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The ninth season of THE SIMPSONS, the longest prime time animated show in history, proved to be a turning point season. It was a transition year for the show as many writers, runners, etc. who had been with the show left. Some would argue that season nine was the last great season of THE SIMPSONS for several years until about season fifteen or sixteen. Reflecting the transition of the show's workforce, season nine includes episodes that have become classic SIMPSONS episodes, e.g. "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" and "Trash of the Titans", as well as episodes that were okay, but nothing special, e.g. "Bart Star" and "All Singing, All Dancing." Season nine is the last season to feature Phil Hartman (who was murdered the following summer by his wife) voicing some great secondary characters, such as Lionel Hutz. The complete list of episodes is:
"The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson"--After a late night drinking spree, Homer lets Barney borrow his car. Weeks later Homer receives a letter from the City of New York informing him that his car is illegally parked and that if it isn't moved, will soon be towed. Homer hates New York, but packs up the family and sets off on a bus to the Big Apple to get back his car. This episode has some amazing background and set animation. It's also features the Twin Towers. For three years after Sept. 11, 2001, the episode was never seen in syndication but has since been added back into the rotation. Also, this episode has the first appearance of Duff Man.
"The Principal and the Pauper"--turns out that Principal Skinner isn't the man who he claimed to be over twenty years ago when he returned home from Vietnam. Turns out Principal Skinner is actually Armin Tamzarian a troubled youth who served under the real Seymour Skinner in Vietnam. The real Seymour Skinner returns to Springfield and Armin Tamzarian leaves his job and moves to Capital City.
"Lisa's Sax"--Lisa's saxophone is destroyed and Homer and Marge explain how Lisa got her saxophone in the first place.
"Treehouse of Horror VIII"--"Homega Man" finds Homer as the last man left alive living in Springfield after a nuclear Holocaust. "Fly vs. Fly" has Bart turning into a mutant fly. "Easy-Bake Coven" stars Marge in a segment that parodies THE CRUCIBAL (with a nod to the Scarlet Letter).
"The Cartridge Family"--a soccer riot that leads to city-wide looting and violence causes Homer to decide he needs a gun to protect his family. He buys a firearm and joins the NRA. Marge can't stand having the gun in the house and forces Homer to choose between keeping the gun or living with his family.
"Bart Star"--Homer gets Ned Flanders so upset that he quits as the coach of the local pee-wee football team and gives the job to Homer. Remembering how unsupported his own father was, Homer attempts to build Bart up by showing favoritism and making him the quarterback. However, Bart isn't any good and finds himself the center of physical correction by his teammates.
"The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons"--Apu is the most eligible bachelor in Springfield and is living the good life. That is until his mother writes to inform him she is coming to visit along with his pre-arranged bride, Manjula, so that they can be married.
"Lisa the Skeptic"--during a school archeological dig, Lisa uncovers what appears to be the skeleton of an angel. Lisa is skeptical, but the town finds itself in a frenzy.
"Realty Bites"--Marge gets a job as a real estate agent. I believe this is the first appearance of Gil.
"Miracle on Evergreen Terrace"--during a morning of Christmas greed, Bart accidentally burns down the Christmas tree and all the Christmas presents. He hides the evidence under a pile of buried snow in the front yard. The citizens of Springfield take pity upon the Simpsons in a scene taken from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. That is until the townfolk find out exactly what Bart did.
"All Singing, All Dancing"--a clip show told in song that looks back at some of the singing and dancing moments of the first eight seasons of THE SIMPSONS.
"Bart Carny"--Bart and Homer start working at a traveling carnival after Bart destroys Hitler's car. Bart and Homer befriend one of the carnies and his son, but soon find themselves in a battle of wits as the carnies squat the Simpsons' home.
"The Joy of Sect"--the Simpsons and many of the other citizens of Springfield find themselves joining and being brainwashed into a cult. Marge escapes and with the help of Ned Flanders and Rev. Lovejoy attempts to get her family back and uncover the scam The Leader is pulling.
"Das Bus"--the Simpsons take on LORD OF THE FLIES. A Springfield Elementary bus crashes and the students find themselves on a deserted island and attempt to build a society of their own.
"The Last Temptation of Krust"--Krusty realizes that his material hasn't aged well and thinks about leaving the business. That is until he just starts telling the truth and discovers comedy gold.
"Dumbell Indemnity"--Moe falls in love and gives his new girlfriend the best that money can buy. However, the money dries up and Moe decides to commit insurance fraud, with the help of Home, in order to keep his lady in style. Homer is caught and Moe lets him take the fall.
"Lisa the Simpson"--Lisa is afraid she might be losing her intelligence and is told by all the male members of her family that there is nothing she can do because of the "Simpson" gene that brings about ignorance. She decides to sap out the best from life she can before she forgets how to enjoy things like jazz and museums.
"This Little Wiggy"--Marge forces Bart to have a playdate with Ralph Wiggum. Bart becomes friends with Ralph and with the help of Chief Wiggum's master town key they have the time of their lives. This is the episode when Ralph first mentions the leprechaun that tells him to burn things.
"Simpson Tide"--Home and his friends join the Naval Reserve and find themselves aboard a nuclear submarine. After the Captain is ejecting from a torpedo tube, Homer finds himself in command of the vessel and attempting to ward of an international incident.
"The Trouble with Trillions"--Homer finds himself working for the IRS after failing to fill out an income tax return properly. Homer agrees to entrap Mr. Burns because of a mysterious trillion dollar bill Mr. Burns stole from the government over fifty years before.
"Girly Edition"--Lisa and Bart become co-anchors of a children's operating news program.
"Trash of the Titans"--the 200th episode of THE SIMPSONS. Homer decides to run for the office of sanitation commissioner and brings about radical changes when elected. Steve Martin and U2 both guest voiced.
"King of the Hill"--in attempt to win over the adoration of Bart, Homer secretly begins bulking up. He's approached by two promoters and agrees to climb the killing mountain, Murderhorn.
"Lost Our Lisa"--Lisa finagles her way into getting to ride the public bus downtown to see a special Egyptian exhibit at the museum. The bus doesn't go where she wants to and she finds herself wandering around Springfield alone. Homer attempts to rescue her and they share a very special father and daughter moment together.
"Natural Born Kissers"--Marge and Homer's love life has grown stale. After discovering how excited they are after almost being caught in public, there passion is reignited. Then they are almost discovered at a miniature golf course and are forced to flee through town naked.
My favorite episodes from this season are "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson", "Treehouse of Horror VII", "Bart Carny", "Das Bus", "Trash of the Titans", and "Lost Our Lisa."
Special features in the season nine set include commentaries for all the episodes; a couple of Bit From the Animators segments with Yeardley Smith, Pete Michels, Mike Anderson, and Matt Groening, a moment with U2; Butterfinger commercials and an commercials for an Australian snack called CCs; a riff from Matt Groening; deleted scenes; original sketches; and two animation showcases.
All said and done, Season Nine is a great season of THE SIMPSONS.