Posts Tagged ‘The Springfield Files


Reading Digest: FXX Marketing Shifts Into High Gear Edition


“Were you on my roof last night, stealing my weather vane?” – Ned Flanders
“This interview is over!” – Homer Simpson

The big 12 day marathon on a channel neither I nor millions of other people get will begin next Thursday morning.  This week we’ve got several links about it, including the full transcript of a conference call interview Al Jean did earlier this week (there’s actual news for once!) and some very cool posters.  In addition to that, we’ve got more of the fan made Lego Springfield, an unveiling date for the building sized mural in Oregon, Harry Shearer being Dick Nixon, very old sneakers, and a great vacation photo from Washington D.C..


The Simpsons – Al Jean Interview - This is a full transcript of a conference call Jean did on Wednesday.  Mostly it’s just him efficiently blowing through questions he’s heard dozens of times before (Will there be a sequel? How about those upcoming crossovers?  He even makes a joke about someone asking where Springfield is.), but there is some real news buried in there:

- The app will allow for fan rankings of the episodes:

Q: can you talk a little bit about at TCA you were talking about the database of their new website and there would be a ranking of episodes based on fan favorites. How that ranking is determined?

A: It’s to be determined. It’s up to the fans. We went and listened to what it seemed that people wanted out of the show, and when the app is fully up and running, which probably won’t be until early next year, you can get clips, you can send clips to your friends, you can do an assortment of clips almost like re-edit like people did with the [indiscernible] stuff, and the voting will be up the users too. It will be whatever everybody who logs in votes for and shows they like or dislike. Shows that people dislike the most may actually get some interest viewing, and it’s not for us to say. That’s the great thing about this app.

That sounds . . . interesting.  Everything depends on implementation, but I’ll be curious to see both a) how it shakes out and b) how they react if the fan rankings massively denigrate almost everything after Season 10 or so.  Also note that while the app is scheduled to launch in October, he’s already talking about it not being all the way up and running until 2015.

- This is about the upcoming marathon on FXX:

we’re going to be live tweeting, not continuously, but every time there’s an episode I wrote or a show ran, I’ll try to get in on them. We’re asking guest stars who did the show if they’d like to tweet with the writers. So, we hope to have a discussion going on for the whole way and throw in interesting things people may not have heard.

I bet that’ll depend greatly on when the episodes air.  For example, they’re starting at 10am Eastern next Thursday, so assuming two episodes per hour, Season 3 will be starting at 2:30am Eastern.

- Answering a question about what format the episodes on FXX will be:

Well, the versions as I understand it are the original versions, but they’re expanded to HD except on the app, you can get the original 4X3 because people would want to see the 4X3 so that will be available, but the ones that they’re broadcasting, as I understand it, are the originals with the HD expansion for the ones that weren’t in HD.

I’m not sure what “HD expansion” means, black bars, that blurry extra side thing people do sometimes?

-  One more thing about live tweeting during the FXX marathon:

Yes, we’re totally encouraging it. It’s @BestSimpsons is the Twitter site reserved for the marathon. So, yes, it starts at 7 a.m. August 21st Pacific Time/10 a.m. Eastern and I’ll be tweeting then.

@BestSimpsons looks an awful lot like an abandoned fan account.  There’s only 79 tweets total, and though the most recent is about the FXX marathon, it was from last month and was the first since January.  It links to what also looks like an abandoned fan site, which hasn’t updated since May of last year.  Now, this is from a transcript, so it’s possible that this is a transcription error and is missing a character or two.  I asked Jean on Twitter right before I posted this (and went to lunch), so if he responds (and he often does), I’ll update.

Update 2:10pm: And it was indeed a transcription error.  The actual live tweet account for the FXX marathon is @EverySimpsons.  

Simpsons Trivia Night (Published on The West End Magazine) - Recently, the classic Simpsons trivia competitions have taken a step up, holding “film festivals” and doing Diorama-ramas, but the bar has been raised by this group in Australia.  They set up a fake Simpsons living room!  Excellent.

The Simpsons – FXX Posters - I don’t often get a chance to say this, but: well done, FOX marketing department.  Those are gorgeous and creative and just generally cool.  I might even go so far as to buy a poster if they got rid of the logo and the hashtag.

Watch the trailer for the ‘Simpsons’ marathon - On the other hand, this promo, while pretty, is also quite dumb.

FUSION — Fusion Announces Documentary Project with Sam Simon, Co-Creator of The Simpsons - Simon continues to handle hideous disease about as well as is humanly imaginable.

The Simpsons Bart Boot Sneakers - Actual Simpsons sneakers from the early 1990s, including the stylized box.  Very cool.

Fashion Spotlight: Better Call Hutz, Bartman Begins, and Doh! Zombies! - The punctuation in Hutz’s word bubble is brilliant.

Happy birthday, Dustin Hoffman, or “Mrs. Krabappel, are you trying to seduce me?” - A framed picture of Mr. Bergstrom is pretty damned cool.

HickoryDickoryDank comments on How would you like to see The Simpsons end? - This Reddit thread was making the rounds this week, but the best answer I saw came from a two year old thread on the same idea.

Get lost in a Simpsons themed corn maze - Neat:

Corn maze season starts in September and it is the busiest time of year for the Meuer Farm.

They started planing in February to get “The Simpsons” themed maze just right. The maze has two phases that have a total of around three miles of paths.

There’s an aerial picture at the link.  Looks very fun.

The Weird Minutes Before Nixon’s Resignation - Harry Shearer re-enacts Nixon’s resignation:

The recording of the minutes before the resignation is one that Shearer has always found confounding. It is so clear that the camera crew is unmoved by Nixon’s small talk. “If you were a comic, you’d stop after two of your jokes bombed like that, but he just keeps going,” Shearer said. “For years, I was puzzled by that behavior. Why didn’t he just sit quietly until the time came to deliver the speech? What was going on there?” The answer that finally came to him, as he rehearsed the scene, is that Nixon already had an eye on rehabilitating his reputation. “Those people in that room were going to go out and say, ‘He wasn’t depressed, he wasn’t angry. My god! He was the nicest guy in the world.’ I think that’s exactly who he was. That’s how he got out of his depression, on fight. And the fight starts here.”

Shearer’s the best.

“Bart! Get out of the Spirit of St. Louis!” - Now that is a great Air and Space Museum photo.  Bravo.

The Simpsons’ Town of Springfield, to Scale, in Lego - There is now a YouTube tour of that fan made Lego Springfield.

Old LA Zoo - Oh, cool:

The first Saturday of every month a local comic book store, Nerd Melt, hosts Simpson trivia, called Stonecutters. We lucked out this month because they pushed it back a weekend so we were able to attend. There are 3 rounds of trivia, which get progressively more difficult, with episodes of The Simpsons shown between each round. Every month they bring in special guests who have worked on the show and the episodes played are generally episodes the guests have worked on, so that the guests can give live commentary. This month there were two former directors and a storyboard artist.

Voice of Lisa Simpson to attend mural unveiling Aug. 25 - I guess we’ll get to see that mural a week from Monday.

doh! if only it worked that way! - Sadly, we cannot all escape from reality as easily as Homer.


Quote of the Day

Great Story

“Oh, it was awful.  They set me on a cold metal table and prodded me with humiliating probes.  And th-oh, wait, that was my physical.” – Homer Simpson
“Great story, Homer.  Really.” – Karl


Quote of the Day

The Springfield Files15

“Thank God it’s Wednesday.” – Jasper
“It’s Friday.” – Mrs. Glick
“Uh-oh, wrong pills. . . . Uh, little help?” – Jasper


Compare & Contrast: Suspense Show Takeoffs

The Springfield Files14

“For the love of God, help me!  I’ve been here for four days and a turtle’s got a hold of my teeth.  There he is!  Come back here, you.  Slow down!  I’ll get yeh!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“This is the worst assignment we’ve ever had.” – Agent Scully
“Worse than the time we were attacked by the flesh eating virus?” – Agent Mulder
“Ow!  He bit me with my own teeth!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“No, this is much more irritating.” – Agent Scully

Whether it’s shadowy terrorist networks and shady politicians, a government conspiracy to collude with aliens, or any other formula for dramatic mystery, people like to be in suspense about what’s going to happen next.  What nefarious plots will the heroes uncover?  What dastardly twists do the villains have up their sleeves?  Will the leads fall in love and kiss (or possibly get naked) on screen?

All of these things are a rather far cry from the reasons people watch animated comedies.  So when it comes time for a parody, it helps tremendously to know that you’re here to poke fun at your source material and not merely repeat it.  For a good example of the former, there’s “The Springfield Files”.

The X-Files became a parody of itself toward the end as the conspiracy kept getting strung out and strung out (and strung out) because it was one of FOX’s few hit shows and they couldn’t bear to let it die.  (When Troy McClure shows the FOX “Programming Chart” later in Season 8, they weren’t kidding when it was just that, The Simpsons and Melrose Place.)  But in its prime, The X-Files was a popular critical darling that kept audiences’ rapt attention with inventive monsters of the week and a nefarious global conspiracy that unfolded ever so slowly.

The Simpsons took The X-Files and made fun of all of it: the inherent goofiness of the FBI investigating “paranormal” crimes and creatures, the endless breadth of conspiracy theories, and the unusually drop dead sexiness of that pair of agents.  It wasn’t mean about any of it, a show as silly and relentlessly serious about itself as The X-Files isn’t exactly a hard target for satire, and the two lead voices were happy to show up and have a little fun at the expense of their meal ticket.

But “The Springfield Files” never feels like an X-Files episode or even tries to copy one.  Mulder and Scully are there, of course, but they’re hardly the protagonists and they basically disappear as soon as they ascertain that Homer’s a drunken idiot who shouldn’t be taken seriously, which doesn’t take long at all.  The “alien” turns out to be Mr. Burns, which the Springfield mob understandably tries to kill anyway.

Even the quick departure of Mulder and Scully laughs at The X-Files.  Scully tells Mulder that they have to go since this is obviously not an alien, and then she gets annoyed and just walks off in boredom as he launches into his elaborately insane “truth is out there” speech.  Meanwhile, real crime, Moe smuggling exotic animals, is happening right in front of the FBI.  Along the way they have time to throw in Leonard Nimoy parodying himself and his lesser television accomplishments, FOX, and Friday nights.

The Springfield Files13

That’s not Leonard Nimoy!

“Homerland” manages none of that, and instead seeks to recreate, more or less as closely as possible, scenes and characters from Homeland.  For starters, there’s the opening, which like their Dexter parody from a couple of seasons ago, basically requires you to have seen a relatively obscure cable show to get what’s going on since it’s little more than a remake with Simpson characters substituted for the regulars.  The plot and even the musical cues are more or less direct copies, and poor Kristen Wiig is asked to do little more than alternate between being crazy and being suspicious in a Claire Danes role that has just that one joke that they repeat over and over again.

They’re so concerned with faithful reproduction that the scene where Lisa catches Homer “praying” is practically a shot-for-shot duplicate of one on Showtime, except that Homeland didn’t have the daughter exposit needlessly.  You don’t need to be a fan of Homeland, or even really know anything about the show, to know that’s a bad idea.  This is some of Lisa’s actual dialogue:

Lisa:  It looks like he’s praying . . . to the East.  The Middle East!  Mecca.

As a feat of bad writing that’s kind of impressive.  It’s quadruple expositive, including explaining one thing thrice over, and for that extra special Zombie Simpsons kick it involves Lisa acting uncharacteristically suspicious of Muslims.

What’s going on around all that crappy dialogue isn’t helping.  Shows like Homeland and The X-Files, which rely on twists and discoveries and secrets, set up those kind of scenes carefully.  Zombie Simpsons just tossed this one in with no explanation because, hey, there was one like that on Homeland.

Making matters yet more incoherent, Zombie Simpsons asks scenes like this to be treated as part of a serious mystery – hence Lisa’s shocked reaction to seeing Homer “pray” – but doesn’t treat anything else with even a scrap of care.  Things are whispered to and around Homer in scenes where other characters are standing right next to him, he keeps muttering his plot in case anyone had forgotten (the audience included), and the ending – which falls well short of the full runtime despite all the repetitive flashbacks – is unironically happy and just, with Burns being a complete idiot and getting arrested.

Burns Oopsie

He actually says “Oopsie” here, like he’s a toddler in a paper towel commercial.

In “The Springfield Files”, the big Burns reveal matches the rest of the mystery in deliberate silliness and contains lines like “The most rewarding part was when he gave me my money”.  In “Homerland”, it’s Burns expositing himself into jail for no reason whatsoever and has lines like “Wait a minute, Burns.  You don’t have a functioning AC system at a nuclear plant?  That’s against the law!”.  As usual, where The Simpsons made sense and kept things fun, Zombie Simpsons produces an intermittently serious mess.


Quote of the Day

The Springfield Files11

“Now we’re going to run a few tests.  This is a simple lie detector.  I’ll ask you a few yes or no questions and you just answer truthfully.  Do you understand?” – Agent Scully
“Yes.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

The Springfield Files10

“Leonard Nimoy, what are you doing here?” – Bart Simpson
“Wherever there is mystery and the unexplained, cosmic forces shall draw me near.” – Leonard Nimoy
“Uh-huh.” – Bart Simpson
“Hey, Spock, what do you want on your hot dog?” – Hot Dog Guy
“Surprise me.” – Leonard Nimoy


Reading Digest: Overpriced Video Game Edition

Waterworld Game

“Thirty-eight, thirty-nine, forty quarters, this better be good.” – Milhouse van Houten
“Game over.  Please deposit forty quarters.” – Waterworld Game
“What a rip!” – Milhouse van Houten

This week we’ve got four different links about the Tapped Out game.  Three of them are about how damned annoying and greedy it is when it comes to squeezing you to keep putting in virtual quarters after a minute or two of gameplay.  We’ve also got a couple of great pieces of fan made photography, the Bill Plympton opening from this Sunday’s episode of Zombie Simpsons, a boss Bart tattoo, two different respectable media outlets mocking the show for their Harlem Shake entry, a rather obscene car decal, and a truncated Wall Street Journal article that says the Simpsons are about to go Lego.


House of Simpson family – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this fan made drawing of the Simpson home.  Reader Sam, who sent this in, described it as “lovingly detailed”, and that it is.  The attention to detail is just wonderful, and you can buy prints.  Thanks, Sam! 

60/365 – Close up artsy picture of Lisa and Bleeding Gums figurines jamming under a starry sky.  The musical notes in the air are a nice touch.

Be Who You Feel You Are – From a different photographer (assuming that’s not photoshop) comes this picture of Homer imagining himself with Herb’s hair and Flanders’ stomach.  Damn well done.

Mega Homer – Fan made drawing of Homer as Mega Man riding Santa’s Little Helper as Rush.  Cool.

Exclusive Sneak Preview: The Simpsons Go Noir – Sunday’s episode of Zombie Simpsons is getting a nicely stylish opening courtesy of Bill Plympton.  You can watch it here on-line so you don’t have to watch in on TV.  The future!

Matt Groening’s Artwork for Apple – Groening’s Life in Hell style brochure for Apple from 1989.  (I’ve linked it before, but it makes the rounds every now and again, so why not link it when it does?)  (via)

Dag 030 – A joke t-shirt with Homer sitting on a chair captioned “Perseverance” with the punchline “If something is hard it’s not worth doing”.  The actual quote, of course, is “If something’s hard to do, then it’s not worth doing”, but it’s still a cool shirt.

Missed Opportunities: Freemium Subtlety – A less than enthusiastic report from the Tapped Out game:

When creating a freemium app game, where you need to encourage players to spend money, it’s important not to beat them over the head. The Simpsons Tapped Out doesn’t seem to get this, and constantly badgers the player to cough up some dough.

Poorly made micro-transactions are killing gaming. – More in that vein:

To speed this up, they include the use of “doughnuts” a form of premium currency in the game and the thing that irks me the most has to be the fact that they don’t even state a price before you buy it, the game pushes you to buy them through impulsive purchases because they know that people will buy them because the game takes so long for everything to even happen you’re forced to through pure impatience, this means less gameplay and more sitting around and waiting unless you choose to buy their premium currency, what’s the point in that? I’d rather you not let the game go free-to-play if you’re just going to cover that up through a horrible form of in game currency which we are forced to buy.

The future of gaming, micro-transactions – And why they do it:

Star Trek Online, Lord of Ultima, Dungeons and Dragons online and The simpsons What’s the common thread? You can play them but if you want to see the closing credits you’re going to need to peel off some green.

It’s become a very lucrative space with $25 million made by EA in the last quarter of 2012 just on their  Simpsons mobile  game alone.


Of course you don’t have to purchase the extra content but your experience will be diminished compared to those that do.  EA’s Blake J. Jorgensen thinks that’s where the money is.

“The next and much bigger piece is micro transactions within games…  we’re building into all of our games the ability to pay for things along the way, either to get to a higher level to buy a new character, to buy a truck, a gun, whatever… and consumers are enjoying and embracing that way of the business“

I’m not so sure consumers are “enjoying “micro-transactions as much as they’re just tolerating them at this point.  The model  can work if your upfront investment is minimal but the future may not be so certain if we’re still paying triple-A prices.

Indeed.  And let’s not forget that EA’s SimCity release is going about as poorly as it is possible for something to go.  (Also, nice WordPress theme.)

The Simpsons Tapped Out Android Hack | Unlimited Money & Doughnuts – Should ye be as frustrated as the above three, I present this without comment as I do not own an Android device on which to test it.

Lego Eyes Tie-Up With ‘The Simpsons’ – Speaking of merchandising money, this is behind one of Murdoch’s idiotic paywalls, so you can’t read the whole thing, but here’s the opening:

COPENHAGEN – Lego, looking to expand its string of partnerships with media franchises, is in talks with 20th Century Fox about making a toy set based on TV show The Simpsons, a spokesman said on Thursday.

A deal would pair the fast-growing Danish toy maker with what is believed to be the longest running scripted show in U.S. TV history.  The Simpsons has a cult following and appeals to younger audiences as well as adults who have followed the show since they were children.

We’re getting ever closer to Simpsons the flame thrower.

Homer Simpson’s Poker Face – A nice little writeup of a small talk Simon gave to some students at Old Dominion last week.

Talk of the Town: These folks love animals! – A retired school teacher named Sue Simpson has dogs named Bart and Ralph.  Ha!

100 More Simpsons Quotes, In Order Of Importance – Lotta good quotes here.

Quick Reviews: Oscar Nominated Shorts – Well, the Oscars are gone, but how about one more review:

Filled with visual gags and recognisable faces, Maggie Simpson in “The Longest Daycare” manages to impressively entertain audiences even whilst feeling no more original than an episode of The Simpsons. The choice to create the film from Maggie’s point of view with no dialogue is a respectable one, and the film’s plot is solid and witty enough to maintain laughter. The ending is surprising and you root for Maggie throughout, but this film ultimately falls flat and one can’t help but feel that a webisode is a more suitable format (legitimacy of web videos for this category aside) and one where the film would fit in with it’s peers much better.

Homer Simpson Bape Character – Just what it says.

“Die Bart Die” from the Tattoo Shooting Gallery – Awesomely grotesques tattoo of Bart with a knife through his head.

BOO-URNS – It’s another Simpsons Tumblr with lots of images and .gifs (and very little Zombie Simpsons).  It’s maintained by this young lady:

When I was younger I could relate to it because my family was pretty similar. I was the (pardon my lack of modesty) smarty-pants little sister, my brother was more similar to Bart than anyone I had ever met, my mother was super-maternal and maybe a little traditional-housewifey. I can’t stress how different my Dad is from Homer, but you get the point.

I do.  Well done.

Andy Wilson: Rich Moore: From The Simpsons to Wreck-It Ralph – Jebus, the Huffington Post sucks.  This should’ve been an interview with Rich Moore, instead it’s mostly filler.

Homer Simpson: Trolling Jesus – I don’t think this really counts as trolling, it’s just a subtitled screen grab of Homer’s joke about Jesus needing better arch support.  Still cracks me up every time.

Top 5 Best Beatle Album Covers – Includes the Simpsons parody of Sgt. Pepper’s.

My favorite TV shows, pt. 1: The Simpsons. – A fan of Zombie Simpsons writes:

The Simpsons will always have a special place in my heart. It is one of the most impressive shows on the air. It is in its 24th season with no end in sight. It isn’t quite as popular as it was during the first 10 or so seasons, but with its ability to poke fun at any current event without being quite as offensive as a show like South Park (love it, but it offends many), it is able to appeal to adults who want a bit more grown-up humor, as well as to their teenage kids. As such, it’s one of few shows that are still on the air that are viewed by the whole family together.

Obviously, I don’t agree, but that’s okay, everybody gets their own opinions.  Here comes the funny part: the blog is titled “Zombie Love is Forever”.  Oh, the irony.

Feeling Old? Ages of 90s T.V. Characters Today – They’ve got everything from Friends to Full House on here, and they’ve got the Simpsons at:

This doesn’t work so well, because the characters ages are constant, but as with Rugrats, I’ll act like everyone has aged in real time since season one. Bart: 33, Lisa: 31, Maggie: 24, Homer and Marge: 58-ish.

Seems about right.

21 & Over…In 10 Words – What better way to spread beer fueled mayhem?

Dallas…In 10 Words – That’s right, I shot JR.

The 2013 Sequester…In 10 Words – Looks like those clowns in Congress are at it again.  What a bunch of clowns.

Fare thee well gym! – Quitting the gym with help from YouTube of Homer discovering what a gym is.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but ever since that episode I mentally pronounce gym “gime” pretty much every time.

Introducing the blog to IE business school… – Well done:

Also check out my twitter @chizwozla

The word ‘chizwozla’ came from an episode of The Simpsons when I was 10 years old and making my first email account. Now that I have 5 email addresses, a twitter, a facebook page, (previously myspace and bebo and even more previously an Angelfire blog), a fantasy football team, 2 wordpress blogs, a flipboard account, a skype account, etc etc it has come in very handy in using one, common word that is never previously taken. I’ve never had to use Roboconnor123456 or similar because I was a visionary 10 year old…

The Simpsons – It’s a car decal on a gas tank cover of, I am not making this up, Maggie sucking Bart’s dick.  The hell of it is, it looks like a real picture, as in that’s actually on the side of somebody’s car and they drive around with it like that in public.  Huh.

‘The Simpsons’ voted Britain’s favourite TV family – This is about as meaningless as it’s possible for something to be, but it’s nice, I suppose:

The Simpsons have been voted Britain’s favourite TV family in a new survey from Channel 4.

Homer, Marge, Maggie, Bart and Lisa collected 45% of the vote, finishing above The Flintstones and The Royle Family.

So it’s come to this: The Simpsons do "The Harlem Shake" – The A.V. Club has it about right:

It seems like everybody short of the Vatican is sharing their take on the ubiquitous dance sensation that’s sweeping the nation. That now includes The Simpsons, who have entered into the fray with an exuberant clip that will undoubtedly age like a fine wine and not be something that everyone involved will be embarrassed by a week from now.

The Simpsons Attempt The Harlem Shake, Fail Miserably – The Mary Sue piles on as well:

I guess this means this whole thing is done now, right?

Heh, they wish they were relevant enough to make something uncool.  Regardless, I’m confident something else will be along shortly.

SimpFail – And finally, I get to end the way I prefer, with someone who agrees with us:

Recently the Simpsons, my beloved and favorite show of all time, has been making me upset and disappointed. Since about season 10 the quality of the show has gone down. However within the last 5 seasons I will say it has really sunk quickly and I don’t know how much longer they can keep it up. Last Sunday’s episode featured an opening scene of the Simpsons doing the Harlem Shake, A fad that has really gone way overboard allowing people to go full retard for a minute.

Sadly, they’re not going to run out of hapless stabs at relevance anytime soon.


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