“This romance is so full of heartfelt passion. I can really identify with this corn fed heroine.” – Marge Simpson
At this point, Zombie Simpsons commentaries are a known quantity: there will be compliments on the animation, lots of digressions and tangents, and Al Jean will swoop in to rescue the conversation every time the rest of them just give up and go silent. This one is no different. Marge writes a novel, Homer gets a new job, and there are a lot of guest stars, a couple of which Jean forgets about.
An even ten guys on this one: Jean, Mike Anderson, Matt Selman, Matt Warburton, Steve Moore, David Silverman, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Michael Price, Tom Gammill and Max Pross.
0:30 – As we have neither the writer nor the director present, Jean starts us off with them.
0:40 – We’re passing on tidbits about this episodes that someone read on Wikipedia.
1:10 – Selman comes on to actually tell us some of the backstory.
2:30 – Selman is still telling this story.
3:00 – Selman finishes up, and Jean, aware of how unfocused and dull that was, saves the day by joking, “That sounds convincing, but now I remember I based it on this story called . . .” and then he trails off into gibberish. It’s funny.
4:00 – Someone, I think it’s Warburton but I’m not sure, says that he kept the TV Guide from this week because the only description was “Guest starring the Olsen Twins and Thomas Pynchon”. Everybody laughs, presumably at the odd pairing, but I don’t think they realized that such a description isn’t exactly complimentary of their work.
4:15 – Jean, right after that: “Oh, wait, is this the one with Pynchon in it?”
5:10 – Warburton’s story is still going on.
5:40 – Pynchon’s son is a fan, and that’s why he did the voice. Jean flew to New York to record him, and he’s just a generally nice, friendly guy.
6:30 – Someone finally mentions the episode to credit a joke to Dan Greaney.
7:15 – After a long silence, Selman comes on to inform us that this episode was at some point screened at a Nantucket film festival or something.
8:10 – After an even longer silence, someone comes on to remark about the way they finally showed the title of the painting in the living room. This happened a minute and a half ago on the episode, much of which was silence on the commentary.
8:30 – Jean talks about Marge being attracted to Flanders, and religion on the show.
9:30 – They’re just running down products that have shipped them stuff after they were mentioned on the air. Marge is fantasizing about Ned, but nobody talks about that.
10:00 – Jean compliments Mark Kirkland the director as being good at backgrounds, which is why he gets flashback and travel episodes like this one.
11:15 – The bookstore was possibly based on a Border’s in Glendale.
11:45 – Discussing Marge’s dot matrix printer and the gradual evolution of technology on the show.
12:00 – Jean notes how Groening’s original concept had the family completely out of it (doing dances and with hair styles that hadn’t been popular for years), but that at some point they couldn’t have them typing on typewriters anymore because, “it doesn’t make any sense”.
12:20 – Just as Jean is making that point (“it’s a thin line”), Homer walks naked into the backyard, which gets a chuckle from everyone and kinda undermines his point.
13:15 – With not much going on in the episode (Homer is supposed to be reading Marge’s novel), Jean just asks if anyone’s ever read a novel at the manuscript stage. It’s book group time, here in Season 15.
13:40 – After a long silence and some nervous chuckling, Jean says, “I usually like reading cereal boxes” just to fill space.
14:00 – Still with nothing to talk about, Jean continues to play the dinner party host, asking “Do you guys get people applying to Film Roman where they go, ‘It’s been my dream to be a Simpsons director?’”.
14:30 – And there’s Thomas Pynchon with a bag on his head. The bag was their idea, he just didn’t want his face depicted.
14:40 – Jean: “Is that Charles Napier?” Everyone else: “No, that’s actually Tom Clancy”. Jean: “Oh, that’s right.”
15:20 – And there’s Dr. Marvin Monroe, back from the dead, asking Marge to sign his book. Jean attributes it to his very cartoonish look and Harry Shearer thinking the voice was too much like Otto’s.
16:00 – Mostly just guys laughing at little jokes they’re cracking. Very little in the way of actual commentary.
17:00 – See above.
17:20 – Jean: “And this is the Olsen twins”, which does get a laugh that he remembers them.
18:10 – We’re getting into the dregs now, Selman is trying to help Jean out in filling time.
19:00 – Long silence as Marge’s novel finishes up with Homer harpooning Ned.
19:40 – And now we’re recreating the same scene in real life, which causes someone to sarcastically note, “Hey, this is very familiar”.
20:05 – “It’s a testament to a great show when everybody shuts up and watches”. Well, that’s one way to explain all the silences. Jean immediately retorts, “Yes, when they watch silently without laughing”. That gets a big laugh. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these guys know these episodes suck.
20:30 – Jean mentions that when he found out Ann Landers and Dear Abby were sisters that it blew his mind.
21:15 – There’s a brief discussion of when Homer started wearing his reading glasses.