Here are my opinions on how The Simpsons has changed over the years. I give my views on each of the 15 Seasons so far, commenting on the style, humor and animation, then round up with my "top 15" list.
Our very first glimpse of The Simpsons (not including the shorts). The drawing and animation was very crude, but there were some funny moments.
One thing I don't like about this Season is the moral high it has. For example, in the episode "Homer's Night Out," Marge kicks Homer out of the house for dancing with an exotic dancer at a stag night. In my opinion, this is a little extreme.
Homer is an incompetent boob in this Season, but has some intelligence. His voice in this Season is very low - this is because Dan Castellaneta did a Walter Mathau-type voice, basically a deep-sounding vocal.
Very similar to Season 1 in the style of humor and morals, but the animation is much better. Homer's voice resembles what it is now - the pitch is slightly higher than it was in Season 1.
The stories in this Season were decent, and introduced many of the characters people love these days, such as Professor Frink, Comic Book Guy and the Sarcastic Clerk. I don't like this Season as much as some of the middle Seasons, I can't say why exactly, there were just not enough jokes - it was still a kids show.
The Simpsons gets remarkably better in these Seasons. The storylines are funny, there are so many hilarious lines! This is where The Simpsons becomes less of a show for kids, and more of a show for teenagers and adults - there are more references and jokes which kids wouldn't get.
The animation is again better, but what I like most is the way the characters are drawn, especially Homer. He has this kind of childlike innocence look about him, even though he does stupid things. It's hard to explain. He is more stupid than before, but he is still great. Several episodes deal with emotion terrifically.
Truly these are the Golden Years! I love these episodes, I can still watch them today and laugh most of the way through.
Homer is very weird in these Seasons, especially 6. Take for example the episode "Bart's Girlfriend". There is a scene in the kitchen where Marge worries about a change in Bart. Homer makes several comments in a distance kinda voice, as if he's on another planet, like "Probably misses his old glasses."
Homer also plays a less important part in many episodes from these Seasons. Other characters are given a chance to shine, while Homer is almost the comic relief. The animation is about the same as Seasons 3-5.
Here's where many people believe the show started to go downhill. Mike Scully took over on Season 9 as Executive Producer, and a lot of people, including me, blame him for the quality decline. These two Seasons weren't too bad, though. In fact, I really like Season 9.
Season 10 had lots of great moments, but this is where we started to see episodes which were not up to the usual standards, such as "When You Dish Upon A Star" and "Homer Simpson In: Kidney Trouble". There is quite a contrast throughout the Season of quality: one episode is really good, and the next is really poor, and so on.
There have also been many more guest stars playing themselves since Season 9, which I don't like - guest stars are funnier when they play other characters.
This is where it all started to go horribly wrong. This is my least favorite Season of all. Homer is a fat stupid jerk, Bart becomes a criminal instead of being just a little mischievous, and some strange plot twists: jockey elves, Barney becoming sober (permanently!) and Homer wanting to commit suicide are three such examples.
On the other hand, there are some good episodes. I actually love "Days of Wine and D'ohses" besides the permanently-sober-Barney. I wish they would change him back. And the complete parody of The Simpsons that is "Behind The Laughter" is hilarious! But overall, this Season sucks.
I have never seen such a contrast between episodes than I have in this Season. Season 12 has one of my all-time favorite episodes, "Worst Episode Ever" (how ironic...), and my least favorite ever, "The Great Money Caper". To this day, I do not know how the same team that created one can have made the other. There are at least 5 great episodes in this Season, and 5 horror-stories (not including THOH ;-) ).
Also, I would like to use this space to say that I think the episode "Simpson Safari" is good - yes it's a little weird, but it's very funny and more people should give it a chance.
This Season was also the Season of "wacky endings" - most of the episodes have a very strange last minute, which I choose to ignore these days. Seriously, try it, you might find you like this Season more!
This Season marks an upturn for The Simpsons - there were many more episodes which were of a high standard. But on the other hand, the couple of bad episodes were REALLY bad... you know which ones I mean... episodes like "The Lastest Gun In The West" and "The Old Man And The Key" really make my blood boil. I can't believe these got further than the script, they are not funny at all!! There were some good episodes here though: "Half-Decent Proposal" is one of my faves.
Another thing I noticed in this Season is the increase in swearing and general filth. There were two episodes with the word 'penis', one with Homer calling the wiener the strongest muscle in the body, and one with Homer talking about feeling boobs. This is not Simpsons humor, it is South Park humor... it doesn't belong here!
I find it really hard to judge this Season. To be honest, there are very few stand-out episodes - the Season is not that memorable. There were good episodes, and there were not very many bad ones, but even the good ones were flawed with stupid, flat jokes, the same things which ruined the previous few Seasons. Some of the storylines were dire (eg Large Marge), but these were probably the ones executed the best... it was the episodes with good plots which were stupidly let down.
This Season marked the start of digital animation - and it was excellent. In a lot of episodes it is not noticeable, but in some episodes you can really see the benefit. Overall, a decent Season I guess.
I want to say "wow" to this Season, but that would be exaggerating a bit. Nonetheless, this Season was definitely the best since Season 10. Plot lines are better, episodes are much funnier, and the characterization is pretty much dead-on in most episodes. The only things that brought the Season down were a few episodes which seemed quite rushed and/or underdeveloped (Marge Vs. SSCCATAG and Today I Am A Klown spring to mind).
And who could forget the atrocity that was Bart-Mangled Banner? However, the animation is superb and it was very noticeable (in a good way) in many episodes - this topped off a return to good form for The Simpsons. Who knows what'll happen next year?
Well, that's all my objective comments for now. I'll continue to add to this page after each Season, so you can see my views on how the show is going downhill or having a slight boost... stay tuned. In the meantime here are the Seasons in the order I like them best, with best at the top:
* Season 7 *