“Come on, Milhouse, you have to do this. If not for yourself, then for the movie going public, and for the foreign markets that more important than ever nowadays, and finally, for me, the Mickster.” – Mickey Rooney
“No.” – Milhouse van Houten
“Alright, I tried.” – Mickey Rooney
I’m on record as saying that the “travel” episodes tend to be the least unwatchable. They still can’t tell a story for shit, the dialogue remains hamfisted and expository, and nothing makes sense even within individual scenes, but giving them a fresh topic usually does result in a couple of decent laughs. ”Steal This Episode” was basically that, except instead of traveling somewhere, Zombie Simpsons turned its cataract clouded eye towards movie downloading. It lent itself to some decent jabs at the entertainment industry for a while until, as they always do, things went haywire with prison bus crashes, Swedish consulates, weird courtroom drama, and the almost obligatory crush of self voiced celebrities.
- This Radioactive Man spoiler thing got tiresome quickly. It’s fun to make fun of absurd comic movie plot twists and all, but it probably shouldn’t take the first five minutes of the episode to do so.
- “Joke?” on the church sign may be the laziest thing ever put there. It’s like a script note that never got looked at.
- So, Bart hasn’t seen the movie even though he was sitting at Krusty Burger with Milhouse getting the toy thirty seconds earlier? I guess they didn’t specifically say he saw it, but they have intra-episode continuity problems so often that they don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore.
- “Hey, they tricked us, that’s a commercial.” Just once this season I’d like to get through an episode where what I just saw isn’t explicitly explained to me immediately after. This is the ninth episode, so there’s probably about thirteen to go. I don’t like my chances.
- The FOX logo with the NASCAR thing keeping people from finding out how to download stuff was funny. The callback was weak, but at least it was brief.
- Steady stream of animated misfires was good, too.
- But the FBI angle is getting worn out already.
- The Star Wars crawl was pretty good even if things are starting to spin out of control.
- And the FBI thing has officially disintegrated with earplugs, blinders and all kinds of screaming. The whole thing is pointless filler.
- “It’s probably someone I would never suspect, never suspect. Your moans of sympathy are all I have! Whoever did this to me will be haunted by unbearable guilt forever . . . forever.” – This kind of intentionally silly exposition could be funny if it were a) done better and b) not done every other damn scene.
- Someone thought prisoners talking like entertainment industry insiders was very funny. You know, up until the pointless bus crash.
- And now we’re at the dinner table for more of Expository Guilt Theater: “I just can’t imagine anyone turning him in.”
- So, why are we in a Swedish consulate?
- “You like this?” – said the audience incredulously
- “Consulate. Consulate’s are regional offices which serve the embassy in the capital.” <- Filler Sentence That Did Not Need to Be Written, Much Less In the Actual Episode
- Here’s Apatow for some more weak Hollywood insider ranting.
- Wow, they’re throwing celebrity guest voices at us with a remarkable clip. It’s not funny or anything, but it’s kind of impressive in its own manically sad way. I suppose it was nice of them to let all these people show up to gently mock their industry even as they promote it and themselves.
One of the big reasons why the show will never regain even a scrap of its former greatness is the unavoidable repetitiveness of it. Movie downloading isn’t exactly a fresh topic generally, but it was something mostly new for Zombie Simpsons. But while it gave them a couple of relatively easy and untouched topics to make fun of, they immediately fell into their familiar pattern of bashing Homer around for no real reason, piling on celebrity voices just because they can, and hanging everything on a frayed string of a story that snapped completely right around the time it was literally thrown under the bus. So while they got a nice writeup on Torrent Freak and a .gif of Homer yelling at the rude movie patrons was one of the biggest items on Reddit yesterday, no one is going to care about or really remember this episode even a year from now, much less twenty or more. Like that YouTube picture-a-day takeoff from back in Season 19, one little part might earn some minor internet renown, but the rest of the episode will quickly fade to indistinguishable nothing because it’s a forgettable mess.
Anyway, the ratings are in and they are hugely improved, though it’s a one time only deal that had nothing to do with the episode itself. FOX had the 49ers-Packers playoff game (Zombie Simpsons started seven minutes late), and that bleed through gave them 12.04 million viewers. That number will come down on a final revision, but even after that it’s almost certain to be the highest rated episode of the entire season. Next week, CBS has the late playoff game, and the weekend after that there won’t be a new episode as the respective NFC and AFC championship games start later than usual to get into those sweet, sweet primetime advertising hours.