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.