Posts Tagged ‘Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend

17
May
12

Crazy Noises: Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend

Homer's Night Out3

“Alright, folks, show’s over.  No more to see, folks, come on.  Only sick people want to see my folks kiss.” – Bart Simpson

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 “haggard”).

Before we discard “Ned ’N Edna’s Blend” onto the forgettable slag heap of Zombie Simpsons, I’d like to point out two problems with the final scene that nicely expose just how vapid Zombie Simpsons is when it comes to character and humor.  After Flanders and Krabappel have their tiff at the reception, the next scene is Ned in the Simpsons’ kitchen learning something about not always being a perfect parent.  The scene after that is at the school where Ned and Edna reconcile.

Set aside any questions you may have about whether or not Ned was staying with the Simpsons, or what happened to Rod, Todd and Edna while he was there, or what happened to Rod and Todd generally, since neither of them is in the last two scenes.  Zombie Simpsons doesn’t care, neither should you.  Instead, just consider this last scene, where Flanders bursts into the auditorium and seizes the microphone to declare his love of Edna and willingness to change his ways.

First of all, what’s happening here is that Flanders is, very rudely, intruding into Krabappel’s workplace to make a grand show of love/forgiveness/whatever.  This is an official school function in the middle of the day, and Ned breaks in and hijacks it.  Neither Krabappel nor anyone else is the least bit upset by this, which is all the more ironic because (as discussed below) she actually apologizes for not respecting Ned’s “boundaries”.  What could be less respectful to someone’s boundaries than causing a massive disruption at your spouse’s workplace?  Like so many others, this scene has no characters, only props that look like people.

Second, there’s the reaction of the kids.  Even though Krabappel just told them she doesn’t care about children, they all clap and cheer wildly when she and Flanders kiss.  Not only is this out of character for the kids, but it’s also the opposite of funny.  Having them applaud is the kind of mind fogging schlock you’re more likely to find at the end of a low brow romantic comedy, it’s not a joke at all.

Now, if the characters had been acting like real people, that happy ending could’ve had meaning.  But with the characters acting like one dimensional nobodies, the happy ending and cheering children are just empty pandering, so there’s no reason not to at least try to make it funny.  And since the only possible joke there is to have the kids boo, Zombie Simpsons naturally does the opposite.  It’s a remarkable display of indifference to both character and comedy.

Charlie Sweatpants: You guys ready to get started?

Mad Jon: Yes sir.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well then, I thought this episode was terrible. Anyone care to disagree?

Mad Jon: No. No I do not.

Dave: Not particularly.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay then, I’d like to alert our affiliates that we will be ending our show early tonight.

Mad Jon: Good, they can switch to the end of another chat session about a shitty TV show.

Dave: Or use their time to wisely contribute to society in some meaningful way.

Mad Jon: There were many glaring issues with this one.

Charlie Sweatpants:  Pick one.

Mad Jon: Wasn’t Ned dating Kate Hudson or something? Also didn’t he have a relationship with that Christian music person?

Charlie Sweatpants: Hmm, I don’t know. The Christian rocker lady was like ten seasons ago. I really have no idea.

Dave: There was the Christian music woman. That much I remember.

I vaguely remember murmurs about Nedna.

Mad Jon: Hmm. This was completely out of the blue to me.

Charlie Sweatpants: Since last year’s publicity stunt, the weirdness of the relationship has worn off a little, but not much.

They just make a really odd couple, and the fact that Zombie Simpsons did a whole episode about them not fitting together just made it worse.

When Flanders cries out "This marriage isn’t perfect!", I was really wondering what the point was supposed to be. Were we supposed to think he thought it was perfect before that?

And if so, why would he think that?

Mad Jon: Yeah, that was a classic zombie statement. Say something Obvious!!!!

I can call it classic, because it has been going on for about a decade or so.

Dave: No joke, a decade of mediocrity

Mad Jon: At a minimum.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s best not to think about it.

But that mismatch between what they had the characters feeling and anything that could be called "making sense" was shot through the whole episode.

Under duress I guess I could buy Flanders and Krabappel getting into a fight at the reception, but why on Earth would he smooth things over in front of the entire school?

Mad Jon: It felt like all of the ‘dramatic’ scenes were just a needle with which to inject one of the core characters.

Not that this a new thing, but it was exceedingly apparent to me for this one.

Charlie Sweatpants: Worse than usual, I’d agree.

Mad Jon: For example, Krabappel is having an issue watching Rod and Todd, but don’t worry! Bart is standing at the open window!

Dave: Ready to cure the world’s ills.

Mad Jon: The hospital scene was both the most obvious and the most annoying.

Charlie Sweatpants: Apparently they think it’s cute to acknowledge how stupid everything is.

I’m of a different opinion.

Mad Jon: Well, I guess you are entitled to your own opinion. However drunken and Peoria-ish it may be, stupid commoner.

Charlie Sweatpants: It just bugs me that they know how sloppy their characters and story are, but don’t do anything about it.

Mad Jon: Agreed.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s not like you couldn’t construct a decent story around two people as different as Krabappel and Flanders working things out. They just don’t give a shit.

Mad Jon: I think there are lots of TV shows based around this kind of arrangement. Some were even popular!

Great, now I have the theme to The Odd Couple stuck in my head.

Charlie Sweatpants: You have no one to blame but yourself for that.

Mad Jon: Fair enough.

Charlie Sweatpants: More to the point, the serious parts of this episode was particularly bad. The whole Marge and Homer argument in the kitchen in front of Flanders, for example.

I wonder if there was actually a segment blocked off in the script that said "This is where Flanders learns the lesson".

Dave: You mean the excuse for Homer to yell shit and get indignant?

Mad Jon: That just wouldn’t end. In all fairness I, correctly, prejudged how that scene would be and actually didn’t write anything down.

Looking back at the few, but hilarious, disagreements Maude and Ned got into, he didn’t technically have a perfect marriage back then either.

"You knew I had a temper when you married me."

Charlie Sweatpants: That’s my point. We know that both of them know what it’s like to be married, and yet the episode insisted on treating them like they were both love struck nineteen-year-olds.

Mad Jon: I do miss the Edna that just really, really didn’t care about making anyone else happy.

As opposed to the one who is taking advice from a ten year old on how to live with another man’s children.

Dave: She had a flicker of that in her snappy retort to the kids in the auditorium.

But then she returned to making up with Flanders.

Charlie Sweatpants: I miss the Edna who didn’t have to say things like, "Oh, Ned, I’m sorry too. I overstepped your boundaries."

Mad Jon: Yeah, that doesn’t sound like a combination of words Edna would be capable of saying.

Charlie Sweatpants: Beyond the half-assed and unbelievable sentiments, though, this episode also managed to step on pretty much all of its jokes.

Homer’s Twitter joke, the chip clips, pretty much everything the theater guy says, all of them over explain and exposit jokes.

Mad Jon: Yeah, most of the time it was beyond savage, as the jokes were crap to begin with. I cite the FSU/UF crying thing Homer did.

Charlie Sweatpants: Forgot about that one.

Mad Jon: But even the scene where Grandpa exclaims "Crucify Him!" after Homer says only his father can judge him seemed like it should have been funnier.

Charlie Sweatpants: The whole play was Homer explaining a joke and then making it, for example, when he eats his crown of licorice thorns. Both Homer and Bart explain the eating thing as it’s happening.

Mad Jon: I forgot about that one. That was painful.

Charlie Sweatpants: The same was true in Flanders stupid stop-motion dream. They actually named everything they were showing as they showed it.

Mad Jon: The claymation nightmare was pretty bad. I really hate when cartoons do that kind of thing. I am not entertained because you all of a sudden try to use a different format. That is not funny, that is not good writing. It is just a different format, which usually means you have to further simplify the already terrible jokes you are making.

Dave: I feel like they’ve done the stop-motion nonsense before, but I haven’t the wherewithal to confirm it.

Charlie Sweatpants: There was that one where they made Gumby or whoever want to bomb Planned Parenthood. That was in Season 12, I think.

This was much worse though, for pretty much all the reasons Jon just stated. It’s cute, but it’s so incongruous and poorly written that mostly I just want it to be over.

And speaking of bad writing, there was this “Well, we’re here to offer to throw you a little party in your honor”.

It’s a third person description of what’s going on, it’s not dialogue at all.

The same thing happened when Marge and Homer were in Flanders hospital room going back and forth about marriage.

Mad Jon: I don’t remember much of the dialogue from that part, so I’ll have to take your word for it.

All I really remember from the hospital scene is a very haggard Skinner pleading his case or something.

Charlie Sweatpants: There was that too.

Dave: I’m amazed you were both this attentive… I more or less checked out.

Mad Jon: I spaced in and out…

Charlie Sweatpants: That’s usually a good way to go. I could’ve been very happy not seeing the "extreme weddings", for example.

That was blatant filler.

Mad Jon: Oh yeah, that happened didn’t it.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was part of the not-quite-a-sub-plot thing between Marge and the other wives. Apparently they were staking out that bridal shop.

Mad Jon: That reminds me of the fact that everyone was video taping the reception to show how bad Marge is at wedding receptions or something. Did anything come of that?

Charlie Sweatpants: Not that I saw.

The episode ended with the over-explained payday loan guy and then that atrocious "rap" song.

Mad Jon: And was there any particular reason that the three marginally unrelated women were so angry at Marge?

Dave: Oh, that. Fan service with a twist.

Mad Jon: I don’t even remember who the two other than Mrs. Lovejoy were…

Charlie Sweatpants: It was Bernice Hibbert and Luann van Houten, but you are forgiven for forgetting. I’m not sure either one of them got a line.

And no, there was neither a reason nor a resolution to it.

Mad Jon: Why on earth would they even remotely care that Marge was helping her next-door neighbor plan a relatively impromptu wedding reception? Not that it matters I guess.

Charlie Sweatpants: It doesn’t matter, I think they just needed to fill in a little more time.

Mad Jon: Thinking about this episode makes me feel more and more like the robot voiced by Alan Rickman in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Charlie Sweatpants: Go on.

Mad Jon: I don’t really have anything insightful to add. Every comment I type makes me want to at "not that it really matters" or "not that anyone cares" or some other depressing statement.

I am even hanging my head right now.

I feel beaten.

Charlie Sweatpants: But now you’re not caring about not caring, which is great.

Mad Jon: So, is this the bottom? Can I finally start to rebuild?

Charlie Sweatpants: Perhaps. Anything else here?

Mad Jon: Any thoughts on the Itchy and Scratchy wedding?

Charlie Sweatpants: Not really.

Any thoughts on Flanders parents’ being at the wedding but not the reception?

Mad Jon: Not really, I think they forgot about them as the episode went on.

Charlie Sweatpants: Again, probably for the best.

Dave, anything to add?

Dave: Nope, other than I’m happy to put this behind us.

Charlie Sweatpants: Sounds good to me. If they keep the show on for another twenty years, maybe Flanders will get together with the crazy cat lady.

Mad Jon: We’ll always have that to look forward to.

15
May
12

Compare & Contrast: Wedding Reception Guest Lists

A Milhouse Divided9

“Would you guys do a favor for a guy in love?” – Kirk van Houten
“Sure.” – Drummer
“Yeah.” – Doobie Brother
“It’s why we’re here.” – Keyboardist

“Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend” uses a lot of ideas, characters and jokes from earlier episodes.  There’s a religious school that’s more expository and less believably insane than the one in “Whacking Day”.  There’s Flanders calling a talking dog “the spawn of the devil” when we all know from “Bart the Lover” that it’s Todd who considers the idea of a talking dog “blasphemous”.  There’s even that poorly stereotyped theater guy, who’s not nearly as humorously delusional as the great Llewellyn Sinclair from “A Streetcar Named Marge”.  But for the starkest illustration of just how differently The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons approach the same kind of concept, there’s nothing better than looking at the way each portrayed a wedding reception hosted at the Simpson home.

Like “Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend”, Season 8’s “A Milhouse Divided” takes marriage as its inspiration, and both episodes end up with a small party on Evergreen terrace to celebrate recent nuptials.  The differences arise when you begin to consider not only who is at these parties, but why they are there and what they do.  In the case of Zombie Simpsons, the event is less of a real party and more of a roll call of wacky characters:

Odd Party

I’m mildly surprised by the lack of Bumblebee Man.

I only count two strangers in that image (the anonymous couple underneath Moe); other than that everyone is a recurring character (and I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be Helen Lovejoy behind the bush to the right of Disco Stu).  Here’s the guest list as of this establishing shot:

  • Bride:  Groundskeeper Willie, Superintendent Chalmers, Mr. Largo, Miss Hoover, Lunchlady Doris, and (I guess) the van Houtens.
  • Groom:  The Lovejoys and (I guess) Homer and Marge. 
  • ??????:  Moe, Lenny, Carl, the Nahasapeemapetilons, Cookie Kwan, Disco Stu, and Sideshow Mel

Half the guest list has no discernable reason to be there and we haven’t even gotten to the bizarre sequence with Captain McAllister and Lindsey Naegle.  For characters like Disco Stu and Cookie Kwan, neither of whom gets a line, there’s no reason to have them there at all.  What’s more, even the characters who have a plausible reason to be there don’t do anything.  Miss Hoover, for example, doesn’t get a word in even though we know that her and Krabappel are work friends who’ve hung out in the past.  Almost everyone in that shot is simple background filler, they don’t have anything to do with the story outside of this party, nor do they do anything in this scene.

By contrast, here’s the guests at Homer and Marge’s second wedding:

A Milhouse Divided8

Hey look, people who have reasons to be there.

Here the only people we have are Marge’s mother and sisters, Homer’s father, and the other couples that were at the dinner party that begins the episode.  There aren’t any random celebrities or Springfield eccentrics who have no connection to these people or their lives.  Not only does this make the story seem more realistic and relatable, but it also means that when it comes time for people to crack jokes and act funny, we don’t have to just drop in random characters for no reason.  Instead we get Lovejoy’s exasperation at Homer’s vows, the hip rock & roll combo with one Doobie Brother, and Kirk’s hilariously pathetic failure to re-woo Luann, including asking for his shirts back and his meek acceptance of being ejected at the hands of her vastly superior new boyfriend.

Compare that with what passes for comedy at the Flanders-Krabappel reception.  Since none of the secondary characters who should be there have anything to do with the rest of the plot, the only thing Zombie Simpsons can do is paste in McAllister and Naegle hooking up and Moe and Lisa staring dumbly at the fourth wall.  Marge breaks up the former for reasons that don’t make any sense (I fail to see how it reflects poorly on the host when two people get together at a wedding reception), and the latter is yet another attempt by Zombie Simpsons to deflect how badly the move to a four act structure has affected the show.

The entire reception scene in Zombie Simpsons is hollow.  It goes on for two minutes after the shot I grabbed above, and yet the only event that’s even vaguely plot related is Flanders and Krabappel getting into a big fight over Rod and Todd.  The rest of the space has to be filled with the out of place antics of other secondary characters (pretty much all of whom come from Season 9 or earlier) because there’s simply nothing else going on.  This is bad enough on its own, but consider what a staggering failure of imagination it represents.

This show had two characters fall in love and get married, and not just any two characters.  Flanders and Krabappel have both been with the show since Season 1; not only do they come from very different social spheres, but they’ve had countless interactions with other characters over the years.  That much history should open up all kinds of possibilities, everything from secular-religious conflicts and accommodations (which the episode barely touches) to quick and simple jokes about the backstory of some of the other characters.  Just between Hoover and Reverend Lovejoy you’d think they could come up with at least one line that was relevant and funny.  But with all those untapped ideas and rich character bios at its fingertips, Zombie Simpsons went with random flirting between two characters who are unrelated to what’s happening and unrelated to one another. 

The empty nature of the thing is another example of the way Zombie Simpsons treats Springfield and its citizens as flat, lifeless background ornamentation.  They’ve lost any interest in using the characters as characters, and instead just see them as a collection of traits that can be trotted out at any time and for any reason.  (“The sea captain gets with the business lady?  Outrageous!”)  The Simpsons never needed to resort to those kind of cheap shortcuts because it treated its characters like real human beings (even the nameless musicians have lines and motivations), and the scene is tremendously smarter and richer because of it. 

Kirk asking for his shirts back is kinda funny on its own, but it’s made so much better because of who he is and of how pitiful it is for him to still be caught up on some old shirts that we saw Luann burn much earlier in the episode.  Zombie Simpsons never does that kind of thing, and the result is weird scenes where characters act with little to no motivation and the jokes have nothing to do with the story.  In The Simpsons, as in real life, it matters who’s on the guest list.  In Zombie Simpsons, it doesn’t. 

14
May
12

A Season Best and an All Time Worst

Chalkboard - Ned 'N Edna's Blend

“Like one out of every nine Americans, I’m left handed.  And, let me tell you, it ain’t all peaches and cream.  Your writing gets smeared, Lord help you if you want to drive a standard transmission.” – Ned Flanders

I have two good things to say about “Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend”.  First, we dodged the “storytelling episode” bullet.  When they were backstage at the beginning talking about why they didn’t do Lenny’s story, I thought for sure we were in for four short, equally dull segments, but it turned out that they went with the less annoying single, long dull story.  Second, this exchange from the Left Gifted Bi-Dexterous and Transhanded community scene was one of the best things they’ve done all season:

Flanders: We’re trying to decide on the theme for our Left Is Right parade.
Left Handed Woman:  Our Scissors, Ourselves!
Left Handed Man:  How ’bout Death to Righties.
Left Handed Woman:  We have to live among them.
Left Handed Man:  To live among them is to die!  Are you even left handed?

They over explained it and kept the scene going a bit too long, but that argument is a genuinely excellent parody.  Plus, “Fete Accompli” and “A Day to Pay Full Price” were well above average sign humor.  I don’t say this often, but, well done, Zombie Simpsons. 

Unfortunately, those brief moments were surrounded on all sides by the usual array of aggravating and careless problems.  Need a character in a scene? Have them walk right up and announce their presence (there’s Homer and Bart through the window, there’s Helen, Luann and Bernice in the wedding shop, there’s Bart and the window again).  Want to cram in a personal conversation or three?  Have characters argue and reconcile in public with a total disregard for where they’re supposed to be (Ned and Edna at the party, Homer and Marge in their kitchen, Ned and Edna again in front of the school).  Feel like explaining your jokes even as you make them?  Have each punchline carefully pre-chewed for ease of audience digestion (Flanders with the chip clips, the recitation of what goes on at the liberal college, pretty much everything Homer says about playing Jesus).  And, let’s not forget that the main story involved a lot of weird, out of character behavior and bizarre plot twists. 

Zombie Simpsons has a habit of ignoring the history and characteristics of people, but asking us to believe that Ned Flanders (widower) and Edna Krabappel (divorcee) are unaware that marriages aren’t perfect was bad even for them.  Flanders and Krabappel having problems with their relationship?  Fine.  Flanders and Krabappel not seeing eye to eye on Rod and Todd?  No problem.  Flanders being unaware that couples argue?  Wha?  And how on Earth did Krabappel pull the kids out of a school without Flanders knowing about it?  All to often these characters and their actions are barely recognizable as human. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are the worst ever.  Last night’s meandering pastiche of marital woe and wonder was ceremoniously endured by just four million people.  (TV by the Numbers has it exactly at a flat 4.00 million.)  That is far and away the lowest number of all time, displacing “The Daughter Also Rises” from earlier this season in the coveted #1 spot.  Eight of the ten least watched episodes are now from Season 23 (numbers are millions of viewers):

#1    23-21    4.00    Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend
#2    23-13    4.33    The Daughter Also Rises
#3    23-20    4.75    The Spy Who Learned Me
#4    23-18    4.86    Beware My Cheating Bart
#5    23-16    4.96    How I Wet Your Mother
#6    23-19    5.00    A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again
#6    22-18    5.00    The Great Simpsina
#8    23-10    5.11    Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson
#8    21-11    5.11    Million Dollar Maybe
#10  23-12    5.12    Moe Goes from Rags to Riches

Presumably Lady Gaga will give them a boost next week, but it would take a viewership of 26 million just to haul Season 23’s average viewership (currently 6.20 million) up to the level of Season 22, and that ain’t gonna happen. 

13
May
12

Sunday Preview: Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend

zombienedna

Image bloodied by Dave.

After an exhaustive ten second search, I gave up on finding a preview image for tonight’s Krabappel-And-Flanders-Stayed-Together story.  Instead I just grabbed the above from that delightfully clumsy social media campaign they flopped with last summer.  Here’s the details:

When the town of Springfield discovers that Ned and Edna have secretly gotten engaged, Marge offers to throw them a congratulatory reception. However, bringing everyone together makes them all realize that no marriage is perfect. Meanwhile, Edna tries to help Ned’s children become more socially acceptable by changing some of the rules.

The most worrisome phrase in there is “makes them all realize”; we may be in for one of those one-story-per-segment episodes.  Feh.  On the plus side, in just 170 hours we’ll be done with Season 23. 




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