“Hey, I remember you. Mayor Quimby, right?” – Lisa Simpson
“I, uh, er, ah, no. Look at this license: Mohammed Jafar.” – Mohammed Jafar
As part of our tireless efforts to demonstrate the many ways Zombie Simpsons fails to entertain, Season 23 will be subjected to the kind of rigorous examination that can only be produced by people typing short messages at one another. More dedicated or modern individuals might use Twitter for this, but that’s got graphics and short links and little windows that pop up when you put your cursor over things. The only kind of on-line communications we like are the kind that could once be done at 2400 baud. So disable your call waiting, plug in your modem, and join us for another year of Crazy Noises. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “inconsequential”).
There were a lot of pointless scenes in “Holidays of Future Passed” that were nothing more than Zombie Simpsons checking in on various characters to see how they were doing in the future. One in particular, Homer throwing a rock at Burns Manor, stands as a good example of why even the ones that were funny fall flat.
First, think about what’s going on. Homer is watching Bart’s kids and decides, apropos of nothing, to take them “downtown”. In this case, “downtown” means the Kwik-E-Mart and walking by Burns Manor. That’s it. The entire trip is the flimsiest possible excuse for the episode to work in Apu, who gets into a giant gunfight, and Burns.
What happens when Homer and the boys walk past Burns Manor? Homer chucks a rock through Burns’ window:
That’s a hell of a throw.
We’re two seconds into this scene and it’s already fallen apart. Remember, the whole premise of Homer in this episode is that he’s sober and responsible now. That’s the reason he’s watching Bart’s kids. So even if we set aside the fact that they just walked out of the Kwik-E-Mart and decided to stroll past the corner of Croesus and Mammon, what possible reason is there for Homer to hurl a rock through Burns’ window? Kicks? Anger? He never says a word, and neither do Bart’s usually stuck up and responsible kids.
Right after that, Burns pops up in the broken window and tells someone, it’s not clear who, to release the hounds. That prompts Smithers, who must’ve just been waiting by the gate, to appear stage left:
Being eight feet away, he naturally didn’t say anything before Homer threw the rock.
Smithers, who hasn’t aged much in thirty years, dumps out a box of bones, Homer imitates the audience and shrugs, and the scene ends. No part of the setup, the action, or the punchline make any sense or fit in with each other. And while I understand that it’s just a cheap throwaway joke (dog bones, ha ha!), the episode is wall to wall with scenes like this one.
Flanders appears unprompted at an open window to discuss his love life. Patty and Selma do the same. Skinner’s there for a tiny cameo as Bart’s landlord. Krusty shows up to act painfully unfunny as Andy Rooney (which Bart was surprised by for some unfathomable reason). These scenes are clumsy, they distract you from what’s going on, and they involve the usual Zombie Simpsons nonsense of people appearing out of nowhere and acting dumb.
Zombie Simpsons is clearly going for that “Lisa’s Wedding” feeling, but there’s nothing here that tracks with what we know of the characters. Quimby getting indicted and having to drive a cab? That fits and it’s funny. The same goes for Milhouse rising to his natural rank as a bitter middle management type, and a frozen Burns sporting seventeen stab wounds in the back. “Holidays of Future Passed” doesn’t have that, it just serves up cheap throwaway jokes, one after another.
Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to get started?
Charlie Sweatpants: This episode made me wonder if the Zombie Simpsons people are swapping ideas with the people behind the new Futurama episodes.
Dave: In the sense of "what might be?"
Because there was a whole lot of future-silliness going on
Charlie Sweatpants: Pretty much, things like joking that Google had enslaved half of humanity, or have Kearney say "do it the old fashioned" way when his magic gloves drove the taxi.
Both of those felt very Futurama-y to me.
Dave: I can see that
Charlie Sweatpants: There were a lot of things like that, some of which worked better than others.
Dave: Yeah, I don’t know if I was in a generous mood or if my lack of sleep was clouding my judgment, but I found much of the episode not reprehensible.
It wasn’t good, let’s be clear. But it wasn’t the unrepentant shitshow these have usually been
Charlie Sweatpants: I sort of agree. This one was basically one of those episodes where they tell three unrelated stories: Lisa and her daughter, Bart and his kids, and Maggie having a baby. None of them made any sense in the least, but along the way there were some decent, as I said, Futurama-type gags.
Dave: Exactly right
Charlie Sweatpants: The problem is that way too many of them didn’t land. The Lenny-Carl thing was just awful, and that was before they kept it going so the two of them could exposit about how weird things got.
Homer breaking Burns’ window and Smithers walking over to dump a box of bones was also long and lame.
To be sure, there were some good things, but mostly they were background stuff, Church of Lard Lad is the first thing I’ve out and out laughed at all season.
Dave: Yes, I enjoyed that greatly
Agreed that some of the gags felt strained (nothing new there), but as you say they were essentially inconsequential.
Charlie Sweatpants: Flanders and Maude’s ghost, Patty & Selma’s love bots, the repetitive freezing and unfreezing of Grampa, there were a lot of them that either went on way too long or just plain didn’t work.
Dave: The freezing of Grampa definitely went on about a minute too long
We knew they were going to wrap it with a bow (sorta) so why delay the inevitable?
Charlie Sweatpants: That’s about the size of it. Same with Lisa’s daughter. As soon as she goes into the computer (again, Futurama much?) you know they’re going to have some goofy reconciliation.
Dave: Oh sure. I’d be shocked if someone didn’t see that coming
Charlie Sweatpants: Did any of the little set pieces other than Lard Lad jump out at you as particularly good (or bad)?
Dave: I sort of enjoyed the airport/airplane bit
It went on too long, but seemed to accurately convey the dystopian hell in which I spend much of my life.
Charlie Sweatpants: The airplane thing wasn’t bad, though you’re right it did go on too long.
Much like an actual airplane flight, I suppose. Though that’s not the world’s most complimentary comparison.
Charlie Sweatpants: Overall though, there are some decent bits, but there are just as many dumb ones, and to get through it all you’ve got to sit through scenes like the one where Bart and Lisa get drunk and complain at each other, as well as Bart pining for his ex-wife and Marge resenting Lisa, which goes nowhere.
It’s a very bumpy road. Much better than the gaping chasm of most of Season 23 so far, but that doesn’t say much.
Dave: That’s the long and short of it, yep.
All the same, glad it’s over with and that we don’t have to deal with another episode until January.
Charlie Sweatpants: That’s a future I can believe in.