It's kind of like LeBron joining forces with Kobe, or chocolate mixing with...more chocolate: The Office mastergenius Ricky Gervais has penned the March 26 episode of The Simpsons, in which he'll also lend his voice to a henpecked husband. ''When I got into comedy, my ambition was to get a joke on The Simpsons, '' says Gervais. ''I pretty much swan around now with a placard saying, 'I wrote an episode of The Simpsons. What have you done today?''' For starters, you've read Ricky's list of his five favorite Simpsons episodes.
1 HOMER'S ENEMY (SEASON 8)
New nuclear-plant employee Frank Grimes drives himself to an early grave by plotting against Homer. ''The most complete episode. Grimes finds out Homer's the safety inspector and can't believe people around him don't mind, and that this buffoon who nearly drinks acid by mistake has got a loving family. But he's not seeing the whole picture. You sit back and watch this man's demise with glee. The funeral is beautiful. Homer's asleep, snoring, and goes, 'Change the channel, Marge,' and they all laugh as the coffin is going down. If someone comes into this world, they leave it the same as it was before. It's just perfect.''
2 AND MAGGIE MAKES THREE (SEASON 6)
When Lisa asks why there are no pictures of Maggie in the photo album, a flashback recalls Homer and Marge's leaner times. ''Homer has to go groveling back to Mr. Burns, and Mr. Burns gives him this terrible plaque above his desk that says, 'Don't forget: You're here forever.' It's about how sometimes things don't go the way you planned, which is pretty amazing in a cartoon. Homer then puts up all the pictures of Maggie he's ever taken to strategically cover this horrible thing so it now reads, 'Do it for her.' It gives me a lump in the throat thinking about it.''
3 A FISH CALLED SELMA (SEASON 7)
Troy McClure enters into a sham marriage with Selma to rehab his image and hide a secret. ''You think it's going to be that he's gay. And he says, 'Gay, I wish!' It turns out he's got this weird fish fetish. There's one throwaway line where one of the mobsters goes, 'I thought you said Troy McClure was dead,' and the other responds, 'No, what I said was he sleeps with the fishes.' That's incredible! I never saw that coming! And it's the one where Troy's in the Planet of the Apes musical. One of my favorite lines is when he sings 'from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z.' Inspired, isn't it? It's only a pun, but as puns go, it's top of the pun charts.''
4 MUCH APU ABOUT NOTHING (SEASON 7)
When xenophobia overtakes Springfield, Homer comes to Apu's aid. ''It's a great swipe at ignorance and fear. [To prepare Apu for a citizenship test], Homer holds the flag up and says, 'We all know the 13 stripes are for good luck. But why does the American flag have precisely 47 stars?' Homer is at his best when he's arrogant and ignorant at the same time. Also, Chief Wiggum says, 'First we'll be rounding up your tired, then your poor, then your huddled masses.' I love the deconstructing, and taking something that's so globally obvious and getting it wrong. A kids' cartoon think of the satire! Phenomenal!''