Archive for March, 2010



22
Mar
10

Out of Frame, Out of Mind

 The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show2

“I have to go now, my planet needs me.” – Poochie

There is a lot to dislike about last night’s craptacular Zombie Simpsons.  But I’d like to draw your attention to what may be it’s most persistent conceit: the dropping of characters, sometimes right in the middle of a scene. 

First, consider the scene where Lisa is briefly popular before Ms. Hoover illogically shows up on the playground to hand back her corrected test.  Is there any reason for Hoover to be on the playground at that moment?  Was this so critical that she ran screaming out of the teacher’s lounge after realizing her mistake?  Of course not, but the episode needed Lisa to get the test back then and there and so Hoover appeared as if conjured from thin air. 

Then this callous disregard for the audience is compounded as the other children surround and taunt Lisa.  That seems like the kind of thing Hoover would’ve stopped.  Was she still there?  Was she helping the other kids taunt Lisa?  Did she vanish back into thin air?  The instant her presence was no longer required, she disappeared. 

This exact same thing happens numerous times in this episode.  The entire “other” fourth grade shows up, and then they all vanish for the rest of the episode.  Not only do we never see most of them again (including the teacher), but we never even visit the classroom where the kids are force to share their desks again.  Yet another example is towards the end, Ralph shows up wearing a swimsuit so the show can attempt to make a joke out of “flotus”, and then he’s gone.  No explanation, no reason, just gone.

If your plot got dropped without resolution, you'd be surley too. But the most egregious example are the lawyer parents.  Their threat to sue the school is theoretically the point on which the entire A-plot turns, and yet it’s over in one scene.  They show up in Skinner’s office . . . and then are never heard from again.  We see them briefly at that clock eating assembly, but they don’t speak.  We never find out if they’re satisfied with the school’s response, we never see them with their daughter again.  Just like Hoover on the playground and the other fourth grade class, they’re gone in a flash once they are no longer needed. 

Family Guy takes a lot of flak for putting many of its jokes in flashbacks that are unrelated to the plot, or even to the scene at hand.  But what Zombie Simpsons is doing here (and this is far from the only episode in which they’ve done this) is even worse than that.  A flashback is a relatively well understood concept, one that’s employed in a lot of narrative fiction.  It can be overused, it can be used poorly, but the concept itself is sound.  But having characters appear and disappear at random?  Even a comedy sketch with no outside plot whatsoever wouldn’t do that. 

Individual scenes should never require these kinds of desperate storytelling shortcuts.  Keeping things coherent for two minutes or more isn’t much to ask, and yet Zombie Simpsons continues to fail.  And, let’s face it, if you can’t write a coherent two minutes, you have no business trying to write an entire episode. 

22
Mar
10

Just Nitpicking

Chalkboard - Stealing First Base

“Wait, that did end in heartbreak.  Thanks for opening up old wounds, Mom.” – Bart Simpson

The irrelevant and drawn out couch gag is a good indication of the lack of comedy invention within.  The comedic growth of this show cannot even be charted.  It is treading water in a sea of recycled plots and derivative montages. 

The numbers continue to be awful, with this week’s shit sandwich watched by only 5.69 million people.  That’s not as bad as last week, but it’s still the fourth lowest number ever.  Unfortunately it’s looking more and more likely that Season 21 will eek out above Season 20 in terms of average rating.  Stupid 20th anniversary hype. 

22
Mar
10

Quote of the Day

The PTA Disbands2

“Seymour, the children are playing in the hole again.  Shouldn’t you get that fixed?” – Mrs. Krabappel
“Edna, you know they just cut the school’s budget.  Besides, if I had the money I’d fix the exhaust leak in the back.  Frankly, I think it’s causing some of our low test scores.” – Principal Skinner

21
Mar
10

Sunday Preview: “Stealing First Base” (Reprise!)

“How many times can you laugh at that cat getting hit by the moon?” – Marge Simpson
“It’s a new episode.” – Bart Simpson
“Not exactly… they pieced it together from old shows, but it seems new to the trusting eyes of impressionable youth.” – Lisa Simpson
“Really?” – Bart Simpson
“‘Ren and Stimpy’ do it all the time.” – Lisa Simpson

Note: We posted this last Sunday, but “Stealing First Base” finally is on tonight. Recycling the post seemed appropriate and further, laziness isn’t a crime.

The mercilessly unfunny Sarah Silverman guest stars on tonight’s next Sunday’s tonight’s “Stealing First Base,” which Simpsons Channel describes for us:

Lisa’s classmates ostracize her for being an overachiever but the First Lady Michelle Obama (guest voice Angela Bassett) comes to Lisa’s defense. Meanwhile, Bart’s crush Nikki (guest voice Sarah Silverman) sends him mixed signals when she surprises him with a kiss.

So faux-First Lady, love interest number 8,000,0005, and a humdrum plot. Sounds riveting. Get the popcorn ready.

21
Mar
10

Quote of the Day

Sideshow Bob Roberts1

“Here you go.  The results of last month’s mayoral election, all forty-eight thousand voters and who each one of them voted for.” – Hall of Records Guy
“I thought this was a secret ballot.” – Lisa Simpson
“Meh.” – Hall of Records Guy

20
Mar
10

Quote of the Day

22 Short Films about Springfield3

“You took four minutes of my life and I want them back! . . . Oh, I’d only waste them anyway.” – Hans Moleman

19
Mar
10

Reading Digest: “Jebus, Nudity & Both Kinds of Lefties!” Edition

Dolla Dolla Bill Y'All“Ching ching.” – Reverend Lovejoy

I think I successfully crammed most of my opening into the title this week, so there isn’t much need for an introduction.  There’s some other stuff too, of course, including an unusually specific Family Guy vs. Simpsons article, some usage, and a couple of interviews. 

Enjoy. 

Ned Flanders disapproves – On console first person shooter games I always have to reverse the look controls vertically, but I’ve never even looked to see if you can swap move/look from the left stick to the right.  But I’m not left handed, so what do I know?

Razer Creates Mouse For Lefties – But on the PC you can now game with either hand. 

History’s Greatest Monster – The great majority of prominent liberals here in America want the health care bill passed.  Some, however, do not; and of those a few have a hard time with Simpsons references. 

‘Fresh Air’ Reflects: Actress Nancy Cartwright – This is more than two years old, and I’ve only had a chance to listen to the first half so far, but it was interesting.  (via San Diego City College Acting for Radio/Voiceover)

Regarding the usage of “boourns” – This is a rant against improper usage of Hans Moleman’s confusing praise of A Burns for All Seasons.  I’m sympathetic to the argument here, which is that “boo-urns” is literally a term of praise, not one of derision which is how it’s commonly used.  However, I think the subtler and more fun way to use it as fake praise that belittles idiots who like crappy things.  To take a recent example, I’d say “boo-urns” to a movie like Transformers 2.  (Side note: I took two of my nephews to see that boring ass movie, the 11 year old didn’t like it that much, the 9 year old thought it was great.  That seems about right.) 

UK election: Most Brits want online vote – If there are any aspiring British political bloggers out there, may I suggest “Moe Szyslak” as your on-line handle?  According to one survey one in six Britons thinks he’s already a political blogger.  That’s a built in audience!  (via Citizens Online)

Corey – A remembrance of Corey Haim that explicitly links him to The Simpsons.  Now there’s only seven of them.

A question for Hepworth, Ellen and music journalists in general – This and the next two links are peas in a pod of fun Simpsons comment usage.  Here discussing music journalism:

For some reason – perhaps this was quoted on this very blog recently, I’m not sure – I’m put in mind of that street philosopher, Homer Simpson.

"You people have stood in my way long enough. I’m going to clown college!"

Excellent usage.

sick slowroll @ 2010 world cup of Poker – Here complaining about poker (or something):

lololol, that’s some weird logic lol. Like Homer Simpson saying someone who fell down a well is a real hero.

Not a quote, but still quite apt. 

Aldermen call for review of meter plan – And finally (there’s no direct link to the comment, it’s the first one though), this is a swing and a miss:

Even Homer Simpson would say Dough to this!

Mmmm, dough. 

‘Hubble 3D’: A spectacular look at the universe – I have no seen this particular movie, but IMAX 3D is pretty much always fun.  This probably would’ve made me giggle in the theater:

The scenes of the astronauts walking in space, performing delicate repair work while wearing what amounts to oven mitts on their hands, has a certain suspense. Narrator Leonardo DiCaprio works hard — maybe a little too hard — to muster up boyish wonder, though all the talk about tiny screws brings to mind the "Simpsons" episode where NASA shoots "blue-collar slob" Homer into space because the public has become bored with scientific minutia.

Vatican praises The Simpsons – Want to know why an institution as entrenched and well established as the Catholic Church can praise the show now?  It’s because Zombie Simpsons is tepid horseshit, that’s why:

I’m not a huge fan of The Simpsons, but I just watched a episode about Bart going to Catholic school called “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star.” [S16E21] In the classic Simpsons’ satire, Bart & Homer become Catholic while Protestant Marge tries to bring them back. WOW! A great episode to use with high school discussion groups.

He’s not a big fan of the show, but refers to “classic Simpsons satire” as a positive, all while ignoring the widespread belief that the Season 16 incarnation of the show was anything but “classic”.  Head spinning.  It goes on to mention that Vatican newspaper article which the church used to shake me down for eight Euros.  The guy who wrote the above is . . . well, I’ll let his about statement speak for itself:

I’m a 30+ year old (recently) former Catholic seminarian discerning the Lord’s call for my life.

That first statement tells you everything you need to know, doesn’t it?  He doesn’t want to give his exact age (“30+”), but he adds in “recently” to let you know that he’s not some deceptive 37 or 38 year old passing himself off as just “30+”.  (Organized Religion: Profiting From Your Fear of Death since 4,000 B.C.)  I don’t want to be too harsh, however, former Catholic seminarians are guys for whom I have a lot of sympathy.  My dad spent most of his 20s in seminary.  When he finally bailed, despite the fact that he’d been their unpaid employee for six years, the only thing they did was try to guilt him into coughing up money for room and board.  So good luck, man.  Trust me when I say the farther away from that organization you get, the better off you’ll be.  And if there is a god, he’s nowhere near them. 

Executive producer and comedian discuss new Comedy Central show – Simpsons alum David M. Stern’s new show Ugly Americans premiered this week.  I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet (though I plan to do so), but here’s an interview with him and one of the voice actors. 

Hank Azaria is latest actor to sign up for new Smurfs movie – The link title tells you what you need to know. 

Homer Simpson Is Not Alone: Trusting in TV – When a Jebus blog whose tagline reads “Looking forward to the Millennial rule of the Kingdom of God” (translation: I want the world to end) cites Homer Simpson, can the apocalypse be long behind?  Only if you consider 4.5 billion years a long time. 

CAMBRIDGE BEAT – A columnist posts her e-mail to speed the flow of angry complaints, and she does so with excellent usage:

Your opinion may not mean much to me, but as Homer Simpson once said, “Just because I don’t care, doesn’t mean I don’t understand.”

Shawn Maxwell Quartet: Maxwell’s House (2010) – Jazz saxophonist Shawn Maxwell has a new album, it contains a song called “7-G”.  You can listen to a nice, lengthy sample at the link.  (via All About Jazz)

THE SIMPSONS BART SIMPSON PLUSH VINTAGE DOLL TOY – This is a very weird looking Bart doll for sale on eBay.  His pants come up to his armpits and he has no shirt, it’s just odd. 

The Simpsons vs. Rhode Island (sort of) – This is from the same guy who wrote that recap of “Mother Simpson” last week.  I haven’t got much to add.  I basically agree with his conclusion, but it isn’t the way I usually approach questions like this.  I will say that I think “Road to Rhode Island” is a very good Family Guy episode, but it isn’t the kind of super-rich comedy “Mother Simpson” is. 

Jackson 5 Victory Tour Promo – This link has audio for “Lisa It’s Your Birthday”, but the real reason to click is the sweet picture of the Jackson siblings (looks like early 80s) all perched atop sports cars. 

Marge Simpson drawing naked on a Playboy chair – And finally, the YouTube below is exactly what it says it is.  Not only is it artistically impressive, it’s also a good – ahem – illustration of why I found it so endlessly frustrating when everyone kept writing that Marge was “posing” nude.  She’s a cartoon, she cannot “pose”, she can only be drawn:

19
Mar
10

Quote of the Day

Homer Alone2

“Oh Maggie, time for your nine am feeding.” – Homer Simpson

18
Mar
10

Quote of the Day

Girly Edition2

“You could learn a lot from him Mary Ann.” – News Executive Lady
“It’s Lisa.” – Lisa Simpson
“Mary Ann’s better.” – News Executive Lady

17
Mar
10

Crazy Noises: Postcards from the Wedge

Schnapps

Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user cogdogblog.

“Ann Landers is a boring old biddy!” – Ned Flanders

In our continuing mission to bring you only the finest in low class, low brow, and low tech internet Simpsons commentary we’re bringing back our “Crazy Noises” series and applying it to Season 21.  Because doing a podcast smacks of effort we’re still using this “chatroom” thing that all the middle schoolers and undercover cops seem to think is so cool.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “schnapps”).

There was some discussion around these parts about the fact that up at No Homers even people who think the show isn’t what it used to be loved this episode.  Without delving into specifics let me just say that while I don’t agree (I thought it was shitty and boring), I do understand.  This is the kind of episode that people always seem to clamor for: no celebrity guest voice, the plot centered on the family, they stayed in Springfield, there was even an Itchy & Scratchy episode.  More so than most Zombie Simpsons episodes “Postcards from the Wedge” at least had the outward trappings of the real thing.

Unfortunately, outward trappings are all it had.  The guts of the episode was the same repulsive filler we’ve come to expect from Zombie Simpsons: ignored comedy opportunities, fake marital woes we’ve seen dozens of times before, blatant time killing, characters acting wildly unlike themselves.  And even when they reign in their incoherent zaniness there’s still a long lost subway that causes earthquakes.  This may indeed be the best they can do, but that doesn’t make it good, it just means that even their best is bad.

Charlie Sweatpants: So, time to get down to business?

Dave: Let’s

Mad Jon: Indeed, let’s

Charlie Sweatpants: Everything took too long and was boring, can I go now?

Mad Jon: Ha, you wish. You have to tell me what you hated the most

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, where to begin?

Mad Jon: Otherwise my pain is the only pain that will be acknowledged

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess I’d start with the film strip opening, which could’ve been entertaining if it hadn’t taken way, way too long. Oh and then there was the scene at the school, which made no sense and took too long (Martin’s project was especially egregious from a clock wasting point of view), then there was the whole fire drill thing which made no sense and took too long.

Dave: Cut them some slack, they had 23 minutes to fill.

Mad Jon: Yep, I really hated the anti-Homeric behavior this time around. It was especially pungent.

Like the dishwasher scene. Homer would have either just put the dirty dish in the washer, or more likely, would have left it at the table or floor.

Charlie Sweatpants: The entire middle of the episode is Homer and Marge being mad at each other for no reason whatsoever before patching up for no reason whatsoever.

Oh man, I forgot about the dishwasher scene.

That was excruciating.

Dave: Me too. Ugh.

Charlie Sweatpants: Let’s not forget that this pales in comparison to the dishwasher thing in "Summer of 4 ft 2".

Mad Jon: That was a good time.

Charlie Sweatpants: And that they repeated the joke about Bart getting a rectal thermometer from "Marge Gets a Job".

Only this time it took longer and wasn’t funny.

Mad Jon: Think warm thoughts boy, cause this is mighty cold.

PS Do you remember the Brad Goodman episode?

Charlie Sweatpants: Can anyone explain to me either a) why Bart had a boredom montage when he was home from school, b) why Wiggum showed up after Homer and Marge made up or c) once they did make up why it took so long?

Mad Jon: Where Homer walks in to Marge watching the infomercial and he says "What up Marge?"

Charlie Sweatpants: Yes?

Mad Jon: Homer’s behavior this week was an entire episode of that one statement but without the period humor

Oh, and a) to fill time b) cause they owe Azaria X amount of minuets per episode, and c) who cares

I actually thought that scene was the end of the episode and I had blocked out two entire acts

The scene where Wiggum put the road cones around them

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ll buy a) and c), but b) doesn’t make any sense. Chalmers was in this one, Azaria does his voice, and it didn’t even sound like him.

Mad Jon: Yeah, I was grabbing at straws there

Dave: Someone brought that up a while ago. You can hear the age in some of the actors’ voices

Charlie Sweatpants: And I mean, not like him at all. Krabappel you can tell it’s still Wallace doing the voice, but Chalmers sounds totally different.

I mean that literally, he sounded like one of the generic background characters.

Mad Jon: And he wouldn’t have said, "Do something" he would have told skinner how worthless and stupid he is.

But I digress

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, if we’re digressing, can I complain about the Itchy & Scratchy episode?

Mad Jon: Ok

Dave: Sure. I’m guessing you thought it was awful

Charlie Sweatpants: It was awful.

Mad Jon: Huh, you think?

Dave: I win!

Mad Jon: Perhaps I just felt it was good compared to the rest of the episode.

But that was the only point that I cracked a smile

Dave: That’s generous, Jon.

Charlie Sweatpants: I mean, I’m all for the cat getting killed, but it usually goes faster than that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Itchy torture him slowly like he’s in one of those movies where a hot chick gets abducted.

Mad Jon: Fair enough. I felt it started slow but ended well

Look at us, we can’t even critique the cartoon, so we have to critique the cartoon within the cartoon

Charlie Sweatpants: I’m pretty immune to violence and horror and gore, remember I once ate a 90 count back of pizza rolls while watching the movie "Se7en", but that seemed more brutal than funny to me.

Dave: That sounds kind of fun, actually.

Charlie Sweatpants: While I’m on the subject of scenes that seemed stupid and had no redeeming value, why were Bart and Nelson on the swing set together and yet we never actually saw the swing set?

Mad Jon: Yeah, that happened. I have no helpful information however.

Charlie Sweatpants: And that was before the "chase sequence" ending.

Mad Jon: We did see a swing hit Bart in the head, does that count?

Dave: Nah.

Mad Jon: Why did they do a triple back flip?

Charlie Sweatpants: Olympic tie in?

Mad Jon: Maybe, that was a few weeks ago

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d say the more likely explanation is that they were so desperate to fill time that the half a second that took actually mattered to them.

Mad Jon: That is so depressing.

And probably correct

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, I’ve got very little else.

Mad Jon: That may be more than I have

This was a darn boring and pointless episode

Dave: Watching paint dry would’ve been more fun

Mad Jon: You can tell I mean business because I watched my language

Charlie Sweatpants: No fucking way.

Hmmm, Ctrl-F seems to back you up.

Wow, you really hated this one, didn’t you?

Mad Jon: Yep. Also I thought that was a find command

Dave: Who are you and what have you done with the real Jon?

Mad Jon: Don’t worry about him. He’s a few beers closer to a better place now.

Charlie Sweatpants: It is the find command, I was checking the transcript for "fuck", "shit", etcetera.

Dave: I’m a little frightened right now. Let’s call it a night.

Mad Jon: Works for me, I am sleepy and I need to pack still

Charlie Sweatpants: Before we do I have one more thing.

Mad Jon: Go on

Charlie Sweatpants: When Ned had the flashback to the fight he had with Maude. That, to me, was really awful.

Mad Jon: That was pretty bad, It was almost reminiscent of the black berry schnapps scene, but you know, not so funny.

Charlie Sweatpants: Because it was a joke ripoff from when Flanders went to AA, and on top of that it was completely antithetical to Ned’s character.

Mad Jon: There you go.

You with your big words

Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly. Except that the schnapps scene was funny because Flanders was "drunk" on three moles of alcohol.

Mad Jon: and your small difficult words

Charlie Sweatpants: This was just the opposite of him and it was there for no reason.

You know damn well what a mole is you science major geek, you.

Mad Jon: Do you still remember Avogadro’s Number? I actually had to use it a few days ago

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve got your 10^23 right here, pal!

Mad Jon: Nice

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, we’ve once again begun chat yelling at each other over Zombie Simpsons. Jebus I hate this show.

Mad Jon: I am sure the alcohol isn’t helping, or is it..??

Dave: It’s doing something.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, that depends on how you define "help", doesn’t it?

Mad Jon: Oh sure

17
Mar
10

Quote of the Day

Whacking Day2

“People of Springfield, Whacking Day is a sham!  It was started in 1924 as an excuse to beat up the Irish.” – Bart Simpson
“’Tis true, I took many a lump, but ’twas all in good fun!” – Irish Guy

16
Mar
10

Synergy Agrees With Me About One Thing

450px-Tomorrowland_Entrance

Image taken from Wikimedia commons.

“It’s true, and we’ll all live in cities on the moon!” – Marge Simpson

IGN was in mid-season form this week, slobbering all over lame jokes and unabashedly praising the repetitive nature of the plot.  But let’s set aside the fussin’ and the feudin’ and talk about something we can agree upon.  The opening of the Zombie Simpsons episode was a reference to old Tex Avery cartoons and IGN thinks that if you’re a young whippersnapper you ought to look them up on your fancy YouTube machine.  But IGN doesn’t provide a link, I’ll provide two.  Here’s a link to a search with lots of videos, and here’s one about futuristic televisions that I just watched.  Ah, memories I used to watch these when I was a wee lad, and that was thirty odd years after they were broadcast.  All hail old cartoons! 

Other than that this review sucks, but it sucks less with the synergy edited out. 

March 15, 2010Though Sunday night’s episode of The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons was your basic Bart-takes-part-in-stupidly-conceived-because-they-ran-out-of-ideas-long-ago-mischief storylines, I quite enjoyed it. The writers are still unable to work a little something new any life at all into this tried  tired and true trite staple, and "Postcards from the Wedge" was no exception. From the stylized clock killing opening to Bart’s ham fisted manipulation of his parents’ marriage, the episode delivered laughs yawns along with its tediously unfunny familiarity.

The "Springfield of Tomorrow" opening was fantastic had potential. I absolutely loved Tex Avery’s "..Of Tomorrow" shorts as a kid and this segment brought me right back to that joy. The voiceover and art style was a great nod (with hints of The Jetsons) to those classics, and the bits were equally funny unfortunately the jokes were clumsy, obvious and drawn out. If you’re unfamiliar with those shorts from the ’50s, I hope the opening to this Simpsons Zombie Simpsons episode encourages you to check them out on YouTube. The transition out of this opening was also funny repetitive and obvious as it was revealed we were watching a film in Bart’s class and Mrs. Krabappel stated, "Well, that concludes… I don’t really know what that was." Neither did we.

From there we learned that Bart is a full month behind on his homework assignments, which he suddenly cared about for some reason. Also bringing back memories from childhood was Principal Skinner’s joke free list of undone assignments: "worksheets, math jumbles, dioramas, topic sentences, conclusions…and one Thanksgiving hand turkey. This led Homer to get strict on Bart for some other reason and force him to do nothing but catch up on his assignments. Marge started to feel like this might turn Bart off of school and wanted to go easy on him. Homer’s sarcastic response: "Oh, my! A child who doesn’t like school? Hello? Hollywood! You want to buy the movie rights to this incredible story?!" This was the best moment in the show as for one brief moment Homer was as bored as we were.  I could’ve liked that Homer and Marge’s viewpoints were the opposite of what we might have expected if it had been handled with even a little bit of care instead of having both of them start acting weird. Surely Homer would have been more laid back about it, and Marge stricter, but the episode mixed it up and assumed no one would notice because these characters were destroyed years ago. This was could have been a refreshing take on their dynamic and a very welcome one but instead it was as lazy as everything else.

Bart soon realized was told through pointless exposition that he could play his parents against each other to get out of doing any homework at all. This led to the pair arguing to the point of putting their marriage in fake, unbelievable danger. When Marge threatened to withhold sex from Homer, his obvious angry and less than clever response was, "You can’t sex fire me! I sex quit!" Being so much in love under contract, the fighting didn’t last and the duo decided to let Bart be Bart for the sake of their marriage. Heeding Nelson’s advice — "If no one’s getting mad, are you really being bad?" — Bart decided to pull one large prank that would bring Springfield Elementary tumbling down for some reason. This is where the seemingly stand-alone "Springfield of Tomorrow" opening tried to tied in with the rest of the episode. In the film, the voiceover mentioned Springfield’s cramped subway system which it then dragged out for twenty seconds, and which Milhouse and Bart had stumbled upon for one off plot purposes. Running the subway cars around the ancient tracks was causing the school to crumble for some final reason and Bart was set to send the train around one more time to finish the place off.

Overall, there was nothing too surprising the least bit interesting about the story itself. We’ve seen Bart cause trouble and Marge and Homer fight numerous times before. But even those tired ideas couldn’t fill a whole 22 minutes and so the jokes were good drawn out as long as possible, including some standout epically long bits. There was Martin’s over-the-top Hopi Indian pueblo. The "gets an A" sight gag was stellar coming a full thirty seconds after it started. I also loved the The House-referencing "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoon, which ended with Scratchy giving birth to his own head, took so long that I felt bad for the cat. Patty and Selma depressing Marge and Maggie was great also went forever. And being the parent of a toddler, I also thought the Sir Topham Hatt joke was pretty funny more pointless, humor free referencing. Again, the story was nothing entirely new, but the and what passed for jokes were smart and fun overly long and painfully unfunny and worth sitting on the couch for a half-hour.

16
Mar
10

Quote of the Day

A Fish Called Selma3

“Hi, I remember you from such film strips as ‘Locker Room Towel Fight: The Blinding of Larry Driscoll’.” – Lisa Simpson
“You know, I was one of the first to speak out against horse play.” – Troy McClure

15
Mar
10

Didn’t This Show Used to Have Jokes?

Postcards from the Wedge

“Okay Bart, this is the card catalog.  Let’s see . . . golf, anecdotes, Eisenhower and, profession, humor, Japanese obsession with, ah, here it is: putting.” – Lisa Simpson

I just saw the image above over on Simpsons Channel.  For now, just ignore the fact that Bart has a TV in his room even though he doesn’t have amoria phlebitis, notice anything else? Look at the very prominent titles on the spines of the books.  Not one of them is a joke.  Not a single one is even an attempt at a joke, they’re all just straight up titles like “Geography” and “Spelling”.  And yes, there are three (3) books titled “Encyclopedia”.  So not only did they not bother to come up with something funny, they couldn’t even come up with enough straight book titles. 

If ever there was crystal clear evidence of the lack of creativity behind Zombie Simpsons, it’s right there in that stack of books.

15
Mar
10

Mediocrity Punished

Chalkboard - Postcards From the Wedge

“I’d like you to explain why we should build a mass transit system in a small town with a centralized population?” – Lisa Simpson
“Ha ha, young lady that’s the most intelligent question I’ve ever been asked.” – Lyle Lanley
“Really?” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh, I could give you an answer, but the only ones who’d understand it would be you and me . . . and that includes your teacher.” – Lyle Lanley

The numbers are in and they’re wonderfully bad.  That typically boring and nonsensical Zombie Simpsons episode was endured by just 5.23 million viewers.  That’s the third lowest of all time.  This number is bad enough to give me fresh hope that Season 21 can still end up the lowest rated season.  Not much hope, mind you, but some. 

As for the episode itself, we’ve seen things like this before, haven’t we?  Bart is no longer Bart, freaking out about a letter from school is not something he’d ever do.  Homer and Marge got into a nonsensical fight that, surprise surprise, resolved itself effortlessly.  To top it all off the plot was based on not one, but two stupid and unlinked concepts; even if we grant that Springfield has an abandoned subway system why on earth would it cause earthquakes?  Silliness can be funny, but these ploys are just lazy ways to try and flesh out plots that have nowhere to go.  Oh, and there was an Itchy & Scratchy episode for the first time in forever, and they even managed to screw that up. 

15
Mar
10

Quote of the Day

Blood Feud2

“Dear god!  Are you planning to water the mail?” – Mail Lady
“Uh, uh, I guess it wouldn’t do any good to run cause you’re a mail lady and you know my name and address and everything, huh?” – Homer Simpson
“That’s right.” – Mail Lady
“Well, I’m still gonna run!” – Homer Simpson

Happy birthday to longtime Simpsons director David Silverman! 

14
Mar
10

Yet Another Sunday Preview: “Postcards from the Wedge”

We’re just a few hours away from “Postcards from the Wedge,” the 14th installment of Zombie Simpsons this season. I scoured the Internets for something more than one sentence description available over at SNPP and Simpsons Channel, but came up short. So here we go:

When Homer takes a hard line to Bart’s problems at school while Marge tries a more sympathetic approach, Bart realizes he can play the two of them off against each other to his benefit.

Bart manipulating his parents, how unexpected! What daring, uncharted territory for Zombie Simpsons. How do those talented, handsome writers keep rewarding us, their filthy, undeserving audience, with such comedic delights? This breakneck pace of writing innovation is unprecedented. Lavish more gold doubloons and supple women (or men, whatever) upon them, I say! And we, unworthy as we are, will honor the writers every Sunday by sitting in front of our respective televisions and basking in the show’s warm glowing warming glow. What a time to live, my friends! What a time to live!

Gah. I need a shower and a drink.

14
Mar
10

Sunday Preview: “Stealing First Base”

The mercilessly unfunny Sarah Silverman guest stars on tonight’s next Sunday’s “Stealing First Base,” which Simpsons Channel describes for us:

Lisa’s classmates ostracize her for being an overachiever but the First Lady Michelle Obama (guest voice Angela Bassett) comes to Lisa’s defense. Meanwhile, Bart’s crush Nikki (guest voice Sarah Silverman) sends him mixed signals when she surprises him with a kiss.

So faux-First Lady, love interest number 8,000,0005, and a humdrum plot. Sounds riveting. Get the popcorn ready.

Correction: Looks like I jumped the gun a week early, but I still stand by everything else I wrote. Also.

14
Mar
10

Quote of the Day

Bart Gets Hit By a Car4

“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god?” – Bailiff
“Mmmm, yes I do.” – Marge Simpson
“She sounded like she was taking that awful seriously.” – Lionel Hutz

13
Mar
10

Double Threat Zombie Simpsons Fan: Selfish and Incoherent

If there is one group of people who can be counted on to demand the perpetual production of Zombie Simpsons even more than the lickspittles at IGN, it is the people who help sell toys and merchandise.  These are the kind of people who are glad that the show has been little more than a commercial for over a decade.  The proof is in this shameless ode to never ending commercials from a website called Toy TMA, “Twenty Years and Still Going: A Simpsons Retrospective”.  It’s a long and rambling piece about how great the show is; and I’d guess that the powers that be assigned a minimum word count because the padding starts right in the opening paragraph:

True Fact: I grew up in the United States of America. I’m not trying to brag or anything, it’s just simple stating of fact. Why this is important to The Simpsons has to do with what The Simpsons is to me: An American Institution. This in no way means that I believe The Simpsons is only for Americans. Oh heavens no, The Simpsons is a show for the entire world.

True Fact: None of the above means anything, including the phrase “true fact” itself. 

From there it’s a disjointed monologue of childhood reminisces, product placement, and (because this is a website aimed at getting people to buy toys) family togetherness.  I don’t recommend reading the whole thing.  However, the final paragraph deserves some scrutiny as it is one of the most succinct and typical defenses of Zombie Simpsons I’ve seen in a while.  

I keep hearing from people that The Simpsons should end already.

No way!  It’s still so good!  Simpsonz4Eva!  (This Sunday on FOX it’s the premier of the 34th season of The Simpsons! Featuring the synthesized voice of recently upgraded Kavner-ware 3.1!) 

I disagree on the basis that we need a Simpsons to exist, even if you don’t find it funny anymore.

Let’s consider that.  Should I wants a comedy program that isn’t funny anymore to continue indefinitely?  If the purpose of the show is to make people laugh, and it doesn’t do that anymore, doesn’t that mean it no has a reason to exist?  

It’s like the evening news at this point.

It sucks any no one cares about it?

There’s just something comforting about knowing that every Sunday I’ll see the same family from my childhood waiting for me whenever I feel like visiting.

That is a jaw dropping amount of stupidity to cram into a single sentence.  Let’s start with the obvious contradiction: “every Sunday” and “whenever I feel like visiting”.  Well, which is it?  Is it every Sunday (a defined and regular interval) or is it whenever (any old time without restriction)?  It can’t be both. 

Even if we overlook that logical scramble the sentence is still a mess because the show isn’t on every Sunday.  It gets pre-empted all the time and there are new episodes less than half the Sundays of the year.  So the concept it’s trying to praise doesn’t even exist. 

But don’t worry, you can still watch them whenever you want.  The scienticians have come up with this wonderful thing called DVDs.  (I’m pretty sure they’ve been mentioned on your evening news.)  So while you can watch the show every Sunday at 8 (or whenever you want), that ability has literally nothing to do with the continued production of new episodes.  To sum up, that single sentence contains a contradiction as well as a glaring factual mistake, all while not addressing the point it was trying to make.  Slow clap on that one.  Slow . . .  clap.  Luckily there’s one more. 

Why would you really want to take that away?

Oh, lots of reasons




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