Most TV shows never make it eight seasons, but then The Simpsons is not most TV shows. At a point where other shows would generally become stale and repetitive, Matt Groening & Co. pull out the stops to come up with one of the most creative and hilarious seasons in the whole series. Cases in point for season eight (1996-1997) include "Treehouse of Horror VII," in which aliens Kang and Kodos make a bizarre run for President having taken on the appearances of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole; "Bart After Dark," in which Bart gets a job at The Maison Derriere (featuring one of their most popular songs, "The Spring in Springfield"); and one of the great all-time episodes, "The Simpsons Spin-off Showcase," a trilogy of Simpsons spin-offs that never made it to prime-time (the final segment--"The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour"--is about the best six minutes of parody in the entire Simpsons canon). Season eight also features some of the most notable guest appearances: Rodney Dangerfield as Mr. Burnsís long lost son; Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny as Scully and Mulder from X-Files in "The Springfield Files;" "The Brother from Another Series" which brilliantly pairs up Kelsey Grammar as Sideshow Bob with his brother Cecil (David Hyde Pierce) in a parallel of their Frasier characters; and in a major casting coup, Johnny Cash shows up in the form of a red fox as Homerís spirit guide in "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer" (also known as "The Chili Pepper episode"). Other notable episodes include "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show," a fun wink to the audience from the writers about keeping the show fresh without ruining it, and the send up of Mary Poppins "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(annoyed grunt)cious," which has one of their most memorable endings when Shary Bobbins floats off under her umbrella ("So long Superman," Barney cries)... only to get sucked into a jet engine from a passing airplane. Thatís the thanks she gets for offering her help. Good to see that, eight seasons in, The Simpsons still donít need it. - Daniel Vancini, Amazon.com
"Treehouse of Horror VII" (4F02)
Three more stories:
The Thing and I - Bart discovers Hugo, the 'evil twin' brother he never knew he had, locked away in the Simpsons' attic.
The Genesis Tub - Lisa's tooth-desolved-in-soda science experiment develops into a higher form of life, who eventually see Lisa as God and Bart as the Devil.
Citizen Kang - as the election draws near, the aliens Kang and Kodos kidnap and assume the roles of Bob Dole and Bill Clinton. It's up to Homer to expose their evil plot for world domination.
Moe turns Homer into a boxer after discovering Homer can absorb massive blows to the head, but Marge is worried that won't save Homer in the upcoming match with Drederick Tatum, the heavyweight champion.
Mr. Burns discovers his long lost 60-year-old son, Larry. But, Larry is insulting and lazy, and Burns wants nothing to do with him. Homer thinks a good phony kidnapping is all that's needed to change Burns' mind. Rodney Dangerfield does the voice of Larry.
As punishment for destroying a woman's private property, Bart is forced to work for her. But, unbeknown to everyone in the family, including Bart, the homeowner runs Maison Derriere, a shady business where people leave with lighter wallets and smiles on their faces.
Homer witnesses something out of this world in Springfield, but no one believes him, not even FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (from The X-Files), who came to investigate the incident. Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, and Leonard Nimoy guest star.
Homer provides the voice for Poochie, a new character added to the The Itchy and Scratchy Show in a desperate attempt to boost sagging ratings. With this episode, The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones as television's longest-running, animated prime-time series.
Bart suspects a sinister motive when Sideshow Bob reunites with his estranged bother Cecil, who promptly places Bob in charge of supervising the building of Springfield's hydroelectric dam. David Hyde Pierce does the voice of Cecil.
After stumbling across Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel kissing, Bart strikes a deal with them to keep it a secret, but unknown to Bart the deal he makes lands him in the middle of their love affair.
Frank Grimes, the new employee at the power plant, isn't impressed with Homer's bad habits and lack of professional work ethic, and becomes disgruntled when he learns Homer is more of a success than he is.