“There’s something I used to do in this situation, but . . . can’t . . . remember.” – Bart Simpson
“Ha-ho?” – Nelson Muntz
Atrophy is a merciless bitch. Similar to entropy, it’s the rule that says every living thing, from people to protists, have to keep doing stuff to avoid becoming dead. If you stop using your legs, because of laziness or injury, pretty soon they’ll wither to nothing. Ask anybody who’s ever had to wear a cast about how quickly debilitation sets in.
The same principle applies to creative endeavors like television shows. If you stop doing something, pretty soon you lose that ability. I think this is basically what happened to Zombie Simpsons over the last decade. The show kept doing less and less and gradually came to the state it’s in now where it’s only really capable of two things: hurting Homer and celebrity guests (often as themselves). Everything else has been ignored for so long that they’ve lost the capacity to do things like tell a story or introduce characters to a scene.
Take the scene at the school in “Love Is A Many Strangled Thing”. First, Bart rides a tractor into the school, which is itself stupid and nonsensical. Just because Homer’s letting Bart do whatever he wants doesn’t mean that Skinner and Krabappel would be similarly constrained. But things get worse immediately as first Homer and then Chief Wiggum appear at the school. Why are they there? How did they get there?
This isn’t something most shows have trouble doing. If a character is going to be in a scene, s/he is either introduced by walking in and saying hello or it’s someplace we expect them to be naturally. But neither Homer nor Wiggum resides or works at the school, nor is any story reason given why they should be there. Zombie Simpsons stopped caring about the integrity of its scenes, and now they’re unable to create scenes that make sense. Stretched over an entire episode this leads to things like that mysteriously appearing and disappearing cathedral at the beginning, Lisa and Marge’s bizarre horse movie scene, and the hapless video chat with Jimbo and Kearney.
Anyway, the numbers are in and they are as bad as usual. A mere 6.14 million people forgot how to use their remote controls last night. That’s the third lowest all season, but it isn’t quite low enough to drag Season 22 below Season 20’s average. Oh well.