Posts Tagged ‘Bart Gets an Elephant

31
Mar
14

Quote of the Day

JustJerks

“Gosh, I thought he’d be happier in his true habitat.” – Marge Simpson
“Oh, I think he is.” – Wildlife Refuge Guy
“Then why is he attacking all those other elephants?” – Marge Simpson
“Well, animals are a lot like people, Mrs. Simpson.  Some of them act badly because they’ve had a hard life or have been mistreated.  But, like people, some of them are just jerks.  Stop that, Mr. Simpson.” – Wildlife Refuge Guy

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Bart Gets an Elephant”.  Original airdate 31 March 1994.

15
Nov
13

Quote of the Day

Bart Gets an Elephant7

“I’m alive!  I’m alive!  And I owe it all to this feisty feline.” – Homer Simpson
“Dad, ‘feline’ means cat.” – Lisa Simpson
“Elephant, honey, it’s an elephant.” – Homer Simpson

20
Feb
13

Quote of the Day

Bart Gets an Elephant6

“Mr. Simpson, I think you’ll find this amount more than fair.” – Mr. Blackheart
“Dad, I think he’s an ivory dealer.  His boots are ivory, his hat is ivory, and I’m pretty sure that check is ivory.” – Lisa Simpson
“Lisa, a guy who has lots of ivory is less likely to hurt Stampy than a guy whose ivory supplies are low.” – Homer Simpson

05
Jan
12

Quote of the Day

Blattman-Africa-map

First Google Image result for “warped Africa map”, shamelessly yoinked from here.

“Don’t worry, Stampy, I won’t let Homer sell you to that ivory dealer.  You and I are gonna run away together.  We’ll keep to the back roads and make our way south.  Then, if I know my geography, it’s just twelve miles to Africa.” – Bart Simpson

07
Oct
11

Reading Digest: Rumor Control Edition (Updated)

Bart Gets an Elephant5

“After breakfast, me and Milhouse are going down to the ravine.  We got a tip from a six-year-old that there’s a dead Martian down there.” – Bart Simpson

Before we get to this week’s links, let me take you on a brief tour of a rumor.  Yesterday afternoon, Springfield Springfield tweeted:

‘The Simpsons’ likely to end after current season, confirms Fox executive

The tweet contained a link to this story from New York Daily News titled “‘The Simpsons’ likely to end after current season, confirms Fox executive: report”.  The keyword here is “confirms”, which is used right in the second paragraph as well as in the title:

A Fox executive confirmed to Reuters on Wednesday that even if the actors who voice the animated series took a pay cut, it still wouldn’t make it profitable — so the current 23rd season will likely be the last.

Following the link to the Reuters story reveals “Another ‘Simpsons’ Season Would Likely Be Last, Executive Says (Exclusive)”.  This is what happens when you do Ctrl-F for the word “confirm” at that story:

Lack of Confirmation

So, there really hasn’t been any confirmation at all.  Nor, for that matter, was it an “exclusive”.  While the story linked from the New York Daily News is indeed at reuters.com, it’s not an actual Reuters story.  In fact, it’s a rewrite of the same original report at The Wrap.  The story is even bylined “By Tim Molloy at TheWrap”.  The Wrap and Reuters must have some kind of content sharing agreement, but no FOX executive ever spoke with Reuters.  There’s no “exclusive” and there certainly isn’t any cause to use the word “confirm”. 

However, since the content sharing agreement apparently doesn’t require a link back to the original story (which I discussed yesterday), it certainly looks like a second report from Reuters confirming the original story.  It isn’t.  It’s the original story published in two places. 

So what happened is: a story originally at entertainment site The Wrap gets published.  A few hours later, the exact same guy changes a few words and publishes it on Reuters.  The New York Daily News picks that up as confirmation, which then gets sent as confirmation to Springfield Springfield’s twitter followers.  Not a single new piece of information hit the internet, it’s just one report echoing around as fast as fiber optic cable can carry it (which is really fast).  This single, unconfirmed report spawned more news stories and blog posts than I could ever hope to link, all saying that the show likely had only one season left.  

However, late yesterday, right about the time the New York Daily News was getting confused, there was an actual new story published at The Wrap, “‘Simpsons’ Deadline for Voice Actors Looms”.  It contains this direct refutation of the original quote:

The person familiar with the actors’ position dismissed the idea that Fox wants no more than one more season as "pure spin" and a negotiating tactic. The person said the offer now on the table for the actors would include a guarantee of two more seasons and the option of a third.

This is just one more anonymous quote in a week that’s seen far too many of them, but the report that Season 24 won’t be the last is at least as credible as the one that Season 24 will be the last.  It probably won’t go flying around the internet like the other one, but that has nothing to do with whichever of them turns out to have been correct.

Ultimately, that a whole bunch of people were temporarily misinformed about this isn’t that big of a deal.  The show is either going to get cancelled (still very unlikely) or it’s going to keep going (ugh).  All the blog posts and goofy stories by theoretically respectable news outlets won’t matter in the least to the outcome.  But it’s a little disturbing that a single unconfirmed rumor that was childishly easy to track down – all I had to do was read and follow links – could get people that confused that fast. 

Due to cancellation fever, there are fewer links than usual this week.  On the plus side, several of those links are from people who heard the talk of the show ending and thought it should’ve done so long ago.  There’s also the return of awesome Simpsons embroidery, a couple of mentions of Homer’s parenting advice, productivity enhancing camping hammocks, and cake pops.  Mmmm, cake pops. 

Enjoy.

[Programming note: Time spent sorting through rumors this week was time I didn’t spend doing a Compare & Contrast post for “Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts”.  It will be along, likely early next week.  There’s no new Zombie Simpsons this Sunday anyway.  There will be further updates on the Zombie Simpsons contract negotiations when actual new information comes along.  At this point, things are exactly where they’ve been all week: negotiating behind closed doors for a contract extension.]

[Update 12:06pm EDT: Harry Shearer released a statement this morning.  It basically just takes a dump on FOX and says they’re being a bunch of greedy bastards, which is true.  No news about progress or collapse of the talks.  Carry on.]

The 5 Best Songs on The Simpsons – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is six songs from the show.  While some people just make lists, others go to the time to find YouTube for each song, even if it means the dialogue is dubbed into a foreign language while the song is still in English.  The bilingualism causes some funny juxtapositions, especially on the Canyonero song. 

Greed may do ‘The Simpsons’ a favor – Five classic YouTube clips to celebrate the rumored end of the show. 

News:Charles Napier Dies Aged 75 – That’s a shame.  He did a couple of guest voices on Zombie Simpsons, but was most beloved by me for being the voice of Duke Phillips on The Critic.  A bit more here

Rick’s Cafe: The ten best Simpsons sports episodes ever – This list contains one episode from Season 11, everything else comes from before that.  Oddly enough, the only two images are from Zombie Simpsons episodes that aren’t on the list. 

Homer Simpson Model of Parenting – A list of some of Homer’s better parenting quotes.  I didn’t check them, and there are a few later season quotes, but on the whole this is a very cromulent list.  Bravo.

half-arsed over-gardening – Some excellent parental usage:

It feels a little small when she, when they give me that look. As Homer said in reply to Bart, “But I’m using my whole ass.”

Homer’s resigned sadness in that line is awesome. 

The best kind of tent is not a tent – Apparently they make hammocks you can use to go camping with now.  What an age to be alive.  There’s also Hank Scorpio YouTube here, you can probably guess which scene.

the simpsons embroidery project // 4 – Simpsons embroidery is back again.  This time we’ve got Homer riding the bomb and Thrillho.  Both are amazingly done, from the nicks in the “Do Not Ride The Bomb” sign to the wind in Thrillhouse’s hair.

Birthday with the Simpsons – Fan made Simpsons cake pops.  Oh man, those look good (and check out Marge’s hair!). 

Rebel With A Versatile Cause – Pretty much:

I love The Simpsons.  If I were in a conversation with a like-minded soul, and we just sat there throwing out quotes from the first 10-seasons or so, I genuinely cannot imagine what would happen to make me tire of the conversation. Dehydration, perhaps.

The Simpsons Top 10 Episodes of the First 10 Seasons (Re-post) – Exactly what it says, though I was a bit surprised to see “Viva Ned Flanders” in the #10 spot. 

Lisa Simpson, I’m amazed – Some vegan love for Lisa, along with bran flakes and tiny Simpsons toys.  Cool.

peeing with the door open is patriotic – If you have a bathroom you don’t share with anyone you can do whatever you want in it, including post YouTube of Homer whizzing with the door open. 

Boob – And finally, we get to end with three links to people who agree with us.  First up is this quick television roundup which includes this:

Simpsons-  I watch this almost completely out of nostalgia and some weird form of loyalty.  It hasn’t been great in over a decade and barely borders on good most of the time.  The premiere was so-so, and the online voting was so lame.  For those that don’t know, they ended the finale with an online poll.  They wanted the viewer to vote whether or not a couple should stay together.  Wow.  Hilarious.

My sarcasm detector just exploded.

Mmmm, opinions on Beliebers… – The author here is a teenager who isn’t keen on Justin Bieber or his fans.  After some excellent mockery of both, she brings down the hammer:

Tonight on Twitter, PURPLE MONKEY DISH WASHER was trending. For a second, I had some faith in my generation. I was so excited! People knew The Simpsons! Wow!

Haha, I was wrong.

Apparently, PURPLE MONKEY DISH WASHER is an inside joke within the Beliebers. They are clueless to its origin, and that makes me sick.

There’s a video of me at 4 months old watching The Simpsons. I’ve been raised with it. I have seen positively every episode, most twice. You do not mess with me and The Simpsons.

Something that drives me crazy about people today is that they’ve only ever seen the new episodes. I tell people all the time, you have to go back and watch the old ones! You fool! You have no idea what you’re missing!

Got that right.  Keep the faith, sister; their love of Bieber will fade, but love of The Simpsons lasts a lifetime. 

The “About Goddamn Time” Files – Simpsons might get cancelled – This guy hits a lot of the notes we always hit:

The characters that used to drive the show are all just caricatures of their former selves.  The writing is hackney.  They try to compensate with funny or topical (or both) situations, but the situations aren’t funny or particularly topical (and even if they were, there’s no way to gloss over how bad the writing and characters have become).

Got that right.  Plus there’s this:

Normally, I wouldn’t mind it going on forever.  If people somehow actually enjoy the new episodes, whatever, let them watch it.  My problem with the continued production of these terrible terrible terrible episodes is that they dilute the rerun pool.

That’s what I keep saying!  Welcome, friend.  Welcome. 

10
Aug
11

Quote of the Day

Bart Gets an Elephant3

“It’s the four elephants of the apocalypse!” – Ned Flanders
“That’s horsemen, Ned.” – Maude Flanders
“Well, getting closer.” – Ned Flanders

03
Mar
11

Why Teevee Sucks (The Book)

Treehouse of Horror III6

“Mr. Blackheart?” – Lisa Simpson
“Yes, my pretty?” – Mr. Blackheart
“Are you an ivory dealer?” – Lisa Simpson
“Little girl, I’ve had lots of jobs in my day, whale hunter, seal clubber, president of the FOX Network, and like most people, yeah, I’ve dealt a little ivory.” – Mr. Blackheart

A few weeks ago, a reader (thanks Steve!) e-mailed me with a PDF copy of an unpublished book written by a longtime television writer named Andrew Nicholls.  Nicholls and Darrell Vickers, his writing partner, have been typing away for television since the 80s, including a number of recognizable titles and the last years of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.  (This is their website).  Nicholls’ book is titled “Valuable Lessons: How I Made (And Lost) Seven Million Dollars Writing For Over A Hundred Shows You Never Heard Of”.  It’s a 280-page insider’s tale of the bureaucratic, greedy, dishonest, and generally fucked systems and people that make almost all teevee suck so very, very hard.  There’s a PDF copy available at their website, or you can drop eight bucks and get a nicely formatted Kindle version.  Either way it’s an excellent read.

In particular, I want to draw your attention to two parts which serve to illustrate the same principle from two different vantages.  If Nicholls has an overarching theme, other than “where the hell did my life and money go?”, it’s that teevee is shitty because too many twits are allowed positions of creative power.  The first selection is the only section of the book that deals directly with The Simpsons, though Al Jean and Mike Reiss do make an occasional cameo elsewhere.  The second is about what happens to an otherwise promising show when the inmates begin running the studio.

The Simpsons was famously doused in anti-executive garlic by His Holiness St. Brooks of New Jersey, and “Valuable Lessons” is a reminder of just how lucky we are to have gotten the show the way we did.  I’m going to quote this at some length because it gets right to the heart of how utterly backwards and unintentionally cynical the unwritten rules of mass media really are.  From a chapter titled “Where Are They?” (p. 44):

Those who develop programs for television, who account for all the new shows’ existence at the annual TCA (Television Critics Association) meetings in L.A. or New York, often say they’re open to any new thing they feel the public might be turned on by. Innovation. Stuff we haven’t seen on TV until now. Push that envelope. We’re the network that takes chances. We’re always looking for talent. (No, they’re always looking for latent). We wanted to give it a twist, do it from a new angle. We told everyone this year to think outside the box. Mix things up. Take a few wild swings, see what happens.

So where are the high-IQ characters on TV who aren’t also socially inept?

Where are the single people with poor or no relationships?

Where are the characters who have three or four, or even two major interests in their lives?

Where for that matter is the person who is consistently interested in anything other than sports, beer, sex and money?

Where are the poor people who slowly work their way to wealth instead of inheriting it or winning it in a lottery like Malcolm and Eddie or Roseanne?

Where are the socialists?

Where are the highly-admired bullies? A 2004 UCLA study revealed that schoolyard bullies are actually popular with their peers and, contrary to everything you see on TV, they have the lowest rate of emotional problems. (We had a highly-admired bully on Ned’s Newt, but you haven’t seen that.)

Where are the men who offer to help a woman build or assemble something and who succeed? Or the women (Ellen being the exception) who do so and fail?

Where are the mentally ill Chinese guys?

Where are the families engaged in ongoing frustrating disputes with insurance companies, HMOs, Boards Of Education, local government?

Where are the unattractive middle-aged people trying to figure out why or where their lives turned out so horribly wrong?

Where are the men or women involved in ongoing labor disputes?

When has a boys’ sports team ever beaten a girls’ team?

Where are the Jewish families, orthodox or non? With only 5.8 million citizens, who’s more of a minority in the U.S. than the Jews? There are more Mormons in America, for Moroni’s sake. And where are the Mormons for that matter, God bless their underage-niece-marrying souls?

Where are the white characters who continually get the better of a minority character? This is the kind of argument right-wingers make, no? But what does it say of the idées recues of a society that a network will only air an episode of a comedy in which the woman shows her husband how to start a fire, or how to jack up a car or erect a camping tent?

It says they think it’s funnier that the woman can do it.

Think about that. They wouldn’t air a show in which the punchline was that an athlete can outrun a couch potato. Or that a Harvard grad out-SATS a self-educated guy who grew up on a farm. (The Simpsons is a whole separate case… and it’s close to miraculous, considering how much money it’s made Fox, and how much the other networks like money too, that it hasn’t been more widely imitated in half-hour comedy. Their secret: no network notes. Ever. Do you know what Fox did to help the show in its first two years? Nothing. They hated it.)

In other words, they think having the woman fix the tire is so obviously unlikely that to show it will provoke laughter. They are saying, “We all know women are incompetent at this, let’s turn things on their head in this one instance for a big wacky guffaw!”

Except, over the years, that one instance has become every instance, and the comedy has worn off like the outside of a Tic Tac.

If you’re picking up here because you skipped the block quote, go back and read the whole thing.  I’m serious.

Shit like that is why The Simpsons is unique, and why most television programs are forgettable and bland.  How many times have you seen the exact same plot on different shows?  How many times have you heard the same jokes?  Watched as the same concepts and characters are dragged in circles around your screen like the floppy corpses of vanquished charioteers?

Which brings us to Drexell’s Class.  This particular single season sitcom has so completely dissolved into the pop culture ether that its opening credits don’t even merit their own YouTube video.  You have to skip to the 5:35 mark, past the openings for The Trials of Rosie O’Neill, Step by Step, Reasonable Doubts, The Best of the Worst, and Palace Guard, to see them and, insult to injury, the video is titled “1991 TV show openings Part 7”.  I failed to find a clip; most of the video search results were maudlin tributes to Brittany Murphy (who got started on the show), and even those were just still photos of her accompanied by whatever piece of musical treacle seemed least likely to offend the copyright gods.  Drexell’s Class has been all but totally forgotten and, to hear Nicholls recounting of its genesis, it’s no wonder why.

Drexell's Class

Image yoinked from epguides.

The show was originally conceived as “W.C. Fields teaching school”.  It’s a pretty simple fish out of water setup: cantankerous hard ass forced into the company of educators he considers beneath him and children he loathes.  They even got Dabney Coleman to play the W.C. Fields part, which made perfect sense as Coleman spent the 80s playing cantankerous hard asses (most memorably in Tootsie and Nine to Five).  Nicholls describes the beginning of the first episode (p. 140):

On a particularly bad day, Drexell calls the father of a troublemaking student in to school, only to learn that the dad works at a local racetrack and knows of a wink wink sure thing in tomorrow’s last race.  Drexell places a big bet and proceeds to systematically trash everyone and everything at the school, while running back and forth between home and class to pack, and following the race on the TV and radio.  Of course after he’s called the Principal an “inflexible, barren, potato-shaped sack of malice” the winning horse stumbles on the track.

But that wasn’t what it looked like once FOX got done with it.  And please remember that this is 1991 FOX, the network that was operating out of a shoebox, broadcasting controversial fare like The Simpsons and Married With Children, and constantly promoting itself as the rebellion against network television.  Nicholls:

At first Fox seemed to be on board with the premise of the show:  the posters had a picture of a scowling Dabney and the slogan DABNEY COLEMAN ON FOX.  IT HAD TO HAPPEN.

But as we went into production the notes on the script bespoke a different attitude:
*character is too nasty
*give Otis’s character more genuine moments so you care about him
*he is a fundamentally decent guy and this needs to be sensed
*show how he takes the situation of anger and turns it into a positive teaching thing
*show edgier ways of showing “heart” moments that will be unique to the show
*he needs to have more levels in his character coming across (charming, funny, graceful, wisdom)
*have Otis push Billy Ray to a new level and show a breakthrough and how it has affected him
*a genuine moment is needed in the script
*show how he genuinely is a good teacher

Gee, can we get genuine enough?  When I read heart moments I just about beshat myself.

As you can guess, things went rapidly downhill from there.  FOX, the edgy new kid on the block that was supposed to be changing all the rules, had the horse race excised in full from an episode in which the main plot was the horse race.  A few pages later FOX lets them know, “We never want to see another scene set in the classroom”, on a show that had the word “Class” in the title.

It’s that kind of grotesque, Brazil-level absurdity that makes so many shows basically unwatchable if you want to do anything besides set your brain to “liquefy” for a little while.  Case in point, this promo for the episode “Bully for Otis”, which looks to have been broadcast during the original airing of “Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk”:

Har har, Dabney fall down!  Check out this joint promo for “Homer Defined” and the Drexell’s Class episode “Convictions”:

It’s funny because they’re prisoners!  Keep in mind that “Convictions” was the fifth episode of the series.  Five (5) episodes in and they had completely abandoned their premise.  Nicholls relates that the prohibition on showing the regular classroom came after episode four.  “Valuable Lessons” has plenty of those kinds of gory details, up to and including a dead orangutan, as well as some “aww Johnny” moments about Carson that are just nice.  It’s a quick read, and if you have any interest in how television shows are made, and why they are made so relentlessly poorly, it’s very much worth your time.




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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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