Archive for the 'Simpsons' Category

30
Sep
14

Behind Us Forever: Clown in the Dumps

Homer Goes to College15

“My first day of college.  I wish my father was alive to see this.” – Homer Simpson
“Hey!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“How long have you been back there?” – Homer Simpson
“Three days.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

(Sorry for not getting this up yesterday.  The day got away from me.)

Season 26 picked up right where season 25 left off: a time eating guest couch gag, many needlessly self voiced celebrities, characters explaining how they feel and what they’re doing, and plenty of other boring nonsense.  The A-plot was about Krusty being sad and involved the much hyped character death, which turned out to be the nothingburger we all expected.  (The fact that the media is so easily and repeatedly trolled by Zombie Simpsons may be the funniest thing about the show these days.)

The B-plot was about Lisa being worried about Homer’s health all of a sudden.  We know this because she basically narrates the whole thing for us, including how she’s feeling and the ending that was already nonsensical before the school bus crashes into the Simpson back yard.

- Count me among those who generally like the guest couch gags.  It’s nice to get something new and interesting, and since the writing staff doesn’t have to do any plot or dialogue, they’re often very decent.  But this one was pretty bad.  It was a decent concept and had a neat look to it, but it took way too long given how little actually happened and how repetitive the images were.

- This popcorn thing is really dumb.  It was also done much, much better in “Realty Bites”.

- “Cheap to Produce” was at least quick.

- Ugh, this Wiggum crime photo thing.  I thought the Family Guy stuff was going to be during their episode.

- Hey, look: crappy jokes, self voiced celebrities, and canned laughter.

- “Nobody warned me this roast would treat me the same way as every roast I’ve seen and laughed at.” – Unnecessary exposition rolled up with a cheap excuse for the idiot nonsense they just made us sit through.  Stuff like this really demonstrates how much the show has deteriorated.  Krusty knows what a roast is.  It’d be fine to have the roast get to him, bum him out, etc.  Instead, he acts depressed and surprised from the get go because Heaven forefend characters and the story might move along in reaction to what happens rather than just because.

- That swapper joke could’ve been funny if it had made sense.

- Hey, look, Bart just showed up out of nowhere to tell Krusty what to do.  Seamless.

- This is certainly a pointless death scene.

- And now it’s time for a funeral that improbably includes the Simpson family.

- Hey, the B-plot showed up.  I’ll let Lisa explain, “Dad, I’m worried about your health.  I don’t want to lose you.”

- Remember when they only included Sideshow Bob when they had something really great and fun to do?  Long time ago, that.

- “No mimes!” is a decent sign gag.

- And “The elephant and I had our differences” is pretty good.  It’s also short, understated, and unexplained.  Not a coincidence.

- Is it technically an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon if Itchy’s not in it?

- Oh, for fuck’s sake, “Kids, I’m experiencing a crisis of conscious.”

- This is a cruel waste of Maurice LaMarche as the TV critic.

- Lisa’s back to explain what’s happening in the B-plot again.

- Did David Hyde Pierce just wander past the recording room one day?  That might have been even more pointless than the Sideshow Bob cameo.

- Past Krusty shows were a lot better when they were about collective bargaining agreements.

- Similarly, Krusty’s binges used to be more fun.  They even had the Stanley Cup.

- “Krusty, have you fulfilled the promise you made to your father in the dream you never told anyone about?”  Even by their cheat standards that’s lazy.  They weren’t even painted into a corner or anything, they just can’t move things forward without explicitly telling us what’s going on.  Then Bart appeared out of nowhere.

- And now Homer is wrapped in bubble wrap, then there was a car crash and then Lisa explained, out loud, how she was feeling for the fifth time or so.  Mercifully, this B-plot is now over.

- Bart apparently knew who Krusty’s dad’s favorite rabbi was.  No, it doesn’t make any sense.  But at least it was short.

- Oof, the “Jewish Heaven” song is really weak.  There are like three lyrics, most of which are just “Jewish Heaven”, and the rest is just visual references of famous Jews.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are much improved.  Last night, 8.50 million people lost hope after the FXX marathon reminded them how good the show once was.  That’s way up from last year’s premier, though at least some of that is attributable to the Eagles-49ers game.  It’ll be curious to see whether or not that holds up next week when FOX doesn’t have a late NFL game.  Was it mostly football, or did all that hype actually make a few million people want to start watching the show again?

26
Sep
14

Reading Digest: Flock of Vultures and Parasites Edition

Kamp Krusty19

“Is it true you attempted suicide when you heard the news?” – Vulture #1
“Are you and Princess Di just friends?” – Vulture #2
“You people make me sick!  You’re vultures!  Where were you when I sang at Farm Aid?  Out of my way, you parasites!  I said out of my way!” – Krusty the Klown

This week we’ve got four (count’ em four!) links to Vulture, which is doing yeoman’s work to promote the new season of Zombie Simpsons, which starts, ugh, on Sunday.  The first one is by far the most interesting, but all of them have their moments, even if those moments serve as yet more evidence that nobody cares about Zombie Simpsons.

Other than that, this is a pretty short Reading Digest because the ever obsequious entertainment press is pimping both the Family Guy crossover and this goofy stunt about a character dying as hard as they possibly can.  There’s no point to any of it, so I didn’t link any of it.  There are some other lists and .gifs and the usual what-have-you, of course, but the marketing machine was at full power this week and that always screws up the signal-to-noise ratio.

Enjoy.

David Silverman on 8 Early Simpsons Sketches – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this guided tour of some very early sketches, including from “Bart the Genius”, “Life on the Fast Lane”, and a Butterfinger commercial.  Really cool.

Simpsons Showrunners on the ‘Classic Era’ Myth – The headline for this interview with Jean, Mirkin and Selman is a little misleading in that they only mention their “myth” a little near the end.  As per usual, the Soviet fiction of “the show is still good” is officially maintained while almost all the examples they cite are from single digit seasons.  The intro even contains this:

Matt Selman is arguably the greatest Simpsons writer of the latter seasons, and many of the newer episodes on our list of the 100 best were written or co-showrun by him.

Talk about damning with faint praise!

28 Simpsons Quotes Every Fan Must Know – Our next Vulture link pretty much proves what I’m talking about above.  There are 28 quotes.  One (1) is from Zombie Simpsons (and it’s Season 16, which ain’t exactly recent in its own right).

Hank Azaria on 5 of His Many Simpsons Voices – And our final link from them is Azaria talking about some of the voices he does.  There’s nothing really new here, but it’s kinda neat, and he repeats what he’s said before about how he really has no new voices to do, whereas he used to do tons of new ones.

“Land of Chocolate” by Alf Clausen – Fear Alf Clausen’s terrible gaze:

Hank Azaria As Chief Wiggum Sings “Let It Go” – Azaria went on the Conan O’Brien show and they talked about the Hollywood Bowl thing.

Miley Cyrus Wears Her Love Of ‘The Simpsons’ On Her Sleeve—You Can, Too – I feel dirty just for linking to this, but it’s an MTV link about a (probably paid promotional) celebrity selfie to flog Itchy & Scratchy pajamas.  MTV is so naked about their sales job that they actually wrote this:

Drop Dead has developed a boutique Itchy & Scratchy Show collection in conjunction with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products featuring iconic Simpsons characters.

The name “MTV News” has never been synonymous with high journalistic standards (or really, any journalistic standards), but I find it hilarious that they actually bothered to use the full name “Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products”.  Did they copy and paste it directly from the press e-mail they got?

Kevin Cuneo: Golden age of ‘Simpsons’ flew by – A columnist old enough to have kids in their 20s laments the death of the show.  Please refer to this the next time someone tells you people outgrew the show and that’s why they say it sucks now.  This guy was an adult from start to finish, and he can see how crappy the new ones are.

‘The Simpsons’ Outfit Grids by Bryan Espritu – Nice touch giving Barney his jumbo thong bikini.

The City of New York Vs. Homer Simpson, 17 Years Later: Gothamist – A quick look back at the Twin Towers episode that morons pulled from syndication for a few years.

10 of Our Favorite Quotes from ‘The Simpsons’ – Nary a trace of Zombie Simpsons, and plenty of good YouTube.

Our 10 Favorite Simpsons Moments – From the same site as the above, there is a Zombie Simpsons one in here, but it’s surrounded by the acknowledgement that it was a “bad era”.

The Simpsons Family Book Comes Out Next Week! – There is a new reference book.  That is all.

Round 127: Love, Springfieldian Style vs. Homer Goes to College – First up, Nebel’s exclusive interview with the Pope.

New trending GIF tagged the simpsons homer simpson… – A reversed one of Homer’s attempt at breakfast catching fire.

New trending GIF tagged the simpsons money make… – Money fight!

New trending GIF tagged the simpsons surprised homer… – The suckers’ll think it’s beer nuts.

Culture Shock Part II: The things you watch – I learned something today:

While consuming my regular intake of The Simpsons (Les Simpsons) I noticed another thing that brought up some questions about French broadcasting. The good ole’ Duff beer Homer J. Simpson was enjoying was blurred out! What the Duff!? After raising the question of why, I was informed that in France there is no alcohol promotion allowed whatsoever.

The Simpsons Took the Bowl – And finally, one last recap of the Hollywood Bowl show, one that happens to agree with us:

I was fairly worried that if they were trying to encapsulate the last 25 years of the show, I might be bored during the numbers I didn’t know, but if there was a song created on the show in the last ten years, I didn’t hear it. What I did hear were most of the greats over the show’s early run.

No, I’m not still jealous, why do you ask?

19
Sep
14

Reading Digest: Everybody Else Went to the Show Edition

Itchy and Scratchy - The Movie7

“How was it?” – Bart Simpson
“It wasn’t that great.” – Lisa Simpson
“Be honest.” – Bart Simpson
“It was the greatest movie I’ve ever seen in my life!” – Lisa Simpson

This week we’ve got lots of links to those lucky bastards who got to see the Hollywood Bowl show last week, many of them with cool pictures.  Sure, YouTube is better than nothing, but it’s a poor substitute for the real thing.  In addition to that, we’ve got a bunch of .gifs, Duffman in the big leagues, a couple of disappointing lists, and a huge Sam Simon profile.

Enjoy.

D’OH! Eat my shorts! Ha-ha! Don’t have a cow, man! Ay, caramba! – Looking at the long history of the show and its influences on subsequent cartoons.

How The Simpsons Co-Creator Sam Simon Is Facing His Own Tragedy – A full blown writeup of Sam Simon’s life in Vanity Fair.  It’s chock full of stuff like this:

“I’m the best contract negotiator in the world,” he says. “But I had help. I had lawyers and stuff. Relative to the average person Don King negotiates with, I think we were bringing somewhat of an advantage to the situation.” Sam laughs as he recalls a memorable dinner with Don King at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills. “So, I call the lawyer in, and we start talking about a contract to join the stable of fighters that Don King promotes and hopefully to get a shot at the heavyweight championship of the world. We negotiated for three and a half hours, running back and forth, making Xerox copies in the lobby. I just remember how thick the thing was; even though it was only about eight or nine pages, there’s so much sweat from people handing it back and forth and all the scribbling and initialing. Anyway, Don King says, ‘O.K., we have a deal. And I’m going to have my lawyers type up everything that we’ve discussed. So: Here. Sign the bottom of this blank piece of paper. And let me get all three of your signatures. And then I will have everything else typed in above it.’ ”

Sam laughs. Hard.

Graphs of every word used on The Simpsons (Also: all other TV and movies) – There is a link at the bottom to a tool dedicated to just The Simpsons.

Hank Azaria: Simpsons, Ray Donovan Star on His First Time in Variety – An interesting little interview with Azaria about his career.  The drawing of him at the top is also pretty cool.

90s Cartoon Party by Makomali – Cool fan made drawing of various 90s cartoon characters.

Possibly The Best Simpsons GIF – I don’t know if it’s the best, but an old tape of Homer, Lenny and Carl working is pretty good.

The Simpsooooons – Pictures and an account of the Hollywood Bowl show.

The Simpsons Take the Bowl at the Hollywood Bowl last night was so amazing – Lots of pictures and video and one gigantic donut.

Highlights – Great picture of the start of the show, even getting the sign in the background.

Guest Post – The Simpsons Hollywood Bowl Show! – Another write up by some lucky person.

The 6 most memorable moments from ‘The Simpsons’ Hollywood Bowl concert – And the official write up from Entertainment Weekly.

My Absolute Favorite Video on Youtube of All Time – Heh:

There’s just so much purity in this moment. It’s my ‘plastic bag flowing in the wind’

Trambapoline!

Tee 452 – Clever Homer/Jaws shirt.

Lisa Simpson Loses Out in Mensa Poll – Bart is the favorite of people who belong to Mensa, the group for people with low self esteem.

The NFL Simpsonized – Some NFL players in yellow.  Nice of them to have Jay Cutler smoking.

Dear Baby: You Need To Sleep Now – Heh:

I guess you just have to do your best in making your baby comfortable. Unfortunately, sometimes that means being awake at all hours of the night. Remember that episode of the Simpson’s where Homer’s brother (did you remember he had a brother?) invents that machine that can translate baby talk into English? Someone needs to get on making that a reality. Now.

New trending GIF on Giphy – Milhouse being literally labeled “Fat”.

New trending GIF on Giphy – Homer thinking.

New trending GIF on Giphy – Ha ha, you love me.

Crazy Cat Lady Begin – Fan poem that ends with the beginning of Crazy Cat Lady.  Neat.

Matt Duffy of the Giants Has Duffman on the Ends of His Bats – Cool:

MattDuffyBats

5 Things The Simpsons Predicted – The Yard Work Simulator has come terrifyingly true.

‘The Simpsons’ star Yeardley Smith heads to ‘The Mindy Project’ – Everything there is to know is in the headline.

Return To The Idiotbox! – Four Cartoons That Are Great To Revisit As An Adult – The show comes in at a mere #3.

The Top 10 Lists: Top 10 Cartoons (Part 1) – And #6 here.

12
Sep
14

Reading Digest: Live Concert Edition

SpringfieldBowl

“Devilishiously satirical!  I wonder if anyone else got that?” – Dr. Hibbert
“We’re out of here!” – Homer Simpson

That very cool Hollywood Bowl show is this weekend.  I won’t be able to attend, but if any of you fine Simpsons fans out there make the trip, please let us know.  (I’d be happy to post pictures, an account, what have you.)  In more provincial news, I saw my first Halloween display in a store this week, and I thought, “wow, that’s pretty early”, then when I was going through WordPress tags for this week’s post I came across tons of spam sites selling Homer costumes, Bart costumes, Radioactive Man costumes, Duffman/woman costumes, etc.  I guess it’s already that time of year.

In regular news, Simpsons stuff is getting back to normal, though we still have a couple of people writing and reminiscing about the marathon.  In addition to that, there’s new shoes, Duff Beer getting banned in Australia, the theme song covered by Ohio State’s marching band, and much more.

Enjoy.

A Day In The Life Of Simpsons Quotes – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this day long diary of all the Simpsons quotes that go through someone’s head.  I think many of us can relate.  (Also, thanks for the nice mention.)

Fireworks Finale: The Simpsons Take the Bowl – Some PR agency sent me the little press kit for their series of concerts at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend.  That’s the ticket link, and it looks like a blast.  I’m particularly intrigued by this under the “Artists” section:

Kipp Lennon

Nancy Cartwright singing “Lisa It’s Your Birthday” with Lennon would be pretty fucking cool.  Come on, YouTube, don’t let me down!

‘The Simpsons’ Marathon Ratings Prove The Animated Series Is Here To Stay; EP Al Jean Comments On Massive Success For FXX – I still have no way to watch FXX, but these could be fun from time to time:

FXX, who according to Saftler is planning one day marathons in the future (including a Halloween marathon of every “Treehouse of Horror”), should be able to profit from “The Simpsons” for a long time.

The Halloween episodes are an obvious candidate, as are whole seasons, but if I were them I’d be thinking along the lines of all the flashback episodes, episodes with classic Itchy & Scratchy bits, episodes written by Jon Vitti or Jeff Martin, and things like that.  Also, too, this is yet another reminder that the business press is just as incurious and obsequious as the entertainment press; they cite the syndication deal as $750 million authoritatively, but their link just speculates about the number.  Just like with the voice actors’ salaries, repeating a number doesn’t make it true and the real one is a tightly held secret that nobody involved would ever want public.

‘The Simpons’ Marathon: FXX Sets 8-Episode, Music-Themed Marathon – Looks like they got started last night:

Just as America is recovering from FXX’s recent 12-day marathon of every episode of the “The Simpsons,” the cabler has set an eight-episode, music-themed marathon of the cartoon, beginning at 8 p.m. on Sept. 11.

Since this marathon is “songs created by the show”, there’s nothing after Season 8.

Australia Bans Sale of ‘The Simpsons’ Duff Beer – Oh, well:

However, the Alcohol Policy Coalition complained about the fictional beer to the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code adjudication panel in June, claiming that Duff beer is very popular with children and adolescents, and therefore might draw their attention to it.
“The association of The Simpsons with the product name and packaging is so strongly entrenched in Australian popular culture that the name and packaging will draw the attention of under 18 year olds,” the panel wrote on its decision on Tuesday.

When Will ‘The Simpsons’ End? FXX Marathon Raises Series Finale Date Question – I don’t know when the show is going to end anymore than anyone else does, but people, professors of pop culture included, seem weirdly focused on numerology to me:

But Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University told IBTimes that the show will have to end sometime. “[The end of 'The Simpsons'] is going to have to happen sooner rather than later,” predicts Thompson. “It’s not going to go another 26 seasons.” Thompson guesses the powers that be of “The Simpsons” may be trying to hit 30 seasons before they call it quits, saying “30 seems to be one of those numbers that has some magical tradition behind it,” but he says no one could fault the show at this point for ending at any time.

It was the same with the last renewal, when people were saying things like “25 seasons seems like a good number”.  As mentioned above, I do not know when the show will end, but the ruthless people in charge of that decision won’t be factoring “that’s a nice number” into their thinking.

Can a China Deal Breathe New Life into ‘The Simpsons?’ – There’s now a streaming deal for China.  I’m sure all the writers and staff will be properly compensated.

*The Simpsons Theme* – Ten favorite Simpsons quotes.  There’s some famous ones on there as well as some old fashioned silliness, “Bake him away, toys!”.  Heh.

Watch Ohio State’s Marching Band Cover ‘The Simpsons,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ Themes – The Simpsons theme starts at the 1:40 mark:

Converse x The Simpsons Pack – Fall/Winter 2014 – New Converse shoes appear to just be a regular thing now.  Shoe fiends, prepare to be separated from your money.

Automobiles Of The Future. – “Well, Jimmy, that’s a Homer, only the prototype was ever made.”

KSK Mock Draft: The Next NFL Commissioner – I’d vote for the Rod to replace the Rog.

The Patients NO Doctor Likes – Oof, this would be bad:

-The Abe Simpson- For those of you who are unversed in The Simpsons, grandfather Abe is a character who tells pointless stories, and these patients do the same thing. You will get sucked into a ten minute diatribe about something that you assume is relevant only to find out that they have lured you down a rabbit hole into a vortex of nothingness. THEY don’t even remember the point to their story. I once listened to a fifteen minute account of a women’s relationship with her Welsch Corgi. I incorrectly assumed this was going somewhere with her medical condition, maybe flea infestation, or worms or something, but NO, it went nowhere. Later I found out that the Corgi had been dead for six years, and we still hadn’t discussed anything about her medical condition.

The Simpsons Casting Couch – This actually is bad, but I chuckled.

The Simpsons Life – Cool fan poem.

Adventure Time Syrup, Independent Thought Alarm Button – I have friends who are teachers, I would definitely buy them an Independent Thought Alarm gag gift.

LisaSimpsonStudent – This list of Lisa episodes goes way too deep into Zombie Simpsons for my taste, but there are some very good ones listed as well.  I am slightly disheartened by the lack of “Lisa’s Pony” or “Lisa the Greek”, but that’s just me.

D’OH – Heh.

Póngalo en la H / Put it in H – That would be the car they had in mind.

How Do *You* Like to Party? – Excellent reference:

While I was thinking about potential party and promo ideas, and trying to tie elements of the party into the book, I remembered that for most of the book, Denny carries a shotgun, and it kind of becomes an iconic weapon for her. Then, unfortunately, because my mind inevitably slips into Simpsons references, I pictured Homer out in front of the bowling alley with a shotgun… Bowling! Get your bowling here!
I have a feeling that this marketing plan would attract record numbers of police and fire officials, but few would stay to purchase books.

You’ll never know till you try.

D’oh! – A personal essay about the show that plenty of us can relate to:

So the question is “What do I owe The Simpsons?”. Well, to be honest, probably more than even I realize. It was the first thing that I can really remember immersing myself in; it was the first time that I felt like something was mine. The very foundation of my sense of humor is cemented in the early Conan O’ Brien, John Swartzwelder episodes, marked by absurd but engaging situations, and witty dialogue. It was the first time in my short life that I was able to see something and then try to mold myself from that model in emulation of it. I think everyone of us has that at some point in our childhood, and I think it’s a pretty big psychological development. It represents cognizance, analysis, and repetition, but also a degree of self-awareness since you have to be aware that you’re trying to change your behavior, or yourself in order to emulate, or replicate some external stimuli. For me, that stimuli was The Simpsons, and for this I owe the Simpson family, and Matt Groening a Duff.

Daddy Duty: Homer Simpson – Someone dads can relate to – Columnist loves the show, doesn’t mention the decline, cites only episodes from single digit seasons, yeah, this is one of those.

C. Montgomery Burns’ Handbook of World Domination Book Review – Sounds nice.

When did ‘The Simpsons’ go downhill? – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us, this time in the Kankakee, Illinois Daily Journal:

Before the marathon, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you exactly when the show went downhill. Now I can tell you that it was probably in season 12 (I missed season 11, so it could have been then, too. Many critics point to this time as the start of the downfall).

[...]

I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that at some point, the characters became almost caricatures of their worst traits. Now, Marge is not much more than the nagging wife, Lisa the sanctimonious vegetarian, Bart the troublemaker, Homer the drunken buffoon. They’re not as nuanced as they once were, and they’re definitely lacking a lot of the humanity they once had.
There’s also the matter of the millions of guest stars. The later episodes are too focused on cameos from whoever is popular that millisecond, and the writers are more interested in sucking up to the celebrities, instead of parodying them.
For instance, in the “Lisa Goes Gaga” episode in season 23, Lisa learns from guest star Lady Gaga that’s important to be true to yourself, which, yawn. I was unaware “The Simpsons” had turned into “Sesame Street.”

Heh, too true.  Too true.

05
Sep
14

Reading Digest: Weak Defenses of Zombie Simpsons Edition

ITried

“I think Lisa needs to feel a little special tonight.  How about letting her ride up front too?” – Marge Simpson
“Eh, I tried.” – Homer Simpson

As was inevitable as soon as FXX decided to run the marathon consecutively, instead of something more humanitarian like banishing Zombie Simpsons to the unemployable alcoholic angry loner hours, there have been some defenses of Zombie Simpsons cropping up in the last few days.  To start things off, we’ve got three of those, followed by another overflowing pile of other great stuff.  We’ve got several links to fan art, lots of people reminiscing about the show, a woman who kept her Maggie doll for twenty-four years, and lists and lists and lists of episodes, most of which wouldn’t don’t even mention Zombie Simpsons.

Enjoy.

To start, here are three professional defenses of Zombie Simpsons, in decreasing order of both quality and defensiveness of Zombie Simpsons (that’s not a coincidence):

Extend Your Simpsons Marathon Buzz With These Videos: Gothamist – This one is very solid and is also Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week despite citing some truly awful episodes as “gems”.  For starters, there is a metric ton of good YouTube here, including that great Conan O’Brien discussion with the old writers, The Longest Daycare, and some other stuff.  Closer to my heart is this:

Despite our reservations, we have truly enjoyed this chance to catch up a bit on the so-called “Zombie Simpsons” era, the not-so-affectionate term Simpsons aficionados use for the show post-season 12.

They didn’t give us a link, which I was a little miffed about at first.  Especially because the author goes on to inadvertently cite the two big reasons the show went to hell (writer turnover and that march of time) before basically agreeing with the central premise of “Zombie Simpsons”, namely that it and The Simpsons aren’t the same show:

The show is certainly not the same as it used it (which you can blame on changes in the writing room, or just a byproduct of the inexorable march of time and commerce upon an hit animated television show), and the later seasons don’t touch the first decade (they don’t exist in the same universe, truly)

But then it occurred to me that it’s actually better that we’re not linked because that means the term is catching!  Everything is falling into place and all I have to do is take the ice scraper, road maps, and jade monkey out of my glove box before the next full moon.

Sorry haters, The Simpsons is still really good – Thanks to the five or so people who sent me this misleadingly headlined Vox article.  Why misleading?  Well, try this:

Yes, the show repeats itself a fair amount, but it would be hard for it not to. And, yes, the show has sort of lost a point-of-view character, as its writers have aged past first the Simpson kids and then even the Simpson parents. Many stories in its later years tend to be along the lines of “Can you believe things are this way?!” and have the tone of a particularly perturbed anecdote in the “Life in These United States” feature in Reader’s Digest.

There’s more tepid praise and “to be sure” type statements at the link, so “Sorry haters” isn’t exactly justified by the actual text.

It’s also worth pointing out that the two videos he embeds are about as far from your run of the mill Zombie Simpsons episode as it’s possible to get.  One was the Guillermo del Toro opening, which they had basically nothing to do with.  The other was from the Lego episode, which was their most lovingly produced and hyped episode in a very long time, and still sucked worse than Season 11.

The Simpson’s Maude Flanders Isn’t as Good as She Seems – And finally, we come to our old friend MovieBob, last seen around these parts making wild assumptions without any evidence to back them up.  Well, matters haven’t changed much.  He spends half his post coming to the realization that Maude was kind of an authoritarian and praising her character for being better than he remembers, then noting that she dies in Season 11 . . . you know, when Zombie Simpsons finally took over.  More amusing, is this:

It also helps put to lie the “Zombie Simpsons” fallacy — the notion of a seismic downward-shift in quality. There are good episodes as recently as last season, and entries from the infallible “classic” era that don’t really hold up. (Mr. Burns sexually-harassing Marge in Marge Gets a Job, Season 4 Episode 7? Not really that funny outside of the let’s-kidnap-Tom-Jones business at the end.)

First of all, this word “fallacy”, it requires some evidence to back it up.  MovieBob doesn’t cite a single episode that he thinks is good.  He’s welcome to think what he likes, of course, but not even naming a single one doesn’t do his argument any favors.  Instead, he takes a quick dump on “Marge Gets a Job”, an episode I cannot recall anyone else ever calling bad.  Who doesn’t like Troy McClure’s Half-Assed Guide to Foundation Repair, The Spruce Caboose, and, of course, the Angel of Death on funny hat day, to name but a few?  Just as importantly, it ranks dead in the middle of the stellar Season 4 on IMDb’s episode guide.  That’s called “evidence”, and if you’re going to use the word “fallacy” it helps to have some.  (Thanks for the link, though.)

TV Legends Revealed | Did No ‘Simpsons’ Fan Correctly Guess Who Shot Mr. Burns? – Interesting backstory and a reminder that 1-800-Collect was a strange, strange thing.

Bart Club street art on a San Diego corner. – Some great pictures of various Bart versions on things.  The four-eyed banana Bart is particularly memorable.

The 20 Greatest Musical Moments On The Simpsons – These are songs the show created not band guest appearances, so there’s no Zombie Simpsons.

Cropping The Simpsons and The Wire – The genius of the standard #Slatepitch article has always been its ability to generate responses.  (Also, too, please don’t fuck up The Wire.)

Why We Love The Simpsons’ Music So Much – The marketing for next weekend’s show at the Hollywood Bowl is ramping up, and this L.A. Weekly article has a nice little story about when Elfman met Groening and how Elfman wrote the theme:

“As soon as I saw the sequence, I heard the ‘bah-bah-bah-BUM-bah-bah-bah…’ ” he says. “I drove home really fast because I didn’t want to lose it. I ran down the steps of my studio and I made a cassette, and sent it out the same day. That demo was, essentially, The Simpsons theme. There is some great cosmic irony that it’s the quickest and most easily conceived job of my life, and it became probably the most famous thing I ever wrote.”

Growing Up with Bart Simpson – Yet another appreciation of the show, this one at Newsweek Jr., that walks right up to the line of saying the show sucks now before backing off.  Of course, all examples cited are from early seasons.

Homer Simpson’s 10 Most Memorable Non-Power Plant Jobs On ‘The Simpsons’ – Our old friend John Hugar cites no examples from past Season 10.  Bravo.

Favorite “Simpsons” episodes – One from Season 12 makes the cut, but nothing after.  It’s almost like nobody likes Zombie Simpsons.

Repost: In honor of the Every Simpsons Ever Marathon my list of the Best.Episodes.Ever – There are 126 episodes on here, and almost no Zombie Simpsons.

Infographic: A Statistical Break-d’oh-n Of The 25 Types of “Simpsons” Episodes – That’s a pretty cool graphic, but since it basically shows that there never were any “Bart” years, you’d think the intro wouldn’t repeat that fallacy.  (See what I did there?)

The Glue – There’s only a small bit in this Phil Hartman article about the show, but it is a great read.  I didn’t know he was the oldest rookie cast member of SNL ever.

D’oh! It’s Throwback Thursday. – There’s a lot of stuff this week, I know, but this picture of a girl with her precious Maggie doll in 1990 and of her still with it in 2014 is pretty damned cool.  Excellent.

10 Facts About The Best ‘Simpsons’ Writer Ever, John Swartzwelder – Mostly culled from Twitter, but are pretty good.

(b)Art Critic – The Simpsons Class it up With Art Show – There is some great stuff here, especially the Itchy & Scratchy Land movie poster.

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times: Celebrating ‘The Simpsons’ at 25 – Yet another retrospective with plenty of reasons why the show was great.

#EverySimpsonsEver: Steve Sax remembers his appearance on ‘Homer At The Bat’ – Heh:

[I thought], “We’ve arrived.” You get to do The Simpsons, man. Let me tell you what. I get to do speaking, right. I speak at different places all over the country. When the question-and-answer period comes up, it’s not about, “Hey, what was it like hitting against Clemens?,” or, “What was it like in the World Series?” It’s like, “Hey, man, was it fun on The Simpsons?” That’s what everybody asks me still. I get more acclaim for The Simpsons than anything.

The Simpsons… – Simpson family heads done in Lego.  Maggie and Homer are great.

WWLSR: Seasons 10-12 – Lisa’s books from the last good years.

A Bomb in the Lasagna: How Will We Remember “The Simpsons?” – An interesting question:

Will The Simpsons be a show defined by specific eras, or will it be taken as a whole; as one massive, culture satirizing and culture defining megalith?

My guess would be that as long as Zombie Simpsons is still on the air, it will be thought of as a contemporary show, for the simple reason that they can always plug in the latest pop culture fad/star/whatever.  Once the show finally ends, however, much of that will fade as the references become stale and all we’ll be left with are the ones that don’t lean on contemporary pop culture (you know, The Simpsons).

11 ‘Simpsons’ marathon episodes you should watch this week – These episodes are atrocious and not worth watching, but the existence of a list like this in Entertainment Weekly is yet another piece of evidence that they are two vastly different shows.

I Caught Yellow Fever: My 12 Days Through FXX’s Simpson’s Marathon – I suppose burnout is one reason to stop paying attention as the marathon got into double digit seasons.  Of course, that there really weren’t any old favorites left to view might have had something to do with it as well.

DJ and His Every Simpsons Ever Marathon – Good point:

And one of my biggest fears was watching those older episodes, but FXX’s promo for this, and accompanying commercial extensions catering to the series and their supporting cast of characters (like this amazing piece of work) drew me towards breaking my old episode trepidations. One of the underrated, yet important occurrences found during this was the how much I laughed. I wasn’t expecting to get as many laughs as I did, perhaps given I’m watching at the age of 24 compared to watching a lot of these episodes (seen before or not) at 12, 13 or 14. There are a plethora of moments I literally laugh out loud at by myself when I’m either walking around at work or at the the grocery store, like this absolute gem.

A few characters from The Simpsons – Cool fan made CGI renderings of some characters, with great tented fingers on Burns.

The Simpsons: The 10 Simpsons episodes worth tuning in for – And no Zombie Simpsons, because why would there be?

Couch Potato: My Favorite “The Simpsons” Episodes! – Also contains no Zombie Simpsons, and puts “Homer Badman” as the all time favorite.

20 Mr. Burns-Centric ‘Simpsons’ Episodes Everyone Should Know – No Zombie Simpsons?  Why?  Because Zombie Burns is an incompetent softie.

A Blind Spot the size of “The Simpsons” – Of all the Simpsons reminisces I’ve read the last couple of weeks, this one might be the most dense in terms of references.  Well done.  Also, co-sign:

About ten years ago I stopped watching The Simpsons. I think it was the episode where they went to Africa and a giraffe was hiding in a prairie dog hole where I realized that they’d gone way off the rails.

Correlation Does Not Imply Causation – Excellent usage, tiger repelling rock and all.

How I am watching #EverySimpsonsEver without cable – God bless DVDs (or DVD rips, whatever).

Will “The Simpsons” ever be good again? – No.  This has been simple answers to simple questions.

Thoughts on Barkira – High praise from someone who loves the original Akira.

Springfield, USA: A Part of us All – Some thoughts on what makes Springfield so relatable.

The Simpsons 1987 Styley – A fan made wheel of Simpsons family members, done in the old way.

6 Things I Learned From The Simpsons Marathon | The Further Adventures of Douchebag Batman – And finally, I not only get to end with one of the many people who agrees with us, but who points out what is often overlooked, it happened quick:

The Downfall in Quality Was Fast
So what I’ve been doing is picking and choosing which episodes to DVR and watch later. I’m sure plenty people are using the same method of watching the show. What’s I find interesting is how quickly I lost interest in the series. By season 10 I’ve only been recording the Treehouse of Horrors and the occasional episode. This is a sharp contrast compared to Saturday when I would record hours of the show and still miss some I wanted to see. Given I knew that by season 11 I had lost interest in the show; I’m hardly the only person to feel this way. I thought it was because I was heading into high school but no, it’s just kind of boring.

It is.

29
Aug
14

Reading Digest: The Hell With It Edition

The Call of the Simpsons11

“There.  Finished.” – Homer Simpson
“You are?” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, it’s a quick job, but it’s shelter.” – Homer Simpson
“It is?” – Marge Simpson

Just like last week, this is by necessity incomplete.  I just can’t keep up, but there is a ton of good stuff below.  My inbox is also a mess, and I know I owe like half a dozen people e-mails, so hopefully I get to that and then fill in many of the links I didn’t have time to get to.  In the meantime: enjoy.

Not Allowed In The Deep End: Ralph Wiggum’s Finest Moments – A great tribute to Ralph that treats him like a real child.

The Simpsons Deserves Another Great Video Game – A Hit and Run sequel would be pretty cool.  But it would require EA to make a good game which . . . yeah, not getting my hopes up.

How ‘Simpsons’ Movie Parodies Have Changed Over 25 Years – This is much gentler on Zombie Simpsons than I would be, but it’s got a lot of great YouTube and is explicit about the fact that the show went to hell.

7 Artists Influenced By The Simpsons: Fall Out Boy, Les Claypool, And More – Just what it says.  I didn’t know one of the guys from Primus named his home studio “Rancho Relaxo”.

FXX Airs ‘The Simpsons’ in Wrong Aspect Ratio. Won’t Someone Think of the Children? – Comes with some good examples of how their idiotic aspect ratio decision cuts out some of the jokes.

‘The Simpsons': 5 Best Courtroom Scenes (and Lessons for Lawyers) – There’s some good ones here and no Zombie Simpsons.

5 Absurd Fan Theories About ‘The Simpsons’ – The only one of these I’ve even heard of was the Smithers one, but they are absurd.

Play D’oh!: The Simpsons FXX marathon schedule – There’s a good collection of recommended moments and episodes at the top, none of which are Zombie Simpsons.  (via @ChannelGuideRAB)

The Simpsons top 50 episodes – This is a pretty good list (there’s one episode from Season 13, but that’s it).  (via @dailysimpsons)

Lisa Simpson’s 6 Most Dramatic Identity Crises – This is a nice little slideshow that doesn’t contain any Zombie Simpsons.  Horray.

20 Mr. Burns-Centric ‘Simpsons’ Episodes Everyone Should Know – Yet another list that mercifully has no Zombie Simpsons.

The Simpsons find a true home in downtown Springfield – That mural in Oregon was unveiled.  It’s cool, and Yeardley was there.  Also, there’s YouTube.

Father of ‘Homer Simpson’ voice actor dead at 99 – Some sad news this week, Castellaneta’s father Louis died.  He sounded like a damn good guy:

“When I was very young and he was tucking me in bed, he turned away for a moment and said he had something in his eye,” the son said Thursday. “When he turned back, he had two ping-pong balls over his eyes with black dots on them and said, ‘AH, that’s better.’ For a while as a very young kid, I thought that he had the ability to make his eyes like that.

“When I asked him why he rarely went to church with us, he told me it was because he was Jewish. For five years, I thought I was half-Jewish — until one time I brought it up at the dinner table. Mom said, ‘Where did you get that?’ I said, ‘Dad told me.’ She hit him on the arm and said, ‘Lou!’ Obviously, it wasn’t true.”

‘The Simpsons’: A genius portrait of American childhood – A very nice appreciation of how well the show captured and portrayed real kids.  This is also an example of what I was talking about this morning.  This link is in the Washingotn Post, and doesn’t so much as even nod to the collapse of the show.  Maybe it’s not 100% necessary, but Zombie Simpsons certainly doesn’t show the kids as kids, so maybe it is.

Oy! NHL threatened The Simpsons over Stanley Cup scene – They even sent a cease and desist letter.  Also, there’s a nice .gif of Krusty puking in the Cup.

What Happens To The Human Brain If You Try To Watch Every ‘Simpsons’ Ever – Sleep deprivation would make things less funny eventually according to the scientists who came up with the (presumably) un-ironically named “humor appreciation test”.

The Simpsons and My So-Called Life are the Right Kind of 90s Nostalgia – A comparison of the very early years with the show that made Claire Danes a star.

Four Lessons Philadelphia Can Learn from The Simpsons – Great observation:

After six or so uninterrupted hours in Springfield, it became apparent that the allegedly fictional town is based on none other than Philadelphia.

Officially speaking, series creator Matt Groening claims that Springfield is inspired by a number of generic small towns, and the ambiguity of where, exactly, it could exist is a long-running joke on the show (trust me — I haven’t got off my couch in days). Briefly, the honor went to Springfield, Vermont, when Fox held a contest promoting The Simpsons Movie.

However, Philadelphians will recognize the mix of casual corruption, enthusiastic alcoholism, rabid fandom, and blood-sucking, soul-crushing monopolies as, well, home sweet home.

‘The Simpsons’ Marathon is College Football Fan’s – A look at the show through college football.

What The Simpsons’ Herb Powell Taught Us About The US Auto Industry – A nice writeup of “Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou?” through the lens of the early 1990s auto industry.

Throwback: At a ‘Simpsons’ table read (doh!) – A TV critic recounts the time in 2001 he went to a table read.

‘The Simpsons’ jumped the shark in one of its best episodes – We’re not the only ones who think of “Homer’s Enemy” as a turning point.

22
Aug
14

Reading Digest: FXX Is *Really* Bad At TV Edition

Homer Badman15

“But those shows all look so crummy.” – Homer Simpson
“We could dress it up a bit.  We could bring a fern, and a folding chair from the garage, and the most decorative thing of all: the truth.” – Marge Simpson

FXX got a lot of good press out of this Simpsons marathon thing.  Then they went and stretched the image in a way so dumb that I initially didn’t even consider it a possibility:

FXX Stretch

Oof.  As plenty of people on Twitter have pointed out, that looks atrocious.  Maybe you don’t want to just have black bars on either side, but there are ways to do that without making the entire run of The Simpsons (and a lot of Zombie Simpsons) look like that bad old early days of HD when people wanted to use the whole screen regardless of how it looked.  Put a backdrop around the sides, maybe add some running info about the episodes or the marathon itself, do that thing where there’s an extra blurred out edge . . . something, anything but stretching the image.  Shit like this is why I’m glad I don’t have cable anymore.

(Incidentally, that image came from our old friend Sebastian Nebel’s Twitter feed.  He’s tweeting great images from each episode as they air.  Highly recommended.)

Anyway, this week’s Reading Digest is incomplete for the simple reason that there is lots of Simpsons chatter on-line right now because of the marathon, but the marathon is itself has only just begun.  (They’re in the middle of Season 3 as I type this.)  So there are marathon links below, as well as the more usual stuff.  I’ll cull some of the best marathon stuff I find into it’s own post next week.

Enjoy.

The Greatest Line Every ‘Simpsons’ Character Ever Delivered – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this great list (with lots of video).  I saw one quote from Season 12, but everything else was from earlier.

The Simpsons said it: 9 times ‘The Simpsons’ embiggened the American lexicon – The FXX marathon has prompted a lot of retrospective type articles and posts, most of which are kinda similar.  This one, however, takes a good long look at several of the show’s new words and has a healthy list of honorable mentions to boot.

My Favorite Frames from Homer Defined – Nebel couldn’t pick just one from “Homer Defined”, and it’s easy to see why.

The Best. Show. Ever. Zings Libraries – Some non-Zombie Simpsons library moments.

See the world’s magazine covers from the day ‘The Simpsons’ premiered – Sting was on the cover of GQ.  

Moe Szyslak is The Simpsons’ best character, and the heart of its comedy. – This is so perfectly a #SlatePitch that it’s almost painful.  I stopped reading after this:

The most important decision The Simpsons ever made in its early years was to reimagine itself out of being a show about Bart Simpson into being a show about Homer Simpson. Through this transition—which happened so seamlessly that it was barely even noticeable—The Simpsons moved from being a show about a mischievous kid and his genially dysfunctional family to being a show about an idiotic everyman let loose on the world

Sigh.  It was “barely even noticeable” because it never happened.  At all.  Ever.

‘Revenge’ taps ‘Simpsons’ star Yeardley Smith for season 4 – Pretty much everything you need to know is in the headline there.

My Favorite Episodes of The Simpsons – “Cape Feare” gets the top spot and there’s not a drop of Zombie Simpsons.

My Ten Favorite Episodes of The Simpsons – Only one episode of Zombie Simpsons makes the list.

FilmOn’s Alki David: Comic-Con’s Homer Simpson hologram violated my patent – The Homer hologram they used at ComicCon has generated a lawsuit.  Meh.

Simpsons Marathon Weekend: 10 Episodes to DVR – Those are some pretty good suggestions.

The 3 Biggest Problems Plaguing TSTO – Surprising no one who has played the game, the fact that it crashes a lot is #1.

Harry Shearer, ‘Bob’s Burgers’ win first Emmys – Shearer won an Emmy of some kind.

The Simpsons: I Got Smashed At Wimbledon – I’ve always kinda wanted a shirt like that, but I don’t think most people would get it as a Simpsons reference.

Welcome back to Springfield! *Duh* – More Simpsons memories and some YouTube.

16 Classic Episodes from The Simpsons, season 6 (and 9 memorable ones!) – Season 6 is that good.

‘The Simpsons,’ a Guide to Outlasting the FXX, All-Episode Marathon – Some very good .gifs here.

Homer Simpson on Decisions – All he sees are “Esk”, “C-tarl”, and “Pig Up”.

The 15 Lisa Simpson Episodes Every ‘Simpsons’ Fan Should Like – I’d probably include “Lisa’s Sax”, but if you want to stop at Season 8, I’m not going to argue too hard.

Laughing at Hitler – for credit – You can’t talk about Hitler jokes without The Simpsons:

The idea first occurred to me as a whimsical and convenient way of feeding my near-obsession with The Simpsons, but I’m still convinced that there is value to this prolonged exercise beyond entertainment. The nature of Simpsons humour is that it is enhanced by revision; apparently zany and throwaway, reflection aids the understanding of a deeper, more subtle comedy.
As such, the cursory cutaways to Hitler – and their insignificance to the problematics of the narrative – have to be important to this study. The Simpsons has had an extraordinary impact on a generation’s cultural and political understanding, so there is an importance to its representations. The image of Hitler we get from the Simpsons – nearly assassinated after seduction by a transvestite Abe, raving at an inanimate bear, and possibly still alive and untroubled in South America – is a deliberate construction.

Robyn Urback: Does Toronto need air and ground raccoon surveillance? – Excellent usage:

“I’m sick of these constant bear attacks,” Homer says as he watches animal control haul away the beast. “It’s like a freakin’ Country Bear-Jamboroo around here.”

“Well, now, realistically Homer, I’ve lived here some 30-odd years,” Ned Flanders says. “This is the first and only bear I’ve ever seen.”

“Hey, if you want wild bears eating your children and scaring away your salmon, that’s your business,” Homer replies. “But I’m not gonna take it. Who’s with me?”

Best gifts 2014: Simpsons Bart Cruzer Skateboard by Santa Cruz – The graffiti stencil on the bottom is a nice touch.

25 ‘The Simpsons’ Facts You Didn’t Know – There’s nothing terribly new here, but at least it ends before getting too deep into Zombie Simpsons.

Miss Fickle Reader’s Boring-Ass Beach Blog! Part 1: Why I Haven’t Been Blogging – You can get garbage bags of popcorn in New Jersey:

Now, when you say “open,” the teenager sticks your tub and lid inside a clear plastic garbage bag and shovel as much popcorn as could be expected to fit in or around your tub.
Anyone see the Simpsons reference here? “King-Sized Homer,” when Homer decides to make himself “hyper-obese”? He goes to a matinee of “Honk If You’re Horny,” and the manager says they don’t have wide enough seats for him, but if he leaves quietly they’ll offer him–you guessed it!–“a garbage bag full of popcorn.” Matt Groening, give yourself a gold star. “The Simpsons” has now become completely enmeshed with reality.

Indeed it has.




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