“I’m sorry, I’m really not comfortable with this, Ethan.” – Bumblebee Man
“What’s the matter, love?” – Ethan the Director
“It’s just, it’s, it’s the same old tired gags, isn’t it? I mean, let’s give the audience some credit.” – Bumblebee Man
“How about a giant mousetrap?” – Ethan the Director
“I love it!” – Bumblebee Man
Programming note: Not that anyone is frantically hitting the refresh button in anticipation of three slightly tipsy guys blathering about why Zombie Simpsons sucks, but this week’s Crazy Noises post has been delayed by a schedule conflict.* It should go up on Friday.
The opening scene of “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed” saw Flanders conducting a Bible study group. Improbably, Jimbo was there. (Was no other kid available? Jimbo once said “thanks” when told he was the worst kid in school, even Nelson would’ve made more sense.) In order to keep Jimbo’s attention, Flanders had to drop tech terms into his Bible spiel. This is not a bad comedy idea, transparent pandering to youth with mostly nonsensical references to technology is a fairly common thing, especially among Christian outreach types. But Zombie Simpsons managed to screw it up instantly.
First, they had Jimbo clumsily exposit the idea. It’s generally bad if you have to explain a joke, but it’s even worse if you explain it before you’ve even made it. Then, with their concept established, they jammed all of their punchlines into the next line of dialogue. As Jimbo gets up, Flanders screeches “Mouse pad, double click, Skype, Skype!” Jimbo sits back down on the second “Skype” (yes, they repeated one of the terms, they couldn’t even come up with four). But then Flanders goes on speaking without using a single pandering tech term. Jimbo doesn’t move and the concept is dropped for the rest of the episode.
They went through all that heavy handed set up all so they could drop three tech terms, none of them particularly relevant or recent (is Skype cutting edge these days?). Instead of letting that concept play out over the course of the scene, or even calling back to it later in the episode, they forget it ever happened. They even dragged Jimbo to Israel, though he never gets another line of dialogue.
This is comedy malpractice, and it amply demonstrates how short the writers’ attention spans have become. The number of times quick and funny concepts are recalled in The Simpsons is beyond counting. There’s the NASA guy almost hitting James Taylor with his blackjack in “Deep Space Homer”, the “Bad Cops” theme song playing in the hospital waiting room in “Homer’s Triple Bypass”, the comet puncturing the helium balloon at the end of “Bart’s Comet” (and the a Chihuahua being there for size comparison), etcetera. But in Zombie Simpsons, the writers don’t trust the audience (or themselves, apparently) to remember something that happened just minutes earlier. Jimbo’s attention span at the beginning of this episode is capacious by comparison.
I don’t think Zombie Simpsons was trying to make a point about how lame it and its fans are, but they did. Bravo. Er, I mean, Friendster!
*At least, I was told it’s a schedule conflict. It’s certainly possible that Mad Jon is, at this very moment, strung out on coffee and Listerine and headed to Hollywood in the heavily armed Deathmobile. He probably wouldn’t tell me about that kind of thing beforehand, and it would be irresponsible not to speculate.