Synergy Enjoys the Banality

Bart the General2

“Dear advertisers, I am disgusted with the way old people are depicted on television.  We are not all vibrant, fun loving sex maniacs.  Many of us are bitter, resentful individuals who remember the good old days when entertainment was bland and inoffensive.” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson

When last we left IGN’s Zombie Simpsons reviews they were swooning and drawing little hearts on their notebooks because the writers dragged the Plow King out of retirement for a joke free cameo.  This week there’s some danger they’re just going to straight up overdose on nostalgia.  Yes, Grampa Simpson has told some enjoyably batshit stories in his time, but those times are long past (as even FOX tacitly acknowledges).  Instead we get classic Zombie Simpsons, taking a good idea real Simpsons used sparingly and stretching it to the point of mutilation in order to fill an episode.  As always I’ve edited out the synergy.  Enjoy

January 4, 2010 – "Thursdays with Abie" put a murderous twist on Tuesdays With Morie and the result was a fun dull and funny dimwitted start to 2010 for The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons. The episode used Abe Simpson’s talent for telling tall tales as the starting off point central conceit and threw in Homer’s jealously to move the story towards it’s eventual, kind of sentimental witless ending.

Of course, like many good Simpsons Zombie Simpsons episodes, we began in a place that had very little to do with the remainder of the half hour. The water park jokes at Wet ‘N’ Wack World (formerly the John F. Kennedy Naval Museum) were right on the mark drawn out to the point of exhaustion. Homer: "Sure, they have worse rides than amusement parks and less fish than aquariums, but the parking is ample." The extended bit with Slimu (the octopus version of Shamu) was also quite successful at taking up time and boring me to tears. While the family was enjoying their water show, Abe was left alone on a shark bench until Marshall Goldman Scooby Doo Villain arrived. Goldman Villain was a reporter specializing in human-interest stories, and he was happy to listen to Abe tell one of his nonsensical, unbelievable stories. ("Someone’s listening to me! Now I know how a radio feels.")

Abe’s ramblings, of course, have been running gags for The Simpsons entire 20 years, and just like everything else they didn’t used to suck. Usually we would just get snippets of a story before Grampa Simpson fell asleep, or before whoever was with him interrupted him. These bits are generally fun, with the more successful ramblings coming from the more successful episodes of the series. One of my favorites has always been, "We had to say ‘dickety’ because the Kaiser has stolen our word ‘twenty.’" Extending the stories here could have been was a big misstep, but and the writing was sharp plodding and funny humorless. And it was also helpful also helped eat clock to have Abe’s stories (true or not) presented in flashbacks. The flashbacks added some very funny visual gags to Abe’s already chuckling inducing tales showed why some things are best alluded to rather than spelled out explicitly. The newspaper headlines during his story about the Tinsel Town Starliner stood out the most: "Curly to Shemp: You’re Out" and "Bike Wheels Now the Same Size."

Tuesdays With Morie writer Mitch Albom did a fine pointless guest spot in this episode parodying plugging his book. He showed up to try and steal Abe for his own book, but decided instead to follow Ralph Wiggum around after hearing him state, "Clouds are God’s sneezes." Goldman’s articles were received well, causing Homer to become jealous of the fact his father had never shared these stories with him for some reason. Homer’s computer-themed explanation of why he has no recollection of the countless times Grampa did share his stories was cute another way to kill time, but I prefer seeing Homer’s brain monkeys. Still, his anger led him on a funny hackneyed path. First he tried to proved to Marge that he could never be angry with himself and the resulting mirror bit was classic Jerkass Homer, bi-polar, unfunny and drawn out. Next he set out to find a surrogate father, for some other reason, which turned out to be Mr. Burns, for yet another unknown reason. This was another great nonsensical segment and included a hysterical recycled reference to another long running gag in The Simpsons. Having had enjoyed himself with Homer, for a final unstated reason, Mr. Burns chose to only release a hound.

The story was given coughed up its conflict when Homer learned that Goldman Scooby Doo Villain was going to kill Abe in an attempt to bring a touching ending to his planned book and bid for a Pulitzer Prize this mess of a plot to a conclusion. Like most great Simpsons shitty episodes, the lunacy found room for went hand in hand with schlock sentimentality as Homer saved his dad and was then given the floor to tell his very own rambling, time wasting tale. This was actually an unexpected sweet moment boring as hell as Grampa Simpson passed the torch to his son… in a truly Simpsons Zombie Simpsons fashion, long on time, short on humor. The secondary story with Bart caring for a class stuffed lamb over the weekend was effective at getting the episode to 22 minutes despite the thinness of the A-plot and had a few great parts. The best most out of character of these anyone was how much Nelson loved that little lamb: "Nelson loved a little lamb/He kept me nice and sane." Overall, the episode was a success crushingly boring, using bastardizing one of the best Simpsons running jokes to tell an engaging and even sentimental a sloppy, cliched tale.


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