Posts Tagged ‘Itchy and Scratchy the Movie

18
Mar
14

Quote of the Day

Itchy and Scratchy - The Movie6

“If you don’t start making more sense we’re gonna have to put you in a home.” – Homer Simpson
“You already put me in a home!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“Then we’ll put you in the crooked home we saw on 60 Minutes.” – Homer Simpson
“I’ll be good.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

05
Nov
13

Behind Us Forever: Four Regrettings And A Funeral

Itchy and Scratchy - The Movie5

“I regret nothing!” – Doomed Guy in Movie Ticket Line

If any of us had been wondering what it would be like if Zombie Simpsons took the unrelated tales from one of their four-part storytelling episodes, jammed them together with a bunch of expository and often unrelated flashbacks, and dropped in a self voiced celebrity, we need wonder no more.  Proving that Season 25 can employ all the same flat out lazy shortcuts as Seasons 24, 23 and so on, we had characters telling us exactly how they feel, people wandering in and out of scenes seemingly at random, and a self voiced celebrity introduced by name so we know just who they are.  This show has a lot of chronic problems, and this episode featured most of them.  Here we go:

- The chalkboard and the sad look on Bart’s face is a nice gesture.

- The Hobbit opening is kinda fun and all (Irish not welcome at the elf inn), but it doesn’t speak well of the status of the show or the quality of the writing when silent, minute long shorts that retell other people’s stories are the most talked about aspect of the program.

- To the surprise of no one, the “major character” to die was a red herring.

- And the funeral scene is off to a typically slow start whereby Selma and Marge get into an out loud argument in church that’s mostly exposition and some Family Guy flashbacks, complete with giant Gene Simmons tongue.

- This is Homer’s mental dialogue: “I made the worst financial decision of all time.  I can’t think about it.  I won’t think about it.  I don’t want to think about it.  Oh, I’m thinking about it.”  Castellaneta is a very funny man, but saving that is impossible.

- Here’s how you can tell even they know that “Mapple” is weak sauce: they don’t want to use it.

- Okay, using Milhouse’s nose as a dick was at least clever.

- But now Flanders is trying to put money into tithe baskets that the boys are using as sticks because . . . nevermind.

- Burns being nice and incompetent?  Never seen that before.

- Lazy celebrity introduction alert: “Well, well, well, Rachel Maddow”.

- And now, Krusty’s in the woods.

- Ralph is there too, of course.

- Even the FOX News parodies are basically expository, and they’re mega easy to make fun of.

- As if to prove that they can no longer help but repeat themselves, they’re doing a montage of Homer set to “Memories“.  The first time they did this it was for Homer’s stomach before he started subliminal weight loss tapes.  Now it’s for a bowling ball we’ve never seen before.

- Bart, previously way away from Evergreen Terrace, is now floating over the Flanders house.

- If Burns’ sweetheart going to die without getting to do much of anything, why did they bother to make her a Buddhist monk?

- At least Jean can still make fun of himself with that Brockman “no regrets” line right before his name comes up.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are just as atrocious as we’ve come to expect.  Sunday’s exercise in poor plotting and worse “regretting” was regretted by a mere 5.46 million people.  That’s actually one point below the record low average for all of Season 24, and we’re just three episodes into the season.  CBS has the late national NFL game again next week, so don’t expect much of an improvement.

04
Jan
13

Reading Digest: New Year Edition

Itchy and Scratchy - The Movie4

“Now this is exactly what Bart’s teacher was talking about.  Our son did something wrong and you look the other way.” – Marge Simpson
“But Marge, look at that hang dog expression; he’s learned his lesson. . . . Lets’ get him a present.” – Homer Simpson

As expected, another short week on the internet led to another short Reading Digest.  For some reason, people just didn’t want to spend a lot of time between Christmas and New Year’s putting meaningless crap on-line.  (Weirdos.)  Anyway, we do have some people quoting the show, and talking about the show, and making animated .gifs about the show.  We even have two links that agree with us.  But first, it’s time for the programming note:

***

Seeing has how next week will be the first regular week in the better part of a month, including new Zombie Simpsons on Sunday, I wanted to highlight a couple of comments from the New Year’s Eve post:

mcheese

31 December 2012 at 9:51 pm

Bring back compare and contrast! Or atleast post some sort of content examining the new episodes.

And:

ecco6t9

1 January 2013 at 2:01 am

What happened here? Lightning hit the transmitter?

My original plan for Season 24 was to do Compare & Contrasts for about half the episodes, but Zombie Simpsons has been through eight episodes so far and I’ve only managed to mock two of them.  That simply will not do.  I wouldn’t call this a New Year’s resolution or anything, but those should be cropping up with more frequency here in 2013.  The spinoff took way more of my time last year than I thought it would, but now that it looks like a site you wouldn’t be embarrassed to take your family (it’s even got a Quote of the Day), it should be easier for me to get Compare & Contrasts done. 

Anyway, here’s to less neglect in the new year. 

***

Enjoy.

Eight Awesome Voice Actors and What They Actually Look Like – This is mostly Futurama and other non-Simpsons shows, but Castellaneta makes an appearance and there is a ton of great YouTube.  Maurice LaMarche’s in particular is awesome, in no small part because making fun of William Shatner never gets old. 

Jokealong: HAMMOCKS – It is possible that Scorpio’s riff on hammocks is the best hammock joke in the English language. 

The Simpsons and a Dance Party at the 2013 Tucson International Jewish Film Festival – Mike Reiss is going to be in Arizona:

Opening night of the festival kicks off at The Loft and features special guest, Mike Reiss, longtime writer/producer of The Simpsons. Reiss will share rare clips and inside stories from one of the longest running shows in T.V. history.

He’ll be at the Loft Cinemas next Thursday, January 10th.

My boyfriend is an animator on The Simpsons. This is his attempt to entertain future plane-sick passegers on Southwest Airlines. – Heh.

Are the new episodes of the simpsons not as funny as the older episodes? – Yahoo Answers has this as a “Resolved Question”:

Resolved Quesiton

The rest of the answers aren’t any kinder to Zombie Simpsons:

I’ve seen a few new episodes, they aren’t that funny anymore :(

Source(s):

Been watching Simpsons for years!

And:

Definately the old episodes are better.
Once you’ve seen Homer fall over or bash himself so many times, it just isnt funny anymore.

Siblings – Animated .gif of Bart sharing his ice cream from the end of “Lisa on Ice”.

Seems legit – Save that for court.

Poor Milhouse – A big, subtitled .jpg of nobody liking Milhouse.

[News] Sky Ferreira Has A Video For “Lost In My Bedroom” That I Found While Lying In Bed – Excellent reference:

Any video that opens with an epilepsy warning has got to be a winner, am I right? When the message first appeared I immediately thought of The Simpsons episode where the family visits Tokyo and seizes on the floor every time the flashing Japanese television shows come on.

Ned Flanders Soundboard – An Android app that appears to do little besides play Flanders sounds.  Seems neat, if quickly tiresome.

Stupid Risks – Quoting Homer’s admonition to take risks in “Lost Our Lisa”.  I’ve never really liked that episode, but Marge being the “stable type, and that’s fine in small doses” is a pretty good line.

Doctor Who Monday: The Snowmen…In 10 Words – No, we’ll make real men out of snow.

2012…In 10 Words – Somewhere, Flanders gets started on his income taxes.

Django Unchained…In 10 Words – What I’m trying to say with this cartoon is that violence is everywhere in our society, man, it’s like even in breakfast cereals.

2012 Year-End Roundup – Some Top 5 Lists – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us, in this case, our old friend ilmozart.  Zombie Simpsons came in #1 for “Things that Disappointed Me”, and justifiably so:

I feel like this is a given. Considering how important this show has been to me during my life, some of the worst episodes the series has ever done aired this year – notably “Lisa Goes Gaga” the season 23 finale. Pair that with “Moonshine River”, the season 24 premiere, and it is a wonder I still watch the show at all. It has totally forgotten its heritage and has turned its back on what made the show great in the first place. A constant and continued disappointment.

Amen, sister.  Amen.

10
Nov
12

Quote of the Day

Star Trek XII

“Captain’s log, stardate sixty-fifty-one, had trouble sleeping last night.  My hiatal hernia is acting up.  The ship is drafty and damp.  I complain but, nobody listens.” – Captain Kirk
“Star Trek XII: So Very Tired.  See the original cast in their latest, greatest adventure.” – TV Announcer
“Captain, Klingons off the starboard bow.” – Mr. Sulu
“Again with the Klingons.  Mr. Scott, give me full power.” – Captain Kirk
“It’s no good, captain, I canna reach the control panel.” – Mr. Scott

Happy (belated) 20th Anniversary to “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie”.  Original airdate 3 November 1992.  (Got lost in the craziness and confusion and mishegoss of the election.)  

26
Aug
12

Quote of the Day

Armstrong's Defining Moment

“Dad, I agree that Bart should be punished, but the Itchy and Scratchy movie is the defining event of our generation.  How would you have liked it if someone told you that you couldn’t watch the moon landing?” – Lisa Simpson
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” – Neil Armstrong
“Yummy yummy yummy I got love in my tummy and I feel like loving you.” – Homer Simpson

01
Mar
12

Internet History

“But the following year Scratchy was teamed up with a psychotic young mouse named Itchy, and cartoon history was made.” – Kent Brockman

A few weeks ago, David Silverman tweeted the following:

Silverman Worst Episode Ever Tweet

In case you can’t see the image, it says “Came across first known sighting of "worst episode ever" 11/3/92. This guy HATES ep 9F03 – just hilarious.”  Indeed it is.  Here’s the wonderfully archaic alt.tv.simpsons post from 4 November 1992 (the “>” on the top two lines are where he’s quoting a previous post):

>Wow, what an intense episode.  … I didn’t know it was
>going to be so cool so I didn’t take notes.  Anyway……

Intense?  I thought this was easily the worst episode ever.  Simply not
funny.   "Where did he put the firecracker?"  I can’t imagine child abuse
being funny.  Now, somebody being eaten by a gorilla, somebody being hit
by lightning, that’s funny.  Child abuse is not.  The way I interpreted it,
this was a reference to a standard technique of using dolls to get physically/
sexually abused children to talk about the abuse incidents.

Bart dropping his pants.  How many times is this funny?  Well, it was
funny when we saw it in a previous episode.  But I don’t think that
Bart’s butt is inherintly funny.  Also, we have never actually seen
Homer spank Bart, have we?  So why does Bart expect it so readily?

Bart as a stripper.  Really more repulsive than funny.  The bad thing about
things like this is that I used to disagree with parents who didn’t let
their children watch the Simpsons – I no longer disagre with them.  I
would not have wanted my children (if I had any) to watch that scene.

Star Trek.  In Living Color has done it.  Saturday Night Live has done it.
Mad magazine has done it.  Local high school talent shows have done it.
Now, the Simpsons have done it, and they didn’t do it any better than anyone
else.  Should have left it alone, and come up with something original.

Homer being very familiar with Chief Justices.  (BTW, the title is ‘Chief
Justice of the United States’, not ‘Chief Justice of the Supreme Court’ –
don’t know if this error was intentional or not, it’s not really important.)
Once in a while, when Homer throws out something like that, it is funny.
Yes, it is out of character for Homer to say anything too intellectual, but
I admit one of my favorite Simpson’s moment is when Homer is intervening
in an argument between Lisa and the Albanian kid (Adil?) and he says
something about ‘the blood of the workers oiling the machinery of
capitalism’.  But that was just a one time thing.  maybe it was something
that Homer heard once, and it got stuck somewhere in his brain.  But
we know that this is an aberration, Homer is simply not a bright guy.
I can’t believe he is that familiar with the names of the Supreme
court justices.  (However, I did laugh at ‘Warren Burger…Mmmmm….Burger…’)
It would have been more in character if Lisa had recited the names…

And I didn’t like the bit about 40 years from now, although I don’t really
have an argument against it.  I just didn’t like it.

This episode was an appeal to the lowest common denominator.  It exploited
cliches instead of exposing them.  It twisted character traits in order to
go after laughs.  It relied on gimmicks that got a laugh in the past.  It
became a parody of itself.  I repeat, this was by far the worst episode ever.
I hope it was an aberration – I don’t think I have seen these trends in
other recent episodes, so I am hopeful.

-JD


"Good Idea, Boss."    – Homer Simpson

That’s right, he drops “worst episode ever” twice!  Upon first reading this I thought I’d fisk it, and point out how the kind of counterexample rich criticism we do here is much different than “I don’t really have an argument against it.  I just didn’t like it.”  But then it occurred to me that, despite the vast technical changes in the interceding twenty years (the first web browser didn’t even exist then), internet arguments really aren’t all that different in 2012 than they were in 1992.  So I read the rest of the thread and the overwhelming majority of the comments on “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie” from 1992 are so positive as to border on glowing (deservedly so).

The first post in the thread is from a guy who liked the episode but “couldn’t find a suitable tape to record it on in time” so he couldn’t offer a very detailed analysis.  Here’s the second post:

God, I can’t say how much I loved Steamboat Itchy.  It moved me.

And the third post:

BTW, I loved `Steamboat Itchy’ too…  Every one of the early I&S
shorts were great!

And the fourth:

It certainly was a thing of beauty.

And the sixth:

I think Kent Brock man said it was 1928, the year you could see Al
Capone (is that who it was?) doin the Charleston (is that what it was)
on a flagpole (I KNOW it was a flagpole ;-).  I thought ti was great
that they took 3 unrelated things from the 20′s and said you could see
them together!  :-)

The post Silverman linked was the fifth in the thread; and just two posts later someone did a detailed, point by point rebuttal of the “worst episode ever” guy.  The thread goes on from there with the kind of internet back-and-forth that will be familiar to anyone reading this site.  Things got to the point that the “worst episode ever” guy actually had to defend his sense of humor.  After that there was some discussion about whether or not Disney could or would sue over “Steamboat Itchy”, and whether or not the original “Steamboat Willie” was still under copyright (an actual lawyer eventually weighed in to explain how copyright law worked). 

There’s no point digging into a nearly twenty year old flame war, but the thread is more than a time capsule.  It’s also a great piece of evidence against the contention, which I still see from time to time, that the internet has always been filled with mindless, vitriolic hatred of the show.  That just isn’t the case.  There have always been dumb things on the internet, but, at least as represented in this thread (which is not on SNPP), the on-line opinion of Season 4 at the time of broadcast was overwhelmingly supportive. 

When the real grumbling about the show started, it wasn’t because disliking the show was cool, or because the most involved fans all have mean streaks.  It was because the show got worse, a gradual process that had precisely nothing to do with the internet and everything to do with the show itself. 

21
Dec
11

Quote of the Day

Itchy and Scratchy - The Movie3

“I’m here live in Korea to give you a first hand look at how American cartoons are made.” – Kent Brockman

Happy birthday Phil Roman!

01
Aug
11

Quote of the Day

Jury Duty

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user denverkid.

“Now, what were we talking about, boy?” – Homer Simpson
“Uh, we were talking about the time you beat jury duty.” – Bart Simpson
“Oh yeah, the trick is to say you’re prejudiced against all races.” – Homer Simpson

21
Dec
10

Quote of the Day

Itchy & Scratchy Movie Promo

“Bart, come quick, there’s an Itchy & Scratchy movie!” – Lisa Simpson
“If you want suspense . . . romance . . . you’ll find it at the Itchy & Scratchy movie, coming soon to a theater near you.  Fifty-three percent new footage.” – TV Announcer

Happy Birthday Phil Roman!

02
Dec
10

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:

Steamboats

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):

Fantasia1

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):

Fantasia2

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:

Scratchtasia1

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:

Scratchtasia2

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. 

15
Oct
10

Sorry Everyone, The Banksy Thing Is Lame

Fifteen years ago, when The Simpsons was still on the air, The Critic had a scene set in the “Oliver Twist Preschool”.  Skip to the 4:30 mark:

For anyone who can’t get the video, here’s the important part:

Adorable Child Laborer: Sir, have we made enough Simpsons merchandise yet?
Cruel Workhouse Guy: Never!

Never, indeed.  Three years before that, The Simpsons itself made fun of its own production process:

Again, for anyone who can’t see the video (or in case it gets pulled):

Kent Brockman: I’m here live in Korea to give you a first hand look at how American cartoons are made.

Those two things and the overwrought sixty second opening from Zombie Simpsons, kinda the same or exactly the same?  I’d lean towards exactly, but that’s just me.

I found that second YouTube video via a smart post by Jaime Weinman at Macleans.ca, which was far and away the best take on this thing I saw:

Still, maybe it’s because I’m used to the Simpsons era where a long couch gag was just a sign of an episode that ran short (remember the dancing/circus one that was intended to be the longest ever? Now it’s not even close), but I’m not always blown away by these long gags. Mainly because they are just that, long, and I like The Simpsons best when it’s most concise.

[...]

But they already did essentially the same gag in the fourth season episode “Itchy and Scratchy the Movie,” and they did it in only a few seconds. The great thing about The Simpsons in its prime is that it could pack a tremendous amount of satire into a very short joke. Just as they could sum up all the absurdity of the entire MacGyver series with one line of dialogue (“Don’t thank me, thank the moon’s gravitational pull”), one shot and one line from Kent Brockman could say about five different things about the outsourcing of American animation to overseas studios.

Exactly.  The opening lingers on each of its little cruelties long after you’ve gotten the joke because for all its style there isn’t much substance here.  Yes they’re using cats to make stuffing for Bart Simpson dolls, yes they’re using a dolphin’s head to seal boxes, yes they’re animating in a sweatshop, but instead of moving along quickly and trusting the audience to follow things, they stop repeatedly and bash the joke into your face.

What ideas there are, up to and including the unicorn and the North Korean FOX logo, were from Banksy.  The wretched pacing and enormous length were all Zombie Simpsons.  Here’s Al Jean, revealing perhaps a little more than he should in his congratulatory interview with The New York Times:

Q. How did you find Banksy to do this, and now that it’s done, how much trouble are you in?
A. Well, I haven’t been fired yet, so that’s a good sign. I saw the film Banksy directed, “Exit Through the Gift Shop,” and I thought, oh, we should see if he would do a main title for the show, a couch gag. So I asked Bonnie Pietila, our casting director, if she could locate him, because she had previously located people like Thomas Pynchon. And she did it through the producers of that film. We didn’t have any agenda. We said, “We’d like to see if you would do a couch gag.” So he sent back boards for pretty much what you saw.

Jean also talks about how little it changed from the original ideas he gave them.  What he’s essentially saying is that someone else came up with all the concepts, they just animated it and stretched it out to be about three times longer than it should have been.  Of course, Jean takes his usual talking points out for a spin as well:

Obviously, the animation to do this was pricey. I couldn’t have just snuck it by Fox. I’ll just say it’s a place where edgy comedy can really thrive, as long as it’s funny, which I think this was. None of it’s personal. This is what made “The Simpsons” what it is.

Jean’s done this kind of interview so many times I think he can do it in his sleep.  He even managed to compare Zombie Simpsons to Mad Men, a show the wider world actually cares about.  I thought that was a nice touch.

What makes this interview dumber than most is that the reporter, Dave Itzkoff, basically wets himself with fear about corporate backlash.  The whole thing only runs to eight questions, and four of them are about FOX and whether or not they were mad.  He says that he’s aware of the show’s history of mocking FOX, but I’m not so sure.

Compounding the misguided awe that this was somehow brave is the idea that anyone would care about this if it didn’t have the name “Banksy” attached to it:

Last night’s Banksy-directed "couch gag" that opened The Simpsons has been making waves on the internet today—not just because it was Banksy, but because the show basically eviscerated its own brand in the span of a few minutes.

I’m actually quite sure that it was “just because it was Banksy”.  This is the show regurgitating a concept from nearly twenty years ago.  If it hadn’t had his name on it no one would’ve cared outside of No Homers and the other Simpson parts of the internet.

Boiled down, this is typical Zombie Simpsons. They’re:

  • Repeating something that was done better a long time ago.
  • Leeching off someone else’s celebrity to remain relevant.
  • Stretching things out to fill time.
  • Masquerading gentle humor as actual satire.
  • Unironically patting themselves on the back for all of the above.

Thanks to Dave for help with the links, and to reader Eric for e-mailing in the Macleans thing.

21
Aug
10

Quote of the Day


“Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; what great men he would join. John Marshall, Charles Evans Hughes, Warren Burger… mmm, burger.” – Homer Simpson

23
Jul
10

Reading Digest: Guest Voice Apathy Edition

Itchy and Scratchy - The Movie2

“And you wouldn’t believe the celebrities who did cameos, Dustin Hoffman, Michael Jackson, of course, they didn’t use their real names, but you could tell it was them.” – Lisa Simpson 

This week it came out that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (who has a movie coming out) and Mad Men’s Jon Hamm (fourth season starts this weekend) will be guest voicing on the next season of Zombie Simpsons.  I care so little about this that I didn’t even find a link worth linking.  On the plus side, there’s some excellent usage, a “think of the children” moment, a preacher who knows his Simpsons, and black and white YouTube.

Enjoy.

List-Mania: More Simpsons! – A list of five favorite Simpsons characters with quotes, nary a one from Zombie Simpsons.  Bravo. 

News Media an Exclusive Playground for Pro-Police Lobby – My quest for the widespread acceptance of forfty continues:

Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, 14 percent of all people know that.

Forfty!  (Also, he says “Kent” before “forfty”.)  Towards the end of the article, it’s about trumped up crime statistics in Calgary, is a mostly correct citation of Lisa and Homer’s exchange about the rock that keeps tigers away.  Moderate usage all around. 

Episcopal minister knows his ‘Simpsons’ – A Simpsons quiz in Sioux City, Iowa was won by Torey Lightcap, who not only is an Episcopal minister but uses them in his sermons:

"’The Simpsons’ are so universally and instantly identifiable that I can refer to them and feel confident that people will know who I’m talking about," Lightcap, who received a $10 Hy-Vee gift certificate for his win, said.

Congratulations, reverend. 

[Visual] James Hopkins – Perspective Sculptures – This is really cool.  These are sculptures that only look right when viewed from a specific angle.  There’s one of the family on the couch (with the kids and adults reversed in size) and one of Itchy & Scratchy. 

Alanah Throop’s “Top 10 Worst Fictional Bosses” – Mr. Burns checks in at #3.  Hard to argue with Darth Vader at #1, he goes through subordinates awfully quickly. 

Happy Birthday, Edward Hopper! – Hopper was the guy who originally painted that famous scene of the people sitting at the diner.  It’s accompanied here by it’s possibly even more famous derivation with dead celebrities, and a Simpsons version.

So how do you stop the ferris wheel again? – Remembering a job at the carnival, and first hand proof that real life Carnies are just like Cooder and Spud. 

Media literacy and why Homer matters – Remember that guy in England who thought his kid’s school was leaning too heavily on The Simpsons.  Now he’s getting plunked by everyone and their mother on Twitter. 

BP Ad/Well-Cap Visuals: Out of Sight, Out of Mind – BP’s desire to not be seen as the bad guys despite being the bad guys makes for dishonest visuals and excellent usage:

This visual sleight (slight)-of-hand ties in neatly with the intuitive intelligence of people who live on and make their living from the Gulf, as pictures of the capped well replace the recursive loop of spewing oil on the nightly news. Brian Williams even leads his network’s reports on the well-cap with the fear the natives (justifiably) have that viewers will simply forget the 180,000+ gallons? barrels? spilled into the ecosystem when it appears (on TV) that the bleeding of the Earth has been stanched. (cf. ‘Sherry Bobbins,’ leading a Simpsons singalong: “If nobody sees it, nobody gets mad!”)

The actual lyric has a “then” in front of the second “nobody”, but that’s still excellent usage.

The Rule of Three: Part 2 of 3 – A discussion of extra long gags on television that is accompanied by Sideshow Bob’s encounter with the rakes from Cape Feare.  The special bonus is YouTube of the scene, but black and white and in German.  The side of the truck and Homer’s shirt were animated in German. 

Generation X: Clueless Teachers with an Appetite for Destruction – Amidst a lament about how long ago some things really are, I’d like to disagree with this:

When we were young, you could see the Van Halen videos, all day, on a TV screen — TV! What they had before you watched shows on your laptop or mobile phone or blender, for Chrissakes!

Hmm, that reminds me, they grew up with The Simpsons –  all twenty years of it — so maybe they had better TV than us. But still, not better rock’n’roll.

For college kids today (roughly born between 1988-1992), they had to find good Simpsons on syndication, and even that’s awfully hard nowadays.  By the time they were old enough to appreciate it, the show had pretty much turned to shit. 

Breitbart employs the "dig up, stupid" strategy – This is excellent usage:

Back in the series’ heyday, there was an episode of The Simpsons in which the people of Springfield go on a frantic search for millions of dollars in buried treasure, only to find out after they’ve started digging that the treasure does not exist. Undaunted, they continue digging until eventually they’re trapped at the bottom of a very large hole. Faced with the question of how they will escape, Homer enthusiastically says: "We’ll dig our way out!" They resume digging, only to have Chief Wiggum nonsensically chastise one of his fellow excavators: "No, no, dig up, stupid."

I can’t help but think of this when I see Andrew Breitbart desperately try to spin his way out of the Shirley Sherrod fiasco, which was entirely of his making and has blown up squarely in his own face. On Good Morning America, Breitbart tried to convince everyone that this whole affair was never about Shirley Sherrod being a racist, even though George Stephanopoulos was right there with Breitbart’s original post in hand, quoting the several instances in which he attacked Sherrod as a racist.

Very apt, and perfectly quoted. 

Splitsville Gets Smaller – In the comments on last week’s Reading Digest, Lovejoy Fan was wondering why Helen Lovejoy’s “think of the children” thing is quoted so often.  I can’t speak for other countries, but here in America “think of the children” gets trotted out to justify pretty much everything, pretty much all the time.  Here’s another example:

I had to engage in a bit of uproarious guffawing upon reading this brain-dead take on New York’s long-awaited shift to no-fault divorce. The writer pleads for Governor David Patterson to veto the bill, using that tried-and-true "won’t somebody please think of the children!" logic lampooned so memorably on The Simpsons.

It is the go to American political argument for just about anything (and it’s so vague that it can usually be used by either side).  Oh, and that’s excellent usage. 

We Feel Obligated To Share This Video Of Carl Crawford Getting Hit In The Groin – Speaking of things The Simpsons nailed so well that it’s almost impossible to avoid, here’s a video of a guy taking a baseball in the nuts.  Nut shot videos are inherently funny, but they’re even funnier during live sports because the announcers have to not laugh and describe it with polite language.  Oh yes, there’s Hulu of Hans Moleman as well.  

The Simpsons Skateboarding – A modern review of an old PS2 game:

I have been hearing bad things about this game for a long time now, and have shunned them and said "Well, I love the Simpsons. And skateboarding games are fun. So Simpsons and skateboarding should be fun right?" Well, I picked this game up last week expecting the game to be really fun, but very unfortunately, it’s not. Not even close. This game sucks in nearly every possible way.

Remember, things like this are why the show is still on the air.  Also, I love the conclusion:

So to shut down, this game is awful. Do not waste your 7 bucks on this like I did.

It’s not worth seven dollars!  Ha. 

Simpsons Sunday – And finally, the weekend is starting and courtesy of our friend Leah at Cromulent Words comes Homer’s night out:

20
Jul
10

Quote of the Day

Itchy and Scratchy - The Movie2

“Homer, we’d like to talk to you.” – Marge Simpson
“But then I won’t be watching TV, you can see the bind I’m in.” – Homer Simpson

15
Jul
10

Quote of the Day

“Hubba hubba, oh you kid.” – Bart Simpson
“Thank you dear, now be good for Grampa while we’re at the parent-teacher meeting. We’ll bring back dinner.” – Marge Simpson
“What are we going to have?” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, that depends on what your teachers say. If you’ve been good, pizza. If you’ve been bad… uh, let’s see… poison.” – Homer Simpson
“What if one of us has been good and one of us has been bad?” – Lisa Simpson
“Poison pizza.” – Bart Simpson
“Oh no, I’m not making two stops.” – Homer Simpson

13
Dec
09

That’s Okay Lisa, We Can’t Believe This Is Still Happening Either

“Bart has been guilty of the following atrocities: synthesizing a laxative from peas and carrots, replacing my birth control pills with tic tacs.” – Mrs. Krabappel

Well, that was unpleasant.  A few weeks ago Bart was way out of character worrying about his future.  This time he’s way out of character worrying about not having a brother.  As per usual the nonsensical storyline wasn’t nearly meaty enough to fill the allotted time so there was plenty of clock killing montages (including a star studded dream sequence that was as humorless as it was unbelievably long).  What jokes there were tended to be either ripped off or recycled from earlier episodes.  That they were done much poorer than in the original goes almost without saying.

The final word here comes from Zombie Simpsons itself.  Near the beginning, as Homer was acting even jerkier than usual, an exasperated and disbelieving Lisa simply said, “Really?”.  Really. 

13
Nov
09

Reading Digest: Movie Leftovers Edition

Itchy and Scratchy - The Movie1“It’s just not the same.” – Bart Simpson

To go along with the fact that the Simpsonize Me website is still down we’ve got two other links to leftover stuff from the Simpsons movie this week.  Also there’s a little bit of video, some pointless internet lists, one piece of excellent usage, and a blogger who agrees with us. 

Enjoy.

Limited "unlimited" claims should be banned – This is a discussion about how services are pretty much always lying to you when they promise unlimited anything.  It starts by quoting Lionel Hutz questioning Marge about what happened at the all you can eat seafood restaurant.  The quote is almost dead on and even though Hutz is listed only as “Lawyer”, I’m still calling it excellent usage.

Me fail English? That’s unpossible! – YouTube for the hell of it.  No other reason given or needed.

Man getting hit by football – Speaking of short YouTube clips, here’s a ref taking a football in the groin.  (Also there’s a link to the Simpsons version.)   

it’s the Top 5… hairstyles in the movies! – Marge comes in at #1, beating out Princess Leia. 

100 Reasons to Love Winnipeg – #54:

Homer Simpson is from here. In 2002, Simpsons creator Matt Groening noted his father, also named Homer, was born in Canada, making the lovable cartoon character a Canadian, too. But from where? “Uh, if you went straight north from Kansas, where would that be? Winnipeg? Yes, Winnipeg!” Good enough for us.

Given what’s happened to their hockey team since it moved to Phoenix, I’m inclined to give this to them.

Ken Griffey Jr: The Forgotten Superstar – This rather schmaltzy article praises Griffey, mentions that the Simpsons was still good in 1997 and . . . doesn’t mention Griffey on the Simpsons.  How is that possible? 

Trinity Mirror gives away Simpsons comic – Some Scottish newspaper readers will get some free Simpsons comics this weekend. 

Awesome Pictures: The Simpsons do Abbey Road – It’s that Simpsons/Abbey Road picture I loathe.  (Just to be clear, I understand why people like this, it’s just sad that there’s a better one that is almost completely ignored.)

You know i love you – Well, at least one person’s doing that scavenger hunt thing.  Look at that entry form!  I don’t see a space for Social Security # and a blood sample, so those are probably on the next screen.

The WWE is a lot like The Simpsons – Simpsons characters with their professional wrestling equivalents. 

Panel offers comic relief for comic strips in distress – A brief recap of Groening’s appearance in Chicago last weekend. 

XUP – The faces behind some famous cartoon voices, including some Simpsons people and Mel Blanc, one of the all time greats. 

Simpsons Come to the Springfield Museum – One of those big couches from the movie is moving into the Springfield Museum in Springfield, Oregon. 

Real Life Kwik-E-Mart – Much like the giant couch, this appears to be from two years ago for the movie.  But it’s got pictures from inside the Kwik-E-Mart/7-11 and since I never went to one it’s kinda neat (via Twitter).

Best Simpsons Poker Scenes Ever – Only one of these scenes is from Zombie Simpsons (it’s from Season 12 when Krusty bets his daughter’s violin because the plot needed to move along), the rest are gold.  Also, there’s a clip of Homer winning at poker and not realizing it that has the image reversed and is in German.  Worth clicking just to hear Moe choke on his own rage in another language.

10 Best TV Neighbors – This list was obviously compiled by someone who watched a lot of television  from approximately 1985-1995, but Flanders is here so it makes the grade (via Twitter).

Can’t Sleep, Clown Will Eat Me – Ever Google the phrase at left?  Someone did and now you can see the horrifying results, especially the picture of the cat in the homemade clown bed. 

Debbie Harry, Joan Jett, and Cyndi Lauper get the Mattel treatment – Some ladies of the 80s (hey, that rhymes!) are getting the Malibu Stacy treatment.  Also, nice WordPress theme. 

Sam Sifton and ‘Meh’ – I don’t think “Meh” originated on The Simpsons, but it’s use on the show most certainly pre-dates Season 6.  

The Simpsons Plateau. – And finally, I get to end the way I like to, with another person who agrees with us:

The best closing line to any episode of The Simpsons has got to be: “Tell him I’m going to the backseat of my car with the woman I love, and I won’t be back for 10 minutes!”  This, astonishingly, was released in 1990, titled “Life On the Fast Lane“.  20 years ago.  What happened since then?  If I were to graph out my liking the Simpsons since it debuted back then to now, it would probably look like a plateau with steep ridges coming up from a valley, with hills to the East (fairly steep incline up to a fairly flat peak, fiarly sharp decline down to a low point, then up only a smudge).

That’s a little more credit than I give Zombie Simpsons, but I’m always happy to find another person who knows how bad the show’s gotten (and loves Season 1!). 

01
Mar
09

Isn’t There An Award Show I Could Be Watching?

“TV sucks.” – Bart Simpson

“How The Test Was Won” will be airing in about a half-hour, and instead of doing my duty and watching it so I may rip on it, I am seriously considering watching the Cops marathon on Tru TV. The Comcast (ugh) promo clearly states that Bart is going to be swept under the rug again, and Homer will have to avoid getting hurt because his insurance has lapsed. Homer hasn’t been safe from a weekly life-threatening injury in 11 years, so my guess is that he’s screwed. But don’t take my word for it, watch any episode of Zombie Simpsons and you will see that even with a p value of 7 sigmas, it is statistically impossible for Homer not to get hurt tonight. Just thinking about this episode has made me anxious enough to go take a Xanax. So if you will excuse me please.

11
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Homer, do you want your son to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a sleazy male stripper?” – Marge Simpson
“Can’t he be both, like the late Earl Warren?” – Homer Simpson
“Earl Warren wasn’t a stripper.” – Marge Simpson
“Now who’s being naive?” – Homer Simpson



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