Culturally speaking, it is difficult or nigh impossible to find a show that has altered the landscape that is the American family. George Bush (Senior not Junior) missed the point behind the Simpsons. Are they dysfunctional? Perhaps but then again what family is truly well adjusted? The appeal of the Simpsons besides the inherent wit and intelligence in the writing is that the viewer can relate to elements of this television family. You have the loving father but dimwitted father (Homer), the glue behind the family (Marge), the intelligent overachieving sibling (Lisa), the rascal or troublemaker (Bart) and the baby with a personality of her own (Maggie). There's is the life of the everyman, which we the mass live day in and day out.
With four hundred and eighty-six episodes to select from, there is many adventures of this family that reside deep within my heart but when pressed with the question, "which is your favorite episode?" The answer remains ever the same, "You Only Move Twice." Talk about clever, you know where the episode is going to go by the title alone (For those keeping score, it is a play on the Bond film, "You Only Live Twice). Couple it beginning with the funniest line/gag (Smithers annoyance to being offered a job... "What's wrong with this country? Can't a man walk down the street without being offered a job?") in the twenty-two year history of the show and you got yourself a stew going.
For those who missed this gem and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Smithers rebukes the Globex Corporation's offer of a job and they go to the next senior member of the nuclear plant, Homer Simpson. The Simpsons move to Cypress Creek, where Homer works for a supportive and altogether nice guy by the name of Hank Scorpio. In this environment, Homer flourishes for the first time in his life and shows glimpses of a positive self-esteem. The rest of the family however is far from happy, Marge turns to drinking wine because she has nothing to do, Lisa develops a nasty cause of allergies to everything in Cypress Creek and Bart is placed in a class with "arsonists and kids with mittens pinned to their jackets all year 'round." In short, the family would like to return to Springfield.
To which Homer replies ignorant to the fact that Hank Scorpio is a supervillain (forgot to mention that fact):
"We've got it great, here. And for the first time in my life, I'm actually good at
my job. My team is way ahead of the weather machine and germ warfare divisions."
This is where the episode reveals its ties to the Bond franchise including a great
sequence with Scorpio and Mr. Bont. However, the greatest part of this episode
to me (by the way, the Bont/ Scorpio scene is timeless) is the fact that inside Homer
is with hopes and dreams (one of which is owning the Dallas Cowboys) that do not
include food and he is willing to risk that for the happiness of his family. This is
what families do, the sacrifice for the happiness of the collective, which in the end
illustrates that the Simpsons are a functional family (since this occurs in many
episodes). Take that former President Bush!
All sentiment aside, this episode has some of the most clever writing and intelligence
crammed into twenty-two minutes. Scorpio, revealed as a maniacal villain, after
exercising his "doomsday device," ends up controlling the East Coast. For his
role in Project Arcturus (which he probably does not understand), Homer is
rewarded with something that takes him closer to his dream but disappoints him...
The Denver Broncos ("You just do not understand football, Marge") Even
that reminds me of the dynamics behind a family. I alluded to it, the Simpsons has
been popular for so long is because they are reminiscent of everyone's family.
Honestly, it does not get any better than this episode for a whole host of reasons that
would ultimately bore you to hear about. I smell a doctoral thesis for family
psychology coming on...