11
Oct
10

I Can’t Think of a Baseball Metaphor for Poor Storytelling or Low Ratings

Chalkboard - MoneyBART

“Smithers, it’s almost game time, where the devil are my ringers?” – C.M. Burns
“Sir, Mike Scioscia might not live through the night.  Steve Sax is looking at six consecutive life sentences.  And Ozzie Smith seems to have vanished off the face of the Earth.” – Mr. Smithers

Shortly before the weak-and-lazy-even-by-their-standards introduction of throwaway voice Mike Scioscia, Zombie Simpsons demonstrated yet again just how apathetic they are towards anything that could be called storytelling.  Bart and Marge are riding on a rollercoaster, and Bart makes the completely offhand remark, “You know, Mom, after only seven hours in this amusement park I’m finally enjoying myself.”  I guess this is supposed to be a joke.  It is immediately followed by Lisa calling on Marge’s cell phone to demand Bart’s participation in the championship game.  Before even getting to humorless problems such as a) how did they get back to the stadium? b) why are they talking on the phone on a rollercoaster? c) does Mike Scioscia ride rollercoasters alone a lot? d) why is there a funnel cake thing there?, the scene has blasted its way out of the already thin story.  Baseball games don’t take seven hours, nor is there any need for Bart to say that they’ve been there that long.  This is an elementary script error, and the only reason it’s there is because they do not care in the least. 

Then, of course, there’s the Scioscia thing itself.  Without getting into it too deep right now, let me just say this.  “Homer at the Bat” is an essentially perfect piece of storytelling.  They introduce nine (9!) minor characters and give every single one of them a story arc.  Sports movies don’t treat their minor characters that well, even with an hour of extra screen time, The Simpsons did it in just twenty-two minutes.  It’s an amazing feat of writing and pacing even before you get to the fact that it’s hilarious.  In “MoneyBART”, Mike Scioscia shows up for no reason, dispenses advice, and then disappears, presumably to continue riding the rollercoaster alone.  The difference couldn’t be any greater. 

The numbers are in, and they are worse than ever.  Last night’s trip to baseball was yawned through by a mere 6.72 million people.  That is the second lowest number ever for the fall half of the schedule, and by far the lowest number ever for this early in the season (when ratings tend to be higher).  The demographics were down as well, off 29% from last week among the nuts and gum set. 

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: this show will not get cancelled until the ratings become so embarrassing that FOX fears damage to the Simpsons brand and the river of merchandising money it provides.  From that perspective, Season 22 could hardly be off to a better start.  These numbers are humiliatingly terrible. 


7 Responses to “I Can’t Think of a Baseball Metaphor for Poor Storytelling or Low Ratings”


  1. 11 October 2010 at 7:38 pm

    Just saw this and…ugh. Probably the most banal episode ever made with the worst lines for a guest star, too.

  2. 2 Stan
    11 October 2010 at 11:21 pm

    They really should drop this celebrity-giving-a-five-second-useless-advice thing because not only does it spew the viewers away instead of initially attracting them, it also ridicules the guest stars themselves. Example: Scioscia isn’t a bad guy, but he got mocked at earlier in the show, and now his appearance is nothing than the reminder of that old episode, with no other meaning whatsoever. It’s like taking out 1950-s car for a ride and instead of pimping out, hearing old folks brag about how fucked up it was back in their days.

    Also, by the looks of it, they’re not going for the Treehouse-o-Horror this year! What gives?

  3. 3 sVybDy
    12 October 2010 at 4:24 am

    That was a pretty abysmal episode. In addition to all of the above, I was really bothered by the part where Lisa approaches the Frink and the other nerds at Moe’s. She never even explained to them what she was doing there or why she was interested in baseball. Are they omniscient?

  4. 4 Ron
    12 October 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I didn’t know where to put this, but I figured this article would be good.

    http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2010/04/14/ask-ausiello-spoilers-house-chuck-24/

    After bringing Mike Scioscia back for no reason, the writers think it’s appropriate to tarnish the legacy of another season 3 episode: “Flaming Moe’s.” An upcoming episode, called “Flaming Moe,” will involve Moe and Smithers turning the bar into a gay bar. I remember someone in the commentary for “Flaming Moe’s” explicitly state that they avoided making gay jokes based on that name. Now, 19 years later, they decide to do exactly that, and to make things worse, it seems like the B-plot will be yet another Bart romance story.

  5. 13 October 2010 at 4:17 pm

    Out of curiosity, what’s your take on the Banksy Marxist-critique-of-Fox couch gag that’s been getting so much press?

    • 6 Charlie Sweatpants
      13 October 2010 at 9:09 pm

      I’m not sure you’re referring to me, but I had a post about it that didn’t even get close to finished today. Hopefully tomorrow.


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