Archive for September, 2012

30
Sep
12

Sunday Preview: Moonshine River

I hope everyone enjoyed their summer, because now it’s time to pay the price.  Welcome to season 24, and another episode of Bart in love.

When Bart’s love life heats up again it will this time involve five flames. But when Bart learns that Mary has relocated to New York, he decides that she’s the one that got away and embarks on a mission to track her down. Meanwhile in New York, Marge and Lisa try to find something cultural to do that doesn’t cost a fortune.

I don’t remember which past girlfriend Mary is, but that’s probably for the best. Feel free to leave your thoughts as always, even if you are like me and plan on skipping this one.

30
Sep
12

Quote of the Day

Homer vs. The 18th Amendment4

“Well, I just have one question: what kind of pet shop is filled with rambunctious yahoos and hot jazz music at one am?” – Rex Banner
“Um . . . uh . . . the best damn pet shop in town!” – Moe
“Yeah!” – Crowd
“Alright, but you people remember, baby turtles and alligators may seem like a cute idea for a pet, but they grow up.” – Rex Banner

29
Sep
12

Season 7 Marathon: 25 Episodes, 25 beers, 9h:32m:18s

Homerpalooza6

“Anyway, get ready beer belly, we’re gonna show Springfield what we’re made of!” – Homer Simpson

Good morning and welcome to the seventh and final Simpsons-Beer Marathon.  Today I get to spend my whole Saturday watching Season 7, and it is going to be awesome.  As with previous marathons, I will be using the pause and reverse buttons to get a quote down or take a screen grab, but the fast-forward button is strictly verboten.  Since I was way too drunk by the end of the Season 6 marathon (I blame Dave) to comment intelligently on “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, I’m going to start with Part 1 instead of Part 2.  And with that, let’s get going.

1. Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)

  • “Ah, poor fellow, crushed by his own water bottle.”
  • I really need to start using the word “dunderpate”.
  • The whole candy box scene, where Burns remembers Maggie, Bart, and Santa’s Little Helper, is another exhibit for why this show should’ve ended not too long after this. 
  • The statues outside the animal hospital are a nice touch.
  • Great animation when Homer’s pupils contract as he realizes Burns didn’t thank him.
  • “Hey, if you guys are getting loaded off them fumes, I’m gonna have to charge you.”
  • Not sure if it counts as animation or directing, but the way Grampa falls out of the shot during the earthquake is really well done.
  • They just don’t write Burns dialogue this evil and insane anymore: “Since the beginning of time, man has yearned to destroy the Sun.”  That’s batshit crazy and completely hilarious. 
  • Heh, “blubberpot”, lotta good words in this episode. 
  • There may never be a funnier delivery of “You bastard” than the one by Old Jewish Guy at the meeting. 
  • I screwed up with my VCR when this one was first broadcast so I couldn’t rewatch it to figure out who did it (my guess was the dog), but it is always fun to see the little clues they left: Smithers pointing to the sundial, Maggie being the only one who doesn’t look away, the rolled down window on the car.  Even by the Himalayan standards of The Simpsons, this episode is crafted with outstanding care for detail. 

2. Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part Two)

  • Fantastic delivery by (I think) Azaria on “Speedway Squad, in color!”
  • Great subtle joke, the crappy hospital is the Veterans one.
  • There aren’t a lot of shows where a father can lovingly say that he considers his children potential murderers.
  • Speaking of great Azaria delivery, Dr. Colossus everybody.  “When is my lawyer coming?”
  • “And with the prime suspect cleared and found completely innocent, we must now ask ourselves: Who could possibly be as bloodthirsty as Waylon Smithers?”
  • The Tito Puente song alone was worth buying that CD.
  • The oyster guy and the guy at the condom machine are great.
  • This episode is rife with great little scenes, especially Moe and the lie detector. 
  • Only on The Simpsons can you bribe lab techs with cigarettes.
  • I haven’t seen The Fugitive in a long time, so I’m not sure how well it’s aged, but that escape scene was cool as hell in 1993. 
  • “You chose fruit, you live with fruit.”

3. Radioactive Man

  • It’s partly just alt.tv.simpsons, but this show was way ahead of the times on internet movie fans.
  • The Scoutmaster!  If you’ve never actually bothered to watch any of the Adam West Batman show, this is exactly what it was like.  It was on in reruns constantly when I was a little kid and even then I knew it was terrible. 
  • Great sign at the hospital: “Our Extra Patients Make Patient Extras”.
  • Another sign this show should’ve ended soon after this: Nelson “ha ha”ing himself in the mirror.  It’s great here, but it’s also what you do when something is starting to get played out.  This will happen again in seven hours or so when we get to “22 Short Films About Springfield”.
  • “You’re right, Lis, I can suck up to him, like the religious people suck up to God.”
  • Fantastic animation on the full power X-ray machine.
  • It’s great that the town is scamming the movie so hard that even Quimby is ashamed of it.
  • Goggles, people!
  • Also, the whole acid scene is beautifully drawn.
  • The spirograph guy is great.
  • Great guest voice by Mickey Rooney.  Every line.  He bounces back and forth between pathetic Hollywood shill and wise old  man beautifully.

4. Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily

  • Homer’s monocle is a fantastic double gag.  It’s a terrible prop, one that only Homer would think makes him look rich . . . and it works! 
  • “See ya in hell, you wingless bloodsuckers!”
  • The shrieking of the lice and showing Bart’s ass for no reason other than just to do it are yet more nice touches.
  • Speaking of which: the child welfare van crushing that bike.
  • I can’t put a fresh roll of toiler paper in without thinking about “improper overhand fashion”.
  • The kids being taken from Homer and Marge is a genuinely wrenching scene, and they move it along at the perfect pace.
  • Rod and Todd aren’t just traumatized by Itchy & Scratchy, they’re actually paler. 
  • “The number you have dialed can no longer be reached from this phone.  You.  Negligent.  Monster.”
  • Brilliant character touch to have Flanders not quite be able to say “Jesus” as he goes back and forth between blasphemy and being incredulous at Bart’s answer. 
  • Lovejoy’s exasperation with Flanders never gets old.
  • Homer falling down the hill is them still knowing how to hurt him without it being overdone or stupid.
  • The Godfather musical cues during the baptism are pitch perfect.
  • Maggie may be an almost entirely silent baby, but they use her really well here by having her want to stay with the Flandersesses until she sees Marge. 

5. Bart Sells His Soul

  • Iron Butterfly sounds pretty good on an organ.  Just sayin’.
  • Milhouse’s idea of what a soul is and can do feels appropriately kid like. 
  • Great animation on the “natural light” as Hibbert and company come into Moe’s.
  • More great animation on Bart’s imagining of the giant sponge dinosaur.  It’s exactly as blocky as it should be.
  • And again on Bart’s face getting squished on the automatic door.  Man, this one has a ton of great animation.  Never noticed that before.
  • The way the Space Needle crashes into Scratchy’s eyeball always cracks me up.
  • Ditto Homer getting stuck in the stairs. 
  • “Why isn’t anybody helping?”
  • Never understood what’s with Moe’s gap tooth look in this one.  It’s not bad or anything, just kinda odd.
  • Crazy crap on the walls remains the best description of all those mid-range chain restaurants.
  • “Aw, look at all the cute little minors.” – He’ll always be a sleazy bartender.
  • Moe’s hapless attempt at a real haircut also adds to the way he’s plainly uncomfortable doing anything but handing out booze to alcoholics. 
  • Cartwright shines in this one.  Nothing really specific, but Bart goes through a lot of shit here, and she knocks it out of the park every time, whether he’s excited, scared, sad, whatever.
  • Milhouse’s grandma’s apartment is dead on perfect.
  • When did Comic Book Guy become a Red Sox fan?  He is a self absorbed douchebag, I just never noticed that before.

6. Lisa the Vegetarian

  • The sound effects at Story Town Village (the broken speaker on Mama Bear, the creaking cottage with the three little pigs, the way mother goose gets decapitated) are outstanding.
  • Lord Thistlewick Flanders.  I wish that was my XBox gamertag.
  • “You might say the extra ingredient is salt.”
  • The Independent Thought Alarm is straight genius.  As a man who went to an incompetent and authoritarian school, I will always love that joke.
  • Great work when Scratchy’s headless torso falls onto the table.
  • Scientician.
  • Lisa the Vegetarian8
  • “Go back to Russia!”
  • “It’s still good, it’s still good!” is a wonderfully useful quote.
  • Lisa admitting she’s going to marry a carrot is another perfectly kid type moment.
  • It’s a very good thing that they got through all three (at the time) surviving Beatles when the show was still awesome.  Can you imagine the shitshow it would’ve been if they’d had McCartney on in Season 14 or something?
  • “Then you must think I’m a monster.”  “Yes, indeed I do think that.”
  • Has anyone ever run the credits backwards to see if there is a lentil soup recipe there?  I can hear the odd sounds, I’ve just never tried it.

7. Treehouse of Horror VI

  • “Dude, you’re huge!”  No idea why, but that gets me each time.
  • Gotta love the malevolent glee on Lard Lad’s face when he gets the donut and then proceeds to smash stuff and kick that dog.
  • “Remember the story, we’re newlyweds on our way to Earth Capital.”
  • Skinner is great in the second segment.  He couldn’t help “monitoring” their conversation. 
  • Two spaghetti meals in one day. 
  • Skeleton Willie is awesomely creepy.
  • All the dream sequences are animated with just the right amount of shine compared to the usual.
  • Movies, teevee and such started getting crazy with computer graphics in the very early 1990s (Terminator 2 had a lot to do with it).  Most of them looked like shit immediately or very shortly thereafter.  Well done, they can still look great even years later, and this segment does exactly that.
  • There’s a wonderfully simple terror to Frink’s chalk drawing of the “doomed individual”.

8. King-Size Homer

  • Smithers and the hired goons dragging Homer out of the john is wonderful misdirection. 
  • “Hey, where’s Charlie, how’d he get out of this?”  I stayed home all day drinking beer, thank you very much.
  • Assal horizontology.
  • In the annals of Shakespeare gags that take less than one second, Much Ado About Stuffing has to be up there.
  • Is “the subway ran over my hat” a Superman joke?  I’ve never been clear on that.
  • Of all Smithers’ descriptions of Homer, “chair moistener” might be the best.
  • “Oh no, the corn, Paul Newman’s gonna have my legs broke.”
  • Castellaneta’s reading of “Flanders?” when Homer knows things are fucked it brilliant.
  • Gotta love the fear in the ice cream man when Homer hijacks his truck.
  • Burns’ Yale sweater is a nice touch.
  • Though Homer driving on the side of the cooling tower is an ill omen.

9. Mother Simpson

  • “The Profit People”
  • The quick shot of the empty hammock is perfectly funerary.
  • Glenn Close fucking rules.  That is all.
  • I inherited a lot of 60s/70s toys from my older siblings, and Homer’s room is full of them.  We had a flip open kid record player that looked exactly like the one in his room.
  • That the Super Bowl once needed support is just hilarious.
  • The Spiro Agnew clock is excellent.
  • Kenny Brockelstein.
  • Phrenology, add that to list of things I found out about because of this show.
  • “Do I know what rhetorical means?”
  • Nothing’s quite like Bart(!) reciting right wing slogans in a tie-dyed t-shirt.
  • ABBA and Wagner, hells yeah.
  • The image at the end is great, but the music is just as gutting. 

10. Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming

  • So far we’ve had Homer’s mom, Bart selling his soul, Lisa becoming a vegetarian, Burns getting shot, on and on and on, and now it’s time for a Sideshow Bob episode.  The consistent genius of this show is unbelievable. 
  • Remember when this show actually made fun of Rupert Murdoch and FOX? 
  • “dollar intensive ordinance delivery vector”
  • “Sweet Enola Gay, son!” – R. Lee Ermey is also awesome. 
  • When I used to have to watch these on syndication, the part where Bob hits the bump with the bomb always got cut off.  Thank Jebus for DVD (and ripping all the DVDs to .avi).
  • Tyrannovision.
  • Gotta love Frink in the Strangelove glasses.
  • Only Brockman and Channel 6 could lump together the end of the Soviet Union and premium ice cream price wars.
  • The static-y look of Krusty’s emergency broadcast is just right.
  • Chattering cyclops, that’s every inch as good as “vast wasteland”.
  • Krusty jumping back after he drops the scorpion takes a tiny fraction of a second.  That’s the kind of attention they put into this show.

11. The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular

  • “America’s favorite non-prehistoric cartoon family.”
  • If they tried to do a montage of modern couch gags like the opening of this one, it’d take an hour and a half.
  • 138th Episode Spectacular4 
  • It’s relatively gentile satire, but Groening as a tequila swilling lunatic is a great joke.
  • The unused clips are hilarious: “I can ride a bike again!”
  • The robotic Richard Simmons, it’s a testament to how densely awesome “Burns’ Heir” is that this didn’t make it.
  • Old time video technology alert: on the alternate ending where Smithers shot Burns, you can see the VCR distortion at the bottom of the frame.
  • Hard core nudity!

12. Team Homer

  • That’s right, Lunchlady Doris is the Squeaky Voiced Teen’s mom.
  • Skinner’s ’Nam flashbacks and remembrances saw the show toeing a very fine line, and it was great.
  • Even Ether Burns is more evil than Zombie Simpsons Burns.
  • As a storytelling move, not showing Otto pick up the 7-10 split while the rest of them are cheering is brilliant.  We already know what’s going to happen, so why bother showing it?
  • Springfield Police Framers, fantastic team name.
  • “They were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.”
  • Love the one gay “Home-Wrecker”.
  • The shots where the bowling ball is right on the edge of the gutter are very well drawn.

13. Two Bad Neighbors

  • No Parcheesi Sets, Please.
  • SCUBA squishy machine repair!
  • Oh, Disco Stu, why couldn’t you have remained as a one or two off character?
  • Mrs. Glick’s old person insistence that her candy dish be used for nothing else is one of those things that seems like it came from real world old people experience.
  • Great aside joke with the guy who says “yes” to the Ayatollah.
  • We used to laugh at the Bushes, then it was less funny for awhile, and now it’s funny again.  Things are better when it’s funny.
  • “Just happy to be here among good, average people, with no particular hopes or dreams.”
  • Homer’s “my taxes paid for that horn” line is wonderfully layered.  It’s not just wrong, it’s also a stereotypically dumb complaint about anything. 
  • “And since I’d achieved all my goals as President in one term, there was no need for a second.”
  • Two Bad Neighbors6
  • “Grover Cleveland spanked me on two non-consecutive occasions.”
  • The green, CNN-Live-From-Baghdad glow to the fireworks explosion is wonderfully subtle.
  • Ah, if only Bush the Younger had stayed a cardboard cutout, not that Zombie Simpsons had anything to say about that.
  • Blowback!
  • Gerald Ford, president of football and nachos.  Fuck and yes.

14. 1Scenes From the Class Struggle in Springfield

  • “We can’t afford to shop at any store that has a philosophy.”
  • Sorny! 
  • The rich women are awesomely over dressed, under brained (except for Sus-an), and generally clueless.
  • “We microwaved our own soup!”
  • Tom Kite is another well used, unobtrusive, sensible, and still awesome guest voice.  “You can keep the shoes."
  • You can tell they’re paying exquisite attention to story here because while Lisa bugs Marge before she fucks up the Chanel, that isn’t why it get ruined.  Marge can’t and doesn’t need to blame Lisa, it’s entirely her fault because it’s entirely Marge’s story. 
  • “Peppery” is the nicest possible way to describe that atrocious dress
  • Gotta love that the rich people really were going to let the Simpsons in before they walked away.

15. Bart the Fink

  • I doubt that Castellaneta’s fake-sad delivery while mourning for Aunt Hortense could be done any better.
  • Cayman Islands Offshore Holding Corporation! 
  • Leave it to Krusty to think that his legal problems might be about popcorn that wasn’t bought “fair and square”.
  • “Avoison, it’s a crime, look it up.”
  • Thirty-two cartons of pornography, ah the days before internet porn.
  • The side shadows on the scene where Bart and Krusty talk on the sidewalk are really well done.  They’re consistent, and Krusty really looks like a blossoming degenerate drunk.
  • Great that Sideshow Raheem and Luke Perry are at the funeral.
  • There’s no getting around a headstone that says “See Ya Real Soon Kids!”.  Not a lot of shows will put up a message that basically says: Children, You Will Die.
  • Newhart’s eulogy denigrates Krusty and fails to praise him.  It’s awesome.
  • Call me back, Ishmael.
  • Handsome Pete!
  • Scrap iron has never seemed so romantic.

16. Lisa the Iconoclast

  • Cromulent, embiggens, land cow?  This episode rules.
  • “Here’s Johnny Cakes!”
  • Donald Sutherland owns this episode from start to finish.  It takes a rare talent to read the term “Emancipation Retraction” with the requisite old-white-guy gravity. 
  • “I support most any prejudice you can name, but your hero-phobia sickens me.”
  • All good meetings end with someone digging up a corpse.
  • In Springfield, George Washington strangles men with his bare feet.  Hell yeah!
  • Sutherland wins forever: “I’m an antiquarian, damn it!”
  • Only in Springfield would there be a police sniper who comes *this close* to killing a little girl before the mayor decides to see what she has to say.
  • And then we let the lie continue.  This show is the best.

17. Homer the Smithers

  • For anyone who’s never been to a drag race, this is a fair approximation.
  • Well, except for the funny way the drivers eye each other after Burns tells them to slow down. 
  • Casually letting the water out of the water cooler is a great Burns move.  He won’t let Smithers drown, but he’s not going to expend any emotion or energy saving him either.
  • This episode is very good in general, but it’s also the beginning of the Burns who’s incompetent and useless instead of evil and effective.
  • Great delivery from Kavner on “If he’s alive.”
  • “We’re going to have to put a steel rod where your spine was.”
  • Burns’ Mom has a wicker wheel chair.
  • Great ending: http://deadhomersociety.com/2009/02/07/quote-of-the-day-13/

18. The Day the Violence Died

  • “hilarious atrocity” – awesome.
  • Kirk Douglas, for the win.
  • Manhattan Madness is fantastic, as is Milhouse’s bloodlust.
  • The first scene with Lampwick in the kitchen is just him poking through every cabinet and then the cat fucks off at light speed.  It’s wonderful.
  • This is one of the last great Hutz episodes: “If I hear ‘objection’ and ‘sustained’ one more time today, I think I’m going to scream.”
  • Roger Meyer Jr’s rant is awesome.
  • And it ends in Ghost Mutt.
  • Amendment to be!

19. A Fish Called Selma

  • “People don’t do that type of thing with fish.”
  • Hartman totally channels his inner Heston with “you wouldn’t ask a handsome man like me to wear glasses?” rant.
  • Patty’s disgust at Selma’s infatuation is almost too funny for words. 
  • “Jury duty is work”, well done, Jeff Goldblum.
  • Leper in the Backfield
  • Stop the Planet of the Apes, say what you will about Hollywood’s insistence on remaking and rebooting everything, but it does make a lot of old Simpsons jokes contemporary again.
  • “Gay?  I wish!” Jebus, I miss Hartman.
  • McBain 4: Fatal Discharge, heh.
  • “Like how we built that snowman together in that Newport ad?  Remember how alive with pleasure they said we were?” Seriously, Hartman was uniquely fucking good at everything.

20. Bart on the Road

  • Hell yeah, cracker factory. 
  • They did like staplers spewing staples this season.
  • Despite my current inebriation, I do like the way Bart, Milhouse and Nelson quietly push away their beers when Barney, of all people, tells them to join the party, exposing the basic patheticness of drinking this much.
  • “That’s it, back to Winnipeg!”
  • “Well, I didn’t think I was rehabilitated, but I guess they needed the extra bed.” – Drifter
  • Andy Williams!

21. 22 Short Films About Springfield

  • “Don’t worry, I’ll tell everybody you were untouchable.”
  • “If I remember my Heloise, the trick to getting out gum is peanut butter.”
  • “Now pump those scrawny chicken legs, you stupors funker!”
  • “Holy smokes, you need booze!”
  • “Goodbye student loan payments!” – Snake
  • “Good Lord, what is happening in there? . . . Aurora borealis. . . . Aurora borealis, at this time of year, at this time of day, in this part of the country, localized entirely within your kitchen? . . . Yes. . . May I see it? . . . No.”
  • Cheesy Does It
  • “McDonald’s restaurant, I never heard of it either, but they have over two thousand locations in this state alone.”
  • “Ay, naranjas en la cabeza!”
  • “We gotta swap insurance info!
  • “Do your dirty, sinful business.”
  • “Hey, what’s going on on this side?”
  • “You may purchase this charming Hamburgler adventure, a child has already solved the jumble using crayons, the answer is ‘fries’.”
  • “Oh my gosh, sorry, mister.”
  • “You keep squirming, there’s going to be a little bald girl with no lollipop.”
  • “Everyone needs to drive a vehicle, even the very tall.” (Like I said back during “Radioactive Man”, this is how a joke ends.)
  • “That monkey is going to pay.”

22. Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in "The Curse of the Flying Hellfish"

  • A Low-Cost Outing for Seniors
  • Damned Kaiser.
  • Burns’ rolodex is fantastic.  Who else would have an entry for Zoroastrians?
  • Nod to continuity: the senior home has the same big screen TV bought in “Old Money”.
  • It is best not to “obstruct” “probes” from J. Edgar Hoover.
  • No way around it, this episode is a bit weak.  There’s just too much poorly handled weirdness.
  • Grampa and Bart at the cemetery is really well animated, though.  There’s even a fresh grave for Asa.
  • Flanders giving up his boat is hilarious, though.  
  • Plot goofiness aside, it is funny when Bart won’t take the rebreather from Grampa.
  • The German baron is fantastic.  Body-control.

23. Much Apu About Nothing

  • Stupid “Impson” family.
  • Mustache parades tend to offer a lot of catchy slogans.
  • No one shall argue against the essentiality of the Bear Patrol B-2.
  • Grandpa’s insane immigrant remembrance contains approximately fifty immigration cliches in just thirty seconds or so, and it includes a statue head full of garbage to boot.
  • Charles Norwood is awesome (if somewhat painful for Buffalo Bills fans); also, “adultivity”.
  • “Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman staring at me from Entertainment Weekly with their dead eyes!” – The “dead eyes” quote makes crappy supermarket tabloids so much easier to mock.
  • “From now on I’m only marrying for love, and possibly once more for money.”
  • Bear Patrol Steps up Bombing Campaign
  • Just say slavery.
  • When Homer’s giving his soliloquy at the picnic, Lovejoy has Buzz instead of Duff.  Well done. 

24. Homerpalooza

  • “In perpetuity throughout the universe” – The Simpsons, saving lawyers time since 1996.
  • For an episode that gave us the best ever generational quote “weird and scary”, it’s funny to see their “new bands” be horribly out of date. 
  • Homer’s rejection in strobe light is awesome.
  • “For authentic refreshment, eat Clark bars.”
  • Register Not to Vote does need to be next to Bungee Jump Against Racism.
  • Peter Frampton is a great guest voice: self parodying and game for lines that involve Pink Floyd’s yard sale.
  • “Are you being sarcastic, dude?” “I don’t even know anymore.”
  • Rover Hendrix!
  • Pretty sure I’ve said this before, but I’d pay decent money for an album authored by Cypress Hill and the London Symphony Orchestra.
  • “It’s a policy that ensures a healthy mix of the rich and the ignorant, sir.”
  • There’s nothing better than youth oriented product positioning.

25. Summer of 4 Ft. 2

  • “Was President Lincoln okay?”
  • In terms of being believably kid-like, this episode is as good as it gets.  Lisa, for all her adult capacity, is a real kid in this episode.
  • “He actually wrote ‘diddly’.”
  • Gotta love how suspicious Christina Ricci is when she says “Are you in to books?”, like it’s some kind of plague. 
  • “Hey, he looks just like you, poindexter!”
  • I’m not going to even try to describe Homer trying to buy fireworks.  Text does it no justice. 
  • It is awesome the way Marge just turns around with the rice crispy squares and tang.
  • Speaking of things that are indescribable, Homer panicking after lighting the M-320.
  • At the Grammar Rodeo, Lisa’s holding a sign that just says “Gerund”.  I hate grammar, but that’s funny.
  • A hermit crab in a Buzz cola can, that’s a great out. 

And that’s it, folks.  Thanks for reading, try not to watch Season 24.  Barring a level of miraculous improbability equal (or greater) to the meteor the killed the dinosaurs, it’s gonna suck. 

29
Sep
12

Quote of the Day

Brush with Greatness10

“No, not another portrait of that bongo beating Liverpudlian.” – Mr. Schindler
“But, Mr. Schindler, I-” – Marge Simpson
“Oh, someone might have used this canvas to create a masterpiece.  Instead you’ve soiled it forever.  Now this is art!” – Mr. Schindler

Happy birthday Gabor Csupo! 

28
Sep
12

Reading Digest: End of an Era Edition

D'Oh-in' in the Wind3

“We used to have a bus.  In a way, the Sixties ended the day we sold it, December 31st, 1969.” – Munchie

Before we get to today’s links, a brief site announcement:

Season 24 starts on Sunday.  There is no reason to expect that it will be any different than Seasons 23, 22, 21 or any other Zombie Simpsons run.  In just the first episode, they’re spamming retread celebrity guests, getting Bart romantically involved yet again, and having the Simpson family take a trip to a place they’ve already been.  You couldn’t design a more stereotypically pathetic episode if you deliberately set out to do so.

As announced back in May, we aren’t going to bother with minute analyses of these episodes anymore.  Quite frankly, they’re just not worth it.  The writing and creativity of this show bled out a long time ago, and it has shown no signs of life since.  At some point you have to declare the autopsy over and send the carcass to the medical board.

Of course, this particular corpse won’t be zipped up that easily.  The shambling zombie of the greatest show ever is currently signed for two more seasons, and it’s unlikely we’ll have any news about whether or not Season 25 will be the end until at least this time next year.

In the meantime, the two mainstay posts of this blog, Reading Digest and Quote of the Day, will continue indefinitely.  And there will probably still be the occasional post about DVD commentaries, random episodes, and other little stuff.  What there won’t be is a Monday morning wrap up or Crazy Noises for new episodes.  Those two are kaput.

On days with new episodes of Zombie Simpsons, we’re going to put up a preview/open thread post.  My personal goal is to watch no more than half the season, so while I make no promises to cover specific episodes, I am planning to do Compare & Contrasts for at least some of them.

Before Season 24 arrives to waste everyone’s time, however, I’ll be wasting my own doing my final Simpsons/beer marathon tomorrow.  Season 7 (minus “Marge Be Not Proud”) is the only one I haven’t done yet, so there’s no need to vote this time.  Check back tomorrow morning at 8:00am Eastern (US) and then throughout the day for all the drunken fun.

As for today’s actual links, we’ve got two pieces of great fan art, several instances of moderate usage, some fantastic YouTube collections, Apu graffiti in Vegas, true life Hollywood, and a great Simpsons analysis that agrees with us.

Enjoy.

New Book on Lupe Velez Debunks the Myths of “Hollywood Babylon” – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week contains everything you’ll ever need to know about the false story behind this:

Ask the average person about Lupe Vélez and you’ll probably be met with a blank stare. But query those same folks as to whether or not they’ve heard of the classic film star who “drowned in the toilet,” and they’ll likely perk up with smirking recognition.

We have Kenneth Anger’s book Hollywood Babylon to thank for that.

Of course, there are other (perhaps unwitting) accomplices: The Simpsons, wherein guest John Waters joked about the store where Vélez bought her toilet in the 1997 episode Homer’s Phobia;

Old Hollywood was weirder than current Hollywood.

Simpsons’ Al Jean On Season 24, ‘Treehouse’ and the Show’s End – There’s two things worth noting here.  First, there remains no reason to expect Season 25 to be the end:

The Simpsons has been renewed through its 25th season, but Jean said he doesn’t see any reason to stop there. He gave the sense that he’ll keep writing as long as Fox keeps letting him.

“The pickup was definitely open-ended. Nobody ever said we’re going to stop the show after we produce these episodes,” he said. “So, you know, at the beginning I was hoping for five years, much less 25. I wouldn’t even guess where we’d end up.”

And second, when I say that many of the items in a given episode are completely unconnected to anything and could easily be swapped out, Al Jean may agree with me:

Fans might have noticed the promo ad for the 24th season that follows Homer Simpson as he casts his vote for president. That scene isn’t in any specific episode, but Jean said they might find a home for it yet. After the good response to the scene in which Homer voted in 2008, Jean knew he wanted to try to tie in the 2012 election.

We’ll see if it turns up in an episode or not.  (via @dailysimpsons)

Breaking Bad – The Simpsons Mash-Up – Awesome fan made drawing of Walt and Jesse in a stylized Simpsons way.

My Top 3 Favourite Simpsons Loops – Fantastic YouTube.

The Simpsons Funny Moments – More fantastic YouTube, and nothing from Zombie Simpsons.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival – An American in Britain offers a Simpsons based warning:

Another word of warning. Avoid comedy shows.  This mostly applies to those of us not from the UK. I wish I could find video of this, but there was an episode of the Simpsons where Groundskeeper Willie did some comedy. He said something like  “Did you ever notice that people from Aberdeen hold their golf clubs like this, and people from Glasgow hold their golf clubs like this…” with accompanying motions.  Get it? Me neither.  That’s rather the point.

Excellent reference, though only moderate usage, Willie actually says, “So, have you noticed how north Edinburgh golfers putt like this, and south Edinburgh golfers putt like this”.

The Simpsons in the Classroom – Our old friends Denise and Karma’s book gets a nice writeup from a real teacher.

VIDEO: Wake Forest WR Michael Campanaro song parody, Simpsons-style – The Canyonero song adopted for college football.

Lisa Simpson tinta by ~GuverFourElements on deviantART – Black and white fan made drawing of Lisa that looks like it might be how she imagined herself in the Tango de la Muerte.

Sabbath, bloody Sabbath – A lament about British Sundays that includes a .jpg of Homer’s “picked the wrong religion” joke from “Homer the Heretic”:

Incorrect Homer Quote

Sadly, the quote is pretty badly mangled here.  It actually goes:

And what if we picked the wrong religion?  Every week we’re just making God madder and madder.

Jazz Hands? – A Krusty t-shirt the author bought.

Last Night – A collage of Homer’s “Scene Missing” night.

The Simpsons Pasta for kiddies – Cooking with Simpsons pasta.

Vintage Chanel? – A jacket that looks oh so much like Marge’s Chanel suit.

TV dinner art recalls the ’60s – Moderate usage:

I thought of Homer recently, however, when I decided to try my latest crafty project because there’s an episode of The Simpsons in which he becomes an outsider artist. He is hitting a lump of clay, trying to create work for a new exhibit. I haven’t seen this one in a while, but I think he yells something like, “Come on, be art!”

Homer actually yells “Why won’t you be art?” while sticking a chainsaw into something, but that’s pretty close.

Escaping the horror of a boring Halloween night – Live in Vancouver?  There a Simpsons Halloween party you can attend:

Better yet, Glory Days at the Biltmore Cabaret will host a Simpsons Halloween Party on Wednesday, Oct. 31. Dress as Krusty, Bart, Lisa or whatever Springfield resident you can think of to join the fun. Tickets are $30 and details available at biltmorecabaret.com. It may sound cartoonish but it’s definitely not for children.

Hey, speaking of drinking next month . . .

When is the Octoberfest? – More moderate usage:

If you nodded in agreement and applauded his profound wisdom when Homer Simpson shared his unique insight on beer with his son (“Bart, a woman is like beer. They look good, they smell good and you’d step over your own mother just to get one!”), then Kingfisher’s Great Indian Octoberfest is the right event for you to meet fellow beer-lovers and celebrate the golden elixir.

Homer actually says, “A woman is more like a beer.  They smell good, they look good, you’d step over your own mother just to get one!”  Again, though, that’s pretty close.

GRAFFITI-Las Vegas Baby! – Scroll down from some awesome Vegas graffiti, including a cool Apu with squishy machine.

Alf Clausen | Scoring The Simpsons – A nice little profile of Clausen in the News Corp owned Wall Street Journal.

Phil Hartman’s Greatest Hits – It was indeed Phil Hartman’s birthday on Monday, this is a nice writeup of his career with plenty of YouTube.

The Simpsons: the 10 best supporting characters – This is just pageview whoring, but the comments are great for how many people got upset that this or that person wasn’t included.

An Adventure Game That Should Have Been Called Milhouse: The Later Years – The grandfather here really does look like an aged Milhouse:

Countdown to Bacon…3 – Why, indeed?:

Only three more days until Call Me Stormy’s marathon — A DAY OF BACON — a full-throttled, non-stop, 24-hour salute to bacon. Why bacon and why now?

In the words of Homer Simpson, “You know that feeling you get when a thousand knives of fire are stabbing you in the heart? I’m having that right now…Ooh, bacon!”

Excellent usage.  Homer actually says “I got that right now”, not “I’m having that”, but that’s close enough for bacon related excellent usage.

NFL Week 4 – Excellent usage:

To quote one of the best Simpsons episodes ever, “Well folks, when you’re right 52% of the time,you’re wrong 48% of the time.”  I didn’t exactly bring the heat last week, going 8-8. But since I picked the Packers, I’m taking the win. 9-7!

I don’t know that Smooth Jimmy’s associates would accept not paying on the Packers-Seahawks, but you never know.

Letters: Our cartoonish campaign – A letter to the Los Angeles Times contains excellent usage:

Here is Lisa, for example: “I will iron your sheets when you iron out the inequities in your labor laws.” And here is Mr. Burns, after being told he’s very wealthy: “Yes, but I’d trade it all for a little more.”

Both quotes are dead on.  Well done to Ona Russell of Solana Beach.

Doctor Who Monday: The Power of Three…In 10 Words – A third dimension?  Slow down, egghead.

NFL Replacement Refs…In 10 Words – I would’ve gone with “like that day I hit the referee with a whisky bottle”, but that’s just me.

The 2012 Emmys…In 10 Words – This concludes our exhaustive Emmy coverage here at Dead Homer Society.

How to draw: Bart Simpson – A step-by-step Instructables guide.

Photos of the Day – You can click through for the photo, but this is the caption:

A man dressed as cartoon character Bart Simpson passes a billboard as he leaves the underground passage in central Kiev September 26, 2012.

Top 5: Television Spin-offs – Sadly the show comes in at a lowly 4th.

30 Day Television Challenge: Day Eleven – And finally, I get to end the way I like to, with someone who not only agrees with us, but really gets into the decline and fall of the show.  The whole thing is recommended:

There are few  works – literature, music, film, television, etc. – that have influenced me in the way The Simpsons has. Not only did I inherit my sense of  humor from The Simpsons, my entire stance towards the world was sharpened on its whetstone.

The first 8 seasons of The Simpsons are unimpeachable. They are the pinnacle of comedy and television.

Testify!

28
Sep
12

Quote of the Day

The PTA Disbands9

“Talking out of turn, that’s a paddling.  Looking out the window, that’s a paddling.  Staring at my sandals, that’s a paddling.  Paddling the school canoe?  Oh, you better believe that’s a paddling.” – Jasper

27
Sep
12

Compare & Contrast: Suspense Movie Take-Offs

Bart of Darkness10

“This can’t be what it looks like.  There’s got to be some other explanation.” – Bart Simpson
“I wish there was some other explanation for this, but there isn’t.  I’m a murderer, I’m a murderer!” – Ned Flanders
“Then that’s not the real Ned Flanders.” – Bart Simpson
“I’m a mur-diddly-urd-ler!” – Ned Flanders
“If that’s not Flanders, he’s done his homework.” – Bart Simpson

The Simpsons had a long and proud tradition of using classic movies or plot ideas as the basis of an episode.  Being The Simpsons, when they aped something, they didn’t just follow it, they used it as an ingredient in something larger and more varied.  The examples of this are too numerous to list comprehensively, but think about the way “Like Father, Like Clown” took some of its major elements from The Jazz Singer, or the way “Rosebud” used the central mystery of Citizen Kane for a story about a teddy bear, or the way “You Only Move Twice” followed the general James Bond template but from a very different perspective.  None of these are straight parodies, instead the source material functions mainly in the background to give the story a coherent structure and a satirical theme (in addition to plenty of material for references and gags).

Season 6’s “Bart of Darkness” is a stellar example of that kind of episode.  Its main story is about Bart going slightly stir crazy after being shut out of the usual summer fun by a broken leg, which is basically the same plot as the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie Rear Window.  But that’s only a part of what’s going on in the episode.

Bart of Darkness9

Grace, come here, there’s a sinister looking kid who’s making fun of our movie.

Rear Window is a movie that relies on suspense, doubt and belief to create a lot of tension.  Sensibly, The Simpsons dropped those parts and only really used the main plot device, building the rest of the episode around that.  (There is, for example, no swimming pool in Rear Window.)  It’s still easily recognizable as a Rear Window send up (even without the two Jimmy Stewart appearances), but the menacing tone of the movie is completely absent for the simple reason that it wouldn’t work at all in a comedy show.  The episode certainly plays with the idea that Flanders murdered his wife, but as Bart says, “This is Flanders we’re talking about”.  There are jokes and gags aplenty (Schuman Farms Head of Lettuce, mur-diddly-urd-ler) to make sure that things never become dire or dangerous because, c’mon, it’s Flanders.

Compare that light and effective use of source material to the slow footed, heavy handed, and tone deaf “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge”.  There the basic plot is a take off on those (typically bad) movies where a manipulative stranger moves into the house and begins to fuck with the people that live there.  I’m not enough of a film buff to know the background of this particular sub-genre, but there was a spate of them in the early 1990s, most famously Single White Female, Poison Ivy, and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle.  That last one is the closest analog to “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge”, but they’re all pretty similar: a new woman moves in and begins destroying things.

Single White Ivy That Rocks the Cradle

Images yoinked from respective Wikipedia articles. 

Like I said, there were a lot of these.

As the basis of an episode of The Simpsons, you could do much worse.  Sure, such movies tend to be formulaic and bland (I once had to sit through Pacific Heights, a particularly wretched example with Michael Keaton as the interloper), but it’s a recognizable enough idea and you’ve already got the family in place.  The problem with “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge” is in the execution.  Instead of using the “other woman moves in” plot as a comedy where little or nothing is at stake, Zombie Simpsons plays it straight ahead, with lots of suspenseful string music and Marge going crazy in ways that are far more bizarre than entertaining.

That opens the episode up to all of the same problems that plague those kind of domestic thriller movies: wild and completely unbelievable plot twists, inexplicable but harmless incidents of danger, and characters who are repeatedly and unconscionably naive and stupid.  All of those happen in this episode, and while there is the occasional nod to the absurdity of the source material (“powerless to help you, not punish you”), for the most part they just stumble forward with Marge yelling and screaming and everyone else not believing her.

Marge Freakouts

The freakout ratio between these two episodes is like 10:1, minimum.

This is how we get scenes with cut brakes and a chase through a marching band and Marge generally acting like a nutbar.  (What was with her praying – out loud – in the middle of her commitment hearing?)  At the same time, her family just kind of watches all this happen (including Lisa, who would know better and who is basically set aside for most of this episode).  Worse, there’s nothing else going on.  The entire plot is Marge vs. Becky, which, since the conclusion is foregone and we’re watching an animated show, isn’t the least bit suspenseful.

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge2

Oh, no.  How will Marge and the gang get out of this one?  I’m on the edge of my seat.

“Bart of Darkness” understood all that, so when it comes time for the scene where Lisa, a la Grace Kelly in Rear Window, goes to the Flanders’ house to investigate Bart’s suspicions, the scene is light on suspense and heavy on comedy.  Even when Flanders is walking up the steps, ostensibly to hack Lisa to death with an ax, the episode never takes things seriously in the least (the dog attached to Bart’s cast always gets me) and wraps itself up quickly.  The last scene (other than Martin’s humiliation, of course) is Homer quickly parodying those cliched reveal scenes from detective shows with his sarcastic sounding sincerity.

By contrast, even after all the crap Marge has been through by the end of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge”, the episode can’t end without one more drawn out scene with suspenseful string music.  And even then it doesn’t make sense (so Becky really was trying to steal her family?) because Becky herself is as empty and incomplete as a character can be.  Recall that the show offers zero background on her or why she’d move in with the Simpsons after Otto took off.  Does she not have a place of her own?  Doesn’t she have any friends or family?  Shouldn’t there have been at least one person – at her wedding – that she knew besides them?  The episode is completely silent on those rather glaring questions, so when it comes time to end, it pulls that classic Zombie Simpsons move of just throwing up its hands and rolling the credits.

“Bart of Darkness” is its own creation, one which uses Rear Window extensively, but which has so many other things going on (Krusty re-runs, Bart’s play, Lisa becoming popular, etcetera) that the movie it’s parodying is only a small part of a much larger whole.  On the other side of the ledger, you have “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge”, the script for which is so hacktacular that it could probably be turned into an actual mediocre suspense movie with just a little bit of padding and an extra character or two.




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  • RT @tubatron: A few more pages of my Bart the Genius script with sketches made at table read. http://t.co/do1hyhPyqK // 2 days ago
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