Strange New Places

Homer's Barbershop Quartet10

“And where’s Barney?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, he’s with his new girlfriend, the Japanese conceptual artist.” – Principal Skinner
“Barbershop is in danger of growing stale. I’m taking it to strange new places.” – Barney Gumble

In the interest of not burying the lead: mocking Season 23 has been fun, but it’s also the last time we’re going to go full tilt for a new Zombie Simpsons season around here. Don’t worry, we’re not taking the site down or anything; in fact, for the next few months you shouldn’t notice much difference. Quotes of the Day will continue as normal, and, just like the last three summers, we’ll be doing Crazy Noises for old episodes. This year it’s going to be Season 11, the last one the Manifesto lists before Zombie Simpsons.

After that, the Magic 8-ball becomes less clear. Season 24 (ugh) will likely start sometime in late September, but we won’t be doing our full Preview-Ratings-Crazy Noises-Compare & Contrast schedule. I’m sure we’ll do something (and suggestions are welcome), but whatever it is will be much less comprehensive.

As for why we’re doing this, there’s only one real reason and it is not intended ironically. We think it best to stop before we get dull and do nothing but repeat ourselves.

For all its manic bumbling and endless stream of pointless cameos, the only enduring characteristic about Zombie Simpsons is how blandly repetitive it is. Episodes consistently have no coherent story, few jokes, fewer funny jokes, wasted guest voices, hacktacular pop culture references, and all manner of things poorly lifted from old episodes. And then every once in a while the animation goes off the rails too, though that’s usually because the writers have once again managed to string together something too dumb to convey.

In Crazy Noises and elsewhere, I’ve begun to get the sense that we’re often doing little more than citing examples of the same kinds of things each week: it sucked when they made Homer do this, that joke went on too long, that’s not even a joke, this voice sounds terrible, that was done better years ago, this made no sense, etcetera etcetera. We are trying to put a tiny thrill into these gray little episodes, but they rarely give us something novel enough to make criticisms we haven’t already made dozens of times before. Whatever points we’ve tried to articulate over the past few years here, another few thousand words per episode are unlikely to change them. In short, it seems very unlikely that most of the episodes in Season 24 (or Season 25, or Season 26, or Season Whatever) are going to be worth a close examination and serious criticism.

On a related personal note, I simply find Zombie Simpsons boring. I stopped watching regularly sometime in Season 13, and didn’t catch more than a handful in total from Seasons 14-19. When Dave, Mad Jon and I started getting serious about this site in early 2009, I picked up at the beginning of Season 20, and very little had changed. I’ve seen every episode since, four full seasons, and I can honestly say that’s enough. Apart from its vague resemblance to my favorite show ever, Zombie Simpsons just isn’t that interesting; and I’d rather not spend my time watching it.

Long story short:

  • No change to Quotes of the Day
  • Still doing Crazy Noises for Season 11 this summer
  • Greatly reduced schedule for Season 24 this fall

On two happier notes, Chapters 7 & 8 of the book are now on-line, and to celebrate the end of Season 23, I’m going to do another Simpsons-Beer Marathon this Saturday.

For those of you who’ve started reading this site since the last time I did this, you can find a full explanation of how this works here. Basically, I watch an entire season of the show, drinking one beer per episode, and post updates along the way. I’ve done marathons for Seasons 1, 3, 4, 5, and 6 already, and you can check them out by clicking on our “Living Life to Its Fullest” category.

You can vote for which season you’d like me to watch on Saturday in the poll at right. And, no, if Season 7 is selected, I won’t be including “Marge Be Not Proud”. I dislike that episode, even if it does have some very funny parts (see the freshly posted Chapter 7 for details).  The marathon begins at 8:00am Eastern Daylight Time (US), which is 12:00 UTC, Saturday May 26th.  The poll closes at midnight Eastern Time tomorrow.

Update 26 May: It’s Season 2 in a landslide:

Season 2 Beerathon Poll

Thanks to everyone who voted.

41 Responses to “Strange New Places”

  1. 24 May 2012 at 2:29 pm

    That’s sad news, but I guess it’s for the best. Better quit before it gets to the point of “Dead Homer Society already did it!”
    And, for the marathon, go Season 2!

  2. 3 Patrick
    24 May 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Frankly I’m surprised you have the time for all this in the first place and yeah I don’t blame you really too much ZS is harmful I stopped watching full stop after the 500th episode and follow your posts for it.

  3. 4 Patrick
    24 May 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Also can you at least to the whole compare and contrast and stuff for the first 8 episodes of Season 20 please to make it complete?

  4. 24 May 2012 at 3:05 pm

    This is the perfect time to express a thought I had: Why not a zombie N.B.C. website? It used to have classic shows like Frasier, Seinfeld, Just Shoot Me, Third Rock from the Sun, Dark Skies, and News Radio–but now, it has lots of worthless bullshit like reality shows, game shows, 30 Rock, the Office, generic procedurals, etc. You could use Grimm as the counterexample: A show that developed into something unique, with a lot of potential, whereas in most other cases, the writers are too lazy and stupid to create such a show. Just a thought.

    • 6 lennyburnham
      24 May 2012 at 4:48 pm

      Lovely idea.

      • 7 D.N.
        24 May 2012 at 8:28 pm

        I think Charlie has made his feelings about Seinfeld and other generally-acclaimed sitcoms clear on this website (he’s not a fan).

        • 25 May 2012 at 1:58 am

          Seinfeld rules so much. Though I’m probably in the minority who prefers Curb, which is probably the all around funniest show to air on television since the Simpsons were good.

          • 9 D.N.
            25 May 2012 at 10:16 pm

            I love Seinfeld and Curb, but I can’t really compare the two because of the deck being stacked, i.e. Curb having the advantage of HBO-allowed profanity. I suppose if I had to choose, I’d opt for Seinfeld because I go so far back with that show.

            Interestingly, The Simpsons and Seinfeld both started at around the same time. And The Simpsons should have ended when Seinfeld did.

            • 26 May 2012 at 4:16 am

              True, true.

              And I definitely have watched Seinfeld more than Curb, but the live-studio-audio-laugh-track always irked me. A minor complaint perhaps but it definitely hindered my enjoyment.

              Again, I may be in the minority, but I think Curb kinda keeps getting better. Season 8 in New York was just mindblowing imo.

    • 11 Patrick
      24 May 2012 at 8:36 pm

      Don’t forget a zombie MTV, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, History Channel and Pokemon.

      • 12 Patrick
        24 May 2012 at 8:39 pm

        Oh yeah 30 Rock and the older seasons of the office are pretty good imo but NBC really sucks ass now!

        • 13 Thrillho
          24 May 2012 at 9:05 pm

          NBC is probably the network I watch the most of these days, but that’s only for their Thursday night comedy lineup. However, I don’t think that’s going to last long. 30 Rock ends next season, The Office is just as zombie-ish as The Simpsons these days, and I’m a bit worried about Community without Dan Harmon in charge. Parks and Recreation is still pretty good, but it probably has a season or two left at best.

          Oh well, there’s always cable.

          • 26 May 2012 at 4:18 am

            I have all of Parks and Rec. but I haven’t gotten into it yet. After I finish the Shield I think it’ll be my next show to watch completely.

            It’s a show Dan Harmon was outed from Community. Didn’t he create the show? And we all know what happenes when show creators leave their baby (see: John K and Ren and Stimpy). I hope for the best, but….

  5. 15 Anonymous
    24 May 2012 at 3:31 pm

    It’s funny, I was just having this same thought after reading the latest Crazy Noises. “You guys really don’t have anything new to say about the show.” It’s not your fault, all of your criticisms are still valid. But the shit that made the show so bad when you first started doing Crazy Noises is the same shit that makes the show so bad today. I was actually going to mention this somewhere, but you beat me to it.

    Hopefully you can come up with new ideas to write about. I’m all for any sort of detailed analysis of the first 8 seasons, or even a thorough bashing of seasons 10-12. But anything after that, I’m with you guys…it’s just boring. Unless you wanna critique That ’90s Show at some point, which I would welcome. That episode made me angrier than any TV show ever should.

    • 24 May 2012 at 7:58 pm

      I’ve been thinking about this, too—things have gotten pretty monotonous.

      Why not write about the classic episodes? It’s always a treat to see proper analysis of The Simpsons. The blog “Pussy Goes Grrr” did a wonderful job analyzing “Bart Sells His Soul…” Maybe try stuff like that.

  6. 17 Guy Incognito
    24 May 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I’m looking forward to the Season 11 Crazy Noises. I want to see your opinions on the infamous Saddlesore Galactica.

  7. 18 Orangutanagram
    24 May 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I discovered this site recently, and been reading it pretty thoroughly. I too wondered how you had the time and will to dissect the ZS episodes, though I’m glad somebody did it. I myself can’t be bothered.

    I particularly enjoy the “live blogging” of DVD commentaries from crap seasons. You can do that for seasons 8-11 if you like. The comentary for the Poochie episode has some interesting stuff.

    Maybe you can move on to more general points of comparison. I’m surprised I didn’t find a post on the HD opening sequence, which encapsulates many of the problems of Zombie Simpsons compared to The Simpsons. Maybe it’s too easy.

    Another thing you could do is something like “Early warnings”, or how signs of the eventual collapse can be seen even in classic seasons. You’ve written about “Homer’s Enemy” and it was interesting. But less tangible examples can be found much earlier. There’s a distinct change in tone around season 5, and it can be argued that it was dangerous. They managed to avoid the pitfalls for some four seasons, but it’s possible to say that season five (maybe even four) opened the door for some of the traps that Zombie Simpsons embraced.

    Then there’s “Stark Raving Dad”. It is a great episode, but it’s one that was written for the sole reason of having a huge guest star. They later wrote a whole episode devoted to Prince, who passed. In the case of Stark Raving Dad it was handled properly, but the fact that they were willing to base an episode around a Michael Jackson appearance can be taken in hindsight as a warning sign.

    • 19 Frostillicus
      24 May 2012 at 9:48 pm

      I have greatly enjoyed those running blogs on the commentaries as well, although the ones from ZS do get repetitive, which speaks to this post. However, I do love the “spews truth” commentaries, as those old episodes are genuinely interesting with commentaries you can actually learn something from.

      I’m sad to hear of the reduced schedule, as DHS is a daily must-visit for me, but I admit, I did chuckle at the thought of DHS becoming just as stale and tedious as the show it criticizes.

      I look forward to the marathon, as reading of past marathons has always rekindled my interest in watching those episodes (albeit with less drinking).

  8. 20 Anonymous
    24 May 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I suggest cutting out the Crazy Noises for new eps completely (no offence but they’re pretty boring and don’t really say much), and just doing compare & contrasts for the odd episode you see of season 24. Ratings aren’t really necessary unless it’s some kind of new low, either. Just my two cents.

    • 21 Thrillho
      24 May 2012 at 5:02 pm

      I think keeping some sort of brief rundown of what didn’t work in an episode would be nice, and we can see from there if it’s even worth investigating any further.

      I have to confess that part of the reason I’m even bothering to give this show time anymore (other than trading on the memory of a better show) is because I enjoyed seeing your thoughts on it. Seeing as I’m transferring to a four year college in the fall, I think I’m going to be watching a lot less TV (at least live. The few shows I do care about these days, I’ll probably watch on Hulu the next day), so my viewing of Zombie Simpsons will be substantially decreased. I may check it out from time to time if it has a premise that sounds interesting (and I will watch the series finale), but I don’t know why I’m even bothering anymore. Yes, it brings back memories of a better time, but I don’t think it’s worth sitting through 22 minutes of lame stories, one or two clever jokes, and pointless guest stars. Basically, DHS cutting back on the extensive ZS coverage will make it easier on me.

      As long as you keep Reading Digest, I’m fine.

  9. 22 lennyburnham
    24 May 2012 at 4:45 pm

    I’m very sad to hear this, but I guess I had started making sure to catch ZS every week mostly to appreciate your site, so I should be happy that you’re setting me free at the same time. I’m sure you’ll continue coming up with interesting things to do to fill the void.

    • 23 Frostillicus
      24 May 2012 at 9:51 pm

      I, too, was beholden to view ZS so I could gain the full appreciation of Misters Sweatpants, Jon, & Dave, but, it soon became too putrid to sit through the 22-minutes of dreck.

      Really, the only major weekly feature that affected was Crazy Noises, so I still got plenty out of the site. I’d love to see Crazy Noises on old episodes more often though. Perhaps a shift to more appreciation for the Simpsons before they joined the undead.

  10. 24 Mr. Incognito
    24 May 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Ah, man. You used that quote on this? It’s much more fitting for ideas like talking bar rags, characters appearing and disappearing at will, and megastars with psychic powers.

    I can’t blame anyone for stopping the watching of Zombie Simpsons regularly; it’s been stale and repetitive for quite some time. There’s much better things to do in life than watching crap teevee–like making fun of the elderly. :P

    Why not Compare & Contrast ZS not only with episodes of The Simpsons, but with episodes of other series covering the same topics?

    For example, I recall that you mentioned ZS copying Family Guy, and you’ve had a handful of quotes/references from The Critic and Futurama. Since The Simpsons has inspired so many other shows, why not use references, themes, quotes, etc. that exhibit that?

  11. 24 May 2012 at 6:52 pm

    Awww, I will miss the crazy noises for the next season, I looked forward to it every week.

    Agree with one of the above sentiments though.. more DVD “live blogging”. You’ll be doing us all a huge favor in case they tell any interesting stories (doubtful) on any of the shit seasons.

  12. 26 Itch
    24 May 2012 at 7:44 pm

    You know as much as I hate change and love eloquent critiques of bad media, I understand.
    For ZS to be as bad as regularly described should wear on anybody’s patience even if their mission is to say how bad it is. Reading negative reviews is fun but it hurts my soul to know something so horrible still exists.
    Unfortunately no amount of articles are going to convince Matt Groening and FOX that they’re shamelessly raping a dead horse on national TV every week, so its really for our enjoyment and education in case anyone makes the mistake of defending ZS.
    With your knowledge of how a show as brilliant as the Simpsons can devolve so far it could give you insight into how shows jump the shark in general and by extension what makes a show good in the first place. That could lead to many more interesting dissertations which could have a wide range of applications.
    With the increased traffic to the site perhaps if people are still clamoring for it someone else could take up the reins and do Crazy Noises and Compare & Contrast as well.
    I see this blog going places!

  13. 27 Meadow
    24 May 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Please god end it. I am sick of having my tv sullied by new Simpsons. It’s harming my marriage and my dog is depressed.

    -Meadow (Mad Jon’s Wife)

    • 28 Mad Jon
      24 May 2012 at 8:51 pm

      You knew I had a temper when you married me.

      • 29 Frostillicus
        24 May 2012 at 9:53 pm

        While not privy to the personal lives of Mr. & Mrs. Mad, I must applaud the greatness of this Flanders reference.

        *stands and claps*

        *sits amidst stares and angry fist-shaking*

  14. 30 PEPITO! The Biggest Cat In The Whole Wide World!
    24 May 2012 at 10:51 pm

    I heartily endorse Ayatollah Charlie Sweatpants and his cadre of fanatics!

    What about a viewing and analysis of “Early Period” ZS (late 11 – 14) vs “Middle Period” (15-18) ZS. I think they are quite different, and you can tell the dynastic in direction. And sadly are infinitely more enjoyable than this past season.

  15. 25 May 2012 at 2:01 am

    NUMBER 8…

  16. 32 Anonymous
    25 May 2012 at 7:27 am

    I think you should continue posting the ratings-for the season at least, if not on an episode by episode basis. Seeing those constantly dwindling is the only thing that gives me hope that one day the show may finally be put out of it’s misery.

  17. 33 Stan
    25 May 2012 at 10:38 am

    I remember some time in early 2010 when I stumbled upon this blog and said to myself: “This doesn’t really seem to go anywhere”. Well, it’s been two years and a couple of months, but I can tell you that I really appreciate what you’re doing, even if at first it all seems boring and misleading. I think the reason we have this blog in the first place is to discuss features about a show we once used to like, and happily watch the current disaster progress into cancellation. And while back in 2010 I did say that you guys don’t have anything new to do, aside from poking a zombie with your sticks, I’d take that back today. Because for all that matters, it takes a huge lot of will to come with such a strong opposing p.o.v. on why the show should clearly die. I’ve been out to other sites and none seem to even come close, notwithstanding the fact that some have come to peacefully accept what this show has turned into.

    Moreover, I read your book and I think it’s great material. It’s not just about a breakthrough in sitcom cartoon that was the Simpsons, it’s about how low it sank living off its own previous glory and how much ado will it create once it completely falls. I really hope those producers read your literature for a change instead of imdb and FOX ratings.

    As per the future schedule, I think there are lots of themes you can go with it to keep it running. Just to give a few examples, you could make a post about how an episode could’ve been written otherwise and let the readers come with their own ideas in the comments. For example, “Please rewrite A” and see if some of us can best the writers at some parts of the episode. You could also merge Crazy Noises into a single type post and have people you discuss the episode with also come up with ideas for comparison with earlier themes. Or, you could come up with an absolutely new idea, like “Reference days” that could consists of compare&contrast-like posts about old and new references. Really, I think there’s still plenty to do at least up to the end of Season 25.

    Anyway, whatever the outcome is, I really enjoyed most of the read you’ve published so far and hope to stick to this website until the show really gets done for (or at least its rating hit rock bottom so much it won’t be interesting to even consider it anymore). My two cents.

    P.S. Why didn’t you still call your beer marathon a “Beer-a-thon”? It’s only the obvious thing lol

  18. 25 May 2012 at 11:24 am

    Ahhh, I had to Lisa it up and read up on “burying the lead”, which does seem to be an acceptable spelling.

    Anyhoo, while Crazy Noises just seems painful, I do “appreciate” having a run-through of what happened in a particular episode. Just because there’s no way in hell that I’ll ever find out first-hand how terrible they are otherwise. So it’s good from a masochistic standpoint. Not that I think you guys should force yourselves to watch them.

  19. 35 akumatafur
    25 May 2012 at 12:50 pm

    number eight
    number eight
    number eight

  20. 25 May 2012 at 12:55 pm

    I’d be fine if you just did a preview before and the ratings afterwards – those are the only ones I regularly read. I have no interest in actually watching the garbage this show has become (I don’t want to encourage them), yet I’m still vaguely interested in the train wreck of the week. Seeing the ratings continue to drop off is the only actual glimmer of hope that the show will be put out of its misery and brings a little joy to my heart.

    I agree the Crazy Noises and Compare/Contrast have gotten too darn long and repetitive, when all you can really say is that “This show sucks and isn’t funny anymore.” Maybe you could do it for particularly egregious/horrible examples, but it’s kind of redundant for every single episode.

  21. 37 Anonymous
    25 May 2012 at 2:09 pm

    You know, there´s always Futurama……

    • 25 May 2012 at 4:46 pm

      Yeah, it’s been going downhill for a while, IMO. Mostly, there just seem to be more flat-out boring epsodes tha before. Not many people SEEM to agree but a Zombie Futurama blog may just unite us all!

      • 39 majorosliam@yahoo.com.au
        26 May 2012 at 7:41 am

        Futurama has only been back for 1 season. I think it’s to early to start calling it “Zombie Futurama”

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