Behind Us Forever: Pulpit Friction

Bart vs Australia13

“Hey, look, those frogs are eating all their crops!” – Homer Simpson

  • Marge has to yell in church to get everyone to sit down, and meanwhile Lovejoy was just standing at the pulpit waiting patiently?  I know they don’t care about this stuff, but it really destroys scenes. 
  • And the new guy is also just standing there before he starts describing Lovejoy for no reason. 
  • Color me surprised, they remembered the bed bug thing for one brief scene after the first segment.  Usually they just drop it all together.
  • And Homer electrocutes himself because of course he does.
  • Why is Lovejoy playing the guitar?
  • And why is Homer on stage without Lovejoy knowing?
  • Montage!
  • Is that it for the wedding dress subplot?  That was thin even for them.
  • Homer singing his deacon song was extremely pointless. 
  • Lovejoy’s got a new job that we didn’t see and we’re supposed to care about this?
  • “First we got every dead bedbug in town” – Thanks exposition fairy!
  • Was that drunk Barney in the Frogger game after sober Barney was in church?  Video review says that yes it was. 
  • And the new reverend is back after disappearing for a while because he’s not a real character.
  • And now Lovejoy back for no reason and has gained the ability to subdue amphibians. 
  • That was certainly a necessary Lunchlady Doris appearance. 

Zombie Simpsons may have lost the capacity to surprise long ago, but having a bunch of frogs come streaming out of the swamp to humiliate a one-dimensional character for some reason is still pretty weird, even for them.  (Not popped-eyeball weird, but pretty weird.)  The rest of the episode was just as much of a mess, and I have no idea what was with that wedding dress subplot about Lisa not wanting to get married.  Was that pasted in from another script?  Homer and Marge’s wedding/past has been retconned a lot, but they usually don’t do so unless they’re going to spend more then forty-seconds of screen time on it. 

It’s also worth noting the sheer number of things that were repeated from previous episodes: Lovejoy feeling displaced, froggie apocalypse, the Simpsons getting a new couch, taking prank inspiration from Biblical plagues, the list goes on.  Zombie Simpsons may have run out of original ideas many years ago, but they’re usually more economical with their copying. 

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are bad again.  Just 4.48 million people wondered why there were suddenly all those frogs.  That puts it sixth on the all time least watched list, which is now dominated by episodes from Season 23 and 24. 

Sometime later this year FOX is going to have to make a call on renewing the show again, and while the numbers they’ll use will be a lot more involved than just the overnights that I track (and the 18-49 numbers continue to be more solid than the overall ones), there’s no getting around the fact that the ratings are down significantly, even from just two years ago.

30 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: Pulpit Friction”

  1. 1 FireFlower
    29 April 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I actually laughed at the Frogger reference. It was the first time I did that all season!

    I have to say that the Parson is one of the worst Simpsons characters ever. He is boring, pointless and unfunny…just like the show is now.

  2. 8 Mr. Incognito
    29 April 2013 at 6:04 pm

    I saw it, noticed during Bart and Milhouse’s leading-of-the-frogs scene that many frogs jumped up and over playground equipment with no effort…yet they couldn’t leap up a single step? Sounds like an excuse to run another 10 seconds off the clock.

    • 9 Charlie Sweatpants
      29 April 2013 at 6:12 pm

      This episode had a ton of short clock eating filler like that. There was Homer scratching himself like a dog at the beginning, all those scenes where the bugs filled something in, the Parson’s golf cart entry, pretty much the entire scene at the hot tub store, Flanders at the police station, etcetera. It seemed like half the episode was just a ton of weird little head fakes that didn’t make sense and had nothing to do with anything.

  3. 10 Stan
    29 April 2013 at 7:29 pm

    Still wondering why people why “then” and not “than” in English. Can someone please explain to me how do these two sound alike and under what conditions? I mean I can understand “his” and “he’s”, “their” and “there”, but these two… Everytime I see it I feel this is some kind of running gag among the English speakers.

    • 11 Sarah J
      30 April 2013 at 4:39 am

      Are you asking for the difference between “then” and “than”?

      “Then” usually refers to time. For example, “And then there was a new ‘Zombie Simpsons’ episode after the TV movie”. “Than” is used when you’re trying to compare something. For example, “Sitting through an episode of ‘Zombie Simpsons’ is infinitely worse than any experiencing any plague described in the Bible”.

    • 12 Charlie Sweatpants
      30 April 2013 at 10:36 am

      Homophones like that are the bane of modern written English for the simple reason that spell check doesn’t catch them and they are easy to overlook, especially the first time though. Looking above, I did indeed screw that up “going to spend more then forty-seconds”. Oh, well.

      • 13 Stan
        30 April 2013 at 8:56 pm

        But “then” and “than” aren’t homophones at all. Or am I really crappy in English? The first one has an “e” as in “bed”, the second one has an “a” as in “cat”. How can people mistake those two (that was my question btw)?

        • 14 Charlie Sweatpants
          1 May 2013 at 10:02 am

          Well, they’re not precisely homophones, but they’re close enough that I think it counts. I can’t speak for anyone else, but when I screw that up it’s usually because I’m typing fast and whatever parts of my brain have to communicate with one another to make sure that I use the right vowel just don’t make the connection before my finger hits the key. It’s similar enough that it’s not easy to spot on a second or even third pass because you already know the words and so you have a tendency to skip ahead and not read closely. That’s also why it’s always easier to spot mistakes in someone else’s text than your own.

          • 15 ThisCannotBeTheFuture
            1 May 2013 at 5:29 pm

            In everyday speech (in many American dialects, at least) both vowels reduce to a similar vowel; so they are basically homophones and thus easy to mix up.

          • 16 Stan
            2 May 2013 at 6:59 pm

            Ah k. Thanks for denoting.

  4. 29 April 2013 at 7:47 pm

    I found the episode better than the last one.

    Yup it was THAT bad.

    So do you think that they will make more seasons of them even with the horrible ratings? man I hope not…

  5. 18 Tom S. Fox
    29 April 2013 at 8:00 pm

    What about that skydiving couch gag? Not only did Homer predictably get hurt, it turned out that it “really” happened and is part of the story.

    • 19 Charlie Sweatpants
      30 April 2013 at 10:39 am

      Well, for starters it was almost a direct repeat of one from Season 8, but they’ve been changing up the couch gag quite a bit in the last few seasons. Can’t recall which episode off the top of my head, but there have been a couple times where it’s led directly into the episode by now. Basically, it’s a tacit acknowledgement that the well is dry. At least it didn’t take long.

  6. 21 ThisCannotBeTheFuture
    29 April 2013 at 8:16 pm

    Missed this episode, but as Seth Rogen’s character in an episode of Freaks and Geeks said: I can guarantee it sucks.

    By the way, has anyone else noticed the scary level of, shall we say, “apologetics” for ZS there is on the internet? I don’t know if the majority of sympathetic attitudes towards ZS comes from young gen y-ers or what, but the amount of enthusiasm for the latest ZS season makes me feel like most of the fans have gone mad.

    Just the love of the movie itself always bothered me. I could never even maintain interest enough to finish it.

    Though it may sound smug, I feel like those who enjoy this blog are part of the true fan base–the real connoisseurs–and tip my hat to the creators of this blog. I wonder, by the way, if we’re all roughly the same age? I’m 30-something.

    • 29 April 2013 at 8:33 pm

      I can assure you that is just the internet making things louder than they are. Check around and you can see a big apathy to new episodes normally. Ratings speak for themselves pretty much.

    • 23 Stan
      29 April 2013 at 8:50 pm

      27 here and I’m not watching it ever since I turned that. Also, I stopped caring for the show some five years ago, the same time I started thoroughly watching Family Guy and American Dad. Today I don’t give a shit about all three of them.

    • 24 Sarah J
      30 April 2013 at 4:52 am

      Like Bob said, the apologists are pretty much a vocal minority. But they exist. I think part of it might be denial, some sense of loyalty. I watched the new episodes for years after they went bad, disagreeing with accusations of declining quality. I didn’t want to think that such a great show would go downhill like that. In my defense, I was pretty young and at the time, it was hard for me to accept that something so funny and iconic would be replaced with a garbage golem wearing a crudely-made paper mask of the original work.

      But yeah, generation might also be a factor. The FOX stations at all the areas I’ve lived in would rarely play “The Simpsons” episodes, instead favoring Zombie Simpsons. I would shift through the TV guide, hoping for something pre-zombification, but nearly all the episodes aired would be from the last few seasons. And if I was the norm, it could be that many young people have a tough time accepting declining quality.

      Alternately, it could just be a testament to low standards toward sitcoms. Lets be honest, there aren’t really a lot of super great comedy shows airing right now. Zombie Simpsons is a pretty standard show. It generally gets a couple funny jokes out each episode, but it doesn’t offer nonstop laughs and there are a number of other problems created by bad/lazy writing. (“Inconsistency? Well, it’s a funny joke/gag, so we don’t need to follow things that have been established in previous scenes or episodes! RULE OF FUNNY!”) If you took some episodes of Zombie Simpsons, used a different art style and changed the names of the characters, and packaged it as a totally new show, it would probably get cancelled pretty quickly. The only thing that keeps the show running is its attachment to the older, better Simpsons.

  7. 25 Lovejoy fan
    29 April 2013 at 8:34 pm

    You hit the nail on the head with this entry, but this one really stood out for me after I watched the episode(because yes, sadly, I did in the end):

    “And now Lovejoy back for no reason and has gained the ability to subdue amphibians. ”

    Why did Lovejoy come back in the first place? It’s not like he wanted to come back, or that he was unhappy selling hot tubs. He pretty much implied that he preferred the job he was in. So why would he suddenly turn up again (bursting out of a hot tub, no less), in his vestments? Why would he even return to the church at all, given that he’d already decided there was no place for him there (which, again, he’d already come to terms with)?

    I don’t know why I’m still surprised by how bad the writing is in ZS, but that was just bizarre even by their standards.

    • 26 Charlie Sweatpants
      30 April 2013 at 10:45 am

      “Why did Lovejoy come back in the first place? It’s not like he wanted to come back, or that he was unhappy selling hot tubs. He pretty much implied that he preferred the job he was in. So why would he suddenly turn up again (bursting out of a hot tub, no less), in his vestments? Why would he even return to the church at all, given that he’d already decided there was no place for him there (which, again, he’d already come to terms with)?”

      Valid questions, all. I’d be curious to see what the first draft of this script looked like. Did Lovejoy actually have something of a story and it all got crowded out by bed bugs and swarms of frogs in rewrites? Or was it always skeletal to the point of nonsense? Neither would surprise me, but what went up on screen was pitiful.

      • 27 Lovejoy fan
        30 April 2013 at 12:22 pm

        I remember when I first heard about this, and it did seem like Lovejoy actually had a subplot of his own. That was probably the main reason I gave this episode a chance in the first place. I really wish they’d just cut the wedding dress subplot and just focused on that. Then we could’ve seen him going from feeling out of place, to getting that salesman job he seemed to like (because, as you said, why are we supposed to care?), to… I don’t know, having there be an actual reason for him to return to the church? It’s hard not to compare this to “In Marge We Trust”, which dealt with the same thing and handled it considerably better.

        But, then again, they probably wouldn’t have done any of this, given that Lovejoy’s basic requirement here was to be dull. In other words, he was reduced to just one aspect of his character, like a lot of the characters in ZS.

      • 28 Sarah J
        2 May 2013 at 1:28 am

        I kind of imagine that there was some brief scene indicating unhappiness, like that episode where Apu loses the Kwik-e-Mart and seems happy after he sings about how he doesn’t need it, but then he’s sad again and tries to get it back. But that the for Lovejoy got cut out to make commercial time, because surely there was nothing else they could take out. Nope. Every scene that got left in was totally crucial to the episode.

        Or maybe this is one of those times where I’m only thinking about what I HOPED happened rather than what really might’ve happened. If the script really originally had him returning for no reason, that’s a level of writing you expect from an elementary school kid who isn’t trying very hard, not from professional writers who have been doing this for a long time.

  8. 2 May 2013 at 4:00 am

    I wonder who The Simpsons’ writing team thinks they’re entertaining with this. That’s a weird sentence.

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