Over 26 years in the making, and tonight, The Simpsons will celebrate 600 episodes as well as their 27th “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween special. On the air since 1989, The Simpsons have become a worldwide cultural phenomenon. A preview clip posted to the official Fox Television Animation YouTube channel showcases what looks like a Hunger Games-inspired vignette.
Celebrating 600 Episodes, 100 At A Time
To help commemorate 600 episodes of The Simpsons, the official Fox Television Animation YouTube channel has posted recap clips of each 100th episode, starting with Episode 100, all the way through Episode 500. Here they are, tracing the history of the show through evolving storylines and changing animation:
Popularity And Longevity
Simpsons co-creator and executive producer James L. Brooks recounts to Variety how the show seemed to suddenly take off in popularity all those years ago.
“It was 27 years ago and some magazine like ‘Satellite News’ put us on the cover… I said, ‘Oh my God, we’re on the cover!’ And put it on my wall… and suddenly *all* the covers were on my wall. There’s an actual sound that happens when you enter the culture and I remember experiencing that.”
Matt Groening, the lead creator of the original Simpsons characters, said the show continues to thrive because of the strong team effort behind the scenes.
“It’s a huge shared vision among writers, animators, actors, and musicians and we’re all facing the same direction and everybody throws in their life experience and makes the show better… It’s a true collaboration that really works.”
The Simpsons In VR
If the 600th episode and the 27th Halloween special wasn’t enough, The A.V. Club reports that the opening credits of this episode will feature a virtual-reality enhanced component of the usual “couch-gag.” Nearly every Simpsons episode has some kind of unusual, quick, and humorous scene of the family gathering on the couch to watch TV. After 600 episodes, this is the first exploration of the relatively new technology. The segment was produced by the Simpsons creative team along with Google Spotlight Stories, a division of Google focused on VR for mobile devices like smartphones. Brooks spoke with The A.V. Club about adjusting to working with a tech firm on a comedy show.
“The first meetings, we didn’t understand a word anybody was saying, and now we’re getting it… and there’s new techniques they’re doing that sort of lend themselves to a 15-second joke.”
The special VR-enhanced version of the show opening will be available to anyone who has Google Cardboard, a special lens frame that attaches to a smartphone. The system works on both Android and iOS.
Worth The Watch?
Other things to expect in this Simpsons episode, according to The A.V. Club, include a Hunger Games parody and the ghostly return of Frank Grimes, a character who despised Homer’s seemingly easy success at everything in life. The question on some of the more jaded fans minds may be if it is worth tuning in for. There is a consensus among some fans that the quality of the show dropped off in the late 1990s and never really recovered.
In an advance review for IGN, writer Jesse Schedeen found the episode overall to be mediocre, and “mostly bland.” He felt not enough attention was given to the 600th episode accomplishment. “But as impressive as that milestone is, it’s kind of a shame a better episode wasn’t chosen to mark the occasion.”
“The weakest ‘Treehouse of Horror’ segments tend to be those that focus too much energy on spoofing pop culture at the expense of all else, and this is another example…”
“As is too often the case with the show these days, the opening and closing segments wind up proving more entertaining than the material in between. The opening shines as several fan-favorite characters make welcome cameo appearances, while the closing delivers a brief but memorable musical number…”
“Unfortunately, the latest ‘Treehouse of Horror’ installment is far from great. Only one of the three segments is particularly memorable, and even that feels constrained by the seven-minute structure. The time has come for this long-running series to become more experimental with its Halloween episodes.”
Viewers will soon get to decide for themselves if the episode is worthy of the 600th Episode honor.
The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror XXVII” will air tonight on Fox at 8 p.m. Eastern.
[Featured Image by Fox Television]