Posts Tagged ‘Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes?



25
May
11

Quote of the Day

Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes7

“Except for huge gaps in the western states, Hands Across America was a complete success.” – TV Announcer

13
Apr
11

Quote of the Day

Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes5

“This chair is two thousand dollars.  We could buy a whole living room set for that.” – Marge Simpson
“Marge, there’s an empty spot I’ve always had inside me.  I tried to fill it with family, religion, community service, but those were dead ends.  I think this chair is the answer.” – Homer Simpson

02
Dec
10

Compare & Contrast: Disney, The Simpsons, & Zombie Simpsons

“Yeah, I used to be rich.  I owned Mickey Mouse Massage Parlors, then those Disney sleazeballs shut me down.  I said, ‘Look, I’ll change the logo, put Mickey’s pants back on!’  Pfft, some guys you just can’t reason with.” – Railroad Bridge Bum

Walter Elias Disney is an inescapable presence in American animation.  Whether or not you like him, his work, or the giant company he spawned, when it comes to animation you are living in a world he did a great deal to shape.  The Simpsons always had some fun with this, enough that SNPP has an entire page dedicated to the show’s various Disney references and parodies.  Zombie Simpsons occasionally attempts to do this as well and, as with so much of Zombie Simpsons, falls haplessly short.

In “How Munched Is That Birdie in the Window”, Zombie Simpsons had what passed for an Itchy & Scratchy segment that was loosely based off of an old Disney cartoon called “Pluto’s Judgement Day”.  I mentioned this in Crazy Noises, but the animation here is really peculiar and I wanted to highlight it with examples.  Look at the startling contrast between Itchy and the background here:

Zombie Simpsons Judge

The two things that jump out are the coloring and the crispness.  The cave walls in the background and the podium in the foreground are both colored in various hues and shades.  The background especially gets darker to give the impression of a deep recess in the cave.  By contrast, Itchy is flat and monochromatic.  Every part of his face is the same color; his gavel, clothes and gloves also remain the exact same color and shade no matter what he does:

Zombie Simpsons Judge2

Itchy has gone from far away from the camera to right into the lens, and yet the only thing that changes is the shape of his various parts and objects, nothing in the coloring gives any hint that he’s moved at all.  The dramatic lighting of the background is similarly ignored.  Itchy got bigger, but there’s nothing other than size to indicate that he’s actually gestured forward. 

The precision of the lines on Itchy compared with the background is even more jarring.  Look at the awkward juxtaposition of his sharp hand against the fuzzy podium.  Now compare that to the gavel and the background behind it.  The two are identical – sharp lines vs fuzzy ones – which makes the overall image even more awkward because his hand is supposed to be physically on the podium and the gavel is supposed to be far in front of the cave walls.  The entire image is muddled because all of the tricks that give depth to the podium and the walls are ignored for Itchy. 

Now take a look at the Disney original (please forgive the lower resolution, I had to grab this from YouTube):

Disney Judge

The backgrounds are very similar in that they’re a little fuzzy and make a lot of use of color to both make the podium look tall and the walls look deep.  Now watch what happens when the Disney judge leans forward:

Disney Judge2

The lighting on every part of him, from his robe to his gavel to his mortar board, has shifted to give the impression that he has moved.  And there are touches beyond those as well.  The lines on his forehead are thicker since they are closer to the camera, the fur on his arm is standing up, the claw on his thumb is visible.  And look at where his robe meets the podium.  There’s no incongruous clashing of styles.  Despite the fact that he’s moving and the background is not, the judge looks for all the world as though he really is behind that podium.  Itchy, on the other hand, looks clumsily superimposed. 

Now let’s take a look at how something similar was handled by The Simpsons.  Way back in Season 4, in “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie”, the animation is almost a direct copy of its famous predecessor:

Steamboats

Itchy, like Mickey in the original, is animated in the same style as the background.  The same shades are being used, and the lines are all in the same layer of focus.  Both Itchy and Mickey look like they are standing on a boat.  This similarity in style is necessary for the parody to work.  The gag is the gruesome violence presented in that wriggly, wholesome 1920s style.  (Not that “Steamboat Willie” is exactly pacific.  Mickey tortures the fuck out of a bunch of animals in his lust for the perfect rendition of “Turkey in the Straw”.)  When we see Scratchy’s knees shot away to reveal naked bone underneath, it fits in with the animation style.  Ditto for when Scratchy’s head is locked into the furnace and his body writhes uncontrollably as he’s roasted alive.  Even the blood is cute. 

Of course, “Steamboat Willie” is much simpler than “Pluto’s Judgement Day”.  Disney and company were busy between 1928 and 1935: the animation is much more lush, it’s in color, and it makes use of all that implied lighting.  But, of course, “Steamboat Itchy” wasn’t the only classic Disney parody The Simpsons ever did.  For an even more damning comparison to Zombie Simpsons, let’s skip ahead to Season 6’s “Itchy & Scratchy Land”.

Fantasia, Disney’s great contribution to drug culture before there was such a thing, came out in 1940.  To call the animation superb is an understatement, and it would be nuts to try to parody it in all its particulars.  Instead, amidst many digs at Disney himself in the guise of Roger Meyers Sr., The Simpsons showed us “Scratchtasia”, a parody of the famous “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” segment.  They didn’t try to match the original visually, but their parody clearly demonstrates that they understand the elements that made it so iconic. 

Here’s Mickey’s first whack with the ax.  Note the lighting and shading (again, this is from YouTube, so the image quality is very suboptimal):

Fantasia1

We know that the source of the light and the action are in the next room, and we can see the door through which the shadows are being cast.  But leaving the action alone in shadow would lessen the ferocity of Mickey’s attack.  To increase the impact on the audience without directly showing the violence, the Disney gang alter the coloring and the lighting radically (and boy does this YouTube copy not handle red well):

Fantasia2

Mickey’s final swings dice up the straw bristles until nothing remains.  The broom is splintered into tiny pieces and there is no doubt in the audience’s mind that something brutal and violent just took place.  “Scratchtasia” uses the same techniques to convey the same message, but doesn’t try to mimic all the details.  Here we can see the first blow ready to fall:

Scratchtasia1

Just as in the original Fantasia, the gory part of the violence occurs in shadow.  But when the ax does start making contact, it alters the entire scene:

Scratchtasia2

The shapes and outlines are all still there, but the color and lighting have almost inverted themselves.  Without any explicit, on-screen blood and guts, or even a change in perspective, we know exactly what happened.  It’s not as colorful or as detailed as the original, but it doesn’t need to be.  The animation is clearly reminiscent of the source material without being at odds with itself. 

To be sure, there is an obvious technical difference between the classics and Zombie Simpsons: computer animation.  Despite the decades between “Steamboat Willie”, “Fantasia” and The Simpsons, all were drawn by hand with inks and dyes.  “How Munched Is That Birdie in the Window” wasn’t, but that doesn’t forgive the sloppiness on display above.  The soft focus, static background, for example, is rendered pretty well in ones and zeros.  It’s the motion where things fall apart, where characters are flat and monochrome, and no thought is given to lighting them at all.  Instead of doing the whole thing in the Disney style, or the whole thing in their own style, they did a mash of both and the result is off putting and ugly. 

It’s possible they just didn’t have the time to put in lighting and match the focus; it’s also possible that they just didn’t care.  Either way it’s poorly animated, and it’s unworthy of both The Simpsons and of Disney. 

Special thanks to No Homers user zartok-35 and commenter Shane for posting the video of “Pluto’s Judgement Day”.  Even without Zombie Simpsons, that was fun to watch again.  I don’t think I’d seen it since I was about seven years old. 

25
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes4

“Herb, let me give you the grand tour.  This is one of our many light switches, it functions in both the on and off mode.  On, off, on, off . . .” – Homer Simpson
“Homer, he knows how to work a light switch.” – Marge Simpson
“Oh yeah, right.  I don’t know what this switch does.” – Homer Simpson

Merry Christmas and have a great 1985 from the Dead Homer Society!

02
Dec
09

Quote of the Day

cough

“How was your day at work dear?” – Marge Simpson

“Oh, the usual.  Stand in front of this, open that, pull down this, bend over, spread apart that, turn your head that way, cough.” – Homer Simpson

09
Nov
09

Quote of the Day

Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes3

“Well I never thought I’d see it, they’re dancing on the Berlin Wall, these live and lively lovers of liberation.” – Not Tom Brokaw
“Boring!” – Homer Simpson

Happy 20th Anniversary, Eastern Europe. 

28
Sep
09

Quote of the Day

cash

“Oh brilliant, a cash settlement. I could have figured that out, you buttoned-down maggot!” – C. Montgomery Burns

cream

“You have any cream?” – Lawyer

manners

“Oh yes, of course, where are my manners?” – C. Montgomery Burns

17
Jul
09

Friday Link Dump – Emmy Apathy Edition

Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes2

This award is the biggest farce I ever saw.” – Lisa Simpson
“What about the Emmys?” – Bart Simpson
“I stand corrected.” – Lisa Simpson

Emmy nominations were announced this week and Zombie Simpsons didn’t get nominated for Best Comedy, but Family Guy did.  As a result, cartoon wars raged across the plains of the internet.  But I don’t care in the slighest; I have two reasons for this: 1) We’re talking about Zombie Simpsons not The Simpsons.  And 2)  It’s the fucking Emmys!  Who gives a shit?  Anyway, there’s some good usage plus an excellent idea for a Ramones themed restaurant.

D’oh! The Simpsons Celebrate 20 Years at the 2009 Fremont Oktoberfest – Live in or near Seattle?  This year’s Fremont Oktoberfest will have a bunch of Simpsons 20th anniversary stuff at it, including a Santa’s Little Helper look alike contest.

The Haunting in Connecticut (Unrated Cut) – I didn’t see this movie, but apparently it sucks:

No one’s quite sure exactly where America’s favorite family actually lives, but my money is on Springfield, Connecticut. Hear me out:
Demonic voice: “Get out!”
Marge: “What on earth was that?!”
Homer: “Probably just the house settling.”
I wonder if the Snedeker family–and the filmmakers behind The Haunting in Connecticut–are fans of The Simpsons. In the fall of 1990, the TV show aired the first of its brilliant “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, which included a haunted house parody (“Bad Dream House”) that still stands as one of my favorite moments of the series. It aired just a few years after the Snedekers moved out of their supposedly haunted house, and would have made great research material for people needing to come up with a good story.
I can forgive the family, but the filmmakers? Not so much. When a parody made nearly 20 years ago perfectly points out the flaws in your film, something is seriously wrong.

No one’s quite sure exactly where America’s favorite family actually lives, but my money is on Springfield, Connecticut. Hear me out:

Demonic voice: “Get out!”

Marge: “What on earth was that?!”

Homer: “Probably just the house settling.”

I wonder if the Snedeker family–and the filmmakers behind The Haunting in Connecticut–are fans of The Simpsons. In the fall of 1990, the TV show aired the first of its brilliant “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, which included a haunted house parody (“Bad Dream House”) that still stands as one of my favorite moments of the series. It aired just a few years after the Snedekers moved out of their supposedly haunted house, and would have made great research material for people needing to come up with a good story.

I can forgive the family, but the filmmakers? Not so much. When a parody made nearly 20 years ago perfectly points out the flaws in your film, something is seriously wrong.

This is a long ass review.

Speed Holes – It’s a Chevy with large speed holes.  Really.

Menu For The Ramones-Themed Restaurant I Plan To Open One Day – I would eat here, especially if it was my birthday.

The Daily Dig – ‘Human Powered Monorail’ Edition – A sly Simpsons reference at the end of this post leads to Simpsons related comments.  (Note: I tested this link before I posted this and it looks like the whole site is down or temporarily taken over by a generic hosting page, but I’m assuming it’ll come back at some point so I’m leaving the link.)

Childhood fave Tater Tots live on in hip bars and on comfort food menus – Discussing Tater Tots and quoting Skinner.  The quote itself is slightly off, but it’s close enough that it still merits a gold usage star.

Maggie Simpson – Cartoons – There’s a website called ratemydrawings.com.  This guy drew an awesome Maggie Simpson on it (with Bobo!).  I gave it a 5/5, plus you get to watch it be drawn.

Tony Hawks visits The Chocolate Line in Bruges – It’s about a visit to a chocolate store (the factory is boring) and it cromulently cites Simpsons.

Village Pizzeria in Rosemont – It’s a Chicago pizza review.  Here’s the excellently done Simpsons part:

I’m probably in the minority because I like salty Little Caesar’s pizza, but I am the Homer Simpson of rating pizzas. I don’t care if I find it under a couch, I’ll give it a good rating as long as it does not taste un-delicious.

But did she find a Hot Wheel on anything?

First Is The Worst – This woman uses The Simpsons to get her kids out of the bath on time.  Is there anything this show can’t do?

Albert Brooks – Finally, a tribute to Albert Brooks, including his many excellent Simpsons voices.  There are pictures of Brad Goodman, Jacques, and Russ Cargill.  I understand overlooking Cowboy Bob (the awesome RV dealer in “Call of the Simpsons”), but how do you not have Hank Scorpio?  Well, we’re going to complete this:

He'd rather make a friend than a profit.

He'd rather make a friend than a profit.

Wealthy man's fashion plate.

A wealthy man's fashion plate.

07
Jul
09

It’s a Baby Translator (Seriously)

Baby Translators

From The Simpsons to reality in only seventeen years.

Via Dintz and ThinkGeek comes the real world baby translator.  This one doesn’t speak in the voice of Danny DeVito, it just shows you whether the infant is Hungry, Bored, Annoyed, Sleepy, or Stressed. (That’s the symbol for “Annoyed” on the display image.)  The read out on the front, for lack of anything better to do, also displays the current temperature and humidity.

Maybe this thing could be tremendously useful to on-the-go 21st century parents, but I’m skeptical. What is the difference – for an infant – between “Annoyed” and “Stressed”?  What qualifies as “Bored” for a person with extremely limited motor control and little to no ability to understand speech?  It will cost you $100 and most of your remaining dignity.

02
Jun
09

Quote of the Day

Brother Can You Spare Two Dimes1

“Forgot there was a physical today, huh?” – Homer Simpson

“Yeah . . . hey Homer, can I borrow your underwear?” – Lenny

“Nah.” – Homer Simpson




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