Archive for the '53% New Text' Category


The Cost of Zombie Simpsons

I think it’s full, sir.” – Mr. Smithers
“That’s ridiculous! The last tree held nine drums!” – C.M. Burns

NOTE: Back in September, in response to Alf Clausen’s firing, I posted what would be a new chapter for an expanded version of “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead”. The book is still being shopped to publishers, and early responses have been mixed, in that some of them ignore it, and others reject it.

But it’s Simpsons Day, and I’m a long way from giving up on it, so here is another new chapter. It’s very loosely based off a post on this blog from 2010, so for once I’m repeating a quote intentionally instead of accidentally. 

Feel free to smile and nod and link and share this page [stomps on your foot]. The more traffic and attention it gets, the better chance it has of becoming a real, dead-tree book at some point in the future. Also, on your way out, if you want to post it to /r/TheSimpsons, it would help me a lot. 

Released in 1993, Jurassic Park is a classic movie, one of the most popular in the history of cinema. It’s enduring popularity has green-lit three sequels, all of which are forgettable summer pap and none of which grace “Best Ever” film lists. (A fourth is set for release in 2018.) Published in 1965, Dune is a science fiction masterpiece that was followed by five direct sequels, thirteen follow up spin-off novels, a television miniseries, and a 1984 feature film. None of them have ever lived up to the source material, but the original remains so popular that spinoff novels continue to be published and they’re making another movie adaptation right now.

Sequels, spin-offs, reboots, and remakes are unfortunate side effects of the economics of modern media. Familiar franchises (or “IP”, a/k/a “intellectual property”) are safe economic bets for studios that care far more about the quarterly earnings of their conglomerate owners than they do about artistic merit or simple quality. This is the reason that American multiplexes average a new actor playing Spider-Man every five years, a new Batman every six years, and a new James Bond every nine years.

The acceleration of this trend in recent years is a triumph of what the marketing ghouls call “mindshare.” Basically, the more people that are aware of something (a character, a celebrity, a franchise, etcetera), the more “mindshare” it has. For example, Star Wars has approximately 100% mindshare, since there’s almost no one who hasn’t heard of it.

Once a property or format has proven itself popular, the mindshare that popularity creates means that something similar is more likely to find an audience than something new. This is why NBC has broadcast five versions of Law & Order, why CBS has had four different CSI variants, and why ABC has had more seasons of Dancing With and Bachelor shows than is mentally healthy. Put simply, a new show with an existing audience is more likely to attract large enough ratings to be profitable than a new show that has to start from zero. Zombie Simpsons is simply an extreme case of this widespread miasma.

The enormous and unprecedented popularity of The Simpsons means that there are hundreds of millions (if not billions) of people all over the world whose brains have a few neurons dedicated to Homer, Bart, and the rest of the family. So what critics or fans think of the last twenty years of the show is a lot less important than the rump audience that will tune in out of habit or familiarity. This unfortunate confluence of behavioral psychology and modern economics has been very good to FOX’s (and News Corp’s) bottom line, but it has done terrible damage to the once impeccable reputation of The Simpsons itself.

For anyone born in the mid 1980s or after, The Simpsons has been a background presence their entire lives. But as the new episodes got worse at the end of the 1990s, and then as the pool of syndicated reruns gradually became polluted with Zombie Simpsons, watching the show became more and more difficult. In 1995, you could catch a great new episode on Sundays, then watch two or more classic episodes every weekday on syndicated reruns. By 2005, the new episodes had been bad for half a decade, and the syndication runs were 50-50 with Zombie Simpsons.

The episode catalog has only degraded since then. There are now more than twice as many episodes of Zombie Simpsons as there are of The Simpsons. As a result, a new or casual fan has to go out of their way to see the good ones. Because all of them are billed and sold as “The Simpsons,” there isn’t the kind of easy distinction that there is between Jurassic Park and its many sequels, or Dune and its lesser iterations.

While there are no general social surveys about the state of Simpsons fandom, there is ample anecdotal evidence that nearly two decades of Zombie Simpsons has profoundly damaged The Simpsons in terms of cultural reputation, pop culture standing, and even simple popularity. On the enormous web of message boards which are such a big part of modern fandom, it’s easy to find huge threads about the show being overrated, or having been bad for so long that maybe it wasn’t that good in the first place. Facebook teems with teens and twenty-somethings who know the show only as a cultural totem that gross old people revere for some reason. A sadly large portion of Reddit’s trigger-happy cadre of fanatics are all too happy to dump on Zombie Simpsons without making the distinction between old and new, good and bad.

Statements like the above have to be made with caution because Simpsons fandom is so vast, ancient, and iterative that it would take half a department of sociologists just to catalog it, much less understand it. But the clearest example may have been in August of 2014, when the FXX channel broadcast every episode of the show in order, starting with Season 1. That was the first time since the syndication pools became tainted that so many of the classic episodes were made so easily available to a wide audience, and the reaction was overwhelming.

Promoted and organic hashtags were flooded with people remarking on how smart, incisive, and dark the old episodes were. More than just appreciating it, however, a very common sentiment was people who’d forgotten what the old episodes were like:

  • Wow, I forgot how great the Simpsons was in its early years.

  • Loving the #EverySimpsonsEver marathon. Forgot how good the old episodes are.

  • I forgot how touching these early episodes are. Better settle in for an all nighter

  • I forgot how much I loved the first Treehouse of Horror, my whole family always watched them together

  • Watching #TheSimpsons and I forgot how dramatic season one was!

  • Watching the #EverySimpsonsEver marathon on FXX. I almost forgot how good the old episodes are. Way better than the new ones!

All of the above examples came from only one hashtag, only on Twitter, and only from the first couple hours of the marathon broadcast. It went on like that for days, across all kinds of platforms and (presumably) in personal conversations and interactions that never reached the wider internet. As the good seasons were once again shown without the handicap of Zombie Simpsons, people remembered why The Simpsons really is the Best. Show. Ever.

Amnesia like the above isn’t at all surprising when you consider how much effort it takes to experience the show in its true form. Local syndicated broadcasters are under no obligation to run episodes in order, FXX always sprinkles Zombie Simpsons in with The Simpsons, and new episodes have been bad since Bill Clinton was our standard for what a lousy President looked like. (That The Simpsons predicted the orders-of-magnitude worse President Trump doesn’t help matters.) Watching them the way Jebus intended means either shelling out for the DVDs, buying them from a streaming service, or logging into and then navigating FXX’s kludge filled app. In the 1990s, new fans could simply sit down and watch The Simpsons. Today’s new fans have to work at it.

More motivated viewers will deliberately do so, but, inevitably, lots of casual fans will not. As a result, they often don’t understand what’s so special about The Simpsons. All they know is that it’s been on the air since before their parents met.

Television has never seen anything like what The Simpsons was at its beginning. It wasn’t just smart and funny, it was smart and funny week after week, year after year, never skipping a beat. Forget season finales or cliffhangers, ordinary new episodes were social events in bars, dorms, and homes all over the country. The day after a new episode, conversations in schools and offices brimmed with quotes, jokes, and phrases from the night before. But the magic of that incredible consistency gets lost when the old episodes are buried among the dung pile left by nearly twenty years of Zombie Simpsons.

This is why Zombie Simpsons needs to be criticized. Not because it’s a boring, mediocre television program (there are lots of those), but because each new episode eats away at the foundations of one of the most important and influential shows ever made. Every year a new batch of Zombie Simpsons spews into the rerun pools and episode guides, stealing scarce and easily diverted attention away from the good ones. And so each new batch of potential fans has to work a little bit harder to see the good stuff. Bit by bit, Zombie Simpsons is poisoning The Simpsons for future generations.

Won’t somebody please think of the children?


Why Zombie Simpsons Is Unkillable

Is it my imagination, or is TV getting worse?” – Lisa Simpson
“Enh, it’s about the same.” – Homer Simpson

NOTE: I’m in the process of shopping an expanded version of “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead” to publishers. I don’t know whether or not it will ever make it to store shelves, but if it does, the following would be one of the new chapters. (If you end up reading it again in a bookstore a year from now, try to look surprised.) I’m publishing it today in light of Alf Clausen’s firing, which caused me to add a new paragraph last night. 

Feel free to smile and nod and link and share this page [stomps on your foot]. The more traffic and attention it gets, the better chance it has of becoming a real, dead-tree book at some point in the future. Also, on your way out, if you want to post it to /r/TheSimpsons, it would help me a lot. 

If the show has been so bad for so long, the natural question then becomes: why is it still on the air? The very short answer is that (just) enough people keep watching. The less short answer is that after crashing around the turn of the millennium, Zombie Simpsons has managed to lose viewers at a slightly slower rate than network television itself.

Broadcast network viewership has been declining for decades. In the 1990s, cable and satellite finally came into their own and gave people many (many, many) more channels to watch. Then the 2000s saw the internet transform from a geek curiosity into the rapidly mutating attention succubus we know today. Network audiences have been eroding the whole time. In 1983, the final episode of M.A.S.H. was watched by more than half of the total U.S. population. In 1993, the Cheers finale managed a little over a third. In 2004, the last episode of Friends pulled less than a fifth.*

*[ ]

Those were extraordinary events, and the night-in-night-out averages dropped right along with them. During the first full season of The Simpsons in 1990-91, a show needed well over 20 million viewers per week to make it into the Top 30 rated programs. By the 2000-01 season, that number had declined to 14 million weekly viewers. By the 2010-11 season, it was hovering around 10 million.* For the 2016-17 season, shows need less than 5 million viewers to crack the Top 30, a 75% decline in twenty-six years.

*[Nielsen numbers for 1990 & 2000 taken from Brooks & Marsh, 2010 numbers taken from ]

The Simpsons spent its 1990s creative peak hovering just above or below the Top 30 line. As the show collapsed in terms of quality, the ratings took a corresponding nosedive, and in the 2000s Zombie Simpsons usually pulled in somewhere between 50th and 60th. But instead of falling all the way off television, the rate of decline stabilized. Since Al Jean took over in Season 13, the show has lost viewers after all but two seasons, but the year-over-year drops themselves are relatively small, especially compared to network television overall.

Today, Zombie Simpsons is down to just 4 million weekly viewers on average, and routinely has individual episode that barely pull 2 million. (About six times per year the show gets a huge lead-in audience from a late NFL game, without which the average would be significantly lower.) Numbers like that would’ve seen the show swiftly cancelled even just ten years ago. But in the smoking crater that is modern television ratings, a slow decline counts as an almost Edenic refuge from the ongoing apocalypse. The current cliche in Hollywood is that “flat is the new up”.

Even that tenacious hold on survival level ratings probably wouldn’t be enough to keep Zombie Simpsons going if it was a typical live action program. But being animated not only carries great creative advantages, it also changes the economics of a long running show. On a normal, camera-and-actors network comedy, the people up on screen eventually become too old or too costly for the program to continue. Adult actors who play youthful parents or young professionals start to wrinkle and thicken. Child actors whose appeal rests on cuteness go through puberty and become potentially boring teenagers or adults.

More importantly, all of them become more expensive as the episodes stack up. To the audience, the lead actors of a hit show are inextricably linked with that show, and the agents who represent those actors are well aware of it. Once a program has established itself after two or three seasons and looks like it might have a long run ahead of it, retaining the main performers becomes the most important and expensive part of the production. After a few years, the core cast of any successful show is often making hundreds of thousands of dollars per episode, with a few individual stars crossing the million dollar line.

As nice as the pay can be, the cast is also aware of the career warping effect that a popular and long running role can have. Any actor will tell you that working beats not working, but becoming tightly associated with a particular character can make other roles harder to get. Woody Harrelson made it to movies and Ted Danson eventually headlined another less popular sitcom, but most of the cast of Cheers never again reached anything like the career high they had on that show. Jennifer Aniston also made the leap to the big screen, but most of the Friends cast has faded from public view. Roles like those afforded by long running shows aren’t career killers – and there is all that money they pay – but the professional aftermath is a decidedly mixed blessing.

Finally, practical considerations come to bear as well. Shooting a live action show requires a great deal of coordination and time from those increasingly expensive actors. Everyone’s got to be in wardrobe and on set, often all at once, for weeks and months on end, year after year. By retail or food service standards, it’s not a taxing schedule, but it places strict limits on what kind of other roles the cast can accept. You can’t do a movie in London or a play in New York if you have to be in Los Angeles most of the time.

In short, as a show grows older, the interests of the studio and the cast gradually diverge. Production costs go up while the actors, who no longer really need the money, get restless and gradually age out of the roles they were originally chosen to play. Even if the audience is still there, live action network comedies have a built in expiration date that can only be postponed for so long. Animation, by contrast, neatly sidesteps those problems.

From the cast’s perspective, all of the negatives of staying on a long running show are absent when that show is animated. Since nobody’s face is actually shown, there’s no danger of being typecast. And since all that’s needed is an audio recording, scheduling is far more flexible. Actors can record their parts alone with no other cast members present, and the actual performance can happen anywhere with a sound booth, no costumes or makeup required.

That freedom and flexibility means the cast of an animated show can not only afford to take pay cuts, but might actually be willing to do so. And, in fact, that exact thing has now happened twice on Zombie Simpsons, first in 2011 and then (probably*) again in 2015.

(*I say “probably” because the reported salary numbers are never made public. Magazines, blogs, and other sites often state that the per episode salary of the Simpsons cast is between $300,000 and $400,000 per episode, but literally all of those numbers came from anonymous quotes from FOX. Since the actors themselves aren’t allowed to talk about what they make, and it’s in FOX’s interest to paint them as greedy and overpaid, the real salaries are almost certainly significantly lower.)

With ratings (and advertising rates) dwindling in 2011, FOX went to the cast and demanded a pay cut to continue the show. The internet was awash in cancellation rumors, many of which were poorly sourced or not sourced at all, but a deal was actually done fairly quickly for the obvious reason that both sides stood to make money. FOX doesn’t want to chance a new and potentially flop show, and the cast doesn’t want to give up a steady stream of very easy paychecks.

In 2015, the drama repeated itself, with FOX going so far as to publicly declare that they would replace Harry Shearer (voice of Flanders, Burns, Smithers, and many others). But, once again, self interest prevailed and both sides decided they’d rather keep getting paid.

Further evidence of cost cutting came in August of 2017 when the show abruptly fired Alf Clausen, its long time composer and music coordinator. Since Season 2, Clausen had written original music for every episode. Performed by a 35-piece orchestra, that kind of unique and expensive soundtrack helped make the show what it was, and the decision to scrap it was widely interpreted as a way to save money and keep the now lowly rated program in the black.

Boil away all the critiques, fan speculation, and internet rumors, and Zombie Simpsons is still on the air for two simple reasons:

1) It’s cheap to make, and…
2) It draws a reliable audience.

That audience shrinks every year, and a healthy chunk of it is folks who left their sets on after the Cowboys game, but thanks to the dire economics of modern television, it’s enough.

For fans who love the show, however, there’s a grimmer conclusion as well: the quality of what gets presented as “The Simpsons” has basically nothing to do with whether or not it stays on the air. New episodes don’t need to be brilliant or even funny, they just need to look and sound vaguely like The Simpsons for 20 minutes of screentime in between advertising breaks.

There are no longer comedic, satirical, or artistic reasons for the show to continue, but there is a financial one, and so it goes on forever, no matter how bland and bad it gets. That’s the dark, unspoken truth behind Al Jean’s now sixteen year reign as show runner, and it explains why Zombie Simpsons suffers from the same problems year after year.

Thanks for reading! Tell your friends (especially if they work in publishing).


Attention Star Wars and Star Trek Fans, Geeks, and General Enjoyers

The Homer They Fall11

“No, I do not have a receipt. I won it as a door prize at the Star Trek convention. Although I find their choice of prize highly illogical, as the average Trekker has no use for a medium size belt.” – Comic Book Guy

Hello, everyone. My New Year’s Resolution was to blog more; and since 2016 is now one quarter gone, I’m going to try and get right on that. I’m not sure yet what that means around here. I haven’t seen a Zombie Simpsons episode since January, and I’m pretty happy about that, but Reading Digest is definitely going to be coming back.

In the meantime, I have a different, though not entirely unrelated, announcement. It’s no secret that Simpsons fandom has, shall we say, abundant overlap with Star Wars and Star Trek fandom. But there are probably a lot of Simpsons fans who just don’t care much about the twin towers of pop science fiction. So I understand that many of you will not care about this in the least.

On the other hand, if you care enough to have seen the recent entries directed by one Jeffrey Jacob Abrams (the 2009 Star Trek reboot, it’s wretched 2013 sequel, and last year’s Star Wars movie), I hope you’ll appreciate my latest cranky minibook, “J.J. Abrams Is Bad at Movies“.

Just like the last two times, the whole book is going up for free on-line. Unlike the last two times, I’m putting it all up at once, and it’s at a new site, the boringly titled That place is very much a work in progress, and I’m far from sure what I’m going to do with it yet, but for now it does contain my best Dead Homers style swing at why I so deeply disliked The Force Awakens and downright loathed Star Trek 12. And there’s chapters about Mission Impossible 3Star Trek 11, and Super 8, to which I am fairly indifferent.

You’re still welcome to read it even if you’re meh on Star Wars and Star Trek, of course. I just want everyone to know what they’re getting into. I quote the show a couple of times (can’t help myself), but that’s it for Simpsons.

Anyways, I hope those of you who read it enjoy it, and that all of you share the link with your geekiest Star Wars and Star Trek friends *wink wink, nudge nudge, hello Mr. Thompson*.


Gamblor On Your Phone

Tapped In (640)

“Marge, I want you to admit you have a gambling problem.” – Homer Simpson
“You know, you’re right, Homer.  Maybe I should get some professional help.” – Marge Simpson
“No, no, that’s too expensive.  Just don’t do it anymore.” – Homer Simpson

Any time I start writing a post for this site, I can never be sure just how long it’s going to end up.  Sometimes, I’ll think I’ve got some big post that’s gonna take awhile, only to find myself done much quicker and shorter than I thought.  Other times, I’ll figure I’ve got a nice compact idea for a Compare & Contrast, that I’ll just knock out a few hundred words in forty-five minutes or so.  Two hours later I’m staring at some sixteen hundred word monstrosity and I have no idea how the hell it happened.  Some posts just sprawl on me.

Well, I’m here today with the all time grand champion of sprawled posts.  What I originally thought would be a quick and dirty post about The Simpsons: Tapped Out has ended up as a fat, 10,000 word ebook called, “Tapped In: How EA Combined The Simpsons with Video Gambling to Make $130 Million (and counting)“.  Here is the table of contents:

1 – Quarters, Dollars, and Credit Cards: The Games We Pay
2 – Designing Addictively Rigged Games for Fun and Profit
3 – Chips vs. Brains and Machines vs. People: We Don’t Stand a Chance
4 – Domesticating the Beast: Video Gambling to Video Gaming
5 – Training the Beast: Fixing Mechanical Problems and Increasing Flow
6 – The Infinite Profit Margins of Colored Pixels
7 – Machine Gaming: Greed on a Tilted Playing Field

It’s about half as long as “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead“, and just like that one it’s for sale at Amazon for Kindles and Kindle apps.  (Also, I appear to have an affinity for long subtitles that start with the word ‘How’.)  Since it’s much shorter and took much less time, the price is a mere $0.99.

Purchase from Amazon

Just like its predecessor, it will eventually be published in full and for free right here at Dead Homer Society.  The first chapter is live now, and a new one will be going up each week until they’re all here.  DRM remains stupid and counterproductive; and I remain convinced that giving it away and selling it is the only way to go.  So you can read the whole thing right now for Kindle, or just read along over the next few weeks.  Either way, I hope you all like it.

Click here to read the first chapter.


Saturday Morning Navel Gazing

Brother from the Same Planet10

“Anyway, we got a great show for you!  Well, actually, the last half hour is a real garbage dump.  Ugh.  We’ll be right back.” – Krusty the Klown

Ever since the entire text was finally published back in June, the web pages for the mini-book have been among the most popular here at Dead Homer Society.  The daily numbers bounce up and down like a carnival ride, but the biggest ups come when someone links to it on Reddit, 4chan, a message board, or something similar (note to everyone: please keep doing that).  What’s remarkable is how consistent they are relative to one another.  The chart below is September pageviews for each chapter:

Zombie Simpsons Pageviews

Now, WordPress doesn’t have really slick stats that show individual click-throughs, navigation chains and the like, but the numbers displayed above aren’t all that complicated.  Only about 40% of people who click on the first chapter go on to read the second one.  However, people who make it to Chapter 2 tend to read all the way through to the end. 

The dropoff comes at Chapter 13, the first appendix, which sees less than half of the traffic of the main chapters.  Less than half of the people who get through all the main chapters bother to read the appendices.  But even then, people who read the first appendix are highly likely to keep going all the way to the end. 

There’s nothing terribly important about all this, I just thought it was interesting how stable the numbers are.  There are basically three groups of people: 1) those who click on the first chapter, get bored and bail, 2) those who click on the first chapter, get hooked, and read through the nominal end, and 3) those who click on the first chapter, get hooked, and read all the way to the last pixel. 

Thanks go to anyone who has linked the main book page somewhere out there on the ever expanding plains of the internet.  Word of mouth (or keyboard, or whatever) is this book’s only real friend, and I’m grateful for every single href.  Please keep it up. 

[Speaking of gratuitous link whoring, the new site is finally starting to get its legs under it with non-me authors.  These aren’t strictly Simpsons related, but if you’re curious about how American culture is viewed in Britain, the relative merits and awfulness of network television’s realization that non-white people live in America, or just how godawful NPR and company can really be, there’s plenty to check out.  End self promotion.] 


“Zombie Simpsons” Update

Bart's Friend Falls in Love10

“To those who doubt the power of the magic 8-ball, I say: behold my F!” – Bart Simpson

You may have noticed that since last weekend the “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead” pages have undergone some revisions.  The text of the book here at the site is now completely updated to the official 1.1 version of the text.  In addition to that, the main page has been revised to account for the fact that the book is now completely up at the site and not being parceled out chapter by chapter. 

The Kindle version has similarly been updated.  If you are one of the wonderful human beings who has already purchased it, you should be able to update to the 1.1 version by downloading the book again.  You already own the book, so you won’t be charged again, it’ll just replace the old version with the new one.  Amazon warned me it might take up to 48 hours for the update to fully propagate, but by this weekend it should be there.  If you experience any problems with this, please let me know. 

(For those of you waiting on the ePub and PDF versions, I must ask a little more patience.  It’s a bit of pain to update the text across different formats, so I’d like to give 1.1 a little time to see whether or not any other mistakes shake loose before I put it into two more formats.) 

Most of the revisions in version 1.1 are minor, correcting stray punctuation and the occasional overlooked error like referring to “A Streetcar Named Marge” as “A Streetcar Named Desire”.  However, there are now three additional footnotes, all of which are the direct result of feedback from you guys.  The smallest is a quick aside in Chapter 12, noting that Hank Azaria has not, in fact, been in every episode.  That was just a simple oversight on my part.  I knew that he hadn’t been, it just never occurred to me during all the times I looked at Chapter 12.  The other two are a bit more substantial, and I want to credit the three people who made them possible. 

The first comes at the beginning of Chapter 2, where I finally acknowledged the existence of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, a syndicated Hanna-Barbera sitcom that ran in the early 1970s.  This one is wholly due to generalsherman67’s comment on the original book post.  There are quite a few episodes up on YouTube, and it’s about as forgettable as you’d expect.  It’s a standard mom-dad-kids setup, there’s lots of canned laughter, and the animation is much less detailed than The Flintstones or The Jetsons.  But it does exist, and now the book reflects that. 

The second is in Chapter 4.  On the original, Residents Fan mentioned that The Simpsons had been a big part of Sky One becoming a mainstream channel in the UK.  No sooner had I made a note to look into that than Wesley Mead came through with his remarkable guest post about the whole history.  Since that’s a vastly better job than I would have even considered doing, it’s now referenced directly in a footnote. 

My thanks to everyone who spotted something, and everyone who linked to the book.  We got a lot of traffic not only from blogs and the like, but just from people mentioning it on message boards and other places where people talk about pop culture.  Every link is appreciated. 

Finally, I can’t help but post this, which I grabbed a few days ago when I was first getting ready to write this post:

Screech and Cybill

Yup, that’s “Zombie Simpsons” wedged between the guy who played Screech and the woman whose formulaic show gave the world the “moment of shit”.  I’m not sure how to feel about that, but it’s too odd not to mention. 


Information Wants to Be Free

Dead Putting Society5

“Lisa, we can’t afford all these books.” – Bart Simpson
“Bart, we’re just gonna borrow them.” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh, heh heh, gotcha.” – Bart Simpson

All the chapters of “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead” are now on-line.  You can read the whole thing from start to finish for the impressive cost of absolutely nothing.  Of course, if you want to feel really good about yourself as a Simpsons fan, you can still buy it at Amazon for just $2.99.  Just click the purchase button and your brain will release some more endorphins.

Special thanks to everyone who has e-mailed or commented to point out my various mistakes in the text; please let me know if you find more.  Once I’ve got all the known errors corrected, I’ll put up a PDF version as well as a non-Kindle e-reader one.


“Zombie Simpsons” Update

Marge Gets a Job9

“Bart, have you ever read ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’?” – Mrs. Krabappel
“I’m halfway through it, I swear!” – Bart Simpson

Before we return to our regularly scheduled programming tonight, I want to highlight a few comments from the original book post:


19 May 2012 at 6:12 pm

Awesome! But I must ask… do you have any plans to publish this in ePub format, so it can be read on every single e-reader in the world that isn’t a Kindle?

Yes?  I’m very new to this whole eBook/e-reader/e-words thing.  (I don’t even own a Kindle, I had to borrow Dave’s to test the book.)  So if there’s desire for an ePub version, then I will make an ePub version.  Those of you with e-readers and the like, please let me know (comments or e-mail) what I should be doing.  There’s a bewildering amount of digital publishing information, tips, guides, etcetera on-line, and I lack the relevant experience to reliably sort the wheat from the chaff.



19 May 2012 at 8:25 am

Puts on super-nerd voice: Er, Charlie, in Chapter 2 you state The Simpsons was the first primetime animated show since The Flintstones; actually it was the first (or, specifically, the first to run for more than 1 season) since Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which lasted three seasons before ending in 1974.

And in Chapter 6, the character in “Bart vs. Australia” is Evan Conover – you have his name down as Everett.

I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I’d never heard of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, but that will certainly require a bit of revision in the text.  Not sure how I missed the “Everett” Conover thing, but that’s why the software gods gave us version numbers.  Many thanks.


The Entire Score of the H.M.S. Pinafore

18 May 2012 at 5:02 pm

Well, I had two quid to spare and I really enjoy this site even if I am a chronic lurker, so I went ahead and bought the Kindle version. Just a note that in the table of contents the first chapter just says ‘Putting the Spring in Spring’ instead of ‘Springfield’ (I’m in the UK if there are different versions). Thanks & keep on keepin’ on.

It’s not a UK version problem, it’s just me screwing up.  This too will be corrected in version 1.1, which should be along sometime later this week.  You’ll then be able to update the one on your Kindle if you are so inclined.



18 May 2012 at 8:47 pm

I can now gaze at my Kindle library and see the immortal works of Shakespeare, Dickens, Poe, and Sweatpants.

In the immortal words of Dr. Nick Riviera, “Stop, you’re embarrassing me”.  Thanks to you wonderful people out there though, “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead” is now the #26 book on Amazon (well, #26 in “Television”, which is itself a sub category of “Humor & Entertainment”, but still):

Take That Avatar The Last Airbender (The Art of the Animated Series)

That’s pretty good company, though the amateur cover image and having only a single review (thanks Conor!) does make it look a bit out of place.  My thanks to everyone who’s read along, spotted my errors, linked it on Twitter or Facebook, and/or actually purchased it.  Every little bit helps.

Chapters 5 and 6 are now on-line, with more to come after we get done with “Lisa Goes Gaga”.


Will There Ever Be a Rainbow?

Buy My Book

“I’m not some dizzy starlet who can’t string two words together!” – C.M. Burns

It is my great relief to announce a project that has been the better part of a year in the making: “Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead”.  It’s a mini-book (~22,000 words) that is as close as I can come to a definitive statement on how The Simpsons became Zombie Simpsons.  Table of contents:

Part I – Putting the Spring in Springfield
1 – What Is Zombie Simpsons?
2 – The Terrible World of 1980s Television
3 – The Most Anti-Authority Show Ever
4 – You’re Watching FOX, Shame on You

Part II – Show Business Is a Hideous Bitch Goddess
5 – The Retirements
6 – The Deaths

Part III – Stories of Degradation and Humiliation
Season 7 – A Very Special Episode
Season 8 – Frank Grimes and the Phony Kidnapping
Season 9 – Armin Tamzarian and the Death of Story
Season 10 – Jerkass Homer Gets a Job
Season 11 – The Destruction of Springfield
Season 12 and Beyond – Zombie Simpsons

Appendix A – A Note on the Term Zombie Simpsons
Appendix B – Episode Numbers vs. Production Numbers
Appendix C – December 17th: Simpsons Day
Appendix D – A Defense of Mike Scully
Appendix E – Yeah, It Was That Good (1,000,000 A.D.)

You can read the first two chapters right here, right now.  And though the entire text will eventually be available for free on-line, before that happens we’re going to conduct an experiment in the strange new world of digital publishing.  If you want to read the entire book today, you can purchase it from Amazon’s Kindle store for $2.99.  (Why $2.99? Because that’s the minimum price Amazon demands for only taking 30% of the gross instead of 65%.)  It will remain available in that format and at that price indefinitely; meanwhile, it will be published in chunks here at Dead Homer Society until every dot, tittle and citation is on-line for anyone to read whenever they like.

The thinking behind this is that some people (especially the kind of people with the disposable income to own Kindles and iPads) are willing and able to pay for words if the price is reasonable and the payment is easy to make.  At the same time, making it available only in a paid version is self defeating and stupid.  Not only do fewer people read it, but using digital rights management and other convoluted anti-“piracy” measures to police the internet is a fool’s errand.  Therefore, the only sensible thing to do is make it easy for people to purchase and easy to get for free, however odd that may seem at first glance.  We’ll see how it goes.

You can purchase the book from Amazon right now, or you can read the first two chapters by clicking the new “Zombie Simpsons” button in the navigation bar at the top of this page.  This is the current schedule:

Today: Chapters 1 & 2
Tomorrow: Chapters 3 & 4
Sunday: Chapters 5 & 6
Next Week (Probably Thursday): More

One final note, I am not the least bit above making revisions should any of you fine Simpsons fans out there discover that I’ve made any factual errors.  My sources are all stated plainly, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t made an unfounded assumption somewhere or screwed up some part of the history of the show.  If you (yes, you!) come across something where I’m just flat out wrong and you can point me to some credible evidence of my wrongness, please tell me.  It’s the only way I’ll learn.

Buy from Amazon

Read Chapters 1 & 2 On-Line


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