The Simpsons (Fox, 1989-present)
The story of how The Simpsons was created and what it’s about is very well known, so this piece will concentrate more on how I got into the show, and how it has been treated on British TV. Homer and co. first came to the screen in this country in 1990 on Sky One, there had been a huge buzz around the show that it was something special and in those days many people felt that to be able to watch episodes was just about the only reason it was worth getting a fancy new satellite dish for.
The first time that I can remember The Simpsons making an impact on me would have been round late-1990/early-1991 when I saw the video for the song “Do The Bartman” for the first time. This song was a big success and it became a chart-topping single in both the UK and Ireland, which was made all the more remarkable as I don’t even think that it was a hit in America. There was a second song released later in the year that also made the top ten.
After that, the first time that I can remember seeing a full episode for the first time was how I imagine many other people did in the early-90s, when we managed to contact someone who did have Sky to record a couple of episodes and then pass the tape on to us. The only other way you could see the show then was to buy VHS tapes which featured a couple of episodes from the early series, and I watched them a lot.
Also in the mid-90s, I used to enjoy The Simpsons comic. The American version used to be sold in WH Smith, and I remember enjoying the strips, and being rather bemused by the American adverts. I also bought various spin-offs including Radioactive Man, Krusty The Klown, and Itchy and Scratchy. In 1997 the British version of this comic launched, I bought a lot of issues, and it still continues to this day.
So it was something of a great relief to many people when finally in 1996 The Simpsons came to terrestrial TV when episodes would be shown on BBC1 for the first time. However they showed all of the episodes out of sequence, and after a short while it was moved to BBC2 because it was being beaten in the ratings would you believe by Sabrina The Teenage Witch which was on ITV at the same time.
The Simpsons stayed on BBC2 until 2004 when they were poached by Channel 4, who seemed to have shown at least one episode every day since. Of course, the show remains on Sky to this day, and over 600 episodes have now been made, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end any time soon, and Bart should think himself lucky that because so many stars have wanted to take part to provide a guest voice, he has now met just about every person who has been famous in the past 25 years.
In more recent years I have tried to collect as much merchandise as I can, and among my favourite things that I have are the episode guide books which have a great amount of information in them, there have also been some enjoyable computer games made, and I also have a lot of the DVDs which have some great extras which have revealed more about the show. There is of course a huge amount that has been written about The Simpsons online and it has made me notice some things.
A lot of people seem to think that the quality of the show began to drop of around the start of series nine, and I have read various blogs from mega-fans reviewing the show episode and episode, and it’s been sad to read how people have slowly fallen out of love with the show as the weeks go by, and some people now think that there are more bad episodes than good ones.
The Simpsons does remain a classic show though, and in more recent years there has been a film made, there has also been a special crossover episode with Family Guy, and needless to say the show has won a huge amount of awards. There are so many other great elements of the show that can be tapped into such as my favourite couch gags or characters, and I might do that in another piece soon.