It didn’t take long for The Simpsons to become a victim of its success: 16 days, to be precise.
On 29 May 1990, a little over two weeks after the transmission of Some Enchanted Evening, Fox Television announced that when the show returned in the autumn, it would no longer be aired on Sunday nights at 8pm. Its new home would be on Thursdays at 8pm, up against America’s number one sitcom, NBC’s The Cosby Show. Both Rupert Murdoch, who claimed credit for the move personally, and Fox chief executive Barry Diller were ecstatic at the hoo-ha that followed. The show’s staff, from Matt Groening downwards, were incensed.
Thanks to the way the BBC jumbled up the terrestrial premiere of The Simpsons, viewers in the UK encountered season one of the show in a ramshackle fashion, with episodes spliced seemingly at random between those dating from as many as three years later.
But in retrospect this probably did the season a massive favour. Its weaknesses, of which there are many, got diluted by virtue of its episodes not appearing sequentially, sparing viewers a sustained dose of off-model animation, crudely-drawn sets and half-realised voices. Its strengths, of which there are few, also got scattered through the schedules, but this had the advantage of the entire season having its credentials levelled up rather than down.