"Last Exit to Springfield"
"Last Exit to Springfield" finds Homer Simpson the head of the union at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Because Lisa needs braces, he fights for the employees keep their dental plan. The episode is filled with great moments, such as Ralph Wiggum being shown "The Big Book of British Smiles" to get him to brush his teeth. Then there's Homer's "train of thought" when he hears Lenny shouting, "Dental plan!" and then Marge, "Lisa needs braces!" Mr. Burns asks, "Who is that firebrand, Smithers?" Why, it's Homer Simpson, Union Boss.
"The Last Temptation of Homer"
In "The Last Temptation of Homer," Michelle Pfeiffer guest stars as Mindy Simmons, the new employee at the power plant. Homer falls for her because she's gorgeous, loves donuts and burps frequently. In the end, Homer realizes he loves Marge too much to cheat on her. Michelle Pfeiffer is so elegant and beautiful, that the irony of her playing a burping love interest for Homer Simpson is funny enough. Also, the thorny issue of adultery is tackled in a way only The Simpsons could. Though Homer is contemplating cheating, he's a sympathetic and almost innocent character.
"Life on the Fast Lane"
When Homer gives Marge a bowling ball as a birthday present, Marge vows to take up lessons. (At Bowl-a-rama, she declines a lane saying, "No thanks, I'm just here out of spite.") But she finds herself attracted to the charming instructor, Jacques (Albert Brooks). On her way to his apartment, she changes her mind, and my favorite scene of the episode takes place: In a parody of An Officer and a Gentleman, Marge marches through the power plant to find Homer. Then Homer announces, "I'm going to the back seat of my car, with the woman I love, and I won't be back for ten minutes!"
"Marge vs. Monorail"
"Marge vs. Monorail" has many scenes and moments that are considered classic by Simpsons fans. For instance, Lyle Lanley's Music Man-inspired song and dance at the town hall meeting. Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek) serving as Grand Marshall while confused Mayor Quimby exlaims, "May the force be with you!" And the line my husband frequently quotes to me, much to my chagrin, occurs when Homer is considering what to use as an anchor for the runaway train. As he is regarding Bart, Bart says, "Think harder, Homer." There are too many sight gags to list, and seeing so many of Springfield's characters is always fun.
In "Mr. Plow," unlike other episodes, Homer starts a business that becomes successful. But his snow plow business is so successful, his friend Barney starts one, too. The competition becomes too fierce, but in the end, their friendship proves to be more important than money. The crowning glory of "Mr. Plow" is the jingle Homer composes for his late-night commercial. What fan can't sing, "Call Mr. Plow, That's my name, That name again, Is Mr. Plow?" Who needs Linda Ronstadt?
"Natural Born Kissers"
Homer and Marge re-discover passion when they start making love in places where they could get caught. There aren't many couples on TV who work hard at staying together. It's heartening to see even if a cartoon couple dealing with the same issues everyone else does. My favorite scene is the one at the miniature golf course, with Ned, Maude and everyone else poking into the windmill, trying to retrieve a golf ball. Then, Homer and Marge flee, escaping in a hot air balloon. But during the ride, Homer winds up hanging onto the rope, being flown over Springfield in the buff. Naked Homer Simpson is always funny.
Milhouse is one of my favorite characters, and he gets more than his 15 minutes in "Radioactive Man." In this episode, Milhouse wins the part of Fallout Boy in the Radioactive Man movie that's being made in Springfield. But Milhouse finds that movie-making isn't much fun. "Radioactive Man" focuses on the friendship between Bart and Milhouse, which is endearing and touching. The episode also pokes fun at Hollywood very effectively. To top it off, funny favorite characters Rainier Wolfcastle ("My eyes! The goggles do nothing!") and Lionel Hutz (Phil Hartman) are also in the episode.
"Rosebud" focuses on Mr. Burns, a favorite character on The Simpsons. Mr. Burns searches for a stuffed bear from his childhood, Bobo. Back in season five, Homer wasn't as crass and shallow. When he discovers Maggie's bear is Bobo, he lets her keep it instead of taking $1 million from Mr. Burns. Though Mr. Burns makes Homer's life miserable, including depriving him of TV and beer, Homer never gives in. Finally, sweet Maggie gives back the bear. Also in this episode, we begin to learn Smithers' true feelings for Mr. Burns, and suspicions about his sexuality are, shall we say, aroused.
In "Selma's Choice," the family goes to the funeral of Aunt Gladys, who, in her video will, warns Selma and Patty that she should marry and have children before it's too late. Selma takes it to heart, but when she takes Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens, she changes her mind. "Selma's Choice" is an example of an episode of The Simpsons dealing with real life issues, big ones, in a humorous and touching way. Scene after scene is full of jokes, from the funeral home, to Selma's experience with the dating service, to the entire disastrous visit to Duff Gardens.
"A Streetcar Named Marge"
"A Streetcar Named Marge" not only showcases the musical talents of composer Alf Clausen and the singing talents of the cast, but also the buff upper body of Ned Flanders. Who knew! Why this episode? Let me count the ways. Jon Lovitz as director Llewelyn Sinclair. Apu ending his scene as the newspaper boy on a high, sad note. Maggie's covert liberation of everyone's pacifiers at the Ayn Rand School for Tots. Genius all!