MY TWO CENTS

Springfield Confidential: Jokes, Secrets, and Outright Lies from a Lifetime Writing for The Simpsons by Mike Reiss and Mathew Klickstein; released 2018, available at HarperCollins

Feels like a Season 4 episode in that there’s a lot of funny jokes but also a lot of filler


MY TWO CENTS

lisa simpson computer

Simpsons World, the much-anticipated Simpsons streaming service from FXX, just went live a few hours ago. Here’s my initial impressions of it. Please note I’m just using the web version, so I don’t know if there’s anything different about the mobile version.

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AZTEC THEATRE, MY TWO CENTS

The Simpsons live show is over now, with far less casualties than the usual Hollywood Bowl event. In defiance of the rules, some audience members recorded it with their cell phones and cameras. Here’s a video of the Friday show, which could be taken down at any time:

Dead Homer Society has some more videos of the Saturday and Sunday shows, but I’m not going to bother watching them.

Some observations:

  • “Unlike Seth MacFarlane, Matt [Groening] will not force you to listen to him sing” burnsauce
  • Whoever recorded this decided to leave it on for part of the intermission, but ran out of battery during Jon Lovitz singing the Planet of the Apes musical, and then somehow regained power immediately after. Okay…
  • Jon Lovitz is basically a more likable version of Ricky Gervais.
  • Host Hank Azaria got to live his greatest nightmare onstage because nobody told him a clip he was setting up was cut.
  • The Alf Clausen tribute seemed abrupt and a little at odds with the rest of the show’s tone. Still, nice to see the Sideshow Bob motif get its due…
  • Conan O’Brien seemed energetic, but “The Monorail Song” isn’t really much of a song, come to think of it.
  • “Do The Bartman” was really disappointing. Granted, it’s hard to do the Bart voice while singing in front of hundreds of people with limited stage experience, while also trying to make sure you don’t fall off the stage, but still…
  • Here’s the weirdest thing: Harry Shearer (who generally doesn’t agree to anything that’s not in his contract because he feels cheated by Fox) apparently didn’t give permission for his voice to be used in clips. So, twice they had to replace him with a “scratch” voice that’s REALLY OBVIOUS AND WEIRD. Shearer also declined to do The Simpsons Ride, but his voice is still present in episode clips that play while you’re waiting in line, so I don’t know what the deal is.
MY TWO CENTS, SPRINGFIELD SHOPPER

armour hot dogs

Shocking news for Simpsons fans concerned about the artistic integrity of an episode based entirely around a name-brand product: it turns out The Simpsons‘s upcoming 30 minute LEGO commercial was partially funded and essentially proposed by The LEGO Group.

Entertainment Weekly casually mentioned The LEGO Group’s financial stake in the episode in an interview with producers Matt Selman and Brian Kelley:

Lego helped pay for the episode. How much input did the company have into the creative side? I understand that there was a sex scene between Lego Homer and Lego Marge that they wanted to tone down.


KELLEY:

Let’s say we had a lot of fun with the Lego sex scene, and I’m not surprised that it was a little too risque. But we’ll always treasure the memory. [Laughs] They were good partners. Our audience is slightly older than their audience, so they would occasionally have concerns, but all the words in the episode are ours. If they had an objection, which they did on very rare occasions, we’d find a way around it.

Good to know that a show with “a near-total absence of network interference” (virtually unheard of in the industry) is now taking notes from a toy company.

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MY TWO CENTS

Mrs. Krabappel

Mrs. Krabappel made her final speaking appearance last Sunday in an episode that also featured Sideshow Bob using animal DNA to obtain gills and stepping on a rake underwater. Spoiler: Ned Flanders is cursed, and his Vegas wife should fear for her life.

Other than that, the producers still aren’t totally sure what to do about Bart’s lack of a teacher:

So who will replace Mrs. Kabrappel [sic.] in the fourth-grade classroom? For the time being, no one. The rest of this season’s episodes — which already have been completed — do not involve Bart with his teacher.

It appears they’ve already been removing her from classroom scenes. There’s a recent episode where a still image of Groundskeeper Willie is just pasted in the background of a scene (I’m pretty sure he doesn’t blink).

As for season 26, “we have some ideas,” says Jean. “It’s also possible both given the way the show works and the state of public schools there won’t be a permanent teacher. We can get some great guest stars here and there before we settle on somebody. We’re looking at it from different angles.”

So, basically it’ll be like the post-Steve Carell episodes of The Office, then. Great!

While my preference would be for the show to cease production immediately, my worthless, hacky suggestion is to just have Principal Skinner take over. It’d give the show more chances to focus on his adversarial relationship with Bart and, as a bonus, isolate him from his mother, who’s easily my least favorite character. Meanwhile, Superintendent Chalmers would naturally become principal, since he’s already at the school all the time anyway.

Either that, or it’s finally time for Nameless Ponytail Teacher to step into the spotlight.

[Entertainment Weekly]

COMING ATTRACTIONS, JEAN MACHINE, MY TWO CENTS

Al JeanSimpsons executive producer Al Jean, who in the past few years has killed off Homer’s mom and the real Fat Tony for no real reason, has vowed to kill again, this time with more hype:

“We’re working on a script where a character will pass away,” he confirmed. “I’ll give a clue: The actor who plays the character won an Emmy for playing that character. I won’t say who it is.”

Will nothing stop this man’s insatiable bloodlust??

Now the guessing game begins, for this episode that likely won’t air for another year! The Emmy clue doesn’t really narrow things down, because five of the six main voice actors have won Emmys for their performances. That would mean Harry Shearer’s characters are safe, but look at this scene and tell me they’re not already dead.

The smart money is on:

Rabbi Krustofski (Jackie Mason): Krusty’s estranged father, old, rarely appears, voiced by guest star, nowhere else to go with the character.

Jacqueline Bouvier (Julie Kavner): Marge’s mom, old, rarely appears, difficult voice to do, death would keep viewers from noticing how Marge sounds exactly like her these days.

Just Stamp The Ticket Guy (Hank Azaria): Perhaps the most iconic character, death would bring guaranteed ratings.

Here’s some characters that aren’t likely to die but are being mentioned in other articles anyway:

Princess Penelope (Anne Hathaway): Krusty’s wife. You didn’t forget Krusty was married, did you? Or that he’s still a Congressman? She’s not a particularly memorable character, so why bother killing her off?

Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer): I doubt they would kill him off without a guarantee that this is the last season (still waiting on renewal, by the way). He’s a costumed character at Universal Studios Florida and it seems weird to have him alive for The Simpsons Ride while dead in the series.

Mrs. Krabappel (Marcia Wallace): Are they heartless enough to kill off Ned Flanders’s wife a second time? Bart would need a replacement teacher, and the show rarely (if ever) replaces a character… Gil is occasionally a lawyer for the Simpsons, but I wouldn’t say he’s a straight-up replacement for Lionel Hutz.

Fun fact: Comic Book Resources posted about this more than a week ago, but for some reason it’s only just now trending, due to this Sun News article. It seems to use the exact same quotes, so either they sat on the story for a week or Al Jean robotically uses the exact same quotes every time he talks to the press… which is exactly the kind of thing a serial killer would do.

[Comic Book Resources]

MY TWO CENTS, TOON BEAT

Well, the Maggie Simpson short lost in its bid for an Academy Award, and the world was robbed of the opportunity to see director David Silverman’s majestic beard. Here’s a photopic of Silverman, Matt Groening, and writer Michael Price looking dapper on the red carpet (apparently Silverman and Groening didn’t get the memo to wear this Maggie button):


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MY TWO CENTS, WEB-WATCH

Three big Simpsons fansites have gone offline just in the past month or so. Normally, I’d be ecstatic that three of my competitors have been knocked off in one fell swoop, but instead I’m perturbed. Is someone picking off Simpsons fansites? Who could it be? Why are they doing this? And who’s next?

Back in the late 90s, Simpsons fansites were a dime a dozen. Some, like the character sites, had their niches, but most were pretty generalized, meaning they had a little bit of everything: some character bios, episode guides, some .WAV files, some grainy framegrabs that would occasionally rouse Fox lawyers into sending threatening letters to teenagers, maybe some fanart and reviews, and ever-popular “grabpics,” which were framegrabs that were traced over in Illustrator or something and put on white backgrounds. But as time went on, webmasters grew up and moved on, the show got steadily worse, the dynamics of the internet changed, and the number of sites dwindled. That number dwindled even further this month as three Simpsons fansite fixtures met their frosty fate.

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COMING ATTRACTIONS, MY TWO CENTS

simpsons brand new episodeCheck out this sneak peek preview of an upcoming episode from next season:

When Bart’s love life heats up again on The Simpsons, it will involve an old flame or two. Actually, make that five. Not only will Zooey Deschanel guest-star on the animated comedy by reprising her role as Mary Spuckler — that adorable hillbilly daughter of Cleetus [sic.] whom Bart nearly married in season 19 — four other former girlfriends, voiced by Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Sarah Silverman, make cameos in the same episode, EW has learned.

This episode has it all: a hackneyed plot ripped off from romantic comedies, a bunch of guest stars returning to voice some of the blandest characters in the show’s history (Girlfriend #4, Girlfriend #7, et al.), a clip show-like premise that emphasizes not only how long the show’s been on but how repetitive and assembly line-produced it’s been, Bart having what sounds like a midlife crisis at the age of 10, and a country song performed by Zooey Deschanel, who apparently played one of Cletus the slack-jawed yokel’s daughter in some horrible-sounding episode I managed to avoid. Please end this show. [Entertainment Weekly]

MEANINGLESS MILESTONES, MY TWO CENTS

The Simpsons appended this incredibly minor “jab” at Fox News to the rebroadcast of the first episode, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire, which aired as part of Fox’s twenty-fifth anniversary celebration Sunday night:

Congratulations FOX on 25 years... We still love you* (*This doesn't include Fox News)

Despite its severe lameness (We don’t like Fox News! LOL!), it still got a bunch of press coverage from places like the Huffington Post (takes shot!), Hollywood Reporter (skewered! blasted!), and Zap2It (trashes!) … and that was before professional pinhead Bill O’Reilly weighed in.

I can only imagine what font size they’d use for the headlines if the scene featuring CEO Rupert Murdoch in jail had aired today.