Simpson’s Book Review

Hi all and welcome to another Simpsons Sunday. This week I’m going to take a look at a book which was released sometime last year, entitled We Put The Spring In Springfield: Chronicling The Golden Era Of The Simpsons, written by Justin Sedgwick. This book takes a look at the episodes encompassing the time period from seasons 3 to 8. This of course, includes the short stint for Conan O’Brien as a writer for the show and the voices of, Albert Brooks, Kelsey Grammer, Jon Lovitz and Phil Hartman as important characters which helped to enhance the comedy in this important period in the history of the series.

The writer see’s the episode Stark Raving Dad as: not the funniest or most memorable episode, but an important one because of how different it was from the past two seasons. It established more of Homer’s key characteristics that were not present during the first two seasons: his inability to comprehend how the real world functions or how he is perceived, his ability to create a mass of friends and enemies in seconds and finding himself in the most extreme of situations. This also brings us to why Seasons 3 to 8 are looked upon as The crème de la crème of Simpsons episodes, the previously absent surreal element is also introduced in this episode.

Don’t forget that Homer had to ware a pink shirt to work and because of this he eventually got put in the crazy bin with a large balding man who thinks he’s Michael Jackson. Of course we now know that Michael Jackson voiced his speaking parts and singer Kipp Lennon did the singing. This included Bart’s song for Lisa’s birthday at the end of the episode, this is also when we all learn the mans true identity as Leon Kompousky , who is a bricklayer from Paterson New Jersey. His real voice is of course, provided by principal voice cast member Hank Azaria.

As I said earlier, the book takes a look at the short stint of Conan O’Brien and of course, discusses his classic season four episode Marge Vs. The Monorail and his Season 5 classic Homer Goes To College, where Homer utters his classic line “I am so smart…I am so smart…I am so smart…S M R T. I mean S M A R T.” As for Marge Vs. The Monorail, another important component of Homer’s character is established here, in that he is put in a high demanding position despite being totally unqualified for it. We also see this in the season four episode Last Exit To Springfield, where he is made union head and somehow defeats Mr. Burns, but i’m getting ahead of myself.

The book also discusses: Treehouse Of Horror, Sideshow Bob and the 3 main guest voices I mentioned earlier: Jon Lovitz, Albert Brooks and Phill Hartman. We also see how the golden era began to unravel with the Season 8 episode The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show as a hint as to what is to come. Characters were put into unfamiliar situations and we are left to fill in the blanks.

For example: what if Homer was in the company of someone who was obviously gay? Would he fear that Bart would follow in the other mans footsteps? If you ever watched the episode Homers Phobia you know the answer. Of course the death of Maude Flanders in the Season 11 episode Alone Again, Natura-Diddaly was the point that distinguishes episodes from that point before and after. Remember that Homer would often ogle at her, even in front of his wife. Now, he can’t do that because Maude is no longer with us. This also is the point in which Ned Flanders has to deal with being a single parent untill he marries Edna Krabappel in Season 23 and now she’s gone and possibly deceased, along with her voice actress Marcia Wallace. Okay, that last bit isn’t in the book but I just wanted to put it here to tie things up as nicely as I could.

On a lighter note, the book also discusses the best musical numbers during the golden era of The Simpsons. You can find all of them on: Songs In The Key Of Springfield and Go Simpsonic With The Simpsons, as both CD’s give us nearly all the music from Seasons 2 through 9. I won’t give away what the writer has selected as the best number but if you read the title of the book that should give you a clue. As for the best episode, Last Exit To Springfield was selected and I am not really surprised. This episode is a favourite of many fans, along with Marge VS. The monorail because of how many quotable jokes there are. Also, there is Lisa in need of braces and her “Union Strike Folksong”, after Mr. Burns turns off the power in Springfield. I think I watched it once and I didn’t really see how funny it was at first but now that it was explained to me in this book and it appeared at the top of most best episode lists, I get it.

After listening to the audiobook the first time, I found that I agree with what has been said here. What I really like is how carefully it was put together. It takes a real Simpsons fan to write a well researched book like that. I’m a fan too but I don’t think I could ever write something as well thought out as this. All I can say is thank you Justin for this entertaining book, which made me think about this era a bit differently.

The only thing I don’t really agree with is that the first 2 seasons of the series are necessarily a rough patch. I would say that Season 1 was actually the rough patch, while Season 2 was setting the stage for what was to come in Season 3. Don’t forget that everyone was finding their way in this whole new reinvention of the wheel and this includes the voices of certain main characters, such as Homer. I’ve discussed the voice evolution before in the blog many times and if you would like to read about it just look in either the archives or possibly in related posts.

Okay, on the birthday front, Music Editor Chris Ledesma turned 57 years old on Wednesday. If you don’t know who that is, it’s okay….I didn’t either untill Nancy Cartwright’s book My Life As A 10-Year-Old Boy. She mentions him briefly when she talks about how the music is inserted into the show by both him and Alf Clausen.

Check out Chris Ladesma’s blog. He is the Music Editor for The Simpsons and has been since day 1.
http://simpsonsmusic500.wordpress.com/author/simpsonsmusic500/
I also recommend checking out Yeardley Smith’s blog at http://gobbingoff.tumblr.com
I should also mention Marchez Vous, which is her women’s shoe designer company, which she started earlier in the decade. You can check out their website at
http://www.marchesvous.com
For some strange reason everyone I know hasn’t heard of them yet. Hopefully I can change that.
Additionally, for more news on The Simpsons, you can go to http://news.simpsonswiki.com/
It is new so, give it time to grow.You can also comment here or you can email me at blindgordie@gmail.com and I will reply as soon as I can to all messages I receive. I would much prefer getting an email so I can reply directly to you, but that’s just me.
One final thing to mention is that you can follow Simpsons Executive Producer Al Jean on Twitter and his Twitter handle is @AlJean.
He has ran the show since Season 13 and has ran it during Seasons 3 and 4.
Anyway, that is it for this weeks post. Talk to you again on Weather Wednesday.

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