Honestly, I just kind of threw a dart at this one. Like many, I discovered The Simpsons in syndication when I was a kid, and couldn’t get enough of it. 5:00 on CBC and 8:30 on FOX from Monday to Friday, 4:00 and 4:30 on Global on Saturdays. I had them scheduled like a junkie waiting for his next fix. I had no concept of seasons and which one was the best or worst, I just loved the show. A few years later, I picked up that official Simpsons complete guide, and only then did I find out which episodes belong to which season. And Seasons 3-6 were the ones that were almost uniformly great across the board.
Much later, having listened to a bunch of the commentary tracks, I think I can discern slight differences in the “eras” of the various showrunners. S1/2 were the trailblazing Groening/Simon years, S3/4 were the years under Jean/Reiss where they pretty much killed themselves making the show as funny as they could, S5/6 were the broader but hilarious Mirkin years, S7/8 were the more character centric Weinstein/Oakley years, S9/12 were the mean-spirited and wacky Scully years, etc.
I don’t even know where I’m going with this. Have I padded out the word count yet? Everyone grew up with The Simpsons, it’s a part of our culture like few shows are, I don’t even need to keep going with this. But Season 4. Ok. If your memory needs jogging, this year has Homer skipping church, the Itchy and Scratchy movie, Burns lusting after Marge, Moe chasing Jimbo around with a knife, Homer and Barney’s competing snow plow services, can’t sleep clown’ll eat me, “MONORAIL,” Selma’s date with Hans Moleman, Ralph loving Lisa Simpson, Whacking Day, the cavalcade of stars on Krusty’s comeback special, and my favourite episode of the series, “Last Exit to Springfield.”
Again, I could pretty much make a list of highlights in Seasons 3, 5, or 6, and I’d be just as happy with it. But Season 4 is my (somewhat arbitrary) choice.
If I Had to Nitpick…: Marge episodes. Always the Marge episodes. Except wait. This season has “Marge vs. the Monorail,” “Marge Gets a Job,” and “Marge in Chains,” all terrific. I HAVE NO NITPICK.