Archive for the 'Behind Us Forever' Category


Behind Us Forever: Paths of Glory


“Well, Bart, uh, did you make sure to return all the guns?” – Homer Simpson
“Sir, yes, sir!  Luckily I am now trained in six additional forms of unarmed combat, sir!” – Bart Simpson
“Well, he’s got more confidence.” – Marge Simpson
“Uh, yeah, I’ve always said the boy could use more confidence.” – Homer Simpson

Paths of Glory is a terribly underrated Kubrick movie staring Kirk Douglas as a French colonel in World War I.  This episode, which shares its title for some unaccountable reason, should in no way be held against that fine film.  In one of the plots, Lisa goes looking for a long lost invention by a forgotten female inventor.  In another one, Marge and Homer start thinking Bart is a sociopath so he gets recruited to join the Air Force, or something.  I tuned out by then for reasons that will become clear should you be bored enough to read the rest of this.

– The “couch” gag didn’t involve a couch, but at least it was short.

– We’re off to a bad start here as each kid at a kind of science go-kart race spends time explaining what kind of car we’re seeing as we see it.

– And Lisa loses the race because Duffman swooped in driving the Duff blimp, then Martin, Uter, and Database (who just appeared from nowhere and wasn’t even racing) start teasing her for being a girl for some reason. Okay.

– Huh, there’s Kearney and Dolph ragging on liberal arts colleges because, you know, that’s the kind of thing they would do, know or care about.

– Now the Old Jewish Guy appeared for no reason to exposit this:

OJG: “Don’t you worry kid, they also laughed at Amelia Vanderbuckle.”
Lisa: “Amelia Vanderbuckle, who’s she?”

Guess what happens next? Go on, guess.

– Some guy just got his head cut off. Carry on.

– Lisa is reading a fake Wikipedia article out loud. I have nothing to add to that, but it’s been going on for a full minute.

– Lisa is now explaining that “if we can find those inventions, we can prove that Amelia was scientifically significant”. So, so much exposition.

– Bart and Lisa are now wandering around an abandoned asylum, where Jimbo and Shauna are making out and expositing how they feel.

– Lisa is reading names that are also printed on the screen. Fillertastic!


You heard her say them!  Now watch them on screen!

– Lisa found a wax cylinder, then she found a player for it, now the exposition is playing from it. Hooray.  Oh, then it caught fire and now she’s using it as a torch.  Weird.

– Holy shit, they’re doing it again. Lisa is reading labels that are also on screen.

– Bart found a maniac’s diary, then declared, “Look at me, I’m enjoying reading”. They do know characters are allowed to display their feelings instead of say them out loud, right? I would think they would know that, but I’ve been wrong before.

– Look at this collection of kids:


File this as yet another example of how characterless they’ve made all their characters. Ralph and Nelson are just there because, well, shutup that’s why.

– Chief Wiggum just pulled up in a bowtie to tell us, “Ralphie, come on, we got daddy-son tap class. Tap class!” Did repeating “tap class” get a laugh at the read through? If so, has anyone checked to see if there’s a gas leak?

– You’ll never believe it, but Wiggum goes on to exposit about tap class before shouting “tap class” two more times.

– Now Wiggum is talking to Marge because he has pages from the diary. Wiggum thinks Bart wrote them because keep shutting up, that’s why.

– Marge is now declaring how she feels out loud.

– Homer got home, so Marge is explaining what we just saw.

– Now Lisa is talking to Milhouse. Is their conversation reductive and repetitive? You know it!

Milhouse: “Wow, this is a surprise, I’m usually sweating when we talk, but not this time.”
Lisa: “It’s amazing how you can charm and disgust me at the same time.”

– Now Milhouse is helping Lisa track down the missing invention and . . . nope, can’t care anymore.

– Marge just told us she printed out a “Sociopath Test” for Bart as we saw her do it, Homer then declared that they can’t just give that to him. Marge then says they need him to think the test is for something else. This episode is just people talking to each other about what they’re going to do.

– Bart is now reading out loud. And now he’s realized they’re giving him the “sociopath test”. Then he tells us what he’s going to do, “Fine, I’ll pretend to be the biggest sociopath in the world.”

– Homer and Marge are expositing at the kitchen table, and I’m done. Let’s fast forward!

– One minute later (and I think missed a montage) there’s this:


Avert your eyes, children, he may have taken on another form!

– One minute more and Homer and Marge are in the treehouse still talking about what they’re going to do. More fast forwarding!

– Bart is in a bouncy castle driving down the highway. One more minute, please.

– Bart is in a mental institute where he’s apparently getting inducted into the Air Force or something.

– One minute after that, Homer and Marge are back at the kitchen table talking about Bart again. This is about the fifth scene like this, and that’s just in the parts I’ve bothered to watch.

– One minute later and Lisa must’ve found whatever it was she was looking for in the other plot. She is, naturally, explaining what we’re looking at.

– One minute more and Bart’s still in the military. He’s wearing his regular clothes, but whatevs.

– One minute after that and the general is speaking, “Son, the simulators we told you weren’t simulators, were simulators.” This is apparently a shocking revelation. Moving on.

– And things end with Marge saying, “What a day! What a day!” while they all hug.  Huh.

– Nevermind, Lisa is at a museum with the thing she discovered.

– During the credits, Homer is looking at loom porn. Don’t worry, that didn’t make any more sense in the episode than it does in text here.

So, that was a mess.  The ratings are also a bit of a mess this week because of both a football overrun and the President (who is a Demeecrat, according to Grampa) going on TV last night. Right now, “Presidential address/The Simpsons” is listed as having 8.20 million viewers, which is huge for Zombie Simpsons, but will probably change significantly once they get things sorted out.


Behind Us Forever: Lisa With an S

The Last Temptation of Homer13

“Dad, why are you singing?” – Lisa Simpson
“Tell a lie!  Tell a lie!” – Homer’s Brain
“Because I have a small roll in a Broadway musical.  It’s not much, but it’s a start.” – Homer Simpson
“Bravo.” – Homer’s Brain 

I gave up on this episode halfway through (read more and you’ll see why).  The basic idea is that Lisa wants to go to band camp, but Homer loses money in a poker game to Moe’s elderly, ex-Broadway star girlfriend.  (I am not making that up.)  Said ex-Broadway star comes over to the house and then takes Lisa on tour, wacky hijinks ensue, etcetera etcetera, and then at some point the credits roll.

The couch gag is a kind of Star Trek doodle that probably never should’ve left the upper right corner of some bored person’s script.

We open with a West Side Story “Tonight, Tonight” song opening for poker night.  Most of the lyrics are the word “tonight”.

Lisa: “to save time, I’ll start describing the favor.” There’s an extra layer of laziness and audience contempt when they pre-exposit the exposition.

Lenny just fell out a window.

Poker montage!

Now they’re doing an Inside Out thing in Homer’s head.  Helpfully, it restates what’s going on (again).

And Homer loses at poker.  Barney is now driving a dart board like a steering wheel.  Feh.

Late at night, Bart pokes his head into Lisa’s room to re-exposit the plot.  Thanks, Bart!  I was confused as to whether or not Homer losing at poker would impact Lisa going to band camp.

The old Broadway lady is at dinner with the family now.  They’re recounting stories.  Tell, don’t show!

Here’s a typically boring and haplessly constructed series of events:

  1. Homer tries to flatter the old lady by saying “tell me you’re writing a book”.  Then . . .
  2. Bart starts choking himself with his necktie, which causes the camera to pan away from her and over to him.  Then . . .
  3. Homer grabs Bart and says, “sit down, boy, we’re trying to show this dame that we’re deserving of her pity”.  That neatly restates the thing we’d just had explained to us twice.  He continues:
  4. Homer: “Where’s that crutch I gave you?”
    Bart: “There’s nothing wrong with my leg.”
    Homer: “There will be!”
  5. Bart then bashes Homer’s leg with a crutch, so . . .
  6. Homer screams in pain, then . . .
  7. He pretends to hobble around on the crutch when the old lady, who’s been sitting there the whole time, is put back into frame.  Homer then restates the plot once again.  Pre-explained jokes, repeated exposition, no sense of object (or character) permanence; Lordy, this show is bad.

Lisa is now playing saxophone for the old lady, then pulls out “Laney’s” albums and reads the covers to us while she shows them.  This form of storytelling, reading out loud while showing us the accompanying picture, is usually reserved for librarians reading to kindergartners.  It is also sadly typical of Zombie Simpsons.

Marge is arguing with the old lady, then Grampa chimed in before saying, “I’ve been here, I’ve just been quiet”.  Things like this are why I’m convinced the writing staff knows how shitty these scripts are and is long (LONG) past the point of caring.

You know what?  Fuck it.  Let’s skip forward three minutes and see what’s happening . . . the screen is panning over a bunch of empty theater seats and balconies before Milhouse appears from nowhere to tell us he got a ticket and then Lisa describes what we just saw.

Let’s skip ahead another three minutes . . . the old lady is singing (Lisa’s part of the band).  Moe, in the audience, then tells us what we just saw, “Cheering for someone getting a word right.  That is a low bar.”  Indeed.  Three more minutes, please . . .

Moe and the old lady finish the episode in a “visiting New York City” montage.  But there’s one of those post-credit sketches where Homer is arguing with an Amish guy who’s related to Flanders.  I watched 51% of this carcass, that should be enough.

So, the ratings for the last two episodes are in and very little has changed.  The one from two weeks ago, “Friend With Benefit”, did not have the benefit of an NFL lead-in and was endured by only 3.5 million viewers.  (Fun fact: the headline of that article includes the words “family”, “guy”, “series”, and “low”.)  This one did have an NFL lead-in and managed 5.64 million viewers, almost exactly a million less than the previous episode that had football protecting it from apathy.  Overall, ratings: still atrocious.


Behind Us Forever: Treehouse of Horror XXVI

Brother From Another Series12

“At last, I’m going to do what Bob never could: kill Bart Simpson!” – Cecil Terwilliger
“By throwing me off a dam?  Isn’t that a little crude for a genius like you?” – Bart Simpson
“Ooh, I suppose it is.  Enh.  If anyone asks, I’ll lie.” – Cecil Terwilliger 

The annual Halloween episode has come and gone, and this year’s was just as bland and forgettable as last year’s, and the year before that, etcetera.  Perhaps next year’s will break the cycle of boredom, but I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.

– Before we get started, let’s just pause for a moment to note that this is the twenty-sixth(!) edition of this. Jebus.

– Another weird opening, this time a bad “Grinch Stole Christmas” take off. Took the better part of two minutes, though, so at least there’s that.

– Segment one opens with Bart spinning Wendell on a merry-go-round so the kids can gamble on when he’ll puke. Wendell both barfs and doesn’t, so Bart somehow keeps the money and no one cares. This is off to an incoherent start.

– Sideshow Bob shows up to tell us what we just saw and explain a joke about the wallpaper on Milhouse’s phone.

– Bob’s dancing around with Bart’s intestines on his shoulders. Kinda weird.

– Bob is now drinking Bart’s blood with some wine. You know how you can tell these segments are slapdash? We’re two minutes in and barely anything has happened except Bart and/or Bob explaining what we’re seeing at that moment. For a brief comparison, by the two minute mark of “The Shining”, the family has arrived at the house, Bart’s met Willie and had his power explained, and Burns and Smithers are cutting off the cable TV and beer supply.

– After nothing happened for another minute, Bob is now using Bart’s corpse for putting practice.

– Bob stepped on a rake. Good work, guys.

– Bob is expositing again. Seems he misses Bart.

– Now we’ve got a montage of Bob killing Bart and reanimating him. This is gonna go on for a while.

– Homer just exposited what the “Reanimate” lever does after we saw a montage of it working.

– Anyway, that ended.  On to segment two, “Homerzilla”!  (There’s a fresh idea.)

– You know that joke where dubbed Japanese dialogue is deliberately offset from the character’s mouths (they did it at the juicer factory in Season 4)? They just did that joke, but had Comic Book Guy pre-explain it by saying, “Yes, let us show disrespect with poorly dubbed laughter.” Woof.

– Two minute mark. Still expositing the setup.

– Homerzilla is attacking now. It’s just a series of disconnected and not terribly clever sight gags. Ooh, Homerzilla has the fighter planes on yo-yo strings!

– And now we’ve swerved into a movie parody where Hollywood executives remake Homerzilla as a big, American extravaganza. Still mostly just Homer doing weak sight gags like plugging Buzz cola.

– And it ends on them narrating text we can read.

– Segment three just started with Lisa, off screen, expositing at Bart and Milhouse. Milhouse then fell down a hole, but told us about it so we wouldn’t get confused. Then Lisa and Bart talked about getting in the hole, then they got in the hole.

– Apparently we’re doing a Chronicle thing here, so the annoyances of found footage movies can come to the small, animated screen. Lisa and Milhouse have powers, Bart doesn’t and . . .

– Montage!

– Now Lisa lets us know that, “Milhouse has gone mad with power”.  K.

– Now Maggie has superpowers and the episode finally gets around to ending with another montage.

– And we end on another admission that the show sucks, with Kang and Kodos yelling that it isn’t Season 4 anymore.

Anyway, since I’ve been blissfully slacking on this, let’s take a look at the numbers for the last three episodes.  Two weeks ago, “Puffless” pulled just 3.29 million viewers, which places it at #10 on the all time least viewed list.  A week ago, “Halloween of Horror” was watched by 3.63 million viewers.  That makes it #16.

Of course, neither of those episodes had a football lead-in the way last night’s did.  “Treehouse of Horror XXVI” was seen by an appropriately spooky 6.66 million viewers, which counts as a good number for Zombie Simpsons these days.  That’s about a million people less than last year’s Halloween show, a dropoff that’s been pretty consistent this year.


Behind Us Forever: Bull-E

Whacking Day14

“I guess I’ve always used violence as a way of getting attention.” – Jimbo Jones
“Yes, yes!  Me too!” – Nelson Muntz

Bart gets bullied, so Marge gets the town council to pass an anti-bullying law, which allows Wiggum to lock up a bunch of random people, which puts Homer into group therapy for bullying Flanders, which causes Homer to become a hero, which causes Flanders to resent him and make him beg for forgiveness.  That terrible sentence took you much less time to read than this episode would to watch.

– Weird couch gag with all the soccer balls, but at least it was brief.

– And we are off to a bad start.  Willie explains to Skinner that he’s going back to Scotland and that he got Johnny Mathis as his replacement, which leads to a shot of Mathis cutting hedges while singing.  Expository celebrity crap started early this week.

– Hey, something not entirely terrible!  While reading the morning announcements, Skinner announces a school dance as a, “treat for the popular children and a chance for the rest of you to look within yourselves and ask what’s wrong.”  Of course, it’s barely part of a larger sentence and is immediately followed by Agnes materializing out of nowhere to yell at Skinner, but that was at least an attempt at cynical satire.

– Because nothing gets explained on this show only once, now we’re at the Simpson house with Marge pulling a flyer out of Bart’s backpack and reminding everyone that there’s a dance coming up.

– Homer is spinning his fence with the Flanders like a propeller to decide which one of them gets the part Ned just painted.

– Montage with a Soul Train opening called “School Train”.

– Okay, the fake Thomas the Tank Engine saying, “I’m going to die, children, and so will you someday” was good.  It, of course, was immediately taken too far by hauling him off to be crushed in a press, but I’ll take what I can get.

– Ugh.  The “Puberty Demon” just showed up and told us who he was after Bart asked him directly.

– Bart is now dancing with some new girl.  Didn’t get get a new girlfriend last week?

– Hey, if you’re gonna pay for a Daft Punk song, you gotta let your second montage of the episode really go on to get your money’s worth.

– Bart won a dancing trophy and is now outside getting beaten up by the bullies.

– After an anti-bullying speech at the dinner table, Marge is now at a town council meeting to, presumably, repeat what she just said.

– Yup.

– They passed a bullying law, so now Wiggum just arrested the bullies while restating what we saw in the previous scene.

– Wiggum is now explaining to Brockman what he’s going to do next, start arresting adults.

– I guess we’re on an arrest sequence, so far it’s Krusty, Apu, and Bumblebee Man before Lisa starts restating what we were just told would happen and then saw happen.

– There goes Chalmers.

– It took a while to get there, but Rod and Todd had a fantasy about Jesus being bullied before God complained that he raised a wuss.  Not bad.

– And now the jail is almost full and it’s Homer’s turn.

– This episode really needs a B-plot.

– Oof, they just cuffed Homer, but then he walked out of the house with his hands uncuffed and slipped on a slip-n-slide.  This show has an attention span of approximately four seconds.

– And Homer has been sentenced to a bully rehabilitation program being run by Albert Brooks.  Hi, Albert!

– Ugh, Brooks is mostly monologing here.  It’s not great.

– Now Agnes is crying.

– Now Chalmers is yelling.

– Now Homer’s yelling about Flanders.  This scene is interminable.

– Brooks told Homer to go “deeper” and Homer lowered his voice.  Rimshot.

– Brooks is still yelling at Homer.

– After a short PSA style ex-bully commercial, we are back in the therapy room.  Ugh.

– And now Homer is some kind of celebrity, throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game.

– Homer is still a hero, now riding in a parade float.  Meanwhile, the Flanders boys are on their second go-round of pointing out how unfair that is.  Expositastic!

– Flanders is now directly telling Homer how he feels before ending with, “Now do you feel remorse?”.  I do so enjoy it when characters tell us exactly how they’re feeling then ask other characters to do the same.

– Homer’s now on his knees begging Flanders for forgiveness.  This could take a while.

– Montage!

– And the story ends with Flanders forgiving Homer.

– But since that didn’t fill up the allotted time, we’re back to the School Train, with Otto on LSD and Ms. Frizzle from The Magic School Bus yelling at him.  They’ve really taken a shine to these post-story sketches.  By Season 35, this will just be a sketch comedy show.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are right where you’d expect.  Last night, just 2.78 million people decided that bullying might not be so bad after all.  That’s good for #3 on the all time least watched list and has pushed Season 26’s average viewership down to 4.90 million, breaking Season 25’s record of 4.99.  There’s one more to go, and the lower it gets, the tinier the audience for Season 27 will need to be to break this record again next year.


Behind Us Forever: Let’s Go Fly a Coot

Lemon of Troy14

“Hey, look, someone’s attractive cousin!” – Bart Simpson

This week on Zombie Simpsons, a bunch of old Air Force pilots show up to threaten Homer into spending time with his dad, or something.  Meanwhile, Milhouse’s hot cousin (voiced by Carice van Houten, a/k/a She Who Queefs Shadows on Game of Thrones) likes to use e-cigarettes.  Nothing much happens in either.

– Short couch gag and shortened opening, don’t see that too often.

– We open at Milhouse’s super elaborate birthday party.  Homer picks up the take home bag and helpfully tells us what each of the contents are as he picks them up.

– Homer is now plotting out loud against elaborate birthday parties.

– And montage.

– Ugh, and as soon as the montage is over, Marge pops up to ask, “Homer Simpson, do you know anything about these epic birthday fails?”.

– More witty, sparkling dialogue:

Homer: I’m not afraid of Big Birthday!  Ahh!  Big Birthday!

– Now there’s a guy in a suit telling us what we’ve just been watching.

– The guy in the suit is still here, and now for some reason he’s threatening Homer with never having balloon animals at his kids birthday parties.  This got super weird faster than usual.

– Now Homer has thrown a party and at air museum for Rod Flanders.  If this was coherent enough to be confusing, I’d be confused.

– Grampa’s old Air Force buddies (don’t ask) just flew in out of the sky.

– Uh, Homer just fed Grampa a carrot and then led him away by his bolo tie.

– Milhouse’s attractive cousin just showed up with an e-cigarette.  This should provide a healthy mix of hapless topicality and expository nonsense.

– The old guys just showed up at the house so Homer can fight them in his underwear.

– Remember what I said about nonsense exposition?  Here’s Milhouse:

Milhouse: Everybody’s got one gift.  Mine is portable, indoor Dutch shuffleboard.

He then puts the game on a shelf labeled “Portable Foreign Games”.  Ugh.

– Apu is now ranting about e-cigarettes.

– But there was a good sign joke in the background.  A video game called “Marbury vs. Madison”.

– The old Air Force guy is now babbling about something.

– And they’re at the movies.  We got another decent sign gag, “The Exhaustibles 3: Arthritis Will Unite Us”.

– But then there was a preview for a movie about a “dystopian future”.  Homer then started listing off dystopian future movies.  It goes on for a while.

– They did mention the Mr. Burns play in the list though.  That was nice of them.

– Oh, the Air Force guy was apparently with them the whole time.  Huh, he didn’t do anything during that whole listing thing.

– Expositing crappy jokes is just what they do:

Air Force Guy: If you love your father, you’ll make sure he doesn’t get disoriented trying to work the knobless faucet.
Grampa Simpson: I’m too cold to trigger the infra-red.
Homer: Ugh

We then see Homer waiting outside the bathroom.

– Now the old Air Force guys are holding Homer at gunpoint to make him hug Grampa.  Yeesh.

– Back in the B-plot, Bart and Milhouse’s cousin are reciting lists of things to each other.

– Marge and Luann just showed up out of nowhere. to catch Bart with the e-cigarette.

– Bart just ran into the kitchen to say that they’re sending Milhouse’s cousin back to Holland.  This show seems to enjoy out of the blue plot swerves.

– And now we’re in a flashback.

– And Lisa interrupted the flashback.  Though she wasn’t there before Grampa started it.

– We’re back in the flashback and Abe is flying a test jet despite the fact that he wasn’t a pilot.

– This flashback keeps going.  We just got a Jack Kerouac reference explained to us.

– And it ends with the revelation that some waitress was really Homer’s mom.  That doesn’t really have any bearing on the rest of this story, but they seemed to think it was a conclusion of some kind.

– Now Bart is chasing Milhouse’s cousin down at the airport.

– Bart is now expositing about, ah screw it.  There’s only a minute to go and this isn’t worth recapping.

– Milhouse has a lizard tongue.

– And then the A-plot showed up to . . . not resolve itself.  Weird.

Anyway, the numbers are in and you’ll be unsurprised to learn that they continue to be historically bad.  Last night, just 3.11 million people wished they were watching Carice van Houten on Game of Thrones instead of this.  That makes it #4 on the all time least watched list and leaves Season 26 with an overall average of 5.00 million.  Season 25’s average was 4.99 million and there are two weeks to go, so Season 26 is almost certainly going to take the title of least watched overall.


Behind Us Forever: The Kids Are All Fight

And Maggie Makes Three15

“It all began about two years ago before Maggie was even born.  Bart, you were Lisa’s age, and Lisa, you were the age Bart was several years ago.” – Homer Simpson

As it has doddered along these last few years, Zombie Simpsons has started to turn to flash forward episodes a bit more often where Bart and Lisa are adults with kids of their own.  For “The Kids Are All Fight”, they went the other way, going backwards to some indeterminate time a few years ago when Bart was four and Lisa was two.  The story, which was even more incoherent than usual, involved little Bart and Lisa escaping the house and going on a wacky adventure that consisted of a series of disconnected scenes.

– And we are off to a poor start with Moe telling us out loud that he doesn’t know how to work his cash register.

– Homer found an old roll of film in his jacket, and then Carl appeared out of nowhere to tell Homer that he can’t get film developed anymore.

– It’s okay, now they’re developing it in the bar, which leads to the whole family being at Moe’s, where the expository dialogue flows like water.

– After a brief montage showing old pictures of Bart and Lisa fighting, we get one of those adorable in-episode retcons so Marge can scold Homer for not stepping in while he took the photos.

– As an example of why this show can’t write a decent joke anymore, I present their attempt to make fun of the Planet of The Apes movies, in its bloated entirety:

Marge:  Well, it’s quite a story, a story of a special bond between a brother and a sister.
Bart:  I’d say our story’s a tragedy, like the Planet of the Apes.  The tragedy being they can never stop making them!
Marge:  Hey, come on, the first and eighth movies were pretty darn good.

It has nothing to do with what’s going on, involves Bart speaking two sentences, one of which is an explanation of the other, and then Marge finally getting to a punchline that is itself buried in the middle of another overly long sentence.  Whether or not you think that’s funny is up to you, but that mass of words never would’ve made it past the first draft of an actual Simpsons script.

– Flashback Bart and Lisa are now clubbing each other with books while Marge looks on helplessly.

– Oops, we’re back at Moe’s in the present now, where the family describes a time they went to Kwik-E-Mart.  Mmm, tell don’t show.

– Yet another example of how messy these scripts are: after once again telling us (for about the sixth time in three minutes) that Bart and Lisa were always fighting, Marge says, “That’s why we never developed that roll.”  Not only is this line completely unnecessary (the scene ends right after it) but it contradicts the fact that we just saw Homer pull this forgotten roll from his suit.  I don’t care about inter-episode continuity, and I recognize that intra-episode continuity is too much for Zombie Simpsons, but these two things didn’t even have a commercial break in between them.

– And we’re back in the past, where Bart is in the clown bed.

– They just went to slow motion and played Also Sprach Zarathustra while Homer went in to strangle Bart.  Was that supposed to be the first time that happened?  Who knows?  They had Bart smash a lamp over Homer’s head right after.  Hey, ate some time at least, right?

– Guh, this is bad:

Marge: Homer, I just the worst dream.  I lost one of the kids at the World’s Fair.
Homer:  It’s okay, which one?
Marge: Brisbane, ’88.
Homer:  Oh, that’s so horrible, baby!
Marge:  I know.  I know.

Again, you have one punchline (and not a particularly strong one, if you ask me) buried amid line after line of setup and whatever it is you call it when your joke goes on for two more lines after your weak punchline.

– Now they’re at the expository counselor’s office.

– Hey, Grandma Flanders is back, only now she’s less senile and her voice is less scratchy.  Is stuff like this and the clown bed supposed to be fan service or is it just filler?

– Now she’s babysitting and screaming.  So . . . filler.

– And speaking of filler, Marge and Homer are apparently getting dressed for brunch (and having an expository conversation about what they’re doing, Marge even informed us when she zipped up her dress).  Keep in mind they’re showing us this after the scene where Grandma Flanders looked to have been babysitting for quite some time already.  Did they put these in the episode in the wrong order, or did nobody care?

– And now Grandma Flanders is dead.  So . . . definitely filler.

– Homer and Marge stayed home to screw, so, naturally, Homer had to recap what we just saw, “My favorite kind of weekend morning, a sexy snuggle while our rotten kids are someone else’s problem.”  Homer then cackles maniacally for 10-15 seconds.

– Now Bart is riding through traffic on a big wheeler.  Jebus, I’m bored.

– Aaaaand we’re back to hopping around in the story.  Apparently, Homer and Marge did go to brunch, and now they’ve discovered that Bart and Lisa are gone.  This is chronologically confusing and sloppy even by student film standards.

– Apparently, Gil is being hired by Wiggum now.  There is yelling.

– Bart was arguing with the bullies, but then Lisa showed up even after we saw Bart drive away in front of another car.  Oof, this is a mess, none of these scenes go together at all.

– I’m zoning out now.  Bart and Lisa are at the retirement home.

– Homer just shot a pizza.  Then there was exposition.

– More random scenes are happening.  I’m done.

– And we end on a weirdly out of place Seinfeld musical beat while Hibbert talks to the Flandereses, which is itself ended by Lisa, back in the present, saying, “You’ve had three natural endings already.”  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: they know these episodes are slapdash and pathetic, they just don’t care.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they remain at historic lows.   On Sunday, just 3.30 million viewers wished they were watching “Lisa’s First Word”.  That is up ever so slightly from last week’s 3.23, but still good for #6 on the all time least watched list.  There are three episodes to go, and barring a major surge in viewership, Season 26 is going to easily eclipse Season 25’s record as the least watched ever.


Behind Us Forever: Peeping Mom

Sideshow Bob Roberts13

This single shot from “Sideshow Bob Roberts” contains a more coherent story than the entirety of “Peeping Mom”.

After four weeks off, Zombie Simpsons is back.  Not much changed.  This week, Chief Wiggum accuses Bart of going on a bulldozer rampage, he then hands Bart to Marge so that the two of them can have the same idiotic conversation several times in a row.  Because that one note attempt at emotion couldn’t possibly fill twenty whole minutes of screen time, the Flanderses get a new dog who likes Homer better than Ned.

– Decent couch gag.

– We’re not off to a good start here as Marge walks into the Apple store (or whatever they’re calling it) and has a random stranger exposit things at her before taking off his shirt and waving it around.

– Marge is in the car, brakes suddenly, then asks what happened so Lou can appear out of nowhere to tell her.

– Chief Wiggum, handcuffed to Bart (who is weirdly silent) continues this week’s parade of telling us what’s happening.

– Now Lisa is using a magnifying glass to look at, in order, “monarch butterfly, earwig, rollypolly, doodle bug, beer cap, ant, beer bottle, Barney”.  She then tells us that the Flanders got a new dog.

– Oof:

Ned: Now it’s time for her Christian doggy training.
Lisa: This will be interesting.

Guess what comes next?

– This conversation between Marge and Bart is really bad.

– Sigh:

Homer: Marge, Bart, I’ve noticed neither of you has said a word all meal.  Are there feelings going unexpressed here?

He then holds up his fist and threatens . . . both of them?  It’s not clear.  It is awful writing, though.

– Marge and Bart are now in the kitchen going through the exact same conversation we just saw them have . . . again.  In a sick way, it’s almost impressive how many words they can use to describe basically nothing.

– Ooh, a popped eyeball!  When it doubt, go with what you know.

– They’re still having the same back-and-forth conversation.  Bart says something, Marge doesn’t believe him, repeat until time on the episode expires.  For extra stupidity this week, neither of them is acting like even a vaguely sentient person.  Marge hasn’t asked Bart for an explanation and Bart hasn’t offered one.  In what parent-child conversation has that ever been true?  And we’re on the third go round of this.

– Marge is now following Bart onto the school bus.

– Homer just said, “Oh, you must be Flanders’ new dog.”  We’re looking right at him!

– Marge is in class with Bart now.  Even if this did make sense it wouldn’t help when Nelson just ran screaming out of the room because he thinks she’s a zombie.

– The bullies just zinged Bart while Marge stood there.  Nice to see they still don’t care who’s present for a conversation.

– Now we’re on the playground.  Milhouse just told us what we were about to see, then we saw it.

– Now we’re at dinner and Marge told Lisa to lean back so she could keep looking at Bart.  Here’s one of the problems with this: we’ve already seen Marge not look at Bart several times.  Her focus on looking at him at all times is so stupid they can’t even keep it up, but they keep bringing it back up.

– Lisa and Homer are now having a fully expositive conversation, with both of them say how they feel at all times.

– Now Bart and Milhouse are in the woods.  This will make it even stupider the next time Marge insists on focusing her gaze at all times on Bart.

– Bart and Marge just rehashed their conversation again.  Neither one of them offering or asking for an explanation.  Ten minutes to go, I’m setting the O/U on times this happens again at 2.5.

– Oh, goody, half the family is dressed like ninjas now.

– The b-plot about Flanders dog just checked in.

– Now we’re rehashing the opening credit sequence as Marge chases Bart.  Filleriffic!

– Even by the rock bottom standards of their chase/action sequences, this is bad.

– Yet another bulldozer conversation rehash.  Two and a half minutes since the last one.

– The b-plot is winding down, so Homer’s Brain is now expositing what he’s feeling for us.

– After telling us what he was feeling several times, Bart changes his big, end-of-episode prank.  That took a lot of time.

– Bart just ran up and told us what we just saw him do.

– And, naturally, we get one final bulldozer conversation.  The under has it at 2.0 since I set it.

– Since they remain completely unwilling or unable to structure an episode to actually fill their allotted time, we’re now getting one of their bizarro post-plot series of sketches.  This one involved dog’s butt sniffing and the theme from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they continue to be real bad.  Last night, just 3.23 million people couldn’t understand why Bart and Marge had the same idiotic conversation over and over again.  That’s #4 on the all time least watched list and keeps Season 26 on track to be the least watched season ever.


Behind Us Forever: Waiting for Duffman

The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson7

“Hey, it’s Duffman, a guy in a costume who creates awareness of Duff!” – Lenny

I was just getting ready to watch last week’s Zombie Simpsons when news of Sam Simon’s death broke.  I guess Wiggum got a jetpack or something.  This week, however, there was nothing to do but plow through it, as Homer got yet another job, this time as Duffman, and quit drinking at the same time.

– Couch gag wasn’t too bad, right up until Homer’s severed head.  Which was weird.

– This bicycle parade just keeps going.  And it’s filled with that really formulaic “setup-beat-punchline” stuff that is the hallmark of uncreative sitcoms, like Lou telling Wiggum not to go into the donut shop, only to have Wiggum immediately go into the donut shop.

– Hospital sign “Wishing You a Cold, Smooth Recovery” is pretty good.

– Brockman’s little broadcast with the Chinese landing on Mars was brief, at least.

– Homer’s explaining why he wants to be Duffman.  I’ll bet this is not the last time we have this explained to us.

– The “America’s Next Top Whatever” game show thing is going on way too long.  This is almost as bad as that American Idol episode they did.

– At least Homer got stabbed in the eye and is bleeding.  Haven’t seen that in a few minutes.

– Oh, another Game of Thrones opening.  They like these, don’t they?

– Homer’s monologue vow thing is really bad and goes on for the better part of a minute.

– Even the old timey beer commercials are long and boring and expositive.

– That aside with the formula and safe certainly ate some time.  So nice of them to put in an object, have someone ask about it, then drop it completely.

– “Duffman can’t drink”, that got repeated several times.

– Now Marge is expositing while Homer moans and beats himself about the head.

– Did they have to have Flanders stare at the camera like that after the t-shirt cannon thing?  Is this what counts as fan service these days?

– Uh, why were Burns and Smithers at this whatever ceremony in costume?  Oh, right, meaningless filler.  Now I remember.

– Montage.

– And a really drawn out scene about there being lots of executives.  That just kept going.

– And now, Homer’s looking at people through a beer telescope from a blimp.

– We dodged a bullet on that blimp fire.  They actually cut away.

– Now, in an attach of conscious that has been preceeded by nothing except a weird blimp ride, Homer is against beer.

– Homer getting away again and again in a race car only to circle back.  I’m actually surprised they stopped at only three.

– “Now, there’s one way out of your hell, prove you still love beer.  Drink this.”  When they have lines, and whole exchanges like this, you know the ending is a mess.

– Now Homer is back at Moe’s because the episode needed to fill some more time.

– And now we’re revisiting the old Duffman.  Oof, this one must’ve come in even shorter than most.

– Nice little Simon tribute, though.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they remain awful.  Last night, just 3.61 million viewers wondered what job Homer was going to get next.  That’s good for #9 on the all time least watched list.  With (probably) five episodes to go in the season, last year’s record low viewership average of 4.99 million is in real jeopardy.  The current Season 26 average is 5.32 million, and numbers that continue in the 3.60 million range will drop it well below five million by the end of the year.



Behind Us Forever: The Princess Guide

Dumbbell Indemnity9

“I’m sorry, Homer.  It’s just, it’s been four years since my last date with a whatchacallit . . . a woman.” – Moe

Another week, another Zombie Simpsons episode.  This one starts with “Take Your Daughter to Work Day”, which means Lisa gets to go to the power plant again.  That doesn’t last long, however, as Burns suddenly needs uranium and begins negotiating with a Nigerian king (yes, you read that correctly).  In the meantime, the king’s daughter is going to be looked after by Homer.  The daughter wants to go out and see the town, but ends up inexplicably hanging around with Moe before inexplicably not hanging out with Moe.

In other words, this episode combines Sad Sack Moe with Incompetent Burns.  Also, Jon Lovitz had a line as some kind of paparazzi, and I think Bart’s only line was in the opening scene.  It’s a mess.

– Well, the couch gag was short.

– Decent headline gag on “Hurricane Consuela Stopped At U.S. Border”.

– Pretty sure they got rid of take your daughter to work day two decades ago.  Love the topical humor.

– Burns and Smithers just had a brief conversation while they were still on stage in front of everyone.

– Oh, good, a clone of Burns is being used as a background gag.

– Uh, Richard Branson is apparently Burns’ neighbor?

– We’re two minutes in and there have been about four cutaways.  This is a Family Guy-esque pace.

– Montage of lunchroom trading.

– We’re getting a huge dose of weak, incompetent Burns this week.  It’s not great.

– Now Burns is giving Homer instructions at the top of a hotel on baby sitting a Nigerian princess.  We’re five minutes in with fifteen to go.  This is gonna get weird.

– Marge is on the phone with Homer explaining what’s going on.  Love when that happens.

– First the princess wanted to go out, then she and Homer watched TV for a while, then she asked to go out again and now they’re going out.  This all happened sequentially.

– The princess is putting up with Moe.

– Moe grabbed Homer and dragged him into a back room to tell him about an e-mail scam leading to yet another cutaway, this one with bonus expository narration as Moe tells us what we’re seeing him do.

– And the princess is gone.

– Homer, Gil and Apu all ran up to Wiggum and got locked in his back seat in succession.

– The princess is back at Moe’s now.  Whatever.

– Lenny and Carl apparently bailed Homer out, and now they’re all standing around the jail.

– Moe is still hitting on the princess, then he sent her off to the fridge, then he told us he wants to close.  That was an act break.  Ugh.

– Turns out she was asleep in the back room because . . . nevermind, Moe is doing a Goodnight Moon thing that the princess saw before going back to asleep.

– Smithers just fantasized about him and Burns in Tahiti for the third time.

– The princess just woke up after sleeping in Moe’s stockroom.

– Now they’re montaging across Springfield.

– Princess: “I have a confession to make, this is my first montage”.  Oh, sweetie, it isn’t ours.  Not by a long shot.

– Homer just appeared out of the tire fire to tell Moe that the princess has to go back to the hotel and watch TV.  As a recap, at this point the princess was in the hotel, wanted to go out, got taken to Moe’s, left briefly for no reason, came back, flirted with Moe before voluntarily and unexpectedly sleeping in his stock room, then she woke up and has been in a montage.  This episode has six minutes to go.

– Alright, I’m done.  After a lengthy monologue from a pedicab guy so Moe and the princess could escape Homer, they peddled down the street and she said “Actually, I wanted to go back with him.  I don’t want to get my father mad.”  I’ll let you know if anything interesting happens the rest of the episode.

– 15:30 – Nope

– 16:00 – Still nope.

– 16:30 – Still nothing.

– 17:00 – Zilch, but lots of exposition.

– 17:30 – I’m switching to 1 minute intervals.

– 18:30 – Nothing, but the entire Simpson family teleported into Burns office for no reason.

– 19:30 – Still on.

– 20:30 – Richard Branson is back, nothing is interesting.

– 21:30 – The credits ended!

Anyway, the numbers are in and they remain terrible while not being quite as rock bottom bad as they’ve been.  Last night, just 3.97 million people wondered why they got someone to voice that princess when a cardboard cutout would’ve done fine.  That’s the 14th least watched of all time, but actually qualifies as success given that the previous two episodes were both fractions of a point away from taking the crown.  On the plus side, we probably only have seven left in Season 26.


Behind Us Forever: My Fare Lady

Marge Gets a Job13

“Chauffeur, seamstress, curator of large mammals?” – Marge Simpson
“Marge, have you seen my lunch box?” – Homer Simpson
“Oh, I see.” – Marge Simpson

In this episode, Moe leaves Homer in charge of the bar.  Meanwhile, Marge gets a job as a Not Lyft driver.  Then Moe, his bar wrecked, gets a job at the nuclear plant.  Then Homer gets a different job at the nuclear plant.  Then it ends.

On the plus side, they used that awesome pixel opening that hit the internet a couple of weeks back.  Pretty much all downhill from there, though.

– Really was nice of them to use that fan made pixel opening, and it ate up nearly two minutes!

– And speaking of openings, there’s a Jetsons one to eat some more clock.

– “Why Humans Failed” was a nice little reveal to end the Jetsons thing.

– We are off to another rousing expository beginning.  Marge explained what all the kids were doing (we saw them in costume, too!), then Homer described what he was feeling, and now Homer’s at Moe’s and Moe is telling us that he’s tying his apron on while he’s, you guessed it, tying his apron on.

– Montage!

– Wow, this is a really long one.  We just crossed the one minute mark on it and it’s still going strong.

– Back to the exposition: Moe told us about Sideshow Mel getting drunk (we didn’t see it) and now he, Lenny and Carl are talking about a ticket to see a Joan Rivers type we haven’t seen yet.

– Homer is going to be running the bar, apparently.

– Also, Moe just explained a couple of sign gags to us.

– Some Uber/Lyft guy just showed up to tell Marge about the plot.  He will vanish and not come back.

– Marge’s license plate is EP7G08, 7G08 is the production number for “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”.  Huh.

– Lenny, Carl and Homer are going to run a ladies night at Moe’s.  Carl explained what that is, then Lenny thanked him.

– Moe is at the show, and falling in love with the old Hollywood lady.  Meanwhile, Homer and Marge just got new jobs.  They’re using a lot of their tired tropes this week.

– Moe’s is now overrun with women.  Homer and Carl are explaining who they are.  Then there was a brawl.

– Moe just did a comedy “whaa!”, saw his bar was trashed, then explained things.

– Marge’s ride service is off to a rousing start, first the kids were there with Milhouse and Kirk (who popped up out of nowhere, then vanished), then Marge and Shauna explained things we didn’t see:

Shauna: Thanks for the lift. It’s nice to know I can get a ride without having to put out.
Marge: You’re welcome.  If you really want to get your belly button pierced, go see a professional.
Kearney: [who just walked out of a house with a staple gun] I’m ready for you, babe.
Shauna: I’m gonna have this done properly, at a kiosk in the mall.  I’m Shauna.

That’s the whole scene.  It’s like a rejected SNL sketch idea.

– Moe just got a job at the nuclear plant.  Now he’s telling us how he feels.

– Nelson, Willie and Gil have all been in Marge’s car now.

– And . . . driving montage!

– Burns was just talking to Moe, and now there’s a surprise nuclear inspection.

– Well, that ended as quickly as it began, now the inspectors are gone.

– Moe is now supervising sector 7-G and reassigning Homer.  Wacky hijinks, ahoy.

– Homer just got eaten by a giant Venus fly trap.  Such hijinks, such wackiness.

– Moe just got ditched in the cafeteria.  Though there was a mercifully brief callback to the guy who whips Homer to make the cupcake display turn.

– Back to the exposition, Marge just said, “Homer Simpson, working with those plants is great.  It’s helped you get in touch with your feminine side.” That lead to Homer screaming for no reason and setting plants on fire in the front yard.

– Yet another driving montage.  This makes three.  The only difference is that this one is an expository song.

– But even an expository song won’t stop them from more expository dialogue, Marge just recapped the montage, “Moe, I think we’d both be a lot happier if we quit our new jobs.”

– Now other cabbies, who we saw for one brief scene where they talked about being cabbies, have surrounded Marge.  Then Moe showed up with a shotgun.

– And we end on Moe, alone at his rebuilt bar, getting talked to by the giant Lyft mouth Marge hung on the mirror.  Seems about right.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are just as atrocious as we’d expect.  Last night just 2.75 million people wondered how many “new job!” plots they could squeeze into one episode.  (The answer, if you count Homer watering plants, is four.)  That replaces last week’s “Walking Big & Tall” as #2 on the least watched list, trailing only last year’s 7:30 broadcast of “Diggs”.  That one came in at 2.65, so we may see it dethroned if the rest of the season goes on like this.


Behind Us Forever: Walking Big & Tall

Trash of the Titans8

“Well, this man doesn’t crawl, he stands tall!  That rhymes, Marge, and you know it rhymes.  Admit it!” – Homer Simpson

Another week, another structurally messy, weirdly lifeless, exposition heavy, joke lite episode of Zombie Simpsons.  They open with a flashback to “30 years ago” when Hans Moleman was mayor and all the current adults were kids.  They sing a crappy song, have a montage, sing it some more, then Bart and Lisa are commissioned to write a new song.  After all that, Marge sends Homer to a support group for people to lose weight, but he ends up at a support group for people who don’t want to lose weight.  Wacky hijinks ensue, each one more fully explained to the audience than the last.  It ends with a montage of Homer gaining and losing weight.  If you haven’t watched it, you’re not alone.

– The couch gag was, uh, kinda weird.

– So the gag here in the past is that everyone had more hair?

– Also, this song is really bad.

– And now we’re in multi-city song montage because this was supposed to be funny.

– Got to our pointless, nonsensical self-voice celebrity early this week.  And they were nice enough to introduce him in their usually lazy manner: he appears from nowhere, then someone shouts his name to let us all know who he is.  This time it was Otto, “Pharell Williams!”.  Thanks, Otto.

– And he’s gone, riding backwards out of town on a horse.  Well, at least that didn’t take too long.

– The weird reminiscence about “Stark Raving Dad” was kinda strange.

– Montage!

– But this montage got interrupted by Homer asking Bart what he was doing and Bart replying that he was writing a song.  Well done, Zombie Simpsons, usually you don’t have explicit exposition in the middle of a dialogue free montage.

– And they ended it with more needless explaining: “We did it, we wrote an awesome song!”

– The new song is also bad, and they had Bart and Lisa’s instruments disappear for no reason.

– So the song ends, and everyone stands up and claps.  Homer is stuck in his seat, tries to get out, and can’t.  Just in case, though, Exposition Marge says “Homer, it’s a standing ovation, get up.”  They really can’t help themselves.

– And now Homer is flinging a bench of seats around and tossing people across the room.  Also, there is screaming and exposition as Homer yells, “Stop fearing me!”.

– It just keeps going!  Homer: “Can’t you say something to help me feel better?”/Marge: “I’m sorry, but I can’t.”

– Marge just pulled a pamphlet from her hair.

– Homer is asking Comic Book Guy about the fat pride group.  Nice of them to explain things before we see them.  Otherwise we might be confused.

– “Now repeat after me”, there’s a phrase this episode could’ve done without.

– Guh, “I’ve always wanted to blindly follow somebody, and I think you just might be the guy”.

– Homer just got home and explained what we just heard him say.  Now they’re expositing the exposition.  If the universe collapses in on itself today, this may be why.

– Homer and Marge are “arguing” in the living room by restating what happened and telling us how they feel.

– Homer is listing fat insults at Moe’s.  It goes on for a quite some time, and while there are a couple that are okay, it’s mostly the kind of list that a show that hasn’t been phoning things in for over a decade would prune a bit, you know?  Here it’s just filler.

– Chief Wiggum is getting arrested and tased by Lou for some reason.

– Marge just bailed Homer out and restated the plot again.  It’d been almost a minute since that happened, so it was getting hard to remember.

– After the commercial break, Bart and Lisa asked Marge what’s wrong, and she recounted what we just saw.

– And then Bart replies that he and Lisa have learned that they can solve any problem through song.  They know that the script notes aren’t supposed to be recorded as dialogue, right?

– Bart and Lisa wrote a song again, so Marge introduced it by telling us about what we were about to see.

– And that got dropped like a rock, so Marge and Homer are now rehashing the story for the eleventh time or so.

– Homer’s giving a eulogy.  Sadly, it’s not for the series.

– And we end on Homer and Marge walking home and, you guessed it, talking about what just happened again.  Then there’s a montage of Homer’s body changing a bunch of times before we get to the future where Bart is Robocop.  No, I am not making that up.

Anyway, the numbers are in, and they are smoking crater level bad.  Last night, just 2.85 million people wondered whether Zombie Simpsons was trying to affirm or mock fat people.  That is the lowest number at 8:00pm ever, and second lowest all time behind only last year’s “Diggs”, which was broadcast at 7:30 and had 2.65 million viewers.

Granted, the Grammys were apparently on last night (I was kinda surprised they still bother to broadcast those), but that is a seriously bad number.  Just how bad is it?  Well, 60 Minutes, which exists primarily to frighten old people, did better among 18-49 year-olds than Zombie Simpsons.  That’s about as bad as it gets.


Behind Us Forever: The Musk Who Fell to Earth

The Old Man and the Lisa15

“Eww, this place has got old man stink!” – Hitman
“Oh.” – C.M. Burns
“Don’t listen to him, sir.  You’ve got an enchanting musk.” – Mr. Smithers

I never bothered to watch the Lady Gaga episode a second time, so this comparison may be a little looser than I think it is, but the Elon Musk episode sure felt a lot like it.  A mega famous person arrives out of nowhere in Springfield (Gaga in a giant train, Musk in a spaceship that lands in the Simpsons backyard), crazy shit happens for a little while, then the mega famous person leaves.  There isn’t anything that remotely resembles story, conflict or satire, and the jokes, for whatever little they’re worth, are mostly just exaggerated plays on that mega famous person.  Lady Gaga had a crazy bra, Elon Musk has self packing luggage, har har.

Even by Zombie Simpsons standards, this one was disorganized and scatterbrained, so buckle up.

– No couch gag.

– Homer just showed up to hold up a quarter against an eagle.

– Marge is here now too.

– The Eagle has Maggie, and now Homer is punching it.

– “Ha ha, stupid eagle, it wasn’t the mouse we were after, it was you!”

– Oh, good, the broom vs. eagle fight is continuing.

– Homer’s eyeball popped out.

– So, Homer trained the eagle for four weeks?

– And now Elon Musk is descending in a space pod.

– Homer is weeping and bowing now.  This is more schizo than usual.

– Lisa is now explaining who Musk is.

– “So, what brings you to Springfield, Mr. Musk?”  Exposition Marge is here for us.

– After Musk explains why he’s here, Homer asks him if he’s interested in visiting him at the plant.  Musk replies, “I am, and I will”.

– Lisa just read out loud what Musk wrote on a piece of paper.  This is also going slower than usual.

– I was going to try to explain what’s happening now, but Lisa did it for me, “He’s taking your Homerisms and turning them into his own great ideas.”  This will go on for a while.

– Musk and Homer drove by Lou and Wiggum.  There were gunshots.

– Burns is reading suggestions out loud.

– Burns is being happy and nice, always his best traits.

– This Imaginer(sp?) guy interlude was bizarre.

– But it got weirder as Homer and Musk sit on top of the cooling towers.

– Then they hugged.

– “I don’t trust Musk.”  Exposition Smithers is trying to move the plot along.  I do like that he simply told us how he was feeling instead of us getting to see why he thinks that way, though.  It saves time for all the great stuff they’ve got here.

– Smithers just woke Burns up in the middle of the night for some reason.  Then the hounds were released indoors.

– So, everyone has self driving cars now.  That was unexpected.

– I didn’t see this musical interlude coming.

– Burns just informed us that he’s going to have Musk killed.

– Marge and Homer are in bed.  Marge reminded everyone of what’s going on, then Homer described Musk again.

– A bunch of old guys just shot at Musk and Homer.  Then Homer told us what just happened.

– Musk is apparently going back to his home planet now.

– But first he built Bart a real lightsaber.  Okay.

– And, after some zero-g tears, it’s over.  Huh.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they’re about what we expect with no football on.  Last night just 3.40 million people wondered why Elon Musk wasn’t doing something more interesting with his time.  That’s good for #4 on the all time least watched list and doesn’t auger well for the remaining ten or so episodes this season.


Behind Us Forever: Bart’s New Friend

This Little Wiggy6

“Then me and my friend were about to press it, but the man said not to press it, but we pressed it anyway!  And we ran and we hid in a giant tire, oh yeah, and my other friend was already there!” – Homer Simpson

In yet another desperate bid for attention, Zombie Simpsons has once again hitched its cart to a more currently successful person.  In this case, it’s Judd Apatow (who wrote a couple of good episodes of The Critic back in the day), who dusted off an old spec script he wrote twenty odd years ago.  The premise is that Homer gets hypnotized and thinks he’s Bart’s age.  I’ll just say this: there’s a reason this didn’t get made when the show was good, and it’s not because Apatow wasn’t famous then.

– Oof, that couch gag took an awful long time.

– And we get an early start on this week’s unnecessary exposition with Homer singing to himself about walking.

– So there’s another safety inspector?  I’m sure glad he and Homer repeated who he was and what he did several times.  I never would’ve caught it in one.

– The book titles are pretty good, “The Core: Mistress of Death”.  As usual, the sign gags are the best thing here.

– Lenny and Carl were there, then they weren’t.

– Now Lenny’s back.

– Ah, that’s good exposition, unneeded, nonsensical, the whole megillah: “You need to relax.  So, I got us all tickets to see the circus on Saturday.”

– Homer is ranting about parking now.  It’s like they believe that the famous phrase is “tell, don’t show” instead of the other way around.

– I get that the sideshow signs are Apatow references, but reminding the audience about the existence of Funny People isn’t a good idea.  I gave up on that movie halfway through and have never talked to a single person who liked it.

– So, Marge needed to explain to Homer that she had to use the port-a-potty, why, exactly?

– “No, I’m not”/”Yes you are” just keeps going, doesn’t it?

– “Mom, Dad’s been hypnotized to think he was ten.” – Thanks, Exposition Lisa!

– “Buddy Ebsen Died Here” on the hospital sign is pretty good.  Sadly, this episode would probably be funnier on mute.

– Hey, a briefly popped eyeball.

– I’ll give them this, 10-year-old Homer is at least a novel take on Jerkass Homer.  It’s not funny or entertaining or anything, but he’s never been an asshole quite like this.

– Culottes were funny that one time; here, not so much,

– Uh, why is Homer at the school?

– Naturally, Chalmers is there.  Remember when he was the superintendent?  Good times.

– They’re reusing the happy music from “Treehouse of Horror II” when Bart and Homer bond.  It was ironic then.  It’s kinda ironic now, but in a different way.

– Also, Chalmers and Skinner are back.

– Speaking of re-used music, Lisa’s playing “Baker Street“.

– “Lis, you know how Dad thinks he’s a ten-year-old?”/”I’ve been emotionally dealing with that all week, so, yes.” We just saw Lisa have fun with Homer.  Also too, unnecessary exposition.

– And now Bart’s explaining what we just saw.

– Now they’re at Itchy & Scratchy Land for some reason.  That was unexpected.

– The MST3K robots on the amusement park ride are a nice touch, though once again the best parts of this episode have nothing to do with its story and work fine without any sound whatsoever.

– Incidentally, if you ever do get suckered into going to Disney’s California Adventure park, the Soarin’ Over California ride is one of the few things really worth doing.  It’s a lot more entertaining in person than as filler in Zombie Simpsons.

– Marge, Chief Wiggum, Lou, and the hypnotist just showed up out of nowhere.  How did they find Bart and Homer?  Enh. At least Wiggum re-explained things.

– And Homer’s back to normal now, though he also recapped things.

– I guess the “Je Suis Charlie” thing is a nice gesture, but why was it in between the end of the story and this weird Marvel thing they needed to fill the contractually obligated runtime?

– Huh, that was Stacy Keach at the beginning.

Anyway, the numbers aren’t in for some reason, but given the lack of late football on FOX and competition from yet another awards show, I wouldn’t expect much.  I’ll update after TV By the Numbers does.

Update: Here they are, just 4.39 million.


Behind Us Forever: The Man Who Came to Be Dinner

Behind the Laughter4

“Are you going to need us tonight?” – Kang
“I had ballet tickets!  Not that they’ll do much good now.” – Kodos 

It’s now clear that Al Jean and David Mirkin (who co-wrote), and David Silverman (who directed), would much rather be working on Futurama than Zombie Simpsons, and I don’t blame them.  Like various Star Treks, that show gave its writers and directors a functionally unlimited amount of creative leeway.  Need to make fun of something?  Make up a new planet or a new species or a new anything and there you go.  Zombie Simpsons, on the other hand, is rigidly straight-jacketed by twenty plus seasons of stories and the need to keep the show basically the same as it’s always been lest habitual viewers lose interest.  The very existence of Futurama is a testament to the fact that Groening and company were getting bored with The Simpsons after ten seasons; and now, after sixteen more years, Jean and Mirkin seem to feel the same way.

So, what was this thing?  Well, it was either a relatively creative episode of Zombie Simpsons or a relatively weak episode of Futurama, depending on how you look at it.  To give you an example, near the end, Homer uses the same Dickens quote that Shatner does at the end of Star Trek 2.  It’s not even trying to be funny or anything, but as a Star Trek reference, it’s outstanding and a very Futurama thing to do.

None of this story needed the Simpson family to be there, and the whole thing would’ve been less awkward generally with the Planet Express crew than residents of Springfield, but what are you gonna do?  That show got cancelled, this one is still on, and it’s not like having Kang and Kodos in a regular episode is going to lower anyone’s respect for the show or defile it’s history.  That damage was done long ago.  Tacitly acknowledging that by discarding all the rules for an episode about a weird alien planet that’s crammed full of sci-fi references and sign gags is fine by me.  I’ll even go so far as to say that this is the best episode of Zombie Simpsons since probably “Trilogy of Error” back in Season 12.  It’s weird and chaotic, but for once those things are intentional.  Well done, Messrs Jean, Mirkin and Silverman.

– Couch gag is relatively brief, always a plus, and actually works with “Pictures at an Exhibition”.

– I understand that the “Are We There Yet” scene is meant to be a callback, but there’s way too much drawn out Homer aggravation.

– Ethnic Princess section is pretty good, but didn’t need Marge to exposit it.  This will be a repeated problem.

– As a counter example to the above, the State of Mickey (or whatever) with a sign advertising $7 pretzels only works because nobody read it out loud.

– The bug scene wasn’t bad, and there is a certain catchiness to “Certain death awaits if you get off the bug”.

– As usual, the pre-explanations of the jokes never help.  Yoda saying “Purchased for $4 billion, I was” is just fine on it’s own without first reminding everyone that Disney owns Star Wars now.

– The busty figurehead reading “Our Bodies, Ourselves” and the rest of the politically correct Pirates of the Caribbean ride is the same.  Really didn’t need Lisa explaining it when they already had a sign that said “Politically Correct”.  One is enough.

– Look, a sign gag that works and didn’t have anyone explaining it:

No Shareholder Questions

– This thing with everyone getting melted in the Cool Zone is very Futurama-ish.

– Ditto the screams of terror from the people on the “Let-Go Loop”.

– The sign gags are actually decent:


– “The kind of fun that attractive families have in commercials” isn’t bad.

– And the “Continue Spending” sign being pulled by the plane during the cutaway to the bench line works too.

– And we’re going into space on a flying saucer.  When they disconnect the rest of the episode from the opening these days, they really disconnect it.

– And in the first of what will be many, many, many Star Trek references, there’s the bridge noise from the original series.

– “This isn’t Halloween!”, we know.

– Okay, it was a little expository, but I did like “easily reassured fool”.

– Oof, this potato chip scene with the Blue Danube playing goes on way too long for a callback to Season 5.

– Stuff like flying past a game of Asteroids, also very Futurama-y.

– Though I could’ve done without Homer repeatedly chopping off his own hand, and then growing one on Marge’s head.

– I’m going to assume the symbols on those animated billboards (“Have your cups lost their suck?”) is also a Star Trek reference.  Klingon, maybe?

– So, that was a little weird.  The lights just went out and Kodos turned on a flashlight, then the lights were back on.

– “We have federal rebates for the panels, but few take advantage of them.”

– The multi-birth thing, feh.

– Further cementing my suspicion that this is actually an episode of Futurama, the family is now the attraction at a zoo.  Where have I seen that before?

– More good sign gags that (gasp) didn’t have themselves exposited:


– There’s even an alien doctor who doesn’t know basic human anatomy. Why not Zoidberg?

– Seriously, there’s a FORTRAN joke!  Jean didn’t have FOX goons kidnap David X. Cohen and Ken Keeler, did he?  Have people seen them recently?  Are they okay?

– Putting it to a vote seems like a very un-Marge thing to do.

– And the voting scene goes on too long generally.  Though it was kinda funny that Homer wrote “The Boy”.

– And there’s our ultra obscure Star Trek 2 reference.  Shatner mumbles that line so badly that I didn’t recognize it for a long time and I doubt I’m the only one.

– A lot of the voices don’t sound like themselves anymore, but Shearer’s Vin Scully remains very close to the original.

– “His hobbies include, sitting, lying down, and reaching for things without success.”

– There’s been plenty of the usually “meh” Zombie Simpsons animation here, but this scene with the children’s choir is pretty neat.

– They can’t break all their bad habits, though, “A transporter beam, someone is trying to steal our sacrifice” is about as unnecessary as exposition gets.

– Tell me this doesn’t sound exactly like something Prof. Farnsworth would say, “Space Broccoli has the most advanced feelings of any creature in the universe.”

– This Matrix 2 joke isn’t bad, but didn’t need to be nearly that long.

– There are a lot of freeze frame sign gags here, way more than usual.  The only thing that was close recently was the end credits of the Futurama crossover:


That whole thing is on-screen for less than a second and it’s enjoyably sclerotic and absurd.

– “Seriously, are we listening to the same guy?”

– “Why do you care?  It’s just your sex mate and spermlings.”

– Here’s some good animation combined with more good freeze frame sign gags:


They pop in quickly enough that while you can see them, there’s no way you could read “The Complete Works of Shakespeare Made of Chocolate” without pausing.  Also, that is dead Rod and Todd there, which is way bleaker and darker than you normally see on Zombie Simpsons.

– And while this thing is really unevenly paced overall, it moves well here at the end.  Homer going back to save his family obviously isn’t going to work, but they don’t draw it out at all, just hard cutting to “All will be eaten”.

– The glaze thing, on the other hand, takes forever.

– This ending kinda drags, though.

– But on the good side, this “So it will be as if none of this ever happened” callback is the only one.  They don’t repeat it ad nauseum like, oh, say, “Everything fits together” yada yada.

– They’ve now dropped any remaining Star Trek subtlety, but it’s kinda fun.

– “Like three bean salad at a barbecue, we will remain untouched.”

– I try not to be a sucker for cheap fan service, but Clausen hits one out of the park with this Star Trek version of the ending theme.

– And posing all their characters in Star Trek scenes was a nice send off.

I mean what I said about “Trilogy of Error” above.  Like that one, “The Man Who Came to Be Dinner” is deeply unusual in a way that even their three-part “storytelling” episodes aren’t.  Aliens, melted tourists, a panoply of Star Trek stuff, it’s generally more bizarre than it is outright funny, but none of it is any weirder than, say, killer robots, talking bar rags, popped eyeballs, and the host of other assorted shit they’ve done.  At least this time they’re acknowledging it instead of asking us to take them seriously.

Helpfully, it is almost completely devoid of the string music of suspense and the weird seriousness that drags down so many Zombie Simpsons episodes.  They acknowledge right at the start that wacky and (appropriately enough for Star Trek) non-canon stuff is going to happen, so even when Homer or the family is in danger of getting eaten, it’s played as 100% silly with no pretending there’s any real danger or drama.

None of which is to say that it doesn’t have problems.  This is still Zombie Simpsons we’re talking about, so there’s the usual array of them: too much exposition, half-hearted slap stick, general filler, etcetera.  But like “Trilogy of Error” and unlike most Zombie Simpsons episodes, this one had a premise and stuck to it.  That premise may have been crazy and weird, but a lot more care and thought were put into this than most, and it shows.

Anyway, the numbers are in, and I can just let TV by the Numbers explain:

The Simpsons earned a adults 18-49 rating, up 59 percent from a 2.9 for its most recent original episode. It was the show’s highest rated episode since January 5, 2014, when it also followed a playoff game.

Last night, 10.51 million people wished Futurama had gotten another season.  This is why networks like FOX pay such ridiculous amounts of money for football.  Sadly for the numbers, however, both of FOX’s remaining Sunday games are early and won’t lead in to primetime.  But for once, the numbers are good, and even more unusually, there was something sort of worth watching.


Behind Us Forever: I Won’t Be Home For Christmas

Marge Be Not Proud10

“Hey, I thought Krusty was Jewish.” – Lisa Simpson
“Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.” – Bart Simpson

According to IMDb, this is the first whole episode Al Jean’s written in a long time.  Sadly, it didn’t seem to matter.  Homer goes on one zany little escapade after another, there’s plenty of expository nonsense, several musical montages that seem designed to do nothing more than eat clock (efforts at which fell so short that they added a preview of the next episode to help fill all twenty of their contractually obligated minutes), and the usual Zombie Simpsons problems.

– It’s probably longer than it needs to be, but this Christmas themed opening is actually a nice change of pace.  There’s even some freeze frame fun (all the Jewish characters are eating at the Chinese restaurant).

– The Peanuts reference to open the episode at least didn’t take long.  It didn’t have anything to do with anything else, but it was short.

– The Comic Book Guy thing with the Star Wars Holiday Special, however, did take too long and didn’t have anything to do with anything else.

– Bizarre kookiness starts early here, with Marge telling Bart to hold the ladder she’s using to trim the tree only to look down and see Maggie!  She falls, then laments out loud that Homer isn’t there.  Why did she think Bart was there?  C’mon, that was like four seconds ago, who can possibly remember that far into the past?

– Burns shows up for no reason to talk to Homer.  Then Smithers appears out of nowhere.

– The clip from Miracle on 34th Street is weirdly out of place.

– Homer’s at Moe’s because Moe made him crash his car (don’t ask), then is going to leave before Moe begs and screams at him to take pity on him and stay.  The obvious repetition is what’s supposed to make this funny, I guess, but that’s all it is: hey, Moe screaming and crying is funny, let’s keep at it!  That this is just the usual “Moe the Sad Sack” stuff makes it lamer still.

– Now Moe is telling us that he’s wrapped around Homer’s leg, and now he’s up on Homer’s shoulders.  Oof, this just keeps going.

– Moe was briefly happy, so he stabbed himself in the head with a corkscrew.

– Now Marge is telling us what’s happening, “One night, the one night of the year I want Homer home with his family, and he can’t even do that.”

– Then Marge tells us what she’s about to say.  Did anyone edit this?

– Homer’s driving around now, finds Moe’s closed, then goes to the Kwik-E-Mart where he spends the better part of a minute buying lottery tickets.

– This is what passes for a setup these days, “Aw, thanks for your honesty, Apu.  Is there any other product in the store you’d like to warn me about?”.  Such natural dialogue!

– Bart can’t get to sleep, so Lisa conveniently walks in to help put him to sleep by telling him the story of jazz.  But Lisa wants to talk to Bart, so her doing that for him directly contradicts what she came in there for and then does.  But it did eat ten seconds or so.

– Huh?:

Lisa: Bart this is the year I’ve got to nail Christmas.  I don’t want to be a jaded ten-year-old like you.

That leads to a flashback involving Homer getting electrocuted.  More importantly, what the hell is Lisa talking about?  That doesn’t sound like her or him.

– Bart then recaps the flashback, in case anyone missed it.

– More filler: this time, they play “Carol of the Bells” for ten seconds while Marge strings popcorn. Then they cut to Maggie eating it.

– Bart has a pipe, everyone’s awake late at night, and Moe just came down through the chimney for no reason whatsoever.

– After some desultory exposition about why Moe wouldn’t have knocked, Moe tells us that he’s the reason Homer was late.

– Marge then continues on the expository filler theme, “This is what I was hoping for, for it not to have been completely his fault.”

– Moe then kisses Marge because there’s mistletoe.  She calls Homer, who is now getting his car towed for some reason.

– Homer’s now wandering around the outdoor mall as more music plays.

– Homer then gets to a movie theater.  Sign gags being one of the few things they can still sometimes do, it’s “The Screens at the Shops At Towne Centre At Springfielde Glenne”.  That’s pretty good.

– Then we get into Homer setting up the sarcastic guy to tell him about all the depressing Christmas movies.

– Homer goes into the movie, where Gil, Kirk and some other people are there being alone on Christmas.  Homer then leaves.  So . . . that was pointless.

– Homer and Flanders then talk and bond, or something.

– Homer bought something from Flanders left handed kiosk, which lead to this:

Flanders: But why?
Homer: Because Jerkass Homer has become Assjerk Homer.

I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean.

– Now they’re hugging.  Then Homer runs away.  Even by Zombie Simpsons standards this is disjointed.

– Marge and the kids then went to the retirement home.  All the old people pop out to talk to them and it’s supposed to be after midnight by now, but we did get the Old Jewish Man saying “Make them turn the TV to CBS”, which is decent.

– Homer is woken up by a Nutcracker guy who turns out to be a mall employee who invites Homer to some bizarre mall party.

– Yet more piano music as Marge and the kids walk through a neon sign store that was supposed to be a montage.  It’s like two kinds of clock eating filler at once!

– Apparently they’re at the mall now, too.  I guess they ditched the old people?

– A giant gingerbread house just partially collapsed on Homer.  Carry on.

– Marge then appears, with a bow on her head, and says she’s Homer’s present tonight.  I, uh, whatever.

– And we (sort of) end on Homer making that beep-beep noise cars make when you lock them.

– We then get yet another musical moment of Maggie making a paper cutout and putting it on the tree.

– And then, because those twenty minutes won’t fill themselves, God and Jesus have a short argument.

– And then (x2), because this thing still isn’t long enough, there’s some kind of preview for next week’s episode that’s mostly a bunch of alien babies being born.

Anyway, the numbers are in and while they’re up from a non-football Sunday, they’re down from previous football Sundays.  Last night just 6.41 million viewers wondered when the last time the show had a decent Christmas episode was.  That’s down slightly from the last two episodes that had NFL lead ins, and may be the last football lead in of the year depending on how the playoffs get scheduled for TV.


Behind Us Forever: Blazed and Confused

Last Tap Dance in Springfield3

“Camp is gonna be great!  Seven days without parents, homework or ear medicine!” – Milhouse van Houten 

The best thing to say about this episode is that at least the designers and animators had some fun (including David Silverman, who even got a line!).  Other than that, this one was a cheerless, contradictory mess.  There’s a new teacher, who’s some kind of psychotic, rule crazy nutjob, but who nevertheless is a regular at “Blazing Guy”, a Burning Man parody so uncreative that they actually tried to make fun of themselves for it.  Nothing we see of this guy would indicate that he would want to be so much as near “Blazing Guy”, but he’s in line for the great honor of setting the big statue on fire.  Was Zombie Simpsons making a point about not assuming what type of people might attend Burning Man?  Of course not.  In their world, him being an uptight prick in the first half of the episode has nothing to do with the second anyway.

– Decent (and short) couch gag for once.

– This show has deteriorated to the point that Chalmers yelling is now considered a go to gag.

– This teacher swapping scene isn’t a terrible idea, but dear sweet Jebus is the execution dumb.  Chalmers yelling and being afraid of this teacher doesn’t make a lick of sense, precludes them from making actual jokes, and makes this guy’s introduction serious instead of, you know, comedic.

– Oh, look, Willem Dafoe is back.  Also, he just cut his face for no reason.  Hi-larious.

– Bart has constructed a prank in the closet with a remote controlled car and a skeleton.  Enjoy it, because this episode moves so slowly they’re going to show it to us twice.

– Now Dafoe is hassling Nelson, who is helpfully expositing everything.

– He just gave Bart a haircut, so naturally the next one minute of screen time (at the Simpson dinner table) will be a rehash of that.

– Marge says that Bart should’ve gotten a balloon with his haircut.  Bart then has a balloon.  Hacktacular!

– And here’s the big swerve.  Marge mentions that there’s a camping trip.  She also asked Homer to book a reservation.  This makes so little sense that the show has Marge weep and exposit it.

– Now the teacher just punched through the blackboard.  Don’t ask.

– Then Milhouse stuck his nose through the hole.  Please continue not asking.

– Bart just got electrocuted with lots of sad music playing.  It’s weird.

– Milhouse just plugged New Zealand’s film industry for some reason.

– Bart helpfully tells us that he set up a camera in the teacher’s lounge.  That leads Lassen (which is the name they gave this guy) to helpfully exposit that he wants to talk to Miss Hoover on-line.  Bart then exposits that he’s created a fake profile for Miss Hoover, which means they can now see Lassen’s profile.  Everybody got all that?

– Meanwhile, Homer is on the phone begging for a campsite reservation.  Then Jason from the Friday the 13th movies shows up, murders the park ranger Homer’s talking to, and listens while Homer describes his house and his “pretty wife”.  It’s also weird.

– Bart and Milhouse are now sitting outside.  After Nelson and Lassen show up real quick for no reason, Milhouse helpfully pushes the plot forward by telling us that photos of Lassen were taken at “Blazing Guy”.  He then asks what that is before saying “Oh, that’s convenient” as he clicks on a video that explains it.

– The neo-hippie in the video explains that “this year’s” guy who ignites the statue is Lassen.  While he’s doing this, the statue, already on fire, burns in the background.  Shit like this is why I call the writing lazy.  There’s no need for that.  It isn’t a “cheat”; it doesn’t move the story forward; it isn’t a joke.  It’s just sloppy.  Either nobody noticed or nobody cared, and neither speaks well for the quality of the show.

– Bart then exposits that if they go there and film him, he’ll get revenge.  This also makes no sense, and Lassen’s profile already has such pictures, but whatever.

– Marge and Lisa are packing for the camping trip that for some reason she still assumes is going to happen.  Bart and Homer then show up to stage whisper to each other about going to “Blazing Guy” instead.  Marge and Lisa are still in the room and might’ve noticed this, but Zombie Simpsons doesn’t care about that.

– In the car, Marge reminds everyone that she doesn’t know where they’re going.

– For no reason and with no consequences, the family tent just blows away.  Because this show has the attention span of an inch worm, we knew it was going to happen because a random guy popped up to tell us that it would first.

– And Marge just got high on tea offered to her by a stranger.

– And now there’s a new tent.

– Ugh, they just panned over a bunch of “Blazing Guy” musicians while Lisa narrated who they are.

– Here’s another example of how shallow and pointless all of this is.  When Lisa first sees where they are, she happily declares it, “A world of anarchic free expression!”.  A few scenes later, we see her playing her sax in a drum circle, where she is quickly joined by more musicians who it seems like might be stepping on her toes.  (This is also David Silverman’s cameo.)  But instead of adding some depth to “Blazing Guy” by saying that maybe all the anarchy can get annoying, or that Lisa actually loves it, or anything else, they just exit Silverman stage right and move on.  The sum total of the Zombie Simpsons take on “Blazing Guy” is that people dress and act weird.

– Remember the plot?  The episode just had Bart and Milhouse spying on Lassen, including Bart helpfully reminding us of what they were doing.

– Marge being stoned gives them their excuse to eat some clock with a trippy montage.  Not before Homer gets hurt in the crotch and Bart reminds us again of why they’re there.

– Oh for fuck’s sake.  Bart and Milhouse are wandering around and Bart finds some “fire retardant”.  He tells us what the cans are, even though it’s stenciled on the side of each one.  This is this episode’s “opens a box of flesh eating ants”.  Bart then explains how it will work.

– Unnoticed by anyone, Bart has now sprayed the giant statue with “fire retardant”.

– Oof, Lassen is now using David Silverman’s tuba to shoot fire at Bart and chase him around.  And then Homer fires himself out of a catapult to collapse the statue.

– Yet more evidence that Zombie Simpsons cannot sustain a thought for more than a few seconds, Marge is high again, and even asks when the tea will get out of her system.  Not two minutes ago we saw her sober and talking with Homer.  But, hey, they wanted to go back to trippy montage, so why not?

– We get one final scene where Chalmers and Skinner fire Lassen.  It too is exposited:

Chalmers: So, where do you go from here?
Lassen: A place where my talents will be appreciated.

Turns out he’s a prison guard now.  And Sideshow Bob is there for a very brief cameo.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they’re pretty much the same as last week’s.  Yesterday, just 6.64 million people wished they had whatever drugs Marge was on to get them through that snoozefest.  That’s in line with what we’ve come to expect from episodes with football lead ins.  Next week, the late national game is on CBS, so it’ll doubtlessly be much lower.


Behind Us Forever: Simpsorama


“Some Bart Simpson dolls!” – Fry
“Eat my shorts.” – Bart Simpson Doll
“Okay.   Mmm, shorts.” – Bender

Well, the Futurama crossover finally happened.  It had a few good jokes here and there, which is above average for Zombie Simpsons, but mostly it was a mess and suffered from the same kinds of crossover problems we all so recently suffered through with Family Guy: cramming in as many characters from Futurama as possible, whether or not putting them there is funny or necessary.  It’s a thing that happened, a little footnote to both shows that will never be confused with the cream of either canon.

– I love Hedonismbot, but that couch gag was way too long.  The tag “A Show Out of Ideas Teams Up With a Show Out of Episodes” is easily the best joke in the episode, though.

– We open with Skinner telling the students they have to put something in a time capsule.  Then Chalmers appears from nowhere to fire a spitwad at Skinner.  This is not a promising start.

– Chalmers just pulled a TV-VCR combo from out of nowhere.

– The time capsule ceremony was just interrupted by an instant rain storm for some reason.

– Bender just fell out of the sky during a thunderstorm.  Which lead to a full minute of Homer and Bart trying to find him in the basement.  They settled on hanging Bart upside down from a rope for some reason.  Then they pointlessly smacked him around for ten seconds.

– Now we’re at Moe’s.  Bender belched fire.

– The premise here is that Bender and Homer are friends.  It’s charming enough, though predictably dumb.

– Hey, how about some fan service?:

Lisa: You know, they look a little similar.
Bart: Yeah, like the guy who designed Bender just took a drawing of Dad and stuck an antenna on it.
Lisa: A little lazy, if you ask me.

– Lisa took Bender to see Frink.  Frink reboots Bender.  Now Bender’s supposed to kill Homer, who just showed up after not being there until now.

– Writing “Crossovers Are Hell” on the wall in the future was nice.  Even if it’s not funny for the reason they think it is.

– I guess it’s nice that these mutant rabbits are another nod to Groening, but color me unsurprised that they went with mass chaos for their crossover.

– More fourth wall jokes with Zoidberg.

– They had to get Fry and Leela (and the Professor) back in time somehow, I get that.  But it’s very out of character for Leela want to kill Homer.  Obviously she doesn’t actually do it, but it’s pretty weird nevertheless.

– Heh: “Okay, but remember, to me you’re incredibly stupid.”

– Hey, it’s Seymour!  The fan service is pointless and not that funny, but it’s easily the best part of this thing.

– Homer and Bender are asleep on the couch together for yet more fan service.

– Ugh, this scene where they’re trying to figure out who to kill really drags on.

– I get that crossover stories are weird, but having the plot keep popping out of Bender’s ass is still dumb.

– Case in point, now we’re flashing back to the beginning with the time capsule.  This isn’t that complicated, but we’re getting reminded of it just because.

– “In our time, Epcot Center is a work farm for the weak.”  That was funny.

– They drove to the time capsule and then Willie showed up for some reason.

– Bender’s ass just gave us our brief and pointless appearances from Amy and Scruffy.

– Everyone but Bender and Maggie just got sucked into the future for some reason.

– Oof, the animation on Homer strangling Bart here is really weird.  They drew Bart the same size as all the little creatures.



– It was weird for Leela to want to kill, but why on Earth would Marge think Homer can fix a generator in the future?

– And now Hedonismbot showed up again for some reason.

– I could cite a bunch of different examples, but if you want an idea of how much of a mess this episode is, just noodle this series of events:

Lisa: If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s manipulate Barts.
Bart: You’re nuts.  I’ve got a will of iron.
Leela: [Turns on Hypnotoad]

It’s doesn’t make sense, but it did cram something from Futurama in.

– Back in Springfield, Bender just blew up a racehorse.

– More pointless fan service: Lisa playing a holophoner.

– Oh, and all the Barts just got rounded up.

– Heh: “Wow, it’s working!  I guess the instructions were in English.”

– Now Bender just shuts himself down for 1000 years.

– I suppose Kang and Kodos needed to meet Lrrr and Ndnd.

– There are some good sign gags in this credit/opening sequence at the end, including a Stonecutter headquarters, “Eat My Shorts” written in the alien language, and Freeze Frame Industries.

Anyway, the numbers are in and I was apparently being too optimistic last week when I predicted 7 million viewers.  Even with the football lead in, just 6.59 million people wished they’d done this episode fifteen years ago.  FOX has a late national game again next week, but after that it’s two weeks with no late football.  I’ll be curious to see whether or not they even bother to broadcast new episodes.


Behind Us Forever: Opposites A-frack

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“Leave it to good old Mary Bailey to finally step in and do something about that hideous genetic mutation.” – Marge Simpson

This week on Zombie Simpsons, Burns does something we saw him do much funnier twenty years ago, but he also falls in love and becomes a softy for a while.  In between, Patty and Selma live with the Simpsons for a while, Marge, Lisa and Smithers vanish for most of the episode, Homer gets another new job, and there’s a big explosion.

– No couch gag this week, so what they left in must be pure gold!

– Marge is buttering Homer up with pork chops because Patty & Selma need a place to stay.  If you guessed that Patty & Selma weren’t in the house right up until they mysteriously appeared in the house as if by transporter, you win absolutely nothing.

– Homer is repeating the word “teensy” for some reason.  I guess that got a big laugh at the table read?

– So the conflict here is that Patty & Selma aren’t supposed to smoke in the house.  Homer has put smoke detectors all over the place to catch them.  Then it starts raining instantly so they can’t go outside.  The instant rain thing was funny in “Bart the Murderer” because it was a joke.  Here it’s a plot crutch for an already nonsensically weak plot.  It won’t be the last.

– Hey, a decent sign gag that didn’t get read out load “Once Your Lungs Go Black, They Never Go Back”.

– They put a new bathroom in the house for no discernible reason.  It’s under the stairs because Patty & Selma were by the stairs.  They want to smoke there because, for some other indiscernible reason, Homer didn’t put smoke detectors in the bathroom.  This show cannot even maintain a joke, much less a story.  It’d almost be impressive in its sloppiness if we hadn’t seen it so many times before.

– Hey, look, the main story has arrived!  The water in the bathroom caught on fire.

– Lisa just scrolled over a bunch of movies titles on her tablet.  They were supposed to be depressing documentaries, so most of them were just “noun of death”.

– Hey, it’s a joke free explanation of fracking.  I love it when they pre-explain things.

– So, Lisa and Bart just teleported into the Rich Texan’s office where she exposited for a while, before he told us he was going to dance, then danced.  I realize that sentence makes no sense to anyone who hasn’t seen this episode, but, trust me, you’re not missing anything.

– Lisa discovers there’s a fracking site in the neighborhood by looking at a satellite picture.  Why?  Because they’re keeping people away with a sign that says “Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame”.  How did she never notice this building that is in her neighborhood?  Don’t ask.  But they compound it by having her praise women’s basketball, which makes the whole thing make even less sense.

– Also too, the kids just walked into the building.  Then Burns and Smithers pull up in a cart and Burns begins explaining things to Lisa.  Is there any reason for him to do this?  No.  Is it the opposite of something Burns would actually do?  Yes.

– Lisa then exposits the existence of Maxine Lombard, a Nancy Pelosi type voiced by Jane Fonda.  I miss Mary Bailey.

– After a really boring and repetitive hearing, Burns just barged into her office for a slow, cliche filled fall in love moment between Burns and Not Pelosi.  They apparently slept on the floor under a flag for some reason.

– Hey, how about another non-sequitor?  Now Burns needs to buy the mineral rights under Evergreen Terrace.  How do we know this?  Because he just told us.  Does it have anything to do with his romance with whatshername?  Of course not.  Jebus this script is sloppy.

– And, right on cue, Burns picks Homer to be his salesman.

– We then get a series of quick cuts of Homer being good at his new job.  It ate some time.

– Marge and Lisa are opposed to this, of course, with Marge reminding that “the water was on fire”.  She will be saying this a lot.

– Homer wins some kind of debate with Frink (don’t ask) and now everyone has sold their mineral rights.  Burns, being Zombie Burns, has second thoughts and asks Homer for relationship advice.

– Homer has the “signed gas leases”, which are all complete except for Marge’s signature not being on one.  This somehow comes as a surprise during a ceremony to turn on the fracking.  Then Burns and whatshername have a breakup as cliched and nonsensical as when they got together.  Also, Smithers is back after a long and unexplained absence.

– Burns was going to fire Homer, but now they’re talking about relationships again.  Then a wrecking ball breaks into Burns Manor because whatshername decided to . . . you know what?  Screw this.  It’s too weird and nonsensical even to recap.

– Hey, there’s an NPR guy who shows up, tells us his name, and then wanders off.

– Now Burns and Homer are turning the fracking machine back on out of revenge or something.

– Want to know what’s happening?  The show will gladly tell you:

Marge: Is one of the side effects of fracking earthquakes?
Lisa: Yes.

Glad we cleared that up.

– Jane Fonda just showed back up out of nowhere

– And Marge just repeated the water thing for the sixth time or so.  Oh, and now Homer’s burning down the fracking thingie and it explodes.

– Because the ending was apparently not explained enough already, Burns is helpfully expositing it some more.

– And it ends with Burns and whatshername in bed being boring to run out the clock.  What a mess.

Anyway, the numbers are in and, sans football, they are expectedly terrible.  Just 4.24 million people wished they were seeing Burns run his Slant Drilling Company again.  That’s the lowest of the young season and good for #7 on the all time least watched list.

There’s a very clear dichotomy now between the weeks when FOX has a late NFL game and when they don’t.  The three episodes this year with a football lead were watched by 8.50 million, 7.34 million, and 7.64 million viewers.  The two episodes without a football lead in were watched by 4.32 and 4.24 million viewers.  FOX does have a late national game next week for the Futurama crossover, so I fearlessly predict that episode will get somewhere in the 7 million viewers range.  And while I’m still expecting the renewal notice any day, the show clearly can’t stand on its own anymore.


Behind Us Forever: Treehouse of Horror XXV

Treehouse of Horror III12

“Stupid party, wish we was trick or treatin’.” – Bart Simpson

The annual Halloween episode tends to be pretty bland in the hands of Zombie Simpsons, and this year was no different.  The first story was about Bart going to school in Hell, where he does better than he used to do at Springfield Elementary.  The second is a bunch of meandering references to Stanley Kubrick movies that ends with Kubrick himself staring right at the camera for some reason.  The third one involved the old Tracey Ullman versions of the characters being ghosts.

– Give them this, if they’re going to sneak in Kang and Kodos for no reason, at least this opening didn’t take too long.

– Oof, this thing about “penal”, “penile” and “penis” was probably funnier when it was doodled on an actual fourth grader’s notebook.

– Hey, now Lisa’s here.

– The Hell chalkboard punishment “Eternal Torment Is The Only Just Punishment for the Unbaptized” is pretty good . . . and they didn’t even read it off to us!  Happy Halloween!

– But it didn’t last long.  Lisa just explained to us that snow is cold.

– Then Bart told us how he’s feeling about his teacher.

– The “Burns Hellport” wasn’t terrible.

– Guh, even in Halloween episodes though, we’re reminded of how cushy and comfortable the writers have gotten.  Homer just went on a rant about private schools sending parents twenty e-mails a day.  I bet they also hate it when your worthless butler washes your sock garters but they’re still covered with schmutz.

– And now Hell-Chalmers is expositing pointlessly.

– The montage didn’t even take too long.

– So, this thing with Bart torturing Homer was supposed to be some kind of ending?  Even here they need exposition:

Bart: That’s my Dad, I can’t hurt him.
Homer: No, boy, I want you to do it.
Bart:  What, why?
Homer: Bart, you went to Hell and came back a winner, like Jesus.

Tedious crap like this is why even when they do manage some decent jokes, these segments will always be bland and unmemorable.  “Hell School” is a decent enough little concept, but they can’t give it a coherent plot or not spend time explaining the jokes even in just seven minutes of runtime.

– For a show that got a little pious over Family Guy‘s rape joke, this “In-out” thing sure goes on a long time.

– Moe’s cutesy narrator language is already grating:

“Everything was all fish and chippie until Dum collected himself a twiggy-wick”

– The montage in the first segment didn’t take too long.  This one . . . not so much.  Homer just bounces around his room for a while.

– And we’re back to explaining things.  Homer’s going to marry Marge, then Moe asks a rhetorical question/joke setup, then Marge explains things.

– I get that this segment is just a scattershot of Kubrick references, but it kinda undercuts the joke of Moe being forced to watch FOX when he pleads to have it turned off, and then immediately takes the Clockwork Orange helmet off without a problem.

– Now Nelson, Jimbo, Kearney and Dolph are beating Moe up.  Nelson was already in the house, thus making Moe talking to Kearney at the door pointless.  Is five consecutive seconds of narrative coherence really too much to ask?

– Speaking of sloppy writing, despite the fact that we saw a title card called “Years Later”, Homer just said it’s been a few months.  If that’s a joke, I sure don’t get it.

– And on the topic of narrative incoherence, Moe reacts to his beating by trying to get his old gang back together.  I assumed it was to get revenge, but we never see the bullies again.  Instead we’re off to an incoherent mash up of various Kubrick references.

– Topped off by more expository narration from Moe, and Kubrick himself getting hit on the head with a pen.  This one seems to have just petered out rather than ended, but maybe that’s for the best.

– Onto segment three, where the TV is apparently only playing Married With Children.  I get that’s a show from forever ago, but it might’ve helped for there to be more to it than that.

– Homer and Marge are in bed, then Marge leaves because Grampa was there too, then . . . you know what?  Screw it.  Basically nothing happens and what little does happen is explained to us.

– Lisa just called ghost-Bart burping “unmotivated”.  Maybe they do know what motivation is.  That’s the only evidence from the last five years or so, but still.

– Also, it’s nice that they’re trying to do the old style voices, but twenty-five years has made that impossible.

– Speaking of “unmotivated”, what’s with ghost-Marge and regular-Homer falling in love?  Ghost-Homer just kinda stands there.

– And now Marge killed herself.  Uh, okay.

– Good question from new-ghost-Marge, “Won’t the other Homer be a problem?”.  That little reminder slightly preceded Homer getting killed by ghost-Homer.

– And now Lisa and Bart are dead too because . . . I really don’t know.  I guess they all want to be ghosts for some reason?

– Dr. Marvin Monroe is now also back as a ghost.  His butt gets stuck in the wall.  (Comedy!)

– “Let’s not fight anymore, let’s make him decide between us!” – Not only are they telling us what’s happening, they’ve once again forgotten the older Homer.  Then both Marges explain themselves, because ghosts explaining themselves is a significant fraction of the dialogue here.

– Now both Marges are hugging their respective Homers.

– And we end on many different Simpsons versions.

I expect basically nothing from this show, so it’s hard to call myself disappointed in any of this, but that final segment is still kinda disappointing.  It’s a neat idea to bring back the original character models and you could probably have some fun with the old and new versions interacting or going at cross purposes, especially in a Halloween episode where you’ve got basically no rules.  Instead, Homer and ghost-Marge have a weird non-romance and most of the segment is people killing (themselves or others) and explaining how they feel.  What a waste.

Anyway, the ratings are in and it remains good to be behind football.  Last night’s dutiful episode reminded 7.64 million viewers that this show used to do much better Halloween specials.  As with previous weeks, that’s good for this year and very bad historically.


Behind Us Forever: Super Franchise Me

Lost Our Lisa3

“Don’t make me tap the sign.” – Bus Driver

There are episodes of Zombie Simpsons that border on manic, where they just throw crazy shit at the screen and hope that some of the incoherent jumble produces a chuckle or two.  But there are also episodes like “Super Franchise Me”, that feel like they were produced by people in the depths of an Eeyore level depression.  This is Zombie Simpsons going through the motions: slowly, reluctantly, joylessly.  The story, Marge opens a sandwich franchise, is paper napkin thin, and since there’s no B-plot, they had to tack on a slow motion fantasy chase sequence at the end to shuffle this one across the twenty-minute finish line.

(Sorry we forgot to put up a preview post.  Guess we weren’t the only ones half-assing it this week.)

– And you can tell things are off to a bad start when they have a clock eating non-guest couch gag.  It’s 45 seconds long.  Just 19m:15s to go!

– Guh, Flanders is reading the sign gags.  The sign gags are one of the few things they don’t completely suck at, so this is always annoying.

– And then they did it with Homer reading the name of the Japanese city.

– This is one of the dumber montages I’ve seen in a while.  Marge is cooking meat, and Homer is worried for some reason.  It takes almost forty seconds.  Tick-tock, tick-tock.

– You want a good example of how filler-iffic this episode is?  Bart and Lisa just watched Homer stuff food into Santa’s Little Helper for fifteen seconds before they objected.  It wasn’t funny, but it did eat some time!

– On a printed, 8pt font list of this episode’s problems, this would be on about page three, but it makes no sense for Marge to make all these sandwiches after Flanders takes his freezer back.  The premise is that the food is gonna go bad before anyone can eat it, and now she’s got a ton of sandwiches that would still need to go in the fridge.

– Similar to the above, why does Bart want sandwiches at night before he goes to bed?

– Oh, now they have a scene with Flanders explaining that he’s keeping them in his freezer.  It’s nice that they tied up the loose end, I guess, but when your story is so week that you almost have to retcon it before the first commercial break, it’s not a good sign.

– Oh, look, the main story has arrived in the form of a woman showing up at the school, where Marge went for no apparent reason.  Literally neither of them should be there.  Well done, Zombie Simpsons.

– Gotta love sparkling dialogue like this: “Mom, you’re gonna open a sandwich store?”, “Uh-huh.”

– Homer’s flashback to a Pizza Hut certainly went on for a while.

– Marge being happy that everything here is hers could’ve been interesting if it had been developed beyond having her just say “my” over and over.

– Krusty and Mr. Teeny just showed up for some reason.  And now the monkey is bathing in a giant salsa tray.

– Frink’s applying for a job.  Marge sets it up by telling him not to make any weird noises.  He then makes weird noises.  I think this was diagrammed out in Chapter 3 of “Scriptwriting For the Terminally Boring”.

– Gil handing out the strip club card would’ve been much funnier if the “Tell You Their Real Name” Tuesday joke had either been on the card or spoken aloud.  It’s both.  Reading the sign gags really sucks.

– Remember what I said earlier about Marge being happy about things actually being hers?  Well, that got dropped completely and now the Simpson family is working in the restaurant.

– “I was short staffed and your father volunteered.” – Thanks, exposition Marge!  We only saw that one minute ago, how could we possibly remember it?

– Montage #2.  This one is about making and selling sandwiches.

– The “We’re Closed and the Alarm Is On” sign with the skull and crossbones is kinda funny, but I’m just happy they didn’t have someone read it to us.

– There’s another sandwich place across the street now.  Bart pointed it out.  I like this scene, it’s a combination between their hatred of object permanence and their love of bizarre and abrupt plot twists.

– Cletus is reading ridiculous kids names.  Haven’t seen that before.

– Burns and Smithers just showed up for some reason.

– It’s okay, they’re gone now.

– You can argue about whether or not this show is funny (I don’t think it is, but to each their own), but there’s no denying that it’s dumb.  The premise here is that the sandwich franchise opened another location across the street and screwed Marge.  That’s actually a real problem (Subway, for example, is notorious for screwing its franchisees like that), but it’s not used for any kind of comedy here whatsoever.  Instead, they have Homer get scalded, stabbed and bashed in his crotch, and even then it doesn’t make sense.

– Just for good measure, we see Burns fall incompetently off of a rowboat.  Remember evil Burns?  He was fun.

– And now it’s over and they’ve got a caveman Homer very (very) slowly chasing some giant animal because this episode came in a solid minute short, even with all that filler.

– Nice of them to mention Jan Hooks, though.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are way up, but only because of football overrun.  Last night’s cripplingly stretched premise was seen by 7.34 million people, probably half of whom just left it on after the Dallas-Seattle game.  That’s down from the also football lifted season premier, and it would’ve been an average number as recently as Season 22, but it counts as good for them these days.  Next week, the late national game is Giants-Cowboys, so we’ll see if there’s another (relatively) big number.


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