Monday, January 18, 2010

Final Four

Due to lower readership and a desire to do... other things? Well for a change, anyways! Due to a desire for a change I am going to discontinue this blog. I have decided to sign off with four very typically Liz posts, and bid farewell to my web log.

The truth is that I never intended to have a blog, it just sort of came about and I didn't realize how attached I'd gotten to the idea that somewhere on the internet someone gave a crap what I thought or was doing on any given day. It turned into a bit of a journal and I'm fond of looking back on the past from time to time, but I've started to think that all of that energy might have been better spent writing something more creative and less self-indulgent. Well... more creative any ways.

Sometimes it's hardest to let go of things, not because we love them, but because we've become accustomed to them. I suppose, as the adage goes, if this loves me it will find its way back, but I some how doubt that it will.

So here it goes. 4th to last post:

"In Defence of the Last 10 Years of The Simpsons"

I was watching the 20th anniversary of The Simpsons on Fox last weekend, and one of the current writers on the show had a favourite commment of the evening:

"I think internet message boards were a lot funnier 10 years ago"

(He was only second to my favourite comment from Mike Reiss who said something to the effect of "Barbara Bush, the first lady of the United States at the time said that the Simpsons was stupidest thing she'd ever seen. Lady, have you taken a look at your son?")

My generation needs to remember that a lot people a couple of years older than us think that the series jumped the shark after the first writing staff left... that's (as a commentary junkie I know) in the middle of Cape Feare. That's right. Imagine a world without Sideshow Bob singing HMS Pinafore. A world where Homer never went to space, tried to eat a pie by opening and closing his jaw and moving towards it (only to be blocked by the oven light) where Lisa never became a vegetarian, where Mr Burns never had the Rolling Stones killed, Barney never directed, wrote and starred in the unfortunately titled Pukahontas and Sherry Bobbins didn't get swallowed by a jet engine. Had the Simpsons stopped the first people accused them of getting stale the show wouldn't have developed a number of its classic words: "cromulent", "imbiggens", "boourns", or "chowdah!"

I don't know a lot of people 5-10 years younger than myelf, but the ones I do talk to feel much the same way about seasons 12-17 or... and in time there'll be people who stand by the new episodes. Part of the reasons we love these old episodes so much is that we've seen them so many times and are so much a part of our consciousness that we can't help but love them. No new episode is going to live up to Cape Feare or Marge vs. The Monorail partly because the bulk of people I know can recite the Monorail song in their sleep. In spite of this, there are a number of episodes that I have enjoyed in the past 10 years, and frankly I thought the movie was really funny and enjoyable. Here is my list of the top 10 Simpsons episodes and lines from the past 10 years:

Top 10 Episodes since Season 11

10. Weekend at Burnsie's (season 13)
9. The Haw Hawed Couple (season 18)
8. Beyond Blunderdome (season 11)
7. E Pluribus Wiggum (season 19)
6. Jaw Wired Shut (season 13)
5. The Bart of War (season 14)
4. Tales from the Public Domain (season 13)
3. Mommie Beerest (season 16)
2. The Regina Monologues (season 15)
1. HOMR (season 12)

Top 10 Lines

10. Homer: We have a kitchen?!

9. Lisa: We were playing Four Square, and I called no double-taps, and Ralph double-taps, and I said, "You're out," and he said, (Imitating Ralph) "I can do a somersault," which has nothing to do with anything!

8. Lisa: You love Moleman! You're gay for Moleman!
Bart: No, you're gay for Moleman.
Moleman: No one's gay for Moleman.

7. I am including the entire clip but the line in question is the final one spoken by comic book guy:

6. Homer: Come on Carter, you lazy bum, build us a house!
Jimmy Carter: Sir, you have offended me, I challenge you to a dual

5. Sideshow Bob: Ah the catwalk, the perfect view point... for revenge! (takes out a bag of potato chips) Ah, kettle chips, the perfect side dish... for revenge!

4. Moe: I may have just dodged a bullet here...


2. Lisa: [gasps] What happened Dad? They didn't really burn her did they?

Marge: [hastily grabs the Book from Homer] Of course not, Honey. "Just then, Sir Lancelot rode up on a white horse and saved Joan of Arc. They got married and lived in a space ship. The End."[ Tears out the page and begins eating it] Well, it's easier to swallow than that Bambi video.

1. And tied for first:

Homer: Is there no room in the world for the man with the 105 IQ?!!

Lisa: ... as intelligence increases happiness decreases. See? I made a graph. I make a lot of graphs.

And my last list of the night...

Top 3 Reasons that The Simpsons might not be as completely awesome as they were 10 years ago that are completely excusable and/or totally beyond the control of Matt Groening/Fox and the entire writing staff

4. "I Feel Like I've Been Wearing This Same Red Dress Forever"

Many years ago the decision was made to keep the Simpsons the same age forever and ever. While undoubtedly the right call, it has led to some problems over the years. Mainly: time line and consistency. While Matt Groening calls it "elastic band reality" the band has gotten REALLY stretched out over time. The reality of the show is hindered by its own rules. To extend the metaphor, they've stretched and stretched the band, and now it's gotten too loose to return to its original form. Any sense of reality we once had with the show has been stretched too far. It's seems quaint to think that an episode might end with Maggie saying "Da-da" or that Bart might actually fail and be held back a grade... more so?

It's not that they made the wrong choice in not aging them, or in having certain ongoing gags, or stepping outside of reality. It's what makes the show work, but also what makes it difficult to sustain after 20 years. Seriously, how does Homer still have a job?...

3. Selective Memory of Childhood

Do you remember how awesome the 90s were and how much better everything was? Kids back then didn't talk back to their parents or listen to terrible music. Oh wait, we just kind of blocked that stuff out of our minds because WE WERE KIDS THEN. People idealize their childhoods/adolescence as some sort of golden age. The truth is that we probably loved the Simspons a lot more back in the mid 90s because that's when we had endless hours to sit and flip through Simpsons episode on TV from 5:00pm (on CBC) to about 7:30 (on OMNI). Much the same way Star Wars will never be as good as it once was and surely no XBox 360 game will ever top Super Mario Brothers 3 or Golden Eye, The Simpsons will surely never be as great as our love of our childhood.

Now ask us if Season 5 of the Simpsons was better than Batman the Animated Series. You see, now we have reached an impasse.

2. The Simpsons Already Did It

South Park hit the nail on the head with this one. Thing is, they said it SEVEN years ago. The Simpsons have already done everything simply by virtue of being on the air for as long as they have. Now I don't always agree with their choices... "hey let's have ANOTHER retro story about Marge and Homer, and this time it can be in the 90s"... sigh... but stuff like having Lisa get a job on the Krusty the Clown show only to become more popular than him... it was bound to happen. How many different plots are there? And here's the thing, they are competing with shows like South Park who produce all of 14 episodes a season. Sure South Park is always doing new things, they only make 14 a year. Now I'm not saying that it's easy, and in fact it might be a wiser choice, but it's a choice afforded to you when you are on Comedy Central.
As far as other animated shows on Fox go, not to name any names (wouldn't want to offend the manatees), but when you don't actually worry about having a plot to your episode and still manage to be repetitive... well frankly I don't think the Simpsons are doing all that badly.

1. Firecrackers: The Silent Killer

When people complain about season 10 on, they don't always talk about over one very important factor: these are 11 seasons without Lionel Hutz or Troy Maclure. I think that their absence has cost the show greatly, and left a void that Disco Stu, Gil and the "YEEEESSS" guy would never be able to fill. In grade 9 my fellow high school drama nerds and I observed a moment of silence for Hartman's passing, but back then I'm not sure that I truly realized what loss it would be for the comedy world.

Also of note in this discussion. On the 20th Anniversary Special Conan O'Brien was interviewed and said that his ideal job would just to get paid to sit around all day, drinking wine and thinking of things for Mr. Burns and Smithers to say.

Given current events I'd say that the pieces are falling in to place for a Season 22.

Stay tuned for my last three posts: I've Been Drinking and Here's What I think: The Fellowship of the Drink, List Maker, and The End...


joe said...

Sorry to hear you're closing your blog! But it's probably better than just letting it go for months and months without a post. Cough cough.. ;-P

Best of luck to you in your new creative endeavours!

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