Synergy Contradicts Itself

“Smithers I’ve been thinking, is it wrong to cheat in order to win a million dollar bet?” – C.M. Burns
“Yes, sir.” – Mr. Smithers
“Let me rephrase that.  Is it wrong if I cheat in order to win a million dollar bet?” – C.M. Burns
“No, sir.  Who would you like killed?” – Mr. Smithers

In its never ending mission to praise Zombie Simpsons in the most obsequious of ways IGN will sometimes slip up.  Like all paid sycophants, IGN doesn’t have a coherent, well thought out world view.  It simply finds ways to praise and doesn’t concern itself with any kind of emotional or intellectual integrity.  That means that on occasion you get statements that, while praiseworthy when taken in the moment, contradict an earlier praiseworthy statement.  This week’s review is such an occasion.  With that one exception I’ve edited out the synergy.

January 10, 2010 – The 450th episode of The Simpsons was further proof that it’s nice to still have this series around this show has gone on way too fucking long. All sorts of arguments can be made that the show just isn’t as good as it used to be, and to an extent, it would be hard to argue those are all true. But I don’t think you’d have such an easy time convincing people that the current state of the series is bottom-of-the-barrel terrible even though that’s also true. Okay, it may not be turning out classic boring turd after classic boring turd after classic sappy boring turd, but The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons can still deliver convince smart dimwits and solid fanboys that’s it still qualifies as entertainment. "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" was another solid episode sappy boring turd, from television’s longest running series. And, honestly, to deliver an ineffective, unfunny episode on your 450th turn is quite an accomplishment about what we expect these days.

The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons has reached milestones like this a number of times in its history. On each occasion, the episode itself paid little mind to the goal being accomplished [Ed Note: I’m leaving this sentence alone to point out that it directly contradicts something IGN said last summer.  That’s sloppy synergy.]. Only "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" stands out as an episode actually saying something about the feat it was achieving. With that episode, The Simpsons became the longest running primetime animated series, surpassing The Flintstones. And in that episode, the Itchy and Scratchy cartoon was portrayed as faltering and losing its edge, much like The Simpsons itself was being talked about at that time, it was a joke that could only work once and despite that fact became a staple of later episodes (cough, Comic Book Guy, cough). "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" took a similar route trotted this tired cliche out yet again when the producers of "The Krusty the Clown Show" complained that the show was losing ratings among young girls and decided to add Princess Penelope to the cast.

Penelope will never be likened to Poochie being added to the cat and mouse duo (except by me, of course), but the storyline still offered up a lot of laughs suffered horribly as deliberately unfunny sequences were used to eat screen time. Anne Hathaway (The Princess Diaries) gave a fun  by the numbers performance as the Princess, which also showcased used her singing chops to kill some more clock. Krusty had a very blindingly familiar arc in the episode, hitting rock bottom and then swearing a comeback, and lots of laughs exposition came from Krusty dealing with his predicament, yet again. I was quite enjoyed bored by his wild "Hey-Hey!" followed by the somber, "Seriously, hey-hey, kids." Krusty’s embarrassingly slow slapstick bits in the dumpster after announcing his comeback were also a riot painfully dull: "Oh, why do clown things always happen to clowns?" Laughs Grim recognition could also be found in Bart and Milhouse’s reactions to a princess taking over their favorite show, especially when Bart referred to a sidekick as the lowest form of life. Milhouse happily agreed.

The secondary storyline of this episode was subtly celebratory of the even further out of character for this once awesome series reaching such a status of productivity. This story conceit centered on Homer, the nuclear power plant and donuts — all icons of the series itself which were once again bastardized in the name of filling time. Due to cost cutting, Mr. Burns eliminated the free donuts in the break room. Without his free food, Homer hungrily lamented, "All I’ve had are my meals." This made it easier for a corporate headhunter to almost lure Homer, Lenny and Carl to work for the Capital City power plant for some reason. Not only would they have gotten free donuts, but also other perks like massages and Gary Larson pointless cameos as their in-house cartoonist. The unseen Larson comic was a fantastically funny bit for fans of The Far Side: "A lion would not want to see that on his X-ray." Of course, it was simply the promise of the world’s greatest donuts that brought the three coworkers back to Springfield after Burns decided he loved his employees for some reason.

The direct references to The Simpsons longevity — the blackboard bit, Maggie’s billboard and the actual thanks at the end of the episode — were fun wildly undeserved self fellatio, but what really felt good were the donuts. Homer’s undying love for the product ("…the masculine contours of the box juxtaposed with the feminine curves of the treat themselves.") is just like our love for the series . . . 300 episodes ago. Congrats on 450.

2 Responses to “Synergy Contradicts Itself”

  1. 19 January 2010 at 10:55 pm

    What do you expect from IGNorant? They’re preaching to a choir of fanboys who cannot decide what is better: The Simpsons or Oxygen.

  2. 2 Celia
    21 January 2010 at 2:17 pm

    The status quo has to be maintained with every episode, apparently. But it seems that the writers also insist upon using ideas that mean the only way the blessed status quo can be maintained is if the characters are tied in knots and twisted backwards along the way. So Mr. Burns now loves his three crappy employees, because that’s the only way the writers could see out of the doughnut/Capital City Power Plant plot (they might have had the rest of the Simpson family complaining that they didn’t want to move, or something, but (a)that would mean nothing for Lenny and Carl and (b)it would be something we’ve seen 934872837547532 times before, and wouldn’t be funny either).

    Earlier episodes have love interests established at the beginning of the episode (or earlier – I confess to being particularly bitter about My Big Fat Geek Wedding) end the relationship or refuse a marriage for no good reason (of course, Krusty and whatserface seemed to get back together at the end, but IDK). Maybe it works for a while, and some of the earlier episodes (Principal Charming, for example) had that, but it just gets annoying when it’s stretched out beyond all recognition. Much like all the other desperate running gags and tropes – and it’s not any better when they’re clearly aware of what they’re doing.

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