12
May
11

The Michael Bay Ethos of Zombie Simpsons

“There were script problems from day one.” – Homer Simpson
“It didn’t seem like anybody even read the script.” – Bart Simpson
“That was the problem.” – Homer Simpson

Two years ago, Michael Bay released Transformers 2, a movie that, even by his skewed standards, was vapid, nonsensical and incoherent.  At 20% (which seems very generous), it is his lowest rating as a director on Rotten Tomatoes.  It made an enormous amount of money, but was so widely pilloried as among the worst movies ever made that Bay himself publicly stated that the third one would be better.  In other words, Transformers 2 was so reprehensibly bad that even Michael Bay, a man who often protests (a bit too much) that he doesn’t care what critics think, admitted it sucks.

When the movie came out, the pop culture segments of the internet were rife with parodies, criticisms, and every form of snark imaginable.  Of those, my absolute favorite was this piece by Rob Bricken at Topless Robot.  Driven to the scalpel edge of insanity by the film, Bricken came back by splitting his mind in two and talking himself down.  The entire thing is hilarious, and near the very end is something that popped into my head while watching “Homer Scissorhands”:

If you had to pick a single scene that exemplifies Michael Bay’s utter disdain for story and continuity, what would it be?
When five Decepticons sink to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve Megatron’s corpse. A submarine tracks five "subjects" going down, and when they get there, one of the Decepticons is killed to give parts to Megatron. 5 -1 +1 = 5, right? No, because the sub somehow tracks "six" subjects coming up. Not only is this very basic math, this is the simplest of script errors. It could not possibly have been more than one page apart in the script. And yet  Michael Bay either didn’t care to notice or didn’t give a fuck. "Math? Math is for pussies. My movies are about shit blowing up, man."

You see that attitude in Zombie Simpsons a lot, all you have to do is replace “shit blowing up” with “Homer screaming” or “guest voices”.  But rarely do you see two examples in a single episode where just the tiniest script change could’ve made things make sense, and was neglected anyway.  The first, when Milhouse and Taffy see Bart and Lisa in the hall, is more immediately glaring; but the second, when the Wiggums confront Homer outside his shop, is even worse because it could’ve been fixed by changing just a single word.

In the second of Taffy’s three scenes, she and Milhouse walk up to Bart and Lisa in the hall.  She’s standing right there as Milhouse tells Lisa to lift with her legs not her back:

Four People in a Hallway

I do not possess any advanced mathematical degrees, but I can count to four.

Taffy gazes adoringly at Milhouse, telling him that he knows a lot, and then the scene goes from trite to wretched.  The camera pans left, taking Taffy out of frame and putting Bart into it:

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Now there’s three, but Lisa is still there.  She didn’t leave or anything.

Note that Taffy is still standing right next to Milhouse and looking directly at him.  Bart and Milhouse now proceed to have private conversation as though she weren’t there:

Um, She's Right There

See the red curve at right?  See the little brown bumps inside it?  She can hear you.

Despite the fact that both Lisa and Taffy are still there, Bart and Milhouse commiserate as though no one else is around, because for Zombie Simpsons out of sight is out of mind.  Though they managed to screw even that up since Taffy is so close to them that her hair is still in frame.  But this isn’t a directorial goof that left a few brown pixels in a shot, this is, like Bay’s poor math, either outright contempt or laziness that amounts to the same thing.  Two characters can’t have a private conversation when two other characters are literally inches away from them.

Nor would it have been at all difficult to fix.  Taffy doesn’t have a singe line after this exchange, so if they didn’t feel like writing parting dialogue they could’ve just sent her down the hall and had Milhouse catch up to her.  Correcting this would’ve required about five seconds of screen time and a script change that hardly rises to the level of minor, but it wasn’t done. 

Then there’s Chief Wiggum’s confrontation with Homer.  Wiggum demands Homer do his wife’s hair for the policeman’s ball “tonight”.  That’s the word he uses, “tonight”.  The next scene is when Lenny visits Homer at his very full salon:

Full Salon (Day 1)

That looks like at least an afternoon’s worth of work, doesn’t it?

The next time we see Homer, look what time it is:

After Work (Day 1)

Nighttime!

The stars are out, Marge is in her bathrobe, Homer is back from work.  When we return from commercial, Lisa is stalking the B-plot, and look what time it is now:

Dusk (Day 2)

Daytime!

Once Milhouse rides the magical eagle, we finally get to the Policeman’s ball.  Hey look, the stars are out again:

Policeman's Ball (Day 2)

To be fair, “Thin Blue Line-Dance” is one of the better signs all season.

The episode went day (salon) – night (home) – day (mountain) – night (ball); that’s two days over a ton of screen time.  It’s certainly not “tonight”.  The really telling part is that this could’ve been fixed at any time right up to broadcast.  All they had to do was swap the audio so Wiggum said something like “Friday”, which has the same number of syllables, in place of “tonight”.  Such a change wouldn’t have had any effect on the rest of the episode, but it would’ve made things make more sense. 

This is, obviously, a very minor point, but so are the six Decepticons rising from the ocean floor.  If someone had taken the time to correct the number, it would not have changed the fact that Transformers 2 was unwatchably bad.  In the same way, had someone fixed Wiggum’s dialogue or bothered to get Lisa and Taffy out of the scene in the hallway, “Homer Scissorhands” would still be wretched.  But the obvious oversights, on both the big and little screens, point to an inescapable commonality between Zombie Simpsons and Michael Bay: sharing an “utter disdain for story and continuity”.


10 Responses to “The Michael Bay Ethos of Zombie Simpsons”


  1. 12 May 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Man, you sure chewed into Taffy right there. (What the hell kind of a name for a girl is “Taffy,” anyways?)

    On a more serious note, though, it ALWAYS annoys me when any show loses continuity of little stuff like this, even if it was not intentional. One show I remember had one character calling someone else on the phone, but while on his end, it was night, on the other side, there was clearly daylight out! It’s not like they could’ve covered it either with a line like, “So how’s India?” either, since they were clearly both in the same city.

  2. 2 lennyburnham
    12 May 2011 at 2:42 pm

    They made Taffy really thin. Look at her compared to Lisa in that first one.

  3. 3 Jake
    12 May 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Maybe the editors handled the editing with the same care Skinner and Hoover when they judged the diorama contest.

  4. 4 Stan
    12 May 2011 at 4:21 pm

    You know… I don’t think for once that you’re right. You made a good point, but… And I mean, for Taffy part, you’re right, conversing private right in front of someone like this can only be an onset to a joke, to which ZS is apparently immune.

    But I can’t agree with you on the “tonight” thing. Reason being, this is Anytown, America we’re talking about. In early May, sun goes down at around 7:30 PM, right? So the police dance might’ve started at 9:00 PM, or even 10:00 PM for that matter. When Homer is back, Marge is wearing a bathrobe because she just took a bath getting ready for the dance. It might be something like 8:00 or 8:30ish PM. Which still leaves time for “tonight”.

    Now regarding the B-plot, no one said that it is supposed to happen afterwards. Lisa might’ve stalked the couple at around 7:00 PM, which explains the sunset. Yeah, sure, they expect us to consider 2 minutes of screen time for 30-45 mins IRL, but many shows do that. Even in some movies, that are lame enough to invest in specialized effects so you see actors with such bloom as either a different shirt, or a scar on the other side of the face, for example – even there, it happens. So that’s not really that much of a point, IMO.

    In all, I agree with you though, because of course plot errors lead to errors in design, color, animation and so on. Taffy not going anywhere is prone not to go anywhere. Animators shouldn’t show any initiative (which they didn’t). But, like I said, everything in this show follows one simple rule: don’t give a fuck about the rest of the episode, just gnaw on whatever you see now. Kinda like that “relax, we’ve got everything under control” shit.

    • 5 Charlie Sweatpants
      12 May 2011 at 4:54 pm

      “It might be something like 8:00 or 8:30ish PM. Which still leaves time for “tonight”.

      Now regarding the B-plot, no one said that it is supposed to happen afterwards. Lisa might’ve stalked the couple at around 7:00 PM, which explains the sunset. Yeah, sure, they expect us to consider 2 minutes of screen time for 30-45 mins IRL, but many shows do that.”

      I see where you’re coming from there. And it’s possible that these events were taking place simultaneously, they were just shown to the audience out of order (i.e. Lisa following them actually happened before Marge and Homer talked in the kitchen). But even if that’s true, and their presentation is vague enough that you could go either way, then not only did they show things out of order (which is confusing without purpose), they also absentmindedly destroyed any narrative tension or momentum. When Wiggum says “tonight” it implies to the audience that there’s some big event coming up relatively soon, not whenever we get around to it.

      Could the ball be on the same night that Homer and Marge talk in the kitchen? With a generous enough interpretation, sure. But if the audience has to resort to trying to divine the time of sunset and Marge’s bathing habits, plus assume that the events depicted were out of chronological order, well, that means you failed rather miserably at telling your story. Either way, I agree completely that they don’t give a fuck.

      • 6 Stan
        12 May 2011 at 7:03 pm

        See, they don’t go as far as to ask such question regarding chronological order. My point was simply that it can actually make sense, but I’m pretty such in any upcoming episodes, there will be plenty a moment where no sense shall be made, with them still getting away.

        What I really deplore is that they don’t make those Homer+Marge in bed scenes anymore, where Marge is anxious about something and Homer tries to reassure her, all while reading some stupid novelty magazine, or drawing robots, or whatever. Their narrative really lacks time sense nowadays, as much as you can actually pretend that some episodes happened in the lapse of a day. Or even less.

        I still blame in on the writing cast. With such technology at their disposal as the one they have today, there are tons of time available to correct the script. Instead, they probably live like some frat folks: red bulls, pot and MW dinners…

        And when pot ends, they start writing the b-plots.

      • 7 sVybDy
        15 May 2011 at 12:28 am

        I’m gonna have to agree that they, at a minimum, placed the scenes out of logical order. At the point in the episode where they show up at the ball, I was wondering why they were suddenly at a party, and if at any point in the episode it had been conveyed that they were planning on attending on a party. I’d not only forgotten that they’d established it, I’d also forgotten what type of party it was supposed to be.

  5. 8 Frank S.
    12 May 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I noticed the odd “private” conversation too. It’s as if the episode lost object permanence (things still exist when they are no longer in our visual field), like a newborn infant. I stopped watching the episode about halfway through. Homer Scissorhands was not just zombie, but rotted zombie.

    And Kristen Schaal is a terrific comic actress, making the carelessness even more of a bummer.


Comments are currently closed.

E-Mail

deadhomersociety (at) gmail

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Twitter Updates

Useful Legal Tidbit

Even though it’s obvious to anyone with a functional frontal lobe and a shred of morality, we feel the need to include this disclaimer. This website (which openly advocates for the cancellation of a beloved television series) is in no way, shape or form affiliated with the FOX Network, the News Corporation, subsidiaries thereof, or any of Rupert Murdoch’s wives or children. “The Simpsons” is (unfortunately) the intellectual property of FOX. We and our crack team of one (1) lawyer believe that everything on this site falls under the definition of Fair Use and is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. No revenue is generated from this endeavor; we’re here because we love “The Simpsons”. And besides, you can’t like, own a potato, man, it’s one of Mother Earth’s creatures.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 442 other followers