“They won’t stop me from delivering these UNICEF pennies . . . Go, pennies! Help the puny children who need you.” – McBain
Posts Tagged ‘King of the Hill
“Has anyone mentioned that Homer doesn’t know anything about mountain climbing, and that this is all crazy?” – Marge Simpson
“Well yes, a number of people.” – Neil
Just a few minutes into “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”, more than a decade of accumulated bad habits catastrophically cratered the episode:
Zombie Marge: Homie, you know all the bits, maybe you could help him.
Zombie Homer: I can’t do reefer comedy, I’m drunk, two different animals.
Zombie Marge: Homer Simpson, that man’s albums have given you decades of entertainment, and seen you through some very square times. Help him!
Zombie Crowd: [Cheers wildly]
Mobsters, teachers, Smithers, Mrs. Glick, it’s almost like they have no personality of their own.
You know where it goes from there. Homer walks on stage and everyone loves him. The man who is ostensibly an ordinary guy from an ordinary town once again becomes an overnight celebrity. Afterwards, the episode staggers around for another fifteen minutes, bumbling from one topic to the next as it tries to tell a story it’s told a hundred times before.
Homer has had plenty of wild adventures going all the way back to the beginning of the show. But prior to about Season 9 or so, whenever Homer went out and did something really far fetched he was usually more along for the ride than in the driver’s seat. He certainly didn’t become an accomplished professional in the span of a few seconds. When he headed out with Hullabalooza, he wasn’t backing up Peter Frampton on guitar or freestyling with Cypress Hill. When he went into space, the NASA guys were planning on sedating him almost immediately, he wasn’t scheduled to land the shuttle. When he played softball with all those ringers, he couldn’t get a hit off Roger Clemens, nor could he field as well as Daryl Strawberry. He was always an amateur, even if he often found himself in places amateurs rarely tread.
Compare that with the way Marge and the crowd shove him onstage during “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”. He becomes the main act instantly, acquiring the timing and poise of an accomplished stage performer, something that requires years of training and practice, in less than a minute. The crowd knows it too, and they’re a-okay with Homer replacing one of the men they paid to see. He’s no longer a lucky amateur, he’s now the same mega-popular super character within the world of the show that he’s long been outside of it, and everyone, from his family to the crowd to the guest stars, understands that intuitively.
I bet he’s glad his face is on a bunch of crappy merchandise though.
This is far from the first time Zombie Simpsons has done something like this. The degradation of Homer from a recognizable everyman into an unrepentant, unfeeling, unrestrained id of middle age wish fulfillment is one of the true hallmarks of Zombie Simpsons. It started way back when the show began its implosion around Season 9 as Homer embarked on an ever increasing series of jobs for which he was wildly unsuited: submarine captain, mayoral bodyguard, movie producer, etcetera. It’s been going on ever since; in just the last two seasons Homer has become a movie star, an Olympic athlete, an undercover cop, and now a professional comedian.
The reduction of Homer into a cheap, one dimensional gag machine has also damaged the other characters around him, especially Marge. When Homer goes on tour with his humble barbershop quartet, Marge is devastated and tries to compensate. When Homer wants to go on tour with the pageant of the transmundane, Marge is skeptical and afraid for him. These are the kinds of reactions you might expect from an actual woman upon hearing that her husband is planning on skipping town for a little while. In “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”, Marge just pats him on the head and tells him not to have too much fun, like she’s sending one of her children out to play.
We’ve secretly replaced the real Marge Simpson in one of these images. Try to guess which!
Once he’s actually out on tour the difference becomes even starker as Homer immediately becomes completely untethered from his life in a way that’d be unthinkable for the man in “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” or “Homerpalooza”. In the former, even winning a Grammy can’t distract him from his homesick loneliness, and he goes so far as to record a taped message for his kids. In the latter, his exploits with Smashing Pumpkins and company pass very quickly, and most of those are told in a letter he writes to Bart and Lisa. Yet for the entire middle of “A Midsummer’s Nice Dream”, Homer is completely cut off from his family or anything else that’s going on in the episode. He’s just out pestering Cheech Marin and doesn’t spend a single frame thinking about or missing the family he left behind.
The contrast with Hullabalooza and The Be Sharps couldn’t be clearer. In those episodes Homer is a real character whose actions and reactions reflect that, so even if he frequently finds himself in “wacky adventures” (as Lisa put it in Season 5), he’s still recognizable as the same guy. In Zombie Simpsons, Homer knows that he’s not a regular guy, he knows that his wife will happily tell him to board that tour bus, and once he’s aboard he never needs to give the rest of his life a second thought. Hacktacular crap like this went a long way towards degrading the show in the first place lo those ten or twelve years ago, and it hasn’t changed much.
There’s no new Zombie Simpsons until, gulp, the end of the month, so we’re going to spend what’s left of the summer overthinking Season 9. Why Season 9? Because we did Season 8 last summer, and Season 9 was when the show started becoming more Zombie than Simpsons. Since we’re too lazy to do audio and too ugly to do video, we’ve booked a “chatroom” (ours is right between the one with the sexy seventh graders and the one with the bored federal agents pretending to be sexy seventh graders). So log on to your dial-up AOL and join us. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (shockingly, not on “cetaceous”).
Today’s episode is 923 “King of the Hill”. Yesterday’s was 922 “Trash of the Titans”.
Charlie Sweatpants: This is one of those twilight of the Simpsons episodes that I liked a lot more the second time I saw it.
There’s a few too many horns of suspense to really enjoy it the first time around, because the story, especially the last third, doesn’t make a great deal of sense. But it’s shot through with good jokes.
Mad Jon: It’s a zany plot idea, but there isn’t a whole lot that could have been done much better, minus, as you say the suspense horns, and some of the Homer gags I could live without – like the O2 tanks 5 feet up.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, that and the montage are the low points of the episode.
Mad Jon: Just like Trash of the Titans, I find this one entertaining.
Charlie Sweatpants: I like this one better than “Trash of the Titans”. There’s far less Jerkass Homer.
Dave: “Trash” is more watchable in my estimation, but this isn’t too far off.
Mad Jon: I don’t know why you would have both Steve Weber and Brendan Fraser guest voice at the same time. We’re they pitching something they did together?
But I did like their work.
Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t know, but they were both great.
The entire Powersauce thing was awesome, especially since food in bar form has only grown more popular and more idiotic since this episode aired.
Mad Jon: Also I am pretty sure the Murderhorn is taller than Mt. McKinley
Charlie Sweatpants: Only four vertical miles to go.
Mad Jon: It’s just apple cores and Chinese newspaper.
Charlie Sweatpants: The mountain thing is little tough to swallow, but that’s why this one improved so much on repeat viewings. Time-wise it doesn’t take up that much of the episode (in terms of threatening about how tall it is).
Mad Jon: Fair enough
I get a chuckle out of Grandpa’s story as well.
Course folks were tougher back then
Charlie Sweatpants: The suspense parts are all neatly broken up by things like the Sherpas, the Powersauce updates, and Homer discovering McAllister’s corpse and his hilarious last desire to see his wife blind and torture Abe Simpson.
Dave: It wasn’t quite classic Grampa, but it was enjoyable.
Mad Jon: Oh the Sherpas, they may be the funniest thing in Season 9
Charlie Sweatpants: He shouldn’t kick us.
Mad Jon: His toes will fall off soon.
Charlie Sweatpants: I foresaw your death last night.
Mad Jon: Stop saying that.
Charlie Sweatpants: And then the pickup truck stops to pick them up on the way to Nepal.
The Sherpas are pretty much solid gold.
So, by the way, is Rainier Wolfcastle.
Mad Jon: Technically, shouldn’t you go back to the bottom and start over?
Charlie Sweatpants: The CommiNazis in the McBain movie are good, as are his self regard and desire to shout slogans at people.
Mad Jon: Master your ass!
Charlie Sweatpants: The Abdominator, that’s a very quotable joke seeing as how they invent new abdominal contraptions every six months.
Also, this episode gave us the pronunciation of “gym” like it rhymes with “dime”. That’s a contribution to Western culture that will not soon be forgotten.
Mad Jon: You know, I’m pretty big on the opening as a whole too.
Charlie Sweatpants: There’s a lot to like at the picnic.
Mad Jon: “Sorry Daddy’s down for the day” is a great line.
Lovejoy telling Flanders to play the damn game, the policemen and the gangsters picnicking next to each other.
Charlie Sweatpants: Flanders, Lovejoy, Wiggum and the gangsters, even Comic Book Guy.
Mad Jon: All good stuff.
Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed.
I’m also a big fan of Marge’s sarcasm when Homer declares that he’s going to lose weight.
Kavner nailed that.
Mad Jon: The bit where he pushes down his belly to see the clock is reminiscent of earlier seasons as well.
Hmmm, talking about this episode with you guys may actually be improving my feelings about it.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s got some problems, but they’re very minor.
And there’s so much to love.
It’s also worth pointing out that they didn’t go overboard with Homer getting into shape. He can still have his flab grabbed and he still gets out of breath. Unlike, oh, say, that piece of shit from Season 21 when he went back and forth between ripped and cetaceous (sp) every thirty seconds.
Mad Jon: I don’t even remember that. But I’ll take your word for it.
Charlie Sweatpants: Holy shit, I spelled that right!
Mad Jon: Congradtulasions.
Charlie Sweatpants: Eat it, Google spell checker.
It was the one with Seth Rogan.
Mad Jon: Oh yeah. Dick. I asked you not to remind me.
Charlie Sweatpants: Homer became a movie star, losing and gaining wait, and all of America died a little inside.
Mad Jon: Yeah yeah, I remember. Stupid funny Seth Rogan not being funny.
Dave: Be more funny.
Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, anything else here?
Mad Jon: No, I think we covered it pretty well, a little crap, lots of goodies, not too shabby 150 episodes in.
Shit, I guess more like 180
Charlie Sweatpants: Honestly, this is one of the last ones I watch with any frequency.
There’s a few quality episodes after it, but not many.
Mad Jon: And they are kind of hard to find.
We’re getting to the bottom of the barrel for this season, and already I’m thinking of moving somewhere without internet access next summer so I don’t have to do anything with season 10.
Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, I’ll find you.
Mad Jon: I bet you would you bastard.
“Go ahead, try and grab some flab.” – Homer Simpson
Season 21 picked up pretty much where Season 20 left off, in the darkest center of a comedy black hole from which nothing can escape. It hit all the usual Zombie Simpson notes: recycling plots and jokes, filling time with humor free “action” sequences, giving Homer a new job, and having him act bipolar. In this particular instance it was a wretched cross of “Radioactive Man” and “King of the Hill”, only it was actually worse than that because it was so openly aping Entourage that it mentioned one of the characters.
There’s lots to pick on here, but for tonight I just want to highlight this little nugget of smug, baseless self satisfaction:
Zombie Bart: That was awesome!
Zombie Lisa: Although there were a few holes in the story.
Movie Guy: That’s the problem when you have seventeen writers. But don’t worry, we have two fresh ones working on it.
(Cut to Maggie and Mr. Teeny baning on laptops.)
Clearly the Season 12 commentaries are not an anomaly. Going by previous season premiers, plus the heavily advertised debut of the newest Family Guy spinoff, I’m setting the over/under on the ratings at 9.5 million viewers. As always, I’m hoping for the under.