“Oh, hi, Bart, how much this time?” – Ned Flanders
“Dude, you got me all wrong.” – Bart Simpson
“Yeah. Just answer me this: are you holding your mooching sack?” – Ned Flanders
“My little one.” – Bart Simpson
Archive Page 2
“Only Duff fills your Q zone with pure beer goodness. So drink up, and up, and up!” – Cartoon Doctor
“Duff Beer, proud sponsors of Amos ‘n Andy!” – Narrator
It’s always nice when Zombie Simpsons provides a wealth of options for Compare & Contrast. For “Waiting for Duffman”, I could’ve gone with Homer quitting drinking like he did in “Duffless”. Of course, there he quits because Marge thinks he might have a problem and we see just how awful and ubiquitous beer advertising really is, whereas here he gets a fake microchip implanted in him and screams a lot. I could’ve also gone with the Duff calendar contest from “Pygmoelian” against that hapless, celebrity voiced reality show facsimile they strung together this week. I almost contrasted the time Lisa rejected being a corporate spokeshack in “Lisa the Beauty Queen” with Homer’s abrupt and nonsensical about face as Duffman. Hell, I could’ve even gone with Homer being dropped into a store’s publicity event, which is done much better in “Homie the Clown” than it was this week.
Instead, I want to take a detailed look at that one-dimensional Yogi Bear beer commercial and how poorly it fares next to the one Homer and Barney see on the brewery tour in “Duffless”. The premises here are exactly the same: wildly sleazy commercials from a time when advertising could get away with even more than they can these days. The differences are all in the execution.
The problems with the Zombie Simpsons version begin even before the commercial itself. The scene preceding the commercial is that big Game of Thrones montage that takes up nearly a minute and a half. That thing finishes with Homer taking an oath in this room:
From there, the family and the beer guy are walking in this hall:
And from there, with nary a single word of intervening or introductory dialogue, they walk over to a TV and start watching:
Normally, I accuse Zombie Simpsons of overexplaining things, be they jokes, plot points, or whatever. (And Jebus knows they do that enough elsewhere in this one.) But this is them actually doing the opposite. We can infer from the stuff on the walls that they’re in some kind of Duff museum, but the beer guy doesn’t appear to be giving them a tour (he certainly isn’t saying anything) and the TV they walk up to just snaps on without any of them so much as even looking at it. Immediately they all stare at it and we go into the commercial in full. There’s no transition, no continuity, just one unrelated bit stuck between two others.
By contrast, at the Duff Brewery in “Duffless”, not only do we know where they are and why they’re there, but we get a quick introduction that sets up the commercial. The tour guide, fresh off denying that a batch of Duff had been contaminated with strychnine, says:
Here’s one of our favorite Duff beer commercials from the early 1950s.
This is how you set up a bit: it’s short, the tour guide is still in character with his fake pride (“one of our favorite”), and it seamlessly drops in the historical context. From there we get the commercial itself, which is wall to wall with jokes at the expense of both Duff and the 1950s: “q zone”, the doctor telling people to drink “up, and up and up”, and, of course, “Proud Sponsors” of Amos & Andy, last and grandest of the nakedly racist mainstream minstrel shows.
Plus, look what Wikipedia just told me:
Adapted to television, The Amos ‘n Andy Show was produced from June 1951 to April 1953 with 78 filmed episodes, sponsored by the Blatz Brewing Company.
Real life Amos ‘n’ Andy was actually sponsored by a very Duff like beer brand, that’s fantastic! That’s the kind of density this show has: it’s twenty years later and I just got something new.
Compare that with the unintroduced, not quite Yogi Bear ad. This is the full transcript:
Narrator: When life looks hopeless, it’s not.
Chorus: Duff beer, feeling no pain/
Made from Canadian rain
Chorus: Tastes like nickle champagne/
Not Yogi: It will tickle your brain
Animals: Duff beer, feeling no pain/
Made from Canadian rain
By Zombie Simpson standards, that song is pretty good. It only repeats a lyric once, and it doesn’t even have a clock eating montage stuffed into it.
But it also takes much longer than the commercial in “Duffless”, and, worse, it doesn’t come at the expense of anyone but Yogi. It’s just this little, self contained thing that, however funny it may or may not be on its own, can be dropped into a random scene because it relates to precisely nothing else in the episode.
In addition to being part of an episode that goes out of its way to mock beer and beer advertising, the “Duffless” commercial had a point: the 1950s sucked and we are well rid of them. Justly deserved ridicule is rained down on commercials where beer gets sold with health claims, minstrel shows on television, and the people dumb enough to fall for the former while enjoying the latter. The Yogi hunting commercial, on the other hand, is little more than cartoon violence.
Ha ha, they got shot [snare drum].
And while there’s nothing wrong with cartoon violence (I’m certainly a fan), if you want to be The Simpsons or even pretend to, you need more than just that. Your beer commercial needs to be part and parcel of a larger whole; one that itself is making fun of huge variety of subjects. It’s a tall order, I know, and Zombie Simpsons is never up to it, but The Simpsons always was.
“Hey, it’s Duffman, a guy in a costume who creates awareness of Duff!” – Lenny
I was just getting ready to watch last week’s Zombie Simpsons when news of Sam Simon’s death broke. I guess Wiggum got a jetpack or something. This week, however, there was nothing to do but plow through it, as Homer got yet another job, this time as Duffman, and quit drinking at the same time.
– Couch gag wasn’t too bad, right up until Homer’s severed head. Which was weird.
– This bicycle parade just keeps going. And it’s filled with that really formulaic “setup-beat-punchline” stuff that is the hallmark of uncreative sitcoms, like Lou telling Wiggum not to go into the donut shop, only to have Wiggum immediately go into the donut shop.
– Hospital sign “Wishing You a Cold, Smooth Recovery” is pretty good.
– Brockman’s little broadcast with the Chinese landing on Mars was brief, at least.
– Homer’s explaining why he wants to be Duffman. I’ll bet this is not the last time we have this explained to us.
– The “America’s Next Top Whatever” game show thing is going on way too long. This is almost as bad as that American Idol episode they did.
– At least Homer got stabbed in the eye and is bleeding. Haven’t seen that in a few minutes.
– Oh, another Game of Thrones opening. They like these, don’t they?
– Homer’s monologue vow thing is really bad and goes on for the better part of a minute.
– Even the old timey beer commercials are long and boring and expositive.
– That aside with the formula and safe certainly ate some time. So nice of them to put in an object, have someone ask about it, then drop it completely.
– “Duffman can’t drink”, that got repeated several times.
– Now Marge is expositing while Homer moans and beats himself about the head.
– Did they have to have Flanders stare at the camera like that after the t-shirt cannon thing? Is this what counts as fan service these days?
– Uh, why were Burns and Smithers at this whatever ceremony in costume? Oh, right, meaningless filler. Now I remember.
– And a really drawn out scene about there being lots of executives. That just kept going.
– And now, Homer’s looking at people through a beer telescope from a blimp.
– We dodged a bullet on that blimp fire. They actually cut away.
– Now, in an attach of conscious that has been preceeded by nothing except a weird blimp ride, Homer is against beer.
– Homer getting away again and again in a race car only to circle back. I’m actually surprised they stopped at only three.
– “Now, there’s one way out of your hell, prove you still love beer. Drink this.” When they have lines, and whole exchanges like this, you know the ending is a mess.
– Now Homer is back at Moe’s because the episode needed to fill some more time.
– And now we’re revisiting the old Duffman. Oof, this one must’ve come in even shorter than most.
– Nice little Simon tribute, though.
Anyway, the numbers are in and they remain awful. Last night, just 3.61 million viewers wondered what job Homer was going to get next. That’s good for #9 on the all time least watched list. With (probably) five episodes to go in the season, last year’s record low viewership average of 4.99 million is in real jeopardy. The current Season 26 average is 5.32 million, and numbers that continue in the 3.60 million range will drop it well below five million by the end of the year.