Strange Twists and Collapsing Ratings

Chalkboard - The Daughter Also Rises

“I’ve had one of my unpredictable changes of heart.” – C.M. Burns

About three quarters of the way through “The Daughter Also Rises”, the episode took a weird turn.  Lisa went to ask Grampa for advice, which led, without any setup whatsoever, to her, Grampa and “Nick” being chased by the police, which in turn lead to her and “Nick” rowing a boat out to an island.  No reason is given for why things went from relatively sunny and untroubled to dire and suspenseful.  They just did. 

Similarly, “Nick” went from being suave and charming and generally very Colin-from-the-movie to a whiny weirdo.  We didn’t see what changed his mind or why he might suddenly have become skittish around Lisa.  One moment he was charming everyone in the Simpsons’ living room, and in the next scene he was a wet blanket.  Pretty much the same thing happened with Bart and Milhouse’s B-plot, one minute it was going one direction, and the next minute it was going the other way. 

What makes these weird plot turns so frustrating is that, sometime last summer, a group of professional writers sat around a table at Zombie Simpsons HQ.  They read aloud a story about Lisa getting a boyfriend, which for some reason turns into a chase, which is only resolved when Marge puts on giant water shoes.  Not one of those trained, experienced professionals asked why the chase happened, or why it suddenly became so dire, or whether or not Marge should care.  It’s malpractice. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and last night’s terrible excuse for an episode is the new champion of low ratings.  Just 4.33 million people were confused by that ending.  That shatters the previous record of 5.00 million set by Season 22’s “The Great Simpsina”.  Even better, we’re only four episodes in to the typically lower rated post-New Year’s part of the season, and three of those episodes are in the bottom five all time:

  Season-Episode Airdate Viewers (in millions) Title
1 23-13 12-Feb-12 4.33 The Daughter Also Rises
2 22-18 10-Apr-11 5.00 The Great Simpsina
3 23-10 8-Jan-12 5.11 Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson
4 21-11 31-Jan-10 5.11 Million Dollar Maybe
5 23-12 29-Jan-12 5.12 Moe Goes from Rags to Riches

Season 23 is now a mortal lock to be the least watched season in the history of the show.  The only question is how low it can go. 

47 Responses to “Strange Twists and Collapsing Ratings”

  1. 1 Chrissy
    13 February 2012 at 4:38 pm

    We all knew that Nick was going to dump Lisa at the end…and the only way they could think of that happening was for him to have a sudden personality change.

    That is SO lame!

    • 14 February 2012 at 4:19 pm

      In a lot of ways, Michael Cera’s career has resembled the rise and fall The Simpsons.

      I mean, even though Scott Pilgrim was brilliant, no one saw it because everyone hates Cera so much. “If a tree falls in the woods”, yada yada.

      …Even if he made a good movie, no one would see it, pretty much mirroring the situation Zombie Simpsons is in now (though we know they won’t make a good episode FOR no one to see, so oh well).

      But yeah, how lame is it anyway to make Cera “the quiet guy Lisa falls for”? I mean, back in the day, Cera would be mocked on the show endlessly for being… you know… CERA. Nowadays, ZS creators just shrug and go “eh, let’s design a role he’s played in everything he’s EVER appeared in.”

  2. 3 Dan S.
    13 February 2012 at 5:16 pm

    We also got treated to a Kirk suddenly at the window when needed and the three Sherry and Terries was bizarre and unfunny.

  3. 4 Stan
    13 February 2012 at 5:58 pm

    I didn’t get it? Was Nick supposed to be Hemingway’s reincarnation? Or his offspring? Or just a kid acting like him? Was he even a kid? If he was, he should’ve come to see the Simpsons with his parents, which he didn’t, which makes him a midget. Or was he an orphan? Or was it just Lisa’s imagination acting weird all of a sudden? Wait… what the fuck?

    • 5 Patrick
      13 February 2012 at 9:13 pm

      Wow just wow hmm yeah i really just want to watch to see how bizzare it is, it can’t be worse than the barrag (wtf) ep :/

  4. 6 Mike Russo
    13 February 2012 at 6:43 pm

    God, fuck this fucking show.

  5. 7 Bea Simmons' Rotting Corpse
    13 February 2012 at 6:47 pm


    There’s 2 big rating grabbing episodes yet to air, which will surely get hyped. Though it will be a good laugh if we get similar ratings for the 500th episode.

    I can’t help but wonder how many monsters will tune in for the Gaga episode…

    • 8 Stan
      13 February 2012 at 7:16 pm

      It is true that the 500th will probably bring a tad more audience than yesterday’s. Plus they managed to snag Assange in, add a couple of occupy parodies and copyright-related rhapsody (aw what the hell, they’ll probably just shove him in for a minute of lame ass advice, i.e. “don’t run away from your troubles yada-yada”) and five more minutes of Homer getting hurt and presto!

      • 14 February 2012 at 4:15 pm

        Is it just me or has “Homer getting hurt” not been happening much this season? In fact, it seems like Homer hasn’t even seemed to be on the show much at all this season aside from a few episodes. I’m sure the Simpsons writers think this is “so edgy” to have their main character not really register at all for most episodes, but I think it’s just further proof of them getting away from EVERYTHING that made the show watchable (I know some people who would watch the worst episodes ever, as long as they at least featured Homer in a major capacity). D’oh.

    • 10 Thrillho
      13 February 2012 at 7:24 pm

      The funny thing is I hear very little hype around the 500th episode. I was too young to remember when “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Badass Song” came out, but I remember “Trash of the Titans” (the 200th episode) and “Barting Over” (the 300th episode, or the one that was promoted as it) getting a lot of publicity. I don’t recall the 400th episode getting quite as much, but I think that was overshadowed by the fact that the movie was coming out. The 500th episode? Barely a peep outside of the blogosphere (and that 500 episode marathon thing, which seems like overkill.)

      As for this episode? I watched it a few minutes ago, and I’ve blacked out most of it. Clearly it was one of those episodes.

      • 11 Patrick
        13 February 2012 at 9:15 pm

        Even Sky1 are quiet about it, they’ve only mentioned the competition and the 300th ep. was so overhyped it was unreal :/

      • 12 Charlie Sweatpants
        13 February 2012 at 9:34 pm

        I don’t recall much of anything promotional-wise for the 100th episode. They might have mentioned it, but that was about it. I remember being a little surprised when the 200th got some press, but that might just be marketing philosophies changing with the times.

        • 13 Patrick
          13 February 2012 at 10:37 pm

          The 100th episode make fun of the whole milestone celebration of it.

          • 14 Stan
            14 February 2012 at 12:50 am

            They made a 138th special ep back in the 90s and that one beat every other special they ever made, except for Christmas, Halloween and some of their holidays ones, all from seasons 1 – 10.

      • 13 February 2012 at 10:44 pm

        As I recall, the 400th episode was the Ray Romano episode and I remember only seeing one commercial for it. Something along the lines of “Ray Romano guest stars in the 400th episode as a friend only Homer can see?” But I didn’t (and still don’t) watch very many FOX shows.

        • 16 Thrillho
          14 February 2012 at 12:30 am

          Actually, the 400th episode was “You Kent Always Say What you Want” (the one where Kent Brockman gets fired for saying a profanity on the air), even though FOX seemed to be promoting “24 Minutes” as the 400th episode. I guess the show decided in its later years to promote the more “eventful” episodes as the milestones instead of the actual episodes. It’s pretty much the equivalent of celebrating your birthday on the weekend instead of your actual birthdate.

          As for the 100th episode, I did find this:

          • 17 Mr. Snrub
            14 February 2012 at 6:12 am

            Well here in the UK, even though the episode won’t air for months here, The Sun (largest selling national newspaper) had a feature on the 500th episode last weekend. I’m pretty sure I saw some other feature in another newspaper too. Also, The Simpsons Facebook page is continuously harping on about it.

            On the topic of previous milestones, I remember seeing posters for the 400th episode at bus stops and stuff when it first aired over here. Too young to remember anything else.

          • 19 Charlie Sweatpants
            14 February 2012 at 4:54 pm

            Cool. I don’t think I’ve ever seen those before. Holy smokes do all those guys look young.

  6. 13 February 2012 at 10:05 pm

    Yeah, the way these episodes have the wild plot twists makes me wonder if there’s still a writer’s room, or equivalent at this point. Maybe the writers send their scripts around in Google Docs or an equivalent and just add and remove as they see fit. Of course, they’d also have to stop paying attention to more than just sections of the document, but I think we’re willing to assume that around here based on the plots.

    • 23 Patrick
      13 February 2012 at 10:38 pm

      Nah they probably just shove the keyboard up their ass’s and just see what comes up.

    • 28 swarmingwithmagicrobots
      14 February 2012 at 3:08 am

      You know how, just right out of the blue, the writers have been referencing meth?


      “One thing, though, that I used to notice. If the people making a movie are deep enough into cocaine, they have a very hard time keeping it off the screen. There will be a scene where a character snorts cocaine, and you won’t be able to explain why it’s in there.”

      I kid, I kid. But you gotta admit it would explain absolutely everything about Zombie Simpsons perfectly.

      Hmm… Okay, wait,.. Maybe I’m only half kidding…

      • 14 February 2012 at 12:41 pm

        I figure they are all just Breaking Bad fans and have no way to write a show as high quality as that so they just make random meth references.

        • 30 swarmingwithmagicrobots
          14 February 2012 at 3:04 pm

          Yeah, but then factor in how the episodes have the continuity of a drug trip and most of the “jokes” leave you baffled you as to how anybody actually thought they were even jokes, much less funny ones. I mean, something obviously takes an icepick to the staffs’ brains every time they sit down to write Zombie Simpsons.

          It’s probably more like a threeway mixture of hubris + not caring anymore + contempt for the audience rather than sweet drugs, but still. Based on the last episodes I watched before giving up, and everything I’ve ever heard about all the episodes since then(like “Lisa’s talking to Grandpa right BUT THEN BOOM THEY’RE GETTING CHASED BY THE COPS BUT THEN ZOW THEY’RE ON A BOAT!!!! TALKINGRAGFUCKYEAH!!1”), I kind of have to wonder. Kind of a lot.

          • 14 February 2012 at 4:04 pm

            Hahaa, “TALKINGRAGFUCKYEAH!!1”

            You make some good points in your post, though I think the drug trip animation/A.D.D-or-whatever-short-attention-span lowest-common-denominator thing is just a reflection of the times we live in. Mainstream culture and its sensory-overload of … stuff … way too much STUFF … has modified how everything is shaped and created, seemingly… it’s a topic that’s been beaten to death, but the Simpsons just doesn’t fare well in ’12… because it creates a contradiction… it’s a show that “never changes” (age-wise) but it tries to keep up with the CONSTANTLY-changing mainstream landscape.. you can’t both ignore and embrace culture without the product becoming creepy, disorienting, and downright bizarre…

            I think the Simpsons writers have seen the success of various Adult Swim shows, and Family Guy and whatnot, and have simply tried to change the show — its tone, its characters, its pacing, its “humor”, pretty much everything that the show stood for — to mirror/clone/mimic/etc all that stuff. While STILL saying “hey, we’re THE SIMPSONS!!! THE SIMPSONS!!!!!!!! YOU KNOW?” That’s why my thought has always been… since there is no way to go back to ’89, they might as well just go completely in the other direction and make the show as fucked-up and bizarre as possible. They’re already on their way, though not in any interesting/endearing way.

            …At least a lot of Adult Swim shows have a stoner charm, a lot of Family Guy episodes have some witty moments (if you can get past the overkill of unlikeable/annoying characters and bits). Zombie Simpsons seems inauthentic and cold. It reminds me of a robot reading the Bible or something. Or a nu-school cellphone rapper from 2012 sampling Roy Orbison or something. It just seems… wrong.

            • 32 Patrick
              14 February 2012 at 4:20 pm

              I agree with the whole AS/FG thing whist IMO FG’s been getting better lately :) and well yeah ZS sucks.

    • 14 February 2012 at 4:12 pm

      “Maybe the writers send their scripts around in Google Docs or an equivalent and just add and remove as they see fit”

      Hahaha. Great post, that lines reminds me of fucking with Babelfish…. I remember “back in the day”, people on IRC and message boards and whatever would translate something from English to French (or whatever) and then BACK to English from the French and it’d always be really fucking bizarre (if that sounds pointless to anyone on this blog, remember that we didn’t have fancy T3 connections and whatever back then, so we amused ourselves for hours with insane stuff like this).

      ….Actually, somebody on the Simpsons staff probably read NOVA EXPRESS or something and was like “Holy fuck, Burroughs *mind explodes* WE GOTTA USE THE CUT-UP METHOD ON OUR SHOW!” But you know, it doesn’t really work with the Simpsons…

  7. 35 david
    14 February 2012 at 3:30 am

    homer simpson and the b sharps won a grammy… just sayin..

  8. 36 Patrick
    14 February 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Just started watching and well at least the chalkboard gag was decent and began with ‘I will’ and now for the shower of shit. :(

  9. 46 Victor Dang
    17 February 2012 at 12:21 pm

    Wow, with trends like these, the Simpsons might soon rank lower in ratings than PBS’s 3 million :D

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