Archive for the 'Simpsons' Category

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.

15
Aug
14

Reading Digest: FXX Marketing Shifts Into High Gear Edition

WeatherVane

“Were you on my roof last night, stealing my weather vane?” – Ned Flanders
“This interview is over!” – Homer Simpson

The big 12 day marathon on a channel neither I nor millions of other people get will begin next Thursday morning.  This week we’ve got several links about it, including the full transcript of a conference call interview Al Jean did earlier this week (there’s actual news for once!) and some very cool posters.  In addition to that, we’ve got more of the fan made Lego Springfield, an unveiling date for the building sized mural in Oregon, Harry Shearer being Dick Nixon, very old sneakers, and a great vacation photo from Washington D.C..

Enjoy.

The Simpsons – Al Jean Interview – This is a full transcript of a conference call Jean did on Wednesday.  Mostly it’s just him efficiently blowing through questions he’s heard dozens of times before (Will there be a sequel? How about those upcoming crossovers?  He even makes a joke about someone asking where Springfield is.), but there is some real news buried in there:

- The app will allow for fan rankings of the episodes:

Q: can you talk a little bit about at TCA you were talking about the database of their new website and there would be a ranking of episodes based on fan favorites. How that ranking is determined?

A: It’s to be determined. It’s up to the fans. We went and listened to what it seemed that people wanted out of the show, and when the app is fully up and running, which probably won’t be until early next year, you can get clips, you can send clips to your friends, you can do an assortment of clips almost like re-edit like people did with the [indiscernible] stuff, and the voting will be up the users too. It will be whatever everybody who logs in votes for and shows they like or dislike. Shows that people dislike the most may actually get some interest viewing, and it’s not for us to say. That’s the great thing about this app.

That sounds . . . interesting.  Everything depends on implementation, but I’ll be curious to see both a) how it shakes out and b) how they react if the fan rankings massively denigrate almost everything after Season 10 or so.  Also note that while the app is scheduled to launch in October, he’s already talking about it not being all the way up and running until 2015.

- This is about the upcoming marathon on FXX:

we’re going to be live tweeting, not continuously, but every time there’s an episode I wrote or a show ran, I’ll try to get in on them. We’re asking guest stars who did the show if they’d like to tweet with the writers. So, we hope to have a discussion going on for the whole way and throw in interesting things people may not have heard.

I bet that’ll depend greatly on when the episodes air.  For example, they’re starting at 10am Eastern next Thursday, so assuming two episodes per hour, Season 3 will be starting at 2:30am Eastern.

- Answering a question about what format the episodes on FXX will be:

Well, the versions as I understand it are the original versions, but they’re expanded to HD except on the app, you can get the original 4X3 because people would want to see the 4X3 so that will be available, but the ones that they’re broadcasting, as I understand it, are the originals with the HD expansion for the ones that weren’t in HD.

I’m not sure what “HD expansion” means, black bars, that blurry extra side thing people do sometimes?

-  One more thing about live tweeting during the FXX marathon:

Yes, we’re totally encouraging it. It’s @BestSimpsons is the Twitter site reserved for the marathon. So, yes, it starts at 7 a.m. August 21st Pacific Time/10 a.m. Eastern and I’ll be tweeting then.

@BestSimpsons looks an awful lot like an abandoned fan account.  There’s only 79 tweets total, and though the most recent is about the FXX marathon, it was from last month and was the first since January.  It links to what also looks like an abandoned fan site, which hasn’t updated since May of last year.  Now, this is from a transcript, so it’s possible that this is a transcription error and is missing a character or two.  I asked Jean on Twitter right before I posted this (and went to lunch), so if he responds (and he often does), I’ll update.

Update 2:10pm: And it was indeed a transcription error.  The actual live tweet account for the FXX marathon is @EverySimpsons.  

Simpsons Trivia Night (Published on The West End Magazine) – Recently, the classic Simpsons trivia competitions have taken a step up, holding “film festivals” and doing Diorama-ramas, but the bar has been raised by this group in Australia.  They set up a fake Simpsons living room!  Excellent.

The Simpsons – FXX Posters – I don’t often get a chance to say this, but: well done, FOX marketing department.  Those are gorgeous and creative and just generally cool.  I might even go so far as to buy a poster if they got rid of the logo and the hashtag.

Watch the trailer for the ‘Simpsons’ marathon – On the other hand, this promo, while pretty, is also quite dumb.

FUSION — Fusion Announces Documentary Project with Sam Simon, Co-Creator of The Simpsons – Simon continues to handle hideous disease about as well as is humanly imaginable.

The Simpsons Bart Boot Sneakers – Actual Simpsons sneakers from the early 1990s, including the stylized box.  Very cool.

Fashion Spotlight: Better Call Hutz, Bartman Begins, and Doh! Zombies! – The punctuation in Hutz’s word bubble is brilliant.

Happy birthday, Dustin Hoffman, or “Mrs. Krabappel, are you trying to seduce me?” – A framed picture of Mr. Bergstrom is pretty damned cool.

HickoryDickoryDank comments on How would you like to see The Simpsons end? – This Reddit thread was making the rounds this week, but the best answer I saw came from a two year old thread on the same idea.

Get lost in a Simpsons themed corn maze – Neat:

Corn maze season starts in September and it is the busiest time of year for the Meuer Farm.

They started planing in February to get “The Simpsons” themed maze just right. The maze has two phases that have a total of around three miles of paths.

There’s an aerial picture at the link.  Looks very fun.

The Weird Minutes Before Nixon’s Resignation – Harry Shearer re-enacts Nixon’s resignation:

The recording of the minutes before the resignation is one that Shearer has always found confounding. It is so clear that the camera crew is unmoved by Nixon’s small talk. “If you were a comic, you’d stop after two of your jokes bombed like that, but he just keeps going,” Shearer said. “For years, I was puzzled by that behavior. Why didn’t he just sit quietly until the time came to deliver the speech? What was going on there?” The answer that finally came to him, as he rehearsed the scene, is that Nixon already had an eye on rehabilitating his reputation. “Those people in that room were going to go out and say, ‘He wasn’t depressed, he wasn’t angry. My god! He was the nicest guy in the world.’ I think that’s exactly who he was. That’s how he got out of his depression, on fight. And the fight starts here.”

Shearer’s the best.

“Bart! Get out of the Spirit of St. Louis!” – Now that is a great Air and Space Museum photo.  Bravo.

The Simpsons’ Town of Springfield, to Scale, in Lego – There is now a YouTube tour of that fan made Lego Springfield.

Old LA Zoo – Oh, cool:

The first Saturday of every month a local comic book store, Nerd Melt, hosts Simpson trivia, called Stonecutters. We lucked out this month because they pushed it back a weekend so we were able to attend. There are 3 rounds of trivia, which get progressively more difficult, with episodes of The Simpsons shown between each round. Every month they bring in special guests who have worked on the show and the episodes played are generally episodes the guests have worked on, so that the guests can give live commentary. This month there were two former directors and a storyboard artist.

Voice of Lisa Simpson to attend mural unveiling Aug. 25 – I guess we’ll get to see that mural a week from Monday.

doh! if only it worked that way! – Sadly, we cannot all escape from reality as easily as Homer.

08
Aug
14

Reading Digest: Spreading Stupidity Edition

Purple Monkey Dishwasher

“Now for operation Strike Make Go Longer. . . . You know, I heard Skinner say the teachers will crack any minute.” – Bart Simpson
“Skinner said the teachers will crack any minute, purple monkey dishwasher.” – Teacher
“Well, we’ll show him!  Especially for that purple monkey dishwasher remark.” – Mrs. Krabappel 

Sorry for the later than usual posting, but that Uproxx/Warming Glow thing was just too damn dumb to be dealt with in a snarky sentence or two.  (That it came on a blog named after a Simpsons joke is just aggravazing.)  As you’ll see, the stupid has already spread to the A.V. Club, though they were at least a little circumspect, and from there it’ll just keep going, giving rhetorical ammunition to all kinds of shallow arguments and internet trolls.  Feh.  Anywho, this week we’ve got two more people cracking wise about the looming catastrophe that is the Family Guy crossover, a sweet Lego Springfield, several cool pieces of fan art (including some mashup posters), two political links (one from Alabama, the other from Russia/Ukraine), and a new officially licensed book.

Enjoy.

The Most Iconic Buildings in Springfield From ‘The Simpsons’ Rebuilt in LEGO – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week has already been up for a while, but is damned impressive.  The tire fire is just superb.

Minimalistic Poster by Karl Bembridge – Excellent fan made poster featuring nothing but Marge’s hair.

The Simpsons get political in art pieces – The same guy who had Marge and other cartoon characters as beaten up wives now has several of them asking to free Gaza.  Say this for the guy, he knows how to attract attention.

How Bart Simpson was dragged into the war of words against Putin – Someone photoshopped the opening sequence to call Vladimir Putin a “dickhead”.  Heh.

Simpsons Mash Ups – Some of these I’ve seen before, some of them I haven’t, and there are some very good ones.

Conan to perform The Simpsons ‘Monorail’ song with gay choir – That show at the Hollywood Bowl looks increasingly impressive.  Maybe they’ll end up putting it on YouTube for the rest of us?

The Decline and Fall of The Simpsons: Rape jokes in Springfield – There was too much criticism of the Family Guy crossover for just one week to contain, so here’s some more:

I’m not being holier-than-thou. “The Simpsons” has never shied away from dark subjects – Moe himself is a case in point. He is a violent man with a history of criminal activities. He has variously been depicted as homicidal, syphilitic and even as a stalker who is also a registered sex offender. And yet the character has been allowed many moments of nuance and tenderness too. Although an especially-ugly yellow-skinned cartoon character, Moe Szyslak is a recognisably-human character who has clearly known love and loss.

Yup.

Trailer Talk- The Simpsons Guy – And along similar lines:

What bothers me most about this crossover is that “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” have very different cultures and senses of humor. The first being a “Simpsons Knock-Off” and a “frat boy” show that later evolved into satirical name dropping, left winged shout outs, cultural riffs, and senseless violence. That freedom and willingness to make people mad, groan, and complain, and then still get great viewership is what has set it apart from everything else on TV. “The Simpsons” on the other hand was built on family values, not swearing as much, nothing superficial like excessive violence (unless its a springfield riot). The stories were all “everyman” stories as well. More relatable to the original older audience the show was targeted for, before the YA crowd elevated it to current popularity. On paper you would not think two shows like this could really do a crossover.

In addition to on paper, I don’t think they can do it on a television screen either.

The Simpsons Archive dredges up some vintage Internet scorn from the show’s golden age – See, this is why I write lengthy replies to crap like that Uproxx post this morning.  On the internet, dumb ideas just ripple into the infinite future.

The Simpsons – Fan made drawing of the family on the couch.  Has a nice Season 1 feel to it, well done.

Celebrate 25 Years of The Simpsons™ With An Excerpt and Giveaway of ‘C. Montgomery Burns’ Handbook of World Domination’ – The merchandising parade continues, with a new book that you can win a copy of.

Governor or Simpson’s character? Democrat Parker Griffith enjoys laugh at opponent’s expense – Someone backing the Democrat in the Alabama governor’s race send them these:

Fire Bently

10 Badass Cartoon Characters Who’d Be Feminists In Real Life – Lisa, needless to say, makes the list.

What Happens When You Grow Up – Going back to old episodes, (of the show and others):

It’s all very surreal; you say the words that you’ve had memorised for this long out loud, but the meaning becomes warped and morphs into something new. Jokes take on new meaning due to new-found wisdom that however many years have brought you since you heard them as a kid, but they still work.

It is a very odd feeling, but there’s lots to catch.

Springfield @ Universal Studios – Some more pictures from the Springfield area, including several things I hadn’t seen before.

London actors present stories of The Simpsons after the end of the world – The Mr. Burns play is moving from London, England to London, Ontario for a week starting August 29th.

The War Of The Simpsons – Episode #033 – And his eyes were like steel, cold and hard.

The longest drawing in the world… – Awesome:

I bought a giant roll of drawing paper and wax crayons and felt tip pens.
My brothers and sisters and I are now attempting to make a really long drawing. We were inspired by the movie ‘Ramona and Beezus’.
It’s been a lot of fun so far. We started off by drawing trees and buildings, but then moved on to cartoon characters such as The Simpsons.

There’s plenty of pictures at the link.

Artistic Brain Freeze – Creativity and the lack thereof explained in comic form with an analogy to “The Mansion Family”.

100 Greatest TV Episodes: Homer the Heretic (s4 ep3) – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us during this writeup of all time great episodes (“Homer the Heretic makes The Simpsons the first series to have two separate entries into our list!”):

What’s more, he asks genuinely insightful questions of society through his actions and even his words – famously and poignantly asking God:

“I’m not a bad guy, I work hard, and I love my kids. So why should I spend half my Sunday hearing about how I’m going to hell?”

Who knew he could say something that wasn’t entirely stupid, eh, current Simpsons writing team?

They certainly don’t, but we knew that already.

01
Aug
14

Reading Digest: Crossover Reaction Edition

Behind the Laughter3

“Fans reacted to these slapdash episodes with yawns, angry yawns.” – Behind the Laughter Announcer

The big news this week was a five minute preview video of the upcoming Family Guy crossover, and it was everywhere.  There were so many links from random sites that one was in Cyrillic, but outside of fawning headlines from radio stations and other teevee industry marketing appendages, the reaction was overwhelming negative, and we’ve got several links to prove it.  You can see the video at a couple of them, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  I made it two minutes in and gave up on about the third time they talked about how lame they were.   I try to keep an open mind, but this looks like it’s going to be a very dull forty-two minutes or so.

With all that garbage clogging up the internet, I’m amazed we had as much other stuff as we did, but in addition to plenty of anti-crossover bile, we’ve got a couple of other Comic-con wrap ups, two wildly different Bart t-shirts, apathy at Allure magazine, more Lego Flanders, a sand sculpture Homer, and lots more.  Enjoy.

The 30 Best Golden-Era ‘Simpsons’ TV References – No one is holding out much hope:

Despite all evidence to the contrary, maybe the Family Guy/Simpsons crossover episode will turn out not-embarrassing…possibly? As hard as I try, though, I can’t help but assume the worst about the “stupid tie-in cartoon,” which is why I’m glad it’s TECHNICALLY a Family Guy episode.

The list itself is great, though.  With lots of YouTube.

The Simpsons Guy: 8 reasons the Simpsons and Family Guy crossover will suck – These are pretty good, especially:

4. It’s not funny

Did you watch the trailer? It’s pretty laugh-free

And:

7. It feels like a desperate attempt to be relevant

As with the Simpsons/Futurama crossover, this feels like a desperate attempt to make both The Simpsons and Family Guy relevant again. The Simpsons has been on TV screens longer than most of the World Cup England squad have been alive and no one has cared about Family Guy since around 2004. Neither are culturally relevant any more and The Simpsons Guy feels like a sad attempt for one last hurrah.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE TRAILER FOR ‘THE SIMPSONS GUY’ – Sensing a theme?:

First and foremost, the number one question on my lips – and doubtlessly on a whole lot of other lips, too – is why? Why was this necessary? Who are the people, in their infinite lack of wisdom, who were asking for this? Cynical though this outlook may seem, I feel that The Simpsons Guy has its origins in little more than a desperate ploy for viewers.

WATCH: Footage from the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover that absolutely nobody wanted. – Popular conclusion:

So why now? The cynical part of me sees it as nothing more than a quick grab for money and ratings. The logical part of me is having trouble viewing it as anything more than that either. Either way, it’s happening – and it’s one part nonsensical plot points, the other part jokes that you could see coming from at least half a decade ago.

Segregate my TV – Somebody else is unimpressed with the crossover:

It just all ends up being boring.

Man Gets Hit By Football – Australian Tour!! – An Aussie punk band has one of the best posters ever (click through) and an EP called “Can I Borrow A Feeling”.  Bravo.

You’re Toxic I’m Slipping Under – The play has closed in London, but this is high praise indeed:

I think Mr. Burns is brilliant. I have never seen a full episode of The Simpsons, but from what I’ve seen I think of it as a show for small-minded people. I don’t think slapstick humor is funny, nor stupidity, and I’ve been led to believe that The Simpsons largely relies on that type of humor.

Someone that clueless about the show (though, not far off for Zombie Simpsons) still loved it.

Kayte Walsh announces the name of her new baby boy – Sideshow Bob is having another kid.  I only mention it because of how they describe him:

It is her second child with Kelsey Grammer, star of Frasier and The Simpsons.

Cheers doesn’t even rate these days.

Comic-Con 2014: ‘The Simpsons’ sets world record with Homer’s Dome – There sure are a lot of weird world records:

The canvas had 5,565 squares in a paint-by-numbers type of format that the organizers were trying to fill out over the course of Comic-Con. The FXX team behind the event hoped to break the Guinness World Record for the most contributions to a painting by the numbers.

Beauty Lessons I Learned From The Simpsons – Allure magazine had one of their editors type up a little mention of the new Marge themed cosmetics line.  This is just a magazine doing an otherwise unnecessary favor for an advertiser, and you can tell because of how it ends:

Tell me: Do you have a favorite Simpsons beauty moment?

No, the internet does not:

Simpsons Beauty Tips

And that 1 person “listening” was me when I took the screen grab.

Sweat-Free SoHo Style – Nobody seems to care much about the Marge makup at Allure, but the New York Times has a “women on the street” video about summer fashion that features a woman (who is identified as a model) wearing a Bart mug-shot t-shirt.

Blog: How This Former Music Snob Loosened Up and Re-Embraced Pop Music – Excellent usage:

Part of most people’s aging process seems to be an increasingly lower tolerance for new or challenging things, and one of the most prominent ways that that manifests itself is music. It varies slightly from person to person, but there seems to be a point in most people’s life where their “best” era of music exists, and whatever comes after just sounds increasingly annoying and not-as-good as “their” music. In the wise words of Grandpa Simpson: “I used to be with it. And then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me.”

Grampa actually says “But then”, but that’s a nit.

What books are Montrealers taking out from the libraries? – The Simpsons, or “Les Simpson”, apparently.

Comic-Con’s Best Costumes So Far Include Homer Simpson, Snow White And Tons Of Superheroes – Any idiot can put on one of those creepy looking Simpsons masks, but it takes a special kind of lunatic to combine them with Homer’s full Stonecutter regalia.  Excellent work.

Watch Homer Simpson on Drugs in Mac DeMarco’s “Chamber of Reflection” Video – And speaking of creepy looking Homer masks, here’s a music video of a woman walking around wearing one.

Orlando/Universal Studios Day 1 – Getting Simpsons nails done before seeing the Simpsons area.  Cool.

Play D’oh!: The Simpsons FXX marathon schedule – A helpful little guide for those of you planning to watch some of the marathon on FXX at the end of the month.

A Suns-themed Bart Simpson t-shirt exists – Old bootleg Bart shirts are pretty amazing time capsules.

Boston MFA reportedly defaced by Homer Simpson graffiti – There’s a picture, but it’s pretty lazy graffiti.

The Simpsons: Krusty the Clown’s foul-mouthed rant prompts complaints – I’d guess this was “Bart the Fink”, but they don’t identify it:

The washed-up boozy clown was heard to use the word “bastard” during an edition of the programme screened by Channel 4 at 6pm in April, well before the 9pm watershed.

The incessant beep of outraged parents is company enough for him.

Simpsons: “Lisa’s Wedding” episode was pretty good a predicting the future – It’s a nice list, but it’s a little less than comprehensive.

UO alumnus’ firm chosen to paint city’s ‘Simpsons’ mural – The mural they’re painting in Oregon now has a designer.  It’s supposed to be done by the middle of next month.

Photos: Homer Simpson wins annual New Jersey Sandcastle Contest in Belmar – The Homer pictures are near the end of the slideshow, and it’s pretty clever.

American Roadtrip, Part 6: Catching a Baseball Game in Albuquerque – Brits take in a Topes game.

Mrs Grillah’s Amazing BBQ Cake – That is a cake Homer would happily ruin.

A Story of Inspiration – Heh.

Words of the Week 23/2014 – Homer Simpson – Heh (x2).

ravingmadlunitic – Heh (x3).

Sow Seeds Of Love! – Lego Flanders proselytizing.

The Glory Days Of The Arcade – Were the attacks actually different?:

So when my friends and I saw The Simpsons Arcade Game, we knew we just had to play and finish it! Of course, no one wanted to pick Marge so I got stuck with the blue haired housewife. But I was kind of glad she was my character since I thought she had an awesome weapon: a vacuum cleaner. I kind of pitied the guy who had Homer since all he had were his fists!

I genuinely don’t remember.

Friday Conversation: What Is Your All-Time Favorite ‘Simpsons’ Moment? – And finally, I’ll end with this Uproxx post that implictly agrees with us since not a single member of the staff so much as mentions Zombie Simpsons.

25
Jul
14

Reading Digest: Promising Features, Regrettable Drawbacks Edition

Homer vs Patty & Selma13

“Congratulations, Mr. Simpson, this invention of yours has made us all rich, especially you!  It’s simple yet ingenious, and it fits right in the palm of your hand.  Every person in America now owns one of these, and in many cases, three or four.” – Imaginary Executive
“Uh, could I just get a look at that?” – Homer Simpson
“Now, why would you need to see it?  You’re the genius who invented the . . . product in question.” – Imaginary Executive

The big news this week was the first look at “Simpsons World”, an app/website-of-some-kind that’ll be debuting in October.  I have very mixed feelings about it, and I’m sure we’ll learn more once people who aren’t obsequious entertainment reporters can get their hands on it.  For now, however, there’s quite a lot to be excited about (easy access to clips, being able to stream the show) and quite a lot to be pissed about (you must have cable, your cable company must have FXX, AND it’s only in the US).  How much of either ends up in the final product remains to be seen.

In addition to that we’ve got word record breaking tattoos, two more Lego links, old video games, finger nail art, fan art, and some excellent usage.  Enjoy.

With FXX’s Simpsons World, A Clip Database Comes Closer to Non-Linear Reality – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is – by far – the most thoughtful first hand account of Simpsons World I read.  There is some healthy skepticism here along with fanboi excitement about what some of the promised features could mean.  It’s a little long, but in a week where every entertainment site seemed to do little more than quote the press release, you’re better off reading this than ten of those.  The fact that there’s going to be a currency called “donuts” that you can “earn” makes me very leery, for obvious reasons.

Here’s how the new Simpsons app will change your life – A quicker breakdown highlighting some of the main features.

‘The Simpsons World’ app won’t be available in Canada – And this is part of the reason why I have mixed feelings.  TV rights are locked into ancient distribution deals that are definitely bad for fans and, one suspects, also bad for the people who create the shows.  Endless legal arcana has always been a big help to the bosses screwing the worker bees.  As Bill Oakley sarcastically noted earlier this week:

Oakley Tweet - Lawsuit

Mondrian and Homer Simpson Inspired Wine Bottles – Some Russian designers created fake Homer and Marge wine bottles.  They are gorgeous, too bad there’s no wine in them (yet).

Simpsons Fan Sets Record With 41 Homer Simpson Tattoos – I put this up on Twitter a few days ago, but there’s plenty of good pictures at the link.  The one of Homer inside his Ganesh costume is a nice touch.

The … – Duplo Simpsons!

You can’t mess up with Lego. – Surprisingly creepy Flanders.  Looks like after the Gremlin got to him.

“And I for one welcome our new insect overlords…” – The complete background and a few examples of modern usage.

The Simpsons to kill off Krusty the Clown: 6 life lessons he taught us – The hot rumor is that they’re going to “kill” Krusty.  I would be skeptical if I bothered to care.  However, there are some good Krusty moments here, including a great .gif of him killing the wealthy dowager.

10 Hilarious “The Simpsons” Moments – Plenty of good YouTube here.

Nvidia Announces Shield Tablet, an Android Device for Hardcore Gamers – Excellent usage:

In an online press briefing yesterday, Shield Tablet general manager Matt Wuebbling said the market for mobile devices has matured to the point that a company like Nvidia can respond to the specific needs of a niche like hardcore gamers. A trend of homogeneity turning to variety is coming to tablets the same way it came to cars and PCs, Wuebbling said.

And if tablets were cars, Nvidia seemingly wants the Shield to be the Canyonero from “The Simpsons”:

Unexplained fires will be a matter for the courts!

Speedy Ortiz talks the Simpsons and playing in space at Pitchfork Festival 2014 – Good answer:

DC: (If the world were going to end in a year) and you were allowed to play any one festival, what would it be?

MF: We got this question the other day, and I’m still sticking with the Simpsons one.

DM: Oh yeah, Hullabalooza. The Smashing Pumpkins would have to play.

SD: Sonic Youth plays too, right?

DM: Yeah. And Peter Frampton. He’s headlining.

And in between sets they could watch the acts from the Pageant of the Trans-Mundane.

Homer Simpson’s parenting advice – There’s a couple Zombie quotes on here, but it’s a pretty solid list.

The Simpsons 25 – A heartfelt and touching remembrance of a lost child through the show.

20 ‘Simpsons’ Quotes That Everyone Hears In Everyday Conversation – Nice list.  Not sure how often you actually hear some of these, but nice list nevertheless (via @dailysimpsons).

Gameplay – Midnight Rescue was a great game, and don’t feel bad for learning wordplay from the likes of Chalmers.  We all did.

‘Simpsons’ Fan Made Only Coke Name Bottle Worth Owning – Someone finally took this to its logical conclusion.  Unfortunately, Coke is now sold out of “Bort” personalized bottles.  I repeat, they are sold out of “Bort” bottles.

Mike Scully’s “The Simpsons”: When everything went wrong – Our old friend Stefan Grasso takes some swings at the Scully years.

Newt! (OMD2) – Fingernail designs inspired by “Radioactive Man”.

Planet of the Apes (1968) Review – I saw “A Fish Called Selma” long before I saw the old Charlton Heston movie too:

Aside from what I’d picked up in a Simpsons episode with a musical version of the movie, Planet of the Apes was a mystery. I had an idea that it was much more about chasing humans, action-packed fight sequences and heavy science-fiction.

It’s only after you’ve seen the movie that you pick up on other references, like the parents rounding up the kids at the beginning of “Bart’s Girlfriend”.

The Simpsons: “The Otto Show” – Even when people don’t like a particular episode, it’s still generally pretty good.

14 Classic Episodes from The Simpsons, season 5 (and 8 memorable ones!) – Season 5 is just insanely solid.

You Are Lisa Simpson – A list of sad animated moments includes “Jurassic Bark” and Homer sitting on the hood of his car after saying goodbye to his mother.

SNES A Day 59: Krusty’s Super Fun House – That was a pretty fun game.

“Going to a nice restaurant with my wife tonight.” – Heh.

“The Simpsons” needs to can its celebrity guest stars – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us.  In this case it’s mainstream outlet Salon:

There are two ways the celebrity guest appearance goes on “The Simpsons”; in some cases, a star appears as him- or herself, as with the episode where Lisa and Lady Gaga become friends. In others, a star riffs on his or her persona, as in the episode in which Homer and Marge become friends with “hipsters from Portland” played by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. The only commonality here is that in all cases, no matter who the celebrity is, their persona takes over the plot. In the world of the show, Lisa would never become friends with a pop star and Homer and Marge are studiously unhip. But still the celebrities must be shoehorned in, even when it means that the story either ignores what we know about the characters or just makes the nominal stars of the show into bland sounding boards.

“The Simpsons” has never been realistic, but in its best years it obeyed internal logic as to how its characters would behave. Dustin Hoffman’s famous appearance as “Mr. Bergstrom,” Lisa’s substitute teacher, cleverly demonstrated Lisa’s need for respect from adults. But such stories need to be done subtly, with an attention to narrative coherence. Even stars as hammy as Kelsey Grammer playing Bart’s nemesis Sideshow Bob could have told an interesting story, but simply plugging in a celebrity and expecting greatness is a tall order.

Except for when they talk to reporters, the staff stopped expecting greatness a long time ago.

21
Jul
14

The Day the Laughter Died

By Mike Zanna

There was a time when The Simpsons was the best show on TV. The show that currently calls itself “The Simpsons” has little resemblance. It’s not nearly as good. It’s not even good compared to the rest of the stuff on television. It’s like The Simpsons, but without everything that made The Simpsons so amazing. The show has become a hollow shell, a shadow of itself, a ghost of its former greatness. I’m sure there’s another supernatural metaphor I could use.

So what the hell happened? At some point, The Simpsons went off the air and was replaced by its evil twin, Zombie Simpsons. I’m not sure when this happened, but it was at least a decade ago, maybe even a decade and a half. I started wondering if I could pinpoint the exact moment that the change occurred. If I could find one episode that killed the show, what would it be? When exactly did The Simpsons jump the shark? I came up with an answer. Personally, I think The Simpsons died on February 13, 2000, with the death of Maude Flanders.

Alone1

Maude wasn’t the only one who died that day.

“Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” isn’t the worst episode ever, but it had the longest lasting negative effect on the series. Most bad episodes can be safely skipped or ignored. Even “The Principal and the Pauper” restores the status quo at the end of the episode. Whether you like the revelation about Principal Skinner or not, it doesn’t affect the episodes that aired afterwards. “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” was what TV Tropes would call a Wham Episode. Afterwards, the show would never be the same.

Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and after eleven years, I can see why the producers would want to shake things up. It’s just that this particular change was a bad idea that was poorly handled. The show had made some changes before, and many of them are lampshaded in this episode. For example, the Van Houtens had split up. Zombie Simpsons would later have them get remarried. Killing Maude Flanders was the first change the producers had made that was irreversible.

The Simpsons had never killed a recurring character before. Bleeding Gums Murphy had died back in Season 6, but he hadn’t been seen on the show in years, outside of the opening title sequence. He wasn’t played by one of the show’s regular voice actors, so the producers couldn’t use him without bringing in Ron Taylor or recasting the part. Maude Flanders was played by one of the regulars, Maggie Roswell, who had played many parts before leaving the show. She would later return, but Maude would not.

I suppose the producers could have resurrected Maude if they’d wanted to. They are the gods of the show’s universe, after all. They can do whatever they want. But there’s no way they could bring her back without destroying the show’s reality. Then again, this episode ran the week after “Saddlesore Galactica,” which might be the least realistic show ever. The producers could have pressed the reset button, but they didn’t. They made their choice and stuck with it.

Maude Flanders wasn’t the most interesting person in the world, but one of the things that made The Simpsons great was its large cast of diverse characters. It had an entire universe full of people who seemed like real people, but funnier. She had played a key role in great episodes like “Bart of Darkness” and “Home Sweet Home-Diddily-Dum-Doodily.” And she lived next door to the title characters. But Maude Flanders wasn’t the only character who died in “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily.” The episode also basically killed the character of her husband, Ned.

Alone2

He’s just not Ned.

Before he became a conservative Christian stereotype, Ned Flanders was just a nice guy with a perpetually cheerful attitude. Even when times were tough, he at least tried to keep a smile on his face. See “When Flanders Failed,” “Homer Loves Flanders,” or “Hurricane Neddy.” His religion was a part of his character, sure, but I think his most prominent character trait was his positive attitude. After this episode, he couldn’t be that guy any more. There would always be some sadness in him. There would have to be.

I guess the producers thought making Ned single again could lead to some interesting stories, but it really didn’t. And I think Ned dating other women so soon after losing Maude was kind of out of character. I don’t think he would be so quick to look for a replacement. There could have been some humor in Ned trying to date again, but there really wasn’t. There were a couple of episodes, two with that Christian singer girl whose name I can’t remember, and one with Marisa Tomei. And then there’s that strange Zombie Simpsons plot line where he dated Mrs. Krabappel and they later got married. Now she’s gone too, and he’s a widower twice over. That’s just depressing.

Then there’s effect that losing their mother would have on the kids, Rod and Todd. “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” basically skips over their reaction, and I guess it would have to. It’s kind of hard to make that funny. But I think it shows that the producers of this episode did a really half-assed job. They wanted to kill a character, but they didn’t want to deal with the consequences that it would have. The characters on The Simpsons were characters. They seemed like real people. On Zombie Simpsons they’re just props for delivering bad jokes. It’s kind of hard to feel sympathy for them, because they don’t act like people would.

Then there’s the way “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” changed the character of Homer. He had become more of a jerk during Mike Scully’s tenure as show runner, and this episode shows him at his absolute low point. He actually causes another person’s death. He is responsible for the death of someone that he has known for years. A real person would feel at least a little guilty about that.

Okay, it wasn’t actually his fault. It was an accident. Maude Flanders’ death was like something from an Itchy and Scratchy episode. Slapstick violence isn’t really funny if we’re supposed to care about the people who get hurt. I guess you could blame the girls who shot the t-shirts that knocked Maude off the bleachers. This kind of begs the question of why they were at the funeral. But really, the girls only shot the t-shirts because of Homer. He provoked them, so he has to take some responsibility for the fact that a person died. It’s the first time his antics caused another person’s death.

Alone3

This is a pretty crappy way to send off a longtime character.

I know some people might mention Frank Grimes, but that’s a different situation. Homer doesn’t actively antagonize his co-worker. He tries to be a nice guy to him. He tries to make friends, but it doesn’t work. Frank ends up going crazy out of jealousy and basically kills himself, by doing something too stupid even for Homer. And that episode was basically The Simpsons criticizing itself. It was almost a self-parody.

Homer wasn’t a jerk in “Homer’s Enemy,” but he really was in “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily.” There’s a line where he says he parked in the ambulance zone preventing any possible resuscitation. What the hell? First off, that doesn’t even make sense. I don’t think you can resuscitate someone with a broken neck. But second, it just makes Homer seem more like a callous bastard. It also makes the producers look like jerks too. It’s possible to be tasteless and funny, but I think this episode is just the first one.

I think my least favorite joke is when Bart changes the cake from “Rest in Peace” to “Rest in Pee.” This is too juvenile for even a 10-year-old. The fact that the producers think this is funny is just really telling, and the fact that they think Bart would find it funny shows how little they get his character. Then there’s the scene with Rod and Todd playing “Billy Graham’s Bible Blaster,” which is actually a little funny. But I don’t think the kids would just be playing video games after their mom died. Maybe they’d be happy because they think she’s in heaven. I don’t know.

Death is a hard subject to make funny, but The Simpsons were able to do it. Take “’Round Springfield” for example. This website has already done a Compare and Contrast with that episode, so I don’t want to be redundant. It’s just amazing how much better that episode is than “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily.” “’Round Springfield” managed to be funny while still taking the death seriously. It managed to be sad but also had some great jokes. “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” doesn’t do either of those things. The death is treated like a joke and the attempts at humor are just sad.

“Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” was a terrible episode, but it was more than that. When Maude Flanders died, a part of the show died. The characters stopped behaving like actual people, so it became really hard to care about them. The show had lost its sense of humor, and with this episode it lost its heart. Yes, it’s kind of arbitrary, but I think that’s the episode where the show crossed the line from The Simpsons to Zombie Simpsons. It was the day the series died.




E-Mail

deadhomersociety (at) gmail

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Twitter Updates

Useful Legal Tidbit

Even though it’s obvious to anyone with a functional frontal lobe and a shred of morality, we feel the need to include this disclaimer. This website (which openly advocates for the cancellation of a beloved television series) is in no way, shape or form affiliated with the FOX Network, the News Corporation, subsidiaries thereof, or any of Rupert Murdoch’s wives or children. “The Simpsons” is (unfortunately) the intellectual property of FOX. We and our crack team of one (1) lawyer believe that everything on this site falls under the definition of Fair Use and is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. No revenue is generated from this endeavor; we’re here because we love “The Simpsons”. And besides, you can’t like, own a potato, man, it’s one of Mother Earth’s creatures.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 419 other followers