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My Simpsons Ultimate Episode Ratings and Rankings: Season 17, Part 1

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Well I began my re-watch of Season 17 around the end of Season 23 last May, and it took me until only a day or two ago to finish. I started out at a decent enough pace but as the season went on I just couldn't bring myself to keep watching which explains the rather large gap between blog posts. I believe it's around 6 months. Season 17 of the Simpsons originally aired in the fall of 2005 and spring of 2006. It marked Al Jean's fifth consecutive year as show runner, something which had never happened for the show. Mike Scully of course ran the series for four seasons, but until this point no one had gone beyond that. As many Simpsons fans can tell you Jean is still the show runner to this day.

By the time Season 17 originally aired I was not really paying too much attention to the series. I wasn't watching it faithfully on Sundays I can tell you that, although I remember watching "The Italian Bob" over a friend's house the night it aired. My fandom would slowly pick up over the following years...which is perhaps ironically, or perhaps just coincidentally, in contrast to the fandoms of many other people who had hoped Jean would step down and slowly began to stop watching the show entirely. The general consensus, at least from what I've read, regarding this season is that it is mediocre at best. The term "forgettable" gets tossed around quite a bit regarding episodes from this season, and I think it is a pretty accurate term to use. I tend to lump this in along with 18 and 19 as the three most forgettable seasons in the series. It is somewhat difficult to believe that the series could take such a sudden nosedive in quality for me considering any reader of my blog should be aware of how strongly I consider Season 16. Well as we'll see the drop off, while there, isn't as stark as you might think...for me. So with that in mind we'll begin, as usual, with what are in my opinion the best episodes of the season:

1.)The Seemingly Never-Ending Story - 5/5
2.)The Girl Who Slept Too Little - 5/5
3.)The Monkey Suit - 4.5/5
4.)Marge's Son Poisoning - 4/5
5.)My Fair Laddy - 4/5

I'll begin with a format bending episode which I tend to categorize in my mind together with Season 12's "Trilogy of Error." I don't think that this episode is as nearly as well received as that one, but I just might view it as superior. I find the stories in this episode are told well and very fun to watch unfold. The secondary characters used, and yes I'm even talking about Rich Texan, are utilized quite well here, perhaps the best in the Jean Era(solo.) The Simpsons family are all enjoyable too. I claim that Season 17 is a drop off, but I do think that this is my favorite episode of the 150 or so from both Scully and Jean's tenures that I've re-watched for this blog project to date. I can acknowledge how that might seem odd but it's just the way it is.

What shouldn't be odd though is my 2nd place choice. Again I'll point out my love for Season 16 as "The Girl Who Slept Too Little" was supposed to air as that season's finale until the pope died and "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star" was held back. I'm something of a sucker for spooky stories and the graveyard setting for much of this episode just works rather well for me. The episode at times emulates more of a gothic horror sense than some of Jean's THOH entries! The colors when Lisa is in the graveyard at night are great and the episode has some stand out animation. I also deeply enjoy Lisa and Bart throughout by which I mean how they are characterized and interact with each other. I remember chatting with my dear friend zartok about this season long before I decided to re-watch it for my blog and I told him back then what I considered were the best three episodes of this season. Ultimately they still turned out to be my top three, and he pointed out to me that they were all directed by Raymond Persi. I assume it is coincidental but I still found it noteworthy as I doubt my top 3 episodes from ANY other season all have the same director.

"The Monkey Suit" is probably one of the last actually effective satirical episodes the show has done. I've mentioned before how I don't watch the show for satire but I've never felt like I've properly explained what I meant by that. I think that satire in a series is fine and dandy and certainly a testament to a writer's abilities when executed properly. I acknowledge that it can add an extra layer to something, but it is not a requirement for me to enjoy the Simpsons. This might be the biggest reason why I generally still enjoy the series....certainly one of them. I mean I like to think I understand and acknowledge the satire in episodes like "Lisa the Iconoclast" or "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy"...but it doesn't make me like those episodes anymore than I do, and those aren't two episodes of the show I love. I doubt anyone would claim that the satire in "The Monkey Suit" comes close to being as effective as in either of those episodes, but I still enjoy the episode. I like the roles given to Lisa and Ned. I know that to many this was just another example of "Flanderization" but I liked him here. Was his character exaggerated for the sake of the story? Sure, but it worked for me. Aside from that the episode just has several very funny moments.

Marge's Son Poisoning is one of my absolute favorite Marge and Bart centered episodes. The pairing isn't really seen that often which perhaps adds to my enjoyment. It isn't as great as say "Marge Be Not Proud," but I still feel for the characters. Finally we have "My Fair Laddy" which is probably the best musical episode since "Simpsoncali....." It's fun and Willie is enjoyable throughout. That's really all I have to say though. As usual feel free to comment below if you wish and part 2 should hopefully be up before Friday.
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  1. zartok-35's Avatar
    Raymond Persi was something special, and I only realize that now that he isn't making shows anymore. I still kinda' hate the story in "Girl who slept too little", though.