Archive for February, 2009

28
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“We leave you the kids for three hours and the county takes them away?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, bitch, bitch, bitch.” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson
27
Feb
09

Upon Further Reflection, This Still Sucks

“Noooooooooo!” – Principal Skinner

I was expecting Zombie Simpsons to get picked up for another season; epguides.com already has episodes listed for next fall and since each craptacular one supposedly takes a whole year to produce it stood to reason that Season 21 was a forgone conclusion.  But the news yesterday that they were being picked up for two more seasons was like a second, unexpected, football in the groin.  According to some of those links this will push them to 493 episodes.  493!  Of which less than a third are actually up to snuff.  

Admittedly, I am no expert on the television industry, but the ratings have been historically low for a couple of years now, and the heavily promoted HD episode didn’t do much to change that.  Granted, network viewership itself is trending downwards and has been for some time, but in all my years basking in television’s warm glowing warming glow I cannot think of a single other show that managed to linger the way Zombie Simpsons has.  Any other show that slumped this badly and this publicly would’ve gotten canned after a year or two.  I suppose I could look on it as a testament to the enduring quality of the original seasons, but the comfort went out of that little fib long ago.  
The senseless renewal is particularly grating coming the same week that Futurama went out on a high note.  On Tuesday I was entertaining fantasies that they’d follow the same path.  Wrap it up with Season 21 then maybe do another movie or two to finish things.  For all its flaws, especially the last forty minutes or so, The Simpsons Movie was better than most of Zombie Simpsons, and a sequel or two would have to be more profitable than another season of five million dollar episodes that only six million people watch.   
Oh well.  Zombie Simpsons has been on for far longer than The Simpsons ever was, what’s another season or two?  
27
Feb
09

Quote of the Day


“No, Ben!  No!” – Bear Wrangler

26
Feb
09

Filling the Jar

“Oh, fudge, that’s broken.  Fiddle-dee-dee, that will require a tetanus shot.” – Homer Simpson

Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
Fuck.  
26
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“It’s okay, there’s no sugar in Pixy Stix.  Trust me.” – Bart Simpson

25
Feb
09

The Kids Are Alright

“Bart, I don’t know if this sould be an Extra.” – Rod Flanders
“Is your source on this reliable?” – Todd Flanders
This is the first thing it says on Emory University’s “About” page:
Emory University is an inquiry-driven, ethically engaged and diverse community whose members work collaboratively for positive transformation in the world through courageous leadership in teaching, research, scholarship, health care and social action.

That is a mouthful of a sentence, nevertheless I think they have some very fine young people there.  In a paean to Conan O’Brien in the Emory Wheel, senior Daniel Berger writes:
Though it was my favorite show as a kid, by the time I turned 12 or 13 I discovered that the “Simpsons” were best viewed in reruns. The “Simpsons” has declined so much since then that it has unwittingly justified the decision of every other show that decided to go out on a high note.

Okay, let’s do the math.  Seniors are typically 21 or 22 years old – 12 or 13 years old = 8-10 years ago = the dawn of Zombie Simpsons.  He’s hit the nail right on the head.  Here’s hoping he becomes a Fox executive in the next ten years or so, then we might finally get Zombie Simpsons taken off the air.  
25
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“See the happiest fish in the world at our fabulous Beerquarium!” – TV Announcer

24
Feb
09

Going Out In Style

“They say the greatest tragedy is when a father outlives his son; I’ve never fully understood why that is.  Frankly, I can see an upside to it.” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson
Futurama, the longer surviving of the two Simpsons spin-offs, ends today, more or less on its own terms.  It was cancelled back in 2003 but strong reruns on cable got it brought back for 4 direct to DVD movies (each of which is comprised of four episodes condensed together), the final one of which, Into the Wild Green Yonder, came out today.  
Whatever one thinks of the show (I happen to be a fan, but that’s just me), it, unlike Zombie Simpsons, has an ending.  Into the Wild Green Yonder has a “series finale” feel to it, ties things up at the end, and is a pretty decent way to send off a beloved television show.  Pointless debates will never rage back and forth about when the show went to hell, or if its even still funny.  It was on; it was loved; it will be missed; and it will live forever in reruns and home video.  
24
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“You’re the coolest adult I ever met.” – Bart Simpson
“Wow, I’ve never been called an adult before; I’ve been tried as one but . . .” – Otto 
23
Feb
09

Simpsons Evolutionary Theroy Part 1: From Homer to Punching Bag

“Let’s ask an actor portraying Charles Darwin what he thinks.” – C. Montgomery Burns

I think it is fair to say that the principles behind natural selection and evolution can be applied to televisions shows. The Simpsons was once a great show, and then it wasn’t so good, and then bad, and now even worse. With each episode representing an intermediate in the evolutionary chain that is The Simpsons, we can compare episode traits from different parts of the lineage to hopefully figure out what the hell went wrong, and maybe try to reason why this series won’t die. Today I will focus on the needless physical comedy that has made its way into Homer’s life.

I think I can do this with only three examples. In these examples we will see a distinct change; the occasional physical harm Homer suffers will go from an afterthought to the main source of Simpsons jokes. My first example comes from season 4, “Brother From The Same Planet “. In the end of this episode Homer gets into a fist fight with Tom, Bart’s ‘Bigger Brother’. The fight ends when Homer is knocked out and falls backwards over a fire hydrant. It lasts all of a few seconds, it is only punctuated with one witty remark, and then it is over. This is an appropriate use of physical comedy.
The second example comes from season 8, “Homer’s Phobia”. At the end of this episode Homer and Bart are trapped in a reindeer farm. As the reindeer get ready to trample them, Homer holds Bart up over his head, as to save his son from certain doom. The Reindeer pummel Homer for a little while before the rest of the crew saves the pair. In this example, you can see that the physical pain lasts a little longer and is accompanied by an extra line or two (“Homer you feel softer than before” “I’ve been tenderized”) as opposed to just a single phrase from Homer. The scene was still relevant, but you wouldn’t have seen it a few seasons before.

Finally we can look at modern day, or as we say, Zombie Simpsons. There are way too many examples from which to choose, so to make this example as accessible as possible I will use a scene from The Simpsons Movie. This particular scene was even in the trailer (a statement unto itself?). I am, of course, speaking of the thirty seconds or so that Homer spent on the wrecking ball. Here we see a physical scene that was completely unnecessary, wayyy too long, and more than physically impossible. On top of that, they should have shelled out the extra few bucks to make the building a Hard Rock Cafe as opposed to just something named A Hard Place, but I digress.
This evolutionary end-product could have been from a number of crappy episodes of late, and that makes me wonder what is keeping this premise in the show? It is clearly detracting from the entertainment value, but it just won’t go away. One theory I have is people feel that since its The Simpsons, and it’s in its 20th season, we just have to accept that the physical comedy is here. But a more likely theory it is that the fan base that has been added during the last ten years or so doesn’t know that there was a before time, a long-long ago, where this wasn’t the case. Homer’s evolution into slapstick wouldn’t have been noticed by those watching religiously now, and therefore is a trait that would not have been de-selected, which leaves us with what we have today.
One last point: I know you are all thinking “What about ‘Bart the Daredevil’! Homer fell down the cliff twice!” And you are right to do so. This episode would appear to be a wrench in my explanation, but consider this: That episode was based on physical comedy in general, not just Homer getting needlessly beaten. A Zombie Simpsons episode with the same basic plot line would not have had Captain Lance Murdock or Bart get hurt, but would have had their actions injure Homer in some way. I guarantee it.
23
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Miss, I’m looking for Abe Simpson.  It’s important I get a hold of him; I have to tell him I don’t care about his money and I love him.” – Homer Simpson
“We get that a lot.” – Springfield Retirement Castle Receptionist 
22
Feb
09

Let The Jokes Stand On Their Own

“Oh, that just kept goin’, hunh?” – Krusty the Klown

When The Simpsons started going downhill, one of the most noticeable changes was the way jokes would be stretched.  Instead of moving on from a funny line or exchange, the show would milk it for screen time.   The examples of this over the years are far too numerous to catalog, but here’s one anyway.

In that wet noodle “Take My Life, Please”, after the aged Dondelinger tells Homer the truth, he says “Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to sit under that tree and think of all the women I could’ve talked to but didn’t.”  That is a good joke.  It’s cruel and funny and filled with irreconcilable regret.   But because Zombie Simpsons is no better than ordinary television it goes on from there and explains the joke by having Dondelinger (get ready for it) spew pointless exposition.  Dondelinger sitting and sighing sadly might’ve worked, instead they elected to cram the joke down your throat and get ten seconds closer to the credits.  
22
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Who rigs every Oscar night?  We do!  We do!” – Stonecutter Song

21
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“I’m an antiquarian, damn it!” – Hollis Hurlbut
20
Feb
09

This Is Not a Personal Attack

“That was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.” – Principal Skinner

I do not know anything about Don Payne, who is credited, if that is the right word, as the main writer of last week’s flash-back, conspiracy theory, magic tomato sauce mess.  He might be a great guy; he might be an asshole.  I don’t have an opinion either way, nor do I care.  I do know that on his IMDb page he is credited, if that is the right word, with having written My Super Ex-Girlfriend and Fantastic Four 2.  I’ve never seen the former, though I’ve heard bad things, but the Silver Surfer movie was unwatchable.  Mad Jon and I got through it with a very big assist from Rifftrax, but even with Nelson, Murphy and Corbett we came close to just turning it off several times.  It is that bad.  Embedding was disabled on YouTube, so if you want to torture yourself, go here and click “Watch Sample” to see some of what you’re not missing.

Then I found this “local boy makes good” article in the Wilmington Star-News.  Setting aside the “Wildcats” thing, there is this troubling passage from the end:

Though film remains his passion, he loves being a part of the “Simpsons” universe. Besides, it can’t last that much longer, right?

“Right now I’m thinking, eh, two more years,” Payne said. “But who knows?”

First of all, film is his passion . . . and he wrote those movies?  More importantly, two more years?  What an unpleasant thought.  
To be fair, his Wikipedia page (citing an earlier interview with the Star-News), has his favorite episodes listed as “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge”, “Lisa’s Substitute”, “Like Father, Like Clown”, “Marge vs. the Monorail”, “The Simpsons Spin-off Showcase”, and “Behind the Laughter”.  That’s a pretty solid list, but it doesn’t make “Take My Life, Please” any less crappy nor abrogate responsibility for the dialogue in Fantastic Four 2.  
C’mon Nielsen households, sweeps is in March this year.  I’m not asking you to do anything radical like turn off your television; I’m just saying, you can probably find something better on at 8:00pm on Sundays.   
20
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Barney’s movie had heart, but ‘Football in the Groin’ had a football in the groin.” – Homer Simpson’s Brain
19
Feb
09

Some Brit thinks he’s like Homer Simpson

In a recent case of life imitating Zombie Simpsons, 26-year old Englishman Ricky Hodgkinson was tried in court after shocking himself with a taser he purchased for £100. John Walker, Hodgkinson’s lawyer, likened his client to Homer Simpson before a panel of magistrates. Hodgkinson agreed, remarking “I am a bit like Homer Simpson, it was a stupid thing to do really.”

While I’m amused at the absurdity of the situation, I also take issue with the implication that Homer has always been, well, a complete idiot. Classic Homer was certainly prone to acts of questionable intelligence, but he would never intentionally inflict cartoonish acts of violence upon himself. These sorts of shenanigans and cheap gags are almost exclusively the domain of Zombie Homer, the creation of writers who are more interested in one-dimensional filler instead of something truly clever and worthy of the show. That the past twelve seasons of Zombie Simpsons are now representative of The Simpsons proper to general public is a sad development.

Getting rid of Zombie Simpsons isn’t a selfish act that only true Simpsons fans can appreciate; indeed, society will be a better place for losing this nonsense. In the meantime, we have this to learn from Hodgkinson’s shining example: don’t do what Zombie Simpsons does.

19
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“We need some more secret sauce, put this mayonnaise in the sun.” – Old Man Peterson, Krusty Burger Manager

18
Feb
09

Zombie Simpsons: Countering the Orange Revolution

“So, here’s Eastern Europe’s favorite cat and mouse team: Worker and Parasite!” – Krusty the Klown

Here is another way in which Zombie Simpsons is damaging our world.  The “Ukrainian State Commission of Morals” (motto: Drinking Vodka and Pissing off Russia since 2004!) has declared that The Simpsons violates moral principals and shouldn’t be shown in the Ukrainian equivalent of primetime:  

Vasyl Kostytskiy, head of the Commission of Morals, explained that members were analyzing “The Simpsons” at the request of two governmental bodies (the prosecutor’s office and National Television and Radio Broadcasting Council). Their task was to check the show’s compliance with the nation’s morals law.

“Our conclusion regarding ‘The Simpsons’ said that there was no violation of law on the protection of morals, but our expert believes that the time frame should be taken into account when demonstrating.” Kostytskiy said, pointing out that 400 episodes of the cartoon “were under investigation in many countries.” 

Showing Simpsons to Ukrainian children is, obviously, a good idea.  They’ll learn how to properly mock authority, not take things too seriously, and generally see the humor in life.  But what about Zombie Simpsons?  Let’s face it, Zombie Simpsons isn’t going to teach anyone anything other than that mediocrity is acceptable and you can slouch through life so long as your paymasters get theirs.  That kind of message only encourages thoughtless authoritarianism. 

18
Feb
09

Quote of the Day



“The following is a public service announcement.  Excess of alcohol consumption can cause liver damage and cancer of the rectum.” – TV Announcer
“Mmmm, beer.” – Homer Simpson



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