Posts Tagged ‘Bart Gets an F

10
Oct
13

Quote of the Day

Bart Gets an F7

“Marge, could you get me another beer, please?” – Homer Simpson
“In a second, Homer, Lisa has some good news.” – Marge Simpson
“He doesn’t care, Mom.” – Lisa Simpson
“Sure I do, I just want to have a beer while I’m caring.” – Homer Simpson

10
Apr
13

Quote of the Day

Bart Gets an F6

“Who would’ve thought that pushing a boy into the girls’ lavatory could be such a thrill?  The screams, the humiliation, the fact that it wasn’t me!  I’ve never felt so alive!” – Martin Prince

04
Jul
12

Quote of the Day

Declaration of Independence

Image yoinked from Wikipedia.

“Hey, look, everybody, John Hancock is writing his name in the snow!” – Congressional Delegate

17
Dec
11

Quote of the Day

Underachiever (And Proud of It, Man!)

Image shamelessly yoinked from here.

“I think what we have on our hands here is a classic case of what laymen refer to as ‘fear of failure’.  As a result, Bart is an underachiever, and yet he seems to be, how should I put this?  Proud of it?” – Dr. J. Loren Pryor

Happy Simpsons Day, everybody!

08
Nov
11

Compare & Contrast: Martin Prince

Bart Gets an F5

“You’re killing me, fish.  Never have I seen a greater or more noble thing than you, brother.  Come on and kill me!  I do not care who kills who.  To catch a fish, to kill a bull, to make love to a woman, to live!” – Martin Prince

There was a great deal of nostalgia laden fan service in the (presumably) non-ironically titled “Replaceable You”, which means that there are a great deal of things that could be compared and contrasted.  The nerds made an utterly pointless appearance, Homer got an assistant, and Mrs. Glick was apparently killed off while Dr. Nick came back to life and spoke.  (Was that the first time he’s spoken since the movie?)  There was also a rivalry between Bart and Lisa for the science fair, which was stupid, shallow and a blatant act of repetition.  But something simpler gets at the deeper problems with Zombie Simpsons, and that something is good old Martin Prince. 

Like many of the less flashy supporting characters in Zombie Simpsons, it’s hard to pin down exactly when the light went out of Martin’s eyes.  The family and more major characters like Flanders and Burns get enough screen time that you can follow their devolution more or less as it happened.  Others, like Patty, Selma, and Miss Hoover, have basically fallen off the show, so when they do make their infrequent appearances it’s a lot more jarring.  Such is the case with Martin. 

Like so many others, Martin has become more of a prop than a character.  Instead of acting like anything resembling a ten-year-old, even a very smart one, Martin spends most of his time sitting in the background or delivering the occasional semi-clever one liner that would be more at home on something like The Big Bang Theory.  That’s where you get setup-beat-punchline sitcom garbage like this:

Martin: Good shot.
Bart: Not really. I was trying to bounce it off your left testy.
Martin: Testis, my friend.
Bart: Ugh.

That’s not how people talk, that’s how sitcom writers make people talk.  It’s basically a late night monologue that happens to be between two people. 

(And that’s ignoring the way Martin makes his entrance by conveniently hanging from a tree outside of the Simpsons’ kitchen window.  It’s the standard Zombie Simpsons need to have characters appear precisely when needed with no regard to whether or not they’d actually be there.  By comparison, in “Bart Gets an F”, they strike up their conversation after Martin overhears the twins messing with Bart on the school bus.)

Since Martin is now very less than human, that kind of cheap, formulaic cornball is the only way they can think to make him even resemble funny.  Zombie Simpsons can’t generate any genuine humor from him without that crutch, so once they run out of things for him and Bart to parrot at one another, he basically goes silent.  That is not an exaggeration. 

Martin is in the episode all the way to the dance party ending.  But he only really speaks between his tree branch arrival at the three minute mark and the time he and Bart finish constructing their alternatively cute and vicious plot device a little before the seven minute mark.  After that he has only two lines for the entire rest of the episode. The first comes on the playground:

“So, partner, what’s next on the agenda?”

Bart gets a little flustered at that, like he no longer wants to work with Martin, but that never goes anywhere because Milhouse shows up to get passive aggressive, and then Grampa and the Old Jewish Guy also mysteriously appear.  Martin is silent throughout.

We don’t even get to see his second line.  It’s dubbed over as crosstalk during the inexplicable “marching robots” sequence:

Ventriloquist Martin

His only other line is “Wish I’d thought of that”, but you’ll note that his lips never move.

Those two lines are all he says for the final fourteen minutes plus of the episode. For that entire time he just stands there, like the prop that he is, letting Bart take all the action and do all the talking.

Silent Martin

He doesn’t say a single word during any of these scenes.  Not one. 

This stands in marked contrast to the vibrant, recognizable and hilarious little boy in “Bart Gets an F”.  Even by the first episode of Season 2 we already know that Martin is the smart teacher’s pet of Mrs. Krabappel’s class.  He snitches on Bart in “The Crepes of Wrath” and it’s his intelligence test that Bart sabotages in “Bart the Genius”.  As Martin himself says, Bart is his “natural enemy”. 

But Martin isn’t some rubberized punching bag or a one note wonder (like Comic Book Guy has become).  Rather, he’s a bright, precocious and lonely kid who doesn’t fit in.  It’s that relatable humanity that turns otherwise simple sentences into great jokes.  When Martin’s sitting under a tree reading Moby Dick while the other kids are playing baseball, he talks like the sophisticated adult he wants to be instead of the child that he is:

“I’m sorry, Bart, I am unfamiliar with the rules of your sport.  I didn’t want to interfere with a ball in play.”

After the other kids laugh at his pathetic throw to return the ball, he drops the immortal:

“Well, back to the forecastle of the Pequod.”

Those are hilarious precisely because they are so perfectly him: massively nerdy and resigned to being lonely, but not entirely unhappy.  He’s a well developed character, and that’s what makes him funny.  He doesn’t need sitcom-y tag lines like “Testis, my friend” or “Heavens to Asimov!”, because what he’d really say is much funnier and far more human. 

Nor are his attributes limited to his embarrassments.  After Bart and Martin make their deal, Bart to get study help, Martin to get social help, we see the full range of Martin’s absurd dorkiness (“No study area is complete without adequate plant life”, his hilarious mischief equation).  As their partnership continues, Martin comes into his own as a free spirit and mild trouble maker.  Martin may have been unpopular, but that’s because there’s no book he could read on how to be popular, and no one had ever told him not to sit in the front of the bus or ride a bike with a basket on the front.  Since he’s smart and a quick study, he absorbs Bart’s lessons and blossoms into the boy who can say:

“Who would’ve thought that pushing a boy into the girls’ lavatory could be such a thrill.  The screams!  The humiliation!  The fact that it wasn’t me!”

Just like resigning himself to an imaginary life aboard the Pequod, this line is completely him.  He still uses adult words (lavatory, humiliation), but now that he knows the rules he can do the things he didn’t understand before.  It’s also hilarious, not only for the pitch perfect excitement in Russi Taylor’s delivery, but for the analytical bent of Martin’s newfound love of doing what the other boys used to do to him.  Even then, he doesn’t become a Bart clone, doing things in his particular Martin-like way (acing a test and saying “Later, Mrs. K”, calling his friends “fellows” as he leads them to the arcade).  That this all comes in an episode that began with him quoting Earnest Hemingway about living life to its fullest is just icing on the cake. 

There’s no comparison between the erudite and animated kid in “Bart Gets an F” and the dead eyed shell that created a killer robot before going silent for the last two thirds of his time on screen in “Replaceable You”.  One of them is a real character who is funny up and down the line, the other is a sitcom bit player who’s content to lean back on his heels and let the laughtrack do its work. 

03
Oct
11

The Lesson Is: Never Try

Chalkboard - Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts

“This is as good as I can do, and I still failed!” – Bart Simpson

When it comes to Zombie Simpsons I’m firmly in the camp of “It Never Gets Better”, and last night’s exercise in repetition and tedium is a perfect example of why.  They managed to not spin themselves into blood soaked absurdity like last week, there weren’t any pointless celebrity cameos, and there was even kind of a story.  But while this is the best they can do, it’s still flat, dull and boring.

Just consider the school auction at the beginning.  In that scene alone we get a healthy dose of Jerkass Homer, there are characters present who have no business being there, Skinner acts dumber than anyone could ever possibly be, and several voices (notably Captain McAllister, Krabappel, and Skinner) don’t sound anything like themselves.  On top of all that, “school fundraiser” is a scene the show has done numerous times already.  So even if the scene didn’t have all those problems, it’s still something that was done better twenty years ago.

The rest of the episode suffers from the same problems.  Bart gets someone fired?  Been done, and much more plausibly.  School takeover?  Ditto.  Bart gets interested in American history?  Please.  And in each instance it made better sense, was less forced, and had more jokes the first time around.

In Season 5, Skinner lost his job because Bart brought a dog to the school.  In Season 23, Chalmers lost his job because he took five reprobates camping to find the lost glasses of a dead president and didn’t bother to get permission slips despite the fact that he’s the fucking superintendent.  And nevermind that Nelson, who had previously been super Teddy Roosevelt enthused (which has its own set of problems), sits there while it happens and literally doesn’t say a word.  Even when Zombie Simpsons keeps itself kind of grounded it has to conjure up nonsense and paper over glaring plot holes to move along.  That there are a couple more chuckle worthy lines than usual (“Have you ever seen a horse your father wasn’t betting on?” is pretty good) isn’t enough to rescue it, or even come close.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are worse than I could’ve hoped.  Last night’s remedial class was attended by a paltry 6.12 million viewers.  As expected, the lack of a football lead in crashed the rating and restored Family Guy to its usual place as the most watched animated show.  But it gets better.  That number is the lowest fall rating for a new episode ever.  (The fall numbers are always higher than the winter/spring numbers.)  So while Zombie Simpsons usually starts out well above its season average from the previous year, this year it’s average viewership is already below that of last year.  Granted, that’s an average of just two numbers, but right now they’re at 7.02 million per episode, which is well below last year’s average of 7.10 million, which was the lowest in the history of the show.  That likely won’t last, but it’s a very good start.

04
May
11

Quote of the Day

History Coming Alive Spirit of St. Louis and Acapulco yoinked from Wikipedia; giant rat used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user normanack.

“Look at him, I bet he didn’t study again.” – Sherri
“And now he’s going to try to kiss up and get answers from us.” – Terri
“He’s pathetic.” – Sherri
“Good morning, girls.” – Bart Simpson
“Good morning, Bart.” – Sherri & Terri
“Say, who’s up for a little cram session?  I’ll go first.  What was the name of the Pilgrims’ boat?” – Bart Simpson
“The Spirit of St. Louis.” – Terri
“And where’d they land?” – Bart Simpson
“Sunny Acapulco.” – Sherri
“And why’d they leave England?” – Bart Simpson
“Giant rats.” – Terri
“Cool, history’s coming alive.” – Bart Simpson

Happy birthday Russi Taylor!

24
Mar
11

Think of the (Future) Children!

“You just demonstrated applied knowledge; and due to the difficulty and relative obscurity of the reference, you deserve an extra point on your exam.” – Mrs. Krabappel

A couple of weeks ago, Matt Zoller Seitz wrote an article for Salon about the longevity of pop culture in general and The Simpsons in particular.  He was watching “Krusty Gets Kancelled” with his kids (aged 7 and 13), and he was concerned that they weren’t getting all the jokes.  They were laughing, but he worried that they weren’t enjoying it on as many levels as he was.  Being a well practiced columnist, he turned his parental fretting into written words and the result was “Will future generations understand "The Simpsons"?”.

The article had the good sense to differentiate between The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons, but it had enough internal contradictions to let the reader know that the question mark in the headline was no accident.  For example, first came this:

If the first half of "The Simpsons’" endless run has held up, it’s because of the characters and stories, the timing of certain lines and sight gags, and the phenomenal voice work. (When my daughter was an infant, Krusty’s voice used to make her laugh hysterically.)

Which is followed only a few paragraphs later by this:

Some of the most buzz-worthy TV comedies of the last 25 years have proved as sturdy as tissue paper. Even the great ones from the ’90s ("The Simpsons" and "Seinfeld") are starting to seem as era-specific as high-top fades and Koosh balls.

Well, which is it?  Has the show “held up”, or should we consign it to that box in the garage with the Koosh balls?  Seitz doesn’t quite offer an answer, but the rest of the internet jumped on it hard enough that he wrote a follow up piece based on all the reactions, “Should comedy worry about its shelf life?”.  The subtitle is “A Salon piece about how pop culture references date sitcoms sparks rebuttals — and "Simpsons" celebrations”.

Bart After Dark5

Mr. Seitz?  There’s an unruly mob to see you.

Without delving into all the specifics (the second article is well worth reading in its entirety if for no other reason than to see the wonderful number of ways people love The Simpsons), Seitz comes closest to answering his question from the previous article here:

But hopefully there’s something about the work that transcends the time in which it was created, otherwise it’s ephemeral, disposable. I probably singled out "The Simpsons" because it’s considered a pantheon series, a great and presumably lasting work. And during the first half of its run, it did have certain timeless qualities. The pop culture references were dense and sometimes deep, but there also frequent references to mythology, ancient history, biblical scripture, opera, Broadway musicals, painting and literature: Shakespeare, Vincent van Gogh, Gilbert and Sullivan, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, you name it. And the best episodes weren’t just a bunch of riffs strung together. There was a coherent, often scathingly funny vision of American life at the core of the series, as well as an intuitive, honest portrait of family and community and human nature; the gags were just wonderful embroidery. But in the last decade, the embroidery has taken over "The Simpsons" — and just about every other TV comedy of any profile that came after it.

(For more in this vein, about recent Zombie Simpsons and predating Seitz’s original piece by a couple of weeks, see TeleRevision.)

That’s a long way of saying something that we say a lot around here: The Simpsons is solid and well built, Zombie Simpsons is paper thin and rickety.  Solid and well built lasts longer.  But The Simpsons wasn’t the first well done television show, why is it the one that’s still generating all this discussion twenty years on?

Shows No One Talks About Anymore

Critically acclaimed ratings beasts that nobody but teevee geeks have talked about in decades.

In his reaction article, Seitz linked to a piece by Jaime Weinman at Macleans.ca titled “Everything Gets Dated”.  Weinman writes:

I think, first of all, that almost everything is an era artifact to some degree or another. Animation is, or was, a possible exception. Many cartoons either make humans very generic in appearance and clothing (plus they wear the same clothes most of the time) or use funny animals instead of humans, which makes it harder for people — especially children — to see them as “old.” Dated jokes in The Simpsons stick out more because the early seasons don’t have a specifically early ’90s feel, whereas any live-action show from that period is stuck with the clothes and the hair.

It’s indicative of just how much The Simpsons changed television that, in all the pieces Seitz linked, the advantages of animation are only mentioned here, and briefly at that.  The rest of Weinman’s article focuses on referential longevity through the lens of the quality of the references, and he’s got a point.  If you want people to laugh ten years from now, then you’re better off mocking things that have already proved themselves durable than things that people happen to be chatting about at the moment.  But while he uses both live action and animated examples, Weinman short changes his own point a little.

Yes, being animated protects The Simpsons from the whims and disasters of fashion.  And yes, a show that mocks Gilbert & Sullivan is going to age better than one that mocks Edward & Jacob.  But there is something more to The Simpsons that pushes it into its own realm of longevity.

On top of its excellent animation, exceptional acting, and exquisite writing, The Simpsons also achieved a level of popularity that very few creative endeavors ever manage.  Weinman again, a few days later:

A comment on my earlier post rightly singled out Mystery Science Theatre 3000 as an example of a show that would toss out pop-cultural references from any era, including some very obscure ones. It was one of those shows whose fans would congregate online and collectively figure out where all the references came from; The Simpsons was another show like that, with its extended take-offs on discontinued comic strips Little Nemo or Dondi; Animaniacs still another, and there were many more.

Like Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Animaniacs, The Simpsons was a show that offered a lot of intellectual depth and rewarded pop culture awareness.  Unlike those two and many similar programs, The Simpsons became one of the most popular television shows of all time.  Some of that undoubtedly had to do with the media environment into which The Simpsons was born.  Being a network show meant more then than it means today, and FOX was willing to give it more creative freedom than most cable shows, then or now.  But even that plum spot and blank check didn’t guarantee anything.

What pushed The Simpsons over the top, what made it so popular then and so lasting now, is the way it seamlessly connects so many disparate elements into a polished whole that is far more than the sum of its parts.  It’s no mere two track entertainment, with some jokes for kids and others for adults.  It is not one of those smart-dumb comedies that mix witty observations with dick and fart jokes.  Nor is it a classical satire or a pop culture carnival.  The Simpsons is all of those things and more, blended together and set on fire.  The proof of its immeasurable popularity and enduing acclaim is in the reactions, this post and the web of articles, links and comments it references definitely included.

All these years later Seitz can sit down and watch an eighteen year old episode with a seven year old kid and a thirteen year old adolescent.  At the same time, it and the others like it are so densely packed with gags and references that even in all those years there probably isn’t a single person who’s ever gotten them all.  Is there another show that even approaches that level of audience adaptability?  Is there any other program that – two decades after the fact – would send a small army of people to their keyboards to refute the notion that future generations wouldn’t understand it?

Rosebud7

1,000,000 A.D., apes are our masters and The Simpsons is still funny.

The Simpsons is a geek show that crossed over into the mainstream because people who don’t care what Dr. Who is can still laugh at a wheelbarrow full of tacos.  It’s a kids show that makes grown ups laugh because Bart knocks things over but Krusty owns the subsidiary rights.  It’s a timeless show, or as close to one as we’re ever going to see, because it’s animated and you don’t need to know the Cheers theme song to laugh at this:

When the weight of the world has got you down
And you want to end your life
Bills to pay, a dead end job
And problems with the wife
But don’t throw in the towel
Cause there’s a place right down the block
Where you can drink your misery away . . .

17
Dec
10

Reading Digest: Block Quote Filler Edition (with Small Update)

Bart Gets an F4

I don’t know if it’s just a natural slowdown at the end of the year or what, but I just didn’t come across the usual volume of Simpsons related stuff this week.  Fortunately, I quoted liberally from what I did find and gave this the appearance of substance rather than the substance of substance.  Uh oh, maybe Zombie Simpsons is rubbing off on me.  Anyway, there is some neat stuff this week, including stories about Groening, Simon, and some humorously erotic fan art. 

Enjoy.

[Note: After I decided to use this image for the header I checked to see if I’d used it before.  Turns out I used almost the exact same scene for the very short Reading Digest from the same time last year.  Either I’m seasonally slacking off alone, or the rest of the internet is doing it with me.]

Simpsons Producer Admits Show is Stale! – A special late addition via rubbercat.net/simpsons Twitter feed is now Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week. 

Simpsons creator to make desi comic – Groening took a trip to India and a comic book may be the result.

DOUG ELFMAN: Players critique Reid plan for poker – Sam Simon is something of a poker player, and he doesn’t like the cronyism behind the latest push to legalize on-line gambling. 

Humor Chic Exclusive – Anna Wintour and Homer Simpson, Erotic Tips – More fan made art from Humor Chic, this time with Homer in various tastefully done poses. 

Hey, you want the day off from school? Think again! – We’ve got two from In 10 Words this week . . .

Tron: Legacy…In 10 Words – . . . and as usual the alternate image text is Simpsons heavy. 

I Love the Simpsons – I usually roll my eyes when I read things about the show written by serious Christians.  It’s almost always the same pabulum about how Flanders is a good role model and how the show is secretly really Christian because they go to church.  This, on the other hand, has a much less blinkered view of the show, doesn’t view all criticism as blasphemy, and keeps a sense of humor.  And, naturally, I agree with this:

I am speaking here of the early seasons of the show, lately it has sadly lapsed into a model more centered on garnering laughs than speaking to the important issues of the day.

Random Musings: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES Marathon, THE SIMPSONS & DEXTER’s Not-So-Killer Ending – I could do without the pointless self flagellation at the beginning, but this is pretty solid:

As much as we hate to further perpetuate the “blogger” stereotype, last night’s episode of THE SIMPSONS leaves us with choice but to channel our own inner comic book guy as we type the words, “Worst. Episode. Ever.” Okay, not really. But as someone who has watched every single episode of the iconic animated series, not to mention, fully appreciates that at 22 seasons and counting, original ideas may be more than a little hard to come by, we do find ourselves scratching our head over last night’s episode. Which is to say, we wouldn’t have so much of an issue with last night’s poorly timed Goodfellas/Donni Brasco homage if it was the least bit funny.

’16 TV Dads (& What Makes Them Awesome)’ – I like this list because it tells you a little about each guy, for example:

• Fred Sanford
WHO? Junk yard owner, heart attack faker, Lamont’s father on Sanford & Son.

Here’s Homer’s entry:

• Homer Simpson
WHO? Homer fucking Simpson.

Fuckin’ A. 

Bart Simpson Grows Old and Dies, Over and Over Again – I’ve been told that this is cool, but I have no idea since, for technical reasons I won’t go into, Quicktime and my computer do not get along.  (Who uses Quicktime these days?  Isn’t everything on YouTube or Vimeo?  Shit, HTML5 would’ve been fine.) 

Breaking Up is Hard to Do – This is a comparison that’s been made before, but this is certainly a good way to put it:

Many of us longtime fans of “The Simpsons” have broken up with the show to some degree, there’s hardly anyone over the age of 25 that considers it a must-watch show each week.

Danny Elfman – The Simpsons Theme (1989) – And finally, in honor of Simpsons Day, let’s end with an Italian orchestra debasing themselves with American trash:

11
Oct
10

Quote of the Day

Bart Gets an F3

“Only geeks sit in the front seat.  From now on you sit in the back row, and that’s not just on the bus, it goes for school and church too.” – Bart Simpson
“Why?” – Martin Prince
“So no one can see what you are doing.” – Bart Simpson
“Oh, I think I understand.  The potential for mischief varies inversely with one’s proximity to the authority figure.” – Martin Prince
“Well yeah, but don’t say it like that.” – Bart Simpson

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Bart Gets an F”!  Original airdate 11 October 1990.

15
Aug
10

Quote of the Day

School Bus Crash

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr User EvelynGiggles.

“Hey, Bart dude!  Whoa, you look freaked.” – Otto
“Hey Otto man, I got a big test that I am not ready for.  Could you please crash the bus or something?” – Bart Simpson
“Oh, sorry little buddy, can’t do it on purpose.  But hey, maybe you’ll get lucky.” – Otto

12
May
10

Crazy Noises: Moe Letter Blues

A High F

“Well, a fifty-nine, it’s a high F.” – Mrs. Krabappel

In our continuing mission to bring you only the finest in low class, low brow, and low tech internet Simpsons commentary we’re bringing back our “Crazy Noises” series and applying it to Season 21.  Because doing a podcast smacks of effort we’re still using this “chatroom” thing that all the middle schoolers and undercover cops seem to think is so cool.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on  “non sequitur”).

A few weeks ago, I wrote that while “Postcards from the Wedge” was terrible, it was probably about as good as Zombie Simpsons can do.  I feel the same way about “Moe Letter Blues”.  It had an Itchy & Scratchy episode that could’ve been decent, it had a couple of mildly witty lines, and (however much I found the structure and presentation wanting) it had a story that had some thought put into it.  But if this is it, if this really is the best they can do, then it’s all the more reason to end this show as soon as possible.

Despite those little hints of humor, the episode was rife with cringe worthy moments of awfulness.  There were pointlessly out of character shenanigans, especially from Moe and the Bouvier sisters.  There were jarringly poor voice performances, Kavner either can’t or didn’t want to do the rasp for Mrs. Bouvier, and if you’re going to do Manjula you really need to get Jan Hooks.  There were painfully stupid set pieces like the scene with Moe’s note and the cell phones, and the constant marital bickering.  The list goes on.  This is mediocre, formulaic, paint-by-number, boring ass television.

The occasional eyelid flutter doesn’t mean the patient is coming out of the coma.

Dave: Anyway, don’t let my foul mood throw us off

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, why don’t we get started then, and use your foul mood?

Dave: They lost me at “Hello, darkness.”

Mad Jon: I must say I am tired of “Moe is depressed and suicidal, but he’ll help the cause in the end” episodes.

Dave: Once again, a brief non-sequitur sets the stage for a tremendously tedious episode.

Mad Jon: Why was he narrating the episode again? Couldn’t that have played out almost identically with out a third person narrative?

Charlie Sweatpants: It was based on some movie, don’t worry about it.

Mad Jon: Ah.

Dave: Yep, missed that one.

Charlie Sweatpants: Honestly, I thought the narration, while bad, was about the only place they showed any creativity whatsoever.

Mad Jon: Except it was a takeoff of a movie neither Dave nor I know about.

That’s pretty abstract.

Charlie Sweatpants: Like everything else that’s mildly good they managed to string it along way longer than it could support.

Mad Jon: In fairness, after the first few minutes I hardly even noticed anymore.

Charlie Sweatpants: The real horror here was the epic number of marital disputes we were forced to endure.

Dave: I’m all for esoteric references, but it feels so hollow when Zombie Simpsons does it.

Mad Jon: Agreed. That was painful three times harder than it usually is or ever needs to be.

Charlie Sweatpants: But it wasn’t just three times, each one had a setup scene that sucked, a flashbacks scene that made it worse, and then a “tense” resolution scene.

It was nine, not three, which is among the reasons it was so awful.

Dave: You’ve got a point there.

Mad Jon: And there was a mumbling carnie.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, what was with that?

Dave: “I am the Angel of Death,” but not funny.

Mad Jon: I dunno, it reminded me of a poor parody of that Bart Carnie episode, which in itself was relatively poor.

Better than this episode, but still poor.

Charlie Sweatpants: Jim Varney is rolling in his grave.

Mad Jon: You know what I mean?

Charlie Sweatpants: But the entire amusement park was a waste.

Mad Jon: And when did the Van Houtens get remarried?

Charlie Sweatpants: I was wondering that too.

Dave: I think that happened recently.

Mad Jon: I guess someone finally lent him a feeling?

Charlie Sweatpants: Ba-zing.

Dave: No glove of love, no dice.

Mad Jon: you heard the lady, take it outside.

Charlie Sweatpants: Back to the amusement park, it’s not a bad idea to trap kids and parents in some hellish place like that, but they just used it as an excuse to get three improbable characters together for some expository dialog and flashbacks.

The cell phone thing was just the tip of the iceberg.

We were then treated to scene after scene of the three of them saying the same thing over and over.

Mad Jon: I was surprised there was no comment/joke about homer’s harpoon gun.

Dave: Wikipedia says “Little Orphan Millie,” circa 2007, as the episode where the Van Houtens reunited.

Mad Jon: Also they had the wide-eye stare each time they reminisced.

Charlie Sweatpants: At this point harpoon guns are vanilla.

Mad Jon: Ah, that would pre-date my requirement to watch Zombie-sodes.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ditto.

Dave: All of us, certainly.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, and why did the boat crash into the dock?

Mad Jon: Also I was much happier when Otto’s drug issues were implied and no animated. MUCH happier.

The boat crashed because the pole Homer was using to text Marge was meant to stop the 60 foot boat at the dock.

Then it ended up in the ocean somehow.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh man, I forgot about Otto’s little hallucination. Talk about stretching things to fill time.

Dave: It was an excuse to animate an explosion and toss in a lame joke.

Calling it a joke is, of course, generous.

Mad Jon: It was a joke in the way that every character in the opening credits suffers what would be life-threatening injuries is also a joke.

Charlie Sweatpants: Speaking of lame excuses for jokes, they actually managed to screw up a Patty & Selma bit.

Dave: Oh god, what was that?

It just wouldn’t stop.

Mad Jon: I must have missed that one.

Charlie Sweatpants: During Homer and Marge’s flashback, at the party for all the Bouvier women Julie Kavner has a hard time voicing now.

Mad Jon: In all fairness my attention was divided between the episode and making macaroni. You can guess which one had the honor.

Yeah, I remember Marge’s mom sounding, you know, like Marge’s mom is supposed sound, But not this time apparently.

Dave: The voice was off for Manjula too…

Charlie Sweatpants: What really sucked about it was the way Patty & Selma were inadvertently pissing Homer off, instead of intentionally.

Mad Jon: I wish that VW bus would explode with Manjula and the octuplets inside it. That I would give a pass to.

Charlie Sweatpants: He had to keep taking their picture, but they were sincere in trying to get him to take it and in their reasons each picture was wrong. If they had set him up to fail it would’ve been just like them, but instead they were just trotted out to do something the real Patty & Selma would never do.

Dave: Charlie, you’re right. There was no real malice, which is a tragic mischaracterization of the whole Patty/Selma/Homer relationship

Mad Jon: Oh yea, the picture scene, I remember hearing that while I was mixing cheese powder and butter.

Sounds like it was best that I missed the visual “comedy”

Charlie Sweatpants: Not really, it was just Homer taking their picture over and over again.

Mad Jon: Class act.

Dave: At least it wasn’t a montage.

Mad Jon: Yes, this episode was surprising montage-free. They must have been short staffed at the writer’s meetings.

Charlie Sweatpants: I dunno, that flashback at the end were Moe explains everything is kind of a montage.

Mad Jon: Oh yea, forgot about that one, but it was voiced over, not played to 80′s music.

Dave: I wasn’t saying there wasn’t a montage at all, just that that particular instance was not.

And it could have well been, given this season’s penchant for annoying time sucks.

Charlie Sweatpants: What about the photo montage over the end? That was before the credits, that certainly counts as a montage.

Dave: Right, that was.

Mad Jon: Don’t remember that.

Dave: No disagreement.

Charlie Sweatpants: Draining your macaroni?

Mad Jon: But I was even more checked out than usual once I discovered that once again Moe was saving the day.

And I was well into the eating stage by then.

Charlie Sweatpants: Before we wind down, I’d like to point out how very television-y the marital problems were.

Mad Jon: No sex, check. No attention, check. No ability to raise children with dry cricket uniform, check. Yep, you’re right.

Charlie Sweatpants: When Helen came down the stairs in her nightie and Tim blew her off, it was written in the clammy, ghost hand of a thousand fake television-marriage fights.

Then Apu wakes up all the kids for no reason whatsoever.

Mad Jon: With the quickie mart lullaby CD transition to the Indian radio station.

Dave: Sure there was a reason, to fire off a exchange filled with Indian puns and nonsense

Charlie Sweatpants: There’s that.

Doesn’t make it a good idea.

Dave: You’ve got me there.

Mad Jon: And then Marge gets upset for Homer doing various things that don’t help her prepare for her mother’s 80th birthday.

What ever happened to her only asking Homer to put on pants and him not doing it?

Charlie Sweatpants: And she invited Flanders over to mind him.

Mad Jon: With a non-alcoholic bar

Dave: I will say the appearance of Flanders led to the one bit where I chuckled

Charlie Sweatpants: Things like that are how you know they really don’t care. They thought it would be funny to have a lot of devils on Homer’s shoulder, so they needed Flanders to be there. End of story.

Mad Jon: Fair enough.

Dave: Out of context, the many Devil Homers were worth a smile

Charlie Sweatpants: Enh.

Dave: Wildly out of context.

Charlie Sweatpants: I would’ve like the Itchy & Scratch episode if it hadn’t taken the better part of a minute.

Dave: It did go on for ages.

Charlie Sweatpants: It wasn’t a bad idea, but they dragged it out way past what it could support.

Mad Jon: I felt the same way. Cut it down and that was close to average form.

It’s really sad that the cartoon within the cartoon is by far the best part.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, it’s not like having a cat and mouse fight is hard to do.

Mad Jon: May I remind you of Worker and Parasite?

Dave: It has been hard for the writers recently.

Mad Jon: Now that I think of it, I liked that one.

Charlie Sweatpants: The “House” one from a few weeks ago was awful in its entirety, this at least could’ve been decent.

Mad Jon: I don’t even remember that, and don’t bother trying to remind me. It’s not worth it.

Dave: Eh, I wasn’t impressed. They’ve done I&S and moon-related shenanigans before, and better to boot.

Charlie Sweatpants: True enough.

Is there anything else? This is one of those extremely compact episodes because only three things really happened, they just happened over and over and over again.

Mad Jon: I got nothing.

Dave: Nah. Shut it down.

Charlie Sweatpants: Would that we should be so lucky.

18
Dec
09

Reading Digest: Quarter Assed Edition

Bart Gets an F2

“Bart, did you read the book?” – Mrs. Krabappel
“Mrs. Krabappel, I am insulted.  Is this a book report or a witch hunt?” – Bart Simpson

This week’s Reading Digest is extremely abbreviated.  20th Anniversary stuff ate up a lot of time and the internet slows for no man, event or excuse.  Uh, enjoy.

25 Homer Simpson quotes to guide you to a successful career – Most of these are good.

Howdy Doodily Readerinos – Sweet Ned Flanders costume (via My Disguises).

Homer Simpson speed painting – Neat video of someone drawing a detailed Homer head.  I could’ve done without the Lady Gaga, but other than that it’s neat. 

FSU professor motivates students with technology – This guy built a computer out of four PlayStation3s, the nodes names are Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa. 

Why "The Simpsons" no longer matters – Salon.com interviewed John Ortved and it’s one of the more original of the recent publicity things I’ve seen him do.  To wit this, which I had not heard him say before:

Would you choose to pull the plug on the show if you could?

I think "The Simpsons" has always been a product of News Corp., and the decision to pull the plug will be when the show becomes unprofitable. They could do things to revamp it. There’s really two rooms working on the show: One room is [executive producer] Al Jean and his yes men, and the other room has the younger, hipper comedians. [The second room] sends jokes to the first room, and all their good stuff gets written out of it. I think if they were to save the show, they would need to get rid of the show runner and really shake up the writing room. I don’t know if they’ll ever get it back to the level they had, but they could start making great episodes again.

I’m not entirely sure what to think about that but my initial reaction is that it’s wishful thinking.  Ortved certainly knows a lot more about the current inner workings of the show than I do, so I’m not disputing what he says about the structure or there really being two camps of writers.  However, no matter how massive a behind the scenes shakeup they’d still be working under two decades of old episodes using characters that are really no longer of our time.  Adding a few genuinely witty lines to each episode isn’t going to bring back the old viewers, nor will it cause Zombie Simpson fans to praise it any harder. 

Of course, even entertaining this hypothetical ignores the fact that the quality of the show has no effect on its profitability.  FOX would never risk a radical shakeup because the current incarnation still makes money for them hand over fist. 

11
May
09

Quote of the Day

bart-gets-an-f1

“As a natural enemy I don’t know why I should care, but the information pertaining to America’s colonial period that you’ve just received is erroneous.” – Martin Prince

“So you’re saying . . . ” – Bart Simpson

“A blindfolded chimp with a pencil in his teeth has a better chance of passing this test than you do.” – Martin Prince




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