Later this year, Disney+ will finally give users the option to watch The Simpsons as it was originally meant to be shown: with commercials.
The service recently announced the addition of a new lower-cost, ad-supported subscription tier, which has been a long-time feature of its streaming sibling Hulu. It will launch in the US in late 2022 and expand internationally in 2023. Pricing has not yet been announced.
Media analysts at LightShed Partners are skeptical of the move:
Lowering price and jamming in ads does not feel like the answer to driving usage — if anything it feels like it will have the opposite effect. Disney needs to focus first and foremost on delivering more must-watch, buzzy content on Disney+.
Sure, some might gripe about paying for commercials you can’t skip, but this is great news for Simpsons simps. When Disney+ first launched, much ado was made over the fact you couldn’t watch the pre-HD episodes in their proper 4:3 aspect ratio. They eventually rectified this oversight by letting you toggle between aspect ratios, allowing you to watch the show the way the artists originally intended it to be shown. By adding commercials, Disney+ is furthering their commitment to artistic integrity by presenting the show as it was meant to be viewed when it originally aired on regular TV. With commercials, the meta jokes from “And Maggie Makes Three” and “Treehouse of Horror VI” will hit harder, act breaks will have more dramatic weight, and you’ll stay informed of new products. Best of all, it will cost you less money than the ad-free tier, and with the money you saved, you could potentially purchase something you saw in one of the ads. It’s a win for everybody, but especially for Simpsons fans craving a more authentic viewing experience.
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 Simpsons and Butterfinger brand chocolate bars had a long and fruitful endorsement deal – one that began even before the series started – generating over a hundred (!?!) commercials over a period of 13 years. Then, for unknown reasons, Butterfinger terminated the partnership in 2001. Not one to leave bridges unburned, The Simpsons poked fun at their former corporate partner in the 2002 episode Sweets & Sour Marge, as described in Chris Turner’s book Planet Simpson:
In a Season 13 episode, the Springfield court imposes a total ban on sugar. A giant bonfire is built to burn all the sugary treats in Springfield, and some police officers attempt to throw a pile of Butterfingers onto the blaze. As they hit the fire, though, a sort of force field surrounds them, and they’re thrown back, unburned. “Not even the fire wants them,” Chief Wiggums notes ruefully.
A later episode, Half-Decent Proposal, featured the chalkboard gag “I will not bite the hand that feeds me Butterfingers,” indicating Butterfinger was unhappy with the joke and made their displeasure known.
And so, for over a decade, Bart Simpson never so much as laid a finger on a crispety, crunchety, peanut-buttery Butterfinger. Spokespeople including Seth Green, Lou “Iron Man” Ferrigno, and Jaime Pressly were brought in as replacements for Bart, but things just weren’t the same. Could those two bar-crossed brands ever reconcile and form a new advertising partnership?
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Two years ago, I enlisted you, the reader, to go forth and locate the egg council commercials that the classic “You’d better run, egg!” scene from “Homer the Great” was referencing. Well, reader James e-mailed me with the news that he located two of them (maybe the only two?) on AdForum.com.
I can’t embed the videos so you’ll have to click the links:
Here’s a minute-long commercial featuring an egg being sent to the electric chair.
And here’s a 30-second one that starts the same way, but features different types of eggs.
A couple observations: the eggs are noticeably shorter than the guards, and they have no legs; they’re not normal-sized people cosplaying as eggs with normal legs like the Egg Council creep. Secondly, the brand is “California Egg Commission,” not the Egg Council, which appears to be made up.
Boy it feels good to finally have closure on this pressing issue. Thank you, James.
Beloved cartoon character Milhouse Van Houten might have began life as part of an unsuccessful pitch for a Saturday morning cartoon.
In a discussion on Twitter last week, Simpsons superdirector David Silverman clarified some things about Milhouse’s origins, shooting down rumors he’s just a rip-off of Paul Pfeiffer from The Wonder Years (come on dudes, he’s pretty much just Akbar/Jeff with hair and glasses). He also shared a little more behind-the-scenes information about his first appearance. It’s been known that Milhouse first appeared in a pre-series Simpsons Butterfinger commercial – in 2000, Simpsons creator Matt Groening told TV Guide he “needed to give Bart someone to talk to in the school cafeteria” – but until now it was believed he was created specifically for that commercial.
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Now that Aflac has dumped Gilbert Gottfried as the voice (quack?) of its disyllabic duck character, who should replace him? timlowell, a commenter (commentator?) over at The Awl suggests Simpsons thespian Harry Shearer as a possible candidate:
Harry Shearer does a regular bit on Le Show where he mimics Gilbert Gottfried’s Aflac duck, except he changes it to “AF-PAK”, as in what the military calls the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. I e-mailed him, but he hasn’t responded.
Here’s the most recent “News of AFPAK” segment, so you can judge for yourself.
In a break from tradition, Fox will be showing a commercial after or during The Simpsons. Here’s a preview of the preview [Animation Magazine]