Posts Tagged ‘Bart’s Friend Falls in Love

24
Aug
19

Quote of the Day

“Bart, think I can ever find another one like her?” – Milhouse van Houten
“You’re asking the wrong guy, Milhouse. They all look alike to me. Now, let’s go whip donuts at old people.” – Bart Simpson

06
May
19

Quote of the Day

“We’re out of Subliminally Slim.” – Warehouse Guy
“Enh, just send him the vocabulary builder.” – Other Warehouse Guy
“Here ya go, fatso.” – Warehouse Guy

11
Dec
18

Quote of the Day

“This is Fuzzy Bunny. About a year ago, he noticed his voice was changing. He had terrible acne. And had fur where there was no fur before.” – Troy McClure

07
May
18

Quote of the Day

“Any questions?” – Mrs. Krabappel
“Mrs. Krabappel, how come you don’t live with Mr. Krabappel?” – Nelson Muntz
“Because, Mr. Krabappel chased something small and fluffy down a rabbit hole.” – Mrs. Krabappel

11
Dec
17

Quote of the Day

“I’m sure this is a little scary for you, dear.” – Mrs. Krabappel
“Uh-huh.” – Samantha Stanky
“So, why don’t you stand up in front of the class and tell us about yourself? I’ll be grading you on grammar and poise.” – Mrs. Krabappel

16
Aug
17

Quote of the Day

“I’m a good student, Principal Skinner.” – Samantha Stanky
“Yeah, sure, and they told me I’d get a big parade when I got back from Nam. Instead they spat on me. I can still feel it searing. . . . So, let’s just see what the permanent record has to say, shall we? Hmm, no detention, fairly good attendance record, oh, I see you beat that bed wetting problem in the second grade.” – Principal Skinner
“That’s in there?” – Samantha Stanky
“Don’t worry, they’ll forget. . . . Just like they forgot about me in that tiger cage for eighteen agonizing months. Every night I wake up screaming! . . . Well, let’s meet your classmates!” – Principal Skinner

08
May
17

Quote of the Day

“Class, in order to explain why your hormones will soon make you an easy target for every smooth talking lothario with his own car and tight jeans, I will now show a short, sex education film. Ezekiel and Ishmael, in accordance with your parents wishes, you may step out into the hall and pray for our souls.” – Mrs. Krabappel

16
Jun
15

Quote of the Day

Bart's Friend Falls in Love18

“Everybody on, but no shoving!  Just kidding, you can shove all you want!” – Otto

27
Mar
15

Reading Digest: The Simpsons Will Outlive Us All Edition

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“Hey, Bart, according to this magazine, in another million years man’ll have an extra finger.” – Lisa Simpson
“Five fingers?  Eww, freakshow.” – Bart Simpson

For obvious reasons, this site takes the position that The Simpsons was and is the greatest show ever.  (Zombie Simpsons naturally excluded.)  Of course, plenty of people disagree about that for one reason or another, but the nice thing about being a Simpsons advocate is that I get to cite examples, lots of them.

For instance, this week we have a link to an article about the best sitcom of the 1990s, the author presumes that The Simpsons is grander than all of them and excludes it because it isn’t quite a sitcom.  We also have an interview with Anne Washburn, author of the Mr. Burns play, in which she discusses considering and rejecting a number of other television shows for her premise.  We also also have someone explicitly saying the show will never die while pretending to praise Zombie Simpsons.  And that’s before we get into the tattoos.  And while I can think of no reliable source of information to prove it, I’m willing to bet that Simpsons is the most tattooed show in history.  Oh, and we’ve got usage, fan art, and all the other usual stuff.

Enjoy.

35 Simpson Tattoos – Whoa, are there some good ones in there.  I’m partial to Homer as the jack-in-the-box from “Treehouse of Horror II”, Rod and Todd on the thumbs, and Floreda.  Baphomet Lisa is pretty evil too.  As a bonus, here’s another one via Maggie Roswell’s Twitter:

C.M. Burns tattoo

BWW Interviews: MR. BURNS, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY’s Anne Washburn Ponders Pop Culture After the Apocalypse – The play is coming to Minneapolis, and this is a great observation:

Q: What about “The Simpsons” do you think captures people’s imaginations enough that it would survive a nuclear meltdown?
A: I think people would remember really enjoying it. And it’s a show in which the humor is so verbally precise that lots of people enjoy the act of remembering it even now, and so I think chunks of it would be in readiness.

“verbally precise”, yes.

NewsRadio was the best sitcom of the 1990s – The link above also has a bit about other shows she considered, but statements like this are part of the reason why The Simpsons won out:

This is a high honor. The ’90s featured a host of great sitcoms. There was Seinfeld and Roseanne and Frasier and Friends and The Larry Sanders Show, all shows that are the ancestors of so many great shows on the air right now. (They also had the golden years of The Simpsons, which I don’t classify as a “sitcom,” because it’s animated. Accuse me of splitting hairs, if you must.)

You can have a debate about Newsradio versus other shows.  You cannot have one about The Simpsons.  It’s so absurd that it gets its own explanatory parenthetical in the opening paragraph of an argumentative article at a mainstream media site.

The Simpsons Get A Film Noir Makeover – Some of these paintings I’ve linked before, but I think the Mr. Plow one might be new.  It is gorgeous.

Don’t Have A Cow, Man – This is true:

As a child, I was allowed to watch The Simpsons.

Other children my age weren’t so lucky. Some parents considered The Simpsons as an evil that could negatively effect the minds of their innocent children. It was to be avoided at all costs.

Usually when I see that statement, it’s “As a child, I was NOT allowed”.  Good on your folks.

Northland, Politics, Transport, and Pork – Via reader James T. comes this piece of excellent visual usage from New Zealand:

Why is this important? Well, I suspect what all of these conservative parties have done, including National, is held focus groups where they’ve asked people whether they support more investment in roads. In response, many of these people have said “yes”. Something like these guys.

itchyscratchypoochieNewZealand

The Simpsons makeup! – The Marge makeup as used by an actual person.  Bravo on the two tones.

Simpson Characters V2 – Fan drawings, including the rather clever and awesome “Sideshow Warhol”.

How ‘The Simpsons’ Became Immortal – This is one of the most halfhearted defenses of Zombie Simpsons I’ve seen in a while:

I quite enjoy the new Simpsons’ episodes. Granted, they are not as great as the glory years, but I quite enjoy the long-running series’ hot takes on political issues.
And, I can always keep re-watching the old stuff, too.

Talk about damning with faint praise.

Tampa Bay Lightning with the A+ Simpsons reference to mock Bruins fans – This is truly excellent usage:

Bruins-Lightning

Hiekkamyrsky Helsingissä – I’m not sure what this all says, but if you scroll down you’ll find a well done Simpsons family, with couch, in beach sand.

March 19, 1990: America loves ‘The Simpsons’; Buffalo, not so much – There’s an image of a TV column from The Buffalo News from twenty-five years ago.  Apparently, “Life on the Fast Lane” didn’t do so hot in the local ratings that week, though the guy (who looks like Ron Swanson) does note that it’s doing much better nationally.  He even closes with this little zinger:

“Elvis” is being marked return to sender, address unknown. ABC is removing its critically acclaimed series from the scheudle and says it will return at a later date. Despite a strong lead-in from “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “Elvis” has been getting destroyed in the rations nationally by Bart, Homer and the rest of “The Simpsons”.

According to IMDb, ABC dumped the rest of the episodes in the summer then canceled it.

Day 196-Simpsonized – A simpsonized caricature, part the first.

Day 197- Simpsonized – And another.

The Joy of Glitches – I gave up on Tapped Out a while ago, but that is pretty cool looking.

Bartkira! – Is Bender sneaking in there too?

Homer Vs. Lisa And The 8th Commandment – The Mt. Sinai parts are just fantastic:

-The animation of Mt. Sinai is terrific. It’s the kind of quality you can only get with hand-drawn animation. I really wish at least one animated show nowadays would go back to hand-drawn. There was a Peanuts special a few years ago that did that, and it gave the cartoon some nice, charming feel.

-There are lots of funny things going on in the background at the beginning. People beating the crap out of each other, guys chasing woman, and my personal favorite: Homer (the thief) stuffing his shirt with calf idols every time the carver-guy turns around.

Don’t worry, they’ll be wandering out there two weeks, tops.

Brazil legend Pele to lease forehead for commercial advertising – Pele is king of the soccer field, to be king of your lapels, use Crestfield wax paper.

How I’m Feeling Of Late – Heh.

Has ‘Bob’s Burgers’ Surpassed ‘The Simpsons’? – Zombie Simpsons?  Of course.  I think they did that about ten minutes into the pilot.

New trending GIF tagged television the simpsons the… – Remember The X-Files?  They’re back.  In .gif form.

New trending GIF tagged the simpsons season 8… – Poochie would like you to recycle.

Happy Birthday, Spock! – No reason not to have some more Nimoy love, including Simpsons YouTube.

SMARCH with the Simpsons – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us:

Every Sunday at Tattooed Mom, there are free arts and crafts. For the lousy Smarch weather, we’re going to have a Simpsons themed night. Classic Simpsons episodes will play, Ninties episodes only! You will learn how to draw the Simpsons, color the simpsons and paint eggs from Vincent Price’s Egg Magic.

If you’re in or around Philadelphia, that’s happening Sunday night.

17
Jan
14

Compare & Contrast: Overprotective Fathers

Bart's Friend Falls in Love15

“Samantha!” – Mr. Stanky
“Dad!” – Samantha Stanky
“Noooooo!” – Mr. Stanky

As far as nothingburger girlfriend characters go, Kumiko is so empty that she makes the relatively one-dimensional Rene from Season 9 look like Katniss Everdeen.  Rene at least talked to Moe before dating him out of pity.  Kumiko apparently fell in love with Comic Book Guy without even so much as meeting him.  But even that vacuous characterization is rich and deep compared to Kumiko’s father, who shows up out of the blue and instantly becomes the focus of the episode despite failing, after his very first scene, to do what he said he was there to do.  And, of course, per standard Zombie Simpsons operating procedure, he doesn’t get a name.

Back in Season 3, the show gave us another father who didn’t want his daughter dating one of Springfield’s losers.  He also didn’t get a first name, but in that case it didn’t matter because by the time he was on screen for his one scene, he’d already been a shadow over their doomed romance from the beginning of the episode.  I speak, of course, of Samantha Stanky’s father, Mr. Stanky, in “Bart’s Friend Falls In Love”.

To understand how The Simpsons could make a better character despite his having only one scene on screen and just four lines, it helps to look side-by-side at how and when each of them is introduced and expanded.  Mr. Stanky (which is hard to type without giggling a bit) is mentioned for the first time in the middle of the first act, just three minutes into the episode, when Samantha, forced by Mrs. Krabappel to introduce herself in front of the class while being graded on grammar and poise, says:

We just moved here from Phoenix.  My dad owns a home security company.  He came to Springfield because of its high crime rate and lackluster police force.

Right there, with the man himself most of the episode away from even being seen, we can form a mental picture of the guy.  He owns a security company, and he’s willing to uproot his family and move across the country to a city with lots of crime because of it.  We know right away that he’s not a sentimentalist and probably isn’t someone you’d want to screw around with.

By contrast, Kumiko’s father doesn’t show up until twelve minutes into the episode, at what I guess is supposed to be the first or second act break (Zombie Simpsons makes it hard to tell).  Up to this point we hadn’t heard of him at all.  He didn’t rate so much as a toss off line from Kumiko or Comic Book Guy about her father maybe not wanting his daughter pulling up stakes and moving to America to live with some dude he’s never met.  They had eight minutes left to fill, so you knew something had to keep the new lovers from riding off happily into the sunset, but the episode is so poorly set up and written that it could just as easily have been an argument about Marvel vs. DC, the superiority of American or Japanese animation, or really anything, up to and including a meteor strike or General Zod showing up.  Having dropped in from nowhere, he and Homer proceed to recap the episode and explain who he is and why he’s there.  We don’t see him confront Comic Book Guy or Kumiko, he just stands there.

Two Men Talking (Part 1)

Men of action!

The next scene is Kumiko crying and walking out of the store, escorted by her father.  They proceed down the sidewalk and, for all intents and purposes, his story is completed barely a minute after he arrived on screen.  He came to get his daughter.  He got his daughter.  The end.  Naturally, Zombie Simpsons can’t drop things there, but whether they know it or not, that’s the story they just told us.

Compare that clumsy plot advance to the second time we hear Mr. Stanky mentioned, when Milhouse and Samantha are, as the old children’s rhyme goes, kissing in a tree.  Samantha puts a halt to things because:

Milhouse, I’ve gotta go.  My Dad thinks I’m having my braces examined.

Without the man himself so much as coming close to the screen, we know that he has no idea that some local kid in a city he probably doesn’t even like is kissing his precious baby girl.  We also know that if he did know, he wouldn’t approve, because otherwise, why would she lie to him about going to the orthodontist?

Bart's Friend Falls in Love14

She kinda, sorta is having her braces examined, but her father is unlikely to see it that way.

The next time he’s mentioned is at the end of what is very clearly the second act, when Bart has grown exasperated with being the third wheel and losing his best friend to a skirt.  Milhouse, desperate to continue his closed-mouth-kissing, pre-adolescent romance asks if they can still use Bart’s treehouse because:

If her father finds out, he’ll kill her.

This is tight as a drum storytelling.  Milhouse is making explicit what was hinted at earlier and giving Bart the crucial piece of information he needs to break them up, all in a single, eight word sentence.

The third time we hear from Mr. Nakamura (which isn’t funny at all, especially compared to Stanky), it’s when he’s inexplicable sitting in a Japanese restaurant getting drunk with Homer.  The last time we saw him he was walking off with his daughter and talking about taking her back to Japan.  Did she object or disappear?  Was the flight delayed?  Is she locked in his hotel room right now?  Why would he listen to Homer anyway, a man he barely knows who clearly knew his daughter was with the man he wholeheartedly disapproves of?  Who knows?  Zombie Simpsons doesn’t care about any of those questions and thanks you for not caring as well.

Nakamura’s next scene comes after he and Homer get into the hallucinogenic snake wine.  It’s the very pretty centerpiece to the episode wherein they cram as many Simpsons characters as they can into Miyazaki references.  This all ends with Nakamura coming face to face with one of the masked guys from Spirited Away and telling us all out loud that he now doesn’t mind Comic Book Guy marrying his daughter.  Like I said, it’s pretty, but it’s also gratutious filler that advances the already shambling story roughly two (very obvious) centimeters.

The fourth time Mr. Stanky comes up is when Bart narcs on Samantha and Milhouse’s little love nest.  Again, this is superb storytelling, as the threat he poses to the young romance, implicit at first and growing ever more explicit, is now approaching at full speed.  Hitherto he’d only been referenced, now he’s on the phone with Bart and bearing down on the treehouse like a parental hurricane.

The fifth and final time he’s part of the episode is the culmination of the previous four.  His abrupt and unexpected appearance at the treehouse shows us that he’s exactly who we’ve been told he is: a take charge kinda guy who doesn’t want his little girl anywhere near some punk kid she thinks is a good kisser.  He grabs Samantha (literally), tosses her in the car, and speeds her out of Milhouse’s life.  It’s the climax of the episode, with the remainder being Bart and Milhouse reconciling and the bittersweet ending with Samantha at the penguin house.

The last couple of times we see Mr. Nakamura, he’s expositing his new found approval of his daughter’s dumpy boyfriend, showing up to their wedding in a silver C-3P0 costume (the fuck?), and then getting drunk with Homer some more on an elementary school playground because those last thirty seconds aren’t going to fill themselves.  It’s a sticky sweet ending that’s no different than what was happening before he arrived, which isn’t surprising since he is, as most Zombie Simpsons characters are, more prop than person.  His reason to be there was so flimsy that no one even mentioned him for the first two thirds of the episode, and when he did show up it had little to do with his stated intentions and everything to do with Zombie Simpsons shoving some movie references into a previously blank spot on their storyboard.

Mr. Stanky, on the other hand, was a constant and growing off screen threat who did exactly what his daughter and her brief boyfriend knew he would.  Both of them were killjoys in their way, but one of them was good at it and lent the episode and the ending the kind of character, depth and complexity that make the jokes hit home and the story relatable.  The other was just there.

12
Jul
13

Quote of the Day

Hostage Negotiations

“Operator, I’d like to place an order for my husband.” – Marge Simpson
“Would he like to lose weight, stop smoking, learn the state capitals, master hostage negotiations . . .” – Subliminal Tape Operator
“Hmm, hostage negotiations . . .”
“Listen, Taboli, we’re ignoring all of your demands.  What do you say to that?” – Hostage Negotiator Homer
“Better give me the weight loss tape.” – Marge Simpson

24
Mar
13

Quote of the Day

Bart's Friend Falls in Love13

“Hey, Martin.” – Bart Simpson
“Bart?  This is the first time anyone has ever sat next to me since I successfully lobbied to have the school day extended by twenty minutes.” – Martin Prince

25
Dec
12

Quote of the Day

Bart's Friend Falls in Love12

“Americans have grown up with the image of the jolly fat man, Dom DeLuise, Alfred Hitchcock, and, of course, Santa Claus.  But in real life, Santa would be suffering from gall stones, hypertension, impotence, and diabetes.” – Kent Brockman

14
Dec
12

Quote of the Day

Bart's Friend Falls in Love11

“Samantha, I’ve always been suspicious of transfer students.  Other principals try to unload problem cases that way.  Lord knows I do.” – Principal Skinner

21
Jun
12

“Zombie Simpsons” Update

Bart's Friend Falls in Love10

“To those who doubt the power of the magic 8-ball, I say: behold my F!” – Bart Simpson

You may have noticed that since last weekend the “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead” pages have undergone some revisions.  The text of the book here at the site is now completely updated to the official 1.1 version of the text.  In addition to that, the main page has been revised to account for the fact that the book is now completely up at the site and not being parceled out chapter by chapter. 

The Kindle version has similarly been updated.  If you are one of the wonderful human beings who has already purchased it, you should be able to update to the 1.1 version by downloading the book again.  You already own the book, so you won’t be charged again, it’ll just replace the old version with the new one.  Amazon warned me it might take up to 48 hours for the update to fully propagate, but by this weekend it should be there.  If you experience any problems with this, please let me know. 

(For those of you waiting on the ePub and PDF versions, I must ask a little more patience.  It’s a bit of pain to update the text across different formats, so I’d like to give 1.1 a little time to see whether or not any other mistakes shake loose before I put it into two more formats.) 

Most of the revisions in version 1.1 are minor, correcting stray punctuation and the occasional overlooked error like referring to “A Streetcar Named Marge” as “A Streetcar Named Desire”.  However, there are now three additional footnotes, all of which are the direct result of feedback from you guys.  The smallest is a quick aside in Chapter 12, noting that Hank Azaria has not, in fact, been in every episode.  That was just a simple oversight on my part.  I knew that he hadn’t been, it just never occurred to me during all the times I looked at Chapter 12.  The other two are a bit more substantial, and I want to credit the three people who made them possible. 

The first comes at the beginning of Chapter 2, where I finally acknowledged the existence of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, a syndicated Hanna-Barbera sitcom that ran in the early 1970s.  This one is wholly due to generalsherman67’s comment on the original book post.  There are quite a few episodes up on YouTube, and it’s about as forgettable as you’d expect.  It’s a standard mom-dad-kids setup, there’s lots of canned laughter, and the animation is much less detailed than The Flintstones or The Jetsons.  But it does exist, and now the book reflects that. 

The second is in Chapter 4.  On the original, Residents Fan mentioned that The Simpsons had been a big part of Sky One becoming a mainstream channel in the UK.  No sooner had I made a note to look into that than Wesley Mead came through with his remarkable guest post about the whole history.  Since that’s a vastly better job than I would have even considered doing, it’s now referenced directly in a footnote. 

My thanks to everyone who spotted something, and everyone who linked to the book.  We got a lot of traffic not only from blogs and the like, but just from people mentioning it on message boards and other places where people talk about pop culture.  Every link is appreciated. 

Finally, I can’t help but post this, which I grabbed a few days ago when I was first getting ready to write this post:

Screech and Cybill

Yup, that’s “Zombie Simpsons” wedged between the guy who played Screech and the woman whose formulaic show gave the world the “moment of shit”.  I’m not sure how to feel about that, but it’s too odd not to mention. 

07
May
12

Quote of the Day

Bart's Friend Falls in Love9

“Hello, I’m actor Troy McClure, you kids might remember me from such educational films as ‘Lead Paint: Delicious but Deadly’, and ‘Here Comes the Metric System’.  I’m here to provide the facts about sex in a frank and straightforward manner.  And now, here’s ‘Fuzzy Bunny’s Guide to You-Know-What’.” – Troy McClure

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love”!  Original airdate 7 May 1992.

01
Feb
12

Compare & Contrast: Bart and Milhouse Fall Out

Bart's Friend Falls in Love7

“Whoa, I bet the 8-Ball didn’t see that one coming.” – Bart Simpson
Yeah.” – Milhouse van Houten

With so many years of backstory hanging over its head, Zombie Simpsons often resorts to the inane and bizarre to keep believable and long established relationships fresh.  Once upon a time, Moe was Homer’s bartender.  Sure, they knew each other a bit better than the average rag and coaster jockeys, but they never strayed too far from the recognizable baseline of bartender-customer.  Along the same line, Skinner and Chalmers used to be junior and senior in a dumb bureaucracy and Lenny and Carl used to be office buddies.  All of those have been trashed under a half-clever veneer of self knowing television tropes.  Homer and Moe are best buddies when they need to be; Skinner and Chalmers are attached at the hip, and Lenny and Carl are . . . whatever they are. 

In that same vein, Bart and Milhouse have gone from plausible boyhood friends to an overtly self-aware pair of co-dependent jokers.  When The Simpsons still cared about its audience and characters, Bart was the dominant half of a realistic friendship and Milhouse was the forgiving and easily awed sidekick.  That’s a pretty good basis for fiction, and it worked for a long time.  But even an archetype that durable can only hold out for so many hundred episodes before it becomes a stereotypical hack job.  At this point, their roles have gone beyond “well established” to “crap, how do we make this not a complete repeat?”, and that’s the real problem of their half told story in “Moe Goes from Rags to Riches”. 

Bart and Milhouse have fought before, many, many times.  Sometimes it was a minor part of the episode, like “Bart After Dark” or “A Milhouse Divided”; sometimes it was a major part of the episode, like “Homer Defined” or “Bart Sells His Soul”.  But for comparison to “Moe Goes from Rags to Riches”, nothing is closer than “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love”. 

In both episodes, Milhouse gets pissed at Bart for taking him for granted.  And in both episodes, Milhouse eventually forgives Bart.  The difference is in how those things happen, both the falling out and the rapprochement.  In The Simpsons, Milhouse gets mad because of a serious betrayal; in Zombie Simpsons, Milhouse snaps with no warning for no real reason.  On the other end, Milhouse in The Simpsons sees his beef with Bart resolved; Milhouse in Zombie Simpsons goes with the flow because he knows just as well as the audience that things have to get back to normal. 

So Let's Dance

Sadly, this is what passes for normal these days.

In “Moe Goes from Rags to Riches”, the opening scene is a town meeting at Moe’s that becomes a dance party.  (Of course it does.)  In the course of said meeting, we see the two of them dancing together to Lionel Richie, and the following exchange happens:

Bart: That’s even sadder than being friends with Milhouse.
Milhouse: You know something, Bart, I’m getting tired of things like that.
Bart: Tired of what?  I dump on you and you take it, that’s how friendship works.
Milhouse: Not anymore.  Friendship over.

This comes from precisely nowhere.  And while you might be tempted to forgive Zombie Simpsons this narrative shortcut because we already know Milhouse resents Bart in general, don’t forget that Bart has said plenty of worse things to Milhouse over the years with no reaction whatsoever.  Based on what we know of the two of them, this sudden eruption of pique is entirely out of character.  Zombie Simpsons doesn’t give us even a single line where we see Milhouse steaming up before he’s at full spurned-friend boil. 

Mild Annoyance

I’m asking for white hot rage and you’re giving me a hissy fit!

By contrast, in “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love”, Milhouse snapping comes with an entire episode’s worth of buildup and occurs even quicker.  Instead of a tired, verbose and unexpected exchange, The Simpsons has Milhouse lose it with a single, exposition free word:

Bart: Listen, Milhouse, I got a confession to make.  I’m the one who narced on your kissing.
Milhouse: What?!

Not only is this shorter and funnier, but it fulfills the prime commandment of screenwriting, “show, don’t tell”.  In Zombie Simpsons, Milhouse tells us why he’s mad, even though Zombie Simpsons is taking for granted that we already know the reason.  Here, no explanation is needed because we’ve seen the two characters build up to this over the course of the entire episode.  Milhouse’s anger, and his subsequent death grapple with Bart, shows us how pissed off he really is. 

Bart's Friend Falls in Love8

Hallelujah, they’ve done it again!

Things get even more embarrassing for Zombie Simpsons as the two move from their confrontation to their inevitable reconciliation.  In “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love”, the reconciliation happens quickly; The Simpsons had no illusions about pretending that Bart and Milhouse would end up something other than friends.  The tension during their fight – the deliberately overwrought horn music, Bart contemplating smashing his best friend with scissors, a broken bottle, and a brick – is all comedy.  The scissors?  Sure.  But there’s no reason for there to be shattered glass and masonry in Milhouse’s room other than as a gag.  The show doesn’t even pretend to imply that Bart’s actually going to use them, so when he finally settles on the Magic 8-Ball as his weapon, it fits.  It’s physically plausible and plot relevant (the 8-Ball having predicted their falling out back in Act 1). 

Zombie Simpsons lacks anything even remotely resembling that kind of subtlety and relevance.  Since they dove into their dead end conflict in the very first scene, they have no story to tell.  All they’re left with is a few disconnected set pieces: Bart at Milhouse’s window, Bart breaking in to Milhouse’s room, Bart outside Milhouse’s front door.  There’s nothing to these scenes except for Bart and Milhouse exchanging hackneyed, knowing banter like the predicable sitcom characters they’ve become. 

Instead of giving us a fun reason for the two of them to be angry at one another and then resolving the unavoidable quickly, Zombie Simpsons creates a problem for Bart and Milhouse out of nothing and then expects the audience to care as they wrap it up with one glacial dead end after another.  The Simpsons knew not to pretend that things weren’t going back to normal.  Zombie Simpsons doesn’t (or doesn’t care), so they stretch out the worst part and are left with nothing to show for it but nonsense like Milhouse swallowing rocks, Bart falling to pieces overnight and reading a sappy poem Lisa wrote, and Drederick Tatum appearing from nowhere.  They said the quiet part loud and the loud part quiet. 

09
Jan
12

Somewhere, Birch Barlow Doesn’t Weep

Chalkboard - Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson

“Bart, I don’t want you to see me cry.” – Milhouse van Houten
“Oh come on, I’ve seen you cry a million times.  You cry when you scrape your knee, you cry when they’re out of chocolate milk, you cry when you’re doing long division and you have a remainder left over.” – Bart Simpson

A few episodes ago, Zombie Simpsons had Krusty point out that because of the lead time of their animation they come off looking like cheap, late-to-the-party hacks when they try to do topical shows.  That fundamental problem was all over last night’s year late Glenn Beck-Tea Party episode.  The subject matter was stale and the satire was stuff that has been done better elsewhere, but the place you can see it most is in the little tricks they use to make this expired milk seem fresh.  They ran current jokes in a news ticker, they had static images of the Republican presidential field on a table, with Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain’s photos crossed out with easy-to-add-late graphics.  They know that these episodes don’t work well, but they went ahead and did it anyway because if you can take some potshots at Glenn Beck a year after he was dumped off television and add in some political jokes no one will care about two months from now, then you have to do it.

Of course, problems with stale topicality were accompanied by other typical Zombie Simpsons problems.  There was a main story that did not manage to make sense for more than two minutes.  Characters appeared and disappeared at will, most egregiously when Nugent showed up at the breakfast table immediately after Lisa was talking as though he wasn’t there.  And there was plenty of really pointless slapstick, including Homer getting hurt, kids lining up to be randomly fired into an archery target, and Homer dumping paint on his own head. 

Watching this, I really can’t help but think the staff would rather be writing for Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show.  Sketch comedy is clearly what they like doing, politics provides and endless supply of cheap jokes, and things like Homer’s airplane freakout at the beginning are right in that four or five minute sketch show sweet spot.  After that one we got Homer on someone else’s talk show, Homer on his own talk show, and Homer thinks he travels to the past, among others.  Of course, all that was supposed to be happening against a background story of a national political movement, but they didn’t pay much attention to that so I don’t see why the audience should have to. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are really, truly awful.  FOX didn’t have a late football game, but CBS had Pittsburgh-Denver going to overtime at 8:00pm, which meant that a mere 5.11 million people remembered Ted Nugent after the Steelers came back to tie it late.  That’s easily the lowest so far this season and is tied with Season 21’s “Million Dollar Maybe” for the second lowest number of all time.  This was the shows 496th episode, and 493 of them were seen by more people.  Giants-Packers will be the late game next Sunday, so Zombie Simpsons is likely to get a one week bounce from that, but Season 23 is now all but assured of being the least watched season ever.  The only question now is how far it sinks. 

26
May
11

Quote of the Day

Bart's Friend Falls in Love2

“We just moved here from Phoenix.  My dad owns a home security company; he came to Springfield because of its high crime rate and lackluster police force.  All my friends are back in Phoenix, and this town has a weird smell that you’re all probably used to, but I’m not.” – Samantha Stanky
“It’ll take you about six weeks, dear.” – Mrs. Krabappel

01
Nov
10

Quote of the Day

Bart's Friend Falls in Love1

“How do we know when we fall in love?” – Samantha Stanky
“Oh, don’t you worry.  Most of you will never fall in love and marry out of fear of dying alone.” – Mrs. Krabappel

Happy birthday Marcia Wallace!




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