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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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.
- “Unlike Seth MacFarlane, Matt [Groening] will not force you to listen to him sing”
- 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.
Yes, the Simpsons are going off the air… so they can star in an exclusive 3-night concert at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend! Half the cast will be there! Conan O’Brien will do the monorail song! Beverly D’Angelo, Jon Lovitz, and Weird Al will make appearances! Who knows, maybe writer John Swartzwelder will perform one of his legendary death-defying motorcycle stunts!
It seems “The Simpsons Take The Bowl” has been in the works for a while – a very long time if the copyright date on this picture drawn by longtime Simpsons director David Silverman is any indication – and some new details are finally oozing out, thanks to the Los Angeles Times and Twitter. Unfortunately, most of the stuff demanded by the fans didn’t make it in, but it’s still going to make The Simpsons On Ice look like a bootleg puppet show.
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Splitsider has another typically enlightening interview with a Simpsons writer, this time with the generally-reviled former showrunner Mike Scully. He talks about writing for the Golden Globes, his occasional acting on Parks & Recreation (I didn’t know his character had a name), and his short-lived series The Pitts (I only remember Fox’s obnoxious promos for it, which focused primarily on the girl getting a pipe stuck in her head and saying “I’ve got a freakin’ pipe stuck in my head!” or something similiar. Or maybe that was his other show, The Mullets, who knows).
The stuff about his tenure on The Simpsons is interesting – he had the choice of doing either that or Coach (I wonder what the inevitable “Craig T. Nelson gets leprosy” episode would’ve been like), met Conan right before he got sucked away by NBC, and rose from being a 1-day college dropout intimidated by the Ivy League-infested writers’ room to running it just a few years later.
He also lectures a bit about the importance of putting characters before jokes, which is a little galling coming from the guy who brought us panda rape and jockey elves. But he does give an apology, of sorts:
It’s funny going back and doing these DVD commentaries 10 years later. You get a chance to relive every bad decision you made. There are times when you wish you could fast-forward the DVD and just say, “Sorry folks, I don’t know what I was thinking on that one.”
Finally, some closure. [Splitsider]
What do you do if you’re a long-running show that’s totally out of ideas? Do you scrounge up long-discarded episode ideas from the Trash Co. waste disposal unit and try to pass them off as new? What if you’ve completely exhausted that avenue? What’s your next recourse? Well, if you’re The Simpsons, you do the next best thing – scrounge up long-discarded fanfiction.
A little while ago, comedy movie king Judd Apatow told Slashfilm he wrote a fanscript for The Simpsons way back in 1990 after only five or six episodes had aired, which he described like so:
And what it was about was they went to see a hypnotism show and at the hypnotism show, they made Homer think he was the same age as Bart. And then the hypnotist had a heart attack. So now Homer and Bart became best friends and they spent the rest of the show running away because Homer didn’t want responsibility and didn’t want to be brought back to his real age. So I basically copied that for every movie I’ve made since.
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Bill Oakley has done it again. Last Friday on Twitter, the former Simpsons showrunner revealed his personal top ten Simpsons episodes that were “pitched, discussed, [and] written,” but, for whatever reason, never produced and lost to the sands of time.
Now, most of our competition would just lazily copy & paste the list and call it a day, but we here at rubbercat.net/simpsons have much more respect for you, the reader. We have attempted to dig up as much information about these would-be episodes as possible, from audio commentaries, interviews, and story outlines, to bring you the most complete picture of these extra-bonus-non-episodes as possible. Let’s run through the list, shall we?
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The Hollywood Reporter did a big cover story about The Simpsons in honor its meaningless milestone of having churned out a certain number of product. Former showrunner Mike Scully used the occasion to share his death wish with the nation:
“I think the show will outlive all of us,” says former producer Mike Scully. “Nothing would make me happier than some episode in the future to end with a title card that reads, ‘In memory of Mike Scully.'”
Yup, Mike Scully wants to die. Nothing would make him happier. There is no other way to interpret that quote. After years of death threats from Simpsons nerds, it seems Scully has decided to embrace the icy hand of death.
The rest of the article is mostly just a rehash of the same stories they’ve been telling for years in interviews and audio commentaries (did you know Michael Jackson didn’t do his own singing???), but nonetheless there’s a few interesting tidbits I haven’t heard elsewhere, if you use a charitable interpretation of “interesting.”
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Back in February, we blew the doors off the biggest plagiarism scandal to rock the entertainment industry since Disney’s wholesale appropriation of Osamu Tezuka’s Kimba the White Lion (Really, Disney? “Simba?”): former Tonight Show guest host Conan O’Brien’s blatant theft of The Simpsons‘ iconic “couch gag” in the titles of his new show. After three months of stonewalling our indisputable allegations, the thievery gang known as “Team Coco” has finally broken down and acknowledged the shameful theft in the titles of last night’s Conan:
You can see it in action in this curiously unembeddable video. For the watching-impaired, the silhouetted family from Conan‘s titles returns home to find the Simpsons (including a Small Bart) making off with their television. Clearly the subtext is clear: Conan has stolen The Simpsons‘s couch gag, so the Simpsons are stealing a television.
Now, obviously this can’t undo all the hurt and damage that has arisen as a result from their reckless disregard for intellectual property, but this acknowledgement is certainly a step forward on the path to recovery. While our editorial policy forbids the tooting of one’s horn, we would be remiss without noting that once again, rubbercat.net/simpsons has achieved positive change as a direct result of our steadfast reporting. You’re welcome, everyone.
Disgraced talk show host Conan O’Brien, who was famously exiled from network television for being such a bad man, has apparently resorted to blatantly ripping off the beloved American institution known as The Simpsons in an act of brazen desperation, a new low for this sad, sad man. In the opening titles of his new variety show on TBS, a silhouetted family drives over a bridge from a city and then runs inside their home to watch TV. Sound familiar? If that weren’t enough, a wacky gag involving the family – a couch gag, if you will – occurs on Thursday shows.
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