zom·bie adj. remaining animate despite lack of thought or consciousness
Simp·sons n. an American television program
By almost any measurement, The Simpsons is the most influential television comedy ever created. It has been translated into every major language on Earth and dozens of minor ones; it has spawned entire genres of animation, and had more books written about it than all but a handful of American Presidents. Even its minor characters have become iconic, and the titular family is recognizable in almost every corner of the planet. It is a definitive and truly global cultural phenomenon, perhaps the biggest of the television age.
As of this writing, if you flip on FOX at 8pm on Sundays, you will see a program that bills itself as The Simpsons. It is not The Simpsons. That show, the landmark piece of American culture that debuted on 17 December 1989, went off the air more than a decade ago. The replacement is a hopelessly mediocre imitation that bears only a superficial resemblance to the original. It is the unwanted sequel, the stale spinoff, the creative dry hole that is kept pumping in the endless search for more money. It is Zombie Simpsons.
“Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead” is a 22,000 word mini-book that attempts to explain two things:
- How The Simpsons became the unprecedentedly awesome show it was.
- Why it declined into the bland and formulaic thing that still airs on Sundays at 8pm on FOX.
Table of contents:
Part I – Putting the Spring in Springfield
1 – What Is Zombie Simpsons? (<- Click this to start reading the book.)
2 – The Terrible World of 1980s Television
3 – The Most Anti-Authority Show Ever
4 – You’re Watching FOX, Shame on You
Part III – Stories of Degradation and Humiliation
Season 7 – A Very Special Episode
Season 8 – Frank Grimes and the Phony Kidnapping
Season 9 – Armin Tamzarian and the Death of Story
Season 10 – Jerkass Homer Gets a Job
Season 11 – The Destruction of Springfield
Season 12 and Beyond – Zombie Simpsons
Appendix A – A Note on the Term “Zombie Simpsons”
Appendix B – Episode Numbers vs. Production Numbers
Appendix C – December 17th: Simpsons Day
Appendix D – A Defense of Mike Scully
Appendix E – Yeah, It Was That Good (1,000,000 A.D.)
A brief note on footnotes and citations: Footnotes with Arabic numerals (3, 5, etc.) are asides or further explanations that are meant to be read with the text. Notes with Roman numerals (iv, ix, etc.) are citations of individual source data intended for reference purposes. You should be able to click either kind, read it, and then get back to your place in the text with your “back” button. My apologies for not having a better way to do this, but this is very simple HTML.
The entire book is available for free on the linked pages above. However, if you enjoy it or feel like supporting this site, you can purchase a DRM-free copy for your Kindle or Kindle enabled device for $2.99 at Amazon. Why $2.99? Because that’s the minimum price Amazon demands for only taking 30% of the gross instead of 65%.
The book is available both for free and for a minimal price on the theory that some people (especially the kind of people with the disposable income to own Kindles, iPads, and the like) are willing and able to pay for words if the price is reasonable and the payment is easy to make. At the same time, restricting the book to only those people would be self defeating and stupid. Many fewer people would read it, and trying to use digital rights management and other convoluted anti-“piracy” measures to police the internet is a fool’s errand. Therefore, the only sensible thing to do is make it easy for people to purchase and easy to get for free.
One final note, I am not the least bit above making revisions should any of you fine Simpsons fans out there discover that I’ve made any factual errors. My sources are all stated plainly, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t made an unfounded assumption somewhere or screwed up some part of the history of the show. If you (yes, you!) come across something where I’m just flat out wrong and you can point me to some credible evidence of my wrongness, please tell me. It’s the only way I’ll learn.
People Whose Time and Labor Are Non-Monetarily Appreciated
“It’s a little thin, but that’s okay. It could be a check. Alright, there’s no check, just a card. But don’t panic, I’m sure it tells us what we’re getting and where we can pick it up.” – Homer Simpson
Thanks go first and foremost to my blogging partners Dave and Mad Jon. Jebus only knows how many hours you two put into our site, but it was a lot. And without the site, this little mini-book would never have existed.
For indispensable help in keeping my grammatical embarrassments to a minimum, I am deeply grateful to my Dad and my friend Liz. Thank you for paying attention in English class.
Enormous thanks are also due to anyone who ever started or maintained a Simpsons website. Dead Homer Society would never have gotten anywhere if sites like snpp.com, nohomers.net, and all the rest hadn’t endured years of sub-par episodes and countless attacks from the legal locusts at News Corp’s command.
Finally, thanks to everyone who has ever landed at Dead Homer Society (especially those of you who pointed out errors in this book). Whether you’re a regular commenter or one of the vastly more numerous people who just read the site, your continuing interest in The Simpsons, even after all these years, is a testament to how good it was. Thank you.