The Simpsons take the Ice Bucket Challenge

by on August 31, 2014

The Simpsons have never been a family to shy away from trends sweeping the internet, and unless you

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Unthinkable and un-American: Yes, I am not a fan of “The Simpsons.”

by on August 29, 2014


I’m told that there was some sort of mega-Simpsons marathon on TV yesterday. I’m told, rather than I know for sure, because I don’t watch a lot of TV, and in any event I’m spending most of my time in a research library coming up with awesome stuff like this for your amusement (and my dissertation). Yesterday morning I had a good-natured, light-hearted spar session with one of my Twitter buddies (he happens to be the author of a couple of great books on Slayer) where he chided me for not spending the entire day watching Simpsons episodes. At the heart of this jocular spat is a terrible truth: I’m not really a very big fan of The Simpsons.

I know that’s un-American, if not completely unimaginable. But it’s true. In my life I think I’ve seen maybe five or six episodes of the show, and they didn’t impress me. It is absolutely astonishing to me to behold that The Simpsons has been running continuously on American television for nearly 25 years. I certainly remember when it debuted, and most of the five or six episodes I saw when I was in college, at what I guess was the series’ heyday in the early 1990s. Again I look back at that sentence and am amazed: this show was in its heyday when I was an undergraduate in college. And it’s still on the air. How this happened utterly baffles me.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t deny or malign the impact that The Simpsons has had on American popular culture in the past quarter century. There’s no question that it’s an important show in the history of television, and most likely a significant piece of art in its own right. Matt Groening, who created the show, is justifiably hailed as being brilliant. Bart Simpson is the Charlie Brown of the post-Cold War era, and Homer’s trademark “D’oh!” is now indelibly part of the English language. I get all that. It’s just that, for all of this, The Simpsons never engaged me on an emotional, intellectual or artistic level. To me it’s a cartoon sitcom. There, I said it. Believe it or not there are such people who think that.

The “couch gag” is a perennial trope of the opening sequence of The Simpsons, which varies from show to show.

My first encounter with The Simpsons was not on TV, but in a movie theater. Shortly before the show debuted on Fox in December 1989, Matt Groening and the producers sought to drum up buzz for it by releasing a few Simpsons cartoon shorts to run before some big-name movies out that fall. One of them was The War of the Roses, starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner (a highly under-rated film in my opinion). A Simpsons short ran before that movie. It was funny, and I remember thinking, wow, that’s great–if we’re rebooting the old days of cartoon shorts before movies, as was the custom in from the 1930s to the late 1950s, that’s pretty cool. (Better than endless previews of superhero movies, which is all we seem to see these days). But alas, no such plans were afoot. The short was merely meant to promote the series. The only show I watched at that time was Star Trek: The Next Generation, and I wasn’t enthused enough about the short to change my viewing habits so as to stay home Sunday nights watching a cartoon sitcom.

I think the initial power of The Simpsons, aside from the iconic art style of Matt Groening, came from the time in which it premiered, and specifically how the American family was being depicted on TV at that time. The period 1989-90 was the heyday of what some television historians have called the “anti-family sitcom,” which, instead of depicting an idyllic middle-America dream of what a family should be, which had been the blueprint of family shows since the 1957 debut of Leave It To Beaver, showed families more like they really are: riven by conflicts, often with wisecracking, misbehaving kids, marital strife and the various maddening details of modern life left in rather than excluded. Shows like Roseanne and The Simpsons were the vanguard of this movement. Clearly there would have been no Simpsons without the 1980s mega-hit The Cosby Show, which was simply a modern redress of the Beaver-like “perfect family” show advanced forward in time 30 years. Indeed, I don’t think you can understand The Simpsons without understanding The Cosby Show, which was its direct progenitor. The gestalt of The Simpsons, in a way, is simply reaction, not action.

homer on qm2

The Simpsons are so culturally pervasive that this image of Homer appears in the corner of a bronze bas-relief in the grand entryway of the Cunard passenger liner Queen Mary 2, launched in 2004.

But where have all the “perfect family” shows gone since the 1980s? As I said, I don’t watch much TV, but I certainly don’t hear about squeaky-clean family shows burning up the airwaves the way one did 25 or 30 years ago. Nowadays, family sitcoms are almost always wisecracking and satirical rather than milquetoast and sanitized. The Bundys–Family GuyAmerican Dad–these are the families that have been on TV since 1989, and they’re stamped from the mold of The Simpsons, not Beaver or the Cosbys. In this sense you can see the cultural impact the Simpsons has had. I think the “perfect family” show is dead as a genre, except perhaps in some fringe niche market. The Cleavers, Bradys and Huxtables of the TV universe are now as archaic as bell bottoms and makaha beads. Bart Simpson drove a stake through their hearts. Maybe it is for this that The Simpsons deserves to be lionized.

That still doesn’t make me a fan, though. And maybe, after 25 years, it’s time to move on to another trope, to reinvent TV in some new creative, rather than reactive, direction. That’s just my uninformed, unpopular opinion. Homer, Bart and Lisa have been clowning every Sunday night since the first George Bush was in the White House. Maybe it’s time for them to make their entry into rerun-syndication Valhalla. Or maybe that’s blasphemy. You be the judge.

All visual depictions of The Simpsons are owned by Fox Broadcasting Corp. and are under copyright. I believe my inclusion of them here constitutes fair use.

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Seven Things I’ve Learned from Ralph Wiggum

by on August 27, 2014

Originally posted on : – 1. Use bad grammar? That’s unpossible!I’m far from the grammar police. I do

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Saturday Marathon Open Thread

by on August 23, 2014

Burns' Heir12

Per IGN, here’s the schedule for the next 24 hours:

8/23 11:00 AM ET – “Burns’ Heir”
8/23 11:30 AM ET – “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song”
8/23 12:00 PM ET – “The Boy Who Knew Too Much”
8/23 12:30 PM ET – “Lady Bouvier’s Lover”
8/23 1:00 PM ET – “Secrets of a Successful Marriage”

Season 6

8/23 1:30 PM ET – “Bart of Darkness”
8/23 2:00 PM ET – “Lisa’s Rival”
8/23 2:30 PM ET – “Another Simpsons Clip Show”
8/23 3:00 PM ET – “Itchy & Scratchy Land”
8/23 3:30 PM ET – “Sideshow Bob Roberts”
8/23 4:00 PM ET – “Treehouse of Horror V”
8/23 4:30 PM ET – “Bart’s Girlfriend”
8/23 5:00 PM ET – “Lisa on Ice”
8/23 5:30 PM ET – “Homer Badman”
8/23 6:00 PM ET – “Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy”
8/23 6:30 PM ET – “Fear of Flying”
8/23 7:00 PM ET – “Homer the Great”
8/23 7:30 PM ET – “And Maggie Makes Three”
8/23 8:00 PM ET – “Bart’s Comet”
8/23 8:30 PM ET – “Homie the Clown”
8/23 9:00 PM ET – “Bart vs. Australia”
8/23 9:30 PM ET – “Homer vs. Patty and Selma”
8/23 10:00 PM ET – “A Star is Burns”
8/23 10:30 PM ET – “Lisa’s Wedding”
8/23 11:00 PM ET – “Two Dozen and One Greyhounds”
8/23 11:30 PM ET – “The PTA Disbands”
8/24 12:00 AM ET – “‘Round Springfield”
8/24 12:30 AM ET – “The Springfield Connection”
8/24 1:00 AM ET – “Lemon of Troy”
8/24 1:30 AM ET – “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Pt. 1?

Season 7

8/24 2:00 AM ET – “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Pt. 2?
8/24 2:30 AM ET – “Radioactive Man”
8/24 3:00 AM ET – “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily”
8/24 3:30 AM ET – “Bart Sells His Soul”
8/24 4:00 AM ET – “Lisa the Vegetarian”
8/24 4:30 AM ET – “Treehouse of Horror VI”
8/24 5:00 AM ET – “King-Size Homer”
8/24 5:30 AM ET – “Mother Simpson”
8/24 6:00 AM ET – “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming”
8/24 6:30 AM ET – “The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular”
8/24 7:00 AM ET – “Marge Be Not Proud”
8/24 7:30 AM ET – “Team Homer”
8/24 8:00 AM ET – “Two Bad Neighbors”
8/24 8:30 AM ET – “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield”
8/24 9:00 AM ET – “Bart the Fink”
8/24 9:30 AM ET – “Lisa the Iconoclast”
8/24 10:00 AM ET – “Homer the Smithers”
8/24 10:30 AM ET – “The Day the Violence Died”

Looks like it’s gonna be a Season 6 kinda afternoon.  I will be dipping in and out on the Twitter machine, since this is the kind of event at which it excels.

Dead Homer Society

App Store Update Live, Required to Access New Content

by on August 22, 2014

The update is now live on the iOS App Store, bringing the current version of the game to “4.10

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Comedy Central Fall 2014 Lineup: Brickleberry Season 3, South Park Season 18

by on August 21, 2014

BRICKLES3On Tuesday, September 16th at 10:30pm, the original animated series known as Brickleberry will return to Comedy Central.

I’ve found that this show is either loved or hated. There is little in-between. I’ve had die-hard fans of cartoons tell me how awful they think it is, and that I should stop covering it.

But the fact is, I just love Brickleberry too damn much. I wish more haters of it out there would give it a chance.

Centering on a group of bumbling park rangers and also featuring a talking bear cub voiced by Daniel Tosh, I personally find the show to be full of insane, ridiculous and downright hilarious jokes. It pokes fun at dumb rednecks and loose women and general dimwits and everything else that fans of Family Guy or The Simpsons or any other animated show poke fun at.

So, give Brickleberry another try in its third season if you get a chance. Apparently, its ratings are good enough to keep it around, and luckily for fans like me, it shows no sign of slowing down!

**Embedded in this post is the one teaser image we’ve gotten so far from Brickleberry season 3 (the Denzel/Steve bondage one), and below is a picture of Eric the Actor (from Howard Stern) — he has recorded some voice work for an episode this season.**

The week after Brickleberry‘s season 3 premiere, South Park returns to Comedy Central on Wednesday, September 24th at 10pm. This will be South Park‘s 18th season!

The other most recent news for South Park is of course their recent inking of a deal to be exclusively streamed by Hulu, and no longer at Pretty crazy.

Not much is known episode-wise for seasons of either Brickleberry OR South Park, and it’s actually amazing I found anything to write about in this article at all (Ha!)

However, as for South Park, you can be assured they will be back with their sharp, witty satire on all of the world’s stupid insanity, all produced in their now-famous week production time! Good stuff.

Don’t miss these two season premieres — 9/16 and 9/24, on Comedy Central!

Eric the Actor

Eric the Actor.

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‘The Simpsons’: Which Episode Should Everyone Watch?

by on August 19, 2014

We invite readers to share the single episode of “The Simpsons” they think that every fan of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie must watch.

NYT > “The Simpsons”


by on August 18, 2014

Aside from the limited time holiday decorations, we haven’t seen any new shrubbery or trees ad

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Scott D. Pierce: FXX will air amazing ‘Simpsons’ marathon! – Salt Lake Tribune

by on August 17, 2014

Yahoo Movies UK
Scott D. Pierce: FXX will air amazing 'Simpsons' marathon!
Salt Lake Tribune
There's so much more to this than just the marathon and all the "Simpsons" FXX carry on a daily basis thereafter. • On Sundays, FXX will air themed, eight-episode mini-marathons leading into the "Simpsons" episodes that air on Fox (Ch. 13 in Utah). If
'Simpsons' Marathon Premieres Almighty
Watch: New Trailer for 'The Simpsons' FXX MarathonVariety
Watching 'The Simpsons' marathon? Here's the gear you needUSA TODAY
The Morning Sun -Vulture
all 14 news articles »

simpsons news – Google News

Reading Digest: FXX Marketing Shifts Into High Gear Edition

by on August 15, 2014


“Were you on my roof last night, stealing my weather vane?” – Ned Flanders
“This interview is over!” – Homer Simpson

The big 12 day marathon on a channel neither I nor millions of other people get will begin next Thursday morning.  This week we’ve got several links about it, including the full transcript of a conference call interview Al Jean did earlier this week (there’s actual news for once!) and some very cool posters.  In addition to that, we’ve got more of the fan made Lego Springfield, an unveiling date for the building sized mural in Oregon, Harry Shearer being Dick Nixon, very old sneakers, and a great vacation photo from Washington D.C..


The Simpsons – Al Jean Interview – This is a full transcript of a conference call Jean did on Wednesday.  Mostly it’s just him efficiently blowing through questions he’s heard dozens of times before (Will there be a sequel? How about those upcoming crossovers?  He even makes a joke about someone asking where Springfield is.), but there is some real news buried in there:

- The app will allow for fan rankings of the episodes:

Q: can you talk a little bit about at TCA you were talking about the database of their new website and there would be a ranking of episodes based on fan favorites. How that ranking is determined?

A: It’s to be determined. It’s up to the fans. We went and listened to what it seemed that people wanted out of the show, and when the app is fully up and running, which probably won’t be until early next year, you can get clips, you can send clips to your friends, you can do an assortment of clips almost like re-edit like people did with the [indiscernible] stuff, and the voting will be up the users too. It will be whatever everybody who logs in votes for and shows they like or dislike. Shows that people dislike the most may actually get some interest viewing, and it’s not for us to say. That’s the great thing about this app.

That sounds . . . interesting.  Everything depends on implementation, but I’ll be curious to see both a) how it shakes out and b) how they react if the fan rankings massively denigrate almost everything after Season 10 or so.  Also note that while the app is scheduled to launch in October, he’s already talking about it not being all the way up and running until 2015.

- This is about the upcoming marathon on FXX:

we’re going to be live tweeting, not continuously, but every time there’s an episode I wrote or a show ran, I’ll try to get in on them. We’re asking guest stars who did the show if they’d like to tweet with the writers. So, we hope to have a discussion going on for the whole way and throw in interesting things people may not have heard.

I bet that’ll depend greatly on when the episodes air.  For example, they’re starting at 10am Eastern next Thursday, so assuming two episodes per hour, Season 3 will be starting at 2:30am Eastern.

- Answering a question about what format the episodes on FXX will be:

Well, the versions as I understand it are the original versions, but they’re expanded to HD except on the app, you can get the original 4X3 because people would want to see the 4X3 so that will be available, but the ones that they’re broadcasting, as I understand it, are the originals with the HD expansion for the ones that weren’t in HD.

I’m not sure what “HD expansion” means, black bars, that blurry extra side thing people do sometimes?

-  One more thing about live tweeting during the FXX marathon:

Yes, we’re totally encouraging it. It’s @BestSimpsons is the Twitter site reserved for the marathon. So, yes, it starts at 7 a.m. August 21st Pacific Time/10 a.m. Eastern and I’ll be tweeting then.

@BestSimpsons looks an awful lot like an abandoned fan account.  There’s only 79 tweets total, and though the most recent is about the FXX marathon, it was from last month and was the first since January.  It links to what also looks like an abandoned fan site, which hasn’t updated since May of last year.  Now, this is from a transcript, so it’s possible that this is a transcription error and is missing a character or two.  I asked Jean on Twitter right before I posted this (and went to lunch), so if he responds (and he often does), I’ll update.

Update 2:10pm: And it was indeed a transcription error.  The actual live tweet account for the FXX marathon is @EverySimpsons.  

Simpsons Trivia Night (Published on The West End Magazine) – Recently, the classic Simpsons trivia competitions have taken a step up, holding “film festivals” and doing Diorama-ramas, but the bar has been raised by this group in Australia.  They set up a fake Simpsons living room!  Excellent.

The Simpsons – FXX Posters – I don’t often get a chance to say this, but: well done, FOX marketing department.  Those are gorgeous and creative and just generally cool.  I might even go so far as to buy a poster if they got rid of the logo and the hashtag.

Watch the trailer for the ‘Simpsons’ marathon – On the other hand, this promo, while pretty, is also quite dumb.

FUSION — Fusion Announces Documentary Project with Sam Simon, Co-Creator of The Simpsons – Simon continues to handle hideous disease about as well as is humanly imaginable.

The Simpsons Bart Boot Sneakers – Actual Simpsons sneakers from the early 1990s, including the stylized box.  Very cool.

Fashion Spotlight: Better Call Hutz, Bartman Begins, and Doh! Zombies! – The punctuation in Hutz’s word bubble is brilliant.

Happy birthday, Dustin Hoffman, or “Mrs. Krabappel, are you trying to seduce me?” – A framed picture of Mr. Bergstrom is pretty damned cool.

HickoryDickoryDank comments on How would you like to see The Simpsons end? – This Reddit thread was making the rounds this week, but the best answer I saw came from a two year old thread on the same idea.

Get lost in a Simpsons themed corn maze – Neat:

Corn maze season starts in September and it is the busiest time of year for the Meuer Farm.

They started planing in February to get “The Simpsons” themed maze just right. The maze has two phases that have a total of around three miles of paths.

There’s an aerial picture at the link.  Looks very fun.

The Weird Minutes Before Nixon’s Resignation – Harry Shearer re-enacts Nixon’s resignation:

The recording of the minutes before the resignation is one that Shearer has always found confounding. It is so clear that the camera crew is unmoved by Nixon’s small talk. “If you were a comic, you’d stop after two of your jokes bombed like that, but he just keeps going,” Shearer said. “For years, I was puzzled by that behavior. Why didn’t he just sit quietly until the time came to deliver the speech? What was going on there?” The answer that finally came to him, as he rehearsed the scene, is that Nixon already had an eye on rehabilitating his reputation. “Those people in that room were going to go out and say, ‘He wasn’t depressed, he wasn’t angry. My god! He was the nicest guy in the world.’ I think that’s exactly who he was. That’s how he got out of his depression, on fight. And the fight starts here.”

Shearer’s the best.

“Bart! Get out of the Spirit of St. Louis!” – Now that is a great Air and Space Museum photo.  Bravo.

The Simpsons’ Town of Springfield, to Scale, in Lego – There is now a YouTube tour of that fan made Lego Springfield.

Old LA Zoo – Oh, cool:

The first Saturday of every month a local comic book store, Nerd Melt, hosts Simpson trivia, called Stonecutters. We lucked out this month because they pushed it back a weekend so we were able to attend. There are 3 rounds of trivia, which get progressively more difficult, with episodes of The Simpsons shown between each round. Every month they bring in special guests who have worked on the show and the episodes played are generally episodes the guests have worked on, so that the guests can give live commentary. This month there were two former directors and a storyboard artist.

Voice of Lisa Simpson to attend mural unveiling Aug. 25 – I guess we’ll get to see that mural a week from Monday.

doh! if only it worked that way! – Sadly, we cannot all escape from reality as easily as Homer.

Dead Homer Society