Archive for April, 2010

30
Apr
10

Reading Digest: Nobody Likes Zombie Simpsons Edition

Lisa's Date with Density2

“Nobody likes Milhouse!” – Mr. Largo

Most weeks I’m content if I find one link where someone mentions how much worse Zombie Simpsons is than The Simpsons.  This week I found four!  It was a good week for it too, because I had to ignore about thirty links to posts of the “Simpsons mentioned South Park . . . durrrr” variety.  There’s also a very old commercial for the show, more graffiti than the “Graffiti Edition”, real life Duff Beer, and a guy who looks like Dr. Nick. 

Enjoy.

Rare Television Commercials – There are a number of neat, old timey commercials at the link, including this:

It’s remarkable what you can do with the rights to so much of 20th Century Fox’s back catalog.

B-Real Of Cypress Hill Talks Metalhead Roots, The Simpsons And Non-Medical Marijuana – There’s YouTube, and at the six minute mark the interviewer mentions their turn on the show and asks what the craziest thing they ever ordered was.  B-Real thinks it was crocodile meat in Brazil rather than the London Symphony Orchestra. 

Things I Love – I had trouble with the images here, but there is this:

2. Old Simpsons episodes

The quote’s off, but I don’t care.

Homer Simpson Postage Stamp Groom’s Cake – Click for a picture of a spectacular cake made to look like the Homer postage stamp. 

Nice try, Bart, but you miss the point…. – At least one other person thought Zombie Simpsons missed the point with their chalkboard thing.  It’s not quite the same take I had, but it’s in the same ballpark. 

more adventures in corporate Hollywood totally misunderstanding the Internet – I didn’t think the fake movie opening from last week’s episode was anything other than an excuse to use some terrible puns.  And it doesn’t surprise me that Zombie Simpsons failed to register the URL for their fake movie.  Doing that would indicate that they care in the least about the quality of what they do.   

Harrisburg’s Waste To Energy To Insolvency – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania would’ve been better off with a monorail.  (Bonus points for mentioning the escalator to nowhere.) 

The Simpsons Street Art – Graffiti Comes To Life – I know the graffiti edition was last week, but here’s a bunch of cool images anyway.  I particularly like the chalkboard one that says “I must not copy what I see on the Simpsons”.

Yellow? – A list of ten awesome things that are yellow.  Simpsons is on here, right next to “The Magic School Bus”, man, I loved that book.  There’s also a list of ten bad yellow things.

Top 10 Musical Episodes: ‘Buffy,’ ‘Scrubs,’ ‘The Simpsons’ and More! – I haven’t seen most of the episodes on this list, but if you’re picking musical episodes, why ring in with the awesome but relatively brief musical number from the otherwise non-musical “A Fish Called Selma” when “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious” was all awesome musical numbers?

Conchords land Simpson’s gig! – The guys from “Flight of the Conchords” will be guest starring on Zombie Simpsons.  Enh.

Found footage: Are you ready to get DUFFED? – More Duff beer spotted in the wild.  This time it’s in Germany. 

You suffer, because Hans Moleman suffers. – Short and funny YouTube, accompanied by this excellent sentiment:

I am a huge Simpsons fan (well, all but that shite they call the Simpsons nowadays)

That’s two!  Everyone hates Zombie Simpsons! 

Psych Guy (Raj Sen) From Grey’s Anatomy Totally Looks Like Dr. Nick Riviera – He does. 

Some bits and bobs – This is a YouTube of all the Simpsons couch gags (seemingly in order):

At about the 2:00 minute mark you can see them getting much longer and more elaborate, and it goes downhill from there. 

Top TV Couples – Many TV couples with lots of YouTube.  Homer and Marge are at the bottom.

Phil Hartmann considered for Canadian Walk of Fame – I mentioned this on Twitter, but it deserves as wide an audience as it can get.  Here’s the Facebook page, and here’s the nomination form.  Deadline is today. 

It’s Like the C. Montgomery Burns Chair in Business Administration – The University of Missouri has an economics position named after Ken Lay, and other embarrassing tidbits. 

Brand NEW Bart Simpson Mug ‘The I Didn’t Do It’ Boy – An Irish eBay listed for Mugs calling Bart the “I Didn’t Do It” Boy.  Worth clicking for the image. 

Where did The Simpsons go wrong. – Now to finish off with two more people who agree with us.  First:

So I guess what I really hate is the inconsequential nature of later seasons.  But wait, I also hate the shallow character development (Think: sober Barney, married father Apu).  So I’m left just a confused as I was before.

Preach it brother!  There are more of us than you know.

The Declining Quality of Animation on FOX – And second:

What can I say that hasn’t already been said ever since Principal Skinner was outed by Martin Sheen as an impostor. The quality of the show has clearly fallen since the heady days of the 90s and some people have been actively campaigning for the show’s cancellation in recent times (shoutout to the Dead Homers Society).

While it is clear that the show will be around for a wee while yet, it is unclear just how much farther it can fall. For example, last Sunday night’s episode was about a beached whale and not much else. If it wasn’t for the combination of a thunderstorm and some ice-cream, I may well have nodded off.

The Simpsons continues to hobble along being a mere ghost of it’s former self.

Co-sign and shoutout back to Animation Anomaly. 

30
Apr
10

Quote of the Day

The Curse of the Flying Hellfish2

“Now they’ll never save your brain, Hitler.” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson

29
Apr
10

Crazy Noises: The Squirt and the Whale

Itchy and Scratchy Land2

“Ahhhh!  Shark-boy!” – Homer 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  “environmentalists”).

A couple of weeks ago I pointed out how Zombie Simpsons is extremely careless when it comes to staging and continuity, even within a single scene.  Characters just appear and disappear based on whether or not they’re needed that instant.  Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck don’t do this, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck don’t do this, hell, Family Guy doesn’t even do this!  The reason they don’t is that it is extremely disorienting to have a constantly changing number of people involved in a scene.

Near the swirling mess that passed for the ending of “The Squirt and the Whale” we can see another example of this carelessness.  Homer falls into the water and the sharks immediately surround him:

Sharks0

Suspenseful!

The sharks circle Homer and it’s played for suspense.  Whatever.  But then they instantly vanish while he has a conversation with Lisa and the environmental props:

Sharks1

Is expositive dialogue is a shark repellant?  Or maybe their planet needed them.

No sharks are around him whatsoever, they just disappear.  They don’t go back to the whales, they don’t do anything else, they’re not wanted so they’re not there.  Until it comes time for a second installment of “suspense” about sharks circling Homer:

Sharks2

Where have I seen this before?  Oh yeah, twenty seconds ago.

Aaaaaand they’re back.  This goes beyond poor or lazy storytelling, or even poor or lazy staging of this single scene.  This is “we don’t give a fuck” at it’s purest.  Their ending hangs off of Homer being menaced by sharks and saved by a whale.  Instead of just leaving the sharks circling Homer while he talked with Lisa and the other two, they got rid of them so they would have an excuse to bring them back for a second dose of “suspense”.  They pushed the same feeble emotional trigger twice in one scene.

Anyway, here’s some more problems with this episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, so anyone with initial thoughts on this one?

Dave: It was a trainwreck

Charlie Sweatpants: True.

Mad Jon: A lazy trainwreck

Charlie Sweatpants: Also true.

Dave: They assumed they could tell a Lisa-gets-emotional type story by filling in the blanks

Mad Jon: The A and B plot couldn’t even try to run concurrently?

Charlie Sweatpants: Good way of putting it.

Mad Jon: At least with 2 concurrent plots I can try to be distracted from each one by the other. There was no breathing room here.

Charlie Sweatpants: Though, I don’t think that thing with the windmill counts as a plot. Plots have, you know, conclusions.

Mad Jon: Ok, so one plot with a very long opening?

Dave: No the windmill was a classic-Zombie Simpsons lead in to the A plot

Charlie Sweatpants: And a very long closing.

From the time the whale dies, nothing happens up until what passes for the end.

Dave: I think we had two montages too

Charlie Sweatpants: Seriously, after the whale dies there’s a montage, Lisa being sad, that awful invisible dog joke, and then it’s time for Action Sharks.

Dave: Back to the dead whale a sec

Mad Jon: How did she know the first whale was a girl and the second was a boy?

Charlie Sweatpants: Of all the shit that was going on, that’s what you’re wondering about?

But Dave, you were about to say?

Dave: Lisa’s "It’s a whale" line was followed a massive pause, for what I assume was dramatic effect. It was shit

And lazy writing. Duh, it’s whale.

Charlie Sweatpants: And clearly the thing to do is run over to Jimbo and company.

Talk about lazy writing, "Hey, we need some of our stock characters here."

Dave: Right. And then Kearny and Milhouse…. ugh.

Mad Jon: Well, if you are looking for a meaningful complaint from me, and how dare you, I guess my next question would be – How on earth can you have an alternative energy expo and not include a showing of Monty Burns?

Charlie Sweatpants: He was there for a second.

Mad Jon: huh, I must have missed it.

Charlie Sweatpants: He didn’t say anything.

Mad Jon: Well then what’s the point.

Charlie Sweatpants: He was just carrying a sign. It wasn’t that funny.

The thing that pissed me off about the convention was the fact that, like the beach scene, it was half stock characters.

There’s Barney and Ralph!

Dave: Burp power and kid power, respectively. Give me a break.

Charlie Sweatpants: The guy from Fourth Reich Motors is spinning in his Israeli prison cell.

Mad Jon: This exhibit is closed!

Charlie Sweatpants: Dave, getting back to the Kearney/Milhouse thing, that scene was extra agonizing because not only was it repetitive and boring, but it was just another pun.

Dave: I seem to remember other bad puns in the episode but I’m at a loss to pick them out

Mad Jon: And an opportunity to beat up on Milhouse

Dave: But, yeah, lazy, bad, shit… I’m running out of adjectives here.

Charlie Sweatpants: The opening movie thing was pun-tacular, there was the "fan club", they just kept it up.

Rome-O and Julie-X, Tic-Tac-No, shit like that.

Dave: I forgot about that. I want that minute or two of my life back.

Charlie Sweatpants: But which two? Because if you opt out of that, you’re opting in to the invisible dog gag that went on forever, Bart and Lisa finding stuff at the beach, and that awful series where Lisa walked around town hallucinating about whale noises.

Dave: Well, going with that logic I want my half-hour back

Mad Jon: There you go.

Charlie Sweatpants: A much wiser request.

Dave: Everything was more insincere and contrived than usual.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, we’ve approached it and backed off now like three times, but I think we have to talk about the ending.

I’m sorry.

Dave: Go on.

Charlie Sweatpants: Where to begin?

Dave: Deus-ex-father whale?

Charlie Sweatpants: The environmentalists who show up for no reason, Homer being circled by sharks twice, and the whale ride.

Mad Jon: Environmentalists showing up to save the sharks but not the whale originally?

Charlie Sweatpants: The two times on the circling sharks thing was hacktacular even by their standards.

They played the same visual, one that’s been done a million times before – seriously – and then, ten seconds later, they played the exact same thing.

They might have been able to use some of the same animation cels it was so repetitive.

Dave: Oh and then there was that octopus crap!

Charlie Sweatpants: And there was the fucking whale ride! We get action shots of the shark, teeth out, racing at Homer, then the whale saves the day, then Lisa tells us who the whale is, and then Homer hops off the top of the whale and back into the boat forty feet below – and there isn’t even an attempt at a joke.

Mad Jon: Oh yeah, by then I was so checked out I wasn’t sure what the drawings at the credits were and had to go back and watch the last minutes again

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh fuck, I forgot about the octopus crap.

It was Homer’s second failed screen play of the episode.

Were they really that hard up for ideas?

Dave: It seems that way.

Charlie Sweatpants: It feels like we haven’t discussed much, but then again there just isn’t that much in this episode.

A lot of it is just them yanking on heartstrings as hard as they can.

Mad Jon: Although we have been wandering through a toxic mist for the last half hour, we definitely have had more structure than that episode did.

Charlie Sweatpants: Throw in the montages, the joke-less dream sequence, and the rest and there just isn’t much episode here.

Dave: But we did get four whales, one dead.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else?

Mad Jon: I have one more thing

The norm of the Zombie episodes is a staunch reliance on Homer’s physical comedy.

Although there were some instances here, like the blood in the water, it seems that they are even getting lazy about this trick in their bag.

Charlie Sweatpants: You mean the whole head-saw thing?

Mad Jon: I am talking about the scene with Homer and the tool belt.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, that was awful.

And it kept going and going and going . . .

Mad Jon: He waddled about for around a minute without getting hurt, and I bet they thought they had touched gold there.

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess "man pulls down pants" lost out in the script revision.

Mad Jon: It’s pretty bad when they can’t even hurt him to try for laughs.

But that’s all I have.

Dave: I think one of our commenters noted that there’s likely a large, sycophantic population that probably ate this up.

Charlie Sweatpants: Because it was "about the family" or whatever.

Dave: Yeah, it was family centric

Charlie Sweatpants: Except that it wasn’t.

Dave: If that’s the litmus test for success, well then fuck, I’m out.

Charlie Sweatpants: Bart and Marge are barely in it, all Lisa does is dream and mope, and Homer just gets hurt and acts dumb.

Mad Jon: And waddles.

Charlie Sweatpants: It can have more lines for the family members all it wants, if they don’t do anything I’m still not entertained.

Dave: Wise counsel.

29
Apr
10

Quote of the Day

Enough Gunpowder

“I know we haven’t had much luck shooting you out of this cannon, but maybe that’s because we haven’t used enough gunpowder! . . . Britney, do the honors.” – Krusty the Klown

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Krusty Gets Busted”!  Original airdate 29 April 1990.

28
Apr
10

Synergy Confuses Fiction and Reality

The Boy Who Knew Too Much1

“Oh no, Willie didn’t make it, and he crushed our boy.” – Movie Mom
“Ugh, what a mess.” – Movie Dad
“Oh, I don’t like this new director’s cut.” – Homer Simpson

IGN did two things I appreciate with this week’s corporate fanboy ode to Zombie Simpsons:

1) Kept things ridiculously positive – It’s a lot easier to edit out the synergy when I can replace words like “best” with “worst” and leave the underlying sentence structure untouched.

2) Exposed the shallowness of its sycophancy – This is a little more subtle, but I like how the comedy free tear-jerker part of the episode, which accounted for most of the run time, isn’t even mentioned until the fourth of five paragraphs.  It also shows up in other things, like the sentence I couldn’t figure out:

But this was the right path to take, as moving Bluella the whale proved too daunting for the community.

I’ve read that sentence ten times and I still don’t know what it means.  I get that IGN is praising Zombie Simpsons, but I can’t figure out for what.  I think what IGN’s trying to say is that if the townspeople had saved the whale, then the whale would’ve been saved . . . except that it’s fiction . . . so the townspeople’s actions were chosen by the same people who put the whale on the beach in the first place . . . so the decision to kill the whale couldn’t have anything to do with the townspeople’s actions . . . and now I’m confused again.  IGN knows that the whale died because the writers chose to kill it, not because the townspeople failed to save it, right?

Anyway, I’ve edited out the synergy.

April 26, 2010 – “The Squirt and the Whale” was an absolute gem turd. Like many of the classic Simpsons Zombie Simpsons episodes, it was hilarious boring and heartwarming melodramatic. In a time when many are saying the series has lost its magic, Sunday night’s episode proved that even the old-timers can show you how it’s done once in a while it.

The episode was great boring right from the start, beginning with opening credits. Bart’s chalkboard bit was a failed nod to the guys at South Park and their recent controversy with the depiction of Muhammad. “South Park– we’d stand beside you if we weren’t so scared.” Since The Simpsons opened the doors for shows like South Park, it was would’ve been nice to see the camaraderie if they hadn’t screwed it up. Follow that up with a clever and fun romp through the Springfield Shopper as the time wasting couch gag, and we had a few good laughs under our belt decent idea of just how bad it would be before the episode even started.

The first act of “The Squirt and the Whale” was as near-perfect wretchedly bad an opening segment the series as seen in many seasons. The trailer for the big-budget space adventure “Tic Tac Toe” was an absolute winner nothing but embarrassingly bad puns. Homer’s battle with the power company (his own employer) was full of great gags and one-liners Jerkass Homer non sequiturs. First there was the Power Expo (“Where there’s an expo, there’s free Frisbees.”) where we got to see they couldn’t think of anything original so they crammed in Ralph Wiggum’s “kid power” and Barney’s “burp power.” This was also where Homer bought a windmill to power his home for some reason that was dropped two minutes later, with the guarantee it will pay for itself “in 12 to 18 lifetimes.” The entire electricity storyline in this act was fantastic vanished after the commercial. My least favorite lines came when Homer realized wind power only works when it’s windy: “From now on, the Simpsons are living… intermittently!”

That act ended disappeared with the beginning of the rest of the episode, when Lisa discovered a beached whale. As Lisa would, she tried everything she could to save the whale, including enlisting her father to help, though she did not, apparently, call Sea Huggers. Homer’s ideas did nothing to help, and surprisingly, but did kill some time until the whale died on the beach . You usually don’t expect death in a sitcom, especially one that would break the heart of a seven-year-old, but this show stopped being a comedy a long time ago. But this was the right path to take, as moving Bluella the whale proved too daunting for the community. [Ed Note: I’m not sure what the preceding sentence is supposed to mean.] Equally unexpected dull was that the episode momentarily focused on the removal-by-dynamite of the whale from the beach to kill more time. This led to another great drawn out montage and a clock eating bit after Comic Book Guy bought a whalebone corset. The corset slowly gave way, changing CBG from slim to fat. His commentary exposition matching the various stages of Captain Kirk’s appearance with the movie/series he was on was a lot of fun took a lot of time, ending with the fattest version from Boston Legal.


Throughout this ordeal of an episode, Homer was trying to ease his daughter’s pain. This was best stated by the man himself done in typical Jerkass Homer fashion when Bart taunted the pair: “I’m trying to be a sensitive father you unwanted moron!” Homer’s bit with the invisible dog leash was pleasantly fun already going on too long, until it became uproarious even worse when the invisible dog dragged Homer along as he chased a car. The episode ended with Homer trying to help Lisa save the calves of Bluella from environmentally protected sharks (Homer: “Typical eco-jerks– using words to talk”) that showed up because the writers drew “sharks” out of the Plot Resolution Hat. After putting his life in danger in the most contrived and boring of ways, and winning the affection and respect of his daughter in another sappy melodramatic sequence, Homer said he’d do anything for “a sweet, intelligent mammal.” His daughter, of course, not the audience, who are less intelligent for having watched this. Very funny saccharine and appropriately sweet clumsy, “The Squirt and the Whale” was the best worst episode of the season thus far.

28
Apr
10

Quote of the Day

Radioactive Man3

“Oh my god!  He’s killed the original Alfalfa!” – Studio Hand
“Yeah.  Luckily Alfalfa was an orphan owned by the studio.” – Moe

27
Apr
10

Zombie Simpsons Misses the Point

“And sure, he’s probably so insane with rage that he’d butcher you horribly if he could.” – Homer Simpson

Yesterday, it was noted in many, many different places that Zombie Simpsons mentioned the censoring of last week’s South Park in the chalkboard gag:

Zombie Simpsons Scared

There are two ways to look at this.  The first (and this seems to be the dominant on-line opinion) is to see it as a nice gesture from Zombie Simpsons, a show of support for South Park in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way.  The second (which I’m more inclined to take) is a lot less positive.

First, set aside all the other issues at play here, from war and torture to religious extremism and censorship.  What happened on South Park was a brave act (at least as brave as one can be making cartoons for a living), the point of which was to demonstrate that fear about showing Mohammed is overblown.  The “death threats” that got such wide press came from an obscure website run by a nobody with no connection to anything (scroll down to point 2 in the update here to see what I mean).  Everyone pitched a fit except Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who remained quite calm and basically said that they wouldn’t give in to hysteria.  The fundamental point they were making (last week and in 2006) is that such fear is unfounded, and that the real problem is the absurd overreaction to empty threats.

Yet there’s Zombie Simpsons, declaring themselves “so scared”.  I understand that they’re trying to be supportive in a funny way.  But what Zombie Simpsons actually did was reinforce and legitimize the overhyped fear that Parker and Stone were explicitly attacking.  They could’ve said “South Park-We Support You And Wanted To Say [Bleeeeeeeeeeeep]”, or “South Park-We’d Stand By You If We Thought It Mattered”, or anything that didn’t say that they were afraid.  Instead, they bought right into the hysterical framework that South Park was criticizing.

Like all Zombie Simpsons, it was well meaning but brainless, and they’d have been better off not saying anything.

27
Apr
10

Quote of the Day

Oh Brother, Where Art Thou3

“Okay Homer, pick out any one you want.” – Herb Powell
“Are you sure you want to give me a car?” – Homer Simpson
“Hey, you know what these things cost me?  There’s maybe forty bucks worth of steel in ’em.” – Herb Powell

26
Apr
10

Euro-Marge

Check out what a guy named Micky Hulse did to Europe:

Euro-Marge

The Spanish region of Galicia will hence forth be known as Boob Land. 

(via)

26
Apr
10

Jumping Sharks and Riding Whales

Chalkboard - The Squirt and the Whale

“Now, Henry Winkler, there’s a father.  Listen to what he told a close friend, ‘I don’t always keep my cool like the Fonz, but my love for my kids has given me plenty of happy days’.” – Selma Bouvier

While Homer was being menaced by sharks this week, I couldn’t help but think of that most damning of cultural epitaphs: jumped the shark.  Isn’t falling into the ocean from a magically conjured motorboat, getting hit in the head by a bucket (why a bucket?), and then being saved from sharks by riding a whale at least as bankrupt an idea as having a leather jacketed stunt double on water skies jump over a pen that has stock footage of a shark inside of it?  At the very least it’s in the same category.  Sadly, Happy Days went on for six more seasons after that fateful episode, let’s hope this one doesn’t take as long. 

Before that unimaginably boring ending, however, the writers had to reach deep into their bag of tricks to fill that ever more onerous 20 minute minimum.  There was a long couch gag, a 45-second montage, a completely pointless dream sequence, and an “action” sequence that finds the cartoon trope of circling shark fins new and exciting.  And even that wasn’t enough, so they had to kill some more time by having Homer regurgitate ideas that were too stupid to even be animated.  Also, it’s generally not a good idea when the actual event you’re basing a scene on is funnier than your cartoon version. 

I’d also like to commend the writers for dumping their opening plot line in an unusually abrupt manner, even by Zombie Simpsons standards.  The opening segment is often totally unrelated to the rest of the episode, but they don’t usually completely abandon a giant plot conflict (the whole electricity thing).  I’m not sure what’s keeping them from dropping all pretense and doing those segmented mini-story episodes every week.  

The numbers are in and they’re almost identical to last week’s: 5.94 million people tuned in an hour early for Family Guy last night.  That ties the number for 11th worst all time.  Since the 20th anniversary crap wore off, Season 21 has been down an average of half a million viewers from the same period of Season 20.  I’m going to keep saying this until someone listens: the show is getting historically low ratings.  The 20th anniversary stuff will save Season 21 from being the least watched ever, but more people than ever are simply ignoring this show. 

26
Apr
10

Quote of the Day

Bismarck, North Dakota

Image taken from Wikipedia.

“The capital of North Dakota is named after what German ruler?” – Grade School Challenge Host
“Hitler!” – Homer Simpson
“Hitler, North Dakota?” – Marge Simpson

25
Apr
10

Sunday Preview: “The Squirt and the Whale”

Happy Sunday, everyone. I’m afraid I have two pieces of bad news. First, there’s new Zombie Simpsons tonight. I know, I know, it hurts. Let’s get the description, courtesy of Simpsons Channel, out of the way:

The Simpson family erect a turbine in their back yard. When Homer realizes that some of the power from the turbine is directed for the local electric company, he removes their house from the grid. Meanwhile, a storm appears and Homer and Lisa try to save a 100-foot long whale, brought to shore by the storm.

Ha, “erect.” Seems to be a fairly obvious attempt to hop on the Earth Day gravy train (is there one?), because wind power is cool and like, everyone loves whales. I won’t even feign interest here; we all know it’s going to be dreadful, so why play coy?

The second piece of bad news is that Photoshop is being a piece of shit, so I can’t bloody up the promo pic per usual practice. Sorry, kind readers. You’ll have to live with an upside down promo pic instead. It’s truly a devastating day for all parties involved.

25
Apr
10

Quote of the Day

Lisa on Ice3

“Alright, I’m gonna make a little deal with you mugs.  I’m gonna let you all out to see my team play the hockey game, if you promise to return to your cells.” – Chief Wiggum
“Sorry, pig, we can’t make that promise.” – Snake
“Alright, alright, I’ll sweeten the deal.  You can see the game, you don’t have to come back, but you have to promise not to commit any more crimes.  Okay?” – Chief Wiggum
“No.” – Snake
“I’ll take that as a ‘Yes’.” – Chief Wiggum

Happy birthday Hank Azaria!

24
Apr
10

Compare & Contrast: Counterfeit Clothing

“Oh no, it’s Gloria Vanderbilt, out for revenge!” – Hired Goon

Near the end of “Chief of Hearts”, Fat Tony and the gang are counterfeiting clothing in the woods for some reason.  Homer and Wiggum are there for some other reason.  Homer and Wiggum then get thrown in the trunk for yet another reason.  While in the trunk, they have an earnest and humorless heart-to-heart moment that finally pushes their earnest and humorless plot line towards the finish line. 

As if to underscore how lazy this entire setup is, just about the only stab at comedy in the entire ending is Wiggum’s joke about the tire iron being what was poking him in the back.  Except that Wiggum was facing Homer, not the other way around.  That’s not normally the kind of thing I give a shit about, but there’s no reason other than sheer apathy for it to have been that way.  They could’ve put Homer behind Wiggum in the trunk, there was nothing stopping them.  But they didn’t even consider it. 

You Should Look Sad

This could not have been more than two script pages from the tire iron “joke”.

Compare all this to the ending of “The Springfield Connection”.  Here, too, we have a counterfeit clothing scheme to wrap up the plot.  The difference (other than that this one was fresh and Zombie Simpsons was recycling an idea) is that both of the elements that bring the story to a conclusion have been previously established.  We know that Homer gambles in the house with Herman (and that Herman ducks out for unexplained reasons), and we’ve seen Marge on the firing range doing target practice.  Moreover, even during the “suspense” parts, nearly every line or action is a joke of some kind, from Homer telling Marge to “sell the jeans and live like a queen”, to Marge’s exasperation at her back yard turning into a shooting gallery, to Herman’s “foiled by my own shoddy merchandise”.  Everything is played for humor and it all moves on quickly. 

Even Homer’s reconciliation with Marge, telling her that she’s a good cop, is played for a laugh when Homer immediately turns on her when he thinks Herman is getting away.  Not only does it take less time than Homer and Wiggum’s multiple makeup sessions in “Chief of Hearts”, but it’s done with comedy – not drama – in mind.  To top it all off, when things finally do end, everything returns to normal.  Marge quits the police (which she’d already grown disenchanted with) because of all the corruption, and no one had to act out of character to get things back to normal.  Wiggum and company remain self interested and dishonest, Marge remains incorruptible and upright. 

Zombie Simpsons perverts the essence of a long established character, lingers on contrived situations that are played for suspense, and ends with Homer and Wiggum being friends instead of returning things to the way they were.  The Simpsons has a long established character explore a new opportunity that fits right in with her personality, has a coherent story that never gets serious, and wraps things up neatly at the end. 

24
Apr
10

Quote of the Day

Cough Syrup

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Travis S.

“Brace yourselves gentlemen, according to the gas chromatograph the secret ingredient is . . . love?!  Who’s been screwing with this thing?” – Professor Frink

23
Apr
10

Reading Digest: Graffiti Edition

Homer's Odyssey4

“Our city is under siege by a graffiti vandal known as ‘El Barto’.  Police artists have a composite sketch of the culprit, if anyone has any information, please contact us immediately.” – Chief Wiggum
“Cool, man.” – Bart Simpson

We have two links to some awesome Homer graffiti this week.  One is just random, the other was apparently commissioned by the building owner, but has now been painted over.  Also, we have a 2-year-old Simpsons fan, legal advice from the show, vintage bootleg t-shirt images, illegal hallucinogens, and some excellent usage. 

Enjoy.

Just What Are Diapers For? – Awesome 2-year-old picks up one of Bart’s favorite expressions. 

My 25 Favorite Bart Simpson Chalkboard Punishments (Jesse James) – Mostly good stuff here.

Are you saying Boo or Boo-urns? – A list of useful Simpsons quotes, like the link above, it’s mostly good. 

Best tool ever: Simpsons used to teach law – A non-profit group in Canada has created a paper that uses the show to explain legal concepts to high schoolers.  You can view it here.

Restore Stephen Baldwin by giving him your money – I’m 99% sure this isn’t a joke, but as soon as I saw it, all I could think was “Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House!”.  The video really has to be seen to be, uh, believed. 

Black Bart Simpsons – Three bootleg images from 90s t-shirts.  I don’t think I’d ever seen the one on the right before.

Red Lantern Maggie Simpson – Cool fan made Maggie drawing. 

Interview with Character Designer Dan Haskett – Haskett did some of the character designs for the show, this is a long interview with him about modern animation in Hollywood.   

springfield’s finest… – Neat wood carving of Wiggum, Lou and Eddie.  Downside, they’re on a surfboard (which I think was from one of those abortions in Season 12.) 

Gary Oftedahl: Homer Simpson and me…Really! – Excellent usage (including a quote) expounding on the Homer Simpson instinct in all of us. 

Simply The Best Post #30 (Television Shows) – This is a list of the top five television shows, Simpsons is #3.  I don’t really care about that, but this baffles me:

I haven’t loved the last six or seven seasons of the show but I’ve only randomly watched episodes and really do feel as if it’s still better than most of the bullshit that’s on television these days. I really do hope that The Simpsons will go another 20 years.

That’s not something you do not see very often, someone who doesn’t watch Zombie Simpsons but still defends it. 

Square Hotel’s Homer Simpson Homage Coming Down – A cool looking graffiti Homer has been painted over.  You can see the original here.  He’s got the dead eyes!

It all adds up in the endForfty

Lego Homer – Exactly what it says it is. 

The Most Boring Event in American Sports – I’m a football fan and I don’t think I’ve ever made it past the first hour of watching the NFL Draft.  Once the first few picks are off the board, it gets very boring very quickly, though it is nice to check back in every hour or so to see how it’s going.  Regardless, this is excellent usage:

Announcer:”We now return you to exciting 15th round action at the Canadian Football League Draft.”
Analyst: “And so, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who scored only four rogues all last season…

The quote is dead-on and apt. 

“The map is not the territory”… – This is an interesting post on perceptions, reality and old books.  Near the bottom is something I did not know:

As we endeavor (but not too hard) to avoid the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, we might recall that it was on this date in 1987 (44 years to the day after “Bicycle Day,” the day that  Dr. Albert Hofmann, the discoverer of LSD, deliberately took the hallucinogen for the first time) that The Simpsons debuted, as a short within The Tracey Ullman Show.

Mmmm, LSD. 

Why My Mum Should Reconsider Telling My Dad Not To Drink Beer… – YouTube:

The Hulu crawl at the bottom is a little annoying though. 

Game-Day: A Beer brewed by 7-11…Would you buy/drink it? – Scroll down for a sweet Duff Beer poster, vintage 1997. 

Homer Simpson graffiti – Finally, thanks go to Flickr user duncan for snapping the image and putting it up with a Creative Commons license:

Homer Graffiti

23
Apr
10

Quote of the Day

A Streetcar Named Marge2

“But Marge, what about dessert?” – Homer Simpson
“For god sakes you can pull the lid off your own can of pudding.” – Marge Simpson
“Fine, I will! . . . Ahhhh!  Oh no, my pudding is trapped forever!” – Homer Simpson

22
Apr
10

Crazy Noises: Chief of Hearts

A Star is Burns4

“At last, an excuse to wear makeup!” – Chief Wiggum

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 (though, for comedy purposes, “cumly” has been left alone).

Zombie Simpsons likes to graft hackneyed plot ideas and story structures onto its one dimensional characters.  Unfortunately, when groping blindly for concepts that have only been done a dozen or so times before, they don’t consider what kind of baggage comes along with them.  Cheap comedy plots often have pointless “danger” sequences at the end that give the characters a modicum of cover to come to terms with whatever has been driving the plot forward.  (If you’re familiar with the lesser works of Adam Sandler you know exactly what I’m talking about.)  Take “Chief of Hearts”, which spends the last 20% or so of its runtime forcing Homer and Wiggum to re-bond because of gangsters.  Why were gangsters hanging out in the woods?  Why were Wiggum and Homer there in the first place?  If they’re already in the woods why do they have to go for a drive?  It’s best if you don’t ask those kinds of questions since there are no answers that don’t include the phrase “it’s because . . .”.

Anyway, we had a good time last night picking at some of the more obvious problems with this episode.  The complete lack of jokes or satire were only the beginning.

Mad Jon: Anywho, you guys ready?

Dave: I’m a couple beers in. Let’s rock

Charlie Sweatpants: Initial thoughts?

Mad Jon: Mr. Burns I believe you asked for an opening tirade.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yes I did Kent.

Charlie Sweatpants: The fundamental problem with this episode is that it’s using a concept of romantic comedy that was tired in about 1985, and yet they believe that by grafting it onto Chief Wiggum it will be funny.

Mad Jon: I especially hate episodes that humanize characters known for only one thing.

Charlie Sweatpants: I would dispute your use of the word "humanize".

Mad Jon: Next there will be an episode about how lonely Disco Stu is or something.

Dave: Wiggum as an emotional trainwreck was special.

Charlie Sweatpants: Wiggum is eminently human, he’s massively corrupt and completely oblivious to the harm he causes other people.

Mad Jon: But seriously, Wiggum is a cop. A terrible, terrible cop. And that is why we love him. The only family or emotional stuff he should be responsible for is the occasional post Ralph comment-comment.

Moe tends bar, Krabappel teaches, Lovejoy preaches, and that’s that.

Dave: Completely agree. The insecurities he expressed in this episode were out of hand and not funny, which goes without saying

Mad Jon: And to top it all off, he gets shot.

Charlie Sweatpants: The only time he was ever – ever – sad while the show was still on the air was when he lost his job. Now he’s sad because . . . why?

Mad Jon: Because he lost the only friend he had or something.

Dave: Sarah won’t play ball?

Charlie Sweatpants: That would make sense if only we hadn’t seen him enjoying himself over and over again with the other cops.

Mad Jon: Sarah, get me Superintendent Chalmers.

Thank you Sarah.

Yes, which would also make sense if he was something other than a cop.

Charlie Sweatpants: I cite his love of pretzels in "So It’s Come to This", his burger conversation in "22 Short Stories", watching Itchy & Scratchy in "Krusty Gets Busted", and a bunch of others.

Mad Jon: Wiggum is supposed to only be around the two other cops, Lou and the guys whose name the beer has made me forget.

Charlie Sweatpants: Eddie?

Mad Jon: Yep, That’s it.

Keep it up and you’ll make sergeant one day.

Charlie Sweatpants: But only if you don’t put squirrels down your pants for the purposes of gambling.

Mad Jon: Knock it off boys..

Dave: Ok, so we’ve established that Wiggum sucked donkey balls in this episode.

Mad Jon: Oh jeez, now I just feel like reminiscing about Wiggum quotes.

"Get his license and registration."

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, I think we’re agreed on the fact that Wiggum was acting like a love struck teenager because the writers couldn’t think of anyone else to act like a love struck teenager. Damn you, Dave, for taking my segue.

Dave: It felt right.

Charlie Sweatpants: Fat Tony was also out of place here.

Mad Jon: So plot B then? A tired concept that was actually meaningful almost 10 years ago?

Charlie Sweatpants: I would say "almost meaningful" not "meaningful almost".

And besides that, a drug suspicion plot? Really?

Mad Jon: Ah, but to the rest of the world the Pokemon thing was quite the craze.

The drug thing was pretty retarded. And not in cute funny way.

Dave: Wikipedia says this wasn’t a riff on Pokemon.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s like they’re channeling the most cliched parts of every family sitcom ever, only they’re not satirizing them, they’re using them.

Mad Jon: Perhaps the writers edited it before the Japanese could.

Charlie Sweatpants: Dave, what was it a reference of?

Dave: This is what they were "satirizing:" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bakugan_Battle_Brawlers

Mad Jon: They all look the same to me.

No offense Dave.

Dave: None taken. They’re a blur to me too.

Charlie Sweatpants: Wait, I’ve just spent 10 seconds skimming the Wikipedia article and I still don’t get it. Are there little toy robots that you play cards with?

Mad Jon: 10 seconds, you got me beat two fold.

Dave: There are cards of some sort.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh wait, there it is, near the bottom.

Dave: Regardless, stupid.

Mad Jon: So no snowmen shooting carrots?

Charlie Sweatpants: "The game uses spherical, spring-loaded miniature figures, representing the Bakugan, which pop open when rolled onto special metal Gate cards."

Mad Jon: So maybe snowmen. And maybe carrots.

Charlie Sweatpants: Either way it’s getting shot onto Marge’s face, that ought to make some people happy.

Mad Jon: I didn’t think of it that way… neato. At least that should drive up search engine hits

So many people looking for Simpsons porn. It really is amazing.

Charlie Sweatpants: So we’ve established that they’re able to cite something that exists on Wikipedia. That doesn’t change the fact that the entire plot was based on the idea that Bart was dealing drugs, even though it was based on the kind of latent eavesdropping that only occurs on soap operas when shit needs to go down.

Mad Jon: That is true, and also I can’t believe Martin wasn’t in on the battle balls

Dave: How was the drug stuff resolved? I can’t remember.

Mad Jon: Marge found out it wasn’t drugs.

Charlie Sweatpants: Then it ended.

Mad Jon: Pretty much.

Dave: Hooray.

Charlie Sweatpants: Actually, "ended" might be too strong a word. "End" implies that there was a conflict. Then it "ceased" is neutral enough to actually describe what happened.

Mad Jon: It wasn’t alive anymore.

Dave: Wise conclusion.

Charlie Sweatpants: Speaking of "ceased", the whole locked in the trunk thing . . . um, huh?

Mad Jon: It was a reason to make a tire iron penis joke.

Charlie Sweatpants: There’s a marker of how far the show has degraded, penis jokes are beyond their powers.

Mad Jon: Yeah, that was pretty bad.

Charlie Sweatpants: While we’re here, can we rag on that awful "coma" thing?

Mad Jon: I guarantee it is the "Joke of the Day" or something on the Zombie forums.

Dave: What of the coma, Charlie?

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, it took up a shitload of time, and yet nothing but a montage happened.

Mad Jon: That actually happened? I thought I was in a coma or had gone to hell for 10 minutes only to be resurrected or something.

Charlie Sweatpants: No, it happened.

Mad Jon: That’s too bad.

It says here I’m supposed to get a pig every month…

And two cumly lasses of virtue true…

Ha, cum

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s another mark of how un-creative the show has become that they had a coma montage, and all they could think to do was have Homer act stupid. I mean, they didn’t even use Ralph! Ralph-fucking-Wiggum was ignored because all they know how to do is make Homer act like a jerk.

Dave: Ralph had a forgettable line early on

Mad Jon: That is an excellent point. A Wiggum episode with like 2 lines for Ralph.

Swing and a miss. Strike 4

Charlie Sweatpants: And he’s the go-to character for Zombie Simpsons.

Mad Jon: Maybe they were feeling adventurous.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ralph could say "bucka-bucka" or "wuzzle-wuzzel" and the Zombie Simpsons fans would cheer, and yet, nothing.

Anyway, anything else here?

Mad Jon: Not from me.

Dave: I don’t ever want to hear "At Seventeen" used in a TV show ever again.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was a bad romantic comedy with an unconnected b-plot that made no sense. Is there anything else?

Dave: I think we’ve covered everything.

Mad Jon: Ok then. Now that’s out of our way and we can go back to enjoying our evening.

22
Apr
10

Quote of the Day

Furniture Store

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Ian Broyles.

“Hey Krusty, Krusty, you remember the time we got loaded and set those beavers loose in that pine furniture store?” – Chief Wiggum

21
Apr
10

Mike Reiss Compares Zombie Simpsons to Senile Old People

Lisa's First Word4

“So how long before you shipped Grandpa off to the old folks home?” – Bart Simpson
“About three weeks.” – Homer Simpson

Well, okay, he didn’t use the word “senile”, but he came awfully close:

For those who say the show is no longer funny, Reiss has a simple answer: "Well, don’t watch it!" He likened the 450-episode show to a person. "The Simpsons change the way people change. Think of your grandparents. The either get boring or crazy and weird. I like to think ‘The Simpsons’ has gotten crazy and weird."

First of all, most of the people who say it sucks don’t watch it.  Until we started this here blog, I hadn’t seen a new one in years.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t suck, nor does it mean I can’t say so as loudly and as often as possible. 

Secondly, I’m sure he meant “crazy and weird” in only the most positive way, but it’s not a good comparison.  This is especially true when you consider that, when The Simpsons was still on the air, old people got it worse than any other group.  Tacitly comparing the show to Grandpa Simpson is an admission of defeat, isn’t it?  It means you’ve become everything you used to mock. 

Everybody tolerates Grandpa, but nobody goes out of their way to spend time with him.  And secretly they’re all just waiting for the clock to run out.  That’s a pretty good description of Zombie Simpsons, and it’s not the least bit flattering or positive.  We just want it to end so we can remember the good times instead of the sickly shadow that shits itself once per week. 

I have no desire to pick on Reiss.  He is vastly funnier than me, and moreover I love the guy.  He was a big part of what made The Simpsons great, and he co-created The Critic.  But if the best defense he has is comparing Zombie Simpsons to the doddering remains of a once vibrant person, well, that kinda says it all. 

(There’s other stuff in that article, some of it funny.  But the Nasty Internet Critic Act of 2003 only allows me to discuss the parts I hate.) 




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