24
Nov
14

Behind Us Forever: Covercraft

Bart Gets Famous13

“Yes, son, you can have an electric guitar just like your old man.” – Homer Simpson
“Dad, I’m asking if I can get a job.” – Bart Simpson
“Gig, son, when you’re a musician a job is called a gig.” – Homer Simpson

In the past, I have described watching Zombie Simpsons episodes as akin to listening to a 5-year-old tell a story.  It’s just an endless series of “and then this happened”.  In “Covercraft”, which had no B-plot, Moe trashes the music store, and then Homer bought a bass guitar, and then there was a montage, and then Homer was in a cover band, and then there was a montage, and then Apu got picked up by a famous band, and then there was a montage, and then the famous band got food poisoning, and then there was a montage.

– Another relatively decent and brief couch gag.  Two in a row might be some kind of record.

– Things get off to a typically sloppy start.  Barney vanished from the alley, then Moe got into a fight with the guy who apparently owns the music store, who is also clearly not the guy who sold Homer the reeds in “Lisa’s Pony”.  A real waste of Will Forte.

– The sign on Guitar Central “Where Dreams Become Purchases” is pretty good.  But to get there we had to have Lisa do a dramatic pause on “the big box music store”.  None of these characters act like people anymore, and it’s very annoying.

– Now that Homer and Lisa are in the guitar store, Lisa conveniently vanishes for what appears to be several hours.

– Back at home, the Simpson family is once again telling the audience how they feel about stuff.  Lisa continues to be a total non-entity.  She says it’s cool to have another musician in the family, even though she just saw Homer get ripped off and already knew what he bought.

– Now Marge is at a restaurant with Helen Lovejoy, LuAnn van Houten (or whatever her name is now), Bernice Hibbert, and a totally silent Manjula.  Like, she’s sitting right there and doesn’t say or do anything in the whole scene while the rest of them exposit the backstory about their husbands playing instruments.  It’s weird.

– In our next poorly constructed scene, Homer, Kirk, Dr. Hibbert and Reverend Lovejoy are all in the Simpsons’ garage.  They have all set up their instruments and look ready to go but have not, apparently, talked to each other about this at all:

Kirk: What were our wives thinking?  We probably don’t even like the same tunes.
Hibbert: On the count of three, everyone say their favorite kind of music.

It doesn’t read like dialogue or even an outline of dialogue.

– If you’re wondering if they suddenly all became good after that, well, wonder no more.  This is one of roughly a dozen sections of this episode that are just, “Hey, let’s play some 80s rock”.

– Apu just walked up.  Apparently, Manjula is only allowed to talk off screen this week, but she told him about their garage band and now he’s gonna be their singer.

– Oof, this “Sungazer” crap is really bad.  Accoding to the credits the songs were a joint effort of Selman and Matthew Sweet.  I guess they got the crap rock vibe down, but the lyrics are, well, just lyrics.  Probably should’ve at least tried to make those funny.

– Hibbert just asked Apu to explain why his voice is different when he sings.  So they are aware of how wildly dumb this is, but they only pause to explain the implausible when they have a flashback to cut to.

– I’m not even sure how rawk music many montages we’re on now.  Still, I like those better than dialogue like this:

Homer: Guys, are you feeling this?  Are you feeling this?
Kirk: I’m feeling it.
Hibbert: I’m definitely feeling it.
Lovejoy: I felt something earlier but I was afraid to bring it up.
Apu: I think we all felt something.

After that, Homer exposited that they are now a band, in case we were unclear on that.

– Wait, a decent callback joke!  The all appetizer restaurant the wives were at files for bankruptcy, and a newspaper headline calls the concept flawed after a sign in their window said it wasn’t.  I feel like I found a four leaf clover or something.

– Well, that didn’t last.  They’re backstage and Homer asks Apu what’s wrong before expositing how Apu can sing if he imagines he’s singing alone in the Kwik-E-Mart.  It took the better part of a minute to get though that, and then it’s time for another montage.

– And I wasn’t kidding earlier about the lyrics being pointless and unfunny, “When I close my eyes/ I wish that I could fantasize/ Pull a dream right out of the air/ take a chance turn it into a prayer/”.  Someone needs to confiscate Selman’s rhyming dictionary, for the good of us all.

– Bart just noted that everyone loves his Dad now.  That may be the first thing he’s said all episode.  We’re eleven minutes in.

– Ooh, they’ve dipped back into “being aware” of how dumb this is:

Marge: Oh, sweetie, this band has brought out the best in you
Lisa: Yeah, you really get that it’s all about the music.
Homer: Yep, it’s all about the music.  And it would take a pretty unforeseen development to change that.  Pretty unforeseen.

I wonder if the script said “with sexy results” originally.

– And just like that, four old rock stars show up a the garage.  Kirk lists of their names, then explains that they’re from the band “Sungazer”.  Hibbert then asks what happened to their lead singer.  He’s dead, so they’re gonna replace him with Apu.  Dun dun dun.

– These are Apu’s last words before being whisked away in a helicopter:

Tonight we play Las Vegas!  And the theme of the casino is circus!  Circus, ha!

– Sammy Hagar just showed up to voice himself.

– Oh, sweet baby exposition Jebus, they’re having Kent Brockman explain how great things are going for Apu.

– Homer just explained to Lisa the dictionary definition difference between envy and jealousy.  Lisa then produced a dictionary from nowhere to verify it.  That’s right, this episode has gotten so boring that they are reading from a dictionary.

– Homer then yelled at Bart about the band Genesis.  It took awhile.

– Man, I’m getting sick of this:

Hibbert: You know, we really could use a new lead singer.

Then Homer accuses everyone of being “a Yoko” and the rest of them pack up and leave.

– Marge just showed up in the garage in the middle of the night with tickets and back stage passes from Apu.  She’s in her bathrob and just holds them up.  Then they disappear.  This is how this show pushes its plot forward.

– Homer has now broken into Apu’s dressing room.  There’s a picture of the Be Sharps on the wall.  Sigh.

– In a shocking twist, Apu isn’t actually happy on tour.  Then, and I am not making any of this up, they order rancid hot dogs from the Kwik-E-Mart to poison the guys in Sungazer, then the dad band we just saw break up plays the stadium while a final montage shows them getting arrested.  Five-year-olds can do better.

– The credits feature Sammy Hagar telling an incoherent story in jail.  On the plus side, it’s finally over.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are literally the lowest ever.  With no football lead in, last night just 3.49 million people yawned as the writing staff lived out its own collective mid-life crisis.  That is the smallest audience in history, and by a fair margin as well.  The previous record holder was a flat 4.00 from Season 23.  To be fair, ABC had one of those tedious but usually solidly rated “award” specials last night, so this probably isn’t a new baseline, but it ain’t good, either.

[Note: I made a mistake in the ratings originally.  This episode is actually 4th lowest all time.  I was looking at an old part of my ratings spreadsheet.  Still a terrible number, though.]


27 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: Covercraft”


  1. 24 November 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Didn’t Diggs get lower? 2.something million I thought. Though that was on a different time, or something.

    • 2 Charlie Sweatpants
      24 November 2014 at 9:17 pm

      Yeah, Diggs holds the record at 2.65 million. I just brain farted. Here’s the current Low 5:

      2.65 Diggs
      3.28 The Yellow Badge of Cowardage
      3.38 What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting
      3.49 Covercraft
      3.59 Days of Future Future

  2. 24 November 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Gee, sounds like I missed another winner. The ZS episodes that remind you of classic Simpsons episodes are some of the worst even by ZS standards. Obvious comparisons to the classic Homer’s Barbershop Quartet are impossible to avoid and just reminds fans how far the show has fallen.
    What is even worse is ZS is cannibalizing one of the few tolerable ZS episodes in How I Spent My Strummer Vacation AKA the one with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. During that episode Homer attacks Elvis Costello for suggesting he play bass guitar.

  3. 5 Joe H
    24 November 2014 at 1:49 pm

    It does certainly seem like they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of ’80s nostalgia. I mean, why would anyone go to see that band perform? Maybe some novelty for Springfieldians to hear Apu sing like that, but aside from that…..no.

    Also, there’s this build-up of Apu becoming a star yet the show doesn’t really bother to even suggest it gets in the way of his married life. Especially the whole on-tour bit where he takes the kids for some unknown reason yet no sign of Manjula whom we can only assume is at home by herself. Seems the episode was afraid to divert attention from Homer for more than 10 seconds.

    There’s one very strange bit where Apu actually talks normally in his singing voice when listing the band leaders’ names. Like they couldn’t bother to get Azaria to list off their names, so they used….whoever the singing voice was. That or they were just to lazy to differentiate between the two voices during the recording session.

    Lastly, we get another instance of a new, possibly recurring character with the new guy that owns King Toot’s Music Store. Even giving him a rivalry with Moe can’t make him worth remembering.

  4. 24 November 2014 at 2:06 pm

    Actually, ZS was netting 3-million ratings through the second half of season 25. Diggs got 2 million, albeit it “won” that honour by being in a 7:30 slot. “Yellow Badge of Cowardage” got 3.28M.

    Than again, these are probably the lowest fall ratings in history.

    • 7 Stan
      24 November 2014 at 8:44 pm

      These two were probably so unmemorable they blanked Charlie’s memory.

      • 8 Charlie Sweatpants
        24 November 2014 at 9:15 pm

        Well, sort of. I screwed up and was looking at the wrong page in my ratings spreadsheet. It’s corrected, and thanks for noticing.

  5. 9 fennel
    24 November 2014 at 4:51 pm

    I happened to like the jealous/envy joke. It took me back to this

    HOMER: What are you inferring?
    LISA: I’m not inferring anything. You infer; I imply.
    HOMER: Well that’s a relief.

    I didn’t even notice Manjula at the wife meeting so at least that explains why Apu shows up out of nowhere. Manjula wouldn’t necessarily have known that Apu sang at work so didn’t mention it at the lunch, but obviously told him about her lunch chat later and that’s how he knew to show up, so this actually counts as storytelling. Shock!

    Oh, I’m not forgiving though, the rest was rubbish, and I don’t really know who Sammy Hagar is. I thought big guests were queuing up to be in the simpsons. Compared to the corpses at his side in that cloud he’s nobody.

    I can’t be bothered (continuity wise) with Be sharps and Homer’s Nirvana band thing because as the end of the Be Sharps episode goes

    Bart: Yeah, and what happened to the money you made?
    Lisa: Why haven’t you hung up your gold records?
    Bart: Since when could you write a song?
    Homer: (laughs) There are perfectly good answers to those questions. But they’ll have to wait for another night. Now off to bed!

  6. 10 torbiecat
    24 November 2014 at 5:31 pm

    For the hell of it, I’ve recently been reading through old Simpsons Comics, and issue #9 (the one about Bart changing up Lisa’s diary and submitting it to a publisher) actually makes a jealousy vs. envy joke that sounds much more subtle and natural than what was in this episode.

  7. 24 November 2014 at 5:36 pm

    I know Jan Hooks has recently passed away but I swear she hasn’t voiced Manjula for years. I guess when in doubt over a voice actor for a kid or woman in The Simpsons you just assume it is Tress Macneille filling the role.

    Sammy Hagar is fairly well known to fans of Van Halen as the guy who replaced David Lee Roth. He also had some solo success with the song “I Can’t Drive 55”.
    Hagar isn’t a nobody but this is a show that has had three Beatles, two Rolling Stones, The Who, U2, Metallica, The White Stripes, etc so The Red Rocker is a huge step.

    • 13 Fervidus van Ochi
      28 November 2014 at 7:07 am

      “I know Jan Hooks has recently passed away but I swear she hasn’t voiced Manjula for years. I guess when in doubt over a voice actor for a kid or woman in The Simpsons you just assume it is Tress Macneille filling the role.”

      Jan Hooks only voiced Manjula when she was introduced in “The Two Nahasapeemapetilons” (yes, I know we first saw her as a kid in “Much Apu About Nothing,” but she didn’t have any lines in that one) and in some of the Mike Scully Zombie Simpsons episodes, like the one with the octuplets and the one where Apu cheats on her with the Squishee delivery woman. Every time after that it’s been Tress MacNeille.

  8. 14 Dan S.
    24 November 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I’m no fan of Zombie Simpsons but I feel the way you view the ratings is a little unreasonable. If you compare the ratings with other shows in the timeslot and other fox animation domination shows, the Simpsons is unfortunately doing pretty well. I’m not sure what constitutes decent ratings for a show these days but I don’t think the Simpsons are doing as poorly as you make it seem.

    • 15 Charlie Sweatpants
      24 November 2014 at 9:12 pm

      I probably don’t restate this often enough, but I make no attempt at doing serious ratings analysis. Partly that’s because I think Nielsen ratings are just this side of worthless in general, partly it’s because Zombie Simpsons occupies a unique position as a network show (mostly because the economics of it are very different than a normal show), and partly because rational programming decisions are not to be expected from the FOX network, ever.

      Given that the show is still in production, it’s basically a certainty that it’s been renewed for next year. I don’t track how the show does in TV By The Numbers’ “Cancellaiton Index”, but it’s very solid on there right now because the rest of the FOX lineup is a tire fire. Only nutjob fans like us even noticed that the renewal notice is overdue.

      It’s just kind of enjoyable schadenfreude to watch the numbers sink ever lower.

      • 16 Mr. Incognito
        25 November 2014 at 9:09 pm

        “In production,” as in a new production series has popped up, or “in production,” as in the current production series leaks over to the 2015-16 TV season? IIRC it was the latter.

      • 17 Fervidus van Ochi
        28 November 2014 at 6:53 am

        The renewal notice for the show came on October 28th this year. And, sadly, we do get a 27th season.

  9. 18 Brad M
    24 November 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Why was there a plate of cheese in Apu’s dressing room? He’s a vegan.

    I did laugh at the Kwik-E-Mart hot dog being used as a toilet paper holder.

  10. 19 Stan
    24 November 2014 at 8:45 pm

    It’s going to end by Christmas 2015. We only have to endure 10 more months.


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