The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family
by Matt Groenig, edited by Ray Richmond
When the title of this book says “complete,” it’s not kidding. Attempting to corral every excruciating detail of The Simpsons‘ first eight seasons into 249 pages, this book does a laudable job of accomplishing the weighty task.
The majority of the book is broken down into individual show summaries with the basic information such as title, episode number, guest voices, and writer and director. While this information is really only relevant for the truly hard-core fans, it is smartly downplayed in favor of the information that even the Simpsons neophyte can find useful. An episode summary is mixed with scenes from the show, the Bart blackboard writing for that episode, a character profile, a “The Stuff You Might Have Missed” section that includes things such as sign headlines and subtle background references, and the lengthy show highlights segment.
Song lyrics and poems’ words are usually reprinted, along with character’s quotes next to their small picture. These are some of the book’s most enjoyable moments, as their comedic power is apparent even without watching the show at the time (For example, Groundskeeper Willie’s “Get yer haggis, right here! Chopped hearts and lungs, boiled in a wee sheep’s stomach! Tastes as good as it sounds! Good for what ails ya!”)
Of course, their selection is sometimes cause for complaint, as surprisingly great quotes are sometimes left out of the book in favor of weaker ones. But this is a quibble, and usually only apparent while watching the show with book in hand.
Mixed in with the information are pages devoted to the times Homer says “D’oh” and “Mmmm,” all the opening scene couch gags, signs around Springfield (“I Can’t Believe It’s a Law Firm,” “U.S. Air Force Base (Not Affiliated with U.S. Air)”), an Itchy and Scratchy filmography, Krusty merchandise, and which humans voice which characters.
As comprehensive and overwhelming as the book can be at times, it is also broken up nicely for short bursts of enjoyment. For anyone who has ever laughed even once at The Simpsons, this book is well worth the investment, and makes a nice coffee table addition.