Compare & Contrast: Mocking Awards Shows

Black Widower3

“You know the rules, awards for excellence in entertainment are contraband, no Emmys, no Oscars, not even a Golden Globe.” – Prison Guard

One of the more revealing ineptitudes of “Angry Dad: The Movie” is the way it fails to copy not one, but two different Simpsons episodes that did the exact same thing it did.  (This is particularly stunning coming from a show that loves repeating jokes and unabashedly lives off of fan nostalgia.)  Of course, both of those older episodes did things much quicker, and managed to actually mock the kidding-but-serious way awards shows take themselves and their participants.  I am speaking of both the Emmys in “Black Widower” and the generic (but Emmy statue lookalike) Annual Cartoon Awards in “The Front” (which are awarded at the Springfield Civic Center the night before it’s closed for roach spraying).

In “Black Widower”, Krusty comes out to present the award for “Best Supporting Performer in a Children’s Program”.  Right there, the show is already making fun of the uselessness of the Daytime Emmys by creating a nonexistent, but not implausible, category for sidekicks.  Taking the whole enterprise one level further into satiric silliness, Krusty reads a list of the enjoyably wacky nominees:

Daytime Emmy Nominees

Clockwise from top left: Droopy Drawers, Colonel Coward, Pepito (the Biggest Cat in the Whole Wide World), and Suck Up the Vacuum

None of those four characters merit too much attention, but each gets his (its?) own little moment of personality.  We see the improbably hot companion of Droopy Drawers reassuringly pat him on the hand.  Colonel Coward freaks out from nerves just a little bit, and Pepito waves like the good natured mascot he is.  Suck Up, who looks more than a little terrifying and can’t possibly be human, is too good to attend this complete sham.  The entire thing takes only ten seconds before the main plot resumes.

Despite not containing much more content than a vacuum cleaner in Spain, none of the plodding parodies in “Angry Dad: The Movie”  move nearly as quickly.  It’s not even close:

  • “The Triplets of Belleville” takes about forty seconds.
  • “Persepolis” is also forty seconds.
  • “Toy Story” managed to be only thirty seconds (but certainly felt longer).
  • “Wallace & Gromit” was sixty-five seconds (as in more than a minute!).
  • “Angry Dad” was a comparatively tame twenty seconds. 

That’s five clips, totaling well over three minutes of screen time, in an episode that’s barely twenty minutes long.  And that doesn’t even count Halle Berry’s part.  For comparison’s sake, please note that the College Humor video of the McBain clips, which the killjoys at FOX legal have already taken down (shhh, reverse Spanish version), was only slightly longer, and it was from five separate episodes over three seasons.

In “The Front” almost the exact same thing – awards show presentation with clips and a celebrity voice – is done in a small fraction of the time.  Brooke Shields and Krusty come out so Krusty can read the terrible joke about his hair, the kind of thing that awards shows still trot out to this day.  He instantly goes off script and starts bitching while Shields gamely plays it straight.  Once he storms off the episode goes right to the parodies.  First is “Strondar: Master of Akom”, the “wedding episode”:

The Front9

Does it takes forty seconds to parody He-Man?  No, no it does not.  It requires less than five seconds and gives us Not He-Man, in his formal S&M gear, tugging nervously at his Chippendales-style bowtie choker.  That goes immediately to “Action Figure Man”, the “How to Buy Action Figure Man” episode:

The Front10

This one is really amazing, because it takes only a few words and a couple of seconds but manages to send up pretty much the entire genre of children’s cartoons, including the incessant merchandising that makes them so very lucrative and the way shameless marketing is used to get kids to basically extort their own parents.  The final “clip” is the only one they didn’t make up themselves but, once again, they didn’t need half a minute to make a quick joke about the fact that new episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show were less than forthcoming at the time.

From the time Shields introduces the first clip until we get to “Barbershop of Horrors” takes less than thirty seconds.  The whole sequence, from Krusty and Shields walking on stage to Grampa winning the award, is only ninety seconds.  Zombie Simpsons takes three and a half minutes to complete the same thing, and that’s before you get to the respective acceptance speeches.  In “The Front”, Grampa immediately launches into his anti-cartoon tirade without a moment of hesitation.  For his candor he is pelted with fruit thrown by people in formalwear.  In “Angry Dad: The Movie”, Bart launches into a tedious monologue about how many people he needs to thank, and is then joined on stage by Homer for some wrap up exposition.

Parodying famous cartoons like “Toy Story” and “Wallace & Gromit” is a fine thing for a show like Zombie Simpsons to try to do.  But trotting out so many of them for so very long means they’re going to feel like filler, even if they had been packed with insightful humor.  “The Front” could’ve dragged its parodies out, but instead it kept them short and funny, and in doing so left itself time for its own little short, “The Adventures of Ned Flanders”.

[Edited 1 March 2010 to change “Vacom” to “Akom”, see comments for details.]

8 Responses to “Compare & Contrast: Mocking Awards Shows”

  1. 1 March 2011 at 1:19 am

    It’s actually “Akom,” not “Vacom.” It was named after the show’s overseas animation studio at the time.

    And while both examples are excellent, I must point out the ultimate awards show slam: The First Annual Montgomery Burns Award For Outstanding Achievement In The Field of Excellence from “Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?” Burns stages this elaborate awards ceremony, with an elaborate opening number, a packed theater, as well as trotting out Smokin’ Joe Frazier. This entire farce (which is called out by Lisa, and then compared to the Emmys by Bart!) must have cost hundreds and thousands of dollars out of Burns’ own pocket.

    All to give Homer a $2000 check for not telling him that he’s sterile. Beautiful.

  2. 2 Sam
    1 March 2011 at 4:59 am

    I think that is one of my favourite opens to a Simpsons ever: When Smithers shows Burns Homer’s sperm sample, and then compares it with his own, and Burns is all approving “hmm, oh yes” noises. Beautiful.

    There are so many moments in that episode that get regular quote rotation from me.


  3. 1 March 2011 at 10:15 am

    The reaction shot of Pepito being utterly devastated at his loss is probably my favorite visual gag of the whole series and it’s only like 2 seconds with five other things happening onscreen

  4. 5 Charlie Sweatpants
    1 March 2011 at 12:18 pm

    @Galileo – Fixed, thanks. I always thought I heard a “V” sound in there, but that makes much more sense.

    @jamie – All of those reactions are great. Pepito is fantastic, and I’m also quite fond of the way Droopy Drawers just hangs his head Eeyore style while his lady friend turns away from him in disgust/disappointment.

    • 6 D.N.
      2 March 2011 at 2:46 am

      “Strondar: Master of Akom” is obviously a parody of “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” but the title is also reminiscent of other 80s cartoons in the same vein: “Thundarr the Barbarian” and “Galtar and the Golden Lance.” Man, I’d love to hear the Sea Captain say the names “Thundarr” and “Galtar.”

      Anyway, I love how Strondar is a fairly close approximation of He-Man as he appeared in the cartoon, but his bride resembles a human-sized doll, with immobile arms and a visible neck-joint.

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