“Hey, the government don’t control the sky! What if you lived in a balloon?” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“That’s it!” – Lisa Simpson
“Did you hear that, Mom? She’s as dumb as me!” – Bart Simpson
“Akira, my good man, I’d like two sharks, an octopus, and an eel.” – Bart Simpson
“Very good.” – Akira
“Do you have any giant squid? The kind that drags men to their deaths?” – Bart Simpson
“Not today.” – Akira
Happy birthday George Takei!
“Sometimes I think God is teasing me, just like he teased Moses in the desert.” – Homer Simpson
Apologies for missing two consecutive weeks of Compare & Contrasts, but for the second straight week the eyetee gods decided to smite the hell out of me. Chillingly, both incidents started on Tuesday and weren’t totally cleaned up until Thursday, which means I will be walking on eggshells until at least next Wednesday. (Also, do not ever do business with Network Solutions “a web.com company”. They are incompetent, sleazy, hugely overpriced, use phrases like “part of our vertical” without irony or embarrassment, and have atrociously poor security. That is all.)
In further bad news, this week’s Reading Digest is pretty short because the internet seemed to spend most of the week circle jerking over the upcoming Zombie Simpsons/Lego episode. All they did was release a promo image and a couple of self-congratulatory quotes about it, but everyone with access to a keyboard seemed to feel the need to write it up. (It’ll be interesting to see if Lego can budge the ratings. My guess is no.) We’ve got one link to all that brouhaha, plus a great video about the recent Sylvain Chomet couch gag, some fan art, several good lists, more fashionable threads, and a couple of people who agree with us.
Flooby Nooby: Sylvain Chomet’s making of ‘The Simpsons couch gag’ - Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this short and enjoyable YouTube video:
The color was digital, but the drawings were done by hand. No wonder it looked so good. Also, watch to the end for Chomet’s joke, it’s funny.
Old Man Yells At Cloud* - Baseball nostalgics are the worst, and this is an enjoyable fisking of one with plenty of (mostly non-Zombie) Simpsons references to boot.
15 Sitcom Characters Who Might Be Broke If They Lived In The Real World - How affordable would all those living rooms with couches be? It’s a neat graphic, but I don’t know where the hell they got Homer’s monthly income as $6,500.
The First 12 Episodes Of ‘The Simpsons’ To Begin Your Marathon With - An excellent and explicitly non-Zombie Simpsons list.
5 For Friday: The 5 Best TV Moments in The Simpsons’ Universe - Another excellent list, nothing even close to Zombie Simpsons.
25 Years of The Simpsons. And 5 Potential Spin-Offs… - A list of possible new shows that implicitly agrees with us (“I can’t even remember the last time I caught a new episode of The Simpsons”).
Over Easy Author Mimi Pond Interview - No real surprise here:
What was it like writing the very first episode (“Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”) of The Simpsons?
I don’t feel very good about that. I was friends with Matt Groening, and I’m still friends with Matt Groening. He was starting to have trouble with the producers of the show. I came in and they were having their troubles, and because I was friends with Matt, I wasn’t very welcome. And because I was a girl — it was a total boys’ club — and I wasn’t asked to be on staff. I was thrown off the gravy train and it took a couple of years to figure it out. But if it hadn’t been for that, my life would’ve been very different. I wouldn’t have worked on this book, and this was the book I was meant to write.
She certainly did a hell of a job with her one episode.
Desert Island ‘What TV series would you want stranded with you and a TV” taking you into the weekend - Couldn’t disagree with this:
I want to pose a question. Desert island style. What TV series would you take if trapped on a desert island with only a TV and DVD player. For me this was a no brainer. It’s The Simpsons.
TV Guide Magazine April 21-May 4 2014 – ‘The Simpsons’: Inside their LEGO episode - Want to read a craven, PR fluff job from the magazine that still writes like Time in 1962? Have at it.
Simpsons and Joblessness - To be fair, it’s not like all those years of modern dance and tap help much either.
Look7in7: Meow, Meow. - Fan art of Kang (or Kodos) and a kitty.
BBQ Invention – Yes, Lisa, a magical animal (pulled bacon) - Mouthwateringly excellent usage:
I thought I’d start with the most exciting thing I’ve done recently, it could be a game-changer in the BBQ game, a dish that Victor Frankenstein may have created if he was into BBQ, I’ve combined a pork technique with a bacon technique…
Homer: “Lisa, honey, are you saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?”
Homer: “Pork chops?”
Lisa: “Dad! Those all come from the same animal!”
Homer: [chuckling] “Yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.”
I’ve made… PULLED BACON
The pig de resistance!
[5RTO] The Simpsons: Tapped Out - Five thoughts on the travails of playing Tapped Out while a parent. Also, it is indeed very expensive.
The Evolution of Simpsons Games - A brief history of some Simpsons games.
Doing The Dirty Simpsons With Family Guy’s Quest For Stuff - The new Family Guy Tapped Out clone sounds very clone-ish.
“The Simpsons” Fashion Collaboration with Joyrich - More skinny models wearing high fashion Simpsons clothing.
Biggest TV Syndication Deals Besides ‘The Simpsons’ - Unsurprisingly, other shows retail for more per episode, but nobody has nearly as many episodes.
3 cartoon shows that adults can watch - The show comes in at #1, followed by South Park and Futurama. Ah, it’s nice to see a concise list.
How did The Simpsons get so dumb? - Our old friend Stefan Grasso charts the show’s decline and calls its current state “Rock Bottom”, complete with graphic.
“I don’t know how you can all just lay around the house on a nice day like this. When was the last time we went for a good, old fashioned family walk?” – Marge Simpson
“Oh, we stopped those when the kids said I was too fat to carry.” – Homer Simpson
“Bart, you cast the wrong spell! Zombies!” – Lisa Simpson
So, was this episode the Futurama crossover or not? I didn’t see Fry or Leela, but there was a beer swilling robot and lots of inter-species relationships, so I’m not entirely sure. Also, part of it was a coma fantasy or a dream sequence, but I don’t have access to an original script so I don’t know if those pages were on pink paper or goldenrod.
For those of you sage enough not to have watched it, we begin in the present when Homer dies. Frink, and remember, this is supposed to be the present, brings in a clone of Homer to the funeral. Homer then spends the next few minutes dying and coming back as a clone. Eventually it’s thirty years from now and Homer becomes a computer program instead. In that future, Bart is divorced from Amy Poehler, Lisa is married to Milhouse (who becomes a literal zombie because now they’re just fucking with me), and Marge eventually also becomes a computer program who gets eaten or something by Homer. Seriously, the end is so confusing that they have Moe say that he doesn’t get it.
- Hey, the couch gag was short and clever for a change.
- Ah, for the days when Homer eating in his underwear was funny instead of a harbinger of boredom.
- “You’re alive, but how?” – Time to have things explained.
- We got to the death montage nice and quick. It’s a completely unnecessary death montage, but at least they didn’t dawdle.
- Oh, look, there’s an incinerator-bot that looks like something that was reject from a Futurama storyboard back in 2003 or so. Has Zombie Simpsons resorted to dumpster diving the Futurama offices?
- “All is not lost, I was able to download Homer’s brain into this flash drive.” – They know we’re pretty much as far from Halloween as it is possible to get on the calendar, right?
- Bart’s ex-wife is dating an Alien alien named Jerry. I am not making this up.
- Okay, the “Cretaceous Park” sign (“Now Correctly Named”) was kinda funny.
- You know, all this talk of zombies reminds me that Ugly Americans had its moments. It never quite got there, but it was a hell of a lot better than this.
- At least this Total Recall scene didn’t take long.
- It’s our second song montage. The first one was Homer dying. This one is Bart getting laid.
- Clown group sex, didn’t see that one coming.
- A robot drinking alcohol . . . where have I seen that before?
- It’s pure fan service and couldn’t hope to salvage even a little bit of this episode, but they have adult Maggie and Gerald sucking on a straw together. It was quick and almost charming.
- Nice of Marge to pop out from behind that plant at Moe’s for an expository conversation about marriage with her kids.
- “Wait, Mom, does that mean you’re gonna take Dad back?”, see what I mean?
- So, Marge just digitized herself and was eaten by Homer. Moe, speaking for all of us, says “I can’t tell if that was love, suicide or a really boring video game.” The “really boring” part certainly applies.
- Oh, that couch gag was a fan idea. No wonder it didn’t suck.
Zombie Simpsons likes to take any decent joke and run it into the ground with repetition, and this was them doing that on an episode scale. A couple of seasons ago they did that “Holiday of Future’s Passed” episode where they did Christmas in the future. I wasn’t a fan, but they got a little bit of positive attention from it, so the natural thing to do would be to go back and stretch everything there way past the breaking point. It’s just their style.
Anyway, the ratings are in and they are unprecedentedly wretched. Last night, just 3.59 million people hoped that this show gets canned sometime in the next thirty years. That’s good for second lowest all time, bested only by the non-8pm slot “Diggs” episode from last month. Seven of the ten lowest rated ever, including the entire bottom five, have been broadcast since January.
“Okay, let’s make this sporting, Leonard. If you can tell me why I shouldn’t fire you without using the letter e, you can keep your job.” – C.M. Burns
“Uh, okay, um, I’m a good work . . . guy.” – Lenny
“You’re fired.” – C.M. Burns
“But I didn’t say-” – Lenny
“You will.” – C.M. Burns
“Eeeeeeee!” – Lenny
Happy 20th anniversary to “Burns’ Heir”! Original airdate: 14 April 1994.
“And how is my little major leaguer, catch any junebugs today?” – Homer Simpson
“Well, me and Milhouse took some mail from a mail truck and threw it down the sewer.” – Bart Simpson
“Son, I know you meant well, but that wasn’t the right thing to do.” – Homer Simpson
“What the hell are you talking about? You’re the one who double dared us.” – Bart Simpson
So David Letterman announced that sometime next year he’s going to hang up his mic and ride off into the talk show sunset. Two years ago, he did a short guest voice for a couch gag on Zombie Simpsons. That video was freaking everywhere this week, so it’s another shorter than usual Reading Digest. (It’s worth pointing out, of course, that the family seeing Letterman on the couch was a repeat of the one above from Season 5, but I digress. Bonus Critic points here.) Beyond that we’ve got some cool fan art of the amateur and professional varieties, some news about the new FXX syndication deal, some excellent usage, an old Chinese bootleg t-shirt, and a bunch of fake beer.
Joshua Budich Has The Munchies For Gallery 1988′s Exhibit: “The Subtle Art Of Pop Culture” - Cool drawings of stuff from movie and TV. There are twelve of them, three are from the show. Nobody else got more than one. Just saying.
Tuesday Top 5 – Simpsons Songs - Excellent list, lots of YouTube, and no Zombie Simpsons.
Do You Know These Cartoon Cats? - Snowball II and Scratchy are on here, plus several I know and several more I do not know.
‘The Simpsons’ Paid Tribute To David Letterman By Taking Their Couch Gag Inside The Ed Sullivan Theater - One of those really long filler couch gags from Season 23 was making the rounds this week because David Letterman did a guest voice on it. I would simply like to point to this couch gag’s entry in Wikipedia:
Similar to the couch gag from the season five’s “The Last Temptation of Homer,” the Simpsons find themselves on the set of The Late Show With David Letterman.
Simpsonize Yourself - Fan made self portrait, including tattoos and a Donnas t-shirt. Bravo.
I GUESS EVERYBODY REALLY IS PLAYING MAH JONGG! - Cool bootleg t-shirt from the dawn of the show with the family playing mahjong and yelling at each other in what I assume is Chinese.
Your Guide To The 20 Best Fake Beer Brands From Movies And Television - Duff comes in shockingly low at #6.
Bartolo Colon Jiggling His Belly Fat is Frontrunner for MLB GIF of the Year - It’s like a lava lamp.
Mimi Pond sketches an alter ego’s youthful days in ‘Over Easy’ - Pond, who wrote “Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire”, gas a new book out.
14 Simpsons Look Alike People - Some of those are pretty good.
Nish Kumar plays life like it is as a comedian and confidence trickster - British comedian knows what’s up:
His guiding model in this, he says, is The Simpsons. ”The Simpsons is my favourite-ever show,” he says. ”It never speaks down to the audience; It always assumes the audience is going to catch up but it never [does] in a way that would make you feel stupid if you didn’t. I watch some of those episodes now and wonder: what was I watching when I was 10? But that’s the trick.”
The Simpsons’ Take on Standardized Testing - Heh. Also, don’t forget “Separate Vocations” from Season 3: “It’s called the Career Aptitude Normalizing Test, or CANT.”
Affliate Post Godzilla, Deadpool, and Jon Snow in detention. - Bart/Jon’s got a lot of writing to do.
Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play Will Make Midwest Premiere at Theater Wit - The play is coming to Chicago early next year, so maybe I’ll finally get to see it.
‘The Tech Sector’: Growing, and growing vaguer - Excellent usage:
Anyone remember when Homer Simpson created “Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net”? Marge asks him what, exactly, his company does, and he responds, “Eh, this industry moves so fast it’s really hard to tell.”
Of Bikes and Men - Excellent mental reference:
Peter is going to be fine, it turns out, but he is in the hospital for tests and needs his insurance information sent over. Since I am also his neighbor and the keeper of the spare keys, I am the perfect person to solve this problem. Except I am not at home; I am across town. A logistical monkey wrench, but not insurmountable. It’s an hour round trip, tops.
In my head I am hearing my favorite Simpsons clip, from Treehouse of Horror III, where Homer is sold cursed frogurt. Peter was in an accident (ooh, that’s bad); he is going to be fine (that’s good!); but he needs you to get dressed and head across town (that’s bad); though it should only delay your plans by an hour (that’s good!).
Ryan Sadri on music and life as a saxophonist - Isn’t it everybody’s?:
I’ve found that more than any other instrument, the sax helps me get closest to expressing what I feel within. It’s an amazing high. And yes, my favourite sax piece is The Simpsons theme song played by Lisa Simpson.
‘The Simpsons’ Will Debut On FXX With A 12-Day, 522-Episode Marathon - Just what it says. They’re filling August dead time with eleven days of the show, including day after day of unwatchable Zombie Simpsons crap. If nothing else, it will serve as a visceral reminder of the decline of the show. Also, the ratings ought to be interesting . . .
So far, this is panning out to be the longest marathon of a TV show ever. I have no problems with it, now I just have to put in some vacation time and do some serious food shopping.
Scratch that, I definitely won’t be watching the entire marathon, the show was only good until maybe the 9th season.
Best of The Simpsons Part… - Heh.
Silver for The Simpsons - A nice little 25th anniversary treatment that agrees with us both in writing and by only posting screen grabs from single digit seasons.
“When are you going to wake up and smell your husband, Marge?” – Selma Bouvier
“Granted, you got some kids out of him, but when the seeds have been planted you throw away the envelope.” – Patty Bouvier
My apologies, but there isn’t going to be a Compare & Contrast this week. My stupid real job threw up a bolt-from-the-blue minor crisis this week that is just now finally squared away, and I don’t have the energy to get my brains back into an episode I’ve already largely forgotten. However, there was one thing that’s been bugging me about “Luca$”: what the hell was with Patty and Selma in that scene in the kitchen with Marge?
They’re sitting at the table watching Lisa and the would-be-competitive eater Lucas in the back yard. Patty jokes that he’s fat, Marge says she’s surprised Lisa likes him, Patty then says:
Really? Justin Blobber over there doesn’t remind you of anyone?
That leads to a quick cut of Homer yelling and complaining, which leads to Selma explaining the plot to everyone:
Women marry their fathers, Marge. So you just might be meeting your future ton-in-law!
Then they both happily cackle at Lisa’s fate. It doesn’t bother me that the twins are being mean to the kid, but by extension they’re also gleefully bagging on Lisa, which is just weird. Patty and Selma hate Homer, and who could blame them? (Would you want your baby sister married to him?) But they’ve always been fond, even proud, of Lisa. Here they’re basically saying to Marge: you married fat loser and so will your precious daughter, ha ha. They want Lisa to marry someone like Homer just to teach Marge a lesson or something, and it’s utterly contrary to everything we know about them.
Characters devolving into unrecognizable goo isn’t anything new for Zombie Simpsons. And it’s not like anyone put too much thought into that scene in the first place. But it goes to show how really empty and hollow this show has left so many once rich characters. Patty and Selma, for all their flaws, were always on Marge’s side. Here they’re not, and they’re attacking her through Lisa. It’s really bad, even for Zombie Simpsons.
“Mickey Rooney!” – Bart Simpson & Milhouse van Houten
“Hi, Milhouse! The studio sent me to talk to you, being a former child star myself, and the number one box office draw from 1939 through 1940.” – Mickey Rooney
“Wow, spanning two decades.” – Bart Simpson
(Thanks to commenter dvcnick for reminding me that I hadn’t used all the Rooney quotes yet.)
“Now turn to the next problem. If you have three Pepsis and drink one, how much more refreshed are you? You, the redhead in the Chicago school system.” – Troy McClure
“Pepsi?” – Redhead in Chicago
“Partial credit.” – Troy McClure
“Where is Homer, anyway?” – Selma Bouvier
“It’s so typical of the big doofus to spoil it all.” – Patty Bouvier
“What, Aunt Patty?” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh, nothing, dear, I’m just trashing your father.” – Patty Bouvier
“Well, I wish you wouldn’t. Because, aside from the fact that he has the same frailties as all human beings, he’s the only father I have. Therefore he is my model of manhood, and my estimation of him will govern the prospects of my adult relationships. So I hope you bear in mind that any knock at him is a knock at me, and I am far too young to defend myself against such onslaughts.” – Lisa Simpson
“Mmmhmm, go watch your cartoon show, dear.” – Patty Bouvier
After I finished watching this episode, I went to the end and began rewinding. Lucas, the kid who Lisa briefly sorta liked and whose dialogue appeared to be stuff that was rejected from Zach Galifianakis’ part in a draft for Hangover 4, appears in the very last scene. It had been so long since we saw him that I wasn’t even sure when he’d gone missing. Reversing, it turns out that he had been gone since literally the halfway mark of the episode. The show didn’t completely forget him, there was that final, tacked on scene, but he was so pointless and shallow that they literally didn’t need him for most of the second act and all of the third. Jebus. The dropouts at Hollywood Upstairs Screenwriting College think that’s sloppy.
Besides a forgettably shallow guest voice, what else did “Luca$” have? Exposition. Lots and lots and lots of exposition. In the B-plot, Snake kept stealing stuff for Bart, which we didn’t see, then he got arrested, which we didn’t see, and then Bart went to get him out of jail, which we did see but which was practically narrated for us, including such sparkling dialogue as:
“But, Chief, we got guns! He’s got a little wrench.”
“You won’t need to save me a third time.”
“If I get caught, it’s suicide by cop.”
“It means I get you to shoot me.”
The A-plot, meanwhile, suffered from the same repetitive problem, but managed a big swing and a miss on the ending, where they wrapped up the wrong plot thread. Marge was supposed to be worried about Lisa seeing Homer as a bad example for future romantic partners, but that quickly devolved into Homer being upset with her about it, which meant that the ending was about Homer forgiving Marge, making Lisa’s whole presence something of an afterthought. That the big gag was that Marge wore a dress from when they drew her into Project Runway didn’t help, nor Jimbo at the bar or the overall weird and creepiness of Homer and Lisa going on a “date”. The quote above from Season 1 contains basically every idea the A-plot fumbled, and it didn’t forget any characters in the middle either.
- Slapping “Parodies Are Easy” on the couch gag is maybe a bit more revealing than they think.
- Why did Nelson run up the playground in a baseball uniform?
- Repeating the word “Senator” should kill some time.
- Skinner chasing Bart in his car is, uh, somewhat dumber than “The Boy Who Knew Too Much”.
- Milhouse gets an aside to complain about the “fat kid with a dream”. They really have no idea how to write dialogue anymore. Even inside the cafeteria what passes for jokes has to come from asides and random breaks in what’s actually happening.
- Nice that this kid just happens to have tupperware full of hot dogs in the cafeteria.
- “Liberated, you mean stolen?” Thanks, exposition Milhouse.
- “Then that makes me the Jackie Robinson of the sport, and you are the racist Philadelphia manager.”/”Quit comparing me to Ben Chapman” – Jokes work so much better when explained beforehand. It’s comedy 101, everyone knows that.
- “Women marry their fathers, Marge” – In case anyone was unclear what was going on, it has now been explained to us.
- The montage of stolen things ate up some time.
- Is all of Galifianakis’ dialogue going to be him telling us what he’s eating? (Amusing side note: my spell checker’s only suggestion for his name was “Egalitarianism”.)
- “Careful it’s uncut syrup”, hmmm, haven’t I seen Bart and Milhouse mainline Squishee syrup before? Nah, this feels too original and believable.
- “You ratted him out!” – And for approximately the fortieth time in just thirteen minutes of video, things have been explained to the audience yet again.
- Professional freelance writer as an advice authority is kinda funny. Of course, it’s also one of the few jokes that happen within the dialogue and aren’t about explaining what’s happening, but I’m sure that’s a coincidence.
- “Homer you can’t just do the things you want to do” comes right after Homer tells us what he might do.
- “She might marry someone like me”/”you think that might be bad?” – These just keep coming. It’s one thing to explain what’s happening, it’s quite another to do is three times in the same scene.
- Nice of Cletus to just be there at the bar without saying anything until now.
- Good Jebus, now Homer is describing what he’s gonna do at the dinner.
- “Hey, I can’t screw this up or Lisa will get stuck with someone like me” – Did you get it yet? People who fell asleep watching American Dad and just left the TV on could follow this plot by now.
- “We need to have a conversation in loud whispers”, once again, the action you’re about to see before you see it: comedy!
- How about some characters describing their feelings out loud and in public? “I felt terrible when you said I felt stuck with you, but then I realized I am stuck with you”. Ugh.
- “Remember that sewing machine you say I never use, well I sold it and bought this dress” – It’s never going to stop.
- Why is Jimbo at the bar?
- Hey, Lucas is back for the last scene in the episode. I guess he didn’t choke to death or anything.
- “You’re not competitive eating anymore?”/’No, I realized that was unrealistic”, but his lines are still terrible.
- The whistle version of the theme over the credits was kinda nice, but, then again, I’m a sucker for that song.
Anyway, the ratings are in and while they are up slightly from last week, they remain deep in the toilet. Last night, just 4.30 million people wondered why they named the episode after a character who wasn’t in the last half of it. That’s good enough to not be one of the ten least watched episodes ever, the first time that’s happened since January, but is still #14 on the all time least watched list. Season 25 remains well on pace to be the least watched season ever.