Posts Tagged ‘Loan-a-Lisa

06
Oct
10

Crazy Noises: Loan-a-Lisa

Original Concept Art

Original concept art for Itchy & Scratchy “Up” parody in “Loan-a-Lisa”.

The Itchy & Scratchy bit at the beginning of “Loan-a-Lisa” was, to put it mildly, creatively bankrupt.  It starts by spending forty-five seconds re-enacting “Up” with nary a joke in sight; that would be bad enough, but Zombie Simpsons then makes things even worse.  Instead of ending with some kind of “Up” inspired violence (a balloon house falling on them, a giant blimp attack, a pack of remotely controlled dogs tearing them to pieces)  it ends by repeating not one, not two, but three (3) scenes from previous Itchy & Scratchy episodes.  In other words, they faithfully recreated “Up” until they could no longer directly copy the source material, then they copied something else.  They couldn’t be bothered to come up with their own ideas, even derivative ones. 

I know I said this last week, but it really does seem like they think developing new ideas is beneath them. 

Mad Jon: You guys ready?

Charlie Sweatpants: Sure am, let’s get this over with so I can never think about this episode again.

Dave: Word.

Mad Jon: This was pretty bad.

How many inheritances does Grandpa have to give out?

Charlie Sweatpants: As many as need be between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable.

Dave: Two so far and it was only funny the first time.

Mad Jon: It pains me that we are now to the point they don’t even try to avoid re-doing premises.

Dave: No they sort of revel in it.

  Faded glory and all that.

Charlie Sweatpants: Pretty much. That joke way back in Season 11 where Comic Book Guy comes on and says they did this already is looking better and better in hindsight. Now we don’t even get that.

Dave: They must think we’re stupid

Mad Jon: It’s probably more that they don’t care what we think or if we are stupid.

Dave: Well, that too.

Charlie Sweatpants: While we’re on the opening though, there are two excellent examples of painful joke stretching here. The small one is Bart mentioning how that won’t pay his vig, and then, because that line was so hard to come up with and didn’t last long enough, they cut to a shot of Jimbo in a conveniently placed window.

The second and much larger one was the whole deck of cards thing.

  That Grampa’s hands shake so bad he can’t play cards is kinda funny, but then they ruin it by having Marge extend the gag for another ten seconds of tortuous screen time.

Mad Jon: I actually was physically embarrassed when that kept going.

  That’s pretty rare for me with Zombie episodes, I usually just boil in anger.

Dave: You have a range of emotions as a human being.

Mad Jon: So I’ve been told.

Charlie Sweatpants: My "sympathy embarrassment" feelings for this show are pretty well numbed at this point.

Dave: Perhaps you will experience love next. But it sure as hell won’t be with Zombie Simpsons.

Charlie Sweatpants: He is married, you know.

Mad Jon: True, but in all fairness Teevee was my first love.

  My wife was 15 years or so too late.

Charlie Sweatpants: Speaking of marriages, did you enjoy the condensed 45-second version of Up? I sure didn’t.

Dave: Ha.

  No, that was miserable.

  It just kept going and the payoff was nonexistent.

Pretty much like every other I&S in recent memory.

Charlie Sweatpants: No, it existed. It was just a rehash of about three other Itchy & Scratchys.

Mad Jon: That was really bad. Up made me feel things and stuff, the never ending I & S made me want to cry.

  But not for the same reasons.

Charlie Sweatpants: There was another one like last year, albeit with a far more obscure film.

Mad Jon: Not that I cried at the opening of Up. No matter what any multiplex employee tells you.

Charlie Sweatpants: They are liars.

Dave: Jon, I share your secret shame.

Mad Jon: Not so secret anymore is it.

Dave: As long as we’re not flying to Holland and eating tulips.

Charlie Sweatpants: Now that was a movie parody. And I didn’t even need to suffer through "Sliver" to get the joke.

Mad Jon: What a delightful romp.

Charlie Sweatpants: In the spirit of good conversational transitions, Milhouse’s overly long rendition of "Hot Cross Buns" was another example of something that could’ve been funny if it had taken up about 10% of the screen time it actually did.

The first three words of that song was the joke, the next forty or so were just filler.

Mad Jon: Indeed, Milhouse’s girly behaviors can be wielded well, or poorly.

  This was poorly.

Charlie Sweatpants: There was also Skinner’s whole 11-dollars-an-hour thing.

It was funny at first.

  Then he ripped off his sleeves.

Mad Jon: Yeah, I was kind of checked out by then.

Charlie Sweatpants: Then Chalmers showed up.

Mad Jon: Oh yeah, then they argued about who saw it first.

  That just kept going.

Charlie Sweatpants: It did provide them with a way to explain the bad epoxy to Nelson. Though why Skinner didn’t mention it sooner was left like a turd on a buffet table.

Continuing my transitional efforts, the Wiggum buffet scene also sucked, as did the whole "bag in danger" . . . motif? Action sequence? I’m not even sure what that was, but it lasted for a very long time and had a lot of string music of suspense.

Mad Jon: I was a bit confused as to what to call the returning items thing, was that just one extra mini-plot or are we talking B-plot sub a and sub b?

Because there was the bag thing, and the Homer stuff.

But I guess that is relatively unimportant.

Dave: Classification in this case is superfluous, yes.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, it was unusual in that the b-plot started off as the a-plot, then it took a drastic left turn and became the b-plot.

  Really, the guilty party here is us, because we’re using the word "plot" to describe things that have no resolution.

Dave: Also true.

Mad Jon: Bad student. Uh-uh-uh, bad principal.

Charlie Sweatpants: The "returning things" story was premised on the idea that Homer couldn’t afford these things, and at the end he got stuck with the bill (sort of) and nothing happened.

Mad Jon: And Chris Hhhaaaannnsooon was there too.

Charlie Sweatpants: Again, sort of.

  Also, didn’t "To Catch a Predator" jokes get old about three years ago?

Mad Jon: Yep. Back when South Park did an episode about it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Sounds about right.

  Pop quiz: which guest voice was more pointless, Yunus or Zuckerberg?

Dave: Both?

Charlie Sweatpants: Nice try, but it’s a trick question. There is nothing colder than absolute zero.

Mad Jon: Nice.

Dave: It’s cute that Zombie Simpsons wanted to tackle microfinance. But it’s way, way out of their league.

Charlie Sweatpants: Does that mean that there are still some things in their league?

Mad Jon: Play-dough?

  Matchbox cars?

  Finger painting?

  …. that’s all I got.

Charlie Sweatpants: Jokes about when your lazy butler washes your sock garters and they’re still covered with schmutz?

Dave: Sure, that.

Mad Jon: Look at that waxy buildup.

Charlie Sweatpants: So this thing has totally wasted guest voices, stretches jokes way too long (the couch gag was interminable), and repeats shit from old episodes.

  Is that about it?

Dave: Wasted implies value. I’d call them pointless.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well put.

Mad Jon: Yep, potentially two or three shitty episodes cut short, except for where it would have helped, rolled into one 22 minute puke fest, sprinkled with old events redone, cook for 20 minutes at 150 and everyone dies from e-coli.

05
Oct
10

Wanted: Background Artist

Very late in “Loan-a-Lisa”, Lisa and Nelson go to an entrepreneur’s convention.  There’s no real plot reason for this to happen, but they had to cram the Facebook guy into this episode somehow.  And so was born one of the most pathetic scenes in a pathetic episode. 

In the credit where credit is due department, they did have some creative signs in the interior establishing shot of the convention, but that’s all they had.  Once that was over, all that happened was crappy animation, lame exposition, and the laziest and worst kind of guest voice: the celebrity cameo.  Mark Zuckerberg, one of the richest and most famous people on the planet, is sitting there, talking to no one, and patiently waiting for two kids he has never met to speak with him.  He has a few desultory lines, and then vanishes.  His part could’ve been played by a houseplant. 

Before they get to that, though, comes further proof of just how half assed Zombie Simpsons really is.  Take a look at the backgrounds as Lisa and Nelson are walking through the convention:

Static Background1

Note the generic man and woman doing generic convention stuff.  There is not a single piece of text in the shot, even on the equally generic storefront in the painting.  Now, let’s advance a few frames and see what happens:

Static Background2

The generic woman in the background has not moved, not one pixel.  Her hands are in the same place, her expression has not changed, she doesn’t even blink.  The same is true of every other background character, even as they change shots.  See the new generic man to the left of Lisa in the shot above?  There he is again in the close up:

Static Background3

The camera has zoomed in to frame Lisa at the exclusion of Nelson, but the background remains completely unchanged.  The guy in the blue suit is now slightly more visible from behind the table, but nothing else about him has moved.  His position, posture and expression are all identical.  He is not talking, gesturing, or doing anything else. 

None of the people in the background move.  At all.  They’re there to add life and depth to the shot.  But their presence ends up subtracting rather than adding from the atmosphere because they are utterly lifeless. 

Yet even those completely static people were apparently too taxing to animate, because for the rest of Lisa’s expository monologue, she and Nelson walk in front of a blank gray slate of background.  Here we have the perfect combination of lazy writing and lazy animating coming together to provide something with no entertainment value whatsoever:

Static Background4

The only element added to these backgrounds is a few splotches of slightly less dark gray.  There’s no text, no jokes, no attempt to be creative at all.  It’s just straight lines, right angles, and liberal use of the “Fill” command in Photoshop while Lisa drones on about staying in school.  After that trek through the comedy desert, they finally reach their destination:

Static Background5

There’s no attempt to make fun of Facebook, no slogan about trusting them with your private information, no disclaimer about them taking over the internet, nothing.  They didn’t even give it a funny name.  Nor does it make any sense for Zuckerberg to be there.  This is basically an advertisement for Facebook and a public relations boost for Zuckerberg, on the same weekend a less than flattering movie about him came out.  However, it does provide the one moment of levity in this entire sequence, albeit unintentionally. 

See Zuckerberg’s Facebook page in the background there?  The next shot has a tighter view of part of it, and therein we get a tacit admission of just how creatively bankrupt this show has been for so very, very long.  Below is a screen grab of the page.  In case it’s hard to read, here’s the text:

Facebook Hates Zombie SimpsonsMark commented on Cookie Kwan’s status
Mark wrote on Hank Scorpio’s wall.
Mark and Lucius Sweet are now friends.
Mark likes Dr. Hibbert’s photo.
Mark commented on Moe Szyslak’s status
Mark likes Hollis Hurlbut’s link.
Mark commented on Tattoo Annie’s status

Zuckerberg apparently only likes or knows characters from Season 9 and earlier.  Granted, Moe and Dr. Hibbert are long time regulars, but the rest of those are all one time characters who made their single appearances long, long ago.  I guess none of the Zombie Simpsons one timers since then rate a mention, even according to Zombie Simpsons. 

[Edited to fix a small mistake, see comments for details.]

04
Oct
10

Slapped Together

Chalkboard - Loan-a-Lisa

“As you may know, I might not be around much longer.  So I’ve decided to give you your inheritance before I die, that way I can see you enjoy it.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

Frankenstein’s Monster had less obvious stitch marks where the pieces were sewn together than this episode.  We’ve got Lisa and Nelson getting involved (“Lisa’s Date with Density”), Marge splurging on something and returning it (“Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield”), Grampa passing on money to kick start the plot (“Lisa vs. Malibu Stacey”), the kids doling out their inherited money (“Bart the Fink”), and someone wanting to use found money to rent a carpet cleaner (“Bart on the Road”).  Even the Itchy & Scratchy bit wasn’t immune, with Scratchy getting married and living happily ever after, Itchy blowing him up in the grave, and Itchy vacuuming up his ghost.  And no, the irony of watching an episode about squandered inheritance squandering its own inheritance didn’t make it any more enjoyable. 

Of course, the episode had a lot of problems beyond those.  The b-plot was nonsense, had no ending, and had Jerkass Homer at his worst.  The a-plot kind of had an ending, but mostly it just petered out after blowing through its various guest voices. 

The numbers are in and, sadly, they have gone slightly up.  I hate when that happens.  Last night’s parade of unrelated bits was seen by 8.59 million people.  That’s up from last week, though it’s still low by the fall standards of the show.  I’m not sure how much of that is Mark Zuckerberg related; though I don’t think it’s the least bit coincidental that this episode came out the same week as The Social Network.

03
Oct
10

Sunday Preview: “Loan-a-Lisa”

Look at me, I'm an overexposed "billionaire."

Mark Zuckerberg is going to be on Zombie Simpsons tonight.  Is it possible for a show to be even more dead to me?  Yes, yes it is.  For those of you who care, here’s the lowdown:

When Grampa gives each member of the family a portion of his savings, Lisa and Marge spend their money in drastically different ways. Lisa invests in Nelson’s brand-new business venture, but soon realizes that her friend’s instant success might lure him away from the classroom. Worried that his judgment might be clouded, Lisa introduces Nelson to the well-educated and successful creator of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg (guest-voicing as himself), only to find out that he too dropped out of school. But when the soaring business suddenly takes a sharp turn, Lisa teaches her friend that education is invaluable

Recycled plot point?  Check.  Recycled title?  Check.  Pointless guest star?  Check.  Call me when it’s over.




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