FXX is about to make every Simpsons fan’s dream come true – The Simpsons 600 Marathon, starting on Thanksgiving (Thursday, November 24th) at noon. It’s a pretty incredible way to re-live every episode of The Simpsons across its nearly 30 year history, and a rare opportunity to be able to re-experience The Simpsons along with the rest of the world all at the same time.
And in rewatching all of these classic episodes, you’ll get a chance to re-appreciate all of the subtle jokes and references the Simpsons’ writers snuck in – and remind you why this is the single best show to ever air on television.
1. Skinner’s POW prisoner number is a Les Miserables homage
Seymour Skinner has led a harrowing life (even if you choose to ignore his period of time as Armin Tamzarian) – he spent years fighting in Vietnam, saw many of his fellow soldiers gunned down in front of him, and was captured and held as a POW (and then years later went through a tough time trying to find the delicious stew he was served in his POW days – but in the states they just CAN’T get the spices right). But as a lighter note in his otherwise grim past, Skinner’s ID number while serving as a POW was identical to that of Jean ValJean’s famous prisoner number from Les Miserables – prisoner number 24601.
…which is doubly ironic, given Skinner’s persona would more often be similar to that of Les Miserables’ Javert, the strict man of the law who ruthlessly pursued Jean ValJean:
2. Young Ned Flanders almost said something PRETTY naughty…
In “Hurricane Neddy,” we find out the truth about Ned Flanders’ origins – namely, that he wasn’t always the upstanding, too-perfect person he would eventually become, but a rambunctious and rebellious kid whose beatnik parents couldn’t control. And the only solution they could find was a child psychologist who observed young Ned to find the root cause of his bad behavior and how to fix it.
Even knowing Ned was a bad apple, this scene of Ned Flanders playing Dick Tracy is REALLY shocking once you realize what he’s about to say when the tape cuts out:
”Wheee! I’m Dick Tracy! Bam! Take that, Pruneface! Now I’m Pruneface! Take that, Dick Tracy! Now I’m Prune Tracy! Take that Di–”
Yep, Ned Flanders almost said “Dick Face” (combining Dick Tracy and Prune Face). It would have been the most offensive thing he’d said since he had his first – and last – blackberry schnapps:
3. Homer’s 3D adventure is filled with math jokes
The Simpsons’ writer’s room is notoriously full of academics and geeks of all kinds – they love referencing literature and history and – yes – even MATH JOKES. It shouldn’t be too surprising that Homer3 was written by David X. Cohen, a former high school mathematics champion who would go on to fill episodes of Futurama with even more math jokes (alongside fellow Simpsons writer Ken Keeler, who would go on to INVENT A MATHEMATICAL THEOREM SPECIFICALLY FOR FUTURAMA).
Anyways – in Homer3, Homer accidentally goes through a portal and awakens in…THE THIRD DIMENSION, where everything is rendered in 3D CGI and filled with tons of math jokes that probably just looked like irrelevant computer-y background details that didn’t have any real meaning.
Of course, that’s not the case at all – but only SUPER math nerds would have noticed any of these jokes and references:
The Utah Teapot
The red teapot in the background of the above screenshot is meant to represent The Utah Teapot – the first object to ever be rendered in 3D by computers, and now a common in-joke for the computer graphics field.
1782^12 + 1841^12=1922^12
Math geeks probably recognize the joke here immediately, but for the rest of us (myself included), it bears some explaining. There’s a famous law in math known Fermat’s last theorem, which states that no three positive integers can satisfy an + bn = cn for any value of n greater than 2. So three numbers to the power of 12 could never fit in that equation….but the numbers 1782, 1841, and 1922 appear to when checked on a regular calculator that goes to 10 digits.
Of course, it doesn’t quite work –
1922^12 = 2.5412102593148….e+39
1782^12 + 1841^12 = 2.5412102586145….e+39
…so is known as a “Fermat near miss.” And now you can sound super smart the next time this episode comes on!
46 72 69 6E 6B 20 72 75 6C 65 73 21
The numbers behind Homer here (46 72 69 6E 6B 20 72 75 6C 65 73 21) represent a string of hexadecimal numbers – and when put into ASCII code, translates to “Frink rules!”, referencing Professor Frink and indicating he may have actually had something to do with the creation of the 3D world Homer finds himself in.
4. Homer’s plow is made by the same car company that bought the company he ruined
Homer could be indirectly responsible for the existence of the plow he purchases in “Mr. Plow” – since it was produced by Kumatsu Motors – the same company that bought his half-brother Herb Powell’s car company at the end of “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?” And you may remember the REASON Herb had to sell off his company was because Homer ruined it by designing his “everyman car” – The Homer.
A pretty ridiculously small detail, but a very funny one. If Homer hadn’t destroyed Unkie Herb’s company, he might have bought a plow made by Powell Motors instead.
5. Moe’s Tavern was briefly renamed as a Beatles reference
Moe’s Tavern (“where the elite meet to drink”) has gone through a lot of transitions in its day – Flaming Moe’s to Uncle Moe’s Family Feedbag and even a brief stint as a pet shop/speakeasy – but one of the subtlest transitions was in the episode Homer’s Barbershop Quartet, where it briefly became Moe’s Cavern – a reference to the Cavern Club, a Liverpool bar where the Beatles first began performing and gaining in popularity (the first of many Beatles references that would eventually culminate in the best of 3 Beatles cameos in The Simpsons)
Note: Moe also briefly DID refer to his bar as “Bo’s Cavern” in the episode “New Kid on the Block,” when new Simpsons neighbor Ruth Powers tried cashing in a coupon for a free beer.