Planet Simpson

Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation, also abbreviated to Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation, is a non-fiction book about The Simpsons, written by Chris Turner and originally published on October 12, 2004 by Random House.[1] The book is partly a memoir and an exploration of the impact The Simpsons has had on popular culture.

Planet Simpson
Planet Simpson
Cover of Planet Simpson (1st United States ed.)
AuthorChris Turner
SubjectThe Simpsons
Published2004 (Random House Canada)
Media typePrint
Pages466 pp.


Planet Simpson was written by Canadian author Chris Turner, who is a big fan of The Simpsons, although "not even the biggest fan I know personally ... I think I am actually a pretty average hardcore fan. What I brought to it was a sense that because the show is as well put together as it is, it really offers a wide lens for looking at culture generally."[2] Turner notes: "I can count on The Simpsons to provide me with a solid thirty minutes of truth, of righteous anger, of hypocrisies deflated and injustices revealed, of belly laughter and joy. It is food for my soul. Seriously. I think many Simpsons fans would agree. And that, as far as I'm concerned, makes it a kind of religion," he explains in the book.[3] He had previously written an essay during his time at Shift entitled "The Simpsons Generation", which was syndicated across North America.[1] Turner wrote Planet Simpson because there had not been a book that had looked at the "genesis, past, characters and influence" of the show, only official episode guides or academic pieces.[2]

Planet Simpson examines the show's satirical humor and its impact on pop culture.[3] It also looks at numerous episodes of the show.

It features a foreword by Douglas Coupland.[1]


Top 5 episodes

The end of the first chapter includes a look at the author's Top 5 episodes. Turner lists "Last Exit to Springfield" as his favourite episode. The other four episodes ordered by airdate: "Marge vs. the Monorail", "Rosebud", "Deep Space Homer" and "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)".[4]


Christopher Hirst of The Independent felt the book would largely appeal to fans of The Simpsons who would enjoy "Turner's critical intelligence and social awareness," while "non-fans will see 470 pages of geeky raving." He felt the book was "sui generis," and its "combination of motor-mouthed omniscience and voluminous footnotes is reminiscent of a certain style of highbrow writing about pop music."[5] Curtis Gloade of The Record described the book as "almost 500 pages of this sort of meticulous, clear, and I believe, accurate rhetoric. It kept me nodding in agreement throughout. And laughing, too."[3] He also wrote that he hopes people will not skip by the book at the bookstore because it is about The Simpsons and assume that it is "little more than a laugh-along-with-me book with lots of pictures and funny quotes." Gloade commented that this is "not the case. I laughed out loud regularly at the many Simpsons quotes, but that's only a small part of the total package."[3] He concluded that Planet Simpson is an "enjoyable reading experience, one that will likely be matchless still for a long time because I highly doubt we'll see such a melding of a stellar pop culture icon (The Simpsons) and eloquent cultural critic (Turner) again for a long time."[3] Kevin Jackson of The Times gave a largely negative review of the book. While feeling Turner's knowledge of the show was vast and finding much of the initial "less well-known aspects of Simpsonian pre-history" interesting, he overall felt the book was mostly "flimflam and filler" and criticised Turner's "gee-whiz prose and occasional lapses into plain old illiteracy" and ultimately failed to achieve the analytical goal Turner set: "It would take wit as keen and literary flair as supple as [the show's writers] to do justice to the show, and Turner is gifted with neither: he may think like Lisa, but he writes more like the Comic Book Guy."[6]


Publishing date Title Edition Tag Imprint Cover's Extras Length
September 9, 2004 Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation 1st UK Ebury Press Introduction by Douglas Coupland
Power Screen Global Cult Pop Politics Music[7]
472 pp.[8]
October 7, 2004 Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation 1st abridged USA HighBridge The first audio to bring witty, opinionated, in-depth analysis to
the longest-running sitcom of all time and the most important
pop-cultural phenomenon of our generation.
Abridged; 12 hours on 10 compact discs. Read by Oliver Wyman.[9]
12 hours[9]
October 12, 2004 Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation 1st (original) CA Random House Canada Foreword by Douglas Coupland[10] 466 pp.[11]
October 12, 2004 Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation 1st USA Da Capo Press Foreword by Douglas Coupland
author of Generation X[12]
464 pp.[13]
August 4, 2005 Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation 1st revised UK Ebury Press Introduction by Douglas Coupland
‘This is a terrifically energetic book which, like its many-layered
subject, will reward repeat consumption.’ THE GUARDIAN[A][14]
480 pp.[15]
October 18, 2005 Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Defined a Generation 1st revised USA Da Capo Press "Quite simply, the definitive book about The Simpsons."—Q[16] 464 pp.[17]
October 28, 2008 Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation 1st revised
with addition
CA Vintage Canada Foreword by Douglas Coupland
With a new afterword by the author[18]
576 pp.[19]
A. ^ Citation from article "Books previews: Saturday, 11 September 2004" (The Guardian).[20]


  1. ^ a b c "Planet Simpson" (Product Description). Random House. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
  2. ^ a b Moran, Jonathan (2004-11-11). "Planet Simpsons". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  3. ^ a b c d e Gloade, Curtis (2004-10-09). "Dohs! of our lives on Planet Simpson". The Record. p. P3.
  4. ^ Turner 2004d, p. 70; Turner 2005b, p. 70
  5. ^ Hirst, Christopher (2005-08-26). "Paperbacks: Dirk Bogarde, Maggie: Her fatal legacy, Planet Simpson, Limeys, All the Wrong Places, Village of Stone, Fleshmarket Close". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2011-01-16.
  6. ^ Jackson, Kevin (2004-09-05). "Television: Planet Simpson by Chris Turner". The Times. London.
  7. ^ Turner 2004a, front cover.
  8. ^ Turner 2004a.
  9. ^ a b Turner 2004b, back cover.
  10. ^ Turner 2004c, front cover.
  11. ^ Turner 2004c.
  12. ^ Turner 2004d, front cover.
  13. ^ Turner 2004d.
  14. ^ Turner 2005a, front cover.
  15. ^ Turner 2005a.
  16. ^ Turner 2005b, front cover.
  17. ^ Turner 2005b.
  18. ^ Turner 2008, front cover.
  19. ^ Turner 2008.
  20. ^ Mueller, Andrew (September 11, 2004). "Planet Simpson [by] Chris Turner" (Book preview). London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-12-31. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

External links (called "a.t.s." by regular readers) is a usenet newsgroup dedicated to discussing the American television program The Simpsons. Created in 1990, the newsgroup became a popular community in the early 1990s, and continues to exist as of 2019. It is known for reviewing episodes and nitpicking minor details on the show.

The writers of The Simpsons know about the forum and have on several occasions read the comments made on it. The character Comic Book Guy is often used in the show to lampoon and respond to the newsgroup's fans. In interviews some writers have admitted that they do not like being scrutinized, but other writers have participated in the discussions on the forum. Independent commentators call the forum an example of an "active audience" and have claimed The Simpsons is tailor-made for such a forum.

Bart's Inner Child

"Bart's Inner Child" is the seventh episode of The Simpsons' fifth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 11, 1993. In the episode, Marge finally realizes that she is no fun due to her excessive nagging and seeks help from the self-help guru, Brad Goodman, who uses Bart's irreverent attitude as a new example of how people should behave. The entire town of Springfield begins to act like Bart, who at first enjoys things but begins to feel that his role as a troublemaker is usurped. During the inaugural "Do What You Feel" festival, several things go wrong and the town decides to stop acting like Bart.

The episode was written by George Meyer and was the first episode of the show to be directed by Bob Anderson. Actor Albert Brooks guest stars in the episode as Brad Goodman, a self-help guru modelled after John Bradshaw. It was Brooks' third of five appearances on the show. Singer James Brown guest stars as himself; he sings his 1965 song "I Got You (I Feel Good)". In 2006, Brooks was named the best Simpsons guest star by IGN, while Brown's appearance has been described as "hilariously over-the-top".

The episode features cultural references to several films, television shows, and songs, including the 1939 film Gone with the Wind, Scott Joplin's piano rag "The Entertainer", and the Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner cartoons.

In its original broadcast, "Bart's Inner Child" finished 40th in the weekly ratings with a Nielsen rating of 11.8, and was viewed in 11.12 million households.

Bibliography of works on The Simpsons

This is a list of literary work about the American multimedia franchise The Simpsons.


A catchphrase (alternatively spelled catch phrase) is a phrase or expression recognized by its repeated utterance. Such phrases often originate in popular culture and in the arts, and typically spread through word of mouth and a variety of mass media (such as films, internet, literature and publishing, television and radio). Some become the de facto or literal "trademark" or "signature" of the person or character with whom they originated, and can be instrumental in the typecasting of a particular actor.

Chris Turner (author)

Chris Turner (born July 25, 1973) is a Canadian journalist and author.

Homer vs. Patty and Selma

"Homer vs. Patty and Selma" is the 17th episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 26, 1995. In the episode, Homer loses all his money in pumpkin stocks and must turn to Patty and Selma for a loan. Meanwhile, Bart takes up ballet lessons, and his instructor is voiced by actress Susan Sarandon.

Sarandon had wanted to guest star on The Simpsons because her children were fans of the show; she made a later appearance in the series in the episode "Bart Has Two Mommies" as the voice of a computer. Mel Brooks also makes an appearance in "Homer vs. Patty and Selma", and had previously accompanied his wife Anne Bancroft to the recording studio when she had a role in the episode "Fear of Flying". The episode's script was written by Brent Forrester, and it was his first writing credit on the series. The episode was directed by Mark Kirkland, with David Mirkin serving as executive producer.

Chris Turner cites scenes from the episode in describing Homer's characteristic qualities in his book Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation. Turner notes that the episode illustrates Homer's impulsiveness, silliness, and "physical stupidity". Contributor Raja Halwani writes in the compilation work The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer that the episode shows Homer's tendency to habitually lie to Marge, and cites Homer's covering for Patty and Selma when they are caught smoking as a positive aspect of his character. The episode received positive mention from Turner in Planet Simpson, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood in their book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, and Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide.


"Homerpalooza" is the 24th episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 19, 1996. The plot focuses on Homer joining the "Hullabalooza" music festival as a carnival freak. The episode title is a play on the Lollapalooza music festival. It was the last The Simpsons episode written by Brent Forrester and the last episode directed by Wes Archer. Peter Frampton and musical groups The Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill, and Sonic Youth guest star as themselves.

Kent Brockman

Kent Brockman is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Harry Shearer and first appeared in the episode "Krusty Gets Busted". He is a grumpy, self-centered local Springfield news anchor.

Last Exit to Springfield

"Last Exit to Springfield" is the seventeenth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 11, 1993. The plot revolves around Homer Simpson becoming president of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's trade union and leading the workers of the plant in a strike in order to get their dental plan back so that he does not have to buy braces for Lisa."Last Exit to Springfield" was directed by Mark Kirkland and was the last episode written by Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky. The episode contains several cultural references and Dr. Joyce Brothers guest stars as herself. "Last Exit to Springfield" received widespread acclaim from both fans and critics and has frequently been cited as one of the best episodes of the entire series.

Lisa's Wedding

"Lisa's Wedding" is the 19th episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 19, 1995. The plot focuses on Lisa visiting a carnival fortune teller and learning about her future love. It was written by Greg Daniels and directed by Jim Reardon. Mandy Patinkin guest stars as Hugh Parkfield and Phil Hartman guest stars as Troy McClure. The episode won an Emmy Award in 1995 for Outstanding Animated Program, becoming the third episode of The Simpsons to win the award.

Lisa Simpson

Lisa Marie Simpson is a fictional character in the animated television series The Simpsons. She is the middle child and most intelligent of the Simpson family. Voiced by Yeardley Smith, Lisa was born as a character in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening created and designed her while waiting to meet James L. Brooks. Groening had been invited to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic Life in Hell, but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the elder Simpson daughter after his younger sister Lisa Groening Bartlett. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson family were moved to their own series on Fox, which debuted on December 17, 1989.

Intelligent, passionate, and the moral center of the family, Lisa Simpson, at eight years old, is the second child of Homer and Marge, younger sister of Bart, and older sister of Maggie. Lisa's high intellect and liberal political stance creates a barrier between her and other children her age, therefore she is a bit of a loner and social outcast. Lisa is a vegetarian, a strong environmentalist, a feminist, and a Buddhist. Lisa's character develops many times over the course of the show: she becomes a vegetarian in season 7 and converts to Buddhism in season 13. A strong liberal, Lisa advocates for a variety of political causes (e.g. standing with the Tibetan independence movement) which usually sets her against most of the people in Springfield. However, she can also be somewhat intolerant of opinions that differ from her own, often refusing to consider alternative perspectives. In her free time, Lisa enjoys many hobbies such as reading and playing the baritone saxophone, despite her father's annoyance regarding the latter. She has appeared in other media relating to The Simpsons – including video games, The Simpsons Movie, The Simpsons Ride, commercials and comic books – and inspired a line of merchandise.

Yeardley Smith originally tried out for the role of Bart, while Nancy Cartwright (who was later cast as the voice for Bart) tried out for Lisa. Producers considered Smith's voice too high for a boy, so she was given the role of Lisa. In the Tracey Ullman Show shorts, Lisa was something of a "female Bart" who mirrored her brother's mischief, but as the series progressed she became a liberal voice of reason which has drawn both praise and criticism from fans of the show. Because of her unusual pointed hair style, many animators consider Lisa the most difficult Simpsons character to draw.

TV Guide ranked her 11th (tied with Bart) on their list of the "Top 50 Greatest Cartoon Characters of All Time". Her environmentalism has been especially well received; several episodes featuring her have won Genesis and Environmental Media Awards, including a special "Board of Directors Ongoing Commitment Award" in 2001. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals included Lisa on their list of the "Most Animal-Friendly TV Characters of All Time". Yeardley Smith won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992 and Lisa and her family were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2000.

Lost Our Lisa

"Lost Our Lisa" is the twenty-fourth episode in the ninth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 10, 1998. The episode contains the last appearance of the character Lionel Hutz. When Lisa learns that Marge cannot give her a ride to the museum and forbids her to take the bus, she tricks Homer into giving her permission. After Lisa gets lost, Homer goes looking for her and the two end up visiting the museum together. The episode is analyzed in the books Planet Simpson, The Psychology of the Simpsons: D'oh!, and The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer, and received positive mention in I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide.

Selma's Choice

"Selma's Choice" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 21, 1993. In the episode, Selma decides to have a baby, inspired by her late aunt's wish that she would not spend her life alone. She experiences what life with children is like by taking Bart and Lisa to the Duff Gardens amusement park, which does not go as planned. It was written by David M. Stern and directed by Carlos Baeza.

The Joy of Sect

"The Joy of Sect" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 8, 1998. In the episode, a cult takes over Springfield, and the Simpson family become members.

David Mirkin conceived the initial idea for the episode, Steve O'Donnell was the lead writer, and Steven Dean Moore directed. The writers drew on many groups to develop the Movementarians, but were principally influenced by Scientology, Heaven's Gate, the Unification Church ("Moonies"), the Rajneesh movement, and Peoples Temple. The show contains many references to popular culture, including the title reference to The Joy of Sex and a gag involving Rover from the television program The Prisoner.

"The Joy of Sect" was later analyzed from religious, philosophical, and psychological perspectives; books on The Simpsons compared the Movementarians to many of the same groups from which the writers had drawn influence. Both USA Today and The A.V. Club featured "The Joy of Sect" in lists of important episodes of The Simpsons.

The Simpsons Archive

The Simpsons Archive, also known by its previous domain name or simply SNPP (named for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant), is a Simpsons fan site that has been online since 1994. Maintained by dozens of volunteers from—amongst other places—the newsgroup and Simpsons-related forums, the site features information on every aspect of the show, from detailed guides to upcoming episodes and merchandise, to the episode capsules (text files documenting freeze frame jokes, quotes, scene summaries, reviews and the like), for which the site is well known. In a bid to steer clear of Fox's legal department after a conflict in 1996, the site contains no multimedia or interactive features, preferring to focus on documenting the show through textual material. As of October, 2005, the site receives roughly 1.2 million hits per month. In 2013, it was moved from (which has now expired) to

The Archive began in 1994, the brainchild of Gary Goldberg, with extensive help from the members of at the time, including Raymond Chen, the first to compile the episode capsules, and Dave Hall, one of the first online Simpsons fans to champion list-compiling. The site, originally based on the Widener archive set up by Brendan Kehoe in 1989, featured a bright yellow and black design until 1998, when it was revamped to the more subdued style.

The Simpsons Theme

"The Simpsons Theme", also referred to as "The Simpsons Main Title Theme" in album releases, is the theme music of the animated television series The Simpsons. It plays during the opening sequence and was composed by Danny Elfman in 1989, after series creator Matt Groening approached him requesting a retro-style theme. The piece has been noted by Elfman as the most popular of his career. The theme, as used for the opening sequence, was re-arranged during season 2, and the current arrangement by Alf Clausen was introduced at the beginning of the third season.

It has also been edited many times to coincide with edits of various lengths for the opening sequence, and there have been extended edits and re-recordings for lengthened opening sequences. Several versions of the saxophone solo riff, ostensibly played by character Lisa Simpson in the animated sequence, have been created over the course of the series. The theme is in the acoustic scale.A slightly different arrangement of the theme usually plays over the end credits of the show. Originally, there were two main versions of the closing theme, with the longer version ending in a lower key. Both versions were re-arranged for season 3, but only the short version was in use by the time the show switched domestic production from Klasky Csupo to Film Roman season 4, and that version was edited to be even shorter by the end of season 6. The alternate longer closing theme however resurfaced in a handful of post-season 4 episodes, but mostly in credit sequences that do not play music during the first half of the sequence (either with dialogue heard underneath or video footage playing under the first half of the credits).

Troy McClure

Troy McClure is a fictional character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. He was originally voiced by Phil Hartman and first appeared in the second season episode "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment". McClure is an actor who is usually shown doing low-level work, such as hosting infomercials and educational films. He appears as the main character in "A Fish Called Selma", in which he marries Selma Bouvier to aid his failing career and quash rumors about his personal life. McClure also 'hosts' "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" and "The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase".

McClure was partially based on B movie actors Troy Donahue and Doug McClure, as well as Hartman himself. Following Hartman's murder at the hands of his wife in 1998, two of his Simpsons characters were retired, with Hartman's final appearance as McClure was in the tenth season episode "Bart the Mother" four months later. Since his retirement, McClure has often been cited as one of the series' most popular characters. In 2006, IGN ranked McClure No. 1 on their list of the "Top 25 Simpsons Peripheral Characters".

You Only Move Twice

"You Only Move Twice" is the second episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 3, 1996. The episode, based on a story idea by Greg Daniels, has three major concepts: the family moves to a new town; Homer gets a friendly, sympathetic boss; and that boss, unbeknownst to Homer, is a supervillain. Bart, Lisa, and Marge each have individual secondary storylines. It was directed by Mike B. Anderson and written by John Swartzwelder.

The episode title is a reference to the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, and many elements of the episode parody the Bond films, with a character modeled after Bond making a brief appearance. Setting the second and third acts in a new town, Cypress Creek, required the animators to create entirely new layouts and background designs. Albert Brooks, in his fourth appearance on The Simpsons, guest stars as the voice of Hank Scorpio, who is one of the most popular one-time characters in the entire series. The episode was very well received by critics. IGN named "You Only Move Twice" the best episode of the eighth season and Albert Brooks as one of the best guest stars in the history of the show.

¡Ay, caramba!

¡Ay, caramba! (pronounced [ˈai kaˈɾamba]), from the Spanish interjections ay (denoting surprise or pain) and caramba (a euphemism for carajo), is an exclamation used in Spanish to denote surprise (usually positive). The term caramba is also used in Portuguese. "¡Ay, caramba!" is used as a catchphrase of Bart Simpson from the animated sitcom The Simpsons.

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