Posts Tagged ‘Morgan Spurlock


Behind Us Forever: Treehouse of Horror XXVIII (Oh, and Morgan Spurlock returns)

“Oh, dear!” – Marge Simpson
“No, Mom, it counts as a hit. Dad just won the game.” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, I guess he’ll be happy when he comes to.” – Marge Simpson

A few quick breakdowns:

  • I finally watched that “Springfield of Dreams” special that FOX Sports paid Morgan Spurlock to produce to commemorate Homer’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s fine. Not great. Not terrible. Maybe a little too long and uneven, but watchable.Spurlock put his rolodex to work and brought in a crapton of famous people, some of whom work out better than others. Joe Buck, Bob Costas, George Will, and Dr. Oz(?) seem to only barely be in on the joke. Whereas Don Mattingly, Ozzie Smith, Mike Scioscia, and that baseball historian all made me at least chuckle. I have no idea why Russel Brand or Neil DeGrasse Tyson were there, I guess maybe the producers hoped they would tweet about it or something? Nick Offerman got to pretend to be Brad Pitt, Bush the Younger, and John Swartzwelder. That last one was a nice touch, though I’m guessing 95% of the people watching have never heard of him.

    Mostly it’s a retelling of “Homer at the Bat” in a Ken Burns style where clips from the episode are interspliced with talking heads or occasional Simpsons characters talking (Spurlock and two guys he work with wrote it). It spends more time than I’d have liked explaining jokes from twenty-five years ago (did you know it’s dangerous to put sheet metal over your head in a thunderstorm?), but overall it’s fine. And, hey, I got to use the Morgan Spurlock tag on this blog again. Been ages.

  • On to Treehouse of Horror XXVIII(!). It opens with an extended couch gag that’s the family as candy sitting in someone’s trick or treat bowl. There’s a decent joke when a leftover chocolate Easter bunny begs to die, which then gets run into the ground as the family slowly eats him. This needed to be a lot bleaker and have a lot less joke explanations.
  • The first segment is an Exorcist thingie that mostly involves Maggie killing characters at a dinner party in gruesome ways. It gets off to a bad start when Agnes and Helen walk into Maggie’s room suddenly to declare the party started. Eventually a priest comes in and the demon jumps into Bart, who likes it. The end.
  • The second segment started out semi-not-un-promising by being based on Coraline, which was awesome. Lisa goes through a small door to an alternate reality where things are animated in 3D and everyone has buttons for eyes. Pretty soon the whole family is there, but then they all come back to the usual universe. It ends with everyone there, including Other Mother Marge as a spider, and rip roaring dialogue like this:

    Button Homer: “Bart drew this picture of his family. Now we’re getting visits from a social worker and an exterminator.”
    Spider-Button Marge: “I’ll be ready!” [Shoots pistol, starts chainsaw]
    Lisa: “And I’ve learned no matter how bad things are, they could get much, much worse.”

    At that, Nelson walks in from nowhere so Lisa can zip and unzip his lips.

  • The third segment opens with Lisa in a tuxedo in front of a curtain, reminiscent of Treehouses of Horror past (sigh), warning us that, “What you’re about to see is so disgusting, you’ll watch Game of Thrones to calm down. You have been warned.” Turns out it’s about Homer eating himself piece by piece until there’s nothing left. It’s basically one joke over and over again and includes a montage and a self voiced celebrity chef who pulls the classic Zombie Simpsons intro of walking in unannounced and telling us his name.

Anyway, the numbers are in, and they’re up slightly but about the same. A self-consuming 3.66 million people watched this year’s Halloween episode when they could’ve been watching Coraline on DVD.


James L. Brooks FTW

“What about me?  You didn’t thank me.” – Homer Simpson
“You didn’t do anything.” – Bart Simpson
“I like being thanked.” – Homer Simpson

Sure enough the one thing about Spurlock’s special I didn’t like was the casual defense of the quality of Zombie Simpsons.  I suppose it had to be in there, but it was no less galling for being obligatory.  However, much like the overwhelming preponderance of clips from the early years I thought the kiss off was a little revealing.  It basically consisted of three people, two guys who worked only on Zombie Simpsons and James Brooks.  Let’s compare and contrast, shall we?

  • Dana Gould (earliest credit: Season 12): “The people who say ‘It was never as good as it was five years ago’, it’s like well, neither are you, that’s the problem.”
  • Matt Warburton (earliest credit: Season 13): “I think the internet message boards used to be a lot funnier ten years ago, and I’ve sort of stopped reading their new posts.”

Gould’s quote doesn’t even make sense.  From the context it is clear what he means, but “it was never as good as it was five years ago” is a contradiction in terms.  It’s impossible for something to “never” be what it used to be.  If that’s what he’s sporting in terms of verbal ability it’s no wonder he never contributed to a decent episode. 

Warburton at least manages to form a coherent sentence.  But what he’s saying wouldn’t pass muster as witty anywhere outside of a grade school playground.  “I am rubber you are glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!”  Nice try kid, call us back when you work your way up to “yo momma” jokes. 

In between those rather limp attempts to hurt the internet’s feelings was a much more intelligent quote from a guy who, unlike those two, actually contributed to The Simpsons.  James L. Brooks said:

“There’s nobody who ever went on-line to read comments about anything they’ve done that doesn’t come away with one sullen fuckhead someplace who says a thing that you’d have to have surgically removed from your brain.”

(Note: I’m pretty sure he said “fuckhead” but they both bleeped it and blurred his mouth so it might be something else.  Sounded like “fuckhead” though.)  I’d like to point out two things about this quote.  The first is that it is not a defense of Zombie Simpsons.  All he’s saying is that internet critics say things that will stick in your head forever. 

Second, and more telling, is the fact that Brooks is laughing when he says this.  He clearly doesn’t give a shit and thinks the whole concept is amusing.  Brooks is secure in what he’s done and confident enough in his work to roll with the punches.  Contrast that with the other two.  Gould seems genuinely irritated, bordering on actually angry.  Warburton affects the passive aggressive sullenness you’d expect from a spoiled child.  The truth hurts, doesn’t it fellas?


Morgan Spurlock Doesn’t Like Zombie Simpsons

“Look Bart, it almost killed me but I handcrafted all seventy-five characters from ‘Oliver Twist’.  And now, the coup-de-grace, a bitter snowstorm.” – Lisa Simpson

They say it is best to judge a man not by his words but by his actions.  By that criteria I would like to thank Morgan Spurlock for publicly disparaging Zombie Simpsons – on FOX itself.  To the untrained eye it looked like he was just eating an orange, but to the eye that has brains he was making a guerilla point about Zombie Simpsons.  It took a disturbing amount of my (admittedly not very valuable) time yesterday, but I went through the entire special and identified the episode titles for all but five clips.  The results are below and Zombie Simpsons has once again been shown to be horribly inadequate, this time in a nationally televised special paid for by FOX itself.

One “clip” is counted as a continuous sequence from a single episode.  For example, shots from several episodes in a row are separate clips for each episode, but multiple shots from a single episode without returning to “real people” footage is only one clip.  Total number of “clips” shown:

  Simpsons (Season 1-10) Zombie Simpsons (Season 11+)
Total # of Clips 101 13
Total # of Episodes 58 12

(See after the jump for my complete count as well as screen grabs and a discussion of the five clips I couldn’t identify.)

As you can see, clips from The Simpsons outnumber clips from Zombie Simpsons by nearly 8-1.  (These numbers do not include any clips from “Mr. Plow” or “Blame It on Lisa”, because there were whole segments on those two episodes.)  Moreover, if we look at the numbers in more detail we see that the 8-1 ratio is – content wise – actually generous to Zombie Simpsons.  Three of the Zombie Simpsons clips (23% of the total) come at the very end when they’re doing a simple chronological overview that has nothing to do with the content of the clips.  If we subtract that section out (for both The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons) we’d have a ratio of almost 10-1.

Numerically it’s not even a contest, but if we look at the context of each clip Zombie Simpsons comes off even worse.  The opening quarter of the special is about how great and awesome The Simpsons is; it’s just people talking about their favorite characters and places in Springfield.  During that entire stretch there is only one clip from Zombie Simpsons (of Kent Brockman from “You Kent Always Say What You Want”).  In the entire presentation about what makes The Simpsons so special, what makes the characters so great, what makes the town so relatable, that was the only mention of Zombie Simpsons.

In fact, an outright majority of the Zombie Simpson clips come from mentions about things foreign, be it Rio de Janeiro, London, Paris or China.  Zombie Simpsons has so thoroughly exhausted its ideas that it’s usually only worth mentioning when it concocts yet another way for the family to visit some exotic place.

Finally, I’d like to draw your attention to the section about nuclear power.  Spurlock interspersed clips from the show with interviews and shots of the real nuclear plant he visited.  Those clips came from six episodes, see if you can spot the one that doesn’t belong:

  • Last Exit to Springfield (Season 4)
  • Two Cars in Every Garage, Three Eyes on Every Fish (Season 2)
  • Homer’s Enemy (Season 8)
  • Homer Defined (Season 3)
  • I Married Marge (Season 3)
  • Bonfire of the Manatees (Season 17)

The clips from the first five listed above have to do with Homer working at the nuclear plant.  The clip from the last one comes about because one of the nuclear power representatives mentioned that manatees often live near real nuke plants.  In other words, all the humor about nuclear power comes from The Simpsons, the Zombie Simpson one is there just because someone said the word “manatee”.

(I don’t like doing jump pages, but in this case I’m making an exception because it’s a huge amount of text and I don’t want to distort the main page.  After the jump is the complete count identifying every clip along with screen grabs of the five I couldn’t place.)

Continue reading ‘Morgan Spurlock Doesn’t Like Zombie Simpsons’


Spurlock Update: Moby & Mr. Plow

“Call Mr. Plow, that’s my name.  That name again is Mr. Plow.” – Homer Simpson

Even though it’s going to involve putting up with a lot of batshit stupid Zombie Simpsons defending I’m still kinda excited for Spurlock’s special.  It can’t be all Zombie Simpsons defending and there’s probably a lot of neat stuff in there.  Case in point, Moby is keen on Homer’s little ditty above.  He has created a whole mess of different versions of the song and they’re all up on the internet now.  Behold the most YouTube embeds ever!

Mr. Plow Blues:


Mr. Plow Bossanova:


Mr. Plow Hip Hop (which gets video for some reason):


Mr. Plow Electro:


Mr. Plow Latin Lounge:


Mr. Plow Punk Rock:


Mr. Plow Psychedelic (groovy misspelling, man):

(via Laughing Squid)


Spurlock Update: Ah, Fuck

From a review of Spurlock’s special:

If there’s a weakness in the anniversary show, it’s that Spurlock doesn’t delve too far into the issue of how challenging it is for the series to live up to the impossibly high bar it set for itself in the 1990s.

Creator Matt Groening chuckles at one point about how fans are so invested in the show, they have no reservations about being intensely critical right to his face. That sets up a tremendous quote by Simpsons writer Matt Warburton, who says dryly, "I think the Internet message boards used to be a lot funnier 10 years ago -I’ve sort of stopped reading their new posts."

The Simpsons isn’t as funny as it used to be, everybody knows it, and it would have been nice had Spurlock inched a tad closer to that reality.

I’m still holding out hope for Spurlock’s bearded buddy, but not too much. 

By the way, I wasn’t familiar with the name Warburton, so I looked it up.  His first listed credit is from Season 13.  He may be a perfectly nice guy, I have no idea, but he had as much to do with making the show great as I did.  All he’s done is help crank out formulaic dreck so you’ll excuse me if I tell him to go fuck himself.  People saying mean things on the internet is no excuse for being terrible at your job. 


Spurlock Update: Commence Marketing Barrage

Morgan Spurlock was on a conference call with reporters recently to help promote his special.  Wired wrote it upThe list of past guest stars who will be featured in the special now includes John Waters (Homer’s Phobia), Sting (Radio Bart) and Jerry Springer (Treehouse of Horror IX).  Other than that there isn’t much new information. 

On a funnier and considerably more crass note, FOX will be slathering the color yellow over every available surface starting after New Year’s:

For the week beginning January 3, graphical elements across Fox properties will turn yellow in honor of Matt Groening’s iconic characters. That means on-air graphics, Fox’s Web sites, social-network pages and special on-air promos — all in yellow, along with a range of other stunts (such as local Fox news anchors wearing yellow ties).

I love the bit about the anchors’ ties.  One assumes that noose color alone won’t be enough.  Presumably they will also be ordered to have some of their on-air banter be Simpsons related, or possibly to produce a couple of local news-ish fluff pieces as well.  (Coming up after the break, meet Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa . . . hamsters at a local elementary school!) 

This is the best part though (“Earley” is Joe Earley, a FOX marketing executive):

"For a show to hit its 20th anniversary in today’s universe is such a feat, and it still has such a resonance in the zeitgeist," Earley said. "The show has viewers who have viewed it for three generations. Besides, it’s such a creative property that it’s fun to come up with ideas for it."

Excuse me, but “universe”, “resonance” and “zeitgeist”, aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? 


Spurlock & Ortved Updates

For his Simpsons special Morgan Spurlock has been getting various different musical acts to cover the Simpsons theme.  Now we can add Andrew WK and People Under the Stairs to that list

Then there’s this radio interview with John Ortved.  The whole interview is a little less than twenty minutes, but there are two parts I wanted to highlight.  The first is at 10:25 when Ortved discusses how the show actually got on the air.  All of this information is in the book, obviously, but it’s much more condensed here and it’ll give you a good idea of just how indebted we all are to James L. Brooks.  Right after that, at about the 13:00 minute mark, is a discussion between the host (pro-Zombie Simpsons) and Ortved (anti-Zombie Simpsons).  Ortved knocks it out of the park here but still manages to be politely Canadian.  Well done.


deadhomersociety (at) gmail

Run a Simpsons site or Twitter account? Let us know!

Twitter Updates

Subscribe to Our Newsletter


Useful Legal Tidbit

Even though it’s obvious to anyone with a functional frontal lobe and a shred of morality, we feel the need to include this disclaimer. This website (which openly advocates for the cancellation of a beloved television series) is in no way, shape or form affiliated with the FOX Network, the News Corporation, subsidiaries thereof, or any of Rupert Murdoch’s wives or children. “The Simpsons” is (unfortunately) the intellectual property of FOX. We and our crack team of one (1) lawyer believe that everything on this site falls under the definition of Fair Use and is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. No revenue is generated from this endeavor; we’re here because we love “The Simpsons”. And besides, you can’t like, own a potato, man, it’s one of Mother Earth’s creatures.