'D'oh!' What happens when The Simpsons gets too ambitious
But when you think of all The Simpsons episodes - all 618 of them - there's one constant: all their misadventures have been contained in a tidy 22 minutes. Until this Sunday night.
On January 15th, FOX will air the first ever hour-long Simpsons episode.
That's something considering the show is in its 28th season. It's also significant because of the content. The episode, titled The Great Phatsby, will riff on the great and similarly named F. Scott Fitzgerald novel but with a hip-hop theme. This is not only ambitious, it is a rarity for The Simpsons to tackle black culture.
It's worth noting that ambition doesn't always lead to success for The Simpsons. Remember the movie and the Who Shot Mr. Burns cliff-hanger?
Jack Picone and Dan Mulhall are the hosts of the Worst Episode Ever podcast. They've made it their job to wade through the hundreds of episodes and argue over what works and what doesn't. They join Day 6 host Brent Bambury to break down Springfield's most ambitious hits and misses.
HIT: 22 Short Films About Springfield
The episode is considered a success on the strength of the pop culture references (there's a Pulp Fiction gag) and the disastrous dinner storyline involving superintendent Gary Chalmers and Seymour Skinner.
JACK: If you don't like 12 of the 22, there's something wrong with you.
MISS: The Man Who Came to Be Dinner
DAN: The Simpsons creators say they held on to the plot for a few years because they thought it would be a good plot for a second Simpsons movie. Maybe it would be, but it doesn't work crammed into 22 minutes and takes the characters so far outside the realm of everyday American life. These characters just aren't built for this kind of humour.
HIT: Treehouse of Horror VI
The Treehouse of Horror episode is a parody of a famous Twilight Zone episode where a little girl goes into another dimension. The Simpsons had fun with it, calling it the third dimension - something only a flat, animated character could do.
HIT: Brick Like Me
DAN: The Man Who Came To Be Dinner was set in a different reality but it has no emotional hook and there was no basis for them to be there. In Brick Like Me, Homer and Lisa are playing with toys together but now she wants to hang out with older girls and go see a Hunger Games-like movie and she leaves Homer behind.
Homer says he likes the LEGO fantasy more because everything fits and no one can get hurt.
To hear Brent Bambury's conversation with Jack Picone and Dan Mulhall, download our podcast or click the 'Listen' button at the top of this page.