Posts Tagged ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)


Will There Ever Be a Rainbow?

“Hey, hey! I’ve been in Reno for six weeks, did I miss anything?” – Krusty the Klown

Back on Simpsons Day I mentioned a gigantic side project. Well, here it is.

“Global Warming: What’s In It For You?” is a (semi-illustrated) guidebook for climate change. It begins with the historic and scientific background, moves through the denier campaign and all the damage it has wrought, and debunks a lot of pretty myths and widespread misperceptions. It also affords me several opportunities to take big dumps on some truly vile people and conglomerates, including Exxon, InBev, and Disney.

Basically, I tried to make sense out of global warming the same way I tried to make sense out of Zombie Simpsons, by starting at the beginning and examining why it works the the way it does. Despite two years of trying, my agent and I have been unable to find a publisher for this would be book. Apparently, I lack a “platform” to credibly discuss the ur-issue of our time.

To build such a “platform”, I’ve published the first nine chapters on-line at


(Shockingly, .com and such were taken, but .fun is growing on me.) Just like the Zombie Simpsons ebook, it’s released under a creative commons license and you can read it for free. There’s even PDF and eBook versions you can download for free.

I certainly hope everyone who still checks this site enjoys it. More importantly, though, tell someone else about it. The purpose of the book is to put climate into an understandable context, so that when you see stories about record heat in Antarctica, record fires in Australia, and record storms everywhere, you’ll know how they fit into the wider context of what we’ve done to the atmosphere – and why we continue to do it.

That said, it’s not all doom and gloom. Hell, it isn’t even mostly doom and gloom. The best kept secret about global warming is that the only people whose lives need to get worse are the kind who fly in private jets. Everybody else will/could be better off.

So please click through, and hopefully you’ll learn a few things that will help you make sense of the news and let you sleep a little easier. As a taster, have a look at the chart below, which appears in Chapter 1:

(That font is just one of hundreds of radical pro-Simpsons messages I sneak into every chapter.)


Quote of the Day

“Hey, if you guys are getting loaded off them fumes, I’m gonna have to charge ya.” – Moe
“Man alive! There are men alive in here.” – Safety Inspector


Makeup Quote of the Day

“They didn’t approve my idea. They said it was unfeasible.” – Bart Simpson
“It is unfeasible to resurrect the dead, Bart. And even if the Three Stooges were alive, I doubt they’d want to hang around with you.” – Lisa Simpson
“Oh, yeah. I guess they’d probably want to be with their families or something, huh?” – Bart Simpson


Quote of the Day

“Hey, the lamp’s running away.”  – Abe “Grampa” Simpson


Quote of the Day

“Superintendent, we made the front page today!” – Principal Skinner
“What’s that say under your hand there?” – Superintendent Chalmers
“Oh, it’s an unrelated article.” – Principal Skinner
“It’s an unrelated article?” – Superintendent Chalmers
“Um-hmm.” – Principal Skinner
“Within the banner headline?” – Superintendent Chalmers
“Yes.” – Principal Skinner


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1n

“Listen, someone’s got to get that Mr. Burns. Where’s a gun toting lowlife when you need one?” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon
“Sorry, I was in the can.” – Snake


Quote of the Day


“A non-profit organization with oil? I won’t allow it! An oil well doesn’t belong in the hands of Betsy Bleedingheart and Maynard G. Muskievote!” – C.M. Burns

Happy birthday Josh Weinstein! 


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1m

“Since the beginning of time, Man has yearned to destroy the Sun.” – C.M. Burns

Happy 20th Anniversary to “Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part 1)”!  Original airdate 21 May 1995.


Compare & Contrast: Burns Drills

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1l

“Oil, ho!” – Slant Drilling Worker
“Huzzah!” – C.M. Burns

“Opposites A-Frack” offers more than a few opportunities for comparing and contrasting.  Burns falls in love again, Homer gets a new job again, Burns asks Homer for romantic advice again.  I even briefly contemplated comparing it to those episodes on 30 Rock where hyper-capitalist Alec Baldwin has a secret affair with ultra-liberal Congresswoman Edie Falco, just for a change of pace.  But Burns drilling for gas underneath Springfield is too on the nose from “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1” to pass up.

In both episodes, Burns is drilling into the Earth so that his mighty apparatus will burst forth with precious fluid.  But each episode handles him, his plan, and those around him very differently.  For a quick illustrative example, here’s Burns after Bart and Lisa walk into his unguarded fracking facility this week:

Lisa: This whole building is just a facade for a drilling operation.
Burns: Indeed it is.  Evergreen Terrace is built atop a massive shale deposit.

In addition to being phenomenally lazy script writing, this is also the complete opposite of the Burns we know and love/hate.  Real Burns doesn’t explain his evil plans to 8-year-old girls who break into his secret facilities.  Quite the opposite.  Real Burns builds secret drilling facilities and lets the townspeople find out only when they go to turn on their own well:


Burns: That’s it, frimble about with your widgets and dobobs.  It’ll all be a monument to futility when my plan comes to fruition.

Look at that quote!  He isn’t merely content to drill for oil and screw over everyone else, he’s also gleefully anticipating the moment when his plan will dash their hopes.  That’s Burns at his evil best.

Moreover, Burns’ plan, both the drilling and the eventual sun blocker, don’t require him to do anything as patently stupid and self defeating as relying on Homer Simpson.  Season 26 Burns, of course, does exactly that.  Not only does he ask Homer to get the mineral rights contracts signed, but he compounds his mistake by trusting that Homer did it instead of making sure.

That last part is especially un-Burns-like because Burns himself is the one who discloses that not all the signatures are there.  What!?  Can you imagine Season 6 Burns stopping his drilling operation because he and only he noticed that one signature was missing?  If anything, breaking the law without anyone knowing would appeal to him.

The watered down Burns of “Opposites A-Frack” isn’t remotely the kind of distilled malevolence of the Burns in “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, but Zombie Simpsons wants us to still think of him like he is.  When, after his grossly out of character explanation to Lisa, Burns refers to the houses on Evergreen Terrace as “shanties and lean-tos”, we’re supposed to laugh at the contempt he has for regular people.  But the contempt isn’t there anymore because we just saw him pop-up out of nowhere to help Lisa understand things.

A similar hollowing out affects poor Smithers.  In “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, he becomes increasingly conflicted about Burns crossing over from every day villainy into cartoonish super-villainy.  We see his qualms grow alongside the drilling operation (look at him in that picture at the top), and the sun blocker finally breaks him.  In “Opposites A-Frack”, Smithers basically vanishes for the entire episode.  It’s not as jarring as when characters appear for no reason, but unexplained disappearances happen almost as often.

Consider that when Bart and Lisa easily walk into the “secret” drilling facility, Smithers just stands there.  By the time Burns gets to that pointless committee hearing, Smithers isn’t even there.  Nor is he present when Burns barges into whatshername’s office.  Smithers is there when Burns selects Homer as his salesman, but literally doesn’t say a single word.  He is similarly absent when Burns asks Homer for romantic advice, both in his office and then again back at Burns Manor, which is even weirder because he’s at the door and then vanishes again.


Smithers . . . No Smithers.

Why did the man who never leaves Burns’ side disappear into thin air?  The next scene is Burns asking Homer for advice, and Smithers wasn’t required.  As usual, Zombie Simpsons forgets anything that isn’t happening right now.

Finally, in both episodes Burns drilling causes an earthquake.  The Simpsons handles it by having Grampa jump out of bed, shout “Earthquake!”, and then stand in his doorway while the entire Retirement Castle falls into a sinkhole.  The old people can’t do anything but call for the nurse.

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1k

Compare that to Zombie Simpsons, where, after a lot of pointless rumbling, Bart and Milhouse both fall out of the treehouse, while Lisa stands there waiting for her Etch-a-Sketch erases itself.  Then, in case we didn’t know what was going on, we get one of those oh-so redundant pieces of Zombie Simpson exposition:

Marge: Is one of the side effects of fracking earthquakes?
Lisa: Yes.

One is quick and punctuated with a joke.  The other is slow and punctuated with an explanation.

Season 6 Burns has a diabolical plan that he springs unexpectedly and sees all the way through.  Around him, his henchmen and his victims are their normal, hilarious selves.  Season 26 Burns has a dumb plan, explains it patiently, and then bungles it himself.  Around him, the show has to essentially airbrush Smithers out of the episode and constantly tell us what’s going on.  You can build great television around the real Burns, but you can’t even come close with the vacuous shell Zombie Simpsons has made of him.



Quote of the Day


Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1j

“That’s it, frimble about with your widgets and dobobs.  It’ll all be a monument to futility when my plan comes to fruition.” – C.M. Burns


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1i

“Sir, have you had enough exercise for this morning?” – Mr. Smithers
“No.  Let’s go another twenty miles.” – C.M. Burns

Happy birthday Harry Shearer!


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1h

“Willie, sometime over the holiday weekend, the beloved grade four gerbil, Superdude, lost his life.  I need you to air out the classroom and give Superdude a proper burial.” – Principal Skinner
“You’re lucky you’re getting a decent burial.  Me own father got thrown in the bog.” – Groundskeeper Willie


Reading Digest: Fuck the Huffington Post Edition

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1g

“Dear Lord, that’s the loudest profanity I’ve ever heard.” – Ned Flanders

This week’s title will explain itself on the third link.  Other than that, we’ve got lots of usage, an unbelievably awesome Surly costume, the triumphant return of Simpsons embroidery, and lots more.


Forever Lisa Simpson – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this new Tumblr featuring some of Lisa’s greatest moments.  The best part?  It’s starting at the beginning so there’s no Zombie Simpsons.

after the fall – Our old friend at tacocatproductions returns with a kickass Dr. Nick embroidery . . . and a tattoo of “the mark”!  Sweet.

13 Fictional Products That You Can Now Actually Buy – I am always loathe to link to The Huffington Post, and this is a good example of why.  For starters, the headline is wrong; there are actually twelve (12) items on here.  The slideshow only has thirteen (13) because the last one is the “click on more shit” screen, not an actual item.  While there are some interesting pictures in there, I can’t trust a word of it because of smackdick crap like this on slide 5:

You may not find Apu from The Simpsons working behind the counter, but Kwik-E-Marts are now real convenience stores operating in various locations in the U.S.

That would be news to me, and I run a Simpsons blog.  It would also be news to Wikipedia, which says nothing about a real Kwik-E-Mart:

In July 2007, eleven 7-Eleven locations in the United States and one in Canada were transformed into Kwik-E-Marts as part of a special promotion for The Simpsons Movie. Also in 2007, gift shops modeled after the “Kwik-E-Marts” were opened in Universal Studios Florida and Universal Studios Hollywood, where they are a companion to “The Simpsons Ride”.


The conversions lasted through early August, when the stores were converted back to 7-Elevens.

And it would even be news to Google, where a search for “real kwik-e-mart” yields a bunch of images, videos, and stories about when they temporarily converted those 7-11s during the movie release five years ago.  So unless there’s been a chain of real Kwik-E-Marts opened permanently that somehow failed to get noticed by the internet, Huffington Post made up a fact that took Google less than a second to disprove and slapped it out there like it’s reliable information.  Fuck you, Huffington Post.  Just fuck you.

Day 39: International Beer Day – Absolutely great fan made Surly costume.  I may have to copy this for Halloween this year.

Homer Knows – Not sure what the original source is on this, but the fan made Homer wood carving is awesome.  I don’t know if the paint has been intentionally aged, but it looks great.

Maggie Simpson is back at Ayn Rand School for Tots – A pretty decent shaky-cam YouTube of “The Longest Daycare”.

What is Parody? Maybe The Simpsons know. – An academic look at just what really constitutes parody that, sadly, references Season 13 instead of something watchable.  There is this, though:

I think Jameson’s definition is somewhat more clear—is this “couch gag” satiric or having a disposition of humourless neutrality?  And as much as I think The Simpsons is funny in general, and the episodes are often satiric, some of the “couch gags” are more like cameos, a pop references without comment, and so, are some of the best examples of pastiche in popular literature I can think of.

Light ‘N Fluffy – Well done:

Watching The Simpsons on Sunday nights constituted the only “family time” in existence in the O’Driscoll household. Most likely because it didn’t entail us speaking to each other.  This weekly ritual instilled in me a grand knowledge of classic one-liners used in the earlier (read: better) seasons of the show. My most recently referenced ones include:

In addition to the references themselves, I become downright giddy when I use one of these lines and someone actually gets it.

All the links go to YouTube, and one of them is even in “3D”.

9 Things You May Not Know About Lizzie Borden – The entry about Borden’s appearances in popular culture mentions plays, films and a ballet, but is titled “Lizzie Borden made an appearance on “The Simpsons”.

Project Enlists the Public to Document Outdoor Sculpture by Tony Smith – I’m sympathetic to the wider point here, but this is plainly inaccurate:

“We live in a world where every single one of the more than 500 television episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ has a well-researched Wikipedia article devoted to it, but by comparison there is practically no information about many of the greatest artworks of the 20thcentury,” said Richard McCoy, a member of the conservation group and a founder of WikiProject Public Art.

First of all, most of the pages for Zombie Simpsons episodes aren’t well researched and are barely maintained.  Secondly, The Simpsons episodes are some of the greatest artworks of the 20th Century.

My friend met a drunk Homer Simpson in Vegas – Heh.

Lisa Simpson Giantess by ~gtslover34 on deviantART – Bet she’s wished she could do that to Bart.

Family Tree Charts! – I don’t know where it came from or how they filled in all the other characters, but there is a rather impressive Simpson family tree here.  One question, where are the Bouviers?

Yo Zushi: Back to the soil – Taking a look at America’s enduring “back to the land” strain through, of all things, “E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)”.

The Simpsons Hit & Run – A video game review nine years in the making.

Sacred Citadel reveal trailer has ‘wild warriors’ and ‘b*… – Except for the pointless asterisk, excellent usage:

I’ve always been a fan of the word “b*tchin’.” Ever since I heard it on The Simpsons when I was a wee lad (and The Simpsons was still a watchable show), I immediately knew the word was awesome. You don’t hear “b*tchin'” being thrown around all too often, but when it is, it’s usually due to a big event or happening.

I remember hearing Bart say “Bitchin’!” in “Treehouse of Horror” and being really impressed that they could say that on television.  In related news, how childish does a video game website need to be to not be where network television was twenty years ago?

Televisualist: We Hated the Olympics Before It Was Cool – This is just a television listing:

The Simpsons rerun of the week: “Homer Goes To College.” A true classic. “Remember, your job depends on your successful completion of Nuclear Physics 101. Oh, and one more thing…you must find the Jade Monkey before the next full moon.” “Actually, sir, we found the Jade Monkey. It was in your glove compartment.” (Comedy Network, 8 p.m.)

Is there any other show where a rerun of an episode that premiered two decades ago comes with multiple quotes?

Everything’s better with bacon and beer – Excellent usage:

“Is it bacon day?” America’s favorite television dad dreamingly wondered during an episode of The Simpsons. Well Homer Simpson, it looks like it is bacon day…and oh yeah, beer day too. Homer would be in heaven. Starting this Sunday, The Sidecar Restaurant in Ventura will host Bacon and Beer Sundays, the perfect combination of savory and hops, as a delicious way to cap off the weekend.

No, that’s crazy talk!

The Simpsons…. – Fan made Bart drawing in marker on what looks like a manila folder.

Ruthless Extrapolation – Excellent physics usage:

In almost every case, extrapolation works until it doesn’t. When the fundamental rules of the game change, watch out!

As with many aspects of human behavior, some of the finest commentary on the matter is served up by The Simpsons. In one episode, Lisa Simpson is taken to the orthodontist to evaluate whether or not she needs braces. The “doctor” runs a simulation based on current growth rates, producing an alarming graphic of teeth gone wild.

Marge shrieks and is ready to do whatever it takes to protect her daughter against this cruel fate. Extrapolation can, of course, be used to argue both for impending doom or future prosperity—sometimes based on the same data. I started this blog with an extrapolative foil to demonstrate the insanity of continued physical growth, in fact. A tangential follow-up illustrated the hopelessness of differentiating a steady-state energy future from an energy crash using current data (although a continued exponential rise is already a poor fit).

Train – California 37 album review – Apparently the band Train has a new album, and the first song is one of those little ditties that contains an insane number of pop culture references:

Beginning with its opener ‘This’ll Be My Year’ which is basically a run through of Train’s career plus including things that everyone knows about for example in the year 1989 they reference the start of ‘The Simpsons’ and contains one of my favourite lines, ‘I stopped believing although Journey told me don’t.’ Some people won’t like these sorts of lyrics but to me it is clever.

You can listen to the song in question at YouTube, the Simpsons part is right near the beginning.

I’ll have a bug salad, a toe-nail in my sandwich, and one beak slurry please – One of those giant couches they made for the movie was on an A&E reality show:

Last night’s episode of Shipping Wars proved very enlightening.  To me.  One of the shipments turned out to be a 400 pound replica of the Simpson’s clan sitting in their trademark pose on the family couch.  According to the seller, only 86 of these movie theatre props were released to the public.

Buy Simpsons Mini Lunchbox \”Pin Pals\” – I don’t think I’ve linked this before, but that’s the rare piece of merchandise that’s actually not terrible looking.

The Cheesecake Factory…In 10 Words – Daddy, this place smells like tinkle.

Why the Simpsons? Why Not. – And finally, an Australian college student justifies his excessive use of Simpsons references on a blog about globalization (and agrees with us):

By now regular readers of this blog (because you’re forced to write comments on here and I actually keep up to date with it) will be wondering why I use so many Simpsons pictures/videos as references in my posts.

It’s not just because Simpsons is funny (in the 90s that is), or that I really enjoy Simpsons, but because The Simpsons is a living example of the globalisation process, I know more about the U.S from Simpsons than any other show, and it airs all over the world and has the sort of impact that is massive and lends itself to Americanisation.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, The Simpsons is possibly the most recognized cultural creation of the entire 20th Century.  It’s Homer’s world, we’re just living in it.


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1e

“Why is it when I heard the word ‘school’ and the word ‘exploded’ I immediately thought of the word ‘Skinner’!?” – Superintendent Chalmers


Quote of the Day

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1d

“Ah, soon that mighty apparatus will burst forth with its precious fluid.  Almost sexual, isn’t it, Smithers?” – C.M. Burns
“Enh.” – Mr. Smithers


“Little Girl in the Big Ten” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1c

“It was naive of you to think I would mistake this town’s most prominent one-hundred-four year old man for one of my elementary school students.” – Principal Skinner

This is yet another of those Season 13 episodes that epitomizes the vapid hyperactivity of Zombie Simpsons. After becoming an accomplished gymnast in the span of about thirty seconds, Lisa accidentally befriends some college students who think she’s one of them. Yes, this is a massively stupid teevee trope (especially when it’s used seriously like this); no, the writers do not care.

Don’t worry though, worse things are coming. You see, Bart gets stuck in a plastic bubble and Milhouse and friends expose Lisa as a little kid to her college friends (just because) and right at the end Skinner has some kind of ceremony that has nothing to do with anything which Bart and Lisa (for some reason) crash and ruin. Got all that? Of course, the point of all that nonsensical motion is to give the writers something – anything – to crack jokes about. As per usual, it mostly doesn’t work.

Six guys on this one, including poet Robert Pinsky coming in remotely. Pinsky, you’ll no doubt be surprised to learn, shows up in this episode in a meaningless cameo as himself.

0:25 – Jean asks Pinsky how being a voice on the show changed his life. As usual, the answer is that it helps when he’s talking to kids.

1:15 – The above is still going on.

1:45 – Now they’re asking Pinsky what it’s like to be Poet Laureate of the US. Pinsky politely demurs as the other guys crack intern and bailout jokes.

2:30 – Trying to remember how they got Pinsky on. He had written something about the show which prompted them to ask him.

3:30 – Jean’s giving credit to Vitti and MacMullan who wrote and directed, respectively. MacMullan did the Itchy & Scratchy thing Lisa sees in her college class. Meanwhile, the show is displaying a Krusty sweatshop in China.

5:00 – Ian Maxton-Graham selected the Pinsky poem they use in this episode. Onscreen, Lisa has just become an accomplished gymnast in the span of about thirty seconds.

5:20 – Pinsky is talking about his poem.

6:00 – Poem discussion still going on, meanwhile, Lisa is pretending to be twenty.

6:45 – See above. Except now it’s about regional tics in the Pacific Northwest.

7:35 – Jean breaks in to mention the direction of Homer singing as Lisa exchanges Scooby Doo level exposition with the other gymnast girls.

8:05 – Still complimenting Lauren MacMullan and how she went to “Simpson Director Heaven, also known as Pixar”.

8:35 – Asked what other cartoons he watches, Pinsky thinks “the South Park guys are brilliant.”

9:20 – Here’s another telling example of lazy Zombie Simpsons editing. When Lisa gets to campus she compliments the outdoor study groups and kiosks and it feels like the usual “Rule of 3” joke set up. Except that there is no third thing, there is no punchline. On the commentary they note that and laugh at their own crappy editing.

9:40 – Here’s a tiny piece of trivia for you. Pinsky flew out of Boston on American Airlines Flight 11 on 10 September 2001 to do this voice.

10:30 – This prompts Jean to tell the more famous Seth MacFarlane story.

10:50 – Pinsky is doing his cameo now, and notes that his hair has only one streak of gray.

11:20 – Continuing the 2001 story, Pinsky got stranded in Los Angeles and the Simpsons people were very nice to him until planes started flying again.

12:00 – That prompts Jean to recall that in those bizarre days after the attacks people thought satire had died. Jean, to his credit, always thought that was stupid, and it was.

13:00 – Heartwarming tales of getting back to work and laughing on September 13th are still going on. In the episode Bart is inside a plastic bubble and is fighting the bullies by ricocheting himself off a wall.

13:40 – Someone finally cracks a joke about how after Lincoln was assassinated no one ever laughed at “Our American Cousin” again.

14:00 – Pinsky recalls that during his recording session he felt very humbled by being around that many funny voices. This leads to a generic Jean monologue praising the voice cast.

14:50 – Someone, sounds like Selman, is now telling a story about watching this Itchy & Scratchy (where Scratchy gets fed to a cow and digested four times) at an AFI event next to Nicole Kidman. He didn’t think she liked it.

15:40 – Onscreen Lisa is in a college lecture, and that leads to some low grade stories about when they visit colleges to talk about animation or the like.

16:15 – More praise for MacMullan’s directing.

16:40 – Boredom is setting in, so Selman asks what Pinsky has been up to in the last ten years. Pinsky happily takes the opportunity to plug a recent poetry anthology.

17:10 – Someone then asks about a book he wrote about small towns. Here’s that one.

17:30 – Boredom having completely set in, Jean asks Pinsky if he ever hangs out with other Poet Laureates. He does.

17:55 – Gammill cracks a joke, it’s not worth explaining, but he at least seems to be aware that this is boring. I like Gammill.

18:20 – Still discussing other poets.

18:40 – The line, “That’s not a sunset, that’s a bird on fire” was originally a plane on fire. You get three guesses as to why they changed it, but you really should only need one.

19:40 – Not a whole lot of commenting going on here.

20:05 – And we’re back to asking Pinsky random questions. Now he’s talking about the time he was on The Colbert Report.

20:25 – They’re slightly proud of themselves for “dovetailing” together the A and B plots.

21:00 – More praise for MacMullan’s animating as we fade to black for the credits.

21:30 – Pinsky asks if guest voices usually think their episodes are particularly funny. Jean replies that they don’t know because they very rarely speak to the voices after the fact.


Quote of the Day

“Hmm, sounded large when I ordered it. (sighs) I can’t make hide nor hair of these metric booby traps.” – C. Montgomery Burns


Synergy Has a Small Suggestion

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1b

“There’s some candy right here, sir.  Why don’t we eat this instead of stealing?” – Mr. Smithers

IGN is finishing the season strong.  Not only does this week’s agitprop praise transparently hackneyed story shortcuts (see: Moe’s interactions with the Lovejoys and the Nahasapeemapetilons), but goes so far as to offer a suggestion about how it could’ve been even better!  IGN couldn’t ignore the stupidity of using an elopement with Moe as the plot fulcrum, but rather than ignore the awful fake tension it put on the rest of the episode, they offered up a little change and called it a day.  IGN, it’s not sycophantic criticism, it’s constructive sycophantic criticism.

I’ve edited out the synergy, though I left the last paragraph largely alone.  Enjoy.

The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons has been on quite a run. The last several episodes have been some of the best worst we’ve seen in recent seasons. And the run continued with "Moe Letter Blues." Sunday’s episode was a nice hacktacular stab at a Mother’s Day treat, told through long winded narration and goofy, cliched flashbacks, all while scoring whiffing big with on the laughs.

The storytelling in "Moe Letter Blues" was what stood out first. Things started with Moe narrating, and then moved on with flashbacks from Homer, Apu and Reverend Lovejoy as they tried to figure out which of their wives might be running off with Moe. This could have been was clunky and unnecessary, but and the writing made it work even worse than it had to be. The flashbacks flowed were tied together well haphazardly and made sense only from an omniscient Moe’s point of view. The episode even wisely made failed to make fun of its own set-up. While Moe was easily in place to witness the troubles between Homer and Marge and Apu and Manjula, he was comically shoehorned into the flashback for the Lovejoy’s and Apu and Manjula. There, Moe randomly poked his head out from behind the church to witness the turmoil and the Nahasapeemapetilons stopped at Moe’s for some reason.

The issues between the couples offered up a number of laughs teevee cliche couple arguments. Homer and Marge’s problems are nothing new to the series. Homer has offered up loads of relationship advice throughout the series’ Zombie Simpsons 400 200-plus episodes, and he added another great one bland stinker on Sunday: "Women don’t mean anything by anything." The most least fun, though, came between Apu and Manjula. Apu is best known as used to be the pleasant and chipper Kwik-E-Mart clerk, but some of his most memorable moments have come from an annoyed and angry Apu. His arguments with his wife in this episode were the standout bits a reminder that we liked the old Apu better, including their debate over the radio station ("Having a ‘Ma-Hot-Ma or Ma-Not-Ma’ contest is not a jape. It is sexist sacrilege."), and then later forgetting a ‘tuplet.

Along with the fun boring, interweaving main story, "Moe Letter Blues" was packed with a number of other great gags time killers. The barfly rodeo was fun way too long, especially Lenny as the rodeo clown which could’ve been funny if it hadn’t taken fifteen seconds. Weasel Island offered up a lot of no laughs, most from including the meta amusement park advertisement: "Warning: You many not be amused." The episode also included a fantastic slow paced Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, plus a brief but hilarious underwritten guest spot from the voice of Saturday Night Live, Don Pardo. When Moe wondered out loud in his narration what sort of dough Pardo made from voiceover work, his distinct voice chimed in with, "I make more than you can possibly imagine, and I’m making it right now."

One issue I did have with the episode was Moe’s, "I’m leaving town forever and taking one of your wives" statement in his letter. You know there’s no way Moe would ever be leaving the series or running off with any of these women, so the claim never held any drama. As the men returned home, you never expected to see that one of the wives had run off. It might have worked better if Moe had simply said he was going to sleep with one of the women. This would have been a little more believable in the realm of the series and certainly would have been more in line with Moe’s character. That aside included, however, the storytelling and humor relentless “suspense” of "Moe Letter Blues" delivered yet another great tired episode from a very strong yet another tired season of The Simpsons Zombie Simpsons.


Zombie Simpsons Ruins Another List

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1a

Zombie Simpsons has cheaply cashed in on the success of its preeminent forerunner in many, many, ways.  One of the most prominent is by cramming musical guests into episodes with little to no purpose and few, if any, jokes.  This list, which purports to be the top ten musical guests, contains only 60% real Simpsons.  The White Stripes, Lionel Ritchie, Metallica and Green Day all make the cut from Zombie Simpsons (or the movie), but none of the following from actual good episodes do:

  • Tito Puente (Who Shot Mr. Burns 1 & 2)
  • Cypress Hill (Homerpalooza)
  • Peter Frampton (Homerpalooza)
  • Tony Bennett (Dancin’ Homer)
  • Aerosmith (Flaming Moe’s)
  • Sting (Radio Bart)
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers (Krusty Gets Kancelled)
  • Bette Midler (Krusty Gets Kancelled)
  • Linda Ronstadt (Mr. Plow)
  • Barry White (Whacking Day)

How you want to order these guests is debatable, and whether or not you like the music they perform is up to you.  But The Simpsons had far more than ten excellent musical guests whose appearances fit snugly into the episode and were always hilarious.  It seems a shame to not include them on account of Zombie Simpsons. 


Synergy Pines for Its Lost Youth and Innocence

“There has been a shocking decline in the quality and quantity of your toadying, Waylon!” – C.M. Burns

Much like last week, this week’s IGN Simpsons “review” was surprisingly long on criticism within the text before giving it a good number anyway.  I don’t want to repeat myself too much, but this episode scored a 6.9 when the actual review was mostly negative even before I edited out the synergy.  What would it have needed to do to score less than that?  True, the tone is still that of a gently cowed subordinate, but the substance of this review is pretty damning. 

November 23, 2009 – "Pranks and Greens" was the tale of two stories. The first was an entertaining  a hacktacular mystery about a boy who was once better at pulling off pranks than Bart Simpson. The second was a boring, unfunny tale about Bart helping that boy become a better person. Guest voice Jonah Hill (Superbad) added little to the loser character.

The episode had a fun start. Bart and sidekick Milhouse were spending their time pulling off pranks around the school. Upcoming pranks they were working on in their brainstorming session included stunts they called "Night of a Thousand Skunks," "Tora, Tora, Toilet," and "Untitled Skateboard Project." It was goofy and fun and ended with Skinner’s balloon-elevated engine crashing back to earth onto the top of his car. Bart’s nonsensical punishment was cleaning the playground, which led to a snortingly funny bit with Ralph being launched off the very slippery slide a bunch of clock eating physical “comedy”. Bart’s bragging led prompted Skinner for some reason to reveal that the boy may be the best prankster of his era, but not of all time.

This set Bart off on a quest to learn the identity of this mysterious prankster, for some other reason. This, too, was quite entertaining. In a piece of unnecessary retconning Bart discovered that Skinner had once been a hip and happy young principal, only to become the Skinner we know today after an undisclosed incident. After some research, Bart approached Groundskeeper Willie who, for yet another reason, retold the tale of "The Night of the Wigglers." The prank got Skinner caught in a pool full of worms for three days and the retelling revealed the prankster to be… Andy Hamilton some guy.

Jonah Hill voiced Andy Hamilton some guy and it was basically straightforward stuff. Lisa rightfully characterized the character — now 19, not in school, unemployed and living with his parents — as a loser. Seeing that he was on a similar path, and giving a shit for yet another unfathomably out-of-character reason, Bart tried to help Andy turn his life around. Bart went to Krusty for help., and Krusty’s list of things he wouldn’t do was a good laugh: "I won’t read screenplays, that’s for your protection. Oh, and you can’t ride on my private jet. And I won’t give a struggling young comic his first chance. I won’t give a broken down hack his last chance…" But the storyline itself was short on funny. There was little to like about the character of Andy, and Hill’s voice work was too unexceptional to lift the character above the weak dialogue. The twist of Andy using his old worm prank to write a bit for the Krusty show was none too surprising, but I did enjoy roll my eyes at the phony self deprecation of Lisa’s continued use of the "loser" title now that Andy was a television writer.

Filling out the episode contractually obligated running time was a silly plot about Marge making the extra effort to buy healthier foods for her family and her Midday Mommies play group. The thing I most enjoyed here were the songs played for the kids in the group was the brief relief from watching Bart act like Marge.  "I’m not gonna poop in the tub" was a nice lesson, and we also learned that "doggies and kitties don’t last forever, but they do a lot better than fish." But the The food jokes felt too were 100% generic. Healthy food is expensive and tastes bad, we know. The only other standout line came from Homer telling Marge that "Lard Glug" contains neither lard nor glug.

The episode had a good start, but veered into a less than impressive direction more or less immediately. Marge’s storyline, while cute less nauseating than the main one in parts, was really just filler more than anything else. The pranks and the mystery at the beginning of the half hour seemed to be trying to setting up something, but twas all a waste better than Bart trying to help a kid we just met who didn’t really have any redeeming qualities. A few bits had their moments, including Milhouse imagining Andy’s sidekick and Willie as Swim Coach Willie, but it wasn’t enough to save the second half doldrums.


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