Posts Tagged ‘The Musk Who Fell To Earth

28
Jan
15

Compare & Contrast: Famously Smart Guest Stars

They Saved Lisa's Brain8

“I wanted to see your utopia, but now I see it is more of a Fruitopia.” – Stephen Hawking
“I’m sure what Dr. Hawking means is-” – Principal Skinner
“Silence!  I don’t need anyone to talk for me, except this voice box.” – Stephen Hawking

Celebrities voicing themselves has long been one of the most widely acknowledged hallmarks of Zombie Simpsons.  In truth, of course, the show had been using self voiced celebrities almost since the beginning.  What changed was the way those voices were used.  In Season 2, Ringo Starr voices himself, but responding to decades old fan mail, not arriving on the Simpsons’ doorstep.  In Season 3, an entire baseball team of Major League players voiced themselves, but that’s because they were all getting paid by Burns, not because they all suddenly decided to go to Springfield.  Self-voiced celebrities themselves aren’t inherently a problem, how they’re used is more important.

On The Simpsons, not only was there always a reason for some famous person to be there, but what they were doing was always a takeoff on who they were and/or why they were famous.  On Zombie Simpsons (in addition to being used far more often), the self voiced celebrities usually appear out of nowhere.  And once they are on screen, frequently don’t do much more than be their normal selves.  This is how famous street artists repeat their names and do nothing else and the entire cast of American Idol pops up just because.  It’s straightforwardly uncreative and almost always looks and feels like nothing more than a plea for attention.

All of those negatives apply to Elon Musk’s episode.  He literally drops out of the sky at random, and (like Lady Gaga) once he’s in Springfield he just kinda acts like an even more exaggerated version of himself.  Look, there’s drones and electric cars and friggin’ hyperloops!  Aren’t they funny?

LandingCraft

Too bad Kang and Kodos weren’t in there.

Even the episode’s attempts to show how his crazy ideas backfire falls apart.  Everything he does works, and Springfield becomes a futuristic utopia right up until Burns fires everyone.  Does Musk react to this?  Nope.  He disappears entirely as Springfield falls apart, showing up only at the end to act hurt that Homer doesn’t want to be his friend anymore.

They could’ve shown Musk as Shary Bobbins, a noble creature whose best efforts are eventually overwhelmed by the inherent crappiness of Springfield.  Or they could’ve shown Musk as an evil, Hank Scorpio-esque nutbar who loves his inventions more than people.  Or, with just a few tweaks, they could’ve shown a Musk vs. Burns battle for the soul of Springfield.  (Burns would triumph, of course, because good is dumb.)  But they didn’t do any of that.  They had Musk show up, then they drew some of his stuff into Springfield, then he vanished while everything fell apart.  This is about as shallow and pointless as it is possible to be given the enormous amount of screentime he got.

DisappearingAct

The episode manages to find him again, but only with binoculars.  He is apparently unaware that all of his improvements to the town have become failures.

Compare that with Stephen Hawking’s brief appearance at the end of Season 10’s “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”.  Now, by Season 10 the show was already falling apart, and Hawking’s sudden arrival isn’t without its share of problems.  Not only does he drive up with no warning whatsoever, but after he scoops Lisa up in his flying chair to save her from the mob, they land all of thirty feet away while the episode forgets completely that a riot was going on.

But Hawking still has both 1) a reason to show up and 2) is given some things to do.  He’s there because eggheads have taken over the town and he wants to check it out.  This still being The Simpsons, their efforts were doomed from the get go and he finds nothing of value in their little experiment.  Moreover, only on The Simpsons would Hawking be a bullying and arrogant dick who insults everyone and uses an extend-o-glove built into his chair to punch Skinner.  Yes, he is smarter than everyone else, but he’s a jerk about it, and that’s what makes it work.

They Saved Lisa's Brain7

Stephen Hawking: Face Puncher

Of course, The Simpsons also knew enough not to try and string that out for an entire episode.  Hawking is only in two scenes, one of which is an epilogue that doesn’t affect the story.  They don’t build the whole thing around him because even in Season 10 the show could still recognize the limits of a guest star.  In the filler laden wasteland of Season 26, weak guest ideas are asked to carry the entire runtime, and even a world famous inventor and entrepreneur can’t make that work.

26
Jan
15

Behind Us Forever: The Musk Who Fell to Earth

The Old Man and the Lisa15

“Eww, this place has got old man stink!” – Hitman
“Oh.” – C.M. Burns
“Don’t listen to him, sir.  You’ve got an enchanting musk.” – Mr. Smithers

I never bothered to watch the Lady Gaga episode a second time, so this comparison may be a little looser than I think it is, but the Elon Musk episode sure felt a lot like it.  A mega famous person arrives out of nowhere in Springfield (Gaga in a giant train, Musk in a spaceship that lands in the Simpsons backyard), crazy shit happens for a little while, then the mega famous person leaves.  There isn’t anything that remotely resembles story, conflict or satire, and the jokes, for whatever little they’re worth, are mostly just exaggerated plays on that mega famous person.  Lady Gaga had a crazy bra, Elon Musk has self packing luggage, har har.

Even by Zombie Simpsons standards, this one was disorganized and scatterbrained, so buckle up.

– No couch gag.

– Homer just showed up to hold up a quarter against an eagle.

– Marge is here now too.

– The Eagle has Maggie, and now Homer is punching it.

– “Ha ha, stupid eagle, it wasn’t the mouse we were after, it was you!”

– Oh, good, the broom vs. eagle fight is continuing.

– Homer’s eyeball popped out.

– So, Homer trained the eagle for four weeks?

– And now Elon Musk is descending in a space pod.

– Homer is weeping and bowing now.  This is more schizo than usual.

– Lisa is now explaining who Musk is.

– “So, what brings you to Springfield, Mr. Musk?”  Exposition Marge is here for us.

– After Musk explains why he’s here, Homer asks him if he’s interested in visiting him at the plant.  Musk replies, “I am, and I will”.

– Lisa just read out loud what Musk wrote on a piece of paper.  This is also going slower than usual.

– I was going to try to explain what’s happening now, but Lisa did it for me, “He’s taking your Homerisms and turning them into his own great ideas.”  This will go on for a while.

– Musk and Homer drove by Lou and Wiggum.  There were gunshots.

– Burns is reading suggestions out loud.

– Burns is being happy and nice, always his best traits.

– This Imaginer(sp?) guy interlude was bizarre.

– But it got weirder as Homer and Musk sit on top of the cooling towers.

– Then they hugged.

– “I don’t trust Musk.”  Exposition Smithers is trying to move the plot along.  I do like that he simply told us how he was feeling instead of us getting to see why he thinks that way, though.  It saves time for all the great stuff they’ve got here.

– Smithers just woke Burns up in the middle of the night for some reason.  Then the hounds were released indoors.

– So, everyone has self driving cars now.  That was unexpected.

– I didn’t see this musical interlude coming.

– Burns just informed us that he’s going to have Musk killed.

– Marge and Homer are in bed.  Marge reminded everyone of what’s going on, then Homer described Musk again.

– A bunch of old guys just shot at Musk and Homer.  Then Homer told us what just happened.

– Musk is apparently going back to his home planet now.

– But first he built Bart a real lightsaber.  Okay.

– And, after some zero-g tears, it’s over.  Huh.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they’re about what we expect with no football on.  Last night just 3.40 million people wondered why Elon Musk wasn’t doing something more interesting with his time.  That’s good for #4 on the all time least watched list and doesn’t auger well for the remaining ten or so episodes this season.

25
Jan
15

Sunday Preview: The Musk Who Fell To Earth

musk1

When inventor Elon Musk  arrives in Springfield and befriends Homer, the two revolutionize the nuclear plant. But the ambitious Musk soon has Mr. Burns seething and Burns tries to have him removed, forcing Homer to make a tough decision.

While I find the real life Elon Musk to be a relatively interesting person, I have absolutely zero desire to see him interact with zombie Homer.  At least they didn’t try to rope him and SpaceX into the insane Kang and Kodos episode from a few weeks back.




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