Archive for the 'The Simpsons' Category

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.

14
Aug
14

Primetime Cartoons: Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy

Lisa vs Malibu Stacy9

“Mom!  We can go on the factory tour and I can complain in person!” – Lisa Simpson
“Honey, you’re not going to throw red paint at the executives, are you?  The Keebler people were very upset.” – Marge Simpson

Welcome to tonight’s open thread, or live blog, or live watch, or whatever it is we’re doing for the Season 5 episode “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy”.  The comment section is open, the Twitter hashtag is #NewHat, and feel free to quote things as you see fit.  Also, please tell us, during or after, how you think we can improve this.  As I said earlier in the week, I really don’t know how this wants to work or what I’m doing.  But it seems like there’s enough Simpsons fans on-line that watching together should be more fun than watching apart, and suggestions are welcome.  Now let’s forget our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream.

Edit 9:00pm: Well, that was fun.  It was a controlled disaster, but first times of anything usually are.  (I’m reminded of Jay Sherman reminiscing about “the agony of my first public shower”.)  Dave and I got way out of sync on Twitter, I foolishly thought my wireless would be fine if I sat out in the yard instead of closer to the hub (it died with about three minutes to go), I got started late because I had to reboot my laptop, and running these episodes with no commercials makes quoting and commenting on the fly hard to do.  On the other hand, I got to watch The Simpsons, which I am pretty much never unhappy about.  Thanks to those who watched and commented along, here and on Twitter, and we’ll try this again next week.  

The Joy of Sect13

12
Aug
14

Primetime Cartoons

The Way We Was20

“Back up or it’ll hurt your eyes.” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, it will not.” – Bart Simpson
“Oh, yes it will.” – Homer Simpson

First off, all the chapters of the “Tapped Out” minibook are now live here at the site.  If you’ve been waiting to read it for free, now you can.  Thank you to everyone who has purchased it, linked to it from message boards and aggregating sites, or simply read it.  Now onto my next hair brained scheme . . .

I’ve threatened to start a regular Simpsons watching liveblog here a couple of times now. With the upcoming release of the show on streaming (albeit with a sadly restricted audience of only cable customers and people to whom they give their logins), now seems as good a time as any to start actually doing so.   Repetitive complaining about repetitively mediocre Zombie Simpsons episodes is all well and good, but The Simpsons is always more fun to watch than Zombie Simpsons.

I don’t know quite how this wants to work, but this is what we’re thinking:

- Watch an episode every Thursday evening at 8pm Eastern (currently GMT/UTC -4)

- Put up an open thread here at DHS for comments

- Probably create some kind of hashtag so people can follow along on Twitter

- Let you fine Springfieldians decide which episode we watch

Comments, suggestions and general improvements on how we do this are welcome.  In the meantime, and with that final point in mind, I’ve put up a poll on the sidebar at right.  For no particular reason, I picked one episode for each Simpson family member.  (The numbers and letters in parentheses are that episode’s season and DVD disc.)  We can use a different set next week, repeat the ones that don’t get picked, or do something else; whatever happens, that’s a next week problem.  This week, on Thursday evening, Dave and myself  (Mad Jon’s out of the country this week, but will be along eventually) will watch whichever episode gets the most votes.

Join us here, yell at us on Twitter, or just watch them at your own damn convenience (you guys come to this site from a whole smorgasbord of time zones, so my Thursday at 8pm isn’t most of yours).  Whatever you decide, my advice is to ride it out, make an occasional smart alec quip, and before you know it, things will be back to where they started from, ready for another wacky adventure.

12
Aug
14

Quote of the Day

Treehouse of Horror VI9

“Here comes something!” – Kodos
“Remember the story.  We’re newlyweds on our way to Earth Capital.” – Kang
“Oh, shazbot.” – Kodos

Goodbye, Robin Williams.

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.

08
Aug
14

REMINDER: Even In The Early 1990s ‘The Internet’ Didn’t Hate On The Simpsons

Das Bus8

“Go apple!” – Bart Simpson
“Go orange!” – Nelson Muntz
“Go banana!” – Ralph Wiggum

This was originally going to be part of today’s Reading Digest, but this silly Warming Glow clickbait is making the rounds and needs a more thorough rebuttal:

REMINDER: The Internet Hated On ‘The Simpsons’ During The Golden Era

Let’s get started, shall we?:

As it’s been noted around these parts, FXX will be airing all episodes of The Simpsons over 12 days in August along with an all encompassing website. As with anything regarding The Simpsons on the internet, there are also plenty of comments about it being nowhere near as good as it used to be (“So only three days of good episodes?,” “It’s all downhill after season x.” etc.). It made me wonder what the internet thought of the classic episodes when they first aired. Well thanks to The Simpsons Archive, we can observe just that, via the Usenet reviews in their episode capsules.

So far, so good.  But this particular Spruce Caboose is about to jump the tracks:

The results were as expected: while there was plenty of praise to go around, many episodes highly regarded today were drawing as much ire as the more recent ones.

No, they weren’t.  In fact, this premise is so thin that it falls apart right here in this single sentence.  Not only do they have to note the praise first, but to say these were drawing “as much ire” is just transparently false.

Don’t take my word for it, the author, “Chet Manly” (<- great screen name), has some examples:

Here are some criticisms starting in season four:

“Kamp Krusty”

Larry Schwimmer {las}: Kamp Krusty had a few good gags and a lot of potential, but
it was often predictable and drawn out.

Chris Baird {cjb}: Rushed. In the past I’ve attributed poor storylines to
the unsuccess of a show, but the voice direction for the first part of
this episode (including that from the usually splendid Ms. Smith) was
that abysmal, it should accept the responsibility for most of the jokes
falling flat. If this happens again, I’m buying a tin of red grease paint.

To be fair, and to my slight surprise, the SNPP capsule linked there is clearly incomplete and has only those two reviews.  Since usenet is no longer with us, the complete original may be gone forever, but Google can find some of it, and there’s plenty of praise:

I really liked the scenes with Mr. Black and the evil camp consellors.
In once scene, they toasted “Evil!”.  Later, during the revolt, they
were going to escape by hydrofoil!  In other words, they were acting
like James Bond villians …

And:

A good show, but not great. You can’t have a *great*
: Simpsons episode when Monty Burns *and* Itchy & Scratchy
: are absent.
I quite agree!!

And:

For some reason I liked Homer’s quote:
“Don’t be the boy. Don’t be the boy. Don’t be the boy. D’oooh!”
And in classic Homer style
“If you want something you have to work for it,” he says to Bart
about getting good grades to go to kamp, then we see he has a
lottery ticket. Ha!
I also like the scenes of most of the family (except Marge, of course)
eating like animals. The sound effects are great.

Is every comment positive?  Of course not.  And these guys (and it does seem to be all guys) were hung up on the animation, since this was right around the time it switched from Klasky-Csupo to Film Roman and Akom to Anivision and Rough Draft.  (Oh, if only they knew the horrors of lifeless computer animation that awaited them!)

Moreover, and to reiterate my point from five(!) years ago, the people talking about the Simpsons on-line in 1992 were a very odd and unrepresentative bunch.  Just click that Google link above and you’ll see things like this:

The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Campus Office for Information
Technology, or the Experimental Bulletin Board Service.

A ton of the posts are from university IT departments (I counted Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Temple, Boston, and Stanford among others), and plenty that aren’t are from computer companies (there’s even a “HaL Computer Systems”).  There’s nothing wrong with all that, of course, but you’re talking about a time when new episodes were watched by 15 million people, only a tiny slice of whom had the technical skills to get to this message board.

Finally, he’s very selective about what he quotes.  Here’s the full “Larry Schwimmer” review (Uproxx parts in bold):

Larry Schwimmer {las}:  I wondered if I would ever pan a show.  Well, I
    need wonder
    no longer.  Kamp Krusty had a few good gags and a lot of potential, but
    it was often predictable and drawn out.  Also, a lot of the animation
    was not up to par (a few scenes were quite well done, though -- like
    Lisa giving the letter).

    Highlights:
        The couch sequence
        Goodbye scene with the parents
        "I no longer fear hell" - Lisa
        Krisis at Kamp Krusty
            - the play on TV news coverage
            - Lord of the Flies (including the skewered pig)
        Marge and Homer

    Midlights:
        Mail give-out
        Martin and his imitation gruel
        TV Video voice-over

    Lowlights:
        This is already a tad on the analytical...  If you loved this
        show, great.  That makes one of us. :(

This is deliberately misleading editing, at best.  And while I’m not saying that Schwimmer liked it, he had an awful lot of positive things to say about it.  That’s hardly comparable to “as much ire as the more recent ones”, about which people here and elsewhere frequently have nothing good to say.

Moving on, the next episode Uproxx quotes is “Itchy and Scratchy Land”:

By the time season six rolls around, there are much stronger critiques, where even the compliments are backhanded.

Again, the parts they decided to include are in bold:

Bailey Irwin: This makes my Top 5 worst list of all time, easily.  The
    racing form in the 1st 60 seconds of the show was the only thing
    that made me laugh out loud.  After that, it was nothing but about
    10 jillion stupid "Jurassic Park" jokes.  Killer robots?  Puh-LEEZE.

Scott Oak: I thought the beginning was good, but those silly robots
    kinda killed it for me.

Rod Arz: I liked it a lot.  Agreed that the robots were a bit on the
    lame side, but not as bad as the James Wood sub plot in Homer and
    Apu.  We still haven't seen Mr. Burns yet!  I wanna see him soon.

Shawn Metcalf: The first episode this season that I found myself
    laughing out loud at.  A marked improvement.

J. D. Baldwin: Well, that *was* more like it.  Now, what was that I was
    just saying about the long dry spell just prior to "Flaming Moe's"?

Matt Snyder: That show just didn't cut it.  The best episodes are plot
    driven, this was just one long excuse to make fun of Jurassic Park.
    I thought it was a big wasted opportunity.

Aaron Varhola: If this is any indication of how the sixth season will
    be, we're in for a treat.  After a dragging first act, the second
    and third acts were some of the best OFF I've seen; vicious shots at
    Disney, meta-humor about cartoon violence, and Bart as his
    mischievous self.  [...] A-.

Brian Fox: Not one of the best, not one of the worst either though...

Philip Hebbes: The show was great, I was laughing through the whole
    show.

John J. Wood: Finally...a *real* Simpsons episode [...].  The plot tied
    together well, and plenty of choice gags.  I watched this twice last
    night, and the second time was even funnier -- kudos on the
    blackboard and couch scenes, too.  Grade: A.

Carl Mueller: I'd have to say this WAS a pretty mediocre episode, but
    compared to what has been shown so far this season, it was a marked
    improvement.  Mainly it was the Disney jokes that got me, the last
    10 minutes (w/ the Robots and stuff) seemed to drag quite a bit.  C-

M. Coale: Was it just me or did "Itchy and Scratchy Land" overstep the
    bounds of parody and become what it was mocking?  The violence, IMO,
    was quite extreme and came very very close to crossing "the line" or
    possibly overstepped it?  It got to the point when it just stopped
    being funny.

Don Del Grande: A-minus - the only things that stood in the way of this
    episode getting a maximum rating were (a) the animation was weak at
    times, and (b) the ending was much too abrupt; it was as if there
    was 20 minutes of material written for a 21-minute show and they
    just tacked on something at the end.

Joel Recht: I thought the Disney barbs were great (recall the "Evil
    Gene" from The boy who knew to much.), the fantasia and Pinnochio
    spoofs were top notch.  I loved the detention center when Bart got
    arrested.  I give it an A.

Benjamin Dreyfus: One of the best episodes ever.  This episode contained
    all of the positive, but none of the negative aspects that were
    characteristic of 5th-season.  [...] In pure absurd-humor power, the
    Bort scene was second only to the rake scene.  This also proved that
    OFF could still be funny outside of Springfield.  Grade: A.

Matthew Kurth: This episode was a vast improvement over most of Season
    Five.  The "Jurassic Park" refs were well done, although the
    revelation that flashes disabled the berserk robots was poorly done
    with no atmosphere.  And finally - a decent ending! 8/10

Tony Hill: A very funny episode, IMHO.  The takeoffs on amusement parks
    were grandly amusing.  Once again we see OFF poking fun at Disney.
    It's no pleasant commentary on our society that a funland called
    "the violentest place on earth" is conceivable.  I give it an A.

Yours Truly: Excellent episode.  I'm in awe of the "Fantasia" parody...
    Elfman's music was spot on.  Loved the Disney and Jurassic park
    jokes, the writing was fast and furious, the violence was so
    prevalent but so blindly accepted that it was hilarious.  Grade: A.

Note that of the seven people who gave it letter grades, Uproxx included only the “C-“.  The other six were all “A”s.  Just as important, there are a lot of straight ahead compliments, not just backhanded ones.  There are more examples and I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.

Were there internet criticisms of The Simpsons during its heyday?  Yes.  Were those criticisms representative of the entire population of Simpsons fans?  No.  Were those criticisms even representative of just the tiny number of fans who were on-line?  Again and emphatically: no.

Comparing that narrow slice of a narrow slice to the widely held and statistically evident opinion that Zombie Simpsons sucks doesn’t even reach the level of comparing apples to oranges.  It’s a dropped banana.

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.

31
Jul
14

Just Because

Simple Minded TV Mayhem

Watched this one when I got home from work and thought it’d make a nice .gif.

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.

24
Jul
14

Debunking the Zombie Simpsons Apologists (Part 2)

By Calvin

[You can check out Part 1 here.]

So-called “fans” have always criticized the show, even in its glory days. Al Jean says so.

Charlie Sweatpants effectively debunked this argument, but it bears repeating. During the classic years of The Simpsons in the 1990s, Internet access was not even close to being as widespread and democratic as it is now. Many of us relied on dial-up modems at schools and libraries to access the Internet through now-outdated programs like America Online and Prodigy, which were slow and expensive to use from what I remember.

I didn’t know Simpsons message boards existed. Even Simpsons writers like Bill Oakley thought it was a hassle to get online and engage with these techie fans, whom he ignored anyway.

These so-called Simpsons fans’ disparaging comments about the classic episodes can be found in The Simpsons Archive at snpp.com, proving that Internet message boards have always been havens for snark and trolling, even in the early years. But as Charlie writes about the SNPP crowd:

“Their opinions have outsized prominence because they were amongst the first people to discuss popular culture on-line, but the population that generated those reviews is extremely non-representative of Simpsons fans. It’s highly skewed towards the techiest of the early 1990s nerds who were, to put it mildly, an abnormal set of people … that said criticism is ridiculously harsh, should NOT obscure the fact that in this day and age, indeed since the turn of the century at least, there has been a solid and growing contingent of Simpsons fans who feel the show has badly lost itself.”

I sympathize with Zombie Simpsons writers to some extent in that I work for a news website that allows online comments. Some of the nasty, unfair things readers write about my work and my colleagues’ work makes me despair for humanity. That’s still no excuse for us to churn out an inferior product; regardless of the comments, I’m inspired to work harder and be better.

As Charlie explains:

“When the real grumbling about the show started, it wasn’t because disliking the show was cool, or because the most involved fans all have mean streaks.  It was because the show got worse, a gradual process that had precisely nothing to do with the internet and everything to do with the show itself.”

You’re older, crankier and more cynical. Of course (Zombie) Simpsons no longer appeals to you.

I’ve never understood this argument. Even former Simpsons writer Jay Kogen (co-writer of episodes like “Bart the Daredevil” and “Last Exit to Springfield”) used this to defend the show in a Reddit Q&A.

When asked if he thought the show’s quality had declined over the years, Kogen responded:

I keep thinking that maybe people feel that way because THEY’VE gotten older. I loved the first star wars movies and hated the later ones because I saw the first ones when I was 12 and the later ones when I was 30. Kids who saw the later ones as kids, loved them.”

The Star Wars movies Kogen viewed as young boy (Episodes 4-6) debuted to critical and commercial acclaim and made a significant impact on pop culture, much as The Simpsons have. Decades after their initial release, people still can’t get enough of Star Wars and all the comic books, TV shows, clothing and toys. Some people have turned Star Wars into a lifestyle.

In contrast, the Star Wars prequels (Episodes 1-3), which came complete with the latest film technology and big-name actors, received much scorn and mockery, and George Lucas was excoriated. Even Zombie Simpsons poked fun at how disappointing the Star Wars prequels were (they were years late to the party, but still).

Kids who only saw Episodes 1-3 loved them because they didn’t have the originals to compare them with. (Plus, why are you placing so much faith in the opinions of children?)

By Kogen’s logic, he should hate the original Star Wars movies and older Simpsons fans like myself should hate those old episodes. Yet he doesn’t follow through with this argument. Instead, it seems he suggests that Zombie Simpsons only appeals to young children who have never seen the earlier seasons. That’s not a defense but an admission that Zombie Simpsons is not what it used to be, as well as a mockery of its adult fans.

(Zombie) Simpsons has evolved with time, as have you. Of course it’s not as funny/relevant/impactful to you as it once was.

This is a variation of the argument above, and it also doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Do Zombie Simpsons writers really not care about making a show that makes an impact or holds up well with time?

Yes, apparently. Zombie Simpsons writer Dana Gould made this argument, as did Zombie Simpsons writer Michael Price, who brings up the silly Star Wars comparison. (Mike, do you really compare your work to the dreaded Star Wars prequels?)

I started watching The Simpsons when I was about 7 or 8 years old; I’m now a 20-something adult. (Yikes!) When I watch classic Simpsons episodes, I find they are still as funny to me at this age as they were when I was a kid; in fact, I appreciate these episodes on a different level because I understand more of the jokes and references that probably went over my head when I was a child. As a writer myself, I appreciate the story structure and character development of episodes like “Marge vs. the Monorail” and “You Only Move Twice,” which should be studied in English and creative writing courses.

Besides, can anyone really argue that The Simpsons has “evolved”? No character has really changed: Bart and Lisa are still ageless in elementary school; Maggie is still a baby; Homer and Marge are still married; Diamond Joe Quimby is still mayor; 99.9 percent of the original characters are still alive. They’re the same people, but less likeable and relatable.

Regarding our changing world, Zombie Simpsons has never really dealt with how major events like the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Barack Obama’s election, WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing, or wars in the Middle East have affected the citizens of Springfield, aside from the occasional heavy handed or forgettable episode. Zombie Simpsons never even parodied George W. Bush!

True, I’m not the same person at this age as I was when I was 9: I’m older, more educated, less naïve, more realistic, a beer drinker, not as lazy or easily amused. So why does The Simpsons hold up so well for adult me, while Zombie Simpsons (and the cartoons I used to enjoy as a child) do not? It’s not nostalgia.

If you don’t like the show, don’t watch it.

This is not a defense of the show, but thanks for the advice, Confucius. I’m already ahead of you.

It’s worth noting that if you listen to the DVD commentaries for Zombie Simpsons, not even the writers, producers and voice actors seem to like the show. Now compare those to commentaries for classic episodes, and it’s like the difference between night and day. When your own priceless voice actors can’t get excited about the show, it’s time to end it.

But The Simpsons is still capable of one or two funny jokes per episode

The worst episodes of Family Guy, a shameless joke factory, can still have one or two jokes that make you laugh.

Dane Cook probably has at least one routine that makes me smile.

Sean Hannity might say something I agree with on occasion.

Is it really worth spending 22 minutes of your time watching a mediocre Simpsons episode in hopes that Homer Simpson will say something — anything — that makes you chuckle?

But The Simpsons team want to keep making money the show going. Matt Groening said so!

If the prolific Seth MacFarlane can admit that Family Guy should have ended a few years ago, then Matt Groening can do it too.

At this point, it’s completely disingenuous to insist that The Simpsons should keep going because the cast and crew are dedicated to putting out a quality show for us lucky fans – especially when they have essentially admitted that the show is a shameless merchandising tool.

Here’s a sample of the dialogue from the June 18 update of The Simpsons Tapped Out game (which, by EA’s own estimates, has generated $130 million since its debut), written by Zombie Simpsons writers:

Blue-Haired Lawyer: Krusty, if you’re jaded about being rich, there’s only one solution to your spiritual crisis — get even richer … What you need is to start making new Itchy & Scratchys.

Krusty: But we’ve already got hundreds of them, and the characters don’t change or age. What innovative stories could any writer wring out of those characters?

Blue-Haired Lawyer: From what I can tell, none. But it doesn’t matter. No one needs to watch the new episodes. They just need to know they’re being made and remember the old ones fondly… and voila, the brand is still relevant! Then you can start merchandising T-shirts and action figures, slot machines and beer… maybe even develop a freemium game!

Krusty: Would the game have to be good?

Blue-Haired Lawyer: Not at all!

If that’s not a cynical admission of them turning this once-beloved show into a zombie cash cow, than I don’t know what is.

23
Jul
14

Debunking the Zombie Simpsons Apologists (Part 1)

By Calvin

[You can read Part 2 here.]

One of the reasons I enjoy visiting Dead Homer Society at least once a week is reading the articulate breakdowns and critiques of latter-day Simpsons episodes, from the show’s desperate efforts to be relevant by bringing in celebrities and making clumsy pop culture references, to the poor and disjointed writing, lame new characters, odd character development, bad animation, and lack of actual, you know, jokes. As a longtime Simpsons fan who reveres its glory years, it was devastating to find myself joining the ranks of its fans-turned-critics and agreeing that it should have ended years ago.

Yet I’m intrigued by fans of Zombie Simpsons, who lack an equivalent website like DHS but pop up in nearly every online discussion to defend the show. Sure, it’s difficult to engage with people who dismiss your arguments with, “Well, I still like it,” but it’s gotten annoying to see them trot out the same arguments and half-hearted defenses of Zombie Simpsons that can easily be debunked.

For the record, I favor ending Zombie Simpsons with a proper sendoff, as the writers on Futurama were able to do when that show was canceled. I believe it’s ridiculous to keep defending a bad show with vigor that these “fans” would never give to any other show, as if Zombie Simpsons is more sacred than the Catholic Church or Prophet Muhammad.

Here are my responses to some of the most common (and silly) defenses of the show. In keeping with the theme of this website, I refer to latter-day Simpsons (post-season 9 episodes) as Zombie Simpsons.

Even at its worst, (Zombie) Simpsons is still better than most crap on television

I still hear this claim from the most devoted fans, even though they typically preface it with a caveat like, “I don’t rush home and watch it like I once did” or “I watch it On Demand when I have the time.” Can you imagine Simpsons fans saying this when the show was in its prime? “I didn’t have time to watch ‘Lisa’s Pony,’ but I recorded it and will see it later this week if I have the time.”

The problem with making this claim, especially in 2014, is that The Simpsons is no longer the best show on TV. Heck, it’s not even the best show on Sunday.

You’ve probably read those articles about how we’ve entered the golden age of television, when cable and broadcast networks are attracting the best and brightest writers, actors and directors, and TV shows are surpassing movies in the quality of their acting and writing. Famous Hollywood directors and actors are jumping on the bandwagon and forgoing movies in favor of television (and being rewarded for it).

On Sunday nights, Americans have the option of tuning in to a range of popular, critically acclaimed shows such as Game of Thrones, Mad Men, True Detective, Veep, The Walking Dead, Silicon Valley, Boardwalk Empire, Cosmos, True Blood, British imports like Sherlock and Downton Abbey, and many other shows I’m forgetting. Even the other shows on the Fox’s Sunday cartoon block like Bob’s Burgers and American Dad! are earning critical and fan acclaim. In contrast, I can hardly find an article about Zombie Simpsons’ latest ratings gimmick without a variant of the “It’s not as good as it used to be” line.

The next day, these shows become the hot topic of conversation with family, friends and co-workers. Yet I can’t remember the last time I discussed the latest Simpsons episode with coworkers and friends – which would have been inconceivable to me 15 years ago.

Perhaps if you live in a country with state-run television that relies on U.S. imports to fill the schedule, than Zombie Simpsons may still be better than 99 percent of everything else. Still, don’t most people watch everything online anyway?

Shut up, Comic Book Guy. The Simpsons owe you nothing. If anything, you owe them for all that free entertainment they gave you.

My, what a timely Simpsons reference dating all the way back to … 1997, in season eight. Could you not think of any line from season 20-something that delivers an equally clever jab?

Regarding your overall point, I agree that I owe The Simpsons a lot for the years of entertainment it provided to me. This is why, 20 years after my first viewing, I remain an outspoken fan of those classic seasons, and why I engage with fellow fans, including those of you who continue to convince me that its inferior seasons are somehow worthy. Heck, I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t care about it.

You can’t end The Simpsons. It’s a popular, critically acclaimed show, and an American institution! People would lose their jobs!

Folks, are you familiar with how television works? All in the Family, M.A.S.H., Seinfeld, Cheers, I Love Lucy and The Mary Tyler Moore Show were TV royalty in their heyday. Guess what happened to them?

TV shows get canceled all the time for any number of reasons. There are websites dedicated to informing viewers when their favorite shows are canceled. Zombie Simpsons is no different.

I know the disappointment of seeing a favorite show get canceled. Freaks and Geeks, Carnivale, The Critic, Rome, Boomtown, Arrested Development, and Futurama are favorite shows of mine that were axed by heartless network executives. (Note how two of those shows were created by Simpsons alumni.)

I’m frustrated when my favorite shows get the chop but I adjust, as do the people behind these shows. Cancelation is not a career death sentence. Producers, writers and actors go on to do other things. Matt Groening & Co. are big boys (and big girls) with clout in the industry; they’ll be fine and may go on to create other great shows.

As I stated above, I would like Fox to give Zombie Simpsons advanced notice to end the show so that the writers could give it a proper sendoff, just as the writers of Futurama were able to do. Subsidizing a show with diminishing ratings for the benefit of a few vocal fans is not how TV should work (unless you’re a Communist or something).

But if I still haven’t convinced you, let’s imagine the alternate world in which The Simpsons ended its run after Season 8. What could have happened?

  • The Simpsons cements its status as the greatest show of all time and is admired for ending at the height of its popularity, while subsequent criticism from critics and fans (like me) never happens
  • Matt Groening goes on to create Futurama and several other TV shows that earn critical and audience acclaim
  • A Simpsons movie comes out every few years
  • Simpsons writers, voice actors and crewmembers get jobs at other sitcoms and cartoon shows, and drive the overall quality of those programs up (it’s worked out for Brad Bird and Greg Daniels)
  • Mike Scully doesn’t become a hated figure among fans
  • The Simpsons still gets a lucrative syndication deal where two to four classic episodes are aired back to back, five days a week, on Fox or on one of those cable channels like TBS or Cartoon Network
  • We don’t get to see Homer take 50+ new jobs as an acrobat, hair stylist, Super Bowl choreographer, Mexican wrestler, paparazzo, and grunge musician
  • Awful episodes like “Saddlesore Galactica,” “That ‘90s Show,” “Strong Arms of the Ma,” “Donnie Fatso,” “Large Marge,” and the episode where Homer gets raped by a panda never get made

The horror, the horror!

[Ed Note: Part 2 coming tomorrow!]

22
Jul
14

Quote of the Day

Bart's Inner Child15

“Right now, I want each of you to try something interesting.  There’s no trick to it.  It’s just a simple trick!” – Brad Goodman

Happy birthday Albert Brooks!

21
Jul
14

Quote of the Day

A Streetcar Named Marge9

“Maggie is allergic to strained pears and she likes a bottle of warm milk before nap time.” – Marge Simpson
“A bottle?  Mrs. Simpson, do you know what a baby’s saying when she reaches for a bottle?” – Ms. Sinclair
“Ba ba?” – Marge Simpson
“She’s saying, ‘I am a leech!’.  Our aim here is to develop the bottle within.” – Ms. Sinclair

Happy birthday Jon Lovitz! 

20
Jul
14

An Observation While Re-Ripping My DVDs

DVDs

“The way I see it, if you raise three children who can knock out and hog tie a perfect stranger, you must be doing something right.” – Marge Simpson

A few months ago I stopped resisting and finally got a smart phone.  It’s very snazzy and does lots of things my beloved old flip phone couldn’t do, including play video.  Naturally, this got me to thinking about how I could get The Simpsons on there.  Way back in 2006, I ripped all my DVDs to .avi files that came in at ~183MB each.  (These are the files from which I get pretty much all of the screen grabs on this site.)  For the 203 episodes that comprise Seasons 1-9, that’s a total of 37.2GB.  My new phone, snazzy though it is, has only 32GB of space, a mere 26.8GB of which is available for media storage.  To paraphrase Hermes Conrad, if I know anything about which number is bigger than the other number, those files won’t all fit on the phone.  Ergo, time to re-rip the DVDs to smaller files.

Now, ripping teevee show DVDs is boring, repetitive and time consuming, so I put it off a good long while.  But on Friday I finally got off my duff and figured out the right settings in HandBrake for a good balance between quality and file size.  For the curious, I settled on H.264 at 320kbps video and 96kbps audio in a .mkv file to preserve the DVD chapters.  More importantly, each episode runs just ~73MB, and once I’m done they should come in just under 15GB total.  These won’t look or sound great on my television, but on a tiny phone screen with headphones, they’re just fine thank you.

One of the annoyances of all this is making sure each file gets named correctly.  HandBrake can’t automatically add the titles to the filenames (you have select “Title1″ and so on), and after each disc is done I’m left with something like this:

Simpsons – 401 – .mkv
Simpsons – 402 – .mkv
Simpsons – 403 – .mkv
Simpsons – 404 – .mkv

Since I’ve never watched these files before and it’s always possible that I goofed and picked the wrong part of the disc or made some other mundane mistake, I check them after I add episode titles.  I don’t need to watch the whole thing, just play the file real quick, skip to the somewhere past the credits, and make sure that the file I’ve just called “Simpsons – 403 – Homer the Heretic.mkv” is, in fact, “Homer the Heretic”.  I finished through Season 4 yesterday, and I just started ripping Season 5 today.  So I have popped open and seen a few random seconds from a lot of episodes this weekend.

Doing so has served as yet another reminder (not that I needed one) of how astonishingly dense this show is.  You can skip to almost any part of an episode and see something that is laugh out loud funny.  Boop, there’s Bart thinking they can’t afford all the library books in “Dead Putting Society”.  Boop, there’s the casino reverend handing Homer ten dollars worth of chips and telling him to kiss the bride.  Boop, there’s “The Erotic Adventures of Hercules”, with Normal Fell as Zeus!  Whether you land in an A-plot, a B-plot, or even just a cutaway or flashback, there’s something memorable and funny.

I have no real point here, it’s just amazing, especially when you remember that these episodes are all 20+ years old.

18
Jul
14

Reading Digest: Fun for All Ages Edition

Lisa the Vegetarian15

“I think it’s nice we’re doing something Maggie will enjoy for once.  Besides, I’m sure Storytown Village is also fun for everyone, from eight to . . . God only knows.” – Marge Simpson

There are more than a few things that make The Simpsons unique, even when compared to other hit programs.  Close to the top of that list, and this is borne out more and more with each passing year, is the damned near agelessness of it.  At some point, the world is going to tire of the Simpsons family and it’ll become a part of history, but that point seems to keep receding into the future rather than coming closer.  This week we’ve got a couple more links about that very adult play positing that the culture of the show would survive the apocalypse, and in a nice contrast to that we’ve also got glowing write ups of old episodes from a teenager (who wasn’t even born when the episodes he’s watching were made) and even younger kids who dress up and act out the show.  We take that persistent interest for granted, but it’s pretty damned mind blowing when you take a second to think about it.

In addition to that we’ve got a couple of people who agree with us, the most detailed Lego breakdown yet, Lego Gorilla the Conqueror, shameless Buddha merchandise, and some excellent usage.  Enjoy.

The Simpsons Lego House – I’ve linked a few people assembling the Simpsons Lego set before, but nobody’s taken this many pictures and gone into this much detail.  If you want an up close look at what’s in that box, this is the link for you.

The Simpsons: “Dog of Death” – Young, soon to be college student takes a look at some of Season 3 that he’s never seen before and comes away impressed . . .

The Simpsons: “Colonel Homer” – . . . particularly with this one:

Hilarious, emotional, and wonderfully paced, it doesn’t get more classic The Simpsons than “Colonel Homer.”

The Simpsons: “Black Widower” – These episodes were made before he was born, hard to see anyone doing the same for Season 23 in two decades or so.

Truro school celebrate end of summer term with unusual school production – And speaking of the kids being alright, here’s some even younger ones dressed up as the “Sampsons” for a play.

Producers Endorse New Fox Presidents: ‘They Really Know What They’re Doing’ – Al Jean knows where his bread is buttered:

“I’ve worked with them both for a while, and they really know what they’re doing,” said “The Simpsons” executive producer Al Jean, who pointed to their long string of successes with comedies like “How I Met Your Mother.” “I think of the 23 network presidents ‘The Simpsons’ have had, they’ll be the best.”

Meet the new monkey bosses, same as the old monkey bosses.

ELEVEN PARIS x The Simpsons x colette – Promoting the high fashion merchandise means opening up a Simpsons themed something or other in Paris for a little while:

If you are a Simpsons fan and in Paris over the coming weeks, do try and make the effort to go and see the fun and loud Simpsons lair lurking under the super chic glass, chrome interior of colette. It’s the closest you may get to Springfield on this side of the Atlantic, until they open a Euro Universal Studios

Hello? Euro Universal Studios open for business!

The Simpson Family & the Respective Strains of Weed That Match Their Characters (You’re Welcome!) – The weirdness of the Homer_Marijuana twitter account continue to echo.

WWLSR: Seasons 7-9 – The Lisa reading project rolls on, including through the book heavy “Summer of 4 Ft. 2″.

Bunch of bloody clowns… – Fan made collage that includes a rather Mr. Sparkle looking Homer.

The Simpsons – The “25 Years Comic Con” poster.

Flashback: ‘The Simpsons’ Turn ‘Planet of the Apes’ Into a Musical – Video – There’s video, and there’s this:

As awesome as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes may be, it’s definitely not the best resurrection of the franchise. That honor still goes to the 1996 Simpsons episode “A Fish Called Selma,” which featured Troy McClure (voiced by the legendary Phil Hartman) reviving his stalled career by appearing in a musical adaptation of The Planet of the Apes entitled “Stop the Planet of the Apes. I Want To Get Off!”

And he’s starring as . . . the human!

Celebrate 25 Years of The Simpsons with 7″ Silver Homer Buddha – He is not forgetting the first two Noble Truths!

Tritone-Based Songs: The Devil’s Music – I did not know this:

It’s the very first notes you hear: “The Siiiiiimmmm-” form a tritone, before “-mmpsons” resolves back to a perfect fifth. The bass notes you can hear poking through now and again also follow a pattern that’s based around the Devil’s interval.

If you play the close credits backwards, there’s a recipe for a really ripping lentil soup.

Brilliant and Bonkers… ‘Mr Burns’ at The Almeida Theatre – The play’s got just over a week left in London, so here’s another happy review.

Review – Mr Burns by Anne Washburn at the Almeida Theatre – And here’s another “good, but…” review:

As a result, I’m not sure whether I’d recommend Mr Burns or not! If you prefer your theatre to be safe and comfortingly familiar, stay away. However if you’re willing to embrace something bravely different and take a risk, then give it a go. Although you have been warned about that third Act!

Futurama 3D – The Forrest Gump song is a little out of place, but that is very impressive visually:

The ad for Mom’s robot oil is a nice touch.

VIDEO: See The World ‘Futurama’ Rendered In 3-D – Some more stills and some extra video from the above.

Max’s Tavern named “best bar in the world” by Bar and Restaurant Magazine – It does bear a little resemblance to Moe’s, at least from the outside.  Not sure how that would help in a ranking, Moe’s is a dump, after all, but I’m not in charge of “Bar and Restaurant Magazine”, so what do I know?

People, like animals, are sometimes just jerks – Excellent usage:

Eventually, for everyone’s sake he was moved on to an animal reserve where he immediately picked up where he left off in Evergreen Terrace.

“Why is he attacking all those other elephants?” Marge asked the head ranger.

“Animals are a lot like people, Mrs. Simpson,” he replied. “Some of them act badly because they’ve had a hard life or have been mistreated. But, like people, some of them are just jerks.”

Mick Malthouse was moved onto the game reserve we know as Princes Park at the end of 2012 and picked up where he left off at Collingwood.

The game preserve guy actually says “Well” before “Animals”, but that’s nitpicking.

My Top 10 Favourite Television Opening Credits – The show comes in at #4 here.

Marge Attacks – Not sure of the source here (comic book, maybe?), but it’s Marge as the victim of a Kang & Kodos experiment.

Gorilla the conqueror! – The granddaddy of them all in simple Lego form.

Who Still Watches The Simpsons? – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with some people who agree with us.  A local sports radio guy in Kentucky asks:

Half a dozen of us would spend entire weekends watching episodes old and new on TV or DVD or VHS(!), bickering over which ones were funnier, cobbling together conversations entirely from Simpsons quotes. We played Simpsons boardgames. We destroyed local Simpsons-themed bar trivia nights. Yet all of us, every single one, stopped watching almost a decade ago. Come to think of it, literally not a single person I regularly speak with watches The Simpsons anymore.

No one in the comments watches it either.

13
Jul
14

Quote of the Day

Bart the Mother5

“What can I get for eight thousand tickets?” – Nelson Muntz
“A BB gun or an Easy-Bake Oven.” – Squeaky Voiced Teen
“Hot food is tempting, but I just can’t say no to a weapon.” – Nelson Muntz

Happy birthday David S/X Cohen!  

11
Jul
14

Reading Digest: Makeup Edition

The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace4

“This next one’s for the ladies.  How many times have you gals been late for a high powered business meeting only to realize you’re not wearing makeup?” – Homer Simpson
“That’s every woman’s nightmare.” – Marge Simpson
“That’s why I invented this revolutionary makeup gun!  It’s for the woman who only has four fifths of a second to get ready.  Close your eyes, Marge. . . . And now you’re ready for a night on the town.” – Homer Simpson
“Homer, you’ve got it set on whore.” – Marge Simpson

That Marge related makeup line they announced a few weeks ago got its big marketing rollout this week, so there were a ton of links to it.  Amusingly, personal blogs and sites were mostly filled with geeky love while the big commercial sites were uselessly parroting the press release.  In addition to all that merchandising glamour, we’ve got a couple of really stand out analysis pieces, one about animation and Bob’s Burgers, and another about the delicacy of translating Flanders.  Plus there’s some great fan art (including zombies!), a couple of lists, some usage, some soccer, some Australian politics, and the Lisa Simpsons version of Sir Mix-a-Lot.

Enjoy.

Beyond Easy: Bouchard Buffet, Part 5: Bob’s Burgers – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this detailed look at Bob’s Burgers and the early years of The Simpsons from our old friend Patrick R.  The focus is on animation, but it goes deep into characters and stories as well.  It’s worth reading even if you aren’t a Bob’s Burgers watcher, because it really gets at the underlying comic sensibilities of various shows.  Bravo.

The Fun of Nonstandard Lang-diddly-anguage – This was going to be the link of the week before I read the above, and it is also very much worth a read.  It’s a linguistic look at translating Flanders into other languages, with particular attention to the Fladerseses from around the world in “Lisa the Vegetarian”:

When assimilating these tics to their respective linguistic systems, several European translators opted to use variations of typical expressions (“salut”, “salve” and “hola” in FR, IT and ES for “hi-diddly-ho”) distorted in such a way as to retain the rhyme, alliteration and assonance that characterises the odd, yet distinctive, effect created in the English.

How do you translate “ding dong diddly días” into Italian?

Vampire Mob Graphic Novel – Issue 1 – I am really good at ignoring press releases and I get a lot of practice because this is a semi-popular internet site in a time when everyone is starved for attention, but I got one this week for an Indiegogo for a graphic novel based on a web series that Marcia Wallace was in before she died:

Zombie Simpsons: Mrs Krabapple by danosborne on deviantART – And speaking of Edna Krabappel, this is one of a series of excellent fan made zombie drawings.  There’s also Otto, Willie, and Krusty.

The Simpsons Wasted My Youth: Top 15 Episodes, Pt. 2 (Top 5) – Completing the list from last week, there is still no Zombie Simpsons and Hank Scorpio sits atop them all.

A Guide to the Dark, 420 Simpsons Remix on Twitter – The complete Denton write up.

Simpsons on the Block – A minimalist design of the family on a t-shirt.

The Simpsons – Heh:

“I like big books and I cannot lie
You other readers can’t deny
When a good book walks in with
A good plot base
And a big spine in your face
You get sprung!

Simpsons football lookalikes: Luiz Suarez as Cletus and David Luiz and Sideshow Bob – 12 football stars who look like your favourite characters – It just isn’t that hard to find a picture of Sepp Blatter looking like the personification of desiccated greed.

Dagwood Bumstead – TV characters and their sandwiches.  I think you all probably know the sandwich Homer has.

Makeup Like Marge: The MAC Simpsons Collection – That makeup collection from a few weeks back got a release date: end of August.  Give them this, it may be the first makeup to use the title “Nacho Cheese Explosion”.

Marge x MAC – But this just seems silly:

The Simpsons x MAC collection won’t hit stores until September, but the nerds at Comic-Con get first dibs when it goes on sale there for one day only in a few weeks. Me? Well, I’m yellow with envy

Ha!  Giving out makeup at Comic-Con . . . do they know their audience at all?

mac x simpsons makeup collection: it’s not a want, it’s a need. – Oh, one last link:

And a probably the first makeup tip I ever learned:

Ladies pinch.  Whores use rouge.

5 best memes of the Brazil World Cup 2014 – Comparing Brazil-Germany to Ralph’s heartbreaking moment on the Krusty 29th Anniversary show.

Webcomic Wednesday – There is a Simpsons Facebook page dedicated to making fun of Australia’s Liberal Party.  That is all.

Time For Change – Cool fan made Bart and Milhouse (among others) sketches.

Pick one and Never Lego – Ralph graffiti in the city of the angels.

Fox’s Fall Premiere Plan Includes Family Guy/Simpsons Crossover, 3-Part Utopia Launch, Late Mulaney Start – Ugh:

SUNDAY, SEPT. 28
8 pm The Simpsons (Season 26 Premiere)
8:30 pm Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Season 2 Premiere)
9 pm Family Guy (One-Hour “The Simpsons Guy” Season 13 Premiere Crossover Event)

Krusty go BOOM! – The destruction and rebuilding of a Tapped Out Krustyland.

Should I Purchase Lincoln? – The irony of that headline is tough to beat.  Heh.

Good or bad teeth? The genetics of tooth decay – Excellent reference from CNN:

Remember “The Big Book of British Smiles” from “The Simpsons”?
The dentist used it to scare children into proper dental hygiene.
And let’s be honest, it was funny! Because though British tea and good manners have an excellent international reputation, British teeth are mostly used as a punch line.

Top Thirteen Female Characters – #3: Lisa Simpson – Awesome:

I don’t remember a lot about that first season (I do now since I own it due to the miracle of DVD), but I do remember pretending to be Lisa Simpson. In kindergarten there was a stage you could play on and I distinctly remember playing Jem and the Holograms with my friends, but wanting to be Lisa Simpson instead of Kimberly of the Holograms. The mind of a five-year-old, right?

Round 117: Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire vs. Bart vs. Australia – Tough.

30 All-American Simpsons Episodes – There’s some Zombie Simpsons on this list, but it’s all buried down near the bottom, so well done on that.

How Fireworks Work, It’s All In The Chemistry – Excellent reference:

In the immortal words of The Simpsons, July 4th is a time to celebrate the independence of our nation by blowing up a small part of it.

Draw your friends – Well done:

I spent the whole night drawing my friends. Haha. Simpsons and Tim Burton styles.

Simpsons Denied Animated Emmy Nom for First Time – I suppose I should make a note of this, but I don’t give even the teensiest of fucks about the Emmys, so I have nothing to add.

I Want to Write for The Simpsons – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us.  I’m on record, just as recently as yesterday, as saying there is no hope for the show ever resuscitating itself, but there are some good ideas in here, and he agrees with us:

What made The Simpsons great wasn’t that they were going for just gags, instead they told simple stories and then gently assaulted viewers with witty jokes. The Simpsons were witty, they didn’t linger on jokes, they didn’t beat dead horses. I don’t see why the writers don’t return to this style. Worst case scenario, people are too busy laughing at one joke to hear the next, but that just adds longevity; people will want to rewatch episodes to catch everything.
The show was smart, but not up its own ass with pretentiousness. Everyone was self-aware but not self-obsessed.

Al, hire this kid.

10
Jul
14

Sorry, Uproxx, Zombie Simpsons Is Never Worth Watching

Bart Carny4

“Sorry.” – Screamatorium Carny

I understand the desire for there to be funny and watchable episodes of Zombie Simpsons.  Hell, I share it.  If they ever made a good episode again you could get out the crayolas and color me tickled pink.  But that will never happen.  The show is too far gone to regain even a spark of what once made it great, and the proof of that is on display in every episode of Zombie Simpsons.

And I mean every episode, as in all ten on this Uproxx list of “10 Episodes From the Past Five Years That Are Totally Worth Watching” @dailysimpsons tweeted earlier today.  This is readily apparent just by reading the article, where phrases like, “with Moe, for some reason”, “Umm..okay”, “wacky adventure with a farting toy train”, and “it’s a bit gruesome to watch” dot every entry.  But for a fuller rebuttal, let’s just go to the tape.

10.  “A Totally Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again” – This was the love note to the completely unlovable cruise industry.  Also, Bart’s feelings, which Uproxx mentions several times, were as stupid and ham handed as possible.

9.  “Donnie Fatso” – This is the one with the completely lifeless FBI agent and Homer being a suave undercover cop.  It’s boring as hell.

8.  “The Bob Next Door” – This one is from so long ago that there isn’t even a Compare & Contrast for it, but there was a nonsensical plot, lazy gags and pointless exposition.

7.  “The Food Wife” – The best compliment Uproxx can come up with is that there was a Tim & Eric song on this, which they call one of the best Simpsons songs in years.  When someone else’s work is the high point of your scripted show, it’s not a good sign.  This one also highlighted how much the family now lives like rich TV writers who can’t be bothered to think up non-pun brand parodies.

6.  “500 Keys” – This was a “Trilogy of Error” clone that managed to step on the few jokes it made.

5. “Homer The Father” – This is what I mean when I say that the premise of this post is constantly undermined by just how crappy these episodes are:

At a point in this show’s history where it tends to rely on weirder and weirder plots just to keep from getting bored with itself, this one features a simple storyline about Homer trying to be a better father (by following the advice of a cheesy 80s sitcom, of course)

That is very weak praise, indeed.  And let’s not forget that they whiffed completely on making fun of the eminently mockable 80s sitcoms.

4. – “The Saga Of Carl” – The Simpsons are going to Iceland, where they will kill time with chase scenes and musical montages.

3. – “Holidays Of Future Passed” – Another future episode that’s limp and lifeless next to “Lisa’s Wedding”.  They like this so much they’ve done it a couple more times since.

2. – “The Book Job” – A bland stab at parody with no villain ranks #2 on this list.  That’s about all you really need to know.

1.  “Brick Like Me” – Ah, the much touted merchandising tie in episode that both they and I think is the best they can do.  Sadly, that still means having characters constantly tell us what they’re doing and how they feel, which is even worse than usual because they spent two years on it and still managed to have a nearly jokeless script that would get laughed out of the remedial classes at Hollywood Upstairs Screenwriting College.

And that’s the problem with trying to find some good in Zombie Simpsons, there just isn’t anything the least bit memorable or creative about any of them.  These episodes are all from just the last five years, but with the possible exception of the Lego one, will any of these be fondly remembered five years from now?  Seems unlikely.  And even the Lego episode is only notable for the novel animation, not for quotes, jokes, parodies or any of the other things that make episodes from twenty years ago endlessly rewatchable.

Zombie Simpsons has been in a comfortable and generally dull rut for a lot more than five years, and in all that time hasn’t shown even a spark of breaking out.  Assuming the show continues its undead shuffle across network teevee for another five years, someone at Uproxx could write this exact same post, massive caveats and all, in 2019 and nobody would notice.

03
Jul
14

Reading Digest: Harry Shearer Speaks Between the Lines Edition

Homer the Smithers9

“What did Simpson do to you?” – Mr. Smithers
“Oh, nothing other than drive me to distraction with his incompetent boobery.  Terrible at everything!  A complete moron . . . but I’m not really free to talk right now.” – C.M. Burns

Thanks to Freedom Day tomorrow, it’s a short week and nobody’s spent much of it on the internet, so this is a very short Reading Digest.  And since big holidays are always some of our lowest traffic moments of the year, I thought I’d bump it to today.   There’s the usual collection of usage, some fan made stuff, and a little graffiti, but my favorite link is the last one, with some wonderfully circumspect words from the man himself, Harry Shearer.

Enjoy.

That Disastrous Car Homer Simpson Designed Was Actually Ahead of Its Time – This is a very misleading headline since most of the article explains how things in the Homer didn’t actually come true, but it’s a nice little comparison nonetheless.

Booze Geek News Special: Duff Beer To Launch Across The USA – Apparently, some kind of Duff is coming here to the States.  Also, this should give you an idea of how insanely convoluted this all is:

In Germany, a brewery in Hessen, brews a Duff Beer distributed in many European countries and in Australia from 2011. They applied for a trademark in Europe but were successfully opposed by Fox. Fox tried to establish their own Duff Beer trademark in Europe, but were ruled that a “Beer” logo applied exclusively to non-beer merchandise was misleading. But as a result of the German brand, in France they now have to blur out the “Duff” beer in the Simpsons cartoon so as not to advertise it.

Simpsons Trivia – Another fan of Classic Simpsons Trivia, this time in Vancouver.

“The Simpsons” Wasted My Youth: Top 15 Episodes, Pt. 1 (15-6) – Excellent list, with no Zombie Simpsons whatsoever and a .gif of Moleman getting hit by football.

WWLSR: Season 4-6 – More from the Lisa Simpson Reading project.

Illustrator Matt Gondek Exploding Homer Simpson Mural – It’s pretty cool.  You can see it and some others at his Instagram page.

Low-frills PEOPLExpress Airlines is back in the air after 27 years – Excellent reference:

PEOPLExpress, the iconic low-cost airline that Homer Simpson said brought air travel to hicks, is back in business 27 years after it folded, and once again flying out of Newark.

Domestic Violence Campaign Sees Your Favourite Cartoon Characters Battered And Bruised – The same guy who did those Kanye West and Kim Kardashian drawings a few weeks ago is back with Marge, Wilma Flintstone, and a few other famous cartoon women sporting bloody noses and black eyes.  I don’t know if this is effective in the least at reducing domestic violence, but it is kinda creepy.

Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter, Part 1 – Excellent Jimmy Carter usage:

Without Marge’s famous marshmallow squares to sell, Springfield’s Beautify Our Parks Bake Sale falls short of its goal, forcing the town to purchase a statue of Jimmy Carter instead of Abraham Lincoln.  Furious, someone in the crowd cries, “He’s history’s greatest monster,” and the townspeople riot, eventually using the statue of Carter as a battering ram

Allison Green: Bart Simpson Crop Top – More high highfalutin’ Simpsons fashion.

The Original Demo Of “Lisa, It’s Your Birthday.” Sung By The Actual Michael Jackson – This isn’t the first time I’ve linked this, but it’s always nice to see it crop up again.

10 Words That “The Simpsons” Invented – I am suspicious of this list for a couple of reasons (“frogurt”, for example, was not invented by the show), but at least the only Zombie Simpsons entry is from Season 12.

10 More Visual Gags from The Simpsons – Nice list.  I always liked “Let’s Share the Blame”.

Tropical Brunch Club – Good thinking:

Once a month, one of us hosts brunch club, affectionally dubbed the S.S.B.S. (Super Sunday – or Saturday – Brunch Spectacular – a la this episode of The Simpsons).

They would appear to have more than just baloney and bread.

Mmm… Donuts – A collection of donut .gifs, including Homer wolfing them down at the start of “Homer at the Bat”.

Itchy and Scratchy show – Neat photo of Itchy and Scratchy Lego figures.

maggie simpson – Fan made pencil sketch of Maggie, with what looks like Marge on the sheet underneath.  Neat.

O que tá rolando de melhor na C&A, Renner e Riachuelo? – A creepy looking Bart robot t-shirt from I don’t know where.

Mr. Burns – From the same site as the above, but it’s Burns at a cafe.

Harry Shearer interview: ‘I told them I don’t dance – now I prove it nightly’ – And finally, I don’t think Shearer is the God, but he’s at least a god:

Do you see The Simpsons as a job for life?

The show will continue until the Fox network can find a new hit comedy show for 8pm and, based on their track record so far, I’d give us another 50 years.

Heh.  Also, it’s been an open secret for more than a decade that he agrees with us, and now we have this:

Do you think the quality of The Simpsons has ebbed and flowed over the years?

I think about it but I don’t talk about it.

Well said, Mr. Shearer, well said.

03
Jul
14

Quote of the Day

Lisa's Rival16

“I’ve got to stop being so petty.  I should be Alison’s friend, not her competitor.  I mean, she is a wonderful person.” – Lisa Simpson
“Way to go, Lis.  Why compete with someone who’s just gonna to kick your butt anyway?” – Bart Simpson
“I prefer my phrasing.” – Lisa Simpson

Happy birthday Yeardley Smith!




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