I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Lisa the Skeptic4

“Why, why was I programmed to feel pain?” – Robot

As far as Zombie Simpsons commentaries go this one is typically dull, right up until they do something actually worth listening to near the end.  (Spoiler alert: Jean and Groening both hate “The Principal and the Pauper”.  Cool.)  Before that is the usual meandering conversation and basically ignoring the episode, which is a good thing because this episode is awful.  It makes no sense, is full of fake drama and tension, tries to change something and then ignores it, and relies on Homer getting hurt in pretty much every scene.  With the exception of the animation (which they justifiably compliment in places), this one would’ve fit in seamlessly with Season 24. 

Whoa, eleven people in this one: Jean, Allen Glazier, Matt Selman, Michael Price, Tom Gammill, Max Pross, Matt Warburton, Nancy Cartwright, Lauren MacMullan, TV critic Alan Sepinwall, and a very late arriving Groening.

0:30 – And we begin with everyone jokingly wondering why Sepinwall is here.

0:45 – This was just a regular pitch, but apparently people thought it was based off of a Twilight Zone episode.  This is what happens when people give Zombie Simpsons too much credit.

1:15 – Jean compliments MacMullan, who directed, on how good the episode looks.  She says “thank you”.  That’s it. 

2:00 – Jean asks Sepinwall how they’re doing on the commentary.  Sepinwall laughs and changes the subject to what’s actually going on in the episode.  Clearly he has not listened to many Zombie Simpsons commentaries.  Nobody wants to watch the episode.

2:30 – Jean asks MacMullan how much drawing the director actually has to do: some but not much.  They had a new artist on this one who had to do a lot of the crying. 

3:30 – Long discussion of how hard it is to get tears to look like real water.  Also, Snowball II just got run over. 

4:00 – Jean’s talking about how this was loosely based on his daughter, who had three cats die on her in quick succession.  He jokes, “Like any writer I didn’t consider what her feelings might be, I just said we should do this”.  It’s funny.

4:40 – Oh, fuck, Selman’s natural ass kissing reflex has kicked in and he’s buttering up Sepinwall. 

5:00 – Apparently Selman and Sepinwall went to college together.  There you go.

5:40 – Everyone’s cracking up as Bart crashes his bicycle. 

6:20 – After a brief silence, Jean asks about the models for the fighting robots.  Some of the guys on the show- were into fighting robots.

7:00 – Gammill, trying to fill a void, points out that MacMullan and a couple of the writers also went to college together.  Meanwhile, nothing is happening in the episode.

7:40 – While Homer sets himself on fire a couple of times, MacMullan describes how they tried to make some of the uglier characters uglier in a more traditional way.  This prompts Cartwright to do Nelson’s voice in protest.  As usual, these commentaries are at their best when people are just hanging out and having fun and not really paying attention to what’s going on.

8:30 – Jean makes a very half assed defense of the emotions on the show that I don’t think even he believes.  It peters out into total silence.  Kinda awkward.

9:00 – Now they’re laughing about all the horrible things that happen to Homer here, meanwhile, another cat just died.

10:00 – There’s robot fighting going on now, and Jean has decided to change the subject completely by asking Sepinwall about Modern Family.  His response is that some people take that show “weirdly sensitively”. 

11:30 – Still going with Sepinwall about which shows he likes to criticize, whether or not anyone pays attention, etc.

12:00 – Another cat just died, and the only real comment anyone has is to note that they originally had a shot of the cat (which leapt to its death) falling toward the camera, but that it was “too much”.

12:20 – After a brief silence, Jean decides to keep things going by complimenting Cartwright on her ability to do voices for ten-year-old boys.

13:30 – Cartwright still recounting how she often got auditions for boy voices.  Meanwhile, Homer is being shot at by a Ralph Wiggum robot.

14:20 – Groening just showed up.

14:45 – Selman pops up to say that the song they used during the robot montage sounds like a real song but was actually something they made up.  Everyone immediately corrects him as it is, in fact, a real song (and they had used it way back in Season 3).  I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again: I have never met Matt Selman and I have nothing against the guy, but he really doesn’t come off well in these commentaries. 

15:45 – The great song debate finally ends, and Jean fills the void by complimenting MacMullan on the animation again.  He’s not wrong.  As bad as this episode is – and it is unwatchable – the animation is noticeably less ham-handed than today. 

17:00 – They had to cut more than usual with this episode. 

17:35 – Sepinwall asks about the Armin Tamzarian joke in this one.  (Lisa says that the new cat will be called Snowball II and that they’ll pretend none of this ever happened, after which, in a very Zombie Simpsons move, Skinner mysteriously walks by to note that’s a cheat and have Lisa call him “Principal Tamzarian”.)  Jean explains that he put the joke in, and that he wasn’t running the show when they did that most infamous of episodes, and that he “never got that Tamzarian thing”.  Since he’s ever the pro, Jean casually notes that it was a great year for the show even as he’s taking a dump on it.  (There’s an alternate universe where Jean is the world’s most effective PR spokesman and he’s even richer than he is here.) 

18:05 – Groening, in outrage that may or may not be mock, says he didn’t like it but was assured that it would be good. 

18:10 – Wow, this is way more interesting than this episode.  Jean recounts, “Then when I investigated afterwards, I said to Scully, did you like it?  He goes, no.  Did Matt Groening?  No.  Did George?  No.  Did Jim?  No.  It’s like, how did it go through?  Every box had to be checked no.” 

18:35 – And they’re still bagging on “The Principal and the Pauper”.  This is great.

19:30 – After laughing at the fact that Homer’s butt was on screen, we get back to complimenting the animation because there really isn’t much else to talk about here.

20:45 – With nothing else to discuss, Selman asks Sepinwall if he has any feuds with any show runners.  The answer is yes, Veena Sud, who runs The Killing, is/was pissed at him.  A reminder: this is theoretically a Simpsons commentary.

21:25 – And we end with Jean asking Sepinwall if he thought Tony Soprano was alive after the last episode.  Sepinwall says yes, Jean thinks no. 

21 Responses to “I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot Makes Baby Jesus Cry”

  1. 1 Stan
    12 June 2013 at 6:53 pm

    Hooray for the commentaries, but why this episode all of a sudden? You don’t start at ep. 1 of the season?

  2. 12 June 2013 at 7:42 pm

    Funny, but I dont remember watching this episode. I guess I am not missing much?

    • 3 Stan
      12 June 2013 at 11:17 pm

      If you saw Saturdays of Thunder, and can think of a really crappier version of that ep, you didn’t miss much.

        • 13 June 2013 at 1:21 am

          The sad thing is it’s probably one of the better things Season 15 has to offer. If you can’t even stomach that notion, I probably saved you about $18.

          While you’re looking at this season, Charlie, could you recap the commentary for The President Wore Pearls? Not because the episode’s good (it sucks), but I actually own the script for that one, and I’m curious if they explain why they changed Martin Sheen’s guest spot to Michael Moore or if they just ignore it and tell unrelated stories.

          • 6 Stan
            13 June 2013 at 8:34 am

            Well, there are definitely a couple of episodes in that season I can’t say I “hate”, like The Ziff Who Came To Dinner probably being my favorite, and only because they actually did something with that storyline.

          • 7 Charlie Sweatpants
            13 June 2013 at 4:44 pm

            “could you recap the commentary for The President Wore Pearls? ”

            It’s not the disc I currently have from Netflix, so it’ll be a few weeks, but I’ll make a note of it.

  3. 8 Rob K.
    12 June 2013 at 7:57 pm

    I like cats, Jean can go F himself.

  4. 9 Cal
    12 June 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks for doing these, Charlie. I can’t believe Alan Sepinwall is there either since it’s a huge conflict of interest. Of course he’s one of those critics who thinks the show is as funny as ever.

  5. 10 Zartok-35
    13 June 2013 at 6:52 am

    The crying artist they’re talking about is Shannon O’connor, I believe.

  6. 11 Chris
    13 June 2013 at 11:20 am

    So as long as we’re criticizing other people’s work, do Oakley and Weinstein get to go on and comment on Jean’s 10+ seasons as show-runner and how awful that’s been? I mean, if we’re going to throw stones, let’s be fair here. Even if you hate Marge Be Not Proud and Principal and the Pauper (and I know DHS does), you’d have to say that Oakley and Weinstein had a pretty successful run. I’d argue they ran the show during a difficult time period (another round of writers, getting into seasons where shows typically run out of ideas) and handled it with aplomb. And besides, didn’t Jean show-run that awful episode That ’90s Show? Hate on Pauper as much as you want, it’s still much better than that piece of garbage. In conclusion, Jean has no room to criticize anyone else’s work on this show.

    I’d also bet that Ken Keeler gave a stronger defense of Pauper than anyone ever will for That ’90s Show.

    • 12 Cal
      14 June 2013 at 4:30 pm

      I completely agree. I’ve read interviews with Oakley and Weinstein where they’ll explain what they were hoping to accomplish by trying new things and ideas, and the thinking behind Homer’s Enemy, Principal and the Pauper, etc. They even acknowledge fan criticisms and explain why some concepts might not have worked. It’s obvious they weren’t trying to rest on the show’s laurels. Seasons 7 and 8 have great episodes.

      Jean and Co. can’t be bothered to justify their episodes, which makes it more frustrating that Jean was with the show from the beginning and oversaw two highly regarded seasons before.

  7. 13 June 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I completely skipped Season 15 on DVD; I’d been buying the Zombie seasons for the commentaries, but they just disappointed me more and more with each passing season, to the point where I just decided it wasn’t worth it anymore. But the knowledge that they openly bashed “The Principal and the Pauper” on this one is pretty interesting. I still think it’s a really fascinating concept for an episode, but I’ll concede it didn’t work as well as it should have.

    In regards to Jean ragging on one bad Oakley and Weinstein episode when his entire solo run has been consistently craptacular, I will say that Jean seems to be fully aware of how bad the show is now. All those half-hearted defenses of his decisions on these commentaries where he clearly doesn’t believe what he’s saying are all the evidence you need. Plus, he admitted on the commentary for “Helter Shelter” (an abominable episode if I ever saw one) that the whole show falls apart in the third act and he wished they’d done it differently. I have to give him a little credit for that.

    Great, Matt Selman’s still acting like an idiot on these things. More incentive not to buy any more Simpsons DVDs.

    • 14 Chris
      13 June 2013 at 2:52 pm

      I just think it’s funny that they all find Pauper so appalling, but yet they greenlighted That ’90s Show, which I would have to say was more damaging to the show’s background than Pauper was. I’m also not going to let Jean off the hook simply because he knows how bad of a job he’s done. If I build a birdhouse and the birdhouse falls apart, does it make it okay simply because I knew at the time I was making a shitty birdhouse? I don’t think so.

      I’ll also say that even if Pauper failed conceptually, it’s still much funnier than any episode since probably season 10 or 11. “keep looking shocked and move slowly towards the cake” “can I borrow your copy of Swank, Armin?” “if I had known there was a war going on, I probably would have apologized” blows the doors off anything I’ve seen in 10+ years.

      • 15 Frank
        13 June 2013 at 3:39 pm

        About Pauper being funnier than any other episode since 10 or 11: I have to agree! I hated it so much when I first saw it, but after suffering through so much more worse over the next dozen years or so, Pauper doesn’t look so bad.

        • 16 zgeycp
          13 June 2013 at 6:00 pm

          “They gave me a choice: jail, the army, or apologize to the judge and old lady. Of course, if I knew there was a war going on, I probably would have apologized.”

      • 15 June 2013 at 11:41 pm

        Jean obviously can’t speak openly about his true opinion of the show because FOX owns his ass. But little remarks like that make it plain that he’s aware of the problems.

        But what maddens me is that even though he’s aware of it, and even if he can’t openly admit it, he still seems to make no effort to improve things. Simply acknowledging the show’s problems without bothering to try and fix them has been a Zombie Simpsons writing staple for years now. When the writers do the same thing in real life, it doesn’t make it any better.

  8. 18 Monty Python Forever
    13 June 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Fuck you for mocking my favorite episode, featuring one of my characters with that (annoyed grunt) thing. Maybe it is best that Sherry Bobbins died with dignity.

  9. 19 Monty Python Forever
    13 June 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Also, why did Lisa ignore the fact that the punishment for mentioning Tanzarian’s name was torture? It just supports my theory that Lisa is a complete idiot, but she looks smart compared to everyone else and is too narcissistic to realize her limits.

  10. 21 Jeff
    15 June 2013 at 12:50 pm

    This is probably my least favorite episode. Whereas most of Zombie Simpsons is just boring, this episode made me angry. Who the hell thinks dead cats are funny?!

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