by Dish Staff
Marking the show’s 25th birthday yesterday, Todd VanDerWerff pens an appreciation:
Yes, the show repeats itself a fair amount, but it would be hard for it not to. And, yes, the show has sort of lost a point-of-view character, as its writers have aged past first the Simpson kids and then even the Simpson parents. Many stories in its later years tend to be along the lines of “Can you believe things are this way?!” and have the tone of a particularly perturbed anecdote in the “Life in These United States” feature in Reader’s Digest. All of these things mean it’s hard for the program to create classic episodes week in and week out now.
But what the [recent Simpsons] marathon underlined for me, more than anything, is that the series has attempted to stay true to its characters, and that it still takes chances, especially in its visuals. Both of these things are immensely important to its longevity, and the fact that it remains a pretty reliable form of entertainment from week to week. Seeing all of the episodes one after the other made the continuum that much more apparent: the show started great, became absolutely brilliant, then declined back to just great, before taking a few seasons to find a plateau of better than average.