Compare & Contrast: Wedding Reception Guest Lists

A Milhouse Divided9

“Would you guys do a favor for a guy in love?” – Kirk van Houten
“Sure.” – Drummer
“Yeah.” – Doobie Brother
“It’s why we’re here.” – Keyboardist

“Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend” uses a lot of ideas, characters and jokes from earlier episodes.  There’s a religious school that’s more expository and less believably insane than the one in “Whacking Day”.  There’s Flanders calling a talking dog “the spawn of the devil” when we all know from “Bart the Lover” that it’s Todd who considers the idea of a talking dog “blasphemous”.  There’s even that poorly stereotyped theater guy, who’s not nearly as humorously delusional as the great Llewellyn Sinclair from “A Streetcar Named Marge”.  But for the starkest illustration of just how differently The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons approach the same kind of concept, there’s nothing better than looking at the way each portrayed a wedding reception hosted at the Simpson home.

Like “Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend”, Season 8’s “A Milhouse Divided” takes marriage as its inspiration, and both episodes end up with a small party on Evergreen terrace to celebrate recent nuptials.  The differences arise when you begin to consider not only who is at these parties, but why they are there and what they do.  In the case of Zombie Simpsons, the event is less of a real party and more of a roll call of wacky characters:

Odd Party

I’m mildly surprised by the lack of Bumblebee Man.

I only count two strangers in that image (the anonymous couple underneath Moe); other than that everyone is a recurring character (and I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be Helen Lovejoy behind the bush to the right of Disco Stu).  Here’s the guest list as of this establishing shot:

  • Bride:  Groundskeeper Willie, Superintendent Chalmers, Mr. Largo, Miss Hoover, Lunchlady Doris, and (I guess) the van Houtens.
  • Groom:  The Lovejoys and (I guess) Homer and Marge. 
  • ??????:  Moe, Lenny, Carl, the Nahasapeemapetilons, Cookie Kwan, Disco Stu, and Sideshow Mel

Half the guest list has no discernable reason to be there and we haven’t even gotten to the bizarre sequence with Captain McAllister and Lindsey Naegle.  For characters like Disco Stu and Cookie Kwan, neither of whom gets a line, there’s no reason to have them there at all.  What’s more, even the characters who have a plausible reason to be there don’t do anything.  Miss Hoover, for example, doesn’t get a word in even though we know that her and Krabappel are work friends who’ve hung out in the past.  Almost everyone in that shot is simple background filler, they don’t have anything to do with the story outside of this party, nor do they do anything in this scene.

By contrast, here’s the guests at Homer and Marge’s second wedding:

A Milhouse Divided8

Hey look, people who have reasons to be there.

Here the only people we have are Marge’s mother and sisters, Homer’s father, and the other couples that were at the dinner party that begins the episode.  There aren’t any random celebrities or Springfield eccentrics who have no connection to these people or their lives.  Not only does this make the story seem more realistic and relatable, but it also means that when it comes time for people to crack jokes and act funny, we don’t have to just drop in random characters for no reason.  Instead we get Lovejoy’s exasperation at Homer’s vows, the hip rock & roll combo with one Doobie Brother, and Kirk’s hilariously pathetic failure to re-woo Luann, including asking for his shirts back and his meek acceptance of being ejected at the hands of her vastly superior new boyfriend.

Compare that with what passes for comedy at the Flanders-Krabappel reception.  Since none of the secondary characters who should be there have anything to do with the rest of the plot, the only thing Zombie Simpsons can do is paste in McAllister and Naegle hooking up and Moe and Lisa staring dumbly at the fourth wall.  Marge breaks up the former for reasons that don’t make any sense (I fail to see how it reflects poorly on the host when two people get together at a wedding reception), and the latter is yet another attempt by Zombie Simpsons to deflect how badly the move to a four act structure has affected the show.

The entire reception scene in Zombie Simpsons is hollow.  It goes on for two minutes after the shot I grabbed above, and yet the only event that’s even vaguely plot related is Flanders and Krabappel getting into a big fight over Rod and Todd.  The rest of the space has to be filled with the out of place antics of other secondary characters (pretty much all of whom come from Season 9 or earlier) because there’s simply nothing else going on.  This is bad enough on its own, but consider what a staggering failure of imagination it represents.

This show had two characters fall in love and get married, and not just any two characters.  Flanders and Krabappel have both been with the show since Season 1; not only do they come from very different social spheres, but they’ve had countless interactions with other characters over the years.  That much history should open up all kinds of possibilities, everything from secular-religious conflicts and accommodations (which the episode barely touches) to quick and simple jokes about the backstory of some of the other characters.  Just between Hoover and Reverend Lovejoy you’d think they could come up with at least one line that was relevant and funny.  But with all those untapped ideas and rich character bios at its fingertips, Zombie Simpsons went with random flirting between two characters who are unrelated to what’s happening and unrelated to one another. 

The empty nature of the thing is another example of the way Zombie Simpsons treats Springfield and its citizens as flat, lifeless background ornamentation.  They’ve lost any interest in using the characters as characters, and instead just see them as a collection of traits that can be trotted out at any time and for any reason.  (“The sea captain gets with the business lady?  Outrageous!”)  The Simpsons never needed to resort to those kind of cheap shortcuts because it treated its characters like real human beings (even the nameless musicians have lines and motivations), and the scene is tremendously smarter and richer because of it. 

Kirk asking for his shirts back is kinda funny on its own, but it’s made so much better because of who he is and of how pitiful it is for him to still be caught up on some old shirts that we saw Luann burn much earlier in the episode.  Zombie Simpsons never does that kind of thing, and the result is weird scenes where characters act with little to no motivation and the jokes have nothing to do with the story.  In The Simpsons, as in real life, it matters who’s on the guest list.  In Zombie Simpsons, it doesn’t. 

52 Responses to “Compare & Contrast: Wedding Reception Guest Lists”

  1. 1 akumatafur
    15 May 2012 at 4:07 pm

    @Charlie: “….. McAllister and Naegle hooking up……Marge breaks up the former for reasons that don’t make any sense (I fail to see how it reflects poorly on the host when two people get together at a wedding reception),”

    Marge says no weird hook-ups allowed. They were clearly making fun of NedxEdna, the (ironically) main point of this episode. It was a good jab, but not enough to save the whole episode.

    • 15 May 2012 at 6:01 pm

      I was glad they made fun of themselves, something they don’t really ever do anymore. They also made fun of the 4 act structure and they made fun of the voting crap from last year.

      • 15 May 2012 at 6:04 pm

        Errr, oops, the writeup mentions the 4 act thing. But I would just say it’s a continuation of the “No weird hookups” thing.

      • 4 Stan
        15 May 2012 at 8:37 pm

        Nah, it’s still kinda weak. Ned + Edna is not really a “weird” hook-up, it’s more of an unrelated sitcom-like story arc scraping whatever’s left there to use. McAllister + Naegle is just dumb filler already, and Marge coming to intercept them get the whole scene capsized (har har har). Seriously, it’s like Charlie points out nothing but stupid narration of itself. Completely needless imo.

        • 5 Dan S.
          15 May 2012 at 9:15 pm

          Yea I agree, captain McAllister talked for about 15 seconds about some shit about being married to the sea. Who the fuck is he saying this too? The writers just think up some “jokes” and use them anywhere regardless if they make contextual sense. I thought the fourth wall break was pretty weak, I mean, if the show was good but for the four act structure fine, but the show is abysmal, the four acts have nothing to do with why its so horrible. The show is rarely split into traditional acts anyway, the lead in is some wacky bullshit that is never heard from again which launches into some other bullshit that may or may not be less tenuously held together.

          • 15 May 2012 at 10:55 pm

            Thinking about it now, you’re probably right, and this was actually them probably trying to insult Fox for inserting so many commercial breaks on the show rather than any example of self-criticism.

            The Sea Captain speech WAS horrible. What was it? “I’m married to the great lakes, I won’t name which ones, but it’s eerie how superior they are.” or something. That was pretty bad…

            • 7 Stan
              15 May 2012 at 11:05 pm

              It’s the kind of a joke slogan one would find on a Travel guide to Canada. For children.

            • 8 Dan S.
              16 May 2012 at 12:38 am

              Yea, that joke won my most awkwardly placed and jarring joke of the night award. I think that my memories of the show make the jokes that much more shitty because if I saw that joke on another crappy sitcom I probably wouldn’t notice, but here it was just so obviously bad. I just can’t see how this shit gets passed table reads and the human brain’s natural shitty idea filter. The joke is that 1. He is a Sea Captain 2. He’s dating two of the Great Lake 3. He uses the names of two great lakes in a SINGLE(!) sentence that doesn’t even make sense. “It’s Erie how Superior they are.” Superior to what? other lakes, other women? and Erie how? Who’s impressed by this shit?

              • 9 Stan
                16 May 2012 at 8:22 am

                Have him say “But that relationship somehow always FOX up my reputation” and bingo – it wouldn’t pass.
                As long as there are no attempt to swear and badmouth the company – any shit is in.

                • 10 Jack Zigler
                  16 May 2012 at 7:48 pm

                  They can say “Fox sucks”, as long as the statement has no more value than a misspelled internet comment.

      • 11 Krusty Burglar
        15 May 2012 at 9:21 pm

        Really? It seems to me like they spend entirely too much time passing off being self aware about their sloppy writing and repetitive storylines as humor rather than, you know, throwing out the bad stuff and trying to write something good instead.

        • 15 May 2012 at 10:53 pm

          Well, at least they aren’t pretending it’s good.

        • 13 Stan
          15 May 2012 at 11:09 pm

          They’re not exactly trying to say they’re self-aware of how bad they do. It’s beyond that: they actually think they do good, yet get booed for all the little things. They don’t see or don’t want to see the abyssal collapse of their storytelling since at least Season 20. Sure, they tend to improve, but only at the things they should’ve improved at 10 years ago (like finally stop the Homer getting repeatedly hurt shit).

  2. 14 Dan S.
    15 May 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Another great entry. The talking dogs are two great examples of the vast differences in how each show chooses to build up to a joke. In the Simpsons Flanders didn’t simply exposit dumbly that Todd thinks talking dogs are blasphemous, it arose organically out of a conversation that could have taken place in reality. Zombie Simpsons just has the line delivered awkwardly with no build up whatsoever. Also the bad writing is made so much worse by the increasingly lackluster voice work. Its obvious its all a big money grab at this point by everyone aboard the sinking rotten ship that is Zombie Simpsons.

    • 15 Stan
      15 May 2012 at 8:40 pm

      Why was that scene with puppet Ned and the dog done there in the first place? It then gets announced as “Ned Flanders’ Nightmare” which is even worse. There is absolutely no point to laugh at it in its whole unless you’re on drugs or something.

      • 16 Dan S.
        15 May 2012 at 9:03 pm

        My guess is they had some really great religion jokes that they needed to use. Their idea of satire is so heavy handed its embarrassing. Rather than demonstrating religion’s follies they just put a sign up saying religion is propaganda, har har. Yea I agree, I think maybe the claymation was thought of as something edgy and new. In the past they seemed to praise the Wallace and Gromet guy alot, maybe it was some sort of homage. I tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt and think its all just a joke and they’re laughing about how terrible the whole thing is.

        • 17 Krusty Burglar
          15 May 2012 at 9:14 pm

          It was an homage/”parody”/humorless reference to the old Christian kids show Davey & Goliath.

          • 15 May 2012 at 10:58 pm

            True, it was, and they have already done Davey and Goliath references/parodies before.. at the top of my head, there was one in “HOMR”, one in (ugh) “Simpsons Bible Stories”, and the aformentioned one in “Bart the Lover”.

          • 19 Stan
            15 May 2012 at 11:20 pm

            OK, that explains the context. But still, setting it up as a cartoony cartoon is akin to cutaway gags, except done very clumsily. They should pick up some at how they get announced in Family Guy at the least if they want to do some Youtube-worth pop references stuff. Plus, if it says “Nightmare” at the beginning we know it would end with Ned screaming, so that’s taking all the fun out of it.

        • 15 May 2012 at 11:03 pm

          In retrospect, they have mixed up the animation a LOT this season. From the first episode this season with the video-game-looking characters, through the various couch gags by John K and Plympton.. the ending of that one episode where it goes into a completely unrelated story done in a very weird style.. the ship one had a “trying-to-be-limited-animation” look… I’m sure there’s more.

          I’m not sure if they’re trying to be edgy, so much as they are just trying to implement new ways to make the show feel “fresh”, since the writing, plots, and characters aren’t…. since they’re about the only things I remember from this season, I guess it “worked”, though most of them weren’t noteworthy insomuch as they were just unexpected. I guess anything is better than that stiff computer look though some of the “alternative animation” had that look too. Yuck.

          • 15 May 2012 at 11:04 pm

            I meant to say “through the various couch gags (like the ones by John K and Plympton).” I realize my sentence makes it look like they both did various couch gags. Anyway…

            • 22 Patrick
              15 May 2012 at 11:34 pm

              Don’t forget the poor Tracy Ulman imitation.

              • 16 May 2012 at 12:06 am

                OH YEAH. What was up with that anyway? Wasn’t that part of Bart’s “dream”? Why, exactly, do Bart’s fantasies (all the “dreams” in the context of that episode were actually fantasies, for those reading this who have no idea what we’re talking about) involve them being Tracey Ullamn-ized.

                At first, I applauded the fan service (mainly of Homer’s “all-episodes-until-‘Blood-Fued’ voice) but man, it went on forever, and it was really fucking pointless.

  3. 24 Mr. Snrub
    15 May 2012 at 4:27 pm

    “I only count two strangers in that image (the anonymous couple underneath Moe);”
    One of those is Bart and Lisa’s teacher from “Bart and Lisa vs the Third Grade”. Also, the director guy previously appeared in “Smoke on the Daughter”.

    In fact, this episode contained an abnormal amount of callbacks.

    • 25 PEPITO! The Biggest Cat In The Whole Wide World!
      15 May 2012 at 6:39 pm

      Mrs. McConnell who loved the buddy system

      • 26 Patrick
        15 May 2012 at 11:35 pm

        Then for some reason became the teacher for the unknown but somehow always there 4th grade B in season 21…

    • 27 Thrillho
      16 May 2012 at 7:00 pm

      I guess the third grade teacher would make sense for Edna’s side, but I think you can understand the confusion as neither of them were very memorable characters.

      Also, I’m a bit surprised (though not disappointed) that this post has gotten way more comments than the usual Compare and Contrast.

  4. 28 ecco6t9
    15 May 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I think the Nahasapeemapetilons are their as The Simpsons hosted their wedding, Cookie is there I guess as a friend of Edna. Carl and Lenny are their as Homer’s Friends. Meaning Homer has to go through with this so he needs his friends their so he can endure it.

  5. 29 Jack Zigler
    15 May 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Looking at the above pictures, it’s also pretty clear which one is more low-class. One has, in its impressively-sized backyard, a bunch of sparkly lanterns that either took hours or hired help to put up, a couple of little tables with properly-sized tablecloths, and a big endtable with a punch bowl, a collection of hot dogs, and ice. The other has, in its cramped living room, an assortment of chairs, sofas, and tables, a dozen or so party balloons, and a ribbon decoration. The most expensive thing in the Simpsons wedding is a small band – and a band that, based on their dialogue, probably plays at weddings regularly.

  6. 31 Stan
    15 May 2012 at 8:50 pm

    Actually, besides the characters who have no reason to be at the wedding (McAllister and Naegle again), the only thing I find weird is that they’ve paired up some people wrong. Why would Hoover want to talk to Sideshow Mel? And Helen to Disco Stu? If anything, those two should be inversed, as regular characters would probably have no interest talking to weirdos (and vice versa). Besides that, I think the Van Houtens are there because they’re the Simpsons’ other side neighbors. Inviting them because of Edna would be inviting all of Edna’s class parents, which would make no sense. So I guess minor things set aside, the wedding scenery setup isn’t so bad.

    As per Edna and Ned talking about the kids being the only relevant plot advancer in this scene is once again no surprise since this is how ZS produces its scenes: they throw in 5 minutes of filler per 1 minute of storytelling. The ultimate recipe.

  7. 33 Patrick
    15 May 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Speaking of characters who don’t belong, remember Apu’s wedding in Season 9, Otto’s wedding in Season 11 and Skinner’s wedding in Season 15, oh god Troy was right “wedding after wedding after wedding” and the sad thing is that that was done as a joke mocking long-running sitcoms :O

    • 34 Non-Existent Man
      16 May 2012 at 1:17 pm

      Don’t forget “How bout a crazy wedding, where something happens and do do do do dooo”. from the episode where the writers make it well aware they have no ideas left (as proven by the image of Homer imatating Fonz literally jumping over a shark) and then pissing about by apologising for another awful episode “Sorry for the clip-shoooow”.

  8. 36 Stan
    15 May 2012 at 11:25 pm

    If they’d have thrown in Bumblebee Man, Burns and Smithers, Krusty, Dr. Hibbert, Dr. Nick (is he still alive?) and, dunno, crazy cat lady + comic book guy (as a couple) – THEN we’d have a weird character setup (not that it’d look weird on ZS). So yeah, this is quite passable.

    • 16 May 2012 at 12:08 am

      I remember Dr. Nick playing golf a season or two back and maybe being a background character on another episode but I don’t think he’s had any speaking lines.

      That reminds me, did anyone notice Agnes’s voice was really REALLY off in the hospital scene?

    • 38 akumatafur
      16 May 2012 at 3:24 am

      Comic Book Guy and Skinner´s mom had an affair once. The shipping department jumped the shark a long time ago.

  9. 40 Patrick
    15 May 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Also in Season 11 Ned and Edna hooked-up briefly but only to get Skinner jealous over the phone which was very funny in a terrible episode so having them comfortable together after that is well… you know.

    • 41 Stan
      16 May 2012 at 12:23 am

      They make complete episodes out of previously done side-jokes and momentum gags. It’s today’s tendency.

  10. 42 Non-Existent Man
    16 May 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Great, another jab at how Moe is ugly and lonley. Because ZS don’t pull that joke out of the tophat often enough I guess.

    • 43 akumatafur
      16 May 2012 at 3:32 pm

      On the other hand, Moe getting hooked up has proven not to be that great of an idea. Given, his potential relies in giving him a chance to change and open himself for other people and their world views (family restaurant, hip bar) but sometimes they are either horribly tacked on (smithers and Moe open a gay bar? Really?) or go the “I´m a creepy fuck, nobody loves me” route.

      I would love to see a mini-plot revolving Barney and Moe.

    • 16 May 2012 at 3:47 pm

      True. In the trailer for next week’s episode, Moe being a “monster” — or whatever — is one of the jokes highlighted in the 21 second ad. Pretty sad.

  11. 51 Lovejoy Fan
    16 May 2012 at 5:31 pm

    “Just between Hoover and Reverend Lovejoy you’d think they could come up with at least one line that was relevant and funny.”

    Yeah, you’d think so, wouldn’t you? Of course, Lovejoy and Miss Hoover probably only get to say anything about once a season (they’re probably not “eccentric” enough for the current writers). I’m surprised Helen got to do anything, if I’m honest.

  12. 52 Stan
    17 May 2012 at 12:28 am

    52 comments. Wow, that DOES feel like a season finale coming on. Funny if this site ever makes it to craigslist one day.

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