05
May
14

Behind Us Forever: Brick Like Me

Chalkboard - Brick Like Me

“George Carlin on three.” – Miss Pennycandy
“Yeah?  Lawsuit?  Oh, come on!  My seven words you can’t say on TV bit was entirely different from your seven words you can’t say on TV bit.  So I’m a thief, am I?  Well, excuse me! . . . Give him ten grand.” – Krusty the Klown
“Steve Martin on four.” – Miss Pennycandy
“Ten grand.” – Krusty the Klown

Let’s get this out of the way first: this is the best they can do and they know it.  If the PR machine is to be believed, this episode took two years to make and was very expensive to animate.  They bragged about how careful the writing was and how they went the extra mile for this one.  They hyped it for weeks and made it their big May sweeps premier.  And, indeed, it is better and more memorable than most Zombie Simpsons, but that’s a low bar, and the only really memorable thing about it was the animation.

To be fair, the animation was pretty impressive and the episode looked very cool in places.  But the writing and execution would’ve been awful even if the vastly superior The Lego Movie wasn’t looming over every terrible line.  That movie was written and directed by the guys who did Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 121 Jump Street and the unjustly cancelled Clone High.  This episode was written by a guy who started writing for Zombie Simpsons in Season 13 and whose only other IMDb credits in that time are for the justly cancelled Joey.  It shows.

- And we get right into things with fake self deprecation “It’s not selling out, it’s co-branding!  Co-branding!”.

- Give them this, it does look nice.

- The sign gags are pretty lazy, though: “Brick-E-Mart”, “H&R Brick”, “First Brick of Springfield”, “Brick, Block & Beyond”.

- “Hey, these are the monkey’s legs”.  Gee, I sure like being told what I’m seeing.

- “Hmm, what do you know, I enjoyed playing with you.”  Ah, nothing brings us back to the regular reality of Zombie Simpsons faster than characters telling us exactly how they feel.

- And now Homer and Lisa are having an expository talk during a flashback.  It’s crappy writing within a weak plot device within crappy writing within a weak plot gimmick.

- Marge and Homer are sitting at home on the bed and Marge reminds us again that in this world “everything fits with everything else and nobody ever gets hurt”.  That’s about the third or fourth time they’ve explained that.

- “Oh, brick me!” – Just tallying the “brick” puns is exhausting.

- Okay, the increasing sized items on the Love Tester are okay.  Not hilarious or anything, but at least they only used the word “brick” once.

- So, Bart rebuilt the school and then described everything we saw in it with voiceover.

- Lovejoy’s sermon about the beginning of the world is kinda funny (goes on too long, of course, but that’s standard).

- This time it’s Flanders: “everything fits together and no one gets hurt”.  Jebus, we get it already.

- Homer just re-explained everything again before touching the toy box.  Also, Marge was just standing there, so that was a Zombie Simpsons twofer.

- Woof, this scene with Lisa and the other girls expositing about the, ugh, “Survival Games” is really going on too long.  I like how each of them explained why they were there.

- And, just because it deserves its own bullet point: “Survival Games” is incredibly lazy.

- Now Lisa is explaining why she wants to do something.

- And now, because this is Zombie Simpsons, Homer and Marge are having a conversation about Lisa right in front of Lisa’s open bedroom door.  As usual, their contempt for object permanence or even just basic social sense shines through.

- Hey, how about another one: “everything fits together and no one gets hurt”.  Thanks, Homer!

- Jebus, writing this bad wouldn’t have survived in a first draft of The Lego Movie.  First, Comic Book Guy explained to everyone what we just saw, then Marge actually says this, “One of the main questions I have about that is why?”.  That leads to more expositing from Comic Book Guy.

- Hey, another “brick” pun on the Jebediah statue.  How many of these can they do?

- I’m tired of transcribing them, but Marge and Homer just re-re-re-re-re-stated the premise and explained the plot again, in case anyone missed it.

- And now he’s doing it again at a tea party with Lisa, “I’ve created a perfect world with no PG-13 movies to take you away from me.”  We.  Fucking.  Know.

- Pop quiz: brick Homer realizes he can’t stay in his paradise.  Do we see him living life and growing tired of it, or does he stand still and explain everything in a speech while doing nothing?  You get two guesses, but you’re only going to need one.

- Then, directly after, we see him reiterate the speech he just gave to Marge.

- Comic Book Guy: “But you’ve discovered the joy of living in a world made of toys where nothing bad can ever happen.”  That phrase may account for 10% of the total words here.

- Now Comic Book Guy is explaining who he is.

- The giant Bart robot is kinda cool.  It’s not funny or anything, but it’s the first thing that’s reminded me of The Lego Movie in a good way instead of a bad one.

- Well, at least they know they’re a pale imitation of the movie.

- Nice of Homer to tell us all what he learned this week.  Knowing is half the battle.

- Having Lovejoy’s description of the universe be true at the end was an actual nice touch that didn’t take too long.  Weird.

- But the episode ran waaaay short despite repeating itself over and over again, so it’s time for a “Survival Games” sketch to get us to the finish line.

What a waste of an episode.  Neat, innovative animation like that shouldn’t be locked into the ordinary mess of a Zombie Simpsons story.

Anyway, the ratings are in and all that publicity did not do them much good.  Last night, just 4.29 million people wished The Lego Movie had already come out on home video.  That’s the highest number they’ve had in a month and it’s still good for #16 on the all time least watched list.  Hear that, crappy entertainment industry publications?  Keep writing stories about how nobody watches anymore.


24 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: Brick Like Me”


  1. 1 FireFlower
    5 May 2014 at 6:27 pm

    HA!

    I KNEW it would fail in the ratings! Just give it up guys….nobody cares anymore.

    • 5 May 2014 at 6:31 pm

      “It’s just a little underviewed! It’s still good, it’s still good!”- Fox executives

    • 3 Stan
      5 May 2014 at 11:08 pm

      I didn’t. I sincerely thought they’d be at 5 easily. This actually IS pretty crappy, considering how everybody praises the Lego Movie (which had nothing special).

  2. 4 Gabriel
    5 May 2014 at 8:09 pm

    All that hype and less than 5 million viewers?! Good job Fox!

  3. 5 Joe H
    5 May 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Charlie’s right on the money here. Very close to my experience watching this. It’s hard to be too harsh on this one after witnessing the shockingly putrid voodoo horse-breeding episode last week, but the animation was the only real impressive thing in this episode. That and Lego creationism sorta put a smile on my face.

    Though I didn’t expect the ratings do be this unremarkable. Even “Luca$” drew in more viewers, and it didn’t come close to the “Married to the Blob” ratings

  4. 6 Stan
    5 May 2014 at 11:21 pm

    I somehow knew it will only be in for the eye candy. Remember when they get their couch gags done by different artists? Remember how, even though these are only couch gags, the story’s still shit awful? (Homer loses Maggie, Bart gets something broken – choked by Homer etc. etc.) Well, do the math =)

    Here’s another prediction: Simpsorama episode – bullshit. Yellow death episode – bullshit. Family Guy/Simpsons crossover will probably be watchable if it’s directed by FG crew, is one hour long, and has consistent storyline to follow. Also, Pay Pal – bullshit, and whatever comes as finale – also bullshit. Done and done. Now gimme my ten grand.

  5. 9 Rob K.
    6 May 2014 at 12:04 am

    I didn’t bother watching this episode tonight (I was instead playing Fallout: New Vegas on my PC (from Bethesda Softworks btw) and also on Facebook, etc. as I cannot support, nor stand, watching ZS anymore.

    I used to watch ZS, like a lot, but not anymore.

    I’d much rather watch Classic Simpsons (before Season 12, maybe 15 at the most) and thanks
    Charlie for suffering through this one, from all of us here and Jesus what an episode recap (BUF, that is).

  6. 6 May 2014 at 12:31 am

    Despite the low ratings The Simpsons it still wins its timeslot on network TV but it doesn’t mean much because Game of Thrones pulls bigger ratings and you have to pay to watch it.

  7. 11 Guy what etc-etc-etc
    6 May 2014 at 2:46 am

    For Zombie Simpsons, this was pretty dang good!

    I mean, not normal television good, but it jumped that very, very low bar. There were a few genuinely humorous lines (as groan-worthy Marge’s “airtight logic” line was, Reverend Lovejoy’s delivery on “Turns out our religion was wrong. Sorry everybody.” was actually funny.)

    However, I haven’t seen the Lego Movie, so maybe that’s why I’m so soft on this one. I had no idea the Clone High guys wrote it!

    • 12 Guy what etc-etc-etc
      6 May 2014 at 2:52 am

      Of course, maybe I’m just damning with faint praise here. The bar is so low, that the answer to the question of “was it worth spending time watching it?” does not have to be “yes.”

  8. 13 Stan
    6 May 2014 at 4:22 pm

    This week’s C&C: Homer and Lisa’s relationships as compared to Lost Our Lisa.
    I think that’s about as much as anything to probably take from Brick Like Me besides comparing it to THOH VI’s “Homer³”.

    • 6 May 2014 at 10:34 pm

      Man, Lost Our Lisa is one of the latest episodes I can safely say I love.

      I also love Lisa the Skeptic.

      …Lisa episodes stayed good longer than most.

      • 15 Stan
        6 May 2014 at 11:20 pm

        Yes, well, one more reason to pick them. I don’t necessarily hate double-digit seasons up to 14-15 much either (though imo it degenerated so quickly thereafter that Season 20 was already barely watchable), can’t say I like of them though.

  9. 16 Sarah J
    6 May 2014 at 8:01 pm

    I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at the low ratings, but I really thought there would’ve been a bigger boost. Guess this goes to show that people care even less about ZS than we thought. This is good news. Guess we can’t count on the Simpsons-Futurama crossover doing well. The Family Guy-Simpsons crossover might have a shot, assuming FG is still popular. (I wouldn’t know. I stopped watching the show and paying attention to it a few years back, though judging by the ratings, it doesn’t seem to be as popular as it once was) Admittedly, I am considering giving it a shot, depending on which people are making it. By the time I stopped watching FG, it still had good moments and good episodes, but the flaws began to overwhelm the show and the good episodes became rarer, to the point where it wasn’t worth going out of my way to watch every week. If the Simpsons-FG crossover can take the good parts of FG while removing the more egregious aspects (and if it’s trying to appeal to the Simpsons fans, it likely will) then it might actually be worth watching. Key word is “might”.

    ZS episodes are just plain incompetent when it comes to writing. Things like having characters say how they feel, and explaining things that the viewer can see, are really basic, amateur writing flaws that should NOT be accepted in anything professional. I still maintain that if you took the ZS scripts and did a little editing to disconnect them from The Simpsons, no one would think it was funny and no one would watch it.

  10. 17 Brad M
    7 May 2014 at 4:23 pm

    I wouldn’t be surprised if there are millions of other people who don’t contribute to the official ratings, but stream the episodes online the next day. Watching TV on TV is just kind of obsolete for a lot of younger/poorer people.

  11. 18 Frank
    7 May 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Huh, i watched it on a popular online-video Website, and I actually didn’t mind it. Some parts were annoying, but it didn’t try too hard. The whole Lisa meeting older girls who wanted to hang out with her was dumb, as was Homer’s new-found discovery of enjoyment with his daughter, but for some reason, I think the story was OK.
    Maybe it’s because it wasn’t animated as it typically is. But it seems like, with a few exceptions, that they focused on the story and filled it with jokes and visual effects, instead of the other way around.

    The annoying parts were when they deviated away from this, focusing on the effects – like showing how food,water, skunk-spray and drink are always lego-based. The first time was OK, but then it got annoying.

    Would have been more interesting as a halloween episode though.

    I was worried that this would be a wannabe robot chicken, or in-your-face advertising for lego, but except for the word “duplo”, if I didn’t know about the brand Lego, i still wouldn’t after this episode.

    Homer wasn’t a jerk, the minor characters were kept on the sidelines, they didn’t try to cram in everyone and the jokes were funny (I liked the scene with Apu).

    I can also see what the writers wanted to do with the whole “everything fits together and no one gets hurt” – they didn’t execute properly, but it didn’t annoy me as much as it did Charlie.

    Oh and did anyone catch Homer’s homage to Bender of Futurama near the end?

    This was surprisingly refreshing!

    • 8 May 2014 at 1:02 am

      on the NHC, this pile of bricks is getting tons of 5/5’s for being done in Legos. The actual story seemed to be a non-factor. :(

    • 20 Stan
      8 May 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Betcha ten bucks: if you didn’t known about the brand LEGO, you wouldn’t have watched the episode in the first place.

      • 21 Frank
        8 May 2014 at 1:52 pm

        actually, I didn’t watch it for Lego – I was intrigued because of the comments upstream and in the other post on this episode, saying how wonderful the animation was and also because a few said that this was one of the good Zombie Simpsons episodes.

        I couldn’t care less for Lego, and honestly I was ready to witness a horrible attempt to be like Robot Chicken or that Muppet Show episode they did with Katy Perry (shudder).

        But I typed “Brick Like Me” on a whim, saw that the entire episode was available on that popular video site, and had 20 minutes to spare. so I went for it.

        Now the Futurama Crossover – that one i’ll go out of my way to watch just because I also used to be a fan (before it started to really suck).

        • 22 Stan
          8 May 2014 at 2:12 pm

          Yes, but you knew about LEGO before. The attempt here was to make people watch the ep because, come on, it’s LEGO! Sellout attitude.
          I’m not saying it sucks because I didn’t watch it, and taking someone else’s word for it would be repeating their opinion. I’m probably ready to say were I ever to watch it once, I’d rate it somewhere above the Gaga and the Katy Perry episodes, undoubtedly.
          But I’m really appalled that they take something as famous as LEGO (I don’t think I know of anyone who never owned a LEGO set as kids) and still manage to screw up the ratings badly. So, even considering all the praise coming from the non-LEGO parts, for me this ep still didn’t make it.

          • 23 Frank
            8 May 2014 at 11:25 pm

            yeah, I agree that it was pretty pathetic that they sold out for Lego, but they’ve been pathetic for a while, so par for the course, I guess.

            i think though they’ve been feeling the pressure from the other shows that have had innovative formats – like Family Guy with the musical montages, American Dad with that episode presented as a play, and they got desperate.

            Remember that scene from the ZS episode where the Simpsons appear on a reality show? Where one of the beginning scenes was where the TV executive was telling the other executives to “think” of an idea by seeing what other networks were doing and copying them?

            I think this is what’s going on at Fox. Some executive goes “So what have our arch rivals Family Guy been doing?” “Oh they just did a remake of Star Wars” “darn! that would have been good. has anyone done the Muppets yet” “No sir” “Quick buy them out! And get Katy Perry to star in it – my kid likes her and I want to show him that I’m a better parent than my ex-wife because I can make this happen!”

            • 24 Jeff
              11 May 2014 at 2:38 pm

              Actually, the Katy Perry / Muppet thing was referencing then-current events. She had just filmed a “controversial” segment for Sesame Street. After the segment was shown on the internet some parents complained that she was showing too much skin or something and the segment never actually made it into the show.

              (Just to be clear, I’m not defending the ZS episode, just explaining why it was probably made.)


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