The Simpsons

Memorable Moments From The Simpsons: Then and Now

Everyone knows The Simpsons isn’t what it used to be, but besides the lower bar for jokes, there has been a fundamental shift in many of the memorable moments of the series too.

The picture below is perhaps a wee bit biased (no mention, for example, of the death of Homer’s mother), but it is nonetheless an indication of just how much the show has changed. The latter series’ emphasis on guest stars as the center of attention only highlights how subdued guest stars were in the earlier seasons; Tom Jones was a plot device not the plot itself.

I can’t speak for the character analysis at the top seeing as I gave up watching new episodes almost two years ago, but it is nonetheless disheartening to see the degradation of the family. When characters in kids TV shows have more depth than the show that set the gold standard, that’s a huge sign of trouble.

Anyway, click through to embiggen the gory detail.

 

12 Years of Putin in 2 Minutes

We generally try to stay away from politics on this blog (there’s plenty of time for that down the pub), but I couldn’t resist posting this video by egorhzhgun which takes Vladimir Putin and mashes the last 12 years of his political career with the Simpsons and the original “Noah Takes A Picture of Himself video). At almost 1.4 million views, it’s proving pretty popular.

Why FOX Can’t Seem To Get Animation Right Again

FOX is well known for being the only consistent purveyor of animation on broadcast TV. Ever since 1989 when The Simpsons burst onto our screens, the network has been the only maintream network where animation has found success. The others do not lack for want of trying however, they’ve just never been able to crack the nut in the same way that FOX has.

It’s also well known that FOX has had problems over the years moving outside it’s traditional animation strongholds. Besides the Simpsons, the network has had only two other bona fide animated hits in King of the Hill and Family Guy. There were other shows, better shows, but none managed to last more than a few seasons (we’ll get to the McFarlane spin-offs in a minute).

Naturally, FOX hasn’t been resting on its laurels but has been actively searching for potential replacements for its incumbent shows. Its success in that regard has been lackluster to say the least. Family Guy is the only show to have come close to toppling the Simpson’s strangelhold on the network, and even then it was canned before it was brought back to life after a year and half.

Since then it has become a massive success, which has lead to the two spin-off shows in American Dad and The Cleveland Show. However, all three shows and the Simpsons are essentially the same formula in that they revolve around a family. Now that’s not to say its a bad thing, but it does tend to limit your audience if you do that. Besides, the McFarlane children exist only because of Seth’s midas touch and his accute wisdom to stay within his safety zone; unlike Matt Groening, who went beyond with Futurama and got burned because of it.

Secondly, FOX is broadcasting shows whose formulae are well out of date. The Simpsons is 20+ years old, Family Guy is almost a teenager. Yes, the shows have kept ‘up-to-date” but they are still rooted in those eras. Things just aren’t the same as they were back in the day. Styles and tastes have moved on. Admittedly FOX has attempted to catch up but its efforts with Futurama and Sit Down, Shut Up were pathetic to say the least.

Lastly, we need to ask ourselves if big-budget scripted animated shows of the caliber of the Simpsons and Family Guy are even worth creating any more? The historical context is that broadcast networks drew a much larger audience than cable. But everyone and their wife knows that broadcast ratings for even the highest shows are perilously close to those of cable. The fractitous nature of the viewing audience has resulted in a proliferation of networks that cater to more nuanced tastes. Thankfully some of those tastes have included animation.

So the question is not really why can’t FOX get another animated hit so much as should it even bother trying?

My position is that it should not, at least not on the scale that it currently produces. If animated shows are to survive in “broadcast” TV they need to be leaner and smarter and sadly FOX is searching for neither.

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.

Poll: Which is the Greatest Treehouse of Horror?

Via: Simpsons.wikia.com

Almost everyone who’s a fan of the Simpsons appreciates the annual Treehouse of Horror episodes that are broadcast around Halloween. They’re a delightfully welcome intrusion of silly nonsense into the otherwise (or rather, formerly) realistic universe that the Simpsons live in.

While some are better than others, these four represent the truly best episodes. Which do you think is the best?

[poll id=”4″]

 

 

A Puke-Inducing Animated GIF From The Simpsons

Well, not really puke inducing, but certainly fairly shocking when one considers the quality of the animation. It’s pretty poor. The movement is too rigid, the women is just a short cycle followed by some actual movement and as someone on tumblr pointed out, the effects on the alien look about 10 years out of date. It’s kinda sad to say you’ve seen better quality in a student’s animated film than on a primetime show like The Simpsons.

Is this what The Simpsons has become? Apparently so, even in its early days, at least the animation was honest. Klasky-Csupo was a young studio getting off the ground and the studio in Korea was having teething problems finishing the animation, so the blatant errors can be excused. Today though, with 20+ years of experience, there is no real excuse for poor/lazy animation.

In addition to that, how about the joke? Have a peek at the clip below from Al Jean and Mike Reiss’ short-lived 1990s sitcom, The Critic and see if you can’t spot something familiar.

This Classic Shot From The Simpsons Says It All

In fact, it’s one of my favourites, from Summer of 4 Ft. 2.

What better way to express Lisa’s anger than to have her absolutely stick it to Bart. The almost unnerving reversal of roles is gleeful to watch as Bart is stunned into silence. The grip on his shirt and the way his hair falls back are indicative that he is clearly at her mercy. The fact the she is glowering down at him reinforces the fact that she is in charge.

It’s great to see that Lisa can, on occasion, equal her older brother in terms of menacing behaviour.

Although it’s the subtlety of the scene that makes it so effective. Lisa could have gone off on a rant, shouting and yelling at Bart (and she does in other episodes) however, here, she is much more refined in her approach, which makes it all the more effective as a scene.

The joke of the whole thing is that all of this goes on as Milhouse sits unseen at the other side of the table, completely oblivious to what’s happening right in front of his nose the entire time.