D’oh, A Simpsons Marathon Challenge

By Judy Berman

Irreverent underachiever Bart Simpson and his Duff-beer guzzling Dad, Homer, would love this: a contest to watch The Simpsons’ shows and break an old Guinness World Record.

It’s a call this couch potato finds hard to resist. A chance to win $10,500. Starting Feb. 8th, in Los Angeles, contestants in The Simpsons Ultimate Fan Marathon Challenge will watch up to 500 continuous episodes of The Simpsons in an attempt to break the current record of 86 hours, 6 minutes and 41 seconds.

The 500th episode, “At Long Last Leave,” will air Sunday, Feb. 19th (8  to 8:30 p.m. ET/PT) on Fox. In this show, “the Simpsons are evicted from Springfield and join an off-the-grid community outside of town. But when Homer and Marge try to sneak back into town,” they are met with hostility.

The scrapes and shenanigans that The Simpsons get into are legendary. In the 23 years it’s been on the air, they’ve skewered the classics of Edgar Allan Poe’s, “The Raven,” (in “Treehouse of Horror“) and parodied “Goodfellas” (in “Bart the Murderer”) and “Citizen Kane” (in “Rosebud”).

But some of their finest hours were when they were just being themselves. Bart, in a role that Ferris Bueller would have loved, slips away from a class field trip and sneaks into the television show where “The Krusty the Clown Show” is taped. This is where, in “Bart Gets Famous,” he makes the catchphrase, “I didn’t do it,” said after he trips over a prop and nearly causes a disaster. The audience went wild, and Bart became an instant celebrity.

My youngest daughter, Jenn, swears she never had a social life in the early 1990s when The Simpsons’ shows ran on Thursdays. Her duty? She had to stay home and tape the shows for me. As Bart would say, “Don’t have a cow, man!”

I was hooked from the beginning of the show. That’s when Bart’s chalkboard punishment was on display (“The Boys’ room is not a waterpark”). Then, he’d jump on his skateboard, survive several close calls and make it home before Dad. After the family all jumped on the couch, the real fun began.

What keeps viewers returning? The show’s never boring. In a parody of “Dallas’ Who Shot J.R.,” a cliffhanger in May 1995 arranged a similar fate for the despicable CEO of the town’s nuclear power plant. “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” kept viewers in suspense until the show returned in September. The infamous chalkboard read: “I will not complain about the solution when I hear it.”

So, let me check. Just how long do I have to watch to win? More than 86 hours? Ay, caramba! Not even for Bart.

Photos: Who Shot Mr. Burns? (May and September 1995)

For more information on the contest, go to The Simpsons’ official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/thesimpsons or visit http://www.thesimpsons.com/ to receive news updates, including the exact date and time for open registration.

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