Fox has sealed the fate of a four-decade-old record by renewing its iconic animated series The Simpsons for its 29th and 30th episodes.
The renewal will allow the Matt Groening series to reach 669 episodes, which will more than topple Gunsmoke, a show that produced 635 scripted episodes between 1955 and 1975.
The series, forever needing to poke fun at not just others but itself, let character Homer Simpson speak for it, according to TV Week, rubbing the news in the classic western’s face.
“Take that Gunsmoke! You lost a race you didn’t even know you were running!”
Taking a more serious approach, Fox Television’s two chairman and chief executives, Dana Walden and Gary Newman, were not ready to overlook the historic moment.
“The Simpsons has meant so much to the network, the studio and everyone at Fox, and its continued cultural impact around the globe is a testament to the combined brilliance of Matt, (James L. Brooks) and Al (Jean).
“Congratulations to everyone who works on this groundbreaking series – from the voice cast and the producers, to the writers and production team. You comprise one of the greatest collections of creative talent in the history of the medium.”
The Simpsons is currently running its 28th season, airing its 600th episode on Oct. 16. That episode was the 27th annual “Treehouse of Horrors” the series has been running for Halloween since the early 1990s.
The series will officially break the record toward the end of next season, likely in April 2018.
The Simpsons premiered on Fox as a mid-season replacement Dec. 17, 1989. It was spun off from a variety comedy show hosted by comedian Tracey Ullman, which used characters Groening based on his own family growing up, as commercial bumpers. Brooks was a producer on that show, and discovered Groening through his “Life in Hell” comic strips.
When he helped develop The Simpsons as a half-hour comedy, he used his pull as an Oscar-winning writer and director (for 1983’s Terms of Endearment) to create a unique contract with Fox that would prevent the network from interfering with the show’s content in any way.
The Simpsons would go on to win 32 Emmy awards, and also was the first animated series to ever be recognized by the Peabody.
The series – starring the voice talent of Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer – airs Sundays on Fox.
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