05
Jan
12

“Pray Anything” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Treehouse of Horror VIII6

It’s a pity that I don’t have a way to tabulate just how much time they spend off topic in these Zombie Simpsons commentaries, because this one might have set a record. Even by their standards there are several impressively long tangents about things that are only connected to the episode by the thinnest of threads. I think my favorite might be when they talk about how you can’t actually swim around in a flood.

Tron Lovejoy Speaking of floods, this episode ends with one. Homer has blasphemed the church such that the entire town floods up to roof level, at which point Lovejoy shows up in a helicopter with a blue glow that makes him look like an extra in a Tron movie. If you’re thinking to yourself that all of that sounds stupid and that they ended the show with a flood in Season 10, well, yeah, it was and they did. As usual, it’s best not to think too much about these.

Eight guys on this one.

0:45 – Original pitch was based off an NPR story about the “gospel of prosperity”. Oh man, you picked those sleazy Bakker acolytes who run prosperity gospel scams and came up with this hunk of shit? Shame, Zombie Simpsons, shame. They don’t come much slower and fatter over the plate than prosperity gospel scammers.

1:30 – This one opens with a WNBA game because all the NBA guys had turned them down for a guest spot a couple of years ago.

2:30 – Still talking about the WNBA.

3:00 – Wow, boredom has set in awfully quickly here. Mike Scully’s name appearing in the credits prompted someone to break a long silence by saying, completely out of the blue, “We were just at Mike Scully’s lifetime animation award ceremony last night. And there’s his name.” That causes everyone to laugh at how off topic it is.

3:45 – Marc Wilmore won a basket shooting contest in a game once. This thrilling story is keeping them nicely distracted from the glacial pace of the episode, in which the Rich Texan is now dancing for no reason.

4:10 – “Me and Marc were actually at a Clippers game thanks to Al giving us his tickets . . .” The story keeps going from there. Homer is crying and yelling on screen now.

4:45 – Omine is now telling a story about taking her kid to a Clippers game.

5:10 – Holy crap, it’s the third basketball story in a row. Al Jean’s wife went to a game once and they put her on the kiss-cam with a dude that she didn’t know who just happened to be sitting next to her.

5:30 – Another kiss-cam story.

5:45 – After a quiet period after the second kiss-cam story, Jean finally says something about the episode. Pointing out that when they show things on television with the image of the outside of the TV there it’s called a “TV matte” or “mat”, I don’t know. That segues nicely into Jean complaining that Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary was too New York centric.

6:20 – Still talking about Ken Burns.

6:50 – See above.

7:05 – Jean breaks the post-Burns silence by asking Michael Polcino, who directed this, how they animated the lenticular card. It was two images cross dissolved with white lines interspersed. Polcino’s explanation is so short and business like that everyone laughs at how short and business like it is.

7:30 – Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I think Jean was hoping Polcino would eat up a bit more time. There was a whiff of Vaudeville straight man to Polcino’s succinct response. To keep things going, Jean asks how the candle flames were done.

8:00 – There wasn’t much to that story either, but it did lead to the usual but-things-are-different-with-computers-now conclusion that happens every time they talk about the animation on these episodes. On screen Homer just caused two trucks to crash into one another.

8:30 – Jean breaks a long silence as Homer goes to unclog the sink through prayer. He wonders about the efficacy of prayer, which causes someone else to jokingly ask if there’s a message to this show. That leads to some casual banter about the unlikeliness of any deity caring about strikeouts or made free throws.

9:30 – As the God-as-Sportsfan discussion winds down, Selman chimes in with a Ricky Gervais joke on that subject.

9:45 – After a silence, we’re still talking about old Gervais routines.

10:15 – Homer just fell down, which prompts a rare comment about the episode. Apparently Castellaneta did a longer falling noise at the table read that was really funny.

10:30 – Jean mentions that with Hartman and therefore Lionel Hutz gone, it was always tough to introduce a new lawyer into the show. Sounds like a reason the show could’ve ended to me.

10:50 – I’ll give Jean credit, he’s doing his best to make this interesting. As Homer proceeds with a lawsuit against the church, Jean talks about how many Catholic churches have been sued since this episode came out and jokes about one that became Greek.

11:30 – Jean again, joking about how they’re still using VHS tapes here.

12:00 – Jean mentions that they’re aware of Jerkass Homer, but then fails to understand the concept by saying that the first time his mom thought Homer was an asshole was “When Flanders Failed”. Jerkass Homer is most definitely not on display in “When Flanders Failed”, because there all he does is not tell people about the Leftorium. Jerkass Homer is when he goes crashing into people and screaming and generally acting out.

12:30 – Someone says, “They criticize Jerkass Homer, but they never praise Niceass Homer”. To which Selman says, “They never praise anything”. To which I say, not true. Read just about any post on this site that mentions an episode prior to Season 10 or so and you will see bounteous and florid praise. Hell, I even say nice things about new episodes every once and a while.

13:00 – They had a fight with the standards and practices people over Homer dancing around the church in his underwear. I would only point out that they did that – in a Halloween episode – five seasons before this.

13:45 – A question about whether or not they’d be allowed to do stuff like this today leads to a long discussion about censorship on the show and who it is they’re trying not to offend. Jean’s opinion is that the censor fights they don’t win anymore are the ones about vulgarity, butt cracks, and the odd politically correct things like not wanting Lisa to have wine at dinner when they went to Italy.

14:30 – Reverend Lovejoy is trying to preach in the bowling alley, which leads both Jean and Omine to jokingly point out how poor a choice this is for the new church. That in turn leads to a long discussion of bowling alley quirks and etiquette. Seriously.

15:10 – Now they’re discussing the claw machines often found in bowling alleys.

15:30 – Jean follows the claw discussion by asking Polcino about the lighting of the sky in afternoon/evening. Up to this they hadn’t done as much graduated shading because you had to draw it, now it’s five seconds on the computer. That’s one of the reasons he likes digital over the hand painted, because you get so many more color and shading options.

17:00 – Still talking about hand painted versus digital. Flanders is praying to pool cues.

18:00 – They’re still talking about the disadvantages of hand painting things, among them noxious fumes and toxic chemicals.

18:40 – Discussing how they do the rain drops. Meanwhile Homer is being struck by lightning.

19:05 – Flanders just drove a rather large boat out of his garage, which prompts Jean to ask “Now where was this ark stored?” to general laughter.

19:30 – And now we’re discussing floods. Not the flood in this episode. Just floods in general.

20:00 – See above.

20:30 – Now they’re joking about whether or not they won a religious award for this one.

20:55 – Colonel Sanders is on a cloud at the end here, which prompts Selman to let us all know that he and the Colonel have the same birthday, September 9th.

21:15 – And we end with Polcino calling it well written, with which I must respectfully disagree.


8 Responses to ““Pray Anything” Makes Baby Jesus Cry”


  1. 1 Thrillho
    5 January 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Sounds boring. THIS is a commentary:

  2. 6 January 2012 at 12:48 am

    This episode had a funny scene or two. Shrug.

    THanks for reviewing these commentaries, though!

    The best commentary I ever heard was probably for the movie ZARDOZ..

  3. 6 January 2012 at 7:51 am

    Frankly, I am stunned that Mike Scully received a lifetime achievement award for anything, let alone animation. “Congratulations on ruining The Simpsons! Here’s to many more years of aborted unfunny family sitcoms!”

  4. 5 Thrillho
    6 January 2012 at 10:57 am

    I at least give him credit for “Lisa’s Rival,” “Lisa on Ice,” or just about anything he wrote in the first 7 seasons (including “Marge Be Not Proud). He’s a talented writer, but he never should have been put in charge of running the show.

    He’s also working on Parks and Recreation, one of the few network shows that’s actually good, even though I imagine his involvement is pretty limited.

  5. 6 Mr. Incognito
    6 January 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Thrillho’s view on Scully is spot on…he’s a good writer, but certainly should not have been put in charge of The Simpsons. It’s not entirely his fault that the show fell over the cliff, given the whole situation. Had The Simpsons ended when it should have, Scully wouldn’t have been villainized the way he is now and his years at the helm would be seen as the oddball seasons.

    Continuing (and further zombifying) The Simpsons was not Scully’s call but Fox’s. The Scully years were at least memorable, if but for the wrong reasons, and you can’t say the same of Al Jean’s bland tenure (from Seasons 13-23, or whenever, given that Matt Selman may or may not be the new showrunner).

    BTW, that NFL on Fox clip was a good example of how the excellent writing of The Simpsons shone through, even in a promo. The conversation between Homer and Jimmy Johnson about their jobs and bosses was great, and I liked James Brown’s threat to Bart. Super Glue being the reason how Homer keeps those two hairs on top of his head was a nice throwaway as well.

  6. 7 Lovejoy Fan
    8 January 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Oh, God, this episode… I’m ashamed to say I used to like it when I was in my early teens. Now, having rewatched it, I can only wonder what the hell I was thinking back then.


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