Both the Family Guy/Simpsons crossover and Simpsons season premiere are on Sunday, 9/28, The Simpsons at 8 and a one hour Family Guy at 9 ET/PT.
I have not missed an episode of The Simpsons in 25 years. It didn’t start out as any big OCD plan. It was just my favorite show so every Sunday (or Thursday, remember those days?), even if I was out, I recorded it and watched it later. Suddenly I realized they were coming up on two decades and I hadn’t changed my commitment. Now here we are at the end of the Every Simpsons Ever marathon, and I had already seen them all.
So I was thrilled when I ran into Lisa Simpsons herself at the Fox Fall Eco-Casino Party, where celebrities attended to raise money for environmental charities. Yeardley Smith spoke with me for a few minutes about the marathon and upcoming episodes including crossovers with Family Guy and Futurama. The Simpsons still airs Sundays at 8 on Fox, and now infinitely on FXX.
Nuke the Fridge: Was the Every Simpsons Ever marathon a revelation for you?
Yeardley Smith: I suppose in as far as it could’ve gone either way. It could’ve been “Why are you doing this? You shot your wad 25 years ago. We don’t want to see these episodes again.” But it wasn’t that. The fans really were reinvigorated by 24 hours for 12 days of The Simpsons and that was incredibly gratifying.
Nuke: Were there any, after all these years, that you didn’t remember anymore?
Yeardley Smith: A lot, so many. I actually have a really terrible memory so when people come up to me and say, “Oh my God, remember that line from…?” No, no, I don’t. It’s amazing. It’s great to see how the animation has changed. It was great to read what the writers were live-tweeting as they were watching because that is a wealth of information you can’t get anywhere else. It’s a wonderful history of this thing that is now such an iconic part of our culture.
Nuke: What were some episodes you were happy to be reminded of again?
Yeardley Smith: There’s a great episode that Harvey Fiertsein guest stars on way back at the beginning of the series where he’s trying to make Homer over into a better, dapper, more elegant man. Of course it’s a disaster, but that’s such a wonderful, touching, unexpected friendship. I love that one. The monorail episode was great. I hadn’t seen that in forever. The episode where Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for five dollars and Lisa buys it back is one of my all time favorites.
Nuke: That’s a classic. I have actually never missed an episode in 25 years.
Yeardley Smith: That is impressive. Wow. What were some of your favorites?
Nuke: My favorite ever is “El Viaje Misterioso De Nuestro Homer” where he tries to find his soul mate.
Yeardley Smith: Yes! Yes! Great. I think they’ve covered everything.
Nuke: Bovine University is a classic too.
Yeardley Smith: Yes.
Nuke: Did you actually get to record with Paul and Linda McCartney in that episode?
Yeardley Smith: I didn’t. They flew our show runner to their farm in Surrey, England. But, the great thing about that episode is that Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney said they would only do The Simpsons if Lisa stayed a vegetarian for the rest of the show, and she has.
Nuke: She’s gone through so many changes in 25 years, become a vegetarian and a Buddhist, and remained a saxophone player.
Yeardley Smith: Yeah, she’s played tenor and baritone.
Nuke: Has she changed keys? I didn’t know that.
Yeardley Smith: Yes, she has and there are three different men, although one guy in particular who plays the sax for Lisa Simpson.
Nuke: So what’s still coming up for Lisa?
Yeardley Smith: Well, you know, the characters are so multi-faceted, I think that whenever you go to the well of a character driven episode, you never run out of material. The Family Guy/Simpsons crossover episode, she befriends Meg and tries to find out what she’s good at. Turns out not very much, and then it’s the saxophone and Lisa Simpson’s like, “I don’t want to be your friend anymore.”
Nuke: Who does Lisa get along with in the Futurama crossover?
Yeardley Smith: Lisa just questions the validity of Bender being one of the most advanced robots that we have ever created. She’s like, “Really? I don’t think so.” But that episode really focuses on Bender and Homer’s friendship and relationship, and the similarities, a dubious distinction if I do say so.
Nuke: Over 25 years, has it been hard to maintain the voice of Lisa?
Yeardley Smith: No, it’s really easy. This is me, “This is Lisa Simpson.” I guess I always sound exactly like myself so I only do one voice on the show. Except, I do do an old woman but in a recent episode they killed her off. I’m hoping they might bring her back, because we’re a cartoon. We can do that.
Nuke: Did that happen in previous seasons?
Yeardley Smith: No, it was just this season that we’re recording now.
Nuke: Oh, that’s not the big death they’re teasing, is it?
Yeardley Smith: All I can tell you is it’s not me. My old lady doesn’t even have a name. She’s just “Old Lady” in the script.