Archive for July, 2014



25
Jul
14

Reading Digest: Promising Features, Regrettable Drawbacks Edition

Homer vs Patty & Selma13

“Congratulations, Mr. Simpson, this invention of yours has made us all rich, especially you!  It’s simple yet ingenious, and it fits right in the palm of your hand.  Every person in America now owns one of these, and in many cases, three or four.” – Imaginary Executive
“Uh, could I just get a look at that?” – Homer Simpson
“Now, why would you need to see it?  You’re the genius who invented the . . . product in question.” – Imaginary Executive

The big news this week was the first look at “Simpsons World”, an app/website-of-some-kind that’ll be debuting in October.  I have very mixed feelings about it, and I’m sure we’ll learn more once people who aren’t obsequious entertainment reporters can get their hands on it.  For now, however, there’s quite a lot to be excited about (easy access to clips, being able to stream the show) and quite a lot to be pissed about (you must have cable, your cable company must have FXX, AND it’s only in the US).  How much of either ends up in the final product remains to be seen.

In addition to that we’ve got word record breaking tattoos, two more Lego links, old video games, finger nail art, fan art, and some excellent usage.  Enjoy.

With FXX’s Simpsons World, A Clip Database Comes Closer to Non-Linear Reality – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is – by far – the most thoughtful first hand account of Simpsons World I read.  There is some healthy skepticism here along with fanboi excitement about what some of the promised features could mean.  It’s a little long, but in a week where every entertainment site seemed to do little more than quote the press release, you’re better off reading this than ten of those.  The fact that there’s going to be a currency called “donuts” that you can “earn” makes me very leery, for obvious reasons.

Here’s how the new Simpsons app will change your life – A quicker breakdown highlighting some of the main features.

‘The Simpsons World’ app won’t be available in Canada – And this is part of the reason why I have mixed feelings.  TV rights are locked into ancient distribution deals that are definitely bad for fans and, one suspects, also bad for the people who create the shows.  Endless legal arcana has always been a big help to the bosses screwing the worker bees.  As Bill Oakley sarcastically noted earlier this week:

Oakley Tweet - Lawsuit

Mondrian and Homer Simpson Inspired Wine Bottles – Some Russian designers created fake Homer and Marge wine bottles.  They are gorgeous, too bad there’s no wine in them (yet).

Simpsons Fan Sets Record With 41 Homer Simpson Tattoos – I put this up on Twitter a few days ago, but there’s plenty of good pictures at the link.  The one of Homer inside his Ganesh costume is a nice touch.

The … – Duplo Simpsons!

You can’t mess up with Lego. – Surprisingly creepy Flanders.  Looks like after the Gremlin got to him.

“And I for one welcome our new insect overlords…” – The complete background and a few examples of modern usage.

The Simpsons to kill off Krusty the Clown: 6 life lessons he taught us – The hot rumor is that they’re going to “kill” Krusty.  I would be skeptical if I bothered to care.  However, there are some good Krusty moments here, including a great .gif of him killing the wealthy dowager.

10 Hilarious “The Simpsons” Moments – Plenty of good YouTube here.

Nvidia Announces Shield Tablet, an Android Device for Hardcore Gamers – Excellent usage:

In an online press briefing yesterday, Shield Tablet general manager Matt Wuebbling said the market for mobile devices has matured to the point that a company like Nvidia can respond to the specific needs of a niche like hardcore gamers. A trend of homogeneity turning to variety is coming to tablets the same way it came to cars and PCs, Wuebbling said.

And if tablets were cars, Nvidia seemingly wants the Shield to be the Canyonero from “The Simpsons”:

Unexplained fires will be a matter for the courts!

Speedy Ortiz talks the Simpsons and playing in space at Pitchfork Festival 2014 – Good answer:

DC: (If the world were going to end in a year) and you were allowed to play any one festival, what would it be?

MF: We got this question the other day, and I’m still sticking with the Simpsons one.

DM: Oh yeah, Hullabalooza. The Smashing Pumpkins would have to play.

SD: Sonic Youth plays too, right?

DM: Yeah. And Peter Frampton. He’s headlining.

And in between sets they could watch the acts from the Pageant of the Trans-Mundane.

Homer Simpson’s parenting advice – There’s a couple Zombie quotes on here, but it’s a pretty solid list.

The Simpsons 25 – A heartfelt and touching remembrance of a lost child through the show.

20 ‘Simpsons’ Quotes That Everyone Hears In Everyday Conversation – Nice list.  Not sure how often you actually hear some of these, but nice list nevertheless (via @dailysimpsons).

Gameplay – Midnight Rescue was a great game, and don’t feel bad for learning wordplay from the likes of Chalmers.  We all did.

‘Simpsons’ Fan Made Only Coke Name Bottle Worth Owning – Someone finally took this to its logical conclusion.  Unfortunately, Coke is now sold out of “Bort” personalized bottles.  I repeat, they are sold out of “Bort” bottles.

Mike Scully’s “The Simpsons”: When everything went wrong – Our old friend Stefan Grasso takes some swings at the Scully years.

Newt! (OMD2) – Fingernail designs inspired by “Radioactive Man”.

Planet of the Apes (1968) Review – I saw “A Fish Called Selma” long before I saw the old Charlton Heston movie too:

Aside from what I’d picked up in a Simpsons episode with a musical version of the movie, Planet of the Apes was a mystery. I had an idea that it was much more about chasing humans, action-packed fight sequences and heavy science-fiction.

It’s only after you’ve seen the movie that you pick up on other references, like the parents rounding up the kids at the beginning of “Bart’s Girlfriend”.

The Simpsons: “The Otto Show” – Even when people don’t like a particular episode, it’s still generally pretty good.

14 Classic Episodes from The Simpsons, season 5 (and 8 memorable ones!) – Season 5 is just insanely solid.

You Are Lisa Simpson – A list of sad animated moments includes “Jurassic Bark” and Homer sitting on the hood of his car after saying goodbye to his mother.

SNES A Day 59: Krusty’s Super Fun House – That was a pretty fun game.

“Going to a nice restaurant with my wife tonight.” – Heh.

“The Simpsons” needs to can its celebrity guest stars – And finally, I get to end the way I like, with someone who agrees with us.  In this case it’s mainstream outlet Salon:

There are two ways the celebrity guest appearance goes on “The Simpsons”; in some cases, a star appears as him- or herself, as with the episode where Lisa and Lady Gaga become friends. In others, a star riffs on his or her persona, as in the episode in which Homer and Marge become friends with “hipsters from Portland” played by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. The only commonality here is that in all cases, no matter who the celebrity is, their persona takes over the plot. In the world of the show, Lisa would never become friends with a pop star and Homer and Marge are studiously unhip. But still the celebrities must be shoehorned in, even when it means that the story either ignores what we know about the characters or just makes the nominal stars of the show into bland sounding boards.

“The Simpsons” has never been realistic, but in its best years it obeyed internal logic as to how its characters would behave. Dustin Hoffman’s famous appearance as “Mr. Bergstrom,” Lisa’s substitute teacher, cleverly demonstrated Lisa’s need for respect from adults. But such stories need to be done subtly, with an attention to narrative coherence. Even stars as hammy as Kelsey Grammer playing Bart’s nemesis Sideshow Bob could have told an interesting story, but simply plugging in a celebrity and expecting greatness is a tall order.

Except for when they talk to reporters, the staff stopped expecting greatness a long time ago.

25
Jul
14

Quote of the Day

Dumbbell Indemnity6

“And bring us the finest food you got, stuffed with the second finest.” – Moe
“Excellent, sir, lobster stuffed with tacos.” – Gilded Truffle Waiter

24
Jul
14

Debunking the Zombie Simpsons Apologists (Part 2)

By Calvin

[You can check out Part 1 here.]

So-called “fans” have always criticized the show, even in its glory days. Al Jean says so.

Charlie Sweatpants effectively debunked this argument, but it bears repeating. During the classic years of The Simpsons in the 1990s, Internet access was not even close to being as widespread and democratic as it is now. Many of us relied on dial-up modems at schools and libraries to access the Internet through now-outdated programs like America Online and Prodigy, which were slow and expensive to use from what I remember.

I didn’t know Simpsons message boards existed. Even Simpsons writers like Bill Oakley thought it was a hassle to get online and engage with these techie fans, whom he ignored anyway.

These so-called Simpsons fans’ disparaging comments about the classic episodes can be found in The Simpsons Archive at snpp.com, proving that Internet message boards have always been havens for snark and trolling, even in the early years. But as Charlie writes about the SNPP crowd:

“Their opinions have outsized prominence because they were amongst the first people to discuss popular culture on-line, but the population that generated those reviews is extremely non-representative of Simpsons fans. It’s highly skewed towards the techiest of the early 1990s nerds who were, to put it mildly, an abnormal set of people … that said criticism is ridiculously harsh, should NOT obscure the fact that in this day and age, indeed since the turn of the century at least, there has been a solid and growing contingent of Simpsons fans who feel the show has badly lost itself.”

I sympathize with Zombie Simpsons writers to some extent in that I work for a news website that allows online comments. Some of the nasty, unfair things readers write about my work and my colleagues’ work makes me despair for humanity. That’s still no excuse for us to churn out an inferior product; regardless of the comments, I’m inspired to work harder and be better.

As Charlie explains:

“When the real grumbling about the show started, it wasn’t because disliking the show was cool, or because the most involved fans all have mean streaks.  It was because the show got worse, a gradual process that had precisely nothing to do with the internet and everything to do with the show itself.”

You’re older, crankier and more cynical. Of course (Zombie) Simpsons no longer appeals to you.

I’ve never understood this argument. Even former Simpsons writer Jay Kogen (co-writer of episodes like “Bart the Daredevil” and “Last Exit to Springfield”) used this to defend the show in a Reddit Q&A.

When asked if he thought the show’s quality had declined over the years, Kogen responded:

I keep thinking that maybe people feel that way because THEY’VE gotten older. I loved the first star wars movies and hated the later ones because I saw the first ones when I was 12 and the later ones when I was 30. Kids who saw the later ones as kids, loved them.”

The Star Wars movies Kogen viewed as young boy (Episodes 4-6) debuted to critical and commercial acclaim and made a significant impact on pop culture, much as The Simpsons have. Decades after their initial release, people still can’t get enough of Star Wars and all the comic books, TV shows, clothing and toys. Some people have turned Star Wars into a lifestyle.

In contrast, the Star Wars prequels (Episodes 1-3), which came complete with the latest film technology and big-name actors, received much scorn and mockery, and George Lucas was excoriated. Even Zombie Simpsons poked fun at how disappointing the Star Wars prequels were (they were years late to the party, but still).

Kids who only saw Episodes 1-3 loved them because they didn’t have the originals to compare them with. (Plus, why are you placing so much faith in the opinions of children?)

By Kogen’s logic, he should hate the original Star Wars movies and older Simpsons fans like myself should hate those old episodes. Yet he doesn’t follow through with this argument. Instead, it seems he suggests that Zombie Simpsons only appeals to young children who have never seen the earlier seasons. That’s not a defense but an admission that Zombie Simpsons is not what it used to be, as well as a mockery of its adult fans.

(Zombie) Simpsons has evolved with time, as have you. Of course it’s not as funny/relevant/impactful to you as it once was.

This is a variation of the argument above, and it also doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Do Zombie Simpsons writers really not care about making a show that makes an impact or holds up well with time?

Yes, apparently. Zombie Simpsons writer Dana Gould made this argument, as did Zombie Simpsons writer Michael Price, who brings up the silly Star Wars comparison. (Mike, do you really compare your work to the dreaded Star Wars prequels?)

I started watching The Simpsons when I was about 7 or 8 years old; I’m now a 20-something adult. (Yikes!) When I watch classic Simpsons episodes, I find they are still as funny to me at this age as they were when I was a kid; in fact, I appreciate these episodes on a different level because I understand more of the jokes and references that probably went over my head when I was a child. As a writer myself, I appreciate the story structure and character development of episodes like “Marge vs. the Monorail” and “You Only Move Twice,” which should be studied in English and creative writing courses.

Besides, can anyone really argue that The Simpsons has “evolved”? No character has really changed: Bart and Lisa are still ageless in elementary school; Maggie is still a baby; Homer and Marge are still married; Diamond Joe Quimby is still mayor; 99.9 percent of the original characters are still alive. They’re the same people, but less likeable and relatable.

Regarding our changing world, Zombie Simpsons has never really dealt with how major events like the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Barack Obama’s election, WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing, or wars in the Middle East have affected the citizens of Springfield, aside from the occasional heavy handed or forgettable episode. Zombie Simpsons never even parodied George W. Bush!

True, I’m not the same person at this age as I was when I was 9: I’m older, more educated, less naïve, more realistic, a beer drinker, not as lazy or easily amused. So why does The Simpsons hold up so well for adult me, while Zombie Simpsons (and the cartoons I used to enjoy as a child) do not? It’s not nostalgia.

If you don’t like the show, don’t watch it.

This is not a defense of the show, but thanks for the advice, Confucius. I’m already ahead of you.

It’s worth noting that if you listen to the DVD commentaries for Zombie Simpsons, not even the writers, producers and voice actors seem to like the show. Now compare those to commentaries for classic episodes, and it’s like the difference between night and day. When your own priceless voice actors can’t get excited about the show, it’s time to end it.

But The Simpsons is still capable of one or two funny jokes per episode

The worst episodes of Family Guy, a shameless joke factory, can still have one or two jokes that make you laugh.

Dane Cook probably has at least one routine that makes me smile.

Sean Hannity might say something I agree with on occasion.

Is it really worth spending 22 minutes of your time watching a mediocre Simpsons episode in hopes that Homer Simpson will say something — anything — that makes you chuckle?

But The Simpsons team want to keep making money the show going. Matt Groening said so!

If the prolific Seth MacFarlane can admit that Family Guy should have ended a few years ago, then Matt Groening can do it too.

At this point, it’s completely disingenuous to insist that The Simpsons should keep going because the cast and crew are dedicated to putting out a quality show for us lucky fans – especially when they have essentially admitted that the show is a shameless merchandising tool.

Here’s a sample of the dialogue from the June 18 update of The Simpsons Tapped Out game (which, by EA’s own estimates, has generated $130 million since its debut), written by Zombie Simpsons writers:

Blue-Haired Lawyer: Krusty, if you’re jaded about being rich, there’s only one solution to your spiritual crisis — get even richer … What you need is to start making new Itchy & Scratchys.

Krusty: But we’ve already got hundreds of them, and the characters don’t change or age. What innovative stories could any writer wring out of those characters?

Blue-Haired Lawyer: From what I can tell, none. But it doesn’t matter. No one needs to watch the new episodes. They just need to know they’re being made and remember the old ones fondly… and voila, the brand is still relevant! Then you can start merchandising T-shirts and action figures, slot machines and beer… maybe even develop a freemium game!

Krusty: Would the game have to be good?

Blue-Haired Lawyer: Not at all!

If that’s not a cynical admission of them turning this once-beloved show into a zombie cash cow, than I don’t know what is.

24
Jul
14

Quote of the Day

Regional Dialect

“You call hamburgers ‘Steamed Hams’?” – Superintendent Chalmers
“Yes.  It’s a regional dialect.” – Principal Skinner
“Uh-huh, what region?” – Superintendent Chalmers
“Uh, upstate New York.” – Principal Skinner
“Really.  Well, I’m from Utica and I’ve never heard anyone use the phrase ‘Steamed Hams’.” – Superintendent Chalmers
“Oh, not in Utica, no, it’s an Albany expression.” – Principal Skinner

23
Jul
14

Debunking the Zombie Simpsons Apologists (Part 1)

By Calvin

[You can read Part 2 here.]

One of the reasons I enjoy visiting Dead Homer Society at least once a week is reading the articulate breakdowns and critiques of latter-day Simpsons episodes, from the show’s desperate efforts to be relevant by bringing in celebrities and making clumsy pop culture references, to the poor and disjointed writing, lame new characters, odd character development, bad animation, and lack of actual, you know, jokes. As a longtime Simpsons fan who reveres its glory years, it was devastating to find myself joining the ranks of its fans-turned-critics and agreeing that it should have ended years ago.

Yet I’m intrigued by fans of Zombie Simpsons, who lack an equivalent website like DHS but pop up in nearly every online discussion to defend the show. Sure, it’s difficult to engage with people who dismiss your arguments with, “Well, I still like it,” but it’s gotten annoying to see them trot out the same arguments and half-hearted defenses of Zombie Simpsons that can easily be debunked.

For the record, I favor ending Zombie Simpsons with a proper sendoff, as the writers on Futurama were able to do when that show was canceled. I believe it’s ridiculous to keep defending a bad show with vigor that these “fans” would never give to any other show, as if Zombie Simpsons is more sacred than the Catholic Church or Prophet Muhammad.

Here are my responses to some of the most common (and silly) defenses of the show. In keeping with the theme of this website, I refer to latter-day Simpsons (post-season 9 episodes) as Zombie Simpsons.

Even at its worst, (Zombie) Simpsons is still better than most crap on television

I still hear this claim from the most devoted fans, even though they typically preface it with a caveat like, “I don’t rush home and watch it like I once did” or “I watch it On Demand when I have the time.” Can you imagine Simpsons fans saying this when the show was in its prime? “I didn’t have time to watch ‘Lisa’s Pony,’ but I recorded it and will see it later this week if I have the time.”

The problem with making this claim, especially in 2014, is that The Simpsons is no longer the best show on TV. Heck, it’s not even the best show on Sunday.

You’ve probably read those articles about how we’ve entered the golden age of television, when cable and broadcast networks are attracting the best and brightest writers, actors and directors, and TV shows are surpassing movies in the quality of their acting and writing. Famous Hollywood directors and actors are jumping on the bandwagon and forgoing movies in favor of television (and being rewarded for it).

On Sunday nights, Americans have the option of tuning in to a range of popular, critically acclaimed shows such as Game of Thrones, Mad Men, True Detective, Veep, The Walking Dead, Silicon Valley, Boardwalk Empire, Cosmos, True Blood, British imports like Sherlock and Downton Abbey, and many other shows I’m forgetting. Even the other shows on the Fox’s Sunday cartoon block like Bob’s Burgers and American Dad! are earning critical and fan acclaim. In contrast, I can hardly find an article about Zombie Simpsons’ latest ratings gimmick without a variant of the “It’s not as good as it used to be” line.

The next day, these shows become the hot topic of conversation with family, friends and co-workers. Yet I can’t remember the last time I discussed the latest Simpsons episode with coworkers and friends – which would have been inconceivable to me 15 years ago.

Perhaps if you live in a country with state-run television that relies on U.S. imports to fill the schedule, than Zombie Simpsons may still be better than 99 percent of everything else. Still, don’t most people watch everything online anyway?

Shut up, Comic Book Guy. The Simpsons owe you nothing. If anything, you owe them for all that free entertainment they gave you.

My, what a timely Simpsons reference dating all the way back to … 1997, in season eight. Could you not think of any line from season 20-something that delivers an equally clever jab?

Regarding your overall point, I agree that I owe The Simpsons a lot for the years of entertainment it provided to me. This is why, 20 years after my first viewing, I remain an outspoken fan of those classic seasons, and why I engage with fellow fans, including those of you who continue to convince me that its inferior seasons are somehow worthy. Heck, I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t care about it.

You can’t end The Simpsons. It’s a popular, critically acclaimed show, and an American institution! People would lose their jobs!

Folks, are you familiar with how television works? All in the Family, M.A.S.H., Seinfeld, Cheers, I Love Lucy and The Mary Tyler Moore Show were TV royalty in their heyday. Guess what happened to them?

TV shows get canceled all the time for any number of reasons. There are websites dedicated to informing viewers when their favorite shows are canceled. Zombie Simpsons is no different.

I know the disappointment of seeing a favorite show get canceled. Freaks and Geeks, Carnivale, The Critic, Rome, Boomtown, Arrested Development, and Futurama are favorite shows of mine that were axed by heartless network executives. (Note how two of those shows were created by Simpsons alumni.)

I’m frustrated when my favorite shows get the chop but I adjust, as do the people behind these shows. Cancelation is not a career death sentence. Producers, writers and actors go on to do other things. Matt Groening & Co. are big boys (and big girls) with clout in the industry; they’ll be fine and may go on to create other great shows.

As I stated above, I would like Fox to give Zombie Simpsons advanced notice to end the show so that the writers could give it a proper sendoff, just as the writers of Futurama were able to do. Subsidizing a show with diminishing ratings for the benefit of a few vocal fans is not how TV should work (unless you’re a Communist or something).

But if I still haven’t convinced you, let’s imagine the alternate world in which The Simpsons ended its run after Season 8. What could have happened?

  • The Simpsons cements its status as the greatest show of all time and is admired for ending at the height of its popularity, while subsequent criticism from critics and fans (like me) never happens
  • Matt Groening goes on to create Futurama and several other TV shows that earn critical and audience acclaim
  • A Simpsons movie comes out every few years
  • Simpsons writers, voice actors and crewmembers get jobs at other sitcoms and cartoon shows, and drive the overall quality of those programs up (it’s worked out for Brad Bird and Greg Daniels)
  • Mike Scully doesn’t become a hated figure among fans
  • The Simpsons still gets a lucrative syndication deal where two to four classic episodes are aired back to back, five days a week, on Fox or on one of those cable channels like TBS or Cartoon Network
  • We don’t get to see Homer take 50+ new jobs as an acrobat, hair stylist, Super Bowl choreographer, Mexican wrestler, paparazzo, and grunge musician
  • Awful episodes like “Saddlesore Galactica,” “That ‘90s Show,” “Strong Arms of the Ma,” “Donnie Fatso,” “Large Marge,” and the episode where Homer gets raped by a panda never get made

The horror, the horror!

[Ed Note: Part 2 coming tomorrow!]

23
Jul
14

Quote of the Day

PapaHomer

“Pepe!” – Homer Simpson
“Papa Homer!” – Pepe
“Son, your life is gonna better, starting now.” – Homer Simpson

22
Jul
14

Quote of the Day

Bart's Inner Child15

“Right now, I want each of you to try something interesting.  There’s no trick to it.  It’s just a simple trick!” – Brad Goodman

Happy birthday Albert Brooks!




E-Mail

deadhomersociety (at) gmail

Run a Simpsons site or Twitter account? Let us know!

Twitter Updates

The Mob Has Spoken

Gabbo on Quote of the Day
Carl Carson on Quote of the Day
Gabbo on Quote of the Day
Anonymous on Quote of the Day
Anonymous on Makeup Quote of the Day
Anonymous on Quote of the Day
Anonymous on Makeup Quote of the Day
Anonymous on Quote of the Day
Lester Peacock on Quote of the Day
Lester Peacock on Quote of the Day

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Reruns

Useful Legal Tidbit

Even though it’s obvious to anyone with a functional frontal lobe and a shred of morality, we feel the need to include this disclaimer. This website (which openly advocates for the cancellation of a beloved television series) is in no way, shape or form affiliated with the FOX Network, the News Corporation, subsidiaries thereof, or any of Rupert Murdoch’s wives or children. “The Simpsons” is (unfortunately) the intellectual property of FOX. We and our crack team of one (1) lawyer believe that everything on this site falls under the definition of Fair Use and is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. No revenue is generated from this endeavor; we’re here because we love “The Simpsons”. And besides, you can’t like, own a potato, man, it’s one of Mother Earth’s creatures.