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