Archive for October, 2011


Quote of the Day

Bart Sells His Soul4

“The deep fryer’s here.  I got it used from the Navy.  You could flash fry a buffalo in forty seconds.” – Moe
“Forty seconds?  But I want it now!” – Homer Simpson


Reading Digest: Comic Book Edition

Three Men and a Comic Book6

“Who’re you supposed to be?” – Comic Convention Guy
“I’m Bartman!” – Bart Simpson
“Never heard of him, full price.” – Comic Convention Guy

We’ve got several comic book links this week, but the first one is over the moon outstanding.  On top of that there’s another piece of banana art, another Harry Shearer interview, lots of lists, a Julie Kavner update, and what may be the most awesome Kang (or is it Kodos?) t-shirt ever made. 


The Line It Is Drawn #62 – Comic Book Characters/Simpsons Characters – Smooth Charlie’s Click of the Week is almost too awesome for words, and I’m not even a big comic book fan.  This is worth clicking for the drawing of Lovejoy as “Reverend” alone, and that’s just one of them. 

Top Ten Treehouses of Horror – As usual, nobody likes Zombie Simpsons, there’s one segment from Season 11 here, but nothing past that. 

Kang from The Simpsons – Best Kang t-shirt ever?  Best Kang t-shirt ever. 

Time to waste time with Harry Shearer – Another non-Simpsons interview with Shearer, this one about ballsy comedies conducted by the Adult Swim people. 

The Simpsons’ Top 11 Musical Guests – A truly cromulent list, lots of YouTube, and just a whiff of Zombie Simpsons towards the end. 

The Gay Gal’s Guide to the 10 Best Halloween Episodes. – Our friend Lenny breaks it down, with Treehouse of Horrors coming in at #10 and #1. 

Woody’s ‘Honeymoon’ Home Run – A while back I linked to that play Julie Kavner was going to be in.  Well, here’s the review:

“Honeymoon Motel” is in a league of its own. It takes place entirely in the garish hideaway to which Jerry Spector (Steve Guttenberg) has abducted his son’s bride, Nina Roth (Ari Graynor), dragging her from under the chupah. Before long, the entire wedding party wends its way to the motel room, including Jerry’s horrified best friend, Eddie (Grant Shaud), his wife, Judy (Caroline Aaron), Nina’s parents, Fay (Julie Kavner) and Sam (Mark Linn-Baker), and even the pompous rabbi (Richard Libertini).

The insults and recriminations fly, with a constant string of revelations about each character’s most embarrassing flaws and most intimate sexual history. Kavner, whose nasal voice is best known as the voice of cartoon character of Marge Simpson, is especially funny as a doleful, cantankerous woman whose own marriage leaves much to be desired.

Love In The Time Of Matt Groening – The perils of dating a non-Simpsons fan, both highly entertaining and kinda depressing.  

A Love Letter to Lisa Simpson – Pretty much what it says.  Sadly contains Zombie Simpsons YouTube, happily also contains actual Simpsons YouTube. 

Homer Simpson carved on to banana – Last week we had the Marge banana, here’s the Homer version. 

I am the 1 Percent. – Burns is the 1%. 

Best thing to happen to The Simpsons in YEARS, the “couch gag” at the end by John Kricfalusi. Behold actual funniness: – If you want to watch the Ren & Stimpy opening, Freakoutville has you covered. 

Some records might not be worth having – From a tongue in cheek NHL breakdown:

Brendan Shanahan  At the current pace, his “Brendan Shanahan Explains a Suspension” series will have produced more episodes than The Simpsons by mid-December.


Coke Names – This is almost excellent usage:

A couple of weeks ago when I saw ‘Wen’ as one of the names, I had a theory that some Coke execs’ son got his name on one of the bottles. Now with these other wacked-out names floating around, I came to believe the execs must be playing around with a Sarah-Palin-name-generator.

The whole thing reminds me of the old Simpsons scene:

Bart: Cool! Personalized plates! Barcley, Barry, Barry, Bert, Bort…come on…Bort?
Kid: Mommy mommy! Buy me a license plate!
Mom: No! Come along Bort!
Guy: Are you talking to me?
Mom: No, my son’s name is also Bort.

“Barry” is only said once, and the mom says “No, my son is also named Bort”, but other than that it’s dead on. 

canned squid – It’s a real thing, which understandably prompted this:

it reminds me too much of the Simpsons episode where they buy cans of plankton. i am not trying to hate on canned sea creatures, but….for some reason that canned plankton just sticks with me as a real benchmark of what i’d like to avoid.

I’ve had enough good sushi in my life to know that squid can be delicious, but that does not look appetizing. 

Keep your shirt on while you ogle them – Tiny representations of pop culture characters.  The Simpson family are among the easiest here. 

Top ten Twilight Zone references in pop culture – Only one entry from The Simpsons and it’s at #9?  That’s shockingly low placement. 

Top 10 Reasons Why I Love America | Debating Dykes – Ah, this is better.  It’s a list of ten things about what makes America great with entries for an entire family of television channels (#7 ESPN) as well as the concept of television itself (#4 Television), and The Simpsons still makes the list with its own entry. 

THE SIMPSONS Treehouse Of Horror XXII Promo Posters – There they are.  You likely won’t remember them a week after the episode airs, but they’re there if you want to see them. 

Today’s hybrid dessert: Doughnut Cake. Someday: Cookie-stuffed Pie, Chocolate Lava Baked Alaska* – Oh man, that pink frosted donut cake. 

Long Night Of Driving And Gyros – It’s a YouTube video of nothing but the drunk cameraman “Technical Difficulties” sign and “Spanish Flea”.  Well done, whoever. 

The 10 Most Memorable Simpsons Alter-Egos – This is 100% Colombian link bait (it contains some guy from Season 21 I’d forgotten about and Armin Tamzarian), and it isn’t all that funny.  I’m just linking it as further proof that no one remembers anything about post Season 10 Simpsons. 

Hector Villagra: Who Should Police the Police? – Excellent usage:

In 1994, Lisa Simpson — daughter of Homer, sister of Bart — posed the question that continues to plague law enforcement: "If you’re the police, who will police the police?"

Homer answered, "I dunno; Coast Guard?"

New York Shitty Photo du Jour: Eyes On The Street – A little graffiti outline of Marge. 

Six and a half cracking Star Wars parodies – Bi-Mon-Sci-Fi-Con is on here, and there’s lots of good YouTube. 

A Simpsons Suffering – Allow me to answer these for you:

The Simpsons is a great show, or at least it was. The last decade has seen a clear decline in quality and ratings, and the show is no longer the alpha male in a pack of youthful ani-coms. But then again, drama like this often gives fire to an otherwise chilled entertainer. Now that the Simpsons is given another chance, and has less money as well, should we expect some sort of new exciting chapter in the Simpsons story? Will the writers, cast, and producers try to prove themselves to a patient fan base and a doubtful network? We shall certainly hope.

Respectively, the answers are “no” and “no”.  Hope is futile, at least when it comes to Zombie Simpsons.

Basket Case…In 10 Words – “Give it a try.  It’s like kissing a peanut.”  “Homer, I want that thing out of my house.” 

Comic Book Pick of the Day: Simpsons Comics #180 – A positive review of the comic book. 

Magazine Design Fail – A less than positive review of the comic book. 

The Simpsons – If you’re using Simpsons in the classroom (book link goes here), there are a ton of things you can do:

Other themes you could use with The Simpsons; the elderly (Abe Simpson), friendship, families, childhood, marriage, relationships, responsibility… there are loads more I’m sure. You could also use it when studying narrative tenses, and get the students to write the plot of the story.

Stay south of Season 10 and you’ll find more themes than Shakespeare. 

Most Misleading Movie Titles Ever – Excellent reference:

The NeverEnding Story – 1985

Now this one was just too obvious not to write about! I love the episode of The Simpsons where Lionel Hutz admits that he actually tried to sue the creators of this film for false advertisement. 


I can imagine the court room scene now though.  A really sharp looking laywer in full business suit complaining of the emotional torment and stress this film caused their client because they bought the film only because it promised to never end and the client thought “what a bargain.”

Hey, weird German puppets are their own never ending story, and Atreyu’s adventures live on inside all of us.  Also, they did make two sequels, and, oh crap, apparently they’re remaking it as well. 

An EB Expo, GoW3, Simpsons and Mango Epic. – A four year belated review of the Simpsons video game:

I’ve gone 4yrs back in time and started playing The Simpsons game. The camera angles are, quite frankly, complete shit. The number of times I have climbed up a pole and then tried to jump off onto a ledge, only to fall to my death because it’s so difficult to line it up properly is ridiculous. In general though, I am actually really, really enjoying it.

The Simpsons. Yet Again. – This is more generous than I’m willing to be, but I can’t disagree with any of it:

What transpired, most notably in the recent years, were episodes that came off as…disjointed. Story lines came about that were unbelievable, and quite frankly, completely off-book as far as the Simpson’s canon goes….

Yup, that’s about the size of it.


Quote of the Day

One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish7

“Poison?  Oh, what should I do?  What should I do?  Tell me quick!” – Homer Simpson
“No need to panic.  There’s a map to the hospital on the back of the menu.” – Sushi Chef


“Significant” & “Lasting”: Two Words That Don’t Apply to Zombie Simpsons

A Good Ending

“How about it, Luann, will you marry me, again?” – Kirk van Houten
“Ooh, no.” – Luann van Houten
“Uh, well, uh, can I have my shirts back at least?” – Kirk van Houten
“Okay, you heard the lady, why don’t you take it outside, alright?” – Pyro
“I’ll be back, prob-probably.” – Kirk van Houten

To reinforce my point from last week that there’s really no way to change the show enough to make it interesting again without also destroying whatever is left of its appeal, I’d like to point out the Zombie Simpsons enforced absurdities of this list of “The 10 Most Significant, Lasting Changes on The Simpsons”.  Here’s the abbreviated version:

10. Barney’s Sobriety

9. Nedna

8. Patty’ Lesbianism

7. Ling, Selma’s Daughter

6. Maggie’s Gun Skills

5. Lisa’s Buddhism

4. Milhouse’s Parents’ Divorce

3. Lisa’s Vegetarianism

2. Apu’s Marriage

1. Maude’s Death

The first thing that jumps out is the prevalence of Zombie Simpsons on that list.  Six of them (1, 5, 7-10) happened post Season 10.  Beyond that though, we can see the shoddy nature of many of these supposedly significant and lasting changes.  Yes, Selma went to China to adopt a baby, but I’ve seen every episode since the beginning of Season 20 and I can’t recall a single time her kid was even mentioned.  Barney’s sobriety seems to come and go (the article mentions this), but even when he is sober they still usually just stick him in Moe’s like nothing ever happened.  I don’t think Patty coming out even counts, since they hinted that she’s gay all the way back in Season 2 and when they finally did bring her out of the closet it turned out that she was in love with a dude.

I bring this up not to take potshots at the list.  Sometimes you have to stretch to get to ten (#6 is plainly not a real thing), and that’s just life on the internet.  I bring this up because all of those post-Season 10 episodes were schlock episodes, that played things seriously but then didn’t actually have much of an effect on the show.  The episode where Barney dries out was really pathetic in a lot of ways, but after all that heavy handed emotion they couldn’t bring themselves to actually change his character.  Flanders being a widower was a bit more effective, but it hasn’t really done anything to change him or his kids (who are almost never on the show anymore anyway).  Pretty much every episode about Flanders now involves him finding love, which got old about ten seasons ago.

If you compare that type of “hey, we’re doing an emotional episode!/psyche everything’s normal!” mentality with the Season 8 entry on the list, Milhouse’s Parents’ Divorce, you can see things are a lot different.  To be sure, that episode has a few downer moments, but it was also done directly in the face of sitcom convention.  If you listen to the commentary for “A Milhouse Divided” (which I did), one of the big themes they had was that they wanted the divorce to be permanent.  Standard teevee had a lot of “divorce” episodes, but they always ended up with the characters getting back together.  Here they deliberately went away from that and made the change lasting.  Zombie Simpsons, swamp of unthinking sentimentality that it is, caved to comedy convention in Season 17 and Season 19, but for a few years there actually was a payoff.

More to the point, adding a baby (or eight), killing off a character over a contract dispute, having characters suddenly fall in love, and doing promos with women kissing women are all hallmarks of a television show on the down slope of its run.  Zombie Simpsons managed to make that even worse by basically ignoring many of its own changes after they happened.  Neither Selma’s daughter, Lisa’s Buddhism, nor Barney’s sobriety have had much of an effect in subsequent episodes.  They were toss-offs posing as permanent changes, single episode ideas that meant so little to the core of the show that they could be safely done without compromising the similarity to The Simpsons that is the only reason Zombie Simpsons is still on the air. 

On the rare occasion they do bring up one of the changes they made, it’s basically an excuse to rerun the same things that happened in the original episode.  How many times have Apu and Manjula been frustrated with having octuplets?  How many times has Flanders pined for a companion? 

Most of these purportedly significant and lasting changes have been neither, and the few that were lasting haven’t been significant.  Even if many of these episodes hadn’t been plodding and heavy handed, Zombie Simpsons would never make genuinely significant changes because doing so would a) be a tacit admission that they’re out of ideas, and b) make them look even more like the undistinguished FOX animation that they are. 


Quote of the Day

Bart Gets Hit By a Car8

“Mr. Simpson, the state bar forbids me from promising you a big cash settlement.  But just between you and me, I promise you a big cash settlement.” – Lionel Hutz


Quote of the Day

My Sister, My Sitter6

“Hey, Bart, how’s your arm?” – Lisa Simpson
“It’s alright.  I was hoping they’d give me one of those steel claws, but what are you gonna do?” – Bart Simpson


“Blood Feud” Spews Truth from Every Orifice

Blood Feud8

“Perhaps there is no moral to this story.” – Lisa Simpson
“Exactly, it’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.” – Homer Simpson

About halfway through this commentary, Al Jean notes that the story of a mean letter to the boss had been previously done on The Honeymooners and was a kind of “sitcom staple”.  He was saying it sort of defensively, like he’d heard it as a criticism that the episode hadn’t been that original.  But parodying sitcom staples was a big part of what The Simpsons did, especially in Seasons 1 and 2.  It wasn’t just plots either, it was stereotypical scenes and moralizing and parenting that had been done to death by other shows but that The Simpsons both took apart and made funny.  (Of course, it doesn’t work when Zombie Simpsons rehashes stories that had already been done by The Simpsons.)  Incidentally, though I’ve never seen an episode of The Honeymooners, you can see “Letter to the Boss” on YouTube (Part I, Part II, Part III).  Alice, who’s working on Ralph’s underwear as the show begins, would later voice Beatrice Simmons in “Old Money”. 

Just three guys on this one, Groening, Jean and David Silverman.

0:30 – Interesting trivia: this is the first time Homer uses what the call the “fairy voice” and the first time Homer talks to his brain.

1:00 – Jean mentions that this particular episode was inspired by one of the producers on the show needing a blood transfusion, and they thought they could graft that onto Mr. Burns.

1:40 – The nuclear warning sign is back lit instead of animated like everything else, which explains that glow.

2:00 – Shearer had to cancel on the first reading at the last minute, Castellaneta stepped in and there weren’t any problems. That’s a nice little anecdote, but it does help demonstrate just how different the production process was back then.

2:40 – Praise for Shearer who can do multiple voices all in one take. So if there’s a scene with Burns and Smithers or Smithers and Hibbert, he can just read it all through in a single take.

3:40 – Laughing at the continuity head scratcher of Carl being Homer’s supervisor. Jean then expounds on how Homer’s job at the plant seems to mostly be him sleeping at his console.

4:30 – They do a lot of quick cuts to different Simpsons as the family quizzes Marge on their personal aspects, Silverman chirps up to say that quick cuts like that are fun to do because in this scene you never lose sight of who’s doing the talking.

5:00 – Jean talking about how at this point they had the design locked in pretty well. Most of the off model stuff had been knocked out.

5:20 – The scene where Homer tells Bart the awesomely dumb story of Hercules and the lion is lit very specifically to make it seem intimate as Homer tries to convince Bart that donating blood is the right thing to do.

6:35 – As the elevator guy waits to push the button with the blood, Groening mentions that they don’t slow the show down for much. Well, not in Season 2.

8:00 – Talking about how this is a very long Act 1. They considered ending the show with Burns feeling better, but that wouldn’t have really made sense.

9:20 – Here’s Homer’s “fairy voice” where he goes up a register or two to tell Marge she’s living in a world of make believe. Because of the way the show is made, when they bring things like this back, it’ll often be months after the first time. But when they do bring it back it shows up in a bunch of them.

9:45 – Silverman animated a lot of Homer’s dictating the letter to Bart himself.

10:00 – Mentioning that, among others, The Honeymooners had done a “write a letter to the boss” plot. Also, they had some trouble getting “elephant’s butt” in.

12:00 – Lots of small comments here about all the different ways the shots are constructed in this episode.

14:00 – Praise for the postal mural and Homer’s inability to know Burns’ first name.

Blood Feud7

Gotta love the mural.

14:40 – Pointing out the quill pen as another one of those old man quirks of Burns.

15:00 – Apparently Brad Bird suggested the camera move up to the top of Homer’s head when he talks with his brain.

16:10 – More interesting lighting as Burns and Smithers are backlit against the fireplace.

17:45 – When Burns yells “Judas!” at Smithers there’s a lightning effect which was white frames except for the outline of Burns.

18:30 – Jeans mentions that it was always nice to have a black and white television at Moe’s.

19:30 – The Barney belch was usually just recycled because Castellaneta couldn’t just keep belching.

20:10 – Silverman says he got compliments on the Olmec head from people who study pre-Columbian art, though they may have just been happy to have the word “Olmec” used on a television show.

21:00 – Talking about how they realized the show didn’t really have a point, so they thought they’d make a joke out of that at the end.

22:00 – And we end on Groening complaining that they used to let the credits roll unmolested, but now they often split them off to the side or something. 


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