Posts Tagged ‘Behind the Laughter

22
May
19

Quote of the Day

“I first knew the show was a hit when I walked into school and a kid was wearing a Bart Simpson t-shirt. FOX had an endless supply of clever slogans, man.” – Bart Simpson

22
May
18

Quote of the Day

“Okay, the material was a little corny, but Homer and I had real chemistry on screen.” – Marge Simpson
“Every day I thought about firing Marge. You know, just to shake things up.” – Homer Simpson

21
May
17

Quote of the Day

“Where did the money go? Marge lost much of the family fortune investing in birth control products.” – Behind the Laughter Announcer
“I learned something. When people reach for their diaphragm, they don’t want to see my picture.” – Marge Simpson

Note: Sorry for the late quote of the day. Should have a Behind Us Forever for whatever dreck their using as a season finale tomorrow.

10
Jan
17

Behind Us Forever: Pork & Burns

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“They can’t take our house! My pot-bellied pig is in there! Oh, Mr. Porky, no!” – Homer Simpson

It has long been true that just about the only thing anyone remembers from the bloated mess that was the movie (itself now almost ten years old) is Spider-Pig. In this episode, Spider-Pig comes back as a kind of Mojo-the-Helper-Monkey replacement. Wacky hijinks ensue. In the B-plot, Marge becomes obsessed with de-cluttering her house, which leads Lisa to get rid of her saxophone until it turns out Marge had it all along. No, it didn’t make any sense in the episode either.

Here are some typically brainless scenes:

  • The couch gag has dialogue again. This seems to be happening a lot more lately. I guess they’re finally giving up on maintaing them as a short, silent pre-show joke. Can’t say I blame them. Every part of this show is beyond the point of exhaustion.
  • There’s a book called “The Japanese Warrior Monks’ Guide to Tidying Up”, which would be okay as a throwaway gag, but turns into an entire storyline, complete with Marge reading the whole title aloud after we’ve already seen it three or four times. Delayed exposition, huh.
  • The writing on this show has gotten so sitcom-y over the years that I don’t even notice it most of the time, but this was particularly bad: “Think of the kids! The kids working in overseas factories to make this crap!” Setup, beat, punchline.
  • Characters who weren’t in the room suddenly appearing in the room: Milhouse & Grampa so far, I’m sure there will be more.
  • Homer makes a “reuse this calendar” joke. Sure it’s not 1985 right now, but who knows what Season 30 will bring?
  • So, uh, Spider-Pig is back for some reason.
  • gimpvan
    Homer just attempted to give Spider-Pig away in a darkened parking lot at night, which lead to a lot of shallow “creepy van” jokes that ended with a guy in a gimp costume in the back of one. Do things like this really get laughs at table reads? And, if so, has anyone checked for a gas leak in that room?
  • There’s a Dr. Nick scene. About half of it is him counting to five in Spanish.
  • In one of their more bizarre scene set ups, Marge and Homer have a confrontation about Homer keeping Spider-Pig while they’re standing in the front door. How did they get there? Why are they there? No idea. The scenes on either side have nothing to do with it. I know they don’t care about things like this, but nobody actually seems to live in this universe anymore, they’re just cutouts standing in front of backdrops waiting for the next skit to start.
  • Homer and Lisa are now duel expositing about their feelings at the dinner table. Really badly:
    Homer: Oh, that is really, really sad.
    Lisa: Wow you understand how I feel?
    Homer: Yes, because I feel about my pig the way you used to feel about your honk-a-ma-flute.
  • “Homer, those kids hands are covered in barbecue sauce”, um, okay.
  • “Dad, no, that’s a snake from the petting zoo!” – The context for this line is that Homer is going to spray the hounds with a hose. There is no petting zoo. This show makes more sense when you pretend there’s an invisible box marked “Props” that follows everyone around.
  • unwoundedpig
    So . . . Mr. Burns’ hounds attacked Spider Pig, with lots of growling and tearing. Then they get pulled off and Spider-Pig is . . . fine. Looks a little sad, but fine. Homer then freaks out because he needs to or something. The whole scene is awkward, because they want it to simultaneously be a vicious dog attack, but they also don’t want to show any blood or gore because this is still supposed to be a comedy.
  • Now there’s a pig doctor treating Spider-Pig, and now Mr. Burns is going to put him into pig rehab because he just exposited about his insurance for some reason.
  • Homer is having a dream about the Mayo Clinic being doctors who are mayonnaise jars. Worse, the mayo jars spend the whole dream expositing what they’re doing.
  • Pig vacation montage. There’s three words I wasn’t expecting to type when I started this episode.
  • Let’s end on some more clunky exposition: “Now what’s wrong?”, “My joy’s returned  but my passion’s gone.”
  • They must’ve really liked that mayo doctor things, because they’re killing the last twenty seconds of contract mandated runtime with an ER parody. Timely.

Anyway, the ratings are in and the annual Zombie Simpsons NFL Playoff lead-in has once again produced their best number of the year. On Sunday, 8.19 million people left their televisions on after the Giants-Packers game. To my surprise, FOX is also getting a late playoff game this Sunday, so that’ll help Zombie Simpsons next week as well.

22
May
16

Quote of the Day

Behind the Laughter7

“Then we figured out we could park them in front of the TV. That’s how I was raised, and I turned out TV.” – Homer Simpson

07
Jul
15

Shearer Not Gone After All

Behind the Laughter6

“In that family, nobody trusted nobody.  They even brought their lawyers to Thanksgiving dinner.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

Harry Shearer has decided to keep doing voices for Zombie Simpsons:

Harry Shearer returning to The Simpsons

You don’t really need to click that link, it’s mostly nothing and even repeats the dubiously sourced $300,000 per episode number, but it’s been confirmed by a couple of other outlets.  The article also says that Shearer signed the same contract as the other five cast members, which (if true) means that money really wasn’t the issue and Shearer really did think the show was preventing him from doing other projects.  Jean took to Twitter to explain:

I would like to clear up a misunderstanding. I have recently been told that during a period where Harry Shearer believed he had a five week free period from the Simpsons, I was unaware of this fact, and did in fact request material from him. If so, my bad. I am truly glad he is returning to the show.

This is the public explanation for Shearer’s abrupt “I’m leaving” announcement in May, that Jean had asked Shearer to work during a time Shearer thought he was on break, so he balked at signing an extension.  If it seems a little bizarre that it took them eight weeks to sort out something as simple as that, well, that’s because it is bizarre.

Maybe relations between Shearer and the show are strained to the point that it really did take them this long to clear up something that can be described in two and a half Tweets (Shearer’s original announcement quoted a letter from a lawyer, so they may indeed be at the “acrimonious divorce” stage of communication).  Maybe there was a negotiation, and while Shearer may be getting the same money he also now has a better deal in terms of hours and flexibility.  Maybe Jean’s telling the truth, and it really was just an honest mistake.

Whether Jean is spinning for his bosses or accurately describing this whole big saga doesn’t really matter, however.  Shearer will continue to phone in his voices, and Zombie Simpsons will continue its mediocre ways.

22
May
15

Quote of the Day

Behind the Laughter5

“I want to set the record straight: I thought the cop was a prostitute.” – Homer Simpson

05
Jan
15

Behind Us Forever: The Man Who Came to Be Dinner

Behind the Laughter4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Shareholder Questions

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

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

– The sign gags are actually decent:

Anglophobia

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

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

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

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

– “This isn’t Halloween!”, we know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

– The multi-birth thing, feh.

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

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

ZooNews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grindr&MLBReplay

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

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

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

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

Desires

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

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

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

– This ending kinda drags, though.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

01
Aug
14

Reading Digest: Crossover Reaction Edition

Behind the Laughter3

“Fans reacted to these slapdash episodes with yawns, angry yawns.” – Behind the Laughter Announcer

The big news this week was a five minute preview video of the upcoming Family Guy crossover, and it was everywhere.  There were so many links from random sites that one was in Cyrillic, but outside of fawning headlines from radio stations and other teevee industry marketing appendages, the reaction was overwhelming negative, and we’ve got several links to prove it.  You can see the video at a couple of them, but I wouldn’t recommend it.  I made it two minutes in and gave up on about the third time they talked about how lame they were.   I try to keep an open mind, but this looks like it’s going to be a very dull forty-two minutes or so.

With all that garbage clogging up the internet, I’m amazed we had as much other stuff as we did, but in addition to plenty of anti-crossover bile, we’ve got a couple of other Comic-con wrap ups, two wildly different Bart t-shirts, apathy at Allure magazine, more Lego Flanders, a sand sculpture Homer, and lots more.  Enjoy.

The 30 Best Golden-Era ‘Simpsons’ TV References – No one is holding out much hope:

Despite all evidence to the contrary, maybe the Family Guy/Simpsons crossover episode will turn out not-embarrassing…possibly? As hard as I try, though, I can’t help but assume the worst about the “stupid tie-in cartoon,” which is why I’m glad it’s TECHNICALLY a Family Guy episode.

The list itself is great, though.  With lots of YouTube.

The Simpsons Guy: 8 reasons the Simpsons and Family Guy crossover will suck – These are pretty good, especially:

4. It’s not funny

Did you watch the trailer? It’s pretty laugh-free

And:

7. It feels like a desperate attempt to be relevant

As with the Simpsons/Futurama crossover, this feels like a desperate attempt to make both The Simpsons and Family Guy relevant again. The Simpsons has been on TV screens longer than most of the World Cup England squad have been alive and no one has cared about Family Guy since around 2004. Neither are culturally relevant any more and The Simpsons Guy feels like a sad attempt for one last hurrah.

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE TRAILER FOR ‘THE SIMPSONS GUY’ – Sensing a theme?:

First and foremost, the number one question on my lips – and doubtlessly on a whole lot of other lips, too – is why? Why was this necessary? Who are the people, in their infinite lack of wisdom, who were asking for this? Cynical though this outlook may seem, I feel that The Simpsons Guy has its origins in little more than a desperate ploy for viewers.

WATCH: Footage from the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover that absolutely nobody wanted. – Popular conclusion:

So why now? The cynical part of me sees it as nothing more than a quick grab for money and ratings. The logical part of me is having trouble viewing it as anything more than that either. Either way, it’s happening – and it’s one part nonsensical plot points, the other part jokes that you could see coming from at least half a decade ago.

Segregate my TV – Somebody else is unimpressed with the crossover:

It just all ends up being boring.

Man Gets Hit By Football – Australian Tour!! – An Aussie punk band has one of the best posters ever (click through) and an EP called “Can I Borrow A Feeling”.  Bravo.

You’re Toxic I’m Slipping Under – The play has closed in London, but this is high praise indeed:

I think Mr. Burns is brilliant. I have never seen a full episode of The Simpsons, but from what I’ve seen I think of it as a show for small-minded people. I don’t think slapstick humor is funny, nor stupidity, and I’ve been led to believe that The Simpsons largely relies on that type of humor.

Someone that clueless about the show (though, not far off for Zombie Simpsons) still loved it.

Kayte Walsh announces the name of her new baby boy – Sideshow Bob is having another kid.  I only mention it because of how they describe him:

It is her second child with Kelsey Grammer, star of Frasier and The Simpsons.

Cheers doesn’t even rate these days.

Comic-Con 2014: ‘The Simpsons’ sets world record with Homer’s Dome – There sure are a lot of weird world records:

The canvas had 5,565 squares in a paint-by-numbers type of format that the organizers were trying to fill out over the course of Comic-Con. The FXX team behind the event hoped to break the Guinness World Record for the most contributions to a painting by the numbers.

Beauty Lessons I Learned From The Simpsons – Allure magazine had one of their editors type up a little mention of the new Marge themed cosmetics line.  This is just a magazine doing an otherwise unnecessary favor for an advertiser, and you can tell because of how it ends:

Tell me: Do you have a favorite Simpsons beauty moment?

No, the internet does not:

Simpsons Beauty Tips

And that 1 person “listening” was me when I took the screen grab.

Sweat-Free SoHo Style – Nobody seems to care much about the Marge makup at Allure, but the New York Times has a “women on the street” video about summer fashion that features a woman (who is identified as a model) wearing a Bart mug-shot t-shirt.

Blog: How This Former Music Snob Loosened Up and Re-Embraced Pop Music – Excellent usage:

Part of most people’s aging process seems to be an increasingly lower tolerance for new or challenging things, and one of the most prominent ways that that manifests itself is music. It varies slightly from person to person, but there seems to be a point in most people’s life where their “best” era of music exists, and whatever comes after just sounds increasingly annoying and not-as-good as “their” music. In the wise words of Grandpa Simpson: “I used to be with it. And then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now, what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me.”

Grampa actually says “But then”, but that’s a nit.

What books are Montrealers taking out from the libraries? – The Simpsons, or “Les Simpson”, apparently.

Comic-Con’s Best Costumes So Far Include Homer Simpson, Snow White And Tons Of Superheroes – Any idiot can put on one of those creepy looking Simpsons masks, but it takes a special kind of lunatic to combine them with Homer’s full Stonecutter regalia.  Excellent work.

Watch Homer Simpson on Drugs in Mac DeMarco’s “Chamber of Reflection” Video – And speaking of creepy looking Homer masks, here’s a music video of a woman walking around wearing one.

Orlando/Universal Studios Day 1 – Getting Simpsons nails done before seeing the Simpsons area.  Cool.

Play D’oh!: The Simpsons FXX marathon schedule – A helpful little guide for those of you planning to watch some of the marathon on FXX at the end of the month.

A Suns-themed Bart Simpson t-shirt exists – Old bootleg Bart shirts are pretty amazing time capsules.

Boston MFA reportedly defaced by Homer Simpson graffiti – There’s a picture, but it’s pretty lazy graffiti.

The Simpsons: Krusty the Clown’s foul-mouthed rant prompts complaints – I’d guess this was “Bart the Fink”, but they don’t identify it:

The washed-up boozy clown was heard to use the word “bastard” during an edition of the programme screened by Channel 4 at 6pm in April, well before the 9pm watershed.

The incessant beep of outraged parents is company enough for him.

Simpsons: “Lisa’s Wedding” episode was pretty good a predicting the future – It’s a nice list, but it’s a little less than comprehensive.

UO alumnus’ firm chosen to paint city’s ‘Simpsons’ mural – The mural they’re painting in Oregon now has a designer.  It’s supposed to be done by the middle of next month.

Photos: Homer Simpson wins annual New Jersey Sandcastle Contest in Belmar – The Homer pictures are near the end of the slideshow, and it’s pretty clever.

American Roadtrip, Part 6: Catching a Baseball Game in Albuquerque – Brits take in a Topes game.

Mrs Grillah’s Amazing BBQ Cake – That is a cake Homer would happily ruin.

A Story of Inspiration – Heh.

Words of the Week 23/2014 – Homer Simpson – Heh (x2).

ravingmadlunitic – Heh (x3).

Sow Seeds Of Love! – Lego Flanders proselytizing.

The Glory Days Of The Arcade – Were the attacks actually different?:

So when my friends and I saw The Simpsons Arcade Game, we knew we just had to play and finish it! Of course, no one wanted to pick Marge so I got stuck with the blue haired housewife. But I was kind of glad she was my character since I thought she had an awesome weapon: a vacuum cleaner. I kind of pitied the guy who had Homer since all he had were his fists!

I genuinely don’t remember.

Friday Conversation: What Is Your All-Time Favorite ‘Simpsons’ Moment? – And finally, I’ll end with this Uproxx post that implictly agrees with us since not a single member of the staff so much as mentions Zombie Simpsons.

20
Sep
12

Crazy Noises: Behind the Laughter

Behind the Laughter2

“I can’t believe it, we won another contest!” – Marge Simpson
“The Simpsons are going to Delaware!” – Homer Simpson
“I want to see Wilmington!” – Lisa Simpson
“I want to visit a screen door factory.” – Bart Simpson
“This’ll be the last season.” – Homer Simpson

For the fourth summer in a row, we here at the Dead Homer Society will be spending some time discussing twelve year old Simpsons episodes.  This year we’re doing Season 11.  Why Season 11?  Because we’ve done Seasons 8, 9 and 10 already, and it’s time to take an unflinching look at the end of the show.  Since Skype and podcasts didn’t exist in 1999, and we want to discuss these episodes the way the internet intended, we’re sticking with the UTF-8 world of chat rooms and instant messaging.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “diaphragm”).

Charlie Sweatpants: Behind the laughter is one of the few Season 11 episodes that I do watch from time to time.

Dave: Do tell.

Charlie Sweatpants: This is one of those very few episodes that I think are basically Season 9 worthy. It’s definitely got some rough patches and things that don’t quite work, but it moves quickly and has a lot of good ideas.

  It definitely helps that there’s basically no story and they can just do flashbacks and little segments. By this time, story was hardly a concern.

Mad Jon: Agreed. I think the premise of the episode allowed much more license than normal.

  I was willing to overlook Homer being crazy in the interviews for comments like "And that horrible act of child abuse…"

Charlie Sweatpants: Right.

There’s "Peepin It Real", Teenwolf 3, Susan B Anthony Man, and Marge’s stern, disapproving diaphragm thing.

Dave: As I’m watching it now, there are a few more chuckles than I remember previously.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s nice and consistent too.

Even if there are some things that don’t work and/or go on too long, there aren’t a big stretches where there’s nothing decent.

A lot of these Season 11 episodes ("It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge", included) start decently and then go running off the cliff as things get weirder and zanier.

Mad Jon: I think my feelings for this episode got better as they kept adding more and more seasons afterwards.

Charlie Sweatpants: Why’s that?

Mad Jon: The first time I saw it I probably thought to myself that, hey that’s fine, a lampoon of a relatively popular behind the scenes TV show that I’ve seen a hundred episodes of. Hell, I wouldn’t know anything about Thin Lizzy if not for VH1.

As I got older and less stupid, I came to the realization that we have discussed so many, many times. This episode would have been a great series finale, as opposed to a decent season finale.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, it would’ve.

  It could’ve been a bit meaner to itself, but that’s a tall order. On the other hand, for fans at least, it kind of is a series finale.

There’s classic Simpsons trivia nights in Chicago and Toronto now, and as far as I know they stop at Season 11 too.

Mad Jon: I’m not sure I could name any actual episode titles past this one.

  Although I imagine I could randomly assemble a few words, probably with one of the characters names, and be pretty close if not dead on.

It’s a matter of statistics at that point.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, the road after this one is very long and very dark.

It’s like one of those photos of North and South Korea from space at night. The South is lit up like Christmas tree, and then there’s a really distinct line with just a few specs of light. This episode is the DMZ.

Mad Jon: That’s a pretty good analogy.

Dave: Yep, spot on.

Mad Jon: Back to things I enjoyed, I liked Bart as Renegade, along with his two side car sidekicks.

Charlie Sweatpants: The "I hear that Renegade" is one of those things I just can’t not smile at.

  There are a lot of good media parodies like that in this one.

Calling Krusty and "Embittered Comedy Legend", Bart’s fair weather friends, and Willie Nelson, taxpayer, are all pretty good.

Mad Jon: The subtitles in the interviews were generally good.

Charlie Sweatpants: And Jimmy Carter’s break dancing.

Mad Jon: Rapping comedy break dancing.

Charlie Sweatpants: And the "New Awareness Awards" being "an elaborate sham".

Dave: The fact that Bart and Richie Rich are best friends.

Charlie Sweatpants: For all the amusement though, a lot of it still feels kind of weak. Like the Grammy awards, which is funny with the categories and all, but they did that better way back in Season 5.

Mad Jon: Agreed. Also they had to throw in the obligatory Ozzie bites something…

I did like the early mention of going for frosty chocolate milkshakes. It made me want to watch Bart the Genius.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, they do a decent job of creating a decent parody backstory.

That their network connection was that the president of FOX was also a hair dresser is a good example.

  It’s just close enough to true that it works as satire. For the most part, this episode toes that line well.

Mad Jon: For sure. I also can’t help but think about the narrator’s line about gimmicky premises and nonsensical plots. As well as the shameless trotting out of celebrities.

Mainly I can’t stop thinking about it because it hadn’t even really begun to start.

Charlie Sweatpants: And I’m forever grateful for the "This’ll be the last season" joke.

Mad Jon: It’s like talking about how you are worried about someone’s alcoholism when they haven’t even missed a mortgage payment yet.

Call me when you notice they are living in the dumpster, then you will know what the bottom looks like.

Charlie Sweatpants: Heh.

Mad Jon: Unless they had a guest list and episode guide for the next half decade already written by that point…. Which I dunno, maybe the computer spits them out that far in advance.

Charlie Sweatpants: Seems unlikely. Anything else about this one?

Mad Jon: Nah, other than the "this will be the last season" bit you already mentioned, I don’t have much else that sticks with me.

Dave: Not from me. It was certainly the more pleasant of the two to watch.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s good for what it is, and by Season 11 standards, it’s very above average.

Well, gentlemen, ending on a so-so episode seems about right for this series of posts.

  WordPress tells me that this is the 153rd episode we’ve discussed over the past three and a half years.

Dave: That’s something.

Mad Jon: Where do the years go….

Charlie Sweatpants: I’d say about half of them are any good, though I may be overestimating.

Mad Jon: That has to be more episodes than most TV series run, and probably by a long shot.

Charlie Sweatpants: True. Sadly I don’t think syndication riches are in our future.

Mad Jon: I’ll give you half with a lazy scale of 2.

Charlie Sweatpants: Is lazy scale like degree of difficulty?

Mad Jon: Meh.

Charlie Sweatpants: Good answer.

Dave: Lazy scale, nice.

Charlie Sweatpants: Before we sign off here, any general thoughts on Season 8-11? It’s four seasons where I think every season is worse than the one that precedes it.

The drop off from 8 to 9 is noticeable as hell, but the one from 9 to 10 might be the biggest total.

Mad Jon: I’m happy I had the opportunity to parse the Alzheimer like demise with the two of you. I’ve seen all of these before, but to actually consider them in order really let me see what kind of slope this show was on. And more than that, it was an opportunity to see why.

Dave: Yeah, that seems accurate. There was no return to form or anything.

Charlie Sweatpants: I sat through at least part of every episode from Season 12 and 13 before I quit on the show, and there aren’t much in the way of highlights from here.

Mad Jon: There really aren’t

Charlie Sweatpants: Just catastrophes like that damned Africa episode.

Mad Jon: Sometimes I think of one or two, but much like a dream, it fades faster than I can do anything about it.

Dave: How poetic

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, then, fellows, I can end on the poetic. Honor and a pleasure and all that.

Dave: Smell you later.

Mad Jon: Thank you gentlemen.

31
Mar
11

Crazy Noises: Love Is a Many Strangled Thing

Behind the Laughter1

“And that horrible act of child abuse became one of our most beloved running gags.” – Homer Simpson

In our ongoing mission to bring you only the shallowest and laziest analysis of Zombie Simpsons, we’re keeping up our Crazy Noises series for Season 22.  Since a podcast is so 2004, and video would require a flag, a fern and some folding chairs from the garage, we’ve elected to use the technology that brought the word “emoticon” to the masses: the chatroom.  Star Trek image macros are strictly forbidden, unless you have a really good reason why Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “engendered”).

There was plenty to complain about this week, but despite our relatively far ranging discussion there was something that really bothered me that we didn’t discuss. Homer choking Bart has always only really worked because the show was a cartoon. When the audience is made to contemplate what’s actually happening, all the fun gets sucked out of it because crushing the air out of child is sickening to contemplate.

That alone drained out whatever microscopic mirth existed in a number of scenes in “Love Is a Many Strangled Thing”, including the one where the therapist and the other dads act mortified at Homer. But right after making things serious, we get another case of Zombie Simpsons wanting to have its cake and eat it too. If strangulation is so terrible, why should we enjoy seeing it happen to Homer, first at the hands of all those big dudes and then from a noose? They want us to think it’s ghastly for one scene, but then take everything lightly for the rest of the episode.

[Note: No Dave again this week.]

Charlie Sweatpants: Anyway, shall we get started?

Mad Jon: Let’s get started.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ll say off the bat that I didn’t hate the couch gag. It didn’t take long, and I will always have a nerd’s love of anything that even resembles ASCII humor.

Mad Jon: I agree, it was short and couch gag-y. Those don’t have to be out of the park, it is a simple bit.

Charlie Sweatpants: Now that that pleasantness is behind us forever, the rest of the episode was atrocious.

Mad Jon: Yes, almost immediately, starting with Burns running his balloon into a cathedral.

  Repeat, a cathedral.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, I know. There are a lot of ugly things on Zombie Simpsons, but there are few worse endemic problems than incompetent Mr. Burns.

  Turning Burns into this hapless waste instead of the pure evil he used to be still grates after all these years.

Mad Jon: A French speaking, incompetent Burns at that. Also an elk or a moose or something got to escape from Lenny’s car, maybe.

Charlie Sweatpants: And then Homer had to shoot down the balloon because Carl was crippled by drive by exposition.

Mad Jon: And so forth. It’s just another case of attempt to obfuscate the complete character changes of the last baker’s dozen worth of seasons with random acts of meaningless actions. Not that we haven’t said that 50 times already in these posts.

Charlie Sweatpants: We have, but the Burns ones rankle worse than the others.

Mad Jon: Oh, very much agreed. He may be my favorite T.V. characters of all time. Well, Burns, not Zombie Burns.

Charlie Sweatpants: I get that they’ve got a soft spot for Moe now and don’t want him to be the sleazebag he’s supposed to be. I don’t like it, but it’s kinda understandable. But how the hell does anyone think sensitive, incompetent Burns is funny?

Mad Jon: I don’t even think they mean to make him sensitive and incompetent for the sake of it. It really seems like Burns is just getting the parts that could be assigned to any character. Nothing he does is of any consequence to the idea of Mr. Burns. When was the last time he lorded his power over the serfs? I don’t think the time he has spent in the plant in the last ten years could be measured on a watch without a second hand.

Charlie Sweatpants: You may be right about that. Moving on, but staying on the theme of wildly out of character: Krabappel in the school, Wiggum in the school, Marge at the stadium.

Bart drives a fucking tractor into the school and Krabappel doesn’t do anything. Wiggum’s just there for some reason. And Marge egging Homer on during that eye meltingly bad jumbotron scene was beyond the pale.

Mad Jon: All very good examples.

Charlie Sweatpants: To have Marge set Homer up for a joke while Bart’s sitting there with piss in his pants, that’s beyond contempt for the audience.

Mad Jon: It was pretty bad. Also it seemed like Bart’s voice was cracking. But I digress.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve noticed the same thing about Bart’s voice.

  It’s becoming both deeper and slower.

Mad Jon: Well, that will happen if you spend a lot of time moderating teleconferences.

Charlie Sweatpants: Does Kavner do that?

Mad Jon: No. Bart apparently does it for Kearny and Jimbo though.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh. That thing.

Mad Jon: Although, who knows maybe Kavner does it in her spare time as well.

Charlie Sweatpants: I should’ve added that to my out of character list. Kearney was in Paris because some overpaid genius noticed that "peeing" and "European" end with the same vowel sound.

  Kearney! The guy whose kid sleeps in a drawer.

Mad Jon: That kind of thing barely even registers with me anymore.

Charlie Sweatpants: The Europe thing wasn’t even the worst part. The worst part is the lifeless shrug of the shoulders they give nowadays when even they admit something doesn’t make sense.

Mad Jon: Like Homer not working and instead writing lines on the chalk board out of fear not being able to choke his small child?

Charlie Sweatpants: But it’s such a role reversal. Bart’s making someone else write lines!

Mad Jon: Right. I doesn’t make no sense.

Charlie Sweatpants: That made even less sense than the way Homer and Marge kept discussing pressing issues in bed. Marge calls the therapy place in the middle of the night, and then Homer wakes up from his montage-tacular dream sequence and Marge brings up the events of the day.

I almost admire the commitment to apathy it takes for them to have Marge bring that up then instead of just making it a scene the next morning. That shows real dedication to not giving a shit (if such a thing be possible).

Mad Jon: Still pales in comparison to the complete middle finger that was Marge and Lisa’s horse movie mini-plot,

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, what was that? B-plot feels like too strong of a term. C-plot too. "Interlude" almost fits the bill.

  Plot sneeze, perhaps?

Mad Jon: It really fits the pattern of needless scene change minus transition.

A transition such as "Now here’s Roy" would be better than this.

Charlie Sweatpants: Roy had the advantage of being intentional.

Mad Jon: And I like plot fart better than sneeze.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’m staying with sneeze. It’s much easier to hold in a fart than it is to hold in a sneeze. That felt almost involuntary.

Mad Jon: Dealer’s choice.

Charlie Sweatpants: I was going to ask if there was anything left, but we haven’t talked about the celebrity voices.

Mad Jon: Oh yes, Paul Rudd. I feel like he’s been in other episodes recently.

  What movie is he pitching?

Charlie Sweatpants: You’re thinking of those other guys who are in all the same movies and play all the same parts.

Mad Jon: Ohhhh, THOSE guys.

  Yeah probably.

Charlie Sweatpants: We haven’t had this much of a surfeit of slightly cute, slightly pudgy comedy dudes since at least the early 90s.

Mad Jon: I will admit that I did like Kareem’s under-the-breath comments about modern basketball players. Although it was unfortunate how we got there, and how long the choking scene lasted after that…

Charlie Sweatpants: I kinda like the line about Kareem being the only Laker he could trust, but whatever affection that engendered dissolved during the many dream stranglings or that ending scene. I forget which.

Mad Jon: That was also a good line. But good money after and before bad.

Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed. The desert thing (again with the desert) didn’t so much need to end sooner as it did never to start.

Mad Jon: Hmmm. Yes. Well there are a lot of cacti in the desert. Otherwise they would have to go to a cactus farm to poke Homer.

Charlie Sweatpants: But then what would they hang him from?

Mad Jon: I assume there would be a reason-less tree on the cactus farm.

I am sure it will be in a plot in the next few seasons. Let’s let the zombie writers figure it out for themselves.

Charlie Sweatpants: That’s a tall order. Six months from now they won’t remember this episode any more than we do.

Mad Jon: Your prediction is most just.

Charlie Sweatpants: For real this time, anything else?

Mad Jon: Other than the fact that Paul Rudd gets to tell his friends he voiced a guy that grabbed Homer’s penis? No. Nothing else.

Charlie Sweatpants: I can’t think of anything witty, so let’s end on that.

10
May
10

3 Hackneyed Teevee Marriages for the Price of 1!

 Chalkboard - Moe Letter Blues

“I felt kinda guilty cause I was always trying to score with his wife.” – Moe

I don’t mind exceedingly cliched cell phone shenanigans when they happen in dumb horror movies.  We know the characters need to be isolated, and it’s not a big deal.  In fact, the chronic failure of cell phones is the kind of thing a mildly comedic show might find some way to satirize.  Instead, Zombie Simpsons played it straight, blundering into another pop culture faux pas without even realizing it. 

But that was only a taste of the horrifyingly unpleasant time to come: Moe acting pathetic combined with scene after scene (after scene, after scene) of marital arguments.  They just kept on going, in one jokeless flashback after another we got to see poorly written and horribly cliched husband-wife tiffs.  And the suspense!  Ohh, how they milked it for all it was worth, is Moe really leaving forever?  Which husband/wife duo would be permanently split?  Oh wait, that’s right, there was never any danger of that happening.  But all that suspense, combined with the long couch gag and dialog-less Mother’s Day montage, did manage to stretch this thing to the required time. 

The numbers are in, and they’re still very bad.  Last night’s marriage counseling session was reluctantly attended by 5.66 million viewers.  That’s the fourth lowest all season and the fifth lowest all time.  In “insult to injury” news, Family Guy Spinoff #1 (American Dad) pulled in 5.75 million viewers.




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