Looking Forward From 350
It's a cliche for reporters to ask the creator of a long-running TV show about his favourite episodes, and the cliched response is for the creator to say that he loves them all and can't possibly single out one or two.

Yet upon meeting The Simpsons creator Matt Groening at a party celebrating the show's 350th episode the temptation to ask the favourites question was too hard to resist. Happily, he didn't give the usual non-answer, rattling off a list of his top secondary characters - Apu, the Squeaky Voiced Teen, Ralph Wiggum and Milhouse's dad, Kirk, among them - and episodes he loves.

"I Don't have a single favourite. There's a bunch I really like," Groening says. "I love Bart Sells His Soul, the episode (from October 1995) where he sold his soul to Milhouse for five bucks. I love the one where we had Frank Grimes (Homer's Enemy, May 1997). And I like an episode we have coming up where Bart converts to Catholicism (The Father, The Son & The Holy Guest Star, May 2005)."

That episode was pulled following the death of Pope John Paul II. Groening says the decision was one the network made: "We think it's offensive whenever you run it."

It's remarkable enough that The Simpsons has even made it to 350 episodes, more than any other scripted show on TV. That it can still create a buzz after that long is unheard of in this era.

"No matter how hard people try to run it into the ground by putting it on too many times a day, putting it on multiple DVDs and oversaturating the marketplace and all the rest, we still keep going," Groening says. "In fact, I have to say I'm very proud of this season and the coming season (17)."

Groening thinks the show has lasted so long because "with animation, there are so many possibilities to surprise the audience. That's really what we try to do. We try to keep surprising the audience and keep surprising ourselves."

Groening was quoted one recent Sunday in The New York Times as saying "the show has almost reached its halfway point." The following Monday he said he was "not serious at all" about whether The Simpsons can last another 250 episodes, but quickly added, "I'll do them if we can. That's a long time, but if we, you know - unless we all get killed," he says with a shrug.

"I think five of the main people could get killed and the show could still go on. But any more than five - that's why we all ride in separate airplanes."

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Disclaimer: This article is from the May 8, 2005 edition of Sunday Mail TVguide in Adelaide, South Australia. It has been posted here for general information purposes and no profit is being made from this article. Visit The Advertiser/Sunday Mail website here.


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