The opening sequence to The Simpsons is one of the most iconic in television. Everyone loves Homer fumbling with radioactive material at the nuclear power planet, Bart’s blackboard gags, Maggie appearing to drive the family car and, of course, the subtle and heartfelt message of support for the National Rifle Association. But now eagle-eyed fans have spotted a continuity error that we all seemed to have missed.
It comes in the sequence where Homer is nearly run over by Marge as she pulls into the Simpson residence car hole. In the wide shot, we see some boxes and a bicycle against the wall, yet in the ‘driver cam’ shot of Homer being pursued into the house the bicycle is missing and has clearly been replaced by a small black box. Are we supposed to believe this is some kind of magic box or something?
This error is yet another example of the careless attitude that’s typical of the first ten seasons of The Simpsons. These difficult teething years were characterized by prehistoric “hand-drawn” animation and the family hadn’t yet gained their characteristic plastic stiffness and charmingly overblown personalities.
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Fortunately, this continuity blunder and many other problems with the show were cleared up by 2009 when the series aired its beloved 20th season. Generally regarded as the point where The Simpsons finally hit its stride, season 20 saw the opening sequence completely reanimated in HD, sandpapering away all those distracting animation quirks into smooth, professional high-definition.
I’m sure the writers have original ideas for their wacky cartoon adventures for years to come, too, so here’s to The Simpsons continuing to go from strength to strength and remaining on air for a while yet.