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Anime & Manga Japan / Most episodes ever? ‘Simpsons’ to air No. 500

(THE SIMPSONS: The Simpsons are evicted from Springfield and join an off-the-grid community in "At Long Last Leave," the milestone 500th episode of THE SIMPSONS, airing Sunday, Feb. 19 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX.)

If 300 episodes gets a “Woo-hoo!” and 400 an “Ay caramba!,” then 500 is worthy of a full-on Homer drool.
With Sunday’s episode, “The Simpsons,” in its 23rd season, will hit 500, a nearly unheard-of milestone reached by only two other prime-time scripted series, “Gunsmoke” (633) and “Lassie” (588).

(THE SIMPSONS: The Simpson family in the series premiere "Simpsons Roasting on
an Open Fire" episode of THE SIMPSONS on FOX.)

“I never imagined this,” creator Matt Groening says. “I thought it would be a hit with kids. I wasn’t sure adults would dig it.”
There must be some reason for the longevity of the ubiquitous yellow family, which also has a hit movie, a theme park ride and mountains of merchandise, and has gone from being condemned by a president to being blessed by the Vatican.

(THE SIMPSONS: The "Who SHot Mr. Burns? Part Two" season seven premiere
episode of THE SIMPSONS on FOX.)

“I think it’s the flexibility of these characters. They can do any kind of comedy anyone ever thought of, from farce to reality,” executive producer James L. Brooks says. “For a long time, we didn’t want to deal with the fact we could do anything we wanted. There were no sets, no past, no future. The first group of years was spent not taking advantage of any of that [freedom]. Then we started letting it in.”
Josh Weinstein, who oversaw production in seasons seven and eight, marvels at the show’s influence on society. “Now, you have people who use ‘Simpsons’ quotes in everyday life and to talk about the world. I like to think we unduly influenced them.”

Executive producer Al Jean, who oversees production of the show, says he’s stopped predicting how long “The Simpsons” can go on. There was talk that the one-time ratings juggernaut, which still averages 7.7 million viewers, might end because of proposed cost-cutting last fall, but “it wasn’t as dire as it was portrayed,” he says. The new deal will get the show’s tally up to 559 episodes.
Jean says ideas are still there and thinks economics, not creativity, will be the reason the Emmy-winning series ultimately ends.
Producer Mike Reiss says the show “could just go on forever. [It’s] a show about the world. We’ll run out of material the day the world stops being interesting.”

By AS on Feb 21, 2012
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