“The Simpsons” is about to break yet another record — surpassing “Gunsmoke” for the most episodes of a prime-time scripted series in TV history.
In Sunday’s 636th episode (8 p.m. on Fox), Homer enters his car in a demolition derby. But Grampa gets deathly ill — and, believing he’s about to die, reveals a shocking secret to Homer about their past.
“We never dreamed we’d get this far,” series executive producer Al Jean says of Sunday’s record-setting installment, which will allude to “Gunsmoke” at the beginning of the episode. “After we aired 635 this past Sunday, I was pretty confident. I thought if we made it it would be a marvelous tribute to the writers, animators and cast who work so hard; and particularly to the wonderful fans who’ve stuck with us all these years.”
While Jean claims he’s never seen “Gunsmoke,” he does point out that actress Cloris Leachman appeared on both that series (which ran on NBC from 1955-75) and on “The Simpsons” (she played Mrs. Glick in the episode “Three Men and a Comic Book”).
“Homer has watched ‘Gunsmoke’ but he was asleep,” he says.
While Sunday’s episode is the record-breaker, Jean says the staff “decided to put all the ‘bells and whistles’” into last week’s episode, which tied the “Gunsmoke” record.
“The Simpsons went to New Orleans … there’s a brilliant sequence of Homer eating at every restaurant in New Orleans,” he says. “The record-breaker on Sunday is a small touching story reminiscent of the early seasons, with a couple of Easter eggs for fans.”
Jean is asked if he and the staff celebrated the big milestone episode.
“I enjoyed a free turkey sandwich at the sound mix,” he says.
“The Simpsons,” now in its 29th season, premiered on Fox in December 1989.
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