MY TWO CENTS

An image of Lisa Simpson holding up a phone from the short Plusaversary.

As Disney+ Day turns into Disney+ Night, I thought I’d toss off some thoughts about The Big D’s lackluster non-event.

Why wasn’t there a livestream? A few weeks ago DC Comics had their second annual “FanDome,” a multi-hour livestream that touched on all the company’s upcoming projects and culminated in a new trailer for The Batman. Disney couldn’t have done the same? Instead they just dripped out new announcements in a Twitter thread, and then there were a couple short presentations from Pixar and Marvel added to Disney+. Oh, and they mentioned the wrong Will Smith, who continued to be tagged in every subsequent tweet. Weirdly amateurish for something that was supposedly a big deal for the company. Apparently they went all out at the theme parks and had giant balloons in major cities to promote this???

As for the new Simpsons short… eh, whatever. Seems like maybe it could’ve been a decent series of commercials back when Disney+ launched. “Look, all your favorite characters are together in one place.” Why wasn’t that their marketing campaign? Ah well. Also, I suspect they were using a fake mockup of the service as reference and nobody ever bothered to correct them.

In general, I feel David Silverman’s talents are being squandered on these shorts. Disney+ should just give him a huge budget and let him go hog wild.

Speaking of Simpsons shorts, where are the original shorts from The Tracey Ullman Show? I know it’s a long shot but I was kind of hoping for an announcement. Back when FXX launched Simpsons World, they tried and failed to get them. Disney+ should do what Simpsons Worldn’t: figure out what’s going on with the rights, fire their giant money bazooka at the problem, and get them out there. Now that would be a Disney+ Day miracle.

MY TWO CENTS

An image of a Simpsons NFT next to Bill Cipher and Lisa planting a tree.

In honor of Disney+ Day on November 12, the NFT collectible platform VeVe has announced an NFT collection featuring golden digital statues “inspired by” Disney properties. The first two, featuring Homer and Bart choking each other and Bart’s skateboard, will drop tomorrow.

My limited understanding is that NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital artworks that people spend lots of cryptocurrency (pretend computer money) on just so it says on a website somewhere that they are the “owner” of said artwork. Of course, since they’re digital artwork, anyone can just right click and save them, which to a normal person would make “ownership” seem pointless and the whole enterprise seem scammy. They also have the added bonus of being incredibly harmful to the environment. “Hey, don’t have a cow, man, these ones are actually carbon neutral!,” you might say. First, that’s greenwashing. Second, most NFTs look like absolute shit. A massive corporation like Disney getting involved with their giant portfolio of iconic characters helps legitimize the entire cryptoart marketplace.

Are these NFT statues the most immoral pieces of Simpsons merchandise to exist? Probably not. Nevertheless, The Simpsons has been awarded 9 Environmental Media Awards over the years. They should return them if they’re going to choke the planet with this garbage.

MEANINGLESS MILESTONES, SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

An image of the Simpsons Season 1 DVD cover.

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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FOX NEWS

An image of Lisa Simpsons carrying her seemingly-dead brother into their parents' bedroom.

¡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.

Channel24:

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.

NEWS BRIEFS

A collage of random Simpsons-related pictures.

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]
LISTICLE PARADISO

An image of The Good, The Bad, and the Loki featuring Marge Simpson and Captain America.

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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GROEN DRAIN

An image of Milhouse surrounded by unused child designs.

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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GENERAL SWARTZ-WATCH

An image of a statue of John Swartzwelder in The Simpsons.

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]

READING DIGEST

did u ever know that ur my hero

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.

NOSTRAD'OHMUS

The Simpsons predict the future!

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!