John, thanks for the Simpsons post; I really enjoyed it. I ranked these about a year ago. When Jeff and I re-watch them (whether he wants to or not), I'll probably provide an update.
1. The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace
2. They Saved Lisa's Brain
3. Homer to the Max
4. Lisa Gets an A
5. Make Room for Lisa
6. Lard of the Dance
7. Maximum Homerdrive
8. Wild Barts Can't Be Broken
9. Homer Simpson in: Kidney Trouble
10. Mayored to the Mob
11. Bart the Mother
12. Treehouse of Horror IX
13. Monty Can't Buy Me Love
14. Simpsons Bible Stories
15. Marge Simpson in: Screaming Yellow Honkers
16. The Old Man and the "C" Student
17. Viva Ned Flanders
18. Sunday, Cruddy Sunday
19. I'm with Cupid
20. When You Dish Upon a Star
21. Mom and Pop Art
22. Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo
23. D'oh-in the Wind
I agree with a lot the comments you made. The third act of the Treehouse of Horror episode is unbearable. Thankfully Jerry Springer references/jokes are mostly extinct now.
We seem to differ a bit on D'oh-in the Wind. Ha, I think I would like to hear more about your hatred of the 60s. I don't hate hippies, but I hate that episode so much because the jokes are terrible and the story is so extremely stupid...a shame, given George Carlin's involvement. Were the 60s a golden age? Musically, yes. Otherwise, nah. I'm sorry to disappoint my fans, but I'm not a big advocate of psychedelics and free love. But I suppose it's better than an age in which credit default swaps are apparently legal and go unpunished. Really, there's no such thing as a golden age...as Woody Allen brilliantly points out in Midnight In Paris (haha, I just had to add that).
I figured you would enjoy Homer Simpson in "Kidney Trouble." I want to repeat that I feel you and the episode's writer, John Swartzwelder, would get along very well. You have the same first name; there is little photographic proof of either of your existences, and you both enjoy Westerns. Swartzwelder also wrote the season 13 episode "The Lastest Gun in the West," which you'd love if you haven't seen it. Also, he has written a few novels - Double Wonderful being a western. I recommend it, though I have to admit that I've never read it myself and it's probably only available on amazon; I don't think any library would have it. Recommendations are best when they're free. Sorry.
On the animal/vegetarianism stuff - right, I figured that's what you meant, but I really did want to go on record and state that I'm not a vegetarian. When I joined film club, I told everyone that Jeff and I are very similar. Given that and my pro-PETA/anti-factory farm statements, I thought it was important to be clear. Didn't mean to suggest that my response was somehow "got'cha journalism" - I only save that stuff for Sarah Palin.
I definitely understand why my stance on animal vs. human abuse in film is strange. It sounds a little strange even to me. And by that I mean that I don't fully understand why I can watch De Niro be shot to death in Heat (spoiler alert) but if someone runs over a dog in a movie, I feel like shit.
I guess it's partly to do with the pet idea. People love dogs and other domesticated animals; dog is man's best friend, they say. Jeff and I grew up with our beagle (named him Lucky because we were heavily influenced by 101 Dalmatians during mid-90s). Now we have a cat and even though she's slightly evil, I love her and wouldn't want anything bad to happen to her. Animals are also like babies. They're cute and amusing. I don't think we'd want to watch babies be harmed in a movie.
A great example of cats being thrown around by their tails is in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Obviously it's done comedically, but it's done nonetheless and I don't have a problem with it. On the other hand, there's an episode of Game of Thrones in which a lance goes straight through a knight's mask - impaling and killing him - no problems. In that very same episode, another knight (who loses, but lives) gets so pissed off that he chops his horse's head off. Silly and over the top - certainly...but it still rubbed me the wrong way. And yet, I recommend the show to everyone I know and will continue to watch it. But that shot was unnecessary, in my opinion, even though I know that it was all computerized.
Film is simulation, and actors choose to be in film. They read the script beforehand and they know what they're getting into. If I see a guy on screen getting his scrotum removed by a butter knife I will look away in disgust and disapproval (reading it is another thing...haha, nicely done). But at the end of the day, I know that it was fake and the actor knew what was happening. Animals are forced into it (not cruelly or anything), even though they've been trained to act and do their part. I'm not saying that animals shouldn't be in films (keep those Air Bud movies a-comin'!) but that's something that many people don't consider. If a stunt man is hurt, it's part of the job and he/she receives treatment, payment, and his/her name is in the credits. If a horse's leg accidentally breaks during a shoot, it can only receive medical treatment.
But I don't know that any animals are harmed in movies or television at all anymore, and so I won't chain myself to the gate of a movie studio and demand that someone puts a stop to it. I can't say that I care about the issue too much, but obviously I do to an extent. I do hope some of this made sense. If not, let me know. I do enjoy talking about this stuff.