“Boy, you don’t have to follow in my footsteps.” – Homer Simpson
“Don’t worry, I don’t even like using the bathroom after you.” – Bart Simpson
“Why you little!” – Homer Simpson
Archive for March, 2011
Image yoinked from Wikipedia.
“But what would turn Bart into a man fast? You have to think for me.” – Homer Simpson
“Well, let’s see now, time was you send a boy off to war. Shooting a man fix ’em right up. But there’s not even any wars no more, thank you very much Warren Christopher.” – Moe
“Oh look, you haven’t touched your salt lick. Num-num, good salt lick.” – Lisa Simpson
This week we’ve got lick-able food, and some excellent guitar licks. Sadly no salt licks, but them’s the breaks. In addition to that there’s some television retrospectives, a list of people you don’t want as your boss, an awesome new Tumblr, a couple of fan made links (including one by a wee child), and a very creative use of an animated .gif file.
[Programming Note: Crazy Noises for “A Midsummer’s Nice Eve” will be along next week, but there’s no new Zombie Simpsons this week so that’s okay.]
Simpsons song medley – Internet? More like this please:
Fantastic. Two things I’d like to add. 1) That guy might be younger than some of the songs he’s singing. 2) No Zombie Simpsons. The kids are alright. (via @springfieldx2)
Simpson’s Cake Pops – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week contains a recipe, tips, and an awesome picture. Damn, those look good.
Technologic – This is like that Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz thing, but much simpler and involving Daft Punk and an animated .gif of Flanders from “Hurricane Neddy”.
Wordless Wednesday – Drawings from preschool days – Excellent drawing of the Simpson family by a pre-schooler. I especially like how Bart and Lisa got started in the middle, then crossed out and replaced elsewhere. That’s wonderfully unpretentious child think.
Greeting Cards for Every Occasion – A cool fan made Simpsons birthday card.
Born in the USA – A paean to American television with moderate usage:
I can’t help thinking of Bart Simpson’s maxim about television and parenting ‘It’s hard not to listen to TV. It’s spent so much more time raising us than you’.
And now I must nitpick, for that quote is missing a “just” and a “have”: “It’s just hard not to listen to TV. It’s spent so much more time raising us than you have.” Other than that, well done; and that link goes to YouTube of Homer on Rock Bottom.
The Sad Story of the Real-Life Simpsons House – I fail to find this sad. It’s just another dumb marketing idea that didn’t work. And why the hell did they build it in a suburb of Las Vegas? (via @springfieldx2)
Look what I found my drawing of Lisa Simpson :) on Twitpic – Fan made drawing (painting?) of Lisa.
Steve Totally Looks Like Ned Flanders – Agreed.
Homer – Tying weight loss to The Simpsons, including excellent usage and some YouTube from “King- Size Homer”.
Fashion is Hell: Comme des Garçons Toons in to Matt Groening – Neat? Slightly larger picture of one of the shirts here.
Check it out ya’ll checka check it out – A college radio DJ in Eugene, Oregon has named his show “Soul Donuts”, including a real life picture of everyone’s favorite forbidden donut fragment. Sweet.
Homemade Weed Vaporizer – Excellent usage, even if it is flagrant false advertising.
A different kind of list – Listing Simpsons supporting characters by tiers instead of individually.
42. The Wrong Box – An audio book review of a Robert Louis Stevenson story involving a tontine. As you’d expect, “Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in "The Curse of the Flying Hellfish"” is mentioned.
Who’s The Boss??? – A list of fictional bosses, including Burns and good old Zapp Brannigan.
Lessons from great (and not-so-great) television – This is about good and not so good teevee. But it does contain this:
The Simpsons, at least in its classic seasons, acquired a richness and velocity that continued to build for years, until it had populated a world that rivaled the real one for density and immediacy. (Like the rest of the Internet, I respond to most situations with a Simpsons quote.)
Don’t we all?
Update – 22/02/11 – And finally, I get to end not just with someone who agrees with us, but someone who’s running a Simpsons Tumblr and who has had it with Zombie Simpsons:
The first announcement for the blog is, from now on I will only be concentrating on the first ten seasons of the Simpsons. I started this blog last Autumn as a a labour of love towards our favourite yellow family and I believe the first ten seasons of the show is when The Simpsons is at its best.
I had a lot of requests from people, asking for things from later seasons and I didn’t enjoy doing them at all. It meant sitting through episodes that I didn’t care for to get them, causing me to become unenthusiastic about updating the blog. I think if I focus on Seasons 1 – 10, I’ll enjoy working on the pages more and hopefully you guys will see a lot more updates! I still love The Simpsons and will watch it whenever I can but you can’t deny their golden age!
“Drederick, what do you think of Homer Simpson?” – Reporter
“I think he’s a good man, I like him, I got nothing against him, but I’m definitely going to make orphans of his children.” – Drederick Tatum
“Uh, you know they do have a mother, champ.” – Reporter
“Yes, but I would imagine that she would die of grief.” – Drederick Tatum
This is a minor point, but it goes to something larger. The above image is from Season 3’s “Saturdays of Thunder”. It’s just a brief establishing shot, but it manages to poke fun at the format wars of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Notably, it needs no dialogue to set it up and it doesn’t take aim at any one institution. It’s a joke at the expense of a general cultural artifact, and that means that all these years later it still works even though the specific conflict it describes is long over. After all, vanquished video formats have been with us ever since, in everything from LaserDisc to DIVX to HD-DVD.
Now take a look at the image below from this week’s “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”:
Here’s something that not only needed dialogue to set it up, but isn’t going to age nearly as well. Yes, video rental stores are quickly passing from the scene, but Zombie Simpsons didn’t trust its audience enough to leave it at that. Instead they had to go after Blockbuster specifically. In fact, they have so little faith that people will get the joke that they made sure that the entire sign is visible.
Again, this is minor in and of itself. But however little it is, it’s a nice demonstration of how low Zombie Simpsons aims its jokes. Given the chance, they’ll always go for petty, referential humor over a meatier target that requires a tad more from them.
“Gee, your station has a lot of problems.” – Lisa Simpson
“Tell me about it, just look at our morning guy.” – KJAZZ Guy
“Hello, this is Moleman in the Morning, good Moleman to you. Today, part four of our series of the agonizing pain in which I live every day.” – Hans Moleman
“Has anyone mentioned that Homer doesn’t know anything about mountain climbing, and that this is all crazy?” – Marge Simpson
“Well yes, a number of people.” – Neil
Just a few minutes into “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”, more than a decade of accumulated bad habits catastrophically cratered the episode:
Zombie Marge: Homie, you know all the bits, maybe you could help him.
Zombie Homer: I can’t do reefer comedy, I’m drunk, two different animals.
Zombie Marge: Homer Simpson, that man’s albums have given you decades of entertainment, and seen you through some very square times. Help him!
Zombie Crowd: [Cheers wildly]
Mobsters, teachers, Smithers, Mrs. Glick, it’s almost like they have no personality of their own.
You know where it goes from there. Homer walks on stage and everyone loves him. The man who is ostensibly an ordinary guy from an ordinary town once again becomes an overnight celebrity. Afterwards, the episode staggers around for another fifteen minutes, bumbling from one topic to the next as it tries to tell a story it’s told a hundred times before.
Homer has had plenty of wild adventures going all the way back to the beginning of the show. But prior to about Season 9 or so, whenever Homer went out and did something really far fetched he was usually more along for the ride than in the driver’s seat. He certainly didn’t become an accomplished professional in the span of a few seconds. When he headed out with Hullabalooza, he wasn’t backing up Peter Frampton on guitar or freestyling with Cypress Hill. When he went into space, the NASA guys were planning on sedating him almost immediately, he wasn’t scheduled to land the shuttle. When he played softball with all those ringers, he couldn’t get a hit off Roger Clemens, nor could he field as well as Daryl Strawberry. He was always an amateur, even if he often found himself in places amateurs rarely tread.
Compare that with the way Marge and the crowd shove him onstage during “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”. He becomes the main act instantly, acquiring the timing and poise of an accomplished stage performer, something that requires years of training and practice, in less than a minute. The crowd knows it too, and they’re a-okay with Homer replacing one of the men they paid to see. He’s no longer a lucky amateur, he’s now the same mega-popular super character within the world of the show that he’s long been outside of it, and everyone, from his family to the crowd to the guest stars, understands that intuitively.
I bet he’s glad his face is on a bunch of crappy merchandise though.
This is far from the first time Zombie Simpsons has done something like this. The degradation of Homer from a recognizable everyman into an unrepentant, unfeeling, unrestrained id of middle age wish fulfillment is one of the true hallmarks of Zombie Simpsons. It started way back when the show began its implosion around Season 9 as Homer embarked on an ever increasing series of jobs for which he was wildly unsuited: submarine captain, mayoral bodyguard, movie producer, etcetera. It’s been going on ever since; in just the last two seasons Homer has become a movie star, an Olympic athlete, an undercover cop, and now a professional comedian.
The reduction of Homer into a cheap, one dimensional gag machine has also damaged the other characters around him, especially Marge. When Homer goes on tour with his humble barbershop quartet, Marge is devastated and tries to compensate. When Homer wants to go on tour with the pageant of the transmundane, Marge is skeptical and afraid for him. These are the kinds of reactions you might expect from an actual woman upon hearing that her husband is planning on skipping town for a little while. In “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”, Marge just pats him on the head and tells him not to have too much fun, like she’s sending one of her children out to play.
We’ve secretly replaced the real Marge Simpson in one of these images. Try to guess which!
Once he’s actually out on tour the difference becomes even starker as Homer immediately becomes completely untethered from his life in a way that’d be unthinkable for the man in “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” or “Homerpalooza”. In the former, even winning a Grammy can’t distract him from his homesick loneliness, and he goes so far as to record a taped message for his kids. In the latter, his exploits with Smashing Pumpkins and company pass very quickly, and most of those are told in a letter he writes to Bart and Lisa. Yet for the entire middle of “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”, Homer is completely cut off from his family or anything else that’s going on in the episode. He’s just out pestering Cheech Marin and doesn’t spend a single frame thinking about or missing the family he left behind.
The contrast with Hullabalooza and The Be Sharps couldn’t be clearer. In those episodes Homer is a real character whose actions and reactions reflect that, so even if he frequently finds himself in “wacky adventures” (as Lisa put it in Season 5), he’s still recognizable as the same guy. In Zombie Simpsons, Homer knows that he’s not a regular guy, he knows that his wife will happily tell him to board that tour bus, and once he’s aboard he never needs to give the rest of his life a second thought. Hacktacular crap like this went a long way towards degrading the show in the first place lo those ten or twelve years ago, and it hasn’t changed much.
“When I started this clown thing I thought it would be nothing but glory, you know, the glory of being a clown. I tell you, it’s hard, tiring work. But when I see the smiles on their little faces, I just know they’re getting ready to jab me with something.” – Homer Simpson
Happy birthday David Silverman!
“The guy’s so high he doesn’t even know that’s Dave!” – Homer Simpson
“Homer? Homer?” – Bobby Mindich
“Homer’s not here, man.” – Homer Simpson
“Okay, very good.” – Bobby Mindich
No sooner do we poke fun at Zombie Simpsons for its complete reliance on jamming the same few characters into any situation than they have Chong audition every third person in Springfield to replace Cheech. There are about five hundred different things they could’ve done there: they could’ve invented new acts, pulled some other old ones out of retirement, created thinly veiled jabs at comedians who’ve long since faded from view and gone batshit crazy (paging Mr. Gallagher). But they didn’t do any of that, instead they went with the shallowest and laziest possible option by dragging their usual characters across the stage to do the same tired old things they always do. In this case it was made even more uncomfortable as they nervously tap danced around concepts like stale comedy and being long past your prime.
Things started in that vein quickly as Marge (for some reason) convinced Homer to go up on stage (for some other reason) and the crowd (for some final reason) quickly assented. It was all downhill from there, including the above mentioned audition, a couple of parodies that were as lifeless as they were long, and the B-plot that reminded me of nothing so much as when Krusty was trying to improvise comedy with a cracked portrait of Eisenhower. Here, laugh at these random objects! The difference being that when Krusty was doing it, it wasn’t supposed to be funny. It was supposed to show what a desperate hack he was. Hmmm.
Anyway, the numbers are in and they are wretchedly atrocious. A piffling 5.45 million viewers wondered if there’s enough weed in all the world to make that funny. That’s the lowest of the season, and the fourth lowest of all time. A few more numbers in this range and we may get our moral victory of seeing Season 22 be the lowest rated ever.
Straight from the unfortunately named FOX publicity machine, FOX FLASH, here’s a preview for tonight’s episode of Zombie Simpsons:
The town is abuzz when Cheech and Chong announce a Springfield stop on their much-anticipated reunion tour. But when Cheech and Chong take the stage in front of their loyal fans, the jokes were just not the same for Chong, so Homer steps in and delivers all the punchlines by heart. Impressed, Cheech invites Homer to go on tour with him as new duo “Cheech and Chunk” while Chong forms a more progressive comedic team, “Teach and Chong,” with Principal Skinner. While Homer is on tour, Marge attempts to help the neighborhood cat lady and change her hoarder ways, but turns into a hoarder herself in the process, and Homer realizes that life on the road is not all high times and slapstick humor.
I can’t help but think that Cheech and Chong won’t resonate with the average Zombie Simpsons viewer, but what do I know? Maybe there’s some profound connection between aging stoner types and shitty-animated-show enthusiasts. Ugh. Stay tuned for the aftermath and if it’s any consolation, Season 22 should be ending pretty soon.
“I’ve got to get out of here . . . calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean.” – Ms. Hoover
WordPress suffered a rather large DDoS attack this week which I hadn’t even noticed until I went through the WordPress tags for “The Simpsons” and “Simpsons” looking for interesting links. The number of posts with those two tags was about a fifth of what it usually is, and there are gaps of whole days, so I’m betting that got screwed up. As a result, there’s a much shorter than usual Reading Digest this week. But we do have a love note to Milhouse and all those like him, Harry Shearer bringing the pain, a compilation of all the stores in Springfield mall, and the love-hate relationship Knoxville has with The Simpsons.
Re: The Adventures of Game Progress Topic 3 – Reader Eric made Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week easy by editing together and e-mailing in this message board discussion about the precipitous decline in the show. They’re listed here in chronological order:
- 135813 – This starts things off by discussing the Futurama episode “A Head in the Polls”.
- 136503 – Here’s the same guy now comparing Futurama’s funny but somewhat predictable joke structure to the way The Simpsons would have a punchline just sneak up on you.
- 136539 – Here he’s pointing out how Zombie Simpsons beats jokes into your skull instead of trusting the audience, citing an example from the gay bar episode.
- 136577 – In reply to the author of the above comes one of the big reasons why The Simpsons was so damn good:
The commentaries often comment on the writing process, and how they went through rewrite after rewrite pretty much up until the day before it aired, and there were some jokes they cut because they were "only" funny the first thirty times, but stopped being funny the 31st time.
Many thanks to Eric for sending this in, and to Crawl and 1OOO and Captain Ladd Spencer for knowing good Simpsons when they see it.
The Simpsons Springfield Mall Directory – Jeff over at good old Pleated Jeans has compiled a map for the Springfield Mall. There’s quite a bit of Zombie Simpsons here, but it’s damned clever nevertheless (via).
David Brooks’ dream world for the trust-fund set – Professional sycophant David Brooks wrote a novel. PZ Myers reviewed it, and since he mentions Homer I’m allowed to link to this even though my primary purpose is to further the humiliation of David Brooks. This critical writing at its best.
Milhouse-ian Characters: An Appreciation – An essay about Milhouse and the various other loveable losers who are like him. And it’s only slightly tainted by Zombie Simpsons.
Comic Harry Shearer to Accuse National Media of Mythmaking at National Press Club – On Monday Shearer is going to tell the National Press Club what for. They should probably listen to him, but I doubt they will.
DVD Review: The Simpsons – Season 5 – I don’t need to add anything to this:
Listing its best episodes is a bit redundant as each and everyone one of them is great. That’s not hyperbole, the product description alone rhymes off 13 classics and doesn’t even get to “Homer Goes to College,” “Secrets of a Successful Marriage,” or “Homer the Vigilante.” Even the Marge and Lisa episodes were great back then with “Marge on the Lam” and “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacey.”
Simpson theme to grace Truro Cathedral – If you’re going to be in or around Truro, England this weekend, you can hear the themes from The Simpsons, Star Wars, and, oddly enough, Thunderbirds on an organ.
March 4th, 2011 – Once something was on The Simpsons, it became irrevocably linked with it:
On the way to the train station, my desire to get out of the city for a while was reinforced by the actions of a pregnant lady. Transport For London now give ‘Baby On Board’ badges to mothers-to-be, so they can pop them on for tube journeys and everyone will know they’re fertile and would appreciate a little sit down. Aside from getting that song from The Simpsons in my head every time I see one of these badges, I think they’re a great idea. In theory.
The link is YouTube of the song, by the way.
DONNIE BASEBALL – It’s a Don Mattingly rookie card and some YouTube to go with it.
Funny How: A Quick, Exhaustive Analysis of Why “Family Guy” Has Not Made Anyone Laugh In Years – Someone making the case, with copious Simpsons references, for why Family Guy should’ve stayed dead.
The Sunsphere’s Grand Reopening Successfully Wigs Out – You can now rent out a couple of floors of the fabulous Sunsphere for special events, and to commemorate the opening, they had a wig themed party and band. Awesome.
The Sunsphere Is Not a Wig Shop – The link above pointed me to this local Knoxville blog. The title says it all.
The Way-Back Machine Presents: 10 TV Shows That Wore Out Their Welcome! – Zombie Simpsons only checks in at #4, but it does contain this:
But mostly, The Simpsons seems more mean spirited than I remember and definitely has much more -ism fail than I can tolerate. It’s not awful like say – Family Guy, but I definitely find myself going, “Really? oh c’mon!”
Gob Bluth, for the win.
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 “bludgeon”).
One of the more tedious aspects of watching Zombie Simpsons is the way it keeps making the same television-y mistakes week in and week out. For a small case in point from “The Scorpion’s Tale”, just take a look at the scene with Lisa, Homer and Grampa in the kitchen. This is where Lisa confirms her (patently obvious) suspicions that Homer is dosing his father, and where Grampa puts the (even more obvious) twist on things by telling Lisa he prefers to be happy. This is one of those grindingly slow television reveals where everyone, from the writers to people watching at home under the influence of serious pain medication, can see it coming a mile away. Despite that, they drag it out as long as they possibly can. The use of formulaic television dreck like this is one of the things that really sets Zombie Simpsons apart from The Simpsons.
Note: Mad Jon is traveling this week and couldn’t make it, fortunately Dave could.]
Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to get started?
Charlie Sweatpants: Having been away from Zombie Simpsons for a few episodes, did you notice anything different now that you’re back?
Dave: I was taken aback at how much more of a cartoon the show has become.
I mean, this isn’t news really. But it was as blatant as ever this past episode.
Popped out eyeballs, ad nauseum, will do that.
Charlie Sweatpants: Don’t forget the frat house on the crane, the immediate car fire, pretty much everything that happened in the desert, and Bart getting into his own suitcase for some reason.
Oh, and all the times they grabbed Grampa’s face and contorted it.
Dave: Oh, those things. Yeah.
Charlie Sweatpants: Even when the cartoon-y things were kinda funny they took too damn long. The childproof door to get into the drug company building was a nice idea, but then they had to have Homer struggle with it to kill some time.
Dave: The show’s good at killing time. You forgot about the miserable couch gag.
The 5 minutes of setup in the desert.
That horrible exchange between Skinner and Chalmers.
Charlie Sweatpants: The couch gag was at least nice enough make how creatively bankrupt it is explicit.
Dave: There is that, certainly.
Charlie Sweatpants: The Skinner-Chalmers thing is really getting out of hand. At this point Chalmers is like one of the neighbors on an old sitcom. He just walks in, delivers one dumb line, and walks out.
Dave: Agreed. He was better in smaller quantities. Frequency here is not appreciated.
Charlie Sweatpants: Good way to put it. About the only thing to be appreciated here was Werner Herzog. He had two lines I can still remember two days after seeing this, which is two more than most Zombie Simpsons episodes.
Dave: Those lines were?
Charlie Sweatpants: The one about him being in the boat with all the lawyers, and the one about "Every night I see the tube".
Those I actually laughed at. Though it should be said that last year he damn near carried an entire episode of "Boondocks", wherein he had many many more good lines than he did here.
But he wasn’t nearly enough to rescue this thing. The plot swings alone doomed it. Just when I thought the popped eyeball thing couldn’t get any worse, they dropped it like a bad habit for their weird generation war ending.
It got excessive. Once wasn’t funny… I think their assumption was do it a few dozen more times for the lulz.
Charlie Sweatpants: That’s a good point. It seemed like they knew how lame it was, so they thought if they just beat it into the ground that would make it funny. Shades of the worst aspects of Family Guy.
Dave: Yep. You know I’m loathe to do the Simpsons/FG comparison as much as you, but parts felt uncanny. [Ed Note: check out the Family Guy take on popped eyeballs from Sean in comments. Even the eyeball strings are the same length.]
Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed. Anything else here worth mentioning, good or bad?
The only thing I’ve got, and it’s definitely bad, was what might be a new low for them in terms of randomly teleporting characters in and out of scenes.
Dave: How do you mean?
Charlie Sweatpants: At the very end, when they’re lecturing, Lisa has the scorpions on a stick in front of her. There wasn’t much reason for her to be there at all, and instead she’s there with two scorpions just to bludgeon the audience with a reminder of how the whole shit show got started.
Dave: We need our hands held. C’mon.
Charlie Sweatpants: Meh. Live by the two minute attention span, die by the two minute attention span.
Otherwise nothing from me. Seems I haven’t missed much by ignoring the show for a month.
Charlie Sweatpants: No, you most certainly have not.