Posts Tagged ‘Moe Letter Blues


Crazy Noises: Moe Letter Blues

A High F

“Well, a fifty-nine, it’s a high F.” – Mrs. Krabappel

In our continuing mission to bring you only the finest in low class, low brow, and low tech internet Simpsons commentary we’re bringing back our “Crazy Noises” series and applying it to Season 21.  Because doing a podcast smacks of effort we’re still using this “chatroom” thing that all the middle schoolers and undercover cops seem to think is so cool.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on  “non sequitur”).

A few weeks ago, I wrote that while “Postcards from the Wedge” was terrible, it was probably about as good as Zombie Simpsons can do.  I feel the same way about “Moe Letter Blues”.  It had an Itchy & Scratchy episode that could’ve been decent, it had a couple of mildly witty lines, and (however much I found the structure and presentation wanting) it had a story that had some thought put into it.  But if this is it, if this really is the best they can do, then it’s all the more reason to end this show as soon as possible.

Despite those little hints of humor, the episode was rife with cringe worthy moments of awfulness.  There were pointlessly out of character shenanigans, especially from Moe and the Bouvier sisters.  There were jarringly poor voice performances, Kavner either can’t or didn’t want to do the rasp for Mrs. Bouvier, and if you’re going to do Manjula you really need to get Jan Hooks.  There were painfully stupid set pieces like the scene with Moe’s note and the cell phones, and the constant marital bickering.  The list goes on.  This is mediocre, formulaic, paint-by-number, boring ass television.

The occasional eyelid flutter doesn’t mean the patient is coming out of the coma.

Dave: Anyway, don’t let my foul mood throw us off

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, why don’t we get started then, and use your foul mood?

Dave: They lost me at “Hello, darkness.”

Mad Jon: I must say I am tired of “Moe is depressed and suicidal, but he’ll help the cause in the end” episodes.

Dave: Once again, a brief non-sequitur sets the stage for a tremendously tedious episode.

Mad Jon: Why was he narrating the episode again? Couldn’t that have played out almost identically with out a third person narrative?

Charlie Sweatpants: It was based on some movie, don’t worry about it.

Mad Jon: Ah.

Dave: Yep, missed that one.

Charlie Sweatpants: Honestly, I thought the narration, while bad, was about the only place they showed any creativity whatsoever.

Mad Jon: Except it was a takeoff of a movie neither Dave nor I know about.

That’s pretty abstract.

Charlie Sweatpants: Like everything else that’s mildly good they managed to string it along way longer than it could support.

Mad Jon: In fairness, after the first few minutes I hardly even noticed anymore.

Charlie Sweatpants: The real horror here was the epic number of marital disputes we were forced to endure.

Dave: I’m all for esoteric references, but it feels so hollow when Zombie Simpsons does it.

Mad Jon: Agreed. That was painful three times harder than it usually is or ever needs to be.

Charlie Sweatpants: But it wasn’t just three times, each one had a setup scene that sucked, a flashbacks scene that made it worse, and then a “tense” resolution scene.

It was nine, not three, which is among the reasons it was so awful.

Dave: You’ve got a point there.

Mad Jon: And there was a mumbling carnie.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, what was with that?

Dave: “I am the Angel of Death,” but not funny.

Mad Jon: I dunno, it reminded me of a poor parody of that Bart Carnie episode, which in itself was relatively poor.

Better than this episode, but still poor.

Charlie Sweatpants: Jim Varney is rolling in his grave.

Mad Jon: You know what I mean?

Charlie Sweatpants: But the entire amusement park was a waste.

Mad Jon: And when did the Van Houtens get remarried?

Charlie Sweatpants: I was wondering that too.

Dave: I think that happened recently.

Mad Jon: I guess someone finally lent him a feeling?

Charlie Sweatpants: Ba-zing.

Dave: No glove of love, no dice.

Mad Jon: you heard the lady, take it outside.

Charlie Sweatpants: Back to the amusement park, it’s not a bad idea to trap kids and parents in some hellish place like that, but they just used it as an excuse to get three improbable characters together for some expository dialog and flashbacks.

The cell phone thing was just the tip of the iceberg.

We were then treated to scene after scene of the three of them saying the same thing over and over.

Mad Jon: I was surprised there was no comment/joke about homer’s harpoon gun.

Dave: Wikipedia says “Little Orphan Millie,” circa 2007, as the episode where the Van Houtens reunited.

Mad Jon: Also they had the wide-eye stare each time they reminisced.

Charlie Sweatpants: At this point harpoon guns are vanilla.

Mad Jon: Ah, that would pre-date my requirement to watch Zombie-sodes.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ditto.

Dave: All of us, certainly.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, and why did the boat crash into the dock?

Mad Jon: Also I was much happier when Otto’s drug issues were implied and no animated. MUCH happier.

The boat crashed because the pole Homer was using to text Marge was meant to stop the 60 foot boat at the dock.

Then it ended up in the ocean somehow.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh man, I forgot about Otto’s little hallucination. Talk about stretching things to fill time.

Dave: It was an excuse to animate an explosion and toss in a lame joke.

Calling it a joke is, of course, generous.

Mad Jon: It was a joke in the way that every character in the opening credits suffers what would be life-threatening injuries is also a joke.

Charlie Sweatpants: Speaking of lame excuses for jokes, they actually managed to screw up a Patty & Selma bit.

Dave: Oh god, what was that?

It just wouldn’t stop.

Mad Jon: I must have missed that one.

Charlie Sweatpants: During Homer and Marge’s flashback, at the party for all the Bouvier women Julie Kavner has a hard time voicing now.

Mad Jon: In all fairness my attention was divided between the episode and making macaroni. You can guess which one had the honor.

Yeah, I remember Marge’s mom sounding, you know, like Marge’s mom is supposed sound, But not this time apparently.

Dave: The voice was off for Manjula too…

Charlie Sweatpants: What really sucked about it was the way Patty & Selma were inadvertently pissing Homer off, instead of intentionally.

Mad Jon: I wish that VW bus would explode with Manjula and the octuplets inside it. That I would give a pass to.

Charlie Sweatpants: He had to keep taking their picture, but they were sincere in trying to get him to take it and in their reasons each picture was wrong. If they had set him up to fail it would’ve been just like them, but instead they were just trotted out to do something the real Patty & Selma would never do.

Dave: Charlie, you’re right. There was no real malice, which is a tragic mischaracterization of the whole Patty/Selma/Homer relationship

Mad Jon: Oh yea, the picture scene, I remember hearing that while I was mixing cheese powder and butter.

Sounds like it was best that I missed the visual “comedy”

Charlie Sweatpants: Not really, it was just Homer taking their picture over and over again.

Mad Jon: Class act.

Dave: At least it wasn’t a montage.

Mad Jon: Yes, this episode was surprising montage-free. They must have been short staffed at the writer’s meetings.

Charlie Sweatpants: I dunno, that flashback at the end were Moe explains everything is kind of a montage.

Mad Jon: Oh yea, forgot about that one, but it was voiced over, not played to 80’s music.

Dave: I wasn’t saying there wasn’t a montage at all, just that that particular instance was not.

And it could have well been, given this season’s penchant for annoying time sucks.

Charlie Sweatpants: What about the photo montage over the end? That was before the credits, that certainly counts as a montage.

Dave: Right, that was.

Mad Jon: Don’t remember that.

Dave: No disagreement.

Charlie Sweatpants: Draining your macaroni?

Mad Jon: But I was even more checked out than usual once I discovered that once again Moe was saving the day.

And I was well into the eating stage by then.

Charlie Sweatpants: Before we wind down, I’d like to point out how very television-y the marital problems were.

Mad Jon: No sex, check. No attention, check. No ability to raise children with dry cricket uniform, check. Yep, you’re right.

Charlie Sweatpants: When Helen came down the stairs in her nightie and Tim blew her off, it was written in the clammy, ghost hand of a thousand fake television-marriage fights.

Then Apu wakes up all the kids for no reason whatsoever.

Mad Jon: With the quickie mart lullaby CD transition to the Indian radio station.

Dave: Sure there was a reason, to fire off a exchange filled with Indian puns and nonsense

Charlie Sweatpants: There’s that.

Doesn’t make it a good idea.

Dave: You’ve got me there.

Mad Jon: And then Marge gets upset for Homer doing various things that don’t help her prepare for her mother’s 80th birthday.

What ever happened to her only asking Homer to put on pants and him not doing it?

Charlie Sweatpants: And she invited Flanders over to mind him.

Mad Jon: With a non-alcoholic bar

Dave: I will say the appearance of Flanders led to the one bit where I chuckled

Charlie Sweatpants: Things like that are how you know they really don’t care. They thought it would be funny to have a lot of devils on Homer’s shoulder, so they needed Flanders to be there. End of story.

Mad Jon: Fair enough.

Dave: Out of context, the many Devil Homers were worth a smile

Charlie Sweatpants: Enh.

Dave: Wildly out of context.

Charlie Sweatpants: I would’ve like the Itchy & Scratch episode if it hadn’t taken the better part of a minute.

Dave: It did go on for ages.

Charlie Sweatpants: It wasn’t a bad idea, but they dragged it out way past what it could support.

Mad Jon: I felt the same way. Cut it down and that was close to average form.

It’s really sad that the cartoon within the cartoon is by far the best part.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, it’s not like having a cat and mouse fight is hard to do.

Mad Jon: May I remind you of Worker and Parasite?

Dave: It has been hard for the writers recently.

Mad Jon: Now that I think of it, I liked that one.

Charlie Sweatpants: The “House” one from a few weeks ago was awful in its entirety, this at least could’ve been decent.

Mad Jon: I don’t even remember that, and don’t bother trying to remind me. It’s not worth it.

Dave: Eh, I wasn’t impressed. They’ve done I&S and moon-related shenanigans before, and better to boot.

Charlie Sweatpants: True enough.

Is there anything else? This is one of those extremely compact episodes because only three things really happened, they just happened over and over and over again.

Mad Jon: I got nothing.

Dave: Nah. Shut it down.

Charlie Sweatpants: Would that we should be so lucky.


Synergy Has a Small Suggestion

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1b

“There’s some candy right here, sir.  Why don’t we eat this instead of stealing?” – Mr. Smithers

IGN is finishing the season strong.  Not only does this week’s agitprop praise transparently hackneyed story shortcuts (see: Moe’s interactions with the Lovejoys and the Nahasapeemapetilons), but goes so far as to offer a suggestion about how it could’ve been even better!  IGN couldn’t ignore the stupidity of using an elopement with Moe as the plot fulcrum, but rather than ignore the awful fake tension it put on the rest of the episode, they offered up a little change and called it a day.  IGN, it’s not sycophantic criticism, it’s constructive sycophantic criticism.

I’ve edited out the synergy, though I left the last paragraph largely alone.  Enjoy.

The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons has been on quite a run. The last several episodes have been some of the best worst we’ve seen in recent seasons. And the run continued with "Moe Letter Blues." Sunday’s episode was a nice hacktacular stab at a Mother’s Day treat, told through long winded narration and goofy, cliched flashbacks, all while scoring whiffing big with on the laughs.

The storytelling in "Moe Letter Blues" was what stood out first. Things started with Moe narrating, and then moved on with flashbacks from Homer, Apu and Reverend Lovejoy as they tried to figure out which of their wives might be running off with Moe. This could have been was clunky and unnecessary, but and the writing made it work even worse than it had to be. The flashbacks flowed were tied together well haphazardly and made sense only from an omniscient Moe’s point of view. The episode even wisely made failed to make fun of its own set-up. While Moe was easily in place to witness the troubles between Homer and Marge and Apu and Manjula, he was comically shoehorned into the flashback for the Lovejoy’s and Apu and Manjula. There, Moe randomly poked his head out from behind the church to witness the turmoil and the Nahasapeemapetilons stopped at Moe’s for some reason.

The issues between the couples offered up a number of laughs teevee cliche couple arguments. Homer and Marge’s problems are nothing new to the series. Homer has offered up loads of relationship advice throughout the series’ Zombie Simpsons 400 200-plus episodes, and he added another great one bland stinker on Sunday: "Women don’t mean anything by anything." The most least fun, though, came between Apu and Manjula. Apu is best known as used to be the pleasant and chipper Kwik-E-Mart clerk, but some of his most memorable moments have come from an annoyed and angry Apu. His arguments with his wife in this episode were the standout bits a reminder that we liked the old Apu better, including their debate over the radio station ("Having a ‘Ma-Hot-Ma or Ma-Not-Ma’ contest is not a jape. It is sexist sacrilege."), and then later forgetting a ‘tuplet.

Along with the fun boring, interweaving main story, "Moe Letter Blues" was packed with a number of other great gags time killers. The barfly rodeo was fun way too long, especially Lenny as the rodeo clown which could’ve been funny if it hadn’t taken fifteen seconds. Weasel Island offered up a lot of no laughs, most from including the meta amusement park advertisement: "Warning: You many not be amused." The episode also included a fantastic slow paced Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, plus a brief but hilarious underwritten guest spot from the voice of Saturday Night Live, Don Pardo. When Moe wondered out loud in his narration what sort of dough Pardo made from voiceover work, his distinct voice chimed in with, "I make more than you can possibly imagine, and I’m making it right now."

One issue I did have with the episode was Moe’s, "I’m leaving town forever and taking one of your wives" statement in his letter. You know there’s no way Moe would ever be leaving the series or running off with any of these women, so the claim never held any drama. As the men returned home, you never expected to see that one of the wives had run off. It might have worked better if Moe had simply said he was going to sleep with one of the women. This would have been a little more believable in the realm of the series and certainly would have been more in line with Moe’s character. That aside included, however, the storytelling and humor relentless “suspense” of "Moe Letter Blues" delivered yet another great tired episode from a very strong yet another tired season of The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons.


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.


Sunday Preview: “Moe Letter Blues”

Thanks to SNPP, we have a short preview of tonight’s Zombie Simpsons. There’s an additional “WARNING: FLASHBACK ALERT,” which in Zombie Simpsons parlance means revisionist nonsense and gaping plot holes inserted to advance a mediocre story. Don’t let the brevity throw you for a loop – it’s almost certainly going to be miserable:

While Homer, Apu, and Reverend Lovejoy are vacationing together with their children, they receive a letter from Moe… who says he’s planning on running away with one of their wives.

Who wants to bet Moe will attempt suicide in a desperate cry for attention? Remember when Moe was just bitter and angry, instead of whiny and needy? Yeah, those were the days.


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