“Mr. Simpson, after talking to your wife, we believe you’re no threat to yourself or others.” – New Bedlam Psychiatrist
“That’s the most flattering thing anyone has ever said to me. Could I have it in writing, please?” – Homer Simpson
“Of course.” – New Bedlam Psychiatrist
Posts Tagged ‘Stark Raving Dad
“We want Michael! We want Michael! We want Michael!” – Crowd
“Here he is, here’s the guy want to see!” – Homer Simpson
“He’s three hundred pounds!” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
“He’s white!” – Woman in Crowd
“He’s dressed without flair!” – Moe
“Boooo! Boo!” – Crowd
It would take an awful lot of words just to catalog, to say nothing of exploring or explaining, the myriad of mistakes that comprise “Lisa Goes Gaga”. The episode had it all: bizarre and comedy free flights of fancy, unvarnished celebrity marketing, excruciatingly bad exposition, magic powers, characters acting bizarrely out of type (Lisa, Skinner, there were a lot), pointless and unrelated scenes, and, to top it all off, the entire thing may or may not have been the dream of some anonymous backup dancer. But all of those problems cascaded from one central failing, the inability of Zombie Simpsons to handle the very famous.
Whether or not you are a fan of her songs or of the outsize public persona to which her music is only tangentially connected, Lady Gaga is undeniably one of the most famous and discussed people on planet Earth here in 2012. She’s enormously popular with her fans, of course, but she’s also reached that rare level of fame where literally anything she does is news to the celebrity press, and her statements and actions frequently push beyond the paparazzi ghetto and into regular news. Even a passing familiarity with popular culture requires you to at least know who she is.
This is Wikipedia’s list of Season 23’s guest stars:
Aron Ralston, Jane Lynch, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Tim Heidecker, Gordon Ramsay, Eric Wareheim, Neil Gaiman, Andy García, Kevin Michael Richardson, John Slattery, Matthew Weiner, Kevin Dillon, Janeane Garofalo, Jackie Mason, Joan Rivers, Dana Gould, Ted Nugent, Armie Hammer, David Letterman, The Tiger Lillies, Jeremy Irons, Michael Cera, Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage, Julian Assange, Kelsey Grammer, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Jackie Mason, Robbie Conal, Ron English, Shepard Fairey, Nicholas McKaig, Kenny Scharf, David Byrne, Glenn Close, Brent Spiner, Kevin Michael Richardson, Steve Coogan, Treat Williams, Bryan Cranston, Eric Idle
There are a lot of recognizable names on that list, but in terms of raw fame, none of them are even in the same league with the one time Stefani Germanotta. Parts assigned to a bunch of television chefs, or a talk show host, or even some well known movie star are basically interchangeable. There are, after all, quite a few television chefs, and if Jeremy Irons doesn’t want to be the talking bar rag, there are plenty of other respectable British actors with great voices out there. There is only one Lady Gaga.
That yawning fame gap means that you have to do something special for her. Just having her show up as somebody’s girlfriend or rival won’t fly. Even more importantly, it’s a fantastic opportunity. Someone who draws that much attention from that many places opens up a nearly unlimited array of potential subjects and stories. Zombie Simpsons wasted all that by having Lady Gaga not just play herself, but play herself as Lady Gaga the Megastar.
We’ll do what she did, and that’ll make people like us, right?
(Second image shamelessly yoinked from here.)
Twenty seasons ago, The Simpsons took a similar opportunity with Michael Jackson – who was, relative to the time, probably even more famous than Gaga is now – and turned it into one of their most memorable episodes. Crucially, they did it by stripping Michael Jackson of everything that made him Michael Jackson the Megastar: his looks, his fame, his fashion, his sex appeal, everything. All they left him with was his talent and his voice, which, if you’re having him play a fictional cartoon character, are the only truly important parts.
Creative, recognizable and funny will always be better than mindless repetition.
They understood that exaggerating the already exaggerated – and that kind of globe spanning fame is nothing if not the exaggeration of one person into something more than a person – was pointless. Once someone has actually taken a chimpanzee with him on tour or gone out in public wearing a dress made of meat, there isn’t anything you can do to make the situation meaningfully stranger. Trying to compete with things like that by making them even bigger or weirder isn’t the least bit creative, it’s just an animated imitation of something someone else is already doing. If news broke tomorrow that Lady Gaga was touring in a pink and purple train with giant shoes on its drive wheels and a built in concert stage, you might be impressed, but you wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.
By contrast, making Michael Jackson an ordinary person is a real feat. Unexceptional and unremarkable are two things Michael Jackson never was. From the time he became famous as a child right up until his death, Jackson was always larger than life. But on The Simpsons (and really only on The Simpsons), he was just a guy, a bricklayer from New Jersey who liked it when people were nice to him.
That humanity is why the story in “Stark Raving Dad” has such heart to it and why the episode is unique among all the things Michael Jackson was famous for. Bart and the rest of the town love Michael the Megastar. For them, it’s about the album sales and the dance moves and the one white glove covered in rhinestones. For Leon Kompowsky, however, those things are incidental to Michael Jackson, the talented boy who loves his sisters and writes songs for them.
The only time “Lisa Goes Gaga” even hinted at that kind of depth and creativity was when Lisa went off on Gaga for giving people false hope and unrealistic expectations. All the positive attitude and self confidence in the world can’t change the fact that sometimes people fail, that sometimes life gives you lemons that cannot be turned into lemonade. But the episode dropped that idea almost as soon as it considered it, and ended with Lisa doing things that the overwhelming majority of Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters will never get to do: meet her and sing with her and experience even a little bit of what it’s like to look upon the world from that tremendous height. After all, there’s a parallel universe somewhere in which Germanotta stubbed her toe before an audition or didn’t meet the right people and today she’s wearing regular clothes and working at a temp agency for slightly more than minimum wage.
The Simpsons openly contemplated that idea by showing that what made Michael Jackson special would’ve still made him special even if he’d been a fat mental patient who dressed without flair and never sold a single record. After all, his music could reach deep and bring people together even when it was played on an overturned waste basket. Massive fame and all the glitzy trappings that come with it may be nice, but they are too impersonal to define a person or their talent. Zombie Simpsons was too distracted by the shiny objects to notice that, so they mistook Lady Gaga’s fame and the pizzazz that comes with it as an end in itself rather than as a side effect of something more important. Once that mistake was made, the episode never had a chance.
“Aw, she looks sad.” – Leon Kompowsky
“That’s cause she knows you’re looking at her.” – Bart Simpson
“Although I’m aware you’re looking at me, I would look exactly the same even if you weren’t.” – Lisa Simpson
[Initially scheduled this for pm instead of am. Whoops.]
“We call this guy The Chief. He’s been here in 1968, never says a word, never moves a muscle.” – Leon Kompowsky
“Hey, Chief.” – Homer Simpson
“Hello. Well, it’s about time somebody reach out to me.” – The Chief
Happy 20th anniversary to “Stark Raving Dad”! Original airdate: 19 September 1991.
“This is what Michael Jackson looks like! You look like a big, fat mental patient.” – Bart Simpson
“You’d be amazed how often I hear that.” – Leon Kompowsky
The pop culture internet had a minor conniption this week when one of the world’s least reputable news sources, TMZ, reported as a “bombshell” (their word) that Michael Jackson hadn’t done the singing in “Stark Raving Dad”. This is something you can find out by reading just the introduction to the Wikipedia article for that episode. You don’t even need to scroll down, it’s right there at the top; but if you do scroll down, you’ll see a heavily footnoted section dedicated to just that as well as a photo spread titled “The three voices of Leon Kompowsky”. And yet it was reported as news by such august outfits as The Houston Chronicle and Kaplan Test Prep Daily, as well as theoretically internet savvy outlets like television blog Warming Glow (which is named for a Simpsons reference) and music website Consequence of Sound. To repeat, this information was in the Wikipedia article with footnotes and pictures. Stop and take a breath before you click publish, okay?
Of course, that’s not all we have. There’s also some information on everyone’s favorite three hundred pound president, several people who want to see the show ended, some excellent usage, and a review of that porn movie.
It Was All Yellow: Reviewing the Simpsons Porn Parody – Smooth Charlie’s Click of the Week is this surprisingly positive, tongue-in-various cheeks review of the Simpsons porn movie. I particularly like this:
However, the guy voicing Homer/playing Homer’s penis does a phenomenal Homer impression. To the point where for the first ten minutes I thought they might be using actual audio from the show. Then I realized that even in 22 seasons they would have had trouble finding a suitable response to “You like the way I suck your cock, Homey?”
520 – Taftography, or: a Conventional Portrait of the Candidate – A political cartoon featuring the face of William Howard Taft as the floor plan for the 1908 Republican Party convention. It opens with the Mediocre Presidents song despite the fact that he isn’t mentioned in it, but that counts as excellent usage nonetheless. There’s also some kinda awesome Taft quotes. I could almost see this one being a Simpsons line:
I have come to the conclusion that the major part of the work of a President is to increase the gate receipts of expositions and fairs and bring tourists to town.
The Simpsons’ latest season – A review of Season 22, which, while far more forgiving of Zombie Simpsons than I am, does contain this:
In fact, I’m starting to think that whether or not you enjoy The Simpsons at this point depends on how bothered you are that the show keeps trotting out similar storylines to earlier episodes’. I’m certain that most of the storylines in series 22 could be compared to old episodes (sometimes multiple old episodes), using characters in the same ways time and again.
That’s just crazy enough to work . . .
Simpsons Video of the Week. – New York is that a way, man!
you sunk my battleship! – Heh, some school official in Britain threatened to replace striking teachers with parents.
Top 20 TV Quotes of all time – The Simpsons has three on here, including #1.
Beauty road test – Eyelash extensions – Technically the ones on the show were implants not extensions, but this is still an excellent reference:
If you’ve ever watched back-to-back reruns of The Simpsons (and let’s face it, you have), you may be familiar with the concept of eyelash extensions. They were the secret weapon (illegal in the United States!) that allowed the curly haired Shirley Temple clone to triumph over Lisa in the beauty pageant episode. If you’ve ever watched back to back reruns of The Simpsons, you may also be aware that the show’s absurdist sense of the surreal can ultimately end up communicating fundamental truths about the world we live in.
It sure does in this case: while they may not require an illegal cosmetic surgery trip to Mexico, eyelash extensions are a secret weapon.
And yeah, it was Paraguay not Mexico, but still.
Does anybody else want the simpsons to end? – I don’t generally think of Yahoo Answers as a useful source of information. The, um, limited coherence of the opening rant here is a testament to why, but I like the response from “Jim”, a “Top Contributor”:
They should have ended that show a very long time ago. I can’t stand that show.
TMZ Breaks a Twenty-Year-Old Simpsons "Bombshell" – Our old friend Denise Du Vernay of “Simpsons in the Classroom” fame takes a look at the non-story Simpsons story I mentioned in the introduction. She’s got all the details; I don’t have anything to add except to point out that dumb tends to beget dumb.
"Honey, I’m chilly. Would you turn on the art?" – Excellent usage:
"I wouldn’t take it down if I were you," advises Bart in an episode of The Simpsons. "That’s a load-bearing poster."
Bart actually says “It’s” not “That’s”, but this is about a new material that can be used to make wall hangings heat your home, so I’m still counting it as excellent usage.
The Simpsons Coverage and Panel – Comic-Con 2011 – I enjoy how pretty much the only way they can fluff the Simpsons appearance at Comic-Con is by talking about upcoming guest voices.
ASCAP Honors Top Film and Television Music Composers at 26th Annual Awards Celebration – Apparently Jay Kogen was on hand to give Alf Clausen that award. Aww.
Suggested Viewing material – YouTube of Homer missing Lisa and trying to play her “sax-a-ma-phone”.
Simpsons World Was a Pretty Sweet Purchase – Someone got that giant doorstop of a Simpsons reference book for $30 instead of the nutbar $150 they were asking. For thirty bucks, it appears to be a good purchase. Amazon wants $90 at the moment though.
events : FARM’s AR conference in sunny LA – Sam Simon is going to be speaking at an animal rights convention the weekend of July 22nd.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins…In 10 Words – Mr. Poppers Possums does have a nice ring to it.
What Everyone Secretly Wants to Do to His Boss – Animated .gif of Homer getting a pretty good sound out of that guy.
Have the Simpsons overstayed their welcome? – This holds out the kind of hope I haven’t had since about Season 10:
But what I do know is that I would like to see from the show, is one final season of the show returning to its former glory — no holding back, showing its fans that there is some juice still left for it to go out with a bang. Make one final season that tops all season, stay true to the original concept but milk it for all its worth. Come out on top, because the show deserves nothing less than an excellent exit — but in order to do this, the showrunners should first recognize that all good things must come to an end. Even The Simpsons. It will be sad, but it will be worth it rather than ending the show with dismal ratings because everybody quit on it.
It’s much too late for that. Oh sure, if they announced right now that Season 23 was going to be it, the finale would get huge ratings. But I doubt any of the mid-season filler would see even the tiniest bump.
The Best TV Shows – And finally, I get to end with two people who, in a discussion of their favorite shows, both agree with us:
I say it was hilarious from seasons 1 through 12; most fans will say it started declining after season 8 and reached its nadir (which has lasted right through season 22 and is sure to continue through 23) by season 10. Probably better than Seinfeld at its peak (seasons 4-10), the depth and breadth of its style and plotlines is remarkable. The massive ensemble of regular characters is huge, and none of them are space-fillers; somehow the writers came up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 rich and unique characters to inhabit the town of Springfield. Consummate skill displayed by the voice actors. This show also satisfied the intellectual viewer like no other.
Only the first 10 seasons count as Tier 1 material. The next 13 seasons might find a place somewhere in the ballpark of Tier 25 if I’d gone that far.
“Uh, the devil with his fly open.” – Homer Simpson
“Right.” – Psychiatrist
“Uh, that’s a spill on the floor with bugs going after it. And there gonna eat it.” – Homer Simpson
“Good.” – Psychiatrist
“Let’s see, it’s . . . the boy!” – Homer Simpson
In our ongoing mission to bring you only the shallowest and laziest analysis of Zombie Simpsons, we’re keeping up our Crazy Noises series for Season 22. Since a podcast is so 2004, and video would require a flag, a fern and some folding chairs from the garage, we’ve elected to use the technology that brought the word “emoticon” to the masses: the chatroom. Star Trek image macros are strictly forbidden, unless you have a really good reason why Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “unrepentant”).
Homer Simpson was once given a Rorschach test. He had been involuntarily hauled to the “New Bedlam Rest Home for the Emotionally Interesting” for the grievous crime of wearing a pink shirt to work. No introduction was needed, the scene just picked up with Homer reporting what he saw. The whole thing barely takes ten seconds and each line is a joke.
In “How Munched is That Birdie in the Window”, Zombie Homer was acting out like the jerk he is when Marge distracted him with Rorschach pages. This led to a twenty second long series of grunts and screams. None of them had anything to do with what few ink blots were shown. There was hardly any dialogue; it was mostly Homer making faces while Castellaneta made noises. The other characters in the room didn’t react to this or anything, they just sat patiently and waited for him to finish. It was almost as if they knew they were in a crappy sitcom.
Charlie Sweatpants: Time to take the plunge?
Mad Jon: I am ready.
Charlie Sweatpants: In that case, let me start out by saying that this felt like they were pulling words and concepts out of a hat.
Mad Jon: That’s a pretty good description.
It was even more randomly taped together than usual.
Charlie Sweatpants: I know I complain about the stories every week, and it’s not unusual for the first act to have nothing to do with the rest of the episode, but this was even worse than usual.
Dave: Manatees and idea balls, perhaps?
Charlie Sweatpants: It wasn’t just the first act, it was the first half, and even that was padded left and right with whatever happened to fill up enough screen time. Between that thing that was like an Itchy & Scratchy, and that Patton bit, and the angels, and the horror story . . . it just kept getting more and more random.
Mad Jon: I did think they were going to make Homer talk in that voice the entire episode, but then they surprised me and had him do other random activities and voices….
Also, Danica Patrick was there.
I guess Go Daddy isn’t paying like it used to.
Charlie Sweatpants: She was one of three different fights Homer got into.
And hers was the only one with a purpose.
Dave: Danica Patrick was useless, as she is in real life. It was oddly fitting.
Charlie Sweatpants: Geez Dave, what have you got against Patrick?
Dave: I just don’t care for her. Carry on.
Mad Jon: Was the therapist a guest voice too?
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah.
That was Rachel Weisz.
It didn’t need to be. But it was
Mad Jon: Ok. What was she pitching?
Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t know, it may be the first non-synergistic guest voice of the year.
Charlie Sweatpants: Of course, it was just one scene and it did nothing, but there it is.
Mad Jon: Hmm, so FOX is getting dumber AND lazier huh.
Charlie Sweatpants: Something like that.
To the “dumber” point, they continue with their inability to furnish a guest character with an interesting story.
Mad Jon: Or any story.
Charlie Sweatpants: In terms of “lazier”, I will say that I was expecting Patrick to just drive up in a race car or something. I can’t decide if having her in a dream is more or less lazy.
Dave: A little less, but only marginally.
Mad Jon: Well the racing thing would have helped tie into Moe’s plot to steal Homer’s house.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, what was that about?
Moe’s not there, then he is, then as a punchline they use this bizarre twist.
Mad Jon: I don’t know. Nobody knows. Moe doesn’t know.
Dave: A throwaway line intended for yuks, but something that instead fell flat on its face?
Charlie Sweatpants: Sounds about right.
That reminds me, uh, Marcia Wallace really can’t do Krabappel any more. It’s not even close.
Mad Jon: Yeah it was pretty bad.
Charlie Sweatpants: Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want them to replace her or anything, she deserves to take every penny she can out of them, but it’s impossible not to notice it.
Mad Jon: Also your statement about Chalmers a few weeks back is becoming truer by the day. He really does live at the school doesn’t he?
Charlie Sweatpants: All the minor characters are like that. It’s just most noticeable with Chalmers.
Nelson in this one, for example.
Mad Jon: Oh yeah, with the mom and the clown.
Charlie Sweatpants: There he is out in the wilderness, then there he is again for the world’s most forced callback joke.
And I can’t decide if it’s stupider that he was in the choir, or that the choir was at the funeral.
Mad Jon: That whole funeral scene made me feel very bad about myself.
Charlie Sweatpants: The same goes for Moe and Milhouse.
Mad Jon: The rendition of “taps’ was especially physically embarrassing.
Charlie Sweatpants: Another glacially paced scene in an episode that was full of them.
Any decent parts, in your opinions?
Dave: The montage wasn’t awful, by ZS standards, but it did go on a tad long.
Mad Jon: The only thing I thought was ok was the chart Bart drew. Not the whole scene with Milhouse, that dragged on and was pointless, but the quick flash to the drawing with Milhouse at the bottom was ‘decent’ in my opinion.
Charlie Sweatpants: Skinner wanting Bart to be depressed was okay, while it went on too long and they beat it into the ground a little bit, it’s a decent concept.
It also made sense in context, quite frankly that shocked me.
Mad Jon: I can see that. It was faintly reminiscent of the time Skinner recommended deportation. Just not as hilarious.
Charlie Sweatpants: Not even close, but that Skinner would unrepentantly want Bart sad was good. It just didn’t need to take that long, or have as much Jerkass Homer in it.
Other than that this was pretty much a garbage dump all the way through.
Mad Jon: No arguments here.
Charlie Sweatpants: I was also curious about your opinions on the animation for the weird Itchy & Scratchy thing.
The backgrounds and stuff were done in a very 1930s Disney style with that soft focus, but the characters were all crisp and bright and obviously digital.
I don’t know if that was intentional or what, but it was just odd.
Dave: Oh, that. I shrugged it off. I’m sure it was a reference to something I don’t care about.
But intentional, yes.
Mad Jon: That was a very weird I&S, even for this season.
Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else here? We haven’t even mentioned the ostrich fight/murder/Family Guy thing at the end. But that may be for the best.
Mad Jon: Oh I think it’s just as well that we lump that in to your opening statement. It was a random collage of animation and activity I assume they thought would get some laughs from the twelve year olds in between their text messages and facetime.
Dave: Bart killed an ostrich lol?
Mad Jon: I kind of felt drunk while I was watching the last 4 or so minutes, and I haven’t had anything to drink tonight.
Charlie Sweatpants: I can understand that. With about four minutes to go I looked at the timer and was wondering where they were going with this. Then there was an ostrich farm and Bart had to not get saved by Santa’s Little Helper.
When the ostrich opened his eyes, fine, who cares, it’s a little twist. But then he went all Chicken with Bad Coupon on Homer. Was it worth that kind of total capitulation to MacFarlane to stretch the last ten seconds of the episode?
Mad Jon: I have a hard time imagining that they were doing that for any other reason than to fill the last minute of screen time.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, you’re probably right.
Mad Jon: There is no need to think of an ending when you don’t really end the episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: Also a good point.
Anything else? I’m ready to be done.
Mad Jon: Also I am ready to be done.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, Dave, what do you say? Is it quittin’ time or would you like to stay and work overtime?
Dave: I think it’s quittin’ time. Jon would kill me if I extended this.
Charlie Sweatpants: I always like it when we end on implied death threats.
“Now, make sure we have plenty of cold cuts, and put some beer on ice-” – Homer Simpson
“Um, Homer, I’m a vegetarian and I don’t drink.” – Leon Kompowski
“Are you sure you’re here voluntarily?” – Homer Simpson
Rest in peace, Leon.
“Why is that man in pink?” – C.M. Burns
“Oh uh, that’s Homer Simpson, sir. He’s one of your boobs from Sector 7-G.” – Mr. Smithers
“Simpson, eh? Well judging by his outlandish attire he’s some sort of free thinking anarchist.” – C.M. Burns
“I’ll call security, sir.” – Mr. Smithers
“Excellent. Yes, these color monitors have already paid for themselves.” – C.M. Burns
Hold a weekly family meeting to discuss your issues. Ours were called the “Eat My Shorts” sessions, in homage to Homer Simpson.
Press File Photo
Even Homer and Marge Simpson rekindle their sex life by doing the deed at a miniature golf course.