Crazy Noises: Love Is a Many Strangled Thing

Behind the Laughter1

“And that horrible act of child abuse became one of our most beloved running gags.” – Homer Simpson

In our ongoing mission to bring you only the shallowest and laziest analysis of Zombie Simpsons, we’re keeping up our Crazy Noises series for Season 22.  Since a podcast is so 2004, and video would require a flag, a fern and some folding chairs from the garage, we’ve elected to use the technology that brought the word “emoticon” to the masses: the chatroom.  Star Trek image macros are strictly forbidden, unless you have a really good reason why Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “engendered”).

There was plenty to complain about this week, but despite our relatively far ranging discussion there was something that really bothered me that we didn’t discuss. Homer choking Bart has always only really worked because the show was a cartoon. When the audience is made to contemplate what’s actually happening, all the fun gets sucked out of it because crushing the air out of child is sickening to contemplate.

That alone drained out whatever microscopic mirth existed in a number of scenes in “Love Is a Many Strangled Thing”, including the one where the therapist and the other dads act mortified at Homer. But right after making things serious, we get another case of Zombie Simpsons wanting to have its cake and eat it too. If strangulation is so terrible, why should we enjoy seeing it happen to Homer, first at the hands of all those big dudes and then from a noose? They want us to think it’s ghastly for one scene, but then take everything lightly for the rest of the episode.

[Note: No Dave again this week.]

Charlie Sweatpants: Anyway, shall we get started?

Mad Jon: Let’s get started.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ll say off the bat that I didn’t hate the couch gag. It didn’t take long, and I will always have a nerd’s love of anything that even resembles ASCII humor.

Mad Jon: I agree, it was short and couch gag-y. Those don’t have to be out of the park, it is a simple bit.

Charlie Sweatpants: Now that that pleasantness is behind us forever, the rest of the episode was atrocious.

Mad Jon: Yes, almost immediately, starting with Burns running his balloon into a cathedral.

  Repeat, a cathedral.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, I know. There are a lot of ugly things on Zombie Simpsons, but there are few worse endemic problems than incompetent Mr. Burns.

  Turning Burns into this hapless waste instead of the pure evil he used to be still grates after all these years.

Mad Jon: A French speaking, incompetent Burns at that. Also an elk or a moose or something got to escape from Lenny’s car, maybe.

Charlie Sweatpants: And then Homer had to shoot down the balloon because Carl was crippled by drive by exposition.

Mad Jon: And so forth. It’s just another case of attempt to obfuscate the complete character changes of the last baker’s dozen worth of seasons with random acts of meaningless actions. Not that we haven’t said that 50 times already in these posts.

Charlie Sweatpants: We have, but the Burns ones rankle worse than the others.

Mad Jon: Oh, very much agreed. He may be my favorite T.V. characters of all time. Well, Burns, not Zombie Burns.

Charlie Sweatpants: I get that they’ve got a soft spot for Moe now and don’t want him to be the sleazebag he’s supposed to be. I don’t like it, but it’s kinda understandable. But how the hell does anyone think sensitive, incompetent Burns is funny?

Mad Jon: I don’t even think they mean to make him sensitive and incompetent for the sake of it. It really seems like Burns is just getting the parts that could be assigned to any character. Nothing he does is of any consequence to the idea of Mr. Burns. When was the last time he lorded his power over the serfs? I don’t think the time he has spent in the plant in the last ten years could be measured on a watch without a second hand.

Charlie Sweatpants: You may be right about that. Moving on, but staying on the theme of wildly out of character: Krabappel in the school, Wiggum in the school, Marge at the stadium.

Bart drives a fucking tractor into the school and Krabappel doesn’t do anything. Wiggum’s just there for some reason. And Marge egging Homer on during that eye meltingly bad jumbotron scene was beyond the pale.

Mad Jon: All very good examples.

Charlie Sweatpants: To have Marge set Homer up for a joke while Bart’s sitting there with piss in his pants, that’s beyond contempt for the audience.

Mad Jon: It was pretty bad. Also it seemed like Bart’s voice was cracking. But I digress.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve noticed the same thing about Bart’s voice.

  It’s becoming both deeper and slower.

Mad Jon: Well, that will happen if you spend a lot of time moderating teleconferences.

Charlie Sweatpants: Does Kavner do that?

Mad Jon: No. Bart apparently does it for Kearny and Jimbo though.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh. That thing.

Mad Jon: Although, who knows maybe Kavner does it in her spare time as well.

Charlie Sweatpants: I should’ve added that to my out of character list. Kearney was in Paris because some overpaid genius noticed that "peeing" and "European" end with the same vowel sound.

  Kearney! The guy whose kid sleeps in a drawer.

Mad Jon: That kind of thing barely even registers with me anymore.

Charlie Sweatpants: The Europe thing wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part is the lifeless shrug of the shoulders they give nowadays when even they admit something doesn’t make sense.

Mad Jon: Like Homer not working and instead writing lines on the chalk board out of fear not being able to choke his small child?

Charlie Sweatpants: But it’s such a role reversal. Bart’s making someone else write lines!

Mad Jon: Right. I doesn’t make no sense.

Charlie Sweatpants: That made even less sense than the way Homer and Marge kept discussing pressing issues in bed. Marge calls the therapy place in the middle of the night, and then Homer wakes up from his montage-tacular dream sequence and Marge brings up the events of the day.

I almost admire the commitment to apathy it takes for them to have Marge bring that up then instead of just making it a scene the next morning. That shows real dedication to not giving a shit (if such a thing be possible).

Mad Jon: Still pales in comparison to the complete middle finger that was Marge and Lisa’s horse movie mini-plot,

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, what was that? B-plot feels like too strong of a term. C-plot too. "Interlude" almost fits the bill.

  Plot sneeze, perhaps?

Mad Jon: It really fits the pattern of needless scene change minus transition.

A transition such as "Now here’s Roy" would be better than this.

Charlie Sweatpants: Roy had the advantage of being intentional.

Mad Jon: And I like plot fart better than sneeze.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’m staying with sneeze. It’s much easier to hold in a fart than it is to hold in a sneeze. That felt almost involuntary.

Mad Jon: Dealer’s choice.

Charlie Sweatpants: I was going to ask if there was anything left, but we haven’t talked about the celebrity voices.

Mad Jon: Oh yes, Paul Rudd. I feel like he’s been in other episodes recently.

  What movie is he pitching?

Charlie Sweatpants: You’re thinking of those other guys who are in all the same movies and play all the same parts.

Mad Jon: Ohhhh, THOSE guys.

  Yeah probably.

Charlie Sweatpants: We haven’t had this much of a surfeit of slightly cute, slightly pudgy comedy dudes since at least the early 90s.

Mad Jon: I will admit that I did like Kareem’s under-the-breath comments about modern basketball players. Although it was unfortunate how we got there, and how long the choking scene lasted after that…

Charlie Sweatpants: I kinda like the line about Kareem being the only Laker he could trust, but whatever affection that engendered dissolved during the many dream stranglings or that ending scene. I forget which.

Mad Jon: That was also a good line. But good money after and before bad.

Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed. The desert thing (again with the desert) didn’t so much need to end sooner as it did never to start.

Mad Jon: Hmmm. Yes. Well there are a lot of cacti in the desert. Otherwise they would have to go to a cactus farm to poke Homer.

Charlie Sweatpants: But then what would they hang him from?

Mad Jon: I assume there would be a reason-less tree on the cactus farm.

I am sure it will be in a plot in the next few seasons. Let’s let the zombie writers figure it out for themselves.

Charlie Sweatpants: That’s a tall order. Six months from now they won’t remember this episode any more than we do.

Mad Jon: Your prediction is most just.

Charlie Sweatpants: For real this time, anything else?

Mad Jon: Other than the fact that Paul Rudd gets to tell his friends he voiced a guy that grabbed Homer’s penis? No. Nothing else.

Charlie Sweatpants: I can’t think of anything witty, so let’s end on that.

10 Responses to “Crazy Noises: Love Is a Many Strangled Thing”

  1. 1 Bryan
    1 April 2011 at 12:42 am

    I will never understand Zombie Simpsons strange fascination with devoting entire episodes to hanging lampshades on running gags. I suppose it’s an easy source of material for when you just want to make a forgettable episode that you think makes you look self-aware.

    Also, that dream sequence was the worst minute of television I’ve watched in years.

    • 2 Charlie Sweatpants
      1 April 2011 at 8:49 pm

      I don’t think there’s that much mystery to it. The whole enterprise holds itself to a pretty low standard these days, so when they come up with something that’s even mildly clever they see nothing wrong with running it into the ground. The dream was atrocious, but it’s pretty typical. Get idea, stretch it to fill as much screen time as possible, then stretch it further.

      (This was supposed to be in that comment at the bottom, whoops.)

  2. 3 Mr. Incognito (AKA Landry H.)
    1 April 2011 at 12:58 am

    I know that this isn’t the very best place to mention this, but I feel that with the Zombie writers hurting Homer on an episodic basis, a corresponding “Compare & Contrast” is long overdue, unless of course I missed it.

    Back in the day, Homer would get hurt, such as in “Brother from another Planet” (the fight with Tom and the hydrant), “Homer loves Flanders” (the beer keg), and “Lisa’s Rival” (getting stung by the bees), just to name 3. Back then, it was relevant to the given plot (main or B), done with quickly, and (at least in my opinion) Homer kind of asked for it in all three cases.

    Nowadays, Homer gets hurt just for the hell of it. There’s no real rhyme or reason, except for the writers to take shortcuts or, like you guys said, have their cake and eat it too.

  3. 4 Stan
    1 April 2011 at 1:09 am

    Hate to bring it to ya guys, but Kavner’s not voicing Bart. She’s voicing Marge. Bart is being voiced by Nancy Cartwright (I believe, always mistake her with the other chick who voices Lisa). And while it’s true that she also voices Ralph, Nelson, and the rest of the bully bunch?, I don’t think she gets it wrong. Unlike Kavner and Shearer, who are just too old to voice anyone now. Though I might recall that in a scene where Bart is supposed to wet his pants, Nancy could’ve got wtf-ey on the audience. I mean, how the hell are you supposed to get that scene right anyway?..

  4. 5 Anonymous
    1 April 2011 at 2:08 am

    I don’t know why I even bother sitting through ~22 minutes of torture each week. It seems that all of the voices are too off now. You could replace most of the voice actors and still think it’s the original cast.

    • 6 D.N.
      1 April 2011 at 11:59 pm

      Wouldn’t that be the final irony? The cast holds out for another pay-rise and the producers replace them – and the replacements actually do better voices than the age-addled originals…

      • 2 April 2011 at 9:11 am

        With how stupid the general public is, if Fox did replace the VA’s, people would bitch because “it’s different”, but on the same token, if Fox had the same actors, but as a joke made up fake actor credits, people would still think it was new actors.

  5. 1 April 2011 at 5:04 am

    Damn. I was hoping for an April Fool’s gag, commenting on this episode in how brilliant it was.

    Actually, if you want to do that as a gag, feel free to delete this comment.

  6. 9 Charlie Sweatpants
    1 April 2011 at 8:41 pm

    @Mr. Incognito – I haven’t done a Compare & Contrast on that specifically, but you could do it with almost any episode. Some of them are worse than others, of course.

    @Stan – Total brainfart on my part on the Kavner/Cartwright mixup.

    @Anonymous – Almost all the voices are noticeably deeper than they used to be. In general it tracks with age. Smith and Azaria are the babies of the group in their forties, and they can still do things more or less the same way they always did. Shearer and Marcia Wallace are both pushing seventy and it shows. Plus some voices are just naturally harder than others. Despite his relative youth, Azaria’s definitely having trouble with Moe. And I’m semi-convinced that Patty and Selma are almost never on the show anymore because Kavner just can’t get her voice into that ultra-low rasp any longer.

    @Friz – I hadn’t thought of that, maybe next year.

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