“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
Author Archive for
“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.
“My old roommates, the nerds! Aww. You working?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, my, yes, I’m on a secret project that I’m not at liberty to divulge . . . cough, cyborgs.” – Fat Nerd
We’ve got a bunch of news this week about current and former Simpsons staffers: David Silverman got a new job, Harry Shearer is in Wales, Mike Reiss gave a talk at Harvard, and Sam Simon continues to be awesome. (There’s also a Zombie Simpsons writer making an ass of himself, but he doesn’t count.) In addition to that, there’s plenty of video game YouTube, fancy New York musicians, some excellent usage, several good lists, and Family Guy once again following in the profitable footsteps of The Simpsons.
The Simpsons: 10 Real Unaired Pitches (And What They Could Have Been About) - Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this collection of unaired episodes that appear to all be from the early years. A few of these I’d heard of before because they’re discussed on commentary tracks, others were new to me (and some have more dubious sourcing that others), but it’s worth a look even if it is in an annoying pageview whore click-for-each-one format.
Laughing in Purgatory: Mike Reiss of The Simpsons at the Humanist Hub - Video of a talk Reiss gave to a bunch of people at Harvard. It’s long, but funny throughout:
“Or, as the old joke goes, I’m Jew-ish, and by that I mean that I would never eat a ham sandwich . . . in a synagogue . . . on Yom Kippur . . . if there was anybody watching.”
The Simpsons’ “Lunchlady Doris” is “Lunchlady Dora” now - Apparently the Zombie Simpsons writers finally realized that having Lunchlady Doris still be on the show after Doris Grau died wasn’t a good look for them. In typical Zombie Simpsons fashion, they half assed it by trying to retcon her name but leaving everything else the same. Then, as if to underscore how butthurt and hacktacular they are, one of them took to Twitter in a hapless attempt to paper it all over:
His story there is that they used the same character model, had someone try to do a voice that sounded like Grau’s, and never mentioned the name change for nineteen years, but that they’ve always thought of her as “Dora” in that time, “out of respect”. Sorry, but I gotta call bullshit on that. You guys replaced her voice and used the same character. It was a shitty thing to do, and I’m glad there’s some attempt to rectify it now, but what’s done is done. You can’t go back and pretend you never did the shitty thing in the first place.
Why I caved and had my Springfield hacked. - A thoughtful post on cheating in Tapped Out. I’m kinda surprised that it worked, but EA deserves no sympathy so I say go for it.
Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff - And, since there’s no point having a hundred million dollar cash cow if you can’t copy it directly to try and make a second one, the Family Guy Tapped Out clone will be available next week.
The Simpsons ‘could last 50 years’ - This was making the rounds the last couple of days because Jean said “I can’t see why we wouldn’t go to 30 . . .and why can’t we go to 40 or even 50″. It’s just his usual boilerplate being blown out of proportion by pageview hungry bloggers and columnists who saw a chance for a clickable headline. Ignore it.
What ‘The Simpsons’ Says About Ukraine’s Language Divide - Apparently they stopped broadcasting an official Ukrainian language version five years ago.
Twin Peaks and The Simpsons – together at last? Characters from David Lynch show get a Simpsons makeover – This was floating around this week, and is kinda good, but where’s the unicorn and the traffic light?
Classic Food-Related Simpsons Moments - Great list:
This is a truly inspired culinary invention. It is no less than a block of butter covered in caramel and waffle mix held together with a cocktail stick. A reminder for all to follow your food related fantasies and it might just result in something beautiful.
And no Zombie Simpsons.
An ode to Lisa Simpson - As usual, Lisa is a hero, but this is impressive remote handling:
Growing up with older siblings, especially my brother Patrick, I was exposed to “The Simpsons” at far, far too early an age. We used to sit around the family room almost every night, flipping between two different episodes of the show, which ran at the same time on two different stations. With this method and my brother’s admirable dedication, I had watched hundreds of episodes by age 10
Top 10 Homer Simpson moments - This is also one of those annoying pageview gluttons, but it does have some good YouTube and there’s no Zombie Simpsons.
The Simpsons: 20 Annoying Mistakes You Didn’t Notice - Yet more pageview whoring, but this one lists a lot of “mistakes” that are all pretty much problems with Zombie Simpsons. Funny how that works.
Animated/Live Action ‘Pink Panther’ Film In The Works, Will Focus On Cartoon Character, Not Inspector Clouseau - David Silverman’s going to direct. I’d watch that.
Simpsons Writer Sam Simon Sponsoring Blackfish Racecar At Talladega - Sam Simon continues to spend money on pretty damn cool things.
Voice of The Simpsons Harry Shearer speaks about Llanelli’s fast-flowing conversation - Harry Shearer goes to Wales and makes nice with the locals.
Video: This cartoon theme song mashup will make you feel nostalgia – A long video of cartoon theme songs put out by Carnegie Hall, of all places:
They don’t play much from each theme, so they pack a ton into just five minutes. (The Simpsons part is at the 3:00 mark.)
Treading Water – The show relieving inter-generational tension:
I requested The Simpsons for my kids via netflix and the dvds happened to arrive during my mom’s visit. Now I know my mom HATES the Simpsons so I waited until she was asleep to put them on for the kids. But she ended up waking up… standing in the living room and even laughed at a few of the jokes.
Later she says to me, “I used to think The Simpsons was disgraceful, but compared to what’s out there today it’s not so bad.”
In other words… I’m letting my kids watch “disgraceful” programming.
And she’s a liberal, what liberal doesn’t love The Simpsons?
She laughed. You did good.
WEEKEND RECAP. – An excellent old Simpsons book found at a second hand store.
Classic Intel Ad! – An old Simpsons ad for the Pentium II. Ha!
Keeping It Cool - His mom says he’s cool.
Happy April Fools! – Call in the Code 8!
Super Soul Simpsons Sunday - Heh.
Kue ulang tahun simpson – DADDY – A pretty awesome Homer birthday cake.
Marge: We drove around until three in the morning looking for another open all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant.
Lionel Hutz: And when you couldn’t find one?
Marge: [crying] We… went… fishing.
Lionel Hutz: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do these sound like the actions of a man whose had ALL he could eat?
Does my wife sound like someone who has had all the “Breaking Bad” she could watch?
SAHM (because giving it a natty acronym makes it less painful) – A woman contemplates being at home for the first time:
It was never meant to be easy! I might just have to replace the wine with coffee and take my inspiration from Marge.
Just set the vacuum on dirt patrol.
Simpsons Hit and Run – Speedrun - Have two hours to kill watching a stranger fly through an eleven-year-old video game? You’re in luck.
Top 5 Simpsons Games - From the same site as the above, a seven minute YouTube video of the best Simpsons games.
Virtual Springfield Gameplay - And our final video game YouTube is that weird encyclopedia type game that they released.
Random Simpsons Screencap of the Day 3/28/14 – I think we should go.
Random Simpsons Screencap of the Day 4/1/14 – Great grab of Homer peeling the duct tape off Bart’s eyes.
Dissected: The Simpsons by East India Youth – And finally, I get to end as I prefer, with someone who agrees with us, in this case in a long interview about the show with some .gifs and plenty of YouTube:
I think the most important thing to mention here (and you should definitely write this up): I don’t think it’s possible to have that connection to the show anymore, with the new episodes. You know this as well as I do I’d think, but there’s definitely a golden age to that show.
Seasons Two to Nine we’re talking?
EIY: Yeah… And the super fans of the show totally respect that, it’s like an unwritten rule isn’t it? That is the best period.
Well, it’s not unwritten (ahem), but yeah.
"We don’t have to be adversaries, Homer. We both want a fair union contract." – C.M. Burns
"Why is Mr. Burns being so nice to me?" – Homer’s Brain
"And if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours." – C.M. Burns
"Wait a minute, is he coming on to me?" – Homer’s Brain
"I mean, if I should slip something into your pocket, what’s the harm?" – C.M. Burns
"My God, he is coming on to me." – Homer’s Brain
"After all, negotiations make strange bedfellows." – C.M. Burns
For a simple and common act, bribery requires a surprising amount of finesse. Whether the initiating party is asking for the bribe or offering it, when it comes to the exchange of money for dishonesty the presentation is always the tricky part. You have to let the other person know that you’re willing to break the rules, but only in a way that both of you can later deny if necessary. It’s a delicate thing, and the last person you’d ever want to see on the other side of it is Homer Simpson.
That frustrating situation confronts nuclear plant owner Monty Burns in Season 4′s "Last Exit to Springfield" as well as the nameless, central casting gangster in "You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee". Both are trying to get Homer to roll over for cash, but the Homers they have to bribe are as different as they are.
There are four parties in these two attempted transactions. In the first we have Burns and regular Homer; and in the second we have Gangster Guy and Zombie Homer. Before we get to the actual bribery, however, let’s take a quick look at each one of them and why they’re doing what they’re doing:
- The Burns of Season 4 is the very definition of ruthless. Not only does he hate his employees, he’s willing to go to the mattresses over their dental plan out of nostalgic spite. The money is important to him, but not as much as the principle of being able to wall one of them up whenever the urge hits him. For Burns, bribing the head of the union to betray his fellows is just expediency, and when things don’t go well right away, he goes to hired goons out of habit.
- The Homer of Season 4 is a working schlub everyman who doesn’t want to have to pay for his daughter’s braces. In that sense, his motivation going into the negotiations is a lot like Burns’. The difference is that Homer isn’t acting out of malevolence, he’s reacting to the evil of Burns and just trying to get back something he already had.
- Gangster Guy has no background, he’s just a gangster. Why does he want to fix the World Cup? Because he’s a gangster. Haven’t you ever seen any of their movies?
- Zombie Homer is who he pretty much always is: a weirdly invincible superman. Fly to Brazil to be (apparently) the only referee at the World Cup? Sure! Get bribed and threatened by gangsters? He’s cool, doesn’t perturb him a bit. Fall completely to pieces because an eight-year-old called him her hero but didn’t do it in quite the right way? Also sure. He has no human center, so incomprehensibly random reactions are the norm.
Down in Brazil, our prop store gangster tries to bribe that fickle lunatic because that’s why prop store gangsters do, and Homer refuses because he’s been perfectly incorruptible for three whole minutes, so it’s now basically his only trait. There’s no depth to what either of them is doing, which means that the only kind of humor they can go for is repetitive silliness. They offer him money in outlandish ways, he refuses, and that’s it. They do it so many times that they have an entire montage of nothing but. Anyone is free to think that’s funny, of course, but there’s no denying that it’s simplistic and one-dimensional.
Over and over and over and over . . .
Compare that to Burns’ repeated attempts to bribe Homer. Things start out with with the two of them meeting in Burns’ office and Homer completely misunderstanding Burns’ innuendo:
Sure, he’s flattered, maybe even a little curious, but he doesn’t go in for those back door shenanigans.
From there, Homer’s guileless stupidity continues to be misunderstood by Burns as an iron willed resolve and negotiating brilliance. Homer’s too dumb to be intimidated by hired goons. The he has to pee too bad to listen to Burns’ offer. Finally, he inadvertently triggers a strike while trying to resign. It’s as far as you can get from one serially repeated joke because each of them brings more than just one thing to the table.
There’s an almost ye olde Vaudeville aspect to them, with Burns playing the straight man who just cannot get anything through the thick skull of the yutz who won’t take his money. Since this is The Simpsons, the straight man is wildly evil and his frustrations quickly rise to trying to destroy the town instead of just demanding to know who’s on first, but the basic comedy of misunderstanding allows the show to employ all manner of topics and tricks.
What gives everything that extra twist is the fact that, right before the first commercial break, the show lets us know that Homer, in fact, would love to be bribed:
“Hey, what does this job pay?” – Homer Simpson
“Nothing.” – Carl
“D’oh!” – Homer Simpson
“Unless you’re crooked!” – Carl
“Woo-hoo!” – Homer Simpson
If Burns had just offered to pay for Lisa’s braces, Homer would have eagerly accepted and the dental plan would be no more. But that was never going to happen because the two of them are far too different to ever be able to communicate. Burns, hater of unions, thinks Homer is as conniving and cutthroat as he is. Homer just really doesn’t want to be there.
What plays out between them is far too rich to ever be shown as a one note montage or a repeated series of offers and exposition. Between who they are, what they’re trying to do, and their actions and reactions (often inadvertent) towards one another, playing some music and showing a bunch of people handing Homer cash simply wouldn’t work. Something that thin would be overwhelmed by story, jokes and the like. In Zombie Simpsons, however, it’s more than enough.
“I take it from your yelling that you like my tofu dogs.” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
“Tofu?” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh, yes, no meat whatsoever, and only thrice the fat of a normal hot dog. I made the switch and nobody noticed.” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
“I guess some people never change. Or, they quickly change, and then quickly change back.” – Homer Simpson
Zombie Simpsons has enough systemic and repetitive problems that I would never try to identify one that really breaks it, but the way that none of the characters ever act like themselves is especially annoying. Gaping plot holes, weak and joke free dialogue, lazy product parodies, characters appearing out of nowhere, these are all problems. But when they take characters we all know and love and have them act like versions of themselves that have suffered personality altering brain injuries it really drives home just how different this show is from The Simpsons.
Just in this episode we see Skinner completely unable to run a school assembly, Marge be rude to strangers, Lisa easily fall to pieces, and Homer be athletic, overly sensitive, strangely smart, and competent. I’m not sure who these people are supposed to be anymore. Each and every one of them can act wildly differently depending on what specific scene they’re in, which means that almost no matter what they do it’s too random to be funny or interesting. Security camera footage has better character consistency and development.
- Regular old, time killing Zombie Simpsons couch gag. Feh. Can we dig up Charles Schulz and have him do one?
- It’s not a big deal or anything, but real Skinner would never have put up with the kids shouting things from the stands while he’s talking.
- I was bored with the Lincoln-Douglas scene. Then there was a mechanical backboard arm that looks like it should be in Futurama, and now I really just want it to end.
- Ooh, a joke about Subway Jared. Timely.
- Watching incompetent Skinner flail about is really painful. Not as bad as happy, incompetent Burns, but very bad.
- A Jerkass Homer montage, that’s what this episode really needed.
- So the contest wrapped itself up just as stupidly as it began with there being a tie. I’m sure glad we spent a bunch of time on getting it set up.
- FIFA isn’t exactly hard to mock, but Zombie Simpsons managed to botch it with its usual methods of expository jokes and senseless scenes. Well done.
- This scene in the airplane with the Marge’s tablet has it all: takes too long, joke free, and makes no sense.
- Ugh, if they’re going to repeat the joke from “Marge vs. The Monorail” where the whole town is empty and Snake robs it with Luxembourg, they could have at least made a Luxembourg-ish Snake. Now it’s not just a direct repeat, it’s a nonsensical direct repeat.
- Homer has wandered out of a restaurant because the plot was getting bored with itself.
- The gangsters talking about just having “two very good ways” with money and guns was almost funny.
- Onto our second montage nice and quick.
- “Dad, is it hard for you to turn these bribes down?” – Thanks, exposition Bart.
- If they did these scenes where they try to be ironically detached about how cheap their plot turns are once or twice per season, that’d be one thing. But they do this every damned week. Bart and Homer might as well be looking directly at the camera to explain what’s going on.
- “Where are you going?”, Homer then describes exactly what he’s gonna do.
- Hey, here’s Lisa, whom we haven’t seen for the last ten minutes or so, to help wrap things up.
- And now we’re treated to a minute of them telling us exactly how they feel.
- Here’s Marge to protect Homer from the gangsters. Where did she come from? Did she know what was going on? It’s best not to ask.
- And now that guy’s mother is there. Plot conflict resolved!
- Despite all the drawn out scenes, they still came in way, way short, so we got treated to the family taking a random trip down the Amazon to see Krusty. Yeesh.
Anyway, the ratings are in and they are just as bad this week as they’ve been since they came back with that double episode at the beginning of March. Last night just 3.94 million viewers wished they were watching a 0-0 tie between Mexico and Portugal. That’s almost identical to last week’s 3.93 and is good for fifth place on the all time least watched list.
This week’s historically terrible number has also pushed Season 25′s average total viewership to a mere 5.45 million viewers, which puts it just below Season 24′s 5.47 average. I don’t feel like looking it up or anything, but my strong suspicion is that this is the earliest (just 16 episodes in) that any season has claimed that title. Barring a miracle, Season 25 will continue the Zombie Simpson tradition of being the least watched season ever. The only real question now is how low it will sink. I doubt it’ll go below 5 million, but they are really hitting bottom this spring, so anything is possible.
“Gosh, I thought he’d be happier in his true habitat.” – Marge Simpson
“Oh, I think he is.” – Wildlife Refuge Guy
“Then why is he attacking all those other elephants?” – Marge Simpson
“Well, animals are a lot like people, Mrs. Simpson. Some of them act badly because they’ve had a hard life or have been mistreated. But, like people, some of them are just jerks. Stop that, Mr. Simpson.” – Wildlife Refuge Guy
Happy 20th Anniversary to “Bart Gets an Elephant”. Original airdate 31 March 1994.
“Let me pet him again.” – Homer Simpson
“You already petted him for ten minutes!” – Lisa Simpson
“I know. I want to pet him again.” – Homer Simpson
“You can pet the cat.” – Marge Simpson
“The cat? What’s the point?” – Homer Simpson
“I’ve been wanting to tell you off for years, but I never had the nerve.” – Homer Simpson
“I don’t know you. My wife and your wife are friends. We met just three hours ago.” – Guy
“You stink! You and your whole lousy operation stinks, I quit!” – Homer Simpson
“Uh, gee, don’t, don’t quit.” – Guy
“Alright, then.” – Homer Simpson
“Smithers, I’m not going to make it. I want to dictate my epitaph.” – C.M. Burns
“Go ahead.” – Mr. Smithers
“Charles Montgomery Burns. American . . . and Patriot. American Patriot. Master of the Atom. Scourge of the Despot. Oh, tyrant hear his mighty name and quake! Smithers, I’m back!” – C.M. Burns
We’ve got two links this week where the one, the only Charles Montgomery Burns is held up as all that is soulless and wrong, one about finger tenting being a sign that you might be a villain and the other from the race for Illinois governor. Other than that, things got shortened this week because of the announcement of new Lego figures. Everyone with access to Twitter or the internet made mention of it, and there are some pretty neat ones (Maggie with Bobo, for example), but all that noise did obscure other stuff. We’ve also got a cool interview with Greg Daniels, some great fan art, a sweet Duff t-shirt, a couple of women dressed up like Marge, and Krusty-based insults all tucked away down in Canada.
Simpsons Writers’ Favorite ‘Itchy & Scratchy’s - Smooth Charlie’s link of the week is Jean talking about old Itchy & Scratchy segments. There’s quite a bit of Zombie Simpsons, but you can skip those and read things like this:
The short, however, is a self-contained spoof of Steamboat Willie, the black-and-white cartoon that birthed Mickey Mouse. “When the animators were working on it, they called it ‘Steamboat Lawsuit’ because of their fear of legal action by Disney,” Jean recalls. “It’s lifted almost exactly from Steamboat Willie, which itself is a parody of [Buster Keaton’s] Steamboat Bill Jr.”
Worth a look.
Lookin’ Good: Marge Simpson Hair And Makeup IRL - Someone took a model and made her up to look like Marge. It’s a little creepy. There’s also YouTube of wig construction and makeup application.
Awesome Cosplay of the Day: 3/25/14 - This is fantastic:
All three of them are just perfect. Patty & Selma look identical (wouldn’t surprise me if those two really are sisters) and grumpy while Marge is kinda trepidatious about whatever it is that’s eating her sisters. Bravo!
(Apologies for stealing this image from whoever that copyright holder is at the bottom, but white on white was not a good font choice.)
D’oh: Quinn’s ‘Simpsons’ ad blocked ‘on copyright grounds’ - One of the nice things about not living in Illinois is that you don’t have to care about who the governor of Illinois is, but the residents of the Land of Lincoln were treated to their sitting governor comparing his opponent to Mr. Burns last week, so they got that.
Round 105: I Married Marge vs. New Kid on the Block - Whew, Season 3 vs. Season 4 is tough.
Doh! Ex-Simpsons writer Greg Daniels reveals how he almost missed opportunity to adapt The Office for US - Daniels was in the UK and gave a rundown of his career at a comedy festival.
Proud husbands will make peace on their own - This is a Canadian advice column:
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My husband has a fringe of long hair like a clown. He wears a hat thinking people won’t notice and they will still think he has flowing locks like he did when he was a rocker and played in a band a decade ago. I don’t say anything about it because I love him and he is beautiful to me, any which way.
Yesterday, a neighbour came over to help my husband change a tire in the driveway and I heard him say, “Hey Krusty, need any help?’ My husband is familiar with The Simpsons and Krusty the Clown. He said something very rude back and the guy sauntered off home shaking his head like my husband was an idiot.
Zoella in Homer - More Simpson fashion in the wild.
Stand-Up Guy - Don’t feel bad, everybody did this:
In fact, I developed a friendship with a guy in high school largely revolving around one question: “Did you watch The Simpsons last night?” New episode or repeat: it didn’t matter. We’d sit around recalling setups and punch-lines and laugh all over again.
It’s amazing how formative those years are. I still retain Simpsons memories 20 years later, and in fact just two years ago spent the better half of an evening dredging them up with a friend on a restaurant patio.
LEGO ‘The Simpsons’ Minifigure Collection - Burns with a plutonium rod and Grampa with the “Old Man Yells At Cloud” newspaper are nice touches.
Looks like ‘The Simpsons’ predicted Facebook’s purchase of Oculus - Not quite, but it’s still pretty funny. I just want to play virtual darts and virtual pool so I can get in a virtual fight.
The 8 Ball 03.25.14: Top 8 1990s Arcade Games - The arcade game comes in at #3 here.
Muppets Most Wanted: When did finger-tenting, or steepling, become a symbol of evil? - Mr. Burns, for obvious reasons, is the headline example here.
Ten Celebrates The Simpsons 25th Anniversary – With a LIVE Countdown - Aussies get to vote on which episodes will be broadcast for a 25th anniversary celebration.
So which is your all-time, favourite Simpsons episode? - Another link to the same promo. The actual choices have a lot of Zombie Simpsons, but down in the comments they don’t so much as rate a mention. Figures.
The 14 Best Simpsons Music Cameo Moments - Only one entry is from Zombie Simpsons, and the post itself agrees with us, plus there’s lots of good YouTube.
If The Simpsons and Farscape collided :) - I think I’ve linked this before, but it’s still pretty neat.
‘Justified’ Showrunner Graham Yost Talks About A Shooting, The Simpsons, And Setting Up The Final Season - This probably qualifies as a Justified spoiler, so ye be warned, says I:
It reminded me of that Simpson’s episode…Mendoza!!!
Mendoza!!! And I think the boat was called “Live Forever.” We talk about that all the time. Rainer Wolfcastle. If you have a character who’s retiring and they get shot you cannot help but be compared to The Simpsons.
Why I Prefer Futurama To The Simpsons - And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us, specifically that, as usual, Zombie Simpsons spoils things:
Usually, an episode of The Simpsons follows the family in their every-day lives, with something bizarre happening to them (Bart has to live in a bubble, Lisa becomes a buddhist, Homer accidentally joins the army…), and occasionally they will go somewhere outside of Springfield, wether it be Canada, Africa, or space. It was great at first, and I would watch it every night as a loyal viewer. After a while though, I felt that the episodes just started to become a little thin, less fun and less original.
Indeed they did.
“You think she has talent?” – Marge Simpson
“Sure!” – Li’l Ludwig’s Guy
“Do you think she could be a professional some day?” – Marge Simpson
“Oh, Lord, no!” – Li’l Ludwig’s Guy
“But I’ll practice every day!” – Lisa Simpson
“Yeah, well, I’ll be frank with you, Lisa. And when I say frank, I mean, you know, devastating. You’ve inherited a finger condition known as stubbiness. It usually comes from the father’s side.” – Li’l Ludwig’s Guy
Happy birthday George Meyer!
“You know who the real victim is in all of this? Milhouse.” – Marge Simpson
Zombie Simpsons excels at telling the audience what is happening rather than showing them, which is the script writing equivalent of being a bricklayer who doesn’t use mortar. Show don’t tell is so fundamental to the job that you have to wonder how anyone could forget it, and the proof is in the piles of rubble that they try to pass off as finished work. Case in point from this week’s dreary “The War of Art” was Milhouse’s reaction to his parents breaking up.
Thanks to Jerkass Homer’s energetic idiocy, Luann finds out that Kirk lied about not shacking up with anyone while they were separated. This leads to Kirk getting kicked out (he ends up on the Simpsons’ couch despite their recent feud because whatever shutup), which means that Milhouse is once again caught in a fight between his parents. The first time that happened was in Season 8′s divorce classic “A Milhouse Divided”, and the way each episode handles his reaction is the difference between building with bricks and mortar and just building with bricks.
Once Kirk and Luann are on the outs, Marge and Homer argue expositionally about the pain Homer’s plan has wrought, including on Milhouse. Bart, casually listening in the doorway as though the show had no conception that he was there, chimes in right on cue to tell us exactly what we’re about to see:
Bart: He’s been playing Dancing Revolution for hours but the TV is off.
He said it, you saw it, comedy genius!
That’s the entire scene. But even as short as it is, it’s indicative of several of Zombie Simpsons recurring weaknesses. For starters, Bart’s explicit pre-narration is worse than useless. The above image would still be sad without it, but it would also be funnier since nothing ruins a joke more than explaining it before you tell it. Beyond that, there’s also the fact that the previous scene was Kirk asleep on the couch. Is he still there? Is Milhouse visiting Bart or his father? Who knows? Kirk has nonsensically vanished from the Simpsons home even faster than he nonsensically appeared. So not only has the hacktacular writing drained the scene of whatever humor it could’ve had, but its physical and story logic are a complete shambles. Zombie Simpsons: dumb stories poorly told, lightly sprinkled with pre-chewed jokes.
Compare that to the same scene in “A Milhouse Divided”. To begin, there’s no exposition. We already know that Milhouse’s parents are split (the episode, you know, showed it to us), so they can cut directly from Kirk getting fired (“I don’t recall saying ‘Good Luck’.”) to this:
Look! Action that hasn’t been announced ahead of time. What a concept.
Before he says a single word we can tell that Milhouse is pissed off. Just look at the above image: his hair is a mess, his teeth are clenched, and he’s destroying as much shit as possible. When he does speak, he doesn’t say “I’m angry at my parents and breaking their stuff”, he says:
And the winner of the Milhouse 500 is . . . Milhouse!
His words don’t tell us what he’s doing, they elaborate and deepen what we’ve already seen. The same goes for the rest of the scene:
Luann: Milhouse, are you sure you want to drive that inside?
Luann: Okay, be careful, sweet, sweet treasure.
Milhouse is acting like an angry and spoiled kid because at the moment that’s exactly what he is. His Mom doesn’t care what he does so long as he’s hers, and indulging Milhouse to the point of shattered lamps and smashed furniture is a small price for her to pay to get back at Kirk. It’s classic Simpsons, taking a painful and sad subject, in this case a mother and son both behaving kinda self destructively, and somehow making it fun and funny.
On the commentary track for this episode, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein talk about how they didn’t want to do a “divorce” episode like the ones they had watched as kids where the d-word gets mentioned, but at the end everyone gets back together. They tease the cliched, teevee ending with a slightly sweet music cue right before Luann has the common sense to say, “Ooh, no” after Kirk asks to get back together, but they don’t go through with it because doing so would neuter the rest of the episode. Kirk’s collapse, Luann’s renaissance, and Milhouse’s sadness and anger, none of them would retain the same kick (comedy or otherwise) if it turned out it was all for nothing.
Zombie Simpsons, of course, not only went with the ending that was already a cliche forty years ago, it crammed everything into the last few seconds after the plot literally wandered off the mainland. It didn’t make the scene with Milhouse any worse, but that’s only because it’s hard to see how it could get worse. The Simpsons knew how to let a scene speak for itself and how to deliver an ending that doesn’t undercut what came before.
“We can buy real periodic tables instead of these promotional ones from Oscar Mayer.” – Principal Skinner
“Now, who can tell me the atomic weight of baloneyium?” – Mrs. Krabappel
“Ooh, delicious!” – Martin Prince
“Correct. I would also accept snacktacular.” – Mrs. Krabappel