A Review of Zombie Simpsons by The Dead Homer Society

Image (naturally) yoinked from The Dead Homer Society

A couple of years ago (and the exact circumstances escape me), I stumbled across the Dead Homer Society and have bee a loyal reader ever since. It’s not uncommon for websites and blogs to sprout up to save a beloved series, but it’s quite rare to see one dedicated to completely and totally ending a current, beloved, popular and iconic TV show. That however, is the stated purpose of the DHS, whose manifesto proclaims:

Dead Homer Society was formed for two reasons:

1) To create an on-line home for Simpsons fans who outright despise most, if not all, of the double-digit seasons but revere the old ones the way religious types do their stupid books.

2) To create a central place for people who want to see the show finally taken off the air.

So no beating about the bush there. Although the site continues to dissect episodes both old and new, it has also been a great source of analysis as to how and why the show went downhill. Cue the latest piece of literature from the DHS: Zombie Simpsons: How the Best Show Ever Became the Broadcasting Undead.

Although it’s not of biblical length, Charlie Sweatpants has managed to squeeze in a ton of information and analysis into this pseudo post series/ebook. Personally, I always laid the blame for the show’s decline on their move into more outlandish and cartoonish plots without regard for the characters. After reading Zombie Simpsons though, I can safely say that there was much, much more to the decline than that.

Broken down into chapters for your convenience, Zombie Simpsons begins with a look at why it’s a topic that needs to be discussed and why the fall from grace is so gut-wrenching to behold. From the deathly bland nature of the three major networks in the 1980s that gave the upstart FOX network an excuse to be different to the frustration of the viewing audience, we see that The Simpsons was not so much a product of insane brilliance as it was in the right place at the right time.

Moving on, we delve into the inner forces at work behind the TV screen. Deaths, writer changes and ultimately the shift within the FOX network itself from scrappy young fighter to established player have all played a part in how The Simpsons have changed over the years. Zombie Simpsons does a fine job of spelling out how the slide was gradual and ultimately, inevitable.

On top of that, there’s a comprehensive appendix that deals with such trivial things like production and broadcast numbers and some not-so-trivial things such as the often misplaced blame on Mike Scully.

A fine text in itself, it is well worth taking the time to read and ruminate on. It is highly likely that we will never see something the likes of the Simpsons again so as horrible as it is to read about the fall of an icon, it is essential if we are to appreciate the golden years even more.

In Praise Of the Flaws of Hand-Drawn Animation

Over at the Dead Homer Society, they regularly run discussions of recent episodes. With the recent broadcasting of the 500 episode, the discussion included NoHomers.net contributor Zombies Rise from the Sea, who had this to say about the animation on the show and where it’s been going these last few years:

Hand drawn animation is like an art, to insist that people want cleaner HD animation is just shameful. It’s like we don’t appreciate flaws in work, we want everything to be robotic.

While this is aimed more at the Simpsons than anyone else, it is true. The fact that Flash and CGI animation can create much more “perfect” visuals does not result in a superior picture.

Viewers may notice the flaws in traditional, hand-drawn animation, but you would be hard-pressed to find someone who believes that such flaws ruined the viewing experience for them.

The Dead Homer Society Hits This Scene Bang On The Nose

Image naturally yoinked from the Dead Homer Society

Those upstanding lads at the Dead Homer’s Society have analysed in detail a scene from last weeks episode of the Simpsons entitled The Ten Per Cent Solution. The scene in question is the one where Joan Rivers drive a golf cart down the hallway while chasing Squeeky Voiced Teen. (I haven’t seen the episode so I can’t comment on the context).

Suffice to say Charlie Sweatpants has done a very good breakdown of a scene that almost certainly could (and should) have been animated to a much higher standard.

Well worth taking the time to read and muse over.

Five Reasons Why The End of The Simpsons Will Be The Deathknell For Animation on FOX

Via: Hulu

Over the last 20-odd years, The Simpsons has come to be the most successful TV show ever created. In an industry where plenty of shows don’t even make it to the end of their first season, and the numbers that make it beyond the single digits is extremely rare, the fact that one can make it into its third decade is exceedingly rare.

As a result, the longer the Simpsons remain on our TV screens, the more likely it’s ultimate demise will contribute to the collapse of the dominance of animation on FOX.

Below are the five reasons why this is so.

1. Brand Recognition:

Over the last 20 years, the Simpsons has become a brand in their own right. There are Simpsons toys, clothes, sweets, figurines, records, you name it, it has been Simpsonised at some point. What is sometimes overlooked is that it is the success of the TV show that has driven the demand for these products. Millions saw the show in TV and then bought the merchandise they saw in the shop.

Without the weekly reminder that market is sure to suffer a bit. Now keep in mind that I am referring to new episodes. Re-runs remind viewers of the show’s existence, but they tend not to remind them of good times, not encourage them to buy new products.

2. Brand loyalty

The Simpsons as a brand has phenomenal loyalty, so much so that it was able to transgress a brief period at the beginning where it reached proportions normally reserved for ‘fads’. Simpsons fans are famous for their devotion to their favourite show. Of course, it helped that the show was very well written, and more often than not outshone everything else being broadcast at the time.

Once the series ends, however, that loyalty will begin to (slowly) disappear. It will start off imperceptibly, but gradually, we’ll start to see less and less merchandise, more websites and fansites that are update less frequently. People will remain loyal and devoted, but the majority of fans will move on to other shows, or their tastes will change as they get older. Before you know it, all that will be left is a smattering of hardcore fans who hold on to the glory days and maintain that nothing will ever top their faith in a show from the 90s.

Convincing those many fans of the Simpsons that another show is of equal or better quality is a goal that is akin to convincing people that a tax raise really is a good thing. It can be done, but it’s an uphill struggle if ever there was one.Which leads us nicely into…..

3. Inability to replace it

FOX has known for quite a while that no show lives forever and eventually a replacement will have to be found. This is a perfectly reasonable assumption except for one thing: they haven’t found one yet.

It’s not for lack of trying though. Plenty of attempts have been made over the years to try and at least find something that can come close to attracting viewers of the Simpsons and slowly weaning them onto a different show. Pilots, season fillers, live-action, they’ve all been tried without success and still the problem remains.

Family Guy is perhaps the closest the network has come but since it returned from hiatus a few years ago, it is nowhere near what it used to be and currently attracts a far more narrow demographic than the Simpsons did at its height. The same goes for the other McFarlane children, they all share similar traits that prohibit them from ever reaching the largest audience possible.

4. It’s Still Good

Although I tend to agree with plenty of what the loyal Stonecutters over at the Dead Homer Society have to say, in the grand scheme of things, The Simpsons remains a very well written show. Especially in light of all the other “sitcoms” and “comedies” that the various networks put out during the week.

5. Changes in management structure

Last but most certainly not least, the Simpsons could never be repeated because FOX as a network has changed. When the Simpsons were first broadcast, the creators were given a wide berth when it came to content and biting the hand that feeds them. The simple reason for this was that the network needed ratings and ad revenue, and allowing the producers a bit of leeway went a long way in letting the show find it’s place in the TV world.

Since then, FOX has become successful, and much more mainstream as a result. I can’t foresee a show being given similar leeway (and a share of the merchandising) ever again. It just won’t happen. As a result, we’re unlikely to ever see a show like the Simpsons grace our screen again.

Conclusion

When the Simpsons eventually does get sent to the great big TV in the sky, it’s highly unlikely that a show such as Family Guy will manage to retain many of the Simpsons loyal fanbase and as a result, is more likely to falter when left to carry the network by itself. Once that happens, it seems probable that animation, as a driving force on the FOX network is doomed.