Posts Tagged ‘Lisa’s Rival


Quote of the Day

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“I’ve got to stop being so petty.  I should be Alison’s friend, not her competitor.  I mean, she is a wonderful person.” – Lisa Simpson
“Way to go, Lis.  Why compete with someone who’s just gonna to kick your butt anyway?” – Bart Simpson
“I prefer my phrasing.” – Lisa Simpson

Happy birthday Yeardley Smith!


Quote of the Day

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“Let’s see, our foreign exchange student Uter has chosen Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. . . . But this is just an empty box.” – Principal Skinner
“I begged you to look at mine first.  I begged you.” – Uter


Quote of the Day

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“Sure is quiet in here today.” – Bee Robin
“Yes, a little too quiet, if you know what I mean.” – Bee Batman
“I’m afraid I don’t.” – Bee Robin
“You see, bees usually make a lot of noise.  No noise suggests no bees.” – Bee Batman
“Oh, I understand now.  Oh, look, there goes one.” – Bee Robin
“Too the Bee Mobile!” – Bee Batman
“You mean your Chevy?” – Bee Robin
“Yes.” – Bee Batman


Quote of the Day

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“Lisa, what’s the answer to number seven?” – Ralph Wiggum
“Sorry, Ralph, that would defeat the purpose of testing as a means of student evaluation.” – Lisa Simpson
“My cat’s name is Mittens.” – Ralph Wiggum


Reading Digest: Favorites Edition

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“There’s another girl at school who’s smarter, younger and a better sax player than me.  Ugh, I feel so average.” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, you’ll always be number one to me.” – Marge Simpson
“Hello?  First born within earshot.” – Bart Simpson
“I meant my number one girl. . . . Oh, for crying out . . .” – Marge Simpson

This week we’ve got four links (to three sites) naming or trying to name the #1 Simpsons episode of all time.  I always like reading people’s thoughts on the show, but I remain convinced that this is an impossible task.  I don’t even think I could pick a favorite season, much less an episode.  As soon as I chose one, I’d immediately start second guessing myself about how much I love all the ones I didn’t pick.  Madness lies down that path.  In other news, we’ve got plenty more on the new Springfield theme park area, an interview about Bartkira, Aasif Mandvi crediting Apu with influencing him, Apu (and others) reading the Dodgers starting lineup, new shoes, and lots more. 


‘Bartkira’ Is the Parodic Bastard Child of the ‘Simpsons’ and ‘Akira’ – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this interview with the guy who’s coordinating the Bartkira project.  I’d be in favor of this even if he hadn’t described it as spreading like fungal spores.   

Best. Episode. Ever. (First Quarter Round-Up) – The giant episode tournament has gotten 1/4 of the way through the epic first round, and it’s time to look back with a couple of charts.  With a nice nod to us (glad to link it!), Zombie Simpsons is getting killed:

The all-red bars from season 11 forward are pretty telling. Sooner or later one of them will produce a winner (round 41 is season 17 vs. season 19, for example), but over all the story the graph tells is clear.

Best. Episode. Ever. (Round 32) – And just like that, Season 6 nukes Season 18. 

Hank Azaria Dodgers Lineup – Azaria announced the Dodgers lineup earlier this week using the voices of Moe, Apu, and Chief Wiggum, whom the park announcer calls “Wiggins” at the end.

The Simpsons // Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Collection – Click through for pictures of the officially licensed shoes.  They go on sale tomorrow. 

TV – The Top 15 episodes of The Simpsons (Part 3) – Ahh, the list concludes with no Zombie Simpsons and “Lisa’s Substitute” at #1. 

FILM REVIEW The Purge – Moderate usage:

THERE’S a scene in ‘The Simpsons’ episode ‘Dog of Death’ where the phone rings at police headquarters. Eager to get back to watching the lottery draw, Chief Wiggum answers the call and delivers the immortal words: “No … sorry, you have the wrong number, this is 912.”
‘The Purge’, the new film from James DeMonaco, imagines a dystopian America in the near future where, for one night each year, all crime is legal. Including murder. During the 12-hour window, there’s no point calling the cops, or the hospitals.

Wiggum actually says, “No, you got the wrong number.  This is 912.”, but that’s pretty close.  (Incidentally, I rather liked The Purge.)

Superhero Sunday: Radioactive Man – Some love for a fictional fictional character, including some great screen grabs of his origin story from “Three Men and a Comic Book”.

Donner on belief – On Moses and Exodus:

“For even if you succeed in demonstrating conclusively that the man Moses never existed, or that he was not such a man as we supposed, you would not thereby detract one jot from the historical reality of the ideal Moses — the Moses who has been our leader not only for forty years in the wilderness of Sinai, but for thousands of years in all the wildernesses in which we have wandered since the Exodus.”

For the believer, this seems like a rather sensible position to me.

(Actually, though, we all know that what these quotes really remind me of is “Lisa the Iconoclast,” the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa proves that beloved town founder Jebediah Springfield was actually the murderous pirate Hans Sprungfeld, but as a serious academic I can’t bring that up. It’s a perfectly cromulent association to make, though.)

No reason the Simpsons can’t be used in academia.  

Trending Videos | The Simpsons movie – The NSA scene from the movie has been making the rounds a bit the last couple of weeks. 

Revisiting: The Simpsons – Someone who stopped watching the show as Zombie Simpsons took over is going to try and watch all the episodes again.  Good luck, and I’ll offer the same advice I do to everyone else who starts this: stop around Seasons 11 or 12.  Beyond there be monsters. 

‘The Simpsons’ voice actor Harry Shearer makes a home at Loyola – Some college kids in New Orleans are very lucky over and above going to college in New Orleans:

Harry Shearer, voice of more than 20 characters on the “The Simpsons” and bass player for the satirical rock group Spinal Tap, recently signed on as an artist-in-residence at the College of Music and Fine Arts of Loyola University New Orleans.


In his new role, Shearer will serve as a source of professional advice and guidance in filmmaking for Loyola students and will offer workshops on writing, acting and directing. Many students will gain hands-on experience as interns and assistants for Shearer, who will use Loyola’s state-of-the-art recording and filming studios for many of his own productions. Shearer and students are currently working on a new web series, which parodies a popular reality television show.

‘Internship,’ ‘Daily Show’s’ Aasif Mandvi: How I Snake-Charmed My Way to the Top (Guest Column) – Gotta love Mandvi:

One of the first auditions I got as a young actor in New York was for a commercial. I was up for the role of a snake charmer, and they wanted an Indian accent. Even though I was born in India, I had grown up in the U.K. and the U.S., and the only Indian accent I had reference to was my parents’. The last thing you want to sound like as an immigrant kid is your father, but my Indian need to make money trumped my Indian need to sound British, so I decided I would learn. Not my father’s accent, though. Instead, I would learn the accent of the stars. I watched Peter Sellers in The Party over and over again until “Birdie Num Num” was coming out of my ears. I watched the brilliance of The Simpsons’ Apu and learned from him how to play the quintessential Indian immigrant. By the time my audition came around a few days later, I was ready. I was bobbing my head from side to side and saying “deary, deary me” as loud as I could. The producers of the commercial were laughing. I saw the brown cash cow before me, and I had come with milk bucket in hand.


Mourinho slashes Chelsea squad – New transfers coming!! – Nice reference:

It’s the time of year that Homer Simpson loves more than any other – the cut. Chelsea have announced the release of 8 players – and there aren’t too many surprises.

The Purge…In 10 Words – I guess killing will be fun enough.

E3 2013…In 10 Words – What is this place?  The refuge of the damned. 

Dairy Queen…In 10 Words – Mmm, crumbled up cookie things. 

Fox Announces TV Panel Line Up for SDCC – For any of you heading to San Diego, here you go:

We’re dooooooooomed! An epic panel for the ages will celebrate Futurama’s latest and greatest final season. On hand will be most or all of Futurama’s legendary voice cast, comprised of Billy West, John DiMaggio, Katey Sagal, Maurice LaMarche, Tress MacNeille, David Herman, Phil LaMarr, and Lauren Tom, performing never-before-heard scenes from the upcoming “Last Episode Ever”. Plus: Executive Producer David X. Cohen, Creator Matt Groening, and a cartooning showdown to the death! (Note: actual death not guaranteed.)

Celebrate The Simpsons’ 25th year on the air with Creator Matt Groening, Executive Producer Al Jean, Supervising Director Mike Anderson, Consulting Producer David Silverman, never-before seen footage from guest director Guillermo del Toro and musical guests “We Put The Spring In Springfield”!

I’ll bet the Futurama panel is way more fun than the Zombie Simpsons one. 

Quarter Life Crisis – Thoughts from the young:

I was a starving student busting my way through essays and last minute projects followed by a few mental breakdowns here and there. I lived in my mom’s basement while working two jobs. (Props to me) and on the occasional Friday night, I would splurge on some beer and drink away my worries that I was keeping at bay. Until I saw an episode of the Simpson’s.

Which is followed by a picture of Homer reassuring Bart that when he gets a job he’ll miss every summer, which is followed by the rather awesome conclusion:

My life was over. I saw the look on Bart’s face and I made a secret pact to myself that that sad little yellow boy would not be me. I am a true believer in breaking out of your comfort zone… unless you want to be comfortable because I totally respect that. I was one of them.

But let’s be frank here, as long as you’re happy- do it. In this day and age, I would be truly disappointed in mankind if it is still frowned upon to lead an adventurous lifestyle.

Just because I don’t want to work at a desk 9-5 does not make me immature.

It most certainly does not. 

The “Very Best Lobsters In The World” Are Back In NYC: Gothamist – Check out the picture caption for some excellent usage.

10 Catchiest Wordless TV Theme Songs – The Simpsons theme obviously makes the list:

I started watching The Simpsons almost as soon as it aired, even though I was barely a toddler. My mom didn’t approve of Bart’s attitude, but that didn’t mean we weren’t allowed to watch it. It just meant that my brothers and I had to go upstairs to do it.

Heh.  Also, lotta good YouTube here. 

The Simpsons (Proposed story lines) – Just what it says:

Being dissatisfied with the quality of many Simpsons episodes in the past decade I decided to take it upon myself to come up with some basic story lines of my own that I feel do the series justice and enhance the quality which has been lacking from the series for so long.

There are some good plot ideas in there (I especially like the one about Krusty retooling his show for teens).  But let’s face it, Zombie Simpsons wouldn’t know what to do with a good idea if you gave it to them with instructions and a map. 

Glam Metal On the Simpsons: When You Just Can’t Tell the Difference ??o_0?? – YouTube and commentary on the New Year’s Eve countdown in “Treehouse of Horror X”:

Ratt, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot (three groups that I like but even I would have to consider just good at best) and Poison (a group I can’t stand because of how corny they were, I consider them the bane of glam metal and give Dokken more respect than them) all get a nice shout out in this video that proves Simpsons writers know just about everything that would interest people, even the minorities like me.

We’re Cyanide, a loving tribute to Poison! 

Episode 35 – Mogwais with Wicked Indigestion – The new theme park area gets the podcast treatment.  The Simpsons part starts around the 9:00 minute mark, and I learned that there will now be a Sideshow Bob person in costume wandering around the park.  What other program could inspire a giant company to allow a person dressed as a homicidal maniac to pose with tourists in an amusement park? 

Universal celebrates Donut Day with new Lard Lad donuts – Okay, now I kinda want to go there:

In honor of National Donut Day, Universal gave out 100 Lard Lad donuts to surprised guests at the park.

The hefty pink-iced, glazed donuts are one of the signature Springfield treats that can be found at the near Fast Food Boulevard, a food court loaded with Springfield-inspired eateries, including Moe’s Tavern and Krusty Burger.

Click through for a picture of the lucky donut people and their giant donuts. 

An afternoon in Springfield. – Another report from Floreda gives me pause, though:

You can’t really sit anywhere as they have reserved signs on all of the seating. However once you wait in line to go into the food ordering area,which looks like mini versions of each of the Eateries, they pair you up with a sweater who then gets you a table. I got a booth inside Moe’s. I sat in front of my burger and beer and dug in! So the burger is just another Universal Studios burger, kinda dry and fairly tasteless the real only redeeming factor was the nacho cheese sauce and the special sauce they put on it. Fries…Arby’s light. So what does real Duff beer taste like? Man am I the worst person to review it…uhm, beer. Not bad but to me it tastes like every other beer out there. The sucky part is that because it comes in a glass bottle they open it up for you, pour it in a plastic cup, and throw the cool bottle away!

Those bastards. 

Best Episode Ever # 1: ‘The Simpsons’ – This guy picks “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer” as #1 ever.  That’s a novel choice.  You see that one on “best of” lists from time to time, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it at the top. 

Something Wicked This Way Comes – Cool:

Some say California when it comes to craft brewing, others Colorado or Oregon; Three Floyds says Indiana.

The Brothers Floyd made a pact with the devil and brew Liquid Metal. They knock heads with bands like EyeHateGod to create beers like In The Name Of Suffering, a New Orleans-style black IPA full of voodoo. The brewpub is littered with Simpsons, horror and Slayer memorabilia, not to mention the best food around.

Youtube’s Copyright Policies Increase My Level of Sadness – This is what happens when lawyers and accountants are allowed to run amok with no adult supervision:

One day at lunch a friend and I were conversing about the 2010 “Tron” movie, so I promised I would send her the famous “Has anybody seen the movie Tron?” joke from the 1995 Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode. Luck has it, the video I once saw was taken down at some point, and it probably hasn’t resurfaced because The Simpsons belongs to Fox.

Bonus points for having a blog called “The Invisible Typewriter” with Homer and Wiggum at the top. 

2013-06-12 | Aaron Uploads One Picture Every Day – Homemade Flanders finger razors. 

haha – Heh. 

Best Episode of the Season: The Simpsons Season 24 – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us, even if he’s a lot easier on Season 24 than I am:

Watching modern-day Simpsons renders quite the existential toll: it does not look like it will ever die, even though it seems like it has already lived its entire life.

Amen.  There’s a reason we call it Zombie Simpsons.

[Late Addition from our old friend Conor:

Stephen Wildish, Friday Project - B_rt And something for the... - Excellent fan made Bort art.]


Quote of the day

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“I don’t need a card, you live in the room next to me.” – Lisa Simpson
“Note: next year, order fewer cards.” – Bart Simpson


Quote of the Day

Love in the Time of Scurvy

“My, these seas are certainly heaving.” – Marge Simpson
“Well, no more than your bountiful bosom, m’lady.” – Not Fabio
“Does that earring mean you’re a pirate?” – Marge Simpson
“Kinda.” – Not Fabio


Quote of the Day

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“Well, as a matter of fact, my refrigerator wasn’t running.  You spared me quite a bit of spoilage.  Thank you, anonymous young man.” – Principal Skinner
“D’oh!” – Bart Simpson


Quote of the Day

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“Lisa, will you keep it down?  I’m making a crank phone call to Principal Skinner.” – Bart Simpson
“Well, as a matter of fact, my refrigerator wasn’t running.  You spared me quite a bit of spoilage.  Thank you anonymous young man.” – Principal Skinner
“D’oh!” – Bart Simpson


Quote of the Day

Homer Montana

“In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

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“That sounds like Gabriel’s trumpet.  You know what that means, kids.” – Ned Flanders
“Yay!  Judgment Day!” – Rod & Todd Flanders


Compare & Contrast: Lisa’s Rivals

“What do you guys, like, do for fun?” – Alex Whitney
“Well, you’ll definitely want to get yourself a good doll.  The new Malibu Stacy has an achievable chest.” – Lisa Simpson

Back in December, I pointed out that in the Katy Perry Incident, surely one of the low points of the entire decade plus debacle that is Zombie Simpsons, Perry herself was given nothing to do.  She showed up, looked nice, and talked about her boyfriend.  In total, she was given twenty-seven words of dialogue.  A few episodes later, the same benign neglect fell upon Alyson Hannigan, who showed up to play a girl who had a crush on Bart.  All of her lines were about him, for a grand total of forty-two words.

To give you an idea of just how small those parts are, the preceding paragraph is ninety-three words.  Continuing the tradition of tacitly insulting their female guest stars, this week Zombie Simpsons brought us Kristen Schaal in the thankless and miniscule role of the girl who falls for Milhouse, then breaks up with him and exits stage right, never having uttered even a single punchline.  Her character, “Taffy”, is so thinly conceived and her story so flat that she’s only in three scenes.  Here’s everything she says in the entire episode:

Scene 1:

I thought that was beautiful.

Yeah.  It was romantic and it rhymed.

I’m Taffy.

It’s a date.

Scene 2:

You know so much about body mechanics.

Scene 3:

Here, my love.

Anything for my silly-Milli.

Not her again.

You’re not over, you never were.  Milhouse, you’re a great guy, but we’re not gonna work out for one reason.

That wasn’t a great day for us, but it’s because you’ll always be in love with her.  He likes his apple pie warm and his a la mode cold.  Good luck.

That’s eighty-five words, and way over half of them come during the break up.  There’s nothing wrong with a good break up scene, they can be a lot of fun, but this particular break up is preceded by nothing.  As you can see above, there isn’t a single scene, nor even a single line of dialogue, where Milhouse shows himself to still be in love with Lisa.  He never mentions her in front of Taffy; he doesn’t even let out a swooning sigh when Lisa intrudes on them at the end.  If we take the episode at face value, counting only what it shows us, Taffy decides that Milhouse is still in love with Lisa because Lisa stalked them.  Huh?  Even the most formulaic romantic comedies give the spurned girlfriend role more characterization than that (they also usually spell the actress’s name right).

Too Lazy to Google

“Kristin” I could understand, but no one took the time to check “Schall”?  (Thanks to bhall87 in comments.)

It wasn’t always this way.  In its prime and past it, the show routinely had guest stars voicing actual female characters, both kids and adults.  They’re too numerous to list here, but I’d like to point out just two of them.  Like Taffy, they’re students at Springfield Elementary and Lisa is threatened by them; unlike Taffy, they’re more than a few dozen wasted words.  They’ve got plots, backgrounds, motivations and everything.  Most importantly, they get to be funny.

The first one is from Season 10’s “Lard of the Dance”, when Lisa Kudrow voiced “Alex”, the fashionable second grader who wows the other girls with how grown up she is.  For starters, let’s take a look at some of the dialogue.  Here’s what she says in just her first scene:

Your name’s Lisa?  Shut up, I love that name.

Oh, don’t be such a Phoebe.  It’s Pretension, by Calvin Klein.  Wanna try some?

Kay, so what’s the haps in Springfield?  What do you guys, like, do for fun?

Dolls, really?  Okay, what else you got?

You mean that game with the little rubber ball?

Isn’t that trophy case supposed to have trophies?

If you’re counting, that’s sixty-two words right there, which is almost as much as Schaal’s whole part and much more than Katy Perry or Alyson Hannigan got, all in one scene with many more to come.

Treating a Guest with Respect

She’s a pain in Lisa’s ass, but Alex Whitney is actually in this episode.

But the point isn’t to just count words and say “J’accuse!”.  It’s to note that not only are these Season 22 parts tiny bordering on nonexistent, they aren’t even developed enough to be called one dimensional.  “Lard of the Dance” isn’t exactly the show at the peak of its powers, but look at Alex’s dialogue from that first scene.  It’s got a couple of jokes in it, and it establishes Alex’s character as the new girl in town who isn’t happy with how unsophisticated Springfield Elementary is.

But who is Taffy?  All we ever find out about her is that she’s popular and in the fifth grade (not that we get to see any of that, it’s exposited by Lisa).  She never takes any actions or expresses interest in anything other than Milhouse.  Even her attraction to him, the reason she exists, is never explained or explored.  We don’t know if she’s got a thing for glasses or theremin playing, she’s just smitten right up until the moment she isn’t.

Giggling Is the Only Thing She Does

This is one of only two shots – not scenes, shots – where she’s alone.  The other is right after it.

It’s bad storytelling, but it also cripples her for comedy purposes.  She has no foibles to tweak, nor does she have any interests the show can satirize.  The closest thing she has to a joke in the entire episode is when she hands Milhouse an inhaler from a bandolier of them.  The ficus plant in “Bart of Darkness” has better jokes attached to it.

Going back further than Season 10 to (as the title of this post indicates) Season 6’s “Lisa’s Rival”, we find another well realized Springfield Elementary girl in Allison Taylor, voiced by Winona Ryder.  While I could do a word count of everything she says, there’d be no point.  She appears throughout the episode, and in a lot more than three short scenes.  Her description of her “Tell-Tale Heart” diorama alone is much longer and more descriptive than anything poor Taffy gets to say.

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Look, a girl with interests and hobbies.  The show used to think this was worth screen time.

Far more important is who Allison is and what she does.  We know right away that she’s smart.  She gets the question about Columbus right, she plays the saxophone, and she nails “Genuine Class” as an anagram for “Alec Guinness”.  Moreover, there’s no mystery as to why Lisa is threatened by her.  Everything Lisa values about herself, Allison does better.

But creating a real character in Allison isn’t important for its own sake.  Because Allison bears an actual resemblance to a real person, one who wants things and does things as opposed to just standing there, she slides seamlessly into the overarching story about Lisa and Lisa’s insecurities.  When we see them in a scene together we know what each of them is thinking and trying to do.  For example, at the end of the episode, after Lisa has tried and failed to make peace with being second to Allison, the audience doesn’t need to be told both girls are trying to win the diorama competition, we already know.  That neither of them does win, Allison for being her usual overachieving self and Lisa for being, as the French say, “Bartesque”, makes the whole scene work in a very funny, very Simpsons way.

Both girls care deeply about winning the competition and have worked very hard to do so.  But the arbiters of victory, Skinner and Hoover, don’t care at all.  Skinner goes gaga for Star Wars characters and Hoover just wants to go to lunch.  Lisa and Allison both lose to Ralph, the dimwitted kid who tries to cheat off their tests, doesn’t know what the word “diorama” means, and is their polar opposite in every way.  Not only does it fit the story, but it puts a nice little twist on all the stress the girls put themselves through.

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We have a winner!  Chewbacca and the little boy with the blank stare.

Neither Allison nor Alex are real people, but they’re recognizably human for reasons beyond colored lines on a screen and a familiar voice on the soundtrack.  Their personalities and their actions give a plausible reality to their dealings with Lisa, which in turns allows all three of them to be funny.  Taffy, like her predecessors in Season 22, has none of those things.  She is a prop far more than she is a character.  Since props don’t usually get much dialogue, in the eyes of Zombie Simpsons she doesn’t merit much of that either.

[Pop culture note: I didn’t remember until I was halfway through this that Winona Ryder was in Edward Scissorhands, for which Taffy’s sad episode was named.]

[Edited to fix typo.]


Quote of the Day

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“Dad, isn’t this stealing?” – Bart Simpson
“Read your town charter, boy.  If foodstuffs should touch the ground, said foodstuffs shall be turned over to the village idiot.  Since I don’t see him around, start shoveling!” – Homer Simpson


“Sweets and Sour Marge” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

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“But the grocery store sells sugar for thirty-five cents a pound.” – Marge Simpson
“And it doesn’t have nails and broken glass in it.” – Lisa Simpson
“Those are prizes!” – Homer Simpson

This episode is terrible, no two ways about it. It begins with Homer attempting to win a world record (including a bit where all the townspeople roll through town in a giant ball), has a middle with Marge as a moral crusader against sugar, and ends with Homer as a smuggler. It makes no sense, and what few jokes exist are basically stapled to the story as it races along from one dull idea to the next. Nor will this commentary enlighten you at all as to why they thought any of this was funny. So far, that’s all very standard, for Season 13 and its commentaries.

However, this is one of the rare commentaries I can recommend. It’s basically the Mark Kirkland hour, and he’s great. Kirkland’s directed plenty of both The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons, and he talks a lot about both old fashioned and modern animation, how they shoot things, and what kind of gear they use. There is some downside, as you’ll see below. But Kirkland (who, based on the crosstalk, sounds like he’s not in the same room with the rest of them) is easily half of the commentary.

Seven people here, including Caroline Omine as the token female.

0:10 – Jean gives the original airdate here as 20 January 2002, then adds “President Bush had been in office for a full year” with a sort of menacing tone in his voice. Too bad the show never made fun of him.

0:25 – This was the first episode they did after the voice cast re-signed, and there was a lot of talk about how they wanted to refocus the show on the family. Which is naturally why this one involves international smuggling.

1:30 – This episode was born of a mixture of smokers suing the tobacco companies and a realization of how many fat characters they have. That leads to a long discussion about how many fat characters they have.

2:15 – Still discussing fat people in Springfield.

2:25 – Someone, sounds like Selman, brings up the fact that the show is now in the Guinness Book of Records and all but begs Jean to expound upon it. I have never met Matt Selman, I do not know Matt Selman, and the voices aren’t always easy to tell apart on these commentaries so I may be confusing him with someone else. But somebody who sounds an awful lot like him spends a lot of time on these commentaries kissing up to Jean.

2:30 – Heh. Tom Gammill, who has one of the most distinctive voices on here, sneaks in a genuinely funny aside as Jean is beginning his Selman requested monologue. As Jean starts talking about the real records the show holds, Gammill offers “Fattest writing staff.” Jean ignores him and continues, but it was funny.

3:00 – Jean tosses things to Mark Kirkland, who directed this, asking him about the effects they used on the giant pyramid of people and the giant ball of people. On-screen, Homer is freaking out pretty much this entire time.

This goes on for the next four odd minutes and is pretty interesting. To do the ball of people, Kirkland took an old globe from his house and painted it white and then they put the town on it and photographed it sequentially. I’m not going to even try and transcribe it all, but if you’re interested in outdated spherical animation techniques, this is your one stop shop. It goes almost without saying, but it ends with the usual statement of how doing it on a computer nowadays would be a snap. Painted globes are cooler.

7:45 – Still talking about how it’s not hand colored anymore.

8:25 – Talking about how many cels they used to have and how much they were theoretically worth.

9:10 – Reminiscing about the fact that they make a Butterfingers joke in this episode and how ungrateful they are since Butterfingers helped keep them in business those first shaky years.

10:15 – Oh crap, Selman and Warburton (I think) are joking about how when they had Ben Stiller in they gave him the ideas for all his subsequently successful movies. They’re just riffing back and forth and, wow, they are terrible.

11:00 – This was the debut of Count Fudgula.

11:30 – Still talking about breakfast cereals.

13:15 – Warburton identifies himself before asking Kirkland a question. I guess Kirkland is in another location. Anyway, he asked what’s still difficult even with difficult animation and Kirkland replied simply, “Making computers work.” This leads to thrilling tales of calling tech support.

14:00 – Still talking about how even with digital animation things can still be hand drawn on those Cintiq tablets and the software involved. As per usual, little to nothing of what’s going on in the episode is being mentioned.

15:15 – See above.

15:40 – Drawing pupils is apparently hard on the computer.

16:10 – Another interesting animation tidbit: with digital it’s very hard to pull out from a close up because the lines on the background will get fuzzy and not look right. They’ve actually stopped doing a lot of those kinds of shots for precisely this reason.

17:00 – Backgrounds have to be more detailed in HD because everything shows. Also, Homer’s about to become a smuggler with three minutes left in the episode.

18:00 – The animators work mostly in black and white and then it gets colored. This leads to a discussion of digital coloring, which is easier, but not as easy as it was advertised as being.

19:20 – Further discussion of Count Fudgula with more spontaneous genius between Warburton and Selman. Maybe they just got out on the wrong side of the bed that morning, but listening to this you would not peg either one of them as a professional comedy writer.

20:15 – Al Jean endorses Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.

21:00 – Still discussing hand drawn animation and Disney.

21:30 – Discussing Cal Arts as an animation school.

22:00 – And it ends with a little playful animator vs. writer banter.


“The Lastest Gun in the West” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Lisa's Rival3

“Bart, stop creating a diversion and get out of here!” – Principal Skinner

This is only the third of the Season 13 commentaries I’ve gotten through, but it’s not at all hard to detect some similarities. Whether they’re talking about Branson, Brazil or, in this case, westerns, they can’t stop commenting on the source material as a means of ignoring what’s going on in the episode. This actually happens in Branson! I read this in an article about Brazil! Remember when westerns were popular? It goes on like that while strange and joke free crap parades across the screen.

I don’t find it the least bit coincidental that many of these rambling pop culture reminisces take place while the episodes in question fly apart at the seams. On this one, it starts right at the beginning. Bart is chased by a crazy dog for several minutes of screen time, but they hardly mention the crazy dog. Instead, they discuss the history of westerns. From there, we’re treated to fond memories of everyone from Johnny Carson to John Wayne and Roy Rogers, and about how [cue soft music] they remember a simpler time, a time when things were different than they are now.

In between all that, they occasionally mention the animation, and those are usually the best parts. Unfortunately, they so overuse their diversionary tactics that, by the time the psychotic tic that passes for the third act comes along, all they’ve got left are long, uncomfortable silences. Well, that and an important discussion of something John Swartzwelder once bought on eBay. Seriously.

Only five guys on this one.

0:30 – Jean hasn’t even finished his introduction before saying that people always call this one the “Latest” gun not “Lastest” gun, which is a pun he admits isn’t great, but at least makes sense.

1:35 – They assigned Swartzwelder to write this one because he’s a big western fan.

2:25 – Someone went to the Roy Rogers museum once, and Rogers was working the ticket booth.

3:05 – After saying that they maybe read on-line reviews too much, Jean mentions that this one was not well received. Jean thinks that maybe westerns are so out of style that this doesn’t register with the youth of today. This goes on for a full minute while the more likely explanation of why this episode sucks is clearly evident on screen. Bart is being relentlessly chased by a dog that hates him (and only him) for some reason, also, the dog seems to have a supernatural ability to find Bart anywhere. Could that have something to do with why this episode wasn’t a fan favorite? Nah. It’s the children’s fault.

4:35 – Still talking about the decline of westerns.

5:00 – Dog still attacking Bart.

5:25 – See above.

5:35 – Since nothing else is happening, they’re now complimenting the design of the dog and someone notes approvingly, “It’s very scary looking.” That’s what we’re going for, scary dogs.

Comedy Genius So Brilliant No One Laughs

If you thought this got old three minutes ago, you’re fired. 

6:15 – They’re taking ignoring the dreck on screen to strange new places here, talking about how great it is that characters like Bart can be recognized in silhouette.

7:00 – Still discussing Simpsons animation history 101.

7:30 – “There are a couple jokes in here I do go, “Oh, I wish we hadn’t put ’em in’.”

7:50 – The story of one of the bad jokes is still going on, it’s about how writers get angry at “film by” credits.

8:10 – Now we’re onto the second long winded story of a bad joke. The second bad joke is about Homer and Bart complaining that they didn’t have an adventure.

8:40 – The bad joke stories are finally over. Now they’re talking about coloring and it’s actually kind of interesting. This was the last season with hand painted colors, after this they went all digital. When they were on hand painted colors they had only about sixty colors; if they wanted something else they had to mix it manually which could be expensive. Now they have a million colors and they’re all free! They keep the same basic palette, but it’s easier to do more variety.

9:40 – Still talking about the advantages of digital color.

10:00 – This was the last season you could buy an animation cel. Jean jokes that those were never very rare since there were roughly 15,000 per episode.

11:05 – Talking about the strobe effect for the film projector, it’s lit up on every other frame to make it flicker.

11:35 – Long discussion of Daniel Boone being a big craze in the 50s and other pieces of teevee Americana.

12:30 – For about the last minute there’s been sort of murmured giggling, both at their conversation a little bit at what’s going on. We’ll see how long it takes them to get back to just talking about the generic history of the western genre.

12:45 – Talking about animating horses.

13:20 – And we’re back to westerns in pop culture history. It took 50 seconds. Now we’re on about the Wilhelm Scream.

14:10 – Now they’re talking about westerns in, I am not making this up, Nazi Germany.

14:30 – As the generic western cowboy rehearses with Krusty, he shoots the Krusty cutout in the crotch. They then feel the need to explain that it’s a reference to this.

15:25 – Finally done talking about Johnny Carson.

15:45 – “Mr. Teeny is like, the best trained monkey.”

16:15 – Now they’re talking about the time John Wayne gave a drunken speech.

17:05 – Finally done talking about John Wayne, also there was some Bob Hope reminiscing.

17:10 – The joke here is that Homer is nipping out like Farrah Fawcett. Oddly enough, they’re impressed with themselves for doing this, “pulled one over on them”. The censors, I guess?

17:45 – Long silence.

18:20 – More with the explaining the references.

19:05 – Another long silence as we get into and out of rehab.

19:35 – The silence is finally broken by laughing about how Snake would probably be killed here, but instead he’ll be back next week.

20:05 – Now they’re talking about the color of Brockman’s suit. Meanwhile, the childishly silly plot where the old cowboy foils a bank robbery and decides to quit drinking is rolling along un-commented upon.

21:00 – Talking about Swartzwelder, apparently he owns the very first baseball.

21:45 – After a long discussion of the first baseball, there’s a brief mention of why we’ll never see this guy again, and then it’s pretty much over.

22:05 – We end on some well deserved praise of Frank Welker.


Quote of the Day

“Are you hyperventilating?” – Allison Taylor
“No, I just like to smell my lunch.” – Lisa Simpson


Quote of the Day

“What’s a ‘diorama’?” – Ralph Wiggum


Morgan Spurlock Doesn’t Like Zombie Simpsons

“Look Bart, it almost killed me but I handcrafted all seventy-five characters from ‘Oliver Twist’.  And now, the coup-de-grace, a bitter snowstorm.” – Lisa Simpson

They say it is best to judge a man not by his words but by his actions.  By that criteria I would like to thank Morgan Spurlock for publicly disparaging Zombie Simpsons – on FOX itself.  To the untrained eye it looked like he was just eating an orange, but to the eye that has brains he was making a guerilla point about Zombie Simpsons.  It took a disturbing amount of my (admittedly not very valuable) time yesterday, but I went through the entire special and identified the episode titles for all but five clips.  The results are below and Zombie Simpsons has once again been shown to be horribly inadequate, this time in a nationally televised special paid for by FOX itself.

One “clip” is counted as a continuous sequence from a single episode.  For example, shots from several episodes in a row are separate clips for each episode, but multiple shots from a single episode without returning to “real people” footage is only one clip.  Total number of “clips” shown:

  Simpsons (Season 1-10) Zombie Simpsons (Season 11+)
Total # of Clips 101 13
Total # of Episodes 58 12

(See after the jump for my complete count as well as screen grabs and a discussion of the five clips I couldn’t identify.)

As you can see, clips from The Simpsons outnumber clips from Zombie Simpsons by nearly 8-1.  (These numbers do not include any clips from “Mr. Plow” or “Blame It on Lisa”, because there were whole segments on those two episodes.)  Moreover, if we look at the numbers in more detail we see that the 8-1 ratio is – content wise – actually generous to Zombie Simpsons.  Three of the Zombie Simpsons clips (23% of the total) come at the very end when they’re doing a simple chronological overview that has nothing to do with the content of the clips.  If we subtract that section out (for both The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons) we’d have a ratio of almost 10-1.

Numerically it’s not even a contest, but if we look at the context of each clip Zombie Simpsons comes off even worse.  The opening quarter of the special is about how great and awesome The Simpsons is; it’s just people talking about their favorite characters and places in Springfield.  During that entire stretch there is only one clip from Zombie Simpsons (of Kent Brockman from “You Kent Always Say What You Want”).  In the entire presentation about what makes The Simpsons so special, what makes the characters so great, what makes the town so relatable, that was the only mention of Zombie Simpsons.

In fact, an outright majority of the Zombie Simpson clips come from mentions about things foreign, be it Rio de Janeiro, London, Paris or China.  Zombie Simpsons has so thoroughly exhausted its ideas that it’s usually only worth mentioning when it concocts yet another way for the family to visit some exotic place.

Finally, I’d like to draw your attention to the section about nuclear power.  Spurlock interspersed clips from the show with interviews and shots of the real nuclear plant he visited.  Those clips came from six episodes, see if you can spot the one that doesn’t belong:

  • Last Exit to Springfield (Season 4)
  • Two Cars in Every Garage, Three Eyes on Every Fish (Season 2)
  • Homer’s Enemy (Season 8)
  • Homer Defined (Season 3)
  • I Married Marge (Season 3)
  • Bonfire of the Manatees (Season 17)

The clips from the first five listed above have to do with Homer working at the nuclear plant.  The clip from the last one comes about because one of the nuclear power representatives mentioned that manatees often live near real nuke plants.  In other words, all the humor about nuclear power comes from The Simpsons, the Zombie Simpson one is there just because someone said the word “manatee”.

(I don’t like doing jump pages, but in this case I’m making an exception because it’s a huge amount of text and I don’t want to distort the main page.  After the jump is the complete count identifying every clip along with screen grabs of the five I couldn’t place.)

Continue reading ‘Morgan Spurlock Doesn’t Like Zombie Simpsons’


Synergy Resorts to Rote Retellings

Write By Number
Image grabbed from here.

“Oh . . . a little sterile, no real insight.  What do you think Miss Hoover?” – Principal Skinner
“Enh.” – Miss Hoover

IGN really phoned it in this week.  There are six paragraphs in their review of that reprehensibly dull Halloween episode.  There’s an opening full of generic praise, there’s a closing full of generic praise.  The four middle paragraphs are dedicated, in order, to simply retelling the story of each of the four segments from the episode, including that tepid little opening.  In addition to that, each contains the full title of the segment and two quotes from that segment.  It’s like paint by number except that it’s writing. 

As always, I’ve edited out the synergy. 

October 18, 2009The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons’ "Treehouse of Horror XX" was a fine addition to a gross subtraction from the series’ Halloween specials. And for the first time in ten years, we got an episode that actually aired before Halloween, though it still sucked. That’s got to count for something. Though recent Recent specials have had their share of been nothing but clunker segments, and "XX" had three strong stories that were equal parts funny and dark lived up to that dismal track record.

The opening sequence was a lot of fun good way to make sure there were four commercial breaks, as horror classics Dracula, Mummy, Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster safely roamed meandered the streets of Springfield on Halloween. Running into the school bullies, the four were mocked for their out-of-date attire, for some reason: "Turner Classic Movies called, they want their costumes back." After changing into the likes of Iron Man and SpongeBob, the four crashed the Simpson’s Halloween party, for some other reason. When their wives showed up to end their fun, Homer insulted them and was soon torn to bits. With his severed head floating in the punch bowl and his X-ed out eyes forming the "XX" of the episode’s title, the fun drudgery was ready to begin.

The first official segment had one of my favorite titles of the "Treehouse" series so far: "Dial ‘M’ For Murder or Press ‘#’ to Return to the Main Menu." This was a heavily stylized plodding and twist filled segment, shown in black and white, as it was parodying referencing a multitude of Alfred Hitchcock films. After Miss Hoover sent Lisa to detention, Bart hatched a plan to have Lisa "prank" Mrs. Krabappel while he pranked Hoover, therefore eliminating each other as suspects. Lisa did the old "ding-dong ditch" and Bart, of course, murdered Miss Hoover, cuz, you know. It was a simple misunderstanding. To Bart, "Ding-dong ditch" means "you kill her then throw that ding-dong into a ditch." The Hitchcock references throughout the segment were fun to spot impossible to miss because they were crammed in with no regard to whether or not any of them were funny, clever or insightful, though I’m sure I didn’t catch them all.

The second segment, titled "Don’t Have a Cow, Mankind," was a great zombie apocalypse parody run through with a new Krusty Burger turning all who eat it into what the show called "Munchers." The sandwich was called Burger Squared, and as Krusty laboriously explained, they "start with grade-A beef, feed that to other cows, then kill them and serve the unholy results on a seven-grain bun." This was another fun and funny painfully long and obvious segment which referenced films like 28 Days Later and I Am Legend. It was your basic zombie gore fest, with lots of biting and bloodshed and little to no humor. It was great time consuming to see Apu kicking some ass: "As a vegetarian, I did not consume any tainted burgers. As a convenience store owner, I am armed to the teeth." Bart being hailed as the chosen one because of his immunity was an interesting twist a pointless contrivance, but it that didn’t really take the story anywhere except for an ending that fell sort of completely flat.

The Sweeney Todd referencing closing segment, "There’s No Business Like Moe’s Business" was a real treat the worst of a bad lot. Instead of simply parodying the musical, which would’ve made at least some sense, they put on an actual excruciatingly boring musical parody. The whole thing was presented on stage with some cuts to the audience now and again, because otherwise it wouldn’t have filled up the allotted screen time. (Had to include Kang and Kodos somewhere!) The songs were some of the best utterly hapless and about what we’ve come to expect from the series in recent memory. They not only moved dragged the story along, but they were hilarious time wasting, too. Moe singing about his perverse taste of romance had me floored remembering when he wasn’t an overly sensitive comedy black hole: "I can only make love in the back of a hearse/And I gotta be dressed as a Civil War nurse…. But you could do worse." And Homer’s song-and-dance interpretation of Moe’s fake letter was hysterically random and without merit. Moe said it was going to get "gayer," but I wasn’t expecting that.  [Ed. Note: I can’t help the preceding sentence, I don’t even know what it’s supposed to mean.] The segment ended with characters from the previous parts of the episode coming together and singing us out. It was hard not to enjoy, because it meant it was over.

Being the first "Treehouse of Horror" to air since The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons switched to their HD format, the visuals throughout the episode were fantastic run of the mill and full of background bits and details we might not have gotten had to pretend to care about a year or two ago. With the animation being fresh even more overly elaborate, the writing has stepped up as well continued to suck and we were treated to a 20th Anniversary installment that is worthy to stand beside some of their Halloween classics reminds you that not all anniversaries are happy occasions.


Quote of the Day

Is it okay?

“Is it okay?” – Lisa Simpson

“Well, the important thing is that we survived.” – Bart Simpson


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