Jack Tame: Back to future with favourite family

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A very up-to-date Homer took the ice-bucket challenge just this week.
A very up-to-date Homer took the ice-bucket challenge just this week.

I was a Simpsons kid.

I calendared. I VCR'd. At school I wrote book reviews on Bart Simpson's Guide to Life.

The chapter on how to annoy one's parents remains as relevant today as it was 20 years ago: nothing angers your mum at Pak'nSave like licking all the fruit.

I even recall a lost summer in a South Australian heat wave, stricken by violent ear infections from too many cannonballs in the local pool.

As my family left each day to its cool reprieve I was left on my grandparents' couch and hour upon hour of The Simpsons. Every teen should know such bliss.

America's favourite family has endured. Since debuting in 1989, The Simpsons has notched up 552 episodes, the longest-running sitcom in history.

And if you were really feeling unproductive this week (a bit nostalgic for that particular shade of yellow) you could watch every single one. A US cable TV network is playing every episode in a marathon taking 12 days.

Over time I've grown out of The Simpsons. I no longer set the VCR. The problem with sitcoms is the "sit" bit: there are only so many exotic holidays the family can take; only so many celebrity walk-ons.

Just this week - shudder - Homer did the ice-bucket challenge.

But the few old episodes I tuned in for provided poignant commentary on American life. In the first, I was startled by the cartoon's newsreader as he questioned if a local heat wave could be the result of man-made climate change.

"If 70-degree days in the middle of winter are the 'price' of car pollution, you'll forgive me if I keep my old Pontiac." He laughs.

The episode was written in 1992.

I caught an even eerier scene from a few seasons later, in which 8-year-old Lisa is handed an automatic weapon. She holds down the trigger and loses control; the gun's recoil launches her into the air.

Sound at all familiar? The episode is 17 years old and it could've been written on Thursday.

Jack Tame is on Newstalk ZB Saturdays, 9am-midday.

- Herald on Sunday

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