13
May
10

Will There Be a Season 23?

Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy6

“We’re through the looking glass here people.” – Milhouse van Houten

A little more than a year ago, news broke that Zombie Simpsons had been renewed for two more years, through Season 22.  It wasn’t news that there was going to be a Season 21.  The old contract may have only run through Season 20 but, given the lag between production and broadcast, if Season 20 was going to be the end they’d have shut down production long before last year.  Plus, sites like www.epgudies.com already had listings for Season 21.  What made the renewal news so unfortunate was that it was for two years instead of one. 

As the end of Season 21 approaches, we’re in a similar gray zone.  Consider the following:

  • Fact #1: Zombie Simpsons is signed through the end of Season 22 (roughly May of 2011).
  • Fact #2: Episodes take from 6-10 months to produce.

Combine the above and you’re left with an inescapable conclusion: if Zombie Simpsons is going to end with Season 22, we’re going to find out in the next few months.  Production on the series would gradually shut down in advance of the broadcast of any series finale, and in the era of instant internet rumors it’d be pretty hard to keep that a secret. 

Back in January, Rubbercat Simpsons was thinking about the end of the show:

In November, the Animation Guild blog mentioned that the writers were working on "another thirteen episodes". Each production season, the last couple of episodes become the first episodes of the next season; these are called "holdovers." The current season (season 21) has eight holdovers – notice the production codes in this chart. Presumably, this means next season will also have eight holdovers, which when coupled with the aforementioned thirteen episodes will fulfill a complete season order of twenty-one episodes, with no holdovers for a 23rd season.

In February, the Animation Guild blog visited Film Roman and quoted a Zombie Simpsons animator (emphasis in original):

"Most people around here figure we go one more season and that’s it. I mean, next season has been greenlit, but it hasn’t been officially greenlit. Nobody knows much beyond that."

So at least some of the animators figure that Season 22 is going to be it.  That’s the most hopeful piece of real information (as opposed to speculation) about the show finally ending that I’ve seen in a long time. 

But before you get too giddy, here’s the Animation Guild again, this time from April.  After noting that the animation staff has been rather sharply pared down since the writers strike ended, there’s this:

"We’ve got 22 new episodes to do, which is a lot of hours into the Pension and Health Plan. And I think, talking to people at Fox and around here, that we could do several more seasons beyond this one …"

So that’s two different opinions about whether or not the end is nigh coming from inside the production process.  But wait, there’s still more space dust on here!  One more time, the Animation Guild, visiting the production building on May 12:

Meanwhile, things are still relatively quiet up on The Simpsons floor, and construction on Hasbro/Discovery’s other floor continues apace.

Things are quiet on the Simpsons floor because of a planned hiatus between Seasons 21 and 22.  However, given the known production time of Zombie Simpsons, such a hiatus opens up a window for FOX to try out a new animated program before deciding whether or not to go forward with Season 23.  By an astonishing coincidence, FOX has already picked up a new animated show (I stole the image from TV Squad):

Bob's Burgers From the creator of Home Movies comes a new animated show on Fox. Bob’s Burgers will be about a guy (Bob) who runs a burger grill at an East Coast seaside town with his "tightly wound wife and three unhelpful kids".

 

 

If nothing else, that is a very Simpsons-esque set up.  What’s more, The Wall Street Journal thinks it’s headed for Sundays:

Fox has already ordered episodes of "Bob’s Burgers," likely to air on Sundays with "Family Guy," "The Simpsons" and "The Cleveland Show."

Sunday is the only day FOX currently has any animated shows, and their Sunday animated bloc has been successful for them, so that stands to reason.  But all three Seth MacFarlane Shows, as well as Zombie Simpsons, are renewed for 2010-2011.  That’s already two hours of programming, “Bob’s Burgers” makes five half hour shows, something of a logjam. 

Obviously FOX is free to broadcast shows at the 7:00 hour on Sunday, but it seems at least possible that they want to try out a new animated show before they make a decision on another season for Zombie Simpsons.  If “Bob’s Burgers” has legs and can pull in the same ratings as Zombie Simpsons (and both Family Guy spinoffs are very close to Zombie Simpsons in the ratings now) then they’d have a ready made replacement for the 8:00pm slot, one that would doubtlessly cost far less to produce. 

This is where that hiatus I mentioned above comes in.  I’ve seen Zombie Simpsons production time listed as anywhere from 6-10 months.  If we split the difference and call it eight months, that means they wouldn’t need to put the series finale into production until October.  Which means that delaying the onset of production of Season 22 now would give them a window in which to decide if “Bob’s Burgers” (or something else) was viable in the ratings. 

If “Bob’s Burgers” looks like it can pull in Zombie Simpsons like numbers (or not too far off), they could order that the last episode(s) of Season 22 be a series finale.  If “Bob’s Burgers” dies in the ratings, they can keep producing Zombie Simpsons. 

There is a certain conspiracy theory flavor to much of the above, especially the whole “Bob’s Burgers as Zombie Simpsons replacement” thing.  And, obviously, I have no idea whether or not Zombie Simpsons is going to get cancelled or whether or not FOX has an alternative plan for 8:00pm Sundays.  All I’m saying is that if FOX is contemplating ending the show at Season 22, this is what it would look like. 


9 Responses to “Will There Be a Season 23?”


  1. 1 Derp
    13 May 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I’ll be really sad to see the Simpsons go. Yes, it’s an insult to the classic seasons, but at least it’s still there.
    It’ll be like the end of an era.

    • 2 D.N.
      13 May 2010 at 7:55 pm

      I can’t deny there’d be a part of me that would be sad to see the show finally ending – I mean, it’s tough seeing something that’s been around for such a long time, and been such an important part of one’s life, coming to an end. But I can put that sense of loss aside because I know full well how absolutely risible the show’s gotten and how the more new episodes FOX makes, the more damage is being done to the show’s legacy. The show doesn’t need to make it to season 23 before the bad episodes outweigh the good ones; that ratio was tipped a long time ago.

      Anyway, Charlie has made a lot of interesting speculative points, but there’s one point I’d like to bring up, and that’s the notion that 23 is a rather mundane number to bow out on. Superficial point, I know, but the show seems to do a lot of self-congratulatory grand-standing over its anniversaries and such like, it’s feasible that FOX would rather bring the curtain down after season 25. Then they could shill “Quarter-Century of Greatness!” merchandise and corporate-talk.

      • 3 D.N.
        15 May 2010 at 11:27 pm

        Oops, I meant to write above that “22 is a rather mundane number to bow out on,” not 23.

  2. 4 sVybDy
    13 May 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I saw a preview for Bob’s Burgers several months ago. I wasn’t impressed. Sometimes shows surprise you once they get running, but I would not be at all surprised if the show turns out to be a flop.

  3. 13 May 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I really doubt Fox will end the show due to the merchandising making too much money. If the ratings AND the junk both take a dive, then the show will have a ‘special’ farewell. Regardless, if “Burger” doesn’t do well as a replacement, Fox will trumpet in a “Simpsons R Back!” promotion and the show will go on and on and on…

    • 6 D.N.
      14 May 2010 at 12:18 am

      “…if “Burger” doesn’t do well as a replacement, Fox will trumpet in a “Simpsons R Back!” promotion and the show will go on and on and on…”

      So “Bob’s Burgers” could be nothing more than a devious scam designed to make people want Zombie Simpsons back? Hmmm…

      “But, Your Highness, she’s a commoner. Her Slurm will taste foul!”
      “Yes! Which is why we’ll market it as “New Slurm.” Then, when everyone hates it, we’ll bring back “Slurm Classic,” and make billions!”

  4. 7 Peter
    25 December 2010 at 3:39 am

    Why is it being called Zombie Simpsons?


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