Today is the 20th anniversary of the Simpsons episode The Last Temptation of Krust.
That’s the episode where Krusty realized he’s completely out of touch and no longer the behemoth showbiz success he used to be. He has a moment of panicked clarity when he sees Bart’s room, overflowing with his merchandise.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of The Simpsons. I consider the first 8 seasons to be among the best TV ever made, and I maintain that most of the episodes from that period hold up over 20 years later, even in the current TV renaissance of the last ten years or so.
Fewer people who know me know that my feelings about the rest of The Simpsons is much more tepid. I thought the movie was good the first time I saw it, but I’ve cooled on it. There are a few OK episodes from after season 8, but the decline in quality was rapid and consistent. Other people on the internet have detailed and chronicled this phenomenon much better than I can here.
In the episode, faced with his inability to freshen up his act, Krusty announces his retirement at a press conference. He opens with an excerpt from the poem “To an Athlete Dying Young” and is interrupted by one of the journalists.
I watched The Last Temptation of Krust a few nights ago with Mary. It was OK. It has the legendary “Canyonero” sequence as a closing bit, which stands on its own as a great musical segment from around the golden era of The Simpsons. The rest of the episode really was just OK. Right after watching that we watched Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1. It’s a bit unfair to compare, considering that’s one of the best Simpsons episodes ever, but the difference in quality was stunning.
I think The Last Temptation of Krust was a high point for season 9, but that season was part of the steady decline that the show never recovered from.
I don’t mind that The Simpsons isn’t as good as it was, I know there are plenty of people who still enjoy it. I just can’t because it’s so inferior to what it was before.
The next question Krusty gets from the press is
Someone on Reddit mentioned that this anniversary would be a great time for The Simpsons to announce retirement. I don’t think that’s going to happen for the same reason it didn’t happen 20 years ago.
I don’t begrudge the enjoyment of folks who like current Simpsons. I just know that re-watching the early episodes is more than enough for me.