Archive for the 'The Simpsons' Category

29
Aug
14

Reading Digest: The Hell With It Edition

The Call of the Simpsons11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29
Aug
14

Speak No Zombie Simpsons, Hear No Zombie Simpsons

Mr Lisa Goes to Washington9

“I had a feeling it was too good to be true.  Every time you get a million dollars something queers the deal.” – Homer Simpson

Since the marathon started last week, there’s been far more Simpsons commentary on the internet than I could possibly hope to keep up with: podcasts, blog posts, articles, the never ending firehose of Twitter, you name it.  For the most part this has been very enjoyable.  Usually, the only time people start talking about the show is when they do another publicity stunt.  Some are linked to their most recent guest appearance or meaningless 50th/100th episode milestone, others some new line of merchandise, or, more recently, the killing of a character and doing crossovers with Family Guy and Futurama.  For the most part these get dutifully written up by the usual sycophantic entertainment news sites and that’s about it.  The marathon, however, has been different.

Starting last week and continuing through the weekend (Seasons 7 and 8 were on most of Sunday), there was an avalanche of people actually talking about The Simpsons instead of Zombie Simpsons or the latest officially licensed crap.  Even better, it was an overwhelming tidal wave of love: people talking about how the old episodes are great, dark, cynical, smart, heartfelt, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  Perhaps most encouraging, at least on Twitter, was the huge number of people watching with their kids.  Nine-year-olds whose parents grew up on the show got sucked into things like “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” and “Bart of Darkness”.

However, there was one persistent undercurrent to all the comity and enjoyment that kinda bugged me, and it’s gotten worse as the marathon has switched into Zombie Simpsons.  Namely: there’s an almost unspoken taboo against mentioning how much the show has gone to seed.

Before I get into a couple of examples, let me say that I completely understand this.  People just want to discuss or praise the show; they don’t want to have an argument with some pissed off fanboi who may or may not turn out to be a flaming troll asshole.  This is why you’ll often see articles about the show (and this has been everywhere with the FXX marathon) start with some kind of disclaimer about how people complain too much, “blah blah blahing” away criticism of later years, and similar.  It’s simply easier to preempt people from calling you a bitter, uncool Comic Book Guy type than it is to deal with it after the fact.  (This exact phenomenon came up in comments on Wednesday.)

What makes this so annoying from the point of view of a Zombie Simpsons critic is that, no sooner have people made this disclaimer, than they proceed to talk about favorite episodes, gags and stories that come exclusively from Season 9 and earlier.  This is why I called the idea that the show is as good as ever a “Soviet fiction“.  Everyone knows the show isn’t anything like what it once was, they just don’t want to say so explicitly because to do so is to invite trouble, trolling, and pointless arguments that have been hashed and rehashed countless times already.

You can see this phenomenon in spades in two recent discussions of the show: one on a WHYY Philadelphia program called “Radio Times” and the other on the Slate Culture Gabfest podcast.  Production wise, these are a step way above your standard blog rant about the show, and yet that same reluctance applies.

The “Radio Times” episode aired last week, and the producers were kind enough to email me about it.  Here’s the description:

Today, the FXX network begins its 276 hour-long marathon of every episode of The Simpsons ever.  This is to commemorate the launch of the expansive SimpsonsWorld application, which will provide access to every episode, as well as a searchable database of the show’s transcripts.  Today, we discuss the 25 year-old series, its impact on American culture, and why it merits such an expansive service.  We’re joined by DAVID BIANCULLI, television critic for WHYY’s Fresh Air and founder of TVWorthWatching.com, KARMA WALTONEN,  lecturer at UC Davis’s University Writing Program and co-author of The Simpsons in the Classroom: Embiggening the Learning Experience with the Wisdom of Springfield, and Simpsons writer and co-executive producer, MICHAEL PRICE.

The whole show is about fifty minutes long, and there’s a Soundcloud link at their site along with a direct .mp3 download.  It’s an interesting discussion (Bianculli’s then 5-year-old son got to see a lot of Season 1 early on critic preview tapes, lucky kid), and it was nice to hear our old friend Karma Waltonen talk about how she uses the show to discuss a wide range of topics.  These are some of the assignments:
“Simpsons and religion, Simpsons and politics,Simpsons and the road, Simpsons and infotainment, Simpsons and family, Simpsons and sexuality, Simpsons and education,Simpsons and self-referentiality”
Throughout, they cut to Michael Price and ask him about how the show gets made and all the other standard questions that usually come up.  But there’s a glaring incongruity that would be completely invisible to the overwhelming majority of the people who listened to that episode of “Radio Times”.
Price, who seems like a nice enough fella, came aboard in Season 14.  But everyone – literally everyone: the guests, the callers, and the listener e-mail they read  on the air – cites episodes and jokes from before he was on staff.  People talk about “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer”, “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge”, and “Much Apu About Nothing”, among others.  The only mention of a Zombie Simpsons episode is one caller who recalls a slightly racist sign gag from Season 13.  (The family drives through Chinatown and sees a sign for “Toys L Us”.  Amusingly, the host realizes that it’s a little off color and moves smoothly and professionally past it.)  Everyone is obviously too NPR-polite to mention the quality slide while Price is on the line, but the fact that all but one example came from the early years is a huge elephant in the room.

That uncomfortable fact probably sails over the head of just about everybody (of the people actually participating, my guess is that only Waltonen and Price even realized it).  And while the deterioration of The Simpsons isn’t something that’s strictly necessary to bring up, it’s still a glaring omission to not even mention what is easily one of the most widely debated aspects of the show.  Not discussing it at all is like pretending Michael Jordan retired after 1998, Bobby Fischer never went publicly crazy, or Emily Dickinson lived a long and happy life.  This is a Philadelphia based program, they probably love Rocky 1, but they wouldn’t do a show on it and not even mention the franchise’s crash landings in various sequels.  Yet the collapse of The Simpsons is so potentially toxic that no one brought it up even to disagree with it.

The same can be said of the Slate Culture Gabfest episode about the marathon.  They don’t have a Zombie Simpsons writer whose work they nonchalantly ignore, but they do have a discussion of the show and what makes it “timeless” that repeatedly cites single digit seasons as being among the finest and most influential things ever done . . . all while saying not a word about the later and far inferior season which at this point constitute the bulk of the episodes.

Like the WHYY program, the silence on the decline of the show is deafening.  They dance around it, even saying that they don’t follow the show any more and citing what seasons (single digits) they think constitute the part of the series that makes it still relevant even twenty years after it was broadcast.  Nobody talks about the later years, because, again, doing so just invites trouble.

This misleads the audience by omission.  A healthy chunk of the Culture Gabfest discussion is devoted to whether or not kids decades from now, who probably won’t get references to Cheers or Phantom of the Opera, will still laugh at something like “Flaming Moe’s”.  Their consensus is that, yes, kids in the future will get it, because you don’t actually need to know Cheers to enjoy it any more than you need to have seen Citizen Kane to get “Rosebud”.  (For the record, I and plenty of other people had probably seen “Rosebud” fifteen or twenty times before ever watching Kane.)  But “Flaming Moe’s” and “Rosebud” are light years of quality and timelessness away from, say, the Lady Gaga episode, or the popped eyeball episode, or even the “picture a day” YouTube episode.

Again, I understand the reluctance.  Criticizing the show and saying that it isn’t as good as it once was is to invite the most boring and annoying kind of discussion.  I wouldn’t call the e-mails I routinely receive “hate mail” (no one has, for example, threatened to drink blood out of my genitals (<- asshole)), but they tend not to be kind.  And one of the very first comments we ever got on this site way back in 2009 was to call me a pedophile.  It’s aggravating and time consuming even before you get into refuting the same tired arguments over and over again.

But if you want to talk about why the show is “timeless”, you are doing your audience a disservice if you don’t talk about the difference between The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons.  The show is a global cultural phenomenon to which basically nothing else can even be compared, and those early seasons are a literary goldmine whose breadth and depth touch on an all but unlimited array of immutable human subjects: love, failure, humiliation, redemption . . . the list goes on.  There’s a reason Karma Waltonen can teach a kaleidoscope of college level topics through the lens of The Simpsons.

That’s why I’m not kidding when I compare The Simpsons to William Shakespeare and Mark Twain.  Twain had a #1 bestseller one hundred years after he died, and people still make new and innovative Shakespeare adaptations for stage and screen because in both cases the writing is just that good.  Are high school students in the class of 2114, 2214 or even later going to be forced to watch “Cape Feare” the same way they’re forced to read Hamlet or Huckleberry Finn?  I don’t know, and I’m never going to find out because I’ll be dead by then.  But from the vantage point of 2014, you’d be hard pressed to nominate any other recent cultural creation that stands a better chance (or even comes close).  After all, there’s already a play that’s been critically acclaimed in New York City and London about how people will be reinterpreting The Simpsons far into the future.

So while it’s enjoyable to see The Simpsons lauded and praised on big name podcasts, public radio, and other mainstream outlets, there’s no getting around the fact that eliding and/or ignoring the show’s precipitous fall makes their encomiums incomplete (at best).  The Simpsons itself deserves the praise, but to overlook or conflate it with the shallow detritus its reputation and legacy still manage to keep on the air degrades and distorts both what it means now and how it will fare in the future.  It’s a pain in the ass to do, but if you want to talk meaningfully about The Simpsons, you’ve got to talk about Zombie Simpsons.

23
Aug
14

Saturday Marathon Open Thread

Burns' Heir12

Per IGN, here’s the schedule for the next 24 hours:

8/23 11:00 AM ET – “Burns’ Heir”
8/23 11:30 AM ET – “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song”
8/23 12:00 PM ET – “The Boy Who Knew Too Much”
8/23 12:30 PM ET – “Lady Bouvier’s Lover”
8/23 1:00 PM ET – “Secrets of a Successful Marriage”

Season 6

8/23 1:30 PM ET – “Bart of Darkness”
8/23 2:00 PM ET – “Lisa’s Rival”
8/23 2:30 PM ET – “Another Simpsons Clip Show”
8/23 3:00 PM ET – “Itchy & Scratchy Land”
8/23 3:30 PM ET – “Sideshow Bob Roberts”
8/23 4:00 PM ET – “Treehouse of Horror V”
8/23 4:30 PM ET – “Bart’s Girlfriend”
8/23 5:00 PM ET – “Lisa on Ice”
8/23 5:30 PM ET – “Homer Badman”
8/23 6:00 PM ET – “Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy”
8/23 6:30 PM ET – “Fear of Flying”
8/23 7:00 PM ET – “Homer the Great”
8/23 7:30 PM ET – “And Maggie Makes Three”
8/23 8:00 PM ET – “Bart’s Comet”
8/23 8:30 PM ET – “Homie the Clown”
8/23 9:00 PM ET – “Bart vs. Australia”
8/23 9:30 PM ET – “Homer vs. Patty and Selma”
8/23 10:00 PM ET – “A Star is Burns”
8/23 10:30 PM ET – “Lisa’s Wedding”
8/23 11:00 PM ET – “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds”
8/23 11:30 PM ET – “The PTA Disbands”
8/24 12:00 AM ET – “‘Round Springfield”
8/24 12:30 AM ET – “The Springfield Connection”
8/24 1:00 AM ET – “Lemon of Troy”
8/24 1:30 AM ET – “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Pt. 1″

Season 7

8/24 2:00 AM ET – “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Pt. 2″
8/24 2:30 AM ET – “Radioactive Man”
8/24 3:00 AM ET – “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily”
8/24 3:30 AM ET – “Bart Sells His Soul”
8/24 4:00 AM ET – “Lisa the Vegetarian”
8/24 4:30 AM ET – “Treehouse of Horror VI”
8/24 5:00 AM ET – “King-Size Homer”
8/24 5:30 AM ET – “Mother Simpson”
8/24 6:00 AM ET – “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming”
8/24 6:30 AM ET – “The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular”
8/24 7:00 AM ET – “Marge Be Not Proud”
8/24 7:30 AM ET – “Team Homer”
8/24 8:00 AM ET – “Two Bad Neighbors”
8/24 8:30 AM ET – “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield”
8/24 9:00 AM ET – “Bart the Fink”
8/24 9:30 AM ET – “Lisa the Iconoclast”
8/24 10:00 AM ET – “Homer the Smithers”
8/24 10:30 AM ET – “The Day the Violence Died”

Looks like it’s gonna be a Season 6 kinda afternoon.  I will be dipping in and out on the Twitter machine, since this is the kind of event at which it excels.

22
Aug
14

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

Homer Badman15

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

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

FXX Stretch

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

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

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

Enjoy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed it has.

15
Aug
14

Reading Digest: FXX Marketing Shifts Into High Gear Edition

WeatherVane

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

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

Enjoy.

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

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

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

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

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

- This is about the upcoming marathon on FXX:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get lost in a Simpsons themed corn maze – Neat:

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

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

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

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

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

Shearer’s the best.

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

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

Old LA Zoo – Oh, cool:

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

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

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

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.




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

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