Posts Tagged ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)


Compare & Contrast: Burns Drills

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1l

“Oil, ho!” – Slant Drilling Worker
“Huzzah!” – C.M. Burns

“Opposites A-Frack” offers more than a few opportunities for comparing and contrasting.  Burns falls in love again, Homer gets a new job again, Burns asks Homer for romantic advice again.  I even briefly contemplated comparing it to those episodes on 30 Rock where hyper-capitalist Alec Baldwin has a secret affair with ultra-liberal Congresswoman Edie Falco, just for a change of pace.  But Burns drilling for gas underneath Springfield is too on the nose from “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1” to pass up.

In both episodes, Burns is drilling into the Earth so that his mighty apparatus will burst forth with precious fluid.  But each episode handles him, his plan, and those around him very differently.  For a quick illustrative example, here’s Burns after Bart and Lisa walk into his unguarded fracking facility this week:

Lisa: This whole building is just a facade for a drilling operation.
Burns: Indeed it is.  Evergreen Terrace is built atop a massive shale deposit.

In addition to being phenomenally lazy script writing, this is also the complete opposite of the Burns we know and love/hate.  Real Burns doesn’t explain his evil plans to 8-year-old girls who break into his secret facilities.  Quite the opposite.  Real Burns builds secret drilling facilities and lets the townspeople find out only when they go to turn on their own well:


Burns: That’s it, frimble about with your widgets and dobobs.  It’ll all be a monument to futility when my plan comes to fruition.

Look at that quote!  He isn’t merely content to drill for oil and screw over everyone else, he’s also gleefully anticipating the moment when his plan will dash their hopes.  That’s Burns at his evil best.

Moreover, Burns’ plan, both the drilling and the eventual sun blocker, don’t require him to do anything as patently stupid and self defeating as relying on Homer Simpson.  Season 26 Burns, of course, does exactly that.  Not only does he ask Homer to get the mineral rights contracts signed, but he compounds his mistake by trusting that Homer did it instead of making sure.

That last part is especially un-Burns-like because Burns himself is the one who discloses that not all the signatures are there.  What!?  Can you imagine Season 6 Burns stopping his drilling operation because he and only he noticed that one signature was missing?  If anything, breaking the law without anyone knowing would appeal to him.

The watered down Burns of “Opposites A-Frack” isn’t remotely the kind of distilled malevolence of the Burns in “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, but Zombie Simpsons wants us to still think of him like he is.  When, after his grossly out of character explanation to Lisa, Burns refers to the houses on Evergreen Terrace as “shanties and lean-tos”, we’re supposed to laugh at the contempt he has for regular people.  But the contempt isn’t there anymore because we just saw him pop-up out of nowhere to help Lisa understand things.

A similar hollowing out affects poor Smithers.  In “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, he becomes increasingly conflicted about Burns crossing over from every day villainy into cartoonish super-villainy.  We see his qualms grow alongside the drilling operation (look at him in that picture at the top), and the sun blocker finally breaks him.  In “Opposites A-Frack”, Smithers basically vanishes for the entire episode.  It’s not as jarring as when characters appear for no reason, but unexplained disappearances happen almost as often.

Consider that when Bart and Lisa easily walk into the “secret” drilling facility, Smithers just stands there.  By the time Burns gets to that pointless committee hearing, Smithers isn’t even there.  Nor is he present when Burns barges into whatshername’s office.  Smithers is there when Burns selects Homer as his salesman, but literally doesn’t say a single word.  He is similarly absent when Burns asks Homer for romantic advice, both in his office and then again back at Burns Manor, which is even weirder because he’s at the door and then vanishes again.


Smithers . . . No Smithers.

Why did the man who never leaves Burns’ side disappear into thin air?  The next scene is Burns asking Homer for advice, and Smithers wasn’t required.  As usual, Zombie Simpsons forgets anything that isn’t happening right now.

Finally, in both episodes Burns drilling causes an earthquake.  The Simpsons handles it by having Grampa jump out of bed, shout “Earthquake!”, and then stand in his doorway while the entire Retirement Castle falls into a sinkhole.  The old people can’t do anything but call for the nurse.

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1k

Compare that to Zombie Simpsons, where, after a lot of pointless rumbling, Bart and Milhouse both fall out of the treehouse, while Lisa stands there waiting for her Etch-a-Sketch erases itself.  Then, in case we didn’t know what was going on, we get one of those oh-so redundant pieces of Zombie Simpson exposition:

Marge: Is one of the side effects of fracking earthquakes?
Lisa: Yes.

One is quick and punctuated with a joke.  The other is slow and punctuated with an explanation.

Season 6 Burns has a diabolical plan that he springs unexpectedly and sees all the way through.  Around him, his henchmen and his victims are their normal, hilarious selves.  Season 26 Burns has a dumb plan, explains it patiently, and then bungles it himself.  Around him, the show has to essentially airbrush Smithers out of the episode and constantly tell us what’s going on.  You can build great television around the real Burns, but you can’t even come close with the vacuous shell Zombie Simpsons has made of him.



Quote of the Day


Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1j

“That’s it, frimble about with your widgets and dobobs.  It’ll all be a monument to futility when my plan comes to fruition.” – C.M. Burns


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1i

“Sir, have you had enough exercise for this morning?” – Mr. Smithers
“No.  Let’s go another twenty miles.” – C.M. Burns

Happy birthday Harry Shearer!


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1h

“Willie, sometime over the holiday weekend, the beloved grade four gerbil, Superdude, lost his life.  I need you to air out the classroom and give Superdude a proper burial.” – Principal Skinner
“You’re lucky you’re getting a decent burial.  Me own father got thrown in the bog.” – Groundskeeper Willie


Reading Digest: Fuck the Huffington Post Edition

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1g

“Dear Lord, that’s the loudest profanity I’ve ever heard.” – Ned Flanders

This week’s title will explain itself on the third link.  Other than that, we’ve got lots of usage, an unbelievably awesome Surly costume, the triumphant return of Simpsons embroidery, and lots more.


Forever Lisa Simpson – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this new Tumblr featuring some of Lisa’s greatest moments.  The best part?  It’s starting at the beginning so there’s no Zombie Simpsons.

after the fall – Our old friend at tacocatproductions returns with a kickass Dr. Nick embroidery . . . and a tattoo of “the mark”!  Sweet.

13 Fictional Products That You Can Now Actually Buy – I am always loathe to link to The Huffington Post, and this is a good example of why.  For starters, the headline is wrong; there are actually twelve (12) items on here.  The slideshow only has thirteen (13) because the last one is the “click on more shit” screen, not an actual item.  While there are some interesting pictures in there, I can’t trust a word of it because of smackdick crap like this on slide 5:

You may not find Apu from The Simpsons working behind the counter, but Kwik-E-Marts are now real convenience stores operating in various locations in the U.S.

That would be news to me, and I run a Simpsons blog.  It would also be news to Wikipedia, which says nothing about a real Kwik-E-Mart:

In July 2007, eleven 7-Eleven locations in the United States and one in Canada were transformed into Kwik-E-Marts as part of a special promotion for The Simpsons Movie. Also in 2007, gift shops modeled after the “Kwik-E-Marts” were opened in Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood, where they are a companion to “The Simpsons Ride”.


The conversions lasted through early August, when the stores were converted back to 7-Elevens.

And it would even be news to Google, where a search for “real kwik-e-mart” yields a bunch of images, videos, and stories about when they temporarily converted those 7-11s during the movie release five years ago.  So unless there’s been a chain of real Kwik-E-Marts opened permanently that somehow failed to get noticed by the internet, Huffington Post made up a fact that took Google less than a second to disprove and slapped it out there like it’s reliable information.  Fuck you, Huffington Post.  Just fuck you.

Day 39: International Beer Day – Absolutely great fan made Surly costume.  I may have to copy this for Halloween this year.

Homer Knows – Not sure what the original source is on this, but the fan made Homer wood carving is awesome.  I don’t know if the paint has been intentionally aged, but it looks great.

Maggie Simpson is back at Ayn Rand School for Tots – A pretty decent shaky-cam YouTube of “The Longest Daycare”.

What is Parody? Maybe The Simpsons know. – An academic look at just what really constitutes parody that, sadly, references Season 13 instead of something watchable.  There is this, though:

I think Jameson’s definition is somewhat more clear—is this “couch gag” satiric or having a disposition of humourless neutrality?  And as much as I think The Simpsons is funny in general, and the episodes are often satiric, some of the “couch gags” are more like cameos, a pop references without comment, and so, are some of the best examples of pastiche in popular literature I can think of.

Light ‘N Fluffy – Well done:

Watching The Simpsons on Sunday nights constituted the only “family time” in existence in the O’Driscoll household. Most likely because it didn’t entail us speaking to each other.  This weekly ritual instilled in me a grand knowledge of classic one-liners used in the earlier (read: better) seasons of the show. My most recently referenced ones include:

In addition to the references themselves, I become downright giddy when I use one of these lines and someone actually gets it.

All the links go to YouTube, and one of them is even in “3D”.

9 Things You May Not Know About Lizzie Borden – The entry about Borden’s appearances in popular culture mentions plays, films and a ballet, but is titled “Lizzie Borden made an appearance on “The Simpsons”.

Project Enlists the Public to Document Outdoor Sculpture by Tony Smith – I’m sympathetic to the wider point here, but this is plainly inaccurate:

“We live in a world where every single one of the more than 500 television episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ has a well-researched Wikipedia article devoted to it, but by comparison there is practically no information about many of the greatest artworks of the 20thcentury,” said Richard McCoy, a member of the conservation group and a founder of WikiProject Public Art.

First of all, most of the pages for Zombie Simpsons episodes aren’t well researched and are barely maintained.  Secondly, The Simpsons episodes are some of the greatest artworks of the 20th Century.

My friend met a drunk Homer Simpson in Vegas – Heh.

Lisa Simpson Giantess by ~gtslover34 on deviantART – Bet she’s wished she could do that to Bart.

Family Tree Charts! – I don’t know where it came from or how they filled in all the other characters, but there is a rather impressive Simpson family tree here.  One question, where are the Bouviers?

Yo Zushi: Back to the soil – Taking a look at America’s enduring “back to the land” strain through, of all things, “E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)”.

The Simpsons Hit & Run – A video game review nine years in the making.

Sacred Citadel reveal trailer has ‘wild warriors’ and ‘b*… – Except for the pointless asterisk, excellent usage:

I’ve always been a fan of the word “b*tchin’.” Ever since I heard it on The Simpsons when I was a wee lad (and The Simpsons was still a watchable show), I immediately knew the word was awesome. You don’t hear “b*tchin'” being thrown around all too often, but when it is, it’s usually due to a big event or happening.

I remember hearing Bart say “Bitchin’!” in “Treehouse of Horror” and being really impressed that they could say that on television.  In related news, how childish does a video game website need to be to not be where network television was twenty years ago?

Televisualist: We Hated the Olympics Before It Was Cool – This is just a television listing:

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Homer Goes To College.” A true classic. “Remember, your job depends on your successful completion of Nuclear Physics 101. Oh, and one more thing…you must find the Jade Monkey before the next full moon.” “Actually, sir, we found the Jade Monkey. It was in your glove compartment.” (Comedy Network, 8 p.m.)

Is there any other show where a rerun of an episode that premiered two decades ago comes with multiple quotes?

Everything’s better with bacon and beer – Excellent usage:

“Is it bacon day?” America’s favorite television dad dreamingly wondered during an episode of The Simpsons. Well Homer Simpson, it looks like it is bacon day…and oh yeah, beer day too. Homer would be in heaven. Starting this Sunday, The Sidecar Restaurant in Ventura will host Bacon and Beer Sundays, the perfect combination of savory and hops, as a delicious way to cap off the weekend.

No, that’s crazy talk!

The Simpsons…. – Fan made Bart drawing in marker on what looks like a manila folder.

Ruthless Extrapolation – Excellent physics usage:

In almost every case, extrapolation works until it doesn’t. When the fundamental rules of the game change, watch out!

As with many aspects of human behavior, some of the finest commentary on the matter is served up by The Simpsons. In one episode, Lisa Simpson is taken to the orthodontist to evaluate whether or not she needs braces. The “doctor” runs a simulation based on current growth rates, producing an alarming graphic of teeth gone wild.

Marge shrieks and is ready to do whatever it takes to protect her daughter against this cruel fate. Extrapolation can, of course, be used to argue both for impending doom or future prosperity—sometimes based on the same data. I started this blog with an extrapolative foil to demonstrate the insanity of continued physical growth, in fact. A tangential follow-up illustrated the hopelessness of differentiating a steady-state energy future from an energy crash using current data (although a continued exponential rise is already a poor fit).

Train – California 37 album review – Apparently the band Train has a new album, and the first song is one of those little ditties that contains an insane number of pop culture references:

Beginning with its opener ‘This’ll Be My Year’ which is basically a run through of Train’s career plus including things that everyone knows about for example in the year 1989 they reference the start of ‘The Simpsons’ and contains one of my favourite lines, ‘I stopped believing although Journey told me don’t.’ Some people won’t like these sorts of lyrics but to me it is clever.

You can listen to the song in question at YouTube, the Simpsons part is right near the beginning.

I’ll have a bug salad, a toe-nail in my sandwich, and one beak slurry please – One of those giant couches they made for the movie was on an A&E reality show:

Last night’s episode of Shipping Wars proved very enlightening.  To me.  One of the shipments turned out to be a 400 pound replica of the Simpson’s clan sitting in their trademark pose on the family couch.  According to the seller, only 86 of these movie theatre props were released to the public.

Buy Simpsons Mini Lunchbox \”Pin Pals\” – I don’t think I’ve linked this before, but that’s the rare piece of merchandise that’s actually not terrible looking.

The Cheesecake Factory…In 10 Words – Daddy, this place smells like tinkle.

Why the Simpsons? Why Not. – And finally, an Australian college student justifies his excessive use of Simpsons references on a blog about globalization (and agrees with us):

By now regular readers of this blog (because you’re forced to write comments on here and I actually keep up to date with it) will be wondering why I use so many Simpsons pictures/videos as references in my posts.

It’s not just because Simpsons is funny (in the 90s that is), or that I really enjoy Simpsons, but because The Simpsons is a living example of the globalisation process, I know more about the U.S from Simpsons than any other show, and it airs all over the world and has the sort of impact that is massive and lends itself to Americanisation.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, The Simpsons is possibly the most recognized cultural creation of the entire 20th Century.  It’s Homer’s world, we’re just living in it.


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1e

“Why is it when I heard the word ‘school’ and the word ‘exploded’ I immediately thought of the word ‘Skinner’!?” – Superintendent Chalmers


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1d

“Ah, soon that mighty apparatus will burst forth with its precious fluid.  Almost sexual, isn’t it, Smithers?” – C.M. Burns
“Enh.” – Mr. Smithers


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