1. WILSHIRE BLVD. WAS ACTUALLY AUSTRALIAWe challenge anyone who’s been stuck in traffic on Wilshire Blvd. between La Brea and and Fairfax avenues to spot the difference. La Brea films in Australia and duplicated the title location there, using visual effects to recreate some of the Los Angles street’s noticeable landmarks.“We went to a place in Australia that had similar east/west kind of views,” executive producer Bryan Wyndbrandt said. Bay Street in Melbourne stood in for Wilshire.“Destroying Los Angeles has kind of become an important part of cinema over the last however many years, series creator David Appelbaum added. For us, the pleasure is not so much about seeing our city destroyed, but about creating an exciting action-adventure story and an emotional story at its heart.”2. IT WAS FREEZING(Photo by Sarah Enticknap/NBC)When the survivors awaken below, they find themselves in a sunny field. The more they explore, the more dangers they find including hostile terrain and primal animals. Natalie Zea, who plays Eve Harris on La Brea, said the weather in Australia did not mimic actual sunny California weather.“It’s movie magic,” Zea said. “It’s also what you do as an actor. You put on the silk blouse in 30-degree weather and say here’s who I am.”3. THEY HAVE TWO DOCTORS IN THE HOLE(Photo by Sarah Enticknap/NBC)Other survivors joining Eve below include Dr. Sam Velez (Jon Seda). His medical experience will come in handy when survivors are injured.“I think every sinkhole needs a doctor,” Seda said. “So I think Dr. Sam brings a pretty, simply in the medical field of that nature. And he’s a former Navy SEAL so he has some pretty good instincts as to how to survive.”Ty Coleman (Chiké Okonkwo) is a psychiatrist, in case any of the survivors need therapy down there. Frankly, Ty may be in need of some emotional support himself.“Mental health has, of course during the pandemic, become such a priority and has rightfully so been pushed to the forefront more than before,” Okonkwo said. “He’s a man who has studied the brain, and we’ll find out that that’s relevant in lots of ways. He’s a man who understands the pressures that humans are under.”4. TY WAS SOMEWHERE IMPORTANT BEFORE THE SINKHOLE(Photo by Sarah Enticknap/NBC)Okonkwo added that Ty’s whereabouts prior to the sinkhole would be important. The viewer meets Eve, Sam and their kids in their cars when the sinkhole occurs. Okonkwo said you’ll find out where Ty was later in the season.“Ty’s been traveling from west to east on Wilshire from a particular appointment which will become relevant later on,” Okonkwo said.5. THE PEOPLE ABOVE GROUND MUST SOLVE THE LA BREA CODE(Photo by Sarah Enticknap/NBC)La Brea does not take place entirely below ground. Eve’s daughter, Izzy (Zyra Gorecki) makes it to safety. She and her father, Gavin (Eoin Macken) seek answers to bring their family home.“We have more of the kind of Dan Brown, Da Vinci Code, Indiana Jones kind of action at the top,” Macken said.Wyndbrandt elaborated a bit on the Dan Brown analogy.“We wanted to have fun in that Dan Brown kind of Three Days of the Condor–esque thriller; put the government in a position where they know information that we don’t,” Wyndbrandt said. “He’s talking about the Dan Brown of it all where he has to uncover clues that there are people who know answers that will not only shed light on where his family is, but why he has a connection to this place.”6. GAVIN HARRIS SEES THINGS OTHERS CAN’T(Photo by Sarah Enticknap/NBC)Even before the sinkhole opens, the viewer meets Gavin in a therapy session, dealing with visions he’s seen since an airplane accident he had as a former pilot. Once the Harrises and other families fall into the sinkhole, Gavin’s visions start to connect to their predicament.“That actually goes to places that I don’t think you’re going to expect because I didn’t even expect it,” Macken said. “Fundamentally important to Gavin’s character is being able to have that redemptive arc, both as a father and as a professional as a pilot. And also being able to use those negative experiences he had to try and finally understand himself and get his family back.”7. THERE ARE REAL ANIMALS ON THE SET(Photo by NBC)Down below, Eve and the other survivors run into vicious primal animals. La Brea keeps the actors safe from those and many are created with visual effects. However, Zea said there are some bening animals on the set.“I got to hang out with a rabbit,” Zea said.There are other animals you won’t even get to see on La Brea. Although they film in Australia, the show isn’t set in Australia so they have to keep the native species out of frame. Jack Martin, who plays Eve’s son Josh, described some of the creatures roaming the set.“There’s a bunch of real animals both in the show and also running around in the background when we’re not shooting,” Martin said. “There are kangaroos on every set, I think.”8. ZYRA GORECKI IS AN AMPUTEE LIKE HER CHARACTER IZZY(Photo by Sarah Enticknap/NBC)Izzy has a prosthetic leg, and it’s a plot point in the show. Eve describes the accident that caused Izzy to lose her leg in the story. In real life, Gorecki wears a prosthetic leg herself.“David is absolutely amazing when it comes to writing and we had quite a few conversations about what it is like to be an amputee,” Gorecki said. “He would bring that into the script. Also being able to play an amputee character as an amputee is an honor truly. I think it’s fun to play characters as an amputee that aren’t necessarily an amputee, but also for them to have that representation, it does make you feel very good. To be able to look on screen and be able to go, ‘I look like that. That’s what I look like. That means that I can do it too.’ It’s a big deal.”9. LOVE IS IN THE AIR UNDER LA BREA(Photo by Sarah Enticknap/NBC)Both Sam and Eve have teenage kids in the sinkhole with them. While the parents are trying to find food and shelter, Josh and Riley (Veronica St. Clair), Sam’s daughter, may just hit it off.“I think while there is crazy action in this show and there’s a lot of wild plot events, I think what makes it really good is the character relationships,” Martin said. “I don’t want to spoil anything, but you’ll definitely get to see that play out.”Zea said she understood how the kids took advantage of their situation.“What a great place to get into some mischief,” Zea said. “ My parents are really distracted with survival, so let’s go make out. ”10. THE ACTORS DID THEIR OWN STUNTS(Photo by Sarah Enticknap/NBC)The world below is full of running, climbing and fighting. There was plenty for the actors to do themselves.“We got thrown in, literally thrown in at the deep end from the very start,” Okonkwo said. “From episode one, it’s this kinetic, high-octane adventure, and it doesn’t let up quite frankly. It keeps on going, especially for myself, Jon, and Natalie Zea. Our characters are really in it for the first two or three episodes.”Seda said he was surprised the action was so immediate. He thought he’d have a grace period to get warmed up.“We’re just physically going through a lot of things I don’t think many of us really expected we were going to be doing right from the start,” Seda said. “So it’s demanding in its own way but it’s really exciting. It really is, at the end of the day, it’s fun to be a part of.”La Brea premieres at 9/8C on Tuesday, September 28 on NBC.On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.
As television milestones go, it’s tough to top being on the air not just for a period of years but a period of decades. On December 17, Matt Groening’s deathless satirical masterpiece will achieve the remarkable feat of being on the air for three decades. Three decades! Thirty years! That’s real good.The Simpsons has helped define the comic sensibility of multiple generations of irreverent, pop-culture savvy smart-asses. Its run was first ground-breaking in its eviscerating and dark yet emotionally grounded look at the greed and cynicism at the heart of American society, and then record-breaking in the show’s unprecedented commercial success and staggering longevity.These 30 essential episodes of the preeminent American pop-culture institution illustrate the comedic perfection of the show during its glorious, radiant prime, and then the long, slow, inevitable slide in quality and relevance that followed. But it s worth noting that while we may not be in the Golden Age, the series still does hit hard – and funny – on occasion, so you will find some more recent eps in this list.Let us know your favorite Simpsons episodes in the comments.1. Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire in The Simpsons: Season 1 (1989) 100%You never forget your first time! Accordingly, The Simpsons opened on a painfully relatable note of paralyzing Yuletide economic uncertainty with a special Christmas episode that finds Homer desperate to provide a merry Christmas for his family after being denied a holiday bonus. “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” goes to audaciously dark places for the introductory episode of a cartoon pitched at families. It climaxes with Homer going with his son and alcoholic friend Barney to the racetrack, where he gambles away his money, yet still manages to deliver the requisite happy, or at least bittersweet, ending. From the very beginning, The Simpsons wasn’t just very funny. It was also emotionally real and grounded.2. Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish in The Simpsons: Season 2 (1990) 100%Classic episodes like “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” helped establish sinister arch-capitalist and power plant owner Montgomery Burns as a standout supporting player of tremendous depth and surprising complexity. He’s a figure of biblical, almost Satanic evil but also an oddly sympathetic figure when his God-like status is threatened. Burns is poignantly, unexpectedly human here after the discovery of a three-eyed mutated fish causes a government crackdown on the power plant and inspires the evil mogul to run for governor to protect his interests.3. Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington in The Simpsons: Season 3 (1991) 100%(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)“Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington” adroitly typecasts Lisa as its pure-hearted Mr. Smith surrogate in a savagely satirical evisceration of political corruption, patriotic hokum, and the terminally mild song stylings of Mark Russell. As the show’s unyielding paragon of integrity, Lisa is a natural choice to earnestly inhabit the well-worn archetype of the idealistic innocent who uncovers the seedy underbelly of American politics. Lisa is an inherently political little muckraker and “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington” ranks amongst her finest half hours.4. Homer at the Bat in The Simpsons: Season 3 (1991) 100%If you were a sports fan at the time, “Homer at the Bat” was no mere television episode: It was a seismic cultural event that brought together the best in entertainment and sports in a riotous riff on The Natural. In “Homer at the Bat,” a magic bat transforms Homer into a dinger-smacking dynamo before Mr. Burns hires a team of major league ringers to help him win a million-dollar bet on a company softball game with a fellow mogul. You don’t need to be a baseball fan to find “Homer at the Bat” hilarious, but it does help.5. A Streetcar Named Marge in The Simpsons: Season 4 (1992) 100%The perpetually long-suffering Marge gets an opportunity to not only express but sing her pain when she’s cast as Blanche Du Bois opposite a disconcertingly shredded Ned Flanders in a musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire that replaces the tragic melodrama of the original with something peppier and more upbeat. Marge’s onstage drama mirrors her offstage frustrations, which lends the episode surprising emotional weight.6. Marge vs. The Monorail in The Simpsons: Season 4 (1992) 100%(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)Before he rose to talk show fame, Conan O’Brien wrote his way into The Simpsons history with “Marge Vs. The Monorail.” It’s an instant classic parody of The Music Man with Phil Hartman perfectly cast as its Harold Hill figure, a charismatic flim-flam man with a song on his lips and a scam in his heart who bamboozles the gullible people of Springfield into buying a monorail that causes the problems he promises it will solve.7. I Love Lisa in The Simpsons: Season 4 (1992) 100%It’s impossible not to feel poor Ralph Wiggum’s precocious romantic heartbreak when Lisa Simpson humiliates him after he publicly professes his love for her in this painfully hilarious and just plain painful exploration of puppy love gone awry. Watch closely and you can pinpoint the exact moment “I Love Lisa” rips the audience’s heart in half. Who knew Lisa could be such a heartbreaker and Ralph such a convincing tragic romantic hero?8. Last Exit to Springfield in The Simpsons: Season 4 (1992) 100%To fans of classic The Simpsons, the words “Lisa needs braces” must always be answered with “Dental plan?” and vice versa thanks to “Last Exit to Springfield. The episode pitted a deeply overmatched Homer against Mr. Burns in a labor-versus-owner skirmish that develops unexpectedly high, personal stakes that sees Homer’s dim-wittedness facing off against his family and co-workers’ needs.9. Krusty Gets Kancelled in The Simpsons: Season 4 (1992) 100%The stars REALLY come for poor Krusty after his place in children’s hearts is taken by sadistic dummy Gabbo. “Krusty Gets Kancelled” would make it into the pantheon of all-time great episodes on the basis of a guest voice roster that includes Johnny Carson, Elizabeth Taylor, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers alone, but it offers an embarrassment of riches even without a ridiculously stacked guest lineup.10. Cape Feare in The Simpsons: Season 5 (1993) 100%(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)Kelsey Grammer’s sonorously duplicitous sidekick-turned-serial attempted murderer, Sideshow Bob, proved himself a worthy antagonist to Bart Simpson by slipping into the role of a vengeance-crazed ex-con in a Cape Fear spoof that contains the legendary sequence where the frustrated clown steps on a rake nine times – a gag that’s funny, then unfunny, then brutal, then hilarious all over again.11. Rosebud in The Simpsons: Season 5 (1993) 100%The Simpsons’ famous love for Citizen Kane, and pop culture pastiche in general. reaches a glorious crescendo with “Rosebud, which re-imagines Charles Foster Kane’s iconic nostalgia for the sled of his youth as miserly Mr. Burns similarly pining for a clumsily symbolic totem of childhood innocence, a ratty teddy bear that Maggie comes to own. “Rosebud” humanized a monster by exposing the child within.12. Itchy and Scratchy Land in The Simpsons: Season 6 (1994) 100%When FOX tried to appease censors by eliminating Itchy Scratchy, a duo that exists for the sake of gratuitous violence, The Simpsons impishly protested with the most uncompromisingly brutal Itchy Scratchy episode of all time. “Itchy and Scratchy Land” ratcheted the bloodshed up to hyperbolic and hilarious levels in a gut-buster that riffs merrily on Disney Land, Westworld, and Jurassic Park.13. Treehouse of Horror V in The Simpsons: Season 6 (1994) 100%(Photo by 20th Century Fox Film Corp.)The Treehouse of Horror, The Simpsons’ beloved annual Halloween ramble through treasured terror tales past, was never darker or more hilarious than in this fifth entry that focused on adults murderously terrorizing children. First Homer convincingly inhabits the murderous mind of Jack Torrance in a non legally-actionable parody of The Shining called “The Shinning.” Then Homer ruins things for civilization by futzing around with the timeline before a final segment finds teachers and lunch ladies enjoying a new “miracle meat” made of students that gives a deliciously literal meaning to “Eat my shorts.”14. Who Shot Mr Burns? Parts 1 and 2 in The Simpsons: Season 6 (1994) 100% and The Simpsons: Season 7 (1995) 100%The Simpsons delved into the pulse-pounding world of cliffhangers with “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, a high-profile, much buzzed-about two-part parody of Dallas’ 1980 ratings bonanza “Who Shot J.R?”. Like the earlier pop-culture phenomenon, “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” focused on the shooting of a mogul so cartoonishly evil that just about anyone with a pulse who has interacted with them has reason to wish them dead.