The episode(s): Mr. Burns goes on a tyrannical tirade and manages to block out the sun. He’s only stopped in his tracks by a mysterious assailant who shoots him just outside Springfield’s town hall.
Why it’s one of the best: Okay, this one is a bit of a cheat. While both episodes aired separately, and make up one of only two serialised stories in Simpsons history, one doesn’t work without the other. To put it mildly, this was a mystery that gripped a nation in the summer of 1995 as even a telephone contest and TV special – with Vegas odds, no less – was set up to try and figure out whodunnit. Then it turns out it was the baby all along. Yeah…
Even with that nonsensical reveal (which would be roundly mocked by the show itself in the years to come), the episode is packed with the crème de la crème of Simpsons hallmarks from this period: obscure references (including a whole Twin Peaks parody that was probably lost on 80% of the audience) and absurd plot beats, but there’s so much more than that too.
For one thing, it’s a genuine mystery you can still go back and piece together, and its irreverent, offbeat ending - which sees everyone involved brushed off the murder, leaving no consequences for the murderous Maggie Simpson - was unlike anything else at the time. It’s a first-rate episode with the added dimension of it being a more-than-passable crime mystery as well. Not too bad for a silly animated series, eh?