“I’ve got nothing but time until they fix that malfunctioning squishy machine.” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
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“Grasping the child firmly in his talons, Socrates here will fly him to safety. Just watch . . . I don’t think he’s coming back.” – Falconry Guy
First we got a nice long break from Zombie Simpsons, and then they made their triumphant return by dropping two great big steaming piles back-to-back. The first one, “Diggs”, is among the more tone deaf episodes I can recall in a while. It’s about a mentally ill kid who likes falcons and then gets hauled off to a loony bin for the rest of his life. They play it for sad, but it’s so stupid and nonsensical that I couldn’t register anything more than bemusement.
The second was a Sideshow Bob episode where he’s a scientist. In a turn that nobody could or should have seen coming, he’s also a genetically enhanced superman who throws himself off a dam for some reason. Plus there were a bunch of teenagers in a church abstinence program that made no sense for them to be in. They also briefly fought Sideshow Bob for some other reason.
- The couch gag, by Sylvain Chomet (a/k/a the Triplets of Belleville guy), was kinda interesting and managed to eat 60 seconds. It’s all gonna be downhill from here.
- They should’ve made the couch gag longer. The first two scenes, one in church the other a montage of Homer asking Bart to repay his $20, were pure filler.
- And now Bart is eating things for money, including a dead frog that Jimbo just happened to have on the playground. Does any of this make sense? Of course not! It doesn’t even make sense within this scene, as Jimbo comes along offering Bart the full $20 he needs, making the rest of it pointless.
- Okay, having the Potter boy says “Habemus Papam” after the falcon craps was kinda funny.
- But is immediately followed by a Quahog style quick cut to Homer yelling at the dog to sit.
- “I wasn’t drinking, I was learning that nature isn’t a complete waste of space”, “That doesn’t sound like you”, “But it does sound like the kind of lie you’d make up after the first time you got blitzed”. Telling us what we just saw, then telling us what we already know, and then returning to a joke that had already gone on way too long. It’s hard to imagine how the writing on this should could get any worse.
- And how about some falconry montage? Hey, at least there’s no dialogue!
- That’s right, Krusty’s just standing out in a field without his nose. Carry on.
- Nice of the kid to just leap off the tree and get the plot moving.
- Why is Homer caring for the bird? Better question: why am I asking?
- “I never heard of this new hospital, so I looked it up and printed it out” – Ah, there’s the pointless exposition that had been absent for almost twenty seconds.
- They’re really being weird about the fact that the kid is going to a mental hospital. Like, that’s where their story is sending them, but they won’t even mention what it is at this dinner table scene. It’s idiocy through a weird combination of sensitivity and insensitivity.
- “I obtained the pass to enter the Springfield falconry contest, which is what Freedom and I were training for when we first met you.” – This one sentence neatly encapsulates the entire mess that is this episode. This comes with less than three minutes to go, but is the first mention of the “falconry contest” that makes up the ending. It requires a nonsensical “one day pass” from the mental institute to which they haphazardly committed this (apparently parent-less) kid. And it negates pretty much everything we’ve seen with this kid up to this point since none of it had any bearing on what he wanted to do.
- The falcons are free. And now he’s going back to the mental institute . . . on his bike which he has for some reason.
- And then Milhouse appears from nowhere to try and salvage the uber-downer of an ending.
What a complete and utter mess of an episode, and even they knew it. (Why else would they dump it at 7:30?) They got themselves in way over their heads with the lonesome schizophrenic kid, sent him to a nut house, then had to walk back their own story to wrap things up. Meanwhile, Bart went through a wide range of short term emotions that also made no sense. Then it ends with the family at dinner eating duck as the big pre-credits joke . . . which leads back to the sad piano music they played over the doomed and now incarcerated kid. I don’t know what that was supposed to be, and I’m not sure they did either. Whatever, it’s time for round two:
- A short couch gag, haven’t seen that in a while.
- So Taco Tuesday comes every week but kills Willie? Remember when the stampede was just for PE signup day?
- This is the last episode with Marcia Wallace’s voice. They give her a nice send off at the end, showing her happy with Ned. I can’t be the only one who finds that completely spoiled by having Lunchlady Doris voice some utterly unnecessary lines at the beginning.
- “Helen Lovejoy is posting the spring volunteer sign up sheet, in five minutes every good task will be taken.” – Maybe they did remember PE signup day. They certainly remembered “tell the audience what’s happening” day.
- Thrill to the crossing the street scene!
- There is no plausible reason for these kids to be in a church abstinence program. But these are the teenagers they have in the cast, so in the abstinence program they shall be.
- Since we’re apparently feeling the loss of dead cast members in this one, this fake YouTube video really could’ve used Phil Hartman. It’d still probably be bad, but it wouldn’t be this bad.
- It really is too much to ask for a single scene to make sense. After the video, Lisa wants to run off to do research on a topic that she knew enough to call a PTA meeting about? The mind reels.
- That GMO buffet went nice and quick.
- I don’t remember which episode it was that had people’s faces falling off, but it sure deserved a callback.
- Why would Marge think finger puppets(!) would help explain things to teenagers?
- Now Homer’s at the abstinence meeting for some reason.
- Hey, a plot point just literally fell on Lisa only to have Sideshow Bob demonstrate his superhuman strength by saving her.
- Bob tossed off his concrete block now instead of earlier because . . .?
- “And we’re scared of that because . . . “, then Bob explains. Whew.
- They’re on top of a dam now. No idea why, but they are.
- “We’re here to stop you” is Marge’s line right as she and the teens pull up from nowhere to confront Bob. (Well, Marge pulls up in the car, the teens just appear.) It’s expository and nonsensical, so at least that fits with the rest of the episode. Everything else about the ending? Not so much.
- Bob just jumped off the dam, remembered he had gills, and stepped on a rake underwater. I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again, but this is fan service at the lowest common denominator.
In that interview with Jean I linked on Friday, he mentioned why they don’t do more Sideshow Bob episodes:
“I’m really, really careful about approving new Sideshow Bob episodes, because I think every one of them is so special, and I never want to feel like we’re burning the character out,”
You made him a genetic superman with fucking gills! Could some reporter on his next conference call ask him what “burning the character out” would look like? Would he have to become a cyborg? Travel to another dimension? What’s left?
Anyway, the ratings are in and they are the worst ever, both of them. The awkward and unwatchable mental kid episode at 7:30 had just 2.65 million viewers wonder why he didn’t have any parents. The Sideshow-Bob-Has-Superpowers-Now episode made just 3.73 million viewers wonder what they hell they just watched. That’s good for places #1 and #2 on the all time least watched list.
11. The Simpsons : I’ve seen nearly every episode from Season 1 and love it so much. But the reason it gets number 11 on my list is that I’ve not seen much of the last series to verify how good it is, and the last few series I have watched, there’s been like 4/5 episodes really good out of 20+ episodes, which is disappointing.
Once a legend now a shadow of what it once was. Just put it out to pasture.
Last week I began my journey through every Simpsons episode from the 90s. I was not allowed to watch the Simpsons growing up, and I can only remember seeing part of one episode as a kid. I have never gone back and watched them until now. After only seeing two, I am very, very excited.
Also as I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of cartoons. Love ‘em. I don’t get the chance to watch them as often as I used to. My favorite animated show ever (and my favorite show ever) is The Simpsons. I still watch it every week, even though the best season was season 8. This is an inarguable fact. That was 17 seasons ago.
“Don’t worry, Mr. Simpson, we can take care of ourselves.” – Black Nerd
“Uh, wallet inspector.” – Snake
“Oh, here you go. I believe that’s all in order.” – Fat Nerd
“Whoa, I can’t believe that worked!” – Snake
“Hey, that’s not the wallet inspector.” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, can’t you see this man isn’t a hero? He’s annoying! He’s very, very annoying!” – Ned Flanders
“Well, Ned Flanders is just jealous.” – Helen Lovejoy
“The guy’s hepped up on goofballs.” – Moe
“Let’s sacrifice him to our god! . . . Come on, we did it all the time in the 30s.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“Well, what do you think?” – Homer Simpson
“This is a joke, right?” – Springfield Shopper Editor
Thought Catalog is one of those small, independent new media outlets that’s trying to make its place in this brave new on-line publishing world. Their about page is full of noble sentiments and phrases like “an experimental media group”, “We believe all thinking is relevant”, and “help shape culture by empowering you”. Their shtick is to be “value neutral” editorially, which means that you can publish a piece there about whatever the hell’s on your mind provided that you can string two words together.
This approach has its positives and its negatives, but inarguably manages to expose a wide array of viewpoints to the internet’s unflinching gaze. So you’ve got Snow Days: The Ultimate Example Of White Privilege just a few spots down from Sluts With Daddy Issues And Stockholm Syndrome and Here’s How Porn Makes You A Rapist, all of which is interspersed with the near obligatory link bait parade of titles with numbers in them: The 8 Men Who Taught Me What I Don’t Want In A Relationship, 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Taco Bell, and 7 Artists You Should Absolutely Hear Now.
There is, of course, criticism of this method, expressed neatly in a post published there a couple weeks back, Dear Thought Catalog, I Still Love You:
Criticism of Thought Catalog and other similar websites is insightful. But I still love to read it.
Yes, you do have a moment. Just Google “Thought Catalog criticism”. The auto-detector spells it out for you before you finish typing the search term. You may find some interesting writers that argue against this forum.
Words are thrown about like: entitlement, over-privileged, hate-reading, trolling and best of all, smug.
And Google does indeed think of those as the prime critiques. This one is from Gawker two years ago:
Me-centric angst dump Thought Catalog is like some superhuman internet time-wasting android, rotely performing ever more jaw-dropping feats of repetitive navel-gazing as we wait nervously for the moment that it will become self-aware and DESTROY US ALL.
Rest easy; self-awareness is not coming any time soon.
First of all, let’s just stop for a second and marvel at Gawker(!) criticizing anyone for time wasting, navel gazing, and a lack of self awareness. Nick Denton’s occasionally impressive monstrosity doesn’t have half a pixel to stand on in any one of those categories. That does not, however, mean that they are wrong about Thought Catalog and the things they publish being unaware to the point of self ruin.
Case in point would be a new Simpsons ebook by Justin Sedgwick titled “We Put The Spring in Springfield: Chronicling the Golden Era of The Simpsons“. The ebook, an ambitiously priced five bucks at Amazon, is an earnest exploration of the best years of the show and what made it so popular and endearing. It’s got chapters on some of the brightest and biggest guest stars, Halloween episodes, musical numbers, and all that other fun stuff. It’s a little light on research (O’Brien, Reiss and Jean are the only writers mentioned in more than passing) and a little heavy on personal assertion for proving this or that the best thing the show ever did, but it’s a Simpsons geek unabashedly geeking, so neither of those are fatal flaws.
The problem is that whatever fun that can be had along the way is impossibly buried behind a seemingly endless stream of half formed sentences, gross misquotes, and other basic problems. Some of the sentences, if that is the right word, are so hopelessly mangled that they read as if translated to Japanese and back again by Google. A few random examples:
- “Last Exit” seemed as some sort of wonderful experiment in taking every single possible reference and offhand gag the writers could get their grasp on and blending it into a delicious Simpsons stew.
- But in “Stark Raving Dad”, Jackson isn’t voicing an animated version of himself or a stranger, but a fat white bald character who is so utterly convinced and convincing that he is truly Michael Jackson despite all the evidence contrary.
- Only until the family captures the doll do they realize that Krusty has been accidentally switched to the “evil” setting.
- “A Fish Called Selma” is the episode most divergent of common Simpsons storytelling but still arises to be one of the best.
In between great white whales of editorial fail like those are plenty of glaringly obvious grammatical problems: erratic capitalization, splattershot apostrophes and commas, near miss homophones, straight up incorrect words (“implore” instead of “explore”, “skimpy” instead of “skinny”) . . . and it goes on like this. The carelessness is everywhere on display, including in numerous misquotes of the show:
- “Truckosaurus the movie, starring Marlon Brando as Truckosaurus” (Actual quote: “Coming soon, it’s Truckosaurus the Movie, starring Marlon Brando as the voice of John Truckosaurus.”)
- “Surely no man who speaks German could be evil” (Actual quote: “No one who speaks German could be an evil man.”)
- “the bee bit my bum, now my bum is big!” (Actual quote: “The bee bit my bottom, now my bottom’s big!”)
Those are perfectly understandable mistakes if you’re sitting around quoting the show with friends, but to publish them in a book for which you’re charging real dollars bespeaks a woeful sloppiness. Nobody should have to pay to read things like this:
“When Burns finally surmises to the hands of Homer, he lets out a phrase that would sum up the inevitable mistake of all of Homer’s enemies in the future: “I’m starting to think Homer Simpson isn’t the brilliant tactician that I thought he was.”"
That’s enough to make even the most embittered and alcoholic English teacher cringe, and that’s before you get to the mangled quote, which two minutes with a Simpsons DVD could’ve easily corrected: “Smithers, I’m beginning to think that Homer Simpson was not the brilliant tactician I thought he was”. Even the most basic editorial review should catch sentences like that, but from the text it isn’t clear that anyone except the author actually read it before Thought Catalog (a publishing company complete with full time employees) slapped a price tag on it.
So, what’s underneath that thick carapace of typos, misquotes and middle school grammatical mistakes? It’s hard to say for sure. It’s a mildly interesting Simpsons book that would serve as a decent refresher course for a casual fan on some of the show’s highlights, but, with one exception, doesn’t touch on any topics that are likely to be new or terribly interesting to actual Simpsons geeks.
That exception pops up at the beginning and end of the book: the way The Simpsons helps people relate to each other. The first involves young Sedgwick as a fresh arrival in New York City making friends with shared Simpsons quotes. The second is father-son bonding on Sunday evenings, even through the toughest of times. They are moments of genuine affect that touch on heartfelt realities that should’ve been the core of the book. More like them, and a broader look at why that happens between so very many people, would’ve been welcome.
Whatever those are worth, however, doesn’t begin to make up for the unreadable shambles that is the rest of the text. In its current condition, this book isn’t worth five cents, much less five dollars. It isn’t doomed to stay that way forever, of course, and really feels more like a first draft than a completed product anyway. And that’s the beauty of ebooks, you can revise and edit and make updates, which is exactly what Thought Catalog and Sedgwick should do. Put it through the wringer a couple more times (and fix all those grotesquely broken sentences) and they’d have something worth selling.
Or they could pull it from Amazon. It’s their call, but leaving the book up for sale in its current condition is an all around shitty thing to do and would reflect even worse on author and imprint than the decision to go ahead with an obviously unfinished tract in the first place. Sedgwick is a first time author, Thought Catalog is but four years old, both could have promising futures. But they won’t if they keep trying to sell incomplete work like this. After all, it’s okay to put yourself at the center of a story; it’s not okay do a half assed job of it.
“Take a letter, Miss White. Dear valued viewer, thank you for taking an interest in the Itchy and Scratchy program. Enclosed is a personally autographed photo of America’s favorite cat and mouse team to add to your collection. In regards to your specific comments about the show, our research indicates that one person cannot make a difference, no matter how big a screwball she is. So let me close by saying . . .” – Roger Meyers Jr.
“And the horse I rode in on? I’ll show them what one screwball can do!” – Marge Simpson
Happy birthday Alex Rocco! (Well, he’s a Leap Day baby, but close enough.)
“Marge, what does it do?” – Homer Simpson
“It doesn’t do anything.” – Marge Simpson
“Marge, really, what does it do?” – Homer Simpson
“Whatever it does, it’s doing it now.” – Marge Simpson
This week we’ve got two links to serious artists making Simpsons heads. One is Bart made from old toys and is appropriately creepy, and the other is a series of awesome Krusty drawings that I’m not even going to try to describe. In addition to that, we’ve got an excellent Ralph t-shirt, Olympic and international cricket usage, a completed Lisa cross stitch, a great first family portrait, several people who agree with us, Lego YouTube, and lots more.
Animating the Show – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this detailed breakdown of animating for TV. I learned stuff today.
UTBNYC Announces The Next Piece In Pez’s “Distroy” Series: “Skrutchy” – A few months ago we had a link to a project by an artist called Pez doing wonderfully elaborate renderings of characters like Homer and Mickey Mouse. Well, the Homer ones are done and they’ve moved on to create some awesomely creepy Krustys. Damn cool and well worth the click.
Baby Names I Want to Use From The Simpsons – I’d vote for Hortence or Langdon.
For me it all ended years ago, I live in a world where they took the Seinfeld route and quit while they were ahead. I look back with only the fondest memories to the earlier seasons. The newer seasons I refuse to acknowledge.
My Top Twenty Favourite Sitcoms Of All Time – From the same blog as the above link, this is a great entry:
1. The Simpsons (Season 1-11)
It makes the top of many people’s lists, but most don’t think to exclude Zombie Simpsons right in the title. Bravo.
Are you alive? – After you click, scroll to the bottom to see the sweet, sweet photographic evidence:
My dearest friend in the whole wide world had a birthday recently. And, as she invited all of us to celebrate, we all canceled… I told her I had a conference to go to. Then we surprised her with a party anyways! As known die-hard Simpsons fans, naturally the cake was dedicated to “A Whale of a Wife.” We added “and a Super Friend” because, well, we aren’t all married to her.
9 Simpsons Facts to Satisfy the Biggest Fans!! – YouTube – There’s nothing terribly new here, but it’s very lite on Zombie Simpsons and mildly amusing. (via @dailysimpsons)
Happy 2nd Birthday Tapped Out. – A little reminiscing from the writers of tstogame.com. I particularly liked Micah’s:
TSTO has been a pleasure. It’s been a pain. It’s been fun, but it’s also been a drain.Rapper Bart
My index finger has become strapping from these past two years of tapping.
Speed skating: U.S. pursuit teams fail, medal hopes over – At least he’s got a sense of humor about it:
The U.S. team had predicted they were capable of winning eight medals prior to the Games but after Saturday’s failings meant all 17 members of the team ended empty handed, Davis offered a blunt assessment.
“If I could do a parody from a Simpson’s character, I would pick Comic Book Guy and he would say in these exact words: “WORST OLYMPICS EVER,” Davis told reporters of the long-running U.S. television show about an animated dysfunctional family.
Excellent Olympian reference.
Artist Turns Old Toys into Creepy Faces and Human Forms – Scroll down for an awesome Bart head. (via It’s Hip)
La famille Simpsons – This is a new Simpsons site based in Quebec that’s cataloging people, places and news from the show. Those of you who speak or read French better than I will probably get more out of it, but it’s neat nevertheless.
Need – Oh, dear Jebus, yes! That may be the best Ralph t-shirt design I’ve ever seen.
feeling safer now – Neighborhood watch, indeed.
Round 102: When You Dish Upon a Star vs. Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood – Season 5 in a walk:
And it’s only in the context of the tournament that I find flaws with it, but I’ll go into them (hint: it starts with an “H” and ends with “omer is too much of a jerk”) when we see 1F06 again, because…
… the winner is: 1F06, “Boy-Scoutz ‘n the Hood.”
Celebrating The Simpsons’ retired characters – This is a pretty weak list. They don’t even have Marvin Monroe or Bleeding Gums on here. (But they were never popular.)
Lisa Cross Stitch Complete! – Just what it says. Love the eyeroll.
The Simpsons’ Nancy Cartwright coming home to Dayton – Cartwright will be in Central Ohio next weekend:
Cartwright, a 1976 graduate of Dayton’s Fairmont West High School, will narrate Norton Juster’s classic ”The Dot and the Line: A Romance in Lower Mathematics” while conductor Neal Gittleman leads the orchestra playing Robert Xavier Rodriguez’s composition.
The Philharmonic also will play Weber’s “Der Freischütz Overture” and Tchaikovsky’s “Winter Dreams” from “Symphony No. 1.”
Cartwright also promises to conduct “a very special piece of music.” (My guess is that fans of “The Simpsons” hear this musical selection at the start of every show.) Aye carumba!
13 Diddly-Doo Details in the Lego ‘Simpsons’ House Set – Lots of detailed pictures and this YouTube video of the entire 10-hour assembly process sped up to 2 minutes:
Top 5 Feminist Icons in Television – Lisa comes in at a healthy #2.
The Simpsons: Tapped Out – A Nostalgic, Delightful Simulator – A nice review of the game with lots of screen grabs. Also, this:
For now, I’ll keep saving up money to build Rainier Wolfcastle’s mansion. Up and at them!
That thing was damned expensive.
Why is Homer Simpson Yellow (And Why It Doesn’t Matter, Kinda)? – This was always part of his charm:
Once the viewer acclimates to his skin tone, she will soon realize that Homer’s design is intentionally unremarkable; he is meant to represent the average middle-aged white collar middle class (as evidenced by his white-collared shirt).
But he’s just an ordinary blue collar slob!
The Accidental Artist – A fan drawn Sideshow Bob by someone who usually can’t draw. (It’s still much better than I could do.)
Australia doze at wrong moment – Excellent cricket reference:
Unable to find his permission slip to join the rest of Springfield Elementary on their afternoon trip to the chocolate factory, Bart Simpson is consigned to the numbing task of licking envelopes in the office of Principal Skinner. As he does so, the wall clock ticks slowly and tortuously towards 3pm and the end of the school day. Losing momentum with every stroke, it eventually begins to tick backwards.
Something of Bart’s interminable wait ensnared Australia on the second day in Port Elizabeth, as they were frustrated and ultimately brought to heel by a South African side well attuned to playing Test matches at the kind of deliberate pace unfamiliar to, and unloved by, the touring captain Michael Clarke and coach Darren Lehmann.
Pizza Snob: Pies in the Sky – Nice pizza reference:
If you accept what’s implied by the signage near Pizza Snob’s front door, putting more than four toppings on your pie is trés gauche. It’s probably even boorish, the pizza-enthusiast equivalent of Homer Simpson yelling at Bachman Turner Overdrive to skip their new material and go directly to the chorus of “Taking Care of Business.”
Some boots were not made for walking. – The sad tale of a college student who got her car booted. Smartly, she did not resort to any of Homer’s un-booting methods, but she did include a .gif of them at the link.
Simpsons – Nothing but cats (gif) – Exactly what it says.
Homer Loading Bar – Another excellent .gif.
The Simpsons Can Ward Off Any Bad Spirit – This is definitely true:
If you are looking for a good way to have a chill pill watching a few episodes of The Simpsons is where it’s at. They ward off bad spirits.
Random Simpsons Screencap of the Day 2/21/14 – Heh again.
Our first family portrait… – Expectant Mother gets her new family Simpsonized for $5.
The Simpsons x Medicom Toy Bart & Homer Simpson Bearbricks – Conquering Lego wasn’t enough.
Why so many guest stars? – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us in an epic anti-guest star rant:
Of course, there’s one thing we have to blame for all this. The veritable army of guest stars is a sign of the end, because the main problem with the show is that the writers can’t make an original episode with a well-written plot anymore without it already having been done before. In this situation, it’s become a lot easier to just slap in more than a few shameless guest appearance.
Indeed it does.
“Yay! We’re getting a new TV!” – Homer, Bart and Lisa Simpson
“Let’s go to the Sharper Image! They’ve got a TV shaped like a 50s diner.” – Bart Simpson
“No, let’s go to The Nature Company, they’ve got a TV assembled by Hopi Indians.” – Lisa Simpson
“We can’t afford to shop at any store that has a philosophy. We just need a TV.” – Marge Simpson
“Now, kids, while your mother’s gone, I don’t want to have to wash any dishes. So, from now on, drink straight from the faucet or milk carton, and we’ll eat while standing over the sink or toilet.” – Homer Simpson
Happy birthday Bill Oakley!