Posts Tagged ‘Another Simpsons Clip Show


Getting Colder

Chalkboard - Elementary School Musical

“It was an unusually warm February 14th, so the children walked home without jackets.” – Lisa Simpson

In all its manic motion – to Europe!, to camp!, to Not Brooklyn! – Zombie Simpsons never stops to develop a character, tell a story or, heaven forbid, make sense from one scene to the next.  To take just one example, Lisa rides her bike to hang out with the Conchords in what she imagines is their cool artist abode.  She’s wearing just her usual red dress.  Once she gets inside, they have her shiver and complain that it’s cold (because they have no heat), but she’s wearing the same thing she had on outside. 

Obviously this is not a huge problem (this episode has many far larger ones), and careless things like it are par for the course for Zombie Simpsons.  But it shows how lightly the people behind the show regard their own work.  No one, writer or animator, thought to put a jacket on Lisa; no one thought that a girl leaving home in the dead of night on a bicycle might be cold, even though her being cold is on the next page of the script. 

In his oral history of The Simpsons, John Ortved recounts a scene in the parking lot of the studio during the early years of the show.  One of the writers, frustrated with an episode that they couldn’t quite get right, actually drop kicked the script and sent the pages flying all over the place.  I’ll bet you anything no one kicked the script for “Elementary School Musical”. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are historically bad.  Even the interior demographics, long the silent strength of the dismal top line numbers, were weak:

The Simpson’s 3.7 adults 18-49 rating was down 14% from last season’s premiere (9/27/09).

Overall, last night’s poorly plotted excuse for cross promotion was endured by a mere 7.76 million viewers.  That’s the lowest rating for a season premier ever.  But wait, it gets better.  The Season 21 premier, “Homer the Whopper” was watched by 8.21 million people, and while that too was an all-time low for a season premier, it was also the fifth highest rated episode of the entire season.  And Season 21 was massively aided by the “20th Anniversary!” and “Live Nude Marge!” things, advantages Season 22 will not have.  If 7.76 million is the best Zombie Simpsons can do with a heavily promoted season premier and all the star power of Glee behind it, Season 22 is going to be embarrassingly terrible, ratings wise. 


Just Nitpicking

Chalkboard - Stealing First Base

“Wait, that did end in heartbreak.  Thanks for opening up old wounds, Mom.” – Bart Simpson

The irrelevant and drawn out couch gag is a good indication of the lack of comedy invention within.  The comedic growth of this show cannot even be charted.  It is treading water in a sea of recycled plots and derivative montages. 

The numbers continue to be awful, with this week’s shit sandwich watched by only 5.69 million people.  That’s not as bad as last week, but it’s still the fourth lowest number ever.  Unfortunately it’s looking more and more likely that Season 21 will eek out above Season 20 in terms of average rating.  Stupid 20th anniversary hype. 


An Unmitigated Crime Against Storytelling

“What happened to Mindy?” – Bart Simpson
“Yes, what did happen to her?” – Marge Simpson
“Enh, she hit the bottle pretty hard and lost her job.” – Homer Simpson
“Hm, good.” – Marge Simpson

I am not a big fan of Season 12’s “Trilogy of Error”.  (In case you’ve blocked it out that’s the one where Lisa invents the robot, Homer gets his thumb cut off and three different stories all unfold at once.)  But I do recognize that it took a lot of skill to weave three stories together like that.  Getting all those little elements to drop into place couldn’t have been easy.  So while I think those things were largely out of place in a Simpsons episode (where suspense and dramatic tension should never be the primary goal) I can at least see that some care went into creating it. 

Then we have this week’s “The Color Yellow”, which incorporates the worst parts of “Trilogy of Error” while not even pretending to care about its story.  Just look at the ending.  Lisa spent the entire episode obsessing over her 1860-self and her efforts to help free a slave, Virgil.  But then 1860-Marge is the one who actually helps Virgil get to freedom wherein she marries him and settles down.  Except that to do so she abandons the kid she already has.  This is awful in at least three ways. 

First of all, she abandons her child.  Regardless of any other considerations it’s tough to have sympathy for a character who walks away from her kid without a second glance.  This is compounded by the fact that the ending is played as sweet and happy. 

Secondly, in terms of continuity within this episode this makes no sense whatsoever.  (Standard disclaimer: I don’t care much about backstory continuity between episodes, but it would be nice if the story within a single episode made just a lick or two of sense.)  So Lisa isn’t actually descended from 1860-Lisa?  And none of them are related in the least to 1860-Homer?  Did the family move away from Springfield and then move back?  Even this wouldn’t be so bad if the episode hadn’t spent all of its time being so relentlessly serious about how important its story was, but it did.  The whole premise here is local family history and then the ending completely undermines that. 

Have You Seen Me? Finally, and most atrociously, in terms of competent storytelling this goes beyond indifference, disregards camp, and sets up shop in the most hacktacular place imaginable.  We spend the bulk of the episode with Lisa see-sawing back and forth over whether or not 1860-Lisa managed to actually help Virgil.  But 1860-Lisa vanishes three quarters of the way through, never to be seen, heard from, or even mentioned again.  Up until the last commercial break she’s the central character of the story and then – poof – she’s gone. 

This is especially damning when you consider how much screen time this episode wasted on useless filler.  The attic scene, the whole diary in the vent thing, the completely unnecessary error messages on Lisa’s laptop when she’s trying to give her presentation, all of those things take time that could’ve been spent giving the story a real ending.  (The computer errors were especially wasteful seeing as how they were just “update” messages with nary a joke to be seen.)  “Trilogy of Error” may have wasted a lot of time doing things that weren’t funny for the sake of its overwrought narrative, but at least it had a narrative.  “The Color Yellow” wasted time on things that weren’t funny just because. 


Quote of the Day

“Marge, I want you to stop seeing this ‘Jacques.’ You can let him down gently, but over the next couple of months I want you to break it off.” – Homer Simpson

“Um, okay Homer.” – Marge Simpson

“Whew, that was a close one kids.” – Homer Simpson


Sunday Preview: Auto-fellatio and Curling Edition


“How many times can you laugh at that cat getting hit by the moon?” – Marge Simpson

“It’s a new episode.” – Bart Simpson

“Not exactly… they pieced it together from old shows, but it seems new to the trusting eyes of impressionable youth.” – Lisa Simpson

Guess what?  We’re only 54 days away from the premier of Season 21 and there’s already news of an episode of Zombie Simpsons that will coincide with next year’s Winter Olympics.  For the uninitiated, the 2010 games will be taking place somewhere in Canada, also known as America Junior (or America’s hat, if you prefer.)  And the subject for this episode?  Why it’s curling, of course!

Let’s trudge through the pertinent “plot” points as reported by the CBC:

  • Marge and Homer are on a mixed-doubles curling team with Skinner and Anges (prepare yourself for more awful Oedipal weirdness)
  • Homer sucks at curling; Marge debates whether or not to dump him to win a medal, or keep him and lose
  • In a fit of genius, the writers have opted to showcase Lisa in a B-plot collecting Olympic pins (“Heh, heh, I’m so clever.”)

Beyond the obvious banality of the story, it’s also worth noting that Zombie Simpsons basically did this episode in Season 12.  Just replace “curling” with “tennis” and “Skinner and Agnes” with “Serena and Venus Williams, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi” and you’ve got the forgettable “Tennis the Menace.”  Sure, the parings are slightly different, but we’re splitting hairs here.  Expect a contrived, flimsy setup that will lead Marge and Homer to the Olympics or some similar competition and a schmaltzy, feel good ending where everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

Naturally, Canucks will enjoy the show and apologist fanboys will swoon, leaving everyone else with a shred of intellect to see this episode for what it is: pandering at its finest and yet another example of how far the apple has fallen from the tree.  Not only is Zombie Simpsons routinely – and poorly – rehashing content from The Simpsons, it’s now sucking itself off and dumping a steaming hot load on its own face.  Tremendous.

(Note: there was a NSFW picture associated with this post, but we’ve decided to let you use your imagination instead.  Need help getting started?  Here’s a list of sexy search terms that have led people to our charming blog.)


Quote of the Day

Hallmark: A Tax on Your Emotions & Relationships

Hallmark: A Tax on Your Emotions & Relationships

“Mom, romance is dead.  It was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off, piece by piece.” – Lisa Simpson
Image used under CreativeCommons license from Flicker user Amanda M Hatfield.

Happy Birthday Yeardley Smith!


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