Crazy Noises: A Totally Fun That Thing Bart Will Never Do Again

Homer's Phobia6

“Well, I never thought it would come to this, but I guess we’ll have to sell Grandma’s Civil War doll.” – Marge Simpson
“Oh, Mom, are you sure you want to sell a family heirloom to pay the gas bill?  I mean, what would your Grandma say?” – Lisa Simpson
“I’m sure she’d be proud that her descendant’s had piping hot tap water and plenty of warm, dry underwear.” – 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 “Antarctica”).

When Zombie Simpsons sets the stupid as high as they did with “A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again”, one of the side effects is often scenes that don’t make any sense in and of themselves, much less in the wider context of the episode.  To take but one example, before the episode gets to its main topic of showing off how awesome cruises are, Bart sells all of his worldly possessions to earn enough money to go on the cruise.  Here he is with his meager proceeds:

I Miss the Swear Jar

Good thing it says “Cruise” on there or I’d be lost.

After the scene at the dinner table, Bart goes up to his room and sleeps on his illogically bare floor.  Marge comes up and sees him.  In the next scene, which the show explicitly tells us is the following morning, Bart comes running into the living room with a jar full of money.  What follows is astonishingly hacktacular, even for this episode.

Starting with Bart and then moving to Lisa, Marge and finally Homer, each Simpson family member gets to monologue some terribly overwrought gag while the others stand by patiently.  The following transcript is complete, I’ve included everything they say:

Bart:  Mom, Dad!  I woke up and the money jar was full!  That means the Devil accepted my bargain, now to uphold my end of the deal.  Snowball II?

With Bart’s name safely marked off on the checklist, Marge exposits what’s going on (because showing us is counter to the Zombie Simpsons style guide):

Marge:  No.  We saw how much this cruise means to you, so we all sold something special.  And we made just enough for an economy cabin.

Everybody got that?  Good.  Now, the “jokes”:

Lisa:  I sold a couple of my rare jazz records.  After a while they all start to sound the same.  Still love the genre, of course, not even close to getting sick of it.

Thanks, Yeardley.  Julie, you’re next:

Marge:  And I sold our good china.
Bart:  Really?  But that’s been in your family for generations.
Marge:  Yeah.  Actually, my Mom stole it from a woman she cleaned for.  Took her years to get the whole set.

Rim shot!  Okay, there’s only one family member left.  Dan, if you please:

Lisa:  And Dad donated something too.
Homer [Entering from off screen]:  What happened to my mini-pool table?  I was training to be a mini-pool hustler!

At this point you can almost hear the whistling and hooting as Homer bursts into the scene and hits his mark.  Everyone got their line, so it must be time for more exposition:

Marge:  We sold it to pay for a family cruise.

Thanks, writing staff.  I hadn’t been reminded of that in almost thirty seconds.  It goes on from there, with Homer doubling down on the mini-pool idea and more exposition from Bart.

This is writing so blandly dutiful it hardly qualifies as bad.  It’s similar to those songs on a commercial pop album that have no chance of becoming singles, but have to be there because no one’s going to buy the whole album if it’s only got three tracks.  The hooks are weak and the lyrics are forgettable, but nobody cares because everyone knows that they aren’t really that important.  And this episode is full of scenes like this one: Bart’s garage sale, the upgrade lady, pretty much every scene with Lisa and the other smart kids, the list goes on and on.

[Note: This may be even less coherent than usual as we had some technical problems toward the end.]

Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to set sail?

Dave: We are.

Mad Jon: My DVR spared me the couch gag and skipped to Bart being bored. I assume I didn’t miss much…

Charlie Sweatpants: No, the couch gag was mercifully short.

Dave: To my bitter self, it was one of the least offensive couch gags in memory

Just some text

Some font variety

5 seconds, done.

Charlie Sweatpants: But it was also a repeat.

Mad Jon: Oh, well, I might have enjoyed that.

Dave: Oh, didn’t know that.

Also that was followed by Hot Chip

So for about 1.5 minutes I wasn’t so grumpy with the show

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ll grant that was cleverer than most of their montages, but it went on much longer than it needed to.

The commercial for the cruise line was kind of the same way, not terrible.

Dave: Yep, bingo.

Mad Jon: Agreed

Dave: It was almost reasonable.

Mad Jon: Unlike the following Mr. Steak discussion.

Charlie Sweatpants: But then they took it seriously. I thought having it say that the visuals of the commercial “if anything underplay” the actual experience was a joke. Turns out they were serious.

Dave: Prior to that nonsense I will admit to chuckling at the Magazine Hater magazine

Mad Jon: I didn’t catch the Mila Kunis tag line.

Dave: and I do have a soft spot for Homer’s reading glasses. Other than that, it was bloody awful.

Dave: something about her being America’s sexiest magazine hater

Mad Jon: Good for her!

Charlie Sweatpants: From there the episode went into Bart freaking out and selling stuff, and from there he freaked out some more and the rest of the family sold stuff.

All on its own, that doesn’t sound too terrible, but they only know how to take things to extremes.

Mad Jon: There was some good Xanax product placement spots there…

Charlie Sweatpants: So Bart’s whole room gets emptied without anyone noticing, and then the next morning the rest of them have sold something and stuffed cash in his jar. It’s childishly simplistic storytelling.

Mad Jon: Cut to the chase and all that.

Charlie Sweatpants: Something like that. Either make them all selling stuff a real plot point or don’t. Instead they dither with it for a long time and still end up doing nothing but having them exposit about what they sold.

Dave: It’s an effective strategy when you have nothing to write about.

Charlie Sweatpants: True enough. This episode had a lot of filler.

The single-double-triple upgrade thing comes to mind.

Dave: Um yeah.

I was convinced they were going to steal home.

Charlie Sweatpants: So much of the middle of the episode was just them saying “Look how cool we made this ship! Don’t you want to go on a cruise like this?”

There are a lot of shots that are basically brochure porn.

Brochure Porn

Our courteous staff, gorgeous views, and convenient shopping are there for you 24-hours a day.

Mad Jon: Yeah, but I did like the line about having “before you were born fun.”

Dave: There was that “Life Aquatic” ripoff too.

Mad Jon: Was the cruise director someone famous or something?

Charlie Sweatpants: It was Steve Coogan. He’s much more famous in Britain than he is here, but you’d probably know him if you saw him.

Mad Jon: Meh.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, like most guest spots it was a waste. His lines were pretty much all descriptions of what was going on at the time, combined with the word “fun”.

Even the song was crappy.

But pretty much the entire thing on the ship was like that. We’ve got some idea that’s almost a joke, and we’re going to run it into the ground.

Lisa’s little elite playgroup, Marge and Homer’s canoodling, even all the cool stuff Bart did, for all the bright colors it was all one note gags repeated over and over.

Mad Jon: Yep.

Jokes aside, the plot was basically Bart trying to worm out of his panic attacks. Which may or may not actually start at 10 nowadays. I can’t be sure.

However, realistic or not, panic attacks aren’t really that entertaining.

Dave: That didn’t stop them from trying though, did it?

Mad Jon: Never does.

Charlie Sweatpants: And don’t forget that Bart, for whatever reason, is basically immune to noticing how crappy the ship got all of a sudden.

Mad Jon: Especially for 12 extra days.

Dave: Yeah, he’s still having a blast.

Charlie Sweatpants: If they’d included something about how he was in denial or whatever, that would’ve been a sop to making sense. But instead he’s happy as a clam even though all the things he loved about the ship are suddenly gone.

Mad Jon: But the best is still that in the -30 degree weather, when everyone was walking about in their normal clothes, Bart explained that he did it for everyone else, and then they played with penguins and learned a lesson.

Charlie Sweatpants: Did you notice that they suddenly were back in their regular clothes after no being in them for the rest of the episode? That doesn’t even make page one of the list of things that were weird about it, but I thought it was telling.

The scenes really are barely connected to one another.

Mad Jon: True, they were in boatware before that, Homer in the Hawaiian shirt, Bart was wearing a suit or something, and then they are in Antarctica, next to a sign denoting the research station was 3 miles away, wearing their everyday clothes and sledding.

Charlie Sweatpants: The ending was impressively batshit, even by their standards.

The penguin thing came completely out of nowhere, and then all of a sudden everything was okay with a flashforward to Bart’s death many decades from now.

Mad Jon: Yeah, that happened

Charlie Sweatpants: If this was a video installation at a modern art museum it’d be so confusing that people might think it’s good.

As a half hour of supposed comedy, however . . .

Mad Jon: My DVR ended at that, but I assume nothing much happened after the pictures from the future part.

Charlie Sweatpants: No, that was it.

There were a lot of things that could’ve been funny, but none of it was thought through enough to pan out.

A lifeguard as a cult leader, for example, isn’t terrible, but just saying that and then repeating it leaves it half formed.

Mad Jon: Minus the stupid incongruities, such as the clothing from the end, this one was one of the “more boring than stupid, but still pretty stupid” zombiesodes.

I probably would have liked the lifeguard thing if a lifeguard thing hadn’t just happened a few weeks ago.

Charlie Sweatpants: There’s that. But what I meant is, they had this weird post apocalyptic society on the ship and having a lifeguard in charge of a cult there could’ve been funny if they’d developed it a little. Instead, they just race through it as nothing more than a punchline.

They could’ve done more with that idea, but they had to get to Antarctica, so they just leave it there, not quite part of the plot, but also not small enough to just be a joke.

The pacing on this show is non-existent. Things seems to slow down and speed up with no discernable logic.

Mad Jon: I didn’t really notice that, but I wasn’t paying that close of attention.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s not that important.

Mad Jon: I just saw a panicked Bart start some shit, and then watched that shit fall apart and end up at the south pole.

Charlie Sweatpants: Bet that’s not something you were expecting to type at this time yesterday.

22 Responses to “Crazy Noises: A Totally Fun That Thing Bart Will Never Do Again”

  1. 1 Mr. Snrub
    1 May 2012 at 4:07 pm

    “Marge: No. We saw how much this cruise means to you, so we all sold something special. And we made just enough for an economy cabin.”
    There’s nothing really wrong with this. Showing them all selling their stuff would have taken much longer and just wouldn’t have fit in the episode. It is exposition, but here it at least has a purpose and makes sense.

    The way the jokes robotically follow each other is quite shoddy in retrospect, but I’d be lying if I noticed it or really cared on first viewing. My main problem was that none of the jokes were funny, simple as.

    • 2 Stan
      2 May 2012 at 2:16 am

      I guess the general prob with shows today is that they’re too much self explanatory of whatever is going on there. It’s not just the Simpsons, I remember seeing it in other sitcoms too. Sometimes they really won’t stop until they pummel the idea into your head, and that’s that.

      What I really deplore in the above quote however is the part “…saw how much this cruise means to you…” I mean, where in the hell did the family see it? When Bart sold all his stuff? At 30 seconds run he manages to completely free his room of everything, including all the furniture, and everyone just goes with it? So saying “saw” here is actually but a lame excuse for making sure the rest of the family are not witless morons who had to be spoonfed with bits of the main storyline. And then, it rebounds with Marge re-explaining the same shit to Homer.

      In all, it’s quite comparable to a book in which all the pages had to be shoved into the cover binding at once, and that now looks like an anus. That’s what their storytelling feeling like to me.

      • 3 May 2012 at 7:15 pm

        That’s always been my problem with South Park (which I’m sure tons of people reading this blog absolutely love but hey). They just beat ideas/jokes to death. It works a little better on SP but it still gets old…

  2. 4 Cyberen
    1 May 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Why do these writers get paid?

  3. 5 Brian
    1 May 2012 at 7:30 pm

    The AV Club gave this an A-. What the Hell.

  4. 2 May 2012 at 12:24 am

    I actually laughed a bit at “Lisa: I sold a couple of my rare jazz records. After a while they all start to sound the same. *nervous laughter, looks around a bit* Still love the genre, of course…. not even close to getting sick of it…

    I’ve often felt like that with a lot of music genres, especially American Primitive (like John Fahey) and drone music (like Robe.) and so on.

    • 9 Stan
      2 May 2012 at 2:08 am

      It’s a poor joke. Why would Lisa need to defend herself of the fact she stopped liking some of jazz? If she had a conversation with Bleeding Gums Murphy’s ghost I’d understand, but here it just felt completely out of context (like many phrases on this show do today).

      • 3 May 2012 at 10:40 am

        The way she said it made it sound like she was forced into selling the records and the reason she used was one that most anti-[insert musical genre] fans might say, “Oh, it all sounds the same.” Her nervousness and obvious lie made it amusing to me.

  5. 2 May 2012 at 12:27 am

    btw, the title of this post should be Crazy Noises: A Totally Fun Thing >THAT< Bart Will Never Do Again.

    Not to be a stickler, I just noticed you always fix details/tags/etc.

    • 2 May 2012 at 12:31 am

      BTW, sorry to write so much but I just found out Matt Warburton (writer of this episode) is now a writer on Community. So, yeah, he’s probably going to ruin another one of my favorite shows while he’s at it. Bleh.

      What’s next — he joins the Arrested Development reboot? For fuck’s sake..

    • 13 Charlie Sweatpants
      4 May 2012 at 6:33 pm

      Fixed, thanks. I’m really hoping I never have to type that whole damn thing out again. Between dropping words and substituting “Supposedly” for “Totally” I don’t think I’ve ever garbled one of their hideous titles more than I did this week.

  6. 2 May 2012 at 4:58 am

    What bugged me was all the contrivances:
    –The ship not having GPS and no one finding them days after they were supposed to return
    –Bart causing all that chaos on the bridge and nobody stopping him
    –The family dropped off in Antarctica wearing only their normal clothes and not freezing to death in minutes
    –No one saw the DVD before Bart played the prank?
    –All of Bart’s stuff will be back next episode, so the “sacrifices” have no meaning.

  7. 2 May 2012 at 10:29 am

    I missed this one…can somebody please tell me what the Life Aquatic ripoff was? It’s my favorite film, and I’d love a reason to get very upset today.

  8. 2 May 2012 at 1:39 pm

    Steve Coogan’s appearance on Curb Your Enthusiasm episode “The Therapists” is just genius, but I had no idea that was even his voice on the ship.

    I think next week’s episode is going to have Bryan “Walter White” Cranston on it… I mean, anything even remotely involving BReaking Bad or the actors involved makes me happy but you know… it IS Zombie Simpsons, so…

  9. 18 akumatafur
    2 May 2012 at 2:13 pm

    In all honesty, the fact that Bart´s happy moments in life solely consist of slides was a bit funny and depressing.

    And since wher do the Simpsons have a giant flatscreen TV!?

    • 3 May 2012 at 3:34 am

      Yeah the flatscreen thing bugged me, too. As I’ve said before, my theory on one the most consistent reasons why Zomsons episodes are so bad is that these are 1987 characters in 2012 (-ish; thert is, of coure, those long delays better episode concept and then birth). It just seems so wrong. So lifeless and cold. The modern information-overload times are depressing enough as it is, the The Simpsons embracing it and awkwardly making jokes about it (many of their jokes try to exert the same type of “humor” and “intelligence” of a fucking 4chan post) is just really really odd. If you’re going to keep your characters the same — not just their age, but their overall personally.. aside from many characters who are either becoming mor\re assholeish, reepier, or just realy diferrent but bland.. maybe you should keep the period of the show roughly the same. The show just has this big awkward hard to watch clash in styles, from the “way things have always been” (which is usually good).. to the superclean high-def bullshit fake-sheen of the present show which doesn’t go with the dark dirty looks from before. The show just feels like a shitty contradiction slash parody of itself.

  10. 3 May 2012 at 10:42 am

    “If this was a video installation at a modern art museum it’d be so confusing that people might think it’s good.”

    Hhaha. While I love experimental filmmaking (mainly Shaye St. John, Ryan Trecartin, Damon Packard, Brakhage, James Fotopolous, etc), you COULD make an argument that Zombie Simpsoms is as shitty as the Cremaster Cycle (hell, I’m surprised Matthew Barney hasn’t appeared on the Simpsons).

  11. 21 Non-Existent Man
    3 May 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I’ll be honest, this episode is probably the best of Season 23, but thats saying nothing.

  12. 4 May 2012 at 7:23 am

    A Totally Shitty Episode ABRA CADAVER Will Never Watch Again.

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