Should I Buy the Freakmobile?

by on November 1, 2014


It feels like most of this event is filled with returning content. This post is about another comeba

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‘The Simpsons’: Your Must-Watch Episodes

by on October 28, 2014

These were 10 of the best recommendations shared by readers of episodes you should watch during the “Every Simpsons Ever” marathon on FXX.

NYT > “The Simpsons”

Quote of the Day

by on October 25, 2014

Treehouse of Horror I11

“They are all against you, Bart.  You must kill them all.  They all must die.” – House
“Are you my conscience?” – Bart Simpson
“I-…yes, I am.” – House

Happy birthday Nancy Cartwright!

Dead Homer Society

Funny How? ‘Goodfellas’ Actor Files 0 Million Suit Against ‘The Simpsons’

by on October 22, 2014

The character actor Frank Sivero filed a suit against Fox and the creators of “The Simpsons,” saying the show’s mafioso character Louie is based on his work in “Goodfellas.”

NYT > “The Simpsons”

Quote of the Day

by on October 18, 2014

He'sCrazy

“A lot of you would think I was crazy if I did this.” – Homer Simpson
“He’s crazy!” – C.M. Burns

Dead Homer Society

Today in Small Business: Economics Lessons From ‘The Simpsons’

by on October 13, 2014

Five small businesses that are excelling on social media. How to use video to make your company stand out. Could an executive order on immigration help start-ups?

NYT > “The Simpsons”

‘The Simpsons’ Marathon Lifts Ratings for Fledgling FXX Network

by on October 9, 2014

The 12-day, round-the-clock marathon, which also included the two-hour 2007 theatrical movie, produced ratings about three times as high as executives at the channel expected.

NYT > “The Simpsons”

Should I Buy the Shadow Knight Package?

by on October 8, 2014

Hello there big sky fingers! We received an update today for a limited time premium package for purc

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Wacky fun: Mainstream video art on The Simpsons

by on October 5, 2014

Bullett Media called it: this is, indeed, bizarre and brilliant, a must-see Simpsons intro. It’s pretty rad that a) The Simpsons-still going after all these years! and b) still keeping it hilarious and occasionally bizarre after all these years!

The intro was directed by Don Hertzfeldt of Bitter Films. Behold:

It’s like a cross between The Simpsons and the beloved Fruity Oaty Bar commercial from Serenity (trigger warning for those whose brains have been mangled by the Alliance!):

Which brings us to a timely IMPORTANT GEEK HISTORY NOTE! Serenity was released in theaters on this day in 2005. Mirandaaaaaa…

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On the Family Guy Thing

by on October 2, 2014

A Star is Burns18

“And if you ever want to visit my show…” – Jay Sherman
“Nah, we’re not gonna be doing that.” – Bart Simpson

Family Guy has been a raw nerved subject for Simpsons fans pretty much since it began.  This owes in part to the fact that no less a person than Harry Shearer has said that it was cooked up by FOX for the express purposes of squeezing the underpaid voice actors on The Simpsons.  (I don’t know if that’s actually true or not, but it certainly sounds like something FOX would do and Shearer is orders of magnitude more trustworthy than they are.)  Whatever the initial motivation, however, the fact remains that Family Guy came on air right as The Simpsons was crumbling, on the same network, and with the same basic setup, and that’s more than enough to put the word “rip-off” on the tip of people’s tongues.

Chasing the white rabbit of “who copied who” and “how closely” can be fun, but questions of creative influence and credit slip down bottomless holes when you try to pin them down.  There’s no doubt that Family Guy wouldn’t have existed without the success of The Simpsons, but there’s also no doubt that Family Guy is a different show with a different sense of humor and a different creative core.  Flame wars and exhausting discussions can rage in the borderlands between those two certainties, but, like most rabbit chases, they rarely produce any tangible insights or results.

Further complicating matters is the way that Family Guy itself has fallen into the same kind of comedic mediocrity as Zombie Simpsons.  It fell from a much (much) lower height, but, like it’s elder, it’s been reduced to going through the motions for years now.

Being cartoons, both shows are immunized against the inevitable aging that kills even successful live action comedies after a few years.  But critical attention and media interest have mostly moved on, and here in 2014, both shows are kept alive by habit and routine, on the part of the audiences and the staffs.  The people watching know what they want to see (Homer get hurt, Stewie say something evil, etc.), and the people making the show know how to meet those minimal expectations.  Both have become rote and safe entertainment, the kind of dull monotone that keeps enough people tuning in not because they want to see something new and exciting, but because they want something familiar and predicable.

That is the context in which the crossover episode must be understood, and the irony that a show long criticized for mindlessly copying The Simpsons has blithely followed it into senility is easily the most amusing thing about its bloated, double-episode runtime.  Family Guy, long a show that will happily acknowledge criticism even as it ignores the substance of said criticism, basically said so itself on Sunday:

Chris: Yay!  A crossover always brings out the best in each show!  It certainly doesn’t smack of desperation.  The priorities are always creative and not driven by marketing or-
Stewie: Okay, that’s enough.

As a one off joke or deflection, that’s not bad.  But the rest of the episode is a long, drawn out exercise in proving Chris’s sarcasm right.  The episode is laden with one-note crossover jokes about how this or that is slightly different on one show or the other.  Each character gets matched up with their rough equivalent (Peter and Homer, Lois and Marge, Lisa and Meg, Bart and Stewie), and things plow forward from there.  Homer and Peter are both irresponsible jerks, so let’s watch them be so in their slightly different ways: animate, rinse, repeat.

When they announced this ploy last summer, my official reaction was “meh“.  Having now sat through the thing, I don’t have much more to add.  The godmother of this kind of crossover is The Jetsons Meet the Flintsones, where, you guessed it, George and company go back in time to Bedrock while Fred and his family go into the future.  Each family member has to deal with living their life in the other time, fish out of water hilarity ensues (<- not really), and then everyone gets back at the end.  “The Simpsons Guy” is pretty much that.

It’ll be a curious little footnote in the history of both shows, but nothing that happened in the episode was particularly memorable or even really risque (at least by Family Guy standards).  Meg cuts herself, there’s a pointless rape threat (shock comedy is weak and often not even comedy), a waste of time music video, cameos from other FOX shows, and then Peter and Homer engage in one of Family Guy‘s trademark “chicken fights” before it ends.

The repetitiveness and lack of imagination on display are the real reason so many people said this was a bad idea.  Both sets of characters are long since played out, and watching them go through their motions with each other isn’t any more entertaining than when they do it a half hour apart.  Mostly, it’s just boring.

Dead Homer Society