Silence Is Golden

Bart vs Thanksgiving10

“It’s your fault I can’t talk.” – Maggie Simpson

Perhaps the only really interesting thing to come out of “Lisa Goes Gaga” was the surprise announcement at the end of “The Longest Daycare”, a 3D short that will be shown before Ice Age 4, starting on July 13th.  (FOX has helpfully put the announcement on YouTube, should you wish to relive all ten seconds of it.)  At present, everything the internet knows about this thing comes from the brief announcement itself and from a quickie interview Al Jean gave to ew.com.  Literally every other story I saw about “The Longest Daycare”, and I saw a lot of them, was originally sourced to this article.  Even the Wikipedia page is basically nothing but information from this one piece. 

So, what’s in it?  Mostly it’s just basic plot and background:

  • It will be set back at the Ayn Rand School for Tots.  (Though no word on whether or not The Longest Day will be used as rough source material the same way The Great Escape was in “A Streetcar Named Marge”.) 
  • Jean teased an appearance from Baby Gerald.
  • It’s four-and-a-half minutes long with no spoken dialogue.
  • David Silverman directed it.
  • It is indeed in 3D (though a 2D "animatic" will be shown at Comic-Con).

What’s most interesting here isn’t the 3D or any of the story information.  It’s the fact that it’s dialogue free, which means they didn’t have to involve their expensive voice actors at all. 

It’s more than a little reminiscent of the Coke/Super Bowl ad from two years ago.  In the ad, even though they had a newscaster telling us that Burns was broke, it wasn’t Kent Brockman.  The only other lines in the sixty-second commercial came from Milhouse, who is, of course, not voiced by one of the six main voice actors.  That ad is doubly resonant because the generic news anchor guy was Maurice LaMarche, whom I’m 99% sure was the guy narrating the trailer for “The Longest Daycare”. 

Without claiming any kind of predictive powers, this short is exactly what I was talking about in Chapter 12 of the book when I compared the future of the Simpsons to what’s happened to Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse.  Whether or not Homer, Marge or any of the rest of the family appears for a silent cameo, the short represents a new stage in the decoupling of the Simpsons as cartoon characters from their current home on FOX’s Sunday night lineup (and the people who do voice work there).  It’s an animated story set in the Simpsons universe and populated with Simpsons characters, but the only things it has in common with the original show are things FOX owns. 

Obviously this isn’t the first time FOX has leveraged the existing popularity of the Simpsons outside the realm of the show.  They’ve been making video games and t-shirts forever, after all.  But this is the first time they’ve done so in the form of animated entertainment, and that makes it noteworthy.  Whether or not this is the first of many theatrical shorts or a one off deal, it’s a Simpsons cartoon that has even less to do with the original show than Zombie Simpsons does (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing).  It won’t be the last.

(And please note, I make no claims to whether or not “The Longest Daycare” will be good or not on its own merits.  We haven’t even gotten a clip to view, so there’s no telling what it’ll look like, much less whether or not it’ll actually be funny.  I doubt it’ll be worth sitting through Ice Age 4, which looks terrible, but there’s no reason to hold that against the short.)

11 Responses to “Silence Is Golden”

  1. 1 FireFlower
    29 May 2012 at 4:37 pm

    I want to see The Longest Daycare but I don’t want to see Ice Age 4 until it is on DVD. I doubt the short will be included as a bonus on the DVD.

    • 29 May 2012 at 9:04 pm

      As much as we all make fun of Zombie Simpsons, they sure haven’t taken advantage of the DVD market compared to some shows. Isn’t season 1 the best selling DVD ever or some shit? And they’re only on season 14. I mean, South Park, Family Guy, etc. have all pretty much caught up with what’s on the air. I know they released the bare-bones season 20 and part of the reason it apparently takes so long to do DVD’s is because they’re so stuffed with things, but maybe they should just not release anymore for quality issues. It’s just kinda weird that there are so many episodes not on DVD at all. Oh well.

      I wonder how they’ll release Longest Daycare. It’ll be too short for a stand-alone release, so maybe it’ll be paired with a season 15 or 16. Hmm.

      Did they ever release ALL the Ullman shorts? It seems like I remember there were some on season 1. It’d make sense to release all the Ullman shorts and the Lonrst Daycare on one DVD — y’know, ALL THE SHORTS — and what if they put on the Oprah short or the superbowl short too (youtube em, though you probably know em)? That’d be the last Simpsons DVD worth getting.

      • 3 FireFlower
        30 May 2012 at 9:16 am

        That’s a great idea! I would totally buy it!

      • 4 Mr. Snrub
        30 May 2012 at 1:49 pm

        I think the reason they haven’t released the shorts is due to legal issues regarding Tracey Ullman. I’m not 100% on this, but it’s something along the lines of Ullman believing she hasn’t gotten her fair share of profits from the shorts. Whatever, there’s some kind of rift between Brooks and Ullman, and that’s (probably) why they haven’t been released yet.

        • 30 May 2012 at 4:54 pm

          Yeah, the whole Ullman thing is weird, I know she did sue because she felt she helped with “creating” their popularity, and if I remember, the case was settled “out of court” (meaning Ullman probably got a bunch of money to shut up). She DID agree to be interviewed for the 20th Anniversary Special (another Simpsons related item that was never officially “released”, strangely). Even though she seemed bitter and rude…

          I always assumed Groening/Brooks/Simon/Fox themselves/the original animation studio/etc had more control over the shorts than Ullman, considering clips were on the 138th Episode. But I also know that one person who was “involved” in ANY way could create problems for everyone else.

          So you’re probably right, she’s probably to blame for them not being released, even though she never had any creative involvement with the show and has even been paid despite the non-involvement!

    • 7 Thrillho
      30 May 2012 at 12:50 pm

      I bet it will go up on YouTube eventually.

  2. 29 May 2012 at 8:44 pm

    The EW article links to this: http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Gerald_Samson

    What the hell?? The One-Eyebrowed Baby has a full name and elaborate backstory now

  3. 29 May 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I kinda have a feeling it’ll be good. The title screen or whatever kinda looks like a different drawing style. Kinda makes you wonder, with all the secrecy, if a different animation team did it…

  4. 11 Stan
    30 May 2012 at 11:43 am

    For once, I’m not looking forward to see this short. 4 minutes of 3D time will probably ruin everything that’s still left of the show.

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