“Take a knee, boys. Tomorrow is the biggest day of your lives: the Shelbyville game. So lights out at 7:30, and abstain from coffee, tea, and cola drinks. Make no mistake, they pack a wallop.” – C.M. Burns
“Sure do, skip!” – Darryl Strawberry
Archive Page 2
“The watchdog of public safety, is there any lower form of life?” – C.M. Burns
It would be one thing if Zombie Simpsons merely repeated ideas and stories that had been done on The Simpsons. Given the enormous catalog of episodes, it’s certainly understandable that scenes and concepts would need to get recycled from time to time. Hell, that was understandable way back in the heyday of the show.
For example, Season 2’s “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” has a great nuclear plant inspection, where we see gum used to seal a crack in the cooling towers, a plutonium paper weight, and ankle deep toxic waste. But all that doesn’t detract in the least from the inspection in Season 5’s “Homer Goes to College”, because instead of showing us the same things again, it gives us a completely different set of horrifying looks into Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.
For starters, the inspectors show up during nap time, where meltdowns are averted by sleepy hound dogs and Smithers is curled up at Burns’ feet. When the surprise inspection team rings the bell, Burns denies them entry and tells a pathetic lie about old fashioned cookies before the inspectors start hacking at the door with an ax. The inspection hasn’t even started yet and already The Simpsons is at full speed, tossing off jokes and ludicrous ideas as fast as possible.
Compare that to the – ahem – “inspection” in “My Fare Lady”. Instead of nap time and Homer falling asleep on the “Plant Destruct” button (“Please Do Not Push”), Burns just happens upon Moe, who has been hired as a janitor, mopping the floor. (This whole thing is so inconsequential that we don’t even get an establishing shot and a crow screech.) That immediately leads to a standard Zombie Simpsons joke, wherein the punchline takes forever to arrive, and is patiently explained to the audience:
Burns: Hey, swabbie, you missed spots there . . . another one there . . . and there! Every other spot is begrimed!
Moe: It’s called a checkerboard floor, you unwrapped mummy.
At that, the camera helpfully pulls back to show us the aforementioned checkerboard floor. Hi-larity.
No sooner has that happened then Smithers walks up with a bunch of inspectors in tow, “Sir, the NRC is here for a surprise inspection”. Huh? Even by the standards of incompetent Zombie Simpsons Burns, this is head spinning. These guys just waltzed into the plant without Burns (or Smithers, apparently) even knowing they were there? Somewhere, Season 5 Burns is scoffing at his successor’s haplessness. One second they’re not there, the next they are; there’s no lie about cookies, no ax, no nothing.
In Season 5, once the inspectors do get in, we see them testing the plant employees while Burns and Smithers gaze down from above. Except, of course, for the three workers who’ve been strategically diverted down to the basement with the important job of keeping a bee in a jar.
I always wondered what these guys did at the plant. Accountants?
Down in the basement we see a glowing rat, dripping ooze, and several spilled barrels of toxic waste. No other mention of them is made because it doesn’t need to be. Moreover, the inspectors have no idea these three geniuses (and the improperly stored nuclear waste) are here. They’re in the parking lot testing the employees. Here’s the Zombie Simpsons version of the same thing:
See the glove? The inspectors didn’t.
While Moe asks penetrating questions like, “You’re the head inspector, huh?”, nothing else happens except the unacknowledged gas leak and the slowly inflating glove. It’s easily the best part of this scene, but it also makes the inspection team even more bland and boring than they already were. (Thanks for the meandering story about your Queen cover band.) The scene is Moe telling them they can’t come in after they’ve already come in, followed by them, despite already being inside and being, you know, federal nuclear inspectors, meekly accepting that and shuffling off screen.
This is basic stuff, the audience getting to see characters with personality do things instead of just listen to somebody we don’t know talk about something we don’t care about and can’t see. To be fair to Zombie Simpsons, the inspection in “Homer Goes to College” is given more screen time, so things like nap time, bee guarding, and Homer causing a meltdown without any nuclear material being in the truck have a chance to breathe. But it’s not like “My Fare Lady” was crammed with other great bits. The episode has three different driving montages, one of which goes on for well over a minute.
Not that extra time would’ve helped. More lines for incompetent Burns, more background jokes explained, and more of the nothingburger inspection team aren’t going to make “My Fare Lady” any better. When the NRC shows up in Season 5, there’s a big ominous musical cue, and they begin to methodically test employees. These nondescript cardboard cutouts (only one of them even speaks) get silence and deserve it.
“It’s too late to merely pay back the money, but as a sign of good faith to our Australian friends, we’d like to imprison Bart for five years.” – Evan Conover
“That’s tough but fair. Boy, go with the man.” – Homer Simpson
“No, no, no!” – Marge Simpson
“Town Crier, I’d like to ask you a few questions. One, where’s the fife? And two, gimme the fife.” – Homer Simpson
“Hey, stop! I’ve got nothing but respect for the office of Town Crier, but this is well outside your jurisdiction!” – Hollis Hurlbut
“It’s awful being a kid, no one listens to you.” – Lisa Simpson
“It’s rotten being old, no one listens to you.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“I’m a white male, age 18-49, everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are.” – Homer Simpson
“Chauffeur, seamstress, curator of large mammals?” – Marge Simpson
“Marge, have you seen my lunch box?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, I see.” – Marge Simpson
In this episode, Moe leaves Homer in charge of the bar. Meanwhile, Marge gets a job as a Not Lyft driver. Then Moe, his bar wrecked, gets a job at the nuclear plant. Then Homer gets a different job at the nuclear plant. Then it ends.
On the plus side, they used that awesome pixel opening that hit the internet a couple of weeks back. Pretty much all downhill from there, though.
– Really was nice of them to use that fan made pixel opening, and it ate up nearly two minutes!
– And speaking of openings, there’s a Jetsons one to eat some more clock.
– “Why Humans Failed” was a nice little reveal to end the Jetsons thing.
– We are off to another rousing expository beginning. Marge explained what all the kids were doing (we saw them in costume, too!), then Homer described what he was feeling, and now Homer’s at Moe’s and Moe is telling us that he’s tying his apron on while he’s, you guessed it, tying his apron on.
– Wow, this is a really long one. We just crossed the one minute mark on it and it’s still going strong.
– Back to the exposition: Moe told us about Sideshow Mel getting drunk (we didn’t see it) and now he, Lenny and Carl are talking about a ticket to see a Joan Rivers type we haven’t seen yet.
– Homer is going to be running the bar, apparently.
– Also, Moe just explained a couple of sign gags to us.
– Some Uber/Lyft guy just showed up to tell Marge about the plot. He will vanish and not come back.
– Marge’s license plate is EP7G08, 7G08 is the production number for “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”. Huh.
– Lenny, Carl and Homer are going to run a ladies night at Moe’s. Carl explained what that is, then Lenny thanked him.
– Moe is at the show, and falling in love with the old Hollywood lady. Meanwhile, Homer and Marge just got new jobs. They’re using a lot of their tired tropes this week.
– Moe’s is now overrun with women. Homer and Carl are explaining who they are. Then there was a brawl.
– Moe just did a comedy “whaa!”, saw his bar was trashed, then explained things.
– Marge’s ride service is off to a rousing start, first the kids were there with Milhouse and Kirk (who popped up out of nowhere, then vanished), then Marge and Shauna explained things we didn’t see:
Shauna: Thanks for the lift. It’s nice to know I can get a ride without having to put out.
Marge: You’re welcome. If you really want to get your belly button pierced, go see a professional.
Kearney: [who just walked out of a house with a staple gun] I’m ready for you, babe.
Shauna: I’m gonna have this done properly, at a kiosk in the mall. I’m Shauna.
That’s the whole scene. It’s like a rejected SNL sketch idea.
– Moe just got a job at the nuclear plant. Now he’s telling us how he feels.
– Nelson, Willie and Gil have all been in Marge’s car now.
– And . . . driving montage!
– Burns was just talking to Moe, and now there’s a surprise nuclear inspection.
– Well, that ended as quickly as it began, now the inspectors are gone.
– Moe is now supervising sector 7-G and reassigning Homer. Wacky hijinks, ahoy.
– Homer just got eaten by a giant Venus fly trap. Such hijinks, such wackiness.
– Moe just got ditched in the cafeteria. Though there was a mercifully brief callback to the guy who whips Homer to make the cupcake display turn.
– Back to the exposition, Marge just said, “Homer Simpson, working with those plants is great. It’s helped you get in touch with your feminine side.” That lead to Homer screaming for no reason and setting plants on fire in the front yard.
– Yet another driving montage. This makes three. The only difference is that this one is an expository song.
– But even an expository song won’t stop them from more expository dialogue, Marge just recapped the montage, “Moe, I think we’d both be a lot happier if we quit our new jobs.”
– Now other cabbies, who we saw for one brief scene where they talked about being cabbies, have surrounded Marge. Then Moe showed up with a shotgun.
– And we end on Moe, alone at his rebuilt bar, getting talked to by the giant Lyft mouth Marge hung on the mirror. Seems about right.
Anyway, the numbers are in and they are just as atrocious as we’d expect. Last night just 2.75 million people wondered how many “new job!” plots they could squeeze into one episode. (The answer, if you count Homer watering plants, is four.) That replaces last week’s “Walking Big & Tall” as #2 on the least watched list, trailing only last year’s 7:30 broadcast of “Diggs”. That one came in at 2.65, so we may see it dethroned if the rest of the season goes on like this.
“I’m a star again. I don’t know how to thank you kids.” – Krusty the Klown
“That’s alright, Krusty.” – Bart Simpson
“We’re getting fifty percent of the t-shirt sales.” – Lisa Simpson
“What? That’s the sweetest plum!” – Krusty the Klown
Happy (one day belated) birthday, Matt Groening!