SMARTLINE

An image of Comic Book Guy writing an angry screed on his computer.

The failing Democratic Party mouthpiece Jacobin has published a hit piece on The Simpsons in what could only be described as a pathetic attempt to stay relevant. Like the rest of its contemporaries in the liberal media, it’s clear that Jacobin has no idea what to talk about now that ol’ Donnie Trump is temporarily out of office, so now they’re just throwing stuff at the wall. Hating Modern Simpsons is praxis now? Sure, why not.
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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]
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.
ANIMOTION MACHINE

Longest Daycare The Simpsons theatrical short shoved in front of Ice Age 4 last summer, Maggie Simpson in: “The Longest Daycare” (yes, that’s the full title), has been nominated for what’s known in the streets as an “Oscar” award.

Good for them, I suppose. It was definitely one of the better outputs emanating from the Simpsons Franchise Factory this decade. The fact no one had to recite terrible Modern Simpsons dialogue certainly helped. Even those haters at Dead Homers Society enjoyed it. And it was nice to see director and longtime Simpsons drawer-person David Silverman gobsmacked and thanking everybody on Twitter this morning (hey idiot, save the thanks for your acceptance speech!).

It’s the first Oscar nomination for The Simpsons. When The Simpsons Movie was announced, creator Matt Groening quipped “Come next Oscars, we think it’s going to be Milhouse’s night.” Now, I don’t know if they were intentionally gunning for an Oscar then; James L. Brooks just wanted a hit to rebound from Spanglish, and as far as I can tell they never put out one of those “For Your Consideration” advertisements in trade magazines (though voice actor Harry Shearer’s role in For Your Consideration really messes up the search results). But falling short of garnering a nomination in the Best Animated Feature category – deemed not good enough to compete with a movie about a surfing penguin – certainly had to sting. So perhaps this nomination provides some validation for bruised egos, and maybe a win could convince the producers to finally end the show since there’d be no more mountains for the franchise to climb (hahaha, just kidding, this show will go on forever). Win or lose, I’m betting there’ll be more of these shorts, which won’t have to rely on those pesky voice actors and their dumb mortality.

Other notable nominations this year include Wreck-It Ralph, directed by Simpsons alum Rich Moore and written by Simpsons alum Jim Reardon, for Best Animated Feature, and Simpsons arch enemy Seth MacFarlane for a song he wrote for Ted (he’s also hosting the ceremony, if you hadn’t heard). Yes, both The Simpsons and the Family Guy guy are nominated for Oscars this year. Will these Cartoon Wars never cease???

[The Oscars (part of the Go Network)]

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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ANNOYED GRUNTS, WEB-WATCH

I have given upLike I said a couple posts ago, Dead Homer Society is the finest source of Simpsons criticism on the internet, but apparently even they have their breaking point. If you’re unfamiliar with their process, here’s how it goes: after a new episode airs, they parcel out a week’s worth of features including “Ratings FAIL” (which could really use a less-memeish name), where frontman Charlie Sweatpants talks about one particular aspect that bugged him; Crazy Noises, which is basically just a chatlog of the team and sometimes odds & ends; and my favorite feature, the incomparable Compare & Contrast, a comprehensive Glenn Greenwaldian takedown of the episode by simply comparing it to a good episode. It’s a good process that runs the gamut between formal and informal, snap judgments and prudent deliberation.

Well, Mr. Sweatpants has announced next season will get a much less comprehensive treatment, because (shocker) the show is really bad:

For all its manic bumbling and endless stream of pointless cameos, the only enduring characteristic about Zombie Simpsons is how blandly repetitive it is. Episodes consistently have no coherent story, few jokes, fewer funny jokes, wasted guest voices, hacktacular pop culture references, and all manner of things poorly lifted from old episodes. […] I’ve begun to get the sense that we’re often doing little more than citing examples of the same kinds of things each week: it sucked when they made Homer do this, that joke went on too long, that’s not even a joke, this voice sounds terrible, that was done better years ago, this made no sense, etcetera etcetera. […] In short, it seems very unlikely that most of the episodes in Season 24 (or Season 25, or Season 26, or Season Whatever) are going to be worth a close examination and serious criticism.

The rationale is pretty meta – we’re talking about the repetitiveness and general quality of reviews – but it’s true. You could go to any Simpsons forum, click on an episode review from ten years ago, and the complaints would still be applicable to the current season. My guess is there’ll still be Crazy Noises, because it seems easy to do, but no (or a heavily reduced amount of) Compare & Contrasts, which is a shame but understandable for the sake of Charlie’s mental sanity.

[Dead Homer Society]

READING DIGEST, SMARTLINE, WEB-WATCH

zombie simpsonsFor the past few years, Dead Homer Society has been the finest source of Simpsons criticism on the internet, dutifully diagnosing the symptoms of what it affectionately calls “Zombie Simpsons.” Well, now the site’s frontman Charlie Sweatpants has written a whole mini-book on the subject, Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead.

In it, he meticulously lays out not only why The Simpsons is so ridiculously bad now but also how it got that way, with charts and footnotes and stuff! The whole treatise will be parceled out chapter by chapter on the website over the next couple weeks, but if you have a Kindle you can get the whole dang thing right now for just three bucks. Do it or else a Zombie Simpson will fly into your kitchen and make a mess of your pots and pans

[Dead Homer Society]

ANNOYED GRUNTS

rag timeAfter failing to come up with any new ideas for Simpsons episodes, the writers decided to call it quits and throw in the towel… then, as they gazed upon the towel they threw, suddenly became struck with inspiration and wrote a whole episode around it. At least, that’s how I imagine this rag episode came about.

I didn’t see it, but I read the Wikisimpsons article about it, which is chock full of insane plot details like “Moe is part yeti,” “Moe has a magical talking bar rag from the Middle Ages voiced by Jeremy Irons,” “Milhouse’s mom chokes on a rock and refuses the Heimlich maneuver,” and “Moe is part yeti.”

Judging from the feedback on the internet, “the rag episode” represents yet another low point for the series, like jockey gnomes, “the Israel episode,” and whatever that Ke$ha thing was.

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