COMING ATTRACTIONS

kang & kodos

Tonight’s Simpsons episode, The Man Who Came To Be Dinner, features the family getting launched into space and meeting Kang & Kodos in their first major appearance in a non-Halloween, non-clip show context.

The episode has had a long, strange journey: it was first announced back in September 2012 and scheduled to air in May 2013 as the Season 24 finale, but it was mysteriously postponed just two weeks before it was supposed to air. It also did not air in the following season as expected, but is now finally airing in the middle of the current season, nearly 2½ years after it was announced.

Fans had a number of theories about the delay: Animation problems? A lawsuit from Disney? Cold feet about the out-there premise? Saving it for the series finale?

Producers Al Jean and David Mirkin finally revealed the real reason on Twitter: at some point they seriously considered scrapping the episode and reworking it into a sequel to The Simpsons Movie.

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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)]

THOSE CLOWNS IN CONGRESS

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain likes to quote movies. And not just any movies, but movies based on cartoon franchises. As reported by our sister blog, AnimeJihad, Cain quoted a song from Pokémon: The Movie 2000 during a debate last August. As any political analyst could tell you, it was a brazen dog whistle for the highly-coveted otaku crowd (a move popularized by Lee Atwater’s so-called “Shounen Strategy”). Which apparently worked, because he soon shot up to frontrunner status.

Well now the Cainster is at it again. During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Cain wheeled out his new talking point, telling his supporters “We need a leader, not a reader.”

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OAKLEY CORRAL

Julian Assange
Bill Oakley.

Former Simpsons writer/showrunner and notorious “hacktivist” Bill Oakley, who has been in communication with fans via the internet since before most people even had the internet, has been tearin’ up the Twitter lately, uploading a treasure trove of rare Simpsons material that has never before been made public. Among the documents uploaded so far: the first draft of “$pringfield, (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling),” the first draft of the “Skinner and the Superintendent” segment from “22 Short Films About Springfield,” the original story outline for “Two Bad Neighbors,” and a list of random ideas.

Among the more intriguing ideas lost to the sands of time:

  • An aborted “$pringfield” subplot involving Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone maintaining a Planet Hollywood in Springfield that got dropped since the three actors never actually agreed to be on the show.
  • More scenes of Springfield being hit by an economic recession, which somehow feels more timely and relevant than last year’s “No Loan Again, Naturally” despite being written a decade earlier.
  • George and Barbara Bush eating pizza.
  • An episode plot where Bart obtains 144 Jeeps for some reason.
  • This visual gag:
     

    The town secretary records the vote in a ledger, where we see
    previous idiotic town votes, e.g. “Above-Ground H-Bomb Test,”
    “Lower Drinking Age to 14,” and “Build Monorail.”

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ROCK BOTTOM

A little birdie named wolf puppy has leaked what appears to be a pre-production test shot for the long-awaited sequel to The Simpsons Movie:

ralp

It appears Fox has scrapped the traditional 2-D look of the show in favor of slicker 3-D CGI. Now, many misguided Simpsons purists will surely decry the change in dimensions, but keep in mind that The Simpsons Ride was CGI and many Simpsons directors (David Silverman, Brad Bird, Jim Reardon) have plenty of Pixar experience, so this was inevitable. Developing…

READING DIGEST

stephen kingCelebrated Goosebumps author Stephen King churned out a new book, Under the Dome, which features a town encased in a giant dome (possible metaphor???), which The Internet immediately declared to be a rip-off of The Simpsons Movie, which was of course the first movie to feature a dome. King denied these grave charges of plagiarism, claiming to have come up with the plot when he started the story in the 1970s, which pre-dates The Simpsons by a week or two. He further attempted to prove his innocence by scanning the first 60 pages of his manuscript, typed out in their original IBM typescript, which should erase any lingering doubts because faking old typewriter fonts is impossible.

It should be noted that even if King ripped off The Simpsons Movie, The Simpsons Movie is itself a rip-off of Neon Genesis: Evangelion, so uhhhh double jeopardy?? [The Independent]

NEWS CORP. NEWS

Movie and TV studio revenue fell 25 percent to $1.49 billion, and operating profit sank 72 percent to $112 million. Key film releases such as “Marley & Me” and “The Day the Earth Stood Still” drove up marketing costs, while last year’s holiday quarter had a better home-video release slate, including “The Simpsons Movie” and “Live Free or Die Hard,” the company said.

Could Spiderpig be keeping Fox’s parent company afloat??? [AP/Yahoo!]

ANNOYED GRUNTS

The Simpsons Movie got a thumbs-down at something called “The Hackademy Awards,” an event run by an anti-smoking group called Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails designed to counter positive portrayals of cigarette smoking in movies. The scene that raised their ire: the 3-second shot of Jimbo smoking with Dolph, “which is the kind of potent endorsement of smoking the group opposes.” Remember: smokers are jokers. [canada.com]

WEB-WATCH

Wikipedia user “a metal shard” has blown the doors off the biggest plagiarism scandal to rock the animation world since the Lion King/Kimba the White Lion fiasco of 1994:

Neon Genesis: Evangelion—theme?

While viewing the movie, I was reminded several times throughout of the old Anime: 1. The corporation EPA and their helicopters = NGE’s EVA and their large scale assaults + heli’s are almost identical 2. Dome = Angel’s shields (were they called AT Fields?) 3. Homer’s Epiphany = Shinji’s numerous experiences, almost identical, with the clapping hands and such, 3.5 the boob-ladie’s blowing into Homer’s mouth remind me of the NGA’s women cleavage and kissing scene (during Shinji’s dream?). 4. Homer’s pig = Masato’s penguin

A naysayer attempts to shoot down his theories, forcing a metal shard to respond with these sage words of wisdom: “Maybe if you had seen the anime show, watched the movies, played the games, read the manga, or set foot in Japan, you wouldn’t be so quick to claim that I was implying anything…” Don’t let the bastards grind you down, a metal shard! Keep on fighting the good fight! [Wikipedia]