“Counterfeit?” – Homer Simpson
“Yeah, see the hologram’s missing, and there’s no such team as the Spungos, and, finally, these seem to be printed on some sort of cracker.” – Super Bowl Ticket Guy
“Stop eating our tickets!” – Homer Simpson
Archive for January, 2015
“I suggest a lengthy, inefficient search, at the taxpayers’ expense, of course.” – NASA Scientist
“I wish there was an easier way.” – NASA Director
It’s a very short Reading Digest this week. The WordPress “Simpsons” tag wasn’t working, those Auschwitz images I linked last week went kinda big, plus all the chatter about Elon Musk meant the signal to noise ratio went to hell again. We’ve got some usage, some more play reviews, a couple of cool fan doodles, and the first few instances of Bacon Day cards, so it’s not like it’s completely barren. Things should smooth out by next week. But first, in the silly fun category, reader Feodor sent in this search suggestion:
Heh. Thanks, Feodor!
Definitive proof that The Simpsons is getting worse – This is just the IMDb ratings put into a nice graphic. It’s been done before (here and elsewhere), but it’s nice to see people paying attention to how clearly different The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons are.
Simpsons Star Wars Doodles… – The one of Homer in the famous Episode I poster is great.
The Avocado is the Hipster of Vegetables! – Scroll down for a printable Choo-Choo-Choose You image.
New Valentine’s Day Cards! – And here’s a fan made Etsy version for all your Bacon Day needs.
The I, Omnibus Top Ten (US) Cartoons of the 1990’s – A short history of why cartoons became much better in the 90s:
There were three major factors that brought US animation out of its “Ghetto Age” that lasted throughout the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, and into its “Golden Age” of the 90’s. One was the Disney Renaissance – its rebirth of motion picture animation, which funnelled over to the television side. The second was the success of The Simpsons, which brought animation back to “Prime Time.” And the third was the success Ren and Stimpy, which reminded network executives that cartoons were once catered towards adults, and could be once again.
Reviews: Theater for thought and laughter – The play in Chicago gets some more critical love.
THEATER REVIEW Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play – Oh, hell, one more.
The Minimalists – Excellent usage:
The rigidity of minimalism’s reductionism has been parodied in mass entertainment, from Absolutely Fabulous (which taught us that if you make your home a white cube, there’s nowhere to stash the booze) to The Simpsons – think of the early 1990s episode in which a Yoko Ono-esque character sits at Moe’s bar and orders “A single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat”.
New trending GIF tagged happy the simpsons excited… – Here’s an appealing fellow. They’re a-peeling him off the pavement.
The Full McBain – YouTube of all those McBain clips stitched together.
A kid-filled day – Adorable 4-year-old discovers Simpsons arcade game at a roller rink. Aww, the kids love it too.
Boo-Urns Night. – Heh:
Nonetheless, Burns Nicht is celebrated all over Scotland (and indeed in many other places worldwide) and the celebration typically features more outlandishly Scottish stereotypes than a heroin-fueled Caber-Toss between Groundskeeper Willie and Ewan McGregor.
Rod McKuen, Prolific Poet and Lyricist, Dies at 81 – And finally, this is Critic rather than Simpsons, but this scene always cracks me up:
“This year’s topic is, Resolved: The national speed limit should be lowered to fifty-five miles per hour.” – Mrs. Blumenstein
“Fifty-five? That’s ridiculous! Sure, it’ll save a few lives. But millions will be late!” – Homer Simpson
“Why don’t you take con.” – Mrs. Blumenstein
“I haven’t been in a play since high school, and I thought it would be a good chance to meet some other adults.” – Marge Simpson
“Sounds interesting.” – Homer Simpson
“You know, I spend all day alone with Maggie, and sometimes it’s like I don’t even exist.” – Marge Simpson
“Sounds interesting.” – Homer Simpson
“I wanted to see your utopia, but now I see it is more of a Fruitopia.” – Stephen Hawking
“I’m sure what Dr. Hawking means is-” – Principal Skinner
“Silence! I don’t need anyone to talk for me, except this voice box.” – Stephen Hawking
Celebrities voicing themselves has long been one of the most widely acknowledged hallmarks of Zombie Simpsons. In truth, of course, the show had been using self voiced celebrities almost since the beginning. What changed was the way those voices were used. In Season 2, Ringo Starr voices himself, but responding to decades old fan mail, not arriving on the Simpsons’ doorstep. In Season 3, an entire baseball team of Major League players voiced themselves, but that’s because they were all getting paid by Burns, not because they all suddenly decided to go to Springfield. Self-voiced celebrities themselves aren’t inherently a problem, how they’re used is more important.
On The Simpsons, not only was there always a reason for some famous person to be there, but what they were doing was always a takeoff on who they were and/or why they were famous. On Zombie Simpsons (in addition to being used far more often), the self voiced celebrities usually appear out of nowhere. And once they are on screen, frequently don’t do much more than be their normal selves. This is how famous street artists repeat their names and do nothing else and the entire cast of American Idol pops up just because. It’s straightforwardly uncreative and almost always looks and feels like nothing more than a plea for attention.
All of those negatives apply to Elon Musk’s episode. He literally drops out of the sky at random, and (like Lady Gaga) once he’s in Springfield he just kinda acts like an even more exaggerated version of himself. Look, there’s drones and electric cars and friggin’ hyperloops! Aren’t they funny?
Too bad Kang and Kodos weren’t in there.
Even the episode’s attempts to show how his crazy ideas backfire falls apart. Everything he does works, and Springfield becomes a futuristic utopia right up until Burns fires everyone. Does Musk react to this? Nope. He disappears entirely as Springfield falls apart, showing up only at the end to act hurt that Homer doesn’t want to be his friend anymore.
They could’ve shown Musk as Shary Bobbins, a noble creature whose best efforts are eventually overwhelmed by the inherent crappiness of Springfield. Or they could’ve shown Musk as an evil, Hank Scorpio-esque nutbar who loves his inventions more than people. Or, with just a few tweaks, they could’ve shown a Musk vs. Burns battle for the soul of Springfield. (Burns would triumph, of course, because good is dumb.) But they didn’t do any of that. They had Musk show up, then they drew some of his stuff into Springfield, then he vanished while everything fell apart. This is about as shallow and pointless as it is possible to be given the enormous amount of screentime he got.
The episode manages to find him again, but only with binoculars. He is apparently unaware that all of his improvements to the town have become failures.
Compare that with Stephen Hawking’s brief appearance at the end of Season 10’s “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”. Now, by Season 10 the show was already falling apart, and Hawking’s sudden arrival isn’t without its share of problems. Not only does he drive up with no warning whatsoever, but after he scoops Lisa up in his flying chair to save her from the mob, they land all of thirty feet away while the episode forgets completely that a riot was going on.
But Hawking still has both 1) a reason to show up and 2) is given some things to do. He’s there because eggheads have taken over the town and he wants to check it out. This still being The Simpsons, their efforts were doomed from the get go and he finds nothing of value in their little experiment. Moreover, only on The Simpsons would Hawking be a bullying and arrogant dick who insults everyone and uses an extend-o-glove built into his chair to punch Skinner. Yes, he is smarter than everyone else, but he’s a jerk about it, and that’s what makes it work.
Stephen Hawking: Face Puncher
Of course, The Simpsons also knew enough not to try and string that out for an entire episode. Hawking is only in two scenes, one of which is an epilogue that doesn’t affect the story. They don’t build the whole thing around him because even in Season 10 the show could still recognize the limits of a guest star. In the filler laden wasteland of Season 26, weak guest ideas are asked to carry the entire runtime, and even a world famous inventor and entrepreneur can’t make that work.