Archive for the 'Synergy' Category



21
Nov
09

Synergy Half-Asses It (and Tacitly Admits Zombie Simpsons Sucks)

Not content this week to slurp at the company slop bucket merely by pretending to review Zombie Simpsons, IGN has run a series of quotes from Moe.  There are eight quotes in total, of which only one is from Zombie Simpsons (it’s from Season 18).  Of the seven that are not in Zombie Simpsons (although there’s one from Season 11’s “Pygmoelion” which is right on the line) only three of them are correctly quoted.  The others are either missing important words or outright mangled.  A cursory check of SNPP – SNPP! – would’ve gotten the correct quote in several cases, but apparently checking the internet’s most famous and well respected repository of Simpsons quotes was too demanding.

In addition to that, one of the times when they did manage to get the quote correct they didn’t manage to pair it with images from the same episode:

IGN Phones It InEntertainingly, “Team Homer”, from which those images are taken, was one of the other quoted episodes.  Whoops.

To sum up, IGN didn’t care enough about their content to either a) properly quote Simpsons or b) match the quotes with pictures from the same episode.  On top of that, six of the eight quotes they ran are from Season 7 or earlier and only one is from the true bowels of Zombie Simpsons.  (Not that everyone at FOX always remembers to pretend that Zombie Simpsons is good.)  Keep in mind that this is a website (albeit with a different author) that praises new episodes as being right up there with the classics with some regularity.

17
Nov
09

Synergy Hides in the Bureaucracy

“We need to talk about the, marital difficulties, we’ve been having lately.” – Marge Simpson
“Marge, there’s just too much pressure.  What with my job, the kids, traffic snarls, political strife at home and abroad!  But I promise you, the second all those things go away, we’ll have sex.” – Homer Simpson

Sometimes even your in-house fanboys don’t like an episode, it doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen.  So while the IGN review below has some entire sentences I didn’t need to edit, the numerical score is still a 6.2.  6.2!  Even setting aside the goofiness of rating a cookie cutter television programs on an effective 100 point scale, I’m still forced ask, what would it take for one of these episodes to garner a rating of less than 5?  What would a 22-minute test pattern get?  If one actually takes the time to read this review it’s pretty devastating (especially when compared with the baseline sycophancy that makes up most of IGN’s Zombie Simpsons reviews).  But if all you’re looking at is the score, then it really isn’t so bad.  Let this be a lesson to anyone out there who ever needs to write up a report that a superior may or may not take the time to read in full: you can get away with a lot so long as it toes the line at first glance. 

November 16, 2009 – I enjoyed watched the first act of "The Devil Wears Nada." I think it’s because that’s where all the potential was I’m a glutton for punishment. Carl got promoted and went from Goofus to Gallant instantly became a different person. This left Homer and Lenny to toil under his pointlessly exaggerated supervision. There was a lot to play with there. Likewise, having Marge drunkenly pose for a pin-up calendar that the entire town got their hands on offered up loads to work with made no sense, had no point, and saw everyone act like jerks for no reason. After all, there are a lot of residents in Springfield, and their reactions to Marge’s pictures could have been priceless couldn’t have been less well thought out. But the potential was wasted then the expected happened as the stories converged and took an unexpected, fairly predictably boring route.

Instead of playing up the goings on at the nuclear power plant, with Homer and Lenny left behind and Carl joining Mr. Burns in the executive rung of the business ladder, we were given a more singular and separate tale. Carl promoted Homer to become his executive assistant, for some reason, and a very loose reinterpretation of The Devil Wears Prada took off from there. It’s a role we’ve seen Homer take on fail at before as he was briefly Mr. Burns’ assistant in "Homer the Smithers.", when he was as terrible an assistant as one would expect. Here, the The Devil Wears Prada spin meant that Homer was overworked and over-utilized uncharacteristically competent for various demeaning tasks, most of which we only hear about and don’t actually see, thank goodness. The tenuous thread connecting these two slapdash stories was that All all of that executive assisting left Homer exhausted and useless to Marge in the bedroom.

Marge, meanwhile, had somehow become intensely aroused by the town’s polite bizarro reaction to her pin-up calendar pictures. The calendar was meant to be a fundraiser organized by the Springfield Charity Chicks. Instead, after several glasses of wine, it became 12 months of scantily clad Marge for some reason. At first I thought the episode might be trying to tie in with Playboy’s recent Marge pictorial, but it soon became clear that the calendar was just a cheap means to get Marge horny while Homer remained exhausted promote this vapid episode. This was another case of the series returning to botching familiar storylines. It’s tough to get away from this one — trouble in the bedroom — as they are a married couple and this is Zombie Simpsons has become, essentially, a sitcom. Unfortunately Naturally, "The Devil Wears Nada" doesn’t give the story anything new.

What it does throw in there is the hacktacular idea that a lusty Marge and a single Ned might just come together for a night of passion. This was ridiculous boring to watch and I’m disappointed utterly unsurprised the writers even thought to go in this direction. First, it goes against everything we know about these two characters. Never mind that they came to their senses in the end, Marge is too loving a wife and Ned is too good a Christian for the option of hooking up to ever enter their minds. The series did make a joke of the situation use some more joke free exposition with Homer’s reaction to seeing the pair embraced in the doorway: "My wife and my worst friend? Could it be? Nah." Of course "nah." And that’s why they couldn’t make it at all funny to watch.

"The Devil Wears Nada" was a disappointing typical Zombie Simpsons episode. The potential present in the first act decade of the show was not fulfilled. Homer’s role as Carl’s executive assistant did not yield a great number of laughs do anything but chew clock. The only thing that really stood out for me was the random guy picking up Homer’s discarded Blackberry: "Nuclear secrets. Pictures of Lenny. Everything I need for my plan." Similarly, Marge’s turn as a calendar girl and temporary nymphomaniac was far more painful to watch than it was funny. As we approach the big celebration documenting 20 years on the air, I hope the episodes get better than this, but I know they won’t.

21
Oct
09

Synergy Resorts to Rote Retellings

Write By Number
Image grabbed from here.

“Oh . . . a little sterile, no real insight.  What do you think Miss Hoover?” – Principal Skinner
“Enh.” – Miss Hoover

IGN really phoned it in this week.  There are six paragraphs in their review of that reprehensibly dull Halloween episode.  There’s an opening full of generic praise, there’s a closing full of generic praise.  The four middle paragraphs are dedicated, in order, to simply retelling the story of each of the four segments from the episode, including that tepid little opening.  In addition to that, each contains the full title of the segment and two quotes from that segment.  It’s like paint by number except that it’s writing. 

As always, I’ve edited out the synergy. 

October 18, 2009The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons’ "Treehouse of Horror XX" was a fine addition to a gross subtraction from the series’ Halloween specials. And for the first time in ten years, we got an episode that actually aired before Halloween, though it still sucked. That’s got to count for something. Though recent Recent specials have had their share of been nothing but clunker segments, and "XX" had three strong stories that were equal parts funny and dark lived up to that dismal track record.

The opening sequence was a lot of fun good way to make sure there were four commercial breaks, as horror classics Dracula, Mummy, Wolfman and Frankenstein’s monster safely roamed meandered the streets of Springfield on Halloween. Running into the school bullies, the four were mocked for their out-of-date attire, for some reason: "Turner Classic Movies called, they want their costumes back." After changing into the likes of Iron Man and SpongeBob, the four crashed the Simpson’s Halloween party, for some other reason. When their wives showed up to end their fun, Homer insulted them and was soon torn to bits. With his severed head floating in the punch bowl and his X-ed out eyes forming the "XX" of the episode’s title, the fun drudgery was ready to begin.

The first official segment had one of my favorite titles of the "Treehouse" series so far: "Dial ‘M’ For Murder or Press ‘#’ to Return to the Main Menu." This was a heavily stylized plodding and twist filled segment, shown in black and white, as it was parodying referencing a multitude of Alfred Hitchcock films. After Miss Hoover sent Lisa to detention, Bart hatched a plan to have Lisa "prank" Mrs. Krabappel while he pranked Hoover, therefore eliminating each other as suspects. Lisa did the old "ding-dong ditch" and Bart, of course, murdered Miss Hoover, cuz, you know. It was a simple misunderstanding. To Bart, "Ding-dong ditch" means "you kill her then throw that ding-dong into a ditch." The Hitchcock references throughout the segment were fun to spot impossible to miss because they were crammed in with no regard to whether or not any of them were funny, clever or insightful, though I’m sure I didn’t catch them all.

The second segment, titled "Don’t Have a Cow, Mankind," was a great zombie apocalypse parody run through with a new Krusty Burger turning all who eat it into what the show called "Munchers." The sandwich was called Burger Squared, and as Krusty laboriously explained, they "start with grade-A beef, feed that to other cows, then kill them and serve the unholy results on a seven-grain bun." This was another fun and funny painfully long and obvious segment which referenced films like 28 Days Later and I Am Legend. It was your basic zombie gore fest, with lots of biting and bloodshed and little to no humor. It was great time consuming to see Apu kicking some ass: "As a vegetarian, I did not consume any tainted burgers. As a convenience store owner, I am armed to the teeth." Bart being hailed as the chosen one because of his immunity was an interesting twist a pointless contrivance, but it that didn’t really take the story anywhere except for an ending that fell sort of completely flat.

The Sweeney Todd referencing closing segment, "There’s No Business Like Moe’s Business" was a real treat the worst of a bad lot. Instead of simply parodying the musical, which would’ve made at least some sense, they put on an actual excruciatingly boring musical parody. The whole thing was presented on stage with some cuts to the audience now and again, because otherwise it wouldn’t have filled up the allotted screen time. (Had to include Kang and Kodos somewhere!) The songs were some of the best utterly hapless and about what we’ve come to expect from the series in recent memory. They not only moved dragged the story along, but they were hilarious time wasting, too. Moe singing about his perverse taste of romance had me floored remembering when he wasn’t an overly sensitive comedy black hole: "I can only make love in the back of a hearse/And I gotta be dressed as a Civil War nurse…. But you could do worse." And Homer’s song-and-dance interpretation of Moe’s fake letter was hysterically random and without merit. Moe said it was going to get "gayer," but I wasn’t expecting that.  [Ed. Note: I can’t help the preceding sentence, I don’t even know what it’s supposed to mean.] The segment ended with characters from the previous parts of the episode coming together and singing us out. It was hard not to enjoy, because it meant it was over.

Being the first "Treehouse of Horror" to air since The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons switched to their HD format, the visuals throughout the episode were fantastic run of the mill and full of background bits and details we might not have gotten had to pretend to care about a year or two ago. With the animation being fresh even more overly elaborate, the writing has stepped up as well continued to suck and we were treated to a 20th Anniversary installment that is worthy to stand beside some of their Halloween classics reminds you that not all anniversaries are happy occasions.

14
Oct
09

Synergy Sweats the Details

“Springfield doesn’t want places like this!” – Marge Simpson
“I think I know what Springfield wants, sugar.” – Belle
“Oh?  I’ve lived in this town for thirty-seven years.” – Marge Simpson
“I’ve lived here fifty-two years.” – Belle
“I’m third generation.” – Marge Simpson
“Sixth.” – Belle
“Get out of my town!” – Marge Simpson

What do you do if you’re tasked with writing a glowing review of a Zombie Simpsons episode in which the main plot is so transparently awful and pointless that even the most bought out of reviewers would have a hard time making it seem otherwise?  If you’re IGN you damn the main plot with faint praise and then laude even the worst of the irrelevant supporting scenes as comic genius.  You may even cite lines that idiots think are clever, like “Because this is not to my taste, no one else should be able to enjoy it.”

That quote, which I’ve seen widely cited as one of the better ones from this episode, is tantamount to an admission that Marge had no reason to do anything she does in this episode.  When she campaigned against Itchy & Scratchy she did it because Maggie attacked Homer.  When she campaigned against the Maison Derriere it was because it violated her conception of her wholesome little town.  This time her motivation is a mindless declaration.  That’s really all there is to it.

As always, I’ve edited out the synergy.

October 12, 2009 – I wasn’t thrilled when I learned that this was going to be a Marge-centric episode, and it didn’t help that she was going to be fighting in a mixed martial arts fight this season wasn’t going to end out of embarrassment after the first two episodes. That just seemed silly to me. Flashbacks to Marge the bodybuilder came to mind the desert of boredom I crawled through in Season 20. Not good. Turned out the storyline wasn’t was as terrible as it could have been. But what really made me enjoy tune out The Great Wife Hope” were the peripheral bits, characters and jokes outside the main storyline that barely existed. There were many, and they were funny.

And it It started with Marge explaining how she came up with the idea for “crazy bowling.” As she explained, she simply Googled “girls having fun” and, after looking through 97,000 pages of pornography, discovered the odd sport. That’s right, in 2009 Zombie Simpsons had the bold, edgy nerve to make a joke about internet porn. Elsewhere in the bowling alley we got to were forced to see the Crazy Cat Lady bowl a strike with one of her cats, but no men could be found. They were all at the Springfield Sports Arena watching the Ultimate Punch, Kick & Choke Championship, because MMA is America’s most popular sport. Even Bart was caught up in the excitement, and soon the boys at the elementary school were fighting under the jungle gym. Marge caught on showed up for some reason and decided to try and put an end to the sport: “Because this is not to my taste, no one else should be able to enjoy it.”

Marge’s quest started with picketing the events, but that made too much sense so it was quickly dropped and she soon found herself face to face with the founder and CEO of the league, for some reason. As the face of the sport, he challenged Marge to a match, for some other reason. If she won, he would shut down the industry, for some final reason. This had a ring of Vince McMahon to it, but the character didn’t come off as a McMahon parody, he just sat there as an all too convenient foil. In fact, it was hard to get a fix on this character (and, as you can see, even harder to get a fix on his name and its spelling.) It was of one the weaker aspects of the episode; as this role never felt even if it had felt complete or fully explained, it still would’ve sucked. His fight with Marge was also underwhelming a complete waste of time, even though it was the motivation for much of the episode. Thankfully, there were plenty of other things squeezed in around this bout to make the episode an enjoyable watch, unfortunately they were also boring time fillers.

The first big laugh-out-loud pointless moment for me came when Ralph Wiggum was being used as the bell during the schoolyard fights. Marge’s dislike of the sport was summed up hilariously with a couple of quick lines. The first was “God didn’t give you legs so you could use them as scissors.” She also claimed that “‘Ultimate’ makes everything worse,” to which Otto, who was there just because, countered, “Not Frisbee!” Nelson also had a great a clock eating, exposition filled scene as he revealed he hopes to become an event planner when he grows up. Later, Carl became annoyed with Homer for suggesting he knew Drederick Tatum because he was black and would know all black people, it was just as pointless as it sounds. Carl then stated, just as you’d expect from such a lazy and obvious setup, “Actually, Drederick and I are very good friends. We met through Dr. Hibbert at a party at Bleeding Gums Murphy’s house.”

This led to one of the highlights nonsensical middle of the episode, as Marge went from Simpsons character to Simpsons character training for her big fight. After working the tattoos with Drederick, Marge learned jujitsu from Akira, classic wrestling moves from Mr. Burns and general hooliganism from the elementary school bullies. It’s almost as if the writers had no creativity whatsoever and were just filling in lame set pieces with their existing characters, regardless of how boring or humorless it might be. This part had a great, mercifully short bit with Martin and Principal Skinner found inside the bullies’ punching bag, for some reason.

Though the main storyline felt rather was ridiculous (in a completely unfunny way), it set up plenty of laughs equally tedious situations for the characters surrounding it, no matter how stupid it might be for one of them to be there. I even felt the The very ending was a classic moment for the series Zombie Simpsons. After the big fight ended, Bart challenged Lisa to settle their bad blood in “the septagon.” The episode seemingly ended on a freeze frame of their fight about to begin, but then came back to show Lisa knocking Bart out with one punch. It was completely pointless, had no joke, and ate up time that the show had nothing else to use for. This almost felt like a kind of moment that could have closed out the series is pitch perfect Zombie Simpsons. I loved loathed the bit, and the episode was fun, too just as bad.

07
Oct
09

Synergy Has Low Standards

“Listen to your mother kids, aim low; aim so low no one will even care if you succeed.” – Marge Simpson

If there is such a writing style as “corporate fanboy”, IGN has perfected it in their Zombie Simpsons “reviews”.  Even by the pitifully low standards of Zombie Simpsons “Bart Gets a Z” is an undeniable mess comprised of unfinished ideas, jokeless dialogue, and random outbursts.  I mentioned this briefly in the Crazy Noises conversation, but even individual scenes are so ill defined that it was actually a surprise when they cut to commercial.  It was self evidently terrible enough that even the paid hacks couldn’t gin up any serious praise, so instead we get the masterpiece of “corporate fanboy” you see below.  I’ve done my best to edit out the synergy, but if you want to skip all that it can be summed up thusly, “That wasn’t as excellent as your usual efforts, sir, but it was still a great experience that I’d happily repeat.”

Enjoy.

October 5, 2009 – “Bart Gets a Z” was a comfortable wretched episode of The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons. I’ve talked about this classification before, where an This episode of the long running series is neither enjoyably hilarious or incredibly terrible. It’s middle of the road, but it It has just enough so little going for it that a fan will enjoy the episode openly wonder when it will end and maybe even find a quote or two to add to their daily vernacular contemplate self-concussion to erase the memory. Come the end of the season, this episode may will hopefully be lost from your memory, but it was a fine half hour while it lasted.

There are a lot of factors that make an episode comfortable wretched, but having a familiar copy & paste storyline is at the top of the list. Bart got Mrs. Krabappel fired from her teaching job by purposely getting her drunk during school, which she didn’t notice for some reason. Of course, this wasn’t his intent, so Bart had to deal with his sitcom guilt over the situation. Eventually, Bart came sitcom clean and everything returned to normal. There’s a lot there that we’ve We’ve seen all of this before. Certainly Bart has put Edna’s job in jeopardy a number of times, and I won’t even try to count all the episodes where he has needed to right a wrong that he created. But you’ve got There’s no reason to cut the series a little slack, either. It is more than two decades old, you know? and fully half of that has been terrible crap like this. Heck, even the title of the episode is a reference cheap cut & paste job to second season episode “Bart Gets an F.”

It all started with Mrs. Krabappel becoming annoyed with the entire class using their cell phones for calls and games during class, which no teacher has ever successfully dealt with before. There was a dated-ness to this This bit was hideously dated, but there were still a few good no laughs, including Nelson demanding Martin text “uncle” while in a headlock, and Milhouse’s reaction to discovering emoticons was great wouldn’t have been funny in 1999. After Edna confiscated all the electronics, Bart got the bright idea that adding alcohol to her coffee would make her a little nicer: “My dad is a lot more fun after a few beers.” This led to one of the better longer and more pointless parts of the episode when Bart set the plan in motion: “First the easy part: kids, get some liquor!” The montage of scenes with the school kids sneaking alcohol from their parents was fun pure Zombie Simpsons: useless and tedious. It was the kind of bit that works best when you’re familiar with the kids and parents involved you’ve recently suffered severe cranial trauma.

The replacement teacher portion of the episode really fell flat in my opinion. The character of Zack reminded me too much of Jack Black’s Comic Book Guy competition from “Husbands and Knives.” [Ed note: Haven’t seen that one, don’t want to see that one] There was no guest voice for the role, which might have helped add a little something to the character didn’t matter in the least since the writing would’ve been rejected by a high school theater troupe. Even his His drunken breakdown at the end was more of a “Huh?” instead of a “Ha!” nonsense ending. The best line of the episode came while Bart and Milhouse argued over finding a way to help Mrs. K at their local bookstore: “I guess no one’s ever written a book to help a middle-aged woman turn her life around.” was when the Gracie pictures guy shushed the audience after the credits. This is where the The episode added a parody recitation of the film/book/life movement called The Secret. In this episode, it was called “The Answer.” (“Available wherever dubious, quasi-scientific self-help books are sold.”) I’ve never seen the film or studied the movement, but the jokes references were still worked well enough harmless and gentle, especially the history of “The Answer.”

Overall, “Bart Gets a Z” was a dependable an unwatchable episode, as bad as Zombie Simpsons has ever done. It gave you what you expected. It didn’t try too hard, but at the same time, it didn’t crap the bed with uselessness and just went through the motions. In terms of album tracks,[Ed Note: Huh?] this episode was filler. And personally, I’m fine with it, as long as the rest of the season aims for something more show ends soon and I never have to see this one ever again.

30
Sep
09

Synergy Jumps the Gun

New Comic Books

“All these new superheroes suck.  None of them can hold a candle to Radioactive Man.” – Bart Simpson

We’ve seen a pretty hefty increase in traffic around here since Season 20 finally went off the air, so I’m going to explain just what these “synergy” posts are all about.  IGN is a wholly owned subsidiary of FOX that publishes “reviews” of each new Zombie Simpsons episode, usually on the Monday after it’s broadcast.  (They published early this week because they got an advance copy from their paymasters and wanted to add whatever little they could to the promotional momentum.)  To call the reviews glowing would be an understatement, they are almost universally raves.  And when there are criticisms they are of a Smithers-esque variety, as you’ll see below.  (Example from this week: “Instead of bringing in something fresh and new, the writing partners deliver something familiar: a solid, funny, good old episode of The Simpsons.”)  I don’t begrudge the people behind these reviews their sycophancy, everybody’s gotta eat, after all.  But that doesn’t mean I have to let this synergistic propaganda pollute the internet unchallenged.  Below you will find a version of the review that has had all the FOX-IGN synergy edited out of it.

Enjoy.

September 25, 2009Advance Review: The Simpsons opens Season 21 with an episode written by the duo that brought you Superbad, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. Word got out some time ago that the pair would be writing an episode of the series Zombie Simpsons, and when I first read this I was quite excited apathetic. Certainly I doubted they would be able to bring a fresh voice to the two-decade old series Zombie Simpsons. Now that their episode has arrived, does “Homer the Whopper” live up to these expectations? Not exactly Yes. Instead of bringing in something fresh and new, the writing partners deliver something familiar: a solid, funny, good old episode of The Simpsons a typically boring Zombie Simpsons episode.

“Homer the Whopper” feels like an episode from Season 18 or 10 20, which makes complete sense, as most of it was probably written by the staff. Rogen and Goldberg are self-proclaimed fans of the series, so it’s no surprise that they would take their cues from the stronger eras of the show one is made to wonder why they’d want to be involved with it now. The majority of the episode pokes some serious fun lifeless, Entourage-style “fun” at the entertainment industry at large and more specifically the film industry. But things start with a comic book referencing geek fest, because – once again – actual satire would be too much to ask. The first act, in fact, is the strongest portion of the episode and if it could be graded alone it would likely be very close to a ten is nothing more that a citation of a bunch of different comic book titles without a hint of comedy or humor.

It starts with Bart and Milhouse taunting Comic Book Guy on his home turf and discovering his secret comic book “Everyman., because Zombie Simpsons isn’t above jacking an idea from an eight year old episode of Family Guy, ignoring what it’s about, and then using it anyway. We’re taken inside the pages of “Everyman” and learn that this mild mannered citizen has the ability to absorb the powers of every superhero whose comic book he touches. Thankfully Unfortunately, the episode plays on this set up with actual superheroes and not some generic ones satirical, possibly even funny, ones created for the show. This gives the means that there are no jokes, just an added winks to fans of the genre. When Comic Book Guy learns that Bart and Milhouse really liked the comic, he decides to self-publish and the character becomes a hit. The episode really uses this situation to great comedic effect kill a lot of screen time. In place of actual comedy or humor There there are a number of comic book, sci-fi and general geek references, from jokes about superhero products (look for a blind man couldn’t miss the Hulk hands) to summer franchise blockbusters. There are attempted sight gags galore, which I don’t want to give away few of which are actually funny, so keep your eyes peeled and your TiVo remotes at the ready and fast forward as much as you like. One in particular to watch for is the The giant movie posters outside of Ginormous Studios can be easily skipped.

The success of the comic leads to a movie deal, and through an interesting a typically brainless course of events, Homer is chosen for the role of Everyman. From here, the episode falters a bit continues to meander aimlessly as the focus shifts from the geek world to Homer’s struggle to get into and stay in shape for the hero role. Writer Rogen also guest voices Homer’s Hollywood trainer. This portion of the episode is clearly inspired by Rogen’s personal experience as he has shaped up to star in the latest version of The Green Hornet, if you care, which I don’t. Unfortunately, these are the weaker moments of the episode are on par with the rest of it. This is likely due to the fact that we’ve seen Homer struggle with his weight countless times, and Rogen’s trainer, though funny much of the time, will likely never be remembered as a classic guest role is a one dimensional Hollywood in-joke that no one east of Pasadena cares about. But they They are still unable to find a few new angles with the weight jokes, so it’s not a complete loss.

“Homer the Whopper” starts incredibly strong poorly and then settles in for a familiar, painfully unfunny ride. Some Most of the ideas might are not exactly be new (certainly we’ve seen our share of comic book jokes and movie star aping in episodes like “Radioactive Man” and “Beyond Blunderdome“), but Goldberg and Rogen do add freshness a few new duds to the proceedings. This is a fun way to kick off the anniversary season, too bad it happened at all.

25
Jun
09

Synergy Tips Its Hand

Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssss Song2

IGN: Comedically Illiterate

Our old friends at IGN are filling the summer months with content the same way we are: by talking about old episodes.  So far I’ve ignored these, I don’t need anyone to tell me that Marge vs. the Monorail is awesome, nor do I have much use for a review that docks a point from “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” because people don’t praise it often enough.  It’s all drivel; though if they ever get around to positively reviewing some piece of shit from a later season I’ll probably be forced to weigh in with a flurry of pointless but cathartic ranting.

All that said, there is an element of this week’s review of “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” that is worth pointing out.  I bring it up because it displays the shallow and sloppy thinking that goes into much of IGN’s Simpsons fellatio:

This was also the 100th episode of the series. Goodness, that sounds like such a small number now.

As 100th episodes go, “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” seems a little out of place. Instead of getting an episode celebrating the series and its namesake family, we have an episode focusing on one of the many minor characters. It’s true that Skinner is a hilarious character, and this episode is quite funny, but wouldn’t a Bart-centric or Homer-centric episode make more sense to celebrate 100 episodes?

He’s less interested in the content and humor of the episode than he is in a mindless salute to longevity.  “Oh sure,” he’s saying, “The episode was great, but shouldn’t it have been more self congratulatory?”  This is a byproduct of the fanboy style thinking that leads people to praise Zombie Simpsons.  It essentially amounts to saying that The Simpsons is good because it’s The Simpsons instead of The Simpsons is good because it’s, you know, objectively good.

Here’s the final sentence:

Again, “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” wasn’t what you might expect as a celebration of 100 episodes, but it was a smart and funny episode nonetheless.

“Nonetheless”?  Is he actually implying that the episode is worse for not being in love with the smell of its own farts?

Even if we set aside the obvious stupidity of that, the entire mindset is an exercise in missing the joke.  Bart’s blackboard phrase for this episode is, as you can see above, “I will not celebrate meaningless milestones”.  Now that is what The Simpsons was about.  It didn’t go down on itself for reaching 100 episodes, it just did it, made fun of people who thought it was significant, and moved along.

Not only is IGN in thrall to Zombie Simpsons, it doesn’t even understand real Simpsons.

19
May
09

Synergy Aces the Final

“It’s the last day of school, Milhouse.  Try to show some dignity.” – Bart Simpson

After a couple of weeks of poorly feigned enthusiasm and mild, mathematically illiterate criticisms, IGN got back on the horse for the season finale.  This is exactly the kind of mindless raving I expect from wholly owned subsidiaries.

As always, I’ve edited out the synergy.  Enjoy:

May 18, 2009 – “Coming to Homerica” was a great an appropriate way to end season 20 because it was everything The Zombie Simpsons should be is: smart dumb and funny boring. The series has often taken used to be able to take cultural issues and twisted them for their specific brand of mocking, too bad it lacks the imagination to do it properly anymore. In the finale, it was the issue of immigration and border control, strung up in ham fisted “satire”. The episode brought crammed the controversial topic into the world of The Simpsons, making Ogdenville the a foreign country for some reason and turning the remnants of some of our favorite Springfieldians into border patrol agents, for some other reason. And comedy ensued.

The episode had a lot of great things going for it on, but what stood out for me was the way it told this story complete lack of a story. Instead of gGrabbing the immigration/border patrol idea and beating it to death with a half-hour worth of related jokes retardedly obvious references, “Coming to Homerica” took a wider view and told a longer, more complete story didn’t have anything that could be called a narrative. And iIt started with Krusty and his unhealthy Krusty Burgers. To combat his burger being named “the unhealthiest fast food item in the world,” Krusty decided to make a barley burger plot device. The ad campaign for the Mother Nature Burger was great weak sauce, and I loved noticed that Krusty used a stunt eater, when he used to just spit his burgers out.

But the burger’s barley was tainted, for some reason. As Kent Brockman investigated, we discovered that it was Ogdenville barley that had been used, and the industry was shut down in a day for some other reason. With nothing left to live for in their city, the Norwegian-descended Ogdenvillians headed into Springfield, for yet another reason. This was where parallels with the real world started to become clearer face meltingly obvious. The men of Ogdenville worked as day laborers, and the women found work as “illegal” nannies. At first, everyone was happy with the Ogdenvillians taking the jobs that Springfielders didn’t want, but that all changed as the influx of people creaky patch job of a plot started to interfere with Springfield health care, and even worse, the alcohol being served at Moe’s mercifully roll towards its moralizing and unsurprising conclusion.

A town meeting was held and it was decided to ban immigrants and close the border, which has never happened before. When it became clear that Wiggum, Lou and Eddie — now apparently the only three policemen in Springfield — wouldn’t be able to guard the city line, a civilian border patrol “comedy” conceit was created, made up of the likes of Homer, Cletus, Barney and Gil. The Zombie Simpsons have always had a liberal bent, so it was no surprise that the patrol was shown as being a bunch of gun-toting drunks that called themselves the Star-Spangled Goofballs. This all made me laugh pine for a time when The Simpsons was still clever.

The episode also showed that Clumsily going through the motions, the Goofballs failed miserably. It was then decided to build a fence because not enough screen time had been eaten by the vigilante thing. Marge was against this idea until she heard Maggie speaking in Ogdenvillese and, completely out of character, changed her tune: “Make it as tall as the sky and deeper than hell!” But tThe wrap up of the story was a bit of a letdown exactly as formulaic as the rest of it had been. I liked that tThey hired the day-laboring Ogdenvillians to help build the wall, but thought it was a bit predictable that and, right on schedule, the two sides would find found similarities and start to miss each other made up the way only people on bad television shows do. I was especially disappointed not at all surprised with the “dance party” happy ending which is starting to feel like a Zombie Simpsons go-to choice when they can’t think of anything better.

Shaky ending aside included, the story unfolded well predictably and the episode was full of funny bits what we’ve come to expect from the brain dead corpse of this once great show. The Krusty home pregnancy test, “The Drowningest Catch,” everything closing down in Ogdenville except for the “closed signs” store — all quick and funny the whole thing consisted of little more than throwaway gags, most of which sucked and were haphazardly jammed together. Others standouts included Homer’s fear of xylophones (“It’s the music you hear when skeletons are dancing.”) and Homer’s lifeless exchange with Cletus when trying to come up with a name for the patrol. Homer: “Our group needs a name that evokes America’s proud history of citizens rising up to defend our way of life.” Cletus: “The Klan?” Homer: “Well, there are no bad ideas, but let’s keep trying.” Cletus: “The Nazis?” Homer: “Okay, you stop trying.” Funny Boring, smart dumb and, well, funny Godwin’s Law, c’mon Zombie Simpsons, message board posters know better than that. “Coming to Homerica” was a great a fitting way to end a generally positive wretchedly awful season.

12
May
09

Synergy Flunks Math

Bart the Murderer2

The IGN review for this week’s four part Zombie Simpsons clusterfuck is the first one they’ve put up since I’ve been doing these synergy posts that isn’t a rave.  To be sure, it’s pretty gentle criticism, but it’s not a glowing review and that’s a first.  What puzzles me, however, is the fact that the episode still garners a rating of 6.2.  6.2!  When the review considers only one of four segments to be good, shouldn’t that be more like a 2.5, or, if you’re rounding up, a 3?  What, precisely, is the point of having a scale go from 1-10 if even things you really don’t like score a six or higher?

Anyway, this week’s review needed considerably less editing than usual, but I still found plenty of synergy.  Enjoy:

May 11, 2009 – Aside from the annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode and that disjointed piece of shit “Gone Maggie Gone,” season 20 hadn’t had another anthology episode until this week. “Four Great Women and a Manicuretold had four stories parts, all involving historical female cultural mainstays, all spurred by Marge taking Lisa for her first manicure. And as is often the case with these types of episodes, the segments were hit and miss. One was a clear standout slightly less bad, while the others couldn’t find enough anything resembling good jokes in their subject matter.

The first segment, giving a Zombie Simpsons-style retelling of key moments from the life of Queen Elizabeth, was very weak. Maybe it was Selma as Elizabeth, maybe it was Hank Azaria’s go-to effeminate Spanish-accent “gay” voice, or maybe it was the rushed pacing. Whatever the reason, the story never found its footing and the jokes were few. Some small bits worked, like Lenny and his tiny Spanish Armada, but more over the What jokes there were fell flat. Queen Selma’s “how dare you make out… while I make out not” made me cringe. Worse was Homer and Moe’s “Spanish armada?” exchange: “Armada? What’s armada?” “Nothing. What’s armada with you?” Sure, they mocked the lameness of the bit, but if you know it’s lame, why use the bit?  [Editor’s note: The answer to your question is: because this is Zombie Simpsons.  Try not to imagine how lame the stuff they left out was.]

The second segment was the best of the episode least stupid by a very large margin. This was Lisa’s retelling of Snow White, complete with appropriate changes to pretend to avoid being sued by the Disney Corporation. This story had a different set of seven dwarves, like Crabby, Drunky, Lenny and Doc… tor Hibbert, which isn’t nearly as funny as the Seven Duffs. I think the dwarves were a key part of this segment’s success lack of total failure, because it’s always funny to see our favorite familiar characters effectively put into other familiar roles. Really, this segment had everything you could want from the beginnings of a Snow White spoof, but neither the brains nor the time to make it work. The “Ho-Hi-Ho-Hi” song was hilarious decent, both in the segment and the extension at the end of the episode: “This song’s not like any song you know, ho-hi, ho-hi, ho-hi.” Lisa had started telling the story as a warning to having a “dangerous obsession with female beauty,” and ended the story further pushing her feminist agenda: “Snow White… waited for her prince to come, but he never did. Snow White was brought back to life by a lady doctor.” as quickly as possible with direct, jokeless narration. This was such a fun and funny segment that If you put a gun to my head I would have much rather seen it expanded to an entire episode than watch the other three stories, but that isn’t saying much.

But since that couldn’t happen, there had to be two more. Macbeth was the subject thinly used template off for segment three. The Scottish play has been spoofed by the series in various forms before, but “Four Great Women and a Manicure” put yet another spin on it. Instead of Lady Macbeth scheming to take over the throne, she’s scheming to take over the lead role in the play Macbeth. It was a mildly clever idea, but as usual it wasn’t enough was implemented horribly. A series of murders and some fun theater references followed, (“Why do they write a new review of this play every single day?”) but nothing elevated the segment beyond that lone smart twist.

The fourth segment was something new for the series. Three has been the standard number of stories for all of the previous 19 seasons, and the series joked about mentioned this with Marge stating, “That’s it, three stories. That’s what we always tell.” But with the new format that kicked in midway through the season, there was time need for a fourth. This segment turned crammed Maggie into the architect protagonist in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, using building blocks instead of, you know, buildings. This was another weak segment. A string of scenes showing a man creatively knocking down Maggie’s structures does not translate into big laughs. The segment’s only memorable, and not in a good way, moment was hearing Jodie Foster (Nell) join Elizabeth Taylor (The Flintstones) as a voice for Maggie Simpson. Beyond that, there is little to add.

Four stories instead of three, but there was really only one worth watching that wasn’t complete garbage and even it was still Zombie Simpsons.

05
May
09

Synergy Fakes an Orgasm

“Hey everybody, I’m gonna haul ass to Lollapalooza!” – Abe “Grandpa” Simpson

This week’s IGN Zombie Simpsons fellatio is an exercise in sloppily faked enthusiasm.  Lisa’s teacher is Miss Hoover, not Mrs. Hoover (part of the fun of Ms. Hoover is that she very much wants to be Mrs. Somebody and isn’t).  Then there’s “science water”, which very pointedly isn’t capitalized in the episode but is in the review.  There are also a couple of basic editing errors.  If you’re going to pretend to enjoy something you’ve got to pay attention to the details or else your paramour/meal ticket might become suspicious.  

Anyway, here’s the edited, synergy-less review.  Enjoy:

May 4, 2009 – “Waverly Hills, 9021-D’oh” was a fantastic episode example of just how far The Simpsons has fallen and was quite possibly my favorite of the season. It followed the family, with the exception of Maggie who was conveniently absent, as they tried to work the system to get Bart and Lisa enrolled at a more prestigious elementary school and it did so with hilarious references its usual lumbering, expositive style and smart storytelling half-baked nonsensical twists. And it was funny boring. Very, very funny boring.

After Marge became over-hydrated sampling Science Water the opening conceit, she snuck into Springfield Elementary to use their lavatories. She discovered cartoonishly terrible conditions, overcrowded classrooms and teachers that just don’t care, all of which have existed for a long time but which must now be painstakingly spelled out for the audience. Marge watched as Mrs. Ms. Hoover reached tenure and proceeded to let Ralph teach the class have a small cameo: “Class, in what year was one plus one? The answer is, the Amazing Ralph.” She took her complaints to Principal Skinner, but was simply met with a stocked wet bar hackneyed gag that’s been done better in several earlier episodes.

The idea of getting the kids into school in Waverly Hills Plot Necessary Suburb soon took hold. There was no a forced comparison between the two schools. Waverly Hills had an auditorium and a gym that are in separate rooms, which we’ve seen at Skinner’s school many times! Whereas Springfield Elementary combined math and gym to create “dodge book.” To beat the system, Marge suggested they rent a cheap apartment in Waverly Hills Plot Necessary Suburb to gain residency and then send the kids to school there. With this basic set up, the episode was free to cover what often results in the best episodes two tracks of tepid zaniness: the kids dealing with school, and Homer trying to pull off a scheme. Bart and Lisa have often been thrown into new school-related situations, though rarely do they have this little to actually do with school, whether it’s both being sent to the same grade (“Bart vs. Lisa vs. 3rd Grade“), adventurous field trips (multiple episodes) or Lisa posing as a college student (“Little Girl in the Big Ten“). The episode didn’t waste much time establishing the situation ramping up the wackiness. Bart sealed his reputation in a hilarious bit with Chief Wiggum “arresting him” in return for Bart going to Ralph’s birthday party. The fact the that Wiggum was trying to make the same deal with Fat Tony and his cronies made the bit all the better take even longer. Bart then made Lisa cool in the most hacktacular way possible by telling the Waverly Hills Plot Necessary Suburb elite that she was best friends with Alaska Nebraska, the well-named Hannah Montana parody who showed up for one scene to monologue a while.

It all played out exactly as one might expects from formulaic television, but with a level of funny that has become all too common rare in these latter double-digit seasons: little to none. The school storyline bits involved time wasting set pieces such as Chalmers and Skinner conversing like a married couple, Milhouse stuck playing hide-and-seek for three weeks, Ellen Page (Juno) voicing the cynical Alaska Nebraska (“Could you tell I lip-synched that whole speech?”) and the Caitlin trio delivering some of my favorite lines from the episode lines which, like last week, were funnier in ‘Mean Girls’: “Those are last year’s shoes! Kill her!” “Also, it’s Lisa.” “Kill her twice!”

Equally as good time consuming was the storyline about Homer and Marge establishing residency. Homer’s tour of apartments with Cookie Kwan was a lot of fun ate some clock: “I can’t afford this place, it’s way too fancy. Sometimes there’s not a train going by.” The best part most mechanically plugged in pop culture reference was having the residency inspector be the coin-flipping Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men. (Homer: “Heads! I mean, tails! I mean, on it’s side!”) His use of the air gun to validate Homer’s parking was hysterical conformed exactly to type. This storyline had a great twist meandering middle to it, as Homer needed to live in the apartment in preparation for a random inspection. The story conceit then basically became about Homer role playing life as a college bachelor, down to pretending to meet Marge for the first time at a party: “How about you, me and my wife have a two-way?”

This brilliantly predictably turned into Marge taking over Homer’s life and apartment, as new girlfriends often do on television. When the kids were ready to return to the status quo finished getting chased around Plot Necessary Suburb, Homer and Marge decided it was time they had their home in the suburbs wrapped things up. Overall, “Waverly Hills, 9021-D’oh” was a smart tedious, funny formulaic episode that not only continued the trend of great dimwitted post-HD-switch episodes, but also outshined them all could’ve spewed from the Powerbook of the laziest Hollywood hack.

28
Apr
09

Synergy Outdoes Itself

“It’s times like this that I’m thankful Dad has little to no interest in almost everything I do.” – Lisa Simpson

Compared with the Fox Network, IGN is a tiny dingleberry on Rupert Murdoch’s ass, so I expect some sycophancy.  But this week’s IGN Simpsons review is truly a stunner.  Not only does it ignore the B plot completely (again), but it uses the word “wretchedly” in reference to something other than the show.  Bravo.  

As per usual, I’ve edited the synergy right out of it.  Enjoy:

April 27, 2009 – It’s surprising that The Simpsons has never used the title “Father Knows Worst” before this, after all, they’ve been doing episodes like this for a long time. Homer is not known for his competent parenting, and but this episode seems like a very easy pun didn’t involve ‘parenting’ so much as it did ‘wacky shenanigans’. But no. It’s taken 20 seasons to come across an episode where “Father Knows Worst” would fit. And it’s funny, because in this episode, Homer was actually making things better… to a point.

The path taken in the opening minutes to reach the main plot were delightfully odd and very funny was, sadly, a preview of the thoughtless pratfalls in store. The “truth in boardwalking law” offered up a number of great mediocre lines that were still better than what was to come as Homer, Bart and Lisa strolled along the Springfield Squidport. “Fried dough! America’s worst legal food! Never leaves your body!” and “Shoot an oversized basketball into an undersized hoop! It’s impossible!” were my favorites undercooked, but not inherently retarded. Also at the Squidport, Then, because being even mildly clever is antithetical to Zombie Simpsons, Homer goes on a kabob binge, which mistakenly stupidly included a fire kabob torch. Bart made things worse kept this going a while longer by offering up lighter fluid instead of water, which led to a tacked on, Mario style, fireball laden ‘action’ sequence. This led to Homer’s taste buds being burned off and replaced by new, highly sensitive taste buds, for some reason.

There was nothing Homer could eat without being wretchedly overwhelmed, until he discovered elementary school cafeteria food, for some other reason. So Springfield Elementary’s cafeteria became Homer’s new hang out, becuase . . . yeah. While there he met some kid named Noah and his mother, a self-described “helicopter parent” who hovers around her child to make sure he does well. Having explained the joke before even trying to use it, the writers had Homer took take to the idea, especially after seeing the Bart was a loser and that Lisa had no friends Bart and Lisa act exactly as they always do, and began interfering with filling the pair’s school lives with wacky antics even the Family Guy Manatees would be ashamed of.

At first, this was working This went immediately to shit. He was able to help Bart decide on a balsa wood project for class by expositing needlessly on some posters, and he was able to make Lisa popular with the snobby girls of her class, because we said so. For Lisa, Homer got the book “Chicks With Cliques” to learn all the latest techniques for getting into a clique. The strategies — Unsults, Envytations, Hate Hugs — were kinda funny when they were in ‘Mean Girls’ five years ago, and altogether too close to reality. Then, to drive home the point that once Zombie Simpsons thinks it has found something funny it will cram it into any situation no matter how inapplicable, Tthe Toledo Takeback sent Moe running away in tears.

Bart, too, was enjoying the positive effects of playing an ineffective straight man to Homer’s meddling. Even after his father accidentally trashed their model of Westminster Abbey for no reason other than time induced plot resolution, Bart nearly won the contest because his most resembled a project completed with no help from the parent.  (I’m Idaho.)  But even with victory close at hand, Bart, completely out of character, had to admit what was happening and ask that all the parents give their children some space, because Zombie Simpsons thought it had been ‘funny’ long enough and felt the need to lecutre us. Lisa, too, though popular, found it too hard to be so shallow wrapped up her plot with a moralizing, humor free monologue. So Homer gave them their space and realized the episode was over and summed up the entire ordeal with this sorrowfully delivered, instantly classic, hilarious line a final piece of comedyless exposition: “I tried to fix the kids’ lives, but instead I led them to rich and rewarding personal decisions of their own.”

Even though I knew it would be bad, I enjoyed “Father Knows Worst” quite a bit managed to disappoint. The main story was entertaining an excuse for weak slapstick and social criticism so tepid I hesitate to use the words, and the random jokes throughout the episode added to the quality. The aforementioned Squidport scene was great did nothing to prepare us for the parade of shit in store. I also loved noticed the randomness clock eating of Groundskeeper Willie sweeping kids into their classrooms, the old comedy writers working in the cafeteria, the reference to Project Runway (“Kenny, he said your show.” “Oh, I watched it once.”) and Homer’s dream at the abbey (“Anne of Cleves?!”). This is Zombie Simpsons at its most vile: when in doubt, fill time with pointless digressions, preferably ones that make no sense and aren’t funny.  All in all, it’s tough to way too easy to complain when the story is solid obvious and self-serving and the jokes are funny repetitive and stupid.

21
Apr
09

Synergy Admits Past Relationships

barts-girlfriend2

“Must . . . fight . . . Satan, make it . . . up to him . . . later.” – Bart Simpson

When even your own corporate internet shill has to mention no fewer than five previous episodes in reviewing your latest installment, it might be time to re-evaluate things.  And he went easy, I added a sixth amongst my usual corrections for accuracy and honesty.

Enjoy.

April 20, 2009 – A lot of the basic ideas found in “The Good, the Sad and the Drugly” have been mined before done better in previous episodes of The Simpsons. This can happen with a show that’s been on the air this long about twice as long as it should have been. Heck, it can happen to programs that have been on the air for half that time that’s about when it started repeating itself in the first place. And while we may have seen rifts develop between Bart and Milhouse before, and even seen one of the other Simpson kids on mind-altering drugs, “The Good, the Sad and the Drugly” didn’t recycle the same old jokes, so there were still some fresh laughs to be had which is too bad because that would have been an improvement.

The Bart/Milhouse storyline was plotted very well got bogged down as soon as Milhouse started showing up and saying creepy things over and over again. The pair pranked Springfield Elementary by unscrewing every screw, an idea whose physical impossibility serves only to highlight its lack of imagination. After Milhouse was caught, Principal Skinner, acting for some reason as though he has no idea that Milhouse is friends with Bart, threatened to suspend him if he didn’t give up the name of his accomplice. Ever the true friend In order to advance the plot, Milhouse took the fall and Bart promised to visit him at home every day. Of course, when Bart fell for fifth grade girl Jenny, in the fastest grade school courtship ever, Milhouse was forgotten.

We’ve seen the basics of this plot in episodes like “The Bart Wants What It Wants,” where both Bart and Milhouse dated Rainier Wolfcastle’s daughter Greta, too bad it stunk then and it stinks now. We’ve also seen things come between the pair other than people, like in “Three Men and a Comic Book” (comic book) and “Radioactive Man” (movie role), of course those comparisons are unfair because those stories made sense and were, you know, funny. This time, it is once again a woman… well, a girl., well really it was a women voicing a girl, but why split hairs? Do-gooder Jenny was voiced by Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married, Get Smart) and the actress did a fine job read her lines competently even though none of them required even a shred of acting, timing or delivery. There was nothing extreme remotely funny in the part that she was called upon to perform, so in essence Jenny could have been performed by anybody.

While Bart was wooing Jenny, he instantly became a kinder person freakishly romantically confident 10-year old. Again, tThis was similar but importantly different from something we’ve seen before in “Bart’s Girlfriend,” where he tried pretended to be a good person for Reverend Lovejoy’s daughter, only to drop the charade when he couldn’t take it any more and find found out she liked bad boys. In Sunday night’s episode, Bart went good and stayed good for Jenny, which makes less sense and is a hell of a lot less funny. Things only went south degenerated completely when Milhouse confronted Bart about breaking his promise to visit him every day. This led to Milhouse making every effort repeatedly threatening to show Jenny the real Bart Simpson, which took up a lot more screen time than having him only do it once would have.

Meanwhile, thrown into the midst of this episode, Lisa was again having a breakdown over her perceived vision of our devastating future. Her therapist called it “environment related despair” and prescribed her “Ignorital Repressitol.” This “B” story was a lot like Bart’s time on “Focusyn,” only in a smaller dosage without even its shreds of cleverness. But even with the familiarity, hHaving Lisa’s depressing images covered with smiley faces was quite entertaining, was almost amusing the first time and tedious and repetitive the other forty seven. One of the best moments least plausible came when Maggie wielded a fan in front of Lisa and then in front of a drugged out Santa’s Little Helper for some reason.

Such was the case with the rest of the episode. There was a lot that seemed (and was) familiar implausible and repetitive, but it didn’t take away from the fun in “The Good, the Sad and the Drugly.”, as there was none to begin with. Throughout the episode, there were some hilarious bits juxtaposing straining horribly to relate kid life with adult relationships. The best most out of character was when Nelson was giving Bart advice on flirting with Jenny, which included pulling sticks of gum from his wallet (to stick in her hair) as if they were condoms: “I always come prepared. Take two. You might get lucky.” Ralph‘s had a hilarious take on what Springfield would be like in 50 years: “The vacuum cleaner will be quiet and not scary.” was maybe the only thing that merited a chuckle. And, really, Many times Milhouse gets got angry it’s funny, and no matter the cause situation it just seemed forced. This episode will never be considered a classic watchable by anyone, but it was still a fun half hour. To me, it felt like “The Good, the Sad and the Drugly” was using the classic episodes as an inspiration, when and not simply ripping them off would have been better.

09
Apr
09

Oh look, they weren’t lying

stamps4
“I’d be mortified if someone ever made a lousy product with the ‘Simpson’ name on it.” – Lisa Simpson

Lo and behold!  The United States Postal Service and Fox have unveiled the stamps they hinted at not one week ago, featuring oddly stylized artwork of America’s favorite funny family.  You’re encouraged to voteearly and often” for your favorite stamp online, though curiously “none of the above” is not an option.  Oh well.  These sticky little fuckers and related ephemera go on sale May 7th.  We won’t be buying any, because we can’t condone anything related to celebrating 20 years of the show when Zombie Simpsons is still on the air.  That and we hate mail.

07
Apr
09

Synergy Has a Glaring Omission

“I was just thinking about Homer Simpson.” – Not Shelley Long
“That’s okay, I was just thinking about Sybil Danning.” – Moe
One has to admire IGN’s synergistically hacktacular efforts to glowingly review Zombie Simpsons.  Faced with such a daunting task as trying to put a positive spin on Maggie’s bizarre subplot, they elected to simply ignore it altogether.  The word “Maggie” doesn’t appear once and there isn’t a single reference to her big part in the episode.  Can’t say something nice?  Don’t say anything at all.  That is top notch synergy.
Happily for us, they did delve, deeply, into the even more brain rotting main “plot”.  Enjoy:
April 6, 2009In order to produce the contractually obligated number of episodes, Tthere are always a few episodes (or more) every season dedicated to one of the Simpsons Zombie Simpsons side characters. This week, it was the shattered remnants of Moe. And as is often the case when Moe is at the center of the episode, the focus was romance pointlessly saccharine failure. Moe has never been the classiest of people, and, on network television at least, that usually turns the women away. Or rather, he can usually pull it together act way out of character for a little while, but eventually blow it in the end because the writers will probably want to do this at least three more times. And that’s exactly what happened in the bittersweet repetitive and funny boringEeny Teeny Maya Moe.”

Early in the episode, Moe excitedly tidied up his bar while retelling the story of how he had come to know Maya, an unimaginative female plot device. Fittingly, Moe had been wooing her via the Internet connection at the Springfield Public Library. Loved seeing that Gil was also there. The Internet love connection had a few enjoyable bits tried to make fun of things that were cutting edge five years ago and failed at even that modest task, including Moe asking if Maya was just some creepy guy at a public library, and then Maya asking the same question back. Moe’s tragically true response: “Actually, there is a much creepier guy right next to me.” (The guy was Crazy Cat Lady, making an appearance to eat some clock and cause Moe a little pain.) There was also an entertaining tedious, exposition filled bit involving the risk of opening Maya’s jpeg, and then Moe prepping his own.

When the two finally decided to meet, Moe was surprised to find Maya was a little person, which made no sense but was necessary to provide a pre-commercial cliffhanger. (“Oh, you’re a little person. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. What’s the correct term?” “Little person.” “Whoa! Look at me being polite.”) I really enjoyed despised these initial few moments because they setup a plodding, predictable and utterly unbelievable morality tale. When Moe remarked that the picture of her standing in front of a building made her look “more life-size,” Maya revealed it was taken at LEGO Land. I also loved quickly tired of the few bits where Moe would say something that seemed wildly inappropriate, only to find out they were innocent true statements. The best One of these was when they were ready to go to their dinner date and Moe said he’d get the car seat. This was not a dig at Maya’s size. Moe actually did need to get the passenger seat to his car, which he had removed for better mileage some reason.

The relationship was going well exactly to formula. As only Moe a comedy writer could put it, “It’s like my heart wants to do her.” The biggest contrived obstacle for Moe was going to be introducing Maya to his judgmental friends. Their mentality newfound cruelty was displayed when Lenny, Carl and Barney made fun of Homer for not remembering limericks. This gave us my favorite random the most egregious out of character line from the episode, when Lenny explained, “It’s A, A, B, B, A, dumb ass!”

As the relationship progressed dragged on, Moe was making more and more slip-ups. One of the funniest dumbest was when Moe initially thought Maya lived in a tree. He then made up This allowed the script to include the excuse that lots of people live in trees: “Tarzan, the Berenstain Bears, flood victims.” But things only got worse when Moe reached the point of completed his transparent character arc by proposing to Maya. Maya quipped, “Are you asking me to be your little woman?” and then Moe tore off with a long rant of series of gentle, safe for network TV little people jokes. It became not funny to Maya and the relationship was ended because her purpose in this episode had been served. This seemed understandable enough, but I wish Moe’s jokes had been a bit more mean to truly make an effect funny in the least. After all, Maya was making the jokes first, so I felt Moe’s jokes should have had a bit more bite this show used to be a comedy.

Still, after a failed time killing attempt to shorten himself through surgery with Dr. Nick, and one last encounter with a hurt Maya, Moe was able to find the positive in his situation through the knowing wisdom of Homer J. Simpson, the svengali of Zombie Simpsons. Trying to make his favorite bartender feel better, Zombie Homer said lectured, “Sometime when you least expect it, you’ll realize that someone loved you, and that means someone can love you again. And that’ll make you smile.” A simple corny and un-Homer sentiment, but it lifted Moe’s spirits, so this piece of shit could finally end. Moe added, “Who’da thought such a little woman could make me feel so big?” It was a sweet an appropriately dimwitted way to end this enjoyable episode embarrassingly clichéd tripe.

02
Apr
09

Simpsons stamps to make life worthwhile


“The airplane’s upside down.” – Homer Simpson

Downtrodden philatelists rejoice – the United States Postal Service has heard your desperate, needy pleas and in an act of noblesse oblige, will finally loose a series of Simpsons-themed stamps for public comsumption. In conjunction with the Fox marketing machine, these stamps are obviously intended to be another salvo in what is sure to be a clusterfuck of a Simpsons 20th anniversary media onslaught later this year.

The 44-cent first class stamps will be previewed on April 9th; no word yet as to when they’ll be released into nerds’ greedy, greasy mitts. If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll even get an episode where the stamps are featured in some dreadful cross-promotional plot. Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

Via Reuters.

31
Mar
09

Grammatically Incoherent Synergy

“I didn’t want a hokey second wedding like those ones on TV.  This one is for real.” – Homer Simpson
I highly recommend clicking over to IGN for this week’s edition of Network Synergy and You.  Not so much for the “review” itself, as it has been significantly improved below, but for the instantly recognizable image of Marge, which has been labeled with a caption that reads (and I am not making this up): “This is the character Marge Simpson from the animated television series The Simpsons.”  Well, holy shit, I would not have been able to figure that one out for myself.  
Enjoy:

March 30, 2009 – “Wedding for Disaster” was one of those episodes that, while not knocking you down with laughter clever or entertaining, was quite fun easy to watch mock. It had a number of common Simpsons stories (religion, romance, movie parodies references, the rotting comedy carcass of Sideshow Bob) all stuck together into one bloated episode. I think that’s why I enjoyed wasn’t the least bit surprised by it. Once you thought you were settling into one story, the episode ran out of ideas, took a turn and started to take you in another direction. It was an episode that had me smiling shaking my head for 30 full minutes, if not always laughing out loud.

Things began with the show having trying to have a little fun with religion, as it has once had a reputation to do. Reverend Lovejoy explained that there were really only two commandments and that the rest are just filler, which would be funny if George Carlin hadn’t done exactly that eight years ago. Makes sense to me. The good reverend also announced that the Parson an inoffensive, made up religious figure would be visiting Springfield. Apparently, the Parson is a bit like the Pope in the “Presbyluthern” religion, which the writers probably took eight hours creating after rejecting Baptomethodism. I loved how Real Simpsons was always non-specific this episode was about what religion is actually practiced at Lovejoy’s church, because it’s funnier that way. Lenny’s excitement over “the earthly embodiment of the elected chair of the national congress of deacons” was my favorite line from this portion of the episode did not in any way sound forced coming from a guy who is supposed to be a blue collar drone.

The Parson’s visit was to let Lovejoy know that, for a time, he was uncertified to perform church related acts for some reason. This meant that anything he officiated during that time period simply didn’t count because . . . duh. There was a montage of scenes with Lovejoy breaking this news to people, and the best most time consuming was Cletus thinking the mailman was a ghost who has been haunting his shack. I also felt Homer greeting Lovejoy as the pizza deliveryman was ridiculously sublime a typically pointless Homer monologue. 

Another highlight of this episode was how the series handle to main plot(?).  [Editor’s Note: Unpossible!] Lovejoy had officiated Homer and Marge’s second marriage in season eight’s “A Milhouse Divided.” Marge recalled this event in another clock eating gimmick as she looked through her scrapbook because most of the remaining viewers of this show were in diapers at the time. I’m so happy this happened, because All too often the series Zombie Simpsons will go on with a plot that could and should, in some way, reference was more or less lifted directly from something that has occurred earlier in the series’ run. All too often, The writers have either forgotten about these events, or they simply didn’t bother to fit in an explanation or acknowledgment of any kind in. “Wedding for Disaster” made great use of the previous episode and, like a fourth-rate sequel, smartly used it to move tether this episode’s gimmick of a story forward to characters the audience once cared about.

With their previous second marriage null and void, Homer wanted to give Marge the big, romantic wedding she never had got back in Season 8. As Homer put it, we wanted this wedding to be, like the one we had twelve years agounlike our children, planned in advance.” This portion of the episode was the least enjoyable indistinguishably bad from the others. Marge became a bridezilla during the planning process, for some reason. This didn’t work for me. Marge has been known to get frazzled now and again, but and the meanness didn’t suit her here, but this is Zombie Simpsons we’re talking about so nothing should come as a surprise. When Homer didn’t come out for the ceremony, Marge thought it was because of how she acted, because “bridezillas” are notorious for instantly blaming themselves. Instead, the episode took another turn and gave us a mini Saw parody re-enactment. The hot sauce lollipop was great made me want wings. And then the episode this piece of shit threw us for another loop when Sideshow Bob arrived as a suspect in Homer’s kidnapping showed up to help kill some more time. The Bob scene was fun a waste, but again, nothing that exactly bowled me over. what isn’t on this show these days?

Ultimately, it was revealed decided that Patty and Selma were behind ruining the wedding, because the writers once again painted themselves into a corner. This fit and was also fun. And it was also sweet contrived, out of character bullshit to have Homer’s recitation of his vows be the turning point for his sisters-in-law. Again, this wasn’t a howlingly funny awful episode, but there were some great individual parts that were even worse, and overall “Wedding for Disaster” was a pleasant enough telling of Marge and Homer’s third and fourth weddings reminder of why genuinely creative television shows don’t need to recycle plots.

17
Mar
09

Synergy: May I Get Out from Under Your Desk Now?

“A solar eclipse, the cosmic ballet goes on.” – Leonard Nimoy

Editing this review so that it no longer reeks of Fox Executive ball sweat and dick smell was far more fun than the episode itself.  I even remembered things I’d blocked out, like the solar powered train that stopped in an eclipse.  Where the hell have I seen that before?  Ah well, I’m sure it’ll come to me.  Enjoy:

March 16, 2009 – The story can often make all the difference in an episode of The Simpsons. Watching Principal Skinner lead the riffraff students out of the inner city two episodes ago was fun and funny to watch painfully stupid partly because the story made no damn sense. Having Ned buy the Simpson home to become their landlord was a bit less inspired last week equally retarded, and I enjoyed that episode less hope I forget both of them soon. So it’s no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed despisedGone, Maggie, Gone,” with its bent dimwitted take on a Da Vinci Code-like mystery. It was funny boring, clever simple minded and a downright enjoyable soul crushing viewing experience.

The solar eclipse that began the episode may at first have seemed like the often unrelated opening bit that would move us onto the actual story, but here it played a major role there was no actual story. It was the key event that would set off a hunt for the Gem of St. Theresa series of random sight gags. But first, there was some fun to be had screen time to kill. One of the most least entertaining parts of this episode for me was seeing Ed Begley driving his solar powered car, which lost power on the train tracks. And then the bit really paid off kept going longer than it should with the train also losing power because it was an “Ed Begley Solar Powered Train.” If that wasn’t funny hackneyed enough, I laughed out loud shrugged with indifference when I saw Ed Begley was a guest voice in this episode without saying a word. He simply gasped and sighed in his short but and ineffective sequence. (Editor’s Note: Begley is a third rate celebrity at best, it isn’t like doing a miniscule guest voice on a show as mediocre as Zombie Simpsons is some big step down the fame ladder for him.)

Marge’s blindness from looking at the eclipse set up a few great bits made no sense and wasn’t funny but was played for dumb laughs anyway, including Dr. Hibbert showing the clip explaining Tex Avery Syndrome. There were also the numerous and unnecessary attempts to trick Marge into thinking Maggie and Lisa were still around. Homer’s Maggie hand puppet was great awful even by the standards of Zombie Simpsons. Of course, losing Maggie was the contrived reason for all of this, and this happened during Homer’s hilarious send-up time killing duplication of the classic fox/duck/corn across a river riddle. Better yet Eating even more time was the puzzle puzzling itself out with Cletus and a very full fox. When Homer left Maggie at a convent’s steps, the really shitty parts puzzle of the episode began.

Lisa infiltrated the nuns to try and get Maggie back, but uncovered a far greater mystery way to fill the contractually obligated amount of air time. I really enjoy cannot fucking stand the adventure thinly thought through stories likes this that The Zombie Simpsons have given us in the past. My favorite One of the worst is “Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in ‘The Curse of the Flying Hellfish Simpson Safari” but “Gone, Maggie, Gone” has shot up the list. The riddles plot contrivances were fun awful and the story was entertaining and funny equally terrible. The never-ending Rube Goldberg contraption opening up a secret panel in the church was a great lazy start. It was also a smart necessary choice to get more of the townsfolk involved in the mystery rather than simply following Lisa from clue to clue, because that will only take up so much time. Principal Skinner and Comic Book Guy were an unlikely pair there, and that added to the comedy. It was also perfect weak story telling to have Mr. Burns show up as a third faction searching for the gem to help move along the un-resolvable mess the writers got themselves into. The ending was sweet batshit fucking crazy, with Maggie removing Marge’s bandages, and I even enjoyed the hellish results of Bart taking Maggie’s place on the throne made even less sense.

As entertaining horrifyingly brain melting as the story was, it would not have made a difference if it weren’t just as equally horrifyingly unfunny. Marge had a great line after her family kept her blind period fully stress-free: “Everyday Every day has been like the first ten minutes of Mother’s Day.” I laughed scratched my head and looked at the clock throughout the retelling of the legend of St. Theresa, which included pirate nuns and a fake war for independence. Mr. Burns referring to Smithers as his albino was another hilarious bit rote plot point plugged in from The Da Vinci Code. (“I’m not an albino. I just use a lot of sun block.” “Then why do I give all the albino holidays off, hmm?”) Overall, it was the combination of a fully engaging idiotic story and great a complete lack of laughs that made “Gone, Maggie, Gone” another winner disaster for The Zombie Simpsons in their post-hi-def series run.

03
Mar
09

Mmmmm, That’s Good Synergy

“You looken sharpen todayen mein Herr.” – Mr. Smithers

There isn’t much point in posting a review of a television show that’s already been broadcast, but that didn’t stop the good people over at IGN from sucking up to their superiors.  Their disturbingly obsequious review was written by one Robert Canning.  To give you an idea of where he’s coming from, the only post on his “blog” at IGN is an about statement that has the following two sentences right next to each other:

The Simpsons should never die. (Well, not never, but not for a while)
I’m strangely attracted to Bonnie Hunt.

I don’t think I can add anything to that, but I can rework his review into something with a modicum of dignity and honesty.  Enjoy.  

March 2, 2009 – Some of the best episodes of The Simpsons are focused on events at Springfield Elementary, and “How The Test Was Won” is no a massive, glaring exception. This was a smart dimwitted, very funny tedious half hour that proved you can‘t write off this television stalwart simply because it’s been on the air for 20 years.

In a delightful nod to some other great, historic television programs, this episode’s couch bit traveled through time showing the Simpson clan in some very famous roles while killing a lot of time. It started with The Honeymooners and stopped at The Dick Van Dyke Show (Homer tripped over the ottoman), The Brady Bunch (Lisa got hit in the nose), and at a bar called Cheers. In a very smart and funny an utterly predictable bit that’s been done before, Sideshow Bob walked into the bar. Bob, of course, is voiced by Kelsey Grammer, who sat on those famous bar stools as Dr. Fraser Crane.

But a great time waster couch bit doesn’t always mean a great time waster episode. Thankfully, this week’s outing lived up to the opening, and was equally boring.  Springfield Elementary announced to the student body that they would be participating in the Vice-Presidential Assessment Test. (Nelson: “He stinks!”) Since this test determines the amount of federal funding the school would receive, Superintendent Chalmers concocted a scheme to get rid of the school’s underperformers. At first, I thought noticed this plot seemed too similar is identical to what happened in “Whacking Day,” when Principal Skinner locked the bullies and Bart in the utility basement to have them out of the way during one of Chalmer’s inspections. But “How The Test Was Won” took the idea in a different direction and nothing felt retread or repurposed, made me wish I was watching “Whacking Day” instead. Here, Chalmers got the school bullies, Ralph and Bart on Otto’s bus (disguised as a helicopter, no less for some reason) and then tricked Principal Skinner into getting on board as well, for some other reason.

The rest of the episode followed the adventure of random, pointless events that happen to Skinner and the “superstars” as they were being shipped off to Capital City for the day for yet another unknown reason. This was classic Zombie Simpsons. Some of the most memorable episodes of the series have involved Skinner mismatched with some students in extraordinary genuinely humorous situations (Skinner’s Sense of Snow “Team Homer”, “Separate Vocations” and “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song” to name two three.) Laughs Paroxysms of boredom came from all directions, including Bart’s taunting, Skinner’s horror at realizing their location (“My God! We’re at the corner of Cesar Chavez Way and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard!”) and even from Otto’s ever-present buzz. But the biggest laugh cheapest, most contrived pop culture reference masquerading as a joke came when Ralph needed to stop for a bathroom break. While at the urinal, Ralph sang a long, repetitive portion of The Spice Girls’ “Wannabe.” Then, when Skinner told him to hurry up and finish, Ralph stated, “I finished before we came in.” I’m throwing this scene in as a contender for a top ten Ralph Wiggum moment list of reasons from this episode alone that Zombie Simpsons should’ve gone off the air ten years ago.     

The rest of the episode was equally entertaining bland. Back at the testing, Lisa was drawing a blank. Chalmers had a great line here another contrived pop culture reference masquerading as a joke when he approached the troubled girl: “Like Captain Kirk, I’m not supposed to interfere. But like T.J. Hooker, I say what’s on my mind.” While the test taking was actually a small part of the episode, the anxiety of Chalmers, Lisa and the rest of the kids offered up a good number of chuckles opportunity to go to the bathroom.

Homer’s incoherent slapstick storyline was also very funny boring. In what could have just been the usual style of weak filler, having Homer uninsured until 3:00 p.m. was a smart choice that and loaded the episode with some great visuals time killing garbage. Early on, we were given a montage of Homer getting hurt. Again, this is something the series has done before and it worried me that the episode might just be proved again that it’s just repeating itself. But when Homer ended the overlong montage with, “What a week,” you could tell this was actually going somewhere sadly, the best they can do. The story thing ended at Marge’s book club, where Homer did a hilarious, slow-motion job of keeping everyone safe. Well, except for Mr. Burns. It’s a sequence you have to see to truly enjoy comprehend the vapidity.

The very ending didn’t quite lived up to what preceded it, but at least it tied a few things together. Skinner realized there was more to teaching than testing and he called off the federal exam exposited ad nauseam about it. This freed Lisa from failing the test brought a merciful end to another subplot no one cared about. Tidy Ham fisted, but and not very funny. And I could have done without the Footloose-referencing extended dance scene with Chalmers. But those are minor issues in an episode that had me laughing from the beginning to (almost) the end many major ones.




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