“The Simpsons” has won Best Animated Program a record 10 times over the course of its first 22 years on the air. However, the last of those victories came in 2008. While it has contended every year since then, it has been snubbed in favor of “South Park” (2009), the special “Prep & Landing” (2010) and “Futurama” (2011).
That latter show also sprang from the mind of “Simpsons” creator Matt Groening. It ran on Fox for four years beginning in 1998 and won this award in 2002. It was revived by Comedy Central in 2008 and made an Emmy comeback last year.
This year, the category welcomes first-time nominees “American Dad” and “Bob’s Burgers,” which both air on Fox, and Nickelodeon’s “The Penguins of Madagascar.”
“The Simpsons” submitted “Holidays of Future Passed,” one of its strongest episodes in years. The family looks ahead to a future where Bart is divorced with two boys, Lisa is married to Milhouse and has a teenage daughter and Maggie is a pop superstar pregnant with her first child. The episode has many memorable moments. The show won this category for the third time in 1995 with another flashforward episode — “Lisa’s Wedding” — in which Lisa foresees her first love.
“Futurama” submitted the touching episode “The Tip of the Zoidberg.” Professor Farnsworth reveals he has a terminal disease and asks the incompetent Dr. Zoidberg to kill him. We flashback to when the two first met and come to understand why Farnsworth has always kept the inept doctor around. “Futurama” is at its funniest when exposing Dr. Zoidberg’s complete lack of medical knowledge. This is one of the show’s best episodes since its Comedy Central comeback.
“Bob’s Burgers” entered “BurgerBoss,” in which Bob buys an old arcade game for his restaurant and soon sees his high score beaten by archnemesis Jimmy Pesto. This leads Bob to obsess over knocking off Pesto’s score by lying to his wife, manipulating his children and enlisting the help of an outcast (voiced by Aziz Ansari). The scenes with Bob’s kids crashing birthday parties at a local arcade stand out. After a rocky first season, the show hit its stride this year, jumping 24 points on MetaCritic to 78. This very funny episode could be the spoiler in this race.
The other new nominees are likely to be also-rans. “American Dad” submitted the season premiere (“Hot Water”). Stan Smith buys a hot tub to relieve the stress he is currently feeling. It turns out to be alive with a murderous past (voiced by Grammy winner Cee Lo Green) and Stan is torn between his love for the hot tub and his family. The episode is a musical one and it culminates in a cliffhanger ending. The best parts of the episode derive from Cee Lo; without those moments, the episode would be very dull.
And “The Penguins of Madagascar” entered their special one-hour episode “The Return of the Revenge of Dr. Blowhole.” Skipper, is trapped by an old enemy, a dolphin named Dr. Blowhole (voiced by Neil Patrick Harris). He erases Skipper’s memory, throws him into the ocean and then travels to New York City, hoping to achieve world domination. The episode drags and doesn’t even last the full hour.
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