Woo hoo! 'Simpsons' to set sitcom record

— Perpetual 10-year-old Bart, his clueless dad Homer and the rest of the Simpsons clan are about to go into TV history as stars of the longest-running sitcom ever.

Fox announced a deal Friday to renew the cartoon for two more seasons, taking it at least through May 2005.

That will push "The Simpsons" past "The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet," which aired from 1952 to 1966 on ABC, as the all-time longest-running situation comedy.

"Isn't that extraordinary?" said Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman. "It says something about the quality control on a show that seems to be able to garner a new generation of fans every few years while still maintaining the core audience."

The animated characters were introduced in 1987 in a series of vignettes on Fox's "The Tracey Ullman Show." "The Simpsons" premiered as a series on Dec. 17, 1989.


File Photo

While its cast of characters -- Homer, Bart, Lisa, Maggie and Marge -- never age, TV critics say "The Simpsons" somehow avoids the pitfalls of many comedies that seem trapped in the time they started.

While following the lives of the mythical family from Springfield, "The Simpsons" has always been bitingly funny about the world around it.

"It's a very well-written show -- sharp and satirical," said Tim Brooks, television historian and author of "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Television Shows." "It started off as the Bart Simpson show, and it has gone off in a lot of different directions. It continues to mock the culture and has a very loyal audience."

The show is averaging 14.3 million viewers this season, according to Nielsen Media Research. Of the top 20 scripted shows from last season, "The Simpsons" is one of only three with more viewers this season. And it's up for its first Golden Globe Award this weekend.


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