What makes the Monorail episode of The Simpsons the best in its history?
The subject of a perfect episode of anything is kind of moot on sites like this. I argued that Jurassic Park was perfect and got people a tad upset. Were they wrong, yes, but also we deal in a subjective medium.
That being said, sometimes there's a formula for a certain TV show. A way where all the pieces fall into place and produce something of perfection.
That's what happened during season 4 episode 12 of The Simpsons...when we met....the monorail.
In an episode written by Conan O'Brien and directed by Rich Moore, Springfield gets a surplus of money and decides to purchase a monorail to put the town on the map. And disaster ensues from there.
Nerdstalgic recently made a video essay about it. Check it out and let's talk after the jump.
What's the Best Simpson's Episode?
As the video said, you can debate whether or not this episode is the best, but it is undeniably great. So what puts something like this in contention?
The answer lies in what the show does so well.
By the fourth season of The Simpsons, the show had really spread its wings. When it started, the show wanted to be a grounded lampoon of the American sitcom, but now it was doing something that would change the course of events in Springfield history...
It was embracing the absurd.
This episode, in particular, starts off when Burns gets in trouble for dumping nuclear waste.
Then, when he pays the city $3 million, they have to figure out how to spend it.
Enter a song and dance salesman.
This insanity allows the show to prioritize jokes.
Homer quips, visual gags, and satire are the perfect Simpson trifecta, and like this clip shows (starting at 1:40), that all comes to a head between Wiggum and Quimby, as they argue over who can solve the monorail problem...as the monorail speeds through town toward its doom.
One of the most important things The Simpsons does is let all these elements come together in a cacophony of insanity...for every character in the family.
The best episodes of the show allow there to be stakes for everyone. Marge was against the monorail and gets proven right. Homer and Bart need to bond and find common ground. Lisa is there to ask real questions and make the audience think and laugh. And Maggie just brings it all together in a neat little package.
What are your favorite episodes of The Simpsons?
Do they have all the elements mentioned above?
Let us know in the comments.
What's next? Write your own TV Comedy Pilot!
Learning how to write a sitcom can open your career to more opportunities and get your ideas on the small screen. But first, you have to master the sitcom structure and format.