Archive for October, 2016

31
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“Oh, Smithers, I was wrong to play God! Life is precious, not a thing to be toyed with. Now take out that brain and flush it down the toilet.” – C.M. Burns
“Sir, his family might appreciate it if you returned the brain to his body.” – Mr. Smithers
“Oh, come on! It’s 11:45!” – C.M. Burns

30
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“Okay, everybody, let’s see some big smiles! Just relax and let the hooks do their work.” – Ned Flanders
“What the hell are you smiling at?” – Homer Simpson

29
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“Now, kids, instead of candy I thought I’d serve an array of healthy, fresh fruits.” – Marge Simpson
“Ohhh.” – Kids
“Fruit is nature’s candy.” – Marge Simpson

28
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“It’s some sort of hideous monster. . . . Aww, isn’t that cute? He’s trying to claw my eyes out.” – Ned Flanders

27
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“Uh, Mr. President, sir? People are becoming a bit confused by the way you and your opponent are, well, constantly holding hands.” – Not George Stephanopoulos
“We are merely exchanging long protein strings. If you can think of a simpler way, I’d like to hear it.” – Kang

26
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“But Aquaman, you cannot marry a woman without gills. You’re from two different worlds! . . . Oh, I’ve wasted my life.” – Comic Book Guy

25
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“We offered you paradise. You would’ve experienced emotions a hundred times greater than what you call love, and a thousand times greater than what you call fun. You would’ve been treated like gods, and lived forever in beauty. But, now, because of your distrustful nature, that can never be.” – Kang
“For a superior race they really rub it in.” – Marge Simpson

24
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“I’ve given out my share of bad reviews.” – Homer Simpson
“The only bad review you gave was to a slice of pizza you found under the couch.” – Daphne Beaumont
“It lost some points cause it had a Hot Wheel on it.” – Homer Simpson

23
Oct
16

Sunday Preview: Trust But Clarify

Lisa and Bart investigate Krusty’s suspicious new “Krustaceans” candy. Meanwhile, Homer wants a promotion at the nuclear plant and asks Marge to help him dress the part, and news anchor Kent Brockman struggles to find his feet in the changing media world.

Dan Rather apparently decided to be part of this episode as himself. I am sure that could be taken as some sort of indicator, but I am too lazy and drunk to think about it.

23
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“Help! Please help me!” – Groundskeeper Willie
“Willie, please, Mr. van Houten has the floor.” – Principal Skinner
“I for one would like to see the cafeteria menus in advance, so parents can adjust their dinner menus accordingly. I don’t like the idea of Milhouse having two spaghetti meals in one day.” – Kirk van Houten

22
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“The chair? Oh, how come they only do crucifixions during sweeps?” – Homer Simpson
“Snake played lacrosse at Ball State University.” – World’s Deadliest Executions Announcer

21
Oct
16

Behind Us Forever: Treehouse of Horror XXVII

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“No! No, let me explain! Every Friday evening after work Mr. Burns undergoes a series of medical treatments designed to cheat death for another week.” – Mr. Smithers 

I’ve been staying with friends in Arlington, VA this week and doing the D.C. tourist thing in Our Nation’s Capital while a constant loop of “Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington” plays inside my head (with a side order of “Amendment to Be“). That left watching another lifeless Zombie Simpsons Halloween special pretty low on my priority list. But watch it I did, and it was, well, lifeless.

At the risk of repeating myself, the attention span of Zombie Simpsons has grown so short that they can’t even write coherent 6-7 minute segments. Like several previous Halloween episodes, this one was atomized even further, starting with an opening sketch with fan service ghosts, then going into a long couch gag that was a parody of Planet of the Apes called “Planet of the Couches” (<- creative!). After that they did their three main segments before ending with a 600th episode montage that made me pine for the days when they refused to celebrate meaningless milestones.

The first segment was a Hunger Games/Mad Max 4 mashup where Burns somehow had taken all the water. Here’s a typically brainless scene:

Lisa: Oh, God, me and my big mouth.
Marge: Ooh, I just donated the winter clothes.
Ralph: I’m a god in this reality.
Lisa: Sure, why not?

After that was an exposition heavy segment where Lisa’s imaginary best friend kills a bunch of people. Remember that line from “Hell Toupee” where Lisa exclaims, “Of course, the transplant! Somehow Snake’s hair must be controlling…” and then Marge cuts her off because everyone’s already figured that out? This segment was an extended exercise in ignoring that. Observe:

Imaginary Best Friend: Hey, Lisa, let’s gossip about boys. Isn’t Milhouse so cute? Oh, of course, he suffocated.
Lisa: My Mom was so right when she said I didn’t need you anymore.
Imaginary Best Friend: Oh, I see, so nosy old Marge was the reason you moved on from me.
Lisa: Oh, no, she’ll kill Mom! What do I do?

Finally there was a Kingsman thing where Moe is secretly running a spy agency out of the bar. Homer is some kind of villain, a lot of it is a weird action sequence that kills a lot of time by killing a lot of people, and then it ends for no apparent reason. As usual, about half the dialogue is them explaining what we’re seeing, but I think I’ve quoted this thing enough.

Anyway, the ratings are long since in and they remain bad even when they’re good. On Sunday, Zombie Simpsons managed to pull 7.44 million viewers, by far their highest since last January when they had playoff football as a lead-in. Unfortunately, since the post-game show had 15.38 million viewers, they once again managed to lose more than 50% of their NFL lead-in.

21
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

 

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“Naturally I can’t pay you much of a reward because I’m strapped for cash. . . . As you can see, this old place is falling apart.” – C.M. Burns

20
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“But I’m sure that once girls get to know the real you, you’ll get plenty of dates. Next question.” – Lucy Lawless

19
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“That’s damn fine coffee you’ve got here in Twin Peaks. And damn good cherry pie.” – Not Kyle McLaughlin
“Brilliant! . . . I have absolutely no idea what’s going on.” – Homer Simpson

18
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“Boy…must…die!” – Homer Simpson
“I love you, Dad!” – Bart Simpson
“D’oh! . . . Dirty trick.” – Homer Simpson

17
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“Will I ever see you again?” – Female Nuclear Plant Employee
“Sure, baby. Next meltdown.” – Male Nuclear Plant Employee

16
Oct
16

Sunday Preview “Treehouse of Horror XXVII”

In this annual Halloween-themed episode, Mr. Burns holds a Hunger Games-style contest in which the children of Springfield battle each other. Also, Lisa’s imaginary friend becomes jealous of her real friends, and Moe tells Bart that the bar patrons are really covert agents.

When I was a kid, THOH was a close to Halloween as possible. This 2 week out crap is a crock. Why even do it? No one would notice if you stopped kicking the corpse of what was (albeit 20 years ago) a holiday institution for people my age. Also it sounds like it is going to suck anyway. Probably. I didn’t actually read the episode description that I cut and pasted above.

16
Oct
16

Quote of the Day

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“Alright, Lisa, if you don’t want lamb chops, there’s lots of other things I can make, chicken breast, rump roast, hot dogs…” – Marge Simpson

15
Oct
16

Compare & Contrast: The Family Moves Away from Springfield

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“You took a new job in a strange town without discussing it with your family?” – Marge Simpson
“Of course not. I wouldn’t do that! Why not?” – Homer Simpson
“We have roots here, Homer. We have friends and family and library cards. Bart’s lawyer is here.” – Marge Simpson

The most obvious option for doing a Compare & Contrast for “The Town” would be to a travel episode that’s actually coherent, say, “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” or “Bart vs. Australia”. These kinds of stories and jokes work better if the family has an actual reason to go someplace. It also helps to have them do something while they’re there. Zombie Simpsons mostly sticks with having them describe what they see and then tell us how they feel about the things they’re describing.

Instead, the better comparison here is “You Only Move Twice”. In most travel episodes, the family goes someplace, does some stuff, and then returns to Springfield. “The Town” certainly contains all that, but for no real reason they also decided to have the family actually move to Boston, though not until about the 2/3 mark of the episode.

Because they did it so late, and with no build up or warning other than Marge and Homer talking about it right before it happens, the move is a great example of how inhuman Zombie Simpsons and its stories have become. The first time we see the family try to leave Springfield for good is in “Dancin’ Homer”. Once Homer gets called up to the mascot big leagues, we see the family discuss moving, we see them prepare to move, and we get scenes like Bart and Milhouse becoming spit brothers and Lisa lamenting that her parting with the other girls means very little because they’re not very good friends. In “Cape Feare”, the family doesn’t just up and move at the drop of a hat, they’ve got to go through the FBI and even then they forget Grampa and his pills. Both of those episodes treat moving as the major life change it is because to ignore all that is to reduce your characters to inanimate playthings that have no feelings or humanity.

The real parallel, though, is “You Only Move Twice”, where the family pulls up stakes for sunnier pastures and then gradually learns to hate their new home. It’s only after Marge and Bart start going nuts from boredom and Lisa gets reduced to a sniffling mess that the rest of the clan pressures Homer into returning to Springfield. It’s the kind of episode people are thinking of when they praise the show for being a family story at heart. Homer loves his new job and his new boss – partly because he’s completely oblivious to the fact that he works for a supervillain – but in the end he can’t say no to Marge and the kids.

That would all be schmaltzy if we hadn’t seen it build up so well. Bart’s misery gives us the Cypress Creek Milhouse who needs someone to boss him around, Bart thinking cursive means “hell, and damn, and bitch”, and – of course – the Leg Up Program.

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He’s from Canada and they think he’s slow, eh?

Lisa is initially happy before the nature she reveres turns on her, with even little Northern Reticulated chipmunks sending her into a sneezing frenzy.

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Don’t worry, Lisa, an owl will probably get him.

Marge doesn’t know what to do with herself, what with the vacuum on dirt patrol and Maggie enjoying her swing-a-majig, so the episode gives us the headfake that she’s turning into a drunk when she can only drink half a glass of wine per day.

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Doctors say she should finish that glass, but she just can’t drink that much.

Because this is Season 8 and this script is tighter than a drum, each family member goes through a reversal. Bart’s finally at a school where he can’t get in trouble, but he hates it more than Springfield Elementary. Lisa’s in a place that’s far better suited to her than Springfield’s small town dumpiness, but she’s more miserable than ever. Marge, relieved of the housework that fills her days, doesn’t know what to do with herself.

Homer – usually the most miserable Simpson – is the only one who’s happy there, so when he makes the sacrifice of moving back to Springfield it actually matters. And, of course, all of this is going on against one of the show’s most brilliantly demented backdrops ever: the Bond villain who loves his employees and is scheming to take over the East Coast.

The Homer of “The Town” is the opposite. He takes them to Boston to spite Bart and then falls in love with the place in a single, heavily exposited scene:

Homer: One pin standing. Story of my life.
Guy Who Just Walked Over From Nowhere And Is Probably A Boston Reference I Didn’t Get And Will Disappear After His Second Line: Whoa, there, pal. Don’t forget your third ball.
Homer: Hold on, wait. Wait. Hold on. Wait. What?
GWJWOFNAIPABRIDGAWDAHSL: This is candlepin bowling. You get three.
Homer: Three balls? I see it all so clearly now!
Bart: What, Dad? What is it?
Homer: This regional bowling with its one extra roll has knocked my misguided hate into the gutter. I like Boston.
Bart: Dad, you and me are real father-son Southies now, just like Ben and Casey Affleck.
Homer: Son, show me everything this town has to offer.

Naturally, the random exposition dude disappears just as quickly as he appears.

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Zombie Simpsons enjoys having characters materialize out of thin air for the purposes of exposition. 

From there it goes into a montage, then we see Homer tell us what he’s eating, and then he and Marge decide that they’re just going to move to Boston. There’s no depth and no character to anything these characters are saying or doing. Homer had spent the previous five minutes telling us how much he hates Boston, then he changed his mind and told us why out loud. It’s a reversal and life change so huge and shallow that it’s basically inhuman.

The only silver lining is that it does set up an equally inhuman re-reversal five minutes later. That one involves Homer going through a giant struggle to put on a baseball cap that there’s no clear reason he needs to wear in the first place. For some reason, this also means that the family has to move back to Springfield.

What makes the move in “The Town” so spectacularly dumb, however, is that it’s completely unnecessary. The family could fall in love with Boston only to have Homer get them all kicked out without running roughshod over a major life change. But that would mean writing the Simpson family as if they were still supposed to represent real people, and Zombie Simpsons gave up on that a long time ago.




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