“I suggest you leave immediately.” – C.M. Burns
“Or what? You’ll release the dogs, or the bees, or the dogs with bees in their mouths and when they bark they shoot bees at you? Well, go ahead. Do your worst! . . . He locked the door!” – Homer Simpson
Zombie Simpsons frequently repeats things from The Simpsons, but every once and a while they come up with a perfect confluence of failure, where all of the show’s many flaws combine into a single, memorable scene. The most recent one I can think of came last year, when they tossed Milhouse off a cliff to have a giant magic eagle save him so they could have him repeat, word for word, his declaration from “Mom and Pop Art”. Yesterday, Zombie Simpsons put together another one, as it managed to bungle Burns releasing the hounds.
We’ve seen lots of people come to the doors of Burns Manor over the years, and just as many have turned right around and fled to avoid becoming dog food. Burns does not like other people, and he hates dealing with them so much that he trains his dogs to attack Girl Scouts. He’s released the hounds on do gooders, on small children, and even on his own employees after the company picnic. It’s a perfect character trait for him because it is every inch of his contempt and cruelty wrapped up into one casual gesture he orders without a second thought.
Near the monotonously boring end of “Them, Robot”, Homer runs to Burns Manor while being chased by killer robots. Burns opens the door without even looking, he then tries – and fails – to release the hounds before having them turn on him instead. Then, against everything Burns used to stand for, he helps Homer escape. Now, this isn’t the first time they’ve made Burns incompetent and kind. But it is the first time they’ve had him fail so utterly at what was once one of his signature moves.
On top of that, and this goes almost without saying, none of the story that led Homer, the killer robots, or the unemployed people who eventually save the day to his door made any sense. Burns hires all these robot workers, and then ignores them while Homer runs amok, and none of the workers would know to go help there. And let’s not even get started on the extended segments of town wide destruction and robot car crashes.
I did actually laugh out loud at the robot fart joke, which is the first time Zombie Simpsons has gotten that out of me in a long while. Of course, I’m a long time fan of robot fart jokes, dating back at least to that Futurama episode where Bender and the rest of the robots save the Earth by “venting”. Other than that, this episode can rot in a burning pile of corpses . . . oh, wait. They did that too, didn’t they?
Anyway, the numbers are in and they continue to be humiliatingly low. Last night’s remarkably dull apocalypse was mechanically endured by just 5.24 million viewers. That’s up slightly from last week, but still good for tenth on the all time least watched list. There have been eight new episodes of Zombie Simpsons since New Year’s, six of them are among the ten least watched ever. Yes, Zombie Simpsons has more lucrative demographics than most shows so lowly rated, and yes those are overnight numbers, not the ones that include a couple of days of DVR viewers. But there’s no escaping the fact that Season 23 is notably lower than any previous year.
I’ll do a more detailed analysis after the season finale, but for now just know that from Season 20 through Season 22, Zombie Simpsons was on a ratings plateau, averaging slightly above 7 million viewers per episode, and only declining a little from year to year. Season 23 is currently just above 6.5 million per episode; and unless it scores some unusually big numbers in the next few episodes, it’s going to end up well below that for the season.