Posts Tagged ‘The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed


Crazy Noises: The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed

Krusty Gets Kancelled5

“I don’t like it.  He’s got Johnny Carson, Bette Midler and Hugh Hefner!  What do we got?” – Gabbo
“Ray J. Johnson.” – Arthur Crandall

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 “blaspheming”).

The internet gods saved us from finishing our group therapy session this week.  But before that happened we managed to get to most of what made this episode terrible.  The only thing I’d add is that turning a show over to a guest star is, generally speaking, not indicative of a healthy production. 

Mad Jon: Anyway I watched the new Zombie Simpsons today and now I have eye cancer too. You guys happy?

Charlie Sweatpants: It only gave you eye cancer? I need a better oncologist.

Mad Jon: I was having gin, I think that protected my insides…

Charlie Sweatpants: Yes . . . that’d do.

Anyway, was this a by the numbers Zombie Simpsons travel episode or what?

Mad Jon: I guess

Dave: It was predictable, yes.

Mad Jon: I think it was what the child of “Hurricane Neddy” and “Homer’s Enemy” would look like if it was a crack baby.

Charlie Sweatpants: How so?

Mad Jon: Ahem

Charlie Sweatpants: Jon’s using bold! We’re all gonna die!

Dave: Everybody take shelter!

Mad Jon: Because the episode started with Homer pissing off Ned. And then Homer acted exactly like the Zombie Homer that was born in “Homer’s Enemy” and then Ned kept being angry like “Hurricane Neddy” but didn’t have the ending therein, instead, it turned out EVERYONE thought they were the chosen one.

And Borat tried to ruin his career.

Charlie Sweatpants: I really had no idea where you were going with that, but that actually makes a lot of sense.

Mad Jon: AND Bart fought a ninja girl.

Dave: Jon wins. Conversation over.

Mad Jon: Thanks.

Charlie Sweatpants: As soon as Borat’s niece was there you knew she was going to have to do something with Bart. I was all ready to start in on Girlfriend #9, but they went with an action sequence instead.

Dave: Montage, Charlie.

  It’s a basic requirement of this season.

Mad Jon: Also, I had no idea what was going on during their tour.

Charlie Sweatpants: Neither did the writers, don’t feel bad.

Mad Jon: Other than Homer pissing Ned off.

Dave: Other than the broad excuse to pretend lampoon Israel you mean?

Mad Jon: I am so angry I just ended a sentence with a preposition

Charlie Sweatpants: No Grammar Rodeo for you, young man.

Mad Jon: Why, is there a breathalyzer?

Charlie Sweatpants: What was really bad about the whole Angry Ned thing is that there wasn’t even a resolution to it. Ned calmed down right as Homer went off on his pointless desert excursion (hello Johnny Cash).

Mad Jon: For almost no reason at all too.

  He was just… Better.

Charlie Sweatpants: Then later, they give it this sweet scene on the airplane as Homer is basically blaspheming worse than he’s ever done before.

I mean, it’s one thing to have Ned get pissed off, it’s another to have him then be sweet as sugar as Homer claims to be the Second Coming.

Mad Jon: I almost threw my computer on the ground when Homer empted the sand from his shoe.

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess what I’m trying to say is that making characters one dimensional is one thing, but having that one dimension change from scene to scene is really, really lazy.

Mad Jon: And again when he added salt to the Dead Sea

Charlie Sweatpants: Does the top of each script page just begin with “Also, this happened…”

Mad Jon: Well said pants.

  Transitions are so passe.

Dave: Patty & Selma’s Dead Sea bit was more concise and funnier. Go figure.

Mad Jon: The joke was two words long

Charlie Sweatpants: But was there any reason for him to go to the Dead Sea?

  Fuck no.

Mad Jon: Yeah, to put salt in it and drink it.

Dave: Oh not at all.

  Flimsy excuse for a crappy hallucination that led to something else.

  Like you said, lazy writing.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ohh, take that VeggieTales!

Dave: Burn, phallic Christian vegetables.

Charlie Sweatpants: When it comes to Christian children’s shows I’m partial to Jay Jay the Jet Plane, myself.

Mad Jon: How the hell did the Simpson family afford to pay their way to Israel?

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh shit, I almost forgot about that.

Mad Jon: Does Homer still have a job?

Charlie Sweatpants: Marge walks out and just says, “We’ll pay our own way!”

Mad Jon: I assume that was to give Homer a reason to moan.

Dave: You assume correctly

Mad Jon: Something had to follow the waterslide sceen [Ed Note: left that one in the original]

  God, I’m spelling like an asshole tonight

Dave: It’s the cancer

Mad Jon: The ball cancer or the eye cancer?

Charlie Sweatpants: What I like about that line is that it nicely demonstrates how weak the storytelling has become. The writers don’t want the Flanders to be buying everything because that would make the Simpsons unsympathetic, but at the same time they’re constrained by the fact that the Simpsons are supposed to be poor.

Mad Jon: That’s deep thinking for a Zombie writer

Charlie Sweatpants: They couldn’t write themselves a way around even that simple problem. I miss Chuck Garabedian.

Charlie Sweatpants: And that was Season 10!

Dave: Who was at the helm of this clusterfuck?

Charlie Sweatpants: What do you mean? Isn’t Al Jean still in charge?

Dave: No, the actual credited writer

Charlie Sweatpants: Kevin Curran.

Mad Jon: I assumed they resurrected the guy who played Corkey and had him write it, huh, you learn something every day.

Dave: I don’t know him but I don’t like him.

Mad Jon: Who, Curran or Corkey?

Dave: Curran

Mad Jon: I was going to say…

Charlie Sweatpants: Enh, this strikes me as a group failure. Plenty of blame to go around.

Dave: Sure, I just wanted to cast the first stone somewhere.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, when it comes to Zombie Simpsons you are without sin.

Mad Jon: Indeed.

I think you could commit some Charles Taylor like war crimes and still throw the first stone at this one.

Charlie Sweatpants: Now there’s a travel episode I’d like to see. The Simpsons are going to Liberia!

Mad Jon: They’ve already been to Africa, remember the monkey diamond mines?

Dave: Shhh, they might hear you.

  Don’t give them any ideas.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh fuck, I hate that episode.

Mad Jon: Its really terrible

Charlie Sweatpants: This one was a lot like it though.

Dave: More than the Brazil episode?

Mad Jon: really terrible

  It makes me sad thinking about how I’ve seen it before.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, Simpson Safari was, I think, the template for later Zombie Simpsons travel episodes.

Dave: My timeline’s a little fuzzy

Mad Jon: Form letter indeed.

Charlie Sweatpants: Where all they do is plunk down the family for the sole purpose of having them visit every well known landmark.

Mad Jon: It came free with some Avery labels the writers bought when they were sending out resumes

And then there were monkeys and diamonds

Charlie Sweatpants: The really horrifying twist in this one is that they combined the worst aspects of the travel episode with the worst aspects of the pointless celebrity episode.

  Quite frankly, I think that’s why this one got voted down even at Simpsons Channel and No Homers.

It’s like when the Titanic sank, four water tight compartments, no problem. But you breach that fifth one . . .

Mad Jon: Who the hell was the second guest they listed?

Dave: She sings a song used in an Apple commercial

Mad Jon: What did she do?

Charlie Sweatpants: You’re going to have to narrow that down.

Mad Jon: On the episode?

Charlie Sweatpants: She fought Bart.

Mad Jon: Oh shit

They were a tag team eh? Fuck me that sucks.

  I’m gonna need more beer…

Dave: Go for something harder

Mad Jon: You always were the smart one

Dave: Aw shucks

Charlie Sweatpants: Drunken “I love you, man!”s aside, anything we still need to talk about here?

Mad Jon: I don’t think so. I am sure anything that we didn’t cover was covered by the commenters on the preview

Charlie Sweatpants: I do have one thing.

Mad Jon: Did you ever notice how Charles Taylor looks like an evil Morgan Freeman?

Charlie Sweatpants: No?

Dave: He does, sorta


Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, I’ll give you that.

  Though a lot of it is the beard.

Mad Jon: Anyway, go ahead Charlie.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anyway, what I was going to complain about was the fact that they got to Israel and the only people they talked to were Borat and his niece who spent most of her screen time chasing/fighting Bart.

Mad Jon: And being a sort of stereotypical in a way I didn’t understand.

  But I am interrupting.

Charlie Sweatpants: If you look at, say, “Bart vs. Australia” or even “30 Minutes Over Tokyo”, when they go someplace, they actually deal with a lot of people.

Mad Jon: Yeah, the previews I read led me to believe there would be some ethnic conflict involved

Charlie Sweatpants: Here, once they got where they were going it was just Borat narrating away, only without a fat man’s testicles in his face, so it was less funny.

Mad Jon: that was funny.

Dave: But he was a walking stereotype, and stereotypes are funny.

  Just kidding, his character was terrible.

Mad Jon: Maybe I don’t know enough Israelites.

[Ed note: At this point we began having technical problems – with a chatroom. We suck.]

Dave: Are we collectively giving up here?

Charlie Sweatpants: Is there anything else that we ought to discuss?

We covered the lame guest voices, the ridiculous way they got to Israel, the stupidity of Flanders getting mad and Homer thinking he was Jesus.

Dave: Nah, I’m spent.

Charlie Sweatpants: Does this mean we were saved by technical difficulties?

  And if so, couldn’t we fake this on a regular basis and get out of even thinking about this show?

Dave: Faking it would be less fun I think.

  And more work

Charlie Sweatpants: True enough.


Zombie Simpsons Gets (Unintentionally) Meta

Bart Gets Famous3

“I’m sorry, I’m really not comfortable with this, Ethan.” – Bumblebee Man
“What’s the matter, love?” – Ethan the Director
“It’s just, it’s, it’s the same old tired gags, isn’t it?  I mean, let’s give the audience some credit.” – Bumblebee Man
“How about a giant mousetrap?” – Ethan the Director
“I love it!” – Bumblebee Man

Programming note: Not that anyone is frantically hitting the refresh button in anticipation of three slightly tipsy guys blathering about why Zombie Simpsons sucks, but this week’s Crazy Noises post has been delayed by a schedule conflict.*  It should go up on Friday.

The opening scene of “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed” saw Flanders conducting a Bible study group.  Improbably, Jimbo was there.  (Was no other kid available?  Jimbo once said “thanks” when told he was the worst kid in school, even Nelson would’ve made more sense.)  In order to keep Jimbo’s attention, Flanders had to drop tech terms into his Bible spiel.  This is not a bad comedy idea, transparent pandering to youth with mostly nonsensical references to technology is a fairly common thing, especially among Christian outreach types.  But Zombie Simpsons managed to screw it up instantly. 

First, they had Jimbo clumsily exposit the idea.  It’s generally bad if you have to explain a joke, but it’s even worse if you explain it before you’ve even made it.  Then, with their concept established, they jammed all of their punchlines into the next line of dialogue.  As Jimbo gets up, Flanders screeches “Mouse pad, double click, Skype, Skype!”  Jimbo sits back down on the second “Skype” (yes, they repeated one of the terms, they couldn’t even come up with four).  But then Flanders goes on speaking without using a single pandering tech term.  Jimbo doesn’t move and the concept is dropped for the rest of the episode. 

They went through all that heavy handed set up all so they could drop three tech terms, none of them particularly relevant or recent (is Skype cutting edge these days?).  Instead of letting that concept play out over the course of the scene, or even calling back to it later in the episode, they forget it ever happened.  They even dragged Jimbo to Israel, though he never gets another line of dialogue. 

This is comedy malpractice, and it amply demonstrates how short the writers’ attention spans have become.  The number of times quick and funny concepts are recalled in The Simpsons is beyond counting.  There’s the NASA guy almost hitting James Taylor with his blackjack in “Deep Space Homer”, the “Bad Cops” theme song playing in the hospital waiting room in “Homer’s Triple Bypass”, the comet puncturing the helium balloon at the end of “Bart’s Comet” (and the a Chihuahua being there for size comparison), etcetera.  But in Zombie Simpsons, the writers don’t trust the audience (or themselves, apparently) to remember something that happened just minutes earlier.  Jimbo’s attention span at the beginning of this episode is capacious by comparison. 

I don’t think Zombie Simpsons was trying to make a point about how lame it and its fans are, but they did.  Bravo.  Er, I mean, Friendster! 

*At least, I was told it’s a schedule conflict.  It’s certainly possible that Mad Jon is, at this very moment, strung out on coffee and Listerine and headed to Hollywood in the heavily armed Deathmobile.  He probably wouldn’t tell me about that kind of thing beforehand, and it would be irresponsible not to speculate. 


Synergy Doesn’t Learn From Its Mistakes


Image used under Creative Commons license from Flickr user iotae.

“You gotta give her up.” – Lisa Simpson
“No, no, wait, hear my plan: put up with her for seven more years.  Then we’ll get married, once the first baby comes along she’s bound to settle down and start treating me right.  After all, I deserve it.” – Bart Simpson

This week’s edition of IGN’s “corporate fanboy” writing was a mixed bag of praise and criticism.  (It still scored a 7.3, of course.)  The most direct criticism is of Sacha Baron Cohen and the way this episode didn’t live up to IGN’s expectations.  Apparently, every time a comedian of some recent popularity is announced as a guest voice, IGN pees itself in anticipation: Seth Rogen is a genius!  This is going to be a GREAT episode!  Ricky Gervais made The Office!  His episode is gonna be hilarious!  And yet every time this happens, Zombie Simpsons drops the ball and IGN is left disappointed.  (And never mind that they gave Rogen’s episode an 8.6 when it came out, some time for reflection has apparently taken the shine off of it.)  The natural response to repeated disappointment is to stop getting your hopes up, but when the one who’s constantly disappointing you is the same one who’s signing your paychecks that may not be an option. 

As always, I’ve edited out the synergy.

March 29, 2010 – I think Sacha Baron Cohen is a pretty funny guy. When I heard he’d be doing a guest voice on The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons, I was excited indifferent. I thought that would be a fantastic match he’d be wasted just like every other celebrity on the show in the last decade or so. Of course, I thought the same thing when I heard Ricky Gervais was going to guest star. And Jack Black. And Seth Rogen. Unfortunately Exactly as I expected, none of those episodes lived up to what I thought the combination of guest actor and series would be were any good. None of those episodes were outright failures, but the The name recognition had raised my expectations nothing to do with the crappiness of the episode. The same goes for "Greatest Story Ever D’ohed." My preconceived notions were let down by what was still a fairly decent episode were confirmed, guest stars are irrelevant, this show just sucks.

The opening act was my favorite the least stupid segment of this half hour. Looking back, I think this was due to the fact that it didn’t involve exotic locales and swanky guest stars, though, it still sucked. It was just your standard (and funny) Jerkass Homer-annoys-Ned neighborly in stupid, unfunny ways affair. While Ned was trying to entertain his bible study group, Homer and the kids were within view enjoying a slip-and-slide in their backyard. It’s these bits that I continue to enjoy because they are were once at the heart of what The Simpsons is was: a family sitcom. Now, they’re just further proof that the show has run out of ideas, So the bits with Homer at home frustrating his do-good neighbor will always be enjoyable, so long as the even these jokes can’t remain funny. And the bits were quite enjoyable in "Greatest Story."

The best last moment in the opening came after Ned had decided to make an effort a plot conceit to save Homer and bring him some redemption in the eyes of his savior. Ned invited the suddenly grass-skirt-wearing Homer and his family to join him on a trip to The Holy Land for some reason. The exaggerated response was classic Homer could’ve been funny: "Hmm, let me think. Take my family to a war zone, on a bus filled with religious lame-o’s, in a country with no pork, in a desert with no casinos. Ooh, where do I sign up?!" Marge’s entry to the scene was also quite funny nearly pointless: "Homer, I can hear you sarcasm from inside the house. And the dishwasher is on." After committing to the trip despite it being expensive and a terrible idea, the act ended after pointlessly increased groaning from Jerkass Homer, with Lisa saying of her father my favorite line from the episode: "The man hates pants."

The middle of the episode didn’t entirely do it for me was where this descended from ordinary mediocrity. It’s become fairly standard to have at least one episode per season take the Simpson clan to some far off land, whether it is Australia, Brazil, London or Africa. [Ed Note: All of those episodes are at least six years old, even IGN can’t be bothered to remember much of Zombie Simpsons.]  These episodes can be hit or miss, with installments from later seasons being more often on the miss side. "Greatest Story" had a few good gags while did its missing in Israel, but and nothing stunningly hilarious funny happened. For a time, Anything that could be called storytelling was forgotten to fit in as many funny and not-so-funny dull references to where they were as they could.

I was underwhelmed with Sacha Baron Cohen’s voice work as the groups tour guide. He was like a sped up Borat and was actually a bit difficult to understand at times. The few jokes that did get through were only okay hyperactive and less than clever, like the repetitive "Shut your face." Also standing out as ineffective was Bart’s fight with the tour guide’s daughter, played by singer Yael Naim. Instead of being humorous, it seemed to just be an excuse to include the Israeli combat style of Krav Maga mention things that aren’t funny and have no relevance. Things got a bit funnier even duller once Homer found himself lost in the desert for some reason and had a vision of VeggieTales characters telling him he was the chosen one. Homer’s final speech to try and unite all the faiths made no sense, though who’s going to listen to Homer Simpson? it did push the episode over the finish line.

It’s difficult easy to keep your expectations in check when you hear about an upcoming guest star, and that likely affected my perception of this episode they’re all the same. But that it is what it is – Zombie Simpsons. Perhaps subsequent viewings, if I felt like torturing myself, will would let me find me enjoying this more more specific ways this one sucked, but for now, "Greatest Story Ever D’ohed" was just this side of good par for the course for boring travel episodes with forgettable guest appearances.


Tourism Brochures Are Funnier Than This

Chalkboard - The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed

“Oh, not my Paris backdrop!  How am I gonna make fun of the Frogs?” – Krusty the Klown

At some point the “destination” episodes of Zombie Simpsons became little more than excuses to have Homer and Bart act out in front of famous landmarks or generic “travel” backdrops.  Why yes, Bart brought his skateboard to the Wailing Wall (and got into a pointless chase/fight sequence); why yes, Homer took a nap in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre; and they both goofed around in David’s Tomb.  Did they make it to the Dead Sea and the Dome of the Rock?  You know they did! 

It was nice of them to bring along the Hibberts and the Lovejoys and various other stock characters to do little more than listen to a disjointed, hyperactive Sacha Baron Cohen stand up routine.  And, as per usual, individual scenes make little to no sense.  Homer’s video camera vanishes from one shot to another; the church security guards don’t stop a guy from taking a nap on the alter, but appear the instant the show wants to push Flanders over the edge.  Need a camel?  Why it’s right there!  They might as well have had a giant pencil draw it in for Homer, a la Loony Tunes. 

I was slightly worried there might be a decent number this week, Cohen is a big star and anything with the word “Jerusalem” near it gets people buzzing a little, but nope.  The numbers on this creaking hack job are in, and they’re almost identical to last week’s: 5.70 million people waited this one out.  That number is good for fifth worst all time, narrowly keeping “Stealing First Base” in fourth place with 5.69 million. 

Every episode to ever score under six million viewers has come in either Season 20 or 21.  Just two years ago, at the same point in Season 19, Zombie Simpsons was routinely scoring over 7 million viewers.  Thanks to the 20th anniversary hoopla and Spurlock’s thing, Season 21 probably won’t be the least watched season ever.  But the numbers are clearly down, and they show no signs of long term recovery or even of being able to maintain these low levels.  L’Chaim!


Sunday Preview: “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed”

We’re less than sixty minutes away from “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed,” wherein the family Simpson goes to… another faraway place. Hilarity – or groaning, more likely – ensues. Simpsons Channel graciously provides the lowdown for us:

The Simpsons vacation in the Holy Land, where Homer is convinced that he is the Messiah — and gets in trouble with the Muslims, the Jews, and the Christians, who all band together, despite their religious differences, to teach Homer a lesson. Sacha Baron Cohen guest stars as Jacob, an eccentric tour guide who shows the the Wailing Wall.

Homer with a delusional god-complex is exactly what we’ve come to expect from a show that no longer celebrates subtlety. My guess is we’re in for twenty-some minutes of jerkass Homer, but it’ll be funny because he’s not in Springfield, derp. Fuck anything trenchant, just give us toilet humor, montages galore, and embarrassing pop culture references whose humor end at the reference itself. It’s what we crave.


Doing Less with More

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure.  You may remember me from such films as ‘The Greatest Story Ever Hulaed’ and ‘They Came to Burgle Carnegie Hall’.” – Troy McClure

In three weeks there will be a Zombie Simpsons episode titled “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed”.  This is, obviously, a play on “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, the 1965 Charlton Heston movie about Jebus.  It goes almost without saying that The Simpsons already did a pun on that movie, way back in Season 7 (“A Fish Called Selma”) when Troy McClure uttered the quote above.  Let’s compare and contrast. 

The Simpsons took a famous movie and used it to make a joke (and it wasn’t even the only joke in that line), and when they did so they came up with something original.  Zombie Simpsons recycled a joke, mindlessly inserted a catchphrase, and made the lackluster result the title of the entire episode.  Or, to put it another way, The Simpsons crammed creativity into a tiny part of their episode, Zombie Simpsons took a shortcut and used it more prominently.  If you’re going to go over ground that’s already been covered you could at least put a little effort into it, is all I’m saying. 

(Note: Assuming you don’t count the Shary Bobbins episode the first time “D’oh” was ever used in an episode title was Season 10.  Counting the one in three weeks they’ll have used it seven times since then.  Zombie Simpsons can’t even gin up original puns.) 


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