Compare & Contrast: Car Humor

After we sat through Sunday’s “Rednecks and Broomsticks” Dave and I cleared our heads with some regular Simpsons.  We decided that we should watch a good Lisa episode to cancel out the bad one so we threw on “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacey”.  It didn’t occur to me before we picked it but both of these episodes have extended scenes with the family in the car. 

In the Zombie Simpsons scene the only thing that happens for almost a minute is the kids playing the “Bonk It” game.  It goes on and on (and on and on) and there are less than forty words of dialogue the entire time.  In fact, here they are (not counting the game):

Homer: I can’t take it anymore!
Other Dad: I can’t take it anymore!
Homer: D’oh!
Marge: Oh darn, the batteries are dead.
Bart: Not to worry, it plugs into the cigarette lighter.
Homer: Hey kids, it’s daddy’s turn!  Stomp it! Crush it! Kill it!

That’s it.  The whole scene takes almost a minute and there’s nothing else even attempting to be funny.

Rednecks and Broomsticks1
This is the entire scene on a loop, it just looks like a freeze frame.

Contrast that with the car ride home from the mall in “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy”.  I’m not going to transcribe the whole thing, but it takes almost exactly the same amount of time as the interminable “Bonk It” scene and the following happens:

  • Homer endangers his family (and ignores his wife) by buttering a muffin he made with the EZ Bake oven he bought for his car
  • Grandpa gets nervous around Bart’s toy because his “skull is eggshell thin”
  • Grandpa accidentally launches a missile from Sgt. Thug’s Mountaintop Command Post that causes a giant off screen explosion (which Bart thinks is cool)
  • Lisa thanks Grandpa for the presents only to have him complain that they bought lousy stuff (he thinks they should’ve gotten something useful e.g. “a nice pipe organ”)
  • Grandpa then goes on one of his awesomely bizarre rants and mentions: things smelling like mustard, all the ugly people he sees, his glaucoma, and the fact that the the President is a “Demi-crat”
  • After the family cold-heartedly abandons their elderly relative in a car he gets stuck because he can’t unbuckle his seatbelt.

All of the above was done in the same amount of time that Zombie Simpsons did “Bonk It”.  This is why Zombie Simpsons is thinner than Dickensian gruel.  Where once they were thinking “How many jokes can we cram in?”, now it’s “How much longer can we stretch this?” 

1 Response to “Compare & Contrast: Car Humor”

  1. 1 Celia
    4 December 2009 at 12:41 pm

    One of the things I always think about either one of the Who shot Mr. Burns? episodes (not even both of them together) is that there’s so much story and stuff happening in them. Now, as you say (and as I’ve said before) the episodes seem empty. Sometimes, I think (with a lot of other things as well) that they’re actually trying hard to not make the episodes too interesting. I expect it’s part of the general “if things are too complicated, people won’t want to watch” thing entertainment has going on a lot of the time. This is no doubt why they don’t seem to do homages to old and perhaps obscure things like they used to. Very early episodes would make reference to things like the Algonquin Round Table or Tennessee Williams plays – or, indeed, the Tom Jones adaptation you got screencaps of in an earlier post. Nowadays, if The Simpsons makes reference to anything, it has to be spelled out really carefully, usually as one part of a three-part episode in which the family tell each other historical tales, or something.

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