Posts Tagged ‘Marge Be Not Proud


Quote of the Day

“It’s a Krusty Kinda Kristmas!, brought to you by ILG, selling your body’s chemicals after you die, and by Li’l Sweetheart cupcakes, a subsidiary of ILG.” – TV Announcer

Merry Christmas, everybody! 


Quote of the Day

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You might remember me from such public service videos as Designated Drivers: The Life Saving Nerds, and Phony Tornado Alarms Reduce Readiness.” – Troy McClure


Quote of the Day

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“Mom, this fake snow is making me dizzy.” – Lisa Simpson
“We’re almost finished.  There’s just a little bit of green left.” – Marge Simpson


Quote of the Day


“This is great!  And all I’ve done is enter my name, Thrillhouse!” – Milhouse van Houten

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Marge Be Not Proud”! (I guess.)  And Happy Simpsons Day!


Reading Digest: Snowmen Edition

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“Check it out, boy, it’s like looking into a living snow mirror.” – Homer Simpson

Two different people in St. Louis decided to use this winter to make some snow Simpsons.  One is just Homer, but the other is the whole family and the couch.  It’s great.  In other impressive fan feats this week, there’s glow in the dark zombie Simpsons, a zombie Springfield, a grammar rodeo t-shirt, and money.  In addition to that we’ve got some excellent usage, lots of Nimoy links, reviews of old episodes and Season 7, and someone who literally agrees with us.


Zombie Simpsons MAGGIE by Undead Ed Glows in the D by Undead-Art – A Maggie figurine, zombified.  There are lots more, including the rest of the family, Burns, Wiggum and Krusty.

Springfield Zombicide Map: (Part One) The Simpson’s House – A fan made look at what Springfield might look like post zombiepocalypse.   Nice touch on the plywood saying “P.S.  Screw Flanders”.

Zombicide in Springfield: Moe’s Tavern – Construction photos of Moe’s.

That’s it! Back to Winnipeg! – Excellent fan made National Grammar Rodeo t-shirt.

The Simpsons – The Springfield Files (Review) – A very thorough discussion of how The Simpsons and The X-Files complimented each other.  Also, heh:

o cite a convenient example of The Simpsons‘ anti-authoritarian leanings, The Complete Guide to The Simpsons pointed out that the episode which aired directly before The Springfield Files – the classic El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer – included a “blink and you miss it” gag about government surveillance. In a joke that seems even harsher in 2015, a quick peek through the Simpson family floorboards reveals that the phone is tapped by (handily labeled wires to) the CIA, FBI, ATF, NSA, KGB and MCI. No wonder the Cigarette-Smoking Man got down so quickly.

Money Art by Donovan Clark – One dollar bills with various characters on them, including Homer, Otto and Wiggum.

In Post-Apocalyptic ‘Mr. Burns,’ ‘The Simpsons’ Are, Literally, Legendary – The San Francisco version has opened to the customary positive reviews.

Hipp regulars light up stage in dark comedy ‘Mr. Burns’ – The play has also made it to Florida.  Like most things, it probably won’t get out alive.

Exploring ‘Trilogy Of Error,’ The Most Ambitious ‘Simpsons’ Episode Ever – I’ve never found it funny, but it is impressive in its way.

Jonathan Bradley on Instagram: “Feels like I’m drinking nothing at all… nothing at all… nothing at all…” – Flanders beer:


Remembering Leonard Nimoy’s Enduring Pop Culture Reach: Bilbo, The Simpsons and Big Bang – It’s been a week, but who couldn’t use a little more Nimoy appreciation?

10 times Leonard Nimoy proved he was the king of cameos – I didn’t know he was a bad guy on Columbo one time.

New trending GIF tagged the simpsons leonard nimoy… – Great .gif of Nimoy beaming out after saving the monorail passengers.

RIP: Leonard Nimoy – Our old friend Noah does a send off.

Fashion Spotlight: Ridley Buster, As You Wish…, and Donut Portal – Donut Portal is great.

HYPE. THE SIMPSONS COLLABORATION – Yet more high fashion Simpsons clothing.

“The Streetsons” – And the Simpsons drawn with their own trendy threads.

The Simpsons Skin Pack now available for Minecraft on Xbox One, Xbox 360 – Excellent reference:

Are you ready to rasta-fy your Minecraft experience by 10%?

Father and son make snow sculpture of the Simpsons – That is fantastic:


If you watch till the end of the video, you can see the horrific, melted aftermath.  Plus someone else made a Homer:


Ranking all 25 Episodes of The Simpsons Season 7 – There’s a lot more in the “Not Classic” category than I would have, but to each his own.

‘Whoa, Mama!’: A Voice Actress’s Road To Fame As A 10-Year-Old Boy – A four minute NPR segment of Cartwright recalling her audition for Bart.

One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish – There was no way around this:

-The first time I shaved, the scene with Homer teaching Bart how to do it was playing in my head the whole time. Probably because my Dad was the one teaching me how to shave, and he brought the scene up.

I never was able to get the piece of toilet paper thing to work.  Fortunately, it’s much easier to just not cut yourself in the first place.

The Way We Was – Heh:

-Homer: Debate? Like…arguing?
Teacher: Yes.
Homer: I’ll take THAT, you dingpot.
I have no idea what a “dingpot” is, but it’s still a great line.

I’ve always heard it as “stinkpot”, but either way, it is a great line.

Homer Simpson ‘discovered the Higgs boson’ – No, he didn’t, but they did have a similar equation in “The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace”.

11 Best Uses of Bad Grammar from ‘The Simpsons’ – There’s a little Zombie Simpsons in here, but not much.  I love “unfaceuptoable”.

Mid-concert selfie stage invasions – hasn’t Dvorák suffered enough? – Excellent usage:

There’s an episode of Simpsons in which Homer ruins a U2 concert by coming on stage mid-song to boost his campaign to become Springfield’s sanitation commissioner. As the audience boos, Homer explains that he would be, if elected, “the most whack, tripped-out sanitation commissioner ever! Can you dig it?” Not before time the security goons drag him off stage. “Don’t worry, he’ll get the help he needs,” Bono tells the crowd. A video screen behind the band reveals Homer getting his face filled in by the aforementioned goons – totally justifiably in my view – as the band play the richly ironic accompaniment, their song In the Name of Love.

20th Century Fox & FXX Unveil THE SIMPSONS Kwik-E-Mart Truck! – The headline tells you pretty much what you need to know, they’re going to have a traveling food truck trussed up as a Kwik-E-Mart.  The article refers to it as an “activation”.

The Simpsons has been on for a long time… – This August it’ll be five years since the date Lisa was supposed to get married in the future.  Time flies.

A Case of Plagiarism – Competing versions of “what MLB players would Burns hire today”.

Universal Studios: Krusty Burger – Heh:

The Krusty burger is just a regular burger with this yellow sauce on it, I believe it’s cheese? It’s a bit scary, the fact that I can’t tell what I’m eating, but I trust Krusty.

It probably wasn’t circus animals.  Probably.

QC on TV: A Series – Some love for everyone’s favorite attorney.

Hello! Hello! Hello! – .gif of Homer wolfing down NFL snacks.

Lisa Simpson on Thinking – Heh.

Sadly truth – Heh.

The Simpsons – A couple of cool Simpsons logo designs.

17 Simpsons quotes to cheekily work into everyday life – And finally, I get to end with someone who agrees with us:

For me The Simpsons ended around season 13.

Anything after that doesn’t count as The Simpsons I watched at 6pm every night, except not on Saturdays during footy season when Channel 10 had the rights to the Saturday AFL matches.

It didn’t matter if you had seen the episode twenty times beforehand, something was reassuring about knowing the plot and jokes, even the ones you didn’t get because they referenced something from the early to mid 1990s in the United States.

I will continue to refer to The Simpsons in the past tense, as it is how I will always view it.

Agreed.  (Also, there are some great quote suggestions in there.)


Quote of the Day

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“Buy me Bonestorm or go to Hell!” – Bart Simpson
“Bart!” – Marge Simpson
“Young man, in this house we use a little word called ‘please’.” – Homer Simpson


Behind Us Forever: I Won’t Be Home For Christmas

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“Hey, I thought Krusty was Jewish.” – Lisa Simpson
“Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.” – Bart Simpson

According to IMDb, this is the first whole episode Al Jean’s written in a long time.  Sadly, it didn’t seem to matter.  Homer goes on one zany little escapade after another, there’s plenty of expository nonsense, several musical montages that seem designed to do nothing more than eat clock (efforts at which fell so short that they added a preview of the next episode to help fill all twenty of their contractually obligated minutes), and the usual Zombie Simpsons problems.

– It’s probably longer than it needs to be, but this Christmas themed opening is actually a nice change of pace.  There’s even some freeze frame fun (all the Jewish characters are eating at the Chinese restaurant).

– The Peanuts reference to open the episode at least didn’t take long.  It didn’t have anything to do with anything else, but it was short.

– The Comic Book Guy thing with the Star Wars Holiday Special, however, did take too long and didn’t have anything to do with anything else.

– Bizarre kookiness starts early here, with Marge telling Bart to hold the ladder she’s using to trim the tree only to look down and see Maggie!  She falls, then laments out loud that Homer isn’t there.  Why did she think Bart was there?  C’mon, that was like four seconds ago, who can possibly remember that far into the past?

– Burns shows up for no reason to talk to Homer.  Then Smithers appears out of nowhere.

– The clip from Miracle on 34th Street is weirdly out of place.

– Homer’s at Moe’s because Moe made him crash his car (don’t ask), then is going to leave before Moe begs and screams at him to take pity on him and stay.  The obvious repetition is what’s supposed to make this funny, I guess, but that’s all it is: hey, Moe screaming and crying is funny, let’s keep at it!  That this is just the usual “Moe the Sad Sack” stuff makes it lamer still.

– Now Moe is telling us that he’s wrapped around Homer’s leg, and now he’s up on Homer’s shoulders.  Oof, this just keeps going.

– Moe was briefly happy, so he stabbed himself in the head with a corkscrew.

– Now Marge is telling us what’s happening, “One night, the one night of the year I want Homer home with his family, and he can’t even do that.”

– Then Marge tells us what she’s about to say.  Did anyone edit this?

– Homer’s driving around now, finds Moe’s closed, then goes to the Kwik-E-Mart where he spends the better part of a minute buying lottery tickets.

– This is what passes for a setup these days, “Aw, thanks for your honesty, Apu.  Is there any other product in the store you’d like to warn me about?”.  Such natural dialogue!

– Bart can’t get to sleep, so Lisa conveniently walks in to help put him to sleep by telling him the story of jazz.  But Lisa wants to talk to Bart, so her doing that for him directly contradicts what she came in there for and then does.  But it did eat ten seconds or so.

– Huh?:

Lisa: Bart this is the year I’ve got to nail Christmas.  I don’t want to be a jaded ten-year-old like you.

That leads to a flashback involving Homer getting electrocuted.  More importantly, what the hell is Lisa talking about?  That doesn’t sound like her or him.

– Bart then recaps the flashback, in case anyone missed it.

– More filler: this time, they play “Carol of the Bells” for ten seconds while Marge strings popcorn. Then they cut to Maggie eating it.

– Bart has a pipe, everyone’s awake late at night, and Moe just came down through the chimney for no reason whatsoever.

– After some desultory exposition about why Moe wouldn’t have knocked, Moe tells us that he’s the reason Homer was late.

– Marge then continues on the expository filler theme, “This is what I was hoping for, for it not to have been completely his fault.”

– Moe then kisses Marge because there’s mistletoe.  She calls Homer, who is now getting his car towed for some reason.

– Homer’s now wandering around the outdoor mall as more music plays.

– Homer then gets to a movie theater.  Sign gags being one of the few things they can still sometimes do, it’s “The Screens at the Shops At Towne Centre At Springfielde Glenne”.  That’s pretty good.

– Then we get into Homer setting up the sarcastic guy to tell him about all the depressing Christmas movies.

– Homer goes into the movie, where Gil, Kirk and some other people are there being alone on Christmas.  Homer then leaves.  So . . . that was pointless.

– Homer and Flanders then talk and bond, or something.

– Homer bought something from Flanders left handed kiosk, which lead to this:

Flanders: But why?
Homer: Because Jerkass Homer has become Assjerk Homer.

I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean.

– Now they’re hugging.  Then Homer runs away.  Even by Zombie Simpsons standards this is disjointed.

– Marge and the kids then went to the retirement home.  All the old people pop out to talk to them and it’s supposed to be after midnight by now, but we did get the Old Jewish Man saying “Make them turn the TV to CBS”, which is decent.

– Homer is woken up by a Nutcracker guy who turns out to be a mall employee who invites Homer to some bizarre mall party.

– Yet more piano music as Marge and the kids walk through a neon sign store that was supposed to be a montage.  It’s like two kinds of clock eating filler at once!

– Apparently they’re at the mall now, too.  I guess they ditched the old people?

– A giant gingerbread house just partially collapsed on Homer.  Carry on.

– Marge then appears, with a bow on her head, and says she’s Homer’s present tonight.  I, uh, whatever.

– And we (sort of) end on Homer making that beep-beep noise cars make when you lock them.

– We then get yet another musical moment of Maggie making a paper cutout and putting it on the tree.

– And then, because those twenty minutes won’t fill themselves, God and Jesus have a short argument.

– And then (x2), because this thing still isn’t long enough, there’s some kind of preview for next week’s episode that’s mostly a bunch of alien babies being born.

Anyway, the numbers are in and while they’re up from a non-football Sunday, they’re down from previous football Sundays.  Last night just 6.41 million viewers wondered when the last time the show had a decent Christmas episode was.  That’s down slightly from the last two episodes that had NFL lead ins, and may be the last football lead in of the year depending on how the playoffs get scheduled for TV.


Sight Gags: Marge Be Not Proud

ILG and Subsidiary

“It’s a Krusty Kinda Kristmas, brought to you by ILG, selling your body’s chemicals after you die.  And by Little Sweetheart Cupcakes, a subsidiary of ILG.” – TV Announcer

He is Carvallo:

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And I’ll bet they don’t even pay overtime:

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But could you use Hitler’s brain to construct an unbeatable swimmer?:

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I used to have an old Apple II game that let you play all the winter Olympic sports, even biathlon.  It sucked:

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Could be worse, could be a soap bar stabbing:

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Reading Digest: Simpsons Day Celebration Edition

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“Stealing!  How could you?  Haven’t you learned anything from that guy who gives those sermons at church, Captain Whatshisname?” – Homer Simpson

The internet’s annual holiday/end of year ennui has set in, so we’ve got a shorter than usual Reading Digest this week.  We do have several links marking Simpsons Day (which I will see become a real holiday if it’s the last thing I ever do), including a couple of looks at other events on December 17th plus a history of the show and other cartoons.  There’s also a DJ version of the theme song, obscure animation, more about the Tapped Out game, some decent YouTube, and an awesome monorail newspaper comment section.


Our first entry doesn’t really have a link, but reader RaikoLives sent in this photograph (he didn’t take it, he just found it) from Australia in response to news about the Sydney monorail:

Monorail wail

In case you can’t see the image, the introduction reads:

The Herald reported yesterday that Hunter tourism and transport representatives said it is worth considering salvaging Sydney’s aging monorail and bringing it to Newcastle.  This is what you said . . .

The first three replies:

What stupid nonsense.  There is no way this is even going to be considered.  It’s more of a Shelbyville idea. – Icanmakeupstoriestoo

Sorry Marge, the mob have spoken.  Monorail, monorail, monorail. – Terry Arki

Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook all have one, and by gum it put them on the map – jmo

Bravo, readers of the Newcastle Herald.  Bravo.

the simpsons – All the way from India, we have some sweet, self applied Simpsons nail designs to celebrate Simpsons Day.

The Simpsons Tapped Out: Christmas Update – Everything you wanted to know about the latest update to the Tapped Out game.

This Was Television On December 17 – Want to see a list of people who share a birthday with the show?  Sure you do.

On this Date in History.. – How about some famous and not so famous events that happened on Simpsons Day?  They have both good ones:

1821 – Kentucky abolishes all debtors prisons

And bad ones:

1895 – Anti-Saloon League of America is formed in Washington, DC


10 Origins of Popular Cartoon Characters – The Simpson family is #1 on here, and I learned more about Scooby-Doo than I ever knew before.

101 GREATEST SIMPSONS QUOTES – There’s bit more Zombie Simpsons on here than there should be, but it’s pretty good nevertheless.

Krusty the Clown on Faith – Castellaneta’s delivery on this one is fantastic from start to finish.

TV Thursday #8: BBQ pit – BBQ pit YouTube?  BBQ pit YouTube.

mechanical realities and manufactured pleasures – I’ve never heard of this before, but now I’m intrigued:

I’m watching Phantom Museums by the Brothers Quay, whose work I’ve never watched before. This will probably be an ongoing topic, because there are thirteen short films and although each is no longer than twenty minutes, this stuff is dense. I don’t think I can watch more than one per night.

It’s pretty dark, and it’s pretty sparse, and it feels super eastern european. it reminds me of “Worker and Parasite,” the soviet version of Itchy and Scratchy.

There’s Worker & Parasite YouTube at the link as well.

DJ Shadow-The Simpsons Theme-Breakbeat Routine – Pretty much what it says.

Drinking the LOST-Aid: The Mythology, Duality, & Significance of Cult Television – Some animated trivia for you:

Alex Hirsch, creator of Disney Channel’s latest animated series Gravity Falls, decided to include this world building mythology into his show right from the beginning. In an interview with The A.V. Club, Hirsch discussed his inspiration and motivation for taking this extra step:

    “In terms of the world-building, there was always a wonderful thing that The Simpsons did: It respected its audience enough to reward our attention. They’d say, ‘We’re going to cram this thing with references, with jokes, with little callbacks, and if you are obsessive enough, if you love it enough, it will reward your obsession.’… And that just made the show so much more compelling… It gave me a reward every time I tried to watch it more closely.”

Too bad these days all of Zombie Simpsons’ attempts to do that are just naked fan service.

1600 Penn…In 10 Words – I find it hard to believe that a baby could’ve risen to the rank of admiral.  Also, Lone Star as the President?  Nobody’s gonna believe that.

Parental Guidance…In 10 Words – I’ll get you for this, Midler!

The Fiscal Cliff…In 10 Words – It’s a testament to the never give up and never think things through spirit of our representatives.

Last day of work before the holidays – Holiday break makes Homer something something:

After endulging on one or two too many of the office lunch room’s christmas sweets, I’ve begun to compare myself to a young Homer Simpson in The Simpsons’ Treehouse of Horror V. Please see below. And word to the wise – donuts and fudge for breakfast is never a good idea…

Never trust Bart Simpson – Those of us with both younger and older siblings know what each side of this conversation is like.

Just another night at the movies – Homer and the ice never gets old.

Moderately Interesting Morning Fact Dec. 17: Back When ‘The Simpsons’ Were Funny Edition – And finally, not only does this headline agree with us, but there’s also this:

The show was a spin-off of cartoon shorts that appeared on the network’s wildly popular “The Tracey Ullman Show.” The episode was called “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire.” Nothing ever really came of it.

Heh.  Merry Christmas everyone, and remember to bet on #8. 


Compare & Contrast: Bart’s Remorse

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“Oh, yikes, what is that?” – Bart Simpson
“It’s the centerpiece, Bart.” – Lisa Simpson
“Well, it’s taking up valuable real estate.” – Bart Simpson

As our friend Mike Amato has been plowing through all the old episodes, I’ve been wondering what he was going to say about “Marge Be Not Proud”.  This week, I got to find out.  He’s a lot more upbeat about the episode than I am, but what surprised me in reading his take was how little we actually disagreed.  There really are a lot of good and excellent parts in this episode, and his long list of tidbits and quotes is very solid (I’ve always liked “You have entered: power drive”).

Where we part seems mostly to be in how much weight we assign to certain problems:

If you read this blog then you’re probably familiar with Dead Homers Society, and their attesting that this is the sole blemish on seven flawless classic seasons. I can’t claim some of their gripes aren’t valid; when you boil it down, this is a “very special episode” played fairly straight, with no real twist or subversion. But what keeps it engaging and impacting is its honesty.

Certainly some things bother or don’t bother some people more than others.  For example, I can’t work up too much excitement over problems with “canon” and inter-episode continuity, but start having characters behave in ways that are anathema to their established personalities and I go ballistic.  Mike is willing to overlook the “very special episode” thing, but it really rubs me the wrong way, and it’s the main reason that this is the only episode in Season 7 I almost never watch.

“Marge Be Not Proud” was the first time the show really let itself get bogged down with conventional television tropes.  They did it in a way that’s subtler than “The Principal and the Pauper”, but both of them are weak stories being propped up by teevee convention (cheap morality for “Marge Be Not Proud” and shocking twists for “The Principal and the Pauper”).  Relying directly on old saws like that was something the show had never done before, and it produced episodes that attempt to portray real emotions, but end up undercutting themselves with hoary tricks and tired cliches.

That reliance is something Zombie Simpsons would later make almost routine, but in “Marge Be Not Proud” it was novel.  They simply didn’t used to do things like that.  Consider a similar story of Bart misbehaving and then redeeming himself, “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”.  Both episodes are built around holidays, but, more importantly, both episodes involve Bart acting out and Marge dealing with it.

When Marge yells at Bart in “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”, all the emotional weight of the episode is condensed into a single devastating line that comes like a kick to the stomach: “I hope you’re happy, Bart, you’ve ruined Thanksgiving!”.  That is Marge at a full boil (and a bravura delivery by Kavner), and for Bart it comes completely out of the blue.  He has no idea how much he hurt Lisa, which is why he doesn’t understand that his cavalier attitude about it is what pushed his mother over the top from angry to enraged. 

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Yikes indeed.

This is (yet another) one of those scenes from The Simpsons that just flat out works from start to finish.  Everyone is in character.  The feelings, actions and relationships involved are believable and realistic.  And you don’t feel bored or cheated that the rest of the story is spent resolving the conflict set up in this moment because the emotional punch of the scene is devastating.  Just look at the aftermath:

  • Homer & Marge – Furious at Bart, but that quickly turns to fear and remorse when they find out he’s gone. 
  • Lisa – Crushed that her centerpiece, a “labor of love”, was destroyed by the brother who constantly overshadows and torments her.  It breaks her in a way that no previous incident has because she begins to suspect that Bart is irredeemable, which is both sad in and of itself and bad news for her in general. 
  • Bart – Sees the destruction of the centerpiece as an accident and is self centered enough that he genuinely doesn’t understand why everyone is so upset over it.  With Lisa, Homer and Marge all seriously angry at him, he gets defensive and bails. 

The ruining of Lisa’s centerpiece is such a titanic moment that the show needs only to lightly reference the emotions it generates with little and humorous touches afterwards.  When Bart tramples the flowers he has to remind himself that he’s mad.  When Lisa tries to read the family her poem there’s just the briefest moment of resignation on her face as she is, once again, instantly set aside as the family chases down Bart.

“Marge Be Not Proud” doesn’t have anything even approaching that kind of deft touch with its story.  Bart’s remorse is constantly paraded before the audience, as though we’d forgotten it from a few seconds ago.  They lay it on so thick that Bart gets caught not once, but twice.  There’s basically no progress to the story in between his encounters with the security guard, it’s just one drawn out sequence of Bart feeling bad about himself.  “Bart vs. Thanksgiving” has a lot going on so it never gets bogged down rehashing what we already know.  “Marge Be Not Proud” has just the single thread: Bart and Marge feeling bad about each other, and it pounds it into the ground.

Much of the episode is one event after another that reinforces Bart’s guilt about stealing the game.  Right from the time Brodka (whose Lawrence Tierney gruffness is great) puts his hand on Bart’s shoulder, it’s an unrelenting parade of the exact same thing.  There’s Bart walking through the mall with Brodka; there’s Santa rejecting Bart; there’s Brodka leaving the unsparing message on the answering machine; there’s Bart being told he has to go back to the store; there’s Marge pointing out that he’s ruined all their past photos.  Each segment strikes the same tone: Bart feels bad.  And all that happens before he gets caught the second time, after which the guilt trip really starts to get heavy.

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Are you tired of seeing this expression?  This episode isn’t. 

Interspersed with all that is a lot of very funny stuff (“Where was I?  Oh yeah, stay out of my booze!”), but it can’t conceal the fact that this episode has the emotional range and progression of a metronome.  It just keeps hitting that same point over and over and over and over and over.

The monotony of it not only leaves the episode wanting in terms of emotional depth, it also guarantees that the ending is going to be face meltingly obvious.  Since the episode has spent so much time wracking Bart with guilt, the only thing it can do at the end is have him finally, at long last, make good.  All those scenes of Bart looking nervous, embarrassed, worried, remorseful, etcetera paint it into a corner from where there is only one, hacktacular exit.

The same isn’t true of “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”.  When Bart returns to the house after having been at the homeless shelter, he stops short of walking in the door because he has no way of knowing that everyone is worried about him and that his return will be welcomed.  He still doesn’t understand why they were so mad at him and fears a repeat.  From his point of view, their anger was a grotesque and hurtful overreaction, and since he hasn’t spoken with them since, he has no idea what to expect now.

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Even in the harsh moments, things stay funny.

In turn, that sets up his rooftop reconciliation with Lisa, which is both sweet and lined with little jokes to keep things light (“the boy nobody wanted just won the Super Bowl”, “did they cry?”/“yes”/“whoa, bulls-eye!”).  Every character acts according to what they know at the time, and all the scenes work within both the plot and emotional boundaries that were established earlier.

The ending of “Marge Be Not Proud” is much clumsier (though still a far cry from Zombie Simpsons).  Just like in Season 2, the big moment is Bart returning to the house, this time after having gotten a nice picture of himself taken.  Right here the episode opens up a rather stark plot hole.  Bart went back to the Try-N-Save and had no problem whatsoever with Brodka.  Huh?  A big chunk of the middle of the episode is the fact that Bart can’t go to the Try-N-Save.  Did that restriction get lifted?  They don’t say.

More immediately jarring is the way they stage Bart’s return.  After he walks into the house the show puts on this big confrontation between Marge and Bart over what Bart has in his jacket.  Marge and the audience are supposed to believe that it’s the video game, but Bart knows it’s his picture (with receipt, just in case you didn’t get it yet).  Since Bart knows that, what is the point of that little mini-chase?  Of Bart’s terrified looking behavior?  Bart’s been trying to make good for a third of the episode at that point, are we really supposed to think he’s stolen video game?  The entire scene is fake tension filler before we get to the hammy conclusion that we all knew was coming.

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It’s Christmas, so Bart is apparently aware that the end must involve lots of ham.

This is the problem with having such a formulaic, one note plot: it leaves you with no option for resolving it other than cheese drenched schmaltz, a sentiment the show had rigorously avoided to that point.  And since it’s something Bart’s been trying to do for most of the episode, by the time it finally happens it’s more of a relief than a resolution.

There’s real emotional pain in both of these episodes, but “Bart vs. Thanksgiving” uses it mostly in the background to drive a typical Simpsons story.  Even better, the emotional state of the characters changes as they go through the plot.  Bart realizes that the family he was so mad at is actually the best thing he’s got; Lisa feels sad that Bart is gone even after what happened.  Finally, they have their private moment on the roof where Bart at last becomes aware of what he originally did.

“Marge Be Not Proud” puts its lone emotion front and center where it weighs everything else down and makes the story painfully simplistic.  It’s a single note compared to a symphony, and while there’s a lot of decent stuff in between, the episode has the same kind of weak structure that characterizes so many bad episodes that have come since.  If you can abide that one note droning in the background, then more power to you for Troy McClure’s shoplifting video, “SimReich”, and the way Lisa drops the can of fake snow.  I can’t.  Too many bad episodes, “The Principal and the Pauper” included, start rattling around inside my head.

(Oh, and do read Mike’s whole post, it’s got lots more of the good stuff than this does.) 


Crazy Noises: Moms I’d Like to Forget

Marge Be Not Proud1

“That must be the happiest kid in the world.” – Bart Simpson

In our ongoing mission to bring you only the shallowest and laziest analysis of Zombie Simpsons, we’re keeping up our Crazy Noises series for Season 22.  Since a podcast is so 2004, and video would require a flag, a fern and some folding chairs from the garage, we’ve elected to use the technology that brought the word “emoticon” to the masses: the chatroom.  Star Trek image macros are strictly forbidden, unless you have a really good reason why Captain Picard is better than Captain Kirk.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on  “chandelier”).

There’s something unbelievably tepid about most Zombie Simpsons episodes, and “Moms I’d Like to Forget” shares that nervous attitude. It just seems more comfortable neutrally reflecting the world with yellow skin and bad overbites instead of actually making fun of something or someone. Consider that nasty, spoiled kid and his checked out mom in “Marge Be Not Proud” (which is not exactly my favorite episode). The kid in the toy store is really an asshole, and his mom not only doesn’t seem to care, but she looks plenty selfish and narcissistic herself, the kind of parent so self involved that she’s basically indifferent to her own kids. It is a brutal caricature and it extends even to the kids’ names, “Gavin” and “Kaitlin” being the kind of trendy monikers (at least, twenty years ago) bestowed by parents who care more about how their kids reflect on them than about the kids themselves.

None of that is evident anywhere in the other families in “Moms I’d Like to Forget”. Neither the husbands, the wives or the kids stand out, nor are any of them held up for ridicule. There’s no over competitive fathers who push their kids too hard, there’s no backstabbing mother who destroys her friends with gossip, there’s no rotten kid who takes things too far or deliberately fucks with his parents. Instead they’re just bland background characters, recognizable as modern Americans only cosmetically. There are a lot of stereotypes they could have made fun of here.

[Note: Dave couldn’t make it this week.  In fact, this whole week has been something of a clusterfuck.]

Charlie Sweatpants: Shall we begin?

Mad Jon: Sounds good.

Charlie Sweatpants: The opening, with Bart having a long dream sequence which was then followed by an action sequence, a little over the top, yes?

Mad Jon: Yeah, I thought the dream sequence would end with him getting hit in the head by the dodge ball with which he imagined he would secure victory. Imagine my surprise when the 30 second clip was followed by a 30 second action sequence that didn’t really accomplish anything other than an age war.

Charlie Sweatpants: The whole thing was an exercise in time killing. Something that could’ve been done in about thirty seconds was stretched out to a good two minutes.

The sports cliche bit at the end of it didn’t help. Har har, making fun of sports cliches. Someone must’ve caught “Bull Durham” on cable recently.

Mad Jon: I know it was a setup for a ‘plot’, but, like I believe you mentioned, it was a plot that I couldn’t figure out.

Charlie Sweatpants: They’ve had nonsensical plots before, but this was really meandering.

Mad Jon: In fact, I watched that episode yesterday after work, a mere 26 hours ago, and like a dream I am losing the details by the second.

Charlie Sweatpants: They treated the scars like they were a Scooby-Doo mystery, and then the explanation had literally nothing to do with the rest of the episode.

Okay, they got the scars from the sandwich swords, but that had nothing to do with why the moms broke up with Marge. Even the four boys running over to Comic book guy was just random happenstance, it wasn’t precipitated by anything.

Mad Jon: Did we even get anyone’s name?

Charlie Sweatpants: Nope.

Mad Jon: Why on earth would Bart have such ennui hanging out with those particular boys? This is a kid who was happy to wear a kitchen pot on his head and run full speed at his 260lb father.

Charlie Sweatpants: Why was he holding a bunch of remotes in his mouth . . . alone . . . at night . . . in bed?

Mad Jon: Yeah, about that. I don’t know.

Alone in the dark with 8ish remotes in his mouth.

Good thing Lisa is so curious.

Charlie Sweatpants: I got conned into doing a lot of stupid shit by older kids when I was young, but they usually want to see you humiliate yourself.

Mad Jon: But most of the stuff they all did together, that was like the only thing where they where trying to get him to be the chump.

Charlie Sweatpants: That too. As per Zombie Simpsons standards, all comedy opportunities must be wasted and all story points must be non-sense.

But that just led to Comic Book Guy’s awful, awful store scene and even longer flashback.

Mad Jon: That was pretty bad.

Charlie Sweatpants: The first time it was on-screen the idea of a super villain named the Communist Block, with a red square hammer & sickle on his head was kind of funny. After they left it on the screen forever, it became less so.

Mad Jon: It’s been like 10 years and I still can’t get past the writers using auxiliary characters for major plot turns.

I did like the comic book cover.

Overall, however, nothing really bothered me as much as the dads hanging out.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, the agony.

Adding: Oh, the wasted comedy.

Mad Jon: Homer didn’t even have a chance to ruin anything. Were we supposed to assume that he had alienated those other men 7 years ago?

Charlie Sweatpants: I guess.

Homer forced to hang out with three guys who don’t like him, how do you not do anything with that?

“Everything you say is asinine” was the closest they came to a joke, and it wasn’t close enough.

If I wanted to see middle aged men whine, I’m sure there are a number of other programs I could be watching.

Mad Jon: I can think of 3 that star Ray Romano

Who was a guest star a few years back.

Not that it is important. Or even necessary to note.

Charlie Sweatpants: Meh.

Mad Jon: I know it’s a cartoon, but if the moms are getting together and the kids are coming along, why on earth did the dads go too? Shouldn’t they have been at a bar or game, or cheating on their spouses or something?

Charlie Sweatpants: That would’ve ruined the tightly written comedy of Homer making noises.

Mad Jon: Oh yes, how could I forget?

You know, I said that the fathers were my least favorite part, but I am torn between that and the ending, now that I think about it.

So because Bart and his friends burned their hands and ruined Cletus’s family’s dinner, the group no longer gets together?

Charlie Sweatpants: Something like that.

Mad Jon: And a ball of fireworks will allow him to stop hanging out with fellow trouble makers?

Charlie Sweatpants: It was never made clear.

Mad Jon: It was frustrating. I don’t like watching Zombie Simpsons, but even more so I don’t like watching them, waiting for the plot to start, and then having them end with no explanation. It’s quite aggravating.

Charlie Sweatpants: It is. But what else is new?

On another topic, I’d like to nominate this episode for the most noticeably aging voices in a while.

Mad Jon: Resolution seconded.

Charlie Sweatpants: Chalmers, Willie, Krabappel, even Marge, they’re really struggling.

Mad Jon: I noticed Willie readily, and Marge doesn’t surprise me either.

Charlie Sweatpants: That scene where she comes home drunk? Kavner just sounded like she was whispering. I love Kavner, and I get that she has to make her voice even raspier to do Marge, but on anything but a flat monotone it becomes really noticeable, and even that has gotten deeper.

Mad Jon: Well, it’s only going to get worse as we go on I suppose.

Charlie Sweatpants: No doubt.

Any final thoughts?

Mad Jon: Meh, maybe they are setting us up for a Chalmers and Skinner spin-off. Being that he still hasn’t left Skinner’s office in like 2 seasons.

Charlie Sweatpants: He does seem to have taken up residence.

Mad Jon: I really miss the surprise visits.

But that’s all I got.

Charlie Sweatpants: All I’ve got is the two things I kinda liked that nevertheless took too long: the couch gag, and Skinner’s old west piano playing.

The couch gag took too long, but it on the subway reading a paper that says “Ottoman Empire Collapses” was funny. It just didn’t need to take that long.

Mad Jon: I agree with the couch gag, it was a little long, but the idea was both cute and relatively original.

Charlie Sweatpants: Ditto Skinner’s old west piano thing. That could’ve ended quickly, instead they had to make it painfully obvious with the wooden chandelier.

Mad Jon: Yep, but I appreciate the effort.

Charlie Sweatpants: Okay, I’m done. Please say that you are too.

Mad Jon: It’s ok Charlie, I’m done.


One Bad Episode

“Aw, come on Dad. This can be the miracle that saves the Simpsons’ Christmas. If TV has taught me anything it’s that miracles always happen to poor kids at Christmas. It happened to Tiny Tim, it happened to Charlie Brown, it happened to the Smurfs, and it’s gonna happen to us.” – Bart Simpson

The Dead Homer Society Manifesto lists Season 7 as having “One Bad Episode”. That episode is “Marge Be Not Proud”. Please understand that we only consider “Marge Be Not Proud” a ‘bad’ episode by the towering standards of early season Simpsons. Compared with the wretched dreck that is Zombie Simpsons it is a model of wit and comic efficiency. But when compared to its contemporaries in Season 7, and its hallowed predecessors in Seasons 1-6, it is noticeably wanting. It is the first Simpsons episode I ever watched when I felt, in the pit of my stomach, the wrenching ball of embarrassment, disappointment, and confusion that I’ve since come to associate with Zombie Simpsons. It was the first episode at which I shook my head at its simplicity, it was the first episode when I felt like I was watching television.

For its first six seasons The Simpsons had viciously mocked and relentlessly parodied conventional television. That was one of the things that made it great. It was animated and had no laughtrack, but other than that it had all of the trappings of the standard family comedy: the working father, the precocious children, and the housewife who holds everything together. But instead of following the usual formula it used those cosmetic similarities to mercilessly gut that which came before it. “Marge Be Not Proud” was the first time the show ever sincerely employed the rote, brainless patterns of a normal program. It was, in the parlance of crappy television, a ‘very special episode’.

Sitcoms of all stripes occasionally have these ‘very special episodes’ wherein one of the characters comes under threat from a health crisis or makes a decision which runs afoul of American morality. This could be trying drugs, or cheating somehow, or even . . . stealing something. It was that indulgence in the cheap storytelling of regular television (Bart steals game -> Bart gets caught -> Bart feels bad -> Marge finds out -> Marge distrusts Bart -> Bart feels worse -> Bart makes good -> they (literally) hug at the end) that made “Marge Be Not Proud” an indisputable first for The Simpsons.

It’s not as though The Simpsons had never explicitly (and seriously) shown emotional family moments before. In the first season Marge rescued Lisa from bad motherly advice (Moaning Lisa), in the second season Marge accused Bart of ruining Thanksgiving (Bart vs. Thanksgiving), in the third season Homer didn’t want to go to Bart’s soapbox derby race (Saturdays of Thunder), in the fourth season Marge felt ignored by Homer during her play (A Streetcar Named Desire), in the fifth season Marge threw Homer out (Secrets of a Successful Marriage), and in the sixth season Lisa’s wedding (Lisa’s Wedding . . . duh) collapsed because of her love for Homer. Genuine emotional moments were often handled within the framework of the show and The Simpsons knew how to play them with a light touch; using them to swiftly advance the story and then getting them out of the way. But in “Marge Be Not Proud” the emotional moments don’t just linger, they grind the story to a halt with multiple sequences that are both painfully long and clumsily obvious.

This is a tendency that has grown considerably worse over time, but it found its first expression in “Marge Be Not Proud”. What’s so amazing about it is that it really is an outcast in Season 7. It was produced right after “Mother Simpson”, which had ample opportunities to delve into schlock and didn’t, and it preceded “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield”, “Bart the Fink”, “A Fish Called Selma” and “Summer of 4 Ft. 2”, all of which could’ve gone the same route but kept moving instead. It is the use of that shopworn, moralistic plot (and the agonizingly glacial pace at which it unfolds) that makes “Marge Be Not Proud” the harbinger of Zombie Simpsons, a precursor to that feculently unwatchable teevee charade. It is the first bad episode.

The astonishing coincidence in all of this is that “Marge Be Not Proud” aired six years – to the day – after The Simpsons premiered with “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”. That’s why December 17th is Simpsons Day. This date saw both the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, the dawn and the dusk.


Crazy Noises: Marge Be Not Proud

Bart's Girlfriend4

“I don’t think we should hang out together anymore.  You’re turning me into a criminal when all I want to be is a petty thug.” – Bart Simpson

As part of our efforts to bring you only the finest in low class, low brow, and low tech internet Simpsons commentary we’re applying our “Crazy Noises” series to “Marge Be Not Proud”, the “One Bad Episode” our Manifesto has in Season 7.  Because doing a podcast smacks of effort we’re still using this “chatroom” thing that all the middle schoolers and undercover cops seem to think is so cool.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on on “Lollapalooza”).

“Marge Be Not Proud” is the black sheep of Season 7.  It’s so utterly out of place, so completely incongruous with those around it that I’ve always kinda wondered how it was even produced.  Was a bad batch of donuts delivered to the studio that day?  Was half the writers room getting divorced that week?  Did someone spike the water supply?  We’ll never know.  All we can do is watch the rest of Season 7 and avoid this one like the plague. 

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s time we scale the unscalable cliff and talk about that most depressing of all episodes: Marge Be Not Proud.

Mad Jon: If there were patron saints of unholy reasons to start a blog this would be in the running.

Charlie Sweatpants: Pretty much.

Dave: You mean the episode in which absolutely nothing happens but the strings of sadness tell us we need to feel shit?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, except it was the first time ever and this episode felt like getting hit by a train.

  I remember being embarrassed that it was even happening it was so bad.

Mad Jon: I remember being very confused when it happened

Dave: My memory is apparently very imprecise. But, I don’t like the episode. At all.

Mad Jon: I felt like Millhouse when he saw the Itchy and Scratchy and Poochie show. “When are they gonna get to the Fireworks Factory!!??!”

Charlie Sweatpants: There really is surprisingly little redeeming value in it, I mean, it’s Season fucking Seven.

  It should be good.

They cut off the Troy McClure video, there are multiple horribly long “suspense” sequences, the morality play on display would be considered “too much” by the people who used to do those After School Specials.

It was just bizarre from start to finish.

Far and away the worst part though is when Bart admits to Marge “I did it.” This is a kid who became famous for saying that he didn’t do it.

Mad Jon: And seriously, theft? Bart? No. He’s admittedly more of a petty vandal.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was played in the most television-y way possible to heighten the drama.

Mad Jon: It really was. Especially when they were going to get the picture taken.

  That was brutal.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh indeed. There’s like half a minute there where literally nothing funny is even being tried, it’s just “tension” as to whether or not the security guard is going to see Bart.

Mad Jon: They could at least have had someone famous voice the guard. Preferably a Brooks Family member.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s especially painful coming just two episodes after Sideshow Bob decrying an ending “so formulaic it could’ve spewed from the Powerbook of the laziest Hollywood hack!”

Mad Jon: Indeed.

Dave: Yep.

Mad Jon: Now I’m gonna haul ass to Lollapalooza!

Charlie Sweatpants: Actually I didn’t mind the guest voice so much, he was the old guy in Reservoir Dogs, so I’ve always kinda had a soft spot for him.

Mad Jon: Lawrence Tierney?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah.

Mad Jon: Huh I didn’t know you were into old dudes.

Charlie Sweatpants: “In” is rather vague concept there, isn’t it?

But that’s neither here nor there, nor does it have any bearing on the unbelievably weak structure of this episode, it’s molasses-like speed or its terribly cliched plot.

Mad Jon: No it really doesn’t

If I remember correctly, not only did Bart’s present have a receipt stapled to it, didn’t it also say “Paid” on the receipt?

Dave: That’s correct.

Mad Jon: Isn’t that what a receipt says just by existing?

Dave: Also correct.

  It’s fun to be redundant.

  In the grand tradition of sitcom handholding, of course.

Mad Jon: Just thought I would throw that out there, I’m not feeling as creatively hateful as Pants seems tonight.

  So obvious it is!

Charlie Sweatpants: But that isn’t even the worst part of the whole “got his picture taken thing”. Why the hell is Bart trying to hide it from Marge when she sees it? They drag that scene out interminably and then – surprise – he did right by his mom.

Mad Jon: Yeah that don’t make no muthafuckin’ sense.

Charlie Sweatpants: This episode already has like five long ass sequences like that, did they really need another one?

  Guh, I loathe this episode and whenever I do go back and watch it all it does is piss me off again.

Mad Jon: Yeah, it makes me feel weird, like I stole something myself. I don’t like feeling that way unless I actually stole something.

Dave: Easy solution – delete it and never think about it again.

Charlie Sweatpants: If only that were possible.

Mad Jon: Nah, We learned so much from the pain.

We’ve taken that anger, balled it up inside, and finally, about 12 years after this crapfest leaked out of the broken pipe that was this episode, used it to start a blog.

Charlie Sweatpants: I can’t say I learned much. It’s like watching the Zapruder Film.


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