I recently finished the “Every Simpsons Ever” marathon on FXX. No, I did not watch all 522 episodes of 25 seasons and stay up for 11 days, but it was on standby in my house over the last couple weeks. That is, when the tv was on, it was playing The Simpsons.
I laughed along with many episodes of old and even discovered some new hilarious ones along the way. The Simpsons is unique in the world of animation, television, and just about anything. What else has been on the air for 25+ years? Hmm…the news? The great thing about the Simpsons is that it has changed with the times. The jokes of yesteryear are just as funny, but when the current ones arrive from characters who have never aged, it’s like they have matured with us without growing taller or developing grey hair and wrinkles (not that Homer could have any less hair). Below are a list of my favorite Simpsons episodes that have something (or anything) to do with science. I had A LOT to choose from!
Season 4 Episode 11: Homer’s Triple Bypass. Unhealthy life choices sneak up on Homer in this episode, in which Homer has a heart attack (but is thankful that it’s not a problem with the transmission in his car!). Hilariously pertinent today, the power plant company has traded in their health insurance for a pinball machine. Oh, what would Obama say? Because the Simpsons cannot afford the triple bypass surgery at the hospital, they seek out a “surgeon” from an advertisement on tv. Luckily, Lisa saves the day and Homer’s life. The best line comes from Homer to his doctor, “Don’t you remember your hippopotamus oath?” (Reality score = 7/10)
Season 4 Episode 16 – Duffless. In this episode, Lisa creates a giant tomato fertilized with anabolic steroids to end world hunger for her science project. However, Bart destroys the tomato by throwing it into Principal Skinner’s butt and Lisa has to come up with another science project. She decides to experimentally assess whether her brother is dumber than a hamster. The hamster is winning the contest 2-0 when Bart discovers the rouse, so he takes the hamster for his own project, “Can hamsters fly planes?” Also amusing in this episode (and does have to do with science) is Homer’s visit to the Duff Brewery. Mmm…beer. (Reality score = 7/10)
Season 8 Episode 1 – Treehouse of Horror XII (The Genesis Tub). Another science fair project goes awry for Lisa in this episode. She sets out to do an experiment to determine if cola can dissolve a tooth. Meanwhile, Bart shocks her to demonstrate for his own project that nerds conduct electricity. The electricity hits the tooth and morphs it into a living community of miniature beings that start to evolve. Bart starts a war with this little society and Lisa is shrunken down to save them from their Devil Bart. The best line comes from Lisa looking at her tooth colony after the first night, “Oh boy, mold! That’s science fair pay dirt!” (Reality score = 1/10)
Season 11 Episode 5 – E-I-E-I-Annoying Grunt. After slapping his way around and getting trapped into a duel, Homer needs to skip town. So the Simpsons take refuge in Homer’s boyhood family farm. By the way, I would take refuge at my family farm, Marshall’s Farmstand if I were in a similar situation. After planting an array of nuts, candy corn, and gummy bears Homer is disappointed that nothing is growing. Marge suggests, “Maybe it needs more fertilizer,” and Homer responds, “I’m only one man, Marge.” But plutonium is Homer’s answer as the radioactivity saves the farm by growing a disgusting, but highly addictive tomato, ToMacco. (Reality score = 1/10)
Season 13 Episode 20 – Little Girl in the Big Ten. In this episode, Bart gets stung by a Chinese mosquito that was trapped in a toy. The welt on Bart’s arm confirms that the mosquito has transmitted “panda virus” to Bart. To limit the spread of the virus, Bart is placed in a plastic bubble, which was so ingenious of the writers to come up with as a quarantine technique to keep Bart in the action. I just wish they would have gone farther with this storyline. There is a whole lot of satire to be had on the social ramifications of epidemics and vaccines that could have been explored here. (Reality score = 10/10)
And of course my favorite scientific character in The Simpsons is Dr. Professor Frink, a nerdy, mad-scientist, professor at Springfield Heights Institute of Technology (S.H.I.T, if you didn’t know). My favorite Prof. Frink episode is Season 15 Episode 1 – Treehouse of Horror XIV (Frinkenstein). In this episode, Prof. Frink reanimates his deceased father with his hammer/screwdriver combo tool in a Frankenstein parody. Frink Sr. goes on a killing spree in order to harvest better body parts for himself. Frink Jr. eventually kills him by kicking him in the crotch at the Nobel Prize award ceremony. The best line goes to Prof. Frink himself explaining his relationship with his father, “Mother used to say we got along like positrons and anti-neutrinos. Hahaha, yeah, I’m a geek.” (Reality score = 2/10)