“Sweet, trusting Marge, I can’t let you down. I’ll get some money somehow. . . . Hello, Vegas? Gimme a hundred bucks on red. . . . D’oh! Alright, I’ll send you a check.” – Homer Simpson
It’s now officially mid-October and there has been no announcement from FOX or anyone else about next season. For most shows, that wouldn’t be an issue, but for Zombie Simpsons, which is wildly asynchronous with the rest of network television’s renew/cancel announcements, it’s very odd. Thanks to the show’s ancient pedigree and very long production schedule, the last couple of renewal announcements have come in early or mid-October. Well . . . it’s that time of year and we haven’t heard anything.
Complicating matters is the general laziness of the entertainment press. Last year we got the renewal announcement for Season 26 on October 4th. But that’s all we got. Unlike previous renewals, which bragged about the new episode total, all the press release said was that the show would be around for Season 26. And while plenty of sites reported “Simpsons renewed” none that I was able to find (then or now) contained an episode total. (Even The New York Times just wrote up the press release and didn’t ask any questions.)
The episode total is more important than the season number because, as I’ve said before, how the show ends is determined by the production runs, not the broadcast runs. For several years now, FOX has been ordering 22-episode production runs. The “SABF” run comprised most of Season 25, and its first few episodes have spilled into Season 26. Sometime soon, the “TABF” run will start being broadcast and will make up most of Season 26. This is all entirely normal.
However, since the copy and paste brigade that passes for entertainment journalism didn’t give us an episode total, it’s at least possible that instead of ordering a full 22-episode production run last year, FOX only ordered a shortened run that will end this spring instead of spilling over into next fall. If that’s the case, then we could see the end of the show in 2015.
Now, I don’t think that is the case and I don’t want to start any rumors that the show is finally going to end. Quite frankly, the opposite is more likely. Odds are that last year they ordered a full 22-episode TABF run, no reporters bothered to ask them for a total, and that the show is already de-facto renewed for at least a partial Season 27.
But the reason this time of year is important is because of the extraordinarily long lead time needed to create an episode. The show can’t wrap the finale the week before it’s broadcast and just send everyone home. Instead, the production will gradually shut down months ahead of time as new scripts stop being ordered and the final episodes wind their way through the animation process. In the age of Twitter and friends, there’s no way you could keep that secret, even for a little while.
So, we have a couple of interesting pieces of information:
1. It’s mid-October and there’s been no renewal announcement.
2. There was no confirmation that the TABF production run is a full 22-episodes. (At least that Google and I could find, anyway.)
3. The long production time of the show means that it’ll shut down months before the last broadcast.
Where does that leave us? It means that sometime in the next month or so we’ll either get a renewal announcement, a cancellation announcement, or another rumor heavy cluster fuck (a la 2011) about whether or not the show will stagger forward for another year or more. My money is on a renewal announcement (best predictor of future behavior being past behavior, and all that), but we are in a situation where it’s at least possible that we might hear otherwise in the near future.
Keep watching the skis.
[Update 2:08pm Eastern: Word from Caesar himself in comments: "TABF = full 22 order". Still looking for a renewal notice, but there will definitely be at least a partial Season 27.]