Archive for February, 2012


Reading Digest: Curiously Remembered Anniversary Edition

Simpson and Delilah7

“Happy anniversary, Homer.” – Marge Simpson
“What?  Our anniversary, are you sure?” – Homer Simpson

I lost count of the number of generic blog posts, newspaper articles, magazine profiles, and other such things that crossed my screen this week.  The funny part isn’t how similar they are to one another, it’s how similar they are to articles that come out whenever the show hits a milestone or gets renewed yet again.  Here is an accurate summary of all of them in Mad Libs form:

Can you believe [common phrase from the show]?  That’s right, it’s been on since 1989, and this Sunday is the [three digit positive integer ending in zero]th episode! 

We asked [longtime show personality] if he thought it would ever last this long.  [Personality’s last name] said, “We never thought it would go this long, but now there’s no stopping us!”  This week’s episode features a special guest appearance by [famous person] as the family [wacky adventure premise].  [Personality’s last name] said that [famous person] was great to work with, “S/he’s such a [positive adjective] person.  We [generic anecdote about recording].”

And when will the show end?  [Personality’s last name] said, “When we got to [smaller three digit positive integer ending in zero], I didn’t think we’d get this far.  But we love doing it, so we’ll keep at it [cute description for an indefinite amount of time].” 

In all of those kind of articles I read, I came across one – just one – new fact.  Had the negotiations failed last fall, that wretched future Christmas episode would’ve been the last one.  Other than that, those thousands and thousands of words are a complete waste of time. 

There were a few diamonds in the rough, however, mostly of the variety where people talk about how great the show is and then cite little or nothing from Zombie Simpsons.  There are a lot of those, and while some are better than others (and one even comes from people on the show), they all point to the same conclusion, Zombie Simpsons is a pale shadow of The Simpsons.  This may be the longest Reading Digest ever, and I didn’t find a single article, link or otherwise that went the other way.  Crammed in among all those anniversary links is some usage, some fan art, a couple more video game reviews, real homemade Prozac, and a dynamite Alf Clausen interview. 


The Simpsons hits 500 episodes: Matt Groening… – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this article Groening, Brooks, Jean, Reiss, Mirkin, Weinstein, Scully list some favorite episodes.  As you’d expect, there’s some token Zombie Simpsons, but even these guys can’t bring themselves to anything approaching equal representation.  Brooks didn’t list anything past Season 7.

"Simpsons" maestro Alf Clausen shares stories behind Springfield’s greatest hits – Fantastic interview with Alf Clausen, featuring plenty of YouTube and detail.  (Also, you may notice a certain trend in which years the songs they discuss first aired.)  It’s a crowded week, but this has a lot of great information in it.  Big hat tip to our old friend Denise.  Hey, speaking of Denise . . .

Fans Say the Darndest Things–To ‘Simpsons’ Creators – . . . she got some of the people behind the show to share the strange things people ask them and say to them.  My favorite:

Michael Price, Bill Oakley, and Marc Wilmore say that the writers are often asked which characters they write for. "We all get that all the time," Mike Price says.

One assumes that would be impractical. 

The Simpsons at 500: your top 10 episodes – The Guardian’s readers and editors came up with a list, on which there is nothing past Season 8.  (And a special thanks to “jpmb” for linking to us in the comments.)

As ‘The Simpsons’ approaches 500 episodes, we pick a baker’s dozen favorite moments – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette picks some favorite Simpsons moments.  There are a couple of Halloween moments from Zombie Simpsons, but not much.  Their picks are overwhelmingly from the before time, the long long ago. 

‘THE SIMPSONS’ HITS 500th EPISODE: The Top-15 Episodes Ever (*And Top-5 Moments)Kaplan Test Prep Daily asked “Andrew Farago, curator at the esteemed Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco” for his top 15 episodes.  He listed thirteen, nothing from past Season 8, then tossed in two from Zombie Simpsons.  I’m sensing a pattern.  (via)

500 Episodes? – Via Twitter comes this generous appraisal of the state of the show, and even it says:

It’s pretty much impossible for any show to continue to be good after this long. Every idea has been tried out, every character has been developed, and just about every vacation destination has been visited.

The Simpsons has definitely suffered in this regard. Countless new episodes are retreads of older episodes, and they just don’t have the same impact. Just look at last Sunday’s episode. It involved Lisa falling in love with a faux-intellectual played by Michael Cera (because no one told the writers that Juno is already 4 years old, and the kid is already past his prime), and then dumping him because it turned out he wasn’t as cool as she thought. In this episode’s 22-minute run-time, we learned absolutely nothing about either character. It had no emotional resonance to speak of, and just felt like a perfunctory, by-the-numbers plot, for a show that used to be capable of doing much better.

Fun With Mock Drafts: Simpsons Quotations – Of the twenty five quotes selected by the five main authors here, I only counted two from Zombie Simpsons.  The comment thread is at about four hundred as I write this, and a quick scan says that Zombie Simpsons quotes are few and far between. 

‘The Simpsons’: A soundtrack to our laughter – A pick of some favorite songs from the entire run of the show.  There is a token Zombie Simpsons entry, but only one. 

Top Fifty Simpsons Episodes (# 40 – 31) – This link and the next one are both from the same blog.  There’s one episode from Season 12 here, but it’s “Trilogy of Error”, which was one of the last really clever things they ever did. 

Top Fifty Simpsons Episodes (# 50 – 41) – This part of the list is completely free of Zombie Simpsons.

The Simpsons at 500 – A great retrospective on the show:

It may have been that very Friday night, or the Friday night a week later when I saw my first episode, “Bart The General”. It rang out to me especially as a victim of bullying. In this classic piece of American television, Bart teams up with his grandfather, local military antique dealer Herman and other neighbourhood kids to rail against bully Nelson Muntz.

In the following few Fridays I would see several more episodes of Season 1. I was hooked and entertained. The Simpsons were at the beginning of something really amazing. This was a revolutionary show that would push the edges of humour to a whole new level. Shirts started turning up in stores along with other merchandise.

You could only imagine my disappointment when suddenly the show was not on a channel we could get at the time. My theory is that the CBC received a ton of complaints from parents and religious nuts who completely failed at realizing it was comedy, so they yanked any airing of the show completely.

It would be quite a few years before anyone in Nova Scotia (and perhaps Canada) without a satellite dish could see more episodes.

That is both awesome and sad.  He couldn’t watch them again until they came on in syndication.  Man I miss when The Simpsons was good enough to be thought that dangerous.  He’s also got a Top 5 episodes list, and, naturally, none of them are from past Season 9. 

Meet the two brave souls who watched 86 hours and 37 minutes of ‘The Simpsons’ in a row – FOX turned it off after they broke the record, and they don’t say which episode they were on when it happened.  By my count 86 hours and 37 minutes is somewhere around the beginning of Season 11.  They got a ten minute break every two hours, so if they were stopped for those breaks then it’s more like the middle of Season 10.  Either way, the important thing is that they didn’t have to sit through Zombie Simpsons. 

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Creamy Vanilla Frosting – There’s cupcakes here, but if you scroll down you’ll get a sweet fan drawing of Homer as Lady Gaga.

That Donut Looks Delicious – An excellent knitted Homer . . . with donut!  Well done. 

Here’s Stuff on Jeremy Lin You’ll Read Because I Had You at “Jeremy Lin” – Excellent usage:

-Remember that Simpsons episode, “Lisa’s Rival,” where Lisa, the new kid at school, and the new kid’s pretentious, snooty professor father discuss how they play the anagram game? I’ll let the seven-year-old inexplicably voiced by a fully grown Winona Ryder explain: “We take proper names and rearrange the letters to form a description of that person.”

Lisa stumbles when given the name of Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons, only being able to muster up “Jeremy’s Iron.”

Well, since the name of the man of the hour also happens to be Jeremy, I say we try it again.

Jeremy Lin: J In My Reel

Me: One
Fictional cartoon character: Zero

Pants Anyone? – Don’t you hate pants?:

By purchasing pants we are just playing into the buttoned-down role that society has placed on us. Pants have kept us into a tightly folded, well pressed culture, where we fear the consequences of not wearing pants.

There is a certain kind of pants that never need to be folded or pressed, and that never feel confining.  Just sayin’. 

It’s Valentime’s Day OR “Getting Tail” – Valentine’s Day explored through “I Love Lisa” (with YouTube).

Game review: ‘The Simpsons Arcade Game’ – I know there were a lot of these last week, but here’s one more review of the game.

EGM Review: The Simpsons Arcade Game – Okay, two (and I get to keep this old birdcage).

Now & Then: The Simpsons Arcade Game – Alright, three.  This one is a very thoughtful comparison, of what the arcade game was like back then (I do remember the Bart and Homer consoles often having the most wear) and what it brings to your television now.

The 2012 Grammy Awards…In 10 Words – Who likes the Beach Boys?

Appointment Viewing: February 13-February 19 – Lenny sums up this week’s big nth episode:

8:00 – The Simpsons (Fox):  In the series’ 500th episode, the Simpsons are banished from Springfield, thanks to Homer’s drunken antics, Bart’s shenanigans and Lisa’s annoying environmental activism, and end up in an off-the-grid, post-apocalyptic encampment called “The Outlands.” Alison Krauss performs the series’ theme song. Well, that sounds like The Simpsons Movie but more terrible and with Alison Krauss performing. Which cancels out to the same level of quality. Seriously, that Alison Krauss thing makes me more delighted than this show has made me in years. They could get anyone and that’s what they went with.

7 Essential TV Show Hangouts – Moe’s makes the list here, along with things like the banana stand. 

500 Episodes of The Simpsons and 10 Other TV Shows That Outstayed Their Welcome – Agrees with us:

To me, The Simpsons stopped being funny in the late 1990s. A quick look at an Episode Guide and I find that the last episode I truly found amusing was Episode 197 – Simpson Tide – and that one was the only beacon of light in amongst a mostly underwhelming Ninth Season. By

the fifth episode of the following season – When You Dish Upon A Star – I made the decision to give up on a show that I had fallen out of love with.

Don’t feel bad, it happened to all of us.

Bart Simpson’s Chalkboard Quotes – This was linked in a lot of places this week.  It’s every quote in a single image.  Well done (though a version that ends before Zombie Simpsons would be cool too). 

Doh! The Simpsons celebrate 500th episode – Click through for a couple of images of the designs of that Zoolander guy from last week.  There’s a Bartman shirt that’s just a picture of Bart in costume with a logo.  Fashion!

A Five-Day Recipe for Antidepressant Yogurt – This isn’t just excellent usage, it’s also life imitating The Simpsons:

Years ago, Homer Simpson stood in the family’s kitchen and showed Marge his latest creation: a big bowl of homemade Prozac. Homer dug his wooden spoon in, plucked out a mound of the purply goop, and downed it. “Mmm, needs more ice cream,” Homer said.

As is so often the case, it seems Homer was well ahead of his time. Tuur Van Balen, a Belgian designer, has been making the speaking-circuit rounds, showing audiences how to inject yogurt bacteria with antidepressant qualities, making it possible for anyone to have a feel-good breakfast treat.

20 Most Cromulent ‘Simpsons’ GIFs – Pretty much what it says.  And, no, there’s nothing from past Season 10.

Flights from reality – In discussing the recent mostly-non-issue between Britain and Argentina, comes this excellent usage:

Homer Simpson anticipated the key issue in the South Atlantic dispute at the start of the week in the sketch where he says: “Didn’t you hear, Marge, they have no bananas” (his reaction to that inane Broadway ditty of 90 years ago “Yes, we have no bananas”). The lack of bananas on the Malvinas gave most of the edge to the build-up to President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s Tuesday announcement — great expectations of a major escalation in the economic blockade of the islands rather than either war or peace.

And then nothing happened. 

Sideshow Bob by *SilverWolve on deviantART – Cool fan art of Sideshow Bob sitting in a cell with the shadow of bars on him.  Bravo. 

maggie simpson – One of those “persona” add-ons for Firefox with Maggie holding a gun. 

Mellow yellow – And finally, a columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press writes a column about the 500th episode that does nothing but agree with us:

It has been a long time since the cartoon created by Matt Groening regularly made headlines (other than for celebrations of its various century-mark achievements), and there’s now an entire generation of TV viewers who have no memory whatsoever of the hell-in-a-handbasket fuss its early episodes and Bart’s rude-boy catchphrases caused.

The Simpsons is, in 2012, something of a perpetual-motion machine, an efficiently run enterprise that cranks out episodes on time, on budget and of an acceptable quality, requires very little network oversight, and continues to generate decent ratings and mind-boggling revenue streams.

That’s about the size of things.  Lots and lots of discussion of 500, and even when people don’t outright say Zombie Simpsons sucks, you can tell by what they aren’t talking about that no one cares about anything broadcast in the last ten years or so.  Enjoy your party on Sunday Zombie Simpsons.  We’ll all be laughing at you, but not for the reason you’d like.


Quote of the Day

Homer the Great8

“And by the Sacred Parchment, I swear that if I reveal the secrets of the Stonecutters may my stomach become bloated and my head be plucked of all but three hairs.” – Homer Simpson
“Um, I think he should have to take a different oath!” – Moe
“Everyone takes the same oath.” – Number One


Quote of the Day

Homer Alone9

“What do you want?” – Patty Bouvier
“I came to see the kids.” – Homer Simpson
“Wait here, and don’t steal any light bulbs.” – Patty Bouvier


Compare & Contrast: Lisa’s Romances

Lisa's Date with Density8

“Well, I guess this is it.” – Lisa Simpson
“You mean, like, goodbye?” – Nelson Muntz
“Let’s just call it, smell you later.” – Lisa Simpson

Around the edges of “Lisa’s Date with Density” you can see the problems that, given a few years, would swoop in and eat the show from the inside out.  The emotions are a bit contrived in places, Nelson’s not quite the bully we know, and the plot has to cheat a few times to wrap itself up.  But in Season 8 those things are peripheral, the core of the story and the episode fit in with the place we know as Springfield and the characters who inhabit it.  Just as importantly, while there’s no denying that Lisa and Nelson are acting a bit more adolescent and less kid like than they should, there’s still a recognizable childishness and humanity to them that makes the story work.

Lisa doesn’t, for example, develop her crush on Nelson because of some cliched contrivance.  He doesn’t save her from something; nor does she glimpse him in a candid moment of tenderness when he thought no one was looking.  She just laughs at him being him, in this case tormenting Groundskeeper Willie.  This is one of those things that just works in The Simpsons.  We in the audience get to laugh at Groundskeeper Willie; Nelson (in detention) and Lisa (in band practice) are being themselves (and so are the other kids with their “x likes y” refrains); and the main story moves along without resorting to nonsense.

Lisa's Date with Density6

“And that’s how Willie waters.”

By contrast, in “The Daughter Also Rises” Zombie Simpsons employs a “meet cute”, one of the more hacktacular ideas ever to come out of the entertainment industry.  (It’s a concept so durably overused that it has its own article on TV Tropes and Wikipedia.)  That they call it a “meet cute” isn’t a joke, it’s just them describing what’s happening.  Where’s the joke in Lisa gushing and her new beau throwing a fork in the air?  Or their stilted flirting as they instantly anticipate a love for the ages?  There isn’t one, the whole thing is dead-eyed, paint-by-numbers crap.  Hollywood is littered with writers and actors who can do this scene in their sleep, because it’s not just a trope, it’s an adult trope for adult performers and adult characters.

Things just get worse from there.  Lisa and Nick go through three goofy set pieces, each one the same kind of sly, fake-clever horseshit.  First they’re at an outdoor cafe, where this supposed kid is looking all charming and suave in a gray suit.  Then they’re in a montage where they hang out a balcony, on top of a climbing wall, and Moe’s (of all places) as they go through a few vaguely Hemingway type situations.  And finally, Nick shows up at the Simpson home with a bottle of wine before he charms both Marge and Maggie (we’ll get to the after-dinner fiasco in a second).  None of these scenes make any sense for them as kids, for them as characters, or for Springfield as a location.


I think this kid’s dad is Andre from “Homer’s Triple Bypass”.

In Season 8, Lisa and Nelson go through a much more believable childhood flirtation.  Lisa likes Nelson despite herself, and Nelson eventually finds himself doing the same.  They don’t have that instant and nauseating sense of destiny that you get in formulaic romantic comedies.  Instead, we see them move through it believably, with Nelson initially just going with the flow while Lisa does the “getting to know you” stuff.  It’s funny because of what happens (the cat, “Nuke the Whales”, Milhouse getting brained), but it’s also genuinely plausible.  Nelson’s not exactly boyfriend material, and Lisa has a hard time seeing that her caring for him isn’t going to magically turn him into boyfriend material.  And none of it requires anyone to look right at the camera and say “meet cute” as a way to shrug their shoulders at mediocrity.

The endings work (or don’t) in similar ways.  After Nick (who I keep wanting to call Colin since he’s just as non-descript) comes over for dinner with his bottle of wine, impeccably tasteful suit, and robotically precise manners, he has nowhere to go as a character.  He’s confident, handsome, and oh so perfect, and all as (apparently) a little kid.  Which is why the next time we see him he’s a completely different person.

The Disappearing Colin

Left, At Lisa’s house (12:50); center, on screen but silent (16:40); right, next time he speaks (17:40).

After the scene in the family living room, he literally doesn’t say a word for two commercial breaks.  He does find himself in a senior shuttle with Lisa and Grampa, where – for the first time ever – he’s nervous and jerky.  What the hell happened?  It’s so out of the blue as to be disorienting.  The last thing he says at the Simpsons’ house is:

Nick: Mrs. Simpson, I’d like your permission to take your daughter to the Doritos Nutrition Fair at the school gym.

He’s still Mr. Smooth.  After he thanks Cletus, it’s this:

Nick: I don’t know, this water’s a little choppy.
Lisa: I thought you rode up the Zambezi without a guide.
Nick: Right.  Right.

After that he complains about her cold hands, that his lips are cold, and then just walks away because he’s suddenly sad.  This is supposed to be the same kid who confidently flirted with Lisa, took her lots of places, and aced the dreaded first meeting with her parents?   They could, of course, have shown us why this change came about.  They even had a chance to do it when he was sitting in the living room and Marge demanded that Lisa stop spending so much time with him.  That could’ve given him the jitters or something.  But, by longstanding Zombie Simpsons convention, he simply wasn’t in that scene even though he was sitting right there.  So not only do we get a kid who doesn’t make any sense when we first meet him, he manages to change into a completely different – but equally nonsensical – character before the end.

“Lisa’s Date with Density” doesn’t have anything remotely that clumsy.  On the contrary, Lisa and Nelson’s little relationship implodes when it becomes obvious to both of them that they aren’t right for each other.  Lisa can’t change Nelson completely and he’s not willing to change enough; so they part on good terms because that’s all there is to it.  It’s not the world’s most original idea, but it follows nicely both from who they are outside of this episode and how they act during this particular story.

Of course, I haven’t yet mentioned the elephant in the room, which is that in Season 8 it’s the first time we see Lisa really become involved with someone.  From all those Corys to the boy at the library to Langdon Alger, we know she develops the occasional childhood crush, but “Lisa’s Date with Density” was the first time we saw her go after someone.  It was also . . . drum roll please . . . her first kiss.

Lisa's Date with Density7

A moment with actual emotional relevance!  Careful, Zombie Simpsons might be allergic.

By Season 23, Lisa’s been through four or five relationships.  There was the time she fell in love with the environmentalist guy, there was the dude ranch thing, there was the movie, and I think I’m missing a couple.  So when she spouts hopelessly naive, romantic comedy gibberish like “The person you kiss under a mulberry tree is someone you’ll love for the rest of your life”, it falls even flatter than it otherwise would.  It’s a dumb statement to begin with, but it just doesn’t do coming from someone who used to be mature enough to let Ralph Wiggum down gently and have a successful breakup with Nelson Muntz.  “Smell you later”, on the other hand, is great.


Quote of the Day

New Kid on the Block8

“Bart!  Aw, you remembered my birthday!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“Huh? . . . Oh, I sure did!  Here’s a bus schedule.” – Bart Simpson
“Wow!  Fits right in my pocket.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

Happy birthday Matt Groening! 


Crazy Noises: The Daughter Also Rises

I Love Lisa9

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 “homunculus”).

We give Zombie Simpsons a lot of grief for repeating jokes, but “The Daughter Also Rises” contained a impressively craven double dip on that count.  Not only did they rip off one Valentine’s Day episode for another, they repeated an Itchy & Scratchy segment almost shot for shot:

“I Love Lisa” (1993)

“The Daughter Also Rises” (2012)

MyBloodyValentine1 RosesAreRed1
MyBloodyValentine2 RosesAreRed2
MyBloodyValentine3 RosesAreRed3
MyBloodyValentine4 RosesAreRed4

Zombie Simpsons upped the gore and lost the humor in the process, but other than that they slavishly copied Season 4.  Now, maybe nineteen years is long enough that a segment can bear repeating, but if you’re going to do that, why not just rerun the old ones on Sundays at 8? 

Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to get started?

Mad Jon: Yes

Charlie Sweatpants: Where shall we begin?

Mad Jon: The top is as ‘good’ a place as any.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, the couch gag certainly took a long time.

Mad Jon: Indeed. But what a way to celebrate 499 episodes.

By pointing out that next week is the 500th. 500 is a large number, especially for a show that died 15 years ago.

Charlie Sweatpants: The emphasis on milestones like that is just another indication of how the show now exists for the sake of existing. Like Fry, existing is basically all it does. When they were still putting out good episodes they blew through 100 with just that chalkboard gag about NOT celebrating meaningless milestones.

Mad Jon: Yeah well, it was pretty much par for couch gags in the last few years.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh certainly.

Mad Jon: Anyway, brushing past the 56" HDTV in the living room, it was nice of Kirk Van Houten to show up for a few minutes, I haven’t seen him since the last time he and Luanne got back together/got divorced.

Charlie Sweatpants: That was pretty bizarre. Though why Bart and Milhouse would be opening valentines together is also beyond me.

Mad Jon: And why Bart would have so many. But whatever. Don’t you usually open those in class on Valentines Day? Are we that old that things have changed so much?!?

The important thing is that the lopsided valentines haul led to them having a Myth Busters thing to work with or something.

Every time they went to do something, I could hear Moses from the Super Friends South Park narrating the scene in my head.

  Um, then they, uh get candy cigarettes from the vending machine…

  Can you hear it now?

Charlie Sweatpants: That’s a good comparison. The randomness was in full swing, what was with Homer and Bart having fun together?

Mad Jon: I don’t know.

  That’s a question.

Charlie Sweatpants: The Myth Busters thing kinda pissed me off, because that’s a show they could’ve actually made fun of. The insane stuff they do, the "myths" that nobody’s ever heard of and even fewer actually believe. There’s a lot to work with there, but instead they had Bart and Milhouse become junior detectives, or something. I wasn’t really clear on it, and I don’t think they were either.

And what was with that Nick kid? Was he a kid? Because he sure didn’t act like one. For a while I thought he might be a hallucination, especially after that cafe scene and playing the song from Inception.

Mad Jon: I think he was the Irish boyfriend from the movie, and his card just came back up, so they gave him a different voice and called it a day.

Except this guy went from nondescript to apparently troubled 8 year old writer.

  I didn’t understand that until it was spelled out for me in the end.

And I didn’t think they could come up with a new way to kill as much time as they did with the peripheral vision montage, but man, they found a way!

Charlie Sweatpants: That was a little head spinning. When he started falling apart I thought they were maybe going for a "Lard of the Dance" type thing, with a kid who acts more grown up than he really is. But that was too much to expect. Instead they just let everything peter out.

Mad Jon: It was like every teenage relationship a real girl would have rolled up into ~6 minutes of dialog.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, it’s always weird to see the kids having these adult relationships.

Mad Jon: And I also suppose that I was supposed to think that Marge and Lisa were growing apart, but again, I didn’t really get it until Marge actually voiced that.

Charlie Sweatpants: And while I don’t much care about inter-episode continuity, Lisa was acting like this was her first romance (or something, it was pretty vague), like kissing this weirdly under-grown kid was the biggest event in her life. That’s both very unlike her, and something we’ve seen her do like three times already.

Mad Jon: Yep. I was actually surprised that Nelson wasn’t involved out of jealousy.

Charlie Sweatpants: He and everyone else was too busy apparently following Bart and Milhouse around. Then they got upset with Bart and Milhouse. And then they weren’t upset with them anymore.

That entire thing with Groundskeeper Willie was just agonizing.

Mad Jon: Even in a zombie episode, I can’t for the life of me believe that someone allowed the writers to have Bart say "I just figured out how to make school cool again!"

  Truly, no one cares anymore.

Charlie Sweatpants: They really don’t. How else can you explain that long ass thing with the salad dressing?

Marge wants to protect the salad dressing, fine. But then we go into twenty seconds of churning and bubbling why? Was the episode that short?

Mad Jon: I was also surprised how short her freakout was during the post-bubbling period.

Charlie Sweatpants: That whole scene didn’t make sense. Just physically, trying to place them was tough. Was Moe supposed to be sitting at the same table as whatshisface? Because they appeared to be in the same crack.

Mad Jon: I guess. That was actually more believable than the Kirk part in the beginning. Who, by the by, was sitting with Luanne at the table on the other side of Lisa and Marge.

  And what was the deal with the three twins? Was that a horror movie take off that I don’t recognize?

Charlie Sweatpants: No idea. It was just bizarre.

Mad Jon: Ok then. I thought I was just more out of the loop than normal.

Charlie Sweatpants: The same thing was true when the kid came over to the Simpsons house. He’s sitting there, and then Marge starts talking to Lisa like he’s not there.

And later, when Lisa meets Marge at the sewing store, huh? How did she get there?

  This was like watching blind monkeys play chess. Shit just kept sliding around.

Mad Jon: Were we supposed to know that they were going to meet there?

Charlie Sweatpants: No idea. But Marge’s little speech about "I don’t want you to spend so much time with this boy, if you do it’ll mean you’re a separate person from me" was particularly aggravating from that perspective. Not only do they spell things out, they don’t even do it well.

Mad Jon: Yeah, it went along real well with the rest of the ‘have the actors say what they feel’ theme that was this episode.

  That makes me feel angry!

Charlie Sweatpants: And don’t forget the little historical flashback. I think that one may have gotten edited in from the rag episode accidentally.

Mad Jon: Was their love really as forbidden as the myth would have me believe? We had barely just been told that Marge was jealous of Nick, and all of the sudden Claire Danes has to kill herself.

Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly. There was nothing standing in their way . . . truly a story for the ages.

Mad Jon: And it ended with Nick channeling his inner Niles Crane.

Charlie Sweatpants: And Marge letting a supposed eight-year-old row a boat back to land by himself.

Mad Jon: And then he disappears from the island and Marge and Lisa share water shoes while Homer SINKS A FAN BOAT.

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess the fan boat was there the whole time, but maybe not.

Mad Jon: Probably maybe not. Who knows.

Well, I don’t really have anything else positive or negative to add. Although I am sure I could come up with something if you want me to suffer further.

Charlie Sweatpants: No. I don’t think there’s much here. It was a confusing mess of an episode from start to finish. The Itchy and Scratchy thing was basically a gorier, less funny and longer remake of the one from "I Love Lisa".

It was kinda about Valentine’s Day, but not really.

Mad Jon: I guess it was, but not. Or what you said.

Charlie Sweatpants: They had about four or five potential themes but each one got dropped in succession.

Mad Jon: I miss Love Day.

Charlie Sweatpants: The guest star was wasted on a weird homunculus of a kid. And their parody of Myth Busters was called Myth Crackers.

Mad Jon: There was a guest star?

  Who the hell was it?

Charlie Sweatpants: That was Michael Cera.

Mad Jon: Well fuck a duck.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, it didn’t really sound like him, or anyone else for that matter.


Quote of the Day

Old Money4

“Well Grampa, nothing says ‘I love you’ better than a military antique!  Let’s take a look at the bayonet case, huh?” – Herman


Strange Twists and Collapsing Ratings

Chalkboard - The Daughter Also Rises

“I’ve had one of my unpredictable changes of heart.” – C.M. Burns

About three quarters of the way through “The Daughter Also Rises”, the episode took a weird turn.  Lisa went to ask Grampa for advice, which led, without any setup whatsoever, to her, Grampa and “Nick” being chased by the police, which in turn lead to her and “Nick” rowing a boat out to an island.  No reason is given for why things went from relatively sunny and untroubled to dire and suspenseful.  They just did. 

Similarly, “Nick” went from being suave and charming and generally very Colin-from-the-movie to a whiny weirdo.  We didn’t see what changed his mind or why he might suddenly have become skittish around Lisa.  One moment he was charming everyone in the Simpsons’ living room, and in the next scene he was a wet blanket.  Pretty much the same thing happened with Bart and Milhouse’s B-plot, one minute it was going one direction, and the next minute it was going the other way. 

What makes these weird plot turns so frustrating is that, sometime last summer, a group of professional writers sat around a table at Zombie Simpsons HQ.  They read aloud a story about Lisa getting a boyfriend, which for some reason turns into a chase, which is only resolved when Marge puts on giant water shoes.  Not one of those trained, experienced professionals asked why the chase happened, or why it suddenly became so dire, or whether or not Marge should care.  It’s malpractice. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and last night’s terrible excuse for an episode is the new champion of low ratings.  Just 4.33 million people were confused by that ending.  That shatters the previous record of 5.00 million set by Season 22’s “The Great Simpsina”.  Even better, we’re only four episodes in to the typically lower rated post-New Year’s part of the season, and three of those episodes are in the bottom five all time:

  Season-Episode Airdate Viewers (in millions) Title
1 23-13 12-Feb-12 4.33 The Daughter Also Rises
2 22-18 10-Apr-11 5.00 The Great Simpsina
3 23-10 8-Jan-12 5.11 Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson
4 21-11 31-Jan-10 5.11 Million Dollar Maybe
5 23-12 29-Jan-12 5.12 Moe Goes from Rags to Riches

Season 23 is now a mortal lock to be the least watched season in the history of the show.  The only question is how low it can go. 


Quote of the Day

Bart the Lover8

“It was all a dream.  Thank goodness I still live in a world of telephones, car batteries, hand guns, and many things made of zinc.” – Jimmy

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Bart the Lover”!  Original airdate 13 February 1992.


Sunday Preview: The Daughter Also Rises


As always, credit to Dave.

Football season is over; and Zombie Simpsons must grind itself to a conclusion:

Marge & Lisa’s mother-daughter Valentine’s Day plans take a turn when Lisa meets Nick, an intellectual romantic who shares the same passion for culture, history and literature. Lisa and Nick fall head over heels for each other in a fairytale romance and make a secret getaway to Mulberry Island to profess their eternal love.  Meanwhile, Bart & Milhouse are inspired by the hosts of “MythCrackers” to “crack” Springfield Elementary’s own legends.

Enjoy Hallmark Day, everyone.  It’s just another target Zombie Simpsons can’t hit.


Quote of the Day

Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy11

“Oh, mama!  This is finally really happening.  After years of disappointment with get rich quick schemes, I know I’m gonna get rich with this scheme, and quick!” – Homer Simpson


Moderate Usage

Lisa on Ice9

“I know.  How about we play the basketball.  I’m no Harvey Globetrotter, but-” – Marge Simpson
“Ahh. . .” – Bart Simpson

Yesterday afternoon, venerably contradictory web magazine Slate published an article called “Has Liz Lemon Become “Dumbass Homer”?”.  (As you can probably guess, it’s about whether or not 30 Rock is going downhill the way The Simpsons did.)  Set aside the question mark in the headline for a second and look at that term, “Dumbass Homer”.  I’ve probably called Homer a dumbass before, but it’s not a capitalized term I’ve ever seen people use.  The term commonly in use, here, at No Homers, and on other sites where Simpsons discussions happen (going all the way back to 1998), is “Jerkass Homer”.  Here’s the section in question:

Some put the show’s point of no return at the ninth season episode “The Principal and the Pauper,” where it’s revealed that Springfield Elementary principal Seymour Skinner is, and always has been, an impostor, real name Armin Tamzarian, who pulled a Don Draper-like switcheroo with a presumed-dead comrade from the Vietnam War—the idea being that in the process the show turned up its nose at eight seasons of established continuity. But one of the most persistent early criticisms had to do with the character some fans called “Homer the idiot,” or simply “dumbass Homer.”

He’s got two terms in quotes that I’ve never seen anyone use with any frequency.  Now, if this was just some random person off the street, or an article about gardening, or even a professional writer whose beat rarely included television or pop culture, this would be no big deal.  But this is on a self described “Culture Blog” and the author of the piece, Sam Adams, has written for:

the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Time Out New York, the Onion A.V. Club, and the Philadelphia City Paper.

But if you google “homer the idiot” you get basically nothing.  “Dumbass Homer” also gives bupkis, except for this Slate article at #1.  “Jerkass Homer”, on the other hand, has three times as many results and has the Wikipedia page for Homer Simpson as its first result.  In that Wikipedia article, under a section called “Character Development” you will find:

Chris Suellentrop of Slate wrote, "under Scully’s tenure, The Simpsons became, well, a cartoon. [...] Episodes that once would have ended with Homer and Marge bicycling into the sunset [...] now end with Homer blowing a tranquilizer dart into Marge’s neck."[52] Fans have dubbed this incarnation of the character "Jerkass Homer".[53][54][55]

They’re referencing your magazine!  And it’s on the first Wikipedia page you should’ve checked. 

Obviously this isn’t a world stopping mistake, and it doesn’t materially affect the main idea of the article.  But it does indicate a disturbing incuriosity.  No one, not the author, not the editor, not whoever wrote the headline, checked Wikipedia or Google before sounding authoritative about “one of the most persistent early criticisms” of The Simpsons.  (Or, if they did, they did a piss poor job of it.)  If you’re going to make generalizations like that, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. 

Doing a little research, literally just a couple of minutes, will make a better case and keep nitpicky jerks on the internet from making fun of you.  I’d also suggest hiring a few more editors, because the ones you have seem to be overworked.

Thanks for the link and the title to reader Patrick R.


Quote of the Day

Homer vs Lisa and the 8th Commandment6

“I’m so keen on seeing Watson vs. Tatum II, I’d even go to an employee’s house.  Oh, I can picture it now, the screen door rusting off its filthy hinges, mangy dogs staggering about, looking vainly for a place to die.” – C.M. Burns


Reading Digest: Worth $10 Edition

Simpsons Arcade Console

Image shamelessly yoinked from here.

“So, Bart, what did you learn in karate school today?” – Marge Simpson
“Yeah, come on, boy, this better be worth my ten bucks!” – Homer Simpson

A port of the old Simpsons arcade game came out for Xbox and PS3 this week and there were a metric ton of reviews, many of which are linked below.  I haven’t played it, but most of the reviews I saw said that the nostalgia factor couldn’t overcome the inherent button mashing repetitiveness of a game where the only commands are jump and attack.

A couple of the reviews outright say that the game isn’t worth the $10 they’re charging for it.  Whether or not that’s true for you will depend on how much you want the game and how much that $10 is worth to you.  But it got me to wondering, what would $10 in today’s money have been worth in 1991 when the original game was released?  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, $10 in 2011 money is worth about $6.05 in 1991 dollars, or about twenty four quarters.  In other words, if you can get through the game on the equivalent of twenty-four quarters, then you’d have been better off in an arcade in 1991.  If, on the other hand, you require more lives than twenty-four quarters would’ve gotten you, then your console in 2012 comes out ahead.

In addition to lots of old game reviews, the internet was all aflutter because some schmuck in Iran decided to ban Simpsons dolls.  This is news in the same way that Groening’s Hollywood star is news, my initial reactions was “Huh.  I thought that already happened.”  There was also a lot of 500th episode crap, but hardly any of it worth linking (with one glorious exception).  In addition to all that, we’ve got poor editing at The Hollywood Reporter, an enjoyably gruesome Zombie Bart, self described lunatic conspiracy theorists, and the usual smattering of fan made stuff, usage and other ephemera. 


[Site note: After some screwing around this week, I’ve made it so our Facebook page is now only being “mostly neglected” instead of “completely neglected” like it’s been up to this point.  Basically, I changed the way we push Quotes of the Day to Twitter so that they also get pushed to Facebook without me having to do any extra work.  (That last part is important.)  So if you want to see the quotes directly on your Facebook page, you can now do that.  There was a slight Twitter hiccup this morning, but I think I’ve got everything working.  If you notice anything strange, please e-mail me.]

‘The Simpsons’ Poll: What is the ultimate episode of all time? – A few weeks ago, Digital Spy in the UK asked its readers for their opinion on the best episodes of The Simpsons.  This week they’re back with a poll and it is Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week so hard it should be Link of the Month:

Compiled with the help of your views, our TV team’s opinions and previous ‘best episode’ lists, we’ve cut down the 498 installments that have aired to a manageable cream of the crop shortlist.
The list has been whittled down to 37 primecuts of Simpsons gold and we want your verdict on what is the finest.

Gaze at the ballot below:

Digital Spy Best Episode Survey

That’s thirty-seven episodes, thirty-six of which are from Season 9 or earlier.  The only episode on the list from after 1998 that is “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” (which they misspelled as “Shows”), which was broadcast in 2000 in Season 12.  According to Digital Spy’s readers and writers, there hasn’t been an episode even worthy of consideration on a top ten list in twelve years!  You suck, Zombie Simpsons.  Massive, massive thanks to longtime reader Kokairu for the link.

500-Episode Simpsons Marathon of the Day – TDW Geeks – Going by the most recent comments on the Facebook page, it sounds like they’re dropping like flies.  (Here’s a picture of what it looked like at the beginning.)  If it started when they said it did (roughly 5pm Pacific on Wednesday), they should be midway through Season 6 right now.  If there’s anyone left, they’ll hit Season 9 tomorrow afternoon and be well into Zombie Simpsons by late Sunday.  Jebus help them.

Video: Jingle Punk Hipster Orchestra TV Theme Melody – Ahh, string instruments (the Simpsons part starts at 2:20):


10" zombie bart in progress – Flickr user andres musta made a Zombie Bart:

Andres Musta - Zombie Bart in Progress

God bless Creative Commons licenses.

In comments, he writes:

It came together at the last moment – yesterday (Thursday) I was distributing flyers for the Dead of Winter show at a local comic book shop that had a pile of old Bart toys. It almost jumped into my arms. Brought it home, and rushed to chopped off the nose, sliced my thumb, removed the lips, and added the teeth from an old plastic skull. It all came together in an hour or two. Added a 10"x10" wooden base, textured and painted to look like sidewalk and screwed him to the base. Will post full pics after the show closes on March 1.

I love anything that involves the words “rushed to to chopped off the nose”.  Can’t wait for the full pictures.  Thanks to Freakoutville for the tip. 

Review The Simpsons Arcade Game – Pretty much what it says.  I especially like this:

Before starting the game you can choose one of four modes. Free Play has unlimited continues, Survival grants only one life and no continues, Quarters gives each player 10 continues and Team Quarters has players share 40 continues.

I really could’ve used that when I was a kid and quarters were scarce.  They recommend knowing what you’re getting before you plunk down the $10 though.

The Simpsons Arcade Game – A rather harsher review:

The Simpsons Arcade Game, much like Ninja Turtles or X-Men, has not exactly aged well.  Let’s face it, it’s a relic.  And not one of those good, Sean Connery type ones.

Heh.  I like this review. 

The Simpsons Arcade: Fireworks Candy & Puppy Dogs Store, or Box Factory? – Yet another review saying the game ain’t worth it.

Go Round – The Simpsions Arcade Game – A YouTube video of four guys playing the four player co-op on the XBox port of the arcade game.  It’s mildly interesting, but I got bored after a few minutes because even watching it gets repetitive pretty fast.

Simpsons Arcade Demo Impressions: Check your Nostalgia at the Door (or not) – Another review that says that the nostalgia can’t override the underlying crappiness of the game.

Month of Codes (Day Seven) – Impressively obscure and pointless cheats for Bart vs. the Space Mutants.

Appointment Viewing: February 6-February 13 – Lenny brings the pre-snark for Sunday’s new Zombie Simpsons:

On Valentine’s Day, Lisa and an intellectual young man named Nick share a fairy-tale romance and make a secret getaway. Meanwhile, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage (“Mythbusters”) inspire Bart and Milhouse to bust Springfield Elementary School myths. Unsurprisingly, Nick is going to be played by Michael Cera.

Homer Simpson – One of Homer’s worst parenting moments courtesy of Cartoon Quotes.

The Sound Of One Hand Clapping – The value of meditating and “Dead Putting Society”.

Iran bans Bart Simpson and Homer Simpson – This was everywhere this week, but I don’t see quite what all the fuss is about.

Bizarro World – Some of those Simpsons-fashion drawings next to the people that inspired them.

Bart Simpson: The New Symbol of High Fashion – Herein I have to link to The Hollywood Reporter for a second time this week, which is unfortunate because their website is so hideously overrun with links, ads, and general marketing stupidity that it’s just this side of unusable.  What is fortunate are these quotes from a guy named Jeremy Scott, whom they describe as an “Avant garde designer”.  I have no idea who he is or whether or not he’s a good designer, but he speaks like he just fell out of a Zoolander sequel:

THR: So this idea came from you, and not Fox, the network that plays the show?

Scott: Oh, I went knockin’ on the door at Fox. I chased them down like a dog in heat. I fell madly in love with Bart. And I’m not even the diehard every-episode fan. It’s just such a part of pop culture. Bart is a nineties teen icon.

THR: Were the execs at Fox surprised at this request?

Scott: I wasn’t really sure how to go about this. I got someone on the phone and took it from there. And it was kismet, synergy, this was supposed to happen. They totally got it: the way I am, who I am.

Reading that I can’t help but think of this scene from the “Unauthorized Cinnamon” episode of Deadwood.  But wait, there’s more:

THR: What’s the general direction of your fall 2012 collection?

Scott: I can tell you it was inspired by the computer, and the way information is disseminated today. The way ideas are profillierating on the internet. How we use icons to show our emotions. The way the way everything is circling around.  I’m into short as a skirt length, but its a new kind of "short long." 

I had no idea people actually talked like that, though it’s hardly his fault that they didn’t run spellcheck on “proliferating”.  But here’s the capper:

THR: Have you met Matt Groening?

Scott: I’ve not met Matt yet – but I’m really looking forward to meeting him. A Fox contingency is coming to see the show, they’re flying in from LA. But Matt will be busy receiving his star on the Walk of Fame.

I don’t know what’s funnier, that he used the word “contingency” when he meant “contingent”, an easy enough mistake to make when speaking off the cuff, or that no one at The Hollywood Reporter fixed it for him. 

Cynics should learn how to stuff their face with cupcakes and reclaim V-Day – Excellent usage:

"Romance is dead – it was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece," said Lindsay Cahill quoting Lisa Simpson while waiting for the next band to start. Cahill’s overt ability to express something truly troubling was captured by the quotation, adding a layer of hopelessness into the air.

Perfectly quoted.  Well done, Lindsay Cahill. 

The Connection between Lisa Simpson and the Whore of Babylon – Any time you see the words “UFOs”, “Conspiracy Theorists”, and “Lunatic Fringe” in the banner of a website, you know it’s gonna be good:

Ishtar (aka WHORE OF BABYLON) was the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, war, love, and sex.
The statue of Liberty is basically a monument in dedication to Ishtar. Notice the 7 spikes on her head. It is no coincidence that America is the Great Babylon of our Times.

Interestingly enough, one of the most beloved cartoon characters of the Simpsons, is Lisa Simpson.

She is nothing more than a representation of Ishtar. Notice her spiked head. She also wears the colour red all the time. Red is the colour for PROSTITUTION.

Ishtar was above all associated with sexuality: her cult involved SAC-RED prostitution.

Ironic isn’t it?

And I thought the London Olympics logo was bad.  The replies, including polytheistic theology, involve just as much harmless crazy.

This Music Smells Funny – Dumb, but I chuckled.

anime: lisa simpson by ~teamstar47 on deviantART – Neat fan made Lisa drawing.  It looks like just pen and markers, but it’s shaded and colored really well. 

One down – Excellent therapeutic usage:

I had the simpsons on in the backgroud this morning, one of the old episodes. I wasn’t really listening, but I caught this part:

“Lisa, I apologize to you, I was wrong, I take it
all back. Always be yourself. If you want to be sad, honey, be sad.
We’ll ride it out with you. And when you get finished feeling sad, we’ll
still be there. From now on, let me do the smiling for both of us.”
- Marge, The Simpsons

I think I’m now finished feeling sad. Thank you all for riding that out with me, and your support.

Review: The Simpsons Arcade takes us back to the bowling alley – And finally, an arcade game review that agrees with us:

1991 was a good year for The Simpsons. Some all-time classic episodes aired, the series won a couple of Emmy awards, Bart Simpson t-shirts were still in fashion, and the family starred in an A-list arcade game. It was a better year than 2011, where the series closed in on its 500th episode while a few fans kept up the old argument over when the exact shark-jumping moment happened.



Quote of the Day

Euro Itchy & Scratchy Land

“Man, if this is happening here, I hate to think what’s happening at Euro Itchy and Scratchy Land.” – Professor Frink
“Hello?  Itchy and Scratchy Land open for business!  Who are you to resist it, huh?  Come on, my last paycheck bounced!  My children need wine!” – French Ticket Guy


A Glossy Victory Lap

The Springfield Files7

To celebrate the 300th or so episode of Zombie Simpsons, The Hollywood Reporter interviewed some of the more illustrious members of the staff and put together a couple of photo streams.  They talked to Groening, Brooks, Jean, O’Brien, Scully, Cartwright, Castellaneta, Kavner, Smith, and Azaria; and they got pictures from inside the production offices.  The main article is here, and the behind the scenes pictures are here.  In an artful attempt to dredge some pageviews out of their archived content, there are also some links to older articles and photo collections as well.  Those aren’t as interesting.  In fact, the one called “Meet the Cast” is just a collection of generic red carpet photos that they slapped together last fall after the renewal was announced. 

The interviews and the behind the scenes photos are pretty cool though.  Some highlights:

“In every half hour of every day, an episode of The Simpsons is broadcasting somewhere around the globe.”

I doubt that.  I’d doubt that if it was in The New Yorker, and The Hollywood Reporter is a long way from The New Yorker.  Then there’s this:

So I started drawing my comic, Life in Hell, and sold it as a zine at the record store. Production designer Polly Platt showed it to James L. Brooks. He was curious and called me for a meeting at Paramount. My 1962 Ford Fairlane had just bitten the dust. Luckily I was living right across the street from Paramount. They wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a car. I said, "But I have a meeting with James L. Brooks!" That was 1985. Nothing came of the meeting until a couple years later when James asked me to come over to the Fox lot to meet again.

I didn’t know Groening and Brooks had a meeting two years before the shorts started.  I’ve also never heard this story before:

"The Simpsons series began like many things begin: with an animator getting drunk at a Christmas party. We were already doing Tracey Ullman, and David Silverman, who was with us then and would go on to direct The Simpsons Movie, cornered me and poured out his heart about what having a primetime Simpsons show would mean to animators.

Granting that memories of parties from a quarter of a century ago might not be the most reliable information in the world, I do like the image of David Silverman cornering Brooks and demanding he do a half hour show for the sake of animators everywhere.  Viva la animación!

Here’s Conan O’Brien describing something that has gone by the wayside:

When I got there, they told me, first and foremost, "The Simpsons characters are a family who love each other. They need to exist in that reality. Bart can’t take out a gun and shoot Homer in the face; it’s not the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote."

There are a lot of Zombie Simpsons counterexamples of that, but right now I’m just thinking of that episode they did last year with all the popped eyeballs.

Anyway, the article and the slideshow are worth seeing, particularly for the picture at the top of the first page of Brooks, Groening and Jean.  Brooks is the only one who looks even remotely comfortable, Groening and Jean look like they’d rather be anywhere else.  Jean especially has a look on his face that’s a mixture of “who farted?” and “I just sat on something sharp”. 


Quote of the Day

The Secret War of Lisa Simpson5

“And that’s how we’ll mold your boy into a productive member of society through an intensive program of pushups and formation marching.” – Rommelwood Commandant


“The Dad Who Knew Too Little” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Actually Funny Detective

“Now, don’t you fret.  When I’m through, he won’t set foot in this town again.  I can be very, very persuasive. . . . C’mon, leave town.” – Crappy Private Detective
“No.” – Sideshow Bob
“Aw, I’ll be your friend.” – Crappy Private Detective
“No.” – Sideshow Bob
“Oh, you’re mean!” – Crappy Private Detective

They make a lot during this commentary of the fact that there’s an emotional core to this episode, namely Homer trying to connect with Lisa. But whenever they’re trying to push that you can’t help but notice that the stuff going on in the episode is batshit insane and unbelievably dumb. This includes, but is not limited to, Homer hiring a private detective to stalk his daughter, a phony break in at an animal testing lab, them running from the police after being framed by said private detective, and a chase/fight scene at a traveling circus. Homer working two jobs to get Lisa a pony this is not. Hell, this isn’t even Homer’s magical mystery sensory deprivation tour through the repo process.

Nine people here, including Yeardley Smith and Weird Al Yankovic.

0:30 – Apparently Selman won a Writers Guild award for this, which he had to accept from the twelve year old from “Whale Rider”. Apparently he made a “Whale Rider” joke about Marge humping Homer that didn’t go over well.

2:00 – The story about the awards ceremony and the girl from “Whale Rider” is still going on.

2:15 – Jean brings things back by mentioning that among the things that already happened was a parody of MTV’s “Cribs” with Elliot Gould playing himself. Apparently Gould had written them a nice letter when he was mentioned in “The Way We Was”, though Jean misremembers it as Marge thinking he was attractive when it was that girl with the glasses Barney asked to the prom.

3:00 – Selman launches into a long story about where an idea for this episode came from, gets lost, and has to end it by again mentioning his awards show joke.

3:45 – Jean again brings things back by complimenting Smith on her Lisa and how much he likes doing Lisa episodes. Jean asks Smith how she’s most like Lisa and she says that they have a similar sense of humor.

4:45 – There’s an intentionally crappy animation of Rod Flanders as a spaceman here, and Mark Kirkland gets complimented on his ability to make crappy look authentically crappy.

5:15 – That leads to Jean saying that the one thing they have a hard time doing is getting their orchestra to sound like a crappy school band.

6:00 – Finally, some interesting trivia from Weird Al. He gave Tress MacNeille one of her first jobs after she got to Hollywood as a Lucille Ball look-alike/sound-alike for his video for “Rickey”. Sadly, I couldn’t find it on YouTube just now.

6:25 – David Silverman worked on the Dire Straits parody video in UHF.

6:50 – Selman just followed up the stories about MacNeille and Silverman by interjecting himself and saying “I have a connection to Weird Al too in that Weird Al taught me what funny was.” This isn’t as bad as the time he complimented Stan Lee on his physique, and I’ll repeat my glass houses caveat from that post: I’ve never met anyone I’m a serious fan of, so there’s a decent chance I would make a colossal fool out of myself in a similar situation. But Selman really comes off as a cloying brown nose when he does things like that.

7:15 – Selman’s ass kissing leads to an awkward silence, which he then breaks by pointing out that the electronic diary in this episode is based on a real product. Apparently Joel Cohen’s daughter had a diary with a voice activated electronic lock. The password was “girls rule”, but it didn’t work very well, so he’d hear his daughter in her room saying “girls rule” over and over again. Everyone laughs, though Jean is forced to wonder why they didn’t use that in the episode. It is pretty funny.

8:00 – Smith asks why Carl is the same color as the bar, Jean tosses it over to Mark Kirkland who ignores the question and goes on a long explanation of how he likes noir films and such.

9:10 – Compliments for Azaria as the voice of the private eye.

9:40 – Selman really signed up for Homer’s chunkylover53@aol e-mail address. Apparently for a while he was trying to answer e-mails to that address. He’s long since stopped.

10:45 – Jean breaks a silence by bringing up more Weird Al-Simpsons trivia. He was one of the first other artists to sample the Simpsons and actually pay for it.

11:15 – Not much going on, commentary wise. More people are impressed with Azaria’s impression of Robert Stack as the detective, which leads to people talking about Stack in general.  Jean loves his delivery at the end of Airplane! when he’s asked if they should turn on the search lights and he says, “No, that’s just what they’ll be expecting us to do.”. 

12:00 – Smith asks Selman how he came up with this, and it was all based on the feeling a kid gets when their parents inadvertently reveal that they really don’t understand their children.

13:00 – Now they’re talking about how many of them have daughters, and some random guys they know who also have daughters.

14:00 – Compliments on the animation as Homer runs out the window of the detective’s office. Kirkland credits some of the animators, Josh Taback, Matt Faughnan.

14:30 – Laughing at the way that Lou and Wiggum mocking each other is actually Azaria insulting himself.

15:00 – Jean mentions that this is the episode that came up with “Ariel Ponywether”, which is the pseudonym of someone who reviews Zombie Simpsons on Firefox News.

15:20 – When Homer acts guilty for hiring the detective, they were channeling Phil Silvers.

15:45 – And we come back from the act break to a car chase and Selman saying, “I can’t believe Weird Al is here. This is so great.”

16:00 – That leads Jean to explain that they do two commentaries in an afternoon, and Yankovic was just sticking around from “Three Gays of the Condo”.

16:15 – Selman’s kissing Weird Al’s ass again.

17:15 – Jean breaks into the Weird Al lovefest to point out that a joke about Homer painting on his eyebrows was Tom Gammill’s. Apparently that reminded of comedians from the 1930s named Clark and McCullough, one of whom painted on his glasses.

17:40 – That leads to a discussion of Groucho Marx’s mustache, and Weird Al asks if it was an urban legend that he painted it on because he couldn’t really grow one. Apparently that is an urban legend. Marx did later grow a real mustache.

17:50 – Smith asks if this was when they still had three acts, and it was. Jean then explains that they went to four breaks so they could cram in more commercials and people were more likely to see at least the first or last commercial break. Jean concludes, “But I always figured, ultimately, people will see them on DVD or on-line so it doesn’t really matter.” This sounds like an objection to the four act style (which does indeed suck), but someone breaks in to ask whether or not Homer painting teardrops on his face means he killed three people, so he doesn’t get to finish his plot. Damn you, Zombie Simpsons! One of your crappy jokes interrupted an explanation for one of the reasons you suck.

19:00 – Irony alert here. Kirkland goes off on a long spiel about how you need to establish the emotions of an episode early and how much working on the show taught him about properly anchoring feeling like that. Meanwhile, on screen, an enraged private detective is firing a stunt man out of a cannon at Homer.

19:50 – That prompts Jean to say that after the table read he always wants to be able to give James L. Brooks one sentence of what the show’s “emotional through line” is about. I’ll give Jean credit, he says they don’t always live up to that.

20:00 – Homer’s battling the detective in a hall of mirrors now, Kirkland again gives credit to Matt Faughnan.

20:45 – The scene concludes with Lisa blinding the guy with a laser pointer, which Smith is kind of upset about. I don’t think she realized how bloodthirsty the show can get. It’s endearing.

21:30 – And we end on more compliments for the mirror animation.


Quote of the Day

The PTA Disbands8

“We do have an emergency plan in case of a prolonged strike right here.  Let’s see, replace teachers with super intelligent cyborgs.  Or, if cyborgs aren’t invented yet, use people from the neighborhood.” – Ned Flanders


Quote of the Day

When Flanders Failed5

“Hey Flanders, when are your busy hours?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, I expect things to start picking up soon.  I think word of mouth is starting to spread.” – Ned Flanders
“Hey, I hear you validate parking tickets without purchase.” – Guy


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