Crazy Noises: 500 Keys

“What’s that weird key for?” – Bart Simpson
“That’s Daddy’s magic key.  It opens every door in town.” – Ralph Wiggum

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 (gag inducingly enough, not on “Pooter”).

You could throw darts at the storyboards for this episode and pick out a scene that didn’t make sense, so it almost seems cruel to pick on one in particular.  However, there is one that stands out.  Generally speaking, even if what Zombie Simpsons is doing doesn’t make any sense, they’re usually competent enough to clearly convey what’s happening.  When Bart, standing by the school, tossed away the key to the city, it didn’t make any sense for it to land in the presumably rural yard of Cletus, but you knew what was happening. Similarly, the meandering, city spanning path of “The Pooter Toot Express” had no regard for anything but the cheapest grope at a laugh, but when it moved along on screen you could see where it was headed and anticipate that it was going to escape once again.

The same bargain basement level of competence cannot be attributed to the scene with the floating mannequins.  Observe:

Floating Without Problem

Homer and Lisa talking with each other and floating easily with the mannequins.

At first, Homer and Lisa float pleasantly; they even manage a conversation.  But that’s instantly followed by the two of them, for no reason either on screen or implied, panicking and slipping under the surface.  One second they’re holding on just fine, the next they’re not:

Unprompted Panic and Drowning

Plenty of floatation aids usually help people float, on Zombie Simpsons though . . .

Once they’ve gone under, things get even more confusing.  They’re supposed to be trapped under the water, as though they had fallen through ice or something.  But there’s a shitload of open water all around them:

Go Two Feet In Any Direction!

If they were supposed to be hiding from someone this might make sense.

They could swim left or right or forward or backward just a few inches and get their heads above water.  Their hands are on some of the only places where the mannequins are.  Just looking at it is baffling.  It’s equally glaring from above:

How Can Anyone Be Trapped Under This

There’s open water everywhere! 

The disconnect between what the story is trying to do and what the animation is displaying is so great that I was honestly befuddled while watching it.  I kept expecting something else to change the situation.  As discussed below, I know why this happened, they wanted a reason to have their C-plot knock over that tree.  But it was executed so sloppily that the gulf between what they were showing and what was supposed to be happening was genuinely disorienting.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anyway, I’m ready to go if you guys are.

Mad Jon: I guess we should start at the beginning, with the Scorpio appearance.

Charlie Sweatpants: Is it worth discussing? I was surprised that it was Brooks doing the voice.

Mad Jon: No I guess it isn’t. But it was pretty early in the episode for me to be so outraged. That usually takes an entire act.

Dave: Heh.

Charlie Sweatpants: C’mon man, you’ve got to pace yourself. I didn’t think it was outrage worthy, but even if I did, you must conserve your precious hatred for the actual episode.

Mad Jon: I am probably making too big a deal about the Scorpio thing, but c’mon, he was possibly the greatest TV villain in decades, and that is what they’re using him for now?

Charlie Sweatpants: Enh.

Mad Jon: Fine.

Charlie Sweatpants: If there’s one thing I don’t hate about the new opening it’s that they’ve given themselves places to insert new stuff. It’s cheap, but it’s something.

Mad Jon: Moving on.

Dave: Mercifully the couch gag was super short. Dare I say almost clever?

Mad Jon: I am ok with clever.

Charlie Sweatpants: As for the couch gag, best one in a while, both for being kind of clever and for being mercifully short.

Mad Jon: I agree on both counts.

Dave: As do I.

Mad Jon: Well, score one for the couch gag.

Charlie Sweatpants: Let’s move on to the one other thing I did enjoy, the cake store.

Mad Jon: Ok, I didn’t mind that scene, what did you enjoy about it?

Charlie Sweatpants: Honestly, there’s not much to complain about, the store had a good title "I Don’t", a good premise, and the reasons for the wedding cancellations were quick.

Mad Jon: I really did like the title, and the premise was a pretty classic Springfield-type store.

  Of course, having purchased the cake, one must drive a dare-devil route home.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, there was no way it could last.

Mad Jon: I was thinking about that. I can definitely see Homer taking that kind of short cut, but Homer would have been just as anxious about the ride as the other passengers, and also the cake spilling wouldn’t even be part of the scene . . . but that would be a drive home on the Simpsons, not Zombie Simpsons.

Charlie Sweatpants: I said my piece on this in Compare & Contrast, it was really a total waste of a scene. Just filler from start to finish.

Mad Jon: Yes yes.

Charlie Sweatpants: And after that they introduced the keys, and from there on out it was a lame repeat of Trilogy of Error.

Everybody’s doing different things, at the same time, and they interact in weird ways! Except that while Trilogy of Error at least was impressive from a plotting point of view (if not a joke point of view), this was just crappy.

Mad Jon: A more naive Jon would have had some promise when they dug out the keys, it seemed like it was leading up to flashback episode, but then it lead to what could either be three plots, or three sub-plots, depending on which drama student you ask.

  Was the Trilogy of Error the one with the grammar robot?

Dave: Indeed.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, and Homer getting his thumb cut off, and Bart running around town. Weird, weird episode.

Here, this is the only reason I remember it so well.

Mad Jon: Yeah, didn’t really care for it. But you are right, the plotting was pretty intertwined and at least the characters were reacting to the situation more than Marge just aimlessly following a Pooter-Toot into coincidental situations until it leads to a dead tree-day saving hand of God scene.

Charlie Sweatpants: Guh.

The fact that she couldn’t catch it over and over was really aggravating. The "hate crime" joke was okay, but I had to put up with an awful lot to get to it, and it was so out of the blue that it didn’t fit anyway.

Mad Jon: I did like the "wind-up hate crime". But that was all. The Wiggum scene may have been the worst part. It. Just. Wouldn’t. End.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, the tree was equally stupid, but at least it wasn’t nearly as long.

  Man’s pants fall down. Audience laugh.

Mad Jon: So, based on our discussion last week I have a question…

Charlie Sweatpants: Shoot.

[Editor’s note: Dave had to leave at this point, so he’s blameless for the rest of this.]

Mad Jon: Do you consider the following to be more fan service or just extreme laziness: Rod and Todd admonish Flanders with a Jesus is crying joke – Mystery wrapped in a riddle in the basement of a lousy school – Bart wandering around town with keys to everything.?

Charlie Sweatpants: I think it’s laziness masquerading as fan service.

They’ve got keys to do anything, so they can have Bart open a mail box and have someone reference blood feud.

  They have Flanders make up a really stupid lie so they can reference "Homer Loves Flanders".

Half the people writing this show grew up with it, they know a lot of the stories, and I could see getting your head locked into those and just smearing whatever came to mind on the page.

Mad Jon: Oh, I am sure there is more, but I was only un-lazy enough to write down those three examples while watching the episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: Skinner not having a secretary was kinda the same thing.

Mad Jon: Yes yes. Also I ‘enjoyed’ that Chalmers mentioned he oversees 14 schools.

Sorry for the digression.

Charlie Sweatpants: No, it’s part of what makes this so dumb. It’s mostly fan service leavened with a few flashbacks.

Mad Jon: Ok, you lost me, what is the "this" that is so dumb?

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, take the "Jesus cries blood" thing.

Mad Jon: Ok

Charlie Sweatpants: First of all, that’s not a saying, not the way "Lies make baby Jesus cry" is. Second of all, it wasn’t actually a lie. Third the setup was stupid. Fourth, Flanders had no motive for doing it. Fifth, the stupid train escaped into a hole in the fence that just so happened to be there.

Mad Jon: Oh, I saw "so dumb" and my ego assumed you were referencing me.

Charlie Sweatpants: The original, when Flanders promises a trip to Grandma’s works on all of those counts. This one doesn’t. They thought having Flanders kinda lie to his kids and them mention Jesus is what made it funny, they completely missed everything else.

Mad Jon: I am obviously in complete agreement. This is why I asked my question. It seems like someone could defend fan service, but I am pretty sure they just happened to be reusing whatever jokes they land on when they flip through old episodes.

Charlie Sweatpants: The entire Duff Blimp thing was like that. Hey, what if Homer finally does get to ride the blimp?

Mad Jon: I was just about to mention that we have, up to this point, not mentioned the blimp incident. Frankly that was a lot of what I hate about Zombie Simpsons wrapped up into one (or three or four since it just kept popping up until it was other-plot necessary) dirty little package(s).

  I may actually be more disgruntled than before, and I’ve kind of been in a plateau for most of this season.

Charlie Sweatpants: It just kept going. He’s in the blimp, he can fly the blimp, he can’t fly the blimp, he can outrun the police, he’s there just in time to pick up his kids, Lisa falls out of the blimp, Homer falls out of the blimp. It was almost too hyperactive to be nonsensical.

Mad Jon: Once I saw the hole in the blimp bottom (?) I knew that man was getting stuck.

Charlie Sweatpants: That was not hard to see coming. And I think the thing on the blimp is called a gondola.

Mad Jon: The hole?

Charlie Sweatpants: No the carriage that had the hole in it.

  I guess the hole would be a hatch.

Mad Jon: Ah, that makes a bit more sense.

Charlie Sweatpants: But either way you could tell instantly that Homer was gonna get stuck.

Mad Jon: I think I actually sighed.

Then Bart got to use a fire extinguisher!

Charlie Sweatpants: The whole last act was wretched. Why the hell did they get trapped under the mannequins? They were floating comfortably and then all of a sudden they were swamped. I actually wasn’t sure what they were trying to do.

Mad Jon: Yeah I thought there was some kind of trapped under the ice deal, but nah, I just think they needed a reason for Marge and the Pooter to show up.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, but still. What the fuck?

Mad Jon: Good thing Marge and Maggie were leisurely strolling after Marge’s anniversary present.

  Also Homer started manically bawling . . . Got to throw that in there.

Otherwise he wouldn’t have met his episode crying quota.

Charlie Sweatpants: Can’t have that.

  Also, Otto’s voice? It’s not even close to being close. I’ve heard people do a better Otto.

Mad Jon: That was pretty unnerving.

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t think Shearer gives a shit about the show these days, but that was really jarring.

Mad Jon: Or the ole’ larynx just can’t do it anymore.

Charlie Sweatpants: Either way, yikes.

Mad Jon: Yep.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else? Between things that went on too long, quarter-assed fan service, and shit that never should’ve been put on screen in the first place, I haven’t got much left.

Mad Jon: Nah, I don’t have anything else relevant to add. We didn’t really cover Lisa’s key-related plot, but I’m not really inclined to. Unless it is due to my dislike of non-prorated rental services. Scoundrels….

Charlie Sweatpants: Seeing as how these were prorated plots with prorated endings, that was at least ironic.

11 Responses to “Crazy Noises: 500 Keys”

  1. 1 ey
    18 May 2011 at 8:05 pm

    you jerks should be happy that The Flintstones will be taking over for The Simpsons

    • 2 Joe C.
      19 May 2011 at 2:31 am

      Oh, look! A ZS fan who thinks that the show is just as funny and original as it used to be!

      Granted, The Flinstones may actually take over Zombie Simpsons after FOX decides to put it out of it’s misery (soon we hope), but why do you need to call people jerks?

  2. 3 Derp
    18 May 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I’m glad you highlighted the issue with Lisa and Homer being trapped. For all the fans’ calls of the animation improving, this was mystifying. Look how huge the body of water is shown to be in the first screencap!

    • 4 Patrick
      18 May 2011 at 9:52 pm

      It’s more of a continuity issue than an animation issue but yh still very bad.

  3. 5 Stan
    18 May 2011 at 9:13 pm

    When I saw the mannequin underwater scene and Homer and Lisa giving each other sight signals, I thought there were going to push them out for some reason. If they were looking for clues, that would’ve made sense.

    It’s not before Bart says that they’re trapped that you really get it, plus then he says in a matter a damsel in distress would call out for help. This is so fucking pathetic it’s actually funny.

  4. 6 Nick
    19 May 2011 at 12:04 am

    This guy should be Otto’s new voice:

  5. 8 Stan
    19 May 2011 at 8:39 am

    BTW, what does Scorpio say at the beginning, anyway? “It was this… or a borsch”? WTF?

    They should’ve made him say “Want some sugar?” instead. That’s both hilarious and a good use of one of his older quotes.

    • 9 Anonymous
      19 May 2011 at 9:39 am

      He said “It was this, or a Porsche!”, referring to the aircraft he’s riding. It was very difficult to catch and not particularly amusing.

      I quite like the fact that he was used in the opening credits, but Scorpio deserved better…

      • 10 Stan
        19 May 2011 at 11:25 am

        Oh, ok. Yeah, that way, it does make sense.

        His bit was too short. He only had time to wink, and I think when you hear the phrase you don’t even see him open his mouth. If they were to time his flight (because of the opening), then he shouldn’t have said anything, just fly by and wink.

        Or make Scorpio appear in the actual episode, and say it. Either way, they decided to combine both and it sucked.

  6. 11 Bryan
    20 May 2011 at 2:22 am

    I still want to know why the hell Homer is so shocked by the Duff Brewery. Did the Zombie Simpsons writers forget tha they’re writing for the same show that did “Duffless.” I mean, besides the fact that they obviously do every week.

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