Archive for December, 2009



21
Dec
09

Crappy Simpsons Merchandise Comes to the iPhone

There’s a repetitive and unoriginal game for the iPhone which happens to feature the Simpsons.  Here’s the nut of it:

In The Simpsons Arcade, you play as Homer, who is on a quest to chase down a mysterious doughnut which also happens to be host to a USB flash drive that holds some kind of secret information that nearly the entire population of Springfield seems to be in on.

[…]

The gameplay in The Simpsons Arcade isn’t anything to write home about. There are much better arcade-style beat-em-ups on the platform with better animations and more depth such as the recently released OMG Pirates! and other similar games. However, if you’re a fan of the series, The Simpsons Arcade comes with enough Simpsons references between familiar locales and popular characters as bosses that you’ll likely enjoy playing it.

I have not played this game (I don’t even have an iPhone) so I don’t want to pretend to review it.  But it sure sounds like a pedestrian game with a hollow shell of a story that serves no purpose other than as yet another platform to slap with the Simpsons brand.  There’s a YouTube video of gameplay at that link and it isn’t encouraging either. 

Cheap crap like this is why Zombie Simpsons continues to exist.  The boring show maintains the prominence of the brand and the brand makes any boring product more likely to sell no matter how little thought or care went into its construction.  Garbage in, garbage out.

21
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

felicitous
“Take care, Snake.  May the next time we meet be under more felicitous circumstances.” – Sideshow Bob

guh
“Guh?” – Snake

takecare
“Take care.” – Sideshow Bob

buh
“Buh.” – Snake

20
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

Nice and Legal

“And once a man is in your home, anything you do to him is nice and legal.” – Chief Wiggum
“Is that so? . . . Oh Flanders, won’t you join me in my kitchen?  Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh . . . ” – Homer Simpson
“Uh, it doesn’t work if you invite him.” – Chief Wiggum
“Hi-dily hey!” – Ned Flanders
“Go home.” – Homer Simpson
“Too-dily do!” – Ned Flanders

19
Dec
09

Sistine Simpsons

I saw this on the NoHomers 20th Anniversary thread and while more people will likely see it there than here it simply needs to be given as wide an audience as possible.  Behold:

BillMudronCreationofHomer

How much more cool could this be?  None.  None more cool.  This was drawn by Bill Mudron and his Flickr page has a version of the image that tells you who each guy is.  I only knew like four without clicking (including Groening and O’Brien, which are pretty easy.)   

19
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

weeturtles

“Gah!  Save me from the wee turtles!  They were too quick for me!” – Groundskeeper Willie

18
Dec
09

Reading Digest: Quarter Assed Edition

Bart Gets an F2

“Bart, did you read the book?” – Mrs. Krabappel
“Mrs. Krabappel, I am insulted.  Is this a book report or a witch hunt?” – Bart Simpson

This week’s Reading Digest is extremely abbreviated.  20th Anniversary stuff ate up a lot of time and the internet slows for no man, event or excuse.  Uh, enjoy.

25 Homer Simpson quotes to guide you to a successful career – Most of these are good.

Howdy Doodily Readerinos – Sweet Ned Flanders costume (via My Disguises).

Homer Simpson speed painting – Neat video of someone drawing a detailed Homer head.  I could’ve done without the Lady Gaga, but other than that it’s neat. 

FSU professor motivates students with technology – This guy built a computer out of four PlayStation3s, the nodes names are Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa. 

Why "The Simpsons" no longer matters – Salon.com interviewed John Ortved and it’s one of the more original of the recent publicity things I’ve seen him do.  To wit this, which I had not heard him say before:

Would you choose to pull the plug on the show if you could?

I think "The Simpsons" has always been a product of News Corp., and the decision to pull the plug will be when the show becomes unprofitable. They could do things to revamp it. There’s really two rooms working on the show: One room is [executive producer] Al Jean and his yes men, and the other room has the younger, hipper comedians. [The second room] sends jokes to the first room, and all their good stuff gets written out of it. I think if they were to save the show, they would need to get rid of the show runner and really shake up the writing room. I don’t know if they’ll ever get it back to the level they had, but they could start making great episodes again.

I’m not entirely sure what to think about that but my initial reaction is that it’s wishful thinking.  Ortved certainly knows a lot more about the current inner workings of the show than I do, so I’m not disputing what he says about the structure or there really being two camps of writers.  However, no matter how massive a behind the scenes shakeup they’d still be working under two decades of old episodes using characters that are really no longer of our time.  Adding a few genuinely witty lines to each episode isn’t going to bring back the old viewers, nor will it cause Zombie Simpson fans to praise it any harder. 

Of course, even entertaining this hypothetical ignores the fact that the quality of the show has no effect on its profitability.  FOX would never risk a radical shakeup because the current incarnation still makes money for them hand over fist. 

18
Dec
09

Lost in Translation

My thoughts exactly

“I must have phrased that badly. My English is, how you say, inelegant…” – Hoarst

 My job requires a bit of travel, so I often have the chance to watch The Simpsons in foreign languauges.  This last month I spent time in both Mexico and Germany, and may I say that modernization isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

The German episodes I watched included such ‘gems’ as season 19’s “Dial ‘N’ for Nerder” and season 20’s “Lost Verizon”.   I only know the titles because I was able to find their descriptions on SNPP.com. I know Lost Verizon was horrible in English, and I don’t remember seeing “Dial ‘N’ For Nerder” before at all, which is cleary not a complaint; even though it was in German I could tell it was a waste of air space that would have been better filled with Europe’s lenient stance on frontal nudity.

The Spanish episodes I watched included such actual  episodes as “Grade School Confidential” and “The Springfield Files”  I know we kicked the tires on season 8 episodes this past year, but I think I speak for the group when I say they are still hands down better than the guttural vomit-fest  to which I was subjected in Germany. 

That being said, the beer in Germany is vastly superior, and everyone I met in the bars I visited was happy to talk about The Simpsons.  Luckily they only knew enough English to list their favorite characters, ’cause I had fun drinking with them and would have hated to find they were part of the Zombie Horde.

18
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

Bart the Genius2

“Whoever did this is in very deep trouble.” – Principal Skinner
“And a sloppy speller too, the preferred spelling of ‘weiner’ is W-I-E-N-E-R.  Although E-I is an acceptable ethnic variant.” – Martin Prince
“Good point.” – Principal Skinner

17
Dec
09

One Bad Episode

“Aw, come on Dad. This can be the miracle that saves the Simpsons’ Christmas. If TV has taught me anything it’s that miracles always happen to poor kids at Christmas. It happened to Tiny Tim, it happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to the Smurfs, and it’s gonna happen to us.” – Bart Simpson

The Dead Homer Society Manifesto lists Season 7 as having “One Bad Episode”. That episode is “Marge Be Not Proud”. Please understand that we only consider “Marge Be Not Proud” a ‘bad’ episode by the towering standards of early season Simpsons. Compared with the wretched dreck that is Zombie Simpsons it is a model of wit and comic efficiency. But when compared to its contemporaries in Season 7, and its hallowed predecessors in Seasons 1-6, it is noticeably wanting. It is the first Simpsons episode I ever watched when I felt, in the pit of my stomach, the wrenching ball of embarrassment, disappointment, and confusion that I’ve since come to associate with Zombie Simpsons. It was the first episode at which I shook my head at its simplicity, it was the first episode when I felt like I was watching television.

For its first six seasons The Simpsons had viciously mocked and relentlessly parodied conventional television. That was one of the things that made it great. It was animated and had no laughtrack, but other than that it had all of the trappings of the standard family comedy: the working father, the precocious children, and the housewife who holds everything together. But instead of following the usual formula it used those cosmetic similarities to mercilessly gut that which came before it. “Marge Be Not Proud” was the first time the show ever sincerely employed the rote, brainless patterns of a normal program. It was, in the parlance of crappy television, a ‘very special episode’.

Sitcoms of all stripes occasionally have these ‘very special episodes’ wherein one of the characters comes under threat from a health crisis or makes a decision which runs afoul of American morality. This could be trying drugs, or cheating somehow, or even . . . stealing something. It was that indulgence in the cheap storytelling of regular television (Bart steals game -> Bart gets caught -> Bart feels bad -> Marge finds out -> Marge distrusts Bart -> Bart feels worse -> Bart makes good -> they (literally) hug at the end) that made “Marge Be Not Proud” an indisputable first for The Simpsons.

It’s not as though The Simpsons had never explicitly (and seriously) shown emotional family moments before. In the first season Marge rescued Lisa from bad motherly advice (Moaning Lisa), in the second season Marge accused Bart of ruining Thanksgiving (Bart vs. Thanksgiving), in the third season Homer didn’t want to go to Bart’s soapbox derby race (Saturdays of Thunder), in the fourth season Marge felt ignored by Homer during her play (A Streetcar Named Desire), in the fifth season Marge threw Homer out (Secrets of a Successful Marriage), and in the sixth season Lisa’s wedding (Lisa’s Wedding . . . duh) collapsed because of her love for Homer. Genuine emotional moments were often handled within the framework of the show and The Simpsons knew how to play them with a light touch; using them to swiftly advance the story and then getting them out of the way. But in “Marge Be Not Proud” the emotional moments don’t just linger, they grind the story to a halt with multiple sequences that are both painfully long and clumsily obvious.

This is a tendency that has grown considerably worse over time, but it found its first expression in “Marge Be Not Proud”. What’s so amazing about it is that it really is an outcast in Season 7. It was produced right after “Mother Simpson”, which had ample opportunities to delve into schlock and didn’t, and it preceded “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield”, “Bart the Fink”, “A Fish Called Selma” and “Summer of 4 Ft. 2”, all of which could’ve gone the same route but kept moving instead. It is the use of that shopworn, moralistic plot (and the agonizingly glacial pace at which it unfolds) that makes “Marge Be Not Proud” the harbinger of Zombie Simpsons, a precursor to that feculently unwatchable teevee charade. It is the first bad episode.

The astonishing coincidence in all of this is that “Marge Be Not Proud” aired six years – to the day – after The Simpsons premiered with “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”. That’s why December 17th is Simpsons Day. This date saw both the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, the dawn and the dusk.

17
Dec
09

How Far We’ve Come

Because I can’t get enough vintage twenty year old YouTube today here’s a promo for the FOX network in what looks like the fall of 1990.  The Simpsons are featured heavily:

 

Here’s a random block of commercials from Christmas of 1989.  Skip to the :30 mark for the Simpsons promo:

Amusingly, the Simpsons promo is followed by a “Married with Children” promo, which is followed by a commercial for an easy listening compilation, $19.99 for 3 records or 2 cassettes, $24.99 for 2 CDs.  Hey music industry, want to know why no one feels bad about stealing your music?  That’s why.  The price gouging CD offer is followed by an ad for Batman on VHS ($24.98!  That’s $43.58 in 2009 dollars.  Ouch.)  Then there’s a Pizza Hut commercial tied to Back to the Future that sees two guys go to the year 2015 to find pizza.  Let’s just say the 2015 stuff is a little off, though it is amusing to see what the commercial directors of the past thought the future would look like.  (Hint: It’s a lot like 1989.) 

(I couldn’t stomach the whole video, but if you skip to the 8:25 mark you can see a shoe commercial with what must be about a ten year old Jennifer Love Hewitt.) 

17
Dec
09

Crazy Noises: Marge Be Not Proud

Bart's Girlfriend4

“I don’t think we should hang out together anymore.  You’re turning me into a criminal when all I want to be is a petty thug.” – Bart Simpson

As part of our efforts to bring you only the finest in low class, low brow, and low tech internet Simpsons commentary we’re applying our “Crazy Noises” series to “Marge Be Not Proud”, the “One Bad Episode” our Manifesto has in Season 7.  Because doing a podcast smacks of effort we’re still using this “chatroom” thing that all the middle schoolers and undercover cops seem to think is so cool.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on on “Lollapalooza”).

“Marge Be Not Proud” is the black sheep of Season 7.  It’s so utterly out of place, so completely incongruous with those around it that I’ve always kinda wondered how it was even produced.  Was a bad batch of donuts delivered to the studio that day?  Was half the writers room getting divorced that week?  Did someone spike the water supply?  We’ll never know.  All we can do is watch the rest of Season 7 and avoid this one like the plague. 

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s time we scale the unscalable cliff and talk about that most depressing of all episodes: Marge Be Not Proud.

Mad Jon: If there were patron saints of unholy reasons to start a blog this would be in the running.

Charlie Sweatpants: Pretty much.

Dave: You mean the episode in which absolutely nothing happens but the strings of sadness tell us we need to feel shit?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, except it was the first time ever and this episode felt like getting hit by a train.

  I remember being embarrassed that it was even happening it was so bad.

Mad Jon: I remember being very confused when it happened

Dave: My memory is apparently very imprecise. But, I don’t like the episode. At all.

Mad Jon: I felt like Millhouse when he saw the Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie show. “When are they gonna get to the Fireworks Factory!!??!”

Charlie Sweatpants: There really is surprisingly little redeeming value in it, I mean, it’s Season fucking Seven.

  It should be good.

They cut off the Troy McClure video, there are multiple horribly long “suspense” sequences, the morality play on display would be considered “too much” by the people who used to do those After School Specials.

It was just bizarre from start to finish.

Far and away the worst part though is when Bart admits to Marge “I did it.” This is a kid who became famous for saying that he didn’t do it.

Mad Jon: And seriously, theft? Bart? No. He’s admittedly more of a petty vandal.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was played in the most television-y way possible to heighten the drama.

Mad Jon: It really was. Especially when they were going to get the picture taken.

  That was brutal.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh indeed. There’s like half a minute there where literally nothing funny is even being tried, it’s just “tension” as to whether or not the security guard is going to see Bart.

Mad Jon: They could at least have had someone famous voice the guard. Preferably a Brooks Family member.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s especially painful coming just two episodes after Sideshow Bob decrying an ending “so formulaic it could’ve spewed from the Powerbook of the laziest Hollywood hack!”

Mad Jon: Indeed.

Dave: Yep.

Mad Jon: Now I’m gonna haul ass to Lollapalooza!

Charlie Sweatpants: Actually I didn’t mind the guest voice so much, he was the old guy in Reservoir Dogs, so I’ve always kinda had a soft spot for him.

Mad Jon: Lawrence Tierney?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah.

Mad Jon: Huh I didn’t know you were into old dudes.

Charlie Sweatpants: “In” is rather vague concept there, isn’t it?

But that’s neither here nor there, nor does it have any bearing on the unbelievably weak structure of this episode, it’s molasses-like speed or its terribly cliched plot.

Mad Jon: No it really doesn’t

If I remember correctly, not only did Bart’s present have a receipt stapled to it, didn’t it also say “Paid” on the receipt?

Dave: That’s correct.

Mad Jon: Isn’t that what a receipt says just by existing?

Dave: Also correct.

  It’s fun to be redundant.

  In the grand tradition of sitcom handholding, of course.

Mad Jon: Just thought I would throw that out there, I’m not feeling as creatively hateful as Pants seems tonight.

  So obvious it is!

Charlie Sweatpants: But that isn’t even the worst part of the whole “got his picture taken thing”. Why the hell is Bart trying to hide it from Marge when she sees it? They drag that scene out interminably and then – surprise – he did right by his mom.

Mad Jon: Yeah that don’t make no muthafuckin’ sense.

Charlie Sweatpants: This episode already has like five long ass sequences like that, did they really need another one?

  Guh, I loathe this episode and whenever I do go back and watch it all it does is piss me off again.

Mad Jon: Yeah, it makes me feel weird, like I stole something myself. I don’t like feeling that way unless I actually stole something.

Dave: Easy solution – delete it and never think about it again.

Charlie Sweatpants: If only that were possible.

Mad Jon: Nah, We learned so much from the pain.

We’ve taken that anger, balled it up inside, and finally, about 12 years after this crapfest leaked out of the broken pipe that was this episode, used it to start a blog.

Charlie Sweatpants: I can’t say I learned much. It’s like watching the Zapruder Film.

17
Dec
09

“Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” Promos

“They’re coming to save the 90s!”  How prescient:

 

This is the promo clip Letterman showed in his interview with Groening:

 

Then as now once people got a taste of good Simpsons they just wanted to watch it over and over:

 

And, the aftermath:

17
Dec
09

Groening on Letterman in 1989 & NBC News in 1990

Matt Groening was a guest on David Letterman’s 12:30 show (the one Conan O’Brien would be taking over just a few years later) in 1989 to help promote “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”:

You can really see how Groening hasn’t yet got the hang of being interviewed.  He’s not uncomfortable exactly, but he’s very unpolished.  His stories are too long and Letterman has to bail him out a couple of times to keep things going.  This was a week before the special when nobody had any real idea of how it was going to go.  He’s nervous enough that he almost forgets to mention that it’s going to be on regularly in January.  The best quote comes right at the beginning when Letterman asks him how he knew he was a talented cartoonist:

Letterman: How did you know that you were good at this kind of thing?

Groening: The kids loved it and the teachers hated it.

Now here’s Groening the next year.  It’s not entirely clear precisely when, but it’s clearly after the show has become a major hit (they filmed some of the production process of “Krusty Gets Busted”): 

Granting that there’s a big difference between speaking extemporaneously with Letterman for eight straight minutes and having a news crew show up and follow you around, you can see how much more comfortable on camera he is.  He’s more self deprecating about both himself and the show and he easily swats away criticism of what they’re doing.  Also, there’s an indoor hammock. 

17
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

Keeping Up with the Flanderseses

“Okay kids, prepare to be dazzled.  Marge, turn on the juice! . . . What do you think kids?” – Homer Simpson
“Nice try dad.” – Lisa Simpson
“Ugh.” – Bart Simpson
“Now just hold your horses, son.  Hey, Simpson!” – Ned Flanders
“What is it Flanders?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, uh, do you think this looks okay?” – Ned Flanders
“Whoa.” – Lisa Simpson
“Neato.” – Bart Simpson
“It’s too bright.” – Homer Simpson

Happy Simpsons Day Everybody!

16
Dec
09

December 16th, 1989

Selma's Choice3

“All in favor of skipping the poem? . . . Thank you.” – Homer Simpson


Twas the night before Simpsons, and all through the land
Not a creature suspected the earthquake at hand
The premier had been set, the ads had been bought
‘Tho even the cast knew all might be for naught

Writers, directors, and, yes, the execs
Even the artists had stuck out their necks
Cartoons were for kids, not serious fare
Drawings weren’t worthy of prime network air

But the fox was unfazed, it had nothing to lose
Barely begun, there was no great ego to bruise
It ordered the toons, a lucky thirteen
In hopes people wanted more from their screen

Parents and teachers, the stodgy and old
Hated this show with the guts to be bold
For the smart and the young it was more than a fad
This dimwitted father and his spiky haired lad

Mother and daughters, indeed a whole town
Teachers and preachers and even a clown
A horrible place, the fans knew it well
Their elders had built it, they called it hell

Instead of slick lies that were usually shown
Was the true broken world in which they had grown
The schools were bad and the work even worse
The American Dream turned to a curse

Yet all was not lost, not while you could laugh
That’s the great message of the writing staff
Your life may be bad, just an unending trial
But others are worse, so you’ve reason to smile

Sit on your duff and crack open a beer
Watch TV? That’s what we wanted to hear

16
Dec
09

Synergy Enjoys the Nostalgia Firehose

Dog of Death5

“What’s the matter boy?  Don’t you know me?  I’m your buddy!  I love you boy.” – Bart Simpson

It’s always heartwarming to see a lapdog and its owner reconciled, especially when the rekindled love comes about because they remembered the good times.  This week’s IGN review was a fawning love letter, not so much for any of this episode’s original content but just because Zombie Simpsons opened the nostalgia valve all the way.  As Dave said in our chat, the Plow King was “fan service” and, lo and behold, the mere appearance of the Plow King, however jokeless it may have been, “brought a smile”.  As always, I’ve edited out the synergy.

December 14, 2009 – With its focus on Bart’s longing for a little brother, "O Brother, Where Bart Thou?" was a fun forgettable and entertaining formulaic outing for The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons. Packed with guest voices, the episode did well by sticking to floundered with one main story instead of adding an even weaker "B" storyline to fill out the half hour. Though Bart may never get his younger brother, we at least got another low quality episode after a couple less than impressive installments.

Things began with Springfield getting hit by a snowstorm, causing the schools to shut down and giving Bart a snow day. Comically With contrived CGI, the weather prevented Bart from ever getting outside, and once stuck in the house, a power outage prevented Bart from enjoying his videogames and DVDs. Bart’s attempt to watch "Itchy and Scratchy" using the electricity he could generate from rubbing a balloon against his hair was a highlight particularly stupid but did take up a lot of his struggle to find something to do. Meanwhile, Lisa and Maggie were playing together and enjoying their sisterly bond. Bart tried to play with his sisters for some reason, but was put off by their dress-up game. Bart tried to cover for having no one to play with by insisting he was "a bad ass loner like Wolverine, who leaves whenever people beg him to stay."

That evening, despite claiming no dream pointless, time killing storyFAIL could convince him he needed a little brother, a dream convinced Bart he needed a little brother. The dream wasted a lot of fun time, starting with cameos from the Marx Brothers and the Blues Brothers. We also got a glimpse of Sideshow Bob and his brother Cecil flying kites together. The series, of late, seems to be referencing older episodes more often. [Ed. Note: No shit.]  Whether a conscious decision because of the anniversary season, or just a coincidence, it works as a short cut to reminiscent laughs serves to highlight how creatively bankrupt this show has become. This episode also had Barney as The Plow King. No real joke was involved, but it brought a smile to this long-time fan’s face served to reinforce the fact that this show’s only remaining appeal is through nostalgia.

Other notables in Bart’s brother dream were the Manning brothers Peyton and Eli, plus their older brother Cooper. If you don’t know, Cooper was also on track for a professional football career until he was sidelined by injury, so his bragging about high school achievements to his Super Bowl winning brothers was funny and bittersweet factually correct. The Smothers Brothers cameo (and closing credit dialogue—"naked bacon") was also a lot of fun, more pointless nostalgia for anyone old enough to know whom the Smothers Brothers are. Now wanting a younger brother, Bart set out to make it happen in horrifyingly characterless and boring ways.

This was a fine what passed for a storyline, and offered up a number of great bits ways to make it to the credits. Bart’s failed attempts to trick his parents into fornicating were enjoyable outright dull, including Marge and Homer attempting a position from the Kama Sutra: "You’re ankle goes there." "Hand me your neck." The South Park reference was cute about nine years too late, but still lacked any real joke. Bart imagining his future with a third sister was also fun cribbed from a less moribund franchise, with Kim Cattrall offering up another guest voice for the episode.

Bart’s one day with a little brother (an orphan voiced by Jordan Nagai, Russell from Up) was also enjoyable labored beyond all hope of entertainment. It offered up my favorite line of the episode ("He’s just like Annie, except he’s a dude and he hates tomorrow.") plus it taught us a great lesson about poking dead animals with a stick: "Don’t go straight for the eyes. Build up to it." Best of all, like the better Simpsons most brainless schlocky Zombie Simpsons episodes, it ended with a sweet moment crammed down our eyeballs reminding us that even with all his shortcomings, Bart will always have his dad… to watch torture porn R-rated movies with.

16
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

Bart the Daredevil2

“Bart, in this ward are the children who have been hurt by imitating stunts they saw on television, movies and the legitimate stage.” – Dr. Hibbert

15
Dec
09

Crazy noises: O Brother Where Bart Thou?

Colonel Homer2

“If you don’t watch the violence you’ll never get desensitized to it.” – Bart Simpson
“Just tell me when the scary part’s over.” – Lisa Simpson
“It’s over.” – Bart Simpson
“Ahhhhhhhh!” – Lisa Simpson

In our continuing mission to bring you only the finest in low class, low brow, and low tech internet Simpsons commentary we’re bringing back our “Crazy Noises” series and applying it to Season 21.  Because doing a podcast smacks of effort we’re still using this “chatroom” thing that all the middle schoolers and undercover cops seem to think is so cool.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “tased”).

South Park once did an episode titled “Simpsons Already Did It” where, amongst other things, they made fun of the fact that The Simpsons had been on forever and was now resorting to ideas that were less than clever.  That was seven years ago.  This week Zombie Simpsons had its own little “South Park” sequence.  It didn’t have much to do with anything (why Bart would ever take advice from Ralph is beyond me), but it did serve to highlight just how many jokes, scenes and sequences in this episode were either reminiscent, cribbed, or outright recycled from previous episodes.  We discuss a number of those below but we forgot to mention the whole Kama Sutra thing which, like so many others in this episode, took way too long and made no sense. 

Mad Jon: Anyway. I just watched last night’s episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ouch, wanna start with that one while the trauma is still fresh?

Mad Jon: Works for me.

Dave: I re-watched it

That’s how much I liked it

Mad Jon: Masochist eh?

Dave: That’s me!

Mad Jon: That’s cool. To each their own.

Charlie Sweatpants: Was anything particularly worse on a second viewing?

Dave: Nah, nothing jumped out. It was as unremarkable tonight as it was last night.

Mad Jon: Unremarkable is pretty on the nose.

Dave: The writers seem to be forgetting that the show’s supposed to be funny.

Mad Jon: It didn’t make me cringe like the Zombies usually do, but I may just be desensitized.

Charlie Sweatpants: Unremarkable is a good way to put it. With the exception of the completely unnecessary and pointless South Park thing I don’t think anyone’s going to remember this one a week from now.

Mad Jon: On the other hand, I, per usual didn’t even crack a smile.

Dave: I did, admittedly, when Chief Wiggum was tased

Mad Jon: I almost did at the weather report, but then they took it too far. Always too far.

Charlie Sweatpants: When they do come up with a kinda good idea they seem so surprised that they just feel the need to run it right into the ground.

Mad Jon: I think the writers look at jokes the way I looked at chemistry experiments in high school.

Charlie Sweatpants: I thought the horse thing at the beginning had some potential, but then it just dragged and dragged. And if there is one man on Earth who knows how to work a remote control properly, it is Homer Simpson.

But no, they needed to fill time so all of a sudden he doesn’t know how to change the channel?

Are you fucking kidding me?

Dave: Don’t forget the montages. They seem to be the thing to do this season.

Mad Jon: He does have the male anatomy surmised in the most efficient way possible.

It’s too bad that became a plot point.

Charlie Sweatpants: Bingo.

That a ten year old boy – any ten year old boy – doesn’t know he can pee on things is just too damned dumb.

And, as is Zombie Simpsons want, they got them into a "dangerous" situation with lots of the horns of suspense and string music of sadness, that really wasn’t the least bit dangerous.

Mad Jon: And the Mannings showed up too.

Don’t forget the Mannings

Charlie Sweatpants: And the Smothers Brothers for some reason.

Mad Jon: They even brought the disease riddled one.

And played keep away from him. I don’t know how that makes me feel…

Dave: Dirty?

Hungry?

Angry?

Mad Jon: Gassy. Definitely Gassy.

Charlie Sweatpants: The dream sequence was just awful. The one from "Bart Sells His Soul" was half as long, had twice as many jokes and was about a hundred times less forced.

Mad Jon: I forgot it was a dream sequence until one of the characters reminded me.

Charlie Sweatpants: I was sort of hoping the whole thing was a bad dream until I woke up this morning and the internet informed that it really did happen.

Mad Jon: Snappy comeback.

Charlie Sweatpants: I know we were on about this a few weeks ago when Bart was trying to make that other prankster guy a respectable citizen, but I mean, this character isn’t even Bart Simpson any more.

He’s whiny, and sad, and cares about things that a rebellious ten year old would never care about.

Trying to get Marge and Homer to have another kid? What the hell was that about?

Mad Jon: And he played ‘dress-up’ to spend some quality time with his sisters….

Dave: Whiny, sad, rebellious… like most of today’s teens?

Mad Jon: You ever do that with your sisters Charlie?

Charlie Sweatpants: Being jealous of Lisa and Maggie because they were having a fashion show? What the hell?

Mad Jon: Oooh bold type

Charlie Sweatpants: I can assure you that I never played dress up with my sisters.

Dave: Charlie just serioused.

Charlie Sweatpants: And it’s easy to do bold, all you’ve gotta do is put * around the text and gchat takes care of it for you.

Mad Jon: I know, but you so rarely do it. You’re either very passionate about the subject, or you’ve put a good dent in your daily rum ration.

Charlie Sweatpants: Can’t it be both?

Mad Jon: Something told me it was.

Charlie Sweatpants: Zombie Simpsons is always playing up this absolutely awful angle of Bart’s character where deep down he’s this sensitive kid and I cannot think of anything that makes any less sense for him, or that could be more diametrically opposed to what made him a popular character in the first place.

Mad Jon: Yeah!

Sorry, I’ve also put a dent in my rations

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d also like to point out that not only did they ape South Park openly, but South Park had an episode where Kenny tried to prevent his parents from having another kid, which not only would make more sense but was considerably funnier.

Dave: I vaguely remember that episode.

Mad Jon: Excellent episode. Not like this one, this one is shit.

I especially liked Kenny’s note to the pharmacist.

And what the hell was with Nelson’s mood swings? Does the pill do that to people?

Dave: Having never taken the pill I have no clue.

Mad Jon: I thought it helped to regulate that crap.

Charlie Sweatpants: No, it’s more along the lines of "ohhh he’s a woman now so he’s moody."

Mad Jon: Well that’s pretty lame.

Dave: LOL now he’s a chick

chicks r funny

Charlie Sweatpants: Celia in comments pointed it out first, but yeah it was dumb.

There’s a Comedy 101 failure: role reversal is supposed to be funny.

Mad Jon: yeah, but does that apply to putting a woman in the body of a 10 year old?

Charlie Sweatpants: It could. But all they did was have Nelson show up at random moments and spout cliches that "Friends" thought were hackneyed a dozen years ago.

Mad Jon: I think this is like a Comedy 091 failure. Like the one I suffered at the community college a few years back.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve had just about enough of your Vassar bashing young man!

Okay, I’m getting done with this one. There’s just one more thing I’d like to cover and that is the unusually rampant, even by Zombie Simpson standards, of joke recycling.

Mad Jon: Go on.

Was it the “you had me at five course” joke?

I think that one has been around a bit

Charlie Sweatpants: The tic tacs as birth control thing was the worst, but there was also the utter and massive FAIL of the school closing report (which took forever) and the useless return of the Plow King.

Mad Jon: Oh yeah, The Plow King came back. And with only 3 days ’till retirement. What a tragedy.

Dave: It was pointless fan service

Charlie Sweatpants: Plus during the orphanage scene I couldn’t help but think of when Homer went to the Bigger Brothers agency and there was the scene at the movies. Back in "Colonel Homer" Bart told Lisa the scary parts were over just as they were beginning to help get her desensitized, which is hilarious. This time the kid gets scared and Bart feels bad? Fuck off, Zombie Simpsons.

Mad Jon: The End.

15
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

The Crepes of Wrath3

“So he’s going to prison?” – Homer Simpson
“No, we’ve arranged an exchange for one of our own men caught in Albania.” – Government Official
“So Sparrow, we meet again.” – American Kid
“Yes.  Sometimes I think I am getting too old for this game.” – Adil

14
Dec
09

Simpsons Script Goes Under the Hammer in Britain

“Hey, you’ve got to be eighteen to sell your blood, let’s see some I.D.” – Nurse
“Here you go doll face.” – Bart Simpson
“Okay Homer, just relax.” – Nurse
“Oww!” – Bart Simpson

This is cool.  Not only is this a production script for Season 2’s excellent “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”, but it’s signed by Maggie Roswell.  Here’s the story (via CDInsight):

The 28 year-old has had the script in his possession for almost 20 years after it was given to him by one of the voice actresses.

Adam used to help his parents at their Aberfoyle B&B in Creag-Ard House and in the summer of 1990 a group of American ladies visited.

His father Andrew said: “The ladies were very taken with him but when he wasn’t helping out, all he did was watch ‘The Simpsons’.

“When they found this out, one of them said she was a friend of one of the people who did the voices.

“And a few weeks later, a script from the show arrived at our home for Adam.”

That last part doesn’t quite make sense because, as you can see below, Roswell listed the voices she does an included “Sharry Bobbins”, who didn’t exist in 1990.  (And wouldn’t be first aired until 1997.)  Also the note asks if he remembers this one, but it wasn’t broadcast in the States until November of 1990, I’ve no idea when it would’ve made it to Britain.  So I think the script may have shown up a little bit later than just a few weeks after the visit, but I don’t think that minor mix up matters in the least. 

I emailed the auction house and they were kind enough to reply with the image of the script.  It sold to an Midlands collector for £340 (plus the 20.13% “buyer’s premium” made the final price £408).  

Auctioned Simpsons Script

Image courtesy Dominic Winter Book Auctions, all rights reserved.

Ironically enough none of the characters listed there are actually in this episode.  SNPP has Roswell credited as both the blood donor nurse and “Mrs. Spencer” (who feels slightly less unloved when her family faxes her on Thanksgiving).  Still, that’s very cool. 

Updated: I really should read everything before I push “Publish”.  According to the auction house listing, in addition to the script itself there’s also :

an accompanying letter and airmail envelope (August 1998), plus a colour publicity photo for The Simpsons and a photograph of the young Adam with the sender of the letter and script, Liz Beerman

So they got the script in 1998, which makes sense.  So much for my detective work. 




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