Posts Tagged ‘Morgan Spurlock

16
Jan
10

James L. Brooks FTW

“What about me?  You didn’t thank me.” – Homer Simpson
“You didn’t do anything.” – Bart Simpson
“I like being thanked.” – Homer Simpson

Sure enough the one thing about Spurlock’s special I didn’t like was the casual defense of the quality of Zombie Simpsons.  I suppose it had to be in there, but it was no less galling for being obligatory.  However, much like the overwhelming preponderance of clips from the early years I thought the kiss off was a little revealing.  It basically consisted of three people, two guys who worked only on Zombie Simpsons and James Brooks.  Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?

  • Dana Gould (earliest credit: Season 12): “The people who say ‘It was never as good as it was five years ago’, it’s like well, neither are you, that’s the problem.”
  • Matt Warburton (earliest credit: Season 13): “I think the internet message boards used to be a lot funnier ten years ago, and I’ve sort of stopped reading their new posts.”

Gould’s quote doesn’t even make sense.  From the context it is clear what he means, but “it was never as good as it was five years ago” is a contradiction in terms.  It’s impossible for something to “never” be what it used to be.  If that’s what he’s sporting in terms of verbal ability it’s no wonder he never contributed to a decent episode. 

Warburton at least manages to form a coherent sentence.  But what he’s saying wouldn’t pass muster as witty anywhere outside of a grade school playground.  “I am rubber you are glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!”  Nice try kid, call us back when you work your way up to “yo momma” jokes. 

In between those rather limp attempts to hurt the internet’s feelings was a much more intelligent quote from a guy who, unlike those two, actually contributed to The Simpsons.  James L. Brooks said:

“There’s nobody who ever went on-line to read comments about anything they’ve done that doesn’t come away with one sullen fuckhead someplace who says a thing that you’d have to have surgically removed from your brain.”

(Note: I’m pretty sure he said “fuckhead” but they both bleeped it and blurred his mouth so it might be something else.  Sounded like “fuckhead” though.)  I’d like to point out two things about this quote.  The first is that it is not a defense of Zombie Simpsons.  All he’s saying is that internet critics say things that will stick in your head forever. 

Second, and more telling, is the fact that Brooks is laughing when he says this.  He clearly doesn’t give a shit and thinks the whole concept is amusing.  Brooks is secure in what he’s done and confident enough in his work to roll with the punches.  Contrast that with the other two.  Gould seems genuinely irritated, bordering on actually angry.  Warburton affects the passive aggressive sullenness you’d expect from a spoiled child.  The truth hurts, doesn’t it fellas?

12
Jan
10

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’

08
Jan
10

Spurlock Update: Moby & Mr. Plow

“Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name.  That name again is Mr. Plow.” – Homer Simpson

Even though it’s going to involve putting up with a lot of batshit stupid Zombie Simpsons defending I’m still kinda excited for Spurlock’s special.  It can’t be all Zombie Simpsons defending and there’s probably a lot of neat stuff in there.  Case in point, Moby is keen on Homer’s little ditty above.  He has created a whole mess of different versions of the song and they’re all up on the internet now.  Behold the most YouTube embeds ever!

Mr. Plow Blues:

 

Mr. Plow Bossanova:

 

Mr. Plow Hip Hop (which gets video for some reason):

 

Mr. Plow Electro:

 

Mr. Plow Latin Lounge:

 

Mr. Plow Punk Rock:

 

Mr. Plow Psychedelic (groovy misspelling, man):

(via Laughing Squid)

07
Jan
10

Spurlock Update: Ah, Fuck

From a review of Spurlock’s special:

If there’s a weakness in the anniversary show, it’s that Spurlock doesn’t delve too far into the issue of how challenging it is for the series to live up to the impossibly high bar it set for itself in the 1990s.

Creator Matt Groening chuckles at one point about how fans are so invested in the show, they have no reservations about being intensely critical right to his face. That sets up a tremendous quote by Simpsons writer Matt Warburton, who says dryly, "I think the Internet message boards used to be a lot funnier 10 years ago -I’ve sort of stopped reading their new posts."

The Simpsons isn’t as funny as it used to be, everybody knows it, and it would have been nice had Spurlock inched a tad closer to that reality.

I’m still holding out hope for Spurlock’s bearded buddy, but not too much. 

By the way, I wasn’t familiar with the name Warburton, so I looked it up.  His first listed credit is from Season 13.  He may be a perfectly nice guy, I have no idea, but he had as much to do with making the show great as I did.  All he’s done is help crank out formulaic dreck so you’ll excuse me if I tell him to go fuck himself.  People saying mean things on the internet is no excuse for being terrible at your job. 

22
Dec
09

Spurlock Update: Commence Marketing Barrage

Morgan Spurlock was on a conference call with reporters recently to help promote his special.  Wired wrote it upThe list of past guest stars who will be featured in the special now includes John Waters (Homer’s Phobia), Sting (Radio Bart) and Jerry Springer (Treehouse of Horror IX).  Other than that there isn’t much new information. 

On a funnier and considerably more crass note, FOX will be slathering the color yellow over every available surface starting after New Year’s:

For the week beginning January 3, graphical elements across Fox properties will turn yellow in honor of Matt Groening’s iconic characters. That means on-air graphics, Fox’s Web sites, social-network pages and special on-air promos — all in yellow, along with a range of other stunts (such as local Fox news anchors wearing yellow ties).

I love the bit about the anchors’ ties.  One assumes that noose color alone won’t be enough.  Presumably they will also be ordered to have some of their on-air banter be Simpsons related, or possibly to produce a couple of local news-ish fluff pieces as well.  (Coming up after the break, meet Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa . . . hamsters at a local elementary school!) 

This is the best part though (“Earley” is Joe Earley, a FOX marketing executive):

"For a show to hit its 20th anniversary in today’s universe is such a feat, and it still has such a resonance in the zeitgeist," Earley said. "The show has viewers who have viewed it for three generations. Besides, it’s such a creative property that it’s fun to come up with ideas for it."

Excuse me, but “universe”, “resonance” and “zeitgeist”, aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? 

10
Dec
09

Spurlock & Ortved Updates

For his Simpsons special Morgan Spurlock has been getting various different musical acts to cover the Simpsons theme.  Now we can add Andrew WK and People Under the Stairs to that list

Then there’s this radio interview with John Ortved.  The whole interview is a little less than twenty minutes, but there are two parts I wanted to highlight.  The first is at 10:25 when Ortved discusses how the show actually got on the air.  All of this information is in the book, obviously, but it’s much more condensed here and it’ll give you a good idea of just how indebted we all are to James L. Brooks.  Right after that, at about the 13:00 minute mark, is a discussion between the host (pro-Zombie Simpsons) and Ortved (anti-Zombie Simpsons).  Ortved knocks it out of the park here but still manages to be politely Canadian.  Well done.

06
Dec
09

Spurlock Update: The Return of Jackie Mason

Jackie Mason, who voiced Rabbi Hymen Krustofsky, is apparently going to be making an appearance in the Spurlock special.  At least, according to In Entertainment:

The Simpsons are set to mark their 20th birthday celebration with an hour long special, including the reprise of Krusty the Clown’s rabbi father, played by Jackie Mason.

The special, will start off with a documentary entitled “The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3D on Ice, which will be hosted and presented by Morgan Spurlock, the filmmaker behind ‘Super Size Me’.

That also makes it sound like the documentary he’s been all over the place filming will be only a part of the hour long show.  Are we in for a “138th Episode Spectacular” style special with celebrity guests reminiscing about the show?  Meh. 

24
Nov
09

Spurlock Update: Schedule Announced

FOX announced their midseason schedule today and the Spurlock special will be airing after a new Zombie Simpsons on Sunday January 10th.  (It’s got a whole hour devoted to it from 8:30 to 9:30.)  Previously the schedule had been announced (or just assumed) as being January 14th, which is a Thursday.  I thought they might be doing a one night only return to Thursday to hit the 20th anniversary on the dot, but I guess not. 

Incidentally, I’ve never fully understood why, in television circles at least, the premier of “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” doesn’t seem to count.  It was broadcast on 17 December 1989 but was technically a “special”, and apparently that still matters to people all these years later.  Anyway, 14 January 1990 saw the first regular broadcast episode, “Bart the Genius”, which I would strongly recommend watching instead of this:

Sunday, Jan. 10, will be devoted to "The Simpsons," beginning with the animated series’ milestone 450th episode, “Once Upon a Time in Springfield” (8-8:30 p.m.), in which Bart and Milhouse try to help Krusty regain his popularity after network executives force him to restructure the format of his TV show by hiring a female sidekick, Princess Penelope (guest voice Anne Hathaway).

(I’m going to guess that the guest voice information there is wrong, Hathaway was Bart’s girlfriend in that execrable one last year where Lisa kept hallucinating to kill time.  Her IMDB page lists that one, but nothing for next year so until I hear otherwise I’ll just assume that it’ll be some other actress.)

I’m kinda excited to see Spurlock’s thing.  While I’m sure there will be some irritating Zombie Simpsons fellatio, there might also be some neat stuff and it can’t possibly be more boring than the average Zombie Simpsons episode. 

07
Nov
09

Happy Birthday Morgan Spurlock

It’s Spurlock’s birthday today.  Happy birthday, Spurlock, from all of us here at the Dead Homer Society.  I was going to Simpsonize him, but the Simpsonize website is down at the moment:

Simpsonize Me Technical Difficulties 

I guess he’ll have to make do with a graphic-less birthday wish from us.  Oh well.  All the best to him and here’s hoping his bearded friend from the Isotopes game makes the final cut. 

06
Nov
09

Tiny Spurlock Update: Gettin’ Brazilian

As part of our ongoing efforts to Twitter-stalk Morgan Spurlock, here’s a tweet from the man himself last night:

on a plane to rio in the name of Homer – I just heard the temperature is hot, hot, hot with 100 percent chance of passion

One assumes that the Brazil trip has something to do with the fact that the Brazilian Tourist Board pitched a small fit back in 2002 over that unwatchably bad Season 13 episode “Blame it on Lisa”.  (Tough they were upset more by the childishly stupid portrayal of Rio de Janeiro than by the fact that it was a completely humor free episode.)  I guess Spurlock’s going down there to check in on things nine years later and see if tourists still go to Rio and if Zombie Simpsons is still humor free.  I’m gonna go with “Yes” to both questions. 

31
Oct
09

Season 20 Releasing on January 12th

Per TVShowsOnDVD.com Season 20 won’t be here in time for Xmas.  Instead, in what is sure to be a promotional shit storm that you won’t be able to escape, they’re releasing it two days before the big 20th anniversary special on January 14th.  Which I just noticed is a Thursday, so steel yourselves for that cloyingly enthusiastic FOX announcer to say something like “Get ready for The Simpsons triumphant return to Thursday!”

FOX is also putting the squeeze on Zombie Simpson fanboys to buy this things the day it comes out.  From the TVShowsOnDVD.com:

In the past, season set DVD releases of The Simpsons are always chock-full of bonus material, including commentaries and featurettes and other items, including hidden gems.  However, this time the only extra supplement that Fox is mentioning – at least so far – is the Featurette "The 20th Anniversary Special Sneak Peek by Morgan Spurlock".

They’re putting a “Sneak Peek” of Spurlock’s special on a home video package that comes out two days before the special is broadcast.  Presumably the actual special will either be part of the Season 21 release or else be given its own stand alone package. 

29
Oct
09

Spurlock Update: Celebrity Checklist

Even by our low standards there isn’t much point in posting things from Spurlock’s Twitter feed, but I’m going to do it anyway:

had another Simptastic day – spoke to Mike Reiss, Hank Azaria and Fat Tony himself, Joe Montagnea – tomorrow: Hef at the mansion. Crazy.

Other than misspelling Mantegna’s last name there isn’t much of note here.  Reiss was there for all the good stuff and has been back lately to no real effect.  Azaria is, well, Azaria.  Mantegna is fucking awesome and Hefner guest voiced back in the before time, in the long long ago.  Will the Hefner interview center more on the worthless publicity stunt of “Marge in Playboy” or on his awesome guest appearance with scientist Playmates and his failure at the love tester machine? 

26
Oct
09

Spurlock Update: Enter Stan And Kyle

Kyle & StanVia Spurlock’s Twitter feed we find that yesterday he interviewed Matt Stone and Trey Parker.  There’s no specific word on whether or not this is for the Simpsons special, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned following Spurlock these last few months it’s that he’s involved in an enormous number of projects.  But it seems unlikely that he’d be interviewing the creators of the most successful non-Simpsons animated show for something other than his upcoming Simpsons thing.  So get ready for the obligatory quotes from Stone & Parker about how much The Simpsons meant for them, how it opened doors, how influential it’s been, etcetera. 

14
Oct
09

Spurlock Update: Kids Should Always Do Things They See on TV

Morgan Spurlock is back in Britain, this time so that he can get a twelve year old on film pretending to choke on a ham sandwich:

Homer Simpson helped save Wakefield schoolboy Alex Hardy’s life.
As Alex choked on a ham sandwich best pal Aiden Bateman strode over with a scene from one of the most popular Simpsons episodes etched in his mind.

He performed the Heimlich Manoeuvre after seeing the same lifesaving technique on The Simpson’s third season episode "Homer at the Bat."

Now Aiden’s heroics – in the canteen at Crofton Junior School in December 2007 – are to feature in new film ‘The Simpsons Anniversary Special – In 3D! On Ice!’, to mark next year’s Simpson’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

American documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock travelled from New York to Wakefield in August to meet the two pals and film a re-creation of the life-saving moment in the canteen at Thornes Park College in Wakefield.

Click through for a cute picture of the kids and all the horrible details. 

Heimlich ManeuverSo, good for the kids in remembering that scaring someone is for the hiccups and good for Spurlock in making them reenact the trauma for entertainment purposes. 

What makes this whole incident even funnier is that in the episode no one ever actually does the Heimlich Maneuver.   All you see is the image at left, and even that’s on screen for less than two seconds.  Homer just stops choking as soon as he realizes it’s time to sign up for softball again.  That, boys and girls, is the communicative power that The Simpsons possesses, it teaches children lifesaving techniques without any formal training and in doing so uses less screen time than Zombie Simpsons routinely uses for Homer to stagger around in pain or fear. 

And, since we’re talking about the Heimlich maneuver in relation to Britain, and because there’s a lobster flying out of that man’s mouth, here’s world renown Heimlich expert Eddie Izzard:

30
Sep
09

Spurlock Update: Music & Tired Notions

As part of his Simpsons special our old friend Morgan Spurlock has apparently been contacting different musical groups to perform the theme.  From metro.co.uk:

Oscar-nominated director Morgan Spurlock has recruited a cult UK jazz act to work on his new film – by recording the theme to The Simpsons.

Mercury Prize-nominated group Portico Quartet, currently touring village halls in Somerset, were asked to record the tune for Spurlock’s film, to mark the cartoon’s 20th anniversary.

The band, who made a living by busking after leaving college, are among a number of musicians to provide music for the film

Apparently we’re going to get a number of different versions of the theme song James L. Brooks supposedly once called the music lemmings jump off cliffs to.  I wonder if Spurlock’s been stalking YouTube for different renditions?  At any rate Portico Quartet (MySpace, Facebook) seems to have a nice sound:

It’ll be fun to hear their version.  By the way, according to the link those things that look like upside down woks and sound like steel drums are called “hangs”.

On a less encouraging note, there’s an interview with Spurlock up at nola.com (that’s New Orleans).   It’s mostly just background stuff and there isn’t anything new about the special in it, but there is this rather unfortunate passage at the end:

And don’t bother trying to convince Spurlock that “The Simpsons” has slipped much from its earlier glory-days hysterical heights – a criticism that those involved with the series have been hearing since approximately season III.

“The consistency of this show over 20 years is amazing,” Spurlock said. “People like to say, ‘Aw, it’s gone downhill.’ The worst ‘Simpsons’ episode is better than half the crap on television. That’s a fact.”

Balls.  He’s employing one of the most tired and worthless of all Zombie Simpsons defenses: it’s still better than most TV!  To which the only logical response is, so what?  Watching paint dry is better than half of what’s on television.  Oh well, hopefully the bearded guy from the Isotopes game gave him a good talking to.

Mercury Prize-nominated group Portico Quartet, currently touring village halls in Somerset, were asked to record the tune for Spurlock’s film, to mark the cartoon’s 20th anniversary.
The band, who made a living by busking after leaving college, are among a number of musicians to provide music for the film
23
Sep
09

Spurlock Update: Promotional Bullshit

Morgan Spurlock was at some FOX promo event and was briefly interviewed about the Simpsons special.  You can watch all two minutes and fourteen seconds of it here.  There’s not much in the way of news, it’s mostly just him being excited.  He did say he’s watching all the episodes though, at chunks of 5-6 per day.  I’d be fine with that through about Season 9 and then they’d have to put me on suicide watch.

Oh, and since it’s hosted by the always lame TV.com you’ll have to turn off any adblocking software you may be using in order to view it.  And just for the record, TV.com ad-people, I neither watched nor listened to your ad.  Multi-tab browsing is a bitch.

17
Sep
09

Spurlock Update: French Pitch

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Morgan Spurlock is presenting the “Simpsons” conference at Mipcom in Cannes, France next month.  Groening and Al Jean will also be there for 20th anniversary shenanigans.  There’s nothing about him doing any filming for the special, maybe he can find someone who puts anti-freeze in their wine?

27
Aug
09

Spurlock Update: Goin’ Global

Morgan Spurlock is filming in Scotland for his Simpsons special.  We’ve mentioned this briefly in the past, but in Scotland there’s a small dispute over which part of Scotland Groundskeeper Willie calls home.  The two main contenders are Aberdeen and Glasgow.  Spurlock visited both:

When the ginger-haired janitor first appeared on the show, Glaswegians claimed he was from the Dear Green Place.

But a counter-claim was then made by Aberdonians who insisted he hailed from the granite city because he was heard to shout: “Go on Aberdeen” in one episode of the cartoon series.

In Glasgow Spurlock interviewed people on the street as well as the Lord Provost (sort of like a mayor/president of the city council).  In Aberdeen he talked to a soccer team:

ABERDEEN Football Club is to star in a documentary about cartoon favourites The Simpsons.

Staff at Pittodrie, including Aberdeen FC manager Mark McGhee, have been interviewed for the show which will be aired in the US in January.

I’ll give Spurlock credit, from the tiny amount of available information we have he appears to have been serious about his “root it in the fans” comment.  Whether or not that will make for an entertaining special is an open question, but getting the weird menagerie of Simpsons fans on camera can’t hurt.

28 August Update: More on Spurlock’s trip to Scotland, including the fact that he’s spending a total of ten (10) days in Britain.  How much actual screen time can he get out of Scottish people talking about Willie and whatever else he’s filming in Britain?  Ten minutes?  Fifteen?  Methinks someone may have padded his travel schedule while Mr. Rupert was picking up the tab.

19
Aug
09

Spurlock Update: Simpson Tattoos

The Buffalo News talked with Al Jean and gave us a little bit more information on Spurlock’s thing:

Spurlock interviewed a guy from Seattle who really grew a tomato-tobacco combination inspired by Homer’s creation of the “tomacco.” He also found the person with the most Simpson tattoos.

I’ve never understood people’s obsession with “tomacco” as one of the great cultural brain droppings of the show.  Then again, I’m not overly fond of that episode and I hate tomatoes.  As for the Simpson tattoo person, no word on whether or not it’s this guy:

"Hey man, if you like that you should see my butt!" - Otto

"Hey man, if you like that you should see my butt!" - Otto

(By the way, College Humor apparently has an entire category for Simpsons tattoos.  Yes, there’s one on somebody’s ass.)

13
Aug
09

Spurlock Update: Who Is This Bearded Man?

Yesterday Morgan Spurlock was at an Albuquerque Isotopes game filming for his special.  The local news did a report on it.  You can watch it by clicking here.  It’s pretty run of the mill celebrity-visits-local-attraction type reporting.  However, there is one useful bit of information.  Right around the 1:00 minute mark, we catch a glimpse of this guy:

Who's the guy with the beard and the glasses?

Who's the guy with the beard and the glasses?

He’s a Simpsons fan Spurlock brought with him to the park.  Spurlock described him to the reporter thusly, “He’s been a fan for years, he just thinks that, you know, the show should be retired, maybe the show’s been going on long enough.”  WHAAA?

I’m going to repeat that.  “He’s been a fan for years, he just thinks that, you know, the show should be retired, maybe the show’s been going on long enough.”  Could this be the hook of Spurlock’s special?  Or at least a decent chunk of it?  A fan who wants the show ended?  Could we be that lucky?  Even if the special ends with the bearded man converted and shouting for twenty more years it would still be sweet.

Godspeed, bearded guy with Spurlock.  Godspeed.




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