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Thursday Evening Cartoons

“We need a cure! We need a cure!” – Mob
“Why the only cure is bedrest. Anything I give you would only be a placebo.” – Dr. Hibbert
“Where do we get these placebos?!” – Panicked Woman
“Maybe there’s some in this truck!” – Panicked Man

Howdy, campers, how’s everyone doing with the ongoing unpleasantness? My life has certainly been turned upside down, though I’m on team “Stuck At Home” not team “Doing All the Real Work”, so I’ve got it fairly easy. And while there are a lot of people that I love and care about who are at risk or already suffering, so far nobody has died or lost their home. Don’t know how long that’s going to last, but [fingers crossed].

I have been knocked off my tram lines on doing Quotes of the Day. Those got shaky a couple years ago and moreso of late. Then with the “wait, what day is it” experience of the last three weeks, I finally fucked it up and let it lapse all the way. I guess eleven years and change will have to suffice for now.

Instead, let’s take a look at a timely Simpsons episode, the first act of which has nicely captured our real life episode of Love in the Time of SARS-CoV-2, or, more festively, SARS 2: Corona Boogaloo.

The “Osaka Flu” opening of “Marge in Chains” goes from Homer ordering useless junk off the TV to the town being abandoned by its rich and powerful to irresponsible media coverage and panicked mobs run amok in search of any protection (no matter how ineffective). About the only thing the episode wasn’t cynical enough about was that nobody blamed Akira for it, though, given that it was written at a time when the federal government was trying to make amends with Japanese-Americans and seemed to be progressing in many areas, that’s at least understandable.

But for the most devastatingly on the nose from a quarter century ago, we have Ned Flanders’ lament. A wealthy, white, Evangelical father of two who almost certainly would’ve voted Republican in 2016, Ned cries out, “Oh, the network slogan is true! Watch FOX and be damned for all eternity!”.



Wednesday Morning Cartoons

Summer of 4 Ft 2(12)

“And, so, as Abraham Lincoln sat in Ford’s Theater that night, John Wilkes Booth entered, drew his gun, and- . . . well, that’s it.  Have a nice summer everyone.” – Miss Hoover
“But what happened in Ford’s Theater?” – Kid
“Was President Lincoln okay?” – Ralph Wiggum
“He was fine . . . go home, Ralph.” – Miss Hoover

This episode is a Fourth of July favorite for a lot of reasons, but there is a certain bittersweet feeling to it.  This is the show near it’s end; so while it’s great, you know it doesn’t have much time left.  Take, for example, Skinner wanting Bart to sign his yearbook.  The whole joke here is that Bart is popular and Lisa isn’t. 

However, I can’t help but see this scene as a precursor to Homer’s “Would you like to see my Grammy award?” scene with Grimes in “Homer’s Enemy”.  Bart being popular, Skinner being in awe of him, these are serious character developments.  They work here as one-time-use developments because the only full-on Skinner episode left before the smoking rubble that is “The Principal and the Pauper” is “Grade School Confidential”, where Skinner falls in love for the second time.  At this point, through one hundred and fifty-three (153!) episodes, Skinner has been completely used as a plausible human being, so why not have him do something out of character like beg Bart for a personalized greeting? 

This is the show still on that amazing plateau of quality that starts with “Bart Gets and F”.  Who else could have come up with a “porno magazine” called American Breast Enthusiast?  But the terrible plummet is right around the corner, and you can’t help but see that in scenes like Skinner lying to Bart over something as trivial as a yearbook signature.  This story doesn’t have a happy ending.

[Note: This would’ve been up in the actual morning, but Comcast is as technically incompetent as they are ethically repugnant.  All together now: Fuck Comcast.] 


Sunday Morning Cartoons

Simpson and Delilah4

“For your free brochure, send five dollars to Dimoxinil, four-eighty-five Hair Plaza, Hair City, Utah.” – TV Announcer

The above is one of those dense, layers thick jokes that most shows can’t pull off even once but that The Simpsons tossed around with abandon.  Not only are they demanding payment for a free brochure, they’re doing so from an address that is appropriately stupid for those kinds of woo.  That it’s in Utah, one of those weirdo states where fellatio is still illegal, just makes it better.  There are more jokes in that one line than there are in entire acts of Zombie Simpsons. 


Thanksgiving Programming Update

 Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish5

“Thank you for watching Movie for a Dreary Afternoon.” – TV Announcer

Everything is a bit of a duketastrophe here in the States on account of Thanksgiving.  But there will be a Crazy Noises tomorrow and there will quite likely be some kind of Reading Digest on Friday.  Please stay tuned for paid political announcements brought to you by the Friends of Kang & Kodos:













No, I don’t know why YouTube is in stretched widescreen now.  Yes, here’s another one:


“Weekend at Burnsie’s” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Bonus: crazy backwards Spanish version.

I was sort of looking forward to watching this episode. I honestly had not seen it in seven years or so and I remembered not completely hating it. Turns out it sucks, and the few good weed jokes are stranded in Act 2. Act 1 is Homer gaining the ability to control crows; Act 3 is the lifeless body of Mr. Burns being used as a puppet in an homage to the cinematic and comedy genius of the “Weekend at Bernie’s” franchise.

To my surprise, however, the commentary was pretty good. They actually talked about what was going on and told some funny stories. Jon Vitti was there, which helped. But things fell apart at the end when Jean launched into another of his unprompted defenses of why they never made fun of Bush the Younger, and this one was the worst yet. The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Nine guys on this one, including the above mentioned Vitti and Groening.

0:45 – Jean’s telling the story about how they expected this one to be all controversial, but after it aired nothing happened. Then the next week they aired the Brazil episode and it turned into this giant flap. If you’re keeping track, this is the exact same story he told at the beginning of the commentary for the Brazil episode.

1:30 – After Jean finishes his story, it comes up that no one in the writers room actually had any problem with genetically modified food. Which leads to a general disclaimer that they often take stands on the show that none of them actually believe in.

2:00 – Now it’s Jean’s turn for story time again. The “crow bar” joke was Selman’s and every time Jean hears the Donovan song that was playing, he thinks of Homer bleeding rainbows. I’ve got to admit, that is kinda funny.

2:45 – Jean laughs at the episode structure, namely that Acts 1 and 3 have nothing to do with Act 2, which is the marijuana part.

3:00 – The writers offices are “besieged” by crows in real life.

3:40 – Still laughing about the crows in their office.

4:00 – Long discussion about how basically none of the writers smoke pot, this leads to someone calling it one of the most sober writing staffs they’ve ever seen.

4:50 – Jean’s off on some long tangent about how to animate Homer so that the audience maintains sympathy for him. It’s not that interesting.

5:40 – One of the writers was in San Francisco the day this aired, and there was a young hippie who said, “Tonight Homer smokes pot! This is what my life has been building to.” Everyone laughs. (It was funny.)

6:15 – If you’ll notice, Homer’s lips never actually touch the joints. FOX didn’t want them showing kids how to smoke weed, and they all laugh about how dumb that is.

6:55 – Talking about how many actual medical marijuana dispensaries there are in L.A. now.

7:40 – Vitti’s sister-in-law’s kids watched this episode and she called him up and told him to answer all their awkward questions.

8:15 – They won a weed award from High Times, which makes them one of the few shows to win an award for alcohol awareness and weed.

9:10 – More discussion about toeing the line on broadcast standards.

10:00 – More marijuana tales from the writers’ room. This episode took longer than usual to rewrite on account of everyone sharing their pot smoking stories.

10:45 – Interesting tidbit: they showed one of the Ullman clips before “Weekend at Bernie’s 2” and it got a positive response.

11:25 – Jean is again pointing out that Homer never smokes it illegally, and someone finally tells him to relax about the broadcast standards already.

11:45 – Laughing about how many things in this episode are repeats.

12:00 – Al Jean’s mom loves Jon Vitti ’s writing.

13:05 – Jean wants to be clear: this is Phish. We know.

13:40 – Talking about Phish and how they played the Simpsons theme during a show. This leads to Jean talking about the time he was in London at a “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” musical and there’s a Simpsons joke at the end. Jean calls it “freaky” on account of how universal the show is.

14:50 – Big laugh at the fact that there’s a newspaper machine on stage for no reason.

15:10 – Jean does my job for me by saying that he found out years after the fact that the “they’re called fingers but they don’t ‘fing’” joke was originally on The Critic. He then says that they try not to repeat jokes, but they don’t have a database or anything so it does happen. We know that too.

15:40 – Jean’s talking about how the writers have basically no regard for the animators when it comes to making things make sense.

16:30 – Long silence as we leave the weed part of the show for the idiotic “Weekend and Bernsie’s” thing.

17:40 – Laughing at how long it takes to set up the ending.

18:15 – Nervous laugher as they have Burns deliberately not being funny.

19:05 – Laughing at Smithers new, post-weed outfit and wondering why he changed.

19:15 – Burns drowning in the tub while people smoke weed was apparently a reference to an old Dragnet episode where some people got high and a baby drowned in a tub. Over the top anti-drug propaganda is really an underappreciated art form.

19:30 – I’ve listened to enough of these to know that any time there’s cartoon nudity someone will mention that they can’t do that anymore. And right on cue, it happens here.

20:00 – Speaking of things that are in a lot of these commentaries, here’s the part where they try to explain why they never made fun of Bush the Younger. This time they’ve brought two lame excuses. First, that since they work a year in advance they never knew how to mock him since people’s opinions changed so much. Again, I’m calling massive bullshit on that as he was disastrously unpopular from 2005 on.

Next up, and this one is really damning, is that they never came up with something funny. Seriously, Jean actually says, “It wasn’t easy to make it light.” Bush is unbelievably easy to make fun of: he tried to walk through a locked door, he hurt his face choking on a pretzel, he fell off a Segway, he gave the German Prime Minister an impromptu shoulder massage for fuck’s sake!

21:05 – Wait, make that three. Jean’s trotting out “we didn’t have someone who could do the voice” again. To think I was kind of enjoying this.


Thursday Evening Cartoons

There's No Disgrace Like Home6

“When will I learn?  The answer to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle.  They’re on teevee!” – Homer Simpson

In “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”, Homer attempts to prove to his family that they are, in fact, terrible.  In the process, they peep in on some other households to see whether or not everyone lives in the same misery they do.  After he fails, Homer wallows in the sorry state of the family he heads.  Being Homer, he does so with a beer at Moe’s. 

Eddie and Lou walk in with a police German Shepherd.  After drinking on the job, they say to Moe that they’re looking for a family of peeping toms.  Homer immediately realizes it’s him.  The dog begins growling, but the clueless Springfield PD ignores it and believes Homer’s lame excuse that he has hot dogs in his pants.  There’s no attempt to mine such absurdity for tension, there’s no string music of suspense; the whole thing is played completely for laughs. 

No matter how outlandish, Zombie Simpsons would never let Homer find himself under police suspicion without milking a minute or two of fake drama.  For them it’s too good a concept to waste on a few seconds of screen time; for The Simpsons it was a throwaway scene that reinforced the rest of the episode. 


How to Hurt Homer

“Oh fudge, that’s broken.  Fiddle de dee, that will require a tetanus shot.” – Homer Simpson

Let’s face it, watching Homer Simpson suffer is a lot of fun, whether his kids are fighting over who loves him more (You do!  No, You do!), his wife’s getting promoted ahead of him, or he’s getting hit in the head with softballs, circular saws or nightsticks.  Or, at least, it used to be a lot of fun.  Somewhere along the way Zombie Simpsons forgot that Homer’s supposed to be a regular guy.  Instead, they turned him into one of those cheap, inflatable punching bags that always bounces back up.  The trouble is, it’s just a lot less fun to watch when the guy taking the hits is invincible.  

For a montage of genuinely inventive ways to hurt Homer, we turn to Season 3’s “Bart the Lover”.  After agreeing to pay money to the Swear Jar whenever he curses, we see Homer:

1) Accidentally put a $20 in the church collection plate

2) Narrowly miss one pin at the bowling alley

3) Find out that Flanders is making money as a commercial actor after Homer got him to shave his moustache

4) Have his eight year old daughter point out that the dog house he’s been working on has no door

5) Have a hive of bees fall on him while he’s napping in the hammock

That’s a healthy range of suffering, from monetary losses to the emotional frustration of seeing his neighbor pull ever farther ahead of him in the game of life.  Only one of them involves him getting physically hurt, and we don’t even need to see it.  The hive falls down, Homer prepares to swear and it cuts immediately to his bee sting covered hand dropping change into the jar.  He doesn’t run around getting chased by a swarm of cartoon bees, or say anything “clever” while he’s getting stung.  It just happens, it’s really funny, and it’s over.

Mmmmm, Simpsons.


Sunday Morning Cartoons


“We worked so hard and now it’s all gone.  We ended up with nothing because the three of us can’t share.” – Bart Simpson
“What’s your point?” – Milhouse van Houten
“Nothing, just kinda ticks me off.” – Bart Simpson

That is how you end an episode between Bart and Milhouse.  Or, if you need them to reconcile, you can have Bart smash open a Magic 8 Ball on Milhouse’s skull, but it’s a sweet moment because he didn’t use the brick, broken bottle or pair of scissors.  

Flowers and apologies?  Fuck off, Zombie Simpsons.


No Just God Would Permit This

What the fucking fuck was that?  I miss the Moe who threatened to gut a ten year old child and sexually harassed his cocktail waitress.  I miss the Maggie who organized the resistance at the Ayn Rand School for Tots and caught a bottle as it sailed towards Homer’s head.  Also, and I don’t want to watch it again to be sure, but I think the part of Bart Simpson was played by Casper, the ghost of his good friend Richie Rich.

Edited to add that the O/U on the ratings is set at 6.2 million viewers.  Ugh, what an unfathomable nightmare of television.  

Saturday Morning Cartoons

“Just sign this form, and the money will be yours.” – C.M. Burns
The above is a perfect example of proper plot exposition and minor character usage.  I would submit this in direct contrast to, say, Rev. Lovejoy not being holy for a while, Skinner and Comic Book Guy chasing an ancient riddle and especially magical tomato sauce.  
Homer needs $5,000, Burns gives it to him because Homer doesn’t understand the word “usury”, and the story moves along.  There are no words wasted and no more time taken than necessary.  The five grand is never mentioned again because it doesn’t need to be.  Everyone acted in character; Homer made a poor financial decision and Burns tightened his stranglehold on Homer’s tiny life.  It’s hilarious, it fits, and it ends quickly.  
I love this show.

Wednesday Evening Cartoons

“I’m alive!  I’m alive and I couldn’t be happier!  From this day forward, I vow to live life to its fullest!” – Homer Simpson

The Simpsons often liked to mess around with their end credits, either playing a different song or having some remaining dialogue continue while they roll.  One of the most underrated examples of this is the end of “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish” (Season 2, Disc 2).  After shouting the above, the credits roll while Homer sits on the couch, eating pork rinds (light!) and watching professional bowling.  It’s great all by itself, but the bowling announcers in the background make a good thing even better.  Their subdued and petty arguments are dead on perfect for ABC’s Wild World of Sports or 3:00am on Friday night ESPN in the early 90s.  Cracks me up every time.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

“You know, when that Simpson boy showed up it took years off my life.” – Mr. Bouvier

“Will you stop it, she went out with the good one.” – Mrs. Bouvier

The image above is among the many tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of reasons that The Simpsons flat out works in a way that no other television show, and certainly not Zombie Simpsons, works.  It’s not that other shows have never used snapshot photos to advance the plot, it’s the fact that Simpsons is so dense with jokes and ideas that rather than spending even a moment on the painful and distracting image of Marge rejecting Homer, they use this to move on as quickly as possible.  

Upon Further Reflection, This Still Sucks

“Noooooooooo!” – Principal Skinner

I was expecting Zombie Simpsons to get picked up for another season; already has episodes listed for next fall and since each craptacular one supposedly takes a whole year to produce it stood to reason that Season 21 was a forgone conclusion.  But the news yesterday that they were being picked up for two more seasons was like a second, unexpected, football in the groin.  According to some of those links this will push them to 493 episodes.  493!  Of which less than a third are actually up to snuff.  

Admittedly, I am no expert on the television industry, but the ratings have been historically low for a couple of years now, and the heavily promoted HD episode didn’t do much to change that.  Granted, network viewership itself is trending downwards and has been for some time, but in all my years basking in television’s warm glowing warming glow I cannot think of a single other show that managed to linger the way Zombie Simpsons has.  Any other show that slumped this badly and this publicly would’ve gotten canned after a year or two.  I suppose I could look on it as a testament to the enduring quality of the original seasons, but the comfort went out of that little fib long ago.  
The senseless renewal is particularly grating coming the same week that Futurama went out on a high note.  On Tuesday I was entertaining fantasies that they’d follow the same path.  Wrap it up with Season 21 then maybe do another movie or two to finish things.  For all its flaws, especially the last forty minutes or so, The Simpsons Movie was better than most of Zombie Simpsons, and a sequel or two would have to be more profitable than another season of five million dollar episodes that only six million people watch.   
Oh well.  Zombie Simpsons has been on for far longer than The Simpsons ever was, what’s another season or two?  

Simpsonized Simpsons

“If he marries your mother, Marge, we’ll be brother and sister!  And then, our kids, they’ll be horrible freaks with pink skin, no overbites and five fingers on each hand!” – Homer Simpson

That Simpsonizer website is the best thing real fans got out of that mostly crappy movie; I hope they never take it down.  And so, for no reason whatsoever, I put images of the Simpsons themselves into the Simpsonizer.  
Presented without further comment.  


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