“This isn’t just because of Sideshow Bob, it’s a chance to turn around all our stinking lives.” – Homer Simpson
“I’ll be Gus, the loveable chimney sweep. Clean as a whistle, sharp as a thistle, best in all Westminster, yeah!” – Bart Simpson
“Shutup, boy.” – Homer Simpson
Posts Tagged ‘Cape Feare
“Hello, Moe? We know you’re the one behind this, so knock it off or we’re going to the cops!” – Lisa Simpson
“No, no, I’ll take care of it. Okay it’s over, get ’em out of here! Alright, andele! Andele!” – Moe
Happy 20th anniversary to “Cape Feare”! Original airdate 7 October 1993.
“Robert, if released would you pose any threat to one Bart Simpson?” – Lawyer
“Bart Simpson? The spirited little scamp who twice foiled my evil schemes and sent me to this dank, urine soaked hell hole?” – Sideshow Bob
“Uh, we object to the term ‘urine soaked hell hole’ when you could’ve said ‘pee pee soaked heck hole’.” – Parole Officer
“Cheerfully withdrawn.” – Sideshow Bob
“Well, I’d like to help you, ma’am, but I’m afraid there’s no law against mailing threatening letters.” – Chief Wiggum
“I’m pretty sure there is.” – Marge Simpson
“Ha, the day I take cop lessons from Ma Kettle-” – Chief Wiggum
“Hey, she’s right, Chief.” – Lou
“Well, shut my mouth. It’s also illegal to put squirrels down your pants for the purposes of gambling . . . boys, knock it off!” – Chief Wiggum
By Hank Pumpkins
Let me start out by saying this: I both love to pretend, and am horrible at, being a journalist, a profession where my egocentrism is at odds with my sheer obliviousness. Which explains why I showed up to the Wooly Mammoth Theatre haughty with lofty perceptions of how I would craft my review-de-resistance—and also why I showed up looking like a sweaty bum, wearing a White Sox cap, my trusty Toms loafers, and a t-shirt of Boba Fett if he were a dog (“Boba Fetch”, a bartender explained to me later—like I said, oblivious). Were I a more conscious human being, I probably would have given half a thought to bringing a date, and dining with her there at the theatre (they had delicious looking food, surprise surprise), but I didn’t. So, instead, I pretended to be a journalist all night; which is to say, I grabbed beer as fast as possible and hid my awkwardness under the veil of "fly on the wall" integrity, to try and catch a slice of both play-house Americana as well as Simpson-neck-beard-fandom in the surprisingly funny and poignant Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play.
There was much less of the latter group than the former; I was a bit disappointed I didn’t spot any Geniuses At Work, as it were, though there were several people in the audience that had that decisive “I remember this episode and quote it fondly” loud laugh (which matched my own). The rest of the audience were the seasoned play-goers, people who were “down on the scene”, “with the haps”, and whatever other 60’s slang I can think of. The kind of people that don’t come in buzzed off their ass, whipping out their camera phone and snapping pictures until a friendly, though scared, attendant begs me to stop taking photos. Alas, I lost my only chance of someone saying “sir” without adding, “You’re making a scene.”
During intermission, the various different play-going demographics—suits, the elderly, cute girls in sun-dresses—parsed out the play with various success: they chattered about the meaning of The Simpsons in our society, pop-culture’s place in the future, and sometimes, rather simply, “Side-what Bob?” I found it cute.
The playwright, Anne Washburn, mentions in the booklet that The Simpsons was a serendipitous, though later obvious, symbolic pop-culture choice which the survivors of an unnamed apocalypse cobble together as a means of bonding and survival. Her play is at once hilarious and a bitter pill, as Washburn’s characters find light and grace in possibly the only piece of pop-culture that would survive a nuclear holocaust. Dear God, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s likely The Simpsons may be the cockroach that shakes off the radiation and survives us all.
It’s clear as the play progresses, however, that time changes us all, and particularly our memories. For Post-Electric is not just an excuse for actors to quote Homer, but also a rumination on memory and story-telling, and a thought-provoking perspective of a future where the hand-me-down stories of each generation were given to us from a boob-tube.
In the first act, the characters, days out of said apocalypse, hilariously string together “Cape Feare” as best as they can, and I have to admit, it was hard not to join in with these people palling about onstage sorting out the episode’s first sequence like a bunch of drunk friends on a couch. The writer mentions that these bits were fleshed out from bull sessions between the cast—and the light-hearted, real conversation shows. What made Act I such a draw for me was the genius in the simplicity of it all. Of course, this is how I would react if the Apocalypse happened.
All The Simpsons talk works in great contrast with the dire circumstances of the world around the characters, which grows even more desperate and doomed as the play progresses. The characters’ understanding of The Simpsons—and television, and pop-culture, and, well, the past—all starts to fall apart, and the melting-pot of pop-culture references is a hilarious, but dark, game of roulette. There’s a very prevalent sense that not even The Simpsons might be able to carry on to the next generation—at least in the form that we know it. As no TV and no beer make society something-something, the earlier “Cape Feare” bull-sessions whisk away into something unfamiliar: purple-monkey-dish-washer territory.
The show takes a turn for the melodic in the strange third act, which works as a giant equals sign to the thoughts and build-up beforehand. The play shoots forward several decades, where The Simpsons as we know it has been deconstructed and smelted together with other lingering fragments of pop humanity, baked under the context of a world barely breathing after 80-some years of devastation and ruin. The final act was my least favorite, as we’re shoved down the rabbit-hole in this dream-like Simpsons facsimile. The whole thing is pretty much set to song, and deftly presented, but didn’t have the gritty punch the earlier acts did. Still, the steady dilution of “Cape Feare” into its end-of-the-world futuristic counterpart is an amazing trick to nail, and all hands on deck of the Pinafore do a remarkable job (as far as my understanding of critiquing plays go). I was clapping pretty hard at the end, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because I had been drinking.
What’s most surprising to me, though, is that it seemingly took as long as it did for someone to use The Simpsons in such a clever way. Directors like Quentin Tarantino are known for their ironic use of cotton-candy pop-culture conversations that belie the amorality and violence that bubbles around the chatter. Finally there’s a similar conversation happening with something so near and dear to me, a Gen-X variant on the ol’ post-apocalyptic “what makes us human” yarn—and a sci-fi future that accepts that The Simpsons is really effin’ important, damn it. After all, when the grids do go down, what’s humanity going to talk about? The Denver Broncos? Feh.
NOTE: I want to send a very hearty thanks to Charlie and especially the Wooly Mammoth, who all so graciously decided that me entering a place of culture and writing about it would be a good thing. I had an amazing time—if you’re in the DC area, check it out. If you’re not, be jealous, chummmmmmm…p.
Hank Pumpkins doesn’t just have the best nom-de-plume on the planet, he also writes miserable fiction and even more miserable personal accounts of his shlubby life over at Love in the Time of Sausage (www.littosonline.com). Love, Hank Pumpkins.
“Lisa, you got a letter.” – Marge Simpson
“It’s from my pen pal, Anya.” – Lisa Simpson
“Dear Lisa, as I write this I am very sad. Our president has been overthrown and-” – Anya
“-replaced, by the benevolent General Krull. All hail Krull and his glorious new regime! Sincerely, little girl.” – General Krull
Russia is having itself an election on Sunday, and earlier this week allegations emerged in Canada, the world’s other giant frozen country, that the current Prime Minister may have taken a few liberties with the last election. We’ve got links for both, though, befitting the disparate levels of shenanigans, the Russian one is much, much better. There’s also a new Simpsons video game, a YouTube video of FOX wasting some money, the final few remnants of the 500th episode stuff, a New Orleans street performer, and the last hurrah for a college basketball rivalry that Grampa Simpson would appreciate.
An Ode To The Simpsons – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the week comes from a blog called “Dinosaur Boner”, which is tumescently awesome. It’s a thoughtful, heartfelt, and amusing look at the show and how it has declined. Not only does it agree with us:
Nothing is meant to last though, and The Simpsons are not immune to that. After about season 12, the jokes and story telling took a nose dive. Every good idea had been used up by then. You can only do so many things with the same characters before a show goes stale.
But it takes plenty of whacks at that self evidently substandard “At Long Last Leave” episode:
- The last joke of the show was ok. Everyone in Springfield ends up following the Simpsons to their new squatter town (The Outlands), but they leave Principle Skinner behind. He looked sad and it was funny. Oh, but then they go and drag it out after a few of the credits run, kinda ruining it.
They do that a lot. The whole thing is worth reading.
Help Spot The References: Viral Video Mocks Putin Era – This time lapse video of Vladimir Putin in advance of Sunday’s – ahem – election is great:
I only got the bigger references (Khodorkovsky, Beslan, Basayev, that submarine), but there’s a ton of stuff here. Medvedev gets it particularly bad. ПРЕВОСХОДНЫЙ! (That’s what rustran.com gave me for “Excellent”.)
The Simpsons Celebrate New Episodes with Homer Sculpture – Fox released this little YouTube video about a bust of Homer they commissioned:
Check out Jean at the 0:15 mark, “FOX is erecting a bust of Homer in honor of the 500th episode, and I’ve been told if we do another 500 we’ll get a torso.” Not my preferred course of action, of course, but the way he said cracked me up.
JIM FALL: Despite what I expected, the sun came up Sunday – For business reasons, the universities of Kansas and Missouri will no longer be in the same athletic conference next year. This means that a rivalry that goes back to guns and bloodshed before the Civil War will become less heated, less frequent, and generally less interesting. It also means that Kansas won’t have much call to do this at home basketball games:
In Allen Fieldhouse to this day, at least until last Saturday, they still hyped their fans into a frenzy with video clips from “The Outlaw Josey Wales” proclaiming their being “jayhawkers, and proud of it,” and Grandpa Simpson explaining that his flag has only 49 stars because “I’ll be deep in the cold, cold ground before I recognize Missouri.”
Awesome. I had no idea they did that.
SPRINGFIELD TRAINING – Omar Vizquel has been invited to the Blue Jays’ spring training camp, and this guy took a look at that through the lens of being in a twenty year old joke on The Simpsons, and he included this:
It’s tough work maintaining excellence over 23 years … just look at The Simpsons. Sure, Springfield’s first family recently passed 500 episodes and are still steaming on. But is the show as incisive, inventive and downright hilarious as in its heyday of the 1990s? Unfortunately, not by a long shot.
Got that right. Good luck, Mr. Vizquel.
Top 10 goalie masks in the NHL – The Canadiens goalie with Flanders on his mask is #10.
Who holds back the electric car? Not the Stonecutters – Excellent usage from this report at the Canadian International Autoshow:
Homer Simpson — yes, that Homer Simpson — was once a member of the Stonecutters, a secret society made up of Springfield residents.
Though it happened way back in season six of the show, I can’t help but remember the Stonecutters’ “We do” chant. As a matter of fact, I sometimes catch myself singing the tune: “Who holds back the electric car? Who makes Steve Guttenberg a star?”
TOWIE’s Billie Faiers dresses up as Marge Simpson for Mario Falcone’s birthday party – I’ll leave it to readers who are more familiar than I am with the relative popularity of British television shows to determine whether or not this is actually noteworthy, but that is a pretty damn good Marge costume.
Benefit concert to raise money for Hineburg man battling ALS – Well, it looks like we’ve found another band named after The Simpsons:
The show featuring local groups Phill ‘n the Blanks and Sideshow Bob runs from 5:30-midnight Saturday at the Hampton Inn in Colchester.
That’s in Vermont, by the way.
Parenting Level: Homer Simpson – Screen grabs of Homer offering brownies and showing off his chainsaw and hockey mask. Surprisingly fun to scroll through.
Editorial: Robocall narrative perilous for the Tories – The Edmonton Journal thinks Stephen Harper might be developing a credibility gap:
The danger is not that the overall election result will be called into question, or even that there will be an upwelling of support for an opposition party in the short term. Rather, it’s the contribution the story makes to a gradually accumulating negative reputation – a reputation of being willing to do and say anything to win – that could ultimately undermine Canadians’ trust and general comfort with a Harper government in power.
In a certain prime-time animated television show, one of the central jokes is trickster Bart Simpson’s automatic denial “I didn’t do it.” Bart’s problem is that even when he is innocent, no one believes him. To this day, former U.S. president Richard Nixon is remembered as Tricky Dick, and as the leader of a party with a culture of chicanery, as much as he is for ending the Vietnam War and for normalizing relations with Communist China.
Marge Simpson mosaic table top. – This is from a Yelp review of a BGR The Burger Joint franchise in Washington D.C.:
I’ve no idea if the food is any good, but that table top is pretty damn cool.
Alternatively, Milou5e – I get it, and it’s kinda funny, but I could definitely see that as a phase Milhouse goes through on his way to paunchy middle management.
Oh Look – It’s Smarch – The differences between March and Smarch:
Sure, many call it March. Me? No way. Maybe if March was as predicatble as February or January, I might change my attitude. I think “Smarch” perfectly sums up the antics of this tease of a month.
Here’s the thing: March plays around. March flirts with spring, but keeps cozy with winter. March lets you think there will be no more snow one minute, and then presents you with bucket loads of it the next.
March, for lack of a better term, is a bit of a hussy.
The 2012 Academy Awards…In 10 Words – Nah, I won’t watch even if Billy Crystal’s involved.
A 10 Word Tribute to Davy Jones – Ewww!
It’s time for a list!: English Stereotypes – The fifth one on here is bad teeth, along with the image I slapped together for this quote back in 2010. I’ve seen that same image on a few other websites since, and it appears in the first page of Google image results if you search for “British smiles”. If this blog has accomplished nothing else (and it hasn’t), it did do that.
Simpsons Cake WIN – That can’t possibly be a real cake . . . and yet maybe it is.
Road Trip Randomness #1202252 – I’ll just let this picture of a New Orleans street performer dressed as a drunken, nearly naked Homer speak for itself.
The finest geek TV marriage proposals – Homer and Marge make the list here, but they use a shot of him slipping on the onion ring instead of his actual proposal wherein she read a card while he inadvertently stuck his ass in her face.
Homer Simpson – Cartoon Quotes goes with one of Homer’s occasional forays into cross dressing.
What good is money if it can’t inspire terror in your fellow man? – A short collection of some great Burns quotes.
The Simpsons – You know those grotesque early years dolls with the giant plastic heads? Someone loved them:
If you’ve ever held this 90s toy (and it’s okay if you haven’t, that means you were probably normal, as opposed to an almost-four-year-old girl with a prized Bart Simpson doll), just know that its head is abnormally huge and heavy. I found an image, though there was no credit (apparently, no one wants to be associated with this terrible thing)
Who decided it was a good idea to have that large of a head, made entirely of plastic, on a small, plush body? WHO?!
Click through for the frightening picture.
Appointment Viewing: February 27-March 4 – Lenny previewing Sunday’s Zombie Simpsons:
8:00 – The Simpsons (Fox): Bart plasters unflattering graffiti images of Homer all over Springfield. They catch the eyes of established street artists Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Kenny Scharf and Robbie Conal, who catch him in the act, and they invite him to exhibit his work at a gallery show of his own. Meanwhile, a new health-food superstore threatens to put the Kwik-E-Mart out of business. Look, I used to be a teenage girl, so I know what it’s like to desperately want to be cool. But, it’s not edgy to know about street artists if said street artists were in a documentary that my father recommended to me a year ago.
D’Oh! Rebuild Springfield with ‘The Simpsons: Tapped Out’ on iOS – That game I mentioned last week has been released. I have no idea if it’s any good, but there’s a YouTube ad at the link and you can get it from iTunes.
Zombies Show the Limits of Our Ethics – Apparently someone is taking a zombie apocalypse as a serious philosophical hypothetical, which leads to excellent usage:
My favorite zombie moment may be from a Halloween episode of The Simpsons. Zombies have overrun the city of Springfield. The Simpson clan, led by a shotgun-armed homer, flee their house. As they approach their car, their neighbor and Homer’s nemesis Flanders appears and, if memory serves, says something about nibbling Homer’s ear. Homer blows him away. “Dad, you killed Zombie Flanders!” Bart says, astonished. “He was a zombie?” Homer asks.
The scene is funny because in the real world of The Simpsons, Homer despises Ned Flanders and is obsessively resentful of Flanders’ success, life, and happiness. He wouldn’t kill Flanders, not in any normal circumstance, but then a zombie apocalypse ain’t normal. It’s a disaster that’s not part of “the plan,” as the Joker in The Dark Knight would say, and so people panic and forsake their morals to an extent they wouldn’t when faced with a horror that at least makes sense in light of history or normalcy.
Bart actually says “the Zombie Flanders”, but other than that it’s right on. Sadly, as far as The Simpsons goes, the zombie apocalypse is already upon us.
Life Imitates The Simpsons, Campaign Edition – The Simpsons analogy here is a bit of a stretch, but only a bit, plus there’s YouTube.
The Republican Al Gore – Speaking of Mitt Romney, this is excellent usage:
All these words about Romney apply equally to the man Democrats nominated in 2000. It’s no wonder that when a character on The Simpsons got a talking Al Gore doll, when you pulled the string it said, “You are hearing me talk”—the perfect comment on Gore’`s inability to bypass his listeners’ awareness of the calculation behind an interaction.
That link on “got” is you YouTube of said quote.
As Good as It Gets (1997) – This is a review of that long ago Jack Nicholson movie, but it does contain this nice aside:
Plus it was from James L. Brooks, who I was aware from The Simpsons (still in its period of greatness).
That Was The Week That Was – And finally, yet another person who agrees with us:
And finally… My favorite TV show of all time, The Simpsons, recently marked its 500th (500th!) [500th!!!!] episode. I came *this* close to going back through my collection of DVDs (only through season 9, if you please) for the umpteenth time in order to produce the perfect top ten list of greatest episodes or scenes.
Through Season 9 is fine by me.
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 (embarrassingly enough, including on “Thunderdome”).
When the splattered mishmash that passed for a plot in “At Long Last Leave” finally got the family to the “outlands” halfway through the episode, Zombie Simpsons came back from commercial with a derivative of the opening credits. We see clouds part, hear the familiar chorus saying “The Outlands” instead of “The Simpsons”, and spend the next thirty seconds panning over the bizarro community that will (sort of) be the setting for (some of) the rest of the episode. This is obviously a naked repeat of “The Thompsons” opening from “Cape Feare”, but if you take a closer look you can see how weak a repeat it really is.
For starters, Zombie Simpsons calls its place “The Outlands”, which isn’t a joke and sounds like the rejected title of a World of Warcraft expansion. “Terror Lake”, by contrast, is both original and funny. Season 5 also set up the family’s move far in advance. We already know that the FBI has given them new identities, that this is their destination, and that Sideshow Bob is stowed away under the car. All of the main elements of the plot come with them in one neat little package. Season 23 has Homer pull the car over in a random spot that just happens to be next to a bizarre squatters camp, and then has an unnamed guy with a gun come out of the bushes for no reason and invite them to stay.
For the openings themselves, not only does Zombie Simpsons take much longer, but they also drop in a ton of random crap. We pan over their new home town (which we know nothing about at the time), see Bart spray painting a wall (lotta destroyed buildings for a wilderness encampment), then follow him them to their (entirely built) shack where they park their rather impressive fleet of vehicles, including a helicopter. Huh? The last time we saw them they were in their station wagon with all their worldly possessions, now they live better than the Lord Humungus. The Simpsons doesn’t have to do anything that strange or unexpected because it has enough going on at that point that it makes sense for the family to pull up in car they got from the FBI and get on the houseboat.
The real capper, though, comes in how each one ends. “The Thompsons” ends with a normal couch gag before cutting to the first real scene of the family in Terror Lake. The mechanics of it are the same as a regular opening. Them scrambling into the houseboat and getting a net full of fish dumped on them didn’t really happen, it was just a playful way to introduce their new location. Zombie Simpsons, on the other hand, had them go through all that, including the helicopter and Homer getting run over by a team of horses, and then just started the regular scene as though all that stuff was real.
Granted, this scene did contain the “sick of watching fox” joke, the first time in a long time that I’ve liked a joke, waited for them to ruin it (by having the fox attack Homer or something), and then had them not do that. But it undercuts the entire concept of having a second opening in the middle of the episode if it isn’t actually an opening. At full speed this isn’t the greatest problem in the world, especially in an episode like this one that expects the audience to forget anything that happened more than a ninety seconds ago. But it’s another example of how The Simpsons gets better the more you think about it while Zombie Simpsons get worse.
[This week No Homers member Zombies Rise from the Sea joined us. You can read his detailed rebuttal to Michael Price (who wrote this episode) here.]
Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, ready to get started?
Mad Jon: Yep
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Yeah
Mad Jon: Where do you want to begin?
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The 500th episode.
The extravagance of it.
Charlie Sweatpants: You thought so? I thought there was a surprisingly small amount of "hooray, anniversary!" stuff. Besides the couch gag and the "go outside" title card, it seemed pretty typical.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Let’s not forget the opening sequence where it said "the most meaningless milestone of all".
Why even do it like that if it’s meaningless?
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, forgot that one. Still pretty minor, though.
Mad Jon: To make meaningfullness out of it?
Charlie Sweatpants: I thought it was a callback to the chalkboard in "Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song".
Mad Jon: I agree that it wasn’t as over the top 500 as I thought it would be.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The most often referenced callback of all time, for good reason
But still, celebrating it in the form of an extravagant couch gag calls for some concern; I do like that they referenced their history though.
That’s the positive thing about it.
Mad Jon: Also the gag killed some time.
So they got that going for them as well.
Charlie Sweatpants: That definitely occurred to them.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Yup
Charlie Sweatpants: And while it wasn’t bad, couch mashups like that have been on YouTube for some time. (See yesterday’s comments, for example.)
Mad Jon: I thought about that. But this show has forsaken public opinion for quite a while now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that thought raised a "meh" in the writers’ room.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: True, I mean preceding the 500th episode was an interview by the episode’s writer Michael Price which showcases how bizarro the show’s people have gotten.
Mad Jon: Hmm, I didn’t know that guy existed.
Charlie Sweatpants: They broadcast that? I didn’t see it.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: It was a web interview.
Mad Jon: Ah.
Charlie Sweatpants: I read that long interview he gave last week. I like how they always talk about how they’re careful not to do things they’ve done before. Then you have things like last week’s Itchy & Scratchy and this week’s "The Outlands" intro that make that little piece of bullshit as inoperable as one can be.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: That is ironically hilarious.
I’ve written replies to most of the comments he made; you know that post right?
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, someone on our site linked it. I’ll admit that I skimmed most of it, you have more stamina for that stuff than I do, but I agreed with most of what I read.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: It just turns me off, praising cleaner HD animation as a better thing, insisting that they care for the characters, insisting that the show is as good as ever.
Have they even realized there are some legitimate criticisms out there on the internet?
Sorry to go off topic but that interview had me somewhat mad.
Charlie Sweatpants: I know what you mean. It’s the quintessential don’t piss on me and tell me it’s raining type stance.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I do "Babar" reviews on NoHomers that point out animation no one has ever seen before; granted there may be better examples but those examples are ones no one has seen before and they’re beautiful.
Charlie Sweatpants: The old Babar? Man, I haven’t seen that since I was a kid.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Hand drawn animation is like an art, to insist that people want cleaner HD animation is just shameful. It’s like we don’t appreciate flaws in work, we want everything to be robotic.
At least I’m getting through to people who have heard of Babar and watched it as a kid but didn’t watch it recently.
Charlie Sweatpants: Might have to look that up, for nostalgia purposes if nothing else.
Mad Jon: I didn’t look for this in this episode, but that is an especially angering point when you see some of the scene disparities that that have happened since the change to HD. I think this has come up several times in the last year or so.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I agree, it’s like a consistent talking point when talking about Zombie Simpsons.
Charlie Sweatpants: I thought that was something the couch gag did a good job of (sorry, pun) illustrating.
There’s a lot more life to the earlier ones, and you can actually watch them get more sterile.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: At least the 500th episode couch gag serves a purpose, to show how they declined.
Charlie Sweatpants: The only animation note I had from the episode proper was to wonder about Wiggum’s uniform
In the park he wasn’t wearing his usual one and then at the house he was. I don’t know if that was a callback to something, but it looked odd.
Mad Jon: I didn’t even notice
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I didn’t pay much attention to that; it does prove you are the master at noticing animation differences many people don’t.
Mad Jon: He does have an eye for that.
If for nothing else.
Charlie Sweatpants: I wouldn’t have thought so, and yet, here were are.
As for the episode itself, I’m just baffled.
Why did they all come out to the Outlands at the end?
Mad Jon: Why not.
Charlie Sweatpants: Why would Homer advertise for the people he calls jerks to come there?
Zombies Rise from the Sea: You have every right to be, there are so many things to be baffled at.
Mad Jon: The attempt at continuity for its own sake I assume.
Charlie Sweatpants: Why did they sneak into the middle of the city and then discuss their disguises?
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Poor attempt at humor I guess…
Charlie Sweatpants: The last half of the episode is just one hanging plot thread after another.
Mad Jon: How was that a plot?
Zombies Rise from the Sea: That perplexed me too, I mean I guess the episode writer wanted to end the episode on a sweet, emotional and grand note but it just raised more questions then it satisfied.
I mean why not ask them to come back, why not have a speech that makes Springfield realize they’re jerks.
That would be a better ending then what we got.
Mad Jon: It was just Homer and Bart doing random things with random Springfieldians showing up.
Except random means familiar show characters.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: They were even doing random things before they showed up, none of which worked.
Mad Jon: Like Super Nintendo Chalmers.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: That’s true Jon.
The ending may be worth talking about but the outlands themselves; barely shown.
It’s like the most hyped up part of the episode yet they only spend a few minutes showing it.
Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I mean where’s the community, where’s the people? It’s like this place only exists so that the Simpsons can move and have some stuff to do; cartoony stuff no less.
Charlie Sweatpants: And what they did show was just odd. If I got a free Mad Max helicopter for moving to the middle of nowhere, I’d be there tomorrow.
Mad Jon: It was a place to store the Simpsons for 10 minutes while they did some physical comedy before the clock ran out.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I miss the days when "You Only Move Twice" and "Cape Feare" had actual cities with actual people.
Charlie Sweatpants: Even the way they got there was weird. They pull over and there’s a crazy guy with a gun, and they’re just like, "Let’s live here!"
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Exactly, convenience.
Mad Jon: In the vibrant hobo city they could see from outside the car but not from inside it.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: convenience = piss poor writing
Charlie Sweatpants: There was no effort to make it even remotely interesting as a place, like so you said, unlike Terror Lake or Cypress Creek.
Mad Jon: Ohhh! Ice Creamville!
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The only interesting thing it had with the lawlessness but even that is wasted.
They could of taken out the useless guest appearance by the WikiLeaks guy but then they wouldn’t have a famous guest star!
Charlie Sweatpants: At least we were spared another meth joke.
Mad Jon: I think the worst part of the wasteland was the complete lack of character development among even ONE of the other occupants
Zombies Rise from the Sea: That’s true.
Charlie Sweatpants: Very much including Assange.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The Simpsons acted not as a family, but as cartoon characters.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yep. Check out the new clothes, for example.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: There were some people on NoHomers who praised the acting of the family but I couldn’t see any of that, Homer and Marge barely had a connection; Bart wasn’t into it and they all seemed to transition from role to role pretty effortlessly.
The clothes thing is the most obvious thing in the episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: There could have been something to the "Marge is more homesick than the rest of them thing", but they didn’t even bother.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Marge was the only one homesick.
And they didn’t even use that properly to transition into the romantic scenes in Springfield.
I admit, I liked those scenes but placed in the context of a plot with barely any buildup and barely any involvement; it’s a waste.
It’s like those scenes are standing out to make the episode better and more charming then it actually is.
Charlie Sweatpants: Right. You need a better reason to break into the bowling alley than wearing costumes that make them look nothing like Burns and Smithers. And I’d further note that when the town shows up at the house, they’re right back in their normal clothes.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Consistency be damned.
It’s like the entire thing is designed to be plotted in a way that seems epic but it just collapses on itself.
Charlie Sweatpants: That’s a good way to put it. They had this big story, but they’re constantly undercutting themselves and sabotaging their own story because, hey, we’ve got to get Homer’s head sucked into a jet engine, we’ve got to have everyone show up for no reason.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Why is it that they got to put wacky humor into the show and explain the jokes?
We’re intelligent, we can understand smart humor and smart things.
Mad Jon: Foreshadowing be damned! We like our joke transparent nowadays.
Charlie Sweatpants: They could’ve done that in so many ways: the town gets bored without the Simpsons, the town gets jealous that the Simpsons are living better in the outlands and makes them move back. Anyone worth their salt could’ve made this work, but they didn’t even try.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I’m surprised they didn’t even show that.
Charlie Sweatpants: The mystery and secrecy committee is a good example. That wasn’t a terrible idea, but it. just. kept. going.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Personally I was expecting the Simpsons to sneak back into Springfield and witness their lives without them but it doesn’t happen.
So finally, someone mentions the courtroom scene.
It’s not a bad idea per say but the execution is majorly flawed.
Charlie Sweatpants: If we’re willing to spot them that the Simpsons are superstars and no longer even kind of a regular family, then yes, it wasn’t a terrible idea.
Mad Jon: Good point
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The entire courtroom thing could’ve had impact but they had to point out the obvious things and they had to do the worst thing of all.
Portray The Simpsons as this family who does wacky things, circa the Scully era of course.
Charlie Sweatpants: Don’t forget having Sideshow Mel apparently rip out an ulna.
Mad Jon: Or radius, I guess we’ll never know.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: They had a chance to portray them as a family that while doing some major damage, was just as one of them, though dysfunctional.
The criticisms could of been common, they could of been exaggerated, they could of been even ridiculous but instead they’re focused on the damage and the money spent on the damage.
Charlie Sweatpants: Right. Instead they have Moe screaming that Marge is the monster queen, or whatever.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: That joke wasn’t exactly funny per say.
Charlie Sweatpants: That one bugged me, if for no other reason than Moe is supposed to have that creepy crush on Marge.
Mad Jon: Was the Homer driving through the school from the episode where the kids and adults have the musical standoff?
Charlie Sweatpants: I think it was supposed to be.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Yeah.
Mad Jon: Didn’t he get away with that? Oh whatever.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Probably, I mean the kids were blamed for it.
Just goes to show they don’t do the proper research anymore.
I mean have we seen Bart flood the school before in a cartoonish way?
Mad Jon: I dunno, probably. There have been 500 of these things.
Charlie Sweatpants: That episode with Lisa and the whale I remember, but I don’t remember the gym flood.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Think the gym flood was put in there to exaggerate how "trouble" they are.
Charlie Sweatpants: Of course, Zombie Simpsons is very easy to forget.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I mean it’s like; hey "The Simpsons are this wacky, crazy family who does damage everywhere they go."
Not even in the Zombie Simpsons did The Simpsons do a lot of damage.
This unfair representation of them gets to me and ruins the episode.
Mad Jon: But without that unfair representation, we wouldn’t get to watch Maggie go Thunderdome, or Homer and Bart ride around on 4-wheelers.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Who needs that, when you can have a proper adventure with proper actions and proper characters.
Charlie Sweatpants: The Maggie Thunderdome thing was bizarre. It’s like they couldn’t quite decide if the Outlands were awesome, or if they were actually a Mel Gibson hellscape.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The Maggie thing was due to the outlands, even Le Jake had no problem with it.
You do make a good point Jon.
Charlie Sweatpants: I was also disappointed when Maggie had the knife to Carl’s throat. That sucked on its own, but then they didn’t even have the care to show Carl with a bandage on his ear afterwards.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Definitely.
Charlie Sweatpants: You want to make a joke about a baby with a big ass knife? Fine. Just don’t pretend it didn’t happen seven seconds later.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Sorry to go off topic here but in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" Caesar had the potential to be multi-dimensional, understand the good and the bad side of the humans, but instead they made him one dimensional, which sucks. The Simpsons are done the same way, they’re one dimensional, they sprout out certain traits and they show no personality.
Even during the scenes when they defend themselves.
As I said before Charlie, consistency is key.
Charlie Sweatpants: That movie was disappointing, but funny you should mention Planet of the Apes. That’s tomorrow’s quote of the day.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I’m glad other people agree, my review on the movie got a lot of flack despite its immense detail.
Back to the episode at hand…
Charlie Sweatpants: I’d agree in general that the characters are one dimensional, but in this episode Lisa was almost zero dimensional. They had her spout "back to nature" type stuff to be happy, but the place they were in wasn’t exactly an environmentalist commune. She should’ve been miserable, but they didn’t want her to be so, in spite of everything we know about her, she wasn’t.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Not only that, but Lisa’s addiction to technology is not like her at all.
She has basically transformed into the adult version of a child.
Mad Jon: Agreed. She was praising the remoteness, but was the first one to embrace the return of connectivity.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Whatever happened to the Lisa with integrity?
Mad Jon: And that was pretty much her only two scenes this episode.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Totally.
Charlie Sweatpants: She has it from time to time, but like the rest of them she jumps from personality to personality so quick she could be diagnosed as manic.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I did like her personality in "The Book Job" somewhat, she was somewhat consistent there…
But you’re absolutely right Charlie, Lisa is inconsistent.
So let’s talk about the episode writer Michael Price; how is it that a guy with a theater background is able to write episodes with are either mediocre and bad; and how did me manage to mess up the 500th episode?
I thought guys with theater backgrounds went on to make quality stuff?
Charlie Sweatpants: Good questions. I know basically nothing about him, however.
Mad Jon: Neither I
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Me neither but from the interview I read, it looks like he had some talent, some potential.
Here he feels the need to pack every cinematic trick into the book, raise the stakes, focus on emotional moments, make the moments as big as possible.
It’s like he’s trying to make the plot huge to compensate for the lack of content in the episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: The sense I get from these episodes is that there is basically no difference in authorship. These are so heavily crammed with stuff that I don’t get the sense that any one writer can keep a lasting mark on something.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: You’re right about that in that the interview said 3% of content remains from rewrites.
Charlie Sweatpants: Is that where that was? I remember reading that at some point last week but all that stuff has kind of blurred together.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Yeah.
Charlie Sweatpants: If you’ve got twenty minutes and four acts and you want them to get expelled from town before reconciling things, you can do that. This wasn’t even attempting to do that. I wonder if the first draft did?
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Possibly but then again, the four act structure was forced upon them.
Regardless, even with the idea that they have no idea where to go and what scenes to use when they start up acts; they couldn’t make a good script for squat.
Charlie Sweatpants: Their apathy for story is impressively total. They really couldn’t care less. If something sort of works, cool, if nothing works, that’s cool too.
Bring on the bomb shelter and Homer eating talcum powder!
Zombies Rise from the Sea: It’s like a comedy club, their purpose is to showcase all forms of comedy that makes them laugh.
Whether we like it or not.
Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve compared them to a sketch show more than once.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: So I’m not alone here…
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s hard to tell how these pieces could ever fit together.
Mad Jon: The Fart Machine has too much farts!!!!
Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: That’s the problem, the episodes can be romantic, can be dramatic, can even be nothing, but the consistent feeling is that it’s a comedy club.
These people aren’t focused on making a plot that’s engaging and relatable, these people are focused on making a plot that crams as many jokes/weak satire/gags as possible.
Mad Jon: Which would explain the slate at the end.
Charlie Sweatpants: Right. The Assange thing is a perfect example. I don’t know the genesis of it, but it had nothing to do with anything in the episode and didn’t even make sense.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: It’s just another thing they do to be relevant.
Mad Jon: Meh
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Soon they’ll have the girl from the GEICO commercials on The Simpsons; I have a source that guarantees it.
Charlie Sweatpants: Really?
Mad Jon: GEICO? or Progressive?
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Progressive, apologies.
Got my car insurance companies mixed up.
Mad Jon: Well, they are pretty much all the same. Flo could be working for any of them and I wouldn’t notice anymore than I didn’t notice Wiggum’s uniform.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Don’t worry, they’ll make you notice.
Mad Jon: Thanks for the encouragement.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The ultimate problem is that despite the poor plotting, despite the failed attempts at plot despite the lack of anything memorable; people still watch.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, they aren’t much for sneaking in celebrity guests, Kelsey Grammer and Jackie Mason this week notwithstanding.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The people who are giving this 5/5 and 4/5 without looking into the episodes are the ones who are justifying their material; I mean I can understand if it entertains you but in no way this episode is a classic.
Charlie Sweatpants: No, definitely not. It’ll disappear down the memory hole just like everything else.
Mad Jon: Jackie Mason was the one that bothered me the most. Krusty’s dad has a problem with the Simpsons?
Charlie Sweatpants: Why not, so, apparently, do Moe, Barney, and a bunch of other people you wouldn’t figure.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The products that entertain you for a while and then you forget about later on is a product; which The Simpsons has become. I don’t know what these people are finding in this episode that are making them give 5/5 but there is nothing in there that’s 5/5 worthy; it’s yet another overrated episode.
Mad Jon: There is no point in trying to explain insanity. This is of course assuming those 5′s weren’t given by employees or the family of employees of FOX.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: No, actual members of NoHomers gave this 5/5; I respect their opinions but still.
Additionally they even gave me flack for being overly harsh on the episode, despite the detail of the review.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s the internet. It happens.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I guess…
Mad Jon: Well, I will never stop being paranoid.
Charlie Sweatpants: On that note, I’ll just leave this here: http://xkcd.com/1019/
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I think we all have to live with the obvious statement; as long as The Simpsons is on, they will keep producing stuff that the public will love and that the critics will eat up.
The people on the Simpsons will keep accepting pay cuts and soon, they’ll be working for free.
Mad Jon: Merchandising baby
Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve given up trying to even guess when the show will end.
Though speaking of endings, I did like the hillbilly version of the theme over the credits.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Eh.
Mad Jon: Didn’t even notice.
But I am much less patient than you Pants.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, I’m kind of a sucker for different renditions of the theme.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: I don’t understand everything, maybe I should move to the industrial district of LA; I hear the air is cleaner there…
I can understand Charlie.
Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else here? The only thing I don’t think we’ve hit is the voices, because in this one Brockman, Quimby, and Marge all sounded off to me. But they’ve all done so before, so that ain’t exactly news.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: The voices are always off…
I do remember the drill in the beginning being weak and the cringe-worthy Lisa and Homer dialog.
That seemed like something Family Guy would do.
Charlie Sweatpants: You could say that about a lot of this episode.
They did manage to get Homer naked, tarred and feathered.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: They also managed to show a Braniff Airways jet in a way that seemed cartoonish and pathetic.
Mad Jon: That’s a first eh? I remember Grandpa being so, but Homer?
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Grandpa wasn’t even in the episode, his ghost was there in the town hall meeting though.
Charlie Sweatpants: Heh.
Mad Jon: Touche
Zombies Rise from the Sea: In closing. "Look out Gunsmoke, we’re about to prove that entertainment can be as cheap and lazy as possible and people will still love it. Who needs to make a quality product when you can just sit back and half-ass it? That’s the American way!"
Charlie Sweatpants: Sounds about right. The Gunsmoke thing always amuses me because, really, does anyone think that show was high quality television?
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Well people did love it and watch it en masse right?
In a time where there was no internet to add
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, when there were three channels and no internet.
Beat me to it.
Okay, well, Zombies, many thanks for joining us again.
Mad Jon: Indeed.
Zombies Rise from the Sea: Always a pleasure Charlie; always a pleasure.
“Now, don’t you fret. When I’m through, he won’t set foot in this town again. I can be very, very persuasive. . . . C’mon, leave town.” – Crappy Private Detective
“No.” – Sideshow Bob
“Aw, I’ll be your friend.” – Crappy Private Detective
“No.” – Sideshow Bob
“Oh, you’re mean!” – Crappy Private Detective
They make a lot during this commentary of the fact that there’s an emotional core to this episode, namely Homer trying to connect with Lisa. But whenever they’re trying to push that you can’t help but notice that the stuff going on in the episode is batshit insane and unbelievably dumb. This includes, but is not limited to, Homer hiring a private detective to stalk his daughter, a phony break in at an animal testing lab, them running from the police after being framed by said private detective, and a chase/fight scene at a traveling circus. Homer working two jobs to get Lisa a pony this is not. Hell, this isn’t even Homer’s magical mystery sensory deprivation tour through the repo process.
Nine people here, including Yeardley Smith and Weird Al Yankovic.
0:30 – Apparently Selman won a Writers Guild award for this, which he had to accept from the twelve year old from “Whale Rider”. Apparently he made a “Whale Rider” joke about Marge humping Homer that didn’t go over well.
2:00 – The story about the awards ceremony and the girl from “Whale Rider” is still going on.
2:15 – Jean brings things back by mentioning that among the things that already happened was a parody of MTV’s “Cribs” with Elliot Gould playing himself. Apparently Gould had written them a nice letter when he was mentioned in “The Way We Was”, though Jean misremembers it as Marge thinking he was attractive when it was that girl with the glasses Barney asked to the prom.
3:00 – Selman launches into a long story about where an idea for this episode came from, gets lost, and has to end it by again mentioning his awards show joke.
3:45 – Jean again brings things back by complimenting Smith on her Lisa and how much he likes doing Lisa episodes. Jean asks Smith how she’s most like Lisa and she says that they have a similar sense of humor.
4:45 – There’s an intentionally crappy animation of Rod Flanders as a spaceman here, and Mark Kirkland gets complimented on his ability to make crappy look authentically crappy.
5:15 – That leads to Jean saying that the one thing they have a hard time doing is getting their orchestra to sound like a crappy school band.
6:00 – Finally, some interesting trivia from Weird Al. He gave Tress MacNeille one of her first jobs after she got to Hollywood as a Lucille Ball look-alike/sound-alike for his video for “Rickey”. Sadly, I couldn’t find it on YouTube just now.
6:25 – David Silverman worked on the Dire Straits parody video in UHF.
6:50 – Selman just followed up the stories about MacNeille and Silverman by interjecting himself and saying “I have a connection to Weird Al too in that Weird Al taught me what funny was.” This isn’t as bad as the time he complimented Stan Lee on his physique, and I’ll repeat my glass houses caveat from that post: I’ve never met anyone I’m a serious fan of, so there’s a decent chance I would make a colossal fool out of myself in a similar situation. But Selman really comes off as a cloying brown nose when he does things like that.
7:15 – Selman’s ass kissing leads to an awkward silence, which he then breaks by pointing out that the electronic diary in this episode is based on a real product. Apparently Joel Cohen’s daughter had a diary with a voice activated electronic lock. The password was “girls rule”, but it didn’t work very well, so he’d hear his daughter in her room saying “girls rule” over and over again. Everyone laughs, though Jean is forced to wonder why they didn’t use that in the episode. It is pretty funny.
8:00 – Smith asks why Carl is the same color as the bar, Jean tosses it over to Mark Kirkland who ignores the question and goes on a long explanation of how he likes noir films and such.
9:10 – Compliments for Azaria as the voice of the private eye.
9:40 – Selman really signed up for Homer’s chunkylover53@aol e-mail address. Apparently for a while he was trying to answer e-mails to that address. He’s long since stopped.
10:45 – Jean breaks a silence by bringing up more Weird Al-Simpsons trivia. He was one of the first other artists to sample the Simpsons and actually pay for it.
11:15 – Not much going on, commentary wise. More people are impressed with Azaria’s impression of Robert Stack as the detective, which leads to people talking about Stack in general. Jean loves his delivery at the end of Airplane! when he’s asked if they should turn on the search lights and he says, “No, that’s just what they’ll be expecting us to do.”.
12:00 – Smith asks Selman how he came up with this, and it was all based on the feeling a kid gets when their parents inadvertently reveal that they really don’t understand their children.
13:00 – Now they’re talking about how many of them have daughters, and some random guys they know who also have daughters.
14:30 – Laughing at the way that Lou and Wiggum mocking each other is actually Azaria insulting himself.
15:00 – Jean mentions that this is the episode that came up with “Ariel Ponywether”, which is the pseudonym of someone who reviews Zombie Simpsons on Firefox News.
15:20 – When Homer acts guilty for hiring the detective, they were channeling Phil Silvers.
15:45 – And we come back from the act break to a car chase and Selman saying, “I can’t believe Weird Al is here. This is so great.”
16:00 – That leads Jean to explain that they do two commentaries in an afternoon, and Yankovic was just sticking around from “Three Gays of the Condo”.
16:15 – Selman’s kissing Weird Al’s ass again.
17:15 – Jean breaks into the Weird Al lovefest to point out that a joke about Homer painting on his eyebrows was Tom Gammill’s. Apparently that reminded of comedians from the 1930s named Clark and McCullough, one of whom painted on his glasses.
17:40 – That leads to a discussion of Groucho Marx’s mustache, and Weird Al asks if it was an urban legend that he painted it on because he couldn’t really grow one. Apparently that is an urban legend. Marx did later grow a real mustache.
17:50 – Smith asks if this was when they still had three acts, and it was. Jean then explains that they went to four breaks so they could cram in more commercials and people were more likely to see at least the first or last commercial break. Jean concludes, “But I always figured, ultimately, people will see them on DVD or on-line so it doesn’t really matter.” This sounds like an objection to the four act style (which does indeed suck), but someone breaks in to ask whether or not Homer painting teardrops on his face means he killed three people, so he doesn’t get to finish his plot. Damn you, Zombie Simpsons! One of your crappy jokes interrupted an explanation for one of the reasons you suck.
19:00 – Irony alert here. Kirkland goes off on a long spiel about how you need to establish the emotions of an episode early and how much working on the show taught him about properly anchoring feeling like that. Meanwhile, on screen, an enraged private detective is firing a stunt man out of a cannon at Homer.
19:50 – That prompts Jean to say that after the table read he always wants to be able to give James L. Brooks one sentence of what the show’s “emotional through line” is about. I’ll give Jean credit, he says they don’t always live up to that.
20:00 – Homer’s battling the detective in a hall of mirrors now, Kirkland again gives credit to Matt Faughnan.
20:45 – The scene concludes with Lisa blinding the guy with a laser pointer, which Smith is kind of upset about. I don’t think she realized how bloodthirsty the show can get. It’s endearing.
21:30 – And we end on more compliments for the mirror animation.
“I say we call Matlock, he’ll find the culprit. It’s probably that evil Gavin MacLeod or George ‘Goober’ Lindsey.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“Grampa, Matlock’s not real.” – Bart Simpson
“Neither are my teeth, but I can still eat corn on the cob if someone cuts it off and smushes it into a fine paste. Now that’s good eating!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“Okay , it’s over! Get ’em out of here.” – Moe
Aside from the way they don’t go off on random tangents and seem to be actually enjoying these episodes, the next biggest difference between these old commentaries and the ones on Zombie Simpsons is simply the number of people on them. On Season 12 or 13, six people would qualify as a very small contingent, here it’d be quite large. I don’t know if that’s the result of the age of the episodes or scheduling conflicts or what, but it makes things a bit more coherent (i.e. they can actually carry on a conversation) and it makes it a lot easier to tell who’s talking.
Just three guys on this one, Groening, Vitti, and Jean.
1:00 – Jean recalls that Wallace Wolodarsky saw the De Niro Cape Fear remake and thought it would make a good show.
2:00 – Vitti thinks the episode was helped by the fact that it was the last one the original writing staff did, so people were very loose writing it, as in “What are you gonna do, fire us?”.
2:30 – This one has the extra long circus couch gag, which Jean mentions they use to fill time. Oh, how short it looks in retrospect.
4:00 – Groening gets all giddy, saying “Ooh, this is one of my favorite Itchy & Scratchys”.
4:45 – Talking about how this was a bit easier than earlier Sideshow Bob episodes because they didn’t have to write it as a mystery since he wasn’t pretending to be innocent at first.
5:15 – Praise for Kelsey Grammer.
5:45 – Jean’s cracking up about how simple Bob’s plan is, all he’s trying to do is stab a ten year old and yet he goes through all this unnecessary stuff.
6:20 – Laughing about how there’s no logical reason for Flanders to be scowling at Bart. Marge, Flanders and Krabappel potentially threatening Bart were inserted to fill in some time. I’ll just briefly note that when they needed to fill time here the added more stuff instead of stretching scenes with nothing extra.
7:30 – Laughing about Moe having the pandas in the back of the bar. They decide that Moe was smuggling them in sell to zoos at inflated prices.
8:25 – Vitti thinks they made things in this episode a little scarier than they otherwise would have if they weren’t all leaving the show.
8:45 – Jean notes that the picture of Clinton on the wall at the parole hearing is kind of a callback to Bob saying you can’t keep the Democrats out of the White House in “Black Widower”.
9:20 – Apparently, Conan O’Brien was really good at writing Sideshow Bob, including “The Bart, The”. He and “Mike” (Mendel?) were responsible for the “Mr. Thompson” scene, which they basically made up on the spot.
10:10 – Vitti wonders why they hated the Knoxville World’s Fair so much (it’s on Homer’s giant cigar). Jean deadpans: “That World’s Fair pissed me off so much.” It was really funny.
11:20 – Recording for Kelsey Grammer is tough because he’s so busy, so you’ve got to get him out the door quick. I wonder if that’s still true.
11:30 – Vitti launches into a story about the writers on the last day they did recording. It’s pretty funny, but I can’t really do it justice in text. Alcohol and cake are involved.
12:20 – Holy crap, verbatim from Groening after Vitti finishes his story: “We were talking about, in the break before we were doing this commentary, that a history of The Simpsons should be written, an oral history. Because nobody was everywhere at every time, and everybody had such completely different experiences.” Guess he changed his mind between 2004 (when they recorded these) and John Ortved writing his book.
13:20 – Jean laughing about how it never feels like the end for him.
14:00 – Apparently Conan O’Brien was worried because he was signed to a two year deal through Season 5, and everyone else’s contract ended after Season 4, so they were teasing him that he’d have to write Season 5 by himself.
14:30 – Homer’s hat and the singing in the car is apparently an I Love Lucy reference from an episode where they went to Hollywood.
15:30 – According to Jean, the rakes came about because after everything else had gone in they were still short on time, so they just went for broke on the rakes. Grammer was confused when he saw the episode because he only did the noise once, but he liked it.
16:50 – Jean’s cracking up at the elephant with just the word “The” on it.
17:35 – O’Brien performed the jokes about Homer breaking into Bart’s room with the butcher knife and chainsaw, and that’s kind of what sold them.
19:00 – The surreal parts of Sideshow Bob’s performance, things like the Union Jack and Bart having popcorn, were added in to make the otherwise straightforward song funny.
20:50 – The ending with the cops was worked on by the Season 5 staff briefly to get it finished.
21:30 – Vitti mentions that he’s seen this one mentioned on the old Jump the Shark website, but I can’t imagine it got more than one or two votes from disgruntled wackaloons. I’ve never heard anyone have anything but high praise for this one, deservedly so.
“We have places your family can hide in peace and security: Cape Fear, Terror Lake, New Horrorfield, Screamville.” – FBI Agent
“Ohh, Ice Cream Ville!” – Homer Simpson
“No, Screamville.” – FBI Agent
Like a lot of Zombie Simpsons episodes this season, there is more than one Simpsons episode to which I can compare “Donnie Fatso”. As has been pointed out in comments, the similarity to “The Trouble with Trillions” is uncanny, and not in a good way. There’s also the epic fail of Homer’s catchphrase toupee camera, something that the hat from “Homer and Apu” would consider far beneath it. For my money though, the most damning comparison is Homer’s previous interaction with FBI agents in “Cape Feare”.
“Donnie Fatso” has a ton of problems, and many of those have to do with the rather serious way it takes its idiotic premise. Agent Don Draper walks and talks like a straight ahead FBI agent, yet what he’s doing is unfathomably stupid. Worse, it works; his brain dead idea to use Homer as an undercover agent actually gets Fat Tony. Instead of using his foolishness for comedy, to show how bad he is at his job, he wins. Inspector Clouseau and Frank Drebin won too, but they won despite their foibles, not because of them. Of course, Clouseau and Drebin also had stories, which Agent Draper clearly does not.
Contrast that with the Comedy 101 of the Witness Relocation Program agents in “Cape Feare”. They’re playing the straight men to Homer, whose stupidity – as sincere as it is unrelenting – manages to fluster even the the kind of FBI guys who are so clean cut that they never leave the house until their shoes shine like mirrors and every hair has been carefully put in its place. None of which means the agents themselves aren’t funny. The list of what surely must be the most horrifyingly named cities in America would be good on its own, but it’s honed into genius level comedy by the dry, perfectly even delivery of a man who not only isn’t in on the joke, but may not be aware of the existence of humor.
Agent Draper is like that too, but he’s never given anything nearly as absurd to say. Instead, his investigation plods monotonously forward in spite of itself. Even this doesn’t really elicit a reaction, humorous or otherwise. Here he is when we first meet him:
And here he is later, after Homer has infiltrated Fat Tony’s organization:
Finally, here he is when we last see him:
Notice a difference? I sure don’t. He certainly doesn’t look like a character who just went through any kind of story. Of course, that’s because he didn’t go through any kind of story. He was just a prop, a one dimensional set piece so that Zombie Simpsons could put its star attraction into a half assed mob plot.
Compare that with the agents from “Cape Feare”:
Here they are when we first meet them, forthright, button down Bureau men straight from central casting: dark suits, tightly knotted ties, no nonsense expressions. Here they are a mere minute and a half of screen time later:
Even without the dialogue you can tell exactly what’s happening. The agents have taken off their jackets, their sleeves are rolled up, and their ties are loosened; the ashtray is full of cigarette butts. The guy on the right even has a coffee mug so we know they’ve been there awhile. The straight men have been broken by Homer. Even better, he did it completely unintentionally. No crazy outbursts were needed, no screaming, no megalomaniacal declarations. Their brief, nameless appearance has far more personality and comedy than the dried out windbag Zombie Simpsons used as an excuse to let Homer kick, scream, cry, and generally freak the fuck out for most of an episode.
“I can’t stand this any longer, somebody please pay attention to me!” – Bart Simpson
Glyn Stott, he of the idiotic plan to watch all of The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons in a row, was interviewed by a radio show in Britain. After listening to it any reservations I had about criticizing this guy evaporated. There are two important parts.
The first is the hilarity at the 3:00 minute mark when Generic UK DJ Guy asks him about “Cape Feare” and neither of them can remember the title of the Robert de Niro movie (which was itself a remake). I find this amusing because the title of the episode is, with the exception of the silent “e”, identical to the title of the film. Stott gets it eventually, but the fact that he can’t remember the title of one of the most famous episodes does not speak well for his legitimacy as a superfan.
After that Generic UK DJ Guy asks him some triflingly easy questions (“What musical instrument does Lisa play?”) and then discusses his stupid plan. The second important part starts at about the 5:45 mark when we learn some interesting things. He’s been planning this for more than a year and he’s been trying to schedule it with some Guinness affiliated television show. But it doesn’t reach the pinnacle of dumbassery until about the 6:45 mark when he says this:
“And since then it’s been one poor man in America trying to convert the old video tapes, twenty years worth of video tapes, over to DVD for me. So my heart goes out to him at the moment but I know they’ve been working very very hard and trying to get this challenge done completely. And it’d be a good milestone as well for the 20th anniversary.”
Face palmingly obvious problems here:
- 65% of the 20 completed seasons (1-12, 20) are already available on DVD.
- All other episodes are available to anyone with an internet connection via BitTorrent.
- Morgan Spurlock, very recently and very publicly, watched every episode. He didn’t do it in one sitting, but neither was he under the impression that for him to do so there had to be some tragic soul sitting in a dismal editing bay copying shit from VHS.
Glyn Stott is either a) really dumb, b) a desperate publicity whore, or c) both. Commence all appropriate internet mockery.
“And once a man is in your home, anything you do to him is nice and legal.” – Chief Wiggum
“Is that so? . . . Oh Flanders, won’t you join me in my kitchen? Heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh, heh . . . ” – Homer Simpson
“Uh, it doesn’t work if you invite him.” – Chief Wiggum
“Hi-dily hey!” – Ned Flanders
“Go home.” – Homer Simpson
“Too-dily do!” – Ned Flanders