One of the greatest episodes of The Simpsons is, without a doubt, "Marge Vs. The Monorail." The Conan O'Brien-penned episode has everything you could ever want.
Phil Hartman? Check. Guest appearance by Leonard Nimoy? Indeed. A one track train? Yup. A giant donut? Hell yes. This glorious moment of television excellence just turned 20. Let's reminisce.
"Marge vs. The Monorail" first aired on January 14, 1993 during The Simpsons' fourth season. It was written by Conan O'Brien, a red haired fellow who hasn't really done much comedy since. It was his second episode.
Springfield had a cash surplus thanks to Mr. Burns dumping nuclear waste all around Springfield. A town meeting to figure out how to spend the money almost gets Main Street fixed up, but out-of-town trickster Lyle Lanley convinces Springfield to install a huge monorail. If it's good enough for Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, it's good enough for Springfield!
Of course, Homer learns how to drive the monorail after taking an "intensive three week course" taught by Lanley. He only learns that mono means "one" and rail means "rail."
Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance as one of the celebrities to take the first monorail ride, though the producers had originally approached George Takei for the slot. In the DVD commentary, the producers note that Takei declined because, believe it or not, he was a member of the board of the Southern California Rapid Transit District. He thought it would be bad to make fun of public transit.
It ended up being a good thing that he declined. Nimoy was hilarious in his role, and it also opened the door for a return appearance in 1997's 'The Springfield Files,' another brilliant episode.
The monorail runs out of control, Lanley is assaulted after flying to North Haverbrook by accident, and Nimoy disappears into thin air after helping save Krusty the Clown's life. He also creeps out everyone on the monorail. The monorail is destroyed and then never mentioned again.
It might work at Disney World, but not in a town like Springfield.
I tend to think that "Marge vs. The Monorail" is the sole reason why monorails have not become the preferred system of transportation in metropolitan areas around the world. Imagine one in New York City? It'd be amazing.
Photo Credit: Lard Lad