Monday, October 17, 2005
The Simpsons: Origins
My continuing adventures with MySpace are a work in progress, but in the meantime here's a trip down my memory hole.
A few of my readers may remember that The Simpsons started out its life as a series of shorts on Fox's The Tracey Ullman Show way back in 1987. They were extra bits intended to get the show in and out of commercials, but they quickly developed a life of their own. I was already a huge fan of Simpsons creator Matt Groening's work, having developed a delirious passion for his his darkly plangent Life In Hell comic strip from reading it regularly in the Chicago Reader when I first moved to that fair city in 1982. I'm pretty sure I knew early on that Groening was the creator of the shorts; I may have even watched the show on that basis.
At any rate, I saw the first-ever short episodes of what later became The Simpsons on its premiere airing on April 19th, 1987. I remember well the refreshing bite of those quick snips; there was nothing like its satirical blend of family dysfunction, neurosis, and fear on television at that time. The first series, "Good Night," has stayed with me for the last seventeen years and from that single viewing years ago I can quote you almost verbatim the entire four-section mini-cartoon.
Now I've had the chance to check my memory. Those early episodes are available online for viewing here. They're as funny and sharp as I remember, if a bit rough around the edges. Popular culture has evolved and grown by leaps and bounds in the last eighteen years, and The Simpsons has been in the vanguard of that change. And Tracey Ullman, as part owner of The Simpsons, has become a very wealthy woman indeed.