After 29 seasons and 636 episodes, “The Simpsons” hits another record this Sunday, beating “Gunsmoke” for the most scripted primetime episodes in TV history. To mark the occasion, this week’s episodes will parody the landmark by having a little fun with “Gunsmoke” — and giving Maggie another gun.
“The Simpsons” tied “Gunsmoke’s” record last week, and included a parody of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” in the opening. A rotating billboard asked, “Mr. Burns was shot in 1995, and still no arrests?”
That’s a reference, of course, to the cliffhanger two-part episode “Who Shot Mr. Burns,” in which it was revealed that Maggie accidentally did it. This time, she clearly has it in for “Gunsmoke,” as she takes on and shoots Marshal Matt Dillon.
The 636th episode, “Forgive and Regret,” is actually a flashback episode. Here’s the synopsis: “Grampa makes a confession to Homer while on his deathbed. After his recovery, he comes to realize that this issue will not be easy to reconcile.” (Last week’s New Orleans-themed episode was originally marked to be the 636th episode, but the scheduling pattern later changed.)
“The Simpsons” has been renewed through Season 30, and is also celebrating the 30th anniversary of the family’s first appearance on “The Tracey Ullman Show.” As for episode 636, “Gunsmoke,” the Western drama that aired from 1955 to 1975, had held the episodic record (635 episodes) for decades, until “The Simpsons” tied it last week.
“I like beating a show that doesn’t really care that we’re beating them,” executive producer Al Jean said at last summer’s San Diego Comic-Con “The Simpsons” panel.
Here’s a look at Sunday night’s opening moments:
The Simpsons airs Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.