are in good shape (particularly Homer and Bart).

    Jokes: Homer kind of steals the show here, with his hilarious lessons to Bart (“Bart! You’re saying butt-kisser like it’s a bad thing…”). I also liked the visual of Homer drying Bart's tears with the hairdryer. The scenes at school and at the old people's home are touching and/or funny (like Grandpa Simpson writing his complaint letter). I also liked that they followed up the joke in Homer's Odyssey about a student losing his arm in the school bus. Funnier than average in season 1.


    Grade: A-


    6 106 Moaning Lisa February 11, 1990 7G06

    Storyline: First Lisa-centric episode. Solid story about Lisa's sadness, with a good B-plot about Bart and Homer's rivalry in a boxing videogame. Nice music, too.

    Characterization: I would have liked to know what set off Lisa's sadness. Her depression is kinda heavy for an 8-year-old, but well, she's not a regular 2nd grader, she's Lisa. Good character work throughout, helping establish the main characters, especially Lisa, who hadn't got much attention in previous episodes. Nice Marge-Lisa moment at the end.

    Jokes: That was the problem with this chapter. When the character work is good I don't mind a joke-light episode, but this was too joke-light. It's not easy to get jokes out of Lisa, particularly out of a depressed Lisa. Thankfully the B-plot was funnier, and that helped a little. Still, not too many chuckles here. Homer had a couple of great lines ("I have feelings too. You know, like, 'my stomach hurts.'", and also "Oh, so that's it. This is some kind of underwear thing."). And, of course, the end of the B-plot, with Bart's retirement from boxing videogames, was very funny.

    Grade: B

    7 107 The Call of the Simpsons February 18, 1990 7G09

    No complaints about this episode. It was good, and certainly funnier than the previous one (Moaning Lisa). It's just that, while each of the previous episodes felt like classics in their own way, telling us new things about the characters and their lives, this one was just a regular story with those characters, like there will be many in the following years (well, there was the introduction of Homer's rivalry with Ned Flanders). Of course, it had to happen: not all episodes can be classics, and not every episode can have something exciting memorable to tell about the characters. For what it was, the story was fine, and rather funny in a cartoony way. Good moments included the smooth-talking car salesman, Homer's utter incompetence in the forest and the whole bigfoot confusion (including the newspapers headlines and the committee of experts). Touching ending, with Marge comforting Homer.

    Grade: B

    8 108 The Telltale Head February 25, 1990 7G07


    After two slightly weaker episodes we are back into classic territory. A strong storyline (nice storytelling device, the use of a flashback to tell the story), and quite funny. The first act was particularly funny, with the Simpsons preparing for church and then at church and Sunday school, the other acts were less joke-intensive but still fine. Introduction of Reverend Lovejoy. The character work was particularly good too in this Bart-centric story, with Bart as a mischievous boy with a good heart, who gets into very deep trouble in a misguided attempt to impress some older and cool troublemakers he wants to be friends with. Then his remorsefulness and his conversations with Jebediah Springfield's head were nicely done, and the story ends with some good father-son moments and a mob calmed with a heartfelt speech from Bart.

    Grade: A


    9 109 Life on the Fast Lane March 18, 1990 7G11

    A difficult episode to review, because there are not many jokes here, less than usual even for season 1, but it's also extremely touching and full of sincere emotion. Most of the jokes are in the first act (Homer's obvious attempt to lie his way off having forgotten Marge's birthday, the singing waiters and the mourners...). We see Homer's cluelessness and selfishness when dealing with Marge's birthday, and we totally understand her disappointment and the temptation it leads to, and we are exasperated at Homer and sorry for him at the same time. Jacques is a great character, smooth and seductive, and we love to hate him. There are so many touching moments here: Homer and the kids singing a lullaby at Maggie, Bart trying to play catch with his depressed father. And, of course, the heartwarming and perfect ending.

    Another classic, and the first Marge-centered episode, but I won't give it an A because of the lack of laughs for a long part of it. The Simpson girls are just not as funny as Homer and Bart.

    Grade: B+


    10 110 Homer's Night Out March 25, 1990 7G10

    The weakest episode so far in the season (this is the 10th one and still 3 to go), but it's not bad. As many other episodes in this season, there's at least at much emphasis on the drama as on the comedy. The jokes were not laugh-out-loud ones, but they were pleasant and good enough to cause smiles, particularly Bart's antics during the whole episode, the quick diffusion of the picture through Springfield, the stuff with Mr. Burns and also the stuff at Barney's home.

    The story was good, although it suffered a bit because Homer's misbehavior this time was not that bad, certainly not bad enough to merit being kicked out of the house. The ending was also a bit preachy. Now, I don't mind values in a show, in fact I dislike the amorality and nihilism of shows like Family Guy, but that side could have been handled better, in a less in-your-face manner, like it was in the previous episode (Life on the Fast Lane), for example.

    Anyway, I liked the drama and the character work here. It makes me appreciate the characters and care about them. I miss that side of The Simpsons in seasons after the Golden Age of the show.

    Grade: B-


    11 111 The Crepes of Wrath April 15, 1990 7G13

    Very funny first act, with Bart's pranks and Skinner and Homer's talk, which was hilarious, with both of them wanting to "deport" Bart. Then, Bart's story in France is dramatic rather than funny, while the subplot of the Albanian boy in Springfield was wacky and more funny (don't miss Skinner's welcome speech). Good characterization and a decent story. Grade: A-


    12 112 Krusty Gets Busted April 29, 1990 7G12

    Another strong episode. The show was really fresh in the first season, and almost every episode is memorable. Contrast that with episodes from some post-golden-age seasons, which are forgotten as soon as they are watched. Once again for this season, the dramatic elements take precedence over the comedy. There are fun moments, though, like everything Homer does in the first part of the episode. The character work is excellent, with Bart's trusting worship of his hero Krusty (don't miss that heartwarming final scene, with Bart going to sleep happily in his bedroom, surrounded by all the Krusty merchandise), and some nice Bart-Lisa dynamics. The mystery, cartoon style, was well-done, and it's the introduction of important elements of the Simpsons mythology like Krusty and Sideshow-Bob (at least the first time the focus is on them). The only criticism is that it could have had more jokes in the second half, but the emotional content required otherwise, and I have no complaints. I like episodes with so much heart.

    Rating: A


    13 113 Some Enchanted Evening May 13, 1990 7G01

    The last episode of the season, although actually it was the very first one produced. Very few jokes, but a good story and good characterization (except that in this one, as well as in a few other early episodes of this season, Lisa's intelligence and sensibility seems not to be established: here she acts just like a younger version of Bart). The storyline was simple but effective and the characters were down-to-earth, as if they might your next-door neighbors instead of wacky cartoon characters. The animation was rough but it sort of fitted the episode: the criminal babysitter looked menacing and scary, just as the children would see her. The funny moments include Homer listening to Marge's call to the radio, Marge's roar at the kids when she was waiting for Homer to chew him out, the whole Sampson thing when looking for a babysitter and Homer releasing the babysitter and then being interviewed. Not many laughs here, just a fond smile as you watch these characters you can't help liking, regardless of their flaws.

    I wouldn't call this one a classic, but I have to admit that I remember it very well from the first time I saw it. These early episodes had a way of being memorable. It really would have needed more jokes, but sometimes you can't have drama and a lot of laughs at the same time.

    Rating: B

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