Crazy Noises: Lisa’s First Word

Lisa's First Word8

“In a moment, we’ll look at the courageous Korean gymnast Kim Huyang, who made a perfect dismount on what was later revealed to be a broken leg.” – Olympics Announcer

In our ongoing mission to bring you only the shallowest and laziest analysis of Zombie Simpsons, we’re keeping up our Crazy Noises series for this brief, amazing interruption of Season 22.  Since a podcast is so 2004, and video would require a flag, a fern and some folding chairs from the garage, we’ve elected to use the technology that brought the word “emoticon” to the masses: the chatroom.  Star Trek image macros are strictly forbidden, unless you have a really good reason why Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (surprisingly enough not on “fjord”).

The discussion below completes our usual trio of posts (Ratings FAIL, Compare & Contrast, Crazy Noises) after a new episode airs. And while it’s been enjoyable pretending that “Lisa’s First Word” was the greatest Zombie Simpsons episode ever, tomorrow it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming of looking at the innumerable ways Zombie Simpsons falls short of its predecessor. A special thanks goes out to our old friend Friz for this comment and to this anonymous commenter for the two notes that finally got my rusty brain in gear on this. Though I wish I’d thought of it Sunday afternoon instead of Sunday night, that would’ve been a fun fake preview to write.

But I don’t think this whole thing was just filler, or even a belated and overly long April Fools prank. The fact that FOX broadcast a great episode at 8pm on Sunday for the first time in forever was useful because it gave us an opportunity to subject a genuine classic to the same kind of minute scrutiny that we apply to Zombie Simpsons. We’re not exactly neutral observers, so this was hardly a controlled experiment, but picking through “Lisa’s First Word” closer than I ever have before was an interesting exercise nevertheless.

On some level, it’s not at all surprising that a show as carefully crafted as The Simpsons would stand up to close inspection. After all, these are episodes that are notorious for containing jokes, asides and references that people don’t catch even after multiple viewings. But until I wrote that Compare & Contrast post yesterday, I’d never noticed the way “Lisa’s First Word” kept bringing up its main plot themes throughout the course of the episode. Oh sure, I saw it happen every time I watched it, but the structure of it was never something I’d actively considered.

More broadly, this applies to just about any episode. With The Simpsons, each episode gets better the more you think about it. Picking up new subtleties and catching things you missed is part of the fun. Zombie Simpsons works the other way, it gets less entertaining the more you consider it. Cheap jokes get worse when repeated, plot kludges get less defensible, and all the problems and inconsistencies that were glossed over the first time become more and more pronounced.

[We thought we had Dave this week, but he managed to escape again. I should probably up the bounty on his head.] 

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay then, let’s get going.

Mad Jon: I watched the broadcast version, but there was nothing different than the normal episode. I was figuring on a shout out to E. Taylor, at least more than the special guest voice credit.

Charlie Sweatpants: Nothing?

Mad Jon: Nothing. Not a note, recognition of gratitude, or extra anything.

Charlie Sweatpants: That might have required a production assistant to spend ten minutes producing something. Hardly worth it.

Mad Jon: Very true.

Someone will have to fire that agent.

Charlie Sweatpants: I’m sure there are things wrong with this episode, in that there are perhaps a few lines here or there that might have been tweaked or delivered differently to make me laugh harder, but at this level that’s like complaining that one of those mirrors NASA uses to see stuff that’s 9 billion years old isn’t smooth enough. If it was the size of the Earth the biggest bump would be a couple of centimeters, and criticizing that is nitpicking of a scale even I can’t condone.

Mad Jon: I agree. However, after watching it, including all commercials just for the hell of it, I couldn’t help but think what it would have been like in HD. Not that I want it in HD, but more along the lines of "What if this WAS a new episode."

My conclusion is that most of the Zombie Horde wouldn’t care for it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Animation wise, I assume.

Mad Jon: Push aside the cultural references, as they were at least 19 years old, even though I assume most of them were timeless enough, but the joke style wouldn’t have gone over.

Charlie Sweatpants: How do you mean?

When I put the DVD versions up on my big screen the blood dripping on "I’ll Be Back" looks fantastic.

Mad Jon: No, push that aside too. I am talking about what you and I would consider jokes. Think of the simple humor, based on a family barely stringing it together, with subtle, situational jokes. Now think of trying that on someone who has been conditioned to laugh at overtly physical comedy and random scene changes. I mean come on, this episode really REALLY has continuity. People who watch the Zombie episodes would undergo culture shock similar to a WWII vet who hid in a cave for 30 years.

Not that I give a rats ass about that. I just happened to be thinking about it.

Charlie Sweatpants: Just because someone has been raised on gruel doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate steak and potatoes.

Mad Jon: I know, but this is just such a style change. It’s a great style change, and I know there are people who live with the Zombie episodes that love the real Simpsons, but I can’t believe that the people who openly support Zombie Simpsons could get down with the good stuff.

There are lots of people who don’t like steak.

And I would imagine that I could find a larger ratio of them at a vegetarian buffet than I could at Golden Corral.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, but it’s not like this episode lacks for physical comedy. Between Itchy & Scratchy, Sideshow Bob nearly getting decapitated, the supine Swede . . . there’s more people getting hurt in this episode than in most Zombie Simpsons.

There’s that other stuff going on around it, but if you were just watching for that this episode has you covered.

Mad Jon: Agreed, but the tone is so different. Ok, I don’t want to argue with you on this point. It is distracting us from the episode, and it was just something I was thinking about when I should have been paying attention to my sales manager this morning.

Charlie Sweatpants: Fair enough. How about a lighting round? Bonus points for the smallest number of words you use to describe it. I’ll go first.

The clown bed.

Mad Jon: Spit in every 50th burger.

Charlie Sweatpants: Fretful mother magazine.

Mad Jon: Oh damn you.


Charlie Sweatpants: Damn you, I was going to say "Bart’s first word", but yours is shorter.

Okay then, "Rendering Plant".

Mad Jon: I was also thinking, "Shove-it" or "David Hasselhoff"

Charlie Sweatpants: Crooked 50s game show.

Mad Jon: Just came on the market.

Charlie Sweatpants: I could use a TV tray.

Mad Jon: You smell that?

Charlie Sweatpants: Shaving their backs 9,000 miles away.

Mad Jon: Iron helps us play

Charlie Sweatpants: Going to start doing it in the morning?

Mad Jon: Gotch’er wallet

Charlie Sweatpants: Look, a fjord.

Damn it, wrong episode.

Mad Jon: Maggie related, but yes, wrong one.

Although you almost got me to say "Wow, Two!"

You’re Funny!

Charlie Sweatpants: That’s real shag carpeting!

Mad Jon: Who’s cuter now?

Charlie Sweatpants: You personally stand to lose forty-four million dollars.

Mad Jon: It’s right there!

Charlie Sweatpants: No wonder he won Minnesota.

Mad Jon: He’ll tire himself out

Charlie Sweatpants: Hibbert’s beaded dreads.

Mad Jon: Homer’s living room vision

Charlie Sweatpants: The way only one of Lisa’s eyes open after Patty kisses her.

Mad Jon: Love that spout medley

Charlie Sweatpants: You don’t have a Cousin Frank.

Mad Jon: Since I’m returning your second born

Charlie Sweatpants: I started, so you get last go, but . . .

"Takes one to know one." "Swish!"

Mad Jon: Oh jeez, that’s a topper. but….

Girls just wanna have fun.

Charlie Sweatpants: The professor was right, perfectly symmetrical violence never solved anything. Well played, sir.

Mad Jon: It’s actually kind of frightening how non-difficult that was. I am seriously considering cutting back the nights I go to bed with a Simpsons DVD on ‘play all’.

Charlie Sweatpants: I see no problem with it.

Mad Jon: Yeah, that seems like an empty promise.

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t think there’s much left to be said. The world will little note, nor long remember and all that.

Mad Jon: Yeah, I don’t know what else to say, except what a rare deal this is, eh? Would you have ever imagined FOX doing this kind of thing? I mean, especially without any real acknowledgement for why they were doing it.

"Dad-dy" could have been anyone, it just happened to be someone famous who died.

Charlie Sweatpants: They did the same when Michael Jackson died, but that was in the summer when nobody gives a shit anyway.

Mad Jon: Yes well, this is first run time baby, and there were black bars on the sides of my screen.

3 Responses to “Crazy Noises: Lisa’s First Word”

  1. 1 Joe C.
    6 April 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I was the anonymous commenter, but I plan to post more comments so I will change my name to be more recognizable.

    It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think the Zombie Simpsons audience would have gotten half the jokes, such as Bart being largely influenced by Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon as well as the 1984 Olympics.

    I also enjoyed the Lightning Round, which reminds me that this single episode has more memorable moments than all of ZS combined.

    • 2 Bryan
      6 April 2011 at 6:30 pm

      I agree that the ZS crowd probably wouldn’t care for or understand some of the jokes, but there’s just so much substance that there would have to be something to like. I mean the only thing ZS does better is shock jokes, and that’s because the Simpsons never resorted to that.

      I’d like to see more of these from time to time. They break up the depressive nature of the obligatory ZS analyses.

  2. 3 studentee
    7 April 2011 at 2:18 am

    how about krusty using that ridiculous street-fighting knife to scratch the ticket

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