“I’ve got to fire that agent.” – Elizabeth Taylor
In our ongoing mission to bring you only the shallowest and laziest analysis of Zombie Simpsons, we’re keeping up our Crazy Noises series for Season 22. Since a podcast is so 2004, and video would require a flag, a fern and some folding chairs from the garage, we’ve elected to use the technology that brought the word “emoticon” to the masses: the chatroom. Star Trek image macros are strictly forbidden, unless you have a really good reason why Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “addiction”).
Most of the discussion around here about “Flaming Moe”, including the one below, focuses on just how lame the A-plot was, and that’s entirely proper because it made up most of the episode and was, indeed, astonishingly lame. But the B-plot deserves to have some scorn heaped on it at well, if for no other reason than spending a hundred words or so criticizing it would give it more attention than its writers did, literally. Here’s the entirety of the dialogue for “Melody” (voiced by Alyson Hannigan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “How I Met Your Mother” fame):
I can’t believe I’m playing video games with Bart Simpson.
I’ve sketched you so many times in my dream journal.
Can I do a hand stand against you?
You’re breaking up with me? Upside down? Raggedy Ann was so right about you.
That’s forty-two words in four lines. That’s not a guest part, that’s borderline insulting. (Granted, it’s more than Katy Perry got, but still.) Even minor, one off guest voices usually get a little more to do than show up, fawn over Bart Simpson, and then exit stage right never to be heard from again.
Back in the land of the A-plot, I’d like to point out an example of the kind of humor a smarter show than Zombie Simpsons might do when it comes time for a “gay” episode: Steakhouse or Gay Bar. It’s a very simple website, you are presented with the name of an establishment that is either a gay bar or a steakhouse, you then guess which kind of joint it is based on the name alone.
What’s so wonderful about “Steakhouse or Gay Bar?” is that in addition to being really funny, the results are very often a tossup. When you answer a question it tells you not only whether you were right or wrong, but what percentage of other people guessed the same way. So when I guess that the Grey Fox Pub is a steakhouse, I get a message that says:
Grey Fox Pub is a gay bar in Saint Louis, Missouri.
47.78% got that wrong, too.
Or when I guess that Tad’s is a gay bar I see:
Tad’s is a steak house in San Francisco, California.
53.38% got that wrong, too.
Most of the percentages you see aren’t too far from 50% one way or the other, which means that people really can’t tell from the name whether or not it’s a steakhouse or a gay bar. The gag is that the same veneer of macho masculinity can apply to radically different purposes (unless it’s a gay bar that happens to serve steaks), and it’s a much better joke than anything that was in “Flaming Moe”. It’s current, it’s subversive, it’s not a rehash of things that stopped being clever a decade ago. I don’t think you could construct an entire episode around the concept (and please, Zombie Simpsons, don’t try), but it’s not as if gay humor is frozen in time the way “Flaming Moe” seems to think it is.
[Note: We did have Dave this week, but he was forced to bail almost instantly.]
Charlie Sweatpants: Then let us begin.
Any initial thoughts other than “I wanted this to end eighteen minutes before it did?”
Dave: Gay bashing and stereotypes are so 2009.
That’s basically all I have to say about whatever the hell it was I watched.
Charlie Sweatpants: Don’t forget the hippie girl subplot.
That also happened.
Mad Jon: Well, I think you covered it in your post with the help of some external comments, but I miss the gay-episodes that had something behind them. There wasn’t much of a statement other than “Pretending to be Gay for profit is a bad thing”
Also there were two guest voices, I only know who one of them were, and I couldn’t tell you what either of them were pitching.
Dave: Gents, I apologize
I’m out again
Mad Jon: Bye Dave
Charlie Sweatpants: Bye Dave.
I think there were three, one of the guys from Kids in the Hall was there too.
Mad Jon: Oh man.
Charlie Sweatpants: Anyway, this is one of the rare instances where the guest voices weren’t playing themselves, but basically still had no character.
Mad Jon: Yeah, they were both excellent script readers, but not a whole lot of acting going on there.
Charlie Sweatpants: Willow from Buffy and that chick from SNL aren’t the world’s biggest stars, but they certainly deserved better than the six lines each of them got.
The third grade girl especially was hardly in the episode. Did that really require a guest voice?
Mad Jon: Well, Willow is now one of the major characters on “How I Met Your Mother” which I am ashamed to say I enjoy. If for nothing more than NPH.
Charlie Sweatpants: Doesn’t that reinforce my point? She deserved better.
Mad Jon: Yes, yes it does reinforce your point.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s also worth noting that the whole “square from the school falls in love with free spirited hippie” was done – as a b-plot and far better – back in Season 2 of South Park.
Mad Jon: Oh yeah, when Mr. Mackay starting taking acid.
Was that Season 2? Man that was a long time ago.
Charlie Sweatpants: It was, but it also worked way better than this.
Mad Jon: Yeah.
Charlie Sweatpants: Skinner just gets off the bus, and it’s like, “Oh, you’re back”. The whole thing was rushed to the point of incoherence. And that includes that montage.
Mad Jon: On a quick note, I liked how when Smithers went into Burns’ safe, there was a heart in a jar for a quick second.
Charlie Sweatpants: I noticed that too, it wasn’t bad.
What I didn’t like was the way Burns was senile.
Mad Jon: Which montage, the free spirited one or the one with the bar pictures that made it so I didn’t have to try to remember how many times Moe has changed the bar?
Charlie Sweatpants: The free spirit one.
Mad Jon: Ah yes.
Charlie Sweatpants: That was b-plot time that could’ve been used far better.
Mad Jon: It was a bit of time before I realized that was the b-plot.
Charlie Sweatpants: The problem with Burns in this episode is that they can’t decide what they want him to be. Is he fantastically cruel and evil? Or is he an incompetent buffoon? Just fucking pick one already, at least within a single scene is it too much to ask that he stay in character?
Mad Jon: That is a good point, Burns was always in a linear character, but that haven’t been able to properly use him in forever. But name a character with which that isn’t the case.
Charlie Sweatpants: Sad but true.
Mad Jon: Burns is evil, Burns wants to connect with the common man, whatever.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah. Also, is Smithers out to Burns now? There are a lot of Zombie Simpsons I haven’t seen, but it sure seemed like he didn’t care if Burns knew he was gay.
Mad Jon: I don’t know. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE else knows he is gay, and there have been like a hundred scenes where something really awkward happens, but it has never been directly addressed.
Charlie Sweatpants: There was a lot of those kind of grindingly unfunny improbabilities here. So we’re supposed to believe that this collection of the gayest gay men this side of the Castro can’t tell that Moe is straight?
Mad Jon: Also, hasn’t there always been a different gay bar across the street?
Charlie Sweatpants: I guess.
I kept waiting for them to mention the other gay bar again, but instead, fifteen minutes into the episode, they made up some crap about a parade and had Moe run for office.
Did not see that one coming.
Mad Jon: I can’t believe Springfield is large enough to need a city council
Charlie Sweatpants: I can’t believe Patty was standing there the whole time Moe was pretending to be gay and didn’t say shit.
Mad Jon: Or that any of the unbelievably large amount of woman Moe has harassed didn’t say anything.
Charlie Sweatpants: The list goes on.
I think someone left “Milk” on when they fell asleep and just filled in all the parts they missed with random minor characters.
Mad Jon: Except no one killed Moe in the end…
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, like I said, they fell asleep.
Anything you liked here?
Mad Jon: The couch gag spoke to my memories of old, nice and simple and not over the top.
That was about the only thing that didn’t make me dislike the episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: I liked Moe’s line about a “horrible addiction compels you”.
Mad Jon: Also pretty good.
There were a couple of lines, but they were so crowded by crap and boredom that they are hard to remember in correct context.
Charlie Sweatpants: Bingo. The dizzying array of plot twists made the whole thing seem even messier than it already was.
Oh, and right on the heels of Fit Tony there was Comic Book Gay.
Mad Jon: Yeah, who likes comic books of a different kind.
I swear to god I hate that Comic Book Guy for what he has done to Comic Book Guy.
Charlie Sweatpants: Heh. I’m just nervous that Sideshow Mel is going to have a cousin named Sideshow Sell who does infomercials.
Mad Jon: He has not so subtly gone down the road Homer did so long ago. Doesn’t really have a job anymore, unless it is pivotal for the ‘plot’. Is part of every major Springfield/Simpson family event, and he went from one line zingers that filled the space brilliantly to a conversationalist who still tries to use those one liners, only a lot lot more often.
Charlie Sweatpants: That’s all true, but like my comment about Burns, what character can’t that be said about?
Mad Jon: Very true sir.
Charlie Sweatpants: Chalmers keeps showing up for no reason, I think you’re right, he sleeps at the school now.
Mad Jon: It just gets me that all of the sudden everyone is on this CBG bandwagon, like he is the new ‘it’ character, except he has been doing this for years.
Well at least this time Chalmers, who apparently has a first name now, was at least outside of Skinner’s office.
Charlie Sweatpants: But he is just there whenever they need him to be. I’m reminded of that episode last year when Hoover showed up on the playground to give Lisa her paper back, and then vanished.
They’re replacing the school music teacher, there’s actually a reason for Chalmers to be there, but they don’t even bother.
Mad Jon: Maybe someone’s voice contract requires a certain amount of Chalmers time.
Charlie Sweatpants: Nah, I think it’s just apathy.
Mad Jon: Also I would imagine introducing a new student to the class is the job of a principal.
But once again…
Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else here? Between the half formed romantic comedy b-plot and the strange twists and turns of the a-plot I think we’ve covered everything.
Mad Jon: No, I think we have devoted enough of our free time to this episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: That’s good. I don’t think I could take much more discussion of “Queer Eye for Springfield”.
Oh crap, that’ll be an episode title in about two seasons once no one remembers what “Queer Eye” originally was.
Mad Jon: That would be about right . . . Damn you Sweatpants!