Behind Us Forever: The War of Art

Chalkboard - The War of Art

“Oh, Kenny, look at the interplay of light and shadow.  It’s so luminous and vibrant!” – Lisa Simpson
“Thanks, Lisa, I painted that one.  The real one’s in my garage.” – Kenny the Museum Guard

If there is one topic on which Zombie Simpsons has a thorough and well practiced knowledge, it is imitating great art.  That didn’t help them keep “The War of Art” from being a meandering, exposition filled wasteland, of course, but it does add a nice level of unintentional meta-irony that will help you through what passes for the third act.  By the time Max von Sydow shows up to talk about the beauty of his forged work, there’s about four different subplots bumping along, two of which kind of even get resolved.  In the meantime, it’s mostly yelling, some gasp inducing plot twists, and the now standard pages of exposition.

First Lisa gets a guinea pig, an opening act that is mostly filler occasionally punctuated by meaningless suspense.  Then the Simpsons have to get a new painting for behind the couch.  They buy one from the van Houtens, which turns out to be valuable, which in turn means that they could or could not split the money, which leads to disputes over ownership, which leads Homer and Lisa to an island resort with a brain rotting alcohol that I would dearly love to have been drinking while I watched this.

– No couch gag this week?  They must have so much good stuff that they didn’t have time for it.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

– Homer is reading text we can clearly see on the screen.  Zombie Simpsons, now with built in closed captioning.

– This guinea pig selection scene is going on so long that even the show got bored with it.

– This guinea pig escape/chase scene is also very long, but opts for sheer nonsense and fake suspense over repetition.

– We went through all that to get the painting ruined?  Jebus.

– The fake Wikipedia table of contents is actually pretty good.  It’s got sex, death, betrayal, poison and a more coherent story than the rest of the episode.

– Homer has been repeating the word “Whoa” for fifteen seconds now.

– It ended up going for twenty-six.

– As the same conversation bleeds into about an eighth scene, Marge straight up asks Homer how he feels about the plot.

– “And all I have to do is not say something about some painting to my Mom and Dad?” – Milhouse recapping what you’ve just seen for the umpteenth time.

– And, as if to underline what a waste of time all that was, the van Houtens show up right away and have a boring fight with Homer and Marge.

– This episode is so herky-jerky that they just moved the plot along by someone yelling, unironically, “Stop the auction!”.

– The auctioneer bears a disturbing resemblance to the guy who nicked some of Homer’s sugar pile.

– After a brief expository scene between Homer and a once-again-kicked-out-of-the-house Kirk, Marge explains to us what’s been happening . . . twice: “That painting has torn the town apart, destroyed Kirk and Luann’s marriage, and everyone’s very worried about Milhouse” and then, “That picture has brought out the worst in everyone!”.

– Oh, good, we’re on a tropical island and Lisa brought her guinea pig in a travel cage.  Thought they forgot about that little guy, didn’t you?

– Man, this island has a massive oversupply of conveniently expository characters.

– One of whom quickly took Homer and Lisa back to his house!  Seamless!

– Homer, trying to speed things up, “Then why did the auction house say it was real?”  Nothing says good writing like directly asking a character we just met to explain everything as blandly as possible.

– Guh, this guy just keeps going on and on.  Now he’s debating Lisa about beauty and art.  Isn’t this show supposed to be a comedy?

– Max von Sydow narrating the history of “Strupo” over the credits has some actual jokes in it.  I don’t often offer suggestions to Zombie Simpsons because there’s nothing worse than a back seat driver, but they maybe should’ve put some of those in his actual part.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they continue to be the kind of rock bottom we’ve come to expect from springtime Zombie Simpsons.  Last night, just 3.93 million viewers wondered why kind of sloppy forgery of The Simpsons they were watching.  That’s the fourth lowest total ever and means that six of the ten least watch, including #1-4, are all from this season.

25 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: The War of Art”

  1. 1 Anonymous
    24 March 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Is it just me, or are increasingly more episodes hinging on changing up a recognizable Simpsons icon?

    I don’t really even have much to back this up (aside from episodes about Marge and Homer’s hair). Yet I’m getting a vibe of the show just getting plots out of screwing around with the set, like “…meanwhile, Lisa’s necklace is being recalled! Can she live with a bare neck?” or “The Simpsons reminisce as they watch that suspiciously nice window thing being removed.”

  2. 2 Anonymous
    24 March 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Other things I hated about this episode: Lisa complaining about not having any pets. She has had as many pets as Andrew Weiss: Two dogs, three cats, a horse, a pony, an elephant, a bunch of animals she adopted when Bart became a jazz musician, a different guinea pig, a snake, and probably some others I forgot. An appraiser blandly referring to a painting in art dealer terms without any humor or irony. Those Strupo addicts being ancestors of Homer, Lenny and Carl: It would have been funnier if they were ancestors of Ned Flanders, Julius Hibbert and Reverend Lovejoy. Marge just going along with Homer’s awful scheme after a bit of rationalization. Taking the amusing idea of a children’s contract and explaining it for half a minute. Dancing Revolution, Toys B This and other lazy fake names. Pay and Leave was better, but Try and Save was a far superior fake name. Almost everything in acts two and three was pointless and unfunny. Milhouse’s pain was glossed over, irrelevant to the episode and used to copy an image from a far better episode.

    Things I did like about the episode: The conflicting rocks were funny, and the piles were an amusing visual gag. I liked the symptoms of Strupo. That forger’s speech was actually a nice, ambiguous commentary on the nature of art and man that left it up to the audience to decide the lesson.

    • 3 Jeff
      24 March 2014 at 11:27 pm

      Lisa complaining about never having any pets bugged me, too.
      She’s actually had more than three cats: There’s Snowball I & II, and all those cats that died in that episode where all those cats (including the original Snowball II) died.

      • 4 Stan
        25 March 2014 at 2:08 am

        No, Lisa never had any pets. Ever.
        And Bart should get an elephant, I think that would be a marvelous idea for a never before seen ZS episode!

  3. 5 Monty Python Forever
    24 March 2014 at 2:37 pm

    I wrote the last comment.

  4. 24 March 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Does the writing staff of The Simpsons know the show is horrible and not care or do they think this crap is on par with classic Simpsons?

    • 24 March 2014 at 4:54 pm

      I think that, in some cases, the episodes start out good in production, but get mutilated by the censors and/or Al Jean, who think the audience has no brainpower and like their TV bland. In other cases, the episodes were probably lost causes from the start.

      Some of the writers don’t care if the show’s good or not; they just do it for the cheque. Others think that the episodes that are produced are on par with Retro Simpsons, even though it’s not.

  5. 24 March 2014 at 3:52 pm

    The text on the whiteboard is in front of Bart! Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.

  6. 11 FireFlower
    24 March 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Homer said Whoa…for 26 seconds. Thank for reminding me why I quit watching this show.

    • 12 Joe H
      24 March 2014 at 5:41 pm

      It was at least as bad as that sequence of Homer constantly screaming in “The Blunder Years” after the hypnotist get Homer to remember a suppressed memory.

      Scenes like this make it seem like ZS is trying to ape Family Guy (i.el. Peter holding his knee in pain) except even that doesn’t go on for almost 30 seconds.

      • 24 March 2014 at 5:44 pm

        I get a kick out of how Family Guy started out as a Simpsons clone but in the end The Simpsons has morphed into a Family Guy clone.

        • 14 Stan
          25 March 2014 at 2:06 am

          lol You say it as if the same thing doesn’t happen with all of today’s artists, producers, fashion designers etc. The problem is: when FG came out, both shows were kinda watchable. Today both of them are different in their own ways, yet both fucking suck.

    • 15 Cesar Underpants
      25 March 2014 at 10:10 am


  7. 16 FireFlower
    24 March 2014 at 5:57 pm

    Yes…I get a kick out of that too.

  8. 17 Rob K.
    24 March 2014 at 6:06 pm

    This is THE worst season… EVER!

    • 24 March 2014 at 6:22 pm

      Not sure about that yet. Season 23 had that stupid Gaga episode, the bar rag episode, the Gaga episode, the cruise episode, and the Gaga episode. Did I mention the Gaga episode?

      And remember, the fine folks here at DHS almost quit watching after season 23. That alone should give 23 the title of Worst Season Ever.

  9. 22 Hannah
    24 March 2014 at 6:10 pm

    On a pedantic note, didn’t Season 24’s “To Cur with Love” come in third least watched of all time?

  10. 23 FireFlower
    24 March 2014 at 7:50 pm

    Season 23 also had that Falcon and the D’Ohman episode…which was the seaon opener. THAT wasn’t a Simpsons episode. It was an epiosde of Family Guy with yellow characters. Terrible!

  11. 24 Rob K.
    24 March 2014 at 7:54 pm

    On a side note, my half Asian and Jewish friend Roy, a former detective from San Francisco a few years older then me told me that SNPP was paid off by FOX to stop doing their episode capsules.

  12. 25 ecco6t9
    25 March 2014 at 2:14 am

    Next week on The Simpsons….Troubles come calling as Homer causes an indoor baseball accident and The Simpsons have to buy a new phone. Marge is troubled that the only non mobile phones are tacky.

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