Posts Tagged ‘Hello Gutter Hello Fadder


Quote of the Day

“Alright, smart guy, where’s the fire?” – Chief Wiggum
“Over there.” – Homer Simpson
“Okay, you just bought yourself a 317, pointing out police stupidity! . . . Or is that a 314?” – Chief Wiggum


Quote of the Day

Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder5

“Mr. Burns is making me eat all these drums of toxic waste.” – Homer Simpson
“Jeeze, that’s rough. There must be two, three hundred gallons in here.” – Carl
“Yeah, and even a teaspoon could cause a fatal tumor.” – Lenny
“Hey, you wanna come bowling with us tonight?” – Carl
“Okay.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder4

“I can’t get Maggie to eat.  Maybe if you tried.” – Marge Simpson
“Oh, I’m twenty-six hours late for work!  No time for Maggie.” – Homer Simpson


Quote of the Day

Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder3

“You know, kids, my teachers said I would never amount to anything, and until last week they were dead right.” – Homer Simpson


Compare & Contrast: Celebrity Game Shows and Homer Simpson

Krusty Gets Kancelled12

“Hurry, Charley, there is not much time.” – Rainier Wolfcastle
“I ain’t goin’ nowhere.  I’ve been in this square fer near thirty seasons, and I ain’t a leavin’ now.  Aaaahhhh!” – Not Charley Weaver
“He’s dead now.” – Homer Simpson

Without drawing too broad a conclusion from just one example, there aren’t many clearer comparisons for how the show’s sense of humor deteriorated than to look at the two times they poked fun at The Hollywood Squares, first in Season 4’s masterful “Krusty Gets Kancelled”, and then again in Season 11’s pathetic “Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder”.  What makes these two so revealing isn’t just the way Season 11 did a rote copy and paste job from Season 4, it’s also the way the two episodes make use of Homer.

First, though, remember what The Hollywood Squares is.  Tic-tac-toe with minor or fading celebrities has been around, on and off, since the 1960s.  As you’d expect, Wikipedia has an entertainingly thorough article on it, including exhaustive write ups of all four (4!) times it’s been resurrected from cancellation.  But through all its iterations, including the new one that’s built around rappers, the basic concept has remained the same.

Hollywood Squares 5 - Square Harder

Pimpin’ ain’t easy.  (Image shamelessly yoinked from here.)

It’s a show that’s cheap to produce and cheap to market because it relies on cobbling together the renown of nine low wattage and low pay stars to take the place of one big, expensive star.  Given the public’s insatiable appetite for famous people (however generously defined) and the entertainment industry’s constant bestowing of mild fame on new people (as well as pushing previously big celebrities further down its guest lists), the show’s durability is no surprise.

Any institution that sticks around that long will eventually become ripe for parody, but The Hollywood Squares was born ripe.  Its entire reason for existing is to wring a few coins from the leftover scrapings at the bottom of the fame barrel; taste, thought, and embarrassment be damned.  Worse, not only is it trashy entertainment; it isn’t even popular trashy entertainment.  After once being a hit network show, it now bounces around as cable and syndication filler, just another undistinguished part of the background noise of television.  There’s a reason that all the versions are big on scripted jokes and having everyone over-laugh at them: literally none of the “celebrities” really want to be there.  That’s pretty sad when you think about it, and distracting the audience from that fact is vital to the show’s appeal.

Krusty Gets Kancelled13

“Live from Springfield Harbor, where the sewage meets the sand!”

The Simpsons fully understood that inherent patheticness, which is why the show itself is the target of the jokes.  Zombie Simpsons, which “Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder” epitomizes, can’t be bothered with that much thought, so they make Homer acting like a dick the focus of their attempt.  For example, consider the way each handles the fact that The Hollywood Squares writes jokes for the celebrities who are supposedly just hanging out and being super nice and approachable.

On Zombie Simpsons, Homer just holds up two pieces of paper and asks which one he reads from.  It’s a semi-clever way to acknowledge that the whole thing is a sad farce, but it’s just telling the audience what’s going on instead of showing us by making an actual joke.  On The Simpsons, Kent Brockman and Rainier Wolfcastle botch the same idea:

Brockman: Oh, Rainier Wolfcastle, star of McBain and the upcoming film ‘Help, My Son Is a Nerd’.
Wolfcastle: My son returns from a fancy East Coast college, and I’m horrified to find he’s a nerd.
Brockman:  Ha ha ha ha, I’m laughing already.
Wolfcastle:  It’s not a comedy.

Not only is this yet another multi-layer gag where the setups are just as funny as the punchlines, but it perfectly illustrates how depressingly lame the whole ‘Hollywood Squares’ idea really is.  Brockman and Wolfcastle are following the joke-laugh-answer formula exactly, but they’re so apathetic toward what they’re doing that they can’t even accomplish a simple thing like mindlessly plugging Wolfcastle’s hilariously terrible movie.  This is what The Hollywood Squares actually is: bored entertainers phoning it in because they’d rather be doing almost anything else.

By contrast, when Homer shows up to the show in Season 11, he gets in a fight with Ron Howard (which he’d already done just one season earlier), and is actually pitied by him and Kent Brockman:

Brockman: We’ve got to stop putting these flavors of the month on.
Homer: Flavor of the month?  Me? 
Howard: Yeah, Homer, you can’t just ride one accomplishment forever.

Homer acting out and other characters responding to him is the only thing that’s going on.  The show itself is assumed to be something decent and worthwhile that Homer is ruining with his brutish behavior.  It’s one note comedy compared to the symphony of ideas and jokes in “Krusty Gets Kancelled”, but that’s only the half of it.

In Season 4, Homer isn’t involved in the show; he’s watching it.  This is crucial because it perfectly illustrates just how demeaning The Hollywood Squares really is.  He and Bart are exactly the kind of viewer the lowest rung of television is pitched at: bored flyover state residents who tune in to leer at the last glimmers of fame.  That he is their audience is part of what’s so humiliating about the show.  Entertainers who were once at or near the top of their game have been reduced to trading on whatever recognition they have for a (probably not very generous) paycheck.  Worst of all, they have been reduced from stars to replaceable cogs so easily dismissed that when one of them is crushed (and presumably killed) by a tidal wave, their target audience thinks only to laugh. 

“Krusty Gets Kancelled” sees through the forced laughter and glittering lights to the cheap sets and career desperation because it understands that no one has ever gotten into show business to be on The Hollywood Squares.  “Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder”, on the other hand, buys into all that lame self promotion that The Hollywood Squares uses to distract the audience from just how sad it really is.


Crazy Noises: Hello Gutter Hello Fadder

Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder2

“There is no escape from the fortress of the moles! . . . Well, except that.” – Moleman

For the fourth summer in a row, we here at the Dead Homer Society will be spending some time discussing twelve year old Simpsons episodes.  This year we’re doing Season 11.  Why Season 11?  Because we’ve done Seasons 8, 9 and 10 already, and it’s time to take an unflinching look at the end of the show.  Since Skype and podcasts didn’t exist in 1999, and we want to discuss these episodes the way the internet intended, we’re sticking with the UTF-8 world of chat rooms and instant messaging.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “hantavirus”).

Today’s episode is 1106, “Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder”.  Yesterday was 1105, “E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)”.

Charlie Sweatpants: This one is, if anything, worse overall than the Tomacco one.

Mad Jon: As an episode whole, I think I agree.

Charlie Sweatpants: Tomacco has a few good ideas and jokes if you feel like waiting through all the crap. This one, pretty much just crap.

Mad Jon: I am not a TV writer, or a professional critic, but this episode wasn’t coherent at all.

Dave: This is a thousand monkeys typing on a thousand typewriters and completely botching it.

Mad Jon: The lows were not as low as the Tomacco one in my opinion, but it seemed like the whole thing was one solid low point.

Dave: Yeah, what few highs were in Tomacco were nonexistent here.

Charlie Sweatpants: What bugs me, and this is a general Season 11 complaint though it’s in evidence in spades here, is the way the show yo-yos back and forth between a kinda serious/obeying some rules mentality to completely weird/Halloween episode, sometimes within the same scene.

Mad Jon: I don’t get the plot at all. Maggie wants attention from Homer, who won’t give it to her, then he wants to give her attention but she doesn’t want it, then he eats shark eggs and she pulls him out of the rip tide?

Charlie Sweatpants: Homer’s worried about Burns firing him, okay, kinda normal there, but then Homer feels up Burns’ face, pulls out his teeth, and starts eating radioactive goo.

Mad Jon: yeah, the face grab/reactor core beating/waste eating bloc was a tough one to swallow.

  Get it?

Charlie Sweatpants: Right, it’s nominally about Homer and Maggie drifting apart, then he spends time with her, then she saves him. The events aren’t connected in the least.

  Got it. Are you sure you’re not a professional TV writer?

Mad Jon: I know, can you believe it?

Dave: Jon, quit your day job.

Charlie Sweatpants: But this episode is full of things like that. Homer’s bowling a perfect game, but then his family shows up in the last two frames all the way from home.

Homer’s sad, and then he’s instantly suicidal, and then he’s not again. There’s no connection to any of it.

  For example, Penn and Teller. Where the hell did that come from?

Mad Jon: I dunno. Why are Disco Stu and Skinner’s Mom on the game show?

A game show where the guest stars are Ron Howard, Homer, and Princess Kashmir.

Charlie Sweatpants: That part didn’t make any sense either, like, is he supposed to be a local celebrity?

And Ron Howard, I get why they had him back on because he’s very funny (and we all know that a crap narrator would’ve sunk Arrested Development), but he’s just pointless here.

Mad Jon: Nothing against Ron Howard here. Just like Mel a few episodes back, he did as well as anyone could with the given situation.

But why is he on a local Springfield game show? That’s all.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, this was right about the time when they just gave up on doing anything interesting with celebrities instead of just trading off their existing fame.

Mad Jon: Ah Yes.

Charlie Sweatpants: Penn and Teller are funny enough that they can have their little moment, but it has nothing to do with The Simpsons. It’s just them writing a sketch for Penn and Teller.

And stuff like that is all this episode is, a series of sketches that mostly aren’t funny. (I do chuckle a bit at the hantavirus joke, but then spiders explode out of Bart’s gum, and they’ve taken it too far.)

Mad Jon: I also like the hantavirus joke.

Charlie Sweatpants: What, for example, was the point of Homer and Maggie in the swimming pool? Setting up the ending? Why bother when it’s so transparently insane anyway.

  Why does Homer get electrocuted? Oh right, they wanted to make a weak Teletubbies joke.

Mad Jon: Yeah, probably could have had the same effect without the pool scene.

Charlie Sweatpants: Why does Homer choke on the 300 game balloon?

Dave: So we can watch him choke.

For the lulz.

Charlie Sweatpants: What’s with that shtick laden scene where Lenny distracts Homer?

  There’s so many of these pointless scenes here, it’s amazing that they managed to be that consistently mediocre.

Dave: Just a preview of things to come, when they play off that "strength" at the expense of everything else

Charlie Sweatpants: True enough. The mole people thing here is definitely a precursor to the Jockey Elves, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

Mad Jon: Ugh.

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, it’s coming, but really, is it any less fantastical that what happens here?

Mad Jon: No, I guess not. It is just a different type of fantastical.

Charlie Sweatpants: And in the meantime, we get to see Marge vanish for the whole episode here while Homer flails about with Maggie, Bart sit quietly with Nelson in his room, and Homer pops out of a manhole cover just in time to have Ron Howard drive by.

Mad Jon: I almost forgot about Nelson.

Charlie Sweatpants: They needed him for a second, so he appeared. Standard Zombie Simpsons.

Anything else here?

I really dislike this episode, and if we can just all agree to forget about it forever now, I’d be cool with that.

Mad Jon: I got nothing. I don’t like either of these. Not at all.

Charlie Sweatpants: But if there are any other lowlights you feel need discussing, we can do that.

Dave: Nothing from me. Let’s never speak of these again.


Bonus Quote of the Day

Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder1

“Today we have to talk about Krusty Brand Chew Goo Gum-like Substance.  We knew it contained spider eggs, but the Hantavirus?  Well, that really came out of left field.  So, if any of you have experienced numbness or comas, send proof of purchase and five dollars to Antidote, P.O. Box 14.” – Krusty the Klown

Happy birthday Al Jean! 


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