What do you do if you're a long-running show that's totally out of ideas? Do you scrounge up long-discarded episode ideas from the Trash Co. waste disposal unit and try to pass them off as new? What if you've completely exhausted that avenue? What's your next recourse? Well, if you're The Simpsons, you do the next best thing - scrounge up long-discarded fanfiction.
A little while ago, comedy movie king Judd Apatow told Slashfilm he wrote a fanscript for The Simpsons way back in 1990 after only five or six episodes had aired, which he described like so:
And what it was about was they went to see a hypnotism show and at the hypnotism show, they made Homer think he was the same age as Bart. And then the hypnotist had a heart attack. So now Homer and Bart became best friends and they spent the rest of the show running away because Homer didn't want responsibility and didn't want to be brought back to his real age. So I basically copied that for every movie I've made since.
Well, that guy in Springfield, Oregon may have failed in his attempt to create a "Simpsonsville", but it looks like Universal Studios Florida (which I think is different from Universal Studios Islands of Adventure but I'm not totally sure) might be getting a Simpsons Land around its Simpsons Ride attraction, if "one ride surrounded by a bunch of price-gouging gift shops and restaurants" even counts as a theme park land these days. Some theme park blog called Screamscape (which I don't think is even a "blog" since it appears to just be a static web page that gets updated when new rumors come in) has been on the case since September, when they posted this:
According to Screamscape sources, we can expect to see the International Food Festival food court eatery next to The Qwik-E-Mart [sic.] closed in the next few weeks in order to undergo a major transformation to become Simpsons themed. Rumor has it that we will see the addition of a true Krusty Burger and Moe's Tavern appear here in time for late Spring 2013. I can only assume that we will see Universal take what they learned about adding custom food and beverage items from the Wizarding World [of Harry Potter] and bring some tasty edible Simpsons items to life. Who else is up for a Flaming Moe?
It was only a matter of time before tween heartthrob Justin Bieber did a guest voice for The Simpsons. And now the inevitable has become reality, and the show's producers are surely confident it'll give them a huge ratings boost. It didn't work last time with Lady Gaga - just the opposite, in fact - but, dog gone it, they're nothing if not persistent.
The Biebster tweeted the news himself earlier this evening. Here's his Tweet, embedded below...
We've made fun of episode titles in the past for being exceptionally lazy or recycled puns, but at least those took a modicum of effort and at least ten seconds to come up with. This one, however, takes the cake:
A Simpsons short starring Maggie the Baby is being shoved in front of the fourth Ice Age movie, flying into theaters this summer. The commercial said it's in 3D except I don't know if they mean "3D" as in CGI or "3D" as in "you have to wear special glasses while Maggie throws blocks at you" or both. "The Longest Daycare" is being directed by longtime Simpsons guy David Silverman who used to animate the original Simpsons shorts on the Tracey Ullman Show twenty-five years ago.
Check out this sneak peek preview of an upcoming episode from next season:
When Bart's love life heats up again on The Simpsons, it will involve an old flame or two. Actually, make that five. Not only will Zooey Deschanel guest-star on the animated comedy by reprising her role as Mary Spuckler -- that adorable hillbilly daughter of Cleetus [sic.] whom Bart nearly married in season 19 -- four other former girlfriends, voiced by Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Sarah Silverman, make cameos in the same episode, EW has learned.
This episode has it all: a hackneyed plot ripped off from romantic comedies, a bunch of guest stars returning to voice some of the blandest characters in the show's history (Girlfriend #4, Girlfriend #7, et al.), a clip show-like premise that emphasizes not only how long the show's been on but how repetitive and assembly line-produced it's been, Bart having what sounds like a midlife crisis at the age of 10, and a country song performed by Zooey Deschanel, who apparently played one of Cletus the slack-jawed yokel's daughter in some horrible-sounding episode I managed to avoid. Please end this show. [Entertainment Weekly]
Fox is always looking for new ways to encourage people to kill themselves. With their plans for an all-Simpsons channel having failed to materialize, it looked like their attempts to integrate The Simpsons into their master plan were dead on arrival.
Luckily, the Guinness Book of World Records stepped up to the plate and came up with a brilliant scheme that protects Fox from any liability: locking a bunch of people in a room and forcing them to watch all 500 episodes of The Simpsons, including the 300 or so that comprise The Bad Seasons. Whoever is still alive at the end of this charade will obtain 10,500 US dollars in hush money.
Way back in the heady days of late Season 13, viewers were presented with the tantalizing prospect of a Simpson family voyage to the mysterious continent of Antarctica:
Homer: The Simpsons are goin' to Brazil.
Bart: Then I'll have been on every continent.
Marge: Except Antarctica.
Homer: The Simpsons are goin' to Antarctica ... next year. This year Brazil.
But alas, a vacation to Antarctica was not in the cards for the following season (instead they went to EPCOT Center to help reunite Principal Skinner with Mrs. Krapabbel, who is now dating Ned Flanders for some reason). Although some fanfiction writers tried to keep the dream alive, the hopes of seeing Bart and Lisa hanging out with penguins slowly evaporated as the years went on and the Simpsons seemed to go everywhere except Antarctica (remember the time they went to Ireland? No? Good.) But now, finally, a decade later, THE DREAM HAS BECOME REALITY.
The Hollywood Reporter:
This season the Simpsons will achieve the landmark of having visited all seven continents: Yes, this means the Simpsons family is headed to Antarctica.
Now there's no guarantee this will be a straight-up "vacation" episode like Bart vs. Australia or Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo. It could just be a brief stopover, like the time they went to Peru
, or Homer's visit to the Kwik-E-Mart head office in India
. But I certainly hope it's the former. Predictions: they go there because of something involving Lisa and global warming, Homer ignores the advice of the scientists in the research base and goes off alone, Homer fights with some penguins and gets bitten, a melting glacier becomes the setpiece of the obligatory action-packed Act 4 conflict. I can't wait!
My biggest beef with The Simpsons nowadays is how much it feels like fan fiction. Characters speak in the same stilted voice, their personality traits are either ignored or sacrificed so they can be crammed into a ridiculous situation, and storylines tend to revolve around shocking new revelations, origin stories, and pairing characters together. So I'm not surprised that the show is actually giving control to shippers.
This Sunday, after a new episode where Mrs. Krabappel (she and Mr. K should really get that divorce finalized) starts dating Ned Flanders, viewers will get to decide whether their relationship continues, in a half-assed attempt to generate "buzz." It's exactly like that Batman thing from the 1980s where readers decided whether Robin lived or died, except with "Nedna." Yes, they've already coined a name for it.
The Simpsons has a good track record of cleverly subverting their shameless stunts: Mr. Burns was shot by the least likely suspect; a fan-created character was killed instantly. But I highly doubt even a hilarious twist could salvage this desperate gimmick. Will it be a forgettable waste of time? Or will it be a forgettable waste of time? (Answer: It will be a forgettable waste of time.) [TVbytheNumbers]
Popular songstress and harpy Joanna Newsom is reportedly appearing in an upcoming Simpsons episode. It's being described as a "guest appearance," but I have reason to believe this is merely a smokescreen for the real truth: the producers are secretly bringing in Newsom to replace Yeardley Smith as the voice of Lisa Simpson.
Now, I know what you're thinking: hey, the Yeardster's voiced America's favorite starfish-haired feminist for nearly 25 years! They're not just going to throw her under the bus! Well, let's take a look at the evidence:
FACT: Newsom's voice is often compared to that of Lisa Simpson's.
FACT: The voice actors are not getting any younger.
Just look at what happened to Frank Welker, who used to voice the dog: the producers discovered Dan Castelleneta could voice the dog just as good, so they gave Frankie the boot. Could history repeat itself again when Newsom comes in to record what she believes is a cameo? Let's say, hypothetically, a director slides her a script and asks her, just for funsies, to read some of Lisa's lines. And what if, that night, the producers get together, in secret, and compare her vocal track with Smith's... and decide Newsom's is better?
If I were Yeardley Smith, I'd be looking over my shoulder at all times. And I were Joanna Newsom, I'd leave the harp at home, in order to prevent any Nancy Kerrigan-type shenanigans... Developing... [TwentyFourBit ]
UPDATE (10/20/2010): IN THE NEWS has successfully shamed the producers from going through with their plan, and Joanna Newsom's cameo is definitely not happening. Yeardley Smith, you're welcome. [Pitchfork]
In case you ever need further evidence of the creative bankruptcy of Current Simpsons, look no further than the episode titles themselves. Here is a list of titles from Seasons 21 and 22.
- Bart Gets a "Z" - Reference to Bart Gets an F, which was also referenced later that season with Bart's Dog Gets an F, and again in Season 10 with Lisa Gets an "A"
- Rednecks and Broomsticks - Pun of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, already parodied by Mypods and Boomsticks
- O Brother, Where Bart Thou? - Pun of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," a fictional novel from Sullivan's Travels, already referenced by O Brother, Where Art Thou?
- Moe Letter Blues - Pun of Mo' Better Blues, already referenced by Moe Baby Blues
- Elementary School Musical - Incredibly lazy parody of High School Musical that had already been used by a South Park episode
- Loan-a Lisa - Pun on Mona Lisa, already referenced by Moaning Lisa, Moe'N'a Lisa, and Mona Leaves-a
- Lisa Simpson, This Isn't Your Life - Reference to the catchphrase from This Is Your Life, already referenced by Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife
- Flaming Moe - Presumably, this is the title to an upcoming episode where "Moe's Tavern is converted into an ultra-trendy bar," which given the homophobic tendencies of the current show, undoubtedly means "gay bar." The title, of course, is a parody of Flaming Moe's.... essentially making a gay joke out of a title that was already a gay joke.
After a duet with monster-entertainer Elmo was cut from Sesame Street for being too hot for educational TV, singer-songwriter Katy Perry has rebounded with puppet versions of Simpsons characters for some sort of gimmicky Christmas episode. Little known fact: Katy Perry is half-muppet on her father's side. [Entertainment Weekly]
The Simpsons - assuming they mean the the Simpsons and not, like, Jessica and Ashlee Simpson - will be appearing in some multi-network anti-cancer telethon thing (can we safely assume any celebrity not appearing supports cancer?) that will air September 10th. The last time The Simpsons did this, Homer got a colonoscopy, so that's where the bar is set. [TVbytheNumbers.com]
Hey, you! Do you know who Mark Zuckerburg is? If not, you soon will, because 2010 is the Year of Zuck! He's the cat who made the popular Friendster clone Facebook, which is currently in "hot water" for selling all of its users' personal information to the Taliban in exchange for drugs. The outrage is so widespread that it even made the cover of Time Magazine, which is apparently considered a big deal!
As the face of Facebook (I hope you enjoyed this phrase!!! I stayed up all night writing it!!!), you can expect to see the Zuckster's mug - which by the way used to be in the goddamn logo seriously what kind of weird egomaniac does that - all over the place in news story after news story as this privacy brouhaha continues into the summer. If we're lucky, we might even see him look remorseful and say he's really sorry, just like the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Toyota, and BP!
Then, in the fall, an unflattering movie based on an unflattering book about Zuckerburg, his creepy mentor The Napster Guy, and the creation of Facebook will hit theaters, bringing his extreme jerkiness and unethical behavior to the attention of general audiences. And it's in 3-D! Even if you don't plan on seeing it, Hollywood's relentless marketing juggernaut will ensure you'll see fake-Zuckerburg's face everywhere (except maybe on Facebook?).
Finally, if that wasn't enough, Zuckerburg will guest star as himself (!) on The Simpsons (possibly to soften his image after public perception of him takes a beating?). This is surprisingly timely for a show that took seven years to do an episode about 9/11! For once, The Simpsons is actually jumping on a trend while it's still sort of hot; it's pretty amazing they didn't go with Tom from MySpace. Could The Simpsons become culturally relevant again...? (Haha, no. They just did an episode about the Patriot Act, so I suspect it's only a matter of time before Bart joins a flash mob.)
Anyway, shortly thereafter The Year of Zuck will conclude with Zuckerburg being thrown into a volcano after America grows sick of him, the end.
On an upcoming episode of Top Chef Masters (May 12 on Bravo) some top chefs have to chef up some foods for Simpsons characters, which will be judged by Matt Groening, Hank Azaria and writer Matt Selman:
There are starving people in the world and we're making food for cartoon characters??? Is whatever the hell this is becoming mainstream??? [Monsters and Critics]
UPDATE: Oh man I totally thought this was an upcoming episode but it actually aired before I posted this... I should really check my simpsons google alerts more often
In a stunt that puts NBC's "Green Week" initiative to shame, Fox has apparently ordered several of its shows to include a musical number as part of a week-long campaign dubbed "Fox Rocks," presumably to promote the network's two most unpopular shows, American Idol and Glee. The Simpsons is participating by having "Homer, Marge and the gang" "rock out" to the song "TiK ToK" by Ke$ha in a couch gag.
When The Simpsons started, executive producer James L. Brooks had enough clout to mandate no network interference, which helped make the show great.
What happened? [The Wrap]
The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed
American History X-cellent
Moe Letter Blues
The Bob Next Door
The Squirt and the Whale
Donnie Fatso [No Homers Club]
The guy who made a whole movie about how eating a lot of mcdonalds food is bad for you is going to direct a documentary about the simpsons, who gives a shit. The real news is that it's gonna be called "THE SIMPSONS 20th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL IN 3-D ON ICE," which is the best name for a thing ever. [ComingSoon.net]
Simpsons producers are supposedly hoping to get U.S. celebrity Barack Obama to lend his voice to an upcoming episode. According to a script obtained by rubbercat.net/simpsons, the episode involves Ralph Wiggum competing in the Special Olympics. [Simpsons Channel]
This isn't really news or anything, I just wanted to throw that out there [New York Post]