08
Mar
10

Doing Less with More

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure.  You may remember me from such films as ‘The Greatest Story Ever Hulaed’ and ‘They Came to Burgle Carnegie Hall’.” – Troy McClure

In three weeks there will be a Zombie Simpsons episode titled “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed”.  This is, obviously, a play on “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, the 1965 Charlton Heston movie about Jebus.  It goes almost without saying that The Simpsons already did a pun on that movie, way back in Season 7 (“A Fish Called Selma”) when Troy McClure uttered the quote above.  Let’s compare and contrast. 

The Simpsons took a famous movie and used it to make a joke (and it wasn’t even the only joke in that line), and when they did so they came up with something original.  Zombie Simpsons recycled a joke, mindlessly inserted a catchphrase, and made the lackluster result the title of the entire episode.  Or, to put it another way, The Simpsons crammed creativity into a tiny part of their episode, Zombie Simpsons took a shortcut and used it more prominently.  If you’re going to go over ground that’s already been covered you could at least put a little effort into it, is all I’m saying. 

(Note: Assuming you don’t count the Shary Bobbins episode the first time “D’oh” was ever used in an episode title was Season 10.  Counting the one in three weeks they’ll have used it seven times since then.  Zombie Simpsons can’t even gin up original puns.) 


10 Responses to “Doing Less with More”


  1. 1 Lovejoy fan
    9 March 2010 at 10:35 am

    Can’t say much about the title, but the description of this episode really reminds me why I’ve grown to hate Flanders:
    “When Homer is playing noisily in the yard, it disrupts Flanders’ bible-study group. Coaxed by the reverend, a frustrated Flanders takes it upon himself to redeem Homer by inviting the Simpson family on his church retreat to Jerusalem. Unappreciative of the history and culture, Homer would rather hang out at the hotel’s breakfast buffet rather than tour the city. But when an eccentric tour guide (guest voice Cohen) takes the group to famous monuments, including the Dome of the Rock and the Wailing Wall, Homer finally proves he is not beyond salvation in the all-new “The Greatest Story Ever Doh’d” episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, March 28″

    I hate how Ned has suddenly turned into the religious maniac who has a church retreat. I liked him so much more back in the early seasons. Just another victim of Zombie Simpsons, I guess.

  2. 2 D.N.
    9 March 2010 at 9:45 pm

    “I hate how Ned has suddenly turned into the religious maniac who has a church retreat. I liked him so much more back in the early seasons. Just another victim of Zombie Simpsons, I guess.”

    It’s interesting that, early on, the whole religious thing about Ned wasn’t so upfront. I think it was hinted at, but the main deal with Flanders was that he was a pleasant, good-natured, considerate person (in contrast to Homer) – the annoyingly perfect neighbour with a well-mannered family and a nice house and fancy accoutrements, and who rubbed Homer the wrong way. Then the religious aspect was brought in, which was fine, until it became so over-the-top that it became Ned’s defining characteristic, with almost everything else about the character tossed aside. I think the death of Maude (which negated the Flanders’ standing as having everything better than the Simpsons), combined with Ned becaming little more than the go-to guy for jokes about Evangelical Christianity, kind of ruined the character (the revelation that he’s 60 years old – which doesn’t fit in with what was previously revealed about the character in “Hurricane Neddy” – didn’t help things either).

    But then, that’s Zombie Simpsons’ way – taking characters and making them less dimensional by virtue of one characteristic they can hammer into the ground. We’ve already talked about Apu (i.e. with his 8 kids) and Moe (who started off as a surly but savvy bartender, then the writers started making jokes about his depression and suicidal tendencies, and now he’s just a pussified wallflower). Another casualty is Principal Skinner. Skinner was cool when he was a straightlaced administrator, out-of-touch with kids, and with a dark side. Then they started emphasising his relationship with his mother, then he hooked up with Krabappel, and now he’s basically in the show to be whipped by both.

    • 3 Lovejoy fan
      10 March 2010 at 11:02 am

      I didn’t actually mind the Skinner and Krabappel relationship until he proposed to her (which in turn led to “my big fat geek wedding”, which was dreadful even by Zombie Simpson standards), but the emphasis on his mother was a bad idea.

      Another example is CBG, who for some reason has turned from a sarcastic shop keeper into a character whose only real job is to make fun of pop-culture and/or the show’s fanbase. This got old after the tenth time, and he’s been used so much since then.

      The only characters I can think of that haven’t been warped beyond recognition are the Lovejoys, and ever since his transformation, Flanders has basically userped their role in the show.

      I liked Flanders a lot more when he was the way you described him – the annoyingly perfect neighbour. He was more believable (I, personally, have known several perfect-seeming people in my life) and, in my opinion, funnier. This whole transformation from good-natured guy into religious zealot just annoys me because it’s a great example of how Zombie Simpsons destroys the characters (there’s even a term for it; “Flanderization”).

      • 4 Celia
        10 March 2010 at 1:07 pm

        I feel the same way about Skinner/Krabappel. I think they made a fairly good couple, actually. But “My Big Fat Geek Wedding” was stupid and irritating. I don’t see why, once a couple is established as being together, they can’t just be a couple in the background, but a lot of people seem to think that if two characters are together, they have to be paraded with big neon signs or something. This seems to be what a lot of people seem to think about gay characters – if you have a gay couple, they’ll have to be front and centre digging under each others’ clothes the whole time. Rather than, for example, appearing at a party together, or occasionally seen having a snippet of the sort of day-to-day conversation a couple might. And the same goes for straight couples, for the most part. We don’t have to manufacture tiresome relationship difficulties to make the characters “interesting”. They can be interesting outside of the couple set-up. Maybe I’m not good at explaining this.

        You’re also right about CBG. I thought he was funny in some of the earlier episodes. It’s when he started to be used to make fun of the fans that he became obnoxious. As I’ve said before, I feel one of the points where the rot set in was when the fanbase started to be one of their targets. Or maybe I’m just butthurt.

        • 5 Lovejoy fan
          10 March 2010 at 1:45 pm

          I think you explained it well enough. Personally, I would have done that with Skinner and Krabappel; kept their relationship in the background. It worked better that way, at least in my opinion. I don’t suppose I even minded “special Edna” that much; it’s just “wedding” was so awful (“stupid and irritating” is an excellent way of describing that episode)and their relationship was handled so badly that I’d rather they were left in the background. If Skinner had to propose, he should have done it at some point near the end of the series (if that is going to happen anytime soon).

          CBG is actually my least favourite character, mostly because I’ve really gotten sick of him showing up as often as he does. In fact, now that you mention it, his increase in appearances was around the same time the show started making fun of its fanbase; and it really kicked off in season 11, which is when I personally thought the show took a turn for the worse.

          • 6 Celia
            10 March 2010 at 5:18 pm

            I do wonder if some writer or another, at some point in between “Special Edna” and “My Big Fat Geek Wedding” went “But if they get married, she won’t be Mrs. Krabappel any more, she’ll be Mrs. Skinner! People won’t understand, they’ll get confused!” I have a feeling that was a significant fraction of the reason why they had to sabotage the whole thing. Although I suspect they thought that people complaining about too much emphasis on dull disagreements between the two of them meant that what they had to do was break the two up in a majestically stupid way, involving CBG for some reason (both of the main women in Principal Skinner’s life have had CBG and I’m not sure why him in particular)

            • 7 Lovejoy fan
              10 March 2010 at 5:40 pm

              That’s why I said all that stuff about Skinner’s engagement; if they’d had him propose near the end of the series, they might not even have had to show the wedding. They could have just left it to our imagination. But then again, since they’re still milking the show, that wouldn’t happen for a while.

              Another reason the writers could have broken them up could be that there’d be nowhere for the relationship to go – Skinner and Krabappel would just have wound up like Apu or something. Or maybe I’m giving them too much credit.

              The only reason I can think of regarding Agnes, Krabappel and CBG is because this was around the point that the writers decided it was worth making episodes with him in a lead role (this was after they’d wrecked his character, so that wasn’t such a good idea). I can’t think of any reason why he had to be Krabappel’s rebound guy except to have another excuse to use him. Or, come to think of it, maybe they were thinking along these lines:
              Writer 1: “Alright, we’ve broken up Skinner and Krabappel. But we can’t stretch this enough to make a whole episode.”
              Writer 2: “Let’s have her date someone else for a while!”
              Writer 1: “Great… but who? Who do the fans seem to love at the moment?”
              Writer 2: “… CBG?”
              Writer 1: “GENIUS!”

              I honestly don’t know why they had to pair him up with Agnes. That whole episode isn’t worth remembering, in my opinion. Still, I think having him involved with the main women in Skinner’s life was just a coincidence; which, now I think about it, makes their partnership in “Gone Maggie Gone” even more bizarre.

              • 8 Celia
                10 March 2010 at 6:34 pm

                Well, you talk about “nowhere for the relationship to go”, but there are married couples on the show that don’t have to “go” anywhere. Chief and Mrs. Wiggum, or Dr. and Mrs. Hibbert, for example. They can be married, can be seen to be married and can occasionally interact as husband and wife, but we don’t have to look at their every disagreement. Perhaps that’s just because they’ve been married from the beginning, though. I don’t know. It’s probably a tough balance, but I’m not the one making a bathtub full of money out of this stuff.

                Speaking of marriage on the show, I suddenly remembered that Professor Frink was married with a son in the earlier episodes, but later episodes have him only interacting with humorous robotic ladies or something. I think I remembered this because, in my opinion, Hank Azaria needs to stop doing all that CBG and start giving us more Frink. I could listen to Professor Frink all day. Perhaps I am mad and need to get to bed.

                • 9 Lovejoy fan
                  11 March 2010 at 12:54 pm

                  I think it might be because they’ve been married from the beginning. If a character gets married during the series, they usually can’t be left alone by the writers (Apu, for instance).

                  Frink’s another character the writers haven’t ruined completely. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him either.

  3. 10 Keitaro004
    10 March 2010 at 2:39 am

    “But then, that’s Zombie Simpsons’ way – taking characters and making them less dimensional by virtue of one characteristic they can hammer into the ground. We’ve already talked about Apu (i.e. with his 8 kids) and Moe (who started off as a surly but savvy bartender, then the writers started making jokes about his depression and suicidal tendencies, and now he’s just a pussified wallflower). Another casualty is Principal Skinner. Skinner was cool when he was a straightlaced administrator, out-of-touch with kids, and with a dark side. Then they started emphasising his relationship with his mother, then he hooked up with Krabappel, and now he’s basically in the show to be whipped by both”

    The quote got a bit long here but… Anyways, I think it’s nice that the characters changes as the time goes, just as it would be in real-life. But I have to agree on some parts here: Killing of Homer’s mother, and Ned envolving into a church-maniac (Instead of his good-natured self) who tells his kids to whip themselves for disobeying God, really ruined his character. It made him more Evil than innocent.

    Also, Homer was much more of a caring father before, but now he’s turned into perhaps the worst dad ever that doesn’t even care about his kids. Crude, too carefree and even more heartless with his wife. That was the biggest disappointment in my opinion…


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