Very few television series have ever or will ever achieve what "The Simpsons" (Sun., 8 p.m. EST on Fox) did this weekend. After twenty-two years and two months on the air, the longest-running prime time series of all time reached its 500th episode and celebrated by evicting its central family from the town they've spent two decades building.
Over the years, the citizenry of Springfield has become as important to the success and longevity of the series as the Simpsons themselves. With so many characters to mix and match, the possible story situations remains nearly endless. And it was with plenty of familiar faces -- including unexpected ones like Sideshow Bob -- that the town concocted a secret meeting to determine whether or not to banish the Simpsons from the town.
It was an odd episode, with the family finding surprising joy off the grid in a place dubbed "The Outlands." It even got its own Simpson-esque introductory sequence. As expected, the townsfolk ultimately felt bad for treating the Simpsons so poorly, regretting their decision. Less expected, the family decided they liked their new lifestyle away from all the chaos of modern civilization.
But, inspired by the Simpsons themselves, one by one the citizenry of Springfield started making their way to The Outlands. So much so that by the end of the episode, it was becoming almost indistinguishable from Springfield itself. Does this mean that in future episode, fans should question whether or not this is really Springfield, or if it's Springfield 2.0 AKA The Outlands?
The actual homage to the 500th episode happened with the couch gag, which appeared to cycle through every single gag used over the course of the show. It's a freeze-frame aficionado's dream!
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