Archive for May, 2012

31
May
12

Information Wants to Be Free

Dead Putting Society5

“Lisa, we can’t afford all these books.” – Bart Simpson
“Bart, we’re just gonna borrow them.” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh, heh heh, gotcha.” – Bart Simpson

All the chapters of “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead” are now on-line.  You can read the whole thing from start to finish for the impressive cost of absolutely nothing.  Of course, if you want to feel really good about yourself as a Simpsons fan, you can still buy it at Amazon for just $2.99.  Just click the purchase button and your brain will release some more endorphins.

Special thanks to everyone who has e-mailed or commented to point out my various mistakes in the text; please let me know if you find more.  Once I’ve got all the known errors corrected, I’ll put up a PDF version as well as a non-Kindle e-reader one.

31
May
12

Quote of the Day

Image shamelessly yoinked from here.

“Hey, Homer, you wanna get a beer on the way home?” – Carl
“I can’t.  I gotta take my wife to the ballet.” – Homer Simpson
“Gonna go see the bear in the little car, huh?” – Lenny
30
May
12

Quote of the Day

Homie the Clown11

“These Krusty-brand balloons are three bucks each.  But get a cheap one, and what happens?  Goes off!  Takes out the eyeballs of every kid in the room!  What’s that gonna cost you?  Hey, Bill, what did that cost us?” – Krusty the Klown

29
May
12

Silence Is Golden

Bart vs Thanksgiving10

“It’s your fault I can’t talk.” – Maggie Simpson

Perhaps the only really interesting thing to come out of “Lisa Goes Gaga” was the surprise announcement at the end of “The Longest Daycare”, a 3D short that will be shown before Ice Age 4, starting on July 13th.  (FOX has helpfully put the announcement on YouTube, should you wish to relive all ten seconds of it.)  At present, everything the internet knows about this thing comes from the brief announcement itself and from a quickie interview Al Jean gave to ew.com.  Literally every other story I saw about “The Longest Daycare”, and I saw a lot of them, was originally sourced to this article.  Even the Wikipedia page is basically nothing but information from this one piece. 

So, what’s in it?  Mostly it’s just basic plot and background:

  • It will be set back at the Ayn Rand School for Tots.  (Though no word on whether or not The Longest Day will be used as rough source material the same way The Great Escape was in “A Streetcar Named Marge”.) 
  • Jean teased an appearance from Baby Gerald.
  • It’s four-and-a-half minutes long with no spoken dialogue.
  • David Silverman directed it.
  • It is indeed in 3D (though a 2D "animatic" will be shown at Comic-Con).

What’s most interesting here isn’t the 3D or any of the story information.  It’s the fact that it’s dialogue free, which means they didn’t have to involve their expensive voice actors at all. 

It’s more than a little reminiscent of the Coke/Super Bowl ad from two years ago.  In the ad, even though they had a newscaster telling us that Burns was broke, it wasn’t Kent Brockman.  The only other lines in the sixty-second commercial came from Milhouse, who is, of course, not voiced by one of the six main voice actors.  That ad is doubly resonant because the generic news anchor guy was Maurice LaMarche, whom I’m 99% sure was the guy narrating the trailer for “The Longest Daycare”. 

Without claiming any kind of predictive powers, this short is exactly what I was talking about in Chapter 12 of the book when I compared the future of the Simpsons to what’s happened to Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse.  Whether or not Homer, Marge or any of the rest of the family appears for a silent cameo, the short represents a new stage in the decoupling of the Simpsons as cartoon characters from their current home on FOX’s Sunday night lineup (and the people who do voice work there).  It’s an animated story set in the Simpsons universe and populated with Simpsons characters, but the only things it has in common with the original show are things FOX owns. 

Obviously this isn’t the first time FOX has leveraged the existing popularity of the Simpsons outside the realm of the show.  They’ve been making video games and t-shirts forever, after all.  But this is the first time they’ve done so in the form of animated entertainment, and that makes it noteworthy.  Whether or not this is the first of many theatrical shorts or a one off deal, it’s a Simpsons cartoon that has even less to do with the original show than Zombie Simpsons does (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).  It won’t be the last.

(And please note, I make no claims to whether or not “The Longest Daycare” will be good or not on its own merits.  We haven’t even gotten a clip to view, so there’s no telling what it’ll look like, much less whether or not it’ll actually be funny.  I doubt it’ll be worth sitting through Ice Age 4, which looks terrible, but there’s no reason to hold that against the short.)

29
May
12

Quote of the Day

“Hey, now that Largo’s gone we can play the forbidden music.” – Database

Happy birthday Danny Elfman!

28
May
12

Quote of the Day

Homer's Triple Bypass6

“Let’s have a minute of silent prayer for our good friend, Homer Simpson . . . .” – Moe
“How long has it been?” – Barney Gumble
“Six seconds.” – Moe
“Do we have to start over?” – Barney Gumble
“Hell no.” – Moe

27
May
12

Quote of the Day

Bart the Murderer13

“I see wedding bells for Vanna White and Teddy Kennedy.” – Princess Opal
“Please, Princess Opal, if we could just stick to Principal Skinner.” – Chief Wiggum
“Chief Wiggum, I am merely a conduit for the spirits.  Ah!  Willie Nelson will astound his fans by swimming the English Channel.” – Princess Opal
“Really, Willie Nelson?” – Chief Wiggum

Happy birthday Jo Ann Harris!

26
May
12

Season 2 Marathon: 22 Episodes, 22 Beers, 8h:23m:51s

Dancin' Homer7

“I can’t think of a better place to spend a balmy summer’s night than the old ball yard.  There’s just the green grass of the outfield, the crushed brick of the infield, and the white chalk lines that divide the man from the little boy.” – Lisa Simpson
“Lisa, honey, you’re forgetting the beer.  It comes in seventy-two ounce tubs here.” – Homer Simpson

Good morning and welcome to the sixth Simpsons-Beer Marathon.  Today we’re doing Season 2.  As with previous efforts, I will make use of the pause and reverse buttons to get a quote right or take a screen grab, but the fast-forward button will go totally unused. 

Since I’ll be in no condition to do it later in the day, Chapters 11 & 12 of the book are on-line right now.  That gets us through the bulk of the text.  Most of the appendices are short, and I’ll put them up sometime next week.  Serious thanks once again to everyone who has read the book, found one of my mistakes, linked it somewhere, or actually bought it.  And now, it’s been Simpsons-Beer Marathon day for hours and I’m still not drunk yet, so let’s get going.

1.    Bart Gets an F

  • And we start off with Martin’s book report, which is simultaneously flattering to Hemmingway and making fun of people who take him too damn seriously. 
  • “I will not fake my way through life”
  • They made all those crappy video games based on this show, and yet they never made Escape from Grandma’s House in real life.  For shame.
  • This show that jokes about school bus crashes.  That is all.
  • Ah, faking sick to leave school. 
  • “As a result, Bart is an underachiever, and yet he seems to be, how should I put this, proud of it?” – Less than ten minutes into Season 2, and they’re already making fun of “Bartmania”. 
  • The defeat in Martin’s voice as he retreats to the “forecastle of the Pequod” is just awesome. 
  • Speaking as someone who was the same age as Martin and Bart when this episode was first broadcast, I can’t say enough about how recognizable the two of them were to me and my friends.  We didn’t get into as much shit, but they felt like real kids to us. 
  • Case in point for the above: waiting for the radio guys to announce if school was closed.  These days they do it by e-mail and there’s no suspense, but at the time that’s exactly how it happened.
  • It actually says “Diamond” on Quimby’s podium. 
  • “John Hancock’s writing his name in the snow!”  Yet another great example of how they snuck things past the censors.  Joking about bodily functions is right at the top on the list of things that aren’t allowed, and they did it with the Declaration of Independence. 

2.    Simpson and Delilah

  • “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader” was/is (not sure if it’s still on) yet another case of life imitating The Simpsons.  Hitler, North Dakota?
  • I love how the doctor is willing to sell him the Hair in a Drum even though he knows it doesn’t work.
  • “It’s in the union contract, sir.  One token promotion from within per year.”
  • It’s great how Marge tells Homer to hire Karl without realizing that he’s much more of a sexual threat than any of those bubbly women who make kissy faces at her husband.
  • Homer in a suit with a real haircut looks just like Herb Powell. 
  • “Management Caves In To Condiment Outcry”
  • The transition from the executive bathroom floor (with the ultra-deferential towel guy) to the office tower is gorgeous.
  • The scene in the back yard where Marge worries about a rainy day always used to get cut in syndication.  I’d completely forgotten it existed by the time Season 2 finally came out on DVD.
  • Great callback on the ivory backscratcher, which is itself two jokes in two words.
  • Homer calls it a “dirty trick” when Bart says he loves him.  It’s just fantastic.
  • Hey, Zombie Simpsons, you’re twenty-two years behind the times:
    Simpson and Delilah8

3.    Treehouse of Horror

  • Marge’s intro to this, about telling people not to write letters, is a really fantastic piece of satire.  They take a character who would very likely hate their show if she were real, and use her to preemptively respond to the arguments actual critics make. 
  • The entire Bad Dream House segment is them flexing their new animation capabilities.  It’s lit and colored wonderfully, and still looks creepy by today’s standards.
  • The house’s voice is exhibit four and a half thousand or so of Shearer doing brilliant, original work on this show. 
  • And they snuck in a quick “Bitchin!”.  You’re watching FOX.
  • The first appearance of Kang and Kodos! 
  • I am physically incapable of thinking about “If you wanted to make Sarak the Preparer cry, mission accomplished” without giggling.
  • It’s been said before, but the James Earl Jones rendition of “The Raven” has made more kids get this poem than thousands of English teachers.
  • The shadow effects as Homer investigates his chamber door are really well done.  They even fade as they get further from their source.
  • As great as Jones is, Castellaneta totally holds his own: “Take thy beak from out my heart, and take they form from off my door!”. 
  • Clausen deserves a lot of credit here as well.  The music as Homer’s chasing the raven is pitch perfect.

4.    Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish

  • Speaking of Clausen, the music in this episode goes through an enormous range of emotion and feeling with aplomb. 
  • Love the inspection team and the bribe. 
  • “Why are my teeth showing like that?” “Because you’re smiling.”  “Ah, excellent, this is exactly the kind of trickery I’m paying you for.”  It takes a real villain to be unfamiliar with smiling as anything other than a trick.
  • An actor portraying Charles Darwin!
  • “So far the only negative thing we have found is from some guy who dated her when she was sixteen.”  “Ah, and?”  “He, uh, he felt her up.”  “Bah, not good enough!”
  • “I love dogs, babies too.” 
  • Burns’ barely concealed contempt for regular people, voters, and everything else he has to do to be governor is perfectly him.  He sees the whole thing as an inconvenience.
  • It’s great how Lisa gets up and leaves the table before Burns is even done answering her question with his well worn catchphrases. 
  • I always thought it was kind of unfair for Marge to serve him the head, but it does make for a great visual.
  • And now, a first tier, hall of fame, etch-it-in-stone Burns quote: “Ironic, isn’t it Smithers?  This anonymous clan of slack jawed troglodytes has cost me the election.  And yet if I were to have them killed, I would be the one to go to jail.  That’s democracy for you.”

5.    Dancin’ Homer

  • The comedy density of these episodes cannot be overstated.  They’re starting a flashback with a bus arriving at a stadium, and they turn it into Otto escaping from the cops and skid marks on the parking lot.  If they’d actually shown the chase it would’ve sucked, but just referring to it makes it hilarious and takes less time.
  • “Springfield Savings, Safe from 1890-1986, 1988-”
  • The digitizing effect on “Jumbo-vision” is another subtle piece of animation that does a lot to make things feel more realistic and recognizable than they otherwise would. 
  • “I felt an intoxication that had nothing to do with alcohol.  It was the intoxication of being a public spectacle!”
  • The blink-and-you-miss-it look of annoyance on Big Bill McClosky’s face when the PA guy calls him “mediocre” shows once again how much they paid attention to every frame and detail.
  • Yet another little touch: the beefcake posters on the walls where Helen the organist plays. 
  • Hey look, Homer asked to leave the plant before taking a new job.  That doesn’t happen much these days.
  • Tony Bennett!  And it isn’t contrived or dumb!
  • Great guest voice from Tom Poston.
  • And the player’s ex-wife sitting right behind Bart sounds suspiciously like he does.

6.    Dead Putting Society

  • God I love old Flanders.  He’s just as much of an unwitting tormentor to Homer, but he’s also a recognizable human being. 
  • The first call to Reverend Lovejoy.  That was a tremendous running gag.  Damn Flanders.
  • Lovejoy’s sleeping mask (frilly pink trim!) is just fantastic.
  • Bosom.
  • “Homer, I couldn’t help overhearing you warp Bart’s mind.”
  • That is exactly the sound that one hand clapping makes.
  • Bart doing the Crane on top of the trash can is a great little joke.  Incidentally, The Karate Kid has aged really well. 
  • It’s great how terrified Bart is when Homer wakes him.
  • Words fail to describe how hilarious the British announcer guy is.  Half of his lines aren’t even jokes, and yet everything he says is funny because golf announcers are masters of unintentional self parody.
  • After the boys declare their draw, the way they cut to a reaction shot of the Lincoln robot while it makes that little noise is another deft touch of genius. 
  • And I have finished my first 72oz tub.  Only two and two-thirds more to go.

7.    Bart vs. Thanksgiving

  • Ah, the inanity of parade announcers.
  • On my .avi rip, the Bart Thanksgiving parade balloon lasts only 27 frames.  Not seconds, or even tenths of a seconds.  Frames.  That is quick comedy.
  • I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: nobody got it worse on this show than old people.  The joy on Mrs. Spencer’s face because her family sent her a fax is cruel, heartbreaking and hilarious.
  • Nice touch having Bart sing the FOX fanfare as he comes in to destroy Lisa’s centerpiece.
  • The “ruined Thanksgiving” line is devastating but as brief as it could possibly be.  It’s masterful storytelling.
  • “Things like that always happen in this family.”  “I’ve noticed that too.”  Meta jokes before anyone knew what the word “meta” meant. 
  • Ah, the corner of Croesus and Mammon.
  • The security guard is reading Les Miserables!  This show viewed wasted screen space as a grievous sin. 
  • Support for the above, there’s scare quotes around “Massage” parlor and the liquor store has a sign that says “Yes!  We have rot gut!”. 
  • Hey, it’s Lou sounding like Eddie! 
  • “Children need discipline!  You can ask any syndicated advice columnist.” 
  • I love the happy endings of Season 2.  They set the bar for family success so low that seeing the Simpsons struggle to cross over it really is both sweet and funny. 

8.    Bart the Daredevil

  • The dirt riding dunk masters always get me.
  • Skinner’s casual drop that it’s the start of a series of concerts, and Homer’s moaning “series?”, are just more wood for the pyre of Homer’s life being something he hates.  Miserable Homer is and always will be funnier than happy Jerkass Homer.
  • “Sunday: Bear Baiting”
  • I laugh every time the lion pops up to pull him back into the tank.  Every time. 
  • Love the scrawl:Bart the Daredevil5
  • “But the fact of the matter is, bones heal, chicks dig scars, and the United States of America has the best doctor to daredevil ratio in the world.”
  • The Homer-gorge scene is the best argument for how you can do insane things with these characters so long as you do it well.  The ambulance hitting the tree is such a great joke that the callback to it in the movie is one of the two or three funniest things in that whole bloated film.

9.    Itchy & Scratchy & Marge

  • This is about the part in the marathon where I get amazed at the unrelenting excellence of these episodes.  This is a famous classic, there hasn’t been an even vaguely weak episode yet, and the next few introduce Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz.  I have loved many television shows other than this one, but I don’t think anything can compete with The Simpsons in terms of an unbroken streak of consistent excellence.
  • Ah, the way Scratchy’s limp body falls into the crater just before they pile onto him.
  • Psycho is a famous enough movie that I got that reference even though I hadn’t seen the movie the first time I saw this episode.
  • The one that’s cut off at the top is “Cats Blown Up” with three checkmarks next to it:Itchy and Scratchy and Marge10
  • “And the horse I rode in on?”  That’s as close as you can come to saying “fuck” on network television.  Fuck yeah.
  • Bring Back “Wagon Train”
  • More great work from Clausen and company in this one.
  • Gotta love the dry, understated execu-speak for “drop an anvil on her” and the like.
  • Smartline!
  • Marvin Monroe is in Vienna!  Of course he is.
  • Alex Rocco for the win in this one: “It’s different, I’ll give you that”. 
  • “It’s a tool that every home handyman needs.  It’s a jigsaw, it’s a power drill, it’s a wood turning lathe, it’s an asphalt spreader.  It’s sixty-seven tools in one!”
  • More small notes of care: the massive pupils on Itchy and Scratchy for the opening of their “love and share” episode.
  • Well done, Ludwig
  • Also, the marbles animation is spectacular.
  • “It’s filth!  It graphically portrays parts of the human body, which, practical as they may be, are evil.”
  • More subtle touches, the sign that says “Kancel David” at the house is the same one that had “Kancel Krusty” at the studio.  The Simpsons is in the details.
  • The ever more gigantic pistols are great.

10.    Bart Gets Hit by a Car

  • Hartman!
  • Satan uses a Mac.  Just sayin’.
  • Love the quick sight gag of the guy who looks like Jacques getting nervous while the doctor puts on the rubber glove.
  • And we have a Wizard of Oz joke, because why not?
  • It’s the second season, and they’re already making little jokes at their own expense for never letting Burns remember Homer.
  • Aww, Grau and Hartman in the same scene.
  • Dr. Nick’s degrees are hilarious.  “I went to medical school for four years and all I got was this lousy diploma”.
  • Credit to Azaria for nailing Dr. Nick’s voice right from the get go.  It never changed from this one and didn’t need to.
  • Love the quick look Bart gives to Hutz as he says he sometimes wishes he had been killed.
  • “What are you looking at me like that for?  You believed his cock and bull story.”
  • Marge on the stand could’ve easily been heavy handed and boring, but they pulled it off.
  • Homer trying to keep himself mad at Marge in Moe’s is the same way.

11.    One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish

  • This episode is a useful reminder that it wasn’t that long ago that karaoke was considered weird and insane.
  • Takei!
  • “No need to panic, there’s a map to the hospital on the back of the menu.”
  • “Well, if there’s one consolation, it’s that you’ll feel no pain at all until sometime tomorrow evening when your heart suddenly explodes.” 
  • Homer’s progression through the stages of acceptance needs no further praise from me, but . . . damn, that’s funny.
  • Those three little sentences of father-son advice have definitely helped at times.
  • On the other hand, I’ve never had any luck with toilet paper to stanch shave related bleeding.
  • Homer loves “When the Saints Go Marching In” but doesn’t even know the chorus. 
  • This episode has an emotional dexterity that borders on surgical.  Homer goes from not caring about his Dad to wanting to make up with him and back to being sick of him in no time flat.
  • The “atmosphere” harmonica guy also always gets me.
  • I know I said this last Saturday, as well as two bullet points above, but the way this episode handles sadness and death is amazing.  Even Marge’s desperation can be funny when Bart asks why they’re really waiting for Homer.  And it’s not just a matter of making a joke for the sake of making a joke, the comedy is totally in character and part of the story.
  • And then there’s the bowling announcers, who are just dead on, “Well, he’s an erratic bowler”.

12.    The Way We Was

  • The first McBain clip: “I don’t want to hear it, McBain!”
  • This is also the first time we get a look at one of Hibbert’s period haircuts, in this case a giant, late 70s afro.
  • There’s no way not to enjoy the petty authoritarianism of Dondelinger, especially since I’m not in high school any more and I never had to be there in the 1970s, when it was probably even worse.
  • Marge takes a stand about not taking a stand. 
  • Among the many great firsts of this episode, we get to see that Grampa was just as terrible a father to Homer as Homer is to his kids.
  • More attention to detail, check out the outfit on the debate teacher.  That is 1970s chic:The Way We Was11
  • Kavner does a really great job in this episode of making Marge’s voice sound younger even though it’s basically a rasp.
  • Artie says “Aachem!” (or however it is you spell Jay Sherman’s catchphrase/catchhack).
  • The sarcastic limo driver is such a great part that the same voice became a recurring character.  His “okay, but I’m only paid to drive” never gets old.

13.    Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment

  • “Good evening, Zohar the adulterer, my wife sends her warmest regards.”
  • And then Zohar starts hitting on that woman as soon as Homer tells everyone to look busy because Moses is there.
  • Cable companies are big faceless corporations, which makes it okay.
  • And there’s Troy McClure, today he’d like to talk to you about a pleasant tasting candy that actually cleans and straightens your teeth.
  • Hey, it’s also the first time we get to see the shopping cart rolling backwards into the street.
  • When Homer stands up at the ad for Watson-Tatum 2, Lisa gets dumped on the ground.  It’s funny precisely because it’s understated.  If they’d made a big show of him being such a jerk to his daughter it would’ve been creepy and bad, instead it’s just funny.
  • “You haven’t lost the common touch, sir.”:Homer vs Lisa and the 8th Commandment7
  • Gotta say, if I ever caught my son charging admission for other kids to see soft core porn, I might have to act mad for the other parents, but I’d likely be proud of him.  That’s enterprising as hell. 
  • Even the police don’t care that the cable hookup is illegal.

14.   Principal Charming

  • One of the all time great wedding welcomes, “Friends, relatives, work related acquaintances”. 
  • Another great if subtle piece of animation, see how the cross line on the “A” bleeds into the “R”:Principal Charming8
  • Selma cutting out the coupon for “Muffins” while complaining about Patty having “bosoms till Tuesday” is another time when the background makes the whole thing better.
  • Schnapps?
  • Barney is such a wonderful disaster of a person in this one.  He’s a complete failure, and yet doesn’t mind in the least.

15.    Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

  • So many 1980s action movies, so many evil drug kingpins, so many exploding tanker trucks.
  • I mentioned this idea earlier, but Grampa’s contempt for Homer is not only funny on its own, but also a great explanation for why Homer is such a terrible father in his own right.
  • Herb’s boardroom meeting, complete with pomegranates, is awesome.  DeVito hits every note, pissed off, sad, exasperated, everything.
  • “All born in wedlock?”  “Yeah, though the boy was a close call.”
  • More things that are funnier for not being on screen, Bart spitting on a guy from the hot air balloon.
  • Herb making Homer say “Sort of!” with self confidence is magnificent contradiction. 
  • No further comment necessary: http://deadhomersociety.com/2010/01/04/quote-of-the-day-343/
  • “To think I wasted my life in boardrooms and stockholder’s meetings, when I could’ve been watching cartoons!  This old fool has wasted his life.”

16.    Bart’s Dog Gets an F

  • Nice dig at the Cosby clan with that shot of Hibbert at home.
  • Gotta love the quilt square of the woman shooting the buffalo while ridding side-saddle.
  • “How many of these guys are named Corey?”
  • Like DeVito, Ullman owns every line she has.  Even the ones that aren’t explicit jokes, she makes funny.
  • “I just dip in and out.  I’m only watching today because Brandy is coming out of her coma and she knows the phony prince’s body is hidden in the boathouse.”  A better description of soap operas may never be written.  “Father McGrath!  I thought you were dead.”  “I was!”
  • The shoe store has a section called “Street Crime”.
  • It takes a special kind of show to turn a little girl defending her dog into a joke about end of life care. 

17.    Old Money

  • As bad as the old people usually get it on this show, this episode shows us how much they old people hate the young as well.  No one and nothing escaped this show’s attention.
  • “Nothing says ‘I love you’ better than a military antique.  Let’s take a look at the bayonet case.”
  • The second line after the announcement of Bea’s death is a gag.  This show never lets up.
  • The ordinariness of the unlimitedly sleazy guy who tells Grampa that money will buy him better care is yet another example of something that’s sad, cruel and hilarious. 
  • The scene where people ask Grampa for money is great both because of all the insane, stupid, greedy and inhumane requests (“I need the money to buy a baby”), and because Grampa considers all of them.  It isn’t random, it makes sense because Grampa just wants to make people a little better off.
  • To be honest, the ray only has evil applications.
  • Funny to see the old people watching Itchy & Scratchy, even after they got upgraded.

18.    Brush with Greatness

  • After asking the kids not to make him a liar, “I want to go to Mount Splashmore.  Take me, take me, take me, take me now!  Now!  Now!  Now!  Now!  Now!”
  • Ah, for the days when TV promos for upcoming episodes could use lines like, “This is a rather shameless promotion”.
  • When they’ve got the pipe with Homer in it in the air, the clouds behind it are supposed to make it look like the pipe is moving, but it actually looks like the clouds are moving since there’s no fixed point of reference.  One of the rare animation notes that bug me in Seasons 1-8 or so.
  • It’s great the way Smithers’ first analysis of having Marge do the portrait is to note that she’ll be easily intimidated.
  • “Beatles, eh?  Oh, yes, I seem to remember their off key caterwauling on the old Sullivan show.  What as Ed thinking?"
  • Harvard, Yale, Oxford, the Sorbonne, the Louvre, this should hang in all of them:Brush with Greatness9
  • “He’s bad, but he’ll die, so I like it.”

19.    Lisa’s Substitute

  • A great Skinner moment is his absentminded meanness describing Lyme disease in front of Hoover.
  • “Three, you seem to be of the Jewish faith.”  “Are you sure I’m Jewish?”  “Or Italian?”  “I’m Jewish.”
  • “And for the record there were a few Jewish cowboys, ladies and gentlemen, big guys who were great shots and spent money freely."
  • Great shot:Lisa's Substitute6
  • More asbestos!  More asbestos!
  • Hey, Zombie Simpsons, I want you to watch this scene with Lisa, Homer and Bergstrom at the museum.  See how it’s relevant to the plot, character driven, and funny?  Do at least one of those and you’ll only suck two thirds of the time.
  • “That’s the problem with being middle class.  Anybody who really cares will abandon you for those who need it more.”
  • The “You are Lisa Simpson” note is great, but it would be weird and half-empty if Bergstrom didn’t already understand that Lisa needs Homer more than him, which we saw at the museum and which forms the end of the episode. 
  • By the way, all four family members give excellent voice performances at the dinner table for the baboon scene.  There’s something that doesn’t happen much (if ever) on Zombie Simpsons.

20.    The War of the Simpsons

  • Moe resenting Flanders by dismissively saying ‘college boy’ always gets me.  It’s one of those great double jokes, where the resentment is funny, but the fact that Moe doesn’t get it that no one actually gives Ph.D.s in “mixology” makes it even better.
  • “Remember last year at the Winfield’s party when you threw up in the laundry hamper?”  “No.”
  • And Barney has his shirttail hanging out of his fly again. 
  • “You stink!  You and your whole lousy operation stinks!  I quit!” 
  • How I see myself doing these marathons (especially this late into one):The War of the Simpsons8
  • How it probably looks:The War of the Simpsons7
  • Queen of the harpies!
  • And right after Lovejoy’s greatest success, he tips his hand with “Remember my saving your lives and bringing you happiness when we pass the collection plate next week”.
  • One more McBain clip, “I don’t want to hear it McBain!”
  • Another entry for the bulging file on I-can’t-believe-they-got-away-with-it: “Cherry party, Bart.  Any chicks over eight?”
  • You vile burlesque of irrepressible youth!
  • “That’s right, you heard me, pretending to cry!”
  • “I’ll never trust another old person.”
  • For completeness:
    Store Guy: Yeah, General Sherman.  They say he’s five-hundred pounds of bottom dwelling fury, don’t you know?  No one knows how old he is, but if you ask me, and most people do, he’s a hundred years if he’s a day.
    Customer:  And no one’s ever caught him?
    Store Guy:  Well, one fella came close.  Went by the name of Homer.  Seven feet tall, he was, with arms like tree trunks, and his eyes were like steel, cold and hard.  Had a shock of hair, red, like the fires of hell.

21.    Three Men and a Comic Book

  • Yet more attention to detail, how “12th” is pasted over all the previous numbers.
  • “I’m Bartman”.  Gotta say, the original Keaton/Nicholson Batman movie has also held up remarkably well.
  • Comic Book Guy when he was actually, you know, a comic book guy.
  • Fucking Wonder Years.
  • Nothing like a ten-year-old bribing police with alcohol. 
  • Ribbon candy is disgusting.  It’s from a time when sugar was precious, which it isn’t now. 
  • Gotta love Mrs. Glick being genuinely aroused while she goes back and forth in her rocking chair. 
  • Great the way they have the narration pronounce “(choke)” as it’s being read.
  • Ah, having a fight interrupted by somebody’s mom, like I said all the way back during “Bart Gets an F”, these kids were very recognizable to people who were kids at the time.
  • Gotta love how the usual message of “sharing” is deliberately undercut by the ending here.

22.    Blood Feud

  • Core Explosion, Repent Sins
  • I can’t usefully convey it, but the story of Hercules and the Lion is as great as something is possible to be.  “How did a lion get rich?”  “It was the olden days.”
  • That Burns has hired goons is funny.  That said hired goons are regular, if overly loyal, men makes it even better.  “Yeah, nice guy, play poker with him once and a while.”
  • And the plot turns on Smithers actually being a person instead of a cartoonish outline of one.
  • Final animation note: Burns and Smithers going up the escalator with the mirrors behind them looks great.
  • Love the Triceratops skull at Plunderer Pete’s.
  • But no, it’s Xtapolapocetl!
  • This seems a fitting way to end:
    Lisa: Perhaps there is no moral to this story.
    Homer: Exactly; it’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.
26
May
12

Quote of the Day

Homer and Apu8

“Good evening, here’s an update on last week’s nursing home expose ‘Geezer’s in Freezers’.  It turns out the rest home was adequately heated, the footage you saw was of a fur storage facility.  We’ve also been told to apologize for using the term ‘geezers’.  Now, coming up next, the case of the cantankerous old geezer.” – Kent Brockman

25
May
12

Reading Digest: Outsourcing Edition

Trash of the Titans5

“Can’t someone else do it?” – Homer Simpson

This week we’ve got two links to reviews of “Lisa Goes Gaga” that use my favored technique of pointing out how crappy Zombie Simpsons is compared to The Simpsons.  If this keeps up, maybe I can just outsource all of the criticism next season.  In addition to that, we’ve got a great new Tumblr, a couple of longer reads about The Simpsons and other comedies, some fresh information about the Maggie short that’ll be in theaters this summer, an old video game review, two people who agree with us, and lots more about that post-apocalyptic Simpsons play that’s opening this weekend.

Also, Chapters 9 & 10 of the book are now on-line for your Friday afternoon distraction.  And don’t forget to vote for tomorrow’s Simpsons-Beer Marathon.  Season 2 is ahead right now, but Season 7 is still very much in the running. 

Enjoy.

MOVIE SIMPSONS – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is my new favorite Tumblr.  (via)

Sunset for the Animated Giants – A thoughtful (albeit somewhat soft on Zombie Simpsons) discourse on how old so many of the original generation of animated comedies have become.  Between Zombie Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy (and it’s various spinoffs), and South Park, pretty much every big animated series that’s still running was started a long time ago. 

SNEAK PREVIEW: Mr Burns Goes to Washington – Feature – May 23, 2012 – Lots more detail about the play that’s opening this weekend in Washington D.C.:

The second act of Mr. Burns, set seven years later, finds the same group of survivors readying themselves for a live reenactment of "Cape Feare," complete with staged commercials, and vying for audience members with rival troupes of sometimes violent fellow reenactors.

And in the third act, set 75 years in the future, the actors — now dressed in yellow face paint and four-fingered gloves to approximate the Simpson look — are now enmeshed within what Washburn calls "an institutionalized Simpsons theater that produces the Simpsons legend." In their play-within-a-play, Sideshow Bob has been replaced by a version of Mr. Burns, the proprietor of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, who serves, according to Washburn, as an "amalgam of a lot of figures…but has become the [personified] fear without a name or face."

See, Zombie Simpsons?  This isn’t that hard.  You make each act build upon the one before it.  If you’re in or around D.C., you can get tickets here.

‘The Simpsons': Exclusive details on Maggie’s (short) big-screen adventure – Jean gave out a few tidbits about the animated short, most notably that it’s four minutes long, has no dialogue, and will feature a return to Ayn Rand School for Tots as well as the baby with the one eyebrow.  More on this next week. 

Worst Simpsons Episode Ever – The first of two epic takedowns of “Lisa Goes Gaga”.  This one explicitly compares it to several episodes (including “Stark Raving Dad”:

I went in thinking to myself that this was going to be a half hour advertisement for her and I even considered not watching, but you know what, I gave the episode the benefit of the doubt. I went ahead and sat down to watch, I chuckled at the couch gag thinking this might not be that bad. That chuckle was the only positive response I made towards the episode, the rest was just too unbearable to watch (at least that one Ke$ha opening sequence a few seasons back was relegated just to the credits). I honestly do not know whose idea it was to base an ENTIRE episode around Lady Gaga, but it was exactly what I thought it was going to be, just a half hour promotion for her. It seems as having  Lisa depressed that she was the most unpopular girl in school (which was already done to better effect in Season 8′s  “Summer of 4 Ft. 2″) was the best reason to work Lady Gaga into the “story”, what followed was stupid costume changes, dance and music sequences, and a kiss between Gaga and Marge (what the %*$# was that about!?) that only seemed to serve the purpose as to cater to Gaga fans.

There’s more at the link. 

Lady Gaga, Lisa Simpson, and Self Esteem – And this one basically is a Compare & Contrast, with “Lisa’s Substitute” as the good side of the Force:

All in all, “Lisa’s Substitute” achieves the same goals that “Lisa Goes Gaga” does, making Lisa feel better about herself. But it does so in a larger context, with more complexity, and in a sweeter and far more realistic way, highlighting how far this show has fallen.

So, I have a summer to decide if I really want to keep watching The Simpsons. I’m not a quitter, but there is only so much I can take before I start forgetting that the show had episodes like “Lisa’s Substitute”, and begin thinking that this is the show that brought us 22 minutes devoted to glorifying Gaga.

I say go ahead and quit, it feels great.  There’s also YouTube of Ralph’s Lyme disease report, which never gets old. 

Fandemonium: Super Fans and Building Communities – Yet more stuff from the play, specifically about what fandom, now so associated with being on-line, would look like after the lights went out. 

Eulogy: Remembering the 2011-12 Phoenix Coyotes – Excellent reference:

But it all came to an end, as the Homer Simpson boxing approach to hockey finally ran out of luck when the Coyotes came up against the Drederick Tatum of the Western Conference in the Kings. The extra fluid padding the brain — known as Mike Smith — that let the rest of the Yotes pretty much get pummeled for large portions of the playoffs without a knockout finally succumbed.

Anonymous Works: Early Bart Simpson – That is kind of creepy looking. 

More Simpsons Cat Humor – A single image with all the signs outside Burns Manor from “Rosebud”.

Wiz Khalifa, ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ – A couple of people have determined that this video was at least partially inspired by “Homer’s Phobia”.  Can’t say I disagree.  Some women finally show up toward the end, but . . . yeah. 

Krusty’s Super Crap House – A video review of “Krusty’s Super Fun House” for Sega Genesis.  The game is not very good, though since it has basically nothing to do with the show or any of its characters, it is a perfect example of Simpsons merchandise.  (Thanks to reader Toad Titan for sending in the link.) 

How well do you know Mr. Burns? Find out at Simpsons trivia night – There are still quite a few upcoming D.C. area trivia nights if you want free tickets to the play. 

Girl on Girl on TV: Week of May 13-May 20 – I still like “Are you even left handed?”, but this would’ve been good:

The Simpsons: This week Edna walked in on Ned when he was in the middle of his LGBT meeting. “Left-gifted, bidextrous and trans-handed.” My first thought was that the acronym was an unbelievable stretch. Not a single part of that is something that people actually say. My second thought was that in the bickering that followed they missed out on an opportunity to have one of the left-handed people say that “ambidextrous” isn’t a real thing and those are just right-handed people who want attention.

Heh.

Remix: The Combining of Genres in The Simpsons – Student paper on exactly what the title says.

Homer Simpson, eat your heart out – Shh, do you want to get sued?

Jury Duty…In 10 Words – That’s right, I think words I would never say.

Chernobyl Diaries…In 10 Words – This reporter promises to be more trusting and less vigilant in the future. 

Woo-Hoo – Neck-to-shoulder body paint advertising the Simpsons game.  The rest of the site is in a similar vein, though you may want to wait until you get home to view some of them.  There are quite a few Homer face labias. 

Bud Selig and the Homer Simpson Approach – Criticizing baseball’s long time commissioner with excellent usage:

Nerd 2: What are you going to do, Mr. Simpson?

Homer: Actually, I’ve been working on a plan. During the exam, I’ll hide under some coats, and hope that somehow everything will work out.

The preceding quote is from one of my favorite episodes of The Simpsons entitled “Homer Goes To College.” Not only is it a classic Homer moment, it also perfectly sums up the way Bud Selig has handled the A’s stadium situation.

Well done.

An interview with David Mitchell – Refined British sophisticates agree with us:

And do you think it’s still as good?

No, I think probably it isn’t but I think, to be fair, it’s been going on so long that it’s had an up and down graph and I only have a vague sense of what’s more recent. I believe it’s had a better patch of late than it did a few years ago but it’ll probably never return to being as good as it was in the late 90s. But I love those characters so much that I’ll watch them even in the slightly less good episodes. And still, there’s got to be 150 amazing episodes which is a huge achievement.

It’s still mind blowing that there are so many that are so damned good.

A good show dies, and it turns out that’s sometimes alright – And finally, a spectacular agreement with us:

The reason I’m happy, then, is — well, how do I put this kindly? I don’t want to see 30 Rock turn into the Simpsons. Or as I like to call them anymore, the Zombies.

Yet again, don’t misunderstand and murder me. I think The Simpsons was a great show in its prime, a show that was easily the best animated sitcom for years, and arguably the best show on air altogether. But the problem is, The Simpsons hasn’t been in its prime for over a decade.

He basically called it Zombie Simpsons!  Awesome. 

25
May
12

Quote of the Day

Homer the Great9

“Homer, a man who called himself ‘you-know-who’ just invited you to a secret ‘wink-wink’ at the ‘you-know-what’.  You certainly are popular now that you’re a Stonecutter.” – Marge Simpson
“Oh yeah, beer busts, beer blasts, keggers, stein hoists, AA meetings, beer night, it’s wonderful, Marge.  I’ve never felt so accepted in all my life.  These people looked deep within my soul and assigned me a number based on the order in which I joined.” – Homer Simpson

24
May
12

Strange New Places

Homer's Barbershop Quartet10

“And where’s Barney?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, he’s with his new girlfriend, the Japanese conceptual artist.” – Principal Skinner
“Barbershop is in danger of growing stale. I’m taking it to strange new places.” – Barney Gumble

In the interest of not burying the lead: mocking Season 23 has been fun, but it’s also the last time we’re going to go full tilt for a new Zombie Simpsons season around here. Don’t worry, we’re not taking the site down or anything; in fact, for the next few months you shouldn’t notice much difference. Quotes of the Day will continue as normal, and, just like the last three summers, we’ll be doing Crazy Noises for old episodes. This year it’s going to be Season 11, the last one the Manifesto lists before Zombie Simpsons.

After that, the Magic 8-ball becomes less clear. Season 24 (ugh) will likely start sometime in late September, but we won’t be doing our full Preview-Ratings-Crazy Noises-Compare & Contrast schedule. I’m sure we’ll do something (and suggestions are welcome), but whatever it is will be much less comprehensive.

As for why we’re doing this, there’s only one real reason and it is not intended ironically. We think it best to stop before we get dull and do nothing but repeat ourselves.

For all its manic bumbling and endless stream of pointless cameos, the only enduring characteristic about Zombie Simpsons is how blandly repetitive it is. Episodes consistently have no coherent story, few jokes, fewer funny jokes, wasted guest voices, hacktacular pop culture references, and all manner of things poorly lifted from old episodes. And then every once in a while the animation goes off the rails too, though that’s usually because the writers have once again managed to string together something too dumb to convey.

In Crazy Noises and elsewhere, I’ve begun to get the sense that we’re often doing little more than citing examples of the same kinds of things each week: it sucked when they made Homer do this, that joke went on too long, that’s not even a joke, this voice sounds terrible, that was done better years ago, this made no sense, etcetera etcetera. We are trying to put a tiny thrill into these gray little episodes, but they rarely give us something novel enough to make criticisms we haven’t already made dozens of times before. Whatever points we’ve tried to articulate over the past few years here, another few thousand words per episode are unlikely to change them. In short, it seems very unlikely that most of the episodes in Season 24 (or Season 25, or Season 26, or Season Whatever) are going to be worth a close examination and serious criticism.

On a related personal note, I simply find Zombie Simpsons boring. I stopped watching regularly sometime in Season 13, and didn’t catch more than a handful in total from Seasons 14-19. When Dave, Mad Jon and I started getting serious about this site in early 2009, I picked up at the beginning of Season 20, and very little had changed. I’ve seen every episode since, four full seasons, and I can honestly say that’s enough. Apart from its vague resemblance to my favorite show ever, Zombie Simpsons just isn’t that interesting; and I’d rather not spend my time watching it.

Long story short:

  • No change to Quotes of the Day
  • Still doing Crazy Noises for Season 11 this summer
  • Greatly reduced schedule for Season 24 this fall

On two happier notes, Chapters 7 & 8 of the book are now on-line, and to celebrate the end of Season 23, I’m going to do another Simpsons-Beer Marathon this Saturday.

For those of you who’ve started reading this site since the last time I did this, you can find a full explanation of how this works here. Basically, I watch an entire season of the show, drinking one beer per episode, and post updates along the way. I’ve done marathons for Seasons 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 already, and you can check them out by clicking on our “Living Life to Its Fullest” category.

You can vote for which season you’d like me to watch on Saturday in the poll at right. And, no, if Season 7 is selected, I won’t be including “Marge Be Not Proud”. I dislike that episode, even if it does have some very funny parts (see the freshly posted Chapter 7 for details).  The marathon begins at 8:00am Eastern Daylight Time (US), which is 12:00 UTC, Saturday May 26th.  The poll closes at midnight Eastern Time tomorrow.

Update 26 May: It’s Season 2 in a landslide:

Season 2 Beerathon Poll

Thanks to everyone who voted.

24
May
12

Quote of the Day

The Joy of Sect8

“Do you have anything by Robert Ludlum?” – Hans Moleman
“Get out.” – Just Crichton and King Bookstore Employee

23
May
12

Crazy Noises: Lisa Goes Gaga

Homer's Phobia7

“Come on, Homer, join the party.” – John

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 “sappiness”).

We discuss the pathetically lame Marge/Gaga kiss below, and the fact that this isn’t the first time Zombie Simpsons has employed this cheap attention stunt.  (And there’s the way it apparently turned Marge on so much that she immediately needed to fuck Homer like they’d never fucked before, which adds to the stupidity and incoherence.)  But more generally, it’s further evidence of just how far behind the times Zombie Simpsons has fallen, especially compared to The Simpsons.

Gay characters were basically non-existent on television in 1990, and yet The Simpsons hinted that Smithers was gay and had Karl (who self evidently was gay) kiss Homer full on the lips.  In 1994, Homer visits a lesbian bar and thinks the only thing wrong is the lack of a fire exit.  Three years after that, they did “Homer’s Phobia”, which was broadcast two months before the famous “Ellen comes out” episode.  However important or not important those things were or weren’t, there’s no denying that The Simpsons was way ahead of its time in terms of portraying gay characters and stories.

Fast forward to today, and Zombie Simpsons is lagging behind on the exact same things.  There was Patty’s it’s-not-really-a-woman marriage, Marge kissing Lindsey Naegle (in a Homer fantasy, no less), those pathetic gay bars, and now this hapless stab at relevance.  It’s remarkable not only for how culturally tone deaf it is, but for how far they’ve regressed from where they used to be.

[Note: Our old friend Zombies Rise from the Sea joined us again this week, and we got into what may be the longest Crazy Noises ever.]

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, we’ve got everybody. Shall we begin?

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Let’s do this!

Charlie Sweatpants: So, this episode, memorably bad or just regular bad?

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Terrible.

Charlie Sweatpants: (i.e. is this so bad that it stands out by their standards)

Mad Jon: This was so bad it stood out.

Dave: It was tremendously obnoxious. End-to-end.

Mad Jon: This was mega bad, I was in serious danger of doing some damage to the TV on Sunday night.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Who’s idea was it to put Lady Gaga on the show?

Charlie Sweatpants: At this point, they seem to regard guest voices as sort of awards that they give out to people they like or admire.

Mad Jon: I dunno, but I imagine it was the same person who agreed to let her have 51% of the lines in the episode too.

Dave: And superpowers.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Tim Long?

Mad Jon: I don’t even know where to really begin.

Charlie Sweatpants: Think of Jebediah, and the words will come.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Well… I think we should.

Wait, hold on!

I think a psychic force is telling me something.

Mad Jon: I am not even sure I could coherently describe the INTENDED plot.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: That’s what my psychic force is telling me, the plot.

The Lisa plot that tries so hard to be emotional but ends up sappy.

Charlie Sweatpants: The psychic force was certainly terrible (and there was even less need for it twice), but since the whole thing was apparently some kind of off-season, no-rules-apply, Halloween episode, I don’t know that it was even in the Top 5 bad things here.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: How did they think it was a good idea?

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d say it was part of their overall “exaggerate everything about Gaga” theme.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Gaga is clearly going to Springfield, why have some unexplainable force that isn’t even satirized or joke about tell her about Lisa?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, the whole she has to cheer up the town AND cheer up Lisa thing seemed very redundant.

Dave: I think the Halloween episode parallel is pretty apt; they more or less threw their own minor rules out the window and went for it.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Agreed Dave.

Cheering up the entire town she did easily because Springfield has basically turned into a bunch of people who would cheer at any celebrity coming their way.

Especially Lady Gaga.

Mad Jon: And even when they were trying to have a progression, they just fast forwarded it. I cite how quickly Lisa dropped the notebook that outed her as the Truth Teller.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: My god the town of Springfield has lost their personality.

That scene pissed me off Jon.

I mean why do they have people suddenly become clumsy to serve the plot? Hell, why even have the notebook with her.

Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed, Jon, the plot was very stop and start. It would move rapidly, then pause so Gaga could interact with random people, then zoom forward again (Lisa’s angry outburst and instant reconciliation come to mind).

Mad Jon: It should.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: If I were Lisa I would have held onto the notepad or even just left it at home hidden or even stored the information on a computer.

Mad Jon: I would have done anything but what happened.

Charlie Sweatpants: What’s more, and this may be attributable to the overall Halloween vibe, they had people acting weird and out of character even by their standards.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: More then usual?

Charlie Sweatpants: The school actually doing these awards, Flanders talking with Gaga out of the blue, all those people who shouldn’t have been there at the concert (Grampa in particular).

And yeah, I think it was more than usual. Think about Skinner and Hoover here. They’re both aiding and abetting the children taunting Lisa mercilessly.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Who else has to be at the concert, without someone they wouldn’t be able to showcase how super big Lady Gaga is?

Mad Jon: Agreed. CBG wipes his face with Superman #1, Flanders was anyone but Flanders.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: And yeah, Skinner was unusually mean.

Charlie Sweatpants: Marge and Homer were the same way. It was like neither of them had ever dealt with Lisa before.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Well it’s a consequence of trying to have an emotional sappy plot.

You know, Lisa moping, acting sad, isolated…

It isn’t even done in a way that’s substantial but people ate it up anyway.

Mad Jon: Back to Marge real quick, why was she afraid to be touched?

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I don’t know, I instantly blocked that scene out when I saw Gaga kissing Marge.

Charlie Sweatpants: I kind of felt bad for Lisa after a while. I mean, she’s basically being stalked and harassed by a celebrity with the active complicity of her parents and all she wants to be is left alone. It was creepy.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Terrible!

Charlie Sweatpants: The kiss was atrocious.

Dave: So they could work in a lesbian kiss. Duh.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: And don’t forget the twitter hashtag the network put up to showcase the scene.

Charlie Sweatpants: What’s worse, they did the same thing like three seasons ago.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Not the show, but the FOX network.

This isn’t even funny.

Charlie Sweatpants: Really? I didn’t know that.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I recorded the episode, it was clearly from the network.

Dave: What was the hashtag?

Zombies Rise from the Sea: #GagaKissesMarge

I mean WTF?

Charlie Sweatpants: That’s really desperate.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: The network must want it’s now super low rated show to succeed.

Charlie Sweatpants: I mean, using an always heterosexual female character kissing another woman as publicity? That’s so low and old that it’s actually a cliche:

http://deadhomersociety.com/2009/08/24/zombie-simpsons-in-the-land-of-tv-tropes/

Dave: Huh. The twitterverse ate it up. https://twitter.com/#!/search/%23gagakissesmarge

No surprise there, I guess.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: The internet in general is stupid.

Charlie Sweatpants: Doesn’t surprise me, though I wouldn’t take it as an indictment of the internet generally. The kind of people who are going to care enough to add that to their Twitter feeds are probably going to be enthusiastic rather than bored.

Remember, we’re the weirdos, not them. Most the people who watch this show probably actually like it.

It’s only the real die hards who watch it in spite of never finding it good.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Getting back on topic, just how sappy was that emotional content?

Charlie Sweatpants:  Honestly, the emotions were so clumsy that I’m not sure they even qualified as sappy.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: It’s like Tim Long read a book about how to write and read a chapter that described how a character can be emotional.

Charlie Sweatpants: Other than my sympathy for Lisa wanting to be left alone, barely any of this was coherent enough to even get at where they were coming from.

Mad Jon: I didn’t see as much of what I would call emotion as I did what I would call manic reactions.

Charlie Sweatpants: Gaga at the end is exactly that.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I mean they force her into a situation that is contrived (Lisa telling lies about herself, being popular) then they have the parents try to sympathize with her, the bullies tease her and even Lady Gaga try to cheer her up all while she acts mopey, lies down in bed, cries without tears, says stuff a teenager would say.

For me to emote with a person, the situation has to matter and the moments during that situation have to be involving.

None of these moments were involving.

Mad Jon: Nobody was really ‘feeling’ anything. Almost every situation makes me think that any doctor nearby would be handing out bottles of Xanax.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Most people who voted 3/5 on NoHomers felt something.

They actually fell for the whole “Lisa” shtick.

Charlie Sweatpants: Again, that doesn’t entirely surprise me.

Mad Jon: Neither I.

Dave: Ok guys, hate to do this but I gotta run. Enjoy the rest of your chat.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay Dave, have a good evening.

Mad Jon: Peace Dave.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Sad to see you go Dave, but have a good evening.

Nice to meet you.

Dave: Likewise. Later guys.

Charlie Sweatpants: The kind of sappiness that they went for was real lowest common denominator stuff. That will always play with fans.

“Friends” stayed on the air for like four seasons longer than it should have on that alone.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: But the way it’s portrayed, it seemed like it was trying to go for that 8-year old being sad but failed.

The acting of Yeardley Smith is better then usual but I don’t want to emote based on acting, I want to emote based on the situation.

Charlie Sweatpants: But that’s part of the problem with how sloppy it was.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: It annoys me because if people keep falling for this then people are going to do the same thing over and over.

Charlie Sweatpants: Literally no one in that situation (sad little girl having minor, childish crisis) would make as big a deal out of cheering her up as they did.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Agreed.

But still, who needs an emotional moment with proper buildup and proper investment when you can just have someone act sad? And I’m talking about all of the series here.

Charlie Sweatpants: Right, pretty much everyone harasses Lisa at some point (they eve had Maggie do it for fuck’s sake) and they have their little sad moment. There is no buildup, it starts with her depressed and stays at a flat line for most of the episode.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: All while Gaga tries to be Michael Jackson.

Charlie Sweatpants: Even the end was like that. Lisa actually gives two different reasons why she’s suddenly fine.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: It just sets a poor standard for the production of TV series everywhere, Zombie Simpsons I mean.

Charlie Sweatpants: Was it because Homer’s incompetence as a parent is now endearing to her, or was it because she had a “great sneeze”?

Mad Jon: How does one define “little monster”?

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I couldn’t understand a single word Homer said.

Nor could I understand what Homer had to do with Lisa’s revelation.

Charlie Sweatpants: Jon: Gaga fans call themselves “little monsters”.

Mad Jon: Ah.

Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly, Homer’s chat with Lisa didn’t do anything.

Mad Jon: So Gaga keeps telling people they can be little monsters, meaning they are allowed to be her fan?

Charlie Sweatpants: Meaning they’re allowed to let their true, weird selves fly free. Concurrent album purchases are not required, but not discouraged either.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: No, I’m not a superfan of hers but I’m guessing it all sort of has to do with the inner beauty and desire they hold inside.

I’ve listened to ‘The Fame”, I have yet to listen to her recent work.

Maybe that’s a good thing…

Mad Jon: I see. So it’s like an apathetic version of music scientology. I have heard plenty of Gaga, but I know almost nothing of the culture.

Not that it really matters.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: So let’s talk about what Lady Gaga is trying to be, “Michael Jackson”.

Anybody remember “Stark Raving Dad”?

Charlie Sweatpants: The fact that they had Lisa saying “I denounce thee” like it was musical scientology was just part of the overall “fluff Lady Gaga” thing.

Then she comes back and is a superfan at the end. It was practically a commercial.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Or their interpretation of who Gaga is, trying to inspire people, achieve dreams they cannot achieve.

Mad Jon: The end was horrific.

Charlie Sweatpants: And yeah, they really didn’t leave me with any choice but “Stark Raving Dad” for today’s Compare & Contrast.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I don’t associate that with Gaga but I can understand why other people would.

Mad Jon: I associate it with hilarity.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Just imagine Gaga and her terrible voice acting trying to bond with Lisa.

Charlie Sweatpants: That was something that bugged me right from the start. She cannot act for shit.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: She isn’t even aware she’s on an animated show, it’s more like one of those cheesy PSA’s from the 80’s.

Mad Jon: Is that what her actual voice sounds like? I’ve never heard her talk before.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Well maybe but she’s trying to “act” so any normalcy is thrown out the window.

I imagine that when she talks she’s good.

Acting, not so much.

Charlie Sweatpants: Her delivery on “We’ve got to cheer up a whole town. Where’s the dress I wore when I met . . . the Pope” was solid wood from end to end.

And yeah, the required skill sets of “singer” and “actress” don’t actually have much overlap.

Some people can do both, but most of them can’t.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: It doesn’t seem like she knows what to do or is willing to portray herself as a character, she sounds as if she’s trying to make a voice and emote it but ends up with the opposite effect for lack of better words.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s like Lisa’s story line, her readings were just flat.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Maybe she’s unable to immerse herself in the character or something, I don’t know.

Heh, the irony of it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Whatever the reason, it was bad.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Maybe she should have sung her lines, it wouldn’t have been acting but it would have been better then what we got.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d say there was more than enough singing.

Mad Jon: Yep, more than plenty.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Speaking of songs, is Tim Long even trying with these songs anymore?

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t know, but some of those lyrics wouldn’t have been out of place in an elementary school production that doesn’t have a lot of help from the teachers.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: The song she sang in the beginning felt like it came off from one of her studio albums.

It didn’t even feel like it was created for a Simpsons episode, it actually felt like a song written for one of her albums.

Charlie Sweatpants: The credits had both big songs with lyrics by Tim Long and music by Rex Promise.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Ah.

Charlie Sweatpants: A quick Google search is unclear as to who or what “Rex Promise” is.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Possibly someone hired off the street to produce these songs.

It’s funny, this is like the first time a song on the Simpsons felt like a promotional effort.

It wasn’t satirical, it was subconsciously promoting an upcoming album from her even though it was written for this episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t know about first time, but it was definitely a promotional event.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I will admit that the lyrics are decent, if Tim Long leaves The Simpsons then he could easily join up with Lady Gaga’s entourage and write songs for her.

The lyrics are not decent for the Simpsons however…

Charlie Sweatpants: Yes, the lyrics weren’t even trying to be funny.

Mad Jon: I wasn’t even paying attention to them.

Charlie Sweatpants: I mean, “When they’re young, all little monsters learn that they are scary/ Ugly, stupid, shunned by cupid, overweight, and hairy.

“But every monster needs to find that secret deep inside.

“That transforms doctor Jekyll into sexy mister Hyde.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: That song could easily fit onto “Born this Way 2″

Charlie Sweatpants: Christ that’s bad. That sounds like Up With People modernized so they could use the word “sexy”.

Mad Jon: That’s pretty bad.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Agreed.

The fact that it can be placed into a Gaga album makes it worse.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, but at this point we’re pretty close to the bottom anyway.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: At this point they should just sell the show to Pixar since they praise it so damn much.

Mad Jon: “It can’t possibly be bottomless” – “Well, for all intents and purposes….”

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Including in this episode, with the terrible mention of Cars.

Charlie Sweatpants: Forgot about that.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: The Simpsons tries so hard to be Pixar material but it’s not Pixar, it will never be Pixar.

Mad Jon: Yeah, I missed that too, but I’m not surprised by myself for that.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, Brad Bird left, what do you expect?

Zombies Rise from the Sea: You do have a point there.

Mad Jon: Meh, I think they are just trying to get by, one profitable day at a time.

Charlie Sweatpants: Pretty much. Any final thoughts about this episode in particular?

Zombies Rise from the Sea: There’s still so much about this episode to talk about.

We haven’t even got to how shallow the satire is.

Charlie Sweatpants: There was satire?

Mad Jon: There may be more to talk about, that doesn’t mean that it’s worth talking about.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Well, the only satire in this episode was how extravagant she was, how many costumes she was in and how she’s a superstar.

Charlie Sweatpants: I wouldn’t call what they did satire.

Mad Jon: I dunno, I got nothing productive to bring up.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s exaggeration. Like things Lady Gaga would have if physics, chemistry, and biology didn’t apply.

Birds won’t actually fly around you (well, outside of Hitchcock movies, anyway), but in here you can have anything your heart desires.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I know it’s common but it just seems like they’re honoring her rather then truly mocking her.

Even that scene where Homer eats Gaga’s meat suit seems like it’s honoring it rather then mocking it.

God how I hate scenes like those.

Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly. Though I’d go with “sucking up to” instead of “honor”.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: If your meat suit gets eaten by Homer, it’s instantly an institution.

Charlie Sweatpants: Something like that.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Honestly, I felt weirded out listening to the Gaga music, seeing the Gaga train, the black guy…

It felt like an episode of “The Cleveland Show” rather then The Simpsons.

Charlie Sweatpants: There’s no denying that Zombie Simpsons has taken more than a few cues from MacFarlane (especially since his triumphant comeback) of late, but this was extreme even for them.

That opening and closing narration is the real giveaway.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I forgot about that; what did that have to do with the episode anyway?

Charlie Sweatpants: They know they can’t just do it crazy, so they include this disclaimer.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I was a dancer for Lady Gaga, bleh.

Did we already mention Lisa’s “Elementary School Musical” like song or is that not worth talking about?

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t think it’s worth examining in detail or anything. Every complaint I have about the first song applies to the second.

Especially the “Up With People” part.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I feel the same, but I will say that Yeardley Smith’s vocals felt auto-tuned.

And the way it ended the episode undermined everything it tried to do.

Charlie Sweatpants: No arguments here. Anything else just on the episode? After that, I’d like to get a quick opinion from each of you about Season 23 overall.

The only thing I’ll say is that the couch gag wasn’t terrible. It was five years later than it should’ve been (struggles with Wii-motes are so 2007), but it was short.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: There were some decent gags like Lady ZhaZha (for the reference) but then again, “Trash of the Titans” had decent jokes and that episode is terrible.

Charlie Sweatpants: Jon? Anything else?

Mad Jon: Nothing else about this episode.

As far as season 23, I can’t say that I could distinguish it from any of the last few.

Not that this is a surprise to anyone, but what can you say? There is nothing relevant or intelligent about the show. Again, this isn’t new.

I don’t see any point in trying to sparse out what went more wrong this year as opposed to last year. What does it matter if the splattered mass of carbon on the road was a squirrel or a raccoon?

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Season 23 is by far the worst modern Simpsons season yet. It only has like two really good and memorable episodes compared to the other episodes which are either bad or bland, hell even Season 22 had some episodes I enjoyed; Season 23 doesn’t even seem like they’re trying anymore, they’re just parodying movies, sticking Simpsons characters into situations that they think are funny and let’s not forget about the terrible ToH episode this season.

The only thing exciting was Matt Selman show running a few episodes, but only one of them turned out good, the rest were just an alternate version of what would happen had he show ran rather then Jean.

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t think 23 felt much different than the last few. The lowlights are always a little memorable (the bar rag this year, Katy Perry last year, I think that slavery episode was Season 21), but you could have broadcast pretty much anything after the HD switch and it would probably take me until the first commercial to figure out it was a rerun.

Mad Jon: Good call.

Charlie Sweatpants: The one thing I have noticed in the last two years, and even more this year, is that the number of voices that have moved past “off” and into” barely recognizable” is increasing.

There have been multiple times the last season where I was astonished at how much even characters like Marge and Lisa have changed recently.

But that’s about the only thing change I can really say seemed to pick up this year.

Mad Jon: That’s probably enough thinking for this season anyway.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I may dig more into this into my review of it, but Season 23 proves to the writers themselves that they don’t need to put in the extra effort as long as they have some way to gain publicity or appease the Simpsons fans that they have. They can stick Bart together with Chalmers and no matter how unbelievable and undeveloped it is, people will still eat it up. They can put Lisa Simpson in a Facebook like situation and it’ll get publicity all because it has Lisa Simpson with Facebook. I can’t say I’m surprised about the critic sites but these sites and the fans are influencing the behavior of The Simpsons, making them think that this is acceptable. They tried to do an emotional episode and have a “Stark Raving Dad” like plot but they got caught up in their own world and they thought that the script they had was good when in actuality it wasn’t.

I know it’s commonplace and I’m not getting anywhere with this but this proves that they’re not going to get out of their world anytime soon, as long as they have the media, internet, and the people who still manage to trick themselves into thinking this episode is good; they’ll keep making Simpsons.

Mad Jon: Ok, well, if there isn’t anything else, I have been traveling for most of the last two weeks, and this is my first night home since last Thursday. I am going to bed.

Thanks Taylor, Thanks Pants,

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay Jon, sleep well.

Mad Jon: Good night.

Charlie Sweatpants: You’re largely right about them slipping into their own little world.

Springfield doesn’t really resemble much of anywhere anymore.

And they seem fine with that.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: People should really demand more from The Simpsons.

And going even further, everything really…

Springfield resembles LA more then anything else.

Charlie Sweatpants: More than anything else, I’d agree, but it’s too weird to be any place anymore. Witness that scene last week when the whole town and the camera crew barged into Flanders’ hospital room to report on him and Krabappel.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I witnessed, you’re right about that.

Charlie Sweatpants: The show has fallen a long, long way from a time when Grampa and Homer could gossip about Brockman dating the weather lady or Flanders was just a well liked guy.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: I miss the days of characters, decent plots, decent satire, hand-drawn cell animation.

Charlie Sweatpants: You and me both.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Hell I miss the days we didn’t have Facebook.

Charlie Sweatpants: Given the way their stock offering went, those days may be coming again.

Any further thoughts, Simpsons wise?

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Though this may go against your mission, I think that The Simpsons with some fresh blood can go on, though that is increasingly becoming a pipe dream because there is barely anybody who can both make it fresh and not be susceptible to being sucked into a fantasy world like the one the writers are currently in.

Charlie Sweatpants: I gave up hope a long time ago.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: This show really needs to end.

The declining numbers will make it more certain that Fox will cancel it by Season 25, I mean what purpose would Fox have to continue making the show when the episodes that are already produced will make them millions.

It’s becoming an ever increasing reality day by day, The Simpsons time is finally coming to a close.

Even though a lot of the episodes in the modern era suck, they’re still worth something to Fox.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, the financial incentives for FOX are very complicated, and FOX doesn’t do anything to make them clear to the public.

This show anchors a major (and profitable) Sunday night lineup for them, they’ve got the syndication rights to consider, and there’s the merchandise. All of these things are inextricably tied up with the continuation of the show. If low quality and critical apathy were going to cancel it, it would’ve happened by now. To some extent the same is true of the ratings. They go down every year, sure, but they’ve been going down every year for a decade now.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: This is the lowest that they’ve gone.

Charlie Sweatpants: True, but I don’t know nearly enough about the television business or FOX’s internal thinking to even be able to guess if it’s close to low enough.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: And there is only so much they can do to cheapen the show before Fox decides to pull the plug and just make the money off the cable rights which they gain when the show ends.

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess all I’m trying to say is, it wouldn’t surprise me if 25 is it, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s still going at 30.

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Though there are people who don’t want to see it go away because it’s been a part of their lives for so long but we’ll get over the loss sooner then we think.

I guess you have a point Charlie, all we can seemingly do is just point out the flaws.

Hoping…

Charlie Sweatpants: Pretty much.

I want to thank you again for joining us this evening (even if Dave and Jon conked out early).

Zombies Rise from the Sea: Always appreciated.

Even though I’m hotheaded at times, it’s always nice to let out the flaws an episode has.

Charlie Sweatpants: It is cathartic, I’ll give it that.

23
May
12

Quote of the Day

Homer Defined6

“So the next time somebody tells you carny folk are good, honest people, you can spit in their faces for me.” – Barney Gumble
“I will, Mr. Gumble.  But, if you’ll excuse me, I’m profiling my Dad for the school paper.  I thought it would be neat to follow him around for a day to see what makes him tick.” – Lisa Simpson
“Aww, that’s sweet.  I used to follow my Dad to a lot of bars too.” – Barney Gumble

22
May
12

Compare & Contrast: Megastar Guest Voices

Stark Raving Dad11

“We want Michael!  We want Michael!  We want Michael!” – Crowd
“Here he is, here’s the guy want to see!” – Homer Simpson
“He’s three hundred pounds!” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
“He’s white!” – Woman in Crowd
“He’s dressed without flair!” – Moe
“Boooo!  Boo!” – Crowd

It would take an awful lot of words just to catalog, to say nothing of exploring or explaining, the myriad of mistakes that comprise “Lisa Goes Gaga”.  The episode had it all: bizarre and comedy free flights of fancy, unvarnished celebrity marketing, excruciatingly bad exposition, magic powers, characters acting bizarrely out of type (Lisa, Skinner, there were a lot), pointless and unrelated scenes, and, to top it all off, the entire thing may or may not have been the dream of some anonymous backup dancer.  But all of those problems cascaded from one central failing, the inability of Zombie Simpsons to handle the very famous.

Whether or not you are a fan of her songs or of the outsize public persona to which her music is only tangentially connected, Lady Gaga is undeniably one of the most famous and discussed people on planet Earth here in 2012.  She’s enormously popular with her fans, of course, but she’s also reached that rare level of fame where literally anything she does is news to the celebrity press, and her statements and actions frequently push beyond the paparazzi ghetto and into regular news.  Even a passing familiarity with popular culture requires you to at least know who she is.

This is Wikipedia’s list of Season 23’s guest stars:

Aron Ralston, Jane Lynch, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Tim Heidecker, Gordon Ramsay, Eric Wareheim, Neil Gaiman, Andy García, Kevin Michael Richardson, John Slattery, Matthew Weiner, Kevin Dillon, Janeane Garofalo, Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers, Dana Gould, Ted Nugent, Armie Hammer, David Letterman, The Tiger Lillies, Jeremy Irons, Michael Cera, Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage, Julian Assange, Kelsey Grammer, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Jackie Mason, Robbie Conal, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Nicholas McKaig, Kenny Scharf, David Byrne, Glenn Close, Brent Spiner, Kevin Michael Richardson, Steve Coogan, Treat Williams, Bryan Cranston, Eric Idle

There are a lot of recognizable names on that list, but in terms of raw fame, none of them are even in the same league with the one time Stefani Germanotta.  Parts assigned to a bunch of television chefs, or a talk show host, or even some well known movie star are basically interchangeable.  There are, after all, quite a few television chefs, and if Jeremy Irons doesn’t want to be the talking bar rag, there are plenty of other respectable British actors with great voices out there.  There is only one Lady Gaga.

That yawning fame gap means that you have to do something special for her.  Just having her show up as somebody’s girlfriend or rival won’t fly.  Even more importantly, it’s a fantastic opportunity.  Someone who draws that much attention from that many places opens up a nearly unlimited array of potential subjects and stories.  Zombie Simpsons wasted all that by having Lady Gaga not just play herself, but play herself as Lady Gaga the Megastar.

Identical Gagas

We’ll do what she did, and that’ll make people like us, right?
(Second image shamelessly yoinked from
here.)

Twenty seasons ago, The Simpsons took a similar opportunity with Michael Jackson – who was, relative to the time, probably even more famous than Gaga is now – and turned it into one of their most memorable episodes.  Crucially, they did it by stripping Michael Jackson of everything that made him Michael Jackson the Megastar: his looks, his fame, his fashion, his sex appeal, everything.  All they left him with was his talent and his voice, which, if you’re having him play a fictional cartoon character, are the only truly important parts.

Stark Raving Dad10

Creative, recognizable and funny will always be better than mindless repetition.

They understood that exaggerating the already exaggerated – and that kind of globe spanning fame is nothing if not the exaggeration of one person into something more than a person – was pointless.  Once someone has actually taken a chimpanzee with him on tour or gone out in public wearing a dress made of meat, there isn’t anything you can do to make the situation meaningfully stranger.  Trying to compete with things like that by making them even bigger or weirder isn’t the least bit creative, it’s just an animated imitation of something someone else is already doing.  If news broke tomorrow that Lady Gaga was touring in a pink and purple train with giant shoes on its drive wheels and a built in concert stage, you might be impressed, but you wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

By contrast, making Michael Jackson an ordinary person is a real feat.  Unexceptional and unremarkable are two things Michael Jackson never was.  From the time he became famous as a child right up until his death, Jackson was always larger than life.  But on The Simpsons (and really only on The Simpsons), he was just a guy, a bricklayer from New Jersey who liked it when people were nice to him.

That humanity is why the story in “Stark Raving Dad” has such heart to it and why the episode is unique among all the things Michael Jackson was famous for.  Bart and the rest of the town love Michael the Megastar.  For them, it’s about the album sales and the dance moves and the one white glove covered in rhinestones.  For Leon Kompowsky, however, those things are incidental to Michael Jackson, the talented boy who loves his sisters and writes songs for them.

The only time “Lisa Goes Gaga” even hinted at that kind of depth and creativity was when Lisa went off on Gaga for giving people false hope and unrealistic expectations.  All the positive attitude and self confidence in the world can’t change the fact that sometimes people fail, that sometimes life gives you lemons that cannot be turned into lemonade.  But the episode dropped that idea almost as soon as it considered it, and ended with Lisa doing things that the overwhelming majority of Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters will never get to do: meet her and sing with her and experience even a little bit of what it’s like to look upon the world from that tremendous height.  After all, there’s a parallel universe somewhere in which Germanotta stubbed her toe before an audition or didn’t meet the right people and today she’s wearing regular clothes and working at a temp agency for slightly more than minimum wage.

The Simpsons openly contemplated that idea by showing that what made Michael Jackson special would’ve still made him special even if he’d been a fat mental patient who dressed without flair and never sold a single record.  After all, his music could reach deep and bring people together even when it was played on an overturned waste basket.  Massive fame and all the glitzy trappings that come with it may be nice, but they are too impersonal to define a person or their talent.  Zombie Simpsons was too distracted by the shiny objects to notice that, so they mistook Lady Gaga’s fame and the pizzazz that comes with it as an end in itself rather than as a side effect of something more important.  Once that mistake was made, the episode never had a chance.

22
May
12

Quote of the Day

Lemon of Troy7

“What ever happened to good old fashioned town pride?” – Marge Simpson
“It’s been going downhill ever since the lake caught fire.” – Lisa Simpson

21
May
12

A Spectacular and Unwatched Catastrophe

Chalkboard - Lisa Goes Gaga

“What the hell was that?” – Krusty the Klown

Give Zombie Simpsons credit, when they embarrass themselves for a pop star, they really embarrass themselves for a pop star.  From start to finish, “Lisa Goes Gaga” relentlessly displayed the pitiful imagination and mediocre craftsmanship behind Zombie Simpsons.  In an episode where they outright tell the audience, right up front in an opening narration, that they’re discarding the usual rules and that weird and strange things are going to happen, just about the only weird and strange things that they managed to conjure were a lot of Lady Gaga outfits. 

Unfortunately for them, dresses made of birds and fire spitting bras will not fill an entire twenty minutes of screen time.  They had to fill in the moments when they weren’t expecting us to laugh because Lady Gaga did something weird with empty and pointless scenes like the school awards, Flanders showing up to converse with Gaga and then disappearing, Marge’s weird behavior at the kitchen table (where she apparently lost the ability to let someone touch her and then quickly regained it), the flash mob, and Homer tossing Lisa around like an hourglass for no reason other than it took up a lot of time. 

On top of all that, what little plot and story that did manage to exist between the Gaga fluffing and the filler didn’t make any sense and crashed into itself several times.  Take, for example, the reaction of the townspeople to Gaga.  When she arrives, they’re head over heels in love with her.  Then, for no reason we see, they cheer that she’s sad as she’s leaving.  Oh, and there were songs, but the less said about those the better.

Somewhere in all that mess, Lisa moped around for a while before she felt better, but we didn’t really know why she felt better until she explicitly exposited it – twice.  The first one:

Lisa: Dad, thank you.  Like always, the fact that I could tune you out without fearing that I’d miss out on something gave me the time to take stock and realize how ungrateful I have been.  Which means, I’ve got a train to catch.

Sure enough, Lisa then catches a train, at which point we get explicit exposition #2:

Lisa: Gaga!
Gaga: Lisa?  Why are you here?
Lisa: To thank you.
Gaga: For what?
Lisa: Look at me!  You did help me, by allowing me to inappropriately focus eight years of rage and rejection on you.  It was like a great sneeze.  And now I can say what’s good about me.

That is appallingly bad writing.  It basically boils down to this:

Gaga: Why are you here.
Lisa: Let me tell you.
Gaga: Okay, I’ll ask again.
Lisa: Now I’ll tell you.

Fortunately for Lady Gaga, Zombie Simpsons isn’t relevant enough to damage her pop culture standing, but that was weird, dumb, unfunny, and boring, even by their standards. 

Anyway, the numbers are in, and Gaga did them no good.  Just 4.79 million people tuned in for that hacktacular exercise in misbegotten pop culture references and inane self help statements.  That’s good for #4 on the all time least watched list, and leaves Season 23 with an average viewership of just 6.13 million people, by far the lowest ever.  Here’s the last five years of Zombie Simpsons:

Season 19 – 8.26 Million
Season 20 – 7.12 Million
Season 21 – 7.13 Million
Season 22 – 7.10 Million
Season 23 – 6.13 Million

At the time, Season 19 was easily the lowest rated ever, and then Seasons 20-22 were even worse.  But Season 23 is a down a whopping 14% just from Season 22.  This does set the bar low for Season 24 to avoid being the third consecutive least watched season ever, but tripping over low bars has become something of a specialty for Zombie Simpsons. 

21
May
12

Quote of the Day

Bart After Dark9

“Where is Bart, anyway?  His dinner’s getting all cold and eaten.” – Homer Simpson

Happy birthday Richard Appel!

20
May
12

Sunday Preview: Lisa Goes Gaga

zombiegaga

Image bloodied by Dave.

The picture above is the preview image of a YouTube video they put out to promote this week’s episode.  Even if it weren’t bloody, I think flying, headless, boob-cannons nicely sums up what we’re dealing with:

Lisa tries to reverse her status as one of the least popular girls in school by ghostwriting positive things about herself on the school blog. When her plan backfires, her social ranking plummets to a new low – until a psychic force tells Lady Gaga (guest-starring as herself) that Lisa needs her help. With Gaga’s assistance, Lisa and the entire town of Springfield realize that being yourself is better than being like anyone else.

I’m curious to see how much Gaga is actually in the episode.  She could be in just one scene or in half the episode.  You never can tell with Zombie Simpsons.




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