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IGN: The Simpsons: 17 Seasons, 17 Episodes

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SEASON SIX:
"Treehouse of Horror V"

Written By: Dan McGrath, Bob Kushell, Greg Daniels, and David X. Cohen
Directed By: Jim Reardon

In the hilarious sixth season, we were forced to pick "Treehouse of Horror V." Not only was it the funniest Treehouse of Horror to date, but it also beat out side-splitting episodes like "Itchy & Scratchy Land" and "Bart vs. Australia" to be the best episode of the season. You might be asking yourself: "Which Treehouse of Horror episode was that again?" Instantly recognizable, this episode featured the parody of The Shining ("The Shinning"), a parody of the Ray Bradbury short story "A Sound of Thunder" - with Homer going back in time with the toaster, and the "Nightmare Cafeteria," where the children are served as food. Each of these skits were very funny and they all featured Groundskeeper Willie getting killed by an axe - how can you go wrong with that!


SEASON SEVEN:
"A Fish Called Selma"

Written By: Jack Barth
Directed By: Mark Kirkland

Although there was some good competition - notably "22 Short Films About Springfield" and "Homerpalooza" - "A Fish Called Selma" seemed as if it was the obvious pick. Following the misadventures of Troy McClure, we watch him as he falls in love with Selma while balancing his fragile Hollywood career. This storyline is funny enough, but it is the multiple references to Troy being a deviant (he likes fish) and his acting roles that really make this episode hilarious. In the best scene of the episode (and maybe even the whole show) we watch as Troy McClure performs in a musical adaptation of Planet of the Apes ("I hate every ape I see, from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z").


SEASON EIGHT:
"You Only Move Twice"

Written By: John Swartzwelder
Directed By: Mike B. Anderson

This list is of the best episode from each season, not specifically the best episodes period, but it's impossible to fathom this one not being very high up on any list of the best Simpsons episodes of all time. The concept is so odd, yet so perfect: Homer's new job brings the family to a new town, and it turns out that Homer's friendly new boss is actually a James Bond villain. The episode is a wonderful example of slowly building up the comedy, as Homer just can't catch on that there's a lot more to Hank Scorpio and his company Globex than he is told about, even as the clues go from subtle to as direct as possible, including simply having a James Bond looking man held hostage in Scorpio's building. Meanwhile the rest of the Simpsons unfortunate experiences in their new town, most notably Bart being put in a special education class, give each member of the family their own standout moment. By the time Homer is essentially an accomplice to James Bond's murder, you know you're watching an amazing episode. And we haven't even mentioned Albert Brooks, who had played other roles on The Simpsons before, but outdoes himself this time, as the chummy, charismatic and diabolical Scorpio.


SEASON NINE:
"The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson"

Written By: Ian Maxtone-Graham
Directed By: Jim Reardon

Unfortunately, enjoyment of this episode is marred post 9/11 by the inclusion of the World Trade Center as a plot point. But putting aside the understandable discomfort that can bring to some, this is a very funny episode that started season 9 off on a strong note. The Simpsons travel to New York to retrieve Homer's car from where it's illegally parked at the World Trade Center (after Barney leaves it there, following a crazy drunken experience that began with Barney as designated driver), and this turns into what is essentially an American set installment of the many amusing episodes in which the Simpsons go to a foreign city. Just hearing Homer mention that his previous bad experience in New York involved pickpockets, pimps, Woody Allen and C.H.U.D.s is hysterical. Can you imagine any other show bringing up Allen and an obscure, cheesy 80's horror movie all at once (well, okay, before Family Guy would make it their trademark)? Plus, Bart gets to meet his idol and hero, when he goes to the Mad Magazine office and encounters Alfred E. Newman himself.


SEASON TEN:
"Mayored to the Mob"

Written By: Ron Hauge
Directed By: Swinton O. Scott III

Featuring Mark Hamill in one of the series' best guest appearances to date, "Mayored to the Mob" is a treat for fans of both The Simpsons and Star Wars. Hamill is excellent -- playing both himself and Homer's bodyguard academy instructor, Leavalle -- which should come as no surprise to fans of his voiceover work in the '90s (primarily as The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series). The primary storyline has Homer discovering that Mayor Quimby is mobbed up and then that mobster Fat Tony is supplying the Springfield schools with milk from rats, but the episode's high points come near the end, as Hamill sings "Luke be a Jedi" to the tune of Guys and Dolls' "Luck be a Lady," and Homer carries Hamill away from paparazzi, a la Bodyguard.


SEASON ELEVEN:
"Missionary Impossible"

Written By: Ron Hauge
Directed By: Steven Dean Moore

The plot of "Missionary Impossible" can be summed up in one phrase: "Homer as a missionary in the South Pacific," but that phrase alone conjures up some great images from the episode, such as the building of the "Lucky Savage" casino and the destruction of Homer's chapel by an earthquake and a river of lava. Some of the episode's best humor is back in Springfield, after Homer makes Bart the man of the house -- as Bart fills in for Homer at the nuclear plant, Mr. Burns berates "Homer" for his poor performance record, gets tired of talking and ends up just poking Bart with a stick. Betty White also gives a great guest performance as herself, hosting a PBS telethon and ridiculing those viewers who watch but don't send in contributions.

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