Use It or Lose It

Chalkboard - Love Is A Many Strangled Thing

“There’s something I used to do in this situation, but . . . can’t . . . remember.” – Bart Simpson
“Ha-ho?” – Nelson Muntz

Atrophy is a merciless bitch.  Similar to entropy, it’s the rule that says every living thing, from people to protists, have to keep doing stuff to avoid becoming dead.  If you stop using your legs, because of laziness or injury, pretty soon they’ll wither to nothing.  Ask anybody who’s ever had to wear a cast about how quickly debilitation sets in. 

The same principle applies to creative endeavors like television shows.  If you stop doing something, pretty soon you lose that ability.  I think this is basically what happened to Zombie Simpsons over the last decade.  The show kept doing less and less and gradually came to the state it’s in now where it’s only really capable of two things: hurting Homer and celebrity guests (often as themselves).  Everything else has been ignored for so long that they’ve lost the capacity to do things like tell a story or introduce characters to a scene. 

Take the scene at the school in “Love Is A Many Strangled Thing”.  First, Bart rides a tractor into the school, which is itself stupid and nonsensical.  Just because Homer’s letting Bart do whatever he wants doesn’t mean that Skinner and Krabappel would be similarly constrained.  But things get worse immediately as first Homer and then Chief Wiggum appear at the school.  Why are they there?  How did they get there? 

This isn’t something most shows have trouble doing.  If a character is going to be in a scene, s/he is either introduced by walking in and saying hello or it’s someplace we expect them to be naturally.  But neither Homer nor Wiggum resides or works at the school, nor is any story reason given why they should be there.  Zombie Simpsons stopped caring about the integrity of its scenes, and now they’re unable to create scenes that make sense.  Stretched over an entire episode this leads to things like that mysteriously appearing and disappearing cathedral at the beginning, Lisa and Marge’s bizarre horse movie scene, and the hapless video chat with Jimbo and Kearney. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are as bad as usual.  A mere 6.14 million people forgot how to use their remote controls last night.  That’s the third lowest all season, but it isn’t quite low enough to drag Season 22 below Season 20’s average.  Oh well.

5 Responses to “Use It or Lose It”

  1. 1 Stan
    28 March 2011 at 6:54 pm

    For a boo-ed on episode, this one strangely (strangle-y) had a couple of decent jokes. I appreciated the joke with little Homer strangling his dad, the one when grandpa films him having a stroke, and the one with Moe’s text message isn’t bad, though they stalled it for too long to become boring.

    The rest of the jokes feel like they have either French or Russian context because writers thought it would be funny. Well, it’s not. It’s usual zombie.

    Regarding the point of your post, I’d say that were there any more decent and funny (not forced) jokes in this episode, their importance could actually overlap the face that there is no connection between the scenes and the plot just fluctuates itself in some direction. But these shreds of laugh didn’t cut it.

    Routinely comparing that to today’s Family Guy episodes, I wouldn’t say that FG is so much better with scenery that makes sense or more kinetic plotlines, but they would always open or close with a decent joke or two, and if something, when they’re desperate, there would be a cutaway that would bring at least some lulz to the audience.

    Of course this I’m talking as per today’s Zombie period per se. If we start drawing comparisons of it with seasons prior to 9-10, this episode will surely equal to a load of unwatchable crap whatsoever.

  2. 2 Anonymous
    28 March 2011 at 7:23 pm

    Was Marge’s comment during the tickling scene supposed to be a molestation joke?

  3. 3 studentee
    29 March 2011 at 4:00 am

    would you guys ever consider wading through the zombie simpsons detritus and picking an episode here or there that could be called the king shit on turd island and let us know? :)

  4. 4 Charlie Sweatpants
    30 March 2011 at 12:40 pm

    @Stan – “Of course this I’m talking as per today’s Zombie period per se. If we start drawing comparisons of it with seasons prior to 9-10, this episode will surely equal to a load of unwatchable crap whatsoever.”

    That’s sort of the point. That they come up with a decent joke here and there, and I’ll grant that they do from time to time, isn’t even close to good enough. Even really bad comedies can have jokes or moments that are very funny; that doesn’t make them anything more than mediocre though. Seasons 1-9 were something vastly better. What bugs me is that Zombie Simpsons doesn’t even try to approach that level of quality and yet you still see FOX crowing about “two decades and going strong”, and random internet people will scream “instant classic!” every time they put something together that’s merely 95% awful instead of 100%.

    @Anonymous – I think so, that or just general abuse. Either way it was more creepy than funny.

    @studentee – I’ve tried picking out a Zombie Simpsons episode that wasn’t terrible, but every time I watch one that other people have recommended it strikes me as the same boring, hyperactive crap as everything else. I thought “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind” was pointless and dumb; I thought the one where Moe befriends and saves Maggie was slow moving schlock. I get that some of them are more memorable than others if for no other reason than the sheer craziness of the plot, but I’ve never seen anything past Season 11 that I would ever consider rewatching for fun.

  5. 5 Stan
    30 March 2011 at 10:03 pm

    2Charlie: I guess they’re quite content with the fact that viewers consider their jokes “passable” and don’t intend on changing. It’s the principle of why work hard, if you can get away with lame jokes and nonsensial storytelling. It’s like why work for fun, when you can sit your ass for cash, especially if they’re paying you to just sit your ass, not to work hard, right?

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