Posts Tagged ‘The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase

20
Aug
19

Quote of the Day

“Man, what a day. It’s no cakewalk being a single parent, juggling a career and a family like so many juggling balls . . . two, I suppose.” – Wiggum, P.I.

11
May
18

Quote of the Day

“Welcome back! I’m talking with the curator of the museum of TV and Television, Mr. John Winslow.” – Troy McClure

11
May
17

Thursday Evening Cartoons: The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase

“Big Daddy’s trademark calling card. See, it’s right here inside the skull.” – Skinny Boy

Note: Surgery yesterday went about as well as having someone deliberately cut you open and drill holes in you can go. My left collar bone has now been re-attached to my shoulder using ligaments from a cadaver, which means that it is technically a Zombie Shoulder. So if I suddenly start liking it when celebrities walk on screen from nowhere, I will blame my left (or sinister) hand. In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of couch time ahead of me, and since I am semi-loopy on legal heroin right now, blogging about cartoons seems like the right thing to do. 

There are a lot of episodes in Season 8 that I didn’t like at first and later grew on me, but I always liked “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase”. Similar to “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochy Show”, this was one of the last times The Simpsons took aim at fellow television programs before taking a few (sadly prescient) potshots at itself. (We have now seen plenty of magic powers, and I think Selma has gotten married at least three more times.)

The variety segment and the “Love-Matic Grampa” are both excellent parodies of their respective genres, but for me the standout here has always been “Wiggum P.I.”. Even as a kid I hated laughtracks, so I never watched a lot of sitcoms, and I was just a few years too young to get over-exposed to the likes of Osmond family variety shows. But I watched plenty of Magnum P.I.The A-Team, and Riptide (a swiftly cancelled bad idea that was cool to seven-year-old me because they had a big helicopter and a freakin’ robot). My hands down favorite was Airwolf, which had a Voltron style stock intro they used whenever they fired up the helicopter at the end to blow up whatever hapless kidnapper/smuggler/generic bad guy was on that week.

These shows were bad and dumb for a lot of reasons, but they’re near perfect parody targets because they were Swiss-watch level repetitive. Here in the days of serialized dramas it’s easy to forget that the thousands and thousands of episodes of those old detective and mystery shows were almost entirely one-offs. (A two parter with a cliffhanger was a once or twice a season exception.) Each story had to wrap up completely at the end of the episode so they could be syndicated out of order, which meant that they followed a rigid template.

First there’s a crime of some kind, or some “old friend” of one of the main characters (never heard from before or since) who needs help. From there we get a skirmish or two with the bad guys, which would usually end with someone or something that needed rescuing. That was followed by the required Act 2-3 break, which was very show specific. On The A-Team, they would make a plan and build some stuff while the theme music played, on Airwolf they would go get in the helicopter. Then there would be a chase or a fist fight, and then it would end.

“Wiggum P.I.” follows these guide posts to the letter. The bad guy gets introduced, then Wiggum gets the corked gator, then Ralph gets kidnapped, a few henchmen get dispatched, then there’s a chase and things are left to reset for next week. The source material was so easy to deconstruct that they could get the whole story into seven minutes of screen time.

That efficiency stands in marked contrast to that 30 for 30 episode Zombie Simpsons did earlier this year, or that American Idol episode they did a few years back, or that Portlandia one. All of those shows have their own repetitive quirks, and brisk seven minute parodies would work a lot better than trying to stretch things over a full twenty-two minutes. Any Zombie Simpsons attempt to parody them would probably suffer from the usual problems regardless of length, but even in Season 8 it would’ve been tough to build a whole episode around a concept with as few parts as 80s detective shows. Happily, they didn’t try.

End note: I think the above all makes sense, but, as mentioned above, milk of the poppy is coursing through my veins right now, so if it’s gibberish, I apologize on behalf of the opioids. 

 

11
May
17

Quote of the Day

“Spin-off! Is there any word more thrilling to the human soul?” – Troy McClure

Happy 20th Anniversary to “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase”! Original airdate 11 May 1997.

11
May
16

Quote of the Day

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase11

“What do you suppose the rent is on a hideout like that?” – Wiggum, P.I.
“It’s not rented, Chief, it’s stolen. That’s the Louisiana governor’s mansion. It’s been missing for eight months.” – Skinny Boy

27
Feb
16

Quote of the Day

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase10

“If it isn’t my old friends from Springfield, the Simpsons!  What brings you folks to New Orleans?” – Clancy Wiggum, P.I.
“Mardi gras, man!  When the Big Easy calls, you gotta accept the charges.” – Bart Simpson
“Chief Wiggum, I can’t wait to hear about all the exciting, sexy adventures you’re sure to have against this colorful backdrop.” – Lisa Simpson

Happy birthday Bill Oakley! 

15
Feb
16

Quote of the Day

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase7

“Daddy, when I grow up, I wanna be just like you.” – Ralph Wiggum
“Better start eating, kid.” – Skinny Boy
“Start eating?” – Wiggum P.I.
“I didn’t mean that way!” – Ralph Wiggum

Happy Birthday Matt Groening! 

11
May
15

Quote of the Day

AfterMannix

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure.  You may remember me form such TV-spin-offs as ‘Son of Sanford and Son’, and ‘After Mannix’.” – Troy McClure

03
Mar
15

Quote of the Day

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase8

“He’s gradually getting away, Chief.” – Skinny Boy
“Ah, let him go.  I have a feeling we’ll meet again, each and every week, always in more sexy and exciting ways.” – Wiggum P.I.

03
Jan
13

Quote of the Day

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase6

“You know what’s great about you, Betty, is, you’re letting your looks go gracefully.  You’re not all hung up on looking attractive and desirable, it’s just so rare and refreshing.” – Moe

05
Jun
12

Summer Schedule, Guest Posts, and Free Swag

“Not long ago, the FOX Network approached the producers of The Simpsons with a simple request: thirty-five new shows to fill a few holes in their programming lineup.  That’s a pretty daunting task, and the producers weren’t up to it.  Instead, they churned out three Simpsons spin-offs, transplanting already popular characters into new locales and situations.” – Troy McClure

With Season 23 now rapidly fading into the indistinct blob that is Zombie Simpsons, it’s time for us to get started on our summer schedule.  As you can see from the chart below, there are some blank spots on it. 

DHS Schedule

We will be doing Crazy Noises for Season 11, and the first of those should be along later this week.  I’m also going to do some more commentary posts from earlier seasons.  But even that will leave lots of days around here that can only be filled by exploiting other people’s time and labor.

So, just like last summer, we’re going to pass the days by not paying other people to write blog posts for us.  Last year we had a bunch of great entries (check out out Company Eating Rules category), including several lists, personal essays, and analyses of different show eras.  If you’ve got a blog or other website, we’ll not only link to it, but you can cross post your article there as well.  Pictures and images are welcome, and just about any topic that’s Simpsons related is okay by us.

As a special incentive for anyone in the Washington D.C. area, we’re giving away free tickets to “Mr. Burns, A Post Electric Play”.  Thanks to my relentless linking to their blog the last few weeks, the theater’s social media person got in contact with us last Friday.  Neither Dave, Mad Jon, nor myself are in D.C. or are going to be there before the play closes, but rather than turn down free stuff, we thought it better to give the tickets to the first person who offers to see it and write a review for us.  So if you can make it down to the Woolly Mammoth theater in the next couple of weeks, and you’ve got a 500-1500 word review in you, e-mail me and we’ll talk. 

Anyone else who wants to write a guest post for us should e-mail me as well, though your only compensation will be the enjoyable pride of a job well done.  That’s not as cool as free tickets, but we have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

18
Feb
12

Quote of the Day

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase5

“I was just in a car accident, can I use your phone?” – Betty
“Uh, using the phone’s a four drink minimum.” – Moe

15
Oct
11

Quote of the Day

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase3

“Daddy, these rubber pants are hot.” – Ralph Wiggum
“You wear ’em until you learn, son.” – Clancy Wiggum

13
Oct
11

Destroying Zombie Simpsons to Save It

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase4

“We’re like this all the time.” – Marge Simpson

In response to the renewal news, Split Sider published a list of six ways to improve Zombie Simpsons.  They’re willing to acknowledge that the show is a shadow of itself, but they’re still operating under the illusion that it is capable of getting better.  It isn’t.  Moreover, of the six suggestions they offer, only two of them could result in any real changes, and those would both basically end the show. 

Before we get to that, however, we should first note that nothing like this is ever going to happen.  Zombie Simpsons has been stuck in a creative rut for for a decade and change, but the rut pays the bills and then some.  If the recent contract extension is proof of anything it’s that the show, as flat, lifeless and fan displeasing as it is, remains profitable.  But even if we set aside the practical and business considerations and focus exclusively on the creative side, the changes are doomed to fail.  Here are the six suggestions:

1. Less Bart-Centric Episodes

2. Get Rid of the Fourth Act

3. Age the Show

4. No More “THE SIMPSONS ARE GOING TO…”

5. Unconventional, High Concept Episodes

6. A Season-Long Arc

I’ll agree that #2 is just a bad way to run a television show, but Zombie Simpsons sucked long before the addition of the third commercial break, so I don’t think that one is going to help much.  Three of them, #1, #4, and #5, are all variations on a theme.  The fifth one is a call for more of a certain kind of episode, the other two are calls for less of other kinds.  These seem unlikely to help much for the same reason dropping the fourth act wouldn’t help: Zombie Simpsons has long been terrible across all of these kinds of episodes.  Even if they did drop the annual travel episode in favor of more flashback/flashforward type episodes, it wouldn’t make much difference. 

The two interesting suggestions are #3 and #6.  Unfortunately, doing either one of them would mark a permanent break with The Simpsons, which is the last thing a show staggering along on nostalgia wants to do.  First, consider #6, having a season long plot arc.  Here’s the explanation:

Even after 10 years of supposedly subpar episodes, The Simpsons will still go down as the greatest comedy, possibly show, of all-time. There’s nothing the writers can do to hurt the show’s legacy, so why not do something extreme? For instance, why not have a season-long arc? Do the high concept episodes in season 24, and have season 25 be focused on a single topic. Maybe Mr. Burns can die and the Germans come back to take over the plant and fire everyone, and all of the episodes could be about Homer looking for a job? That’s not the greatest idea in the world, I’ll admit, but a season-long arc would require viewers to tune in every week and solve the inconsistency problems many fans and critics have complained about for years.

Zombie Simpsons can’t sustain a plot across twenty minutes, much less twenty episodes.  A season long plot would have to make sense across weeks and weeks of episodes.  Zombie Simpsons has a hard time making sense within individual scenes.  Far more devastatingly, it would require change and progress from the characters.  Bart and Lisa would have to grow up a little, Homer and Marge would have to go through some kind of crisis, even the supporting characters would be expected to find themselves in at least somewhat changed circumstances.  All of that would leave the show looking nothing like The Simpsons, and looking like The Simpsons is the only thing that keeps Zombie Simpsons going. 

Making Bart and Lisa older, as suggested in #3 “Age the Show”, would also damage the resemblance to The Simpsons.  Beyond that, moving the characters forward a few years wouldn’t change things much, if at all.  Here’s the full text:

Next season, have Bart and Lisa inexplicably graduate from second and fourth grade, and have them in fifth and seventh, respectively. Why so far in advance? Because Miss Hoover and Mrs. Krabappel have both gone as far (if not further) as their characters will allow, and they’ve become tired and boring. (They’re, of course, not the only ones on the show, but they’re a necessary reduction.) There’s a HUGE difference between being in elementary and middle school (I still shudder thinking about it), and this would allow a whole new setting for the writers to create, something the new guys haven’t been able to do for years. Skinner can "graduate," too, in a Mr. Fenny from Boy Meets World-like situation.

I’ll agree that the worlds of seventh and fifth grade are a lot different than those of fourth and second, but Zombie Simpsons came untethered from grade school reality a long time ago.  Bart being in the fourth grade hasn’t stopped them from giving him a new girlfriend every other season.  Lisa being in the second grade didn’t keep her from entering a movie at the Sundance Film Festival or protect her from more adolescent problems like that time she got an eating disorder.  And if you’re dropping Hoover and Krabappel, why are you keeping Skinner?  He’s just as played out as they are. 

Instituting a season long plot arc would sever whatever connection remains between Zombie Simpsons and The Simpsons, but merely tinkering with the formula by pushing ahead a couple of years wouldn’t change the worn out format they’re stuck with.  It’s a catch-22, if they changed the show enough to make it genuinely fresh, it wouldn’t be anything like The Simpsons, but if they just tinkered with things, it wouldn’t change things enough to make a difference. 

This (plus the profitability of the rut) is why any ideas to revitalize the show are dead on arrival.  Whether you’re talking about shifting it forward in time, season long plot arcs, going spin-off showcase style and concentrating on other characters, all of them have one thing in common: they abandon the essential Homer, Marge and their small kids setup.  Zombie Simpsons can be about them as they are, or it can be about something else and drop everything from The Simpsons except the setting.  It can’t be both.

09
Dec
10

Crazy Noises: The Fight Before Christmas

The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase2

“I’m Lisa, peppy, blonde and stunning, sophomore prom queen five years running!” – “Lisa”

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  “electrocution”).

One upon a time, back in the before time, in the long long ago, there was an episode called “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase”. Instead of telling one long story, it opened on Troy McClure and imagined three short stories of what the Simpsons characters would be like in different television contexts. There was a raunchy sitcom, a cheesy cop show, and a ye olde tyme variety show. In a nod to how ridiculous all of this was, and the fact that the staff thought the show would be done in a year or two,* they concluded with a bunch of truly horrifying ideas for future episodes.

The premise of the variety show segment was that the Simpsons were an Osmond like family of entertainers. Their show was filled with send ups of the religious friendly treacle of the original, and given that the “real” Lisa would find it vapid to the point of offensiveness, she was unceremoniously replaced with the evilly Hollywood line, “Unfortunately, one family member didn’t want that chance and refused to participate.” If you want to make fun of the penchant of the entertainment industry, even the “family friendly” parts, for throwing attractive young women in front of the camera for no reason other than their looks – without doing the same thing yourself – that was a good way to do it.

*They were right about that, but not in the way they thought.

Mad Jon: So, you guys want to get down to it?

Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve got my Katy Perry records blasting, I am ready to go.

Mad Jon: You are a trooper.

Dave: Let’s do this.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, I think my feelings on this are clear already, but for the sake of completeness, this or the Kesha opening, which is worse?

Mad Jon: I am not sure anything that can be conceived of by man could be worse than the Kesha opening.

Dave: I’m more down on Kesha, but it’s not like this was a dance around the maypole.

So that’s Kesha 2, Katy 1

Charlie Sweatpants: Wow, I’m surprised by that.

The Kesha opening was at least brief, this just kept going and going.

Mad Jon: Perhaps I missed the opening.

Charlie Sweatpants: Sorry, I just realized I was unclear.

Mad Jon: what happened in what you call the opening?

Dave: I think Charlie was comparing the Kesha opening to the Katy Perry bit.

Charlie Sweatpants:   Yes.

I meant to ask, the Katy Perry segment or the Kesha opening, which is worse?

Mad Jon: Oh…. Well, that makes a mountain more sense. Now you are asking me if I would rather die by drowning or electrocution. One is faster than the other, but either way the coroner is going to find shit in my pants.

  Still, in all seriousness, I hate the Kesha opening more.

Charlie Sweatpants: So the score is still 2-1? Well then, I’m still surprised.

  Say what you will about the tenants of giving your opening up to a warmed over pop song, but at least it wasn’t part of the episode.

Mad Jon: The Kesha opening was a flat out commercial. The Katy Perry bit was a cry for ratings. "Quick! Someone put some boobs on so we can top 5.1!"

Charlie Sweatpants: The writers actually worked on the Katy Perry segment.

Mad Jon: Although having read what I just typed, I guess they were both just cries or ratings.

Dave: I don’t know how the opening can’t be construed as part of the episode.

Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed, Jon.

  But still.

Dave: Regardless, they suck for different reasons

Doesn’t change the fact that they both suck

Mad Jon: Does not indeed.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, they’re both transparent attempts to stay relevant by gettin’ with that music the kids seem to like these days. Either way Zombie Simpsons is the divorced dad with the earring and leather jacket.

Okay, let’s get off the puppet part.

Mad Jon: Ok then

Charlie Sweatpants: I think I had a small embolism when Lisa’s segment switched to an Inglourious Basterds part for no reason.

Mad Jon: That wasn’t even out of left field, that was out of a field in some dimension that cannot be described within the theory of general relativity.

Dave: And in classic ZS form, it just petered out.

Mad Jon: It really did, didn’t it?

Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly, it was there, then it wasn’t.

Mad Jon: But it was like two different stories, one that didn’t lead to the other, and then it was ok to have a Christmas tree again.

Charlie Sweatpants: Does the Tarantino part even count as a story?

Mad Jon: I think they snuck in a fifth act, Its only a matter of time before there is another set of commercials.

Charlie Sweatpants: Let’s say you hadn’t seen Basterds, would you have any idea what the hell was going on there?

Mad Jon: Not for a second.

Dave: No, you wouldn’t. They didn’t even attempt to make it humorous.

Mad Jon: I would probably make sure my future kids never saw Dumbo.

Charlie Sweatpants: Right, it was just segments from the end that had no back story at all.

  The thing with the elephant was particularly strange.

Mad Jon: And didn’t really follow the part it was parodying anyway.

Perhaps the elephant was the guy who kept hitting on Shosanna.

  And then get’s killed by and kills her.

Charlie Sweatpants: I think he was, but how would anyone know that?

Mad Jon: Well, nobody who saw it, and probably only half the people who did would understand that I guess.

  Funny story, I first saw that movie on a flight to Germany.

Charlie Sweatpants: I saw "Treehouse of Horror V" long before I saw "The Shining", I saw "Radio Bart" long before I saw "Ace in the Hole", and there are lots of old things they allude to that I haven’t seen and I can still follow them and get the jokes.

Mad Jon: Good point.

I actually haven’t seen "Ace in the Hole". And now that I know an excellent episode of Simpsons parodied it, I don’t need to.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s not a bad flick, though you’ve got to be in the mood for an old movie. But that doesn’t change the basic criticism here, which is that once again they think a pop culture reference is the same as using an existing story to tell their own and crack jokes along the way.

Mad Jon: Fair enough.

  It was a shit act.

Charlie Sweatpants: So, so many times, Zombie Simpsons just puts up something that is indistinguishable from the original save the yellow skin and overbites, and think they’re being clever.

Which isn’t a bad description of the Martha Stewart segment.

Mad Jon: Indeed it isn’t.

I had stopped taking notes by then.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ohh, she can make anything into a home decoration.

  Next?

  Next?

  Next?

  Oh, that’s all you’re going to do?

Mad Jon: Also there was chloroform.

Charlie Sweatpants: Though to what purpose remains unclear.

Dave: Can we make Martha more smug and condescending? Yep. Again! Yep.

Mad Jon: Yeah, I was just thinking to myself that I the details of the bottle and rag part escape me. Perhaps that is because there were no details.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was supposed to be a dream, but taking that seriously would mean we have to take the whole wraparound story seriously, which would be more than they did.

Also, Leonardo DiCaprio told me I need to have details in my dreams.

Mad Jon: He is a smart and handsome man, you should probably listen to him.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, I guess we’ve got one left. Bart as corporate climbing elf, anyone?

Mad Jon: You know, I think you mentioned this in posts earlier, but I wasn’t as down on this act as I am about pretty much everything Zombie Simpsons.

There were problems, oh yes. But I actually laughed when Bart killed the snowmen patrol and we got that brief glimpse at the picture of the children in his wallet. Just ever so brief, no need to elaborate. Jokes can tell themselves, you don’t have to explain everything to me.

Dave: Of the segments in this trainwreck, the first was the most tolerable.

Mad Jon: Most tolerable is excellent phrasing.

The small allusion to Bart climbing the corporate ladder alluded to the type of realistic depression this show used to do well.

Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed. It had so many things it didn’t need to, and it ruined several of its most promising jokes, but it actually had jokes that can be described as "promising".

Mad Jon: I think I just used multiple variants of allude in the same sentence.

Charlie Sweatpants: The whole idea that Bart would be an excellent corporate climber because he makes things worse for his fellows is entertaining.

Mad Jon: Agreed.

Charlie Sweatpants: I will say that I’m still kinda mad at the reindeer stew joke.

We could see the antlers in the pot, and Krusty spooned out a red nose, that was enough! There didn’t need to be an explanation!

Mad Jon: That was pretty creepy and excessive. Also, why did Krusty/Santa need to be rich?

Dave: Going too far is what ZS does best, often with unappealing results.

Charlie Sweatpants: I dunno, I liked that things were really okay for Santa, that he was secretly deceiving Bart worked in concert with the horrible things Bart saw and did on the lower levels.

Mad Jon: Hmm, I guess I can see that.

I was clouded by my rash decision that it was done so they could have hip hop music and dancing Santa girls for 20 seconds.

Dave: That wouldn’t be entirely incorrect.

Charlie Sweatpants: Fair point, but by the time wasting standards of Zombie Simpsons it was mild.

Mad Jon: That is a fair statement.

Charlie Sweatpants: Any final points?

Mad Jon: I guess what really aggravates me about this episode is that I never really felt like the story began. They didn’t even try to setup the various dreams, and only when I REALLY think about it can I connect the whole story.

Marge = mad, Homer = lazy, Bart starts dream.

  That’s what happened.

Charlie Sweatpants: Like, if they were going to give it a whole story, they should’ve actually put some thought into it. Otherwise they’d have been better off not doing the wraparound segments at all?

Mad Jon: Exactly. Why even start it off? Why not just have credits roll into Bart’s room, maybe the 25th circled on a Krusty calendar above his bed, straight to the dreams. It wouldn’t have helped the various acts, but it would have kept me from feeling like I already have early onset Alzheimer’s.

  It’s a holiday episode, you can do this. It’s allowed.

But that’s all I have. You?

Charlie Sweatpants: Nope. I’m pretty done with this episode. The only thing I’ll say is that I hope the puppet thing becomes one of those black eyes for the show. It won’t help it get cancelled, but if we’re lucky it’ll become famous enough that I can bring it up in non-Simpsons fan conversations and people will know what I’m talking about.

Mad Jon: Sounds like a painfully interesting experiment.

Charlie Sweatpants: But I’m a selfish twit, so that’s just me.

Mad Jon: I wouldn’t have you any other way.

19
May
10

Synergy Develops Stockholm Syndrome

The Simpsons Spin-off Showcase1

“Ahh, the boy is fine, so far.  I taught him to play the spoons.” – Charles “Big” Daddy

I think IGN is beginning to yearn for the freedom of summer.  This week’s corporate fanboy rant is really a stunner, even by their standards.  It’s not just high praise, it’s a justification, a plea that yes, Zombie Simpsons is indeed good.  Most of these reviews eagerly lap up whatever Zombie Simpsons left on the rug, but this wants to argue that it’s a good thing to shit on said rug:

A lot of the best moments from "The Bob Next Door" came from our familiarity with the character, his love of operettas being just one.

For IGN, it’s not enough to say that all the drawn out and recycled jokes were great, it’s that the very act of drawing out and recycling jokes makes them great.

Anyway, I had to do some serious synergy exorcising on this one, but I think I got it all.  Enjoy.

Now this is the Bob we’ve know and love come to expect. His last two major appearances, 2005’s "The Italian Bob" and 2007’s "Funeral for a Fiend" did not live up to the standard set by so many other great Sideshow Bob episodes. "The Bob Next Door" was a funny obliterated those standards in a black hole of suck that proves that this show will never return to form and that proved there’s still a lot to enjoy when new ways for The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons to pit exploit the once awesome idea of Bob and Bart against each other.

The episode, of course, didn’t come right out at the beginning and make it all about Bob advertise just how bottom dredgingly awful it would be. The majority of the first act gave us the Simpson typically lifeless Zombie Simpson spin on the current economic crisis. Like many local governments, Springfield was in major financial difficulty. Homer’s vision of Mayor Quimby’s "cooked books" and "fudge numbers" was the best misrepresentation of what he heard since kind of drawn out, clock eating “joke” that’s replaced quick lines like his take on Mr. Burns’ "open-faced club, a sand wedge" request. Other references also brought laughs reeked of runtime desperation, including Krusty Burger taking up where the city’s road kill pick-up left off, and folks leaving Springfield to find a better life in Detroit. And then Iceland blamed Homer for their financial collapse; this too made no sense, involved pointless exposition and took much too long. "At least we’ll always have Beowulf." "That’s not us." "No! No!"

The situation only got better managed to get worse when Bob arrived. Or was it Bob? A new neighbor moved in next door to the Simpsons and everyone was smitten except for Bart and the audience. He We recognized the man’s voice as the one and only Sideshow Bob. I thought Homer and Marge rationalizing the familiar voice was a fun shout out to Kelsey Grammer pathetic attempt to cover up for such a terribly weak set up: "A lot of people sound like Sideshow Bob. Like Frasier on Cheers." "Or Frasier on Frasier." "Or Lieutenant Commander Tom Dodge in Down Periscope." Bart’s attempts to catch Bob in his lie were fun pointless and clock eating, especially the Gilbert and Sullivan bit. A lot of the best most blatantly recycled moments from "The Bob Next Door" came from our familiarity with the character, his love of operettas being just one.

One of the many, many factors that made the last two Bob episodes such letdowns was that Bob’s plan (or lack thereof) to kill Bart was very weak. This was not very much the case with Sunday night’s episode. Bob’s plan was incredibly elaborate, and that wasn’t a good thing since the episode felt the need to spell everything out in painfully unfunny exposition, starting with trading faces with his soon to be released cellmate: "Why do you keep measuring my face?" Everything about the face transplant operation and then the faces later coming off was a treat treated as suspenseful, clever, and funny when it was anything but. Once he had attained Bart, Bob’s plan to commit the crime at Five Corners, shooting the gun in one state, hitting him in another and Bart dying in yet another was evil genius pointlessly elaborate and needlessly exposited over and over again. A bonus appearance by Bob’s other arch-nemesis, the rake, was also fun another awkward reminder of when this show was creative. The only let downs continued with was Bart’s counter plan. A simple phone call to the police, needlessly exposited like everything else, wasn’t nearly as fun as the many other ways Bart has foiled one of Bob’s plots.

Overall, this was a great return to form for an total waste of an appearance from Sideshow Bob. The vengeful character has been let down by recent episodes, but "The Bob Next Door" has reminded us what makes Bob so much fun just how exquisitely terrible this show can be.

27
Aug
09

Zombie Simpsons is not better than “most” TV

ozmodiar

“You’ve really done it this time, dum-dum.” – Ozmodiar

Read our manifesto.  Time and time again we hear people say that because Zombie Simpsons is better than “most” TV today, it’s still worth watching.  It’s an impossibly tired and empty argument that we’ve discussed at length and beaten to a bloody pulp.  And yet, I feel compelled to revisit this premise once again.

Like my colleague Mr. Sweatpants, I too have been watching the Season 12 DVDs with a combination of dread and revulsion. I haven’t the stomach to sit through the commentaries, but I did transfer “HOMЯ” onto my iPod yesterday so that I could listen to it during my daily run. Y’know, just for shits and giggles. The run was great but listening to the episode was, quite simply, insufferable.

Lowlights included:

  • The idiotic and pointless exchange between Homer, himself, and the bank teller involving candy.
  • Moe talking into the functional ears on Barney’s chest as a result of being a medical guinea pig. Barney’s predisposition for making a quick buck by subjecting his body to science was handled more elegantly (and I daresay more realistically) in “Lisa the Beauty Queen,” with electrodes and wires taped to the back of his half-shaven head.
  • Dr. Hibbert’s ridiculous cop-out regarding why he repeatedly neglected to notice the crayon in Homer’s brain along with his immediate, unfunny departure.
  • The fulfillment of the threat of introducing Ozmodiar from “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase.” That asshole shows up twice in this episode, no less.
  • The hackneyed, deus ex machina note Smart Homer leaves for Lisa after his devolution to Normal Zombie Homer, followed by the perfunctory horns of happiness.

I doubt actually watching the episode would have made it any more tolerable. While I won’t waste more time picking apart the flimsy gags, I would like to ask two questions of the most ardent and occasionally nonsensical defenders of Zombie Simpsons: this shit is better than regular TV how, exactly? Two, do you genuinely find any of the above lowlights funny?

The only safe conclusion I can come to after yesterday’s experiment is that either fans of Zombie Simpsons have really low standards or mine are just unreasonably high. You don’t even need to actually watch Zombie Simpsons to realize how awful it is. As for my run today, I’ll be switching back to NPR, thanks. Kai Ryssdal has a dreamy voice.




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