A new episode of The Simpsons will air tomorrow, in its usual 8 p.m. EST time slot. But before that Fox will air "Bart The Lover," the memorable season three episode, in honor of Marcia Wallace, the voice of Edna Krabappel who passed away last week at the age of 70.

Wallace first appeared as Edna Krabappel, Bart's chain smoking, lovelorn, cynical but ultimately caring teacher, in the season one episode "Bart The Genius," and went on to voice the character for 23 years. Wallace appeared in 178 episodes, but her most memorable performance is almost inarguably "Bart The Lover," in which Bart tricks Edna into believing she's finally escaped her loneliness by finding the man of her dreams, only to recognize the cruelty of his joke when he witnesses just how much he's hurt her. The Simpsons and Fox will also honor Wallace at the end of the following new episode. Last week, series producer Al Jean announced that, rather than replace Wallace, the show will retire her character. It's a move reminiscent of how the series handled the passing of Phil Hartman in 1998 -- they also retired Lionel Hutz and Troy McLure, the two Springfield residents he gave voice to, effective immediately (they'd further honor Hartman by naming Futurama's Philip J. Fry after him).

When "Bart The Lover" aired, I was the same age Bart is on The Simpsons. I distinctly remember watching it, and walking away contemplating loneliness, and considering how much you can hurt or help someone, regardless of age or relationship. It was an episode that represented The Simpsons at its absolute best, and was a part of that third season that, for many fans, truly sent the series on its path to becoming one of the most significant in television history. More than 20 years later, it remains one of my favorite episodes of my favorite show, and I'll watch it Sunday night, even if I do own that season on DVD.

"Bart The Lover" will air Sunday at 7:30 EST on Fox.

 

[Via Entertainment Weekly]