Archive for July, 2012



26
Jul
12

Crazy Noises: The Mansion Family

The Mansion Family1

“You won a Grammy.” – Lisa Simpson
“I mean an award that’s worth winning.” – Homer Simpson
“LEGAL DISCLAIMER:  Mr. Simpson’s opinions do not reflect those of the producers, who don’t consider the Grammy an award at all.” – Subtitle Crawl

For the fourth summer in a row, we here at the Dead Homer Society will be spending some time discussing twelve year old Simpsons episodes.  This year we’re doing Season 11.  Why Season 11?  Because we’ve done Seasons 8, 9 and 10 already, and it’s time to take an unflinching look at the end of the show.  Since Skype and podcasts didn’t exist in 1999, and we want to discuss these episodes the way the internet intended, we’re sticking with the UTF-8 world of chat rooms and instant messaging.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (sadly enough, not on “drowning”).

Today’s episode is 1112, “The Mansion Family”.  Yesterday was 1111, “Faith Off”.

[Note: Dave couldn’t make it this week, Mad Jon and I are jealous he didn’t have to watch these.]

Charlie Sweatpants: This episode is just wretched beyond belief.

Mad Jon: This is pretty bad. I liked a few lines but other than that, I got nothing positive to say.

Charlie Sweatpants: It features pretty much everything I hate about Zombie Simpsons, and that was before I remembered that they had Britney Spears(!) on when she was at the peak of her peak.

  Trendy, self voiced celebrities are just awful in general, and this one they didn’t even write any jokes for her, just normal dialogue.

Mad Jon: There were lots of Zombie issues here. Most notably for me were the constant, CONSTANT Jerkass Homer things (I made a big list actually), and the fact that there were only 5 or 6 characters used in the entire episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: That must be a long list.

Mad Jon: If it were a quotation, I would have to use block quotes:

Drags statue out of award show, Saws his workstation in half for no reason, gets ripped up in the auto dresser, puts his ass through a painting while pretending to be a billionaire, drives the lawn mower through the house, idiot at dinner, swirls the liquor on the ground, swirls more on Lisa and everything else then passes out drunk, makes long distance call to Thailand, throws blowout party because he is leaving tomorrow, steals Burns’ boat, gets into stupid fight with pirates and their parrots, also argues with Coast Guard, and is at peace with his friends drowning, sobs because he is no billionaire, faces no repercussions for losing a multi-million dollar yacht

Also, I think this episode uses Lenny’s name more than any other episode ever.

Charlie Sweatpants: There is Marge being worried about Lenny at the beginning of "Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder".

But the Jerkass Homer quotient here is tediously high. It’s also one of my least favorite kinds because Marge and Lisa get dragged along to basically alternate between not stopping him and not caring.

The low comes when Burns decides to let Homer be the house sitter. Not only is it dumb, weak, nice Burns (which always sucks), but the stupidity of it all makes them basically admit that even they think Burns remembers Homer’s antics now.

Mad Jon: Oh, I refer to that scene as the softball moment.

Charlie Sweatpants: The day when you have to stop playing baseball and start playing softball?

Mad Jon: No, it is because Burns lobs the scene over the plate so Homer can spend the rest of the episode being Zombie Homer.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ah. He does that.

Mad Jon: It makes sense in my head, although not so much when I read what I’ve typed.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, Homer spends the rest of the episode bouncing around Burns’ house and boat, so I’d say it’s fair to say that Burns gave him a nice fat one here.

It doesn’t make sense, and half the episode is just Homer being a dick in various wealthy locations, but if you like seeing Homer scream and wail, then you’ve just seen a towering home run.

Mad Jon: It was very much bipolar Zombie Homer

And most everyone else spends the rest of the episode not being themselves.

Charlie Sweatpants: Pretty much.

  Marge and Lisa, in particular, seem to alternately look the other way and then yell at Homer for trashing Burns Manor.

They don’t make any sense as characters here. They just sort of orbit Homer. Though I suppose that’s true of everyone.

Mad Jon: Especially Lenny, Carl, Moe, Grandpa, Krusty, and the others that DROWNED in the net at the end.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, the drowning thing has always been a lowlight. Like, we know this isn’t serious, but what the fuck?

Mad Jon: A tad too nuts for me.

Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed. Like "Faith Off", the ending skips and jumps so many times that I’m not even sure what I’m watching by the end.

  I mean, Marge tells us that Burns will be home tomorrow, and in the scene after that, he has his first exam with the doctor. That is remarkably shitty editing.

Mad Jon: The scene continuity was indeed lacking.

I did enjoy the scene at the doctors with the Pope and Castro.

Charlie Sweatpants: The Castro thing seemed to be stretching it, but it was okay.

I like the pirate captain saying that "for liability purposes" the ocean will kill them.

Mad Jon: However, the good lines were very few and far between. So that sucked.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, there are a few, but this one is mostly herky-jerky weirdness and Homer fighting pirates and a bunch of other stuff.

  Like Homer wailing over the end credits, which would’ve been funny if it hadn’t gone all the way to the damned Gracie logo.

  That shit got old fast.

Mad Jon: Yep. I wasn’t a huge fan of the wailing over the credits. Mainly because of how it got there.

Homer is depressed, even though he just cost his boss more money than he will ever make in his career and still faces no consequences. Then he starts crying about not being a billionaire, and then it is over.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s Jerkass Homer.

Mad Jon: Oh, I know.

Charlie Sweatpants: He isn’t funny and is an asshole.

Mad Jon: I know that too.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else here?

Mad Jon: Nothing worth pointing out.

It is all crap, and I don’t like to pick through crap in that much detail.

Charlie Sweatpants: Even if it’s sloppy as hell getting there, Homer describing the MLB retransmit ship ("or so the legend goes") is kinda amusing.

Mad Jon: I was already broken by that point.

Charlie Sweatpants: Not worth picking through the crap, of course, but still gets a little smile.

Okay, I say let’s retreat to hidden blogger island and never speak of this again.

Mad Jon: Can we gamble there?

Charlie Sweatpants: Sure.

Mad Jon: Ok then. But I get to be the one with more parrots on his shoulder.

Charlie Sweatpants: Fine. You deal with the bird shit.

26
Jul
12

Quote of the Day

King of the Hill4

“They won’t stop me from delivering these UNICEF pennies . . . Go, pennies!  Help the puny children who need you.” – McBain

25
Jul
12

Crazy Noises: Faith Off

Faith Off1

“You’re playing days are over, my friend.  But you can always fall back on your degree in Communications!  Oh, dear Lord.” – Dr. Hibbert
“I know.  Is phony major.  Lubchenko learn nothing!  Nothing!” – Anton Lubchenko

For the fourth summer in a row, we here at the Dead Homer Society will be spending some time discussing twelve year old Simpsons episodes.  This year we’re doing Season 11.  Why Season 11?  Because we’ve done Seasons 8, 9 and 10 already, and it’s time to take an unflinching look at the end of the show.  Since Skype and podcasts didn’t exist in 1999, and we want to discuss these episodes the way the internet intended, we’re sticking with the UTF-8 world of chat rooms and instant messaging.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (surprisingly enough, not on “Lubchenko”).

Today’s episode is 1111, “Faith Off”.  Tomorrow will be 1112, “The Mansion Family”.

[Note: Dave couldn’t make it this week, Mad Jon and I are jealous he didn’t have to watch these.]

Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to get started?

Mad Jon: I am.

Charlie Sweatpants: Bart as the healer/preacher it is, then.

Like “Little Big Mom”, I think there could’ve been a good episode here. And like “Little Big Mom”, I want to like this episode but just can’t.

Mad Jon: Agreed, I was telling my wife that I wasn’t not looking forward to watching this one, but then I realized why I never watch it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Which is?

Mad Jon: Well it is a rich tapestry.

  I am sure it will fall along the same lines why you want to like it, but can’t get your head around it.

The common Zombie characteristics are here, and it really could have been a good one. There are lots of good lines, and some solid ideas, but always something is lying around the corner to cut off the potential for sustained enjoyment.

Charlie Sweatpants: The “potential for sustained enjoyment” is a good way to put it.

I can buy Bart becomes a faith healer among the students at the school. He can exploit people’s faith for his own benefit, learn a lesson (but not really) and there you go. But I can’t buy Bart taking all of Lovejoy’s flock, then letting Milhouse get hurt, then seeing Homer crippling a kicker to have Fat Tony show up and all the other crap that makes the ending a swirling mess.

  No sooner is there something decent than things get bizarre and out of hand again. And in so many different ways.

This is also one of the few times I can recall wishing the opening wasn’t related to the rest of the episode.

Mad Jon: Why is that?

Do you feel the opening would have been better on its own, or t’other way round?

Charlie Sweatpants: The football game/float subplot was a great source of how bad the ending got. If they had dropped that for a straight Bart-as-preacher angle, the ending might not have ended with Fat Tony and flying legs.

And the opening, which is the best part of the episode, would have been better off, particularly if they transported Lubchenko’s immortal “Is phony major! Lubchenko learn nothing!” to the banquet.

Mad Jon: Oooh, that would have been better.

Charlie Sweatpants: Right?

Though I’ll never get why they replaced Dean Peterson with that weak Dean Wormer knock-off.

Mad Jon: I liked the opening, but I was also a fan of the scene when Bart meets Don Cheadle.

  Agreed.

  Why on earth was Dean Peterson not the same guy?!?

  He didn’t do any of the things that the typical Dean Wormer knock-offs normally do.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, he was mean, old and crotchety. Though he does get some good lines.

Mad Jon: Not the same. Take for example the Futurama version.

  That was good.

  This was weak.

Charlie Sweatpants: “A 7-5 football team doesn’t come cheap” and “Professor Rocko and Chancellor Knuckles” being my two favorites.

Mad Jon: I was about to point out that he did have some of the best lines.

Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed on the guy from Mars University. What he loves about being dean of students is the peace and quiet and the respect he receives.

But the opening quickly leads to the bucket thing, which leads to the revival for some reason, which does give Don Cheadle a couple of good lines but makes no sense all the same.

Mad Jon: Yeah, I know. The random event machine didn’t skip a beat this time.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d forgotten that they got to the revival meeting by just crash landing there.

Mad Jon: Me too.

Charlie Sweatpants: I mean, Jebus, I know this episode has no transitions whatsoever, but that was abrupt, even for a car crash.

Mad Jon: I couldn’t figure out what was going on, I thought it was the circus or something and I just didn’t remember.

Charlie Sweatpants: Nope, they just drop it out of nowhere.

The story priorities here are just weird. Like, they spend that whole seen showing Bart acquiring that tent, and then they skip over just about anything that would lead Lovejoy’s entire congregation to it.

It’s the same with Homer at the game. He’s got a BBQ in the stands, he jumps onto the field, and all this other crap, but they never explain why he’d want to build a float, or why he’d be able to build a float.

Mad Jon: He went from BBQ in the aisle to drunk in the seat, to aware of the fact he isn’t on the field, to drunk driving his float.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yup.

Mad Jon: In addition to your valid float related items. There were 3 floats, and Homer, by himself, makes one.

Charlie Sweatpants: And don’t forget that he just shows up in the locker room with Hibbert (who is the team doctor for some reason) to heal Lubchenko.

Mad Jon: Also true.

Charlie Sweatpants: Or that Fat Tony materializes out of nowhere.

Mad Jon: Yeah, just had to throw that in I guess. Couldn’t let Bart try to heal Lubchenko without Homer being threatened by a laser guided ice pick.

Charlie Sweatpants: There still are good jokes though. The Keith Jackson impersonator is okay (like his “an overdue salute to halftime itself”), and this is where “Lubchenko learn nothing!” landed, but at this point in the episode I have so little idea what’s going on that I’m not even sure if Fat Tony is serious or an apparition.

Mad Jon: The associations are pretty loose here.

  But again I think that there is really too much going on to allow a simple mind such as mine to focus on the two major plot lines.

Charlie Sweatpants: Neither of them makes a half lick of sense, is the problem.

And that’s before Fat Tony shows up out of nowhere for one of them.

The whole thing is just a giant mess, and yet we’re supposed to take the ending seriously?

Mad Jon: Yeah whateves.

  I do have to ask, why did Lenny blink 3 times after the cow college comment preceding what I assume was the commercial break?

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve always liked that. Well, not the blinking, but that stern nod he gives. Like it’d be fighting words to contradict him.

I’m also a fan of Brockman getting pissed at “fever”, though I could’ve done without the pan off camera for his nerdy nephew writer.

Mad Jon: The nephew was probably too much.

Charlie Sweatpants: Any other standouts for you here?

Mad Jon: I enjoyed the preacher and Bart’s discussion of religion as full coverage against accidental death.

But other than that, not really.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, Cheadle’s delivery on “wow, that’s a good angle” is a definite highlight.

  But this one remains basically unwatchable in my book. There’s just way too much stupid.

Mad Jon: Agreed.

  But I have an easy solution for us, we can continue not watching it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Good. Onto Burns Manor, then?

Mad Jon: Yep.

25
Jul
12

Quote of the Day

Incriminating

“How much did you see?” – Lyle Lanley
“Uh, nothing incriminating.” – Marge Simpson
“Good.” – Lyle Lanley

24
Jul
12

Compare & Contrast: Hibbert’s Examples

Bart the Daredevil6

“I won’t even subject you to the horrors of our Three Stooges ward.” – Dr. Hibbert

[Note: Crazy Noises for “Faith Off” and “The Mansion Family” will be along on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.]

It’s not exactly news that the show increasingly relied on weird, hyperactive nonsense as it flew apart at the seams and became Zombie Simpsons.  The world of Springfield, which originally had been a recognizable if exaggerated stand in for real life, increasingly became the kind of stylized pseudo-reality where actions didn’t really have consequences and physical realities change from scene to scene.  The simplest way to see this is to look at the basic stories of so many episodes in Seasons 10 and 11: there’s the Loch Ness Monster, there’s Bart downing a satellite with a tank, there’s Homer and company breaking into Rupert Murdoch’s Super Bowl suite. 

But it wasn’t just the big events of the stories that reveal this new commitment to silliness over everything else.  Consider the scene in “Faith Off” where Dr. Hibbert shows Homer and Marge some of the other patients in his care.  Homer has managed to get a bucket glued to his head (which itself is more than a little reminiscent of Bart getting novelty items glued to his face in Season 9’s “Lost Our Lisa), which gives Hibbert a chance to simply raise some blinds and show off three patients with “traumedy” injuries.

Traumedies

Here’s everything Hibbert says to introduce them:

Hibbert: I’m afraid it’s hopeless.  Beneath that bucket he’s more glue than man.
Marge: So he’s stuck like this forever?
Hibbert: Oh, now don’t fret.  These days, the victims of comedy-traumas, or traumedies, can still lead rich, full lives.

And that’s the whole joke.  The episode pans over each of them, Hibbert doesn’t really say anything after that, and then it’s time for Homer to continue living with the bucket on his head.  It’s far from the worst scene in the episode, but it is the kind of unremarkable filler on which Zombie Simpsons leans so heavily.  There isn’t anything going on here more than, hey, we drew these slightly amusing pictures that make so little sense that we hope you’ll giggle at them.

Contrast that with a superficially similar scene in “Bart the Daredevil”, where Hibbert shows Bart some of his other patients in an attempt to prevent Bart from again trying to copy daredevil stunts.    Here’s the dialogue:

Hibbert: I think I know something that might discourage him from this sort of behavior.  Bart, in this ward are the children who have been hurt by imitating stunts they saw on television, movies, and the legitimate stage. . . . This little boy broke his leg, trying to fly like Superman.  This boy’s brother hit him in the head with a wrench, mimicking a recent TV wrestling match.  I won’t even subject you to the horrors of our Three Stooges ward.
Marge: Gee, I never realized TV was such a dangerous influence.
Hibbert: Well, as tragic as all this is, it’s a small price to pay for countless hours of top notch entertainment.
Homer: Amen.

Unlike the guy with the swordfish through his chest, this scene has more than one thing occurring.  Not only are Bart’s motivations and antics central to the plot and Hibbert’s patients believable (if funny) exaggerations, but we’re also treated to that wonderful meta joke where Marge, Hibbert and Homer take a (rather mean) potshot at the show’s critics.  It’s one of the subtler “think of the children!” jokes the show ever did, but there’s no mistaking that they’re not only calling television “dangerous”, but saying that it’s perfectly okay for it to be so. 

The whole scene and all the gags it contains work because they aren’t filler, aren’t just silly drawings and cheap jokes.  We get a callback to earlier in the episode with the wrench, we set up the central conflict of the rest of the story (Marge and Homer trying to stop Bart from being a daredevil), we get the subtle glance at the fourth wall with the meta-television joke, and there’s even some token Stooges silliness (though it would be awesome if real hospitals had Three Stooges wards). 

These are just two small scenes, but there’s no denying that each one is attempting very different kinds of entertainment.  Zombie Simpsons wastes time because, well, what else are you going to do once you’ve gotten a bucket stuck on Homer’s head?  They’ve left anything that could be called recognizable reality behind, so they’re left with nothing more than eating clock with a few drawn out sight gags that don’t make any sense.  The Simpsons doesn’t waste time or drop all pretense of reality because it knows that killing time isn’t funny and that for satire to work things can’t be boundlessly silly in one scene and totally normal in the next.

24
Jul
12

Quote of the Day

Whacking Day8

“Hey, kids, how was school?” – Homer Simpson
“I learned how many drams in a pennyweight.” – Lisa Simpson
“I got expelled.” – Bart Simpson
“That’s my boy!” – Homer Simpson

23
Jul
12

Quote of the Day

Rosebud10

“How much do you want?” – C.M. Burns
“A million dollars and three Hawaiian islands, good ones, not the leper ones.” – Homer Simpson




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