20
Oct
17

Behind Us Forever: Whistler’s Father

“Look at those silk pillows! It’s like the set of some high class porno film.” – Marge Simpson
“No, no, it’s just our basement” – Homer Simpson
“Hold on, that’s our basement?” – Marge Simpson
“Yes, so? Come on, more kissing.” – Homer Simpson
“It looks so elegant! And all it takes are some lace curtains and a beaded lampshade. You’ve got to show me exactly what you did!” – Marge Simpson
“But I was gonna score!” – Homer Simpson
“No, you weren’t.” – Marge Simpson

NOTE: Sorry this is so late. Been one of those weeks. (And I just noticed I didn’t put up a quote for today, ugh.)

I’ve listened to enough of the DVD commentaries over the years to know how many different people work on these scripts and how many iterations they go through before they reach my TV. And while I have never worked on a TV show, there are times when I (or anyone else, for that matter) can plainly see that a script maybe went through the wringer a few too many times.

The story-ish substance of this one is twofold: 1) Homer is pushing Maggie to be a professional child entertainer because Maggie can whistle really well, and 2) Marge is working as an interior decorator for Fat Tony. So far, so ho-hum. The weird part is that both of them are apparently hiding their plotlines from one another. Why? No explanation is ever given or hinted at. It feels like an artifact. Homer and Marge keep secrets from each other was the concept, and, seventeen drafts later, that part has been forgotten except for a couple of scenes where they explicitly tell us they’re doing that.

– We open on Marge pacing the bedroom while, for the second week in a row, they do a Homer-can-talk-while-he’s-asleep bit. She eventually wakes him up to key us into the plot and get in the first shovel fulls of this episode’s metric tons of exposition:

Marge: Homer, wake up, please. I can’t sleep. I’m having friends over tomorrow. Luann van Houten…
Homer: …Backstabber.
Marge: Bernice Hibbert…
Homer: …Snob.
Marge: And Helen Lovejoy…
Homer: Okay, she’s pretty hot. I mean, hot for a reverend’s wife, but so judgmental.

Thanks to this, Homer gets stuck watching Maggie.

– Homer watches Maggie and very little happens (“what to do? what to do?” is a repeated line/joke/time filler).

– We see Marge with the gals and they are exceptionally hostile, right from the bat. They just insult Marge out of blue. No disagreement, no escalation, just straight to open insults. It’s really weird.

– Upstairs, Homer spends thirty seconds or so looking for a whistling sound before he discovers it’s coming from Maggie. This leads to a dream sequence where Homer is professionally whistling in an Uncle Sam costume.

– Her taste insulted by the other women, Marge resolves to decorate the “pick up waiting room” at the school the best she can. She’s gonna need a montage! Montage!

– At the newly decorated room, Fat Tony shows up out of nowhere to declare the room perfectly decorated and hires Marge as his decorator for an old post office he purchased. That was timely, unexpected, and hacktacular, all in one.

– At Moe’s, Homer has Maggie in a backpack and is pretending to whistle for the guys when Grampa walks in out of nowhere to exposit about how he used to be a professional whistler. He opens the door and says:

“Well, well, well, it looks like my no talent son can suddenly whistle. Tell me Homer, how’d you trill that high C with your lips in second position?”

It is then revealed that Maggie is whistling and that Grampa used to be a professional whistler, which leads to a narrated flashback. For those keeping score at home, we’re at the 7:30 mark and we’ve had a montage, a flashback, a dream sequence, and two characters bursting through doors to advance the plot.

– Grampa’s flashback ends badly when he tries to whistle three notes at once, which they animated thusly:

This isn’t quite popped eyeballs. But it’s not far off, either.

– That stunt broke Grampa’s lips, which leads to another flashback where he has to pay other guys to kiss his girlfriend:

I have no response to this.

– Grampa then declares that Maggie is gonna go into show business, which leads to him whistling with five holes in his mouth instead of three. Didn’t they just say he couldn’t do that? I am confused.

– Hey, look, a good sign joke:

– And we’re back to exposition with Grampa explaining that he and Maggie are there to hear songbirds.

– Over in Marge’s plot, Fat Tony is introducing Marge to the post office. Legs and Louie are there for some limp banter.

– At a talent tryout for kids, Grampa tells a bored looking guy that Maggie whistles. He replies by expositing how he feels and expositing what he’s going to do:

“This I gotta hear. Not because I am looking forward to it, but because it is my job.” [He smokes a whole cigarette. Maggie whistles.] “Fantastic talent. Now, move along. I have a heart attack at four o’clock. And here it comes.” [Has heart attack.]

Hacktacular!

– Marge is at a hardware store with Fat Tony and the gang. She is now dressed as an “interior decorator” which means a brown suit dress and sunglasses. This is another one of those scenes where the writers seem to think its relateable when interior decorators pitch expensive indoor fountains at you. They must hate that almost as much as when their butlers wash their sock garters but they’re still covered in schmutz.

– Next scene, Homer and Marge are in bed and Marge wonders what that whistling is. They then both ask how the other would feel if they kept a secret from each other. This forces me to wonder why in the hell (or how, for that matter) either of them is keeping their plot lines a secret. This is the first we see of it and we’re well past halfway. Even by Zombie Simpsons standards it feels dropped in.

– Because Lisa hasn’t really been in this episode, we get a thirty second filler scene where she freaks out about Maggie being talented. No, I don’t know why. Maybe that’s a secret too.

– Homer and Maggie are now watching a TV special about an entertainment baby that went to prison. I guess it’s supposed to be a “Behind the Music” type thing, but it’s mostly just narration. It leads to Homer expositing out loud about his motivations for pushing Maggie to be a whistling star. Nothing about it needing to be a secret, or why Marge might care. I guess it’s nice that they are neither showing nor telling, but since they’re expositing something unrelated instead, I don’t think it qualifies as an improvement.

– Marge has finished decorating the post office for Fat Tony. Turns out it’s a brothel, which we learn when Quimby appears from nowhere to ask if he can bang Marge. Kent Brockman then bursts into the hall to tell Fat Tony and Marge that they didn’t see him. The door was closed. He wasn’t being seen. Even by cartoon standards this is dumb.

– At the baby talent show, Homer explains that he is disturbed by what the other showbiz parents do to their kids. At the post office/brothel, Marge is ashamed of what she’s done. No sooner has she told us this than Helen, Luann, and Bernice walk in from outside – once again for no damn reason – to start attacking Marge again. The brothel ends up getting burned for insurance money after Marge exposits that Fat Tony’s mom used to have a PO box there. Remember what I said above about this script going through the wringer too many times? Weird crap like this is why.

– At the talent show, Maggie fails because she can’t whistle anymore with a tooth coming in. (Actual dialog: “Look she’s got a tooth coming in!”, which is said by Bart who has just wandered on stage.) Mel then exposits all of this from the audience because they like having Mel yell shit. God I’m bored.

– Homer concludes the scene and the plot by telling us, “The only thing that’s been worth it about this experience is that I got to spend time with this little girl. And that’s the tooth.” Please, someone, take me to a dentist’s office and leave the gas on.

– And we end on Marge and Homer in bed recounting each other’s storylines and promising “no more secrets”, which, again, has nothing to do with anything we’ve just seen.

– Small bonus: End theme is a whistle version by what I assume is a professional whistler named Nick Fascitelli. It’s not worth sitting through this, but I am a sucker for versions of the theme song.

– Other credit note: regular “Music By” credit for Clausen.

Anyway, the numbers are in, and with no late FOX NFL game this week, they’re back to the darkest corner of the basement. Last Sunday, just 2.90 million people didn’t tell anyone they watched Zombie Simpsons.


34 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: Whistler’s Father”


  1. 20 October 2017 at 10:34 pm

    I think it’s a testament to how out-of-touch the writers have gotten that both you and Mike over at Me Blog Write Good have gotten so much mileage out of that “sock garters” quote.

  2. 2 Victor D
    20 October 2017 at 11:18 pm

    I wonder what the viewer count for the Bob’s Burgers “Silence of the Louise” episode was in comparison… Probably around the same (or just a little bit greater), but the enjoyment of the episode was probably much higher, especially with it being somewhat a sendup of the namesake movie.

  3. 7 Chrissy
    21 October 2017 at 9:20 am

    Another episode where someone is suddenly and magically and talented at something and this it is the one year old.

    Everyone knows that babies have hidden talents. *Sarcasm*

  4. 8 Chrissy
    21 October 2017 at 9:21 am

    This TIME*

  5. 9 Anonymous
    21 October 2017 at 11:22 am

    “They Saved Lisa’s Brain” is pretty Zombie-ish IMO, but even that bland dialogue seems sharp compared to this episode, which basically sounds like a rip-off of one of the mediocre Family Guy episodes where Peter tries to make Meg famous with her whistling/bird calls (after Chris already became a famous painter and was coerced into snubbing his family). Remember when they could make Homer spending time with Maggie, or even just Maggie by herself, interesting, with no zany gimmicks necessary?

    Side note, I take it the series is in the “Friday Night Death Slot” now?

    Marge resolves to decorate the “pick up waiting room” at the school the best she can.

    At the newly decorated room, Fat Tony shows up out of nowhere to declare the room perfectly decorated and hires Marge as his decorator for an old post office he purchased.

    So I guess a bigshot mob boss like Fat Tony has nothing better to do but pay random visits to elementary schools now?

    For those keeping score at home, we’re at the 7:30 mark and we’ve had a montage, a flashback, a dream sequence, and two characters bursting through doors to advance the plot.

    I’d say they’ve become experts with filler by now, but they forgot to do an Imagine Spot, caption joke, and long, drawn-out internal monologue, so they just get partial credit. Keep at it, guys! Soon you’ll be able to make an entire episode out of nothing but filler.

    Because Lisa hasn’t really been in this episode, we get a thirty second filler scene where she freaks out about Maggie being talented.

    Is this becoming a new trend now? Zombie Lisa being so insecure she gets jealous of her baby sister?

    I won’t bother to quote all the other relevant bits here, but it sounds like they’ve blendered “The Twisted World of Marge Simpson” (Marge competing against other wives; Fat Tony and the mafia), “Bart After Dark” (burlesque house/brothel), “Homer Alone” (Homer and Maggie plot) with the aforementioned Family Guy plot, then added a stolen line from “Last Exit to Springfield” (“And that’s the tooth!”) Whew, no wonder this is such a mess.

    End theme is a whistle version by what I assume is a professional whistler named Nick Fascitelli.

    https://frinkiac.com/meme/S05E12/73189.jpg?b64lines=IEJBUlQsIEknVkUgQVNLRUQgWU9VIE5PVCBUTyAKIFdISVNUTEUgVEhBVCBBTk5PWUlORyBUVU5FLiA=

  6. 11 Anonymous
    22 October 2017 at 12:22 am

    The scene where Helen, Bernice, and Luanne start attacking Marge out of the clear blue just left me baffled. There was no set up, nothing. They just came over to the Simpsons’ house and started berating her. Helen is the type of person who’s nice to you to your face and then stabs you in the back when you’re not around but here she just goes after Marge immediately and Bernice and Luanne are like her henchmen.

    There was one Helen Lovejoy scene in an episode of ZS, I don’t remember which one, that really bugged me (if you can recall let me know). She had a transgendered sister or brother or something that she presented him or her as someone she was really proud of to show how open-minded she was. Huh? What? Helen Lovejoy is the most conservative and judgmental person in Springfield. This was the polar opposite of who she is.

    One of the other OOC times on ZS I hate was in the one where the family looses their house and Ned selflessly buys it so they can rent it out to him. In order to advance the storyline Marge turns into a total asshole just as bad as Homer having no gratitude for what Ned has done for them in order to give Ned a reason to kick them out.

    And I also really hate the part in the episode with Zach Galifianakis in it where Patty and Selma seem to be taking pleasure in the thought of Lisa failing in life. What? Huh? Why couldn’t the Simpsons have just ended in 2000 like it should have? Why? I’ll still buy Simpsons merchandise, I swear, but please just end it, please end it.

    • 12 Anonymous
      22 October 2017 at 12:18 pm

      Why couldn’t the Simpsons have just ended in 2000 like it should have?

      Because people like you still watch it.

      You might think that’s an unfair shot, but it’s true. Why would you keep watching it if you know it’s terrible and are begging them to end it? If they didn’t have any viewers, advertisers might finally decide it’s not worthwhile financially, and that’s one of the few things that could finally kill the show, barring something drastic happening with the cast (retirement or death). Of course, they keep reaching record low ratings and are still getting renewed somehow, but it’s a surprise that it’s taken so long to get to this point. Maybe if fewer people had stopped watching and defending the show earlier, this wouldn’t have dragged on for so long.

      • 13 Bleeding Gums Murphy
        22 October 2017 at 3:52 pm

        What if anon merely streamed/downloaded the zombiesodes to do like Charlie and criticise them? Or maybe just secretly watch the zombiesodes? On the Internet, nobody knows you’re watching Zombie Simpsons.

    • 14 Steamed Hams
      22 October 2017 at 3:37 pm

      One of the worst OOC moments I remember was a twofer: that ep where Moleman was close with Metallica & Otto spanked Bart. Gives me the most severe cringes!

      • 15 Anonymous
        23 October 2017 at 1:57 am

        Otto administering corporal punishment… I forgot about that one. In ZS Otto is a Republican and Helen Lovejoy is a Democrat. It’s all garbage.

    • 16 NES Boy
      23 October 2017 at 12:56 am

      There was one Helen Lovejoy scene in an episode of ZS, I don’t remember which one, that really bugged me (if you can recall let me know). She had a transgendered sister or brother or something that she presented him or her as someone she was really proud of to show how open-minded she was. Huh? What? Helen Lovejoy is the most conservative and judgmental person in Springfield. This was the polar opposite of who she is.

      You must be thinking of “Gorgeous Grampa”.

    • 18 David Abell
      23 October 2017 at 3:53 am

      I dislike anything with Zach Galifianakis… ;)

      • 19 Lucille Bryant
        31 October 2017 at 4:04 pm

        I liked him in “The Hangover” (with Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper) and the times he hosted SNL weren’t all bad. But that’s just me.

  7. 20 Fox's Money Corpse
    22 October 2017 at 4:26 pm

    There’s a part of me that hopes after the show is finally done, it’s revealed that all the scripts were “edited” by Fox, and that the writing staff were contractually obligated to stay quiet.

    I hope so, because it would explain why Al Jean, who was co-showrunner for “Last Exit to Springfield,” would be okay with adding “and that’s the tooth” as a legitimate joke.

    But it’s okay, they’ve got their HD animation and shadows.

    • 22 October 2017 at 4:47 pm

      You realize that line isn’t the joke don’t you? It’s a mockery of the typical last laugh line of a corny family sitcom. The Simpsons twist is the joke is lame and everyone is laughing only because the dentist accidentally left on the nitrous oxide which could possibly turn toe-tappingly tragic .

  8. 23 Anonymous
    23 October 2017 at 1:03 am

    I’ve continued watching the Simpsons year after year and yes, I was an apologist in the early years of Zombie Simpsons. “It’s not as good as it was in the 90’s, but it’s still better than anything else on TV,” I would lie to myself. I would hopefully watch week after week hoping that there would be something decent but it never happened. I was never expecting another monorail episode but at least something like the one where Otto moved in with the family. But instead I watched Homer get raped by a panda and saw the family go to Africa where nothing funny happens and then Bart joins a boy band and Grampa fights a bull and a bunch of other stuff that I can barely remember. Then after the movie in 2007 the show doubled down from mediocre to just flat out bad. At this point there was plenty of other stuff on TV better than the Simpsons and that’s really sad. In 1998 I was really bummed that Seinfeld was going off the air but as long as my beloved Simspsons was still making new episodes I couldn’t have cared less. Kwijbos beat qwones any day I always say. But now I see that Seinfeld was like the Beatles ending on a high note and the Simpsons was like the Rolling Stones pathetically going on and on with no end is sight. I needed maybe a few years of ZS to make me feel ok in a world without 22 new episodes of the Simpsons each year, regardless of the quality. Maybe 2002 would have been a good year to end it but Al Jean is just so preoccupied with breaking records. In the spring of 2018 the show will air it’s 636th episode beating Gunsmoke for the most episode of a scripted prime-time series and I so hope that will satisfy him and the show will finally be able to end with the last renewed season (season 30 (2018-2019)), 20 years after it should have. In the season 9 episode “The Last Temptation of Krust”, a reporter asks Krusty why he was ending his show now and not 20 years ago. I always thought of this as somewhat prophetic; that the Simpsons would go on 20 years past it’s prime, making it’s 30th year the final one. I’m really hoping to not hear from Variety that the show is going to be renewed for it’s historic 31st and 32nd seasons bringing the episode count to 713 and about the guest stars and how Harry Shearer resisted the contract negotiations and all the other stuff we hear about every two years.

    So fine, blame me for Zombie Simpsons. I made my pick in December 1989 and I’m going down with the ship. Seriously, I never have missed a new episode. I was 12 when it started and I’ll be 40 next month. When I have been unable to be home when a new episode aired I’ve always taped it. In season three I missed the first few minuets of “Lisa’s Pony” because my mother had trouble working the VCR and then again in season 14 I missed the first act of “The Dad Who Knew Too Little” because of her VCR incompetence. In season 17 my girlfriend’s scary father taped “The Monkey Suit” successfully for me when I was sure he would blow it. I wasn’t home for the 100th episode “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” because I was forced to go to the Ice-Capades against my will but I successfully taped it and the last several episodes of season 14 I wasn’t home for because I was traveling through Europe but I successfully taped all the episodes and saw them when I got home. It was season 14, it was mediocre at best. I traveled to Springfield, Vermont to see the Simpsons movie 6 days before it premiered to the public (I’m only in Connecticut but it was still a bit of a hike) and I own more than 100 Simpsons action figures that began release just after the show ran out of steam. So go ahead, shoot me. You make a fair point. I’m a douchebag.

    It would be in poor taste to equate ZS with a family member who is now on life support but maybe I can draw a paralel between it and a once great sports team I loved that is now terrible. Basically I’m this far in, why stop now? I’m wasting 11 hours of my life a year. It’s no big deal.

    • 24 Anonymous
      23 October 2017 at 10:48 am

      Well… you’ve completed the first step: Admitting you have a problem.

      The next step would be weaning you off Zombie Simpsons. (Or is it too late and you’re already dead?)

      • 25 Bleeding Gums Murphy
        23 October 2017 at 4:43 pm

        I always liked that the bloated, manipulative mess that is Barney’s film ends up winning the film festival and that people took it seriously.

    • 24 October 2017 at 3:08 am

      I was like you until the Lady Gaga episode broke me. Now ZS is that elderly relative I check in on maybe two or three times a year. I’m shocked they are still “alive” and saddened by how they are a shell of their former selves. Truth be told if and when they announce a finale I will watch that final season.

  9. 27 David Abell
    23 October 2017 at 3:49 am

    SInce you mentioned it, the music in that episode was tracked from older Alf Clausen cues. He didn’t write any new music (not was he asked to).

    Apparently the new score was so bad they decided to do that to try and save the episode.

    We can all hope it’ll make them reconsider their bad decision but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  10. 28 Monty Python Forever
    23 October 2017 at 5:07 pm

    I want to see the Behind Us Forever for the Treehouse of Horrors, because I want to see what they say about the nightmarish acid trip that is the third sketch. What the fuck was that, and why was it supposed to be funny? You know there is a problem when the extreme vomiting is not the most disturbing part and the warning at the start of the sketch that it will make Game of Thrones look like lighthearted fun is absolutely correct.

    Treehouse of Horrors’s third sketch in ten words: without hyperbole, this was a million times worse than wars.

    • 29 Bleeding Gums Murphy
      23 October 2017 at 6:39 pm

      Other than the disturbing, vomit inducing crapfest that is Homer self-cannibalizing, there was two things that upset me: a) Lisa warning the audience about the third act like real Marge did at the beginning of the earliest ToH, but here is Zombie Lisa referencing Game of Thrones (do the writers think they’re cool because they know other shows exist) with no jokes at all; b) no blood or pain at all. Don’t get me wrong, that would have made it more unwatchable, but even in Season 12’s “Trilogy of Error” we saw blood and Homer being in pain for a few seconds.

      For a C&C (if Charlie were still making them), you have “Bad Dream House” (the family being possessed), “Time and Punishment” (alternate realities), or “Hungry Are the Damned” and “Nightmare Cafeteria” (a Simpson being in danger of being eaten).

      • 30 Anonymous
        24 October 2017 at 10:30 am

        (do the writers think they’re cool because they know other shows exist)

        In a word: Yes.

        no blood or pain at all/

        You can make something scary without either of the two, you know. And referencing that scene in “Trilogy of Error” doesn’t help, because that was the most unnecessary part of the episode, IMO. I enjoyed most of the rest of it, but Marge accidentally slicing off Homer’s thumb due to his over-the-top stupidity (and let’s face it, hers as well) accompanied with getting blood everywhere felt really out of place for a non-Halloween episode. The way it got stitched back on at the end (by a mob doctor) was amusing, but everything else involving it was pointless gross-out humor that the show didn’t often indulge in its prime.

        • 31 Anonymous
          24 October 2017 at 10:33 am

          Well, I fucked up that formatting somehow, but in case it wasn’t clear, that last big paragraph is my response, not a quote.

          /Captain Obvious

        • 32 Bleeding Gums Murphy
          24 October 2017 at 3:31 pm

          Sorry if I didn’t make my point clear, but what I was trying to say is that even in Season 12 (which is a disaster, “Trilogy of Error” included) they made Homer getting his finger cut slightly realistic (no matter how such a scene should never be in a regular episode) whereas in ToH XXVII they didn’t even bother making the characters act slightly realistic and in-character, or OoC/unrealistic in the classic ToHs way. That’s how Zombie Simpsons has devolved over two decades into the mess it is today.

          In “Nightmare Cafeteria” we didn’t see any of the kids being killed, or their corpses, but we saw blood. Here we see Homer cutting himself, and no blood or pain at all. That’s what it bothered me. You don’t want to put blood? Then don’t put a montage.

      • 33 NES Boy
        25 October 2017 at 10:24 am

        For a C&C (if Charlie were still making them), you have “Bad Dream House” (the family being possessed), “Time and Punishment” (alternate realities), or “Hungry Are the Damned” and “Nightmare Cafeteria” (a Simpson being in danger of being eaten).

        Don’t forget “The Devil and Homer Simpson” (Homer eating himself).

  11. 34 Dman
    23 October 2017 at 6:55 pm

    Why in the world does Fat Tony just show up at the school’s waiting room? Why would he ever have a need to be there?
    I never thought I’d say this about a tv show, but this was kind of stupid.


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