What do Homer Simpson and Herbie Husker have in common?
They both peaked in the ’90s.
Cheap joke aside, it’s the sad truth.
And coincidentally, it was discovered (stumbled upon) while watching “The Springfield Files“. Out of almost morbid curiosity I found FXX on the TV last Sunday morning with the intention of hate-watching just enough of Every Simpsons Ever to get angry about how things aren’t as good as they used to be.
14 hours later, I reluctantly peeled myself off the couch with bleary eyes and a face sore from an entire day spent laughing. Oh Troy McClure, I didn’t realize how much I missed you. The good ol’ days were so much better than remembered.
During the time Dr. Tom closed out his coaching career with a 60 – 3 run, the Simpsons’ staff was cranking out some of the best work of its soon-to-be 26 seasons. Toss in Frank Solich’s first two years at the helm and you have the entire peak of the series covered.
Along with foreshadowing the Major League Baseball steroid scandal (the Mark McGwire cameo is eerie), the Simpsons episode that ranks as “worst of the best” aired just two weeks before the Huskers’ national championship season wrecking loss to the Texas Longhorns. (If your memory is fuzzy, this was the 1999 loss. Not the 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, or 2010 losses.)
At the time, this defeat simply seemed like a third fluke Texas upset in a row. After all, the Huskers got their revenge five weeks later in the Big 12 Championship Game. But looking back, this was the blip that signaled the end of a legendary run- the faint SOS that things would never be the same. The cargo ship full of hot pants was about to run aground. Even with a rebuilding/re-loading season under Solich’s belt, the Huskers could no longer run the table, even at max power.
Since 1999 the Huskers and the Simpsons have been stuck in a 15 year purgatory of mediocrity. They’ve each shown flashes of brilliance (and the dumb luck of losing their way into the BCS Championship Game) but neither has been able to muster a truly breakout season. Somehow they’ve been able to maintain a level of just good enough to get into the “national conversation” a few times a year.
Heading into this season, The Simpsons’ ratings are at an all-time low. The Huskers are locked in at 22 – a ranking that’s a combination of also-ran pity and hopeful optimism. Both franchises have the resources and depth to string a solid run together.
Can they actually do it?
Or will this be another season of fans having late night YouTube sessions to keep the memory of the glory days from fading even more?
Here’s to a year where Disco Stu and Afro Thunder run wild like it’s 1997 all over again.