Archive for March, 2012



18
Mar
12

Sunday Preview: Them, Robot

Magic Robots

Dave fled the country again (the man really doesn’t like Zombie Simpsons), and I don’t know how to do blood the way he does in Photoshop, but I’d say the image above speaks for itself.  We are now literally swarming with magic robots:

Mr. Burns replaces all of Springfield Power Plant’s employees with robots but decides to keep Homer as the sole human worker. With unemployment at an all-time high and mechanical arms operating the workplace, Springfield becomes a dismal and humorless place. But when Homer’s machine-programmed peers start to turn on the community and his former real-life employees come to the rescue, they all realize that robots can’t replace human friends.

So, yeah.  What was a throwaway gag in “Last Exit to Springfield” is now an entire episode.  (Sorry for getting this up late.  Slipped my mind.) 

18
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Realty Bites6

“Doesn’t this car have seatbelts?” – Lisa Simpson
“Seatbelts, pfft.  They kill more people than they save.” – Homer Simpson
“That’s not true, you’re thinking of airbags!” – Lisa Simpson

17
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Homer vs. The 18th Amendment3

“Listen up, this is the busiest drinking day of the year.  Where are the designated drivers?  Beat it!  I got no room for cheapskates.” – Moe

16
Mar
12

Reading Digest: Simpsons Crossover Edition

And Maggie Makes Three7

“Attention American workers, your plant has been taken over by an all-star team of freelance terrorists.” – Not Hans Gruber
“Not on my shift! . . . Simpson 10, Terrorists 8.” – Homer Simpson

This week we’ve got three links to fan made pop culture crossovers, two of them are small (one for Lord of the Rings and one for My Little Pony), and one is marvelously epic.  Unlike a recent episode or two I could mention, all three are fine examples of putting Simpsons characters into other fictional universes.  There’s also a great, but most likely short lived, Itchy & Scratchy YouTube, plenty of usage, Canadian municipal politics, and a couple of skateboards. 

Enjoy.

Movies Poster Parodies by Claudia-R on deviantART – Stop the internet.  Claudia-R has won.  Read this post no further, just click through.  (via)

For Fans of Cartoon Violence Everywhere! – This was making the rounds this week:

It’s forty-eight minutes long (Zombie Simpsons start around 25:00 or so), and was uploaded by a random YouTuber, so watch it while you can because the fun police will be after it before too long.

Truly Bad Simpsons Episode Titles – Inspired by the multi-layered stupid of “How I Wet Your Mother”, Lenny breaks down some truly awful episode titles, including the ones where Zombie Simpsons uses the same pun over and over.  The movie titles of Claudia-R’s posters are vastly superior to these. 

Maya’s Homer Simpson donut – An amazing embroidered pink frosting donut.  She even stitched it so you can see where the frosting ran.  Bravo. 

My Precious – I sort of feel like I’ve seen this before, but who cares?  It’s Homer as Gollum and it is awesome.

Jamestown grad keeps ‘The Simpsons’ in music – This is a typical local-boy-makes-good article about Alf Clausen, but it does contain this interesting story about the Stonecutters song:

Over the years Clausen has a few songs that he wrote that he considers favorites. One is “We Do” (The Stonecutters Song), which is a song sung by the members of a secret society that Homer joins.

Back in Jamestown, Clausen was in DeMolay, which is modeled after Free Masonry. He drew some inspiration from his past when he wrote it, he said.

“Homer is being accepted into this secret society in Springfield which he doesn’t know if he wants to do, because he doesn’t know if he respects an organization that will have him as a member,” Clausen said, laughing.

Clausen also cites the Senor Burns song from “Who Shot Mr. Burns, Part 2” and working with Bono for the garbage man song in “Trash of the Titans” as personal favorites.  I’m sure he could come up with something more recent if he were pressed, but, as usual, anytime people on the show talk about their favorites, things naturally gravitate to single digit seasons.

The story of City Council, as told through Simpsons episodes – I know diddly squat about Toronto politics, but this guy managed to work a ton of relevant seeming Simpsons references, including lots of YouTube.

Nostalgia Tripping: Bart’s Nightmare, The Dark Souls of 1992 – A retro review of the SNES game from a guy who loved it back then.

My Little Marge Simpson by ~Tiamatar on deviantART – A very good looking My Little Pony redone to be Marge (there’s a Homer as well).  Crossovers are magic.

‘Super Mario 3D Land’ Director Open to Possibility of Downloadable Content – Excellent usage:

Sure, Super Mario 3D Land has a nice, healthy number of levels. But playing it, we’re reminded of that time on The Simpsons when Barney was worried about the beer supply: “After this case, and the other case, there’s only one case left!”

But, forget beer; who wouldn’t want more Mario?

The Simpsons Windows 7 Theme – I haven’t tried these, but they look neat.

Fear of braces? – This is a self serving article from a site called “Dentistry IQ” about how you really shouldn’t be afraid of braces, but it does get its quotes right:

In a celebrated early episode of "The Simpsons," precocious middle child Lisa finds out that she needs braces. Providing her care is Dr. Wolfe, a sinister and vaguely sadistic man who plans to imprison Lisa’s jaws within a torturous looking piece of headgear because the Simpson family can’t aîord anything better.

"Lisa, so you won’t be scared, I’ll show you some of the tools I’ll be using," Wolfe tells her just before the procedure. "This is the scraper. This is the poker. And this happy little fellow is the gouger. Now the first thing I’ll be doing is chiseling some teeth out of your jawbone. Hold still while I gas you."

I love how disturbingly enthusiastic he is through all of that.

March 14, 2012 – Pt. 3 – The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – CNN was doing its customarily thorough job of embarrassing itself on Tuesday night, but they also found a guy counting ballots whose name really is Glasscock.  I guess Jean and Reiss weren’t lying when they got that one past Standards & Practices.

“I’d just like to say this gig SUCKS!” – Homemade bread through the Rolling Stones.

Homer Simpson Skateboard – Cool close up images of a couple of Homer skateboard designs.

Homer Simpson by EndeavourCollegeSAShrowder – From the same people who brought you the 3D printable walking Bart toy last week, here’s the walking Homer toy.

Marge Simpson by EndeavourCollegeSAShrowder – And the cropped looking Marge version.

Steesh Look-a-Likes: Ned Flanders & Bryan Cranston – That drawing of Flanders and picture of Cranston do work well together.

Chauncey Report: More DVR, ‘Sons’ At The Paley Center – From a discussion of Eastbound & Down:

But Stevie, ever the devoted friend, holds his ground (despite looking like a spurned lover at times), gives Kenny a riveting speech starting with my favorite line of the night “I didn’t just come to Myrtle Beach to party and possibly cheat on my wife” and tells him that he is his inspiration. Stevie believes that Kenny is his God and no matter how lousy Kenny treats Stevie, he is, as Lisa Simpson would say, “there to hurl whiskey bottles at when he’s feeling low” and that’s the real emotional spine of the show.

Lisa actually says “Milhouse is still going to need a true friend, someone to tell him he’s great, someone to rub lotion on him, someone he can hurl whisky bottles at when he’s feeling low”.  That’s still close enough for excellent usage.

100 Best Comedy Characters Currently On Television (50-41) – Marge checks in at #49.

Close Enough. – It’s a pun, but it’s only a mostly terrible one.

My Favorite Simpsons: “Marge Be Not Proud” – Lots of people love our one bad episode.

Lisa Simpsons, the Feminist – If women ever take over the Earth, I’m fairly confident that “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy” will be mandatory viewing.  That episode deserves every piece of praise it gets, including this.

Sarcasm and Preternatural Politeness – Excellent usage in the context of the complete lack of sarcasm in Laura Ingalls Wilder:

Yes, they’re fictionalizations, and yes, Laura Ingalls Wilder likely paints those relationships through a rather rosy filter, but still I envy them.

Not only were my husband and I raised after the invention of sarcasm, as part of the tail-end of Generation X we came of age during a time steeped in sarcasm. I think about the Simpsons scene where the GenXers are at the Hullabalooza music festival and the one guy says, “Oh, here comes that cannonball guy. He’s cool.”

“Are you being sarcastic, dude?” his friend asks.

“I don’t even know anymore,” the first guy responds.

Oh sure, I’d just love living in a time before sarcasm.

Appointment Viewing: March 12-March 18 – Lenny previews this week’s Zombie Simpsons:

8:00 – The Simpsons (Fox): Mr. Burns replaces all of his employees with robots—with one exception: Homer. This raises the unemployment rate in Springfield significantly, and leads to much misery. And it hits home to Homer, too, when robots attack him. My main comment after last night’s episode was “They know this isn’t a sci-fi/fantasy show, right?” Asked and answered.

Zombie Simpsons does seem to be going all Family Matters on us lately.

The Hyphen vs the Ellipsis – Excellent grammar geek usage:

On the flip side, let’s say you want to communicate a thought trailing off. (from The Simpsons)

    KIRK: “But, will they just find Milhouse, or will they find him and kill him?”
    CHIEF WIGGUM: “Well, they’ll, when they find him they’ll um…“
    KIRK: “Um, excuse me, you didn’t answer me, you just trailed off.”
    CHIEF WIGGUM: “Yeah… yeah, I did kind of trail off there, didn’t I?”

 Five Things Bob’s Burgers Does Better Than The Simpsons – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us.  This week it’s Grantland writer Tara Ariano:

Given that there are now several years’ worth of college graduates who’ve never lived in a world without The Simpsons, it’s natural that the show would have started to seem somewhat careworn over the past year, or the past few years, or the past decade and a half. Bob’s, on the other hand, has a similar premise — it also revolves around a working-class family with three kids — but since it’s still so early in its run, Bob’s has so much fresh ground to cover. Not only that: Bob’s can also explore subjects and territory that The Simpsons has long since exhausted or abandoned: In fact, some of the Five Things Bob’s Burgers Does Better Than The Simpsons are actually Things Bob’s Burgers Does That The Simpsons Doesn’t Do Anymore, But Probably Should.

Among the things she mentions: the kids acting like kids, the family still being poor, and the celebrities not playing themselves.  Amen, sister.  Amen.

16
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Marge Gets a Job8

“I could get a job.” – Marge Simpson
“Hey, then I could follow my dream, living in the woods and keeping a journal of my thoughts.” – Homer Simpson
“March 15th, I wish I brought a TV.  Oh God, how I miss TV!” – Dream Homer

15
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Homer's Triple Bypass4

“This is Papa Bear, put out an APB for a male suspect driving a . . . car, of some sort, heading in the direction of, uh, you know, that place that sells chili.  Suspect is hatless, repeat, hatless!” – Chief Wiggum

Happy birthday David Silverman!

14
Mar
12

Crazy Noises: How I Wet Your Mother

Radio Bart13

“You know, Bart, I don’t think this is such a bad present.  Maybe you just shouldn’t talk into it as loud as your father does.” – Marge Simpson

As part of our tireless efforts to demonstrate the many ways Zombie Simpsons fails to entertain, Season 23 will be subjected to the kind of rigorous examination that can only be produced by people typing short messages at one another.  More dedicated or modern individuals might use Twitter for this, but that’s got graphics and short links and little windows that pop up when you put your cursor over things.  The only kind of on-line communications we like are the kind that could once be done at 2400 baud.  So disable your call waiting, plug in your modem, and join us for another year of Crazy Noises.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “nightmarish”).

I’ve mentioned already, and do so again below, that this episode was thick with wretchedly unneeded exposition.  There were plenty of examples, but one that struck me as both particularly illustrative of Zombie Simpsons and especially pointless came near the beginning when Homer was wrapping up his stupid apology party.  Here’s Homer asking the crowd if they forgive him:

Working Microphone

The crowd cheers, and then they cut to Carl who says, “Ain’t no problem that free food and free booze won’t fix.”  They immediately cut back to Homer:

Non-Working Microphone

Standing right next to the microphone, Homer says, out loud, “Free?  Uh . . .”.  Naturally, no one hears this.  The next time Homer speaks . . .

Working Microphone (Again)

. . . everyone can hear him again.  Homer’s next line is yet another expository word evacuation about his sheets being dry now, though at least for this last one they bothered to get rid of the microphone:

Missing Microphone

Not only is this another example of Zombie Simpsons forgetting that people who aren’t in a shot are still in a scene, but both of the lines no one managed to hear didn’t tell the audience anything we didn’t already know.  Zombie Simpsons: making scenes unbelievable for lines that don’t need to be there.

Mad Jon: Do you want to get started on this?

Charlie Sweatpants: No point delaying things.

Mad Jon: I guess not.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d like to begin by asking a simple question. When did they start treating Frink’s insane inventions seriously?

Mad Jon: I suppose when it became convenient.

  I couldn’t tell you the exact point in time however.

Charlie Sweatpants: Like everything else, I assume it was a slow process.

Mad Jon: It happened so gradually, I didn’t even notice.

Charlie Sweatpants: The Death Ray prototype was funny, the Gamble-Tron was funny. Then at some point it was self tapping shoes, and from there it’s just gotten worse.

In Season 9 he invented a teleporter, but that was a Halloween episode.

By my count, this was the second time he’s invented a machine that let Homer probe the depths of his unconscious.

But without actually looking things up, I guess I’d have to go with the self tapping shoes. Though at least in that episode they took a stab at it making sense that he would run into Lisa. Here he literally fell from the sky.

Mad Jon: Literally.

Charlie Sweatpants: Greek myths make more sense than that.

Mad Jon: The thing that bothered me the most was that Marge wasn’t really surprised. Here’s Frink, out of nowhere, and now he’s got an idea to solve a problem he already knows about that is affecting her sex life, and they go right to it. There wasn’t any attempt at a decent plot progression. They went right for the gratification.

Charlie Sweatpants: I didn’t even notice that, but you’re right.

Mad Jon: But that kind of story telling has been the norm for a while, so meh. I believe there are worse problems here.

Charlie Sweatpants: Many.

Hell, in that same vein, why in the name of Christopher Nolan did the cops show up and break into the Simpson house?

Mad Jon: That was a big problem. Not only is it apparently illegal (for some un-disclosed reason) to use a machine on willing subjects to probe their dreams, it is also immediately detectable by all three local police officers.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was one of those things that was so blatant that I sat up and noticed even through my usual Zombie Simpsons stupor.

Mad Jon: I even stopped playing on my phone!

Charlie Sweatpants: And that was before he and Frink got into a fight which mattered for a second before being dropped entirely.

Mad Jon: A slow motion fist fight.

Charlie Sweatpants: We’ll just add that to the list of shit that made no sense. I think they had an "Inception" bingo card they were trying to fill out.

Mad Jon: Hopefully somebody won a beating.

Charlie Sweatpants: Not likely.

Though, to be fair, there were plenty of things that had nothing to do with anything. For example, why was Death normal, and then it had a jetpack, and then it was Homer’s mom?

Mad Jon: Is that how she got there?

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, that’s what I’m confused about. If she was there the whole time, why did nothing happen earlier. But if she wasn’t there the whole time, then how did she get there?

Even if it was just Homer’s mom in that final dream, why was she dressed as Death?

And, yes, I realize I’m asking questions that no one bothered to come up with an answer for.

Mad Jon: I suppose we could find this answer along with a real explanation of why all that crap had anything to do with Homer wetting the bed.

Absolutely no foreshadowing at all. All of the sudden he’s wetting the bed. And after a nightmarish (for me) adventure through everyone’s dreams or something, we find out he wants his parents to be together?

  Seriously?

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh no, that has an answer. It was about fish and a marriage and Cletus and possibly the Alan Parson’s Project, which I think was some sort of hovercraft.

But even that didn’t make sense, since going fishing was apparently what triggered everything.

  I’ll include my usual I-don’t-care-about-inter-episode-continuity disclaimer, but it’s not like we’ve only ever seen Homer go fishing once or something. The man likes fishing.

Mad Jon: Was it? I never really understood the trigger.

Charlie Sweatpants: I was also unclear, because it didn’t make any sense even within this episode, but they did at least say that was the reason.

Mad Jon: I though at the end they were going to switch from the Inception type episode to the end scene from that Leonardo DiCaprio movie where he was an insane guy who thought he was a cop.

Charlie Sweatpants: J. Edgar?

Mad Jon: No, it was about an island or something.

Charlie Sweatpants: Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Mad Jon: The thread that would bind that episode would be Leonardo DiCaprio, which is more of a thread than usual.

Charlie Sweatpants: True enough.

Changing the subject slightly, this is a direct quote from the middle of the episode, and might not even be in the top five for most grotesque exposition:

"Deep down I must be feeling guilty about getting my friends in trouble."

  And that wasn’t even the time Homer exposited while standing in front of a live microphone in front of all of his co workers.

Mad Jon: I have a note on my paper when that quote happened:

– Possibly worst plot forwarding dialogue this season.

Charlie Sweatpants: I made a note as well, "Hello, exposition police, there’s been a homicide."

Mad Jon: …. it made more sense to me when it happened.

Charlie Sweatpants: So did mine.

Mad Jon: There has been some serious explanatory dialogue this season, but this may be the most obvious piece of evidence that the writers either don’t care or really think that their remaining viewers are complete idiots.

  Possibly both.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d vote both. I mean, despite all the "let us tell you what’s happening while you watch it", there were still a bunch of things that wouldn’t have made sense if you hadn’t seen Inception or at least knew a little about it.

Mad Jon: That’s usually a bad thing.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah. Here it was more of a lateral move.

Mad Jon: I guess they felt the need to go deeper.

Charlie Sweatpants: I felt I needed a stronger sedative.

Mad Jon: Touche salesman.

Overall, however, I feel the most bothersome part was that the plot as a whole was devoted to Homer as a bedwetter. I think he even mentions towards the beginning that this is the last embarrassing thing he had never done or something. When I read the description on my DVR, it elicited a "Sigh…. Ok."

  This is what it’s come to. This.

Charlie Sweatpants: There is a steep and undeniable decline between relatively oblique references to Milhouse and Ralph being bedwetters and it being the main element in a plot about Homer.

Mad Jon: In the way there is a steep and undeniable decline between a can of Pringles, and an empty can of Pringles that your brother has shit in, yes.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ha.

Can I assume you have some equally feculent vitriol stored up about the brief but wholly dumb scenes at the power plant?

Mad Jon: I dunno, that took a lot of effort.

  However, I do have thoughts.

I thought the only serviceable line happened there. When Carl stated that he was pretty sure the referee they beat up was actually a kid who works at Foot Locker.

  I didn’t necessarily laugh, but it was short and sweet.

Charlie Sweatpants: I did like that line, but it felt like the kind of thing that could’ve been done better.

Mad Jon: Of course, but the hindsight of the last few years tells me that it could have been much, much worse.

Charlie Sweatpants: Also true. It just bugs me when the best things are those cheap setup-setup-punchline type gags.

Mad Jon: True enough.

Other than that, I was a little bothered that Homer’s first trip to that particular employer in sometime was only a lead-in to part of the plot about bedwetting that made him think he has wronged his ‘friends’.

And didn’t another car get out before Homer did?

Charlie Sweatpants: It looked like it. But it also looked like Burns was staring right the fuck at Homer when he was getting pissed off, and they dropped that like it never happened.

Mad Jon: Oh well.

Charlie Sweatpants: The fact that Burns had him up on the stage was also particularly annoying. I know Burns is incompetent now, but after having him watch Homer steal stuff, putting him up there as an example was particularly galling.

Mad Jon: And how does he know Barney doesn’t work there?

Charlie Sweatpants: And why would Barney think he does work there?

Mad Jon: Equally valid question.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else here? As usual, I have a small list of little things that sucked but were so unrelated to anything that they can only qualify as minor: Bart dancing in the sky, the way Marge didn’t notice the bed wetting, the ending that hailed for no reason. But I don’t have much to say about them other than that they made no sense and weren’t funny, which isn’t the world’s most insightful commentary.

Mad Jon: Yeah, there were a bunch of little things, but as you have stated, most do not warrant discussion, even from someone as petty as I.

  I don’t have anything else constructive or otherwise to add.

Charlie Sweatpants: That, at least, is in keeping with the spirit of the episode.

14
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Lisa the Iconoclast7

“1796, a fiercely determined band of pioneers leaves Maryland after misinterpreting a passage in the Bible.  Their destination?  New Sodom.” – Filmstrip Narrator

13
Mar
12

Compare & Contrast: Family Therapy and Meta Commentary

There's No Disgrace Like Home10

“Wait a minute, these mallet things are padded with foam rubber.  What’s the point?” – Homer Simpson
“They’d work much better without the padding, Doc.” – Bart Simpson
“No, no, that’s not true.” – Dr. Marvin Monroe

Shortly after Frink fell out of the sky and “How I Wet Your Mother” took its disastrous Inception turn halfway through, one of the scenes the family quantum slept into was a callback to an old Tracey Ullman short called “Family Therapy”.  (The original is about the family going to a therapist whom they torment until he throws them out of his office.)  But it’s also reminiscent of the ending of Season 1’s “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”.

As usual when Zombie Simpsons recalls something The Simpsons already did, even a quick glance at the two scenes shows the yawning difference in humor and craftsmanship between the two shows.  On The Simpsons, the therapy office is the culmination of the entire story about Homer wanting his family to be postcard perfect despite the fact that he’s the biggest (but by no means only) reason they aren’t and never will be.  There are jokes about family life, bargain basement therapy, pawn shops, poverty, energy conservation, and television itself mixed in with physical gags and genuine feelings.

On Zombie Simpsons, the therapy office is little more than a random sketch among many, each of which features five empty and emotionless comedy troupers doing whatever zany things come to mind.  The only thing in it that had anything to do with the rest of the episode was a coffin that was filled with fish, so even if this scene absolutely, positively had to be a based on a Tracey Ullman short, they could’ve dropped that particular prop into any one they liked.  The contradictory and skeletal framework Zombie Simpsons passes off as a plot didn’t require them to be there or add anything to the scene.

Seein Double Here - Four Therapists

It’s not the real Simpsons, but an incredible simulation!

Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered if Zombie Simpsons had bothered to tie the therapy office to the rest of the episode, because the underlying story was the kind of meandering nonsense you might hear from a five-year-old: See, Homer wets his bed [giggles], and then he’s got skis and there’s a coffin [sips from juice box], but then he falls off a cliff, but then they find the coffin in this room [wipes nose on sleeve], and then the coffin, um, the coffin is full of fish [gets distracted when sibling runs by].  You don’t mind this kind of stuff from the five-year-old because, hey, five-year-old.  Zombie Simpsons doesn’t have that excuse (and stopped being cute a long time ago).

Beyond their places in each episode, though, both scenes also offer an informative meta-statement about the nature of their respective series, not only their specific places on television, but also in popular culture more generally.  The overarching theme of “There’s No Disgrace Like Home” is about the Simpsons being a dysfunctional family, one that will never live up to the ideals of domestic bliss so common in popular portrayals of American families.  That means one thing for the characters within the fictional universe that’s centered on Springfield, but it also means that the show itself, in the real universe of television, was rejecting the normal way of doing things and offering a critique of programs where the kids hardly fight and the dad always wears a nice shirt to the dinner table.  Having the family embrace its shortcomings rather than strive for highly idealized fiction marked The Simpsons as a show apart, something distinct and innovative.

There's No Disgrace Like Home11

Very few programs feature electrocuted infants.

The throwback therapy scene in “How I Wet Your Mother” can be read in a similar way, albeit with vastly different implications.  Not only did it occur as part of yet another tired movie takeoff episode, but its only discernable purpose was empty nostalgia.

As a movie, Inception had already been parodied to death long before Zombie Simpsons got anywhere near it.  There have been so many trailer mashups, alternate endings, and inside jokes, that a quick search for “Inception Parodies” not only turns up a ton of them, but a ton of collections of them as well (‘Inception’ Parodies and Remixes Invade the Web (Videos), Top 10 Inception Trailer Parodies, "Inception" Guides and Parodies).  There just isn’t much left to be said about it.

Insheeption

This came out in October of 2010, and even it was a ripoff.

And while it’s true that Zombie Simpsons hadn’t yet gotten in on that feeding frenzy, that’s hardly an excuse.  If Zombie Simpsons and its slow production cycle want to be a respected part of popular culture, then they have to do something more creative than just having Simpsons characters act out a movie that’s nearly two years old.  That sort of blandly derivative stuff worked for low budget web videos that came out while Inception was still in theaters.  It doesn’t work when you’ve got months to think, write and prepare, plus millions of dollars to animate and present.  Those are advantages that a better show could use to offset the time lag, but Zombie Simpsons doesn’t even try.

That huge problem is magnified when, as part of that hacktacular “parody”, they did a piece of desperate fan service using ye olde tyme animation and voices for no reason other than to remind people of better times.  It’s a double whammy, not only are they failing to keep up with today, they’re also making a base appeal to their few remaining viewers to remember them as they were rather than as they are.  I’ve long said that the only thing that makes Zombie Simpsons special is the fact that it came from The Simpsons.  This is them tacitly agreeing with me.

There’s nothing new or interesting on offer in “How I Wet Your Mother”.  The entire Inception part of the episode is things that have been done before and done better, either by The Simpsons or by others.  When Zombie Simpsons goes to the family therapy center, there’s no point to it other than as a reminder of things the show used to be.  Worse, by using its contribution to the already saturated Inception-parody genre to do nothing more than reference itself, Zombie Simpsons highlighted its own creative bankruptcy.  By contrast, “There’s No Disgrace Like Home” used its trip to family therapy to mock a diverse array of topics and declare its independence from the kind of shows that were typical of its time.  Where The Simpsons stood out and did things no one had ever seen before, Zombie Simpsons limps after trends, never getting there on time.

13
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield3

“Oh, Mrs. Simpson, you are looking very prosperous today.  Might I interest you in some of our impulse items here by the cash register?” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon

12
Mar
12

All Exposition All the Time

Chalkboard - How I Wet Your Mother

“Eww.” – Lisa Simpson

Near the beginning of The Great Muppet Caper, Diana Rigg, playing wealthy fashion designer Lady Holiday, tells Miss Piggy all about her ne’er-do-well brother and the giant diamond that will be central to the plot.  Miss Piggy then asks Rigg why she’s telling her all that stuff.  Rigg’s response should be carved into the walls of studios, film schools, and wherever they’re producing Zombie Simpsons these days:

It’s plot exposition.  It has to go somewhere.

Indeed it does, but “somewhere” is not “everywhere”, a distinction that was lost on “How I Wet Your Mother”.  About two thirds of the way through the episode, I stopped even trying to keep track of the verbal duds that were competing for being the longest, most literal, and most unnecessary pieces of clunky exposition.  Some of the contenders include Marge saying “This might be a clue, what’s in that coffin could be behind your nighttime whoopsies”, Homer declaring “It’s the land of my innermost thoughts and fondest desires”, and the one-two punch of Frink’s “You see, I have invented a device that allows you to enter someone else’s dreams and explore their subconscious”, to which Marge responds, “So we can go inside Homer’s sleeping mind and find out why he’s wetting the bed?”.  Inception, which this episode so incompetently copied, is seven times as long and makes more sense, and I don’t think it had half this many explanations.

Of course, the exposition was only the most glaring problem because it was in pretty much every scene.  There were plenty of other head shaking “whoopsies” ranging from small to huge.  There was the fact that Burns clearly sees Homer leaving the office with stolen supplies before declaring him the only one who didn’t steal.  There was the bizarre way Marge didn’t notice Homer was wetting the bed.  There were several instances of characters appear and disappearing, and all of those took place outside of those interminable dream sequences.  The less said about Frink coming flying out of the sky the better.

It wasn’t all bad.  They do seem to have picked up their game in terms of background and sign humor of late (the putty in the supply closet was nice), and there was some far above average animation in Homer’s dream utopia.  I even liked the extended callback to the Tracey Ullman shorts, though it’s always more bitter than sweet when the thing they do best is inadvertently reminding everyone of when the show was good.  But ultimately, this was talking bar rag redux.  By pretending that it’s Halloween all the time, they can give themselves enough space to add in a nice piece of trimming here and there, but the main elements of the episode are all dumb, tired, and shoddy. 

Anyway, the numbers are in, and they are wet the bed embarrassing.  Last night’s satire free Inception remake was slumbered through by a mere 4.96 million viewers.  That’s the second lowest number of all time, leading only last month’s “The Daughter Also Rises”.  Overall, they’re off more than 15% from this time last season, which was itself chock full of historic lows.  Just a few years ago it was notable when they dropped below six million viewers, now that would be a good night for them.  Us internet die-hards notwithstanding, the general viewing public has very clearly stopped caring in the least about new episodes of Zombie Simpsons.

12
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Dog of Death9

“I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.  I am going to win this lottery.” – Homer Simpson
“Homer, the odds are three-hundred-and-eighty million to one.” – Marge Simpson
“Correction, three-hundred-and-eighty million to fifty!” – Homer Simpson

Happy 20th Anniversary to #Simpsons classic “Dog of Death”!  Original airdate 12 March 1992.

11
Mar
12

Sunday Preview: How I Wet Your Mother

We’re in for a long week:

Karma gets the best of Homer after he gets his friends in trouble, and as a result, his bedwetting problem worsens. The family goes on a mission to infiltrate his dreams to search for clues in his subconscious to determine the source of his problem. But just as things take a dangerous turn in the dream, a figure from Homer’s past appears, and he is finally reassured that the fond memories of his mother Mona (guest voice Glenn Close) remain alive, giving him just the right amount of reassurance to cure him of his problem.

Yikes:

Somewhere in Hollywood, Leonardo DiCaprio just shivered and he doesn’t know why.

11
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Lovejoy's Hell

“I know one of you is responsible for this, so repeat after me.  If I withhold the truth may I go straight to Hell, where I will eat naught but burning hot coals and drink naught but burning hot cola.” – Reverend Lovejoy
“Where fiery demons will punch me in the back.” – Ralph Wiggum
“Where my soul will be chopped into confetti and strewn upon a parade of murderers and single mothers.” – Bart Simpson

10
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

22 Short Films about Springfield7

“Mom, Dad threw his beer can at the Miracle-Gro guy on TV.  Can I recycle it?” – Lisa Simpson
“Why not?” – Marge Simpson

09
Mar
12

Reading Digest: Jealous of Canada Edition

Das Bus5

Oh, Canada, you guys get all the cool stuff.  Not only is tomorrow the one night only engagement of the Simpsons burlesque show in Toronto, but Canada is also now home to a wine called “D’Oh”.  I would very much like to attend the former, preferably while imbibing the latter.  Sadly, I am stuck Stateside.  This week we’ve also got two awesome paeans to the show from people who grew up watching it, interviews with Groening and Reiss, a video game mishap, two people making fun of the Game of Thrones opening from last week, and a “needs more weed” television conspiracy theory. 

Enjoy.

13. On the Simpsons – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this epic open letter to Matt Groening.  It’s got everything: love of the good years, a life changed by The Simpsons, pain at the decline. 

Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from ‘The Simpsons’ – Life lessons learned from The Simpsons, with nary a trace of Zombie Simpsons.  And yeah, cat in the furnace is one of the greats. 

We Put The Spring In Springfield: A Simpsons-Themed Burlesque Show – Want to go:

On March 10, Underground Peepshow will unveil their newest burlesque show, a tribute to what they dub “one of the most influential shows of our geeky generation”: The Simpsons. Expect sexy takes on classic characters – Marge has already received the Playboy treatment, but over a dozen performers will show off their sexy interpretations of the classic animated show – I’m hoping for a Selma and Patty-inspired performance, myself. I’m also looking forward to what are quickly becoming hallmarks of Underground Peepshow performances: elaborate costumes, and fearlessly tarting up and playing homage to some of nerd culture’s least obvious characters. Get ready to look at Groundskeeper Willy or Edna Krabappel in a whole new light.

Here are the details:

Toronto Underground Cinema, 186 Spadina Avenue, Toronto ON

Hours

Saturday March 10, 2012

Doors: 9:00 PM
Show: 9:30 PM

Pricing

Advance: $12.00
At the door: $15.00
Advance tickets available at Toronto Underground Cinema, Silver Snail, Eyesore Cinema, Suspect Video

19+

Happily, the official site has a gallery page, so we should get some pictures. 

Project 365 or 366 – #31 – They may have Duff beer in Britain, but in Canada they’ve got “D’Oh” wine.  I can only hope that a nice liquor (“Crumulent” perhaps?) comes to America soon.  

D’OH! The Simpsons: Tapped Out Pulled From App Store – I guess people like Simpsons games:

The Simpsons: Tapped Out has been pulled from the App Store just days after launch. Due to the overwhelming demand for The Simpsons: Tapped Out, the app has suffered connection problems with EA’s servers, D’OH!

For whatever reason, EA simply did not account for a Simpsons game being so popular, that it might cause a meltdown in the EA server power plant.

That’s pretty funny.  According to what I can find on-line, it’s still down. 

Appointment Viewing: March 5-March 11 – Lenny, bringing her weekly thunder to Sunday’s Zombie Simpsons:

8:00 – The Simpsons (Fox): Following a traumatic incident, Homer’s bed-wetting problem worsens, and his family decide to infiltrate his dreams to get to its subconscious source. And in Homer’s dreams is where his late mother (voice of Glenn Close) resides. Coincidentally, a couple days ago I was trying to decide on the worst Simpsons episode title ever and now here comes an episode that wins by a landslide. “How I Wet Your Mother.”

Let’s see, it’s been about a year and a half since Inception came out, yeah, I’d say we’re due.  Bed wetting?  Jebus.

“Oh, boy! The deep fryer’s here. Heh heh, I got it used from the navy. You can flash-fry a buffalo in forty seconds.” -Moe Szyslak (The Simpsons) « Freakoutville Xpress – Forty seconds?  But I want it now!

leme simpsons – Cool fan made photographic montage of a glass of water and a TV playing what looks like “Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder”. 

Who Said It? Mitt Romney or Mr. Burns? – Putting up quotes of Mitt Romney and Mr. Burns, and you didn’t use “What good is money if it can’t inspire terror in your fellow man?”.  For shame, Mad Magazine, for shame.  (via)

Mike Reiss – Reiss will be in Charlotte, NC this weekend for the Charlotte Jewish Film Festival’s closing program. 

Homer and Marge Simpson in my glasses – It’s a blog that’s nothing more than pictures of the famous with this guy’s glasses.  Neat idea. 

Bart Simpson – It’s a 3D printed Bart walking toy, and you can download the file to print your own.

The Simpsons also love Game of Thrones – The couch “gag” with Game of Thrones was obvious linkbait, and lots of people went for it.  This one deserves special commendation however:

Of course the rest of the Simpsons episode kinda went downhill from there – Bart becomes a street artist a la Shepard Fairey to get back at Homer for locking him in a rabbit cage. It was as bland and convoluted as it sounds.  As has been said on the show so many times in so many way, Meh.

Indeed.  I’ve watched it twice, and what bugs me most of all is that everything works.  Shouldn’t some of the gears have seized, causing the power plant to collapse or something? 

Game of Thrones/ The Simpsons – Okay, one more:

Possibly the one good thing to come out of the Simpson’s in like 12 seasons, as featured on /Film today– The Simpsons parody of the Game of Thrones opening sequence.

Homer Simpson – Experimenting with an online doodle application by drawing Homer. 

The Joy of Sect – Arsenal, Arsene Wenger and The Simpsons – A long but amusing comparison of “The Joy of Sect” and the travails of one professional soccer club. 

So Many Possibilities – A bunch of other take offs on “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”, including that Simpsons one. 

The price of eating well – This post is better at making fun of overly expensive food than this week’s Zombie Simpsons, and it comes with appropriate Homer YouTube. 

Rompi Anak Branded Murah Simpsons A2503 – This isn’t in English, but there is a picture of what appears to be an officially licensed baby vest that looks like it might have something to do with soccer and that I don’t recognize from any episode.  It wouldn’t surprise me if this is some goofy bootleg, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if it’s legit. 

March Madness: TV Conspiracy Theory – The Last Five Minutes of St. Elsewhere – I’d never heard of that.  It seems like the kind of thing a stoned Tom Hulce in Animal House would think.

YouTube of My 25 Favorite Original Songs from TV Shows. – Lenny provides a ton of excellent YouTube here, including a couple of great songs from The Simpsons

“Simpsons” creator visits UW-Madison and longtime friend (March 9, 2012) – Groening was the surprise guest an art lecture.  And this is great background:

Though the accounts of their meeting differ – Groening, for his part, says he wanted to meet Barry because she struck up a correspondence with author Joseph Heller by pretending to be Ingrid Bergman – they agree that their work on the college’s newspaper solidified their relationship.

And it comes with a nice plug for college papers. 

Matt Groening: I could easily fill up my entire life just working on Futurama – Heh:

You have these two hugely successful shows. Do you have an idea for a third show bubbling away in the back of your mind?

I certainly have enough on my hands to do with these two. But the really great thing about having two TV shows  going on at the same time is that I can go to one and say that I have to go and visit the other and then I can just go home and they don’t know.

The Perfect Moejito – I chuckled.  It’s the look on Moe’s face. 

Cindy’s Return to the Universe – The always tricky, “I vow to blog more often” post comes with two pieces of Futurama fan art and YouTube of two favorite Simpsons quotes.  I love Flanders’ cider enthusiasm. 

Downtown Jersey City bar to host "The Friday After" exhibit featuring local artist – Cool fan made sculpture of Bart standing in front of what kinda looks like the church windows. 

Two Things That I Like But That Are Now Dead – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us:

The first thing that I like but that is now dead is The Simpsons.

[…]

A week or two ago The Simpsons aired its 500th episode. It was really bad. For a hardcore Simpsons fan like myself, it was even depressing.

Indeed it was.  The other dead thing is David Foster Wallace.  Though if he came back as a zombie it might be even worse than Zombie Simpsons. 

09
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Much Apu About Nothing6

“This is Kent Brockman, with a special report from the Channel 6 News Copter.  A large, bear-like animal, most likely a bear, has wandered down from the hills in search of food or, perhaps, employment.” – Kent Brockman

08
Mar
12

Compare & Contrast: Fake Stores and Artists of Varying Fame

Mom and Pop Art6

“Dad, chew with your mouth closed.  You’re losing your mystique.” – Lisa Simpson
“Lisa, all great artists love free food.  Check out Jasper Johns.” – Homer Simpson
“You squeal on me, I’ll kill you.” – Jasper Johns

Zombie Simpsons’ remarkable inability to parody things beyond changing around a few letters has been brought up around here before.  Ditto their lame celebrity guest policy of having people voice themselves in what usually amount to barely concealed brag statements about how awesome they are in real life.  With “Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart”, Zombie Simpsons managed to pull both of those tired old rabbits out of their threadbare bag of tricks.

“Swapper Jack’s”, the latest in the long line of renamed brands that Zombie Simpsons mistook for satire, is so unbelievably lazy that I feel like a bit of a rube for even giving it this much consideration.  I’ll give them credit for some decent sign gags on the outside of the store, though.  “Grass-Fed Lettuce” is kinda funny, as is the idea of meat so pampered that’s its sung to sleep.  But those are generalities, there’s nothing about them that’s inherently linked to Trader Joe’s/Swapper Jack’s.  There are, after all, a lot of stores that cater to foodies with disposable income.

Foodie Signs

Not bad, Zombie Simpsons.  Too bad you had to go inside the store.

Once they walk through the doors though, any attempt at broad satire is instantly dropped in favor of bland, semi-complimentary one liners for this particular store.  Like “Cinnabun” a couple of months ago, “Swapper Jack’s” isn’t so much a parody as it is an advertisement.  Little tweaks to the decor and having jelly that even Lisa hasn’t heard of are the kind of half-clever, self-congratulatory ideas you’d normally expect to find in a company newsletter.

Contrast that gentle fluffing with the unlimited contempt poured into the Monstromart in “Homer and Apu”.  The establishing shot lets us know that this place, partly Costco, partly Wal-Mart, partly the rest of those giant warehouse stores, is not going to come out of this well.

Homer and Apu7

It looks like the headquarters of some Eastern European secret police agency.

The entire time Marge and Apu are at the store, hilarious and terrible things are happening.  The place only sells nutmeg in sizes that would last for years, and their mania for bulk allows Barney to accidentally trigger a cranberry juice tidal wave by asking a giant syrup container where the lampshades are.  Then there’s the wonderfully disingenuous (and successful) declaration of corporate love via loudspeaker, the kind of cheap, commercial chicanery The Simpsons lived to mock.  Nothing about the place, from the “1000 Items or Less” express aisle to the parade of “pathetic, single men”, would ever make you want to shop there or any place like it.  Monstromart wasn’t born out of a love of big box stores the way “Swapper Jack’s” was born out of someone wandering into their favorite Trader Joe’s and taking notes.  Monstromart is mean.

But their love of Trader Joe’s wasn’t the only thing Zombie Simpsons wanted to promote this week, there was also Shepard Fairey and his lesser known comrades in paint.  The real tipoff that this is more about “these guys seem cool, let’s put them on TV” than it is “hey, let’s make fun of street art” is the fact that there are four of them, and three of them don’t do anything but be themselves.  Kenny Scharf, Robbie Conal, and Ron English are all artists of at least some renown, but none of them are famous the same way Shepard Fairey is famous.  (To take the simplest measure of modern influence, Fairey’s Wikipedia page is more than three times bigger than all of theirs combined.)  To have them do nothing but recite their names and mumble a few lines about street art is a complete waste.  Consider:

Milhouse: Who are you guys?
Kenny Scharf: Kenny Scharf, Robbie Conal.
Shepard Fairey: I’m Shepard Fairey.

That’s followed shortly by this:

Shepard Fairey: We’re not bullies.  We’re artists, and so are you.  Urban vandalism is now the hottest art form there is.

When you have your most famous guest star say who he is, what he does, and why its popular, something has gone terribly wrong.  It’s not funny, or even trying to be funny.  Instead, it’s like what you’d hear at a museum if you spend the ten bucks to rent the headphones.

Attendance

When I call your name, you say ‘present’ or ‘here’.  No, say ‘present’.

That’s weak sauce by any measure, but especially when you compare it to Jasper Johns appearance in “Mom and Pop Art”.  Johns isn’t a household name either (I’d never heard of him before I saw that episode), but he is a serious professional artist whose work has sold for millions of dollars.  Which is why having him pilfer light bulbs and generally act like a jerk is so great.  He was pushing seventy when that episode was written, but it has him scrambling up ladders and stealing motorboats.  In just a few moments of screen time, it’s patently clear – even to people who don’t know who he is – that while he’s voicing himself, he isn’t playing himself.

The Jasper Johns in “Mom and Pop Art” is no more representative of the real guy than the Hugh Hefner who has a bunny staffed research facility or the Mickey Rooney who flies in by helicopter to play child roles.  Those guys were voicing themselves, but they weren’t just being themselves.  If they were, there’d be no point.  The Simpsons understood that, Zombie Simpsons doesn’t.  It thinks the guest stars are the point.

That’s why they drag in four different street artists despite having barely enough lines for one of them.  For Zombie Simpsons, the cachet of having the guys on is more important than giving them something funny to say or do.  It’s the same thinking that leads them to make thinly veiled advertisements for Trader Joe’s and Cinnabon and then pat themselves on the back for being clever.  The Simpsons didn’t bring on Jasper Johns as a way of saying, “This guy’s awesome”, they brought him on to make fun of art and pretend to be a kleptomaniac dickcheese.  And they certainly didn’t create Monstromart to gently tweak the foibles of understaffed stores that make shopping a baffling ordeal.

Zombie Simpsons shops at trendy stores and hangs out with cool people.  The Simpsons laughs at things like that.

08
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

Summer of 4 Ft 2(10)

“Friends?  Ha!  These are my only friends, grown up nerds like Gore Vidal, and even he’s kissed more boys than I ever will.” – Lisa Simpson
“Girls, Lisa, boys kiss girls.” – Marge Simpson

07
Mar
12

Quote of the Day

The Cartridge Family4

“Now, I believe you have some sort of firearm for me.” – Homer Simpson
“Well, let’s see here.  According to your background check you’ve been in a mental institution.” – Bloodbath & Beyond Gun Shop Guy
“Yeah.” – Homer Simpson
“Frequent problems with alcohol.” – Bloodbath & Beyond Gun Shop Guy
“Oh yeah.” – Homer Simpson
“You beat up President Bush.” – Bloodbath & Beyond Gun Shop Guy
“Former President. . . . ‘Potentially Dangerous’?” – Homer Simpson
“Relax, that just limits you to three hand guns or less.” – Bloodbath & Beyond Gun Shop Guy
“Woo-hoo!” – Homer Simpson




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