“Bart, what’s wrong?” – Lisa Simpson
“I just had a vision of my own horrible fiery death.” – Bart Simpson
“And?” – Lisa Simpson
Archive for October, 2010
“Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!” – Homer Simpson
This week we’ve got four different links mentioning the final segment of “Treehouse of Horror”. Some people are mentioning it as part of television history, other’s are using it for lesser purposes like educating children. In addition to that we’ve got some non-IGN synergy, lots of Halloween related YouTube, and a couple of cool Simpsons Halloween costumes.
Come along, Bort! – This is Smooth Charlie’s Click of the Week. It’s a fine job, both by Universal Studios for wasting precious retail space, and to whoever took this picture.
Apple Newton – Fifteen years later and the Apple Newton lives through mockery.
Simpsons get the vinyl treatment (again) – IGN may be out of the fake review business, but there’s plenty of other News Corp. properties out there. Here’s The New York Post pimping Simpsons collectables.
David Mirkin to adapt Richard Branson’s memoir – The headline tells you pretty much everything that’s in the article. Richard Branson’s getting a biopic.
I Work From Home … and I Homeschool – You can learn everything you need to know from The Simpsons:
There have been many pluses to teaching Christopher at home. Along with studying the actual literature, we watched The Simpsons version of The Ravenand the BBC production of Austen’s Emma AND IT TOTALLY COUNTED AS CURRICULUM. Which is more full of WIN than I can adequately express.
Where else can you see Darth Vader reciting one of the most famous poems in the English language?
Spooking, slaying and egging: 10 classic Halloween TV episodes – There’s that poem again, this time at the top of a long list which goes all the way back to Bewitched.
J-M students feast on Poe’s ‘The Raven’ – Ninth graders and fourth graders coming together to learn about Poe with The Simpsons.
Quote the Raven, NEVERMORE! – Several YouTube versions of Poe’s most famous poem, including the one from “Treehouse of Horror” and a slightly overproduced version read by Christopher Walken.
Plus jamais sans mon donuts ! – Even in other languages people can’t talk about donuts without at least mentioning Homer Simpson.
Cartoonism – Positing some cartoon-religion pairs that make a lot more sense than the Simpsons being Catholic.
The Making of The Simpsons… Halloween Costumes – How to make excellent Homer and Marge costumes. Sadly, none of the pictures show the completed work, so we’ll have to check back after Halloween.
Do the Bartman! – Australian street art of Bart fending off a giant Snowball II.
Battle of the (Fake) Bands: The 10 Best TV/Movie Musicians – Bands from movies and teevee, lots of good YouTube here, including shaky-cam Be Sharps.
The Shinning – Speaking of shaky-cam YouTube, anyone want to watch The Shinning?
Song Of The Day: 10/26/2010 – There’s still more YouTube here, in this case it’s the Stonecutters song.
Help Vampire Mob Reach Their Goal For Season 2 – Marcia Wallace’s side project needs some money.
The Simpsons Theme Played on Toys – This has a million and a half views despite being barely a week old, and it totally deserves them:
Fox Ratings Reign Endangered by 17% Drop in Audience – Someone else noticed that the ratings for Zombie Simpsons suck. Maybe they should cancel it.
Best talk ever – A short recap of the appearance Mike Reiss made in Minnesota last week.
‘Mo’vember is incoming; the greatest TV moustaches ever! – A list of great moustaches, with lots of pictures, including one of a rather distressed looking Flanders.
Happy Treehouse of Horror Day – I’m not just mentioning this because it links to us. It’s a general paean to the Halloween specials that comes with a question at the end:
Finally, what’s your favourite Treehouse of Horror segment? I think “Dial ‘Z’ for Zombies” (from season 4) is usually my favourite — though in my opinion it’s the standout in an otherwise weakish special, where you can sort of tell that the other two segments came out poorly and were saved by endless redubbing and re-cutting. A close runner-up is “Time and Punishment” (season 6), which has led me to expect Mr. Peabody to tell Sherman “Quiet, you!” whenever I see a Rocky and Bullwinkle rerun.
This leads to people discussing their favorite segments in the comments and, wouldn’t you know it, Zombie Simpsons comes up only once. And even that person just says that that the Halloween parts haven’t gone south (implying that the rest has), and then mentions a Season 14 bit before talking about two segments from the good old days.
“Goody Simpson is entitled to due process.” – Quimby
“Okay, here’s how the process works: you sit on the broom and we shove you off the cliff.” – Wiggum
“What?” – Goody Simpson
“Well, hear me out. If you’re innocent you will fall to an honorable Christian death. If, however, you are the bride of satan, you will surely fly your broom to safety. At that point you will report back here for torture and beheading.” – Wiggum
“Oh my god, it’s my old boyfriend, Artie Ziff.” – Marge Simpson
“Hello Marge, have you heard? I’m stinking rich. Jealous?” – Artie Ziff
“I’ll bet you’d trade it all for one night with my wife.” – Homer Simpson
“I would.” – Artie Ziff
“Homer!” – Marge Simpson
The crazy Act 3 plot swerve was one of the things that finally convinced me to give up on the show ever being good again. Once you get into the double digit seasons, crazier and crazier things began happening at the end of episodes. What had been a bizarre, albeit short and at least slightly self-referential, party ending in Season 8 became fighting rhinos and capturing the Loch Ness Monster in Season 10. By Season 12, the episodes are ending on remote island prisons or with naval ships attacking New York.
Here in Season 13 things got even more untethered. There’s the one that ends with Homer as an international smuggler, the one that turns into a Christmas episode with no warning, and the one that ends with Homer and Smithers using the corpse of Mr. Burns as a marionette. Other than being utterly bizarre, the one thing those endings have in common is that they all came straight out of left field and had little to no connection to what was going on in the episode before they happened.
“Half-Decent Proposal” does much the same. Just when you think it’s a tale about Marge risking a weekend with her old boyfriend, and with only about three minutes to go, Homer runs away to work on an oil derrick which promptly catches fire, prompting him (and Lenny, who’s also there for some reason) to need to be rescued by helicopter. As an audience member, you’re left scratching your head because it’s jarring as hell and the show never used to do that.
Nine people on this one, including Castellaneta, James Lipton, and lone female Lauren MacMullan, who directed this one.
1:20 – The concept of Marge going off with Artie originated with James L. Brooks.
2:00 – The snoring thing came about because one of the writers was keeping his girlfriend up with his snoring.
2:20 – MacMullan is in another room, and hasn’t seen this in forever, but seems to recall that this one ran very long. Apparently we were spared a section in Las Vegas.
3:30 – More banter with MacMullan. She drew one of the act storyboards for this one.
4:40 – MacMullan recalls that Jean wanted a lot of close ups during the Sex and the City bit. Jean then wins the unintentional irony award by saying, “The way the show was, you’d just try to milk the laugh ridiculously.” Pot, this is kettle; kettle, I’d like you to meet pot.
5:05 – General laughter at their own laziness, their word, at calling their HBO parody BHO.
5:40 – A guy Selman went to college with liked this episode. Now you know.
6:30 – Long bit from MacMullan about how many unusual shots there are in this episode (Marge’s flashback and panning over all the computer wires).
7:15 – Castellaneta isn’t sure if he’s mentioned this before, but Artie Ziff was the only character he ever designed. He was doodling on his script, and drew a guy from high school, and David Silverman was there while they were recording and liked it.
8:00 – When Castellaneta finishes, someone jokes about that being “actual useful information” on a DVD commentary. That was nice.
8:05 – Jean, trying to keep the useful information coming, says that “Sam”, presumably Sam Simon, named Ziff. But Jean wasn’t sure if it was someone he knew or if he just liked it because the initials were AZ.
8:45 – According to Jean, in real life people think Lovitz is short and bald, but in fact he’s neither.
9:30 – Jean makes a decent point that there’s nothing wrong with them parodying a movie that, at the time, was already eight years old.
10:30 – Movie trivia tip, MacMullan directed many of the Alaska scenes, including the Disney style foreplay scene, for which they brought in some old Disney animators.
11:00 – That leads to a discussion of how animators always seem to live a long time.
12:05 – Jean: “I always like in this, and in the movie, that they don’t realize the consequences ’til right after they make the deal.” That certainly helps explain why storytelling isn’t much of concern any more.
13:30 – Things have kinda slowed down now that we’re at the fake prom. There’s some chuckling.
14:40 – Still not much going on. Someone’s making note of how odd it is when Marge wears lipstick on account of none of the characters really have lips. Also, the characters are wearing clothes.
15:25 – Artie Ziff is break dancing and everyone is still wearing 70s clothes.
16:00 – At one point, Homer was going to fly to Silicon Valley in the wheel well of a jet because someone had done that on the news.
16:30 – The writers really love Baron von Kissalot.
16:50 – Ah, now that we’ve reached the latest bizarre turn, it’s time to start asking MacMullan random questions about Pixar (where she works).
17:20 – Someone’s jokingly ragging on Up for not making sense.
17:55 – Well, at least someone mentioned that this is the episode that turned Lenny and Carl into . . . whatever the hell it is they are now. Jean notes that this made “the internet” angry. I’m going to go with “confused”, but that’s just me.
18:30 – Laughing about an explosion that didn’t make it into the final episode.
19:20 – Chuckling at the idea of “friends with privileges”.
19:40 – A mixture of stunned silence and nervous laughter as ants catch fire. There was a debate about whether or not the ants could talk.
20:30 – They’re still talking about talking ants. On screen there’s the world’s slowest helicopter rescue and some kind of emotional closure, and wow, I had forgotten what a giant mess this one is.
20:55 – “That’s where we lost the internet’s sympathy.” No, it was a while ago.
21:30 – Lipton (I think), apropos of nothing, asks the assembled company how many episodes are about Marge’s “nether regions”. That was . . . odd.
21:55 – Lipton (again, I think): “Do you think Marge is sexy? I do.” Again, kinda odd.
22:05 – Every thanks Lipton and MacMullan and we can get out of here.
“I give you the jury of the damned: Benedict Arnold, Lizzie Borden, Richard Nixon.” – The Devil
“But I’m not dead yet! In fact, I just wrote an article for Redbook.” – Richard Nixon
“Hey listen, I did a favor for you.” – The Devil
“Yes, master.” – Richard Nixon
“John Wilkes Booth, Blackbeard the pirate, John Dillinger, and the starting line of the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers!” – The Devil
“Excuse me, you didn’t answer me. You just trailed off.” – Kirk van Houten
“Yeah, yeah, I did kinda trail off there, didn’t I?” – Chief Wiggum
I had such high hopes for this commentary. It has Joe Mantegna, a man with a proven ability to rescue Zombie Simpsons commentaries from their ordinary mediocrity. Sadly, although Mantegna was here, he barely spoke. The commentary was actually worse than normal, in no small part because the third act of this episode is so wretchedly bad that Al Jean and company basically admit it sucks and then talk about anything else that occurs to them. And, as you’ll see, I mean anything else that happens to pop into their heads: people they saw at the coffee shop, Anthony Hopkins, what their wives do in their spare time.
Seven people on this one, including token female Caroline Omine and Joe Mantegna, even though Fat Tony isn’t in this episode.
1:30 – In discussing the concept for this episode, Selman talks about how having Homer unable to speak makes things a lot more difficult because he’s their best character. Things are a lot harder for them when they can’t have Homer acting crazy all the time. Jean then jumps in and talks about how this is a bit of a departure because Homer realizes that Bart has feelings. Basically, they admit that without Jerkass Homer they’re kinda lost. Zombie Simpsons, everyone.
2:15 – Short discussion about coming up with fake movie titles. It’s fun to do.
3:00 – Reminiscing about Simpsons things that used to be on before movies. There was a Dolby sound thing with Grampa and they put some of the Ullman shorts before some movies.
4:05 – They think this may have the most boner jokes of any episode.
5:00 – Homer takes his shirt off a lot in public, according to Jean.
6:00 – Discussing the realities of having one’s jaw wired shut. Apparently it happened in real life to one of the writers.
6:30 – General laughter when Homer inhales a piece of steak up his nose and Jean says that this would kill him in real life. Mantegna’s only said like two things, why won’t they just let him monologue?
6:55 – More chuckles at how scenes are just kind of smashed together here.
7:35 – Here’s a fascinating story: at the coffee shop that morning one of the writers saw someone with a tattoo. The end.
8:15 – Trying to remember where they got the chalkboard idea leads to joking about Anthony Hopkins movies.
9:05 – Interesting animation note about trying to keep things consistent between close ups and other shots. On a close up the camera is so much closer to the artwork that it makes the lines seem thicker.
10:00 – Long, post-animation discussion silence is broken by someone basically rehashing the premise and telling a story about the time he had to use a pad to write notes to people after he had throat surgery.
10:55 – Helpful tip from Al Jean, if you’re doing something with a mirror reflection, lighten up the yellow a little bit in the reflection.
11:15 – More discussion about the “man yells at cloud” thing and how often that gets used.
12:30 – Okay this was actually funny. Someone points out that Homer and Marge are at an awfully formal looking event, and Jean cracks that it’s because “The Blue Danube” is free.
13:20 – The episode just went to its second commercial break, and Jean comments that everything at the read through went well right until here.
13:45 – More chuckling at their dirty jokes.
14:40 – Jean’s helpfully explaining that this is a parody of The View.
15:05 – Still discussing the cast of the view.
15:10 – Finally, Mantegna gets a word in edgewise and it’s a crack on Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Heh. Keep it up, Joe. We’ve only got seven minutes to go.
15:45 – Uproarious laughter at Homer fighting an ostrich.
16:30 – Someone notices a long silence.
17:05 – Commentary’s going downhill here, lots of chuckling but little actual commentary.
17:15 – I think they’re kinda embarrassed at how dull this is. Jean’s rambling about how much tougher it is to be funny when Homer is being intentionally boring.
17:40 – We’re talking about people’s personal lives now.
18:40 – Selman is plugging his wife’s store. Meanwhile, there’s a demolition derby going on.
19:10 – See above. They just got done arguing about where the store is.
20:00 – About twenty seconds ago Jean nudged things back to the episode, and then it got instantly quiet again.
20:40 – Homer’s little Popeye impression means they can talk about Popeye now.
21:30 – Still talking about Popeye.
22:00 – And we end on them plugging things their wives do.
“I’m not going to live in a house of evil just to save a few dollars.” – Marge Simpson
“Don’t be so stubborn. We’re not talking about a few dollars, we’re talking about a few thousand dollars!” – Homer Simpson
Happy 20th anniversary to “Treehouse of Horror”! At least, I think today is the 20th anniversary. Wikipedia, IMDb, TV.com and even SNPP all have it as October 25th, not the 24th. In 1990, October 25th was a Thursday, so that makes sense. However, epguides has it as October 24th, 1990, which was a Wednesday. Curious, I dug out the booklet from my Season 2 DVD collection and, lo and behold:
[Aired October 24, 1990]
Now, it’s possible that’s a typo. And I checked on the disc itself and the airdate isn’t on the menu, nor were they reciting the airdates during the commentary in Season 2. If this were just a regular episode I’d assume the booklet was wrong, but it was originally presented as a Halloween “special”; it’s at least possible that they moved it up a day for whatever reason. So I’m really not sure, but since this is the date on the DVD set, it’s the one I’m going with.
I’d say that pretty well clinches it. The Season 2 DVD booklet has a typo and tomorrow is the real 20th anniversary. Thanks Ryan!]
“Well, well, look who it is. Mister ‘I don’t need alcohol to enjoy life’.” – Moe
Good morning everyone and welcome to the third Simpsons-Beer marathon! The mob has spoken and has acclaimed Season 4 as its champion. I am looking forward, at 2:30ish this afternoon, to watching Homer struggle with his drinking problem after I’ve downed 16 beers alone. Click here for an explanation of how this all works, and let’s get started. Beer and Simpsons, hurrah!
1. Kamp Krusty
- It was years after I first saw this episode that I got Bart’s 36-24-36 locker combination joke.
- Homer is such an awesomely terrible father in this episode, what with the hard work/lottery speech and, of course, having Bart reach for the roller skate in the running lawnmower.
- “Spare me your euphemisms, it’s fat camp for daddy’s chubby little secret.”
- Can you actually bake jelly beans? Google Image search says you can.
- I love Homer’s picnic hat.
- Rather than say this same thing over and over all day, I’ll just say it now. It remains amazing just how many jokes they manage in each line. Even lines that are basically plot points, Bart’s rant against Krusty, Mr. Black yelling at the bullies, everything has jokes. There is nary a wasted word.
2. A Streetcar Named Marge
- Gotta give it up for Meryl Streep, they made that joke about her fragrance “Versatility” in 1992, and she’s just kept it up for twenty more years.
- “Tonight, my reign as Miss American Girl comes to an end, and I’d like to apologize one last time for my unfortunate remarks at the United Nations.”
- Oh how I adore the Ayn Rand School for Tots. “Helping Is Futile” always gets me. I’m still too sober to be able to blot Zombie Simpsons from my mind, but compare this to that execrable and bizarre speech they had Maggie give a couple of years ago. This is satire, that was hapless.
- The bloody bandage on Ned’s chest is just another example of how much thought and care they put into everything. We never see Marge draw blood, but we don’t need to. It works much better by just alluding to the violence.
- The music from “The Great Escape” is perfect here.
- This episode is exquisitely plotted, Marge and Homer’s troubles are neatly done through Blanche and Stanley. Even the resolution, where they make it explicit, never feels heavy handed.
3. Homer the Heretic
- Lovejoy’s line about the badly damaged card table was written by someone with a lot of familiarity with church bulletins.
- For all our non-American readers out there, the little “D” on the (1991!) penny Homer finds means that the penny was made at the mint in Denver.
- This episode is Exhibit A for why religious people should never praise this show. The Simpsons had unlimited respect for faith, but did nothing but brutally mock organized religion.
- I love Ned’s resigned “Okay”, after Homer bounces back into the house. It’s such a great moment for his character, he’s instantly both unhappy and determined to continue.
- “Hindu. There are seven hundred million of us.” “Aw, that’s super.”
- I also love that Jimi Hendrix is in heaven. Choke on that, hidebound religious people.
4. Lisa the Beauty Queen
- Skinner’s repressed badass, nice.
- They were really on about beauty pageants this year, and that’s good because the sooner those things are ridiculed into oblivion the better.
- Homer’s awful parenting works because it comes from well meaning stupidity. He doesn’t realize that what he’s doing is terrible.
- “Eyelash implants.” “I thought those were illegal.” “Not in Paraguay.”
- When I was a kid I thought Jack Nicholson and Jack Nicklaus were the same guy. I was amazed that a man that acted that well was also a pro golfer.
- Sigh. I miss Doris Grau. Not just for Lunchlady Doris, but because if there’s one thing Zombie Simpsons needs, it’s a good script supervisor.
5. Treehouse of Horror III
- Exhibit B: “You see, there are some crybabies out there, religious types mostly, who might be offended.”
- The sharpened teeth on the evil Krusty doll are a nice touch.
- “Grampa, why don’t you tell us a story. You’ve led an interesting life.” “That’s a lie and you know it!”
- You don’t really notice it, but it’s better that the “King Kong” segment is in black and white. And this was before the latest mediocre remake.
- The thrown ashtray, when Marge is trying to serve fruit, is exactly how every kid feels when something other than candy is on offer on Halloween.
- The “Thriller” album cover on Bart’s head is another one of those understated touches that lets you know this is genius. No comedy opportunity is left unexplored.
- In the “Maybe The Simpsons does pervert the youth” category, I did learn an awful lot of condom brands from this episode. Granted, I didn’t get it until after I hit puberty, but still.
- And, for good measure, we close on a joke about television.
6. Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie
- The doll with the knife for a neck is a nice callback to “Kamp Krusty”.
- It would be awesome if Earl Warren really was a stripper.
- I wonder if more people under the age of about 30 have seen “Steamboat Willie” or “Steamboat Itchy”.
- “Homer, we’d like to talk to you.” “But then I won’t be watching teevee, you can see the bind I’m in.”
- The barber college joke takes, what, about half a second? Wall to wall jokes, every episode.
7. Marge Gets a Job
- I use “Hand me my patching trowel, boy” all the time. It works both when you need a tool and when you have no idea what to do.
- Again, the implications of terrible things often work better than the things themselves. Here it’s a picture of the White House on fire and Brockman saying that the Vice President is in charge. By the way, this episode was two years before that nutjob crashed that Cessna on the south lawn.
- Citizen Kane has so many iconic scenes that they could reference it in about five different episodes without repeating anything.
- Another nice callback, with the photo of Burns and Elvis on the wall in Smithers’ office.
- There are three Tibor jokes in this episode and each one builds on the last.
- This is a perfect example of nicely complementary A & B plots.
- The Tom Jones guest appearance is the way celebrities playing themselves should be done. It makes sense in context, isn’t overdone, and isn’t unadulterated self promotion.
- Burns’ imagining of Homer is fantastic. It’s everything that Homer, a man he’s met multiple times, isn’t.
- “Care to join me in a belt of scotch?” “It’s nine-thirty in the morning.” “Yeah, but I haven’t slept in days.”
- For the record, it’s only 11:30 here.
8. The New Kid on the Block
- I’ve said this before, but even for all its accolades the show still doesn’t get enough credit for stepping over lines that, at the time, were pretty hard and fast on network television. This is a scene with an interracial couple and a gay real estate agent, and none of the jokes are about who they are. The jokes are about a young couple’s naivete and the frustrations of selling real estate. It’s presented as completely normal life, which it is, but which you wouldn’t have known from teevee at the time.
- “My upbringing was painfully strict, ma’am.” “That’s sweet.”
- I watched this episode with my nieces and nephews at a family thing three years ago. When the zookeeper stage whispers to Homer than the monkeys are having sex they all burst into laughter. I’ve never been more proud.
- Even when Laura is gushing over Jimbo there’s a joke or more in every line. The body is “behind the mayor’s house” and all Jimbo did was poke him with a stick.
- Yes, the court is in session at night. No, no one cares because this is hilarious and works story-wise.
- I love Moe’s lasciviously violet hip waggle as he anticipates his vengeance when he gets to the window.
9. Mr. Plow
- Guh, Battle of the Network Stars was so, so horrible.
- My dad loves the joke with the model repelling the dumb guys asking if she comes with the car. He used to go to auto and trade shows all the time and he’s described that scene as eerily accurate.
- Speaking of great celebrity cameos: Adam West.
- Hey look, it’s a President Bush. Haven’t seen that in a while.
- Lovejoy’s Christian goons are great.
- The Flogging Song!
- Linda Ronstadt has a long and glorious history with cartoons.
- “You know those radio ads where two people with annoying voices yammer back and forth? I invented those.” A format that has haunted humanity to this very day.
- Even when god is melting things there are jokes.
10. Lisa’s First Word
- The stickball arcade game is great, but it’s made even better by the fact that there are two more of them.
- It’s typical of the show’s a) relentless humor and b) excellent storytelling how the sweetness of Grampa helping them buy the house is used as a set up for shipping him off to the old folks home.
- Oh Webster, you were the worst show ever.
- $44 Million was a lot more in 1984 dollars.
- Hibbert’s past haircuts are always fantastic.
11. Homer’s Triple Bypass
- “You know that feeling you get when a thousand knives of fire are stabbing you in the heart? I got that right now.”
- The Poe house bursting into flames as it goes off the cliff is yet another example of how much funnier over-the-top, batshit crazy stuff is when you don’t beat it into the audience’s face.
- Eighteen years later, and health care in America is still all fucked up. God, I love this country.
- I wonder if there really is anything different about “Sweatin’ to the Oldies Vol. 3”.
- This is a television episode where the main character is undergoing life threatening surgery. But it never gets serious and doesn’t go more than five seconds between gags. Despite that it never turns into a Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker parody thing where nothing matters. That is not easy to do.
12. Marge vs. the Monorail
- The squirrel with laser eyes is perhaps more difficult to describe than any other gag on the show.
- The Genghis Khan thing is much easier to quote out of context.
- I’ve never seen “The Music Man”, in any incarnation. I know some of the songs, and I like musicals, I’ve just never seen it. I don’t think that ignorance takes anything away from the monorail song, though I could be wrong.
- Lanley flattering Lisa out of her criticism is the eleventy billionth example of the precision with which this show was made. Everyone is mocked for believing his crap.
- As another example of the above, see Lanley’s apathy about who gets to be conductor.
- “He’s cool, he’s sexy, he’s thirty-four years old!” Has anyone mentioned that most of the cast of Glee are in their mid-20s? That guy who was on that Zombie Simpsons episode is nearly 30!
- I’m almost getting tired of mentioning these, but here’s another celebrity cameo that actually makes sense. Tom Jones was roped in by a billionaire’s henchman, and Adam West and Leonard Nimoy appear as guys on the sad, down slope of fame. No one is there just because, nor getting a free pass to hawk themselves.
- The Quimby-Wiggum argument is a parody of about eight million things and you still know exactly what it’s about.
- “Hey, according to the charter, as chief constable I’m supposed to get a pig every month. And two comely lasses of virtue true.” “Keep the pig, how many broads do I get?”
- Batman científico.
- This whole ending with “how do we stop the train” is great. It is never played for tension.
13. Selma’s Choice
- Heh: “To be completed in 1994”. Now it’s funny for a different reason.
- Homer’s ultra dignified “please” when asked for another placemat is fantastic.
- Low Expectations Dating Service. I need say no more.
- I will never tire of the enforced racial harmony of Hooray for Everything.
- “Put Your Sperm in Our Hands”
- The sandwich! Oh the sandwich!
- I went to Disneyland in 2004 and saw the animatronic Abe Lincoln. It was better than I was expecting, but did not rap or talk about beer.
- The Small World ride really was about this terrifying though. Technically proficient without a shred of humanity. It’s the Skynet of rides.
14. Brother From the Same Planet
- This show really should’ve ended when Phil Hartman died. It did so much with pompously idiotic characters that his loss went well beyond Hutz and McClure, and those two alone were huge.
- Bart’s vision of Homer’s melted, nose-less face remains kinda horrifying.
- If you’re ever watching SNL and the first joke of skit dies, it’s time to mention the Big Ear Family.
- Mocking those who would exploit your insecurities for fun and profit:
So. Many. Stuffed. Animals.
- Eight year military build up? Ha. Twenty years later and we have an honest-to-jebus Pain Ray.
- Speaking of the Pain Ray, the way Skinner goes about cutting his budget, resigned but with an enthusiasm for whatever horrors the system makes him perpetrate, is hilarious.
- Not only does Homer’s brain abandon him for saying “Revenge”, it was wrong to do so:
- Attention to detail #1729: Bart’s luxurious bathroom in Homer’s tale of his cruelty.
- Kids, there really did used to be a phone number you could call that would recite the time over and over again. There was a tone every ten seconds so you could set your clocks. I would not be surprised if, someday in the future, we revamp the calendar so that it’s based on internet instead of carpentry.
- “Dad, remember when Tom had you in that headlock and you screamed, ‘I’m a hemophiliac’, and when he let you go you kicked him in the back?” “Heh, heh, heh, yeah?” “Will you teach me how to do that?”
15. I Love Lisa
- We are sure it’s not Bacon Day, right?
- “Isn’t that just pointless busywork?” “Bullseye. Get cracking.”
- I love Skinner’s “Some student, possibly Bart Simpson . . .” delivery.
- Homer Simpson, the kind of man who would exploit a love struck second grader to re-tar his roof.
- Sideshow Raheem.
- Question: the Caretaker Presidents song, responsible for more or less than 35% of America’s total knowledge about obscure presidents?
- Ladies and gentlemen, the Monster Mash.
- I once quoted Homer’s conversation with himself well. There it is.
- Tartar control Duff!
- I went to the Miller brewery tour in Milwaukee one time. It ends in an old fashioned beer hall where they make you drink three beers in ten minutes so the next group can come through. Then they’re like, “Drive home safe!”
- Yeah, it’s a Kubrick reference, but this is still an awfully sexually implicit image to put on network television:
- It not shocking or anything, but it is still kinda remarkable how little beer ads have changed in eighteen years.
- Also, baseball is still boring as shit sober.
- One look at those mumbling barflies, and I feel reassured about every terrible decision I’ve ever made.
17. Last Exit to Springfield
- Three minutes into the episode and Burns has already laughed at the death of two men, the window washer and the guy who got walled up in the abandoned coke oven.
- Dental Plan.
- Lisa Needs Braces.
- Dental Plan.
- Lisa Needs Braces.
- Dental Plan.
- Lisa Needs Braces.
- Dental Plan.
- Lisa Needs Braces.
- Dental Plan.
- Lisa Needs Braces.
- Dental Plan.
- Lisa Needs Braces.
- “Bullseye.” “Thanks a lot Carl, now I’ve lost my train of thought.”
- Dental Plan.
- Lisa Needs Braces.
- Dental Plan.
- Lisa Needs Braces.
- The unremitting horror of the dentist’s office pre-surgery is tremendous, and then it leads to a Batman parody. Incidentally, however much the sequels sucked, the 1989 Batman has held up remarkably well.
- If they kept records for most piss jokes in a single scene, the brief conversation in Burns’ basement would have set a record.
- The song, the world loves the song.
- And just past that is possibly the greatest Grampa rant of all time. “They didn’t have white onions, because of the war, the only thing you could get was those big yellow ones.”
- And then there’s Burns’ imitation of the Grinch. Damns, this episode is good.
18. So It’s Come to This: A Simpsons Clip Show
- I don’t know if it’s because Sam Simon was still in charge or what, but this is far and away better than the every other clip show for the simple reason that it’s easily 53% new footage. Even the one in Season 6, when they were still completely on their game, doesn’t compare.
- The first time I saw Bart get exploded as he’s trying to yell “April Fools”, I think I may have laughed through the entire commercial break. My stomach hurt afterward.
- Barney’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” thing and Moe’s reaction are both stellar.
- The other nice thing about this episode is that it has an actual resolution, with Bart confessing and Homer’s hatred bringing him back from the coma.
19. The Front
- I still can’t take off my underwear without taking off my pants, but despite many setbacks I think success is at hand.
- Aw, Tom Bosley died this week.
- Hey look, it’s a throwaway joke that Zombie Simpsons would later stretch a whole episode over. Lovitz isn’t even in this one.
- “Alright brain, you don’t like me, and I don’t like you. But let’s just do this and I can get back to killing you with beer.”
- Gotta love The Adventures of Ned Flanders.
20. Whacking Day
- I love that Principal Skinner contemplates leaving his most troublesome students to die in a basement, only to be talked out of it.
- We Put the Fun in Fundamentalist Dogma
- “Pleasing taste, some monsterism.”
- More less than subtle sex imagery, Marge sliding the sleeve off Homer’s whacking stick and telling him to go “slow, then fast”. Rawr.
- Barry White, here for a reason and actually being funny.
- “Gentlemen, start your whacking.”
- I guess I’ve always used Zombie Simpsons criticism as a way of getting attention.
21. Marge in Chains
- I wish I could make my immune system surrender to non-life threatening infections.
- Just when you think you know what Scratchy’s going to do, he get impaled on a cactus.
- “Oh, the network slogan is true: ‘Watch Fox and Be Damned for All Eternity’.” Hey, remember when people thought Zombie Simpsons cracking on FOX was novel?
- “No offense, but, we’re putting that bitch on ice!”
- Has anyone ever checked the books for Northrop and Boeing, are we sure they don’t operate convenience stores? And if so, do they prosecute shoplifters?
- With many years of hindsight, we now know that both Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson are fucking crazy, super-hunks though they may be.
- Hutz has sock garters, but no pants.
- What are the most probable misspellings of “guilty”? Gillty? Giltey?
- There are only so many possible iterations of a Jimmy Carter statue, and this episode has all of them.
22. Krusty Gets Kancelled
- Krusty’s horrifying doll just keep getting better every time those children scream.
- Worker and Parasite!
- Mr. Teeny takes a healthy swig and shivers, that’s good background comedy.
- That thing Michael Bay does all the time, where he twirls the camera around someone as they stand up? They do it here on Bette Midler. I’m not saying this is the original, I’m just saying.
- Most of a season later, it’s Luke Perry, one of those guys who played a high schooler until he was old enough to have fathered one.
- The Chili Peppers do well here. And – no to belabor a point – but it makes sense because it’s part of Krusty’s thing.
- It also takes a certain kind of perverted humor to have Hugh Hefner play “Peter and the Wolf” on water glasses.
- And, absent any t-shirt sales, that it’s folks. Twenty-two straight episodes of the best show ever and, once again, I can’t think of anything else I’d have rather done. Assuming I can get my phone to cooperate, there should be a trophy picture coming shortly.
“Just don’t look. Just don’t look.” – Paul Anka & Lisa Simpson
[Note: The Halloween themed animated .gif above comes courtesy of reader Api who sent it in with the subject line, “The perfect GIF to symbolise what needs to be done with The Simpsons.” Damn right.]
This week, the Vatican’s shitty newspaper, with which I’ve had dealings in the past, wrote something dumb about Homer being Catholic. And so, for about the third week in a row, the Simpsons part of the internet was flooded with one boring topic. The number of “Homer? Catholic?” type articles I read and/or skipped over was amazing. In accordance with official Dead Homer Society policy dealing with things this stupid and media whorish, there are no links about it below. What we do have is two reviews of Ortved’s book, some excellent usage, awesome Halloween themed Simpsons nail art, a sweet drawing of Lisa, and a chance for people in Minnesota to meet Mike Reiss. Oh, and there’s a Simpsons art exhibition coming up in the UK. Have I mentioned that we welcome submissions?
[Edited to add: don’t forget to vote for your choice of season for tomorrow’s Simpsons marathon.]
Save Some Room for Laughst This Thanksgiving Night With World Broadcast Premiere of ‘The Simpsons Movie’ – The craptacular movie is about to join Zombie Simpsons on regular FOX. Feh.
Attention, Supervillains and Climate Engineers: The U.N. May Soon Forbid You To Block Out the Sun – Even the most improbably far fetched global warming solutions can be used to reference The Simpsons.
Simpsons avatar – The vegetarian shirt Apu sells really makes this.
Bart: truly, the King of spring fields – I know almost nothing about horseracing in America, and even less about it in Australia. But apparently there’s a guy named Bart who races horses.
Anomaly Appraisal: The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History – Animation Anomaly reviewed the Ortved book, and linked to us! Hooray.
‘Simpsons’ history suffers from excessive speculation – Another review of the Ortved book, this one from an actual newspaper.
The Simpsons Art Exhibition – There’s going to be a month long Simpsons art exhibit in Manchester. This is the Facebook page. Should any of our UK readers find themselves at it, consider snapping some pictures and sending them in.
Top 10 Schwingtastic Childhood TV Flashback Tracks – Lots of 90s YouTube here, including Bart’s duet with Leon Kompowski.
hour #6: the simpsons, south park, and sex – An interesting essay on the tangled web of concepts that result when people get prosecuted, as a guy in Idaho recently did, for having Simpsons porn. The only thing I’d seriously disagree with is this:
In fact, the reason I’m using South Park as an example and not The Simpsons is because South Park actually has a very large porn-fandom.
I’ve never looked into the South Park porn-fandom community but, as someone who looks at the search results that get people to this blog, let me assure you that there is a great deal of on-line interest in Simpsons porn. Also, Kick-Ass was fantastic.
My Cigar Guy photoshop power rankings – There’s a quite well done drawing of him with the family Simpson here.
Night of the Dolphin! “Best Horror Flick Ever!” – I have respect for “Treehouse of Horror XI” far above everything else in Season 12 for the simple reason that they got the term “glory hole” on network television.
Moe Moe Kyun~ – Moe photoshopped into a couple of Anime pictures.
Oh the Simpsons, you explain it all. – Perfectly quoted. Cool.
A Fine Mahoke To You All – I have a general policy never to link to or read The New Republic, it only encourages them, but this is pretty excellent usage. Helpfully, the entire thing is right in the title, so you don’t even need to click (via).
The Simpsons as Addams Family Nail Art Tutorial – I do not have the necessary fine motor control to do this:
Those look amazing.
LISA SIMPSON diy tank top m/l KUTEGURL sale – Looks more like Maggie to me, but that’s still great use of a boring old Simpsons t-shirt.
Travel: Oktoberfest Munich, Germany 2010 – There is much awesomeness at Oktoberfest, including this:
Slowly the group started to leave and we were left with one guy from Holland and also we began to make friends with a guy from South Africa. I asked them their names, the South African said his name was Johan, when I asked the guy from Holland what his name was he says "Bart, like Bart Simpson!" I just started laughing, he asked my name I told him it was Lisa. He responds, "Lisa, like Lisa Simpson, Bart and Lisa Simpson!" He was so excited about this I couldn’t help but crack up. Also the fact that we had had quite a few beers made the situation more funny.
Making d’oh: Simpsons’ writer to appear at Club Book – If you live in or around Minneapolis/St. Paul you can see Mike Reiss tonight or tomorrow.
Friday Roundup!!! – And finally, I get to end the way I like to:
Sign #1114 that I’m becoming old as hell (but still handsome…as hell)…when I complain that the new hi-def intro to The Simpsons looks friggin’ lame and trumped up. There was a predictability in the old one. The ORIGINAL one. Every child of the eighties grew up with that show. Every child new how it went, there was a mental, subconsciousrhythm that one could depend on. A mental clock of the emotional soul. For that brief moment, you something good and pure and entertaining, something that could instill happiness on a primal level that the outside world couldn’t get to, that is what the intro signified. That, and the general quality of the show is gone. And that is why I feel old. The show hasn’t been entertaining since the 8th-ish season.
“It’s my dad, lying there on the couch, drinking a beer, staring at the TV. I’ve never seen him like that.” – Bart Simpson
It turns out I have nothing to do this Saturday other than celebrate Mole Day. It also turns out that it’s been five months since I set aside some time for a serious day of drinking and Simpsons watching. That means I can celebrate Mole Day by conducting one of my favorite bio-chemistry experiments: my liver, brain and blood oxygen levels versus my old friend ethanol in another Simpsons-Beer Marathon.
As with the previous two times I’ve done this on-line, I’ll be starting around 8:00am Eastern Time (12:00 GMT) this Saturday. For those who are new to this site, the background details are here. All you really need to know is that I’m going to watch an entire season of The Simpsons while downing one beer per episode, and I’ll post (increasingly inebriated) updates all day.
The poll at right is active, and I’ll watch whichever season you fine individuals select. I’ve already done Seasons 5 and 6, so they aren’t included. For the protection of my good time, Season 7 will not include “Marge Be Not Proud”. Since I’m not giving nearly as much notice this time around, I’ll leave the poll open until Saturday morning.
Update 23 October: And it’s Season 4! Thanks to everyone who voted.
Bonus: crazy backwards Spanish version.
I was sort of looking forward to watching this episode. I honestly had not seen it in seven years or so and I remembered not completely hating it. Turns out it sucks, and the few good weed jokes are stranded in Act 2. Act 1 is Homer gaining the ability to control crows; Act 3 is the lifeless body of Mr. Burns being used as a puppet in an homage to the cinematic and comedy genius of the “Weekend at Bernie’s” franchise.
To my surprise, however, the commentary was pretty good. They actually talked about what was going on and told some funny stories. Jon Vitti was there, which helped. But things fell apart at the end when Jean launched into another of his unprompted defenses of why they never made fun of Bush the Younger, and this one was the worst yet. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Nine guys on this one, including the above mentioned Vitti and Groening.
0:45 – Jean’s telling the story about how they expected this one to be all controversial, but after it aired nothing happened. Then the next week they aired the Brazil episode and it turned into this giant flap. If you’re keeping track, this is the exact same story he told at the beginning of the commentary for the Brazil episode.
1:30 – After Jean finishes his story, it comes up that no one in the writers room actually had any problem with genetically modified food. Which leads to a general disclaimer that they often take stands on the show that none of them actually believe in.
2:00 – Now it’s Jean’s turn for story time again. The “crow bar” joke was Selman’s and every time Jean hears the Donovan song that was playing, he thinks of Homer bleeding rainbows. I’ve got to admit, that is kinda funny.
2:45 – Jean laughs at the episode structure, namely that Acts 1 and 3 have nothing to do with Act 2, which is the marijuana part.
3:00 – The writers offices are “besieged” by crows in real life.
3:40 – Still laughing about the crows in their office.
4:00 – Long discussion about how basically none of the writers smoke pot, this leads to someone calling it one of the most sober writing staffs they’ve ever seen.
4:50 – Jean’s off on some long tangent about how to animate Homer so that the audience maintains sympathy for him. It’s not that interesting.
5:40 – One of the writers was in San Francisco the day this aired, and there was a young hippie who said, “Tonight Homer smokes pot! This is what my life has been building to.” Everyone laughs. (It was funny.)
6:15 – If you’ll notice, Homer’s lips never actually touch the joints. FOX didn’t want them showing kids how to smoke weed, and they all laugh about how dumb that is.
6:55 – Talking about how many actual medical marijuana dispensaries there are in L.A. now.
7:40 – Vitti’s sister-in-law’s kids watched this episode and she called him up and told him to answer all their awkward questions.
8:15 – They won a weed award from High Times, which makes them one of the few shows to win an award for alcohol awareness and weed.
9:10 – More discussion about toeing the line on broadcast standards.
10:00 – More marijuana tales from the writers’ room. This episode took longer than usual to rewrite on account of everyone sharing their pot smoking stories.
10:45 – Interesting tidbit: they showed one of the Ullman clips before “Weekend at Bernie’s 2” and it got a positive response.
11:25 – Jean is again pointing out that Homer never smokes it illegally, and someone finally tells him to relax about the broadcast standards already.
11:45 – Laughing about how many things in this episode are repeats.
12:00 – Al Jean’s mom loves Jon Vitti ’s writing.
13:05 – Jean wants to be clear: this is Phish. We know.
13:40 – Talking about Phish and how they played the Simpsons theme during a show. This leads to Jean talking about the time he was in London at a “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” musical and there’s a Simpsons joke at the end. Jean calls it “freaky” on account of how universal the show is.
14:50 – Big laugh at the fact that there’s a newspaper machine on stage for no reason.
15:10 – Jean does my job for me by saying that he found out years after the fact that the “they’re called fingers but they don’t ‘fing’” joke was originally on The Critic. He then says that they try not to repeat jokes, but they don’t have a database or anything so it does happen. We know that too.
15:40 – Jean’s talking about how the writers have basically no regard for the animators when it comes to making things make sense.
16:30 – Long silence as we leave the weed part of the show for the idiotic “Weekend and Bernsie’s” thing.
17:40 – Laughing at how long it takes to set up the ending.
18:15 – Nervous laugher as they have Burns deliberately not being funny.
19:05 – Laughing at Smithers new, post-weed outfit and wondering why he changed.
19:15 – Burns drowning in the tub while people smoke weed was apparently a reference to an old Dragnet episode where some people got high and a baby drowned in a tub. Over the top anti-drug propaganda is really an underappreciated art form.
19:30 – I’ve listened to enough of these to know that any time there’s cartoon nudity someone will mention that they can’t do that anymore. And right on cue, it happens here.
20:00 – Speaking of things that are in a lot of these commentaries, here’s the part where they try to explain why they never made fun of Bush the Younger. This time they’ve brought two lame excuses. First, that since they work a year in advance they never knew how to mock him since people’s opinions changed so much. Again, I’m calling massive bullshit on that as he was disastrously unpopular from 2005 on.
Next up, and this one is really damning, is that they never came up with something funny. Seriously, Jean actually says, “It wasn’t easy to make it light.” Bush is unbelievably easy to make fun of: he tried to walk through a locked door, he hurt his face choking on a pretzel, he fell off a Segway, he gave the German Prime Minister an impromptu shoulder massage for fuck’s sake!
21:05 – Wait, make that three. Jean’s trotting out “we didn’t have someone who could do the voice” again. To think I was kind of enjoying this.
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons.
“Ah, Mr. Simpson, you’re forgetting the first two Noble Truths of the Buddha.” – Sideshow Bob
“I am not.” – Homer Simpson
This episode is so by-the-numbers Zombie Simpsons that it might as well be a “How to” manual. Homer acts crazy, Lisa acts sanctimonious (literally), and there’s a Hollywood movie star voicing himself for no reason. It even has the bonus feature of the weird ending. In this case, it turns into an abbreviated Christmas episode with no warning whatsoever with about three minutes to go. Truly bizarre.
This commentary is also pretty par for the course. Mostly they ignore what’s going on, Jean tells some stories, and occasionally they deign to notice the episode and chuckle at something dumb.
Eight people here, including token female Pamela Hayden.
1:00 – The “Roswell That Ends Well” episode of Futurama beat this one out for an Emmy. That is a much better twenty-two minutes of your time than this.
1:30 – Discussing juvenile model rocket shenanigans.
2:20 – “Rain Delay” theater passes without comment.
3:05 – Still talking about model rockets of yore.
3:35 – Model Rockets and Your Childhood is interrupted because Milhouse’s eyebrows got blown off, but in the next scene they’re back. This is cause for mild guffaws and pointless crosstalk.
4:20 – This was originally pitched as Lisa Starts a Religion, but that was too shameless on account of Bart and Homer had already started religions, so they turned to Buddhism.
5:15 – They’re laughing about how much they used the hamster in these days.
6:20 – Jean goes off on an odd tangent here about how the rocket with HJS on the side got blamed on a guy named Hassan J. Salaam, and they did this before the 2001 terrorist attacks. Then he lets everyone know that they’re aware that the image from “City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” that has the “9” in front of the World Trade Center.
7:10 – More reminiscing about how many things got censored in 2001.
7:40 – That over, now it’s time for the customary praising of the guest star. Richard Gere’s only request was that Lisa say “Free Tibet” in the episode.
8:45 – Not much going on here except to say that Tress MacNeille does the voice of Lindsey Nagle.
10:05 – Long silence is broken by someone mentioning that they’ve sat in some hard pews in their life as the family settles into their cushy new church chairs.
11:10 – Someone mentions that they use the word “apt” like Lisa does here. There is very little in the way of commentary going on. It’s about time for Selman to ask Jean to tell a story.
11:45 – Long silence broken by someone remembering a comment someone wrote on the internet when this was first broadcast.
12:05 – Selman didn’t ask, but Jean does tell a story, apparently other shows are talked about on the internet too.
13:00 – After talking about television on the internet for a minute, Jean is reminiscing about Get Smart and Leonard Stern.
13:30 – Apparently the good part about the writers strike was meeting all these old writers on the picket line. Tom Gammill met someone who worked on The Munsters, and after Max Pross can’t remember who it is they finally realize that they’re talking about nothing.
13:50 – When no other conversation is forthcoming, Jean starts up with a Jackie Gleason/Leonard Stern story. Meanwhile, in the episode, Lisa is pointlessly expositing with an “As Himself” Richard Gere.
14:50 – Still talking about The Honeymooners.
15:20 – The young son of one of the guys (no idea who) tried buttering his bacon after he saw this episode. That is easily the most relevant comment in the last five minutes.
16:15 – This episode was written by a guy named Bill Freiberger who was a friend of Jean’s. The original draft went over a hundred pages and one of the things that got cut was an opening where Marge forced Homer to build the model rocket as a way for him to spend time with Bart. According to Freiberger, “people” at the time thought Marge wasn’t getting enough screen time, so he put that in only to have to cut the whole thing out and leave Marge with only one line.
17:20 – They’re talking about what kind of spec scripts people write these days.
18:25 – Once upon a time Jean and Mike Reiss wrote a Golden Girls spec script. By the way, it’s Christmas in the episode now.
19:15 – Apropos of nothing, Jean is now talking about the color version of “It’s a Wonderful Life”.
20:00 – Sometimes they hint that Milhouse is Jewish, but then he’s at the church, and this whole tangent is confusing me.
20:40 – Jean’s back to talking about how nice Gere was.
21:00 – Mild chuckling at the nonsensical ending here, and from the sound of things I don’t think all of them even remember this part.
21:45 – Steven Moore (I think) talks about how he’s done about three Christmas episodes and is working on one now. Jean then mentions that FOX will, without quite telling them what to do, ask that they have a Christmas or at least winter episode so it’s easier to promote.