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Sunday Evening Cartoons

“Actually, I was wondering if you were free for a little get together tonight: dinner, dancing, and Mr. Tom Jones.” – C.M. Burns

NOTE: I wrote this last night, but couldn’t post it because I’m in the middle of moving and don’t have internet at home right now. It is awful.

On one of the DVD commentary tracks (can’t remember which episode), Jean (or someone similar) starts talking about the sound effects and how on a cartoon you’re always starting with silence. A live action show has ambient noises, even if it’s just something as anodyne as rustling a newspaper or putting something down on a table. With a cartoon, though, you have to create everything from scratch.

“Marge Gets a Job” is an excellent example of how they did just that. The episode is full of teeny background noises that sometimes augment the spoken jokes and are sometimes jokes of their own. Consider the scene near the end where Burns invites Marge to dinner with Tom Jones. First there’s a wet “squish” as Burns grabs his Scalp Wax, then a rubbery “squeak” as he applies it, then a “squeak-bang” as his freshly waxed head slips through his hand and crashes on his desk. Each one is carefully balanced between the loud exaggerations of Looney Tunes and the softer sounds of a real life performance, and they build together to Burns slapstick head bonk.


Just a few seconds later there’s a similar sequence. First we hear Burns get an authoritative “click” from the button he presses. Then we hear the Bond villain, mechanical whir of the false wall opening to reveal the recently kidnapped Tom Jones. Then we not only see Smithers press the gun into Jones’s back, there’s a quick “crunch” sound as well to let us know that he’s got the gun jammed hard into Jones. Finally, we get another button “click” (this one off screen, and even though we can’t see it, we know what’s being done), another mechanical whir, and the satisfying “thunk” as the door knocks Jones cold.


And those are just two examples. There’s also the slide-crash of Surley Joe’s level, the impersonal clacking of the train doors as Burns’s goons toss Jack Marley on a literal scrap heap at his own retirement party, the skull piercing “LOUD” noise on Krusty’s show, and many more. Some of these are loud, some of them are quiet. Some of them accompany something we see on screen, others audibly describe things off screen. But they’re all tuned perfectly and the episode is that much richer and funnier for it.


Quote of the Day


“What made you yell out that remark? . . . You just wanted to express yourself, yes?” – Brad Goodman
“I do what I feel like.” – Bart Simpson
“That’s marvelous, I couldn’t have put it better myself. I do what I feel like. People, this young man here is the inner child I’ve been talking about.” – Brad Goodman
“What?” – Lisa Simpson

Happy birthday, Albert Brooks!


Quote of the Day

Brush with Greatness14

“You’re so supportive. I wish every teacher was like you!” – Marge Simpson
“Marge, please. I don’t take praise very well!” – Professor Lombardo

Happy birthday, Jon Lovitz!


Quote of the Day

Lisa the Skeptic8

“Well, it appears science has faltered once again in the face of overwhelming religious evidence.” – Rev. Lovejoy
“But-” – Lisa Simpson
“Go home, science girl!” – Moe
“I am home.” – Lisa Simpson
“Good. Stay there.” – Moe

Happy birthday David S/X Cohen!


Monday Evening Cartoons


“Hey, Lisa! Make friends with this!” – Bart Simpson
“Hey! . . . Help! . . . Help!” – Milhouse van Houten

I just finished my traditional Fourth of July watching of “Summer of 4Ft 2”, and I wanted to note just how awful it is when Milhouse gets spat on in that spinning ride. He takes a lot of abuse in this episode (even by his standards), and this might be the worst part. It’s Milhouse at his most Milhouse: caught up in other people’s problems and helpless to do anything but suffer horribly for it.

When the episode cuts back to the outside shot and all we can hear is him screaming “Help!”, it’s a testament to Pamela Hayden’s delivery that it’s both blood curdling and hilarious. He’s in agony, but since he’s Milhouse, there’s nothing he can do but take it. On a lesser show it would be uncomfortable, here it’s so perfectly in character that it can only be funny.


(Sorry about the lack of Reading Digest’s lately. As many of you probably guessed, my stupid real job is once again sucking up all my free time and productivity. Oh, and happy 4th of July!)


Quote of the Day


“I don’t know if I like you experimenting on your brother.” – Marge Simpson
“Please, mother, it’s purely in the interest of science.” – Lisa Simpson
“That’ll learn him to bust my tomater!” – Lisa’s Brain

Happy birthday Yeardley Smith!


Quote of the Day

Two Bad Neighbors15

“It is a candy dish, Ned. Ninety dollars.” – Mrs. Glick
“Well, I guess you could put a lot of nice things in there.” – Ned Flanders
“No! Just candy, Ned! Ninety dollars!” – Mrs. Glick

Happy Birthday, Tress MacNeille!


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