Archive for February, 2017

28
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

make-room-for-lisa6

“Abracadabra, the crystal says your baby shall be a girl!” – Repo Depot Guy

27
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

muchworse

“I’m sorry, did you just call me a liar?” – Principal Skinner
“No, I said you were fired.” – Superintendent Chalmers
“Oh. That’s much worse.” – Seymour Skinner

26
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

homer-vs-patty-selma18

“Since you’re trying to make a getaway in park, I’m guessing you don’t have a license.” – Chief Wiggum

25
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

barneyguardingjob

“Uh, hello. You have a help wanted sign on the window.” – Mr. Smithers
“Yeah, I need someone to help me with the midnight beer delivery. Your job is to distract Barney until it’s safely off the truck.” – Moe
“I’ll just wait out back until then.” – Mr. Smithers
“I look forward to working with you!” – Barney Gumble

24
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

deep-space-homer15

“Inanimate, huh? I’ll show him inanimate!” – Homer Simpson

23
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

brother-from-another-series15

“When that pie hit your face, I saw my dreams explode in a burst of cream and crust. But I suppose I should thank you. After all, it led me to my true calling.” – Cecil Terwilliger
“Cecil, no civilization in history has ever considered Chief Hydrological Engineer a ‘calling’. . . . Yes, yes, the Cappadocians. Fine.” – Bob Terwilliger

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Brother From Another Series”! Original airdate, 23 February 1997.

22
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

lisa-the-iconoclast18

“Congratulations, Ned, you are our new town crier.” – Mayor Quimby
“D’oh!” – Homer Simpson
“May your shrill, nasal voice ring throughout our streets and brains.” – Mayor Quimby

21
Feb
17

Behind Us Forever: The Cad and the Hat

dang

“Hey, that little boy is playing three games at once.” – Chess Bystander
“Checkmate.” – Opponent #1
“Checkmate.” – Opponent #2
“Checkmate.” – Opponent #3
“Dang.” – Bart Simpson

I try to forget these episodes as quickly as possible. (Given how bland and repetitive they are, this isn’t usually very difficult.) But just one week after I accused Zombie Simpsons of having Exposition Tourette’s, they put on an expository masterpiece, even by their wretched standards. It starts with Bart getting a temporary tattoo that says “Bad to the Bone”. He informs us of it, then repeats the phrase several times as he applies it, shows it off, sees it wash away, and then misses it.

But the real pinnacles of exposition here come in pairs, first in the middle, and then again at the end. The first is during one of several flashbacks (the second week in a row they’ve done multiple flashbacks to some oddball trauma Homer suffered as a child) where Homer learns chess from an old guy, which is quickly followed by a real chess master (voicing himself) on Skype telling Homer exactly what he’s doing as he does it.

The second pair is back-to-back at the end to – ahem – resolve both of this episode’s main stories. If you like characters not only telling you directly what they’re feeling, but also explaining why it matters, you’re in luck. I have transcribed them below so that you can enjoy all of their feculent glory.

In terms of what actually happens, in one story, Bart throws away a hat Lisa really liked, and is then accompanied by a guilt monster voiced by Patton Oswalt. In the other, Homer is apparently a well practiced chess player who has to work out some grief against Grampa. If both of those seem devoid of thought, humor, or sense of any kind, congratulations, your brain works at least as well as a third-grader with recent cranial trauma.

– These are my notes, verbatim, from the opening: “Couch gag with dialogue again. Oh, this must be the Robot Chicken thing. Oof, that took a while.” I even think the exposition bug is catching, Homer exposited his way through the whole thing, describing what he was doing and seeing.

– We open on Bart and Lisa on the couch, expositing directly into the camera about the story we’re about to see. This is gonna go well.

– Grampa watches Bart play a World War II game, then surrenders to it.

– Now they’re at the beach and Bart has built a giant sand head over Homer. He then drops some seaweed down the head, which falls out of the nose onto Homer’s head. In the next scene, Homer reminds us of what we just saw.

– Lisa is hat shopping by having a dream montage.

– Homer’s now having a chess flashback. We’re five minutes in and we’ve got exposition, montages, and flashbacks. I have never taken a screenwriting class. I have no desire to take a screenwriting class. But I can say without hyperbole that this script would earn a failing grade in every screenwriting class ever taught.

– Bart’s plot appears to consist mostly of him saying he’s “Bad to the Bone” after he got and then lost a temporary tattoo of that. If any part of this changes, I will let you know, but I don’t expect it to. Also, he just threw away the hat that Lisa bought.

– Frantic Lisa searching-for-hat montage. Depending on how you want to count, that’s two or three of them. This is naked clock eating and we aren’t even eight minutes in.

– Patton Oswalt just showed up to be Bart’s guilt as a weirdly Hugo looking monster. Mostly he exposits:

“Your lack of remorse just makes me grow.”

He then grows.

nothugo

I miss pigeon-rat.

– Homer has apparently rediscovered his love of chess. Fine. So have Barney, Lenny, and Carl, who are all playing him 3-on-1 at Moe’s. Uh, okay.

– Lenny just zipped himself into a suitcase, which was odd. Then Moe dragged him off to a closet where other people are apparently zipped into suitcases. I don’t want to overuse, “Uh, okay”, but, uh, okay.

lennysuitcase

Nothing says “Moe’s” like chess tournaments and random luggage stunts.

– Ooh, another chess flashback, this is #1 on our Masterpieces of Exposition tour:

Homer (Voiceover): So I found a professor who lived nearby. A master of the game. Kind. Patient. Devoted to me. I went everyday.
Professor: You are ready now.
Young Homer: Thanks for the lessons, professor.
Professor: You remind me of my son.
Young Homer, Oh, where is he now?
Professor: He’s right over there. He just doesn’t like chess.

It goes on from there, and I picked it up in the middle. That’s how interminable it was.

– Lisa tells Bart’s guilt to grow. In the background, that’s exactly what it does. Live exposition!

bigmonster

This enormous exposition monster will devour us all!

– How about another montage? Homer is mad an Grampa for quitting their chess games, so we get thirty seconds of Grampa getting beat up as bowling pins and an imaginary head.

– Now we’ve got a celebrity self voice via Skype for no reason whatsoever. Here is #2:

Chess guy: You cut out for a second. Did you gasp. Then you will nod. Then you will eat a piece of cheese while your wife doesn’t look. Then you will undo the top button of your pants. I’m always three moves ahead.

For once, I actually see what joke they’re going for here. The problem is that he says these things as Homer is doing them. He’s not ahead of anything. It’s like that time Skinner ruined the “Who’s on First?” bit with Chalmers, but unintentional.

– Bart is now tracking down Lisa’s hat, which he threw into a junk yard. He wants God’s help, so all of a sudden Rod and Todd are there. There was no joke about God sending them. They were just there.

– To wrap things up, Homer and Grampa are playing chess, with lots of action asides to make it take longer.

– And here’s your resolution to that, which is also Exposition Masterpiece #3:

Homer: Dad! Dad, it seems I love you. Can’t you say it seems you love me to?
Grampa: Aw, my son loves me. Now I can die in peace.

– We go right from that into the other resolution, #4:

Bart: Now what’s your problem?
Lisa: Oh, shut up! I forgive you!
Bart: You forgive me?
Lisa: Yes.

– And now there’s a giant mutant at the nuclear plant because weird asides are just how they fill those last few seconds now.

– One weird aside wasn’t enough, so here’s Homer’s version of Bart’s guilt monster, complete with other demons. Who then exposit themselves.

moarmonsters

Your guess is as good as mine. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and they’re just as bad this week as they were last week. A scant 2.46 million viewers had this episode read to them. Poor bastards.

21
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

keptthewrongone

“A millionaire!? Oh, I kept the wrong one. Look, son, I’ll come as soon as I can get out of here. In the meantime, please don’t do anything stupid.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

20
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

homer-at-the-bat14

“What are you going to do with your million dollars, sir?” – Mr. Smithers
“Oh, I don’t know. Throw it on the pile, I suppose.” – C.M. Burns

19
Feb
17

Sunday Preview: The Cad and the Hat

When Bart betrays Lisa, he has to deal with his guilt – literally. Meanwhile, Springfield is in awe when Homer is revealed to be a chess savant.

Sure, why not. Homer didn’t pass remedial science in high school, but he can play chess. Paton Oswald has decided to put his fingerprints on this murder scene, so hopefully that works out for him. Also apparently he is voicing Bart’s manifestation of guilt, which means we are probs going to hear a lot of guilty horn music. Well, you will, I am not watching.

19
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

throwingstick

“Oh, no, it’s coming back this way!” – Australian Judge
“That throwing stick stunt of yours has boomeranged on us!” – Australian Cop

18
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

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“My name is Hans. Drinking has ruined my life. I’m thirty-one years old!” – Hans Moleman

17
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

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“That’s it! I’m calling the company.” – Lisa Simpson
“Hello, you have reached the Malibu Stacy customer service center. If you have a complaint about Malibu Stacy’s appearance or odor, press one. If you’ve given Malibu Stacy a haircut and need to order a replacement head, press two.” – Malibu Stacy Customer Service Recording

16
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

homers-phobia13

“You know me, Marge. I like my beer cold, my TV loud, and my homosexuals flaming!” – Homer Simpson

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Homer’s Phobia”! Original airdate 16 February, 1997.

15
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

doh-in-in-the-wind8

“But I want to play in the mud and be a hippy!” – Homer Simpson
“Never! What you need’s a good, long hitch in Vietnam. There must be an enlistment tent around here somewhere.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

14
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

i-love-lisa20

“Miss Hoover, can we exchange our valentines?” – Janey
“Not just yet, Janey. First, we’re going to construct paper mailboxes to store the valentines.” – Miss Hoover
“Isn’t that just pointless busy work?” – Lisa Simpon
“Bullseye. Get cracking.” – Miss Hoover

13
Feb
17

Behind Us Forever: Fatzcarraldo

girly-edition13

“And I’ll be able to tackle all the hard hitting children’s news the grown-up controlled media won’t touch. Plus I get to be on TV!” – Lisa Simpson

Zombie Simpsons long ago stopped astonishing me with how bad it can be, but every once and a while I can’t help but marvel at just how far the writing has devolved. These episodes mostly adhere to the loosest of structures: an A-plot, a supplemental B-plot, both wrapping up near the end. But the incredibly low bar they have for what counts as a story (or as a resolution) is remarkable when you take a second to think about it.

Consider this episode’s B-plot: Lisa is apparently the chief reporter for a school radio station. How do we know that? Well, we see her – all by herself but with a hat and a microphone – standing outside of a fake awards show. From there we see a staff meeting, one report from detention, and then Skinner abruptly ends the radio news show, causing Lisa to be apparently heartbroken. That’s it.

compressedbplot

It’s four scenes, and I doubt it’s even three full minutes of screen time, even if you count generously. It gets – ahem – resolved at the end when Homer is leading the police on a chase and Lisa gets a megaphone from Chief Wiggum so she can explain what her dad is doing.

makessense

This, in turn, is seen by some fat guys in a restaurant and causes them to come to Homer’s aid. Even if we ignore all the ways that doesn’t make sense, it still doesn’t do anything to resolve Lisa’s being sad about her radio station getting cancelled. What’s the thinking? (Was there any thinking?)

I’m pretty good at scrounging these episodes for even the most tendentious and transparent of links between scenes, but I got nothing here. The only line Lisa has after this is to tell Homer, “I’m sorry, Dad. It’s over” before he rides the caboose down a hill and off a bridge.

The A-plot is just as incoherent. Patty and Selma have to move in with the Simpsons, though since they never come back after the scene where we see them move in it hardly seems to matter. Homer eats at a chili dog place from his childhood, but the owner doesn’t remember him until he does. Credits. Yeesh.

– I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in a long time, but there really is no better shorthand for the difference between The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons than the change in what happens to Homer between the original opening and the HD one they implemented back in Season 20. Homer used to see Marge’s car coming, yell, and get out of the way. Now he just gets plowed into, leaving a Homer shaped hole in the garage wall.

– Huh, a 2001 opening. Never seen that before. But this one’s in the service of a giant domino setup that goes on for a full minute. That screen time ain’t gonna fill itself.

– In some of the promotional hooha over the Gatsby double episode, I saw one of the staff congratulating themselves on not having Homer rap, saying it wouldn’t be funny. Well, in this episode Homer raps.

– Homer just said, “Stop forcing banter” after this joke exchange at Patty & Selma’s fake awards show:

Patty: You know, Selma, James Bond has a license to kill.
Homer (offscreen): Stop forcing banter!
Selma: But a lot of people would kill for these licenses.

That is followed in the next scene by Homer yelling banter at Lisa:

Lisa: Ooh, here comes an audience member now.
Homer: One guy in the In Memorium reel was alive when it started!
Lisa: Don’t forget your giftbag!
Homer: It’s just a coupon for a dollar off a car wash…

It goes on from there, but you get the idea. They know this show is bad. They don’t care.

– After that, Homer drives for a long time so he can get some real fast food since Krusty Burger is now Japanese health food, or something.

– Montage

– Arriving at a hot dog place, we get this timely gem: “Chewy, we’re home. Chewy is what I call my mouth.” I love it when the jokes slip seamlessly into the dialogue.

– Grampa just appeared in a scene for no reason. Can’t remember the last time an episode didn’t have someone materialize out of thin air.

– Exposition is bad enough when it’s for actual plot points. This is for a plot point that won’t be mentioned again for the rest of the episode:

Marge: Patty & Selma lost their jobs at the DMV because they spent too much on the awards show.
Selma: We went over the forty-three dollar budget.
Patty: By a hundred thousand dollars.
Marge: To save money, I said they could live here for a while.

We don’t see Patty or Selma again after this scene. I’m so glad it was here.

– Hey, the B-plot just showed up real briefly. Hi, B-plot!

– We’re on like the fourth montage now after Homer fires himself so he can go back to the hot dog stand.

– Krusty is there for some reason, sad that his restaurant is now terrible health food. He says, and I am not making this up, “I’m a self hating chew”. Oy, that’s bad. (Also: Krusty will later be part of a cabal of fast food mascots chasing Homer and this hot dog stand down a freeway. It wouldn’t have made sense even if they had an explanation, which they didn’t.)

– Now Homer is playing the tambourine, and there’s a song whose lyrics are mostly the words “hot dog” over and over again, and then what passes for the plot gets dropped in as the old hot dog guy says, apropos of nothing, “I still don’t remember you, man.”

– B-plot scene alert. Principal Skinner is there for no reason, he takes her hat, some kid runs in to say something, even by Zombie Simpsons standards this is shabby and strung together with chicken wire.

– I don’t know if there’s such a thing as Exposition Tourette’s, but if there is this show has it in spades. This is what Homer says as they pull up to the hot dog stand with a big “Closed” sign on it:

Homer: Oh, no, the hot dog stand is closed. The place I forgot for thirty years is gone.

– Then Homer wraps a chain around his neck and gets choked.

– And now he’s driving off with the hot dog caboose in tow.

– More forced banter:

Lisa: Chief Wiggum, maybe I can defuse the situation.
Wiggum: De-fuse? Well, there’s a first time for everything.
Lisa: Can you hand me your mic?
Wiggum: Every police regulation says no, but you know what says yes?
Lisa: What?
Wiggum: Your eyes.
Lisa: Awww.

– Now a bunch of fat guys, who were happily eating the health food ten seconds ago, are dragging this caboose up a hill because, uh, reasons. It goes on for twenty seconds.

– Old hot dog guy is back and now he remembers Homer for no reason.

– Ralph, who shows up out of nowhere asks why the cartoonish moon (which is playing a saxophone) needs sunglasses.

– And finally, we end on mascot cannibalism because, sure, why not?

Anyway, the numbers are in and for once the Grammys are good for something. Last night’s screenwriting atrocity was witnesses by a mere 2.45 million viewers. I haven’t been keeping my ratings spreadsheet up to date because I’m lazy, so I don’t know where that ranks, but it’s really bad.

13
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

mouthofateamster

“Hey, Milhouse, knock him down if he’s in your way! Jimbo, Jimbo, go for the face! Look! Ralph Wiggum lost his shin guard! Hack the bone! Hack the bone!” – Lisa Simpson
“Wow, eye of tiger, mouth of a teamster! To think of all the time I wasted on you!” – Homer Simpson

12
Feb
17

Quote of the Day

new-kid-on-the-block24

“Homer, I’ve a proposition for ye. Fair and true.” – Captain McAllister
“C’mon, Marge, let the people see your pretty face.” – Homer Simpson
“Come see Bottomless Pete, Nature’s cruelest mistake! Come for the freak! Stay for the food!” – Captain McAllister
“Oh, he’s hideous!” – Female Crowd Member
“I heard they shaved a gorilla.” – Male Crowd Member




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