FXX’s #EverySimpsonsEver marathon has begun, and you are probably at work. But don’t worry: The earliest episodes are not as good as the show would later become. The real trouble for fans who want to relive the show’s glory days begins Friday night, when some of the finest installments of the series start to air at ungodly hours. What to do?
Sleep like a normal person and DVR these 10 episodes, each of which will air between 2 and 5 a.m. Eastern time. If there’s one you personally can’t miss airing a little earlier or a little later in the day, arrange your schedule accordingly. But these hard-to-catch episodes should not be missed—especially since, as we noted previously, FXX will be airing their full, original versions, before switching to the syndication cuts post-marathon.
For arguing (and other) purposes, the full schedule of the marathon can be found here.
“Stark Raving Dad,” airing Aug. 22, 3:30 a.m.
Michael Jackson’s guest spot is the most fascinating celebrity cameo in the history of the show: Credited as John Jay Smith for contractual reasons, he plays a mentally disturbed man named Leon Kompowsky who believes he’s Michael Jackson—but Jackson only provided Kompowsky’s speaking voice; his singing was done by Kip Lennon. (Supposedly Jackson intended this as a joke on his brothers, somehow.)
“When Flanders Failed,” airing Aug. 22, 4:30 a.m.
The story of Flanders’ Leftorium, with a fun B plot about Bart’s karate lessons and “The Touch of Death,” is not quite as strong as some of the later episodes on this list, but it’s a good early Flanders episode—and a lovely example of the emotional sweetness of the first few years of The Simpsons.
“Krusty Gets Kancelled,” airing Aug. 23, 2:00 a.m.
On Saturday night, FXX will be airing the strongest stretch in the history of the show, and one approach would be simply to stay up all night on Saturday. Either that or make sure there’s plenty of room on your DVR for the next several episodes on this list, starting with this celebrity-crammed Krusty episode.
“Cape Feare,” Aug. 23, 3:00 a.m.
Possibly the single best Sideshow Bob episode, with some of Kelsey Grammer’s finest voice work and classic, rake-based slapstick.
“Homer Goes to College,” Aug. 23, 3:30 a.m.
“I am so smart! S-M-R-T … I mean, S-M-A-R-T!” Sing that tune to yourself as you set your DVR to record this Animal House homage, the last episode with a script credited solely to Conan O’Brien.
“Rosebud,” Aug. 23, 4:00 a.m.
How many people under the age of 40 were introduced to Citizen Kane by The Simpsons? The tale of Bobo the stuffed bear complicates the villainy of Mr. Burns while paying worthy tribute to Orson Welles’ masterpiece. Plus: the Ramones.
“Treehouse of Horror IV,” Aug. 23, 4:30 a.m.
Best Halloween episode? A strong case can be made. “The Devil and Homer Simpson” segment is particularly good, but “Terror at 5 ½ Feet” and “Bart Simpson’s Dracula” are also terrific.
“Bart Sells His Soul,” Aug. 24, 3:30 a.m.
Best Simpsons episode period? Probably. And it includes what has been rightly recognized as Bart’s best line: “I am familiar with the works of Pablo Neruda.”
“Lisa the Vegetarian,” Aug. 24, 4:00 a.m.
Second-best Simpsons episode? Quite possibly. And one of Lisa’s finest half-hours, with excellent Apu airtime and a great guest spot by Paul McCartney.
“The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,” Aug. 25, 3:00 a.m.
A fine episode in its own right, made moderately mythical after it was pulled from syndication following the Sept. 11 attacks. Watch the (full!) episode again, revel in the jokes, and reclaim this one from the conspiracy-minded lunatics.