“Fella came into the store today, asked for change for a dollar. Well, sir, I gave him three quarters by mistake. Took me the whole afternoon to track him down.” – Ned Flanders
Posts Tagged ‘Bart the Lover
“Mom, this is a little ahead of schedule, but I need help with my love life.” – Bart Simpson
“Oh, my special little guy has a sweetheart.” – Marge Simpson
“I knew it! Alright Bart, who’s your girlfriend?” – Lisa Simpson
“Mrs. Krabappel.” – Bart Simpson
In what I assume was an unintentional irony, early in “Beware My Cheating Bart”, the writers had Bart say, “Doesn’t anyone realize I’m only ten years old?”. The episode certainly didn’t, and it managed to be worse than most “Bart gets a girlfriend” stories to boot. Bart seems to vacillate between being an experienced teenage dater and a little kid, sometimes within the same scene. One moment he’s happily going down a slide, and then next he’s getting hot and heavy with Shauna (who is herself of indeterminate teenage years). It would be creepy if it weren’t so dull.
However, just one oft repeated story wasn’t enough for Zombie Simpsons this week, so they also had Marge and Homer go through a marital spat. That one got resolved in the most pointless way possible when Marge decorated herself and the bedroom in an island theme, but managed not to notice Bart and Jimbo out the clearly open window. Again, this would’ve been creepy if it hadn’t been so boring and nonsensical.
As for the unimaginative Lost parody “Stranded”, I was reminded of their equally insipid Inception parody from a few weeks ago. Lost has been off the air for two years now, and everyone knew it was going to end in 2010 beforehand, which means that if you still want to parody it, you’d better come up with more than the same tired jokes (nothing makes sense, there’s no resolution, it’s all just empty plot twists) people stopped making two years ago. The Futurama alien language plug (it reads “watch futurama thursdays at 10”) was the only thing that was even kind of clever.
The Bill Plympton couch gag was kind of interesting, though it could’ve been half as long and gotten through pretty much the same stuff. I suppose it’s true that this is better than the usual, but the novelty of having someone else do the opening is starting to wear off. And speaking of wearing off, Kavner is really having a hard time doing Marge now. She’s been kinda off for a couple of seasons, but the number of times I’ve thought to myself “wow, that really doesn’t sound like Marge” has been way up since the middle of this season. She just doesn’t have the same range she used to, which makes it really tough to put much feeling into anything.
Anyway, the numbers are in and they are absolutely atrocious. Just 4.86 million viewers briefly lost all interest in sex last night. That’s the second lowest of all time, displacing “How I Wet Your Mother” in that spot. Four of the five least watched episodes ever are now from Season 23, and the average viewership this year is below 6.5 million. Season 22’s was 7.10 million, and there are still at least three episodes to go. Presumably Lady Gaga will give them a boost at the end of the year (and I’m not looking forward to putting Reading Digest together that week), but even her fame isn’t going to be enough to rescue that average.
“Can you believe it? Pretty soon I’ll be able to quit my job and live off the boy.” – Homer Simpson
“What? Name me one person who’s gotten rich by doing yo-yo tricks.” – Marge Simpson
“Donald Trump? No. Arnold Palmer? No. Bill Cosby! No.” – Homer’s Brain
“D’oh!” – Homer Simpson
As part of our tireless efforts to demonstrate the many ways Zombie Simpsons fails to entertain, Season 23 will be subjected to the kind of rigorous examination that can only be produced by people typing short messages at one another. More dedicated or modern individuals might use Twitter for this, but that’s got graphics and short links and little windows that pop up when you put your cursor over things. The only kind of on-line communications we like are the kind that could once be done at 2400 baud. So disable your call waiting, plug in your modem, and join us for another year of Crazy Noises. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “terminology”).
Zombie Simpsons’ ongoing “instant professional” problem was brought up in comments yesterday, and it goes almost without saying that I agree. The show seems incapable of making fun of anything without having one of the Simpson clan become instantly good and insanely popular at it. Whether we’re talking about them faking a children’s book, Marge becoming a food blogger, Bart and Martin designing a robot toy, or Lisa’s social website, the people in Springfield frequently become widely recognized world class professionals at just about anything.
If they were doing this every once and a while it wouldn’t be nearly as annoying. But this happens in almost every episode. All of the above examples are just from this season, and I didn’t even mention the time Homer turned into a prototypical “accounts man” or when he become a nationally syndicated talk show host overnight. I understand why they take this particular shortcut so often; it makes it really easy to insert a few mildly snide jokes about whatever profession a particular Simpson has taken up this week. But we’re long past the point of diminishing returns on these, and Bart’s street art from “Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart” is unlikely to be the last one we see.
When Bart goes on his graffiti tear, he doesn’t just pick up a few spray cans like we’ve seen him do before. Instead, he becomes an accomplished and very skilled artist in just a few seconds of screen time. From there he plasters the entire city with so many pictures of Homer that the sheer scale of what he’s done is so over the top that it detracts from the story and the humor. If he’d tagged a couple of buildings with his Homer “Dope” visage, he might have pissed off a few people and you’d have something at least mildly interesting to go on. Instead, Zombie Simpsons starts piling one flight of fancy on top of another. Not only is Bart super good at this overnight, not only does he coat the city in these things despite being a ten-year-old, but he also runs into some famous street artists and promptly holds a giant gallery show that brings in millions of dollars. This is less satire or parody than it is wish fulfillment.
Mad Jon: Well, perhaps we should start.
My DVR missed the beginning of the opening, but was the couch gag a copy of the opening to Game of Thrones?
Dave: Yeah, the intro was a Game of Thrones knockoff.
Charlie Sweatpants: Someone posted a quote from A.V. Club in comments that ripped it pretty good.
Mad Jon: I basically saw the pan up to the couch.
Charlie Sweatpants: Here it is:
“The Game Of Thrones couch gag is indicative of some of the laziness of the latter-day Simpsons humor. It’s not satire, but an homage, as if to answer the unasked question: What would the Game Of Thrones opening sequence look like if it had The Simpsons cast in it? Now we know.”
I don’t have anything to add to that.
Mad Jon: That pretty well covers it.
Dave: Nope. That’s as definitive as it gets.
Charlie Sweatpants: It clocked it at about a minute, which seemed to be the going rate for set pieces this week.
Mad Jon: 21 minutes more to kill.
Charlie Sweatpants: There was the goofy opening with Homer and Lisa, the fight with Apu, the chef lady’s rambling voicemail message. And that was all before the first commercial break.
Mad Jon: Starting with a birthday bit, complete with repetitive screaming.
The 30+ second cocktail sword fight was especially awful.
Dave: I was convinced they were going to spend the whole episode at Trader Joe’s.
Mad Jon: That may have been better.
Charlie Sweatpants: Nah, they dropped that storyline like a bad habit.
Dave: I mean Swapper Jack’s. Whatever.
Is that satire?
Charlie Sweatpants: No. No it is not.
Mad Jon: There isn’t a proper definition for what the Simpson writers call satire or parody.
Cause what they think those things are, isn’t what they’re doing.
But I don’t know enough English terminology to back that up properly.
Charlie Sweatpants: Neither do I. But the Monstromart, that was parody.
Mad Jon: Fair enough,
Charlie Sweatpants: Ditto the time they had the Euro-trash on to be fake art people.
Mad Jon: That guy was a photo copy. But without the, what am I looking for…. Soul, heart, meaning, something like that.
Dave: Let’s call it soul.
Mad Jon: I was actually a little impressed when the Euro Trash guy came on.
I really think that was a passing thought. "We’ve done this guy with a different voice and from a different country… Oh well."
Charlie Sweatpants: There were a lot of "Oh well" moments in this one.
Homer repeating the word "one" over and over, the whole rabbit cage thing, Moe showing up at Trader Joe’s with a shotgun for no reason. Take your pick.
Mad Jon: The only thing that brought a smile to my face out of those examples was the cage thing. Only because the cage-fat-push-in thing actually ‘forwarded’ the ‘plot’ later on.
Charlie Sweatpants: Feh.
Mad Jon: It was an ironic chuckle. A drunken ironic chuckle at that.
The thing that actually made me think in this episode was the scene where Homer was driving and vocalized that he was driving to work. How many people who like the zombie episodes actually know he at least used to wok at SNPP?
Charlie Sweatpants: What makes you think he was driving to the power plant? For all you know, he could’ve been headed to the badlands or any one of a dozen other places.
Mad Jon: Exactly my point.
I don’t know that. I only know he used to drive to the power plant in the morning.
I can’t even tell you the last time he punched the power plant’s clock.
Charlie Sweatpants: Been awhile. The more bizarre one was when he was walking the dog, the rabbit, and had Bart with him.
It didn’t make sense for a single one of them, people or animals, to be there. And that was before Milhouse showed up out of the blue to let Homer know he was in all the pictures. And that was before Homer cracked open a beer he apparently happened to be carrying.
Mad Jon: Which also immediately intoxicated him if I remember correctly.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yup. I don’t think there was a single scene in this entire episode that made sense if you paid attention to it for more than about eleven seconds.
The entire ending was like that. First it was a big gala show, then it was a bust, then it was a big gala show again.
Dave: So, crap bookended by nonsense.
Charlie Sweatpants: Basically, yeah.
Mad Jon: Yeah, the intended gravity of the ending was again too confusing to have any real weight.
Charlie Sweatpants: The other problem is that there were two endings. Smushed into the whole "catching Bart" thing was Homer getting his feelings hurt for about a scene and a half before he was fine again.
Mad Jon: That includes the scene where Bart used his graffiti to make everything better and tie those two things together.
Charlie Sweatpants: It was three consecutive scenes: Homer gets upset, Homer strangles Bart, Bart makes it up to Homer. I’ve seen fortune cookies with better pacing.
Mad Jon: Fair enough.
Also, was I supposed to know who the non-’OBEY’ artists were? Are they real street artists or something?
Charlie Sweatpants: I would assume they are. I liked "Exit Through the Gift Shop", but that movie came out like two years ago.
And I haven’t exactly kept up with the Street Art world since then.
More to the point, who cares? They were hardly on screen, and none of them had any lines that weren’t self serving, disposable, or both.
Mad Jon: This was another case where the guest stars actually detracted from the episode.
I am sure this goes a way back, but to me the tipping point came when Seth Rogan got to do his episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: I’m not even sure I remember which one that was.
Mad Jon: Since then, I can’t think of a non-unproductive guest star.
And it has to be HARD to bring down a zombiesode.
Having famous names on for the sake of it runs way back into The Simpsons, but it wasn’t a regular thing. Think of the Hullabalooza episode. Even though Sonic Youth has the acting talent of a stuffed monkey, they didn’t take away from the episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: I think back to "Mom and Pop Art", and they had a couple of actual artists on. But Jasper Johns wasn’t doing anything productive, he was just stealing shit and being a jerk. Here, the artists were basically being themselves. They add nothing, to the story or to any possible satire.
Mad Jon: Good call. In addition to being un-funny or anything else, these guys where part of the worthless ending.
These kind of guest stars make me miss Michael Jackson for more than his music.
Charlie Sweatpants: The ending was an extension of that scene in the alley. It didn’t follow from what else we’d seen, none of the characters there were behaving even remotely like themselves, and the guest stars were just sort of hanging out.
Mad Jon: And profiting from Homer’s former, or maybe not former, boss.
Charlie Sweatpants: That could’ve been funny. Instead it was one long exercise in explaining a very obvious joke.
Anything else here? This one sort of skipped around from one "huh?" type scene to another. Making marginally stale cultural references here and there was its idea of humor.
Mad Jon: It was a roller coaster of emotions, for sure.
No, I got nothing else productive. Again, take a few plot points, find some English dialog to tie it together, no matter how many times you have to have two characters repeat the same words in weird voices, throw in someone (or some people) of marginal fame who haven’t been on, sell 4 acts of ads, and cash the check.
Charlie Sweatpants: Nice work if you can get it.
Mad Jon: I imagine it is.
“I guess I expected something different from your photo.” – Mrs. Krabappel
“Don’t let my age fool you. Just ’cause there’s a little snow on the roof . . . I forget how the rest of that goes.” – Jasper
Intentionally or not, there is an interesting undercurrent to “The Blue and the Gray”, Zombie Simpsons’ latest affront to quality television. Confronted with the unpleasant fact that she’s not quite what she used to be, Marge flips out and returns to the comforting fiction that cosmetic similarities mean she’s just the same as she always was. Remind you of anything’s writing staff?
That’s not the world’s closest comparison. A person’s hair color is largely irrelevant to who they are, whereas the writing of a television show is vitally important to how good it is. But I do enjoy the idea that Zombie Simpsons can’t handle the truth about itself, and chooses to wallow in toxic, self deceiving hair dye instead.
Anyway, in between rickety side plots with Moe and Bart, the episode is ostensibly about Marge trying to come to terms with the harsh reality that letting her natural hair color show will change the way other people react to her. Somewhere there’s probably a decent story to be told about that, one that provides plenty of opportunities for satire and comedy about double standards, about the impossible quest to remain young, about beauty lies we’ve all agreed upon. This was not that story, nor did it contain any of that comedy. That might have required some thought.
The numbers are in, and they are terrible. Last night’s noxious goo was rinsed from the scalps of a mere 5.62 million people. That’s a new low for Season 22, as well as the fourth lowest rating of all time. To put it another way, “The Blue and the Gray” is the 477th episode of the show, and 473 of those episodes were viewed by more people.
“Don’t worry, I just drew up a little blueprint, now, lemme walk you through it. This is the door, he goes through that. This is the roof. And this happy character here is the sun. He shines down on the house, see?” – Homer Simpson
This post of storyboarding resources from Dakota State University contains a link to a sweet PDF from AnimationMeat.com that shows various animation layout techniques and shots with examples from the Simpsons. Here’s a sample (click to embiggen):
If you’re at all interested in how the show gets animated or presented, this is a really interesting resource. Even better, most of the example images appear to be from Seasons 7-9, before the show became the stale, digital waste we know today. I saw sketches from “Summer of 4 Ft. 2”, “A Milhouse Divided”, “The Cartridge Family”, “Grade School Confidential”, “Homer’s Phobia”, and “The Old Man and the Lisa”, among others.
“Those guys must be millionaires…” – Bart Simpson
“I’ll bet they get all kinds of girls…” – Nelson Muntz
“I question the educational value of this assembly” – Ms. Hoover
“Hey, it’ll be one their few pleasant memories when they’re pumping gas for a living.” – Mrs. Krabappel
We’re getting kinda done around here with “Bart Gets a Z”. (Not a moment too soon, as far as I’m concerned.) But there was one final thing I wanted to point out: you cannot keep these characters from aging. Biology won’t let you. “Bart Gets a Z” had a lot of Mrs. Krabappel, who is voiced by Marcia Wallace. But the 2009 version of Mrs. Krabappel’s voice is very different from the one we all grew to love in the 1990s. It’s gotten noticeably deeper and a tad raspier.
I noticed a similar thing last year with Lenny (voiced by Harry Shearer) in “Double, Double, Boy in Trouble”. The beginning of that episode is very Lenny heavy and his voice, like Krabappel’s, has gotten significantly lower and less crisp in its pronunciation. It’s getting to a point with both of them where they sound like imitations of themselves, good imitations, to be sure, but not the genuine article.
Why is this? Well, Wallace is 66; Shearer is 65; there are very few people whose voices don’t appreciably change between their mid-40s and their mid-60s. That’s not a knock on their work, it’s just the way of the world. Maybe this is more apparent to me on account of I rarely watch Zombie Simpsons and I watch the old ones all the time. But going from one to another, from, say, the Krabappel of “Bart the Lover” (1992) to “Bart Gets a Z” (2009), or the Lenny of “The Last Temptation of Homer” (1993) to “Double, Double, Boy in Trouble” (2008), is really jarring.
Remember to bring this up the next time someone tells you they don’t like the first two seasons because the voices don’t sound right. Many of them are further off the mark now than they were then.
Let’s face it, watching Homer Simpson suffer is a lot of fun, whether his kids are fighting over who loves him more (You do! No, You do!), his wife’s getting promoted ahead of him, or he’s getting hit in the head with softballs, circular saws or nightsticks. Or, at least, it used to be a lot of fun. Somewhere along the way Zombie Simpsons forgot that Homer’s supposed to be a regular guy. Instead, they turned him into one of those cheap, inflatable punching bags that always bounces back up. The trouble is, it’s just a lot less fun to watch when the guy taking the hits is invincible.
For a montage of genuinely inventive ways to hurt Homer, we turn to Season 3′s “Bart the Lover”. After agreeing to pay money to the Swear Jar whenever he curses, we see Homer:
1) Accidentally put a $20 in the church collection plate
2) Narrowly miss one pin at the bowling alley
3) Find out that Flanders is making money as a commercial actor after Homer got him to shave his moustache
4) Have his eight year old daughter point out that the dog house he’s been working on has no door
5) Have a hive of bees fall on him while he’s napping in the hammock
That’s a healthy range of suffering, from monetary losses to the emotional frustration of seeing his neighbor pull ever farther ahead of him in the game of life. Only one of them involves him getting physically hurt, and we don’t even need to see it. The hive falls down, Homer prepares to swear and it cuts immediately to his bee sting covered hand dropping change into the jar. He doesn’t run around getting chased by a swarm of cartoon bees, or say anything “clever” while he’s getting stung. It just happens, it’s really funny, and it’s over.
I didn’t want to do this, but I think I have to so . . . fuck it. While I was looking for links this week, I came across new blog dedicated to funny cartoon quotes. I thought it was a neat idea so I clicked around a little. Unfortunately, while I was reading the page of Troy McClure movies, something jumped out at me:*
….such educational films as “Lead Paint: Delicious But Deadly,” and “Here Comes the Metric System!”
….such fishing films as ‘Cast Out’ or ‘The Reel Deal.’
….such films as “The Erotic Adventures of Hercules” and “Dial ‘M’ for Murderousness”.
The first one is from “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love”; it’s his introduction to the sex-ed video “Fuzzy Bunny’s Guide to You-Know-What”. The third one is from the beginning of “Mr. Plow”, when he’s introducing ‘Carnival of the Stars’: ”Live, from Hawaii’s beautiful Molokai Island, ‘We’re not just for lepers any more!’.” However, I couldn’t place the second one. It’s possible that it’s lost on some weird syndication cut but as near as I can tell from Google, SNPP and recollection (Dave’s, Jon’s and mine) it was never in an episode.
Instead, the most likely origin I found for it was someone impersonating Troy McClure. It’s on the “impersonations page” of both nohomers and The Simpsons Folder. It’s also on this old geocities page (mirrored here, though I’m not sure which is the original). In fact, that geocities list is literally the exact same as the one at Favourite Cartoon Quotes. It’s just copied and pasted, right down to the phantom quote about fishing shows.
This isn’t even the first time it’s been copied. I found it on three different message boards, here, here and here. (For whatever it’s worth, the third one has the oldest date on it, May 2004.) It seems very likely that Favourite Cartoon Quotes, in only its second day of existence, violated what is perhaps the only real rule of blogging: always link back.
Now, like I said above, I think posting random cartoon quotes is a pretty neat idea (I’d better, it’s literally half of what we post around here), and it’s already broadened to include Futurama so there’s lots of potential. But even if you’re just going to grab quotes from wikiquote, SNPP or somewhere else, you’ve got to link back.
(NBC’s “The More You Know” image taken from Kissing Suzy Kolber. See? It’s easy.)
* The fact that McClure is spelled “Maclure” in the post title was also a bit of a giveaway.
I used to watch The Simpsons faithfully until they changed the hour when it was shown, and it suddenly no longer fit with my domestic rhythm. So I can’t claim to be a morbidly avid fan, but I’m basically well disposed towards The Simpsons,