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The Simpsons has been on the air so long that they've accumulated a long list of recurring jokes, but most people would probably point to the 'couch gag' opening as the most iconic and enjoyable. And sure, it's fun to see what the writers and animators can come up with each week to offer a variation on the entrance but there are few that are truly memorable. In fact, most of the highlights are simply recent 'stunt' or guest gags - like last week's Game of Thrones spoof, the John Kricfalusi Ren & Stimpy riff or the now infamous Banksy contribution - and not even from the original openings of the first and best decade of the series.
This is one reason why I've always preferred the animated series' other famous running gag; the hilariously violent toon within the toon, The Itchy and Scratchy Show. The amazing Tom and Jerry parody (or parody of all hyper-violent children's cartoons) was always a special treat whenever they appeared and, more importantly, the cartoon duo actually served as narrative fodder for several episodes, which is far more than any couch gag can claim. Whether it was Bart and Lisa scripting Little Barbershop of Horrors (under the nom de plume 'Abraham Simpson'), the trial of Roger Myers for the rights to Steamboat Itchy, the feature film Bart wasn't allowed to see or even a visit to Itchy and Scratchy Land, the show often relied on the cat and mouse for more than just filler. And hell, when it was filler, it was bloody fun to watch the pair fight and bite. Yes, it's The Itchy and Scratchy Show!
It's almost 50 minutes long but if you have the time, you can watch all of your gory favourites in chronological order (video via Vulture). My favourite title remains My Dinner With Itchy but the JFK spoof with guest director Oliver Stone is pretty amazing. It's actually worth visiting the video's YouTube watch page because the uploader (MrBestDeni) took the time to list every appearance, episode by episode (and movie) in the video's synopsis.
The Simpsons airs Sundays at 8 p.m. on FOX.