“I’m here for my free birthday sundae.” – Bart Simpson
“Eat it and get out.” – Phineas Q. Butterfat Clerk
As part of our tireless efforts to demonstrate the many ways Zombie Simpsons fails to entertain, Season 23 will be subjected to the kind of rigorous examination that can only be produced by people typing short messages at one another. More dedicated or modern individuals might use Twitter for this, but that’s got graphics and short links and little windows that pop up when you put your cursor over things. The only kind of on-line communications we like are the kind that could once be done at 2400 baud. So disable your call waiting, plug in your modem, and join us for another year of Crazy Noises. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “Jeeves”).
It wasn’t worth doing an entire post about, but there was one scene in “The D’oh-cial Network” that I thought perfectly illustrated the gaping philosophical and humor differences between The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons. During that extended bunch of set pieces at the mall, Homer takes a gift card into “Cinnabun”. Note that, per standard Zombie Simpsons operating procedure, this is just a slight misspelling of a real place, not an actual parody.
I hope they got some complimentary pastries in exchange for that kind of free advertising.
Once inside, Homer walks up to the Squeaky Voiced Teen, hands him the card, and tells him to just start rolling the giant confection into his mouth. The kid complies, drawing the blinds and closing down the entire store while Homer sucks this thing down.
I never get service like this when I redeem a gift card.
Set aside the fact that The Simpsons did this exact thing with the Ironic Punishment Division in “Treehouse of Horror IV”, it’s also eerily reminiscent of Bart’s free birthday sundae in “Radio Bart”. Both scenes have the character come in and expect free goodies. What makes it eerie is the way you almost couldn’t draw up a better example of the world spanning differences between the philosophy and humor of The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons.
Zombie Simpsons has Homer go to a thinly veiled real store and get treated like a VIP. Not only does he get exactly what he asks for, but the clerk even closes the store so he can gorge himself in private. (Remember, this is the man who once exhorted his wife to not be ashamed while he was being used as a freak show attraction for an all you can eat seafood buffet.) The only joke is that Homer is fat.
The Simpsons has Bart go to a store they made up whole cloth. It isn’t an advertisement for a real chain, it’s a rather mean satire about the fake nostalgia and dishonest advertising real ice cream stores employ.
Everything implied or stated is either misleading or an outright lie. That’s funny.
When Bart gets there, he isn’t treated like a star; he’s treated like an unwanted moocher. The birthday sundae is pitifully tiny, the guy behind the counter is a jerk to him, and there isn’t so much as a whiff of the old time whimsy the coupon promised. Phineas Q. Butterfat and his brand of wholesome fun are all lies. It’s just a crappy ice cream place with surly employees and tiny portions.
The Simpsons sees a world that kinda sucks, in which you will get lied to and yelled at and are treated poorly. Zombie Simpsons sees a world that’s awesome, in which perfect strangers will treat you like royalty and carry out your every desire, and if they can throw in a nice mention for a real store in the process, why not? It’s not like they’re here to satirize anything.
Charlie Sweatpants: Shall we get to the depressing task at hand?
Mad Jon: Yeah, I was hoping you would forget that we had to do this, but let’s go for it.
Charlie Sweatpants: I haven’t been drinking that much.
Mad Jon: Maybe a slight electrocution or something, I dunno.
Not enough to kill you, just to kill some of your short term memory
Charlie Sweatpants: If my short term memory had been injured, I might have enjoyed this episode.
Mad Jon: Doubtful.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, some kind of brain damage anyway.
Mad Jon: Was this the first time that there was a nameable person actually in the couch gag?
Charlie Sweatpants: Maybe?
One wonder’s why Letterman went for it. Boredom, I suppose.
Mad Jon: I haven’t watched Letterman in years, has it gotten that hard to get late night ratings that he needs the ~ 4 million Zombie Simpson viewers to help him out?
Also, it seemed like this episode decided to forgo the normal activity that leads to the plot line, and just dove right into it.
And by ‘it’ I mean the 4/5ths of the episode that was a flashback.
Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t know if I should give them credit for having the lawyer make that joke about the opening being unrelated, or if it should aggravate me because it means they’re perfectly content to waste their time and mine.
Mad Jon: Why bother sugar coating it if you don’t care how the person feels about the taste?
Charlie Sweatpants: Something like that. I’d add that the outdoor mall thing is yet another example of the wealthy-Southern-California setting they seem intent on inserting into every third episode or so.
It’s nice that you get to shop at places that take their decor from Disneyland’s Main Street USA, but the rest of us don’t give a fuck.
Mad Jon: Yeah, we got one of those around here, but I can tell you that there aren’t any upper-lower middle class families shopping there with gift cards.
And the condos there cost more than my house.
Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly. I pine for a day when Lenny, a blue collar bachelor if ever there was one, begged Marge not to tell people how he lived.
Mad Jon: I was just about to ask if you remember the difference between a Lenny begging Marge not to tell people how he lives and a Lenny begging the Simpson family to spend time with him.
Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, I do. And scenes like that weird and kinda Pedobear thing with Lenny and the dolls make it impossible not to remember.
Mad Jon: That was tragic if nothing else.
Charlie Sweatpants: And creepy.
Mad Jon: Very much so.
Charlie Sweatpants: Though that was before Otto rode a greased up Bart like a skateboard.
Mad Jon: Also, did you feel as depressed as I did watching the McBain scene? That was bad even for a character that hasn’t had a meaningful presence in a decade.
Charlie Sweatpants: That was terrible. It’s a mark of how low the show has fallen that they can’t even kick Schwarzenegger when he’s down.
Mad Jon: Well, luckily this scene led to Lisa being shunned by her friends so the writers could copy a movie that I’ve never seen.
Charlie Sweatpants: A copy would’ve been an improvement.
Mad Jon: I just assumed. Like I said, I didn’t see the movie, so I have no idea.
Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, they tried to copy it. But nobody told them that just recreating a scene or two and putting in the same music wouldn’t get them all the way home.
I bitched about this in Compare & Contrast, but I don’t think a single plot point in this episode actually made sense.
Mad Jon: Yes indeed.
Most of the rest of my notes are things like "nothings happening, nothings happening" "Homer and Grandpa argue for a while", "Skinner and Chalmers are talking" and "It’s over, everyone looks pissed"
Charlie Sweatpants: Lisa signs on to a Springfield school chat site that already fucking exists, and that . . . what? . . . inspires her to create a Facebook clone because huh?
Mad Jon: Yeah the using the social site to make a social site was a quick way in.
Charlie Sweatpants: And apparently she doesn’t have a computer, and Facebook doesn’t exist there, and smart phones are all new, and no one’s ever used text messaging before.
The episode assumes that you both get the reference and have no idea what it is. It’s really annoying.
Mad Jon: I think what gets me the most is that, again, 4/5 of the episode is a flashback that leads to the last 1/5 which is pretty much just a reason to play the bad Radiohead cover that is, I assume, related to the movie whose preview I saw that had the same music. Then it ends 2 minutes early.
Charlie Sweatpants: Not a bad summation.
Mad Jon: You were willing to stuff the first 20 minutes with crap that was not only non-relative, but on-running and not funny, are you telling me you couldn’t keep going for another 120 seconds? Did you not cut anything out of this episode?
Charlie Sweatpants: That was another thing I bitched about in Compare & Contrast. They jump from one item to another with no connection whatsoever, and that was after they took until nine minutes into the episode to start the A-plot.
Mad Jon: Again indeed.
Charlie Sweatpants: At least show us why this thing is so popular, or why Lisa created it after seemingly being happy on an already existing site. They do none of that.
I mean, they couldn’t even squeeze in a joke about why "SpringFace" was so popular only in Springfield.
Mad Jon: Well, I assume that just like their TV stations, the Springfield internet only works in Springfield.
Charlie Sweatpants: I suspect that’s more thought than the writers put into it.
Mad Jon: I am sure you are right.
I guess 1000 friends for Lisa is equivalent to 500 million for Zuckerberg.
Charlie Sweatpants: She would know, she talked to him last season.
Mad Jon: Jebus I forgot about that.
Then again, I don’t think I could give you more than 2 or 3 coherent recaps of last season, let alone a list of guest stars.
Charlie Sweatpants: That’s the kind of short term memory loss I’m envious of.
Mad Jon: Drink more, my friend. Drink more.
Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, indeed.
What bugged me more here was the way that people glommed onto "SpringFace" for no reason. Skinner got upset that Bart – BART! – unfriended him. Marge was totally cool with Homer driving and looking at his phone. Lovejoy just threw in the towel and starting using his phone during church.
Lovejoy actually says "If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em", and then goes all random internet. At the very least he could’ve used "SpringFace" to connect with the people who weren’t looking at him.
What is the point of having a website that everyone in town is using to communicate with one another if you never – not once – use it to show people communicating with one another?
Mad Jon: Yep, good point.
Lovejoy could have posted his sermon, or you know, been Lovejoy and hit the "Bird Button" to get people to listen to him.
I am sure that not having anything resemble Facebook was part of the deal or something.
Charlie Sweatpants: That’d have been better, but, again, that would require far more thought than they put into this.
Any other specific lowlights?
Mad Jon: I didn’t understand the Olympic crew scene, but I assume that was because I didn’t watch the movie.
I didn’t understand the strangely animated short at the end, but that should have never happened anyway.
So specifically, no.
Charlie Sweatpants: The rowing thing was indeed from the movie. Zuckerberg got sued by a couple of crew team blue bloods who thought he stole their idea. The guy who played them in the movie did the voice.
Mad Jon: Oh wait.
I was going to point out that the "Ask Jeeves" thing made me chuckle as he walked out of the court pew, until they kept going of course.
Charlie Sweatpants: I thought the same thing.
Mad Jon: Ok, the crew thing makes slightly more sense then. Did they actually get $65 million or whatever to add to their already existent fortune?
Nevermind, I don’t care.
Charlie Sweatpants: I think so. I don’t care enough to know the actual history of Facebook, and while the movie was better than I was expecting, I don’t think it had all that much to do with the actual history of Facebook either.
Mad Jon: Fair enough.
Charlie Sweatpants: For specific lowlights, I’ve got three. In no particular order, there was the Homer-hitting-Moleman-with-his-car thing, which was really dumb, but actually better on the commercials that were airing during the Giants-Packers game because there they cut out the extended car crash that piles up behind Homer. It took longer and was dumber in the episode.
Mad Jon: When that happened I thought that was why they were in court….
Charlie Sweatpants: There was also Brandine lighting up her meth pipe in court. Is that even a joke? If a bailiff had looked at her and shrugged, then maybe it’s a joke. As it happened, I don’t know what that was supposed to be other than "Methamphetamine, hurr hurr".
Mad Jon: So it’s come to this….
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah.
Mad Jon: The third?
Charlie Sweatpants: The Nelson/Angry Birds thing. They made the exact same joke outside of the electronics show earlier this season. They repeated a joke from about five episodes ago, and the first time wasn’t that good to start with.
Mad Jon: Excellent.
In fact it was so unmemorable the first time that I don’t remember it.
Charlie Sweatpants: I’d forgotten about it until this. Upon seeing it, I almost didn’t believe it. That’s some seriously hacktacular crap right there. That joke was two years out of date the first time.
Mad Jon: …Probably should have said unmemorable or something. But I am several beers past caring about my grammar in this chat room.
But you are right. I think I finished that game about 18 months ago, and they have so many ‘holiday versions’ that I don’t even bother playing anymore.
Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else? I’m perfectly content to end on video game apathy.
Mad Jon: Apathetic is our calling card.
Charlie Sweatpants: This site’s word count would argue against that, but in general, yes.
Mad Jon: Touche Pants. But that is mainly your fault.
Charlie Sweatpants: Meh.