Posts Tagged ‘How I Wet Your Mother

14
Mar
12

Crazy Noises: How I Wet Your Mother

Radio Bart13

“You know, Bart, I don’t think this is such a bad present.  Maybe you just shouldn’t talk into it as loud as your father does.” – Marge 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 “nightmarish”).

I’ve mentioned already, and do so again below, that this episode was thick with wretchedly unneeded exposition.  There were plenty of examples, but one that struck me as both particularly illustrative of Zombie Simpsons and especially pointless came near the beginning when Homer was wrapping up his stupid apology party.  Here’s Homer asking the crowd if they forgive him:

Working Microphone

The crowd cheers, and then they cut to Carl who says, “Ain’t no problem that free food and free booze won’t fix.”  They immediately cut back to Homer:

Non-Working Microphone

Standing right next to the microphone, Homer says, out loud, “Free?  Uh . . .”.  Naturally, no one hears this.  The next time Homer speaks . . .

Working Microphone (Again)

. . . everyone can hear him again.  Homer’s next line is yet another expository word evacuation about his sheets being dry now, though at least for this last one they bothered to get rid of the microphone:

Missing Microphone

Not only is this another example of Zombie Simpsons forgetting that people who aren’t in a shot are still in a scene, but both of the lines no one managed to hear didn’t tell the audience anything we didn’t already know.  Zombie Simpsons: making scenes unbelievable for lines that don’t need to be there.

Mad Jon: Do you want to get started on this?

Charlie Sweatpants: No point delaying things.

Mad Jon: I guess not.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d like to begin by asking a simple question. When did they start treating Frink’s insane inventions seriously?

Mad Jon: I suppose when it became convenient.

  I couldn’t tell you the exact point in time however.

Charlie Sweatpants: Like everything else, I assume it was a slow process.

Mad Jon: It happened so gradually, I didn’t even notice.

Charlie Sweatpants: The Death Ray prototype was funny, the Gamble-Tron was funny. Then at some point it was self tapping shoes, and from there it’s just gotten worse.

In Season 9 he invented a teleporter, but that was a Halloween episode.

By my count, this was the second time he’s invented a machine that let Homer probe the depths of his unconscious.

But without actually looking things up, I guess I’d have to go with the self tapping shoes. Though at least in that episode they took a stab at it making sense that he would run into Lisa. Here he literally fell from the sky.

Mad Jon: Literally.

Charlie Sweatpants: Greek myths make more sense than that.

Mad Jon: The thing that bothered me the most was that Marge wasn’t really surprised. Here’s Frink, out of nowhere, and now he’s got an idea to solve a problem he already knows about that is affecting her sex life, and they go right to it. There wasn’t any attempt at a decent plot progression. They went right for the gratification.

Charlie Sweatpants: I didn’t even notice that, but you’re right.

Mad Jon: But that kind of story telling has been the norm for a while, so meh. I believe there are worse problems here.

Charlie Sweatpants: Many.

Hell, in that same vein, why in the name of Christopher Nolan did the cops show up and break into the Simpson house?

Mad Jon: That was a big problem. Not only is it apparently illegal (for some un-disclosed reason) to use a machine on willing subjects to probe their dreams, it is also immediately detectable by all three local police officers.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was one of those things that was so blatant that I sat up and noticed even through my usual Zombie Simpsons stupor.

Mad Jon: I even stopped playing on my phone!

Charlie Sweatpants: And that was before he and Frink got into a fight which mattered for a second before being dropped entirely.

Mad Jon: A slow motion fist fight.

Charlie Sweatpants: We’ll just add that to the list of shit that made no sense. I think they had an "Inception" bingo card they were trying to fill out.

Mad Jon: Hopefully somebody won a beating.

Charlie Sweatpants: Not likely.

Though, to be fair, there were plenty of things that had nothing to do with anything. For example, why was Death normal, and then it had a jetpack, and then it was Homer’s mom?

Mad Jon: Is that how she got there?

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, that’s what I’m confused about. If she was there the whole time, why did nothing happen earlier. But if she wasn’t there the whole time, then how did she get there?

Even if it was just Homer’s mom in that final dream, why was she dressed as Death?

And, yes, I realize I’m asking questions that no one bothered to come up with an answer for.

Mad Jon: I suppose we could find this answer along with a real explanation of why all that crap had anything to do with Homer wetting the bed.

Absolutely no foreshadowing at all. All of the sudden he’s wetting the bed. And after a nightmarish (for me) adventure through everyone’s dreams or something, we find out he wants his parents to be together?

  Seriously?

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh no, that has an answer. It was about fish and a marriage and Cletus and possibly the Alan Parson’s Project, which I think was some sort of hovercraft.

But even that didn’t make sense, since going fishing was apparently what triggered everything.

  I’ll include my usual I-don’t-care-about-inter-episode-continuity disclaimer, but it’s not like we’ve only ever seen Homer go fishing once or something. The man likes fishing.

Mad Jon: Was it? I never really understood the trigger.

Charlie Sweatpants: I was also unclear, because it didn’t make any sense even within this episode, but they did at least say that was the reason.

Mad Jon: I though at the end they were going to switch from the Inception type episode to the end scene from that Leonardo DiCaprio movie where he was an insane guy who thought he was a cop.

Charlie Sweatpants: J. Edgar?

Mad Jon: No, it was about an island or something.

Charlie Sweatpants: Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Mad Jon: The thread that would bind that episode would be Leonardo DiCaprio, which is more of a thread than usual.

Charlie Sweatpants: True enough.

Changing the subject slightly, this is a direct quote from the middle of the episode, and might not even be in the top five for most grotesque exposition:

"Deep down I must be feeling guilty about getting my friends in trouble."

  And that wasn’t even the time Homer exposited while standing in front of a live microphone in front of all of his co workers.

Mad Jon: I have a note on my paper when that quote happened:

- Possibly worst plot forwarding dialogue this season.

Charlie Sweatpants: I made a note as well, "Hello, exposition police, there’s been a homicide."

Mad Jon: …. it made more sense to me when it happened.

Charlie Sweatpants: So did mine.

Mad Jon: There has been some serious explanatory dialogue this season, but this may be the most obvious piece of evidence that the writers either don’t care or really think that their remaining viewers are complete idiots.

  Possibly both.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d vote both. I mean, despite all the "let us tell you what’s happening while you watch it", there were still a bunch of things that wouldn’t have made sense if you hadn’t seen Inception or at least knew a little about it.

Mad Jon: That’s usually a bad thing.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah. Here it was more of a lateral move.

Mad Jon: I guess they felt the need to go deeper.

Charlie Sweatpants: I felt I needed a stronger sedative.

Mad Jon: Touche salesman.

Overall, however, I feel the most bothersome part was that the plot as a whole was devoted to Homer as a bedwetter. I think he even mentions towards the beginning that this is the last embarrassing thing he had never done or something. When I read the description on my DVR, it elicited a "Sigh…. Ok."

  This is what it’s come to. This.

Charlie Sweatpants: There is a steep and undeniable decline between relatively oblique references to Milhouse and Ralph being bedwetters and it being the main element in a plot about Homer.

Mad Jon: In the way there is a steep and undeniable decline between a can of Pringles, and an empty can of Pringles that your brother has shit in, yes.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ha.

Can I assume you have some equally feculent vitriol stored up about the brief but wholly dumb scenes at the power plant?

Mad Jon: I dunno, that took a lot of effort.

  However, I do have thoughts.

I thought the only serviceable line happened there. When Carl stated that he was pretty sure the referee they beat up was actually a kid who works at Foot Locker.

  I didn’t necessarily laugh, but it was short and sweet.

Charlie Sweatpants: I did like that line, but it felt like the kind of thing that could’ve been done better.

Mad Jon: Of course, but the hindsight of the last few years tells me that it could have been much, much worse.

Charlie Sweatpants: Also true. It just bugs me when the best things are those cheap setup-setup-punchline type gags.

Mad Jon: True enough.

Other than that, I was a little bothered that Homer’s first trip to that particular employer in sometime was only a lead-in to part of the plot about bedwetting that made him think he has wronged his ‘friends’.

And didn’t another car get out before Homer did?

Charlie Sweatpants: It looked like it. But it also looked like Burns was staring right the fuck at Homer when he was getting pissed off, and they dropped that like it never happened.

Mad Jon: Oh well.

Charlie Sweatpants: The fact that Burns had him up on the stage was also particularly annoying. I know Burns is incompetent now, but after having him watch Homer steal stuff, putting him up there as an example was particularly galling.

Mad Jon: And how does he know Barney doesn’t work there?

Charlie Sweatpants: And why would Barney think he does work there?

Mad Jon: Equally valid question.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else here? As usual, I have a small list of little things that sucked but were so unrelated to anything that they can only qualify as minor: Bart dancing in the sky, the way Marge didn’t notice the bed wetting, the ending that hailed for no reason. But I don’t have much to say about them other than that they made no sense and weren’t funny, which isn’t the world’s most insightful commentary.

Mad Jon: Yeah, there were a bunch of little things, but as you have stated, most do not warrant discussion, even from someone as petty as I.

  I don’t have anything else constructive or otherwise to add.

Charlie Sweatpants: That, at least, is in keeping with the spirit of the episode.

13
Mar
12

Compare & Contrast: Family Therapy and Meta Commentary

There's No Disgrace Like Home10

“Wait a minute, these mallet things are padded with foam rubber.  What’s the point?” – Homer Simpson
“They’d work much better without the padding, Doc.” – Bart Simpson
“No, no, that’s not true.” – Dr. Marvin Monroe

Shortly after Frink fell out of the sky and “How I Wet Your Mother” took its disastrous Inception turn halfway through, one of the scenes the family quantum slept into was a callback to an old Tracey Ullman short called “Family Therapy”.  (The original is about the family going to a therapist whom they torment until he throws them out of his office.)  But it’s also reminiscent of the ending of Season 1’s “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”.

As usual when Zombie Simpsons recalls something The Simpsons already did, even a quick glance at the two scenes shows the yawning difference in humor and craftsmanship between the two shows.  On The Simpsons, the therapy office is the culmination of the entire story about Homer wanting his family to be postcard perfect despite the fact that he’s the biggest (but by no means only) reason they aren’t and never will be.  There are jokes about family life, bargain basement therapy, pawn shops, poverty, energy conservation, and television itself mixed in with physical gags and genuine feelings.

On Zombie Simpsons, the therapy office is little more than a random sketch among many, each of which features five empty and emotionless comedy troupers doing whatever zany things come to mind.  The only thing in it that had anything to do with the rest of the episode was a coffin that was filled with fish, so even if this scene absolutely, positively had to be a based on a Tracey Ullman short, they could’ve dropped that particular prop into any one they liked.  The contradictory and skeletal framework Zombie Simpsons passes off as a plot didn’t require them to be there or add anything to the scene.

Seein Double Here - Four Therapists

It’s not the real Simpsons, but an incredible simulation!

Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered if Zombie Simpsons had bothered to tie the therapy office to the rest of the episode, because the underlying story was the kind of meandering nonsense you might hear from a five-year-old: See, Homer wets his bed [giggles], and then he’s got skis and there’s a coffin [sips from juice box], but then he falls off a cliff, but then they find the coffin in this room [wipes nose on sleeve], and then the coffin, um, the coffin is full of fish [gets distracted when sibling runs by].  You don’t mind this kind of stuff from the five-year-old because, hey, five-year-old.  Zombie Simpsons doesn’t have that excuse (and stopped being cute a long time ago).

Beyond their places in each episode, though, both scenes also offer an informative meta-statement about the nature of their respective series, not only their specific places on television, but also in popular culture more generally.  The overarching theme of “There’s No Disgrace Like Home” is about the Simpsons being a dysfunctional family, one that will never live up to the ideals of domestic bliss so common in popular portrayals of American families.  That means one thing for the characters within the fictional universe that’s centered on Springfield, but it also means that the show itself, in the real universe of television, was rejecting the normal way of doing things and offering a critique of programs where the kids hardly fight and the dad always wears a nice shirt to the dinner table.  Having the family embrace its shortcomings rather than strive for highly idealized fiction marked The Simpsons as a show apart, something distinct and innovative.

There's No Disgrace Like Home11

Very few programs feature electrocuted infants.

The throwback therapy scene in “How I Wet Your Mother” can be read in a similar way, albeit with vastly different implications.  Not only did it occur as part of yet another tired movie takeoff episode, but its only discernable purpose was empty nostalgia.

As a movie, Inception had already been parodied to death long before Zombie Simpsons got anywhere near it.  There have been so many trailer mashups, alternate endings, and inside jokes, that a quick search for “Inception Parodies” not only turns up a ton of them, but a ton of collections of them as well (‘Inception’ Parodies and Remixes Invade the Web (Videos), Top 10 Inception Trailer Parodies, "Inception" Guides and Parodies).  There just isn’t much left to be said about it.

Insheeption

This came out in October of 2010, and even it was a ripoff.

And while it’s true that Zombie Simpsons hadn’t yet gotten in on that feeding frenzy, that’s hardly an excuse.  If Zombie Simpsons and its slow production cycle want to be a respected part of popular culture, then they have to do something more creative than just having Simpsons characters act out a movie that’s nearly two years old.  That sort of blandly derivative stuff worked for low budget web videos that came out while Inception was still in theaters.  It doesn’t work when you’ve got months to think, write and prepare, plus millions of dollars to animate and present.  Those are advantages that a better show could use to offset the time lag, but Zombie Simpsons doesn’t even try.

That huge problem is magnified when, as part of that hacktacular “parody”, they did a piece of desperate fan service using ye olde tyme animation and voices for no reason other than to remind people of better times.  It’s a double whammy, not only are they failing to keep up with today, they’re also making a base appeal to their few remaining viewers to remember them as they were rather than as they are.  I’ve long said that the only thing that makes Zombie Simpsons special is the fact that it came from The Simpsons.  This is them tacitly agreeing with me.

There’s nothing new or interesting on offer in “How I Wet Your Mother”.  The entire Inception part of the episode is things that have been done before and done better, either by The Simpsons or by others.  When Zombie Simpsons goes to the family therapy center, there’s no point to it other than as a reminder of things the show used to be.  Worse, by using its contribution to the already saturated Inception-parody genre to do nothing more than reference itself, Zombie Simpsons highlighted its own creative bankruptcy.  By contrast, “There’s No Disgrace Like Home” used its trip to family therapy to mock a diverse array of topics and declare its independence from the kind of shows that were typical of its time.  Where The Simpsons stood out and did things no one had ever seen before, Zombie Simpsons limps after trends, never getting there on time.

12
Mar
12

All Exposition All the Time

Chalkboard - How I Wet Your Mother

“Eww.” – Lisa Simpson

Near the beginning of The Great Muppet Caper, Diana Rigg, playing wealthy fashion designer Lady Holiday, tells Miss Piggy all about her ne’er-do-well brother and the giant diamond that will be central to the plot.  Miss Piggy then asks Rigg why she’s telling her all that stuff.  Rigg’s response should be carved into the walls of studios, film schools, and wherever they’re producing Zombie Simpsons these days:

It’s plot exposition.  It has to go somewhere.

Indeed it does, but “somewhere” is not “everywhere”, a distinction that was lost on “How I Wet Your Mother”.  About two thirds of the way through the episode, I stopped even trying to keep track of the verbal duds that were competing for being the longest, most literal, and most unnecessary pieces of clunky exposition.  Some of the contenders include Marge saying “This might be a clue, what’s in that coffin could be behind your nighttime whoopsies”, Homer declaring “It’s the land of my innermost thoughts and fondest desires”, and the one-two punch of Frink’s “You see, I have invented a device that allows you to enter someone else’s dreams and explore their subconscious”, to which Marge responds, “So we can go inside Homer’s sleeping mind and find out why he’s wetting the bed?”.  Inception, which this episode so incompetently copied, is seven times as long and makes more sense, and I don’t think it had half this many explanations.

Of course, the exposition was only the most glaring problem because it was in pretty much every scene.  There were plenty of other head shaking “whoopsies” ranging from small to huge.  There was the fact that Burns clearly sees Homer leaving the office with stolen supplies before declaring him the only one who didn’t steal.  There was the bizarre way Marge didn’t notice Homer was wetting the bed.  There were several instances of characters appear and disappearing, and all of those took place outside of those interminable dream sequences.  The less said about Frink coming flying out of the sky the better.

It wasn’t all bad.  They do seem to have picked up their game in terms of background and sign humor of late (the putty in the supply closet was nice), and there was some far above average animation in Homer’s dream utopia.  I even liked the extended callback to the Tracey Ullman shorts, though it’s always more bitter than sweet when the thing they do best is inadvertently reminding everyone of when the show was good.  But ultimately, this was talking bar rag redux.  By pretending that it’s Halloween all the time, they can give themselves enough space to add in a nice piece of trimming here and there, but the main elements of the episode are all dumb, tired, and shoddy. 

Anyway, the numbers are in, and they are wet the bed embarrassing.  Last night’s satire free Inception remake was slumbered through by a mere 4.96 million viewers.  That’s the second lowest number of all time, leading only last month’s “The Daughter Also Rises”.  Overall, they’re off more than 15% from this time last season, which was itself chock full of historic lows.  Just a few years ago it was notable when they dropped below six million viewers, now that would be a good night for them.  Us internet die-hards notwithstanding, the general viewing public has very clearly stopped caring in the least about new episodes of Zombie Simpsons.

11
Mar
12

Sunday Preview: How I Wet Your Mother

We’re in for a long week:

Karma gets the best of Homer after he gets his friends in trouble, and as a result, his bedwetting problem worsens. The family goes on a mission to infiltrate his dreams to search for clues in his subconscious to determine the source of his problem. But just as things take a dangerous turn in the dream, a figure from Homer’s past appears, and he is finally reassured that the fond memories of his mother Mona (guest voice Glenn Close) remain alive, giving him just the right amount of reassurance to cure him of his problem.

Yikes:

Somewhere in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio just shivered and he doesn’t know why.




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