Archive for July, 2010



28
Jul
10

Quote of the Day

My Sister, My Sitter4

“Imagine that, sleeping quietly after a bug attack, and Todd’s as dry as a bone.  Lisa, you’re a wonder, I’m going to recommend you to everybody.” – Ned Flanders

27
Jul
10

Crazy Noises: Miracle on Evergreen Terrace

Miracle on Evergreen Terrace1

“Bart, this is Patches.  And what was your name?” – Lisa Simpson
“Poor Violet.” – Poor Violet
“Oh, I don’t like where this is going.” – Bart Simpson

There’s no new Zombie Simpsons until September, so we’re going to spend the summer overthinking Season 9.  Why Season 9?  Because we did Season 8 last summer, and Season 9 was when the show started becoming more Zombie than Simpsons.  Since we’re too lazy to do audio and too ugly to do video, we’ve booked a “chatroom” (ours is right between the one with the sexy seventh graders and the one with the bored federal agents pretending to be sexy seventh graders).  So log on to your dial-up AOL and join us.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (surprisingly enough, not on “akimbo”).

Today’s episode is 910 “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace”.  Tomorrow’s will be 904 “Treehouse of Horror VIII”.

Note: Dave was called away due to a half-witted oaf shortly after we started, so this is mostly a two man affair.

Mad Jon: Well then, shall we pick an episode to discuss?

Dave: Why don’t you do the honors?

Mad Jon: Fair enough, I would say the one I didn’t like, but it would be more accurate to say we should start with the one I liked the least, which would be Miracle on Evergreen Terrace. Unless of course, there are any objections.

Charlie Sweatpants: How I loathe Miracle on Evergreen Terrace.

Mad Jon: It is most loathsome.

Dave: It’s a bit of a trainwreck.

Cloying and sitcom-y to the core.

Charlie Sweatpants: Good way to put it.

Mad Jon: Miracle on Evergreen Terrace is to the unnamable “One Bad Episode” what your stepdad beating you with a brick is to him beating you with a wrench.

Although I am feeling a bit dramatic this evening.

Charlie Sweatpants: I wouldn’t go quite that far. Masonry and metal are about as painful as each, and I don’t think we reach either one this early in the long, sad decline of the show.

Mad Jon: I was more or less making the statement that one reminds me of the other in a “different” kind of pain.

Charlie Sweatpants: “Marge Be Not Proud” which, I agree, it is impossible not to be reminded of while watching this one, is more like getting whomped on in a non-life threatening way by someone you thought was your friend.

Mad Jon: Well put.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s got some good/excellent individual jokes, but everything is smothered by a plot that doesn’t make a lick of sense, doesn’t care about not making a lick of sense, and yet forces you to play along if you want to enjoy what there is here to enjoy.

Mad Jon: And it is abound with horns.

Charlie Sweatpants: And string music. So much pointless suspense.

The car crash scene is particularly egregious.

Mad Jon: The writers must have again felt we would have to be prompted for emotional response.

I do enjoy Brockman’s reports.

Charlie Sweatpants: I think I get what they were going for, there are at least three or four times in this episode where they attempt to turn Christmas show cliches back on themselves, but getting to those cliches required such use of them as to make it seem half-hearted.

Brockman in this episode is a good example of that, especially when he turns on them and then thanks them.

We get it, he’s a soulless reporter who doesn’t care, but to get to that punchline about it being a good story requires an enormous amount of joke free, cliche ridden horseshit and it’s just not worth it.

Mad Jon: I am once again impressed with your ability to put so much critical thinking towards an episode that is so absolutely off-putting.

But I also agree.

I wasn’t so offput by Brockman, but that may be because I didn’t view him as a cliche the same way I did with a lot of the other crap in this crappy crapfest.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well there are a lot of decent jokes here.

Mad Jon: There are some.

Charlie Sweatpants: There’s Lisa’s thing about “nothing could be as fun as that looks”, Apu responding to “You only live once” with, “speak for yourself” and the orphans.

Mad Jon: All good.

I especially like the snowmobile line.

Charlie Sweatpants: Also, this is the episode that gave the English language “craptacular”. And that’s the gift that keeps on giving.

On the other hand, that whole scene with Homer trying to decorate the house is a pale imitation of the one from “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”.

Dave: “Craptacular” is, in fact, one of my most frequently used words.

Mad Jon: That was truly terrible.

Especially the falling off the roof and get tangled in the cords.

Charlie Sweatpants: There, Homer fails and is humiliated. Here they’ve got to hurt him before making the joke . . . what, exactly? That the lights are all akimbo?

Mad Jon: Also there was more moaning in this scene.

Charlie Sweatpants: Homer falls off the roof in Season 1 too, but it’s done very briefly. Here it’s a whole punchline. There it’s something they know is funny so they just pass over.

Mad Jon: I remember the original fall. This one was, as you have pointed out, much different.

Charlie Sweatpants: Speaking of scenes and jokes that had been done better before, Bart’s dream about needing to pee isn’t nearly as good as Flushing Meadows from “City of New York vs. Homer Simpson”, and neither of them is even remotely on a level with Burns’ cliche ridden speech to Homer in “Last Exit to Springfield”.

Mad Jon: Agreed.

Excellent timeline by the way.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, this was about when the show began taking jokes it had done already and pretending that they were new.

Mad Jon: You can only make so many episodes without running into the need for pee jokes. And they are all quite similar. But this just points to the fact that this dog was about ready to be taken out back and shot anyway.

Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed.

And while there are several things in this episode that are great, there’s also a lot that falls flat. The whole Jeopardy! thing is utterly bizarre, ditto Homer’s – excuse me – Jerkass Homer’s fight with the car heater and stunt at the cash register.

Mad Jon: Those were all bad, but this is when the Zombie Homer Fish crawled out of the sea and started growing legs. The heater fight, (wow I never realized I would ever use those two words in that order) and the cash register stunt were very much proto-zombie. And Alex Trebek is in the early stages of the Simpsons throwing on celebrities for 20 seconds every single week.

Charlie Sweatpants: Trebek at least got one decent gag, I always wondered what happened to people who ended up negative on Jeopardy! (brief aside: fuck you, Wolf Blitzer). But the cash register thing in particular always bothered me because it really is Homer being maliciously selfish.

Mad Jon: And why would snow come through the heat vents? Wouldn’t black smoke have been better?

Charlie Sweatpants: Nothing would’ve been better.

Mad Jon: Touche Salesman.

The cash register scene was also led to by the parking on multiple handicapped spots (again).

Charlie Sweatpants: I knew there was another repeated joke here, I just couldn’t think of it.

Well, I’m about done. The only other thing I’ll say is that the ending sucks. There’s no conflict or resolution, the story just sort of peters out. The Simpsons are despised! Okay, now they’re not. The end.

Mad Jon: And there is a dishrag.

Or something.

27
Jul
10

Quote of the Day

Basic Elements of Food

Tarragon image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user dr.jd; soy sauce from Flickr user Creative Tools.

“Bad news, Dad, we’re out of food.  We’re even out of the basic elements of food.  You ate all the tarragon and you drank all the soy sauce.” – Bart Simpson 

26
Jul
10

DHS Editorial: Reply to Bill Oakley

Last Monday’s post about “Homer’s Enemy” attracted the notice of longtime Simpsons writer (Season 3 – Season 10) Bill Oakley, who sent us an e-mail.  That e-mail is reprinted here; our response is below.

“He’s right, you know.” – Moe
“About the ox?” – Principal Skinner
“About everything, damn it!” – Moe

First of all, thanks to Mr. Oakley for taking notice of us, and deeming us to have our heads far enough up our asses to deserve correction, but not so far as to make it unworthy of his time to offer that correction.  Furthermore, we hope he understands how much we and so many others appreciate all the work he did on The Simpsons.  It is a testament to the power of that work that we’re still talking about it all these years later.

To dispense with the smaller point first, Oakley is absolutely correct that Homer needed to be amped up a little from his usual self to provide a better contrast with the sober and staid Frank Grimes.  As he writes, having a character like Grimes cross paths with the Homer of “Lisa’s Pony” wouldn’t have worked.

He is further correct that we can’t reasonably hold the rest of the series against “Homer’s Enemy”.  Calling it a “turning point”, as the title of our post did, implies that this was somehow deliberate when, of course, the writers of “Homer’s Enemy” had no way to know that the show was going to go on for another three hundred episodes (so far), and that most of those episodes would feature Homer as an “Absurdly-Gluttonous World-Famous Idiot with No Recognizable Human Traits or Emotions”.  In the context of the show at the time, having Homer recite his accomplishments and produce his Grammy worked as “an intentional self-parody, a catalog of gleeful excesses past and present”.  It is only the subsequent descent of the series into unintentional self-parody that makes “Homer’s Enemy” seem like an early symptom of terrible things instead of the one-off it was intended to be.

We hope that Mr. Oakley can appreciate that from an audience point of view, privy only to the finished episodes and not the backstage goings on, “Homer’s Enemy” does seem to presage the decline of the show.  It is true that this episode did not seal the show’s fate, as it is true that the Homer of “Homer’s Enemy” is much more akin to Homer we love than the one we despise.  But for much of the wretched horde of remote wielding tube jockeys, letting Homer enjoy his life felt like opening a Pandora’s Box that had no hope at the bottom.

Sadly, those three hundred plus episodes after “Homer’s Enemy” must be acknowledged.  They happened; and they have cheapened The Simpsons.  Homer has become malicious, though not in “Homer’s Enemy”, nor even in much of Season 9.  While the writers of “Homer’s Enemy” – which is an excellent episode – are not to blame for the ongoing tragedy of later seasons, neither can we ignore this first gaze into the abyss.  The world is full of monstrous things that had grand and innocuous beginnings.  Had this one not escaped its cage, had the show wound to a conclusion a year or two later instead of staggering on like the undead, we would remember this as the aberration it was intended to be.

26
Jul
10

Bill Oakley’s Letter to Dead Homer Society

Last Monday’s post about “Homer’s Enemy” attracted the notice of longtime Simpsons writer (Season 3 – Season 10) Bill Oakley, who sent us an e-mail.  That e-mail is reprinted below, with permission and in its entirety.  You can read our response here.

Fellas:

You do realize that the Homer depicted in “Homer’s Enemy” is a satirical take on certain elements of Homer’s character and history that we (meaning, the writers at the time) always found excessive, right?  At least that’s what it was intended to be, and I realize the distinction may well be so subtle as to be meaningless to many, if not most, fans.

But, that said:

Anything that may have happened after that episode and that season should not be extrapolated from the content of the Grimes story.

On the continuum between Homer the Misguided but Essentially Well-Meaning Oaf Next Door and Homer the Absurdly-Gluttonous World-Famous Idiot with No Recognizable Human Traits or Emotions, we usually tried to to stay to the left.  Not always, but usually.

But for this episode, as a counterpoint to Grimes, we intentionally threw in a lot of stuff that was ridiculously over-the-top (or so we thought) like Homer snoring at the funeral, for Pete’s sakes, and hauled out of the closet all his most unrealistic (though hilarious) past adventures (he went into outer space!  he won a Grammy!  President Ford moved in and invited him over for nachos!).

If Frank Grimes had crossed paths with the fairly normal Homer (of “Lisa’s Pony” for instance) it simply would not have been as funny or as clear, satirically, as it was to have him cross paths with the ridiculously-boorish world-famous glutton that we depicted in “Homer’s Enemy”.

Basically, the Homer depicted in that episode was an intentional self-parody, a catalog of gleeful excesses past and present.

If it didn’t come off as such to even the most devoted fans, it was certainly our mistake.

Didn’t somebody say all this on the DVD commentary?

Anyway,

That’s all.

Best,

Bill Oakley

26
Jul
10

Quote of the Day

“If you have the fever, there’s only one cure: take two tickets and see the game Sunday morning.” – Kent Brockman
“Warning, tickets should not be taken internally.” – Announcer
“See because of me, now they have a warning.” – Homer Simpson

25
Jul
10

Quote of the Day

“Candy and sodas for all!” – Homer Simpson




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