“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:
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:
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:
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.
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.