“Strong Arms of the Ma” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

The Springfield Connection6

“Homer, there’s no reason for you to feel threatened.  You’ll always be the man of this house.” – Marge Simpson
“Aww, thanks honey.” – Homer Simpson

These Season 14 commentary posts might be a little strange because I haven’t seen more than a handful of these episodes before. I gave up on the show in Season 12, but I saw about half of Season 13 when it was on the air, mostly out of habit and boredom. The only Season 14 episode I’m sure I’ve seen all the way through is the Halloween one, which I mistakenly gave a chance the night it was broadcast.

Just having watched this one with the commentary on, I’m glad I never sat through it the first time. From start-to-finish it’s filled with common Zombie Simpsons problems.  Characters appear at random, there’s a lot of recycling going on (pretty much the whole plot is a thoughtless rehash of “The Springfield Connection” with the zany turned to 11), and things make so little sense that they actually acknowledge it several times during the commentary. On the plus side, I did learn something I never knew about the Rocky theme, so there’s that.

Seven people on this one.

0:40 – How the sausage gets made: Omine originally pitched Homer getting mugged and then becoming agoraphobic, and that got changed to Marge getting mugged, which even they admit gets kinda dark and less than fun.

1:45 – Here’s a nice reminder about the inherent dishonesty of marketing Zombie Simpsons. This was the actual 300th episode, but FOX wanted to use the 300th on a different date, so they just straight up lied about which one it was. Since the episodes are conveniently listed all over the place, they got called on it instantly. It’s not the world’s most damaging lie or anything, but it’s a nice reminder of a) how little they give a fuck about their audience, and b) that you cannot trust a damn thing FOX says about this show.

2:45 – The Rainier Wolfcastle garage sale scene was based on a time Jean and his wife went to a garage sale for Shirley Jones. I’d like to point out that if you think back to “Bart the Fink”, she was the one who hosted the New Year’s Eve parties that Krusty was going to miss.

3:20 – Reminiscing about another celebrity sale, this time for some of Elton John’s costumes. Now they’re discussing Elton John’s career. Meanwhile, Homer has broken into Wolfcastle’s bedroom, and Wolfcastle doesn’t seem to mind.

4:00 – Still talking about Elton John.

4:15 – Homer folds the family into the car a la Tetris, which leads to an extended discussion about how much people used to play Tetris.

5:00 – Here’s a nice milestone, Jean thinks this may be the first time they “referred to the smell of Maggie’s poo”. I disagree. Homer hands Maggie back to Marge in “Homer’s Triple Bypass” because she’s got stinky pants.

5:30 – And we are completely off topic again. Now they’re talking about car seats and the lack thereof in their youth.

6:00 – After the car seat tangent, Jean gets things back on track by talking about how powerful the Marge-gets-mugged scene is.

6:15 – That leads someone (can’t tell who) to ask why the mugger was wearing a Goofy hat. It apparently didn’t pay off as well as they wanted it too.

6:45 – Jean discussing how when characters go off model, like Marge on steroids, it always throws people off.

8:00 – A long silence is broken during a Marge hallucination so the animator guy can talk about how he did the swirling vortex. They drew a fish eye without using a real fish eye lens. Huh.

8:15 – The animation thing didn’t take long, so Jean mentions that the mailman being trapped under the car was a reference to the Twilight Zone episode where the guy is the last man alive but breaks his glasses so he can’t read. That goes on for a while.

9:00 – Back to talking about how Marge is off model, now with lines under her eyes to show how stressed she is.

9:30 – Jean’s now talking about agoraphobia in general and people he’s known who had it.

10:15 – Long silence here.

10:20 – And back to agoraphobia. Apparently Emily Dickenson was agoraphobic.

10:45 – And now we’re talking about Emily Dickenson some more.

11:15 – Complimenting the animation on an air hockey table that’s in the basement.

11:50 – And everyone “hmms” thoughtfully as Marge picks up the weight set.

12:00 – When drawing a character lifting weights, it’s kinda tricky to get the distance right, i.e. Marge is on her back pushing up the bar, so getting the bar and her hands to look closer to the camera is kind of a pain.

12:40 – Animation guy votes strongly in favor of using hand coloring over digital.

13:20 – Discussing Marge beating up her mugger in a scene that’s the same as when Sonny beats up Carlo in The Godfather. This leads to a longer discussion of the original scene, and while that’s happening Homer and the kids all mysteriously appear even though Marge was off on her own a second ago.

14:00 – Still talking about Godfather.

14:20 – This leads to a discussion about the short lived Comedy Central show Kid Notorious, which had Robert Evans of Godfather fame.

14:40 – Interesting tidbit from Jean. The fanfare from Rocky, not the whole thing, just the fanfare, is apparently an older tune that’s public domain. The “Gonna Fly Now” part is newer so that’s copyrighted. But those opening bars are free so that’s why you hear just the opening so often.

15:00 – Long discussion about how they’ve won awards both from anti-drug and pro-drug people. Hooray?

15:40 – Jean’s talking about Marge’s increasingly muscular and off model physique, right as she catches the school bus from behind and lifts it up. I don’t think he remembered it, because he interrupted his own sentence to note that was a “little crazy”. Ha.

15:55 – After some nervous laughter about Marge lifting the bus, someone else jumps in, “If we’re still talking about Robert Evans . . .”. Sure, why not? Marge just ripped the bumper off the bus, but we’re clearly past that.

16:20 – Still talking about Robert Evans, but now Larry King is involved as well.

16:30 – Roid rage Marge straight up rapes Homer, which cuts to a scene of him looking disheveled and traumatized in the kitchen. Was this before or after Family Guy did the exact same thing? Wikipedia says well after. Jebus, Zombie Simpsons, have some dignity.

17:00 – This leads to a long discussion of funny pictures of real women body builders and their out of place looking husbands.

17:30 – Still discussing real life female body builders.

17:45 – Interesting animation note. When the characters talk through their teeth, they have a chart for how to draw the lips and teeth for each letter.

18:20 – Things called “twister mouth”, when the top of the head goes the opposite direction of the mouth, (which I remember) and “trumpet mouth”, which I’m not sure what it is, have apparently been phased out by this time.

18:40 – Jean says they got rid of “twister mouth” because it distorts reality too much, but as a muscled up Marge is preparing to fight an entire bar’s worth of people, he kinda laughs and says “unlike this reality”. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, they know how weak these episodes are, they just don’t care.

19:00 – Lots of nervous, forced sounding laughter as Marge kicks the hell out of everyone.

19:40 – Mostly silence, broken by the occasional awkward comment. On screen Marge is standing in a destroyed Moe’s, threatening to throw Lenny at Homer.

20:00 – After Marge realizes her rage problem, she shrinks on screen instantly. Jean points out that she seems to have reduced in size already, calls it “sort of a Hulk-ish quality”. Again, they know.

20:30 – More nervous laughter as Marge throws her weight set into the furnace, and Jean says “there’s about twelve things wrong with that”.

21:00 – And we end on them congratulating each other after just having winced and ignored their way through the last third of the episode.

11 Responses to ““Strong Arms of the Ma” Makes Baby Jesus Cry”

  1. 1 Derp
    3 January 2012 at 4:46 pm

    >Was this before or after Family Guy did the exact same thing? Wikipedia says well after. Jebus, Zombie Simpsons, have some dignity.

    You’d think they’d have more dignity than to make a rape joke. It’s funny though because it’s a man being raped.
    That’s worse than ripping off the Family Guy episode, in my opinion.

  2. 2 Thrillho
    3 January 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Season 14 was more bland than anything. At least 12 and 13 had a few lines worth quoting. If it weren’t for all the 300th episode hype (and some horrendously stupid premises, like Marge getting implants), I would not remember this season at all.

  3. 3 January 2012 at 9:11 pm

    The whole “Actual 300th Episode” deal is stupid. But judging from Fox viewpoint, would they have rather marketed THIS as #300, or Barting Over, the gimmicky episode with superfluous guest stars? In this case, I really didn’t hold them against that.

    Yeah, this one was not one of my favorites (ESPECIALLY from this season), nor is this my favorite season overall. I’ll agree that this was when the show started getting a bit blander (I’ve only realized that this may be due to the fact that either all the good crew members went to Futurama or because this was the season they changed over to digital coloring), but I still liked it overall than 11 or 12.

  4. 3 January 2012 at 10:38 pm

    “Trumpet mouth”, as far as I know, is something that only happened in Season 1, before the animators got the hang of the characters, and it’s exactly what it sounds like – characters’ mouths resembling the bell of a trumpet on an “o” sound. It shows up on J. Loren Pryor as he’s analyzing Bart in “Bart the Genius”, Bleeding Gums Murphy on the bridge in “Moaning Lisa”, and Homer as he offers to pay Ms. Botz triple in “Some Enchanted Evening”.

  5. 5 D.N.
    4 January 2012 at 8:43 am

    I fucking hate this episode. Marge getting traumatised by a mugger doesn’t ring true considering how Marge was so adept at collaring perps in “The Springfield Connection.” And didn’t this episode waste a return appearance of Ruth Powers?

    I wonder how many more episodes there can be which just coast by on the “novelty” of one of the main characters going through some kind of radical physical transformation. We’ve had Homer becoming morbidly obese, Homer becoming dangerously underweight, at least two different episodes of Homer becoming musclebound, Bart becoming overweight, Marge becoming musclebound, Marge getting breast implants, etc, etc…

  6. 4 January 2012 at 1:10 pm

    I too have been listening to the season 14 commentaries. I really liked the box cover art for season 14. The inside has all the characters in Burns’ mansion. Kinda sad when the box is more interesting than the dvds inside.

    After having listened to all of the commentaries for every episode of season 14, I went back and listened to the commentary on the season 5 episodes which I also have. And WOW, can you ever tell that their’s a huge enthusiasm gap. The forced laughter and long silences on season 14’s commentaries just don’t exist in season 5. There’s just too much to talk and laugh about. Season 5 is definitely the best of all the seasons to get. You can really tell when they’re commentating on Cape Feare, Homer Goes to College, Homer loves Flanders, Deep Space Homer, and other classics, just how much fun they had with those episodes and how truly brilliant they were. And the guest commentators are so much better than season 14. Conan O’Brien alone makes season 5 commentaries more interesting than anything in season 14. Listening to him talk about the box factory was far more entertaining than anything Tony Hawk and Mark Hoppus had to say. Overall the season 14 dvd box set was alright, but nothing like listening to conan and the classic writing team talking about the real Simpsons on the season 5 dvds.

    But, at least the box was nice. Maybe it was made in the box factory. Which

  7. 4 January 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Regarding the ‘Hulkish quality’ – I don’t think this is necessary ‘bad’ animation just because it’s unrealistic. My own amateur fiction writing tends towards the literal and realistic, but this isn’t the only way to write.
    There are plenty of good programmes, books etc. which have a more ‘whimsical’ view of reality, doing things which could never literally happen, in order to make a certain impression.
    I’d say the hulking down thing – i don’t remember it, but I’ll take your word it happened – could be along those lines.

    I only seem to post on here when I want to disagree, so just want to say how much I enjoy the blog, and agree with the majority of what you say.
    It’s a similar look at television ‘creatives’ who seem more interested in the prestige and finance of a job than creative principles as SFDebris’ analysis of the Berman – Braga era of Star Trek (Voyager and Enterprise, broadly speaking).

    Keep up the good work!

  8. 4 January 2012 at 8:08 pm

    I loved the twister mouth. A shame it doesn´t appear anymore.

  9. 4 January 2012 at 8:11 pm

    Here in Toronto, a news station called CityTV has used some variation of the Rocky theme as its own theme for years and years. So…yeah! I had no idea that part of it was public domain. I learned *two* new things today!

  10. 11 Mr. Snrub
    5 January 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I have never heard of the “trumpet mouth” before but I’m gunna have a stab and say how, in earlier seasons, when characters kissed, their mouths would almost extent and sorta look like a trumpet. But I think that still happens now so, I don’t know…

    And whilst it’s bad they let something this bad air, I guess it’s good Jean has a sense of humour about it, at least.

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