The Simpsons Has Been On For A Quarter of A Century Now

25 years of the simpsonsCongratulations to Matt Groening, Al Jean, and co. on achieving this meaningless milestone.

Now, please, for the love of God, do the merciful thing and end it. It's too late to bow out with dignity. You will never surpass Sazae-san. There are no more plaudits left to achieve. You ran out of ideas over a decade ago. The next episode is about the Simpsons meeting the aliens. You are just throwing stuff at the wall now.

Mrs. Krabappel Is Writing Scientific Articles From Beyond The Grave

Mrs. Krabappel

It's a Christmas miracle! Dearly departed Springfield schoolmarm Edna Krabappel has returned, and she's writing scientific studies with her colleagues Margaret "Maggie" Simpson and Kim Jong Fun.

The trio's latest study, about a "new methodology for forward-error correction," has been accepted for publication into two real-world scientific journals.

Unfortunately, it's all a cruel hoax, as Vox explains:

Of course, none of these fictional characters actually wrote the paper, titled "Fuzzy, Homogeneous Configurations." Rather, it's a nonsensical text, submitted by engineer Alex Smolyanitsky in an effort to expose a pair of scientific journals -- the Journal of Computational Intelligence and Electronic Systems and the comic sans-loving Aperito Journal of NanoScience Technology.

Yes, Smolyanitsky's intentions were good, but did he really have to drag a beloved dead woman into his twisted scheme and give us false hope that she might still be out there, somewhere???

While this incident certainly doesn't bode well for Krabappel's future in academia, we can only hope she continues to send more cryptic messages from the great unknown.

[Vox via The Washington Post]

The Simpsons Predicts The Past

Here's an intriguing headline from Vox:

The Simpsons predicted Russia's current economic downturn back in 1999

And here's an excerpt from the actual story:

Of course it was not actually "predicting" today's Russian economic downturn, but rather riffing off the earlier downturn, of which there have been several.

So, basically, the show didn't predict it at all and your headline is a blatant lie. That's some good reportin' there, Lou.

Wait a minute... this was all a ploy to get us to learn about the Russian economy, wasn't it?!

Learning? Russia? Let's get out of here!

Simpsons Writer Leaves Show In Twitter Huff

Simpsons writer/producer Marc Wilmore announced his departure from the show in a strange series of tweets.

Previously a writer/performer on In Loving Color and The PJs, Wilmore joined The Simpsons in 2000. He was the sole black writer to have been part of the show's writing staff (Michael Carrington, who co-wrote "Homer's Triple Bypass" and voiced Sideshow Raheem, wasn't technically part of the staff).

On Thursday and Friday, he tweeted self-deprecating jokes about his newfound unemployment and suggestions the parting was less than amicable. It's most certainly all part of a comedy bit, but... what if it wasn't...?!?

Judge for yourself...

Simpsons World Now Live

lisa simpson computer
Simpsons World, the much-anticipated Simpsons streaming service from FXX, just went live a few hours ago. Here's my initial impressions of it. Please note I'm just using the web version, so I don't know if there's anything different about the mobile version.

Jan Hooks (1957 - 2014)

Jan Hooks, Saturday Night Live alumna and voice of Apu's wife Manjula on The Simpsons, died Thursday at the age of 57. According to news reports, she had been suffering from an unspecified illness.

At HitFix, TV reviewer Alan Sepinwall praises her tenure at Saturday Night Live, characterizing her as a "glue guy" who never got her due:

On a show that so often prizes big performances, preferably in characters that can be repeated over and over and over (like [Rob] Schneider's copy machine guy), the quiet consistency of a Hooks didn't stand out as much... [b]ut like [Phil] Hartman, she gave it her all in every sketch, whether as the straight woman or the comic centerpiece.

For just six episodes of The Simpsons, Hooks played Manjula Nahasapeemapetilon, betrothed wife of Apu and mother of their eight children (Anoop, Gheet, Nabendu, Poonam, Pria, Sandeep, Sashi, and Uma), beginning with 1997's "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons" and ending with 2002's "Large Marge." The role was taken over by regular cast member Tress MacNeille, who had originally voiced a younger Manjula in 1996's "Much Apu About Nothing" and filled in whenever Hooks was unavailable. Manjula was not exactly a breakout character, but Hooks imbued in her a sense of quiet dignity that, like her performances on Saturday Night Live, went largely unnoticed.

Don Hertzfeldt Animated Tonight's Couch Gag

I am a banana
America's greatest living independent animator Don Hertzfeldt (Rejected, Billy's Balloon, It's Such a Beautiful Day) is doing the couch gag for tonight's The Simpsons episode (the one where Krusty's dad dies).
UPDATE (10/2/2014): And here it is:

John Swartzwelder's Long-Lost Western Pilot Is On YouTube

Pistol Pete

Pistol Pete, a 1996 pilot for a Western spoof written and produced by legendary Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder, has surfaced for the first time thanks to a mysterious benefactor on YouTube:

The show centers around Pistol Pete, a fake cowboy starring in a New York City Wild West stage show who becomes the real sheriff of a Western town, played by the impeccable Stephen Kearney. It's kinda like the Adam West Batman series set in the West with absurd Swartzweldian gags.

Like its mysterious creator, Pistol Pete gained some notoriety because pretty much nobody outside the people who produced it had ever seen it. Will Harris of Antenna Free TV wrote a comprehensive account - or at least as comprehensive as you can be about something you've never seen - about it last year, scoring interviews with Kearney and co-star Mark Derwin. Apparently, Swartzwelder was in such high demand that the studio pretty much gave him whatever he wanted. Unfortunately, the Fox network declined to pick it up as a series, possibly because Rupert Murdoch was feeling sleepy when the executives screened it.

Upon discovery (...?) of the video, Swartzwelder e-mailed it to Harris, who then tweeted it to the world. Now, perhaps the only big Simpsons writer "holy grail" that remains is George Meyer's script for an unproduced movie that was to star David Letterman.

[YouTube via Twitter]

Bowl Taken

The Simpsons live show is over now, with far less casualties than the usual Hollywood Bowl event. In defiance of the rules, some audience members recorded it with their cell phones and cameras. Here's a video of the Friday show, which could be taken down at any time:

Dead Homer Society has some more videos of the Saturday and Sunday shows, but I'm not going to bother watching them.

Some observations:

  • "Unlike Seth MacFarlane, Matt [Groening] will not force you to listen to him sing" burnsauce
  • Whoever recorded this decided to leave it on for part of the intermission, but ran out of battery during Jon Lovitz singing the Planet of the Apes musical, and then somehow regained power immediately after. Okay...
  • Jon Lovitz is basically a more likable version of Ricky Gervais.
  • Host Hank Azaria got to live his greatest nightmare onstage because nobody told him a clip he was setting up was cut.
  • The Alf Clausen tribute seemed abrupt and a little at odds with the rest of the show's tone. Still, nice to see the Sideshow Bob motif get its due...
  • Conan O'Brien seemed energetic, but "The Monorail Song" isn't really much of a song, come to think of it.
  • "Do The Bartman" was really disappointing. Granted, it's hard to do the Bart voice while singing in front of hundreds of people with limited stage experience, while also trying to make sure you don't fall off the stage, but still...
  • Here's the weirdest thing: Harry Shearer (who generally doesn't agree to anything that's not in his contract because he feels cheated by Fox) apparently didn't give permission for his voice to be used in clips. So, twice they had to replace him with a "scratch" voice that's REALLY OBVIOUS AND WEIRD. Shearer also declined to do The Simpsons Ride, but his voice is still present in episode clips that play while you're waiting in line, so I don't know what the deal is.

Matt Groening's "I Think We Are Closer To Wrapping It Up" Comment Was More Than Half The Series Ago

Matt Groening giving an interview

During an interview with London's Financial Times back in April 2002, Simpsons creator Matt Groening mused "I think we are closer to winding it up." It was a fairly innocuous comment - the show had been on for over 12 years at that point, and he naturally didn't think it would go on for another 12 - but our alarmist media took it to mean the show was ending immediately, causing something of a global panic. It was all very stupid:

D’OH! THEY’RE MAKING FUNERAL PLANS FOR… THE SIMPSONS (New York Post)
Save the Greatest Show on Earth; Can Simpsons Creator Matt Groening Be Persuaded Not to Quit? (The Evening Standard)
'The Simpsons' may be . . . D'oh! (Philly.com)
Are Homer's days numbered? (Daily Telegraph)
'The Simpsons' soon to bow out (CNN Money)

In an effort to quell the uproar, Groening later clarified, "I don't want anyone to think I am predicting the demise of the Simpsons. They will live on with new adventures for years to come. As long as there are things to make fun of we will be around." The next episode's chalkboard gag also addressed the issue.

At the time of the "wrapping it up" comment, The Simpsons had been on the air for 4,517 days. It has now been 4,518 days since that comment was reported, and there is still no end in sight.

Matt Groening To Play Self In Role Of A Lifetime

matt groening
America's most famous Portlander Matt Groening will guest star as himself in the upcoming fifth season of Portlandia. Groening's previous acting roles include himself, a greaser, and a talking car.

Meanwhile, Japan's most famous Portlander Kamenosuke Yamamoto will guest star in a commercial for Cup Noodle.

[Splitsider]

Simpsons Going Off The Air

Yes, the Simpsons are going off the air... so they can star in an exclusive 3-night concert at the Hollywood Bowl this weekend! Half the cast will be there! Conan O'Brien will do the monorail song! Beverly D'Angelo, Jon Lovitz, and Weird Al will make appearances! Who knows, maybe writer John Swartzwelder will perform one of his legendary death-defying motorcycle stunts!

The Simpsons Take The Bowl
It seems "The Simpsons Take The Bowl" has been in the works for a while - a very long time if the copyright date on this picture drawn by longtime Simpsons director David Silverman is any indication - and some new details are finally oozing out, thanks to the Los Angeles Times and Twitter. Unfortunately, most of the stuff demanded by the fans didn't make it in, but it's still going to make The Simpsons On Ice look like a bootleg puppet show.

Who's Mad At The Simpsons This Week?

mad marge

As the 12-day FXX marathon enters into The Modern Age and all the goodwill turns into apathy and anger, let's take a brief look at people and entities who are mad at The Simpsons this week.

The Parents Television Council recently sent Matt Groening an open letter shaming him for the rape joke(s...?) in the upcoming Family Guy/Simpsons crossover, which the Simpsons team apparently had little say over. President Tim Winter claims he's been a fan of Groening's work "as far back as the mid-1980s when [Life in Hell] appeared in the LA Weekly." Yes, I can totally picture the head of the PTC picking up an alt-weekly and laughing at the antics of the frequently-nude gay twins Akbar & Jeff next to ads for escort services. [Parents Television Council]

Tapped Out players are getting fed up with the game and EA's slowness in addressing the problems. "Gil cannot save Tapped Out," a blogger dramatically proclaims. It's always Gil's fault, isn't it? [TSTO game via Dead Homer Society]

Hologram USA claims the Homer hologram shown at Comic-Con violated their patent on a variation of the stage trick "Pepper's Ghost," which is also the title of my Blue's Clues creepypasta. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Simpsons purists are annoyed because the "Every Simpsons Ever" marathon is being broadcast in a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, cropping out some funny visual gags and crucial murder mystery clues. Boy, sounds like FXX is really FXXing things up. Eh? Eh? No? Sorry. [The Verge]

Harry Shearer Wins Emmy, Finally

Harry Shearer

For over two decades, Harry Shearer (voice of Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Waylon Smithers, Reverend Lovejoy, and Maggie Simpson) was the only primary cast member to have never won an Emmy for his work in The Simpsons, but this grave injustice was finally rectified last night at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Not bad for someone who's been phoning it in for years! Unfortunately, he couldn't show up to collect his prestigious orange blimp award in person, because he's currently stuck in 1974 after Quantum Leaping into President Nixon.

Oh, and Bob's Burgers won its first-ever Emmy for the episode "Mazel Tina." [Deadline]

New Simpsons Site Foolishly Tries To Compete With Undisputed Champion rubbercat.net/simpsons

duff beer

While there's a million Simpsons blogs on Tumblr now, the community of general-purpose Simpsons fansites has diminished greatly over the past few years. Long-time heavyweights like Simpsons Folder and Simpsons Channel have abdicated their thrones, as have smaller sites like The Springfield Connection, Simpsons Zip, Go Simpsonic!, and the listserv Simpsons-L. Clearly, this is because they were all too weak to compete against the likes of rubbercat.net/simpsons, cyberspace's #1 Simpsons fansite in the world and undisputed champion of the Bortosphere.

Now, in a "Man Bites Dog"-style change of pace, a new fansite has risen: Drink Duff, a throwback to fansites of yore boasting "the latest news, great archives and original content."

One of its latest posts is the discovery of an alternate ending to The Telltale Head, featuring a few lines that were cut in its second airing and thought to be lost forever (check The Simpsons Archive's Syndication Cuts Guide). Oh wow... unearthed Simpsons arcana... that's cool... I'm not scared of this new threat at all...