Behind Us Forever: Clown in the Dumps

Homer Goes to College15

“My first day of college.  I wish my father was alive to see this.” – Homer Simpson
“Hey!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“How long have you been back there?” – Homer Simpson
“Three days.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

(Sorry for not getting this up yesterday.  The day got away from me.)

Season 26 picked up right where season 25 left off: a time eating guest couch gag, many needlessly self voiced celebrities, characters explaining how they feel and what they’re doing, and plenty of other boring nonsense.  The A-plot was about Krusty being sad and involved the much hyped character death, which turned out to be the nothingburger we all expected.  (The fact that the media is so easily and repeatedly trolled by Zombie Simpsons may be the funniest thing about the show these days.)

The B-plot was about Lisa being worried about Homer’s health all of a sudden.  We know this because she basically narrates the whole thing for us, including how she’s feeling and the ending that was already nonsensical before the school bus crashes into the Simpson back yard.

– Count me among those who generally like the guest couch gags.  It’s nice to get something new and interesting, and since the writing staff doesn’t have to do any plot or dialogue, they’re often very decent.  But this one was pretty bad.  It was a decent concept and had a neat look to it, but it took way too long given how little actually happened and how repetitive the images were.

– This popcorn thing is really dumb.  It was also done much, much better in “Realty Bites”.

– “Cheap to Produce” was at least quick.

– Ugh, this Wiggum crime photo thing.  I thought the Family Guy stuff was going to be during their episode.

– Hey, look: crappy jokes, self voiced celebrities, and canned laughter.

– “Nobody warned me this roast would treat me the same way as every roast I’ve seen and laughed at.” – Unnecessary exposition rolled up with a cheap excuse for the idiot nonsense they just made us sit through.  Stuff like this really demonstrates how much the show has deteriorated.  Krusty knows what a roast is.  It’d be fine to have the roast get to him, bum him out, etc.  Instead, he acts depressed and surprised from the get go because Heaven forefend characters and the story might move along in reaction to what happens rather than just because.

– That swapper joke could’ve been funny if it had made sense.

– Hey, look, Bart just showed up out of nowhere to tell Krusty what to do.  Seamless.

– This is certainly a pointless death scene.

– And now it’s time for a funeral that improbably includes the Simpson family.

– Hey, the B-plot showed up.  I’ll let Lisa explain, “Dad, I’m worried about your health.  I don’t want to lose you.”

– Remember when they only included Sideshow Bob when they had something really great and fun to do?  Long time ago, that.

– “No mimes!” is a decent sign gag.

– And “The elephant and I had our differences” is pretty good.  It’s also short, understated, and unexplained.  Not a coincidence.

– Is it technically an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon if Itchy’s not in it?

– Oh, for fuck’s sake, “Kids, I’m experiencing a crisis of conscious.”

– This is a cruel waste of Maurice LaMarche as the TV critic.

– Lisa’s back to explain what’s happening in the B-plot again.

– Did David Hyde Pierce just wander past the recording room one day?  That might have been even more pointless than the Sideshow Bob cameo.

– Past Krusty shows were a lot better when they were about collective bargaining agreements.

– Similarly, Krusty’s binges used to be more fun.  They even had the Stanley Cup.

– “Krusty, have you fulfilled the promise you made to your father in the dream you never told anyone about?”  Even by their cheat standards that’s lazy.  They weren’t even painted into a corner or anything, they just can’t move things forward without explicitly telling us what’s going on.  Then Bart appeared out of nowhere.

– And now Homer is wrapped in bubble wrap, then there was a car crash and then Lisa explained, out loud, how she was feeling for the fifth time or so.  Mercifully, this B-plot is now over.

– Bart apparently knew who Krusty’s dad’s favorite rabbi was.  No, it doesn’t make any sense.  But at least it was short.

– Oof, the “Jewish Heaven” song is really weak.  There are like three lyrics, most of which are just “Jewish Heaven”, and the rest is just visual references of famous Jews.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are much improved.  Last night, 8.50 million people lost hope after the FXX marathon reminded them how good the show once was.  That’s way up from last year’s premier, though at least some of that is attributable to the Eagles-49ers game.  It’ll be curious to see whether or not that holds up next week when FOX doesn’t have a late NFL game.  Was it mostly football, or did all that hype actually make a few million people want to start watching the show again?

36 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: Clown in the Dumps”

  1. 1 FireFlower
    30 September 2014 at 4:34 pm

    I watched part of that couch gag on Youtube. I could not stand to watch the whole thing. I wonder if it is a scary prediciton of the future…that the show will be still on thousands of years from now. That is a scary thought–the show outliving all of us.

    • 30 September 2014 at 7:28 pm

      Like SNL, but worse!

      • 3 Angelm Young
        30 September 2014 at 9:06 pm

        I take offense to that. At least there’s some effort to make Saturday Night Live not terrible in this day and age. The Simpson’s is pretty much on autopilot. Plus, there was an actual article that said that if Lorne Michaels died, then the show would go with it so as not to repeat the same mistake it made from 1980 to1985.

        But that’s just me. Carry on.

    • 5 Stan
      30 September 2014 at 7:42 pm

      You should’ve watched it like me: after two glasses of Sprite wine. Although I think smoking a joint helps a lot here too.

    • 6 Joe H
      1 October 2014 at 12:25 am

      I liked the core concept of the short, but I agree it was WAY overlong. It’s like Don Hertzfeldts initially planned a standard 30 second couch gag, but the Simpsons staff told him later that it had to be at least 2 minutes long because their episode came up short. Because that’s what if felt like after 30 seconds–padding.

  2. 30 September 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Everyone was interested to see who was getting killed off. Here in Australia the hype is exactly zero, although the crossover episode has been getting some publicity, and even aired within a decent timeframe of airing in the US (for those who didn’t stream or download it…)

  3. 30 September 2014 at 7:27 pm

    Great BUF Charlie, as always spot on points and observations. Thank you.

    p.s. The folks on IGN (mostly below age 30 imo) actually have told me the latter and current Seasons of The Simpsons are still great… Blech.

    Young people, drunk and high Simpsons fans must have been the people that tuned in this week, plus people that think CGI is better or just as good as practical effects.

  4. 15 Stan
    30 September 2014 at 7:45 pm

    So, good ratings for a shit episode, huh? I bet most of them were for the crossover though.
    I’m probably going to watch the Halloween special (probably!) and then that’s it. Too bad Joe Matar stopped doing his “simpsums”, but hey, I already swore off the show anyway (and even wished DHS farewell, for that matter).

  5. 18 Joshua
    30 September 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I’m with you on the guest couch gag. I like Don Hertzfeldts weird cartoons but the couch gag wasn’t that funny and ran long.

    One of the worst Itchy and Scratchys in a while. The title references Breaking Bad which the cartoon has little to do with, besides the greenish ocher sky, which I guess counts as satire. Really not a fan of the recent I&S trend of parodying popular movies and shows ie. The Social Petwork.

    The A-Plot this week is a mish-mash of ‘Like Father, Like Clown’ and the stand-by plot of Krusty retires.

    An unsatisfactory resolution is the for the course; My fathers favourite Rabbi steals my jokes, therefore my Father must have loved my comedy by proxy.

    And another thing, does anyone else remember when Krusty was a successful, local, clown, act and not a millionaire in a cavernous mansion?

    The ratings are up, you say? A few contributing factors; people tuning in for the unholy crossover or to see which character croaks and the increased good favour curried by the FX marathon. I doubt they’ll keep that many viewers by the end of the season. Maybe for the Futurama crossover or Treehouse of Horror but not your run of the mill Zombie Simpsons episode.

    • 19 Stan
      30 September 2014 at 11:14 pm

      The incredibly lame Krusty roast was so incredibly lame that compared to it the “me so solly” bit from when he sells out was actually good. I mean, not the fact that Krusty came up with slapstick and tongue-in-cheek humor to a stand-up show, but the joke itself would’ve been funnier than the whole fucking roast.

      The only time I laughed in the episode was when drunk Mel confronted Bob. Although tbh I was waiting for a comeback from Bob and Krusty saying “Shut up, both of you!” or something like that.

    • 20 Joe H
      1 October 2014 at 12:20 am

      Hasn’t Krusty been a millionaire since season 4? Ever since the series established he owned a chain of “Krusty Burger” fast food restaurants, such a depiction of him as a sleazy immoral franchiser was unavoidable.

      This one was bad. It made “Insane Clown Poppy” look like a masterpiece using a similarly contrived family dilemma involving Krusty

      Though one has to wonder…why does Krusty care so much about what Krustofsky Sr thought of his comedy. First of all, he’s spent decades defying his father in becoming a clown (not just a comedian, a CLOWN). Second, he was being compared to a specifically Jewish entertainer who appealed to the devoutly Jewish–something the debauched Krusty definitely IS NOT. A seltzer bottle and a pie in the face is more his style.

      Now if his father’s death led him to become more serious about the Jewish faith, THAT would have been more interesting or at least more believeable. Because that’s really what Krustofsky was to Krusty. Not only a father, but a pillar of the Jewish faith in the Springfield community.

      What I really dislike the series doing is turning Krusty into a stand-up comic or a late night talk show entertainer. “The Last Temptation of Krust” specifically had him quit being a clown to experiment with a hidden talent in stand-up comedy for that one solitary episode. Why is it that that is what sort of comedian he is now? Before then he was specifically revered by his public for his clown acts and as a children’s entertainer ala Bozo the Clown. Any time he tread into more “serious” comedy roles, it was as a special guest or failed spin-off of his clown act.

      In this episode, he is a clown in name only. Instead of devising funny clown skits or demeaning Sideshow Mel in humiliating forms of physical slapstick comedy, he’s now some dude in clown makeup who tells jokes….What??

      • 21 Stan
        1 October 2014 at 1:06 am

        1) Krusty finds out that his dad passed away (but that would ruin the intrigue… everybody knew was going to be lame anyway)
        2) Krusty quits the comedy and becomes a rabbi, but doesn’t like it a lot
        3) Sideshow Mel replaces Krusty as clown, with Bart being hired as Mel’s sideshow
        4) Bart enjoys it until he finds out that Krusty is sad about being a rabbi, and suggest Krusty should return to comedy.
        5) Krusty ends up finding some document according to which his granddad was also a performer until his dad was born.
        At the same time, Lisa finds out Homer might be getting dangerously fat, but of course Homer won’t die in the show so it’s a stupid b-plot anyway.

          • 23 Joshua
            1 October 2014 at 4:40 am

            Check out the big brain on Stan! Put together a story premise with structure and character driven choices with a few simple bullet points.

            I can imagine Krusty finding out his Grandfather was a catskills comedian in the Borscht Belt but quit to raise his son in an orthodox Jewish tradition. Makes more sense than “Bart takes Krusty to the synagogue, where Rabbi Krustofski’s favorite Rabbi recites Krusty’s jokes on religion. Krusty therefore deduces that his father did find him funny”.

            • 24 Stan
              1 October 2014 at 11:15 am

              Thanks. It consoles me to know that today, regular joes can write for ZS with better success.

              • 25 Joe H
                1 October 2014 at 2:25 pm

                Actually, it disappoints me more than it consoles. The writings skills of the average joes vs the paid writers should be the other way around.

              • 27 Sarah J
                1 October 2014 at 6:41 pm

                I’ve been fantasizing lately about trying to write a fan Simpsons script, one that tries to recapture the magic of the classic era. Someday…

    • 28 Jack
      1 October 2014 at 10:03 am

      They did parody-based Itchy & Scratchy episodes in the classic era too, like ‘Steamboat Itchy’ and ‘Reservoir Cats’ to name just a couple. But those were better because:

      (a) Most of the I&S episodes were normal ones.
      (b) They were actually funny.

    • 29 Angelm Young
      1 October 2014 at 5:41 pm

      What about the episode that was supposed to air two seasons ago, but didn’t? The one where The Simpsons go to space via a carnival ride. I can see that getting ratings by virtue of morbid curiosity or because of sports.

      • 30 torbiecat
        1 October 2014 at 8:51 pm

        Do you have any more information about this because I certainly missed that bit of news. My Internet searches only yielded information about The Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios or “Deep Space Homer.”

      • 31 Cal
        2 October 2014 at 10:30 am

        It sounds like you’re talking about “Journey to Your Future,” which is supposed to air later this season. I’m kinda curious about that one just because it’s written by Al Jean.

        • 32 Charlie Sweatpants
          2 October 2014 at 1:46 pm

          I don’t pay attention to the upcoming episode news (why bother?), but it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re doing another future episode. It’s kind of low-rent Futurama, but the two recent ones got a sprinkling of praise here and there, and it wouldn’t surprise me that they’d go back to the well.

  6. 33 ecco6t9
    1 October 2014 at 2:03 am

    Is it strange that the crossover with Family Guy felt more grounded in reality?

    • 34 Joe H
      1 October 2014 at 2:18 am

      Not sure I’d say “grounded in reality” but the storyline itself had more of a commitment to making some sense as it progress and in providing genuine character based humor

      Nelson, for instance, was back to his old bully self instead of this sad sack ZS turned him into over the years.

      Now the crossover wasn’t anything special either, but it at least set itself on bar above mechanical dreck like “Clown in the Dumps”…and a lot of recent Family Guy episodes for that matter.

  7. 1 October 2014 at 8:30 am

    Which popular character died in Sunday’s episode? If you said Rabbi Hyman Krustofski you were wrong, he was never popular.

  8. 36 Brad M
    1 October 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I don’t think the new episode was too bad, it just wasn’t one of the great episodes (but neither was “Like Father, Like Clown,” in my opinion). The most Zombie/unfunny thing was how they tried making a joke of Homer having breathing problems, and Lisa’s “daddy cam” over Homer and Marge’s bed.

    “Bart apparently knew who Krusty’s dad’s favorite rabbi was. No, it doesn’t make any sense.”

    Bart could have learned this at the funeral.

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