Diary of a Wookiee: Happy Birthday Simpsons!

Hey hey hey friendereenos!

April 19th, 1987… a day that will live in infamy… wait that’s wrong… famousness? Familiarity? Facetiae? Fadoodle? I’m sure it’s an F word of some sort that’s good. Do YOU recognize the date?

So once upon a time… a fuzzball was six and innocent. I’d never had a cow, man or told someone to eat my shorts. Skateboarding was just what older kids did and I’d never thought of calling my principal a wiener. I  knew I liked to laugh but was a quiet kid who kept to himself in a world of books, Gilligan’s Island, and The Munsters. That all changed one fateful Sunday night. At 9pm on the day of rest before school started back up, a witty British lady had a 30 minute sketch comedy show with occasional musical numbers choreographed by Paula Abdul. It had premiered on April 5th, 1987 and had been funny for two episodes. Al Bundy and his dysfunctional family had already wowed my family with their suburban shenanigans before this but everything was about to change. Five yellow cartoons in a suburban family all interacted and as the loving parents said good night, the kids worried about what slumberland dangers awaited them. I think their crude behavior is what enticed me at first but their heart is what kept me expectantly waiting for new antics.

That’s right friends, 30 years ago today… the awesomeness that is The Simpsons got their start. Over the next two years, this family would grace the televisions of FOX viewers over 48 little one-minute shorts. The popularity of this family was undeniable and based on its success, the Best. Show. Ever. found a home on the same network and aired its first episode on December 17th, 1989. 615 episodes later (with two more episodes set to air and the announcement that we’ll have content thru two more seasons), here we are reading a post by a giant fuzzy hominid on a site dedicated to a mobile game all about them.

WOWZA! A lot can happen in thirty years and honestly, it makes me feel a little old. I know some folks here have never lived in a world where The Simpsons was not a part of it. I can only claim six formative years. I figured it was worth a mention that before the television show, there were three seasons of shorts that existed. Sure they’re a bit cruder but I still love visiting them on occasion. Cue the birthday music…

You’re the birthday, you’re the birthday, you’re the birthday boy or girl.

This is your birthday song, it isn’t very long.

These shorts began what is the best cartoon IMHO. In honor of the anniversary/birthday, I figured I could write down the complete listing of shorts for anyone interested. I bolded a few of my favorites and added some fun origin stuff if I could remember it.

#1 – “Good Night” (4/19/87)
#2 – “Watching TV” (5/3/87)
#3 – “Jumping Bart” (5/10/87)
#4 – “Babysitting Maggie” (5/31/87)
#5 – “The Pacifier” (6/21/87)
#6 – “Burping Contest” (6/28/87)
#7 – “Dinnertime” (7/12/87)
#8 – “Making Faces” (9/22/87)
#9 – “The Funeral” (10/4/87)
#10 – “What Maggie’s Thinking” (10/11/87)
#11 – “Football” (10/18/87)
#12 – “House of Cards” (10/25/87)
#13 – “Bart and Homer’s Dinner” (11/1/87)
#14 – “Space Patrol” (11/8/87)
#15 – “Bart’s Haircut” (11/15/87)
#16 – “World War III” (11/22/87)
#17 – “The Perfect Crime” (12/13/87)
#18 – “Scary Stories” ( 12/20/87)
#19 – “Grampa and the Kids” (1/10/88)
#20 – “Gone Fishin” (1/24/88)
#21 – “Skateboarding” (2/7/88)
#22 – “The Pagans” (2/14/88)
#23 – “Closeted” (2/21/88)
#24 – “The Aquarium” (2/28/88)
#25 – “Family Portrait” (3/6/88)
#26 – “Bart’s Hiccups” (3/13/88)
#27 – “The Money Jar” (3/20/88)
#28 – “The Art Museum” (5/1/88)
#29 – “Zoo Story” (5/8/88)
#30 – “Shut Up, Simpsons” (11/6/88)
#31 – “Shell Game” (11/13/88)
#32 – “The Bart Simpsons Show” (11/20/88) <Itchy & Scratchy>
#33 – “Punching Bag” (11/27/88)
#34 – “Simpsons Christmas” (12/18/88)
#35 – “The Krusty the Clown Show” (1/15/89) <Krusty the Clown>
#36 – “Bart the Hero” (1/29/89)
#37 – “Bart’s Little Fantasy” (2/5/89)
#38 – “Scary Movie” (2/12/89) <Happy Little Elves & the Space Mutants>
#39 – “Home Hypnotism” (2/19/89)
#40 – “Shoplifting” (2/26/89)
#41 – “Echo Canyon” (3/12/89)
#42 – “Bathtime” (3/19/89)
#43 – “Bart’s Nightmare” (3/26/89)
#44 – “Bart of the Jungle” (4/16/89)
#45 “Family Therapy” (4/23/89) <frosty chocolate milkshakes>
#46 – “Maggie in Peril (Chapter One)” (4/30/89)
#47 – “Maggie in Peril (The Thrilling Conclusion)” (5/7/89)
#48 – “TV Simpsons” (5/14/89)

Okay words are fun but actual footage is better. I realize some folks may have never seen these and I love to be a sharer so here’s a ton of videos Alissa pulled from the interwebs for your enjoyment. It’ll only take away a little less than an hour of your lifetime and is so worth it. It’s so crazy to see Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie in their original rougher forms with slightly different voices.

48 or so minutes of hilarity that led to over 13,530 minutes of television. I wouldn’t have it any other way. In honor of the 30th Anniversary, I’d recommend taking the time to revisit all the goodness that is the original Tracey Ullman shorts. David Silverman tweeted about his reaction to it today.

Just because today is a day to be effusive about a silly little cartoon I love so much. Here’s a couple other good articles to read.

The Verge: “How an episode of The Simpsons is made”

Vulture: (Book Excerpt): “Why The Simpsons Is the Best TV Show Ever”

And an NPR article about the 30 year anniversary… everything is more legit if NPR covers it.

What are your thoughts? Did you watch the shorts back in the day when we wore onions on our belts? Discovering the magic of them much more recently? Have a favorite Simpsons short? Like frosty chocolate milkshakes? Surprised these animations turned into a phenomenon? Sound off with your comments and/or remniniscing. I’m off to just watch and smile.

TTFN… Wookiee out!

15 responses to “Diary of a Wookiee: Happy Birthday Simpsons!

  1. I remember I was living in a rural area that didn’t get FOX yet and I was hearing about The Simpsons and really couldn’t wait to see it. I never saw Tracy Ullman. Fortunately though our cable company added FOX in the summer of 89 so I was able to see the show from the beginning. It instantly became my favorite show and still is. Forget the naysayers. The show never lost it. Season 22 is every bit as good as season 7. Here’s to 30 more years.

  2. Wow 30 years! I am only 27 so I have had them around all my life. Can’t remember when I first saw them, but as soon as I saw my first episode I was hooked.

  3. Really wish they’d have the Tracy Ullman Simpsons ad playable characters.

  4. If they ever do a “last episode” of The Simpsons, I think that it would be funny to return them to their original “look” for at least part of that episode.

    Either that, or Homer could wake up commenting about a terrible dream that he had while next to his “wife” — Tracy Ullman (or Dan Castellaneta could wake up from a nightmare and find that he is laying next to Marge Simpson).

  5. Happy birthday to my favourite four-fingered family (tho I can’t say I know many lol)! 30 years! Well done!

    God I feel old 😝

    Is it just me or does Homer sound different in the shorts?

  6. I really wish they could release those on DVD (or whatever youngsters use to watch their videos now) some day. The VHS rip of most of them is really bad.
    Simpsons it’s your birthday, Happy birthday Simpsons!

  7. 2017
    Quick , do the math !
    Happy Birthday
    O’ Wise One !
    ( I love how sharp you are .)

    See ya bye . Stop by and we will make a movie in black and white . 👽

  8. Wow, I had no idea… it’s my birthday today (20/04) so the timing of this article is rather cool 🙂 Only 1 day shy of The Simpsons, although I’m a bit older 😛

  9. Just wondering are you guys gonna make Futurama WOT addicts

  10. I’m about the same age as Wookie and grew up watching the Simpsons once they had their own show. I don’t remember these shorts. While my husband grew up not allowed to watch it (later he and his dad realized they were secretly watching it in separate rooms), my family ordered pizza and spent family night watching The Best Show Ever, plus Married with Children, Star Trek the next generation, and such. We didn’t have a Maggie, but I totally identified with Lisa and even played the saxophone in the school band because of the influence of this show. I saw my brother as Bart, not the brightest and a bit of a trouble maker but definitely lovable. My parents were Marge and Homer, even watching the flash backs seemed similar to my parents’ stories of young love.
    Now we occasionally watch the Simpsons with our kids and I fuss at our oldest and my husband about the crudeness,mostly as a tradition as I can’t imagine life with out The Simpsons.

  11. ellieoftheflump

    Happy Birthday Simpsons!!
    I watched from the Tracy Ullman times onwards. I loved that Homer sounded like Walter Mattheau (sic) but I prefer the more comedic voice he has now. I always recall how long my devotion goes as it is old as my son ( 30 this year!) and he and my grandson are now addicts too 🙂

  12. WOW!!!! Just WOW!!!! 🍾🎉🍾

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