Behind Us Forever: Dogtown

“The dog has had enough excitement.” – Marge Simpson
“But Marge, dogs can never have enough excitement!” – Homer Simpson

Two years ago, as part of their “use our reputation to farm out work we’d rather not do” policy, Zombie Simpsons let the Rick & Morty people do a couch gag. It was okay, and I’ve long said that the guest couch gags are one of the few parts of the show that’s still kinda creative. Well, this week Zombie Simpsons did an extremely poor take off on the Rick & Morty episode “Lawnmower Dog”. Emphasis on “extremely”.

In “Dogtown”, Springfield passes a bunch of dog friendly laws, which for some reason causes all the dogs to go feral and take over the town. When Rick & Morty did this, it was the B-plot of an Inception parody that got very dark and disturbing (as is that show’s wont). When Zombie Simpsons does the same thing, it’s too incoherent to be anything other that vaguely weird. Remember the “Night of the Dolphin” segment from Season 12’s Halloween episode? This was like that, but stretched over the whole episode and plus pages of unnecessary exposition.

– They’ve really become fond of adding dialogue to the couch gags the last few years. This one involves them climbing to the top of a mounting, wherein Homer radios for the couch, which is then brought in by a Sherpa. The (unintentionally) funny thing here is that there’s no need for it. Having Homer use the radio pre-explains the joke and spoils it in the process. It would’ve worked fine without.

– From there, the opening gets truncated at Homer leaving the plant. He’s then in traffic with GPS yelling at him. This goes on for a bit before Homer finds himself stuck in an alley with the choice to run over Gil or Santa’s Little Helper. Homer runs Gil over and I’m finally convinced that the regular opening isn’t coming back.

– And we are quickly into exposition land:

Insurance Agent: “Now, I do have to warn you, if Gil sues he’ll end up with everything you’ve got.”
Homer: “But that’s everything I’ve got! Okay kids, give me your best worried looks. . . . Ooh, that’s good worry. And Maggie, when we visit Gil, you should think about your Mom and me disappearing forever any time we step behind a wall.”

Homer then proceeds to do step behind a wall, all the while narrating what he’s doing. Then he gets lost and screams. This is all dumb and repetitive enough on it’s own, but the really weird part is Marge is sitting right there as Homer’s basically traumatizing the baby. These are the sorts of things real Marge put a quick stop to, but Zombie Marge just sits there and watches with her computer drawn dead eyes.

– Later, at the hospital, the family visits Gil, Bart then walks in dressed as a nurse so he and Homer and exposit a plan to put Gil into a coma.

From here, Bart stabs Homer in the butt and then Homer falls down. Remember when this show was smart?

– Marge now exposits some Gil dialogue:

Gil: “Cha cha cha!”
Marge: “Cha cha cha, that’s hopeful”
Gil: “Cha cha ching!”
Marge: “Oh.”

It’s bad enough that I have to explain jokes on this here internet website, but that’s part of why it’s here. Why Zombie Simpsons feels the need to explain them on a network television show that’s ostensibly a comedy is beyond me.

– Lisa, just now grasping what’s going on for some reason, has a fantasy where they live with other families, Bart then has a different one. Hey, these twenty minutes of screen time aren’t going to fill themselves, people.

– Repeating dialogue can be funny (“The best performance of your life?”/”The best performance of my life!”), but Zombie Simpsons does it a couple dozen times per episode. Here in court, Homer testifies about how he loves the dog and that’s why he hit Gil, the lawyer then asks the stenographer reads it back with sentimental music. Guess what happens!

– After the trial, Gil gets repeatedly trampled.

It wasn’t funny the first time, but maybe it’ll be funny the third time.

– Springfield is now a dog paradise, so it’s time for a montage.

– Wiggum arrests a veterinarian, who exposits about the coming dog rebellion. Once again, tell don’t show triumphs on Zombie Simpsons.

– In yet another joke that was done better decades ago, Homer is explaining Doggy Heaven to Bart.

– Santa’s Little Helper collapses partway through the doggy door of the house. Homer picks up the cat and takes thirty seconds to use it to pull the dog through the door so he can say, “look what the cat dragged in”. This is followed by Bart and Lisa both proclaiming that muscle pulling stretch for a joke, “worth it”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: they know these jokes suck. They don’t care.

This takes almost 5% of the episode.

– Kirk is outside with a little dog, which growls at him. He then lies down on the ground, exposing his belly. We know this because we see it. Nevertheless, Zombie Simpsons has him describe exactly what he’s doing.

– As a pack of wild dogs circles Homer, he lists off a bunch of breed names. [McBain Voice]: That’s the joke.

– Skinner, in case anyone has forgotten, exposits what’s happening, “Not one student showed up to school just because a pack of ferocious, masterless dogs are roaming the playground”. Thanks, Seymour.

– Vet guy now expositing the same thing Skinner just did. I’m not going to transcribe it because I respect the pixels of your screen too much.

– Gil gets volunteered to tame the dogs for some reason, which leads to some back and forth exposition between him and Marge.

– Bart and Lisa are out with Crazy Cat Lady, who is there to protect them or something. She then exposits through subtitles.

– Here’s a double whammy, action exposition and emotional exposition:

Bart: “We’re about to die at the hands of a dog”.
Lisa: “Paws. Dogs have paws.”
Bart: “Just remember, the last thing you did in life was correct me.”
Lisa: “Oh, that actually makes me feel better.”

– And then Marge just shows up to growl and kick a dog, then Lisa exposits what’s going on, then Gil shows up to exposit about what didn’t happen. I’m tired.

– Our second montage shows all the dogs going back to normal.

– And it ends on a chihuahua threatening Gil. Season 29, here we come! [♫FOX fanfare♫]

Anyway, the numbers are in and . . . yikes. Last night just 2.14 million viewers should’ve been watching a Rick & Morty rerun. That’s the lowest season finale ever, and a 20% drop from last year’s (which used to be the lowest finale ever). Given the catastrophic state of broadcast network television, there’s no telling whether or not numbers like these will ever actually get the show cancelled, but its complete cultural irrelevance is pretty well sealed.

8 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: Dogtown”

  1. 1 ecco6t9
    22 May 2017 at 7:32 pm

    I thought the end was going the sweet route and that would of been decent but they had to get one last terrible “joke” in.

  2. 2 Victor Dang
    23 May 2017 at 11:50 am

    You think Simpsons will do an extremely poor take off on the Rick & Morty episode “Rick Potion No. 9” next? Emphasis on “extremely”?

    Half-baked joke aside, that has to be one of the darkest episodes that show’s made, especially coming after the fan favorite “Meeseeks and Destroy”. It was actually the first full episode I watched (only got into this show recently) and even then I couldn’t believe how dark this was, so I can only imagine how much of a gut punch it must’ve been to fans who just saw the previous episode (or all of the first 5 episodes, really).

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Simpsons does a half-assed version of this for their next Treehouse of Horror, or hell, one of their “regular episodes”. I can only wonder how incoherent their version would be…

  3. 4 Disenchanted Viewer
    24 May 2017 at 11:53 am

    They may have wanted to satirize people that consider and treat animals better than humans and have a commentary about their reasons in this episode. They may have wanted to go deeper and debate whether dogs can really have feelings for humans or their loyalty is just the result of evolution where obviously the ones able to adapt and serve us had better chance to generate offspring.
    In any case both ideas were not developed and probably after the 100th rewrite got confused and mixed and maybe the writers didn’t know anymore what they had to say, if anything at all.
    Whatever the case they didn’t need to have the people of Springfield go crazy and let the dogs take control of the society. And why would the dog go feral all of a sudden? And how did things get back to normal?
    A recurring problem with these writers is that whatever they’re trying to say they undermine it by making the episode too cartoonish and unrealistic to the point that it’s not possible to follow their reasoning.
    In any case I didn’t watch the episode so I can’t make more accurate comments about it. I’m commenting something I have no clue about, just like them.

  4. 5 Smithers
    24 May 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Aside from Brian Griffin, Santa’s Little Helper is one of my most favorite cartoon dogs and he looks so cute in that gif….almost like a human child.

  5. 7 Anonymous
    26 May 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Everywhere I go, I keep hearing about this Rick and Morty show. I guess I’ll have to cave in and watch it one of these days.

    “Remember the “Night of the Dolphin” segment from Season 12’s Halloween episode?”

    I try to forget. The whole season 12 Halloween episode, in fact. It’s the one THoH episode that stands out in my mind as being unwatchable, proving that Zombie Simpsons can even ruin what was once a fun holiday tradition. I do like most of the 13th season THoH, however, which is the last one for me, so feel free to judge my taste.

    “They’ve really become fond of adding dialogue to the couch gags the last few years.”

    Because as with the show itself, they forget what used to make these couch gags funny. That, and it sounds like they need to stretch them out for lots of padding these days.

    So this pile of garbage was what they decided to end on as their season finale? A half-assed ripoff of another show? I could see this being just a regular ZS episode, but what a weak choice for a finale. Wait, let me correct myself, this isn’t even half-assing it, Santa’s Little Helper could chew up a dozen different movie scripts and you could piece together something more coherent from what was left. And not that I care, but how did all the dogs go back to normal at the end?

    “Season 29, here we come!”

    And I’m sure they’ll keep trying for 30, but I’m hoping that once they do, the show finally gets the mercy-kill it’s been needing for so long. If they keep getting numbers this low, maybe it’ll finally happen.

  6. 8 Jeff Jacobson
    2 June 2017 at 12:14 pm

    I noticed that when everyone is walking out of the courthouse, Santa’s Little Helper’s collar turns red briefly. This animation error was the most memorable part of the episode. His collar isn’t normally black like it is throughout most of this episode, is it?

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