Today marks the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons: The Complete First Season DVD boxset in North America (tip of the hat to illustrator Bill Mudron for mentioning this). It was, for a time, the best selling TV show on DVD until it was eclipsed by Chappelle’s Show a few years later. Now that physical media has been rendered a relic by streaming services, let’s take this opportunity to look back at what’s been lost.
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¡Ay, caramba! Three years after its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, Disney is pulling the plug on the Fox channel on September 30, to the dismay of Simpsons fans continentwide.
In response to a media query from Channel24, The Walt Disney Company Africa confirms that its FOX channel (DStv 125/StarSat 131) is ending on pay-TV services like MultiChoice’s DStv, StarTimes and StarSat, as well as Zuku across sub-Saharan Africa at the end of September.
Some loyal Fox viewers expressed dismay at the announcement on Facebook. The Simpsons had been a fixture on the channel since its launch in 2010, and with the streaming service Disney+ not scheduled to launch in the region until mid-2022, it is unclear where Simpsons devotees will get their fix.
Fox is among a hundred channels Disney plans to close this year.
Here’s a roundup of Simpsons news tidbits from the past month.
- Wes Archer shared part of a script from the Tracey Ullman short “Burp Contest.” Interesting to note Marge and Homer were just “Mom” and “Dad” back then. [Wes Archer]
- Showrunner-turned-fast-food-reviewer Bill Oakley appeared in a Burger King commercial. [Bill Oakley]
- The Star Wars-themed Disney+
commercial short Maggie Simpson in “The Force Awakens from Its Nap” is nominated for an Emmy. [Cartoon Brew]
- Kid Leaves Stoop did a video about the much-maligned Homer-head-shaped Season 6 DVD set (I’m pro-head for the record), and made a startling discovery about the security of the site you had to visit to get a replacement box. [Kid Leaves Stoop]
- The Simpsons held a Comic-Con panel over Zoom. There’s no Homer hologram this time, but the part where they play Pictionary is pretty fun. Also, the ever-punctual Matt Groening shows up late towards the end. [Comic-Con International]
- New Simpsons writer Broti Gupta is promoting an Amazon wishlist to help unhoused people in Los Angeles. [Broti Gupta]
- The great Simpsons blog Dead Homer Society appears to have let the domain name lapse, but luckily it’s still on WordPress.
- The Department of Energy is redacting documents relating to a BuzzFeed-style Simpsons blog post they did. What are they hiding?!? [Vice]
The God of Mischief living with the Simpsons?! It happened, in the epic new short “The Good, The Bart, and the Loki,” streaming now on Disney+. Naturally, this crossover between the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and the MGU (Matt Groening Universe) is chock full of clever Easter eggs that should bring a smile to any True Believer. Here’s a list of 17 references, callbacks, and homages to The Simpsons.
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Back in 2011, during a Twitter discussion about whether Milhouse’s design was inspired by Wonder Years actor Josh Saviano, Simpsons superdirector David Silverman dismissed that theory, mentioning Milhouse had originated from an unproduced Saturday morning cartoon Matt Groening had pitched to a network in the 80s, and his design was recycled for a Butterfinger commercial. I wrote about it at the time.
Silverman mentioned that cartoon again recently (the Wonder Years thing just won’t die!), and this time some more details have emerged.
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John Swartzwelder has given his first-ever interview with The New Yorker, where the legendary Simpsons writer talks at length about his past and reflects upon his work.
This is a huge surprise, because Swartzwelder has a reputation as a mysterious, eccentric guy. As John Ortved wrote in his book, “Swartzwelder is an enigma. No one I interviewed knows much about the man, and unlike [George] Meyer, he has never given an interview or spoken publicly about himself or his work.” Fellow Simpsons writer Matt Selman blogged, “John Swartzwelder is immensely private. He would not want to be blogged about.” The only time his voice has been heard publicly is when showrunner Mike Scully called him during a DVD commentary (in an interview with the podcast Talking Simpsons, Scully says he had to give him an animation cel to get him to sign a release form). Amazingly, he still holds the record for most episodes written, even though he left the show nearly two decades ago.
In the interview, which writer Mike Sacks says was “in the works for over a year,” Swartzwelder reflects on his time in advertising and Saturday Night Live, offers some great writing advice, clarifies some misperceptions about the diner booth he installed in his home, shares his thoughts on the deification of the Simpsons writers’ room (“I know some people think of us as gods, and maybe we are. I’m not saying we’re not gods.”) and the word “Swartzweldian” (“about the most awkward-sounding word in the English language”), reveals his favorite season, and confirms the mostly-promotional Twitter account @JJSwartzwelder is him. He also mentions a cartoon he drew for George Meyer’s cult zine Army Man featuring “some nicely drawn chickens” with perfect beaks (you be the judge).
The whole thing is oozing with great jokes and is very much worth your time.
[The New Yorker]
Back in 1994, there were plans for a spinoff of The Simpsons centered around Krusty the Clown moving to Los Angeles and becoming a talk show host. The twist is that the show would’ve been live-action, with Dan Castellaneta, the voice of Krusty, starring as the character. Creator Matt Groening, who co-wrote a pilot script with The King of Queens creator Michael Weithorn, was quoted in a 1999 Entertainment Weekly article reflecting on the challenges of working in live-action:
We had this running joke in the script that Krusty was living in a house on stilts and there were beavers gnawing their way through the stilts. But somebody at the network pointed out how expensive it was to hire trained beavers — and an equally prohibitive cost would be to get mechanical beavers — so I said, “If we animated this, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
And that was absolutely everything we ever knew about the project… until now!
Simpsons expert @ThatGuy3002, known for his deep dives into scripts on Twitter, found out a lot more about the ill-fated spinoff, and shared his findings in a tweet thread:
Click through to read the whole thread, which reveals plot details about the surprisingly death-heavy pilot episode, how another Fox show about an alcoholic clown may have poisoned the well for clown-related entertainment, and what really killed the spinoff (spoiler: money). I have my doubts about the quality levels of what sounds like a Larry Sanders rip-off mixed with the 1992 Boris and Natasha movie, but I’m nevertheless fascinated by this odd footnote in Simpsons history. It doesn’t sound like production ever went any further than the script, but if any photographic evidence of Dan Castellaneta in full-blown Krusty makeup exists, please please please share it with the world.
Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinbrugh and longtime husband to Queen Elizabeth II, has died. The world may have surprised at the shocking and unexpected death of the 99 year old monarch, but there’s at least one cartoon that wasn’t suprised at all: The Simpsons! That’s right, The Simpsons has once again predicted the future with trademark accuracy, as is their wont.
True Simpsons aficionados will undoubtedly remember the scene from 1995’s “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily,” where little Maggie Simpson creepily turns her head around and informs Bart and Lisa “Prince Phillip will die on April 9, 2021.” The line was replaced in subsequent airings, but not before causing much consternation on the newsgroups, where Simpsons dorks expressed bafflement at the reference and its complete irrelevancy to the episode’s plot. The specificity of the date will surely draw questions from the authorities, but there’s one thing for sure: we should all live in fear of The Simpsons and its unfathomable psychic powers!
The Fox Network has renewed the popular television cartoon The Simpsons for yet another two seasons, ensuring audiences nationwide will still be entertained during the final months of the republic and beyond.
From the press release:
Emmy Award-winning Animation Domination kingpin THE SIMPSONS has been renewed for its 33rd and 34th seasons on FOX, carrying the series to 2023 and a total of 757 episodes. ¡Ay, caramba!
As the United States enters its death throes under the Biden regime, new episodes of The Simpsons will provide a sense of stability as our beloved homeland collapses, assuming of course that television will continue to broadcast.
This is the first renewal since Disney’s acquisition of the company formerly known as 20th Century Fox (Fox, the channel, is still owned by the Murdochs). Some had speculated the show might move to producing new episodes exclusively for Disney+, where it’s consistently one of the service’s most popular shows. In the linear world, however, ratings continue to dwindle, and The Hollywood Reporter called it a loss leader for the network. Nevertheless, fans can rest assured that the comedic antics of Homer, Bart and the other Simpsons will continue to provide a fun diversion from the corpses piling up outside.
Kith for The Simpsons fashion collection; released 2021, available at Kith shops and Kith.com.
Looks like clip art. Really disappointed in Dave Foley & co.