Archive for February, 2010

28
Feb
10

Quote of the Day

Itchy and Scratchy and Marge3

“I don’t believe this.  ‘I will never watch your show, buy any of your products, or brake if I see you crossing the street.’  Wow that’s cold.  ‘Dear sleaze merchant’, aw come on, that hurts. . . . Gentlemen, the screwballs have spoken.” – Roger Meyers Jr.

Happy Birthday to Alex Rocco! 

(Note: He’s a Feb 29th guy, so no actual birthday for him until 2012.  But birthday wishes nonetheless.) 

27
Feb
10

These Are Not YouTube Clips, The Story Matters

Our friend Stephen Frizzle, he of the blog post from last weekend that pointed out how much longer and thinner the jokes are in Zombie Simpsons, has written an excellent post exposing the shoddy “stories” that Zombie Simpsons pretends are plots.  To make his point he does something simple and revelatory, he simply counts how long it takes episodes to get to their main plots.  In the early seasons it’s a couple of minutes, by Season 16 it’s half the episode. 

He also brings up a few of the early episodes to point out how even when the main plot didn’t get started right away that it was still leading into it.  Specifically he cites “Whacking Day” where the first act is Bart getting kicked out of school.  The thing with “Whacking Day” is that the title actually refers to the B-plot.  Whacking Day itself, and Homer’s participation in it, are a secondary plot that ties in with the main one: Bart getting kicked out of and then readmitted to Springfield Elementary. 

Compare that to that awful “Thursday’s With Abie” plot where the entire first act is them going to Sea World where Grandpa happens to meet the Scooby Doo Villain.  But Grandpa could’ve met him anywhere: a park, a train station, at the retirement home.  It wouldn’t have mattered because their meeting had nothing to do with the setting in which it occurred.  In “Whacking Day” Bart getting expelled in the first act sets up the rest of the episode, in “Thursday’s With Abie” Grandpa meeting the Scooby Doo Villain is the only part of the first act that matters to the rest and it takes, what, ten seconds?  Everything else is filler. 

Or compare the conclusion of “Whacking Day” to last week’s dreadful “The Color Yellow”.  “Whacking Day” ends with Skinner and Willie racing to Springfield Elementary to get Jimbo and company out of the basement.  By that time even the audience has forgotten all about them down there, but the show took the time to wrap it all up and it did so hilariously.  “The Color Yellow” had 1860-Marge abandon her child and simply ignored 1860-Lisa and hoped no one would notice. 

But wait, there’s more!  In the second half of his post Frizzle conducts an experiment on No Homers that all Zombie Simpson defenders should have to read.  He started a thread where each poster had to describe a Simpsons episode with five words.  They began with “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” and went from there:

I started off with “1. Christmas. Simpsons get a dog”.

People followed with “27. Principal Skinner Dates Patty Bouvier”, “55. Country singer falls for Homer”, “117. Bart unintentionally discovers a comet” and “175. Marge Becomes The Listen Lady” to name but a few. It’s proof though; the best episodes can be described in one sentence.

Things started to get a bit difficult after Season 10, though. 311. Homer thinks Marge hates him”, “348. Homer Buys a Mobile Home” (surely that’s Call of the Simpsons?), and “355. Homer gets a new neighbour” (Not George Bush?) are just three out of a number of unworthy attempts.

Exactly.  So many Zombie Simpsons episodes either have a repeated story or have no story whatsoever that they just blur together into an indistinct lump.  Read the whole thing

27
Feb
10

Quote of the Day

Team Homer2

“Well, I’ve got to hand it to you Seymour.  These drab student coverings have created the perfect distraction free environment, thus preparing the children for permanent positions in tomorrow’s mills and processing facilities.” – Superintendent Chalmers

26
Feb
10

Reading Digest: High Horse Edition

I laugh at you pitiful, low-life commoners

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user FaceMePLS.

“Get to work!  I want to see my face in that horse’s ass!” – Cadet Leader

I tend to think of myself as a pretty cheerful guy.  It’s certainly possible that I’m actually a bitter, resentful individual, though I genuinely don’t think so.  However, this week’s links lend some credence to the bitter/resentful argument.  This week I make fun of not one, but two Zombie Simpsons writers, look down my nose at Lost, strenuously object to a passing mention of Simpsons on a blog I linked to last Sunday, and publicly shame someone for plagiarizing.  On the happier side of the ledger we’ve got some excellent usage, several short and enjoyable video clips, and a great fan art link.  So it’s not all me being a sourpuss. 

Enjoy. 

Pilot season: First look at ABC’s 2010 comedy pilots – Remember Dana Gould, the bitter Zombie Simpsons writer who couldn’t form a coherent sentence?  He wrote a pilot, and if he’s really lucky it might get canceled after a few episodes next season:

"The Simpsons" scribe Dana Gould has written an untitled multi-camera comedy he will star in. He plays a high school guidance counselor and father of two who is caught between his conservative upbringing and his progressive wife’s ideals. One plus: Brian Dennehy plays his father.

Obviously I object to him being called a Simpsons “scribe” when he never wrote a damn thing before Season 12, but the more interesting thing here is the utter banality of the premise.  Ohhh, a high school guidance counselor with a liberal wife and a right wing dad, it’s Political Mismatch Comedy #644!  And think of how topical they can be!  I hope it has all the wit and sparkle of Murphy Brown

Retro Review: War of the Simpsons – Someone else is reviewing old Simpsons episodes too.  It’s an epidemic! 

First Time. – Sigh.  This seems to happen every few months; I come across some new blog that’s talking about a Simpsons episode or something similar and just by reading it I can tell: it’s been plagiarized from Wikipedia.  I hate doing this because I’m 100% in favor of people going on line to express themselves and all that technovangelist jazz, yet I can’t very well let plagiarizing Wikipedia slide, can I? 

In this case we have a new blog called “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Sam”.  Here’s the earnest introductory post that makes the second post all the sadder:

Hi Blogosphere.

My name is XXXXXXXXXX and this is a blog for philosophy Units 1 & 2

My main goal is to post about “Metaphysics regarding Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind”

(If you want to see the name you can just click over to the site.  I’ve left it out here in case s/he either deletes this blog or, hopefully, elects to see the error of his/her ways and continue without plagiarizing Wikipedia.  In either case I don’t want our archives shaming him/her for Google to see forever.) 

Here’s the opening of the second post:

I was first introduced to “Eternal Sunshine” via The Simpsons parody, “Eternal Moonshine Of The Simpson Mind”

I found the episode to be thoroughly entertaining, despite it’s deviation from normal Simpson protocol.

The plot (of the episode) is as follows:

From there on out it’s virtually word for word from the Wikipedia article about that Zombie Simpsons episode.  There’s no link, no indication that it’s anything other than the author’s work.  Wikipedia:

During winter, Homer wakes up in a pile of snow and does not remember the events of the previous day, commenting that he must have drunk heavily the night before. Homer goes home and finds his family absent. Santa’s Little Helper attacks him. Homer travels to Moe’s, where Moe informs him that he was there the previous night and wanted to forget an unpleasant memory.

Blog post:

During winter, Homer wakes up in a pile of snow and does not remember the events of the previous day, commenting that he must have drunk heavily the night before. Homer goes home and finds his family absent. Santa’s Little Helper attacks him. Homer travels to Moe’s, where Moe informs him that he was there the previous night and wanted to forget an unpleasant memory.

In the next sentence Wikipedia describes the various alcohols that are in the shot (Jager, gin, Absolut) while the blog omits them, which makes me think this was written either by a high school student or by someone at a Jebus college that frowns on booze.  In any case the copy and paste goes on from there for four paragraphs.  Where something does get left out it’s glaringly ham handed.  Wikipedia:

When Moe offers the Forget-Me-Shot (Which Moe spat in), Homer predicts exactly what is going to happen

Blog post:

Moe then offers Homer the Forget-Me-Shot.   Homer predicts exactly what is going to happen

Notice the extra spaces where “(Which Moe spat in)” has been cut out.  This is plagiarism. 

And if you’re reading this, author of this post, please don’t get discouraged.  You fucked up, it happens.  Keep going (it’s not a bad project idea), just don’t do this again. 

ART – Misc Stuff – On a vastly more pleasant topic, here’s some really cool fan art.  You’re going to have to click your mouse twice to see what I’m linking here (and I know that’s a lot to ask), but it’s worth it.  First you’ve got to click the link, then you’ll see two images, click the one on the right (it’s in color).  There’re fan made drawings of Homer & Marge, the kids, Burns & Smithers, Lenny & Carl and Sideshow Bob and they’re really well done.  (There’s also some Futurama stuff.)

LOST Provides a Catchphrase to Replace “A Wizard Did It” – This is patently absurd.  There was another plot twist on Lost recently and somebody thinks that it will replace “A wizard did it” as the catchall for lazy storytelling.  I think not.  Lost has more plot twists than it does characters, in a year nobody’s going to remember this one. 

LOST SEASON 6, EPISODE 5 RECAP: Clairey Monsters – This says it contains spoilers if you give a shit about Lost, but I think I can quote the Simpsons part without spoiling anything:

Jacob instructs him to write a novel’s worth of instructions on his arm — I couldn’t think of how to shoehorn-in the Simpsons joke “I am tired of these jokes about my giant hand. The first such incident occurred in 1956 when…” so I just wrote this sentence

That’s perfectly quoted, excellent usage. 

Bart Simpson Monkey – Bali – A real life tale of a monkey trying to eat someone’s shorts. 

Wallflower Words: Koan (n.) – Want to explain an obscure word?  Let The Simpsons do it for you.  The quote is very slightly off but this is still powerfully excellent usage. 

The Simpsons: Accident In Class – This is just a Hulu clip of Homer’s encounter with the proton accelerator in “Homer Goes to College”. 

Cheaters Everywhere – This is a list of people who cheated on their spouse and/or girl/boyfriend on television or in movies.  There’s a Simpsons part that is further proof that Zombie Simpsons sucks ass:

Homer and Marge have had some ups and downs in their relationship.  Some mentions of cheating are fun, like Homer taking a ham (dressed up like a woman) to a hotel room to eat it.  He was on a diet.  Don’t judge.  But others, like Marge being wooed by someone who definitely looks better on paper than Homer or Apu cheating on his wife and getting kicked out of the house, are too much to bear.  Read the episode summaries before watching.  If there are any doubts, catch the episode by yourself on Hulu.

Marge being “wooed” in this case doesn’t sound like Jacques, I’ve never heard of the ham thing, and there was an episode where Apu got thrown out of the house?  Glad I haven’t seen that one. 

Beloved Mosi Tatupu left indelible imprint – Mosi Tatupu was an NFL player who died this week.  He also had a very quick mention in “Treehouse of Horror III” and at least one obituary noted it. 

Best of The Simpsons Season Four Quotes – A bunch of quotes from Season 4. 

Recapturing Greatness – This is from the same No Pun Intended blog that’s reviewing the occasional Simpsons classic.  In this post (by a different guy than the one who writes the Simpsons reviews) we learn that Will Arnett (a/k/a Gob Bluth) may star in a pilot for FOX produced by some other Arrested Development alums.  His character is “a right Beverly Hills jackass”.  Sounds good, right? 

The point of the post is that it’s hard to, as the title says, recapture greatness and that we might not want to get our hopes up.  This was all well and good until I got near the end.  In discussing how in different contexts people go from fantastically funny to utterly boring he drops this piece of dumb:

The writers of the early episodes of The Simpsons are often the same as the writers of the later episodes of The Simpsons.

Other than Al Jean (and to a lesser extent Mike Reiss) when was the last time you recall seeing someone from the good years with their name on the credits?  The epically prolific John Swartzwelder slowed way, way down before he finally called it quits, Jon Vitti stopped in 1995 and only worked on the bad seasons a handful of times, Bill Oakley, Jay Kogen, David M. Stern, Greg Daniels, David S/X. Cohen all left either before things went to hell or as they were going to hell, never to return.  I could go on; I could also list the numerous current writers that have no credits from the early years (paging Dana Gould), but I think I’ve proved my point.  So no, the writers of Zombie Simpsons are not “often the same” as from The Simpsons

On the (H1) wagon – No discussion of the demise of the Hummer is complete without The Simpsons and the Canyonero. 

Why Not Professor Frink… – It’s a defense of nerdiness as it relates to image projection.  But forget all that because there’s YouTube of Frink teaching kindergarten in “The PTA Disbands”!

“Hello My Name Is Mr Snrub…” – More YouTube!  (Also, this blog is called “All My Friends are Dead Because I Shot Them”.  Cool.) 

Nuclear association learns from Homer – Joel H. Cohen (first listed credit: Season 13) gave a talk to a bunch of nuclear industry people in Canada.  According to the story he was very funny and charming.  However, he also apparently did this:

He [Cohen] had real advice for the audience, like the lesson learned from the episode in which Homer gets so fat he goes on disability leave from the nuclear plant and, presumably, sits around the house being miserable — a prospect that didn’t thrill the writing team. "Then somebody says, ‘what if he loves it? What if he enjoys being fat and is loving every minute of it?’ And you could feel the energy spread across the room, because that is a much more creative, much more fun, more exciting way to go."

Shenanigans!  I call Shenanigans!  That episode is from Season 7, Cohen didn’t start working on the show until six years later.  This is second hand information, so there are some plausible explanations (maybe he was an intern during Season 7, maybe he was relating a story someone else told him), but as the story is written he’s presenting it like he was there. 

(Note: Some of the text at that link repeats, but I think the whole story is there.)

20 Years of The Simpsons – This guy was laughing at a top ten episode list we’ve mentioned before.  It’s a very good list because it has nothing past Season 7.  Though he gets confused in places (Homer’s fat guy dress is from a different episode than the the subliminal weight loss tapes) he outrights praises the show without ever once mentioning Zombie Simpsons or citing any Zombie Simpson episodes.  Well done.

26
Feb
10

Quote of the Day

“Do you have ‘Go, Dog, Go’?” – Ralph Wiggum
(scoffs) “That’s in juvenile.  This is young adult.” – Boy in Library

“Well-read and just a little wild.  Oh, if only someone could tame him.” – Lisa Simpson

25
Feb
10

Bart Bucks

Lisa's Pony6

This afternoon boing boing had a link to a page with a bunch of drawings people have done on currency.  There’s George Washington with an iPod, Andrew Jackson as King Leonidas, and Queen Elizabeth as the Wicked Witch of the West.  There’s also el Barto:

El Barto by ChukD

Clicking on the source link at that page took me to Flickr user ChukD.  He’s got quite a few of these including an actual Bart Buck:

Bart Buck by ChukD

He’s got a bunch on there, with characters from Goofy to Batman to Dr. Zoidberg.  Check it out. 

25
Feb
10

Crazy Noises: The Color Yellow

Lisa's Sax1

“Oh, I know this story.  The year is nineteen-aught-six, the President is the divine Miss Sarah Bernhardt, and all over America people were doing a dance called the Funky Grandpa!” – Abe “Grandpa” 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 (surprisingly enough not on “Eudora Welty”).

This episode has a ton of problems when considered just on its own.  There was the dropping of its main character, the bizarre backstory that eliminated a guy who looks like Homer from the family tree, a thirty second chase scene that is also dropped, numerous interruptions for pointless clock killing, and all that exposition.  But if you take a second to think about it in the larger context of the show the ending gets even stupider and more out of place.  “The Color Yellow” ends with Grandpa telling a story that, contrary to almost every other story he’s ever told, turns out to be true and make sense – and then the family believes him.  And this woeful excuse for a conclusion came all of four episodes after “Thursdays with Abie,” an episode completely predicated on the idea that Abe’s stories are nonsense.

Charlie Sweatpants: Shall we get started? I’ve got a date with Eudora Welty.

Mad Jon: Nice

Dave: Yep let’s go

I’m reliving the nightmare as we chat.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, thoughts on the Magical Slavery Tour?

Dave: Bland, bland, bland.

Mad Jon: That was pretty boring. It wasn’t as bad as last week’s travesty but still bad.

And very boring. I really don’t like the history episodes.

Dave: Charlie and I sat in silence for virtually all of it. It’s like we were being punished.

Mad Jon: That makes three of us.

Charlie Sweatpants: If I had been really caught up in the characters or what they were doing I might not have been bored, but I didn’t care and so I was.

Dave: I don’t think there was a chance of that ever happening.

Mad Jon: I chuckled at the joke about Homer making less than his white co-workers, but that was because I was surprised he still had a job in this episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ah, but that was followed up by him chugging a bottle of wine because even after all that exposition they were still five seconds short.

Mad Jon: Did you notice the chugging sound continued as the credits rolled?

Charlie Sweatpants: No.

Dave: Nope.

Mad Jon: And I wasn’t defending it, I just tend to chuckle at slightly racist humor.

Charlie Sweatpants: The problem I have with that whole we’re 1/64th black thing is that it seems like that was the original premise of this and everything else was them working backwards to try and justify it.

How do we get them to have a black ancestor?

I know, 1860-Marge saves a slave!

Great! Does anyone know how to get us there? (crickets)

Mad Jon: That doesn’t surprise me

Charlie Sweatpants: But even the whole 1860-Lisa thing was thin, they had to keep padding it with things like the putting the book in the vent, the endless waltz scene, and the fact that every time someone did something they said they were going to do it three times beforehand.

Dave: You forgot about the library bit, but point well taken

Charlie Sweatpants: Were there two or three library bits? They kind of blur together.

Dave: They’re indistinct, certainly

I didn’t bother to keep count

Charlie Sweatpants: Lisa looking at the card catalog in “Lisa the Greek” had more jokes than all of them (however many there were) put together, of that much I’m certain.

Mad Jon: She used a laptop to give the presentation, but asks the librarian for info on her family.

Charlie Sweatpants: The laptop bit was amongst the worst, I’ve seen plenty of bland Power Point presentations in my life, why did I have to see that one?

Mad Jon: I gave one of those today.

Charlie Sweatpants: Shame on you.

Dave: Congratulations?

Mad Jon: Whatever keeps those paychecks rolling in.

Dave: I have no room to point fingers, actually.

Charlie Sweatpants: While we’re on the topic of wasted humor opportunities, why was Homer playing cards with Patty and Selma? And on top of that, why did one of them throw a card for him to choke on? Are you telling me that they couldn’t think of a single thing for Selma to say to Homer that was funnier than him choking on a playing card?

Mad Jon: And why was only one of them smoking?

That never happens.

Dave: Selma has a kid?

Charlie, they couldn’t. There, I said it.

Mad Jon: Still?

Dave: I don’t think the kid has been seen lately, but yeah

Charlie Sweatpants: Whether or not she has a kid, she should still be able to insult Homer.

Mad Jon: And smoke.

Dave: Of course.

I wasn’t defending her inaction, just tossing out a possibility

Charlie Sweatpants: Sadly Dave I think you’re right, they couldn’t think of a single insult that was better than the card choking. If it weren’t for this episode’s other multitude of problems that would be a damning indictment.

Mad Jon: Did Grandpa’s voice seem different to you guys?

Charlie Sweatpants: I didn’t notice anything, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

Dave: I’m listening to it now, I can’t pick up anything noticeably different

Mad Jon: I thought it did. I sounded like someone was doing an impression of Grandpa.

Charlie Sweatpants: Was there anything specific Jon?

Mad Jon: There was one scene in particular, but I am not planning on going back to look for it right now.

Charlie Sweatpants: We’ll just assume you’re right then. I mean, the number of voices that sound off can only go up.

Dave: Ageing is a bitch.

Also, the Flint, MI joke wasn’t as good as the one in “Bart Gets A Job”

Charlie Sweatpants: Not even close.

Mad Jon: Thirded

Charlie Sweatpants: On an even more trivial note, did anyone notice 1860-Lisa’s costume when she went to meet Virgil in the barn? (Let’s not talk about that time killing owl.)

Dave: What was up with the costume?

Charlie Sweatpants: 1860-Lisa snuck away from the ball, and then in the next scene, separated only by about a half second dissolve, she’s wearing a red riding hood cloak.

I know there have been animation goofs going back to forever, but these should’ve been right next to each other on the storyboard. There was nothing else going on, no other characters in the scene, and one shot immediately followed the other. It just reeks of laziness.

Mad Jon: Once again, I am not surprised by this revelation.

Dave: The writers were probably doing blow.

Charlie Sweatpants: I almost blocked it out since it was followed by that useless chase scene that, much like 1860-Lisa, had no ending and was simply dropped once it was inconvenient.

Mad Jon: Also, the only Burns Ancestry I will recognize is his grandfather who owned the atom smashing plant.

Bah, flimshaw

Charlie Sweatpants: Was that the same guy with the limo in “Rosebud”? I always kinda figured it was.

“Twisted loveless billionaire”, oh how I miss the real Burns.

Mad Jon: Works for me.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else we need to discuss here?

Mad Jon: Not in regards to this episode, no.

Dave: No sir.

Charlie Sweatpants: Good, because Eudora’s waiting. Maybe I can convince her to stay in and watch “Rosebud”.




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