…Or vice versa. Because unless you were watching daytime talk shows in 1992, here’s a long lost clip of Springfield you’ve probably never seen!
Oprah Winfrey. One of the most recognizable icons of the last thirty years. Host of the most successful syndicated daytime program in US broadcast history. The first (and currently only) black billionaire in North America. If none of that matters to you and you need further proof how big Oprah is/was in 1992, check out when The Simpsons wanted to pimp their fourth season, and Our Favorite Family had to come crawling to her.
Talking Simpsons, Laser Time’s chronological exploration of every episode of The Simpsons, just closed out its third season with “Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes” and as tradition dictates, we do an amazing colossal Season Wrap-Up episode for the kind and lovely folks on the Laser Time Patreon (who are the only reason the show even exists.) We try and encapsulate that year in Simpsons minutia. The Emmys, the commercials, the horrible video games, the controversies, the rare clips lost to a time before YouTube. Our Season 3 Wrap-Up is now live, and while I’m not sure if we can do it every season, The Simpsons never burned brighter than in the early 90s, so I can at least assure you it’s beyond interesting at this point in the show’s history. And sure enough, we found A DOOZY and decided to share it with you folks, regardless of Patronage. Thank me later.
On or around November 4, 1992, The Oprah Winfrey Show aired one of here “Oprah goes behind the scenes!” pieces. She talked to Jodie Foster about some movie none of us remember, but more importantly for our purposes, Oprah invaded The Simpsons offices when the show was at its apex and brought us some of the strangest, then-uncontextualized, footage to ever come out of the House of Groening. A silent Conan O’Brien looms in the background, a late nite dynasty just a glimmer in his eye. We see Dan, Nancy, and Yeardley performing Homer, Bart, and Lisa (kind of a no-no at the time and still sort of rare). Julie Kavner speaks candidly on camera about Marge, something she hasn’t really done for decades. But perhaps the craziest thing in obscure Simpsons clip history happens when Oprah asks Groening if she can speak to the Simpsons personally. And here’s where it gets wonderfully weird, and wildly meta…
Matt Groening tells Oprah to go to Springfield and we then see her in a limo looking for “742 Evergreen Terrace.” Once she pulls up, live-action Oprah disappears and we have one of the most fascinating Simpsons artifacts I’ve ever organically come across. Oprah spends almost three whole minutes with the Simpsons, fully animated and very much in the natural world of Springfield. And even though I’m sure at least a portion of the animation was cannibalized from actual episodes (not that I can specifically notice anyway, and I’m the guy thoroughly poring over the show for a stupid podcast) the writing and voice acting from the five family members is a 100% custom job. Also, I’m pretty sure Marge makes a joke about anal sex?
What’s so bizarre is that the footage has never been officially seen again. It aired only once, has never appeared on a Simpsons DVD (nor an Oprah DVD, should such a thing exist), and never even made it into one of those clip-based episodes The Simpsons did pretty regularly during this era to save money on production. The internet is certainly aware of its existence, it’s actually pretty confusing for a few unlucky souls, but I’ve never laid eyes on it before researching Talking Simpsons Season 3 Wrap Up episode. Here’s the entire piece.
Let this be a lesson: There was almost nobody bigger than The Simpsons in 1992. Those few who arguably where – Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Johnny Carson – all at least kissed the ring and made appearances on the show. Except for Oprah. She got them all to herself, on her turf. Exclusively and forever. Damn.
Yes, fully-animated, authentically-voiced Simpsons guest appearances have happened quite a few times recently, most notably on a relatively recent (relative only in the context of Simpsons history) episode of Family Guy, but that’s a largely recent phenomenon. In the days of computer animation and viral marketing, it’s not terrible uncommon to see The Simpsons pop up in custom animated form. But it certainly was for the first twenty years of the show’s existence. Obviously you’d know that if you were listening to Talking Simpsons.
The Patreon-exclusive Season 3 Wrap-Up episode of Talking Simpsons is available now, along with the entire first season of Talking Simpsons, as well as almost ONE HUNDRED full-length movie, cartoon, and wrestling commentaries. All of this AND MORE are yours for the low cost of $5 worth of support. And once again, a zillion thanks to everyone who got Talking Simpsons off the ground.