Posts Tagged ‘Itchy and Scratchy Land


Quote of the Day

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“I’m so embarrassed, I wish there was a hole I could just crawl into and die.” – Marge Simpson
“Okay, throw her in the hole.” – Itchy & Scratchy Land Trooper
“Oh, please, it was just a figure of speech!” – Marge Simpson


Free San Diego Swag and Summer Guest Posts

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“As Roger Meyers Jr., the owner of the park, I’d like to thank you for stopping the killer robots.  And to show my appreciation, here are two free passes.” – Roger Meyers Jr.
“But there are five of us.” – Homer Simpson
“Here are two free passes.” – Roger Meyers Jr.
“That’s better.” – Homer Simpson

Last week I mentioned that Simpsons singing group from New York that will be performing in San Diego this Saturday.  Well, they’ve been very generous and offered us two free tickets to their performance.  Like last year with the Mr. Burns play in D.C., none of us can go, but we’ll be giving those tickets to the first person who offers to see it and write us a quickie review for it.  You pick, 5:30pm or 9:30pm on Saturday the 20th at the C3 Performing Arts Center.  (You can watch the trailer video here.)  If you want to see the show but don’t want to write a review, you can always toil in our underground sugar caves or work the lima bean harvest for the first 100,000 years, but we’d rather have a few hundred words about whether or not you liked what you saw.  

I’ve also been reminded via e-mail that it is now summer, which means that it’s also the season for guest posts.  I’ve got a couple in the hopper, but if you have a Simpsons related rant/theory/favorite episode/personal story/editorial reply, we’d love to read it.  Pictures and images are welcome, and we’re happy to link back to your blog, Twitter account, or other on-line haunt.  As always, no money and (very) minor internet fame can be yours! 

Please e-mail us if you want the tickets or if you have a guest post or post idea.


Reading Digest: Pre-San Diego Edition

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“Lobster hat, fishnet speedo junior, wheelie shoes, invisible dog leash . . . well, I’m packed.” – Homer Simpson

This week we’ve got a couple of links to a singing troupe that’s headed – at FOX’s expense – to sunny California next weekend for Comic Con.  They’ve got two shows coming up, plus they’re performing at the convention itself.  In addition to that, we’ve got several great pieces of non-musical fan art, plenty of usage and references, the ongoing saga of the Simpsons bracket, and a couple of great episode write ups.


We Put The Spring In SpringfieldTwo years ago we linked to a New York City based group that was putting on renditions of Simpsons songs.  Well, they are back and they are going to San Diego next weekend.  Per their press release e-mail:

I wanted to let you guys know that FOX is flying us out to San Diego to perform on the official The Simpsons panel (with Al Jean, Matt Groening, etc.) at ComicCon 2013! We’re doing a show that night too.

There’s a show tomorrow night in New York at the Duplex Cabaret Theater in Manhattan, and then it’s off to California for two shows next Saturday.  Here’s the preview video.

Comic-Con 2013 schedule: See what’s happening Saturday – And here’s what else is going on next weekend:

12:45p.m.-1:30p.m., Ballroom 20, The Simpsons: Celebrate The Simpsons’ 25th year on the air with creator Matt Groening, executive producer Al Jean, supervising director Mike Anderson, and consulting producer David Silverman, enjoy never-before seen footage from guest director Guillermo del Toro, and hear musical guests perform “We Put The Spring In Springfield!”

We all know who the musical guests are now.

Maine Hospital Honors The Simpsons In Unique Manner – A hospital in Maine refers to unknown patients, many of them hunters who weren’t carrying ID with them, as John and Jane “D’Ohs”.  Someone on the show heard about this, and now they’ve got all manner of Simpsons swag:

A recent John D’Oh at WMMC happened to be a friend of one of the program’s producers.  After the hospital’s ER doctors saved his life, he promised them he would show his thanks in a unique way.

Shortly thereafter, sets of Simpsons scrubs arrived for the entire staff.  Now, when anyone calls WMMC, they are greeted by the voice of a Simpsons character on the hospital’s automated phone system.

Click through for the full story, it’s awesome. 

Game Of Thrones Simpsonized – This was everywhere this week, and deservedly so.  Here’s a link to the original Tumblr.  Well done.

Watching the Neighbourhood Watch – Good job, people of Toronto:

On a walk through the Roncesvalles area I stumbled across a neighbourhood watch sign that was a tad unusual. In place of the usual blue faces it prominently displayed Adam West era Batman and Robin. I thought it was hilarious and kind of a one off thing…..until I discovered another one with Robocop!
So far the mysterious artist was 2 for 2 in terms of my favourite fictional law enforcers.
However, that turned into a tri-fecta the other day when I looked up and saw Chief Wiggum tucking little Ralph into bed.

Click through for the picture. 

5 For Friday: TV’s Best Birthday Moments – Stan Marsh’s adult level hatred as a ten-year-old is on this list, but Lisa’s birthday song is number one.  Also, there’s quite a bit of good YouTube here.

D’oh! adventures in the DSM – Ah, science:

For my part, I’ve decided to set aside valuable critique of the psychiatric establishment and put the DSM to a stronger test: How well does it diagnose classic side characters from one of TV’s greatest accomplishments, The Simpsons?

Now that’s psychiatry! 

Bart Simpson – Make your own yarn Bart Simpson.  Bravo. 

Television shows I’ve never seen – Wow:

The Simpsons (1989-Present)

I have no aversion to animation or comedy and satire of society interests me greatly, but again, for whatever reason, I’ve yet to see this show. Not one episode and besides a few gifs and momentary clips, I’ve not seen much footage either. If asked, I’d be hard pressed to name more than four characters. Quick: Bart, Homer, Lisa, Marge? And I’m done. I just Googled Marge now to make sure that actually is one. It is, okay. Four and I’m tapped out.

As always, my recommendation is to start with Season 2. 

what are your “favorite” weasel words? – Excellent usage:

As Homer Simpson once said, “Weaselling outta things is important to learn. It’s what separates us from the animals. Except the weasel.” Of course, this is unfair to the weasel, which is a very nice and very smart little creature indeed.

Apt and perfectly quoted.

Mike Johnson: Soglin right, council wrong on disclosing donations – Excellent reference:

A recent Madison City Council vote left me pondering a line from "The Simpsons" TV show: “Y’know, a town with good legislation is like a mule with a spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it and danged if he knows how to use it!”

My version of “THAT Legendary series!” – Another personal best TV show list that naturally includes The Simpsons

Scenes from Amsterdam – It’s not the best photo, but here’s Marge and Lisa hanging out on a balcony in the Netherlands.

Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 44) – Another Hobson’s Choice between “Radio Bart” and “The Springfield Files”, but worth the click for the great image compilation of the tunnel, and the YouTube video of the real life radio microphone commercial.  My god, someone actually did the “Hey, good looking thing”. 

Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 45) – Up and at them! 

Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 46) – Image compilation of the “Meat and You” filmstrip.

Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 47) – Season 3 versus Season 2, that’s horrible. 

Dag 155 – Simple. Elegant. Duff t-shirt. 

It’s all in your head, so… – Animated .gif of Lisa dancing to the Soul Mass Transit System.

Kang! – A great looking graffiti Kang (or is it Kodos?) in Vancouver. 

Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Show…In 10 Words – Marge, we’ve got all the fireworks we need right here.

The Fosters…In 10 Words – Do you have ’em in blonde?

Drunk History…In 10 Words – Now let us party, like twas 1799! 

Sharknado…In 10 Words – And now, for a real element of danger, one drop of human blood.

oops – Work and drinking explained through a few Simpsons videos. 

Simpsons Classics: “Summer of 4 Ft. 2″ – And finally, Smooth Charlie’s Link of the week got displaced to the bottom because of the singing and all, but our old friends at No Pun Intended have one of the best write ups of “Summer of 4 Ft. 2” ever.  Lots of screen grabs, good looks at plenty of scenes, and a .gif of Homer’s face when he realizes the dud looks like Milhouse.  Really a great read. 


Reading Digest: Theme Park Edition

Itchy & Scratchy Land Map

“Torture Land, Explosion Land, Searing Gas Pain Land, Unnecessary Surgery Land . . . hmmm.” – Marge Simpson

Universal Studios down in America’s Wang is getting ready to unveil their new and expanded Simpsons area.  This caused half the people on the internet to link to it this week, so it’s a shorter than average Reading Digest.  We do have a video of it under construction, as well as something much cooler: a fan made map of Disney Land crossed with Itchy & Scratchy Land.  In addition to that we’ve got a bunch of other excellent fan made stuff, an interview with Harry Shearer, some sly Simpsons references Blizzard inserted into World of Warcraft, some Australian street art, more evidence that Zombie Simpsons can’t construct a decent parody to save its life, and a couple of people who either wrote or wanted to write about the show in college.


Nyima – Duffwoman – A Hungarian cosplay enthusiast has created a rather awesome Duffwoman costume.  The beer can laden skirt really makes it.

GTO – Lenny and Carl – by `DanLuVisiArt on deviantART – Fan made art of Homer, Carl and Otto in a Grand Theft Auto style.  Excellent.  (via Kotaku)

Glen Brogan – Itchy and Scratchy Land – More excellent fan art:

Itchy and Scratchy Land
16 x 20
Edition of 50
Glen says: “This piece is an excuse for me to combine two things I love: the design of old Disney theme park maps and The Simpsons. I went through the Itchy and Scratchy Land episode and took lots of screen captures and notes to get the map as accurate to the show as possible.”


INTERVIEW: Harry Shearer, on SNL, The Simpsons, and Spinal Tap – Nothing really new here, but well worth a read because Shearer:

HS: Talk to myself, what do you think I am, nuts?   Actually, C Montgomery Burns is the favorite, because he doesn’t fall prey to the temptation to dilute his evil with even a scintilla of good.   Fox owns the voices, so if I did slip into one, I’d owe them money.

There are a lot of great things about Harry Shearer, but his more or less open loathing of FOX has to be near the top. 

phil hartman – This week was the 15th anniversary of Phil Hartman’s death.  This is a remembrance, with a great Troy McClure mashup YouTube.

The Simpsons as a Narratively Complex Show – This is a rather serious college essay that I freely admit I have not had time to read all the way through.  But I plan to because a quick skim shows it talking about not just the show, but the environment in which it was created and how those things influenced it.

Bartkira! – More fan art for the Bartkira project.

Watch a Tour of the Simpsons Theme Park Construction – This isn’t so much a tour as it is a series of slow camera pans on YouTube, but if you’re interested in what they’re doing down in Orlando, here you go:

The Simpsons! | Pat-A-Cakes of Woolton – Excellent Simpsons birthday cake.

The greatest moments of Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz – This is a grandiose title, but there’s some good YouTube here.

Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 28) – Ha ha, Season 13 goes down in a heap before “The Call of the Simpsons”.  You ever known a siren to be good?

The stage comedy ‘I’m Connecticut’ by ‘Simpsons’ writer Mike Reiss plays Ivoryton – If you live in the Nutmeg State, you can see Reiss and his play next week:

Now, a new production of "I’m Connecticut" opens Wednesday at the Ivoryton Playhouse. Reiss will be there on June 6, 7 and 8 to participate in talk-backs with the audience.

Also, a brief reminder that Mike Reiss is very funny:

"I’m Connecticut" is a romantic comedy, yes, but it has an extra element, too:

"There’s so much Connecticut color in there, so much trivia about the state, legends and lore. There’s a joke about Windsor Locks in there. You know, David Mamet is never going to write a joke about Windsor Locks, no matter how long he lives."

Pray for Mojo: top 10 coolest monkeys (part 1) – Mojo comes in at #6 here, and deservedly so:

BUT how does Mojo beat Mr Teeny? (Krusty’s stage monkey?) when Mr Teeny can rollerskate and chomp cigars? Well, Mojo wears a nappy so he doesn’t need to be toilet trained. He can make orange juice. He drinks Duff Beer. And he can do a happy dance! Even when he’s not happy!

The Simpsons Top Ten – Number 8 The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show – Heh:

Also am i the only guy who wants to watch Christmas Ape 1 + 2?

No.  I’ve always wondered just what Christmas Ape would be like.

Trillhouse – Milhouse street art from Australia.

Cool Cop – And, from the same site, Wiggum.  Also:

has anyone noticed the influx of Simpsons characters going on around town in the passed 6 months? It’s all good though, because The Simpsons are the best thing since TV was invented.

Damn right. 

Verizon FiOS unlimited data limit: 77TB per month – Excellent reference:

Simpsons fans will likely recall the classic episode in which Homer Simpson gets tossed out of an “all-you-can-eat” seafood restaurant after he devours not only its entire supply of shrimp but two of its decorative plastic lobsters. Ars Technica reports that an IT professional in California did something similar with his unlimited FiOS plan after he used up a whopping 77TB of data over the span of just one month.

This is the most blatant case of false advertising since my suit against the movie The Neverending Story.

Bart the Philosopher – Not tormenting the emotionally frail is an important life lesson.

The Hangover Part III…In 10 Words – Hangover III: So Very Tired.

Behind The Candleabra…In 10 Words – In battle he downed a full length ball down covered in sequins. 

Epic Movie…In 10 Words – Why do you think I took you to see all those Police Academy movies?

NPC – Groundskeeper Wyllithen and Mayor Quimby – A couple of Simpsons references in World of Warcraft.

Marge Vs. Itchy and Scratchy – Not entirely sure what this is, but the sign Marge carries at the protest is always great.

Did I Do That?! Top TV Teen Nerds – Lisa obviously makes the list, and bonus points for a blog called “cookies + sangria”.

May 24th 2013 | An artist’s day to day – This is about cats:

I’m a huge fan of the Simpsons but there isn’t really much I can take away from this for me. Its well done and suits the program perfectly but its too simple for what I want. Can’t think what this cat is called, I could look it up but I can’t be bothered, its Friday and I’m tired. Was it something to do with Snow or something?

The cat on The Simpsons is Snowball II.  Zombie Simpsons has ratcheted it up to like Snowball XLVI or something, but they suck, so don’t worry about it.  However, the most famous cat on The Simpsons is definitely Scratchy, because Itchy’s a jerk.

After episode of ‘The Simpsons,’ Marge Simpson helps boost traffic for, the notorious website for cheaters – Pretty much just what the headline says.  Further evidence that Zombie Simpsons doesn’t so much parody brands as offer free advertising for them.

Who knew The Simpsons could be so deep? – YouTube of Marge showing Lenny’s house and the fact that pretty much no one wants people to come over unexpectedly.

A Blanc Slate – You gotta plow ahead on that one:

The first six years of The Simpsons coincide with the last six years of my public education. Matt Groening unleashed an honestly dysfunctional family in a pretentiously dysfunctional world, and before we were asked to care who shot Mr. Burns, the show threw nothing but heat and break-neck change-ups, to chance a baseball analogy. Fast and unrelenting. Like the tire fire in the opening credits, the comedy was timeless, eternal. Great writing made every line a quote, but every quote could be ruined when repeated by we mere mortals when the cast delivered them perfectly. I was talked out of writing my college essay on Hank Azaria because applications were serious business, and no one had the internet to cross-reference the importance of trivialities.

Also, click through for the picture of the “Jerrold” cable box.  We had a box exactly like that when I was a kid, and since there was no remote I learned how to work it with my toes so I wouldn’t have to get up to change the channel.  The 80s sucked.


Behind Us Forever: Fabulous Faker Boy

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“My hair!  You chopped off my hair!  Oh, God, I’m ugly!” – Homer Simpson 

  • Well, it was certainly nice of the Robot Chicken guys to eat up ninety seconds of screentime with that opening. 
  • And it’s a good thing they did, because if this scene with Marge and Skinner is any indication, we’re mostly in for filler here.  Skinner is now playing a guitar he pulled from behind his desk as surely as if it was a rabbit from a hat, and this goes on until well after Marge had left the building.
  • Sideshow Mel is now giving Bart music lessons, why?
  • And then Frink and Comic Book Guy because . . . oh, the hell with it.
  • What’s with the licorice thing?
  • “Let’s drink vodka” – Good advice for anyone watching this episode.
  • The scene where Bart walks across the playground to deliberately run into the bullies made very little sense, then they topped themselves by having Marge and this Russian guy sitting in her car in her driveway.  Impressive.
  • I’m confused by the Russian Makin’ Whoopee montage, though I really shouldn’t be.  It’s 30 seconds long, the entire episode (credits to credits) is only 18:30, so that ate almost 3% of the runtime right there.  And it was only the first of two montages.
  • Krusty and Captain McAllister sure had valid reasons for being at that recital we never learned anything about.  Someone in comments pointed out that this one was heavy on people just showing up for no reason, and they were correct.
  • Uh, is that going to be the whole Patrick Stewart thing?  [End of episode note: Yes, yes it was.]
  • Whoa, Helen Lovejoy really doesn’t sound like herself anymore.
  • Hey the Russian guy is back to exposit the end for us.  That was nice of him.
  • “It was wrong of me to force my dreams on you”, where did that come from?  Marge made Bart take up music because Skinner suggested it, not because she wanted to be a piano player.  Is it possible that by the end of these they’re phoning it in so badly that no one remembers the beginning?

The incoherence of this episode cannot be overstated, and yet I also cannot use any extreme superlatives because, let’s face it, it’s no more or less incoherent than most episodes these days.  Characters appear out of thin air, stories are dropped for no reason whatsoever, the plots (such as they are) get resolved with single scene twists instead of having anything to do with what came before. 

To take but one example from this episode, here is the entirety of Homer’s plot:

1.  Homer’s last two hairs fall out (note that this has happened before).

2.  Homer goes to the Kwik-E-Mart where he gets atrocious jokes spat at him by Apu, Flanders’ Dad (for some reason), and the Rich Texan.

3. Homer goes to Moe’s where Moe rips off his own hair and gives some to Homer.

4. Homer goes to work where he talks to Patrick Stewart, who tells him being bald is okay.

5. Homer reveals his baldness to Marge, who doesn’t care, which in turn causes his hair to grow back.

That’s it.  That’s the entire story.  Homer doesn’t do anything, he isn’t in any way affected by his brief loss of hair, and then it’s over.  And this was – by far – the most put together of the various goings on here.  It certainly made more sense than the Russian guy learning to drive, or Bart’s story, which started with him wanting to impress his teacher and then abruptly switched gears mid-episode to him being afraid to disappoint Marge. 

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are just as bad as the episode itself.  On Sunday, just 4.05 million viewers wished they had bootleg Russian vodka to make the time go faster.  That dismal total is good for second worst on the all time list.  Next week is the two episode season finale, which appears to be just two random episodes crammed together and not an actual two-parter, though the descriptions FOX has released are so vague and pointless that I really can’t tell.  Oh well, we’ll find out soon enough.


Quote of the Day

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“Roger Meyers senior, the gentle genius behind Itchy and Scratchy, loved and cared about almost all the peoples of the world.  And he, in return, was beloved by the world, except in 1938 when he was criticized for his controversial cartoon Nazi Supermen Are Our Superiors.” – Roger Meyers Story Narrator


Quote of the Day

Happy New Year 2013

“We have another jumper on the roof of T.G.I. McScratchy’s.” – I&S Control Technician


Quote of the Day

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“But, Marge, I was a political prisoner.” – Homer Simpson
“How were you a political prisoner?” – Marge Simpson
“I kicked a giant mouse in the butt, do I have to draw you a diagram?” – Homer Simpson


Compare & Contrast: Hostile Robots

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“Wow, this is so much like my dreams, it’s scary.” – Bart Simpson

The robot apocalypse has been a staple of fiction literally since “robots” were first imagined.  According to Wikipedia, the word “robot” was first coined for a Czech play about robots who, you guessed it, rise up and defeat us squishy humans.  (Apparently, it’s a translation of the Czech word for “slave”.  I learned something today.)  That idea has been the foundation for who knows how many works of fiction, and has so thoroughly penetrated mainstream culture that making jokes about it is more or less obligatory every time some new advance in actual electronics is announced.

Most stories about robot uprisings occur in the realm of science fiction for the obvious reason that, as Linda Hamilton so eloquently put it back in 1984, “They cannot make things like that yet.”.  Indeed, they cannot.  This presents a problem for shows like The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons, which have contemporary settings but still want to have some fun at the expense of our would be overlords.

Since this is fiction (and animated fiction at that), no problem is really insoluble.  Whether you’re broadcasting in 1994 or 2012, if you want to have rebelling robots, you can have rebelling robots.  The important question is how you go about it.  You can work the robots into the larger framework of the episode, making them and their characteristics part of the setting and satire.  Or you can just conjure them out of nowhere, strip them of all characteristics save the most grossly basic outline of a “robot”, and have them traipse around with no discernable rhyme or reason.  The former is what The Simpsons did in “Itchy & Scratchy Land”, the latter is a roughly accurate description of whatever the hell it was Zombie Simpsons did in “Them, Robot”.

The Simpsons always had its share of improbable plots, but murderous robots was pretty far out there, even by their standards.  Consequently, the episode is very deliberate about how it introduces the concept that will eventually be crucial to its ending.  The first act is all about the family going on vacation, and doing so in very familiar terms: marketing gets kids to pester their parents, the parents eventually cave, and there’s a long and not terribly pleasant car ride.  All of it is given that specially ludicrous Simpsons touch (Homer having a trunk full of fruits and vegetables, AM radio’s love of “signs of evil”, the shortcut), but there’s nothing that isn’t relatable to anyone who’s ever spent slow hours in the front or back seat on a family road trip.

The turn comes right before the first commercial break, when they go from the Itchy Lot to a helicopter that has a Jurassic Park style logo on the side and a pilot who confidently informs them that nothing can “possi-ply” go wrong as the Simpsons nervously glance at one another.  It’s an obvious allusion to a massively popular science fiction movie, and the last shot before the ads is a rather terrifying looking island.  Those last few scenes not only foreshadow the rest of the episode, they also subtly prepare the audience for the kind of events that are more often found in big budget science fiction.

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I think Dr. Wily might be in there somewhere. 

As an amusement park, Itchy & Scratchy Land is another great example of the way the show parodied ideas rather than brands.  There’s plenty of Disney in the place (and Homer saying that he “kicked a giant mouse in the butt” remains a great dig), but it’s also mocking amusement parks more generally and the way that they have a narrowly controlled idea of what fun is.  Disney World, Universal Studios and the like bill themselves has happy places, but underneath the gaudy surface are miserable employees, command systems that make them more like police states than parks, and a never ending hustle to make sure that there is no money left in your pocket when you leave the place.  Anybody who has ever been to one can easily recognize all of these things, which makes suspension of disbelief about animatronic robots (another well known amusement park staple) that can walk upright and brutally attack each other that much easier.

When the audience is first introduced to the robots as part of a typical amusement park parade, we’re already primed to accept them as part of a recognizable (albeit exaggerated) landscape.  And the show doesn’t waste any time either.  Right in that first scene, we learn everything we need to about the robots: they’re armed, they don’t react well to flash photography, and they are programmed only to attack each other.  These three characteristics remain constant throughout the episode, so when the revolt comes and they override their safety features (part of the ongoing Jurassic Park theme), no further explanation or exposition is necessary.  The rules of this strange but familiar place have already been laid down, and the ending works within them.

You can draw a straight line from those first hints of danger right through to the end.  As the story progresses, additional elements are seamlessly picked up so that when it does come time for a robot to go after Homer with an ax, there are no questions in the audience’s mind about why the robot is attacking or why it has an ax.  The whole thing is so well constructed that they can actually have Homer make an exposition joke (“What are you, the narrator?”) without even slowing things down.

To compare with that intricate and comprehensive build up, Zombie Simpsons has some generic robots from somewhere, a power drill, and nothing else.  The robots simply appear from behind a curtain with no reason or explanation given for how they came to be or how they got there.  For the better part of the episode they stand idly by while Homer kills them in rather gruesome ways, forces them to play baseball, kills some more of them, and then sets a big pile of their twisted remains on fire.  During all this, the robots alternate between being super strong and being incredibly fragile.  The effect of all those manic actions, unannounced  changes, and empty carnage not only undermines each scene, but the story as a whole.

For most of the episode, Homer’s been able to destroy individual robots with little more than a hard shove.  The very first one he kills simply collapses to the ground after he bumped into it.  Then he sticks a power drill into their heads and all of a sudden not only have their hands changed shape, but they’ve become frightfully capable of violence, including breaking through doors and windows and swatting away guard dogs with ease.  The episode proceeds as though they are now all but invincible killing machines . . .

Killing Machines (Killing Version)

. . . right up until . . .

Killing Machines (Killed Version)

. . . they’re easily defeated by things which they would’ve torn through in the previous scene.  The rampage ends just two minutes after it began by abruptly changing – yet again – the nature and capabilities of the robots. 

Zombie Simpsons is no stranger to weak, illogical, or outright non-existent plots, of course.  But it hurts them worse than usual in this context because the entire plot, as opposed to a scene or two, is predicated on something so strange and unbelievable that it kills any kind of flow or humor.  All they’re left with is cheap silliness like corn dogs and squeegees.  There’s nothing wrong with silliness, of course, but Homer didn’t defeat the robots when he threw his underwear at them.

The Simpsons pulled off their robot apocalypse because they treated it carefully, building up to what would’ve been head-exploding, laugh-killing nonsense had they introduced it earlier.  Zombie Simpsons dove head first into that nonsense and never came up.


Quote of the Day

Euro Itchy & Scratchy Land

“Man, if this is happening here, I hate to think what’s happening at Euro Itchy and Scratchy Land.” – Professor Frink
“Hello?  Itchy and Scratchy Land open for business!  Who are you to resist it, huh?  Come on, my last paycheck bounced!  My children need wine!” – French Ticket Guy


Swarming with Magic Robots

Chalkboard - Replaceable You

“See all that stuff in there, Homer?  That’s why your robot never worked.” – Marge Simpson

The chalkboard gag for Zombie Simpsons this week read “It’s November 6th – - How come we’re not airing a Halloween Show?”.  Unfortunately for us, I think they may have actually been confused about it.  How else to explain having what passed for the main plot revolve around switching magic robots from good to evil and back again?  That wouldn’t have been out of place in a Treehouse of Horror episode and it felt more than a little strange in a normal one.

What I think was the B-plot didn’t fare much better.  It involved a lot of screaming, Burns getting punted like a football, and an emergency flashback to wind things up after they got lost halfway through the third act.  As if to further highlight how empty the whole thing was, they animated Jane Lynch into a character that looks just like she does.  Having done so many celebrities as themselves for so long, they may have done that purely out of habit.

As usual, the episode was packed with weird out of character moments, people appearing and disappearing at random, and all the other classic Zombie Simpsons problems.  They even managed to screw up some of their fan service, including the nerds but having them sound nothing like themselves.  Unusually, there were a couple of decent backgrounds and sign jokes, but not remotely enough to make it feel like the episode is anything other than boring.  After all, when your episode contains clunkers like “A free movie screening?  Of course I can go!” and “with none of the poop”, you’ve got problems that a sight gag or two cannot even begin to solve.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are remarkably similar to last week’s failure.  Just 7.97 million people were hard up enough for entertainment last night to watch this thing.  Through four weeks Zombie Simpsons is averaging just 7.50 million viewers.  Through four episodes last year (including the Halloween show) that number was 7.82.  That’s partly the result of one really bad number, but last year at this time Zombie Simpsons was routinely going above eight million viewers and even punched into nine a couple of times.  They’re significantly below that at the moment and showing no signs of improving.


Quote of the Day

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“Kids, you heard the cartoon rat.  If you haven’t already run to your parents begging to go, do it now.  You won’t be missing anything funny, I’ll just be sitting here reading this grown-ups newspaper.” – Krusty the Klown

Happy birthday Brad Bird!


Compare & Contrast: Shortcuts & How Not to Ruin Jokes

“Alright, we’re here.  Let us never speak of the shortcut again.” – Homer Simpson

Of all the digressions and clock killing asides that make up “500 Keys”, the one that’s most out of place has to be the not quite Wages of Fear/Sorcerer drive back from the cake store (which made a lot more sense and was vastly funnier in “Mr. Plow”).  This episode had four simultaneous plots going on, three of which managed to roughly collide near the end, and yet this wasn’t involved in any of them.  It didn’t even have anything to do with the cake that was itself only barely related to the rest of this episode.

Why Couldn't You Just Stop Here

Zombie Simpsons and decent jokes: a history of not leaving well enough alone.

Like so much of Zombie Simpsons, the entire scene is an exercise is making less out of more instead of the other way around.  Having sent Homer, the kids, and his cake down a road marked “Suicidal Moron Pass” could’ve been enough.  You could’ve cut right from them heading up some mountain trail to them pulling into the driveway with cake splattered all over the interior of the car.  Or you could go the other way, have the cake in pristine condition and a joke about how that was easier than expected.  Either way it wouldn’t have altered the rest of the episode, as the survival of the cake, which was made to be important during the scene, is completely irrelevant to everything that follows.  The last we ever see of the cake is a few bits of it on Maggie when she walks into the kitchen.

Instead we’re treated to cliffs, vertical driving and lots of suspense.  The least random thing that happens is when some goats fling rocks at them for no reason.  It was pure filler from start to finish, and the goats weren’t even given subtitles to lighten things up.  As it happens, in “Itchy & Scratchy Land” way back in Season 6, The Simpsons found itself with a similar situation.  So, despite Homer’s admonishment, let us speak of . . . the shortcut.

Itchy and Scratchy Land6

North, south, nuts to that!

The shortcut is the last of several traveling gags in “Itchy & Scratchy Land”.  The nice thing about these little vignettes (Five Corners, the fruits & vegetables) is that they make sense within the story without ever distracting from it.  Together they serve to illustrate how long the trip is while giving the show an opportunity to poke fun at the little absurdities of American road trips.  And while it’s true that not every one is strictly necessary, they’re quick enough that they never feel excessive or cheap.  That’s especially true of the shortcut, which Homer enthusiastically bumbles into with a couple of joke rich lines.   Itchy and Scratchy Land5

This is the very next shot after they drive off down that long, dusty road.

Homer’s shortcut is such a disaster that it doesn’t even last for a full musical cue.  The jaunty, enthusiastic horn music can’t get in more than a few notes before saddening to accompany the image above.  That one shot contains more wacky adventures than Zombie Simpsons could’ve crammed into something four times as long as “Suicidal Moron Pass”.  The evidence is right there on the car, which is not only trailing a homecoming banner and has a pedestrian crossing sign wrapped around the bumper, but also appears to have been struck by a missile.  And that’s only the half of it.  They were in a dire enough situation that they had to use a wagon wheel as a replacement part, Lisa’s door is missing, and Jebus only knows what happened to the roof or the windshield.

Crucially, the audience is trusted to infer all of this information in just a few seconds of screen time.  There isn’t even the need for an over the top punchline.  The whole scene is shockingly funny enough that Homer’s downplaying of the “let us never speak” line as a chicken flees Marge’s hair is the only thing that can make it better.

What The Simpsons knew, and Zombie Simpsons has all but forgotten, is that in the right circumstances outrageous things are funnier when they are alluded to rather than jammed in your face.  It’s much more abrupt to have the missile sticking out of the hood, Homer clearly not having bothered to remove it, rather than some elaborate sound effects laden set piece where it crashed into the car.  In the same way, it could’ve been funny to take a wedding cake over a mountain pass, but not the way they did it.  Not even close.


Reading Digest: Robot Apocalypse Edition

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“Die bad robots, die!” – Homer Simpson

The internet had a minor conniption this week because a computer beat the living snot out of a couple of meatbags at Jeopardy!.  One of the meatbags made a Simpsons joke during the final round, and so we have two links about it.  The first is highbrow and long, the second is the opposite of those two things, but does have a picture.  There’s also lots of links to other meatbag endeavors, like writing about television shows, creating animated .gif files, and bitching about the commercialization of Bacon Day.  Attention Scottish readers: Harry Shearer is going to be in Glasgow with his Katrina movie on Sunday. 


Homer Simpson by Mori – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this awesome papercraft Homer. 

Top 5 Funniest Simpsons Commercials – There are some Simpsons commercials here, but the French car commercial is the clear winner. 

funny commercials – There’s some other Simpsons commercials here, but this round goes to the Ikea ad with the toddler (it’s second from the top). 

A new project: Literature in “The Simpsons” – Cool:

Over the next two and a half m… onths, I intend to watch at least the first four seasons (since these are the ones I have on DVD) of an unparalleled TV series as closely as possible, in order to detect ALL (and I mean ‘most’) references to literary works in The Simpsons I can find.

Is It Time to Welcome Our New Computer Overlords? – A rather nice piece about that Jeopardy! computer, The Simpsons, and how even our most advanced machines still misses the point quite frequently.  Elementary chaos theory tells me that we’re all gonna die anyway (via). 

Ken Jennings Is Awesome – Here’s a screen grab of the pathetic human’s futile gag.  Taunting the machines like this is a big part of why the computers are eventually going to kill us all. 

HuffPost Review: I Am – I was all set to praise this as an excellent reference, then I got to the last word:

In one of my favorite second-season episodes of The Simpsons, titled "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish," Homer thinks he has eaten poisonous blowfish sushi and has only hours to live. He crams all the things he will miss most into that last few hours, savoring every second he has left on Earth.

The next morning, Homer wakes up, glad to be alive after having obviously not been poisoned after all. But his newfound appreciation for the joys of life is short-lived: The show ends with the image of Homer on the couch that afternoon, zoned out while watching golf.

Oh, come on!  Golf?  He’s an erratic bowler! 

Mad about you, and here’s the evidence – If you’ve read one anti-Valentine’s Day rant, you’ve read them all.  But this is better than average for the genre and comes with excellent usage:

To quote Lisa from The Simpsons: "Romance is dead. It was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenised and sold off piece by piece."

Gif collection (12/02/2011) – About half of these are Simpsons, including one of Homer looking up “stupid” in the dictionary that I don’t think I’ve ever seen. 

South Australia in the Back of a Trailor – There’s a Simpson Desert in Australia and I’m finding out about it now?  My knowledge of geography sucks. 

Wordless Wednesday: Simpsons Swag! – Duff beer and a Marge pin from Germany. 

Last Print Preview – Professionally fan made drawing of robot Simpsons.

The Things I Remember – An awesome sketch of Batman as a scientist, plus French(?) YouTube. 

Looking for something to study? Try something more unusual – From UC Berkeley:

By taking this class, students will come to appreciate how The Simpsons can lead to better understanding of, well, pretty much everything.’

I don’t need your class to appreciate that.  Time for a teach in. 

Being Erica to end after Season 4 – I am unfamiliar with Being Erica, but live would be better had Zombie Simpsons never existed:

However, while this isn’t always happy news for devoted fans, it can be looked back upon as a finely polished product, rather than a show which was flogged to death or jumped the shark.

Think the Simpsons during the past ten years and how many people lament the passing of the golden years.

#Artist Watch: #Numskull – Simpson-esque warehouse art. 

Apus Real Kwik-E-Mart – Pictures of one of those temporary Kwik-E-Mart remakes they did to promote the movie. 

Putting on a serious voice for the sake of New Orleans – Harry Shearer is taking his Katrina movie to Scotland.  If you’re in Glasgow on Sunday at 6:30 you can see the movie and participate in a Q&A with him.  As with all articles about Shearer and his movie, The Simpsons comes up:

Favourite character? “C Montgomery Burns, because he is pure evil. So many evil people try to dilute their evil with random acts of goodness from time to time. That’s just wrong.”

Tilda Swinton Totally Looks Like Glowing Mr. Burns – Yeah, kinda. 

Ketchup or Catsup? – The animated .gif version.

Filler: Family Guy – This is what Zombie Simpsons has wrought:

But The Simpsons and Family Guy are pretty much on the same page at this point. Matt Groening may be able to hide behind Futurama and its cult-y reboot when it comes to how sick we all are of Homer and Marge’s ever-dumbfounding monogamy, but The Simpsons treats plot as dumbly as Family Guy does, only the former revels in its boundless character quirks while the latter most gets a kick out of casually offending easy targets.

Narrative and Plot in The Simpsons S22 E13 – Speaking of what Zombie Simpsons has wrought, this is as well written a defense of Zombie Simpsons as you’re likely to ever see.  I disagree, of course, but it’s far above the keyboard mashing level of places like the comment section at Simpsons Channel.  Here’s the opening:

If you’re an occasional blog reader like me, you’ll no doubt have encountered a specific type of post or comment about The Simpsons. It goes something like this (key words bolded): Aww man, classic Simpsons episodes are the best! Everything started to suck after Season 8. I don’t know why this show is still on the air. It hasn’t been good for years.

I suppose I have to plead guilty to that (though I do know why the show is still on the air).  Specifically I’d like to disagree with this:

The Simpsons has been running for over 20 years now (in fact, we’re about the same age!) and it’s natural that viewers might tire of some of the reworked storylines, but multi-use plots and sometimes predictable narratives are not indicative of the show’s overall quality.

I’ve certainly seen enough episodes where Bart does something bad, realizes he can’t live with the ensuing guilt, and eventually does the right thing by minute 19. I’ve also seen enough episodes where Lisa does something precocious that distances her from her average family, but everyone has reconciled by the end.

Before Season 8, none of the storylines had been reworked.  This is the cost of Zombie Simpsons.

Job Hunting 101 – I assure you, watching The Simpsons is better than paying someone for easy answers:

Then I came across this article about some lady who has all the answers on landing your dream job. Of course you have to pay to go to her seminar to actually learn anything. Luckily the Chicago Tribune had an article that briefly touched on the topics she will cover.

Reading the article probably would have been a good idea, but I got distracted because the Monorail episode of The Simpsons was on TV.

The real lesson here is that you need to write a song like that guy. 

I choo-choo-choose you. – Well deserved love for “I Love Lisa” (with YouTube). 

February 15th DTV: Dogs, Dave and The Simpsons – Um, why is that Lisa costume sporting visible underwear?

The book Lisa wishes she had never read – We didn’t get a link out of it, but it’s nice to see my crappy photoshop skills being enjoyed by other people. 

Itchy and Scratchy versus Tom and Jerry – No box of flesh eating ants?  For shame. 

Porn Industry Finally Goes Too Far – Click for a picture of the press kit for that Simpsons porn movie.  I must disagree with this, however:

C’mon. Is nothing sacred anymore? For real. And besides, real or not, who wants to see Edna Krabappel giving Ned Flanders a mustache ride?

I’m pretty sure Ned would be the one giving the mustache ride. 

Bart gone funky reggae mon – Bootleg Simpsons t-shirts will always be linked. 

The 10 Best Cartoon Dogs in TV History – A rather awesome list that includes Santa’s Little Helper and also mentions Hong Kong Phooey and Mission Hill

Classic EBI #77: Days of Bile and Venom – Though long and rant-y, this is a cut above the usual carping about comic books.  Plus there’s this:

You know the character from The Simpsons, the fat, balding loser who runs the comic book store. He’s a funny character, but he perpetuates a stereotype that cripples comic books. Whenever anyone starts any of the crap I’ve mentioned in this thread, I hear Comic Book Guy’s voice in my mind intoning “Worst issue ever.” A lot of people who don’t read comic books honestly do believe that all retailers, fans and creators are like that guy. And when you start spewing nastiness, all you’re doing is reinforcing that idea.

So go ahead and talk about comics. Critique them. Debate them. And for Heaven’s sake — disagree.

But be an adult about it, because no matter how much you complain about comic books being looked down upon as a children’s medium, that is never going to change unless we all grow up.

Good luck with that.  Really, I mean that.  Sorry if it sounded sarcastic. 

Decades of Vassar cameos in mass media – I think you can guess who’s on the cover. 

In rod we trust – The actual space program history of inanimate rods.  Seriously. 

On the (Rest of the) Net. – Marge says “call” not “invite”, but other than that this Lisa image is dead on.  Oh, and the anti-vaccine people need to go away. 

Randall wins. – Insomnia leads to excellent cartoon analysis, including this:

And please understand that I’m not talking about the Simpsons as they are today. Our favorite American family isn’t at their peak now. The best episodes are in the first decade, back when I would sit with my sister and watch the show while my mom yelled at us from the other room to do something more productive with our time.

Life according to The Simpsons – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us:

But even if you don’t particularly empathise with the characters, there’s bound to be at least one episode that can relate to almost any life scenario you’re confronted with.

And sure, you could spoil my fun by saying that’s because the show has been running forever, but that’s not at all the point. Besides, you don’t even have to look to the slightly disappointing later series for your life reference – it’s all there in the earlier stuff.

I’d change “slightly” to “planet shatteringly”, but other than that spot on. 


Quote of the Day

“You’ve got to listen to me!  Elementary Chaos Theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok in an orgy of blood and kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving.” – Professor Frink
“How much time do we have, professor?” – Itchy & Scratchy Land Technician
“Well, according to my calculations, the robots won’t go berserk for at least twenty-four hours . . .

Itchy and Scratchy Land3

. . . oh, I forgot to, uh, carry the one.” – Professor Frink


Compare & Contrast: Disney, The Simpsons, & Zombie Simpsons

“Yeah, I used to be rich.  I owned Mickey Mouse Massage Parlors, then those Disney sleazeballs shut me down.  I said, ‘Look, I’ll change the logo, put Mickey’s pants back on!’  Pfft, some guys you just can’t reason with.” – Railroad Bridge Bum

Walter Elias Disney is an inescapable presence in American animation.  Whether or not you like him, his work, or the giant company he spawned, when it comes to animation you are living in a world he did a great deal to shape.  The Simpsons always had some fun with this, enough that SNPP has an entire page dedicated to the show’s various Disney references and parodies.  Zombie Simpsons occasionally attempts to do this as well and, as with so much of Zombie Simpsons, falls haplessly short.

In “How Munched Is That Birdie in the Window”, Zombie Simpsons had what passed for an Itchy & Scratchy segment that was loosely based off of an old Disney cartoon called “Pluto’s Judgement Day”.  I mentioned this in Crazy Noises, but the animation here is really peculiar and I wanted to highlight it with examples.  Look at the startling contrast between Itchy and the background here:

Zombie Simpsons Judge

The two things that jump out are the coloring and the crispness.  The cave walls in the background and the podium in the foreground are both colored in various hues and shades.  The background especially gets darker to give the impression of a deep recess in the cave.  By contrast, Itchy is flat and monochromatic.  Every part of his face is the same color; his gavel, clothes and gloves also remain the exact same color and shade no matter what he does:

Zombie Simpsons Judge2

Itchy has gone from far away from the camera to right into the lens, and yet the only thing that changes is the shape of his various parts and objects, nothing in the coloring gives any hint that he’s moved at all.  The dramatic lighting of the background is similarly ignored.  Itchy got bigger, but there’s nothing other than size to indicate that he’s actually gestured forward. 

The precision of the lines on Itchy compared with the background is even more jarring.  Look at the awkward juxtaposition of his sharp hand against the fuzzy podium.  Now compare that to the gavel and the background behind it.  The two are identical – sharp lines vs fuzzy ones – which makes the overall image even more awkward because his hand is supposed to be physically on the podium and the gavel is supposed to be far in front of the cave walls.  The entire image is muddled because all of the tricks that give depth to the podium and the walls are ignored for Itchy. 

Now take a look at the Disney original (please forgive the lower resolution, I had to grab this from YouTube):

Disney Judge

The backgrounds are very similar in that they’re a little fuzzy and make a lot of use of color to both make the podium look tall and the walls look deep.  Now watch what happens when the Disney judge leans forward:

Disney Judge2

The lighting on every part of him, from his robe to his gavel to his mortar board, has shifted to give the impression that he has moved.  And there are touches beyond those as well.  The lines on his forehead are thicker since they are closer to the camera, the fur on his arm is standing up, the claw on his thumb is visible.  And look at where his robe meets the podium.  There’s no incongruous clashing of styles.  Despite the fact that he’s moving and the background is not, the judge looks for all the world as though he really is behind that podium.  Itchy, on the other hand, looks clumsily superimposed. 

Now let’s take a look at how something similar was handled by The Simpsons.  Way back in Season 4, in “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie”, the animation is almost a direct copy of its famous predecessor:


Itchy, like Mickey in the original, is animated in the same style as the background.  The same shades are being used, and the lines are all in the same layer of focus.  Both Itchy and Mickey look like they are standing on a boat.  This similarity in style is necessary for the parody to work.  The gag is the gruesome violence presented in that wriggly, wholesome 1920s style.  (Not that “Steamboat Willie” is exactly pacific.  Mickey tortures the fuck out of a bunch of animals in his lust for the perfect rendition of “Turkey in the Straw”.)  When we see Scratchy’s knees shot away to reveal naked bone underneath, it fits in with the animation style.  Ditto for when Scratchy’s head is locked into the furnace and his body writhes uncontrollably as he’s roasted alive.  Even the blood is cute. 

Of course, “Steamboat Willie” is much simpler than “Pluto’s Judgement Day”.  Disney and company were busy between 1928 and 1935: the animation is much more lush, it’s in color, and it makes use of all that implied lighting.  But, of course, “Steamboat Itchy” wasn’t the only classic Disney parody The Simpsons ever did.  For an even more damning comparison to Zombie Simpsons, let’s skip ahead to Season 6’s “Itchy & Scratchy Land”.

Fantasia, Disney’s great contribution to drug culture before there was such a thing, came out in 1940.  To call the animation superb is an understatement, and it would be nuts to try to parody it in all its particulars.  Instead, amidst many digs at Disney himself in the guise of Roger Meyers Sr., The Simpsons showed us “Scratchtasia”, a parody of the famous “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment.  They didn’t try to match the original visually, but their parody clearly demonstrates that they understand the elements that made it so iconic. 

Here’s Mickey’s first whack with the ax.  Note the lighting and shading (again, this is from YouTube, so the image quality is very suboptimal):


We know that the source of the light and the action are in the next room, and we can see the door through which the shadows are being cast.  But leaving the action alone in shadow would lessen the ferocity of Mickey’s attack.  To increase the impact on the audience without directly showing the violence, the Disney gang alter the coloring and the lighting radically (and boy does this YouTube copy not handle red well):


Mickey’s final swings dice up the straw bristles until nothing remains.  The broom is splintered into tiny pieces and there is no doubt in the audience’s mind that something brutal and violent just took place.  “Scratchtasia” uses the same techniques to convey the same message, but doesn’t try to mimic all the details.  Here we can see the first blow ready to fall:


Just as in the original Fantasia, the gory part of the violence occurs in shadow.  But when the ax does start making contact, it alters the entire scene:


The shapes and outlines are all still there, but the color and lighting have almost inverted themselves.  Without any explicit, on-screen blood and guts, or even a change in perspective, we know exactly what happened.  It’s not as colorful or as detailed as the original, but it doesn’t need to be.  The animation is clearly reminiscent of the source material without being at odds with itself. 

To be sure, there is an obvious technical difference between the classics and Zombie Simpsons: computer animation.  Despite the decades between “Steamboat Willie”, “Fantasia” and The Simpsons, all were drawn by hand with inks and dyes.  “How Munched Is That Birdie in the Window” wasn’t, but that doesn’t forgive the sloppiness on display above.  The soft focus, static background, for example, is rendered pretty well in ones and zeros.  It’s the motion where things fall apart, where characters are flat and monochrome, and no thought is given to lighting them at all.  Instead of doing the whole thing in the Disney style, or the whole thing in their own style, they did a mash of both and the result is off putting and ugly. 

It’s possible they just didn’t have the time to put in lighting and match the focus; it’s also possible that they just didn’t care.  Either way it’s poorly animated, and it’s unworthy of both The Simpsons and of Disney. 

Special thanks to No Homers user zartok-35 and commenter Shane for posting the video of “Pluto’s Judgement Day”.  Even without Zombie Simpsons, that was fun to watch again.  I don’t think I’d seen it since I was about seven years old. 


Well, At Least They Didn’t Make a “Face”book Joke

Chalkboard - The Bob Next Door

“I really wish they wouldn’t scream.” – Itchy & Scratchy Land Technician

There’s not much to be said about an episode that spent most of its time expositing its many loopy story conceits.  Of course, in between bouts of joke free exposition there were any number of recycled premises, sloppy scene staging, and all of the rest of the usual problems.  Four year olds who have to pee very badly can tell a funnier and more coherent story than this.  Happily, there’s only one episode left before we’re free for the summer.

The numbers are in and though they remain atrociously low they still represent an improvement.  6.26 million people remembered why they never bought Face/Off on DVD, even from the $3 bargain bin.  That’s the highest number since the 20th anniversary special and it’s still lower than all but a handful of Season 20 episodes.  I’ve run out of creative ways to say the same thing: Season 21 would easily be the least watched season were it not for the 20th anniversary stuff.  This week’s numbers fit right into that pattern. 


Crazy Noises: The Squirt and the Whale

Itchy and Scratchy Land2

“Ahhhh!  Shark-boy!” – Homer Simpson

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

A couple of weeks ago I pointed out how Zombie Simpsons is extremely careless when it comes to staging and continuity, even within a single scene.  Characters just appear and disappear based on whether or not they’re needed that instant.  Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck don’t do this, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck don’t do this, hell, Family Guy doesn’t even do this!  The reason they don’t is that it is extremely disorienting to have a constantly changing number of people involved in a scene.

Near the swirling mess that passed for the ending of “The Squirt and the Whale” we can see another example of this carelessness.  Homer falls into the water and the sharks immediately surround him:



The sharks circle Homer and it’s played for suspense.  Whatever.  But then they instantly vanish while he has a conversation with Lisa and the environmental props:


Is expositive dialogue is a shark repellant?  Or maybe their planet needed them.

No sharks are around him whatsoever, they just disappear.  They don’t go back to the whales, they don’t do anything else, they’re not wanted so they’re not there.  Until it comes time for a second installment of “suspense” about sharks circling Homer:


Where have I seen this before?  Oh yeah, twenty seconds ago.

Aaaaaand they’re back.  This goes beyond poor or lazy storytelling, or even poor or lazy staging of this single scene.  This is “we don’t give a fuck” at it’s purest.  Their ending hangs off of Homer being menaced by sharks and saved by a whale.  Instead of just leaving the sharks circling Homer while he talked with Lisa and the other two, they got rid of them so they would have an excuse to bring them back for a second dose of “suspense”.  They pushed the same feeble emotional trigger twice in one scene.

Anyway, here’s some more problems with this episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, so anyone with initial thoughts on this one?

Dave: It was a trainwreck

Charlie Sweatpants: True.

Mad Jon: A lazy trainwreck

Charlie Sweatpants: Also true.

Dave: They assumed they could tell a Lisa-gets-emotional type story by filling in the blanks

Mad Jon: The A and B plot couldn’t even try to run concurrently?

Charlie Sweatpants: Good way of putting it.

Mad Jon: At least with 2 concurrent plots I can try to be distracted from each one by the other. There was no breathing room here.

Charlie Sweatpants: Though, I don’t think that thing with the windmill counts as a plot. Plots have, you know, conclusions.

Mad Jon: Ok, so one plot with a very long opening?

Dave: No the windmill was a classic-Zombie Simpsons lead in to the A plot

Charlie Sweatpants: And a very long closing.

From the time the whale dies, nothing happens up until what passes for the end.

Dave: I think we had two montages too

Charlie Sweatpants: Seriously, after the whale dies there’s a montage, Lisa being sad, that awful invisible dog joke, and then it’s time for Action Sharks.

Dave: Back to the dead whale a sec

Mad Jon: How did she know the first whale was a girl and the second was a boy?

Charlie Sweatpants: Of all the shit that was going on, that’s what you’re wondering about?

But Dave, you were about to say?

Dave: Lisa’s "It’s a whale" line was followed a massive pause, for what I assume was dramatic effect. It was shit

And lazy writing. Duh, it’s whale.

Charlie Sweatpants: And clearly the thing to do is run over to Jimbo and company.

Talk about lazy writing, "Hey, we need some of our stock characters here."

Dave: Right. And then Kearny and Milhouse…. ugh.

Mad Jon: Well, if you are looking for a meaningful complaint from me, and how dare you, I guess my next question would be – How on earth can you have an alternative energy expo and not include a showing of Monty Burns?

Charlie Sweatpants: He was there for a second.

Mad Jon: huh, I must have missed it.

Charlie Sweatpants: He didn’t say anything.

Mad Jon: Well then what’s the point.

Charlie Sweatpants: He was just carrying a sign. It wasn’t that funny.

The thing that pissed me off about the convention was the fact that, like the beach scene, it was half stock characters.

There’s Barney and Ralph!

Dave: Burp power and kid power, respectively. Give me a break.

Charlie Sweatpants: The guy from Fourth Reich Motors is spinning in his Israeli prison cell.

Mad Jon: This exhibit is closed!

Charlie Sweatpants: Dave, getting back to the Kearney/Milhouse thing, that scene was extra agonizing because not only was it repetitive and boring, but it was just another pun.

Dave: I seem to remember other bad puns in the episode but I’m at a loss to pick them out

Mad Jon: And an opportunity to beat up on Milhouse

Dave: But, yeah, lazy, bad, shit… I’m running out of adjectives here.

Charlie Sweatpants: The opening movie thing was pun-tacular, there was the "fan club", they just kept it up.

Rome-O and Julie-X, Tic-Tac-No, shit like that.

Dave: I forgot about that. I want that minute or two of my life back.

Charlie Sweatpants: But which two? Because if you opt out of that, you’re opting in to the invisible dog gag that went on forever, Bart and Lisa finding stuff at the beach, and that awful series where Lisa walked around town hallucinating about whale noises.

Dave: Well, going with that logic I want my half-hour back

Mad Jon: There you go.

Charlie Sweatpants: A much wiser request.

Dave: Everything was more insincere and contrived than usual.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, we’ve approached it and backed off now like three times, but I think we have to talk about the ending.

I’m sorry.

Dave: Go on.

Charlie Sweatpants: Where to begin?

Dave: Deus-ex-father whale?

Charlie Sweatpants: The environmentalists who show up for no reason, Homer being circled by sharks twice, and the whale ride.

Mad Jon: Environmentalists showing up to save the sharks but not the whale originally?

Charlie Sweatpants: The two times on the circling sharks thing was hacktacular even by their standards.

They played the same visual, one that’s been done a million times before – seriously – and then, ten seconds later, they played the exact same thing.

They might have been able to use some of the same animation cels it was so repetitive.

Dave: Oh and then there was that octopus crap!

Charlie Sweatpants: And there was the fucking whale ride! We get action shots of the shark, teeth out, racing at Homer, then the whale saves the day, then Lisa tells us who the whale is, and then Homer hops off the top of the whale and back into the boat forty feet below – and there isn’t even an attempt at a joke.

Mad Jon: Oh yeah, by then I was so checked out I wasn’t sure what the drawings at the credits were and had to go back and watch the last minutes again

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh fuck, I forgot about the octopus crap.

It was Homer’s second failed screen play of the episode.

Were they really that hard up for ideas?

Dave: It seems that way.

Charlie Sweatpants: It feels like we haven’t discussed much, but then again there just isn’t that much in this episode.

A lot of it is just them yanking on heartstrings as hard as they can.

Mad Jon: Although we have been wandering through a toxic mist for the last half hour, we definitely have had more structure than that episode did.

Charlie Sweatpants: Throw in the montages, the joke-less dream sequence, and the rest and there just isn’t much episode here.

Dave: But we did get four whales, one dead.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else?

Mad Jon: I have one more thing

The norm of the Zombie episodes is a staunch reliance on Homer’s physical comedy.

Although there were some instances here, like the blood in the water, it seems that they are even getting lazy about this trick in their bag.

Charlie Sweatpants: You mean the whole head-saw thing?

Mad Jon: I am talking about the scene with Homer and the tool belt.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, that was awful.

And it kept going and going and going . . .

Mad Jon: He waddled about for around a minute without getting hurt, and I bet they thought they had touched gold there.

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess "man pulls down pants" lost out in the script revision.

Mad Jon: It’s pretty bad when they can’t even hurt him to try for laughs.

But that’s all I have.

Dave: I think one of our commenters noted that there’s likely a large, sycophantic population that probably ate this up.

Charlie Sweatpants: Because it was "about the family" or whatever.

Dave: Yeah, it was family centric

Charlie Sweatpants: Except that it wasn’t.

Dave: If that’s the litmus test for success, well then fuck, I’m out.

Charlie Sweatpants: Bart and Marge are barely in it, all Lisa does is dream and mope, and Homer just gets hurt and acts dumb.

Mad Jon: And waddles.

Charlie Sweatpants: It can have more lines for the family members all it wants, if they don’t do anything I’m still not entertained.

Dave: Wise counsel.


Quote of the Day

Itchy and Scratchy Land1

“Please, kill me.” – T.G.I. McScratchy’s Waiter


Quote of the Day

“Wait a minute! What was that last thing you said? ‘Grampa’s Little Helper’… what’s that? Which one of you is the mailman?” – Grampa Simpson



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