Archive for February, 2009



17
Feb
09

Still Shitty

“Are we hot?” – Homer Simpson
“We are not.” – Principal Skinner

I was a little worried that the HD thing (and the attendant promotion) might give Zombie Simpsons a nice ratings number.  My fears were unfounded:

While Take My Wife [sic], Please did not break new lows, it received a total of 6.82 million viewers. It is the third least watched episode of the season but the best ratings since November, which is an improvement at least.

Being the best since November isn’t much of an accomplishment since there have only been two episodes in that time and as recently as two years ago this show was routinely pulling two million more viewers.  
This was only the tenth episode of the season so if they’re going to get to twenty there ought to be a lot of new ones coming relatively soon.  They aren’t bothering to compete with the Oscars next Sunday, but there’s already one scheduled for March 1st.  Starting from March 1st there are thirteen Sundays until Memorial Day Weekend.  If they’re going to get to twenty that means that there’s a maximum of three Sundays unpolluted by Zombie Simpsons between now and then. 
Brace yourselves and hope for low ratings.  
17
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Forget it pal, they don’t call me Colonel Homer because I’m some dumb ass army guy.” – Homer Simpson
16
Feb
09

Worth 1,000 Words

In the original opening Homer flees his wife’s car and belts out his iconic scream.  In the new opening he gets hit by the car and crashes through the wall, Looney Tunes style.  No further comment required.  
16
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Well if I was governor I’d sure find better things to do with my time.” – Homer Simpson
“Like what?” – Marge Simpson
“Like getting Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday back as separate paid holidays.  ‘President’s Day’, pffft, what a rip off.” – Homer Simpson
15
Feb
09

Well There Went My Weekend

“This is the worst thing you’ve ever done.” – Marge Simpson
“You say that so much it’s lost all meaning.” – Homer Simpson

*sigh*

There it is, the first episode of Simpsons in HD. It may have been the format, or maybe the six pack I drank in nervous anticipation, but that episode just felt wrong. Not wrong like a shirt that shrunk in the wash, or wrong like putting ketchup on ice cream, it fell wrong like paying your grandma to let you watch your grandpa take a bath. Luckily my wife suggested that we Tivo it so we could fast forward through the commercials and lessen the torture by seven or eight minutes. I will admit though, I did throw up in my mouth a little when I pushed the record button.

I have an envelope back filled with disgusting and downright dangerous things I was planing to say about that episode, but I am not going to. It became clear to me that I am going to need to spread them out as future Zombie Simpsons will be similarly as pointless as this on was.

I do have a few specific points I would like to make about this episode however. First, I was clearly too late warning the writers to stop including Homer’s present day friends in the past. Lenny and Carl just keep losing my respect. Second, Burns should not be in an episode if they aren’t going to use him for a diabolical or life-crushing reason. Third, the only thing I could think of that was meant to be funny was when Bart asked if he could have a “virgin Tom Collins” and Homer makes a comment about how virgin drinks are for girls; the only people who would find that funny are too young to know what a virgin drink is.

There is no episode I wish to recommend to wash that taste out of your mouth. I would hate for any residual disgrace to transfer to a classic episode. Instead I recommend you do what I did, which is smoke two cigarettes and take three shots of Five ‘o Clock gin. That’ll do it.
15
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“The evening began at the gentlemen’s club where we were discussing Wittgenstein over a game of backgammon.” – Homer Simpson
“Mr. Simpson, it’s a felony to lie to the FBI.” – Agent Scully
“We were sitting in Barney’s car eating packets of mustard, you happy?” – Homer Simpson
14
Feb
09

An Atypical Valentine’s Day Complaint

“Poor Ralph.” – Lisa Simpson

Bitching about Valentine’s Day is almost a pro forma excercise these days (and something of a cottage industry).  Basically, people who are in love are made to feel bad because their relationships don’t live up to the ideal, and people who are not in love are made to feel bad for being alone.  Of course, making people feel bad to get them to spend money is pretty much the whole point.  But I don’t actually care about any of that because I am an ugly and hate filled man.  Now, for the Simpsons part.  
In “I Love Lisa”, also known as the Valentine’s Day episode, Ralph falls hard for Lisa after she gives him a Valentine’s Day card out of pity.  (One suspects that pity is going to be a recurring theme in Ralph Wiggum’s love life.)  I was always slightly bothered by that scene because at my school when we did pointless busy work by making Valentines mailboxes and giving out cards we were required to bring a card for every person in the class.  (I don’t know if this policy was the norm or not, my guess is that once upon a time it wasn’t and now it is.)  This prevented Wiggum type situations and managed the neat trick of cheapening an already bankrupt holiday.  
It also raises another question.  How does one write a Valentine’s Day message to a person one downright loathes?  If I wrote what I really thought (“I hate you and I hope you go to hell.  Love, Charlie”) I’d get in trouble.  The only other option is to lie.  It’s a holiday built around an inescapable trap of dishonesty and I always thought that was fitting.  
And now, for our own Valentine’s Day humiliation.  I’m going to ask for comments and I doubt I’m going to get any because nobody love us/reads this blog.  If your school did Valentine’s Day exchanges, were you required to bring one for everybody or was emotional humiliation a possibility?  
14
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Watch this Lis, you can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half.” – Bart Simpson
13
Feb
09

The San Francisco Chronicle Gets It Right

Most of the Simpsons related commentary I see on-line sucks balls because most of it revolves around Zombie Simpsons, which sucks balls.  However, this morning I got a pleasant surprise.  Behold this post from a San Francisco Chronicle blog:

“The Simpsons” Season 4, Episode 15, also known as “I Love Lisa,” also known as the Choo-Choo-Choose Me episode. It doesn’t get enough appreciation, but this excellent 1993 show from the creative peak of “The Simpsons” is the “A Charlie Brown Christmas” of Valentine’s Day.

Amen, brother.  Amen.  
The post then goes through a few crappy on-line links where you can see clips.  They can’t say so, but you can always watch it at WTSO, or on Disc 3 of the Season 4 DVDs.  
13
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Well, it was written in 1845, maybe people were easier to scare back then.” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh yeah, like when you look at Friday the 13th part one, it’s pretty tame by today’s standards.” – Bart Simpson
12
Feb
09

No Seriously, Take it!

“Oh come on Edna! We both know these children have no future!!” – Seymour Skinner

In the second part of my two part series chronicling my hatred of Zombie Simpsons episodes involving time shifts, I will address the failures of episodes with a flashforward premise. As I warned in the end of part one, there will be some similarities in this post. If you think I am just being lazy (which I do not deny), try this exercise: Make a list of reasons you think the shit your dog took this morning was gross, then make a list of reasons why the shit your dog will take tonight will be gross. You may be pleasantly surprised. Now that you have a better understanding of what I am dealing with, let us get to my complaints with flashforward Zombie Simpsons episodes.

One other point of note, there are only a couple of these episodes. This may be a result of the writers realizing how bad the episodes would be, but that would be a bit optimistic on my part.

1. Impossible team ups.
In the 11th season episode “Bart To The Future” Bart and Ralph are not only roomates but bandmates as well. This couldn’t happen because I don’t think they let you start bands in prison or the assisted living home.

2. Bart’s efforts to regain his sister’s love
In both of the episodes I can remember (the other being “Future Drama”) some issue arises between Bart and Lisa with Bart getting some benefit and Lisa being on the short end. In both cases Bart comes through to save the day and regain his sister’s appreciation. While this tactic produced hilarious results in real Simpsons episodes ( like “Stark Raving Dad”) keep in mind that their drama wasn’t the ONLY plot point and future Bart (who like I said would probably be incarcerated) wouldn’t be forced to live with Lisa and probably wouldn’t give two shits about her predicaments.

3. Homer is alive
If you are trying to portray the future, you are doing so based upon the years of episodes that have forged some sort of pattern or predictability of character actions. With that in mind, Homer (who in most episodes is 38) won’t make it to 40. This wouldn’t bother me so much if Homer and Marge weren’t divorced in “Future Drama” which would never happen if you follow the logic I just mentioned. My suggestion is to never ever make a flashforward episode again and just avoid the issue altogether. While you’re at it, just stop making Zombie Simpsons period.

4. History
Just like with the flashback episodes, the flashforward episodes (minus “Lisa’s Wedding”) are completly and undebatably unwatchable. While watching these episodes I actually prayed to God that the commercials would get stuck in an infinite loop.

There you have it. If you add up my complaints from both part one and part two of this series, you will come to the same sobering conclusion I already have: This Sunday’s episode will be terrrible. The extra ‘r’ is for rreally.

12
Feb
09

Simpsons vs. Zombie Simpsons

The above is a perfect example of the difference between Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons.  That is a screen grab from Season 7’s “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming”.  Bart and Lisa are in the airbase and the gate is closed; Homer and Marge are trying to get inside.  The shot pans down from the top of a razor wire fence and all we see is Marge bandaging Homer’s hands while he says, “Okay, so we can’t go over the fence.”  That’s it.  The whole thing takes four seconds, we know exactly what Homer did, and all we need to see is the aftermath.  
If this same gag were done in Zombie Simpsons (though for all I know it has been) it would take seven times as long, involve Homer shouting (first in defiance, then in pain) and end with “hilarious” amounts of blood.  Instead, a funny idea (Homer trying to climb a razor wire fence with his bare hands) is inserted quickly and subtley into the episode.  It doesn’t become an action sequence in and of itself and things keep right on moving.  
This is exactly what I’m talking about when I say that Zombie Simpsons is “thin”, the same way orange drink becomes thin if you water it down too much.  Zombie Simpsons plays for time, The Simpsons overflows with jokes.  
12
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Oh, hello Charles.  Be a good fellow and tell our viewers about your Theory of Natural Selection.” – C.M. Burns
“Glad to, Mr. Burns.  You see, every so often Mother Nature changes her animals giving them bigger teeth, sharper claws, longer legs, or, in this case, a third eye.” – An Actor Portraying Charles Darwin
11
Feb
09

End the Simpsons #4 – Cosmetic Consistency Has Its Limits

“Look at me – er ah – mom, I am – er ah – President Kennedy.” – Homer Simpson
Just about any time someone writes an article praising The Simpsons for its longevity they’ll mention what an advantage it is to be a cartoon.  The characters don’t get any older (or wider) and so the show can be timeless.  In 1995 or even 2000 it was true; but these days it’s a superficial and increasingly nonsensical point.  
The Simpsons has been on for so long now that the world itself has changed around them and as a result the characters no longer epitomize what they’re supposed to be satirizing.  Homer and Marge are exquisitely crafted late model Baby Boomers; they came of age in the seventies and became adults in the eighties.  He’s a union guy; she’s a housewife; they have cranky World War II generation parents, they go to church out of a sense of duty and their kids lead unstructured, small town lives.  They are run of the mill late 1980s Americans, that is when they were created and that is the context in which they best fit.  
Homer and Marge are supposed to be in their mid to late thirties, but in 2009 real people who are in their mid to late thirties are Generation Xers.  They grew up on MTV and video games and they don’t typically go to church; their kids go on play dates and it’s their parents who are the Baby Boomers.  Yes, these are stereotypes and generalizations, but stereotypes and generalizations have always been The Simpsons stock in trade.  Are there still people like Homer and Marge?  Of course, but neither of them is the archetype they once were.  The Simpsons may not have aged but America did, and it takes increasinly zany nonsense to shoehorn old characters into modern situations. 
The show is on Season 20, but culturally speaking it’s going to enter its fourth decade next year.  The characters can always be drawn the same way, but that doesn’t keep them from showing their age.
11
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Homer, do you want your son to become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court or a sleazy male stripper?” – Marge Simpson
“Can’t he be both, like the late Earl Warren?” – Homer Simpson
“Earl Warren wasn’t a stripper.” – Marge Simpson
“Now who’s being naive?” – Homer Simpson
10
Feb
09

Take this episode, please!

“It’ll be great to see the old gang again, Potsie, Ralph Malph, the Fonz.” – Homer Simpson
“That was ‘Happy Days’.” – Marge Simpson
“No, they weren’t all happy days, like the time Pinky Tuscadero crashed her motorcycle, or the night I lost all my money to those card sharks and my dad Tom Bosley had to get it back.” – Homer Simpson

The next new Zombie Simpsons episode is less than a week away. The buzz seems to revolve around the fact that it will be in HD, but I don’t care about that. I, like everyone else who is fortunate enough not to work for FOX, have not seen the episode yet, but I have read the summary and am confidant in saying that it will be as awful as anything else they’ve had the guts to air as of late. I am sure true Simpson’s fans will not argue with me on this. Since the preview says this will be a flashback to flashforward episode I will, in a two part series, describe the reasons for my hatred of Zombie Simpsons episodes involving flash-anything.

The first part will focus on the flashback aspect of this on-screen defecation. There are four main reasons I take issue with the episodes that have used flashbacks in the last, say, 10 years. (ugh)

1. Unnecessary auxiliary character involvement.
All of the Zombie Simpsons episodes that involve flashbacks contain characters that have no place in Homer’s life until adulthood. Lenny, Carl and Moe, I am looking at you. Get out of Homer’s past and stay out. Barney, you can stay.

2. Unnecessary Homer info.
In high school, as well as before and after that, Homer was a loser and a slacker. He has no business running for class president, having a future in any sort of job, or anything else requiring forethought and competence. If you think back to his foray into the debate team, you will remember he mooned for rebuttal. The fact that he had any idea of the concept of the word ‘rebuttal’ almost stretches too far. (Even though I wouldn’t change that scene for all the doughnuts in Springfield)

3. Unnecessary relationship drama.
In the episode “The Way We Was”, Homer and Marge had some drama as they were starting their love life. Fine. That was hilarious. There is no need to further test their relationship with childhood kisses and near breakups in other flashback episodes. If you want to do that crap, do it in present time like a real man would.

4. History.
Every flashback episode since season 6’s “And Maggie Makes Three” has been terrible. I don’t know how many there are as I am not willing to do the research and I am sure that I have repressed the memory of most of them. But I assume they are as terrible as the ones I have seen. That’s right “The Blunder Years”, “The Way We Weren’t” and “That 90’s Show” were all terrible and anyone who says otherwise is a communist. There I said it.

The list will probably not look much different in part two of this series, but I feel better as creating it has been something of a cathartic exercise.

Only because I didn’t mention it earlier, I would ask you all to watch “Lisa’s First Word” and enjoy proper flashback usage.
10
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Did you know that 34 million American adults are obese?  Taken together that excess blubber could fill the Grand Canyon two fifths of the way up.  That may not sound impressive but keep in mind it is a very big canyon.” – Kent Brockman
09
Feb
09

Not Just a River in Egypt

“Lost your Dad?” – TV Announcer
“Uh-huh.” – Lonely Boy
“He’s not coming back, is he?” – TV Announcer
“He might.” – Lonely Boy
“No, he’s not.” – TV Announcer

Go and read this thread over at tv.com.  It’s only two pages, and a lot of it is box quotes, so it really won’t take long.  

I’m serious.  
Finished?  Good.  That thread is an excellent example of what this particular blog is struggling against.  These unfortunate people are talking about 500 episodes like it’s a good thing.  That’s bad enough, but here’s the kicker: 
A guy named simpsonian100 writes:
I hope the show improves and all the characters go back to their old ways. Bart has become too sensitive in the past few seasons, such as caring for that cow and being sad when Homer stole things as a fireman. Season 5 Bart would have thought that was so cool.
Fine sentiment, young lad.  I think I made it about halfway through that Fireman Homer episode before I lost interest, and . . . uh . . . “caring for that cow”?  Jebus, I’m glad I haven’t seen that one.  But he’s correct, when would Bart ever shame Homer into behaving like an adult?  Never.  And this guy wants the show to stay on another four seasons.  
Now, here’s the really sad reply.  From cvjrbdjkasfi comes this directly after quoting simpsonian100:

Like when Bart stile [sic] Bonestorm, and was guilty about it? 

He means this like it’s a comeback.  Like, “Oh really?  Well, what about this, it’s from your precious old Simpsons and it’s the same!”  I find it amusing that he cites Marge Be Not Proud because that is the “One Bad Episode” alluded to in the Manifesto.  More to the point though, this is a perfect illustration of the unfortunate realities of modern Simpsons fandom.  
There are basically two kinds of people who watch Zombie Simpsons, people who will admit that it’s not as good as it used to be but watch it anyway, and people who think the old episodes are overrated.  The later group, personified here by cvjrbdjkasfi, is basically hopeless.  Either they’re too young to really appreciate what the show once was or they’re just dumb, or both.  
It’s the former group, people like simpsonian100, that pains me though, because I was once one of them.  People have been talking about the show “improving” or getting back to form for more than a decade now, ever since things really went to hell starting in Season 8.  At some point you just have to accept that The Simpsons is over and it’s never coming back.  
09
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“Now, a lot of people are gonna be tellin’ you you’re crazy, and maybe they’re right.  But the fact of the matter is, bones heal, chicks dig scars, and the United States of America has the best doctor to daredevil ratio in the world.” – Capt. Lance Murdoch

08
Feb
09

Quote of the Day

“See, I’m trying to teach my son here about treating women as objects.” – Homer Simpson
“That’s a good idea.” – Strip Club Proprietor



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