Archive for the 'The Simpsons' Category

14
Apr
14

Behind Us Forever: Days of Future Future

Chalkboard - Days of Future Future

“Bart, you cast the wrong spell!  Zombies!” – Lisa Simpson

So, was this episode the Futurama crossover or not?  I didn’t see Fry or Leela, but there was a beer swilling robot and lots of inter-species relationships, so I’m not entirely sure.  Also, part of it was a coma fantasy or a dream sequence, but I don’t have access to an original script so I don’t know if those pages were on pink paper or goldenrod.

For those of you sage enough not to have watched it, we begin in the present when Homer dies.  Frink, and remember, this is supposed to be the present, brings in a clone of Homer to the funeral.  Homer then spends the next few minutes dying and coming back as a clone.  Eventually it’s thirty years from now and Homer becomes a computer program instead.  In that future, Bart is divorced from Amy Poehler, Lisa is married to Milhouse (who becomes a literal zombie because now they’re just fucking with me), and Marge eventually also becomes a computer program who gets eaten or something by Homer.  Seriously, the end is so confusing that they have Moe say that he doesn’t get it.

- Hey, the couch gag was short and clever for a change.

- Ah, for the days when Homer eating in his underwear was funny instead of a harbinger of boredom.

- “You’re alive, but how?” – Time to have things explained.

- We got to the death montage nice and quick.  It’s a completely unnecessary death montage, but at least they didn’t dawdle.

- Oh, look, there’s an incinerator-bot that looks like something that was reject from a Futurama storyboard back in 2003 or so.  Has Zombie Simpsons resorted to dumpster diving the Futurama offices?

- “All is not lost, I was able to download Homer’s brain into this flash drive.” – They know we’re pretty much as far from Halloween as it is possible to get on the calendar, right?

- Bart’s ex-wife is dating an Alien alien named Jerry.  I am not making this up.

- Okay, the “Cretaceous Park” sign (“Now Correctly Named”) was kinda funny.

- You know, all this talk of zombies reminds me that Ugly Americans had its moments.  It never quite got there, but it was a hell of a lot better than this.

- At least this Total Recall scene didn’t take long.

- It’s our second song montage.  The first one was Homer dying.  This one is Bart getting laid.

- Clown group sex, didn’t see that one coming.

- A robot drinking alcohol . . . where have I seen that before?

- It’s pure fan service and couldn’t hope to salvage even a little bit of this episode, but they have adult Maggie and Gerald sucking on a straw together.  It was quick and almost charming.

- Nice of Marge to pop out from behind that plant at Moe’s for an expository conversation about marriage with her kids.

- “Wait, Mom, does that mean you’re gonna take Dad back?”, see what I mean?

- So, Marge just digitized herself and was eaten by Homer.  Moe, speaking for all of us, says “I can’t tell if that was love, suicide or a really boring video game.”  The “really boring” part certainly applies.

- Oh, that couch gag was a fan idea.  No wonder it didn’t suck.

Zombie Simpsons likes to take any decent joke and run it into the ground with repetition, and this was them doing that on an episode scale.  A couple of seasons ago they did that “Holiday of Future’s Passed” episode where they did Christmas in the future.  I wasn’t a fan, but they got a little bit of positive attention from it, so the natural thing to do would be to go back and stretch everything there way past the breaking point.  It’s just their style.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are unprecedentedly wretched.  Last night, just 3.59 million people hoped that this show gets canned sometime in the next thirty years.  That’s good for second lowest all time, bested only by the non-8pm slot “Diggs” episode from last month.  Seven of the ten lowest rated ever, including the entire bottom five, have been broadcast since January.

13
Apr
14

Sunday Preview: Days of Future Future

Days_of_Future_Future_promo_4

Set in the future, Homer has a new clone for every time he dies. Lisa is married to a zombie version of Milhouse, while Bart deals with custody issues with his ex-wife, Jenda. Each defines what love means to them.

Well that reads like a THOH synopsis if  I’ve ever seen one.  Amy Poehler is going to voice Jenda, so obviously she must be in some serious debt, or have some bodies somewhere that Al Jean found out about.

11
Apr
14

Reading Digest: Letterman Retires Edition

Letterman

So David Letterman announced that sometime next year he’s going to hang up his mic and ride off into the talk show sunset.  Two years ago, he did a short guest voice for a couch gag on Zombie Simpsons.  That video was freaking everywhere this week, so it’s another shorter than usual Reading Digest.  (It’s worth pointing out, of course, that the family seeing Letterman on the couch was a repeat of the one above from Season 5, but I digress.  Bonus Critic points here.)  Beyond that we’ve got some cool fan art of the amateur and professional varieties, some news about the new FXX syndication deal, some excellent usage, an old Chinese bootleg t-shirt, and a bunch of fake beer.

Enjoy.

Joshua Budich Has The Munchies For Gallery 1988′s Exhibit: “The Subtle Art Of Pop Culture” - Cool drawings of stuff from movie and TV.  There are twelve of them, three are from the show.  Nobody else got more than one.  Just saying.

Tuesday Top 5 – Simpsons Songs - Excellent list, lots of YouTube, and no Zombie Simpsons.

Do You Know These Cartoon Cats? - Snowball II and Scratchy are on here, plus several I know and several more I do not know.

‘The Simpsons’ Paid Tribute To David Letterman By Taking Their Couch Gag Inside The Ed Sullivan Theater - One of those really long filler couch gags from Season 23 was making the rounds this week because David Letterman did a guest voice on it.  I would simply like to point to this couch gag’s entry in Wikipedia:

Similar to the couch gag from the season five’s “The Last Temptation of Homer,” the Simpsons find themselves on the set of The Late Show With David Letterman.

Simpsonize Yourself - Fan made self portrait, including tattoos and a Donnas t-shirt.  Bravo.

I GUESS EVERYBODY REALLY IS PLAYING MAH JONGG! - Cool bootleg t-shirt from the dawn of the show with the family playing mahjong and yelling at each other in what I assume is Chinese.

Your Guide To The 20 Best Fake Beer Brands From Movies And Television - Duff comes in shockingly low at #6.

Bartolo Colon Jiggling His Belly Fat is Frontrunner for MLB GIF of the Year - It’s like a lava lamp.

Mimi Pond sketches an alter ego’s youthful days in ‘Over Easy’ - Pond, who wrote “Simpsons Roasting On an Open Fire”, gas a new book out.

14 Simpsons Look Alike People - Some of those are pretty good.

Nish Kumar plays life like it is as a comedian and confidence trickster - British comedian knows what’s up:

His guiding model in this, he says, is The Simpsons. ”The Simpsons is my favourite-ever show,” he says. ”It never speaks down to the audience; It always assumes the audience is going to catch up but it never [does] in a way that would make you feel stupid if you didn’t. I watch some of those episodes now and wonder: what was I watching when I was 10? But that’s the trick.”

The Simpsons’ Take on Standardized Testing - Heh.  Also, don’t forget “Separate Vocations” from Season 3: “It’s called the Career Aptitude Normalizing Test, or CANT.”

Affliate Post Godzilla, Deadpool, and Jon Snow in detention. - Bart/Jon’s got a lot of writing to do.

Mr. Burns, a Post-Electric Play Will Make Midwest Premiere at Theater Wit - The play is coming to Chicago early next year, so maybe I’ll finally get to see it.

‘The Tech Sector’: Growing, and growing vaguer - Excellent usage:

Anyone remember when Homer Simpson created “Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net”?  Marge asks him what, exactly, his company does, and he responds, “Eh, this industry moves so fast it’s really hard to tell.”

Of Bikes and Men - Excellent mental reference:

Peter is going to be fine, it turns out, but he is in the hospital for tests and needs his insurance information sent over. Since I am also his neighbor and the keeper of the spare keys, I am the perfect person to solve this problem. Except I am not at home; I am across town. A logistical monkey wrench, but not insurmountable. It’s an hour round trip, tops.

In my head I am hearing my favorite Simpsons clip, from Treehouse of Horror III, where Homer is sold cursed frogurt. Peter was in an accident (ooh, that’s bad); he is going to be fine (that’s good!); but he needs you to get dressed and head across town (that’s bad); though it should only delay your plans by an hour (that’s good!).

Ryan Sadri on music and life as a saxophonist - Isn’t it everybody’s?:

I’ve found that more than any other instrument, the sax helps me get closest to expressing what I feel within. It’s an amazing high. And yes, my favourite sax piece is The Simpsons theme song played by Lisa Simpson.

‘The Simpsons’ Will Debut On FXX With A 12-Day, 522-Episode Marathon - Just what it says.  They’re filling August dead time with eleven days of the show, including day after day of unwatchable Zombie Simpsons crap.  If nothing else, it will serve as a visceral reminder of the decline of the show.  Also, the ratings ought to be interesting . . .

FXX Adds The Simpsons to Syndication and All is Right in the World - See?:

So far, this is panning out to be the longest marathon of a TV show ever. I have no problems with it, now I just have to put in some vacation time and do some serious food shopping.

Scratch that, I definitely won’t be watching the entire marathon, the show was only good until maybe the 9th season.

Best of The Simpsons Part… - Heh.

Silver for The Simpsons - A nice little 25th anniversary treatment that agrees with us both in writing and by only posting screen grabs from single digit seasons.

10
Apr
14

Quick Note on the Zombification of Patty & Selma

Homer vs Patty & Selma11

“When are you going to wake up and smell your husband, Marge?” – Selma Bouvier
“Granted, you got some kids out of him, but when the seeds have been planted you throw away the envelope.” – Patty Bouvier

My apologies, but there isn’t going to be a Compare & Contrast this week.  My stupid real job threw up a bolt-from-the-blue minor crisis this week that is just now finally squared away, and I don’t have the energy to get my brains back into an episode I’ve already largely forgotten.  However, there was one thing that’s been bugging me about “Luca$”: what the hell was with Patty and Selma in that scene in the kitchen with Marge?

They’re sitting at the table watching Lisa and the would-be-competitive eater Lucas in the back yard.  Patty jokes that he’s fat, Marge says she’s surprised Lisa likes him, Patty then says:

Really?  Justin Blobber over there doesn’t remind you of anyone?

That leads to a quick cut of Homer yelling and complaining, which leads to Selma explaining the plot to everyone:

Women marry their fathers, Marge.  So you just might be meeting your future ton-in-law!

Then they both happily cackle at Lisa’s fate.  It doesn’t bother me that the twins are being mean to the kid, but by extension they’re also gleefully bagging on Lisa, which is just weird.  Patty and Selma hate Homer, and who could blame them?  (Would you want your baby sister married to him?)  But they’ve always been fond, even proud, of Lisa.  Here they’re basically saying to Marge: you married  fat loser and so will your precious daughter, ha ha.  They want Lisa to marry someone like Homer just to teach Marge a lesson or something, and it’s utterly contrary to everything we know about them.

Characters devolving into unrecognizable goo isn’t anything new for Zombie Simpsons.  And it’s not like anyone put too much thought into that scene in the first place.  But it goes to show how really empty and hollow this show has left so many once rich characters.  Patty and Selma, for all their flaws, were always on Marge’s side.  Here they’re not, and they’re attacking her through Lisa.  It’s really bad, even for Zombie Simpsons.

06
Apr
14

Sunday Preview: Luca$

Lisa_and_Boy1_01054211

Lisa dates a boy named Lucas Bortner, who wants to be a competitive eater. Marge becomes concerned that Lisa is trying to marry a boy that’s just like Homer. Bart helps Snake Jailbird break out of jail and starts to receive gifts from him, making Milhouse jealous.

 

So I guess Zach Galifianakis is the fatty competitive eater for which Lisa gets the hots. Fine.  Good for him. I suppose it’s his turn on the town bike anyway.  I don’t have much to say about the other plot, except that the first time I read this promo, all I could think about was Zap Brannigan saying “But I thought we would be good friends…”  It’s probably not like that, but with some of the things I have seen on this show the last few years, it’s not impossible either.

 

 

04
Apr
14

Reading Digest: Simpson Alumni Everywhere Edition

Faith Off4

“My old roommates, the nerds!  Aww.  You working?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, my, yes, I’m on a secret project that I’m not at liberty to divulge . . . cough, cyborgs.” – Fat Nerd 

We’ve got a bunch of news this week about current and former Simpsons staffers: David Silverman got a new job, Harry Shearer is in Wales, Mike Reiss gave a talk at Harvard, and Sam Simon continues to be awesome.  (There’s also a Zombie Simpsons writer making an ass of himself, but he doesn’t count.)  In addition to that, there’s plenty of video game YouTube, fancy New York musicians, some excellent usage, several good lists, and Family Guy once again following in the profitable footsteps of The Simpsons.

Enjoy.

The Simpsons: 10 Real Unaired Pitches (And What They Could Have Been About) - Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this collection of unaired episodes that appear to all be from the early years.  A few of these I’d heard of before because they’re discussed on commentary tracks, others were new to me (and some have more dubious sourcing that others), but it’s worth a look even if it is in an annoying pageview whore click-for-each-one format.

Laughing in Purgatory: Mike Reiss of The Simpsons at the Humanist Hub - Video of a talk Reiss gave to a bunch of people at Harvard.  It’s long, but funny throughout:

“Or, as the old joke goes, I’m Jew-ish, and by that I mean that I would never eat a ham sandwich . . . in a synagogue . . . on Yom Kippur . . . if there was anybody watching.”

The Simpsons’ “Lunchlady Doris” is “Lunchlady Dora” now - Apparently the Zombie Simpsons writers finally realized that having Lunchlady Doris still be on the show after Doris Grau died wasn’t a good look for them.  In typical Zombie Simpsons fashion, they half assed it by trying to retcon her name but leaving everything else the same.  Then, as if to underscore how butthurt and hacktacular they are, one of them took to Twitter in a hapless attempt to paper it all over:

Lunchlady Dora Is a Filthy Lie

His story there is that they used the same character model, had someone try to do a voice that sounded like Grau’s, and never mentioned the name change for nineteen years, but that they’ve always thought of her as “Dora” in that time, “out of respect”.  Sorry, but I gotta call bullshit on that.  You guys replaced her voice and used the same character.  It was a shitty thing to do, and I’m glad there’s some attempt to rectify it now, but what’s done is done.  You can’t go back and pretend you never did the shitty thing in the first place.

Why I caved and had my Springfield hacked. - A thoughtful post on cheating in Tapped Out.  I’m kinda surprised that it worked, but EA deserves no sympathy so I say go for it.

Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff - And, since there’s no point having a hundred million dollar cash cow if you can’t copy it directly to try and make a second one, the Family Guy Tapped Out clone will be available next week.

The Simpsons ‘could last 50 years’ - This was making the rounds the last couple of days because Jean said “I can’t see why we wouldn’t go to 30 . . .and why can’t we go to 40 or even 50″.  It’s just his usual boilerplate being blown out of proportion by pageview hungry bloggers and columnists who saw a chance for a clickable headline.  Ignore it.

What ‘The Simpsons’ Says About Ukraine’s Language Divide - Apparently they stopped broadcasting an official Ukrainian language version five years ago.

Twin Peaks and The Simpsons – together at last? Characters from David Lynch show get a Simpsons makeover – This was floating around this week, and is kinda good, but where’s the unicorn and the traffic light?

Classic Food-Related Simpsons Moments - Great list:

This is a truly inspired culinary invention. It is no less than a block of butter covered in caramel and waffle mix held together with a cocktail stick. A reminder for all to follow your food related fantasies and it might just result in something beautiful.

And no Zombie Simpsons.

An ode to Lisa Simpson - As usual, Lisa is a hero, but this is impressive remote handling:

Growing up with older siblings, especially my brother Patrick, I was exposed to “The Simpsons” at far, far too early an age. We used to sit around the family room almost every night, flipping between two different episodes of the show, which ran at the same time on two different stations. With this method and my brother’s admirable dedication, I had watched hundreds of episodes by age 10

Calculate your total time spent watching TV shows - The Simpsons comes in at 11d:13h:30m, but that’s if you only watch episodes once, which, yeah.  (via)

Top 10 Homer Simpson moments - This is also one of those annoying pageview gluttons, but it does have some good YouTube and there’s no Zombie Simpsons.

The Simpsons: 20 Annoying Mistakes You Didn’t Notice - Yet more pageview whoring, but this one lists a lot of “mistakes” that are all pretty much problems with Zombie Simpsons.  Funny how that works.

Animated/Live Action ‘Pink Panther’ Film In The Works, Will Focus On Cartoon Character, Not Inspector Clouseau - David Silverman’s going to direct.  I’d watch that.

Simpsons Writer Sam Simon Sponsoring Blackfish Racecar At Talladega - Sam Simon continues to spend money on pretty damn cool things.

Voice of The Simpsons Harry Shearer speaks about Llanelli’s fast-flowing conversation - Harry Shearer goes to Wales and makes nice with the locals.

Video: This cartoon theme song mashup will make you feel nostalgia – A long video of cartoon theme songs put out by Carnegie Hall, of all places:

They don’t play much from each theme, so they pack a ton into just five minutes.  (The Simpsons part is at the 3:00 mark.)

Treading Water – The show relieving inter-generational tension:

I requested The Simpsons for my kids via netflix and the dvds happened to arrive during my mom’s visit. Now I know my mom HATES the Simpsons so I waited until she was asleep to put them on for the kids. But she ended up waking up… standing in the living room and even laughed at a few of the jokes.

Later she says to me, “I used to think The Simpsons was disgraceful, but compared to what’s out there today it’s not so bad.”

In other words… I’m letting my kids watch “disgraceful” programming.

And she’s a liberal, what liberal doesn’t love The Simpsons?

She laughed.  You did good.

WEEKEND RECAP. – An excellent old Simpsons book found at a second hand store.

Classic Intel Ad! – An old Simpsons ad for the Pentium II.  Ha!

Keeping It Cool - His mom says he’s cool.

Happy April Fools! – Call in the Code 8!

Super Soul Simpsons Sunday - Heh.

Kue ulang tahun simpson – DADDY – A pretty awesome Homer birthday cake.

Neither A Review Of “Breaking Bad” Nor Of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” – Excellent usage:

Marge: We drove around until three in the morning looking for another open all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant.
Lionel Hutz: And when you couldn’t find one?
Marge: [crying] We… went… fishing.
Lionel Hutz: Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, do these sound like the actions of a man whose had ALL he could eat?

Does my wife sound like someone who has had all the “Breaking Bad” she could watch?

No!

SAHM (because giving it a natty acronym makes it less painful) – A woman contemplates being at home for the first time:

It was never meant to be easy! I might just have to replace the wine with coffee and take my inspiration from Marge.

Just set the vacuum on dirt patrol.

Simpsons Hit and Run – Speedrun - Have two hours to kill watching a stranger fly through an eleven-year-old video game?  You’re in luck.

Top 5 Simpsons Games - From the same site as the above, a seven minute YouTube video of the best Simpsons games.

Virtual Springfield Gameplay - And our final video game YouTube is that weird encyclopedia type game that they released.

Random Simpsons Screencap of the Day 3/28/14 – I think we should go.

Random Simpsons Screencap of the Day 4/1/14 – Great grab of Homer peeling the duct tape off Bart’s eyes.

Captain’s Log Day #223 – Some magical animal – Heh.

Dissected: The Simpsons by East India Youth – And finally, I get to end as I prefer, with someone who agrees with us, in this case in a long interview about the show with some .gifs and plenty of YouTube:

I think the most important thing to mention here (and you should definitely write this up): I don’t think it’s possible to have that connection to the show anymore, with the new episodes. You know this as well as I do I’d think, but there’s definitely a golden age to that show.

Seasons Two to Nine we’re talking?

EIY: Yeah… And the super fans of the show totally respect that, it’s like an unwritten rule isn’t it? That is the best period.

Well, it’s not unwritten (ahem), but yeah.

03
Apr
14

Compare & Contrast: Homer the Incorruptible

Last Exit to Springfield14

"We don’t have to be adversaries, Homer.  We both want a fair union contract." – C.M. Burns
"Why is Mr. Burns being so nice to me?" – Homer’s Brain
"And if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours." – C.M. Burns
"Wait a minute, is he coming on to me?" – Homer’s Brain
"I mean, if I should slip something into your pocket, what’s the harm?" – C.M. Burns
"My God, he is coming on to me." – Homer’s Brain
"After all, negotiations make  strange bedfellows." – C.M. Burns

For a simple and common act, bribery requires a surprising amount of finesse.  Whether the initiating party is asking for the bribe or offering it, when it comes to the exchange of money for dishonesty the presentation is always the tricky part.  You have to let the other person know that you’re willing to break the rules, but only in a way that both of you can later deny if necessary.  It’s a delicate thing, and the last person you’d ever want to see on the other side of it is Homer Simpson.

That frustrating situation confronts nuclear plant owner Monty Burns in Season 4′s "Last Exit to Springfield" as well as the nameless, central casting gangster in "You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee".  Both are trying to get Homer to roll over for cash, but the Homers they have to bribe are as different as they are.

There are four parties in these two attempted transactions.  In the first we have Burns and regular Homer; and in the second we have Gangster Guy and Zombie Homer.  Before we get to the actual bribery, however, let’s take a quick look at each one of them and why they’re doing what they’re doing:

  • The Burns of Season 4 is the very definition of ruthless.  Not only does he hate his employees, he’s willing to go to the mattresses over their dental plan out of nostalgic spite.  The money is important to him, but not as much as the principle of being able to wall one of them up whenever the urge hits him.  For Burns, bribing the head of the union to betray his fellows is just expediency, and when things don’t go well right away, he goes to hired goons out of habit.
  • The Homer of Season 4 is a working schlub everyman who doesn’t want to have to pay for his daughter’s braces.  In that sense, his motivation going into the negotiations is a lot like Burns’.  The difference is that Homer isn’t acting out of malevolence, he’s reacting to the evil of Burns and just trying to get back something he already had.
  • Gangster Guy has no background, he’s just a gangster.  Why does he want to fix the World Cup?  Because he’s a gangster.  Haven’t you ever seen any of their movies?
  • Zombie Homer is who he pretty much always is: a weirdly invincible superman.  Fly to Brazil to be (apparently) the only referee at the World Cup?  Sure!  Get bribed and threatened  by gangsters?  He’s cool, doesn’t perturb him a bit.  Fall completely to pieces because an eight-year-old called him her hero but didn’t do it in quite the right way?  Also sure.  He has no human center, so incomprehensibly random reactions are the norm.

Down in Brazil, our prop store gangster tries to bribe that fickle lunatic because that’s why prop store gangsters do, and Homer refuses because he’s been perfectly incorruptible for three whole minutes, so it’s now basically his only trait.  There’s no depth to what either of them is doing, which means that the only kind of humor they can go for is repetitive silliness.  They offer him money in outlandish ways, he refuses, and that’s it.  They do it so many times that they have an entire montage of nothing but.  Anyone is free to think that’s funny, of course, but there’s no denying that it’s simplistic and one-dimensional.

Bribery Montage

Over and over and over and over . . .

Compare that to Burns’ repeated attempts to bribe Homer.  Things start out with with the two of them meeting in Burns’ office and Homer completely misunderstanding Burns’ innuendo:

Last Exit to Springfield13

Sure, he’s flattered, maybe even a little curious, but he doesn’t go in for those back door shenanigans.

From there, Homer’s guileless stupidity continues to be misunderstood by Burns as an iron willed resolve and negotiating brilliance.  Homer’s too dumb to be intimidated by hired goons.  The he has to pee too bad to listen to Burns’ offer.  Finally, he inadvertently triggers a strike while trying to resign.  It’s as far as you can get from one serially repeated joke because each of them brings more than just one thing to the table.

There’s an almost ye olde Vaudeville aspect to them, with Burns playing the straight man who just cannot get anything through the thick skull of the yutz who won’t take his money.  Since this is The Simpsons, the straight man is wildly evil and his frustrations quickly rise to trying to destroy the town instead of just demanding to know who’s on first, but the basic comedy of misunderstanding allows the show to employ all manner of topics and tricks.

What gives everything that extra twist is the fact that, right before the first commercial break, the show lets us know that Homer, in fact, would love to be bribed:

“Hey, what does this job pay?” – Homer Simpson
“Nothing.” – Carl
“D’oh!” – Homer Simpson
“Unless you’re crooked!” – Carl
“Woo-hoo!” – Homer Simpson

If Burns had just offered to pay for Lisa’s braces, Homer would have eagerly accepted and the dental plan would be no more.  But that was never going to happen because the two of them are far too different to ever be able to communicate.  Burns, hater of unions, thinks Homer is as conniving and cutthroat as he is.  Homer just really doesn’t want to be there.

What plays out between them is far too rich to ever be shown as a one note montage or a repeated series of offers and exposition.  Between who they are, what they’re trying to do, and their actions and reactions (often inadvertent) towards one another, playing some music and showing a bunch of people handing Homer cash simply wouldn’t work.  Something that thin would be overwhelmed by story, jokes and the like.  In Zombie Simpsons, however, it’s more than enough.

31
Mar
14

Behind Us Forever: You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee

Chalkboard - You Don't Have to Live Like a Referee

“I guess some people never change.  Or, they quickly change, and then quickly change back.” – Homer Simpson

Zombie Simpsons has enough systemic and repetitive problems that I would never try to identify one that really breaks it, but the way that none of the characters ever act like themselves is especially annoying.  Gaping plot holes, weak and joke free dialogue, lazy product parodies, characters appearing out of nowhere, these are all problems.  But when they take characters we all know and love and have them act like versions of themselves that have suffered personality altering brain injuries it really drives home just how different this show is from The Simpsons.

Just in this episode we see Skinner completely unable to run a school assembly, Marge be rude to strangers, Lisa easily fall to pieces, and Homer be athletic, overly sensitive, strangely smart, and competent.  I’m not sure who these people are supposed to be anymore.  Each and every one of them can act wildly differently depending on what specific scene they’re in, which means that almost no matter what they do it’s too random to be funny or interesting.  Security camera footage has better character consistency and development.

- Regular old, time killing Zombie Simpsons couch gag.  Feh.  Can we dig up Charles Schulz and have him do one?

- It’s not a big deal or anything, but real Skinner would never have put up with the kids shouting things from the stands while he’s talking.

- I was bored with the Lincoln-Douglas scene.  Then there was a mechanical backboard arm that looks like it should be in Futurama, and now I really just want it to end.

- Ooh, a joke about Subway Jared.  Timely.

- Watching incompetent Skinner flail about is really painful.  Not as bad as happy, incompetent Burns, but very bad.

- A Jerkass Homer montage, that’s what this episode really needed.

- So the contest wrapped itself up just as stupidly as it began with there being a tie.  I’m sure glad we spent a bunch of time on getting it set up.

- FIFA isn’t exactly hard to mock, but Zombie Simpsons managed to botch it with its usual methods of expository jokes and senseless scenes.  Well done.

- This scene in the airplane with the Marge’s tablet has it all: takes too long, joke free, and makes no sense.

- Ugh, if they’re going to repeat the joke from “Marge vs. The Monorail” where the whole town is empty and Snake robs it with Luxembourg, they could have at least made a Luxembourg-ish Snake.  Now it’s not just a direct repeat, it’s a nonsensical direct repeat.

- Homer has wandered out of a restaurant because the plot was getting bored with itself.

- The gangsters talking about just having “two very good ways” with money and guns was almost funny.

- Onto our second montage nice and quick.

- “Dad, is it hard for you to turn these bribes down?” – Thanks, exposition Bart.

- If they did these scenes where they try to be ironically detached about how cheap their plot turns are once or twice per season, that’d be one thing.  But they do this every damned week.  Bart and Homer might as well be looking directly at the camera to explain what’s going on.

- “Where are you going?”, Homer then describes exactly what he’s gonna do.

- Hey, here’s Lisa, whom we haven’t seen for the last ten minutes or so, to help wrap things up.

- And now we’re treated to a minute of them telling us exactly how they feel.

- Here’s Marge to protect Homer from the gangsters.  Where did she come from?  Did she know what was going on?  It’s best not to ask.

- And now that guy’s mother is there.  Plot conflict resolved!

- Despite all the drawn out scenes, they still came in way, way short, so we got treated to the family taking a random trip down the Amazon to see Krusty.  Yeesh.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are just as bad this week as they’ve been since they came back with that double episode at the beginning of March.  Last night just 3.94 million viewers wished they were watching a 0-0 tie between Mexico and Portugal.  That’s almost identical to last week’s 3.93 and is good for fifth place on the all time least watched list.

This week’s historically terrible number has also pushed Season 25′s average total viewership to a mere 5.45 million viewers, which puts it just below Season 24′s 5.47 average.  I don’t feel like looking it up or anything, but my strong suspicion is that this is the earliest (just 16 episodes in) that any season has claimed that title.  Barring a miracle, Season 25 will continue the Zombie Simpson tradition of being the least watched season ever.  The only real question now is how low it will sink.  I doubt it’ll go below 5 million, but they are really hitting bottom this spring, so anything is possible.

30
Mar
14

Sunday Preview: You Don’t Have To Live Like A Referee

You_Don't_Have_to_Live_Like_a_Referee_promo_4

Homer gets recruited as a FIFA World Cup referee after Lisa praises youth soccer field in a Springfield Elementary speech contest. The Simpson family goes to Brazil where Homer’s honesty gets put to the test by one of the slickest South American gangsters in the soccer match-bribing business

I have often wondered what would happen if you took a nuclear safety inspector and had him referee world class soccer matches. Good thing these writers are always one step ahead of me.

28
Mar
14

Reading Digest: Burns Is The Symbol of All Evil Edition

Blood Feud14

“Smithers, I’m not going to make it.  I want to dictate my epitaph.” – C.M. Burns
“Go ahead.” – Mr. Smithers
“Charles Montgomery Burns.  American . . . and Patriot.  American Patriot.  Master of the Atom.  Scourge of the Despot.  Oh, tyrant hear his mighty name and quake!  Smithers, I’m back!” – C.M. Burns

We’ve got two links this week where the one, the only Charles Montgomery Burns is held up as all that is soulless and wrong, one about finger tenting being a sign that you might be a villain and the other from the race for Illinois governor.  Other than that, things got shortened this week because of the announcement of new Lego figures.  Everyone with access to Twitter or the internet made mention of it, and there are some pretty neat ones (Maggie with Bobo, for example), but all that noise did obscure other stuff.  We’ve also got a cool interview with Greg Daniels, some great fan art, a sweet Duff t-shirt, a couple of women dressed up like Marge, and Krusty-based insults all tucked away down in Canada.

Enjoy.

Simpsons Writers’ Favorite ‘Itchy & Scratchy’s - Smooth Charlie’s link of the week is Jean talking about old Itchy & Scratchy segments.  There’s quite a bit of Zombie Simpsons, but you can skip those and read things like this:

The short, however, is a self-contained spoof of Steamboat Willie, the black-and-white cartoon that birthed Mickey Mouse. “When the animators were working on it, they called it ‘Steamboat Lawsuit’ because of their fear of legal action by Disney,” Jean recalls. “It’s lifted almost exactly from Steamboat Willie, which itself is a parody of [Buster Keaton’s] Steamboat Bill Jr.

Worth a look.

Lookin’ Good: Marge Simpson Hair And Makeup IRL - Someone took a model and made her up to look like Marge.  It’s a little creepy.  There’s also YouTube of wig construction and makeup application.

Awesome Cosplay of the Day: 3/25/14 - This is fantastic:

Bouvier Family Cosplay

All three of them are just perfect.  Patty & Selma look identical (wouldn’t surprise me if those two really are sisters) and grumpy while Marge is kinda trepidatious about whatever it is that’s eating her sisters.  Bravo!

(Apologies for stealing this image from whoever that copyright holder is at the bottom, but white on white was not a good font choice.)

D’oh: Quinn’s ‘Simpsons’ ad blocked ‘on copyright grounds’ - One of the nice things about not living in Illinois is that you don’t have to care about who the governor of Illinois is, but the residents of the Land of Lincoln were treated to their sitting governor comparing his opponent to Mr. Burns last week, so they got that.

Round 105: I Married Marge vs. New Kid on the Block - Whew, Season 3 vs. Season 4 is tough.

Doh! Ex-Simpsons writer Greg Daniels reveals how he almost missed opportunity to adapt The Office for US - Daniels was in the UK and gave a rundown of his career at a comedy festival.

Proud husbands will make peace on their own - This is a Canadian advice column:

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My husband has a fringe of long hair like a clown. He wears a hat thinking people won’t notice and they will still think he has flowing locks like he did when he was a rocker and played in a band a decade ago. I don’t say anything about it because I love him and he is beautiful to me, any which way.

Yesterday, a neighbour came over to help my husband change a tire in the driveway and I heard him say, “Hey Krusty, need any help?’ My husband is familiar with The Simpsons and Krusty the Clown. He said something very rude back and the guy sauntered off home shaking his head like my husband was an idiot.

Heh.

Zoella in Homer - More Simpson fashion in the wild.

New in. - An awesome Duff t-shirt, and a few more pics.

Stand-Up Guy - Don’t feel bad, everybody did this:

 In fact, I developed a friendship with a guy in high school largely revolving around one question: “Did you watch The Simpsons last night?” New episode or repeat: it didn’t matter. We’d sit around recalling setups and punch-lines and laugh all over again.

It’s amazing how formative those years are. I still retain Simpsons memories 20 years later, and in fact just two years ago spent the better half of an evening dredging them up with a friend on a restaurant patio.

Philosophers’ Portraits, Simpsons Style - Cool.  (Found via, and no, I couldn’t name them.)

LEGO ‘The Simpsons’ Minifigure Collection - Burns with a plutonium rod and Grampa with the “Old Man Yells At Cloud” newspaper are nice touches.

Looks like ‘The Simpsons’ predicted Facebook’s purchase of Oculus - Not quite, but it’s still pretty funny.  I just want to play virtual darts and virtual pool so I can get in a virtual fight.

The 8 Ball 03.25.14: Top 8 1990s Arcade Games - The arcade game comes in at #3 here.

Muppets Most Wanted: When did finger-tenting, or steepling, become a symbol of evil? - Mr. Burns, for obvious reasons, is the headline example here.

Ten Celebrates The Simpsons 25th Anniversary – With a LIVE Countdown - Aussies get to vote on which episodes will be broadcast for a 25th anniversary celebration.

So which is your all-time, favourite Simpsons episode? - Another link to the same promo.  The actual choices have a lot of Zombie Simpsons, but down in the comments they don’t so much as rate a mention.  Figures.

The 14 Best Simpsons Music Cameo Moments - Only one entry is from Zombie Simpsons, and the post itself agrees with us, plus there’s lots of good YouTube.

If The Simpsons and Farscape collided :) - I think I’ve linked this before, but it’s still pretty neat.

‘Justified’ Showrunner Graham Yost Talks About A Shooting, The Simpsons, And Setting Up The Final Season - This probably qualifies as a Justified spoiler, so ye be warned, says I:

It reminded me of that Simpson’s episode…Mendoza!!!

Mendoza!!! And I think the boat was called “Live Forever.” We talk about that all the time. Rainer Wolfcastle. If you have a character who’s retiring and they get shot you cannot help but be compared to The Simpsons.

Why I Prefer Futurama To The Simpsons - And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us, specifically that, as usual, Zombie Simpsons spoils things:

Usually, an episode of The Simpsons follows the family in their every-day lives, with something bizarre happening to them (Bart has to live in a bubble, Lisa becomes a buddhist, Homer accidentally joins the army…), and occasionally they will go somewhere outside of Springfield, wether it be Canada, Africa, or space. It was great at first, and I would watch it every night as a loyal viewer. After a while though, I felt that the episodes just started to become a little thin, less fun and less original.

Indeed they did.

28
Mar
14

Quote of the Day

Bart Sells His Soul11

“I’m really sorry, I kinda traded your soul to the guy at the comic book store.  But look, I got some cool Pogs: Alf Pogs.  Remember Alf?  He’s back!  In Pog form.” – Milhouse van Houten

Happy birthday Alf Clausen!

26
Mar
14

Compare & Contrast: Milhouse’s Parents Split Up

A Milhouse Divided15

“You know who the real victim is in all of this?  Milhouse.” – Marge Simpson

Zombie Simpsons excels at telling the audience what is happening rather than showing them, which is the script writing equivalent of being a bricklayer who doesn’t use mortar.  Show don’t tell is so fundamental to the job that you have to wonder how anyone could forget it, and the proof is in the piles of rubble that they try to pass off as finished work.  Case in point from this week’s dreary “The War of Art” was Milhouse’s reaction to his parents breaking up.

Thanks to Jerkass Homer’s energetic idiocy, Luann finds out that Kirk lied about not shacking up with anyone while they were separated.  This leads to Kirk getting kicked out (he ends up on the Simpsons’ couch despite their recent feud because whatever shutup), which means that Milhouse is once again caught in a fight between his parents.  The first time that happened was in Season 8′s divorce classic “A Milhouse Divided”, and the way each episode handles his reaction is the difference between building with bricks and mortar and just building with bricks.

Once Kirk and Luann are on the outs, Marge and Homer argue expositionally about the pain Homer’s plan has wrought, including on Milhouse.  Bart, casually listening in the doorway as though the show had no conception that he was there, chimes in right on cue to tell us exactly what we’re about to see:

Bart: He’s been playing Dancing Revolution for hours but the TV is off.

Exposited Sadness

He said it, you saw it, comedy genius!

That’s the entire scene.  But even as short as it is, it’s indicative of several of Zombie Simpsons recurring weaknesses.  For starters, Bart’s explicit pre-narration is worse than useless.  The above image would still be sad without it, but it would also be funnier since nothing ruins a joke more than explaining it before you tell it.  Beyond that, there’s also the fact that the previous scene was Kirk asleep on the couch.  Is he still there?  Is Milhouse visiting Bart or his father?  Who knows?  Kirk has nonsensically vanished from the Simpsons home even faster than he nonsensically appeared.  So not only has the hacktacular writing drained the scene of whatever humor it could’ve had, but its physical and story logic are a complete shambles.  Zombie Simpsons: dumb stories poorly told, lightly sprinkled with pre-chewed jokes.

Compare that to the same scene in “A Milhouse Divided”.  To begin, there’s no exposition.  We already know that Milhouse’s parents are split (the episode, you know, showed it to us), so they can cut directly from Kirk getting fired (“I don’t recall saying ‘Good Luck’.”) to this:

A Milhouse Divided14

Look!  Action that hasn’t been announced ahead of time.  What a concept.

Before he says a single word we can tell that Milhouse is pissed off.  Just look at the above image: his hair is a mess, his teeth are clenched, and he’s destroying as much shit as possible.  When he does speak, he doesn’t say “I’m angry at my parents and breaking their stuff”, he says:

And the winner of the Milhouse 500 is . . . Milhouse!

His words don’t tell us what he’s doing, they elaborate and deepen what we’ve already seen.  The same goes for the rest of the scene:

Luann: Milhouse, are you sure you want to drive that inside?
Milhouse: Yes!
Luann: Okay, be careful, sweet, sweet treasure.

Milhouse is acting like an angry and spoiled kid because at the moment that’s exactly what he is.  His Mom doesn’t care what he does so long as he’s hers, and indulging Milhouse to the point of shattered lamps and smashed furniture is a small price for her to pay to get back at Kirk.  It’s classic Simpsons, taking a painful and sad subject, in this case a mother and son both behaving kinda self destructively, and somehow making it fun and funny.

On the commentary track for this episode, Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein talk about how they didn’t want to do a “divorce” episode like the ones they had watched as kids where the d-word gets mentioned, but at the end everyone gets back together.  They tease the cliched, teevee ending with a slightly sweet music cue right before Luann has the common sense to say, “Ooh, no” after Kirk asks to get back together, but they don’t go through with it because doing so would neuter the rest of the episode.  Kirk’s collapse, Luann’s renaissance, and Milhouse’s sadness and anger, none of them would retain the same kick (comedy or otherwise) if it turned out it was all for nothing.

Zombie Simpsons, of course, not only went with the ending that was already a cliche forty years ago, it crammed everything into the last few seconds after the plot literally wandered off the mainland.  It didn’t make the scene with Milhouse any worse, but that’s only because it’s hard to see how it could get worse.  The Simpsons knew how to let a scene speak for itself and how to deliver an ending that doesn’t undercut what came before.

24
Mar
14

Behind Us Forever: The War of Art

Chalkboard - The War of Art

“Oh, Kenny, look at the interplay of light and shadow.  It’s so luminous and vibrant!” – Lisa Simpson
“Thanks, Lisa, I painted that one.  The real one’s in my garage.” – Kenny the Museum Guard

If there is one topic on which Zombie Simpsons has a thorough and well practiced knowledge, it is imitating great art.  That didn’t help them keep “The War of Art” from being a meandering, exposition filled wasteland, of course, but it does add a nice level of unintentional meta-irony that will help you through what passes for the third act.  By the time Max von Sydow shows up to talk about the beauty of his forged work, there’s about four different subplots bumping along, two of which kind of even get resolved.  In the meantime, it’s mostly yelling, some gasp inducing plot twists, and the now standard pages of exposition.

First Lisa gets a guinea pig, an opening act that is mostly filler occasionally punctuated by meaningless suspense.  Then the Simpsons have to get a new painting for behind the couch.  They buy one from the van Houtens, which turns out to be valuable, which in turn means that they could or could not split the money, which leads to disputes over ownership, which leads Homer and Lisa to an island resort with a brain rotting alcohol that I would dearly love to have been drinking while I watched this.

- No couch gag this week?  They must have so much good stuff that they didn’t have time for it.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

- Homer is reading text we can clearly see on the screen.  Zombie Simpsons, now with built in closed captioning.

- This guinea pig selection scene is going on so long that even the show got bored with it.

- This guinea pig escape/chase scene is also very long, but opts for sheer nonsense and fake suspense over repetition.

- We went through all that to get the painting ruined?  Jebus.

- The fake Wikipedia table of contents is actually pretty good.  It’s got sex, death, betrayal, poison and a more coherent story than the rest of the episode.

- Homer has been repeating the word “Whoa” for fifteen seconds now.

- It ended up going for twenty-six.

- As the same conversation bleeds into about an eighth scene, Marge straight up asks Homer how he feels about the plot.

- “And all I have to do is not say something about some painting to my Mom and Dad?” – Milhouse recapping what you’ve just seen for the umpteenth time.

- And, as if to underline what a waste of time all that was, the van Houtens show up right away and have a boring fight with Homer and Marge.

- This episode is so herky-jerky that they just moved the plot along by someone yelling, unironically, “Stop the auction!”.

- The auctioneer bears a disturbing resemblance to the guy who nicked some of Homer’s sugar pile.

- After a brief expository scene between Homer and a once-again-kicked-out-of-the-house Kirk, Marge explains to us what’s been happening . . . twice: “That painting has torn the town apart, destroyed Kirk and Luann’s marriage, and everyone’s very worried about Milhouse” and then, “That picture has brought out the worst in everyone!”.

- Oh, good, we’re on a tropical island and Lisa brought her guinea pig in a travel cage.  Thought they forgot about that little guy, didn’t you?

- Man, this island has a massive oversupply of conveniently expository characters.

- One of whom quickly took Homer and Lisa back to his house!  Seamless!

- Homer, trying to speed things up, “Then why did the auction house say it was real?”  Nothing says good writing like directly asking a character we just met to explain everything as blandly as possible.

- Guh, this guy just keeps going on and on.  Now he’s debating Lisa about beauty and art.  Isn’t this show supposed to be a comedy?

- Max von Sydow narrating the history of “Strupo” over the credits has some actual jokes in it.  I don’t often offer suggestions to Zombie Simpsons because there’s nothing worse than a back seat driver, but they maybe should’ve put some of those in his actual part.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they continue to be the kind of rock bottom we’ve come to expect from springtime Zombie Simpsons.  Last night, just 3.93 million viewers wondered why kind of sloppy forgery of The Simpsons they were watching.  That’s the fourth lowest total ever and means that six of the ten least watch, including #1-4, are all from this season.

23
Mar
14

Sunday Preview: The War Of Art

The_War_of_Art_Promo_3

Marge and Homer get a bargain on a painting at the Van Houten’s yard sale, and later learn that it is a masterpiece worth $100,000, so they wrestle with splitting the money with their neighbors or keeping it all.

I am sure it isn’t going to be that much of the plot, but the aura of disappointment and general failure with which The Simpsons paints Kirk Van Houten used to be one of my favorite things. However, that was nearly a generation ago, and over the years it is starting to wear thin.  Seriously, “A Milhouse Divided” aired in 1996.  All that being said, I am sure that tired abuse of Kirk is not going to be my least favorite part of this episode.

21
Mar
14

Reading Digest: Making Life Imitate the Simpsons Edition

Bart the Genius11

“My turn: Kwyjibo, k, w, y, j, i, b, o.  Twenty-two points, plus triple word score, plus fifty points for using all my letters, game’s over, I’m outta here.” – Bart Simpson
“Wait a minute, you little cheater.  You’re not going anywhere until you tell me what a kwyjibo is.” – Homer Simpson
“Kwyjibo, uh, a big, dumb, balding North American ape, with no chin.” – Homer Simpson
“And a short temper.” – Marge Simpson
“I’ll show you a big dumb balding ape!” – Homer Simpson
“Uh-oh, kwyjibo on the loose!” – Bart Simpson

I put this up on Twitter this morning, but it is very much worth bringing up as often as possible.  Hasbro, the company that currently owns Scrabble, is having a Facebook contest to add a new word to the game’s official dictionary.   The leading “like”-getter at the moment is two different entries for “Kwyjibo”, the big, dumb, balding North American ape with no chin and a short temper.  I want this to happen bad enough that I actually logged into the otherwise derelict Facebook page Mad Jon set up like four years ago to promote it.  Sure it’s nice to have all those Simpsons words in the O.E.D., but what most people don’t realize is that the O.E.D. is the garbage dump of words.  Anything that gets used by more than about four people gets put in.  But Scrabble?  That’s the dictionary people actually use, and since it’s beloved of vicious word nerds, it’s much more of coup.  Plus, this raises the possibility, nay, certainty, that at some point in time, somewhere, someone will win a Scrabble game just like Bart did.

In addition to that, we’ve got several great lists this week, a very disturbing collection of images of what Homer would look like as a real person, a chance for you to win ten whole dollars for playing Tapped Out, several .gifs, the return of a couple of watch-em-all series, and lots more.  Enjoy.

Scrabble Dictionary to Gain a New Word through Crowd-Sourcing - The gauntlet has been thrown down:

That’s KWYJIBO for 22 points, plus 50 for using all the letters and triple-word score. At least that’s what Bart Simpson claimed in Episode 2 of Season 1 of The Simpsons, “Bart the Genius.” Now, this word has been nominated for addition to the official dictionary for the word game Scrabble, the game the Simpsons were playing in the episode.

Merriam-Webster’s The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary will be updated with new words for the first time in nine years and Hasbro, maker of the popular word game, is hosting a Facebook contest  ( http://bit.ly/scrabbblenominations!) to allow players and fans of the game to choose one of the words to be added in a contest billed as the Scrabble Word Showdown.

Several fans of the game have nominated KWYJIBO to be added to the dictionary. Among other nominations are: EW, GIGGITY, QUESO, ZOOT

You have to use Facebook (EW, indeed), but the top two suggestions right now are Kwyjibo, and if we can get Kwyjibo in the official Scrabble dictionary, I might finally be able to beat my cousin at it.

An Interview With Ira Brooker – Fantastic:

A few years ago I started writing an inventory of the 100 greatest influences on my sense of humor. I was going call it “Why I laugh?” which is, of course, a Simpsons quote. It eventually wound up being too big and abstract of a project for me to complete, but there was no question that The Simpsons would be in the number one slot. The only possible rival would be David Letterman, but as important as Dave was to my formative years, he never permeated my daily existence to nearly the degree that The Simpsons does even two decades beyond its heyday. I don’t think I could hope to pinpoint how those first eight seasons have influenced me. At this point they’re just woven into my being. It would be like trying to figure out what kind of influence speaking English has had on me.

Much more at the link.

Round 104: Last Exit to Springfield vs. The Cartridge Family – Whoops, I missed a week on these. 

Old Money – Episode #030 – And Ash is back with the “DISCOUNT LION SAFARI!!!!”.

Cross-Blog Contest! Tapper of the Month – It’s telling that the blogs dedicated to Tapped Out are run much better than the game itself.  They’ve got a contest running where all you have to do is send in your Springfield.

Jewish Top 10s: Simpsons Cameos - Excellent list (Nimoy #1!), though two picks from Zombie Simpsons keep it from being completely kosher.  Why not Albert Brooks and Harvey Fierstein?

The Simpsons: 10 Best Mr Burns Moments - This is also a pretty good list, if for no other reason than there are a couple of decent .gifs and no Zombie Simpsons.  But for the love of all that is pageviews, you have to click and load each fucking entry.  I did, of course, but I can’t really recommend it.

Manual of Mischief review: Bart Simpson’s guide to pranks and gags - A review of a new book they put out.

Stain glass artist to come to Austria - Remember Joseph Cavalieri, the guy who did those amazing Simpsons stained glass pieces?  Well, he’s still at it and he’s headed to Austria to teach people how to do similar stuff.  Congratulations.

One Man’’s Trash Is Another Man’’s Pizza Box Art - Click through for the fan made box with an alternate universe Homer and Bart working at a pizza joint.

Realistic Homer Simpson Is Disgusting [7 Photos] - Things like this are why it’s best the show is a cartoon.  They’re really well done, but very off putting.

Grow your own… heart, limb, or organ - Excellent usage:

In a classic episode of The Simpsons, Homer, ineffectual as usual, tries to steal snacks from a pair of vending machines by reaching his arms inside, only to end up completely stuck. When confronted with the possibility that sawing his arms off might be the only solution, he asks worriedly, “They’ll grow back, right?”

GIFs de la semaine : alors on danse ! – Lots of dancing .gifs, including depressed teenagers and Bart in a wig.

Futurama – The secret behind Philip J Fry – The Brannigan-Hartman-Fry connection spelled out in pictures.

What ‘The Simpsons’ Have Taught Us About Life, Part 2 – Another cromulent list.

Random Simpsons Screencap 3/17/14 – There’s no such thing as Scotchtoberfest!

My Top 8 Movie/TV Show Based GamesHit & Run makes the list.

What if… – Heh.

Retrospective No. 35 The Simpsons Tapped Out – Somebody hates freemium almost as much as I do.  Well done.

Drunk things to do in Dutch – Scroll to the bottom for a Smarch related heh.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! – A little YouTube for everyone but the gays and the Italians.

Best TV Comedies – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us . . . Batman style:

2. The Simpsons

It’s hard to watch what this show has become. It seems The Simpsons could’ve died a hero in 2000/2001, instead of seeing itself live long enough to become the villain that it is now.

Well put.

16
Mar
14

Sunday Preview: The Winter Of His Content

the_winter_of_his_content_promo_3

 

When the retirement home closes, Marge invites Grampa and two other elderly folks to stay at the Simpsons’ house. Nelson becomes Bart’s friend, after Bart defends him for wearing used underwear.

This is going up a little late, but since I haven’t seen the episode, it’s still a preview to me.  For those who did choose to watch it, feel free to let the rest of us know how it went. Or not. I don’t care.

15
Mar
14

Quote of the Day

Heart Attack

“You’re fired! . . . But wait, perhaps I’m being too hasty.  You are highly skilled . . . at goofing off!  Now, don’t worry, Homer, you’re the kind of guy I could really dig . . . a grave for!  Your indolence is inefficacious! . . . That means you’re terrible!” – C.M. Burns

Happy birthday David Silverman!

 

14
Mar
14

Reading Digest: High School Matt Groening Edition

The Front15
“Ah, my high school yearbook.  You handsome devil . . . ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing’.” – Homer Simpsonr
This week we’ve got two links to pictures of Groening, one from just a few years ago, and one from way back when he was a squeaky voiced teen.  In addition to that, we’ve got a lot of cool YouTube this week (including a couple of clever Simpsons/Lego ones), some excellent usage, a couple of good lists, and a True Detective/Simpsons drawing from a kid.
Enjoy.
A tale of two Springfields - Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this article about a bar that may or may not be the inspiration for Moe’s.  The link is worth the click just for the gawky pictures of high school Matt Groening.  
LEGO® CUUSOO | The Simpsons | Kwik-E-Mart – Cool fan made Kwik-E-Mart, complete with squishee machine.
Simpsons: Evil Monk – This is a site with a bunch of comics that updates daily.  There are a lot of Simpsons ones, and the McBain part at the link is quite funny.
The Simpsons’ Couch Gag in Lego Form | Graphic Policy – It’s the opening with heads and bodies mismatched from the Lego movie and the Simpsons Lego set.  Cool:
Lego The Simpsons Short Film 60 Subscribers Special - On a similar theme, this came from our old friend Friz:
It could use better audio clip selection (happy to help!), but if they made a longer one I’d probably watch it.
LiveGaelic.com Video: St. Judes Recreate Classic Simpsons Moment - While I’m embedding YouTube videos, here’s some Irish people doing a hell of a live-action recreation of the garbage man song:
Watch This: ‘The Simpsons’ Couch Gag à la Française – Those episodes this week were awful, but the Chomet opening was pretty cool.
5.)    AURORA BORREALIS CAN LOCALIZE ENTIRELY WITHIN YOUR KITCHEN!
Couple of good .gifs, too.
The 8 Best Simpsons References In Hip-Hop – Fantastic list with a lot of great rhymes, especially the song at #1.
Harriet M. Welsch, Scout Finch, and How to Be a Good Bad American Girl – Excellent references in The New Yorker about Lisa invoking both To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy as meta-invocation of American girlhood.
The Simpsons: Krabappel of my eye – A nice encomium for Marcia Wallace.

When it comes to sourcing our security software, the great analyst Marge Simpson was right: “We can’t afford to shop at any store that has a philosophy” — whether that philosophy is about being designed by Apple in California, or many eyes, or freedom, or whatever hand-waving feelpinions people might proffer.
No, we don’t need a philosophy so much as need need science — or, more accurately, engineering.

Ay Caramba! Sawtelle Shop Black Market Salutes The Simpsons – Simpsons clothing on prominent display in Los Angeles. 
TSTO Tricks – Official Launch! – One of the main writers over at tstogame.com has launched a second site that takes you through the entire game.  That’s a hell of a lot of work, but looks very comprehensive.
Here We Grow Again – Speaking of tstogame.com, they’re looking for a few more writers.  If you play the game and want to talk about it on-line, drop them a line.
5 Shows Everyone Would Like to See on Netflix – FOX will never allow that (at least not for years and years), but it would be pretty damned awesome.
The Simpsons 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Mega Set – Two hundred and twenty bucks ought to get you a lot of bendable Simpsons toys.
Simpsons Pewter Diorama - You can’t buy it or nothing, but that is pretty damned cool.  (via @woohootriviaCHI)

No TV and No Beer Make Homer Something Something – A blog where the author gives up something each month.  She’s on TV for March:

Reflection so far: Giving up TV is good. I find plenty of ways to entertain myself, and to be honest the only TV shows I’m hanging for once this month is up is Game of Thrones, and Supernatural (which I’m already a season behind on, and am waiting for the DVD…) That’s it. I think I want to keep our growing habit of having the radio on during dinner (and actually eating at the dining table instead of on the couch, for that matter) because we TALK now. Which is good. As much as I enjoy the Simpsons, I don’t need to watch it every day.

I try to watch one every day.  Don’t always succeed, but that’s just how I was raised, damn it!

Homer-Apple – That always was a cool iPhone skin/case/whatever.

Enter GIFGIF – Lisa dancing to the Soul Mass Transit System.

I believe I can fly – We can all relate to this:

I haven’t been able to blog often because of work and, like I said earlier, gym time. Also, from now on please read gym as gime (Homer Simpson style) it’ll make all the times I mention the gym slightly more interesting (did you do it?).

I pretty much always read it as “gime” now.  Once it’s in your head there’s no getting rid of it.

Rotisserie Chicken – they see me rollin’; they hatin’ – Jebus, that looks good, and bonus points for the .gif of Homer rotating his head with the spit.

With Matt Groening, Creator of The Simpsons – Groening has mastered the non-committal-famous-person-in-picture face.

Fashion Spotlight: Moe’s Where Everyone in Springfield Knows Your Name – I might buy one of those if they actually made them.

Homer Simpson is the ‘Yellow King!’ – I’ve still got a few episodes to go, but I will be very surprised if the bad guy turns out to be Dan Castellaneta.

Glennis Presents “The Simpsons Classics” On Facebook! – That San Francisco TV station that agrees with us by deliberately separating out Zombie Simpsons from their rerun pool has a “Programming Coordinator” who looks like she’s got a pretty Simpson heavy office.  They would also like you to like them on Facebook, if that’s your thing.

12
Mar
14

Compare & Contrast: Involuntary Commitment

Come With Us

"Sir!  I’m so sorry my grocer committed you.  We’ll never shop there again." – Mr. Smithers

Like the practice of medicine in general, the treatment of mental illness has a longstanding history of cruelty, incompetence and abuse.  People have undergone everything from lifetime confinement and mind changing drug regimes to electric shocks and lobotomies because of pseudo-scientific theories that often had (and have) more to do with the ignorance and prevailing prejudices of the people administering the "treatments" than they do with making the patients better.  On top of that is the frightful prospect of a mentally healthy person becoming trapped in that system and subject to its tender mercies, a fear that has driven fiction of all kinds for more than a century.

Serious drama, horror schlock, dark comedy and more have long used that and related ideas to provoke and entertain.  Some, obviously, work better than others, and there’s no way to guarantee success; but you can guarantee failure by using that powerful, well explored, and deeply rooted concept as a quick and haphazard plot twist to clean up a half-formed story and the flimsy character at its core.  In a nutshell, that’s what happened to "Diggs", a Zombie Simpsons episode so ill conceived that they couldn’t even bring themselves to put a pun in the title.

You want to do an episode about a lonely boy who’s a one kid falconry club at Springfield Elementary?  Fine.  Weirder shit than that has happened at Springfield Elementary.  You further want to reveal that said lonely boy is actually seriously mentally ill?  Okay, that’s a bit heavy for a shamelessly stupid show like Zombie Simpsons, but isn’t necessarily a problem.  Oh, you want to have the kid be involuntarily committed, have Bart find out, have Bart’s parents react with horror that he even knows such places exist, have Lisa(!) go along with it unquestioningly, then have the kid leave for a day to wrap up the plot before biking happily back to a life at the mental institute he clearly doesn’t want to be in?  Those are gonna cause problems.

To see just a few of them, take a quick look at the dinner scene where Bart has printed out (yeah, I know, ignore it) the name of the mental hospital where Diggs is being taken.  Bart can read.  He can certainly understand the words "Psychiatric Hospital" on the page he printed.  He hands it to Marge and this is what happens:

Marge: If this is what I think it is, it’s not a place we should ever ever take a little boy.
Bart: Then why is Diggs there?
Homer:
Because it’s his home forever.

Marge’s reaction is bizarre in a couple of ways.  First, she’s just accepting that some kid is being permanently taken to a mental hospital?  That’s very un-Marge.  Moreover, what’s with the weirdly callous and fearful attitude?  Even if we spot them her acquiescence in this, the Marge we know and love would reassure Bart, tell him that the hospital is going to help Diggs, maybe even often to see about visitation.  Instead, she not only views it as a hopeless place too horrible to even speak of, but makes Bart feel even worse about his friend going there.

And all that’s before we get to the glaring elephant in the room: how come nobody has asked about this kid’s parents?  He’s supposed to be an elementary school student for fuck’s sake!  And not only does he not have any parents, none of the adults we do see care about it either.  Are they on vacation?  Did he run away?  Did Voldemort kill them in the Simpsons universe too?

It’d be one thing to overlook all that in a regularly nonsensical Zombie Simpsons episode that’s flopping all over the place anyway, but they play this seriously . . . over . . . and over . . . and over again, complete with sad piano music each and every time.  Diggs and his bleak future are clearly the biggest element of the story now, but the episode spends most of its remaining time on a bunch of falcons we hadn’t seen before, then ends with Diggs riding off to his fate.  How is the audience supposed to react to this?  It’s like watching someone do bad stand up right next to someone who’s getting beaten and handcuffed.

Come Back, Diggs, Come Back

Are you sad?  Well don’t be, because here comes Milhouse!

Even topics as dour as getting hauled off for no cause can be funny, of course.  For starters, it helps to not have it be about a little kid.  (Unless it’s a Halloween episode and Bart saw a gremlin on the side of the bus, and even that made more sense than “Diggs”.)  More importantly, it has to fit in with the universe you’ve created and the story you’re telling, which brings us to "Stark Raving Dad" and "The Old Man and the Lisa".  In one, Homer gets committed to the New Bedlam Rest Home for the Emotionally Interesting by his boss for wearing a pink shirt to work and flunking an obviously idiotic take home personality test.  In the other, Burns gets committed to the old folks home because two grocery clerks decided he wasn’t capable of being in society.

Forget about what happened to Homer and Burns once they got where they were going ("Diggs" didn’t show us where its title character was going), and just compare the who and the why.  Homer gets sent up by his boss, which is a pretty terrifying prospect for anyone who’s not in management.  Burns gets sent up by a couple of dudes at the store, which is pretty terrifying for anyone.  Both are egregious abuses of authority, but they’re also absurd.  Real life grocery store employees cannot sign commitment papers, which is what makes doing it on The Simpsons so enjoyable. 

Similarly, both Homer’s and Burns’ transgressions were ludicrously minor.  Homer wore a pink shirt and checked some boxes wrong (or, rather, let Bart check them wrong); Burns couldn’t make up his mind about a condiment.  Neither can get you committed, much less by people other than doctors and judges.

Both cases take that dark concept and make it funny by changing and exaggerating it beyond reality while leaving it recognizable.  In other words, by satirizing it.  Zombie Simpsons, by contrast, took a very sad real world situation and . . . left it very sad.  I’m not sure what that’s called, but "boring" and "not funny" would be a good start.

As I said on Monday, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they dumped "Diggs" at 7:30 instead of the usual 8pm.  Zombie Simpsons episodes are typically some combination of dumb, nonsensical, boring and just plain bad; but "Diggs" managed to stand out for not only being all those things, but also stapling them to a story that would’ve been hideously depressing if it weren’t so mind numbingly stupid. 

10
Mar
14

Behind Us Forever: Diggs & The Man Who Grew Too Much

Diggs and Man Who Grew Too Much Chalkboard

“Grasping the child firmly in his talons, Socrates here will fly him to safety.  Just watch . . . I don’t think he’s coming back.” – Falconry Guy 

First we got a nice long break from Zombie Simpsons, and then they made their triumphant return by dropping two great big steaming piles back-to-back.  The first one, “Diggs”, is among the more tone deaf episodes I can recall in a while.  It’s about a mentally ill kid who likes falcons and then gets hauled off to a loony bin for the rest of his life.  They play it for sad, but it’s so stupid and nonsensical that I couldn’t register anything more than bemusement.

The second was a Sideshow Bob episode where he’s a scientist.  In a turn that nobody could or should have seen coming, he’s also a genetically enhanced superman who throws himself off a dam for some reason.  Plus there were a bunch of teenagers in a church abstinence program that made no sense for them to be in.  They also briefly fought Sideshow Bob for some other reason.

- The couch gag, by Sylvain Chomet (a/k/a the Triplets of Belleville guy), was kinda interesting and managed to eat 60 seconds.  It’s all gonna be downhill from here.

- They should’ve made the couch gag longer.  The first two scenes, one in church the other a montage of Homer asking Bart to repay his $20, were pure filler.

- And now Bart is eating things for money, including a dead frog that Jimbo just happened to have on the playground.  Does any of this make sense?  Of course not!  It doesn’t even make sense within this scene, as Jimbo comes along offering Bart the full $20 he needs, making the rest of it pointless.

- Okay, having the Potter boy says “Habemus Papam” after the falcon craps was kinda funny.

- But is immediately followed by a Quahog style quick cut to Homer yelling at the dog to sit.

- “I wasn’t drinking, I was learning that nature isn’t a complete waste of space”, “That doesn’t sound like you”, “But it does sound like the kind of lie you’d make up after the first time you got blitzed”.  Telling us what we just saw, then telling us what we already know, and then returning to a joke that had already gone on way too long.  It’s hard to imagine how the writing on this should could get any worse.

- And how about some falconry montage?  Hey, at least there’s no dialogue!

- That’s right, Krusty’s just standing out in a field without his nose.  Carry on.

- Nice of the kid to just leap off the tree and get the plot moving.

- Why is Homer caring for the bird?  Better question: why am I asking?

- “I never heard of this new hospital, so I looked it up and printed it out” – Ah, there’s the pointless exposition that had been absent for almost twenty seconds.

- They’re really being weird about the fact that the kid is going to a mental hospital.  Like, that’s where their story is sending them, but they won’t even mention what it is at this dinner table scene.  It’s idiocy through a weird combination of sensitivity and insensitivity.

- “I obtained the pass to enter the Springfield falconry contest, which is what Freedom and I were training for when we first met you.” – This one sentence neatly encapsulates the entire mess that is this episode.  This comes with less than three minutes to go, but is the first mention of the “falconry contest” that makes up the ending.  It requires a nonsensical “one day pass” from the mental institute to which they haphazardly committed this (apparently parent-less) kid.  And it negates pretty much everything we’ve seen with this kid up to this point since none of it had any bearing on what he wanted to do.

-  The falcons are free.  And now he’s going back to the mental institute . . . on his bike which he has for some reason.

- And then Milhouse appears from nowhere to try and salvage the uber-downer of an ending.

What a complete and utter mess of an episode, and even they knew it.  (Why else would they dump it at 7:30?)  They got themselves in way over their heads with the lonesome schizophrenic kid, sent him to a nut house, then had to walk back their own story to wrap things up.  Meanwhile, Bart went through a wide range of short term emotions that also made no sense.  Then it ends with the family at dinner eating duck as the big pre-credits joke . . . which leads back to the sad piano music they played over the doomed and now incarcerated kid.  I don’t know what that was supposed to be, and I’m not sure they did either.  Whatever, it’s time for round two:

- A short couch gag, haven’t seen that in a while.

- So Taco Tuesday comes every week but kills Willie?  Remember when the stampede was just for PE signup day?

- This is the last episode with Marcia Wallace’s voice.  They give her a nice send off at the end, showing her happy with Ned.  I can’t be the only one who finds that completely spoiled by having Lunchlady Doris voice some utterly unnecessary lines at the beginning.

- “Helen Lovejoy is posting the spring volunteer sign up sheet, in five minutes every good task will be taken.” – Maybe they did remember PE signup day.  They certainly remembered “tell the audience what’s happening” day.

- Thrill to the crossing the street scene!

- There is no plausible reason for these kids to be in a church abstinence program.  But these are the teenagers they have in the cast, so in the abstinence program they shall be.

- Since we’re apparently feeling the loss of dead cast members in this one, this fake YouTube video really could’ve used Phil Hartman.  It’d still probably be bad, but it wouldn’t be this bad.

- It really is too much to ask for a single scene to make sense.  After the video, Lisa wants to run off to do research on a topic that she knew enough to call a PTA meeting about?  The mind reels.

- That GMO buffet went nice and quick.

- I don’t remember which episode it was that had people’s faces falling off, but it sure deserved a callback.

- Why would Marge think finger puppets(!) would help explain things to teenagers?

- Now Homer’s at the abstinence meeting for some reason.

- Hey, a plot point just literally fell on Lisa only to have Sideshow Bob demonstrate his superhuman strength by saving her.

- Bob tossed off his concrete block now instead of earlier because . . .?

- “And we’re scared of that because . . . “, then Bob explains.  Whew.

- They’re on top of a dam now.  No idea why, but they are.

- “We’re here to stop you” is Marge’s line right as she and the teens pull up from nowhere to confront Bob.  (Well, Marge pulls up in the car, the teens just appear.)  It’s expository and nonsensical, so at least that fits with the rest of the episode.  Everything else about the ending?  Not so much.

- Bob just jumped off the dam, remembered he had gills, and stepped on a rake underwater.  I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again, but this is fan service at the lowest common denominator.

In that interview with Jean I linked on Friday, he mentioned why they don’t do more Sideshow Bob episodes:

“I’m really, really careful about approving new Sideshow Bob episodes, because I think every one of them is so special, and I never want to feel like we’re burning the character out,”

You made him a genetic superman with fucking gills!  Could some reporter on his next conference call ask him what “burning the character out” would look like?  Would he have to become a cyborg?  Travel to another dimension?  What’s left?

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are the worst ever, both of them.  The awkward and unwatchable mental kid episode at 7:30 had just 2.65 million viewers wonder why he didn’t have any parents.  The Sideshow-Bob-Has-Superpowers-Now episode made just 3.73 million viewers wonder what they hell they just watched.  That’s good for places #1 and #2 on the all time least watched list.




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