21
Apr
11

“Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment” Spews Truth

Homer vs Lisa and the 8th Commandment5

“Now, today’s Christian doesn’t think he needs God. He thinks he’s got it made. He’s got his hi-fi, his boob tube, and his instant pizza pie.” – Reverend Lovejoy
“Ooh, pizza.” – Homer Simpson

After we got such a positive response when we did those posts about “Lisa’s First Word”, and caught in the barren wasteland of the week it’s been around here, I thought I’d go back through the commentary tracks for The Simpsons and see what’s there. For the record, I have only ever heard a tiny handful of these. I got most of the DVD sets as soon as they came out, but I never listened to more than a couple of the commentaries because I often found myself just wanting to watch the episodes instead.

Remember, the early Naughts were an awkward time to watch the good episodes. Unless you were a VHS obsessive, the only way to see the old ones was on syndication. Season 2 came out on DVD in 2002, between Seasons 13 and 14, when the syndication runs were already substantially polluted with Zombie Simpsons. Nor did they always rerun the episodes in order or even equally. The first time I sat down with the Season 2 discs, I was amazed at the number of episodes I hadn’t seen in a couple of years or more.

Just based on this and the one or two other classic commentaries I’ve heard since I started doing “Lies Make Baby Jesus Cry”, the biggest difference is the lack of meandering tangents. There are still some long silences here and there, but they never stray from the episode. Literally everything they say is directly related to what’s going on. The second biggest difference is the fact that they laugh a lot more. And it’s not nervous laughter at something dumb, it’s fun giggles and chuckles at stuff they enjoyed or even had forgotten. There’s never a sense that they’re bored or killing time.

Five guys on this one, Al Jean, Steve Pepoon, Mike Reiss, Matt Groening, and Rich Moore

0:30 – Already into interesting trivia, as they originally had it titled without Lisa’s name, but episodes with her name in the title were always popular so they added it.

1:50 – Moore (I think) says that this was the first time they had a really busy sky, with a lot of clouds.

2:20 – Love for Hartman and his Charlton Heston impression.

3:00 – They really enjoyed doing all the cable channel parodies, which at the time no one had done.

3:30 – Noting Homer falling in front of the truck is “shot by shot” from North by Northwest.

3:35 – Someone (think it’s Reiss) says, impressed, “We’ve gone from Cecil B. DeMille to Hitchcock and we’re a minute-three into the episode.”

4:15 – Laughing at the potted plant Marge is holding, all in the service of a background gag that never gets mentioned.

5:00 – Laughing at the set for “Hear Me Roar: the network for women”.

5:40 – Laughing at the World Series of Cockfighting and pointing out that it’s Shearer doing the voice.

6:00 – More laughter at Lovejoy’s sermon.

7:40 – The “you’re no longer in Sunday school, don’t swear” is Pepoon’s favorite joke he ever wrote.

8:10 – Doug McClure, one of the guys they based Troy McClure off of, thought this was funny.

8:40 – Complimenting Moore on the animation as the living room dissolves into Hell.

9:15 – Laughing at the rolling shopping cart and Jimbo shoplifting apples.

10:00 – Reiss really enjoys episodes with strong themes like this, where they can play off of it endlessly. He cites the grape theft as a good example.

10:20 – Someone, not sure who, “Homer seems a lot more real in this episode than he seemed to become in a lot of the later episodes.” We know. Oh, how we know.

10:45 – They have a brief discussion about Homer becoming dumber over the years, which ends with them pegging his IQ at zero in Season 13, which they would’ve been working on right about the time they recorded this commentary. There you have it, proof that Zombie Simpsons has been flat lining ever since.

11:40 – Someone giggles at the fact that Burns has a video camera trained on the showers.

12:05 – Called themselves “a little intoxicated” writing Burns’ “florid prose”.

12:50 – Speculating that if they ever run out of ideas they can spin off the minor characters into their own programs. Look for “The Moe Show” in 2060.

13:15 – Laughing at Lovejoy and Lisa.

14:35 – Discussion about how they make the television flicker effect. Sometimes it’s animated on, but this was a second pass of the camera.

15:10 – Marge and Homer talking in bed is always really hard to stage. Jay Kogen acted out how Homer should put his foot down for the animators.

15:30 – The ever so brief “I was poor like you” line as Homer’s flipping channels was based on Tom Vu. It’s been more than twenty years, who knows how many viewings, and I never knew that was based on a real guy.

16:20 – Reiss (I think) points out how you can see the tape on Bart’s top hat, and it really makes it look like something he made himself out of construction paper. Now it’s like Bart has “access to some costume warehouse”.

16:40 – At the script reading, they all looked over a James L. Brooks when they read out “Broadcast Nudes” because he had written Broadcast News, but he gave no reaction.

17:45 – Jean thinks the name “Drederick” came from a real fighter George Meyer once saw.

18:25 – Laughing at all the quick action as Homer hides the stuff he stole.

18:55 – Laughing at Burns thinking Barney is Homer.

19:25 – Laughing at Homer instantly trying to shift all the blame for the illegal cable onto his wife when Lou and Eddie show up.

21:45 – Laughing that Burns recounting of the old fight he saw would make him about a 120 years old.

22:05 – Noticing that the Atlanta Braves joke doesn’t work as well since at the time they were only on cable because they were dead last, then they got super good for an entire decade. Joe Franklin’s the same way.

22:40 – Trying to remember which shows they beat out for an Emmy with this one. They’re not sure.


11 Responses to ““Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment” Spews Truth”


  1. 1 Joe C.
    22 April 2011 at 12:41 am

    It never ceases to amaze me that Al Jean and Matt Groening know how different ZS is from the Simpsons, yet neither make any attempt to solve the issue. I don’t know how involved Groening is with the show now, but showrunner Al Jean in recent interviews said that ZS is as fresh and funny as ever.

    Maybe a drop in ratings will make the slacking writers work harder.

    • 2 D.N.
      22 April 2011 at 12:51 am

      To paraphrase Bill Hicks… Al Jean is a company man to the bitter fuckin’ end.

    • 3 Jake
      22 April 2011 at 3:16 pm

      No, jean and groening will just say they’re finishing at the top of their game and say ‘it ended at the right time.’

  2. 22 April 2011 at 2:27 am

    I want you to check out the commentaries for “Marge vs The Monorail.” There’s the regular track, and then a hidden track with the same gang but Conan’s there, too. They’re some of my all-time favorites.

    • 5 D.N.
      22 April 2011 at 11:34 pm

      I think Australians got stiffed on the hidden Conan commentary for “Marge vs the Monorail.” I followed the prompts but couldn’t unlock that commentary on the R4 DVD.

      Anyway, I like the commentary for “New Kid on the Block.” What Conan says during the Moe/Jimbo face-off is hilarious.

      • 6 Shane
        23 April 2011 at 11:31 am

        If I remember right, all you have to do is press ‘Audio’ and change the audio track while its playing. The 2nd track is the ‘normal’ commentary and the 3rd track is the Conan version.

        • 7 D.N.
          24 April 2011 at 2:28 am

          Thanks, I’ll give it a try…

          • 8 Charlie Sweatpants
            24 April 2011 at 2:18 pm

            VLC Media player:

            http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

            It runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, you name it, and it has a simple “Audio” menu that lets you select any audio track. I just tried it, the regular commentary is listed as Track 4, and the O’Brien commentary is listed as Track 5. If it’s on the R4 disc, it’ll be listed there, no silly button combinations necessary.

  3. 22 April 2011 at 3:41 am

    Thanks for doing this… there’s a lot of good stuff in the commentaries and I always forget to follow up on some of the things they mention, like Tom Vu

  4. 10 Shane
    22 April 2011 at 12:51 pm

    If you’re cherry-picking commentaries, the commentary for ‘Homer At The Bat’ is hilarious *and* insightful.


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