“Well, that’s seventy-five witches we’ve processed. That ought to show God whose side we’re on, eh pastor?” – Nedwin Flanders
“Yes, Nedwin, but we have many more strumpets to incinerate.” – Pastor Lovejoy
Posts Tagged ‘Treehouse of Horror VIII
“Do your worst, you filthy, pretentious savages!” – Mayor Quimby
For evidence that Zombie Simpsons is utterly bereft of ideas that can even be called creative, much less original, one need look no further than the fact that for the second time in a year they made an episode where the family departs Springfield to go live in the wilderness with survivalist nutbars. But that isn’t the most damning thing about “Homer Goes to Prep School”, because the closest thing to this episode isn’t even another episode, it’s a post-apocalyptic Halloween segment from a decade and a half ago.
The first story in “Treehouse of Horror VIII” is “The Homega Man”, a Halloween fable where a nuclear blast supposedly wipes out Springfield. In the end, of course, Homer discovers that the mutants who chase him around aren’t the only ones who survived, but in fact his entire family is alive, well and unharmed. It’s a goofy twist, but it’s also a Halloween segment, where you can do anything you want and things have to be relatively simple because you’ve only got a few minutes in which to introduce, tell and then conclude a story.
“Homer Goes to Prep School” has none of those excuses, and yet it follows almost the exact same template. First, there’s a nuclear disaster. Second, Homer gets chased by other survivors. And finally, Homer discovers that things are actually just fine, the end.
In “Treehouse of Horror VIII”, France launches a nuclear strike on Springfield out of the Eiffel Tower. This is absurd on the face of it for any number of reasons: France and the US are allies, downtown Paris would be a terrible place for a launch silo, and, as far as Wikipedia knows, France never deployed an ICBM, “Intel Inside” or not.
Wikipedia says that the actual French nuke forces are called the “Force de Frappe”. That is awesome.
But none of that matters because, hey, Halloween episode. Weird shit is supposed to happen, and it’s funny as hell to have the famously thin skinned French start a nuclear war over a mild ethnic slur from a small town American politician.
“Homer Goes to Prep School” has no such excuse. It’s supposed to be taking place in something that at least resembles the real world. And even though Zombie Simpsons likes to just go bizarre with things, the first third of this episode is Homer freaking out over how horrible people are, and the conclusion is about people being decent to one another, so it clearly wants us to take at least some of what’s going on here seriously. So when they employ a dumb and lazy “EMP” that Homer somehow manages to cause while no one else at the plant is looking, it isn’t wacky fun, it’s just a hackneyed plot contrivance. Nuclear war over the word “frogs” is a joke; EMP because it’s time to move the plot along is just bad writing.
Hmm. Must be time to start the first part of the third act.
Having caused Springfield to lose power, Homer bundles his family up and heads for the survivalist compound. The few minutes they spend there is a waste of time, even by Zombie Simpsons standards. For starters, we’ve already seen that Homer now has a bunch of supplies in the basement, so not only is there no reason for him and the clan to flee, but their stated reason for returning – to help the other people of Springfield – could’ve been done without them ever heading out of town in the first place.
More aggravating is the escape/chase scene itself. For starters, the survivalists are chasing the family in a wood stove powered pickup, two horses pulling a Hummer, and Lindsey Naegle firing a machine gun backwards. All of those are dumber and less believable than the apocalypse mobile that the mutants had in “The Homega Man”, and the last one is so stupid that it was recently mocked by XKCD (which is and has been much funnier than Zombie Simpsons for a long time). But just as bad are the jokes, which are such hapless filler that Zombie Simpsons explains them as they happen. Consider this, as the family plows through a corn field:
Homer: Out of our way corn! The starving people of Springfield are desperately in need of our delivery of canned corn, corn flakes, and flash frozen corn niblets!
If this isn’t the longest, least subtle, and most heavy handed way you could make that joke, it’s gotta be close. It also takes more time than, say, Homer quickly running over the Johnny & Edgar Winter Tour in “Treehouse of Horror VIII”, which – again – was a Halloween episode.
Finally we come to the abrupt, just-kidding-it-was-all-okay-after-all ending. In “The Homega Man”, Homer returns home to find his family safe and sound before we get the unexpected spasm of Halloween violence wherein the rest of the family blows away all the mutants. In “Homer Goes to Prep School” we get two whole minutes of drawn out exposition about what did and didn’t happen. It’s not endless, but it does kinda feel that way:
Lisa: What happened with the EMP?
Prof. Frink: Only Springfield lost power, you see, and after a few days it came back.
Waits: Then society didn’t crumble? The zoo animals weren’t eaten?
Chief Wiggum: Well, a couple.
Waits: This non-disaster is a catastrophe.
Marge: Are you really so disappointed the world didn’t end just so you could be proven right?
Waits: No, no, no, it’s just that, in the new world, I would’ve been a big shot.
Lisa: Guys, can’t you see that an imperfect society is better than the savagery of creating a new one? I, for one, am glad we’re stuck with civilization. And I think we will be for a long, long time.
Which, of course, leads to the zombie comet, which itself has to be explained:
Zombie Kid: I’m hungry.
Zombie Dad: Look, you can have potato chips now or, if you wait ten minutes, you can have all the brains you can eat.
Zombie Kid: I want both.
Yup, they are now literally Zombie Simpsons. Add it all up and there’s no getting away from the conclusion that “Homer Goes to Prep School” is a poor mimicry of a much better episode. And while that happens a lot with Zombie Simpsons, usually they don’t take post-apocalyptic Halloween segments as their templates and then go them several worse in terms of weirdness.
It’s a pity that I don’t have a way to tabulate just how much time they spend off topic in these Zombie Simpsons commentaries, because this one might have set a record. Even by their standards there are several impressively long tangents about things that are only connected to the episode by the thinnest of threads. I think my favorite might be when they talk about how you can’t actually swim around in a flood.
Speaking of floods, this episode ends with one. Homer has blasphemed the church such that the entire town floods up to roof level, at which point Lovejoy shows up in a helicopter with a blue glow that makes him look like an extra in a Tron movie. If you’re thinking to yourself that all of that sounds stupid and that they ended the show with a flood in Season 10, well, yeah, it was and they did. As usual, it’s best not to think too much about these.
Eight guys on this one.
0:45 – Original pitch was based off an NPR story about the “gospel of prosperity”. Oh man, you picked those sleazy Bakker acolytes who run prosperity gospel scams and came up with this hunk of shit? Shame, Zombie Simpsons, shame. They don’t come much slower and fatter over the plate than prosperity gospel scammers.
1:30 – This one opens with a WNBA game because all the NBA guys had turned them down for a guest spot a couple of years ago.
2:30 – Still talking about the WNBA.
3:00 – Wow, boredom has set in awfully quickly here. Mike Scully’s name appearing in the credits prompted someone to break a long silence by saying, completely out of the blue, “We were just at Mike Scully’s lifetime animation award ceremony last night. And there’s his name.” That causes everyone to laugh at how off topic it is.
3:45 – Marc Wilmore won a basket shooting contest in a game once. This thrilling story is keeping them nicely distracted from the glacial pace of the episode, in which the Rich Texan is now dancing for no reason.
4:10 – “Me and Marc were actually at a Clippers game thanks to Al giving us his tickets . . .” The story keeps going from there. Homer is crying and yelling on screen now.
4:45 – Omine is now telling a story about taking her kid to a Clippers game.
5:10 – Holy crap, it’s the third basketball story in a row. Al Jean’s wife went to a game once and they put her on the kiss-cam with a dude that she didn’t know who just happened to be sitting next to her.
5:30 – Another kiss-cam story.
5:45 – After a quiet period after the second kiss-cam story, Jean finally says something about the episode. Pointing out that when they show things on television with the image of the outside of the TV there it’s called a “TV matte” or “mat”, I don’t know. That segues nicely into Jean complaining that Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary was too New York centric.
6:20 – Still talking about Ken Burns.
6:50 – See above.
7:05 – Jean breaks the post-Burns silence by asking Michael Polcino, who directed this, how they animated the lenticular card. It was two images cross dissolved with white lines interspersed. Polcino’s explanation is so short and business like that everyone laughs at how short and business like it is.
7:30 – Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but I think Jean was hoping Polcino would eat up a bit more time. There was a whiff of Vaudeville straight man to Polcino’s succinct response. To keep things going, Jean asks how the candle flames were done.
8:00 – There wasn’t much to that story either, but it did lead to the usual but-things-are-different-with-computers-now conclusion that happens every time they talk about the animation on these episodes. On screen Homer just caused two trucks to crash into one another.
8:30 – Jean breaks a long silence as Homer goes to unclog the sink through prayer. He wonders about the efficacy of prayer, which causes someone else to jokingly ask if there’s a message to this show. That leads to some casual banter about the unlikeliness of any deity caring about strikeouts or made free throws.
9:30 – As the God-as-Sportsfan discussion winds down, Selman chimes in with a Ricky Gervais joke on that subject.
9:45 – After a silence, we’re still talking about old Gervais routines.
10:15 – Homer just fell down, which prompts a rare comment about the episode. Apparently Castellaneta did a longer falling noise at the table read that was really funny.
10:30 – Jean mentions that with Hartman and therefore Lionel Hutz gone, it was always tough to introduce a new lawyer into the show. Sounds like a reason the show could’ve ended to me.
10:50 – I’ll give Jean credit, he’s doing his best to make this interesting. As Homer proceeds with a lawsuit against the church, Jean talks about how many Catholic churches have been sued since this episode came out and jokes about one that became Greek.
11:30 – Jean again, joking about how they’re still using VHS tapes here.
12:00 – Jean mentions that they’re aware of Jerkass Homer, but then fails to understand the concept by saying that the first time his mom thought Homer was an asshole was “When Flanders Failed”. Jerkass Homer is most definitely not on display in “When Flanders Failed”, because there all he does is not tell people about the Leftorium. Jerkass Homer is when he goes crashing into people and screaming and generally acting out.
12:30 – Someone says, “They criticize Jerkass Homer, but they never praise Niceass Homer”. To which Selman says, “They never praise anything”. To which I say, not true. Read just about any post on this site that mentions an episode prior to Season 10 or so and you will see bounteous and florid praise. Hell, I even say nice things about new episodes every once and a while.
13:00 – They had a fight with the standards and practices people over Homer dancing around the church in his underwear. I would only point out that they did that – in a Halloween episode – five seasons before this.
13:45 – A question about whether or not they’d be allowed to do stuff like this today leads to a long discussion about censorship on the show and who it is they’re trying not to offend. Jean’s opinion is that the censor fights they don’t win anymore are the ones about vulgarity, butt cracks, and the odd politically correct things like not wanting Lisa to have wine at dinner when they went to Italy.
14:30 – Reverend Lovejoy is trying to preach in the bowling alley, which leads both Jean and Omine to jokingly point out how poor a choice this is for the new church. That in turn leads to a long discussion of bowling alley quirks and etiquette. Seriously.
15:10 – Now they’re discussing the claw machines often found in bowling alleys.
15:30 – Jean follows the claw discussion by asking Polcino about the lighting of the sky in afternoon/evening. Up to this they hadn’t done as much graduated shading because you had to draw it, now it’s five seconds on the computer. That’s one of the reasons he likes digital over the hand painted, because you get so many more color and shading options.
17:00 – Still talking about hand painted versus digital. Flanders is praying to pool cues.
18:00 – They’re still talking about the disadvantages of hand painting things, among them noxious fumes and toxic chemicals.
18:40 – Discussing how they do the rain drops. Meanwhile Homer is being struck by lightning.
19:05 – Flanders just drove a rather large boat out of his garage, which prompts Jean to ask “Now where was this ark stored?” to general laughter.
19:30 – And now we’re discussing floods. Not the flood in this episode. Just floods in general.
20:00 – See above.
20:30 – Now they’re joking about whether or not they won a religious award for this one.
20:55 – Colonel Sanders is on a cloud at the end here, which prompts Selman to let us all know that he and the Colonel have the same birthday, September 9th.
21:15 – And we end with Polcino calling it well written, with which I must respectfully disagree.
“Thanks to my prudent editing, tonight’s special Halloween show has been rated TV-G. This means there will be no raunchy NBC style sex, or senseless CBS style violence.” – FOX Censor
There are many, many links this week to Halloween teevee things. There are lists, there are videos, there are meditations on Halloween television generally, and there are two people who compare last week’s rotten episode to lousy candy. Oh, and there are several people who agree with us. Beyond that there’s some blog love, some feminist environmentalism, some beer, and some excellent usage.
Before we get to that though, remember that exceptional wood burned Captain McAllister skateboard I linked last week? You know, this one:
Eric Swesey (the guy who made it) was kind enough to get in touch, and he’s looking to sell it. He’s in San Diego, but I’m pretty sure they have the ability to ship things from there. You can see bigger pictures of it here and here, and you can e-mail him at ericwayneswesey at good old gmail. (Sorry for the odd phrasing there, but one must keep the spambots at bay.)
Enjoy the links, and if you’re in the market for a sweet skateboard, check out Eric’s site.
The Simpsons episode titles. – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this quick and accurate comparison of the episode titles of Season 3 and Season 22. The pun filled refuse of Season 22 does not come off well. (Thanks Graeme!)
Springfield Historical Society Explains The Simpsons Real-World History – Our friends over at mcgarnagle.com got written up on Laughing Squid. If you haven’t been over there lately, I strongly recommend it. I didn’t know about the Frankenstein opening until I saw it on Springfield Historical Society.
The Real 199! – God bless Ctrl-V.
Millhouse and Nelson – Once again from the mind of Eric Swesey, here’s Nelson and Milhouse playing what looks like a game of Deer vs. Indians. I probably don’t need to tell you that Milhouse is the deer.
Smart sports statistics – A plea for using better stats in hockey contains this:
Homer Simpson’s hypothesis that “people can come up with statistics to prove anything” may be more relevant in sports than any other discipline.
Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish – A look back at Burns run for governor (and Marge’s awesome thwarting thereof) through the lens of environmental activism. I’ll just quote the conclusion:
The Simpsons writers certainly stepped out on a limb with this episode, as burning indictments of government failure and corporate greed are rarely welcome in the media. But I think it’s the strong feminist stance that the episode takes that is most daring of all. It would have been an easy and almost expected outcome if Homer had ruined Burns’ campaign with workplace incompetence. The writers’ decision to turn Marge into the protagonist of the episode is a refreshing change and a win for both feminists and environmentalists.
The Return of Duff Beer – Only This Time it’s ‘Legendary’ – A lawyerly look at the weird legality of the recently reborn real Duff beer, particularly as it pertains to Australia.
Corina’s Cartoon Cuts: Best of Simpsons Halloween – Excellent list, nothing even close to Zombie Simpsons.
Top Ten Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Segments – No Zombie Simpsons here either. Bravo.
In Time and the broken ticking clock – A review of In Time with excellent usage:
Ah, the ticking clock. In many ways, it’s both the hoariest and most effective of all suspense tropes: the protagonist has something difficult and dangerous to accomplish, but a limited amount of time, and by the way, the countdown starts now. This convention was mined most brilliantly by the first five seasons of 24, but countless thrillers have made use of it in various ways, to the point where Dean Koontz lists it as one of the three central devices for generating suspense, along with the chase and the anticipation of a violent event. And for all its familiarity, it still works, despite being frequently parodied. (My favorite subversion comes courtesy of Fat Tony on The Simpsons: “You have twenty-four hours to give us our money. And to show you we’re serious…you have twelve hours.”)
You see, my wife, she has been most vocal on the subject of the Justin Timberlake movie.
What are you supposed to be, the Witch’s Brew? – Some great Halloween movies and teevee, including lots of YouTube, some of which is “Treehouse of Horror V”.
Help us with temporary jobs for NBA players – Jebus, ESPN:
Don’t know if it will be inspirational but we all should remember the wise advice of America’s greatest philosopher, Homer Simpson, who said: "If you really want something in life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers."
Homer also said: "Lisa, if you don’t like your job you don’t strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-(bleeped). That’s the American way."
You can’t type “assed” on espn.com? For shit’s sake, Disney, get off your fucking high horse. Or ass, as the case may be.
Happy Halloween! – A bevy of Halloween links, including to a full video of James Earl Jones reading “The Raven”.
Remote Controlled Families – A women discovers the joy of watching Season 2 in French.
Go Crazy? Don’t Mind if I Do! – Someone put Homer’s quote on a picture of Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. They did reverse the quote, he says “No TV and no beer” not the other way around, but it’s still pretty clever.
Homer Solo – Similar to the above, but this time it’s a very old picture of Bill Clinton playing the saxamaphone.
The Simpsons: Another Halloween, Another Average "Treehouse of Horror" – A tv.com review of last week’s episode that compares the segments to Halloween treats and has this to say about paralyzed Spiderman:
Candy Grade: A head of lettuce. Because that would be a pretty weird thing to get on Halloween, and this sketch was bizonkers.
If that episode were a house, and I was still thirteen, I would’ve egged it back to the Stone Age.
So, Don Draper Is Basically Principal Skinner? – A few comparisons between The Simpsons and Mad Men.
The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo…In 10 Words – I can’t believe they didn’t work Vincent Price into a better episode.
TV Round-up: Halloween Episodes | Lenny Tunes: Lenny’s TV Blog – Lenny Tunes rates Halloween episodes from “Full-Size Candy Bar” down to “Homemade . . . Taffy?”. Zombie Simpsons comes in right at the bottom, as it should.
Bart VS Thanksgiving – If it’s November, it’s time to look back at “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”. If you really want to sear your eyeballs, there is YouTube of Up With People performing at the Super Bowl.
The Greatest Tragedy of Our Time – One can’t help but notice the bemused proxy-embarrassment on the guy in the sweet looking Homer t-shirt.
Only at the Nashville Jewish Film Festival will sexy provocateurs meet The Simpsons – Mike Reiss is going to Tennessee:
If that’s not enough to get you schlepping out to Hillsboro Village for the fest, consider this: closing night Nov. 10 consists of happy-hour noshing at Sam’s and an hourlong presentation and chat hosted by The Simpsons writer/producer Mike Reiss on the history of "Jews in Toons." As Bart Simpson might say, "Oy caramba!"
RetroBuzz: The Simpsons – YouTube clips of Don Mattingly and Mark McGwire. That is all.
Intertextuality?! – You can use The Simpsons to teach just about anything.
Halloween Tribute to Bruce Campbell – Some love for Bruce Campbell includes this nice reminder that the good “Treehouse of Horror” episodes really were scary:
I used to be am so easily afraid of everything that I couldn’t even watch The Simpsons Halloween specials as a kid. To this day, I still don’t watch any horror, despite a love-hate relationship with the concept of zombies.
Happy Homerween – Animated .gif of Homer’s flaming jack-o-lantern intro from “Treehouse of Horror VII”.
Vintage LA Raiders Bart Simpson t-shirt NWT – An ancient, though surprisingly non-bootleg looking, Bart t-shirt for the Raiders.
Rage Simpsons – The family, and Grampa, as internet troll faces.
Fish Tank (WiiWare) Review – A late entry (saw the e-mail just as I was about to hit publish), this review of a fish based puzzle game has this as its subhead:
An unrequested fishin’ surplus
The author asks if that qualifies as excellent usage, and it definitely does. The wording is correct, it’s a pun, and it’s relevant. (Thanks Philip!)
What Makes a Memorable Halloween Episode? – Contemplating television’s penchant for Halloween episodes gives us this:
Many tv shows have Halloween episodes, but not all Halloween episodes are equal. The Simpsons created some all time great Halloween vignettes (from alien’s Kang and Kodos impersonating Clinton and Dole to Bart’s Krusty doll coming to life with a murderous appetite). The most recent Treehouse of Horror was a large disappointment and led me to question – just what is the formula (if any) for a good Halloween episode?
I don’t know if there’s a formula, but if there is, Zombie Simpsons is far from it.
I had read somewhere that even in off years, the Treehouse of Horror episode is usually still good. Well, that didn’t hold true tonight. This forgettable entry into the longest running Halloween TV tradition failed to be funny or haunting. A parody of 127 Hours was thankfully short but still painful. Homer gets Flanders to start killing people in a Dexter parody that goes nowhere before fizzling out and an Avatar parody ended the night. When did they just decide to do all parodies? Its like they hired all the Mad Magazine writers who were out of work. Grade: D
Halloween horror: ‘Walking Dead’ rocks, ‘Simpsons’ sucks – And finally, I get to end the way I like to, with someone who agrees with us:
First, let’s make short work of “The Simpsons.”
After being a zealous fan of the show for its first 10 seasons or so — we just re-watched “Mr. Plow” on DVD the other week — I fell out of love with “The Simpsons.” A dozen years ago, the show seemed to lose most of its creative edge. Maybe you really can’t do 500 episodes of a TV series and expect it to continue to be good. Duh.
Tonight’s “Treehouse of Horror,” the show’s annual Halloween special, had a couple of funny moments but overall was pretty lame. Judging by tonight’s episode, the show has traded pointed, harsh humor and wonderful characters for cheap and crude laughs. When a joke revolves around the similarity of the words tentacles and testicles, you know the show is spinning its wheels.
Preach, brother, preach.
“Goody Simpson is entitled to due process.” – Quimby
“Okay, here’s how the process works: you sit on the broom and we shove you off the cliff.” – Wiggum
“What?” – Goody Simpson
“Well, hear me out. If you’re innocent you will fall to an honorable Christian death. If, however, you are the bride of satan, you will surely fly your broom to safety. At that point you will report back here for torture and beheading.” – Wiggum
“Oh hi, as the FOX censor, it’s my job to protect you from reality.” – FOX Censor
There’s no new Zombie Simpsons until September, so we’re going to spend the summer overthinking Season 9. Why Season 9? Because we did Season 8 last summer, and Season 9 was when the show started becoming more Zombie than Simpsons. Since we’re too lazy to do audio and too ugly to do video, we’ve booked a “chatroom” (ours is right between the one with the sexy seventh graders and the one with the bored federal agents pretending to be sexy seventh graders). So log on to your dial-up AOL and join us. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “unprecedentedly ”).
Today’s episode is 904 “Treehouse of Horror VIII”. Yesterday’s was 910 “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace”.
Note: Dave was called away due to a half-witted oaf shortly after we started, so the second half is a two man affair.
Charlie Sweatpants: Time to move from one holiday to the other?
Mad Jon: Yes, lets
I generally feel it’s tough to screw up a TOH, because you only get like 5 or 6 minutes a segment. So worst case scenario it’s boring.
And even if the story is dumb, there are usually a couple of good gags.
Charlie Sweatpants: True.
In the case of VIII, I think they get better as they go along.
Mad Jon: I can see that, I am not a huge fan of the fly one.
Charlie Sweatpants: The Omega Man one has too much rather pointless action, Fly vs Fly has less, and Easy Bake Coven even less.
The fly one has some down points, I’ll not disagree with that.
Would you agree that the witch one is easily the best of the three?
Mad Jon: You are right about Homega Man, there is a lot of Homer just punching dead guys.
Yes, I would agree with that statement.
There are a lot of good lines in that one.
Charlie Sweatpants: Homega Man has its moments, particularly “I stand by my ethnic slur”, the Kang and Kodos reverse UFO sighting, and Homer dancing naked in church.
Mad Jon: I did chuckle at all those scenes.
Charlie Sweatpants: But you’re right that they think Homer punching dead guys is funnier than it really is, and the whole car chase thing takes way too long.
Mad Jon: Yeah I usually check out right about then,
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s a good bathroom break moment, not much happens.
But as I said, I think of that as the weakest.
Mad Jon: Precisely, although tonight I went to move the sprinkler right as the chase left the church.
Charlie Sweatpants: Didn’t miss much, did you?
Mad Jon: Nah. I also like Herman’s description of the bomb shelters abilities, “It can take a 6 megaton blast, no more, no less.” It’s very Herman.
Charlie Sweatpants: Most of the humor is right up front.
The fly one is similar in that regard.
Mad Jon: Indeed. I like the garage sale.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s big problem isn’t a chase scene as much as it is a sitcom level inability of the family to realize that Bart’s a fly.
Mad Jon: The plot kind of ruins the story.
Charlie Sweatpants: But it takes less time.
So I don’t mind it as much.
Mad Jon: Like I said, can’t screw up 5 minutes that much as long as there are a couple of jokes,
I think there are multiple reasons that the TOH series kept up its viewers through most of The Simpsons’ tenure. I know it’s a bit of an institution, but when you can capitalize on not cutting your own wrist for 22 minutes as well as your viewer’s increasingly short attention span, you can accomplish a lot with very little.
Even the last few seasons have had pretty decent numbers, especially when compared to the regular episodes.
Charlie Sweatpants: TOH is like a videogame with cheat codes. You’re already doing something fun (or working from an unprecedentedly robust comedy template), now you can do it without any rules.
Mad Jon: That is a good summary of why I like the witch bit from this TOH - its cheeky and different. They can have fun with the characters in a new way without forgetting their traits.
Going out on limbs is usually what gets the Simpsons in trouble, but you can do it with TOH.
Charlie Sweatpants: The final segment is easily the best here. Right from the get go, with the town motto being “First Toil, Then the Grave”. That is the best summary of the Puritans ever, and it’s only five words.
Mad Jon: That is good, I also like Ned’s response to Goodie Maude’s fears about carnal whatevers.
Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed.
There’s also Krabappel with the scarlet A, Quimby’s throwing the floor open to “wild accusations”, and the whole due process of being thrown off the cliff which culminates with Wiggum’s “The Bible says a lot of things, shove her.”
Mad Jon: Ha ha, I love the bible line.
Charlie Sweatpants: The only comedy opportunity it feels like they missed was with Lovejoy and Flanders, it’s not hard to make fun of the panting, lascivious hypocrites who were the big men behind witchcraft accusations.
But they gave it a decent turn with Marge actually being a witch.
On the whole, this one has much less action/suspense and much more actual jokes.
Mad Jon: Agreed.
And that’s the story of the first caramel cod.
Charlie Sweatpants: As per usual, I find myself with a lot less to say about good Simpsons.
Mad Jon: Well, when you spend time watching new Simpsons, its ok to be more complainer than exalter.
You sort of have to be in the right mode to discuss what they do right.
Charlie Sweatpants: Which is not the mode I’m in after watching Miracle on Evergreen Terrace.
Mad Jon: On the nose.
Charlie Sweatpants: But rather than double back on ourselves, shall we call this one done? Unless, of course, there’s more to TOH VIII you wish to add.
Mad Jon: Nah, I think we covered the important stuff.
Charlie Sweatpants: And the not so important stuff.
Mad Jon: I’m more of a generalist anyway.
Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user Robotskirts.
“Let’s come to our senses everyone, this witch hunt is turning into a circus.” – Goody Simpson
Once again setting aside the ridiculously high number (6.1), this is now the third week in a row that IGN’s Simpsons review has been downright harsh. Not only did they think Cletus was overused, but they hated on the Wiccan storyline almost without exception. There’s no doubt in my mind that this isn’t going to be a permanent trend, but it still makes my job easier and as a profoundly lazy person I appreciate that. I scrubbed out what synergy I did find, but there wasn’t all that much.
November 30, 2009 – "Rednecks and Broomsticks" started out with
potential one of the longest and most pointless scenes ever, but that was lost after the first eight minutes or so only a taste of what was to come. What was left was a Lisa-heavy episode about Wiccans with a smidge of Homer and moonshine thrown in. Though there were some was one standout moment s, the episode as a whole was lacking. The most fun to be had came early on. Leaving "The Snowed Inn" early to beat the traffic after a ski weekend, the Simpson family ran into traffic anyway. This led to a an endlessly repetitive but funny bit with the kids playing "Bonk It!" the world’s most annoying game. After a number a funny gags it went on much too long, Homer smashes the game with his foot, causing some of the bits to get lodged under the brake pedal. This turned into the Simpson car careening off the road, sliding across a frozen lake, hitting Bambi (Yes!) and launching the fawn into the next county. Had I been drinking something, it would have come shooting out of my mouth in a spit take when I saw that last, very funny visual.
Everybody’s favorite slack-jawed yokel, Cletus, saved the entire family from sinking into the frozen lake. To help kill time the
The episode then gave off a Deliverance vibe, or at the very least, something along the lines of Misery. But instead of taking that direction, which would’ve made what they were doing consistent, the tale took a much friendlier turn. Cletus invited Homer to partake in some moonshine with the locals, while the kids played grenade snowman bowling and hide-and-seek, instead of, you know, leaving. Homer’s expertise with the moonshine ("It’s got a rich mash base, and a sense of danger.") included a Sideways referencing montage that was entertaining also killed time , even without having seen all of Sideways. But the hillbilly jokes could only go so far. I love Cletus in the small, quick bits that made him famous, but feel whenever he gets extended screen time, the jokes work less and less.
Meanwhile, the game of hide-and-seek resulted in Lisa getting lost in the woods at night, for some reason. It’s here she stumbles across a Wiccan ceremony being performed by three never-before-seen teen girls. Lisa was frightened at first, but began to considered joining the group after they apparently caused
Mrs. Ms. Hoover* to get sick, helping Lisa get out of doing her pipe cleaner art project, which for some other reason she had not done. The Wiccan storyline as a whole was almost entirely laugh free. Plus it’s vampires that are all the rage now. Witches are so 1996.
The last half of the episode had the three girls arrested and put on trial, twice (apparently once didn’t eat enough clock). Per Kent Brockman, this would be Springfield’s "first witch trial in 12 years." One of the girls — Stacy Deathsatan, I think — was voiced by Neve Campbell. Get it? She was in The Craft, and now, 13 years later, she has the free time to do underwhelming voice work for an established primetime animated series. There was no logic put forth for arresting the girls; it just seemed to happen to have it happen.
The episode did
get a little more clever a bare minimum of coherent storytelling as it tied in the moonshine storyline with the witches causing half the town to go blind. Turns out it was the moonshine spilled into the drinking water that was the actual culprit. In the end , for all the small bits the worked — Moleman operating on himself, Moe and the angry mob – "Rednecks and Broomsticks" was just too bland to be worthwhile.
*This is the second time since I’ve been doing these that IGN has identified Miss Hoover as Mrs. Hoover. I know that might seem minor, but half of her character is that she’s single and doesn’t want to be.