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No question. Disco Stu. I love Disco Stu. Best throwaway joke-turned-recurring character ever. Runners-up: Sideshow Bob and Professor John I.Q. Nerdelbaum Frink, Jr.

The Simpsons is one of those things that's been around so long it's easy to take for granted and easy to criticize. And I regularly do both when the subject comes up, because I strongly prefer the early seasons (with actual character development) to the rote Homer-gets-his-penis-stuck-in-a-park-bench-which-somehow-leads-to-a-zany-cameo-by-Jude-Law episodes we see more often these days. Lisa in particular used to get heartbreakingly great episodes, but it's way more Homer's-buffoonery-focused now. And still, we should be grateful for it because it's the best thing on--it has a strong claim to being the best TV show ever made and certainly the best long-running one. Sorry, Gunsmoke.

Which reminds me. I miss Life In Hell. Does Groening even draw that anymore? If so, who carries it? Where can I find it?

Where the Elite Meet to Watch Sweet Repeats

Date: 2008-12-18 12:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
A book came out last year called Will and Abe's Guide to the Universe. It's the only Life in Hell book I don't have, so I can't tell you if it's any good, but it seems to be comprised entirely of strips about Groening's sons. Life in Hell was a nice corrupting influence on me in my early teen years. I used to sneak peeks at "School is Hell" at the local Target in sixth grade before finally plunking down the money to buy it and hoping like hell my parents didn't thumb through it, because they were a tad overprotective.

The same month I purchased School is Hell, I saw my first Simpsons short on Tracy Ullman's show. When the series premiered, I taped every single new episode. Hell, my wife and I had our first date when I invited her over for Hardcore Ciders and Simpsons so she could catch up on the previous season, or at least that was the superficial reason for her coming over, but we apparently both had other ideas in mind. I started having ideas of having a huge, contaminating bonfire for my giant tape collection as soon as the last episode aired—kind of a Zen cleansing thing I guess—but a couple years ago I gave up on taping the show. Over half my life dedicated to being home on twenty-two Sundays a year, and it just became more and more disappointing with each passing week, and I felt dumber for continuing to record it. Now I'll watch the occasional new episode on Hulu, but they just make me grumpy. To be fair though, every once in a while there's a nice little gem of an episode, but they sure seem few and far between.

It's funny how you mention Disco Stu initially being a throwaway character. During the episode he first appeared, a friend at work fell in love with him and was convinced he would show up more in future episodes. I thought he was crazy. Silly me.

My favorite characters for years now have been Lenny and Karl. I like their interactions with each other and Homer, and the occasional peeks into their personal lives.

Also, Livejournal is wrong. It premiered December 17th 1989, not 1988, making this the nineteenth anniversary.

Re: Where the Elite Meet to Watch Sweet Repeats

Date: 2008-12-18 01:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I will check out Will and Abe...yeah, I have all the Life In Hell Books as well, except apparently that one. It was a huge influence on me as well, in the dreaded 80s when such things were considered genuinely subversive. I could not even believe that somebody let the guy from Life In Hell make a TV series. It was like letting Steve Albini produce the new Journey album or something. I think it's my fondness for Groening and for just the idea that something like that could have ever happened that keeps me coming back to The Simpsons.

Yeah, I feel the disappointment. There have been numerous Simpsons episodes where it ended and I actually exclaimed "what, that's it?!" But every time I get ready to write it off completely, they come through with a winner. I do often want to punch people in the face who steadfastly insist it is exactly as good as it ever was and has not diminished one tiny bit since it debuted. There's a local film/TV critic in Phoenix who loudly insists that's the case. The poor deluded nut.

You're right about the anniversary and I'm amazed I missed that, because in December 1988 I was a late-teenager living semi-comfortably at home in balmy Phoenix, and I remember watching the Simpsons debut in December 1989 when I was a starving artiste in freezing-cold San Francisco, having just survived a major earthquake two months earlier. A world away.

Date: 2008-12-18 12:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Stu: Discus Stu has pizza for two.
Bart: I'll leave you two alone.
Stu: Discus Stu was talking to you!

Date: 2008-12-18 01:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Disco Shrew...can still bugaloo!

Date: 2008-12-18 04:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Professor Frink, Professor Frink, he'll make you laugh, he'll make you think, with the.... person.. and the... thing... wait come back!

But yeah -- I agree. The Simpsons used to be Must-Watch, and it stayed that way for a long time, even when it started getting really shitty (hi, Mike Scully). It's gotten a bit better now that Al Jean has taken control again, but it's no longer one I watch because it's the Simpsons, but one I watch because I don't mind checking in, and, hey, it's before Family Guy, so why not? but yeah. I think the Simpsons' peaks were higher, but Futurama was WAY more consistently good. And some of its peaks were pretty goddamn high (Jurassic Bark? Luck of the Fryrish?)


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