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The Simpsons – The Springfield Files (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

A young network hungry to find its place in the American television market, Fox managed to produce two of the television shows that defined the nineties. Both The X-Files and The Simpsons were bold and innovative television shows that captured the zietgeist perfectly. Both shows offered an insightful, innovative and occasionally subversive look at American pop culture in the last decade of the twentieth century. Both have endured quite well, speaking to a generation that came of age in the nineties.

While The X-Files wound itself up in 2002, The Simpsons endures. The show has been running for almost a quarter-of-a-century at this point, and there is no sense that it will ever let up. While there are stock criticisms to be made about how The Simpsons is not as funny as it once was, the series has continually and perpetually reinvented itself. The success of these various iterations has varied. The Simpsons was a different show in 1989 than it was in 1992 or 1996 or 2000.

"Mulder and Scully. FBI."

“Agents Mulder and Scully. FBI.”

However, the show was in the middle of an incredible hot streak in January 1997. The show was in its eighth season, and on the cusp of overtaking The Flintstones as the longest-running prime-time animated series in the United States. This was a phenomenal accomplishment, and there was no indication that the show was in decline. Although fans will argue about exactly how long the so-called “golden age” of the Simpsons actually lasted, the series was still in the middle of it by January 1997.

So The Springfield Files makes a lot of sense as an obvious overlap between the two most important weekly shows airing on Fox at this moment in time. The Springfield Files was treated as a big deal at the time. It aired two weeks before Superbowl XXI, which would help give The X-Files its highest-ever ratings with Leonard Betts. It was sent to the press for review before it aired, to help generate word of mouth. The result is a delightfully satisfying intersection of two massively successful and influential shows.

Reading the scene...

Reading the scene…

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