The Simpsons' eighth season originally aired between October 27, 1996 and May 18, 1997, beginning with "Treehouse of Horror VII". The showrunners for the eighth production season were Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. The aired season contained two episodes which were hold-over episodes from season seven, which Oakley and Weinstein also ran. It also contained two episodes for which Al Jean and Mike Reiss were the show runners.
Season eight won multiple awards, including two Emmy Awards: "Homer's Phobia" won for Outstanding Animated Program in 1997, and Alf Clausen and Ken Keeler won for "Outstanding Individual Achievement in Music and Lyrics" with the song "We Put The Spring In Springfield" from the episode "Bart After Dark". Clausen also received an Emmy nomination for "Outstanding Music Direction" for "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpialacious". "Brother from Another Series" was nominated for the Emmy for "Sound Mixing For a Comedy Series or a Special". For "Homer's Phobia", Mike Anderson won the Annie Award for Best Individual Achievement: Directing in a TV Production, and the WAC Winner Best Director for Primetime Series at the 1998 World Animation Celebration. Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation awarded the episode the GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding TV – Individual Episode".
In this year's spooky series of Halloween stories, Bart discovers that he has a special new sibling, Lisa discovers that she is a God to a race of tiny people, and the American people discover that Bill Clinton and Bob Dole are actually aliens Kang and Kodos. In the first segment, Bart investigates noises from the attic and learns that his formerly conjoined twin, Hugo, is locked up there. Hugo is a wild, fish head-eating savage who was locked away because Dr. Hibbert determined that he was evil at birth. When Hugo captures Bart and tries to sew himself back together with his brother, it's up to the doctor to save the good twin. But can he tell for sure which is which? In the second tale, Lisa generates microscopic life inside a plastic tub that quickly evolves into a full-blown species of tiny humans. The tiny people consider Lisa their God. In the final story, Kang and Kodos beam Homer aboard the spacecraft and ask him who the President is. Homer thinks it might be Bill Clinton or is it Bob Dole? Kang and Kodos beam Clinton and Dole aboard, assume the identities, and both run for President. Homer makes it his mission to expose the two false candidates.
A charismatic yet secretive businessman named Hank Scorpio enlists Homer to work for Globex Corporation. Homer likes Scorpio's casual, laid-back management style and accepts the job, moving his family to Cypress Creek, where Globex is located. As Homer learns the ropes of his new job, life in Cypress Creek for Marge is so uneventful that she takes to drink to pass the day. Bart and Lisa are having a tough time as well: Lisa is allergic to nearly all the plants in the nearby forest and Bart is placed in a special class for slow kids in his new school. Homer is still convinced that Cypress Creek is the place for him and that Hank Scorpio is the boss of his dreams. But when Homer discovers that the Globex Corporation is seeking world domination and that Scorpio is actually a super-villain straight of out a James Bond film, he starts to have some small reservations. After discussing it with Marge and the kids, Homer and his family pack up and move back to Springfield while Hank Scorpio takes control of the entire East Coast. Guest Star: Albert Brooks as Hank Scorpio
Homer becomes a boxer and Moe serves as his manager. Even though Homer doesn't have any combinations or footwork to speak of, he can withstand even the most powerful blows to his head and remain standing. Homer fights his way up through the professional ranks and soon agrees to fight a client of Lucius Sweet, a flamboyant boxing promoter with upstanding hair and a taste for flashy jewelry. Drederick Tatum, the boxer Homer is to fight, is the Heavyweight Champ, who will without a doubt pound Homer into a bloody pulp. Marge begs Moe to save Homer if the fight gets too rough, but whether or not Moe has the presence of mind to do so is up in the air. Guest Stars: Paul Winfield as Lucius Sweet; Michael Buffer as himself
Mr. Burns' long-lost illegitimate son, Larry, shows up and wants just a little "respect." Mr. Burns initially welcomes Larry, but rejects his son when he turns out to be a total idiot. Larry befriends Homer and the two concoct a plan to "kidnap" Larry and demand a ransom from Burns. Marge begs them to abandon the plan and even though they do, Burns still rejects his son, who returns to wherever it is he came from. Guest Star: Rodney Dangerfield as Larry Burns
When Bart stumbles into a burlesque theater tucked away in a creepy old mansion, he begins working there as a doorman and eventually an MC. From his perch at the front of the Maison Derriere, Bart sees everyone from Principal Skinner to his own grandpa coming in for the girls and drinks. But when a group of angry townspeople discover that there's a house of sin in Springfield, they try to shut it down. At a town meeting, the group becomes a frenzied mob that tries to raze the house with trucks and sledgehammers. But when the showgirls, with a little help from Homer, Mayor Quimby, and others, sing a catchy tune about why the place should stay open, the mob backs off.
In a move that will surely cause even more psychological damage for their son Milhouse, Kirk and Luann Van Houten split up in a messy, public way. Each Van Houten deals with the breakup differently: Luann begins dating an American Gladiator named Pyro while Kirk kicks off a new career a singer, self-producing an album called "Can I Borrow a Feeling?" Milhouse, for his part, takes his parents' break-up in stride and loses his mind even more than before. Meanwhile, Homer starts panicking that Marge might one day want to divorce him. To prevent that from ever happening, he files for divorce first and then remarries her in a surprisingly romantic ceremony. Sadly, there's no such happy ending for the Van Houtens, who remain divorced.
Lisa develops a crush on bully Nelson Muntz. Even though she seems to know that Nelson can never really change his naughty ways, Lisa thinks she can help him be a better person. She tries her best, but Nelson's thug friends Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney lead him astray yet again. Nelson gets busted for throwing cole slaw at Principal Skinner's house, but the bully tells Lisa he was framed. Lisa believes him at first, but stops liking him when she realizes he lied to her.
God tests Ned Flanders and Ned Flanders fails. When a hurricane wipes out the Flanders' house, Ned and Maude and the kids have to move into a homeless shelter. At the same time, his store, the Leftorium, is looted. Joining together to help their needy neighbors, the people of Springfield, led by Homer, rebuild Flanders' house. But when the house isn't all Ned hoped it would be, he freaks out and verbally assaults everyone in town from Homer to Lisa to Krusty the Clown. After his outburst, Ned enters a mental hospital where he is reacquainted with Dr. Foster, the child psychologist who "cured" him of his anger problems when he was a boy. In a flashback, we see Dr. Foster administering a then-radical form of spank therapy to young Neddy. In the present, the good doctor tries to help Ned get in touch with his anger again to cure him.
At the annual Springfield Chili Cook-Off, Homer eats super-spicy chili made with a dangerous Guatemalan pepper grown by mental patients. The pepper has a powerful hallucinogenic effect and Homer wanders off into the darkest, strangest regions of his mind. Guided by a talking coyote, he goes on a voyage of self-discovery and realizes that he must find his soul mate. When he emerges from his fantastic trip, he returns home to Marge, who is furious at him for disappearing. Marge yells at Homer and tells him that she is not his soul mate, which sends Homer on another voyage to find out who is. Is Barney Homer's soul mate? Is Moe? Is some guy who placed a personal ad? Homer wanders the streets of Springfield, eventually winding up at the lighthouse at the edge of town, under the impression that the lighthouse keeper is his soul mate. Ascending the stairs to the top of the lighthouse, Homer discovers that the lighthouse is operated by a computer. Enraged, Homer shatters the lighthouse's giant light. As a giant barge approaches, Marge arrives on the scene and helps Homer save the boat. She then tells Homer that of course she's his soul mate. Guest Star: Johnny Cash as Coyote
Leonard Nimoy presents the strange tale of Homer Simpson's close encounter with an extraterrestrial being. One night after drinking a few too many at Moe's, Homer sees a bald, glowing, big-eyed creature that tells him not to be afraid. Homer tells everyone that the creature is an alien. Marge and the kids tell Homer that he was drinking too much and that there was no alien. A story in the Springfield Shopper about Homer's close encounter brings FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully to Springfield to investigate. After some routine tests, the agents come up with nothing and leave empty-handed. It's up to Homer and Bart to find proof of the alien's presence themselves. Armed with video footage, Bart and Homer convince the entire town that there is an alien among them. But when everybody turns out to see it, Smithers reveals that the glowing creature is actually Mr. Burns, who is undergoing a series of experimental life-extending medical treatments. Guest Stars: Leonard Nimoy as himself; David Duchovny as Fox Mulder; Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully
When Marge tries to start her own business, she finds herself involved with Fat Tony and his legitimate businessmen friends, who act as her silent partners. Marge tries to open a Pretzel Wagon franchise after meeting Frank Orman, The Pretzel Man, at a small business convention. The pretzel business is a bust until Homer enlists Fat Tony to lend Marge's business a little muscle--financial and otherwise. Marge's business takes off, but Fat Tony wants a fat cut of the profits. The only thing that can stop him from forcibly taking the money is the Japanese mafia, who come to Springfield and whup Tony and his buddies. Guest Stars: Jack Lemmon as Frank Ormand; Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
The employees of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant head for the hills for a survival excursion. Homer gets paired with Mr. Burns and finds out that his tyrannical boss isn't such a bad guy. But when the two men are trapped by an avalanche, they slowly go mad with cabin fever and try to kill one another using imaginary snowmen armies. During the battle, they cause the cabin's propane tank to explode, sending them both hurtling out from under the snowdrift and back to safety.
When her homemaking chores become too overwhelming, Marge's hair starts to fall out. To lighten her load, she hires a nanny for the kids. After some interviews with terrible applicants, Shary Bobbins arrives. The kids love Shary and her catchy little songs. Eventually, Shary changes the Simpsons' lives for the better, but the Simpsons, with their sloppy, selfish ways, have started to change Shary's life for the worse. Shary leaves the Simpson family and flies away on her magical umbrella--until she is sucked up into a jet engine and shredded into confetti.
To save the moribund Itchy & Scratchy Show, the producers do extensive market testing to determine exactly how to make the show funnier and more relevant to today's cartoon-watching audience. They decide that a new character, a crazy, hip-hop surfer dog named Poochie is just what the show needs. It falls on Homer Simpson to breathe life into Poochie by supplying him was a voice for his funky catchphrases. Poochie does not go over well with Itchy & Scratchy's fan base and Homer is heartbroken when he finds himself on the verge of being fired. As an act of defiance, Homer rewrites the lines of Poochie's final episode so that the character can live on, but the producers wind up re-cutting the show to kill the wisecracking dog off. Guest Star: Alex Rocco as Roger Meyers, Jr
The Simpson family befriends John, the owner of Cockamamie's collectible shop and a devoted collector of kitsch and Americana. Everyone takes to John, especially Bart, which makes Homer a bit nervous since John is openly gay. Fearing that John's sexual preference might rub off on his son, Homer tries to engage Bart in more manly pursuits. Homer, Moe and Barney take Bart hunting but wind up stuck in a reindeer stampede that nearly kills them. The only person who can save them is John, who has the decency to overlook Homer's prejudice and come to his rescue. Safe and sound, Homer thanks John profusely and says it's okay for Bart to be whoever he wants to be. Guest Star: John Waters as John
Once again, Sideshow Bob is released from Prison, on the condition that he is looked after by his brother, Cecil Terwilliger, an upstanding citizen and head of construction on the Springfield Hydroelectric Dam. Immediately upon Bob's release, Bart suspects that his old nemesis is up to no good, but can't find any proof. Bob tries to get his life together, taking a job on the dam project for Cecil. Their suspicion growing, Bart and Lisa snoop around the construction office and find a briefcase full of money. Just then, Bob catches them, but claims not to know the origin of the cash. It turns out that Cecil is the evil one, hatching his own plan to embezzle money from the dam budget and then destroy the town of Springfield with an explosion. Bart and Lisa overcome their distrust of Sideshow Bob and work with him to stop the destruction. Busted by the Springfield Police Department, Cecil is sent to jail. Bob is sent too, since no one believes that he didn't play a part in his brother's scheme. Guest Stars: Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob; David Hyde Pierce as Cecil
Lisa embarks on a career as a babysitter. She starts by watching Rod and Todd Flanders, which leads to numerous other babysitting gigs all over Springfield. When Homer and Marge decide they need some time to be alone together, they put Lisa in charge of Maggie and Bart. Bart is furious that his little sister is his babysitter and rebels as much as possible. Lisa tries to deal with Bart's numerous pranks and distractions, but things go a little too far and Lisa accidentally dislocates Bart's arm by pushing him down the stairs. Intent on getting Lisa in trouble, Bart hurts himself even more, knocking himself out. Panicked, Lisa tries to cover up what happened but winds up turning her failure as a babysitter into a public spectacle. At first, Lisa is sure no parents will ever trust her with their kids again, but sure enough, her clients call again and her business continues.
When Mayor Quimby and the Springfield City Hall brass ban all liquor from the town, Moe's Tavern becomes a speakeasy. But procuring booze proves extremely difficult, especially when Rex Banner, a straight-laced government prohibition agent, comes to town. It's up to Homer to start his own bootlegging operation to wet the whistles of Springfield's liquor-loving masses. Dubbing himself the Beer Baron, Homer manufactures all forms of alcohol in the basement of his house, nearly getting caught by Banner at every turn. When Banner finally does catch Homer, Chief Wiggum intervenes and the prohibition agent is sent packing. When an elderly City Hall clerk re-reads the town charter, the prohibition is repealed and the people of Springfield rejoice by getting smashed. Guest Star: Dave Thomas as Rex Banner
A casual conversation between Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel leads to a torrid love affair that nearly destroys a fairly good public school. The educators use Bart as their go-between and beard, bribing him with a clean permanent record if he keeps their secret and continues to pass love notes back and forth for them. Eventually, Bart grows sick and tired of being Skinner and Krabappel's third wheel and exposes them to the world. Learning of the affair, Superintendent Chalmers fires Skinner and Krabappel, who take the opportunity to speak to the public and the media about their relationship. When everything is cleared up, the townspeople realize that the affair is hardly inappropriate, the two educators get their jobs back and continue sharing their love, albeit much more privately.
After a computer mix-up, Santa's Little Helper gets his own credit card, which Bart uses to buy tons of expensive gadgets and gifts from catalogs. One of his many purchases is Laddie, a supremely bred dog that can do tricks, save lives, and use a toilet. The Simpson family falls madly in love with their new dog, nearly forgetting all about Santa's Little Helper, who can barely stand up, much less do a back flip (one of Laddie's many uncanny skills). When the credit card company gets wind of Bart's fraudulent purchases, however, repo men take back everything he bought, including the amazing new pet. In an act of extreme disloyalty, Bart convinces them to take Santa's Little Helper instead. At first no one really notices that Santa's Little Helper is gone, but Bart grows bored with his perfect new dog. He gives Laddie to Chief Wiggum and searches all over town for Santa's Little Helper. He finally finds his old pet serving as a seeing-eye dog for a blind man. Bart tries to steal Santa's Little Helper back, but the blind man catches him and turn him over to the police. When the police arrive with Laddie, the miracle dog sniffs the blind man and finds a stash of marijuana. Bart and Santa's Little Helper are allowed to go home while the cops detain the blind man and sample his goods.
Mr. Burns loses all of his money through a series of foolish investments. Burns recalls how Lisa Simpson goaded him so roughly when he spoke at her school and decides to enlist her to help him gain his fortune back. At first, Lisa distrusts the evil tycoon, but together they start a recycling business that earns them a fortune, one nickel at a time. Burns soon branches out, starting a fish and dolphin trapping business that disgusts Lisa with its brutality. Lisa denounces Burns yet again, refusing to accept any of his money.
Marge becomes a big hit with the Springfield Community Church parishioners when she begins dispensing her homespun advice. The church sets up a hotline that people can call to talk with Marge about their problems. Meanwhile, while digging for goodies at the garbage dump, Homer finds a box of Japanese dishwashing detergent called Mr. Sparkle with a picture of his face on it. After some investigation, Homer discovers that Mr. Sparkle is a huge brand name in Japan and that his likeness serves as their logo. Back at the church, Reverend Lovejoy is depressed because everyone is consulting Marge and not him. Even Ned Flanders asks Marge for help, but when Marge can't offer Ned any useful advice, Lovejoy intervenes and proves that he is best man for the job. Guest Star: Sab Shimono as Mr. Sparkle
A new employee named Frank Grimes comes to work at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Grimes has a huge chip on his shoulder after a life of bad luck and hard work: He was blown up in a silo explosion as a teenager, had to teach himself to hear and feel pain, got a degree in nuclear physics through correspondence courses, and now lives in an apartment over a bowling alley. The only thing that makes sense in his hard, hard life is hustle and determination. When he meets Homer, he is incensed that someone can live so well without doing anything at all. After one of Homer's particularly excessive displays of idiocy, Grimes imitates his coworker by purposely acting foolish. During the outburst, Grimes electrocutes himself and is killed instantly. Even at Grimes' funeral, the dead man is overshadowed by Homer, who makes the mourners break out in laughter when he falls asleep and asks Marge to turn off the TV.
Troy McClure, whom you might remember from such films as David vs. Super Goliath and They Came to Burgle Carnegie Hall, hosts a star-filled view of the future of The Simpsons. First we see Chief Wiggum's spin-off, Chief Wiggum, P.I., in which everyone's favorite cushiony crime-fighter battles corruption as a private dick in New Orleans. Next up is The Love-Matic Grandpa, in which lovable Abe Simpson dies and is reincarnated as a barroom arcade game. Teamed with Moe the bartender, the new Grandpa coaches his buddy on the fine art of love. Finally, there's The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour, a hilarious and heartwarming hour of singing, dancing, guest stars, and beaver sketches. It's just like the real Simpsons we know and love, only without Lisa, who left the family to pursue other interests. Guest Stars: Tim Conway as himself; Gallard Sartain as Big Daddy
Bart and Lisa enroll in military school. While no fan of obeying orders, Bart eventually takes to the school, befriending some of the cadets and even earning the grudging respect of the school's Commandant. Lisa, on the other hand, is ostracized for being a girl and made to work twice as hard as everyone else. Bart tries to help her, but he's torn between the acceptance of his peers and his love for his sister. As part of the training program, all the kids must climb along a 150-foot rope strung across a patch of nasty thorn bushes. Lisa and Bart train for the task together and in the end manage to make it across successfully. Both agree to leave military school and return to their regular lives. Guest Star: Willem Dafoe as the Commandant