Archive for September, 2010
“Listen carefully and my words will shape images as clear as any teevee show.” – Homer Simpson
This is Season 13’s obligatory “storytelling” episode, where they have three distinct segments. In this case, that means ignoring what’s going on in the episode is a lot easier as they can riff on the source material, so get ready for some half assed analysis of the Iliad and Hamlet. There is also a lot of animation discussion on this one, though it is of the least enlightening kind. There are about four different long discussions that go more or less like this:
Someone Who Doesn’t Do Animation: How did you do this before computers?
Someone Who Does Animation: Like this, but it’s a lot easier with computers.
It was mildly interesting the first time, not so much by the end. When not discussing animation, they squeeze in time to laugh about how they have to stretch things for time and various other errata.
Eight guys here; no celebrities, no women.
0:55 – These trilogy episodes are good for the writers because they can use someone else’s storyline.
1:25 – The couch gag on this one is a live action shot of the Simpsons in a flipbook. Someone asks whose hands were holding the flipbook, the response is that it was a professional hand model.
2:00 – The director, however, thinks the trilogy episodes are harder because you have to do design for a whole episode but three times.
2:25 – Meta moment, someone compliments this episode and then says “I wouldn’t say that if it weren’t true.” That leads to general laughter at the idea that everyone is neutral and evenhanded and always tells the truth during commentaries.
3:25 – Al Jean thinks the Iliad is a terrible story.
4:00 – Still talking about the Iliad and the Aeneid.
4:25 – Now they’re talking about the Odyssey.
4:40 – Animation note, the background on Olympus behind Barney, Quimby, and Captain McAllister is slowly moving clouds which were all cels that had to be slowly moved across the background.
5:30 – Long discussion of the advantages of digital animation.
6:15 – They’re joking about the Odyssey again.
6:40 – Laughing at Discus Stu.
7:00 – Al Jean recommends the made-for-TV 1997 version with Armand Assante as Odysseus. IMDb sez:
This lavish small-screen adaptation of Homer’s ancient epic–replete with exotic Maltese and Turkish locations, state-of-the-art special effects, and many bronzed muscles gleaming with sweat–chronicles the voyage home of a Trojan hero, Odysseus King of Ithaca, and includes many more scenes of his faithful, beautiful wife Penelope dodging leering suitors at home than Homer ever composed!
7:45 – Jean’s pointing out more story problems with the real Odyssey as Homer floats down the river Styx. Apparently the band Styx was on Behind the Music around when they were making this.
8:15 – Generalized giggling at the fact that they’re stretching things out to fill time.
8:45 – These trilogy episodes used to have a writer for each segment, but after they “went Writers’ Guild” they just have one person write the whole draft now because its double scale if there’s three listed writers.
9:30 – When they were trying to come up with a Lisa segment they didn’t have a lot of choices on account of there aren’t that many famous historical stories with female leads. Someone mentions that the last time they did this they had to chance Johnny Appleseed to Connie Appleseed.
9:55 – Lots of laughter at the fact that the cow Homer was milking had eight teats.
10:30 – According to them, French accents are the funniest ones.
10:50 – Canadian trivia time, apparently no Coca-cola products were sold in Quebec for a while, but Pepsi was. This led the English speaking Canadians to deride the French speaking ones as “Pepsis”.
11:35 – Discussing how the writers screw over the animators by having big crowd shots like the army that’s on screen right now. This leads to a long discussion of designing characters.
12:15 – As an establishing shot of a castle is shown, someone says “It is a real luxury of animation that you don’t have to think about, ‘Well, can we pay for this set?’” That leads to someone actually bragging that you won’t see things like this on Two and a Half Men. That’s how little confidence they have in this show now, they feel the need to defend it against a formulaic sitcom starring Charlie Sheen and a relatable fat kid. Ugh.
12:45 – Laughing about how screwed up movie accents are. The example cited is Doctor Zhivago where all the Russians have British accents.
13:30 – More discussions about the advantages of digital animation. Reflections are apparently very hard to do in regular cels.
14:20 – Discussion about how so many kids stories have terrible endings that parents like to skip. Case in point, here they had to make Lisa/Joan of Arc not actually get burned.
15:00 – Still on the needing to hurt characters without making things too graphic, Jean recalls way back in Season 3. In “When Flanders Failed” they originally had Bart getting badly beaten up by the bullies with black eyes and everything, but they toned it down.
16:05 – Steven Bochco got complimented here and was so flattered that he sent them some NYPD Blue merchandise.
16:15 – When they do storytelling episodes these days they don’t have time for the wraparound story (e.g. here they’re reading from a book in the living room to get to all the stories). Jean says they shortened the episodes between Seasons 13 and 14.
16:45 – More ye olde animation talk, when they used to do transparent effects they would do double exposure, filming it once without whatever needs to be transparent and once with. Now, of course, it’s the magic of computers and all that.
17:25 – One of the guys here met David Tennant at ComicCon one year. Tennant is also a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, and he said that on the first day of rehearsals for Hamlet they watched this segment.
18:10 – Jean’s talking about MacHomer, but they can’t remember the name of the guy or the show.
18:45 – Jean’s now discussing Hamlet in general, and whether or not the whole thing is totally oedipal.
19:40 – Laughing about how many establishing shots of castles there are in this episode.
Take that, Charlie Sheen!
20:20 – Again discussing how much easier computers make things, this time it’s getting image examples of things with Google Images and the like.
21:15 – Long silence as things finally wind up.
21:35 – And now everyone laughs at the dance off ending.
22:10 – As the credits roll, someone tries to make a point about Lisa doing a Charles Nelson Reilly impression in the Joan. But there’s some crosstalk and I’m not sure if it got shot down or not as actually being true. Someone else has the good sense to joke at the fact that “actual information about the show” is being offered, “Heaven forefend.”
“Don’t worry, I just drew up a little blueprint, now, lemme walk you through it. This is the door, he goes through that. This is the roof. And this happy character here is the sun. He shines down on the house, see?” – Homer Simpson
This post of storyboarding resources from Dakota State University contains a link to a sweet PDF from AnimationMeat.com that shows various animation layout techniques and shots with examples from the Simpsons. Here’s a sample (click to embiggen):
If you’re at all interested in how the show gets animated or presented, this is a really interesting resource. Even better, most of the example images appear to be from Seasons 7-9, before the show became the stale, digital waste we know today. I saw sketches from “Summer of 4 Ft. 2”, “A Milhouse Divided”, “The Cartridge Family”, “Grade School Confidential”, “Homer’s Phobia”, and “The Old Man and the Lisa”, among others.
“Many of our clients find pants confining, so we offer a range of alternatives for the ample gentleman: ponchos, muumuus, capes, jumpsuits, unisheets, muslin body rolls, academic and judicial robes.” – Vast Waistband Salesman
“I don’t want to look like a weirdo. I’ll just go with a muumuu.” – Homer Simpson
“Compadres, it is imperative that we crush the freedom fighters before the start of the rainy season. And remember, a shiny new donkey for whoever brings me the head of Colonel Montoya.” – C. Montgomery Burns
“What? Oh, and by that I mean of course, it’s time for the worker of the week award!” – C. Montgomery Burns
Happy birthday David Mirkin!
“Alright leeches, I want you to see what a good writer looks like!” – Roger Meyers Jr.
This week we have some excellent usage, shoes, cool fan made stuff in the form of a word poster and some Simpsons checks and, most importantly, Sam Simon telling us what we already know.
Check Designs – Seriously well done Simpsons check designs, one each for Bart, Lisa and Homer.
Hank Azaria at the WSOP – This is a YouTube video of Hank Azaria talking about how the various characters he plays would do at poker. I’m not sure if it’s recent or if it’s been on-line for years, but it’s worth a minute of your time (via Scottys Blog).
Dang, I Love “Word Art” Or Typography Or Whatever This Is – Bitchin’ poster of Homer as Homer quotes (sadly, there is some Zombie Simpsons, but not much). Others, for movies like Clerks and The Big Lebowski, can be found here.
More concerns over deformed fish – You cannot talk about deformed fish without mentioning Blinky. I think it’s a law or something.
Glenn Beck Uses Pies and ‘Simpsons’ References to Illustrate Obama ‘Socialism’ (VIDEO) – There’s a lot of discussion about whether or not Joaquin Phoenix’s new movie is a massive put on or not. I think it’s clever marketing either way. But Phoenix ain’t got shit on our man Glenn Beck. He’s been nationally famous for coming up on two years now and still no one has any real idea what he’s doing. As performance art, it’s brilliant. (Note: The video at the link played a little commercial for me first, but that is why we have tabbed browsing.)
If the 2010 Phillies Were Characters From The Simpsons – Pretty much exactly what it says it is.
Hang in there, baby! – Cool drawing of a cat hanging in there, baby. It’s accompanied by a Marge screen grab that slightly misquotes her. She actually says “Determined or not that cat must be long dead”, but it’s very close so it’s still excellent usage.
Simpsons Theme – A Simpsons theme for Google Chrome.
Nine Things We’ve Learned From The First Two Weeks of College Football 2010 – Being a big time college football coach comes with a lot of humiliating moments. Even given Tennessee’s recent history, this is pretty bad for head coach Derek Dooley:
“We’ve had a few staph infections, so we did a clinic yesterday on proper shower technique and soap and using a rag, Dooley said. We put some new rags in — y’all think I’m kidding, but I’m serious. We had, I told them, the worst shower discipline of any team I’ve ever been around.
Which prompts this wonderful snark:
Oh, the questions this raises…How bad at showering and cleaning yourself do you have to be before your coach intervenes? Don’t you think that hygiene issues would have become very apparent during the two-a-day workouts? Did the Volunteers actually hire Bart Simpson as a training consultant for this exercise? Just what exactly is “shower discipline?”
That Bart Simpson link is YouTube:
Ugly Americans returns to Comedy Central Oct. 6 – David M. Stern’s series is back for it’s second season starting next month. I thought the first season was uneven, but had some very funny episodes. It does have a great concept, so hopefully Season 2 will be even better.
Nike Dunk High The Simpsons – Nike made some Simpsons shoes. That is all.
The Simpsons Season 13 DVD Review – This is more forgiving towards Zombie Simpsons than I’m willing to be, but at least it’s a review of the DVDs that doesn’t duck the issue of the massive decline in quality.
Review: ‘The Simpsons’ Season 22 Premiere – In contrast to the relatively grounded DVD review above, this review of the first episode of Season 22 is guzzling the Zombie Simpsons Kool-Aid. Here it engages the old “But It’s Getting Better” fallacy:
I know some people reference the golden age of “The Simpsons” and think it’s passed. I’ll give you the golden age and a rough patch but I think we’ve moved through the new renaissance and into the postmodern period of “The Simpsons.”
But for the sheer facepalm factor, it’s got to be this:
This season’s premiere is really guest star centric and the best jokes are courtesy of the guests. That’s unusual because usually guest stars play minor roles, or at least they’re in on the “Simpsons” joke. This one really depends on them.
I’ll limit myself to Season 21 examples. There was the Seth Rogen episode, the Sacha Baron Cohen episode, the American Idol episode, the Jonah Hill episode, I could go on, but why bother? Each one was a rickety house of cards built around a celebrity either playing themselves or something very close to it.
The Simpsons Review Part 1: The Classic Era – A thoughtful review of the single digit seasons:
My favorite of this season is Lisa the Simpson: a final, good emotional episode from Oakley and Weinstein before the dark ages.
Heh, “dark ages”.
2008 – With Halloween only six weeks away, we’ve got our first Simpsons jack-o-lantern of the year, an exquisitely carved Homer from 2008.
In The Beginning – And here’s the same guy’s Homer from 2007.
How To Ruin Your Father’s Wedding To A Gold-Digging Whore – And finally, noted author Drew Magary agrees with us:
(On a related note, I get extremely pissed at my digital guide when it fails to provide me with adequate info about a show. For example, whenever the Simpsons comes on, the DirecTV info guide will tell me The Simpsons is "the adventures of Homer, Marge, Bart, Maggie, and Lisa in Springfield." No shit, DirecTV. I know the gist of the show. But what fucking episode is it? Is it a season six masterpiece? Or is it from the horrid fifteenth season of something like that? Assholes.)
See that, Zombie Simpsons? Nobody likes you.
“Why would anybody wanna touch a girl’s butt? That’s where cooties come from!” – Bart Simpson
This is another one of those Season 13 episodes that blazes around at high speeds, shifting gears at random while not doing a whole lot in the a) making jokes or b) making sense categories. It’s also another in the long line of Bart-gets-a-girlfriend episodes and, like most of them, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and involves a lot of awkward pauses and pointless exposition. The commentary does its best to ignore all this and is greatly aided by the presence of Pamela Hayden who does the voice for Milhouse. They spend more than half the commentary just asking her random Milhouse questions. The end result is that there is some decent Milhouse trivia here, but no insight into this craptacular excuse for an episode.
Eleven guys on this one, including Hayden as the token female.
0:55 – Apparently this is Hayden’s first commentary recording.
1:10 – Jean asks Hayden how she came up with the voice of Milhouse. She originally tried out to be the voice of one of Bart’s friends in a Butterfinger commercial, pre-series.
2:15 – They changed the Olympic rings on the side of the helicopter just enough so they don’t have to pay. You know who the real crooks are? Those sleazy Hollywood producers.
3:00 – The Canadians were disappointed as this was billed as a Simpsons-go-to-Canada episode and Canada is barely in it.
3:45 – They’re talking about Canada, not much is going on.
4:15 – Important trivia point: “Now, this is really Wolfgang Puck.” Sadly, he brought no food to the recording.
4:30 – Saying how nice Reese Witherspoon was.
5:25 – They were going to make a George Bush joke, but didn’t on account of they thought it was too soon after the 2001 attacks. That leads into a discussion of why they never made fun of Bush much, and Jean lays the blame on the fact that they never had someone who could do the voice really well. I try not to break out Comic Book Guy’s most famous expression very often, but: Worst. Excuse. Ever.
You have what might be the most talented and versatile voice casts in the history of television plus any number of serious actors and comedians who would fall over themselves for a reoccurring role on your show, and you couldn’t get someone to do a presidential impression? Bullshit.
6:30 – After a long silence, they’re working Hayden into the conversation when the subject of Milhouse’s original design comes up. There’s a rumor that it was based on Joel Cohen’s brother Rob, but Jean says that though he wasn’t there when they did it, he heard Milhouse was modeled after the friend on The Wonder Years. There’s certainly a resemblance.
7:05 – Long silence.
7:25 – More Milhouse trivia. Hayden can’t remember her first line as Milhouse in the commercial, nor if she met Cartwright then. To her credit, she finishes with a quick Grampa line, “It was nineteen aught two . . .” to laughter.
8:40 – Laughing at the dated-ness of making fun of what at the time was the relatively new format of DVD.
9:20 – The family is sitting down to dinner with Wolfcastle, and they remember that Schwarzenegger used to have a sausage restaurant.
10:15 – Milhouse shows up to do the Budweiser “Wassuuuuup?” thing about three years after people stopped doing it, and two and a half years after people stopped making fun of it. This leads to people remembering the commercial.
10:45 – Long silence as Homer introduces Wolfcastle to Lenny and Carl at Moe’s.
11:30 – Silence broken by a discussion of celebrity lookalikes, quickly returns to silence.
12:05 – Someone notices this and says, “Lotta quiet for twelve people.” (I counted eleven, but whatever.) So Jean tells a very old joke (seriously, this thing is ancient, I think I heard it the first time in about the sixth grade):
There’s a guy who’s really sick, and his wife has no money so she has to earn money and she goes out and sleeps with a bunch of guys. And she comes in and goes, “Well, I earned $630.05.” And he goes “Who paid you five cents?”, and she goes “Everybody”.
12:25 – Joke over, silence returns. This time someone breaks it by playing Delroy Lindo and asking Hayden if when she started doing Milhouse she ever thought he would be this global icon. If the staff of the show starts asking itself the same inane questions that lazy entertainment reporters ask them, isn’t that going to lead to some kind of feedback loop that will cause the media universe to collapse in on itself?
13:00 – Still asking Hayden about the early days of Milhouse, now they’re wondering in which episode he made his first appearance.
13:25 – Talking about other characters that may have originated in commercials. As per usual, not a whole lot of commentary about what’s going on in the episode.
13:55 – Lisa’s hair is in curlers for some reason and gets noticed, but the closest the commentary comes to actually commenting on it is to wonder how that results in her spiky hair look.
14:40 – Again joking that Canada hasn’t been in the episode yet.
15:15 – Now discussing who’s got Canadian citizenship and who’s got American citizenship. Scintillating.
15:45 – Discussing whether Rob and Joel Cohen are the only brothers to have written for the show. They are not. Mike Scully and his brother Brian both wrote for the show. Marc Wilmore is the brother of Daily Show correspondent Larry, but Larry never wrote for the show.
16:15 – Now we’re discussing whether or not Reese Witherspoon’s character really likes Milhouse or whether she was just doing it to get back at Bart. This lead to a discussion of all the girlfriends Bart has had, and they wanted to do a joke about it with all his exes in a bus flipping him off.
16:40 – In regards to Bart, “He’s certainly dated all the up and coming young starlets. He’s like the Warren Beatty of cartoons.” At least they’re aware they’ve done a ton of these.
17:15 – A lot of small giggling here about not much in general.
17:30 – Once upon a time Jean was surprised that they have adult women doing the kids voices.
18:15 – Finally got to Canada, which is followed by the fact that this is the song from Bob & Doug McKenzie, which is followed by a discussion of the fact that the US dollar used to be worth more than the Canadian dollar.
19:10 – Jean tells a story, which he admits might be false, that once upon a time someone was shooting a movie in Toronto that was set in New York. To make it look more like New York, they put garbage in the streets, but each night it would get picked up and they had to trash the place again in the morning. This has nothing to do with the episode, which now has Homer and Bart sneaking onto a movie set.
20:00 – The history of Bob & Doug McKenzie.
20:15 – Now they’re all reminiscing about how they got writing gigs and various other Canadian comedians. Meanwhile, Bart and Milhouse are fighting on a curling sheet.
20:50 – Still reminiscing about old Canadian comedy.
21:15 – “I like how all the curling audience is just enthralled by this.” That’s met with general laughter.
Like the curling crowd, the writers are sure you’ll find the conclusions of their episodes more
exciting than a weekend with Batman.
21:40 – Now some of them are remembering sports they played in school.
21:55 – Someone jokes, “So this show needs an Act 4.” Again, it’s met with laughter before Jean puts on his Future Cap: “We switched to four acts, but I always think in the world of the future where you the view sit, they’re just gonna be all one piece because you’re going to be watching them on downloads or DVDs.”
22:10 – And a general cheer for Hayden ends things.
There’s no new Zombie Simpsons until, gulp, the end of the month, so we’re going to spend what’s left of the summer overthinking Season 9. Why Season 9? Because we did Season 8 last summer, and Season 9 was when the show started becoming more Zombie than Simpsons. Since we’re too lazy to do audio and too ugly to do video, we’ve booked a “chatroom” (ours is right between the one with the sexy seventh graders and the one with the bored federal agents pretending to be sexy seventh graders). So log on to your dial-up AOL and join us. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (shockingly, not on “cetaceous”).
Today’s episode is 923 “King of the Hill”. Yesterday’s was 922 “Trash of the Titans”.
Charlie Sweatpants: This is one of those twilight of the Simpsons episodes that I liked a lot more the second time I saw it.
There’s a few too many horns of suspense to really enjoy it the first time around, because the story, especially the last third, doesn’t make a great deal of sense. But it’s shot through with good jokes.
Mad Jon: It’s a zany plot idea, but there isn’t a whole lot that could have been done much better, minus, as you say the suspense horns, and some of the Homer gags I could live without – like the O2 tanks 5 feet up.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, that and the montage are the low points of the episode.
Mad Jon: Just like Trash of the Titans, I find this one entertaining.
Charlie Sweatpants: I like this one better than “Trash of the Titans”. There’s far less Jerkass Homer.
Dave: “Trash” is more watchable in my estimation, but this isn’t too far off.
Mad Jon: I don’t know why you would have both Steve Weber and Brendan Fraser guest voice at the same time. We’re they pitching something they did together?
But I did like their work.
Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t know, but they were both great.
The entire Powersauce thing was awesome, especially since food in bar form has only grown more popular and more idiotic since this episode aired.
Mad Jon: Also I am pretty sure the Murderhorn is taller than Mt. McKinley
Charlie Sweatpants: Only four vertical miles to go.
Mad Jon: It’s just apple cores and Chinese newspaper.
Charlie Sweatpants: The mountain thing is little tough to swallow, but that’s why this one improved so much on repeat viewings. Time-wise it doesn’t take up that much of the episode (in terms of threatening about how tall it is).
Mad Jon: Fair enough
I get a chuckle out of Grandpa’s story as well.
Course folks were tougher back then
Charlie Sweatpants: The suspense parts are all neatly broken up by things like the Sherpas, the Powersauce updates, and Homer discovering McAllister’s corpse and his hilarious last desire to see his wife blind and torture Abe Simpson.
Dave: It wasn’t quite classic Grampa, but it was enjoyable.
Mad Jon: Oh the Sherpas, they may be the funniest thing in Season 9
Charlie Sweatpants: He shouldn’t kick us.
Mad Jon: His toes will fall off soon.
Charlie Sweatpants: I foresaw your death last night.
Mad Jon: Stop saying that.
Charlie Sweatpants: And then the pickup truck stops to pick them up on the way to Nepal.
The Sherpas are pretty much solid gold.
So, by the way, is Rainier Wolfcastle.
Mad Jon: Technically, shouldn’t you go back to the bottom and start over?
Charlie Sweatpants: The CommiNazis in the McBain movie are good, as are his self regard and desire to shout slogans at people.
Mad Jon: Master your ass!
Charlie Sweatpants: The Abdominator, that’s a very quotable joke seeing as how they invent new abdominal contraptions every six months.
Also, this episode gave us the pronunciation of “gym” like it rhymes with “dime”. That’s a contribution to Western culture that will not soon be forgotten.
Mad Jon: You know, I’m pretty big on the opening as a whole too.
Charlie Sweatpants: There’s a lot to like at the picnic.
Mad Jon: “Sorry Daddy’s down for the day” is a great line.
Lovejoy telling Flanders to play the damn game, the policemen and the gangsters picnicking next to each other.
Charlie Sweatpants: Flanders, Lovejoy, Wiggum and the gangsters, even Comic Book Guy.
Mad Jon: All good stuff.
Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed.
I’m also a big fan of Marge’s sarcasm when Homer declares that he’s going to lose weight.
Kavner nailed that.
Mad Jon: The bit where he pushes down his belly to see the clock is reminiscent of earlier seasons as well.
Hmmm, talking about this episode with you guys may actually be improving my feelings about it.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s got some problems, but they’re very minor.
And there’s so much to love.
It’s also worth pointing out that they didn’t go overboard with Homer getting into shape. He can still have his flab grabbed and he still gets out of breath. Unlike, oh, say, that piece of shit from Season 21 when he went back and forth between ripped and cetaceous (sp) every thirty seconds.
Mad Jon: I don’t even remember that. But I’ll take your word for it.
Charlie Sweatpants: Holy shit, I spelled that right!
Mad Jon: Congradtulasions.
Charlie Sweatpants: Eat it, Google spell checker.
It was the one with Seth Rogan.
Mad Jon: Oh yeah. Dick. I asked you not to remind me.
Charlie Sweatpants: Homer became a movie star, losing and gaining wait, and all of America died a little inside.
Mad Jon: Yeah yeah, I remember. Stupid funny Seth Rogan not being funny.
Dave: Be more funny.
Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, anything else here?
Mad Jon: No, I think we covered it pretty well, a little crap, lots of goodies, not too shabby 150 episodes in.
Shit, I guess more like 180
Charlie Sweatpants: Honestly, this is one of the last ones I watch with any frequency.
There’s a few quality episodes after it, but not many.
Mad Jon: And they are kind of hard to find.
We’re getting to the bottom of the barrel for this season, and already I’m thinking of moving somewhere without internet access next summer so I don’t have to do anything with season 10.
Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, I’ll find you.
Mad Jon: I bet you would you bastard.
“Gentlemen, I’m pleased to report strong holiday sales from the Christmas-Hanu-Kwanza spend phase, and things look good for the Mom-Dad-Grad gift corridor. Uh, then we’ll have the usual summer lull but, hey, we’re making enough money, right?” – Doomed Executive
There’s no new Zombie Simpsons until, gulp, the end of the month, so we’re going to spend what’s left of the summer overthinking Season 9. Why Season 9? Because we did Season 8 last summer, and Season 9 was when the show started becoming more Zombie than Simpsons. Since we’re too lazy to do audio and too ugly to do video, we’ve booked a “chatroom” (ours is right between the one with the sexy seventh graders and the one with the bored federal agents pretending to be sexy seventh graders). So log on to your dial-up AOL and join us. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on, well, “especially”).
Today’s episode is 922 “Trash of the Titans”. Tomorrow’s will be 923 “King of the Hill”.
Charlie Sweatpants: Trash first? Or mountain climbing?
I’ve been talking about it all day.
Mad Jon: To whom?
Dave: To fellow classmates, we spent the morning discussing a case involving incinerating waste at high temperatures with molten metal
Mad Jon: So is the university developing a plan to move towns 5 miles down the road?
Dave: You never know.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s a bit of a cop out ending, but I do like the gravity of Quimby invoking Plan B at the end. Especially when he says that the time for panic has come.
Mad Jon: I like how the plan is ‘all purpose’
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah. This is another one of those Season 9 episodes where the jokes are better than what’s going on around them.
Dave: It’s an elegant solution.
Charlie Sweatpants: Patterson’s farewell speech comes to mind as well.
Mad Jon: Most of Patterson’s dialogue is pretty entertaining
Dave: As is the music accompanying his departure off stage
Mad Jon: that was a parody of something was it not?
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s the theme from Sanford and Son.
God bless Redd Foxx and his smutty soul.
Steve Martin gets a few good lines. His “Friendship? You told people I lured children into my gingerbread house” always cracks me up.
Mad Jon: I am not too upset with Homer overall in this episode. The plot is a little crazy, but it’s pretty good for season 9
I could do without the garbage water walk, but I do like when Homer comes in and announces the garbage men are cutting off their service
Charlie Sweatpants: There’s some very Jerkass Homer behavior, which I dislike.
The fact that they just alluded to his ass kicking at the hands of the garbage men is a good touch.
Mad Jon: Well, it’s more of a jerkass attitude, especially on the campaign trail.
Charlie Sweatpants: But there are too many instances of him falling into pointless rage for him to be really entertaining.
Dave: Yeah, fool me once and all that.
Charlie Sweatpants: He threatens Bart to kiss the pumpkin, and his bizarre stance against apologizing in general just makes no sense.
It’s clearly to the point where he knows he can get away with shit, and I don’t like that.
Mad Jon: But the line about secretly being disappointed at his kids for apologizing make me chuckle.
Charlie Sweatpants: While I’m mentioning the pumpkin, putting the lips on the pumpkin as a way to get rid of excess Halloween inventory for “Love Day” was an enjoyably subtle gag.
Mad Jon: Until he praises Bart for not apologizing
Charlie Sweatpants: Homer turning his head away from the bear he doesn’t want is in the same mold.
Mad Jon: Cute and quiet
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah. At some point we’re going to have to discuss the U2 thing, which was both good and bad.
Mad Jon: Is now that point?
Dave: I’m going to go on a limb and say the U2 wasn’t all that terrible.
Charlie Sweatpants: Good in that they handled it well, it was nice to see Bono making fun of himself before he became the world’s foremost do-gooder, and I love the potato joke, but how Homer just assumed he could walk into the concert kinda ruins things.
Mad Jon: Yeah, the potato joke was great. I laugh when I think about it.
Dave: Homer’s behavior has little to do with U2, no?
Charlie Sweatpants: Like I said, the jokes in this episode mostly work, but the structure is terrible.
Well, the waste management thing kinda does.
Mad Jon: Also, as much as I hate Bono, I am pleased to see he has a good sense of humor
Charlie Sweatpants: But it crashes and burns when Homer tries to do his dance.
Mad Jon: Agreed
Charlie Sweatpants: Though him getting beaten is kinda funny, as is the other U2 guys wanting to escape for a pint.
Mad Jon: Especially when they tell the other guy he can’t come
Charlie Sweatpants: The problem is that he walked on-stage at a U2 concert. Real Homer never would’ve done that, only Jerkass Homer does that.
Dave: That I’ll give you.
Charlie Sweatpants: Are we agreed that the high point of the episode is the Garbage Man song?
Mad Jon: It’s a catchy song.
Charlie Sweatpants: I may just love it because I’ve listened to both versions from that one Simpsons CD, but it always cracks me up.
Mad Jon: I guess the high point is difficult for me to pinpoint, as most of this episode, while relatively entertaining, just sort of moves along.
Charlie Sweatpants: But it does move along.
I can think of a lot of Season 9 that lingers like a stale fart.
Mad Jon: Agreed. I didn’t say I don’t like this episode.
Dave: I don’t think any of us has said that.
Mad Jon: I do like it, I would watch this one before half of season 8.
Charlie Sweatpants: I wouldn’t go that far, but this is way above the worst of 8.
Mad Jon: Wow, this got out of hand on my part. Sorry, sorry everyone.
Charlie Sweatpants: You have been drinking.
Mad Jon: That is correct.
Charlie Sweatpants: I also cut this episode a lot of slack because despite its celebrities-as-themselves and Jerkass Homer parts, it has a ton of quotable lines.
There’s “Animals are crapping in our houses and we’re picking it up. Did we lose a war?”, “Can’t someone else do it?” is a marvelous campaign slogan, and there’s “They let me sign checks with a stamp, Marge! A stamp!”
Mad Jon: That’s definitely a good one.
And I probably drop the “did we lose a war” line several times a week at work.
Dave: “That’s not America, that’s not even Mexico.”
Love that line.
Mad Jon: Another good one.
Charlie Sweatpants: And there’s just some great little moments. The “Love Day” conference at the beginning is great (especially when the one guy gets hauled off for suggesting such heresy as the concept of “enough” money).
Dave: That’s basically my day-to-day.
Mad Jon: I do really like the business meeting.
Charlie Sweatpants: But perhaps the best part is that this is one of the last episodes where Moe is still Moe, an angry, bitter sex offender who is willing to shoot Homer over an unpaid bar tab.
That’s the Moe I know and love.
Mad Jon: Very true, its not long before he starts trying to improve his life and cries a lot.
Many, many times.
Charlie Sweatpants: That is much less fun.
Mad Jon: Agreed.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, I’m kinda done on this one. There’s just one last thing I’d like to bring up.
Mad Jon: Go for it.
Charlie Sweatpants: At the beginning, when Homer’s stuffing all the Love Day refuse into the garbage can, he stomps on the bear about three times. It’s funny, but I get the feeling that if that had been a season earlier it would’ve ended a beat or two sooner, and if it had been a season later it would’ve gone on much, much longer.
Mad Jon: Probably, I actually don’t have a problem with that scene. But you are probably right. Good thing it went just the right amount of time for season 9.
Charlie Sweatpants: It works, it’s just the kind of thing that might’ve worked a little better with less, and would’ve been run into the ground had it happened much later.
But that’s it, shall we climb the mountain?
Dave: I think it’s time.
Image shamelessly stolen from IMDB.
“Why don’t we let our guest do it?” – Lisa Simpson
There isn’t much to say about this commentary, mostly because guest commentator Delroy Lindo (who did a voice for this episode) basically hijacks it to play Twenty Questions. On the whole this is not a terribly bad thing, it’s mildly entertaining to listen to. But it also means that there isn’t much here for the Simpsons fan, as the commentary turns into every Al Jean interview you’ve ever read. Lindo asks about the history of the show; he asks about why there are so many people listed as producers; he asks about how they animate the guest stars. Not wanting to be rude to their guest, they let him run roughshod over them. They hardly discuss the episode at all, which might be for the best as it is very dumb.
Including Lindo, there are seven guys on this one.
0:35 – Someone, sounds like Jean, asks Lindo if he saw the episode when it came out or later because with guest stars they never know. Lindo replies, “I saw it a lot later.” I’ll take that as (mild) evidence that doing a voice on Zombie Simpsons is nothing special at all. It’s become just one more thing for actors and celebrities to check off on a list of things you can do when you’re famous.
0:45 – Lindo was asking what all the producers and co-producers at the beginning are for, but they have a microphone problem. Lindo is apparently “in a separate room”, meanwhile things keep going. Jean answers the question anyway, saying “There are seven million producers because none of us want to leave the job. It’s [inaudible] cushy.”
1:30 – Still missing Lindo, Jean recounts a bunch of jokes that were changed by the censors to things that were arguably more vulgar.
2:45 – Lindo’s back, but he didn’t hear the answer, so we’re rehashing things. It raises an obvious question though, this thing doesn’t have a pause button?
3:20 – To Lindo’s credit, he doesn’t let them skate without answering the question. Unfortunately, we’re now four minutes in and have discussed precisely one topic on account of technical difficulties.
4:15 – Still discussing all the producer credits.
5:15 – The producer thing finally petered out thirty seconds ago, and now it’s just silence. Also, the episode is degenerating as Maggie calls the police.
5:35 – Wow, taking things all the way back to the beginning, Lindo replies to the original question about when he watched it by saying that it was when it was being rerun after his nieces and nephews told him he was on it.
6:15 – Jean replies to Lindo’s story by talking about how other guest stars, or even just people they mention, will get calls from their kids when something airs. This is basically Jean’s stock answer to guest voice questions whenever he has to give an interview.
7:45 – Lindo asks a long question about whether or not they look for guest voices to fit the character models. The response is that they design the characters after they hear the voices.
8:20 – Mildly interesting note as Jean, in response to the question, says that when they’re considering voices, he’ll shut his eyes and just listen to the voice.
9:30 – Still joking about characters not sounding like they look.
10:05 – Delroy Lindo Question Time continues, though it is better than discussing this episode anyway. He asks if any of them saw the success coming. David Silverman (who’s been on the show the longest) gives the standard response: that they never expected this to happen.
10:50 – We’re still doing the standard background responses. Now they’re talking about James L. Brooks.
11:45 – Lindo’s next question is about whether or not working on the show has opened a lot of doors for them to work on other projects. On screen a bunch of cougars and wolves are trying to eat Homer and Lindo. No one notices.
12:30 – After some of the older guys recount other things this has let them do, our old friend Matt Warburton chimes in to let everyone know that this is the only job he’s ever had. He got it out of college and has never left, and this episode was the first one he ever worked on.
13:00 – Lindo asks if it’s true that this one was nominated for some environmental award. This gives the rest of them a chance to pat themselves on the back of getting a lot of award nominations over the years.
14:00 – Lindo’s next question is about where this episode lands in the “canon” of the show and how things have changed over the years. This leads to a small discussion of ratings and the fact that even though they’re down, everyone’s down and they’re still #6 in terms of advertising rates. I have no trouble believing that, but it doesn’t change the fact that the ratings are embarrassingly low.
15:00 – After some back and forth about how far they’ve come in twenty years, Jean launches into a general history of the show. If you are interested enough in the show to be reading this, it is very unlikely any of this is new information.
15:30 – Lindo clearly displays that he is not that interested in the show, asking “You guys came along before South Park, right?” That question is pretty indicative of how this whole conversation is going. Lindo comes off as one of those capital “A” Actors, who takes his craft and the creativity that goes with it very seriously but doesn’t care about the generalized pop culture that is the show’s bread and butter. Jean continues on about the history of the show.
16:00 – Now Lindo and Jean are talking about how much their kids like the show even though they’re much younger than the show itself.
17:00 – Lindo sounds like he’s getting ready to bail, and Jean actually talks about what’s going on in the episode for the first time in the entire commentary. He’s pleased with them for sewing up the loose end from the Vegas episode when Homer and Ned left their wives.
18:05 – For a second there I thought the commentary might have ended with that, but it’s picked back up again. I’m not sure if Lindo is still here. This was the first episode that Joel Cohen wrote, and it was the first episode Jean did as the solo show runner. The table read went great, too bad the finished product is meandering crap.
18:45 – They seem to be under the impression that the Vegas wives were really beloved characters and that bringing them back was a no brainer. It’s not entirely clear why.
19:20 – Jean jokingly defends the show’s anti-Irish bias by noting that he and many of the rest of them are Irish. I miss Lindo.
19:50 – Complements for the director.
20:40 – For the second time in about two minutes, they get confused between this one and the Vegas one.
21:00 – Now they’re laughing about all the questions Lindo asked them, joking that he’s really a FOX lawyer and now they’re all going to get fired for not justifying their jobs.
21:25 – A few jokes about the laziness of bringing back the wives.
21:50 – The clusterfuck continues. Lindo’s back, but they thought he left. He got dropped by technical difficulties again (they must have him on a video conference or something), he just thought they were done. They end by thanking him for being on and offering to send him some more episodes.
The first real day of the NFL season gets started in about ten minutes. The above image is a relatively accurate portrayal of what I’ll be doing for the next eleven hours or so. If my heart clogs, I have beer to put out that fire. Should you not care about the NFL, or find yourself with a little downtime between games today, please enjoy this list of every NFL team matched up with a Simpsons character (via). I particularly like Al Davis with Captain McAllister and Patty & Selma with Romeo Crennel and the Great White Fail.
I found this when I was doing Reading Digest this week, and it is simply too cool not to have its own post. I’ll let The Be Rad Blog explain:
I am big on a lot of geeky stuff and when I came across Sound Of Design’s Flickr profile I was in awe; it’s an eyegasmic gold mine. Ty Lettau has created hundreds of minimalistic portraits of characters from a plethora of cult classic geek universes. All are displayed in a minimalistic “Cartooned” fashion similar to the classic media in which some of the characters are taken.
It’s both simple and detailed; the pearls, the hair, that eyes-up-optimism, it’s got everything. Here’s my favorite:
That is fucking great. Even smoothed out, wrinkles are wrinkles, and the generalized look of panic combined with the old man five o’clock shadow is dead on Grampa Simpson. B-r-a-v-o, Sound of Design, eyegasmic indeed. Check out the whole set.