“This is as good as I can do, and I still failed!” – Bart Simpson
When it comes to Zombie Simpsons I’m firmly in the camp of “It Never Gets Better”, and last night’s exercise in repetition and tedium is a perfect example of why. They managed to not spin themselves into blood soaked absurdity like last week, there weren’t any pointless celebrity cameos, and there was even kind of a story. But while this is the best they can do, it’s still flat, dull and boring.
Just consider the school auction at the beginning. In that scene alone we get a healthy dose of Jerkass Homer, there are characters present who have no business being there, Skinner acts dumber than anyone could ever possibly be, and several voices (notably Captain McAllister, Krabappel, and Skinner) don’t sound anything like themselves. On top of all that, “school fundraiser” is a scene the show has done numerous times already. So even if the scene didn’t have all those problems, it’s still something that was done better twenty years ago.
The rest of the episode suffers from the same problems. Bart gets someone fired? Been done, and much more plausibly. School takeover? Ditto. Bart gets interested in American history? Please. And in each instance it made better sense, was less forced, and had more jokes the first time around.
In Season 5, Skinner lost his job because Bart brought a dog to the school. In Season 23, Chalmers lost his job because he took five reprobates camping to find the lost glasses of a dead president and didn’t bother to get permission slips despite the fact that he’s the fucking superintendent. And nevermind that Nelson, who had previously been super Teddy Roosevelt enthused (which has its own set of problems), sits there while it happens and literally doesn’t say a word. Even when Zombie Simpsons keeps itself kind of grounded it has to conjure up nonsense and paper over glaring plot holes to move along. That there are a couple more chuckle worthy lines than usual (“Have you ever seen a horse your father wasn’t betting on?” is pretty good) isn’t enough to rescue it, or even come close.
Anyway, the numbers are in and they are worse than I could’ve hoped. Last night’s remedial class was attended by a paltry 6.12 million viewers. As expected, the lack of a football lead in crashed the rating and restored Family Guy to its usual place as the most watched animated show. But it gets better. That number is the lowest fall rating for a new episode ever. (The fall numbers are always higher than the winter/spring numbers.) So while Zombie Simpsons usually starts out well above its season average from the previous year, this year it’s average viewership is already below that of last year. Granted, that’s an average of just two numbers, but right now they’re at 7.02 million per episode, which is well below last year’s average of 7.10 million, which was the lowest in the history of the show. That likely won’t last, but it’s a very good start.