Posts Tagged ‘The Real Housewives Of Fat Tony

05
May
11

Compare & Contrast: Selma & Her Famous Husbands

“Cigarette, Mrs. McClure?” – Waiter
“You bet!  From now on, she’s smoking for two.” – Troy McClure

Once upon a time, Selma married a famous guy for all the wrong reasons and it didn’t work out.  Fifteen years later, Zombie Simpsons decided they hadn’t regurgitated that plot line recently, and did it again.  I am speaking, of course, of “A Fish Called Selma” and “The Real Housewives of Fat Tony”.  There are three specific scenes I want to compare:

1.) Meeting Mr. Wrong at the DMV

2.) Getting Hitched

3.) The Big Reveal (wherein it is revealed that this marriage isn’t going to work out)

Obviously more than that goes on, especially in “A Fish Called Selma”, which uses Troy McClure’s resurgent career to mock celebrity, Broadway, and the movie business.  But both episodes contain all three of those scenes, and they match up extraordinarily well (or poorly, depending on your point of view).

1. Meeting the Husband

Selma initially meets both Troy McClure and Fat Tony in the course of her work as one of the desk lords at the department of motor vehicles.  Right away, the radically different quality standards of The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons are apparent.  Both Troy and Tony are famous, and neither is very likely to walk into some gray government office and hit it off with one of the most homely employees.  The Simpsons took the time to show us why McClure was there, as well as why he’d be interested in Selma; Zombie Simpsons couldn’t be bothered, and had Fat Tony (along with the rest of Springfield) be there just because.

In “A Fish Called Selma”, Troy McClure gets pulled over (in his dented DeLorean, no less) and told to head down to the DMV to get his license changed if he wants to drive without his glasses.  This one scene means he’s not only got a reason to go to that drab office, but to make nice with whomever he finds behind the counter.  We also know that he’s no longer a big enough star to have some lackey do this kind of thing for him.

A Fish Called Selma4

They do kinda make him look like a nerd.

Tony, on the other hand, is a connected and powerful mob boss.  What the hell is he doing at the DMV in line with citizens?  He seems like he’d have underlings to go fetch dinky forms for him (which, by the way, he does in “A Fish Called Selma”).  Setting that aside, the show could still give us a reason why he’d be there.  And, let’s face it, if you can’t think of several funny reasons for a mob boss to need to go to the DMV, you probably shouldn’t be working as a comedy writer.  This is how low the give-a-shit level is for Zombie Simpsons, they couldn’t be bothered to come up with a reason – even a jokey one – for the two main characters to meet.

It’s so transparently lazy that you can almost see them working backwards: deciding they want to do something with Jersey Shore, realizing they could use Fat Tony, casting about for a way to involve the Simpsons, hitting on marrying him to Selma, and then barfing up a poorly contrived way for them to meet (which is unrelated to everything else in the episode).  There’s nothing wrong with working backwards, but do the audience the courtesy of at least trying to cover your tracks.

2.  The Weddings

Having provided no reason for Selma and Tony to meet, the show doesn’t feel the need give their marriage any type of story, meaning or conflict.  Their actual wedding ceremony is just that, a wedding ceremony.  There’s a throwaway joke from Homer, but that’s it.  Even Zombie Simpsons can’t let things proceed with nothing going on at all, however, so they manufacture a spat between Marge and Selma.

The Most Boring Mob Wedding in History

Oh crap, we forget the plot.  Think . . . think . . .

The very brief disagreement between the sisters is ostensibly about Marge and Homer getting a bad table at the reception, but it’s really about the whole Fat Tony-Selma story not having any conflict whatsoever.  Consider that there’s no foreshadowing about the Marge-Selma feud, it crops up completely out of nowhere, and is then resolved just a couple of scenes later as the two of them sit on deck chairs and decide to let bygones be bygones.  Literally nothing happens except that Marge and Selma spontaneously decide “meh, I guess we’re not mad at each other anymore”.

Now consider the (much briefer) wedding in “A Fish Called Selma”.  Obviously, there’s a ceremony and Troy and Selma take their vows (albeit with some comedic twists, “take the fabulous Troy McClure”, etcetera).  But running through the entire scene are two plot threads.  First, Homer has just found out something the audience has known for a while: Troy is only marrying Selma to help his career.  So when Lovejoy asks if anyone has any reason why these two should not be wed, the camera pans to Homer, who has exactly such a reason.  Homer’s reaction?  Silently singing himself Gary Glitter’s stadium rock ballad “Rock and Roll”.  Unlike Homer’s throwaway joke in “The Real Housewives of Fat Tony”, this one has something to do with what’s going on, and requires Homer to be emotionally ignorant rather than knuckle draggingly stupid.

The second way the main story is interwoven into the wedding is through Troy’s behavior.  At the altar, he mugs for the cameras rather than kissing Selma back.  When they reach the car, she talks about how this is the best day of her life but it’s only a “good day” for him.  They kiss right after that, but his eyes are always looking up, making sure that he will indeed be “on every newsstand in the country”.

A Fish Called Selma5

Matching pink outfits.  Who says tradition’s on the wane? 

3. The Endings

Since Marge and Selma mutually decide that they don’t care enough about their little disagreement to continue it all the way to the end of the episode, Zombie Simpsons needed to pull something directly out of its ass to reach the sweet relief of twenty minutes runtime.  That something was an infidelity plot which they introduced – with no warning – at the seventeen minute mark.  At that point they’d all but exhausted their supply of the Jersey Shore jokes that were the reason this whole episode got approved in the first place, and they headed for the nearest exit they could find.

The Dukes of Hazzard Think This Is a Bit Much

The ending is forced to (literally) break into the episode.

“A Fish Called Selma” has a twist at the end too.  But instead of a panicked swerve into oncoming traffic that results in the “real wife” driving a convertible through a fence, it’s one of those tightly controlled 180s where the hero throws the car into reverse and shoots all the bad guys while driving backwards.  From the very first time Troy and Selma meet, when he exchanges dinner for a wink and a nod on his driver’s license, it’s been plainly obvious to the audience that Troy is using their relationship to restore his career.  Selma’s mounting levels of denial about this set the episode up for the ending the audience has been conditioned to expect through years of phony romance in television and film: the big confrontation where she realizes that he’s using her and dumps him.

But The Simpsons is far too clever to just go through the motions like that.  Instead, we get this:

Selma: You’re asking me to live a lie, I don’t know if I can do that.
Troy: It’s remarkably easy.  Just smile for the cameras and enjoy Mr. Troy’s Wild Ride.  You’ll go to the right parties, meet the right people.  Sure, you’ll be a sham wife, but you’ll be the envy of every other sham wife in town!  So, what do you say, baby?
Selma: Tell me again about Mr. Troy’s Wild Ride.

No anger.  No outrage.  No yelling about betrayal.  Just two people coming to an agreement.  And even this isn’t totally unexpected.  Way back at the beginning of the episode, when Troy took Selma out for the dinner that started it all, she says, “Thanks for holding up your end of the bargain.  I had a pretty good time.”  Selma isn’t stupid, she knew the dinner was quid pro quo, so it’s not a bolt from the blue when she decides that the marriage can be too.  All the little pieces fit so snugly together that Swiss watchmakers could take lessons.

When the inevitable break up does come, there’s no need for shock or tears or the retcon induced hair pulling that drags “The Real Housewives of Fat Tony” over the finish line.  Selma realizes that Troy is willing to take the sham further than she’s willing to go, and decides to stop things.  It ends on the comically bittersweet note of them going their separate ways, with microwaved roaches for Jub Jub, and an a lunatic vanity project for Professor Horatio Hufnagel.

[Updated because I can’t tell one sporting staple song from another.  Originally I had Homer’s wedding song as this.]

04
May
11

Crazy Noises: The Real Housewives of Fat Tony

Popping Out of Nowhere (But for a Purpose)

“Is Bart home?” – Milhouse van Houten
“Just taking Maggie for a stroll.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“I guess I am putting up the Halloween-y decorations a little early.  Criticism accepted.” – Ned Flanders

In our ongoing mission to bring you only the shallowest and laziest analysis of Zombie Simpsons, we’re keeping up our Crazy Noises series for Season 22.  Since a podcast is so 2004, and video would require a flag, a fern and some folding chairs from the garage, we’ve elected to use the technology that brought the word “emoticon” to the masses: the chatroom.  Star Trek image macros are strictly forbidden, unless you have a really good reason why Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “calluses”,).

We mention this very briefly below, and it’s a recurring problem beyond this episode, but “The Real Housewives of Fat Tony” seemed to have an especially large number of characters who appeared and disappeared at random from different scenes. As Mad Jon mentions, there was the scene where Fat Tony just appeared in the Simpsons’ kitchen, surprising everyone. But there were many more examples, from Cletus and his baby being right next to the school, to Bart and Lisa, then Luigi (and then Otto!) mysteriously appearing in the forest, all the way up to the very end when Fat Tony’s “real” wife came exploding through the fence. When Family Guy does shit like this, they at least have the narrative courtesy to preface it with “remember the time”, “this is just like” or something similar.

[Note: Dave’s still out of the country, but that sap went to a place that has an extradition treaty with the U.S., so we expect him back soon.]

Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to get started?

Mad Jon: Yes

Yes I am

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s been a while since there was a new Zombie Simpsons, so maybe my calluses aren’t as thick as they were a month ago, but that seemed more unorganized and dumb than usual.

Mad Jon: It really fell apart right after Homer goes to the birthday party

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, too bad that was about six seconds into the episode.

Although even before that, the couch gag, while brief, was a repeat of the Blockbuster joke they made like four episodes ago.

Mad Jon: The whole thing was kind of more off the wall than I expected. Lisa as a truffle addict, Spider Pig going haywire, Jersey Shore for some reason, and a Bonanza ending. Each twist was twistier than the twist before it.

Transitions be damned! Did you know that Fat Tony just walks into people’s houses now? I remember a time when he and his associates knocked politely first.

Charlie Sweatpants: This episode suffered from a lot of characters just appearing and disappearing at random.

Mad Jon: It keeps you guessing

Plot tricks like that remind me of when Lionel Hutz argued that hearsay and conjecture are types of evidence.

Charlie Sweatpants: There were an awful lot of reversals, just out of no where.

Including the very end, where the “conflict” between Marge and Selma gets resolved, and then – out of nowhere – they change the premise of the episode so that Selma doesn’t know she really wasn’t married to Fat Tony.

That, I gotta hand it to them, was impressive. They retconned their own episode – within the episode.

Mad Jon: That’s good Teevee

I noticed they made many jokes about the number of Selma’s Marriages. Instead of just the usual one.

Charlie Sweatpants: Lotta time to fill.

Lotta tanning bed jokes, as well.

Mad Jon: One critic note, I thought they swung and missed with the crooked boxer line. If they just would have drowned him after the mention, it would have been funny.

Instead he had to gurgle and gurgle and comment and gurgle.

Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed, if they had just let that guy die while the proposal was going on, it would’ve been funny. But they can’t do anything in the background these days.

Mad Jon: Oh, the tanning jokes eh? For all the guest stars this show can pull, how do they not get any of the actual jersey shore people?

Charlie Sweatpants: I think they think they’re above the real Jersey Shore people.

Mad Jon: Well, they sure did a good job exactly copying them.

Also, on an episode like change of topic, I did chuckle when Fat Tony framed the lobster.

Charlie Sweatpants: Too little too late, for me.

Mad Jon: Quick and clean sight gag, although it was during a montage.

Charlie Sweatpants: The only thing I liked in the episode was the sign in the forest, the one that said “32 trees used to make this sign”.

Mad Jon: I must have missed that while I was watching Lisa lead Bart-Pig around.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, it was way before that.

Mad Jon: Well then I have no excuse.

Charlie Sweatpants: The whole Bart on a leash thing was . . . uh . . . different, huh?

Mad Jon: I kinda felt a little creeped out, especially when she put the gag and blinders on….

But that’s the power of addiction for you.

Charlie Sweatpants: And the power of yet another violent swing in the plot. I’ll admit it, I didn’t see pig rampage coming.

Mad Jon: It did tie Luigi back in. Seamless.

Will Spider Pig ever die? Aren’t there other pigs that don’t have a shock of blonde hair waiting in the wings?

Charlie Sweatpants: Spider Pig worked once, and they will run it into the ground until it stops working.

Mad Jon: I know. I know.

Were there actually any non-recurring guest stars on this one?

Seems odd.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was just Mantegna. Though it does seem strange. Maybe the Jersey Shore people are too toxic for anyone to even want to impersonate them.

Then again, the Jersey Shore people were hardly in the damn thing, they were just there for the end to do whatever it is they do that you can get away with in an 8:00pm timeslot cartoon.

Mad Jon: That really feels like a no-brainer. Any trained actor could utter a sentence or two. And that is becoming a common way for Zombie Simpsons to fit an extra guest in real quick.

But I digress.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, they did have them all in that promo image. They usually reserve that for guest stars. This was them leeching off the popularity of others without even letting them on the show.

Mad Jon: Which is funny, because those guys probably would have done it for a bottom shelf margarita.

Charlie Sweatpants: True enough.

Did you catch the almost certainly not-intentional meta joke near the end, when Marge actually said, right after the car crashed through the fence, “This doesn’t make any sense.”?

Mad Jon: No, but I wish I would have. That would have been good for a chuckle.

Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else here?

Mad Jon: Not really, I started dicking around in another tab right after Selma had Fat Tony give her Liposuction and everyone couldn’t stop saying “Take care of it.”

Charlie Sweatpants: Like I said, run it into the ground.

Mad Jon: So I may have done us a mis-service, but I am willing to bet I did myself a favor.

Charlie Sweatpants: That you did.

02
May
11

Washed Up on the Jersey Shore

Chalkboard - The Real Housewives of Fat Tony

“Now, the naturalist who took these absolutely extraordinary pictures was most impressed by the creature’s uncivilized look, it’s foul language and, most of all, it’s indescribable stench.  A popular supermarket tabloid has offered a reward of five thousand dollars to anyone who brings in the creature alive.  Actually, we’ll have more on this story as soon as it develops.  We now return you to the President’s address, already in progress.” – TV News Guy

There’s an undeniable irony to watching Zombie Simpsons lob weak and spongy jokes at vacuous and appearance obsessed people who have an unjustifiably high opinion of themselves.  That both groups are desperate for attention and prone to automatically dismiss criticism as coming from “haterz” just makes it better.

Before reaching that unintentionally ironic ending, the show stumbled about in its usual way.  Neither of the two main story threads made any sense or managed to resolve themselves.  Characters appeared and disappeared from scenes at random.  Homer did a lot of needless screaming.

After all that came the inevitable Jersey Shore segment, which was neither creative nor energetic enough to rise to the level of “clusterfuck”.  Instead it was a halfhearted run through of every Jersey Shore joke you’ve already heard a dozen times, most especially about tanning lights.  Oh my, did they think they’d found a rich vein in tanning lights.

Anyway, the numbers are in, and they don’t mean much at the moment.  As this comment on our preview post can attest, the show was preempted in parts of the country so the President could come out and give his rendition of the Fuck You Dance.  For the moment it’s listed as having been instantly forgotten by 6.11 million viewers, but those numbers will likely change somewhat later in the week.

01
May
11

Sunday Preview: The Real Housewives Of Fat Tony

THE SIMPSONS: Marge becomes concerned when Selma and Fat Tony get married in the all-new "The Real Housewives of Fat Tony" episode of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, May 1 (8:00-8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  THE SIMPSONS ™ and © 2011 TTCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Dave fled the country and I don’t know how to do blood splatters in Photoshop, so juvenile taunting will have to suffice.

Roughly a year after everyone stopped caring about it, and right as the original participants ride out the last few seconds of their fifteen minutes, Zombie Simpsons has gotten around to Jersey ShoreSimpsons Channel:

Fat Tony and Selma, Marge’s painfully blunt sister, fall in love and get married after a whirlwind courtship. Marge has her reservations about the couple’s marriage after Selma begins to prioritize her looks and ritzy new lifestyle over her family, so Fat Tony invites Homer and Marge to a weekend getaway at the Jersey Shore. Meanwhile, Bart discovers a special talent that allows him to detect the location of truffles by smell, and Lisa jumps at the chance to capitalize on the rare culinary treasures.

Oh sure, the description sounds dull and boring, but you know damn well Zombie Simpsons will find a way to make it even less entertaining than you currently think it’ll be.  I’d also like to point out that the promo image was clearly done by someone who lives on the West Coast.  In New Jersey, the sun rises over the ocean, and none of those people look like they get up at dawn. 




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