It’s an unfortunate fact that over the years, The Simpsons has lost that spark that once upon a time had us impatiently waiting for our weekly dose of everyone’s favourite dysfunctional family. That’s not to say that there isn’t the occasional diamond in the rough, but when you compare that to earlier seasons like Season 6 – a personal favourite of mine – which rarely hit a dud note, it just doesn’t compare.
Even cameo appearances by celebrities have lost some of their appeal, which is sad considering the weight something like that held back in the day; news that the The X-Files’ Mulder and Scully would make an appearance back in season 8 nearly blew my tiny mind. It now seems like everyone and anyone will or has appeared in The Simpsons at one stage or another.
However, this hasn’t been all bad for us nerds and we’ve got to see some of our favourite actors/characters given The Simpson’s treatment. And by that I mean appearing in all their yellow glory, downgrading from five fingers to four and having a few good natured jokes fired their way. Here’s a few of the best.
Leonard Nimoy (Himself) – “Marge VS The Monorail”
Leonard Nimoy appears as himself and is the subject of many gags relating to various Springfieldians getting Star Wars mixed up with Star Trek and even telling him ‘May the Force be with you’. Nimoy manages to hold his own, and even steals the show when the monorail he is riding looks like it might crash and he helps save the day – even though he didn’t do anything… or did he? *Teleporter noises*
On a side note, Leonard Nimoy made his second appearance in the ep below “The Springfield Files”, narrating the story… for the first half anyway.
Highlight: Saving Krusty the Clown from throwing himself to his death because ‘The World needs laughter‘. A ridiculous scene made all the more fun considering the poker faced gravitas Nimoy brings to the situation.
David Duchovny (Fox Mulder)and Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully) – “The Springfield Files”
When Homer witnesses an Alien presence in Springfield there really are only two people you can call. FBI agents Mulder and Scully. Both actors lampoon their on-screen alter egos as they fruitlessly attempt to administer psychological tests on Homer in order to determine if his story is true. They fail to find the Alien but along the way we do get to see the two go for drinks at Moes and Mulder rambling about his conspiracy theories whilst a stolen whale is carried off into the night behind him. Whom Whom indeed.
Highlight: ‘Agents Mulder and Scully. F. B. I‘. That photo in the wallet.
Mark Hamill (Himself/Luke Skywalker) – “Mayored to the Mob”
Mark Hamill appears at a convention in Springfield and as usual, this ends in a riot. Hamill earned my everlasting respect as he ends up getting twice as much fun poked at him than other celebrities considering he plays himself but is forced to wear his Luke Skywalker outfit the entire time and is constantly harassed for things Luke did or didn’t do in the Star Wars films… Like not finishing Jedi School.
Highlight: Luke… I mean, Hamill appearing in a stage show of ‘Guys and Dolls’ and being forced against his will to replace the lyrics with Star Wars references.
Adam West (Himself) – “Mr Plow”
Though Adam West (and his eccentricities) have become a staple of Family Guy over the years, it’s always fun to watch West’s first appearance in The Simpsons. Appearing at a Car Expo, he stands proudly beside the 60′s Batmobile and when Bart doesn’t recognise him goes on a crazy rant about how he is the real Batman, how he never needed a rubber suit to look good (it was all ‘pure West‘) that ends with him wondering ‘How come Batman doesn’t dance anymore?’ before breaking out some Bat moves as the family slowly back away.
Highlight: After Homer turns up to plow West’s drive, he finds his friend/nemesis Barney has already cleared it. When he confronts Adam West about saying he had a job for him, West, with as much dramatic flair as he can muster, calmly states “There was… When I called you… 45 minutes ago” before jumping into a decrepit Batmobile and slowly fleeing the scene
J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson) – “Moe’N'a Lisa”
Editor of American Poetry Perspectives, Simmons plays the wall crawler’s biggest detractor with all the verve that he brought to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Filled with quick wit and his usual biting humour Simmons reminded us all why he really is the only man who can sit in the Daily Bugles EIC chair. Take note of that Marc Webb.
Highlight: Declaring that he wants photos of Spider-Man and upon being reminded that he runs a poetry magazine immediately declaring that he wants poems about Spider-Man.
Richard Dean Anderson (Himself) – “Kiss Kiss Bang Bangalore”
RDA’s love of The Simpson’s was referenced many times in Stargate SG1 and considering Patty and Selma are obsessed with his previous show ‘MacGyver’, this was a match made in heaven. Kidnapped from a Stargate convention by the aforementioned stalkers, RDA is held captive and must rely on the skills he learned from MacGyver to make his escape.
Highlight: After realising how thrilling it is to orchestrate a daring escape, RDA returns and comes up with more and more elaborate situations that he wants the sisters to engineer so he can escape again and again – ‘I want you to tie me up and lock me in the trunk of your car, under the pier at low tide. All I need are these everyday objects — a toothpick, some liquor, a gun with no bullets, bullets, and three of my MacGyver writers’.
Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) – “24 Minutes”
In this ‘real-time’ episode, Bart is working for Principal Skinners’ Counter Truancy Unit (or CTU) and attempts to stop a terrorist prank. The whole episode is a parody of 24 and even goes so far as to feature Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub as their 24 counterparts Jack Bauer and the always annoying Chloe. When Bart’s call is somehow crossed with Jacks, he can’t resist pranking Bauer with the name ‘Ahmed Adoudi’. Honestly, who could resist that?
Highlight: After diverting all of CTU’s resources to track down and arrest Bart, Bauer watches in horror as a Nuke goes off in a nearby town before smiling and declaring ‘It’s okay. That was Shelbyville‘. That place really does suck.
Stephen Hawking (Himself) – “Stop or My Dog Will Shoot” “Elementary School Musical”, “Don’t Fear the Roofer” “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”
Stephen Hawking has appeared in 4 episodes of The Simpsons so far and doesn’t seem to mind any of the good natured jokes that are directed his way. Whether it be Homer imitating his voice to get out of paying for a round of drinks, implying that he steals all of his ideas and theories from other people, to showing that he has a spring loaded boxing glove hidden in his chair for dealing out his own brand of justice. What a cracking sport.
Highlight: Hawking’s response to Skinner when he tries to speak on his behalf, ‘I don’t need anyone to talk for me… except this voice box’.
Lucy Lawless (Herself) – “Treehouse of Horror X”
Lucy Lawless appears in full Xena gear in this Halloween episode. After explaining that all continuity issues in the show can be explained away by Wizards and leaving nit-picking fans everywhere at a loss, Lawless is kidnapped from a Xena: Warrior Princess convention by Comic Book Guy’s The Collector (who devilishly uses a magnet to snag her metal breastplate). The Collector plans to keep her in mint condition, trapped forever in a sealed bag. Thankfully Bart and Lisa (who, as this is a Halloween special have superpowers… obviously) are on hand to help her out.
Highlight: After being saved. Lawless picks up the Simpson kids and flies off. When Lisa points out that Xena can’t fly, Lawless points out once again that she’s not Xena, she’s Lucy Lawless. Which explains everything.
Stan Lee (Himself) – “I Am Furious (Yellow)”
Considering what an eccentric and fun guy everyone’s favourite comic legend, Stan Lee seems to be, it didn’t seem like The Simpsons writers would have much work to do in order to get a memorable performance from the man. However, they somehow made Stan all the cooler by getting him to play a caricature of his normal caricature-like self and having him terrorise patrons of Comic Book Guy’s comic shop in his quest to see Marvel beat DC. And also by having him stand in front of the store trying to change into the Incredible Hulk… he swears he did it once before.
Highlight: After destroying a child’s Batmobile by forcing an action figure of Fantastic Four’s The Thing inside because it’s obviously a better toy than a Batman figure, the child accuses Lee of breaking it. Lee calmly replies ‘Broke? Or made Better?‘. Excelsior.
Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger) – “Treehouse of Horror IX”
Ok, this is a real blink and you’ll miss it cameo but that’s why I thought it was worth a mention. The cameo occurs before the show even starts during the weekly ‘Couch gag’. During the opening credits each of the Simpsons are disposed of in various ways. We then cut to the couch to see Nightmare on Elm Street’s Freddy Krueger and Friday the 13th’s Jason Voorhees lying in wait and wondering what’s taking the family so long.
Any other nerd cameos you can think off? Any comic book movie heroes or TV stars you’d like to see appearing in Springfield soon? Let us know in the comments section.