“Hi, I’m Troy McClure, you might remember me from such telethons as Out With Gout 88 and Let’s Save Tony Orlando’s House.” – Troy McClure
Tony Orlando turns 70 today. Happy birthday.
“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
“Oh, Kenny, look at the interplay of light and shadow. It’s so luminous and vibrant!” – Lisa Simpson
“Thanks, Lisa, I painted that one. The real one’s in my garage.” – Kenny the Museum Guard
If there is one topic on which Zombie Simpsons has a thorough and well practiced knowledge, it is imitating great art. That didn’t help them keep “The War of Art” from being a meandering, exposition filled wasteland, of course, but it does add a nice level of unintentional meta-irony that will help you through what passes for the third act. By the time Max von Sydow shows up to talk about the beauty of his forged work, there’s about four different subplots bumping along, two of which kind of even get resolved. In the meantime, it’s mostly yelling, some gasp inducing plot twists, and the now standard pages of exposition.
First Lisa gets a guinea pig, an opening act that is mostly filler occasionally punctuated by meaningless suspense. Then the Simpsons have to get a new painting for behind the couch. They buy one from the van Houtens, which turns out to be valuable, which in turn means that they could or could not split the money, which leads to disputes over ownership, which leads Homer and Lisa to an island resort with a brain rotting alcohol that I would dearly love to have been drinking while I watched this.
- No couch gag this week? They must have so much good stuff that they didn’t have time for it. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
- Homer is reading text we can clearly see on the screen. Zombie Simpsons, now with built in closed captioning.
- This guinea pig selection scene is going on so long that even the show got bored with it.
- This guinea pig escape/chase scene is also very long, but opts for sheer nonsense and fake suspense over repetition.
- We went through all that to get the painting ruined? Jebus.
- The fake Wikipedia table of contents is actually pretty good. It’s got sex, death, betrayal, poison and a more coherent story than the rest of the episode.
- Homer has been repeating the word “Whoa” for fifteen seconds now.
- It ended up going for twenty-six.
- As the same conversation bleeds into about an eighth scene, Marge straight up asks Homer how he feels about the plot.
- “And all I have to do is not say something about some painting to my Mom and Dad?” – Milhouse recapping what you’ve just seen for the umpteenth time.
- And, as if to underline what a waste of time all that was, the van Houtens show up right away and have a boring fight with Homer and Marge.
- This episode is so herky-jerky that they just moved the plot along by someone yelling, unironically, “Stop the auction!”.
- The auctioneer bears a disturbing resemblance to the guy who nicked some of Homer’s sugar pile.
- After a brief expository scene between Homer and a once-again-kicked-out-of-the-house Kirk, Marge explains to us what’s been happening . . . twice: “That painting has torn the town apart, destroyed Kirk and Luann’s marriage, and everyone’s very worried about Milhouse” and then, “That picture has brought out the worst in everyone!”.
- Oh, good, we’re on a tropical island and Lisa brought her guinea pig in a travel cage. Thought they forgot about that little guy, didn’t you?
- Man, this island has a massive oversupply of conveniently expository characters.
- One of whom quickly took Homer and Lisa back to his house! Seamless!
- Homer, trying to speed things up, “Then why did the auction house say it was real?” Nothing says good writing like directly asking a character we just met to explain everything as blandly as possible.
- Guh, this guy just keeps going on and on. Now he’s debating Lisa about beauty and art. Isn’t this show supposed to be a comedy?
- Max von Sydow narrating the history of “Strupo” over the credits has some actual jokes in it. I don’t often offer suggestions to Zombie Simpsons because there’s nothing worse than a back seat driver, but they maybe should’ve put some of those in his actual part.
Anyway, the ratings are in and they continue to be the kind of rock bottom we’ve come to expect from springtime Zombie Simpsons. Last night, just 3.93 million viewers wondered why kind of sloppy forgery of The Simpsons they were watching. That’s the fourth lowest total ever and means that six of the ten least watch, including #1-4, are all from this season.
“My turn: Kwyjibo, k, w, y, j, i, b, o. Twenty-two points, plus triple word score, plus fifty points for using all my letters, game’s over, I’m outta here.” – Bart Simpson
“Wait a minute, you little cheater. You’re not going anywhere until you tell me what a kwyjibo is.” – Homer Simpson
“Kwyjibo, uh, a big, dumb, balding North American ape, with no chin.” – Homer Simpson
“And a short temper.” – Marge Simpson
“I’ll show you a big dumb balding ape!” – Homer Simpson
“Uh-oh, kwyjibo on the loose!” – Bart Simpson
I put this up on Twitter this morning, but it is very much worth bringing up as often as possible. Hasbro, the company that currently owns Scrabble, is having a Facebook contest to add a new word to the game’s official dictionary. The leading “like”-getter at the moment is two different entries for “Kwyjibo”, the big, dumb, balding North American ape with no chin and a short temper. I want this to happen bad enough that I actually logged into the otherwise derelict Facebook page Mad Jon set up like four years ago to promote it. Sure it’s nice to have all those Simpsons words in the O.E.D., but what most people don’t realize is that the O.E.D. is the garbage dump of words. Anything that gets used by more than about four people gets put in. But Scrabble? That’s the dictionary people actually use, and since it’s beloved of vicious word nerds, it’s much more of coup. Plus, this raises the possibility, nay, certainty, that at some point in time, somewhere, someone will win a Scrabble game just like Bart did.
In addition to that, we’ve got several great lists this week, a very disturbing collection of images of what Homer would look like as a real person, a chance for you to win ten whole dollars for playing Tapped Out, several .gifs, the return of a couple of watch-em-all series, and lots more. Enjoy.
Scrabble Dictionary to Gain a New Word through Crowd-Sourcing - The gauntlet has been thrown down:
That’s KWYJIBO for 22 points, plus 50 for using all the letters and triple-word score. At least that’s what Bart Simpson claimed in Episode 2 of Season 1 of The Simpsons, “Bart the Genius.” Now, this word has been nominated for addition to the official dictionary for the word game Scrabble, the game the Simpsons were playing in the episode.
Merriam-Webster’s The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary will be updated with new words for the first time in nine years and Hasbro, maker of the popular word game, is hosting a Facebook contest ( http://bit.ly/scrabbblenominations!) to allow players and fans of the game to choose one of the words to be added in a contest billed as the Scrabble Word Showdown.
Several fans of the game have nominated KWYJIBO to be added to the dictionary. Among other nominations are: EW, GIGGITY, QUESO, ZOOT
You have to use Facebook (EW, indeed), but the top two suggestions right now are Kwyjibo, and if we can get Kwyjibo in the official Scrabble dictionary, I might finally be able to beat my cousin at it.
An Interview With Ira Brooker – Fantastic:
A few years ago I started writing an inventory of the 100 greatest influences on my sense of humor. I was going call it “Why I laugh?” which is, of course, a Simpsons quote. It eventually wound up being too big and abstract of a project for me to complete, but there was no question that The Simpsons would be in the number one slot. The only possible rival would be David Letterman, but as important as Dave was to my formative years, he never permeated my daily existence to nearly the degree that The Simpsons does even two decades beyond its heyday. I don’t think I could hope to pinpoint how those first eight seasons have influenced me. At this point they’re just woven into my being. It would be like trying to figure out what kind of influence speaking English has had on me.
Much more at the link.
Round 104: Last Exit to Springfield vs. The Cartridge Family – Whoops, I missed a week on these.
Old Money – Episode #030 – And Ash is back with the “DISCOUNT LION SAFARI!!!!”.
Cross-Blog Contest! Tapper of the Month – It’s telling that the blogs dedicated to Tapped Out are run much better than the game itself. They’ve got a contest running where all you have to do is send in your Springfield.
Jewish Top 10s: Simpsons Cameos - Excellent list (Nimoy #1!), though two picks from Zombie Simpsons keep it from being completely kosher. Why not Albert Brooks and Harvey Fierstein?
The Simpsons: 10 Best Mr Burns Moments - This is also a pretty good list, if for no other reason than there are a couple of decent .gifs and no Zombie Simpsons. But for the love of all that is pageviews, you have to click and load each fucking entry. I did, of course, but I can’t really recommend it.
Manual of Mischief review: Bart Simpson’s guide to pranks and gags - A review of a new book they put out.
Stain glass artist to come to Austria - Remember Joseph Cavalieri, the guy who did those amazing Simpsons stained glass pieces? Well, he’s still at it and he’s headed to Austria to teach people how to do similar stuff. Congratulations.
One Man’’s Trash Is Another Man’’s Pizza Box Art - Click through for the fan made box with an alternate universe Homer and Bart working at a pizza joint.
Realistic Homer Simpson Is Disgusting [7 Photos] - Things like this are why it’s best the show is a cartoon. They’re really well done, but very off putting.
Grow your own… heart, limb, or organ - Excellent usage:
In a classic episode of The Simpsons, Homer, ineffectual as usual, tries to steal snacks from a pair of vending machines by reaching his arms inside, only to end up completely stuck. When confronted with the possibility that sawing his arms off might be the only solution, he asks worriedly, “They’ll grow back, right?”
GIFs de la semaine : alors on danse ! – Lots of dancing .gifs, including depressed teenagers and Bart in a wig.
Futurama – The secret behind Philip J Fry – The Brannigan-Hartman-Fry connection spelled out in pictures.
What ‘The Simpsons’ Have Taught Us About Life, Part 2 – Another cromulent list.
Random Simpsons Screencap 3/17/14 – There’s no such thing as Scotchtoberfest!
My Top 8 Movie/TV Show Based Games – Hit & Run makes the list.
What if… – Heh.
Retrospective No. 35 The Simpsons Tapped Out – Somebody hates freemium almost as much as I do. Well done.
Drunk things to do in Dutch – Scroll to the bottom for a Smarch related heh.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! – A little YouTube for everyone but the gays and the Italians.
Best TV Comedies – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us . . . Batman style:
2. The Simpsons
It’s hard to watch what this show has become. It seems The Simpsons could’ve died a hero in 2000/2001, instead of seeing itself live long enough to become the villain that it is now.
“Mr. Burns, can you make me thin again?” – Homer Simpson
“I guarantee it. . . . One . . . one! . . . one! . . . Bah, I’ll just pay for the blasted liposuction!” – C.M. Burns
“Woo-hoo!” – Homer Simpson
The Simpsons always had an acknowledged and popular soft touch with big emotions. For all the craziness going on in the rest of the episode, they could deftly deliver both believably sweet moments and ones that packed real punch. The same show that has Marge finally snap at Bart’s selfishness and yell that he ruined Thanksgiving could also put Homer in a job he hates staring at his “Do It For Her” wall of Maggie pictures, miserable and happy at the same time.
Even small moments that aren’t pivotal to the plot play well, like Bart thanking his mom for sticking up for him as he runs off with his BB gun to Milhouse’s, or when Lisa and Marge quickly and silently bond over keeping Marge’s cash safe from Homer’s idiotic desire to burn it at Krusty’s stand up performance. Neither are big, emotional moments that define the story, but they’re still given that little flourish, partly because it makes the scene flow better, partly because that’s just who the characters are, and partly just because it can be funny.
As with so many other things, Zombie Simpsons is utterly tone deaf with small emotional moments. And since it always repeats something from The Simpsons, it’s easy to see how they can take the same emotion between the same two characters and make it much shabbier. In the case of “The Winter of His Content”, it’s a scene wherein Marge hesitantly confesses that she’s starting to become less enamored of her husband.
It’s a weak scene in a weak episode, with Marge confiding to Patty & Selma (or at least trying to) about Homer acting like an old man. The scene, in its entirety, consists of Marge describing things Homer does while we see him do them, then Patty asks her to say she’s no longer attracted to him, to which Marge simply replies “Maybe”. It’s played as sad, and, as is standard with Zombie Simpsons, it has basically no connection to the rest of the episode. It’s the first time we see Marge act with real worry and it’s the last time we see Marge at all until the very last scene after everything has worked itself out.
It’s just a quick little emotional moment. But in addition to being left awkwardly unsupported by the rest of the episode, it also trivializes one of the core elements of the show: Marge’s loving but completely irrational attraction of Homer. At this point, Homer acting like an old man barely rates a 3.0 on the Captain Wacky Scale and they’ve not only got Marge acting like he’s jeopardizing everything, but they also drop the subject for literally the rest of the plot. It’s the emotional equivalent of telling someone that you have six months to live and then neither of you asking or offering any more on the subject. It’s just weird.
You can tell it’s serious because Marge takes up only a small part of the shot and looks slightly gassy.
Compare that to the same sentiment in “King-Size Homer”, when Marge makes it perfectly clear that she’s not playing around by saying: “Con, I’m finding myself less attracted to you physically.” It’s a much more personal and appropriate line than “Maybe” because it’s the exact kind of thing Marge would say (stern but phased as gently as possible) and it fits with the gravity of what’s being portrayed.
Besides being a much better line, it’s also tied into the rest of the episode, both before and after. The first time they bring it up is when Homer reveals to Marge his plan to get fat enough for disability and promptly blows off her objections, still too enamored of his plan to listen:
Marge: Have you thought about your health, or your appearance?
Homer: Oh, so that’s it, isn’t it, Marge? Looks. I didn’t know you were so shallow.
Marge: Oh, please, I would love you if you weighed one thousand pounds!
Homer: Beautiful! Good night.
When she brings it up again at her pro and con session in the kitchen, the groundwork for a quick but sincere emotional moment has been done. She raises the stakes by telling him quite seriously that she’s losing it for him and Homer ups them further by acting defiant instead of feigning ignorance.
Up close and personal, we can see the real doubt and pain on her face. Shit is getting real.
That buildup works so well that the final time this serious emotion is raised, it doesn’t require a single word of dialogue between the two. The main plot is fat Homer saving the plant from his own lazy stupidity, and when that’s over and Burns asks if there’s anything Homer wants, Homer and Marge need only share a look.
Even just drawn with simple lines, her face says it all.
In neither episode is this vital emotional risk the key to the story. But Zombie Simpsons treats it like a single scene afterthought where – wham! – Homer and Marge are back and happy because that’s just how things were always going to go. The Simpsons, on the other hand, made that risk an important part of the ending without even uttering a word. It’s the kind of thing you can only do if you take it seriously enough to weave it into the entire episode instead of just tossing it off in a scene that didn’t even need to be there.
“Your cholesterol level is lethally high, but I’m more concerned about your gravy level.” – Dr. Hibbert
“Now, wait a second, you doctors have been telling us to drink eight glasses of gravy a day.” – Homer Simpson
“You’re a little confused.” – Dr. Hibbert
“Oh, confused, would we?” – Homer Simpson