Monday, January 11, 2010

Me and The Simpsons

Settling in to watch the 20th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, and Morgan Spurlock's documentary about the animated juggernaut that got the drop on Gunsmoke and rewrote the TV series longevity books, I realized that I've seen all but a handful of episodes. And I may have seen those, too, at some point, amidst moves and life changes. The show got its start when I was living in Hong Kong, and eventually migrated to Asia. I got into it early on. The first one that made me laugh out loud had a parody of Jean De Florette, with Bart sent to France to work with Gallic evildoers, one named Ugolin, as in the movie. I mean, Jean De Florette as a subject of satire on a US network show? How many viewers got it then? Would anyone get it now? Those early episodes must seem like Sanskrit, full of lost or obscure cultural references.

Nevertheless, what makes the show work, then and now, is its abundant heart, which offsets a wicked cynicism. The two elements keep me watching, year in and year out. (Those, and that the show is programmed into my DVR, not that it's ever been hard to find. Rule No. 1 to keeping a show on the air: Leave it in the same place, without constant schedule hopping*.) It waxes and wanes, and was probably never better than when Conan O'Brien was at the writing helm, in 1991-1993, the years I lived in San Jose, CA, and needed the weekly pick-me-up. With NBC stabbing him in the back maybe he'd consider going back to it.

Hong Kong. San Jose. New Jersey. Manhattan. Brooklyn. Marriage. Fatherhood. And to think it made it into the new century and it's still on for Larissa to enjoy. Amazing. Simpsons, I salute you.

*Of course, in football season, always leave plenty of overtime when you tape/record. I lost the last 15 minutes of the special. D'oh!)

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