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updated: 9/25/2014 10:28 PM

'Simpsons,' 'Doctor Who' dominate the DVR this weekend

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  • Peter Capaldi -- the 12th and newest Doctor -- makes his debut when "Doctor Who" returns Saturday to BBC America.

    Peter Capaldi -- the 12th and newest Doctor -- makes his debut when "Doctor Who" returns Saturday to BBC America.
    Courtesy of BBC America

  • Peter Capaldi -- the 12th and newest Doctor -- makes his debut when "Doctor Who" returns Saturday to BBC America.

    Peter Capaldi -- the 12th and newest Doctor -- makes his debut when "Doctor Who" returns Saturday to BBC America.
    Courtesy of BBC America

  • Video: Doctor Who trailer

  • Video: Every Simpsons Ever


The 12-day marathon airing of every "Simpsons" episode ever is already under way by the time you read this, but don't worry -- there are still plenty of great episodes worth some space on your DVR. (Hundreds, even.)

Yes, the offshoot FXX network is airing all 552 episodes (and one feature film) of the animated American classic from now until Sept. 1. No, I am not attempting to stay awake for all of it -- though the idea is tempting.

Casual "Simpsons" fans know the classics: "Mr. Plow." "Itchy & Scratchy Land." "Cape Feare." "Last Exit to Springfield." But here are some unheralded classics from the last 25(!) years worth your time:

• "Selma's Choice" (8:30 p.m. Friday) -- Season 4 (and 5, 6, 7 and 8, for that matter) is so good that even an episode this hilarious is easily forgotten. Lisa gets drunk on the "water" at the Duff Gardens amusement park, and Homer has an unhealthy attachment to an old sandwich.

• "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson" (2 a.m. Monday, Aug. 25) -- The Season 9 premiere was kept out of syndication for a period after 9/11 because of its depiction of the World Trade Center. Homer has to travel to the Big Apple to recover his car, which Barney had taken on a drunken jaunt. There's a musical sequence, an animated travelogue of New York and a really funny scene involving crab juice.

• "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace" (3 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25) -- A Season 10 offering in which Homer decides to emulate Thomas Edison and become an inventor.

• "Co-Dependent's Day" (4:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 28) -- From Season 15 comes this darker offering in which Marge ends up in alcohol rehab, leaving neighbor Ned Flanders to take care of the Simpsons kids. The episode infamously opens with a parody of "Star Wars: Episode I," which in Springfield is called "Cosmic Wars: The Gathering Shadow."

• "24 Minutes" (4 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29) -- The show's 399th episode is a full-on parody of Fox's "24," with Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub reprising their roles as Jack Bauer and Chloe O'Brian in a thriller about Lisa Simpson attempting to prevent a stink bomb from exploding at Springfield Elementary.

The Doctor is in

"Doctor Who" returns to BBC America at 7 p.m. Saturday with a new Doctor, Peter Capaldi ("In the Loop"), and, reportedly, a new attitude.

The show's current incarnation, overseen by writer/producer Steven Moffat, has often eschewed narrative clarity and relied on the zany witticisms of previous Doctor Matt Smith, fantastic visuals and romantic tension between the Doctor and his companions.

Capaldi, at age 56, looks to be taking a grimmer, no-nonsense approach to the time-traveling alien, and I don't expect to see any romantic fireworks between the Twelfth Doctor and companion Clara Oswald, played by 28-year-old Jenna Coleman.

Matt Smith, whose debut season is among the best I've seen on television, will always be "my Doctor" -- but I'm ready for something new. The new run of 12 episodes begins Saturday with "Deep Breath," written by Moffat, and will feature the return of The Doctor's arch enemies, the Daleks, and conclude with the only two-parter of the season.

Reader feedback

Last week, I wrote about the death of Robin Williams and the surprising, overwhelming sadness I felt. I agonized over the last paragraph of the column, wanting to sum up my feelings of grief and regret. I wrote, "Robin Williams' work will live forever. It's a crying shame he did not want to."

A reader in Grayslake, Lynn Kubichan, emailed me last week to share her thoughts on those two sentences, and I think it's important to share them with you:

"My heart is broken at the last sentence of today's article on Robin Williams. 'It's a crying shame he did not want to.' (live)

"This sentence has me gaping in disbelief, as it is words like this that perpetuate the ignorance about mental illness and depression.

"I can assure you that those with severe depression fight harder to live than you could ever imagine. Everything is telling them that they would be better off dead, that they are a burden to others, that there is no other way, in spite of all logic. The pain of living through each day is unbearable. There is no one braver than one fighting to get past those thoughts."

I thank Lynn for her feedback, and for the reminder that words are, indeed, powerful.

• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. He's having a hard time deciding whether to wear a "TRON" or "Doctor Who" T-shirt to Wizard World this weekend. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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