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Katherine is the Managing Editor at The Hudsucker. She has been working in libraries for the past 10 years and holds a B.A. in American Studies & Ethnicity from the University of Southern California. In her free time, the Seattleite enjoys writing fiction, going to brunch, taking long walks with her roommate, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with her friends. Katherine is a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners and has probably seen every Marvel movie at least five times. She loves classic rock and can quote even the most obscure lines from The Simpsons. Follow Katherine on Twitter: @thethingiskat.

6 Must-See ‘Simpsons’ Premiere Episodes to Kick off Season 29

Image Credit: FOX

With season 29 of The Simpsons set to premiere on FOX at 8 p.m. on Sunday Oct. 1, it seems like the perfect time to look back at some of their best premiere episodes. While the middle and later seasons of the show usually began with Treehouse of Horror episodes, the earlier seasons kicked off with some really solid episodes. Some featured big name guest stars or major plot points, while others were just regular outstanding episodes.

Though it’s hard to pick favorites when it comes to Simpsons episodes, below are six great non-Treehouse of Horror premiere episodes that will hopefully get you excited about the show’s 29th season.

Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire (Season 1)

The series premiere of The Simpsons is one of their best and most heartfelt episodes and shows how their dog, Santa’s Little Helper, became a member of their family. When Homer doesn’t get his usual Christmas bonus from Mr. Burns, and Marge spends all their money on Bart’s tattoo removal, there isn’t anything leftover for Christmas presents for the family. Homer takes a second job as a mall Santa to try to make up the difference, but he doesn’t make much and bets all his earnings at the racetrack. Unfortunately the dog he bets on, Santa’s Little Helper, comes in last and when his owner disowns him, Bart convinces Homer to bring the dog home. The Simpson family is thrilled to have the dog as their gift, and he becomes a permanent member of their family going forward in the series. Though it is rough around the edges like many early Simpsons episodes, the sentimental value of it makes it one of their best premieres.

Stark Raving Dad (Season 3)

Michael Jackson will forever be one of the biggest guest stars in Simpsons history, though at the time he guest starred under the alias “John Jay Smith.” In the episode, Homer is institutionalized for wearing a pink shirt to work, and while in the mental institution meets a man who claims to be Michael Jackson, though he looks nothing like him. When Marge comes to get Homer released, “Michael” comes home with them after he reveals he is only in the institution voluntarily. Bart tells his best friend Milhouse, who then reveals to the rest of Springfield that Michael Jackson will be staying with the Simpson family. Of course, once “Michael” arrives, the town is disappointed and turns on Bart, but no one is more upset than Lisa because he once again forgot her birthday. To make it up to her, Bart writes a song with “Michael” called “Happy Birthday Lisa” which she happily accepts as her present from her brother. “Michael” then reveals himself to be a man named Leon Kompowsky and bids the Simpsons farewell. Besides Jackson’s guest starring role, this episode features some of the most heartfelt moments between Bart and Lisa in the entire series, making it one of the show’s best.

Homer’s Barbershop Quartet (Season 5)

Image Credit: FOX

There is nothing better than when The Simpsons take on The Beatles. Not only one of the show’s best premieres, but one of the best of the entire series, “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” is everything that makes The Simpsons great. After attending a swap meet, Homer tells Bart and Lisa the story of his time in a barbershop quartet called The Be Sharps, which mirrors the rise and eventual breakup of The Beatles. The Be Sharps are made up of Homer, Apu, Principal Skinner, and Chief Wiggum, who is later replaced in favor of Barney Gumble. Along the way they record a hit song called “Baby on Board,” win a Grammy, and meet former Beatle George Harrison. After Homer reminisces about his time in the group with his family, he calls up the rest of the band, who later reunite atop Moe’s Tavern in an homage to the Beatles rooftop concert, leading George Harrison to drive by and remark, “It’s been done,” and Chief Wiggum to command his fellow officers to, “Get the tear gas.” The episode is enjoyable on its own, but it is particularly special to anyone who knows the history of The Beatles. There are the obvious allusions to Yoko Ono (Barney dating the Japanese conceptual artist) and to being “bigger than Jesus” (the name of The Be Sharps second album). But there are also more subtle nods to their history, like Moe’s Bar originally being called Moe’s Cavern in reference to the Cavern Club, and Chief Wiggum being ousted like that of original Beatles drummer Pete Best. Whether you’re a fan of the Beatles or just a fan of The Simpsons, “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” stands as one of the most enjoyable episodes of the series no matter how you view it.

Bart of Darkness (Season 6)

Image Credit: FOX

While there’s nothing particularly special or noteworthy about the episode, “Bart of Darkness” is an enjoyable, solid episode of The Simpsons and one of my personal favorites. After a particularly tough heat wave in Springfield, Bart and Lisa convince Homer and Marge to let them have a pool. This leads to all the neighborhood kids coming over and convincing Bart to jump from his treehouse to the pool when he tries to go over the pool rules, but instead he falls and breaks his leg. He spends the summer becoming increasingly isolated and paranoid while Lisa ends up as the most popular girl of the summer. Lisa brings Bart a telescope to try to cheer him up, which leads him to spy on the town’s residents and thinking that he’s stumbled upon Ned Flanders murdering his wife. Though it turns out to be a misunderstanding, the lead up to the reveal and Bart’s increasing paranoia make for some of the biggest laughs of the episode. This episode also has some of the best jokes of the series, including Bart’s play (“Kippers for breakfast, Aunt Helga?”), the Springfield Police Department Rescue Phone (“You have selected regicide.”), and Martin’s swimsuits being stolen. Though not remarkable in the same way some of these episodes are, it is one of the funniest episodes of the series and deserves a mention as one of their best premieres.

Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 2 (Season 7)

The “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” saga is one of the most significant pop culture moments in the history of The Simpsons. Part 1 aired as the season finale of season 6, and all summer long fans tried to guess and unravel theories about which Simpsons character had shot the show’s villain, Mr. Burns. The show even held a contest for fans to guess the identity of the shooter, with the prize being their likeness animated into a later episode of the series. As it turns out, Maggie ended up accidentally shooting Mr. Burns after his gun fell into her hands as he tried to steal her lollipop. And though Burns tried to get Maggie arrested for the incident, Chief Wiggum declined, stating that no one would convict a baby of a crime. The lead up to the reveal, however, took many twists and turns, with characters like Waylon Smithers, Principal Skinner, Moe, and guest star Tito Puente all being cleared of the crime in different, humorous ways. While initially it appears Homer might have shot Mr. Burns, after Simpson DNA is discovered at the crime scene and Burns seemingly identifies him by name, two episodes worth of clues and an entire summer’s worth of theories ends with Maggie as the shooter. Though some were kind of upset with the reveal of baby Maggie as the shooter, the cultural impact of the premiere cannot be understated.

The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson (Season 9)

Image Credit: FOX

Though most of the episode takes place in New York City, it is still very much a Simpsons story. After leaving his car with Barney, the unwilling designated driver for his group of friends, Homer receives a notice stating that his car is illegally parked in the World Trade Center plaza. While Homer is reluctant to go back to the city after a bad experience there in his youth, the family is excited about a possible trip to New York. They see the sights and take in a Broadway musical, featuring one of the show’s best original songs “I’m Checking In,” while Homer is stuck waiting for the parking officer so he can get the boot off of his car. Unfortunately he drinks too much crab juice he bought from a street vendor and must go through both towers to find a bathroom, but this leads him to miss the parking officer who writes Homer another ticket. Not wanting to spend additional time in New York, he drives off with the boot still on the car, severely damages it while using a jackhammer to take it off, and chases his family down in Central Park to take them back to Springfield. Though the rest of the family had a good time, the episode ends with Homer being continually hit in the face with trash from a garbage truck in front of him as they drive home, showing he still has ill feelings towards the city. The episode can be hard to watch given the events of September 11, 2001, but when it premiered in 1997, it was one of their strongest debut episodes to date.

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What’s your favorite season premiere episode of The Simpsons? Let us know in the comments!

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