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Springfield of Dreams

"Simpsons" creator Matt Groening celebrates the show's landmark anniversary by whittling down 240 sidesplitting, pop-culture-skewering episodes into a definitive best-of list

Since Jan. 14 marks The Simpsons' 10th anniversary, EW issued the show's creator, Matt Groening, a daunting challenge: Select the top 10 Simpsons episodes ever. ''Trying to pick my 10 favorites is akin to picking my 10 favorite pet guppies,'' he notes. ''They're all so sleek and shiny.'' Fortunately, he humored us anyway.

10. THERE'S NO DISGRACE LIKE HOME (1990) The animation is pretty crude, but it does have one of the funniest sequences of the series: At Dr. Marvin Monroe's Family Therapy Center, the Simpsons end up giving each other simultaneous shock therapy. Editing this sequence was difficult, because we were laughing so much at the Simpsons' screaming.

9. KRUSTY GETS BUSTED (1990) I have a peculiar love of TV clownery. We had to do multiple vocal takes of Krusty's heart attack during a commercial for Krusty Brand pork products because Dan Castellaneta as Krusty kept making us bust out laughing. A lip-smacking clown leering at frying bacon, muttering, ''Sizzling! Glistening!'' before collapsing in agony? That just tickles my funny bone.

8. NATURAL BORN KISSERS (1998) The network censors couldn't believe it, and neither could I: the cow at the peephole while Homer and Marge make love in a hayloft; neighbors groping Homer when he and Marge are caught nude inside the windmill at the Sir Putts-A-Lot mini golf course; Homer dangling naked from a hot-air balloon, his ass dragging against the glass of a Crystal Cathedral-like church.

7. TREEHOUSE OF HORROR VII (1996) This Halloween episode features my favorite Kang and Kodos story, in which our slobbering one-eyed aliens morph into Bob Dole and Bill Clinton. Golden moment: ''I suppose you want to probe me,'' says Homer, on board the flying saucer. ''Well, you might as well get it over with.'' Kang, raising a tentacle: ''Stop! We have reached the limit of what rectal probing can teach us!''

6. HOMER'S ENEMY (1997) We explore what it would be like to actually work alongside Homer Simpson. Hank Azaria is great as Frank Grimes, Homer's stressed-out new coworker. We've had many funny funerals on this show, but Grimes' send-off (which Homer sleeps through) is perhaps the most touching and hilarious.

5. IN MARGE WE TRUST (1997) Even by Simpsons standards, this is a peculiar episode: Homer freaks out when he finds a Japanese Mr. Sparkle soap box that bears his likeness. (''For lucky best wash, use Mr. Sparkle!'') I can't remember how we get there, but the show ends with Reverend Lovejoy saving Ned Flanders from several crazed zoo baboons.

4. A STREETCAR NAMED MARGE (1992) Our first major musical episode. Marge is featured in Oh! Streetcar!, a version of A Streetcar Named Desire directed by the oily Llewellyn Sinclair (played with relish by Jon Lovitz). There's also Maggie's finest moment, in which she plots a Great Escape-style caper from the Ayn Rand School for Tots.

3. MUCH APU ABOUT NOTHING (1996) This episode, satirizing the American anti-immigrant frenzy of the mid-'90s, has some of Apu the Kwik-E-Mart clerk's and Police Chief Wiggum's wittiest lines. Sample: ''All right, men,'' says Wiggum, ''here's the order of deportations. First we'll be rounding up your tired, then your poor, then your huddled masses yearning to breathe free...''

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