January 2010 Archives

Simpsons Picks A Side In Cola War

buzz colaAccording to longtime director David Silverman's Twitter, The Simpsons did a Coca-Cola commercial for a sporting event called the Superbowl [Twitter]

The Secret Origin of The Simpsons

The Simpsons turn 20 today (that is, if you don't count the Christmas special as the first episode and completely ignore the original shorts from The Tracey Ullman Show), and there's been a number of retrospectives to mark the occasion. An oft-repeated claim in many histories is that creator Matt Groening, fearing the loss of his Life in Hell characters, came up with the Simpsons in fifteen minutes before a meeting with Ullman producer James L. Brooks. But the characters actually originated nearly 40 years ago, in an unpublished novel Groening wrote in high school:

Chat Transcript (April 6, 1999):


Question hobgoblin: How old were you when you first came up with the idea for "The Simpsons"? I know that the show has been on for a long time.
[...]
Matt_G "The Simpsons" originated in high school.
Matt_G I wrote a bleak little novel called "The Mean Little Kids" starring a teenage Bart Simpson with buckteeth and a very bad complexion.

Interview with Robert William Kubey, published in Creating Television: Conversations with the People Behind 50 Years of American TV (Late 1991):

How quickly did The Simpsons gel in your mind?

I needed to come up with an idea really quickly. In the back of my mind was the idea of doing something that might possibly end up spinning off into its own TV show, so I created a family which I thought would lend itself to a lot of different kinds of stories. In high school I had written a novel, a sort of a very sour Catcher in the Rye, self pitying, adolescent novel starring Bart Simpson as a very troubled teenager. I took that family and transferred it, made them younger, and then drew. It took about 15 minutes to design the characters the first time out.

Were they all the same characters that we now know and love?

Yes, but they've been transformed.

Why didn't you leave Bart as an adolescent?

TV does children really badly, and I thought there was room for something different. Teenagers are already running rampant on television, but kids are done very unrealistically in sitcoms. Sometimes, a particular character gels with an audience and becomes the star.

Was Bart at the center all along?

Yeah. The rest of the Simpsons in my original conception were in a struggle to be normal and Bart was the one who thought that being normal was boring.

And now you know... the rest of the story.

"We Have It For Two More Seasons"

When asked how long The Simpsons has left, Fox bigwig Kevin Reilly said "We have it for two more seasons and then we'll sit down and see where we are," leaving the door open to the possibility that the show may not be renewed during the next contract renegotiations. [iF Magazine]

Fourth Seth MacFarlane Show Possibly In The Works

Fox Entertainment President: "We've got one other show we're contemplating with Seth... but our plan is not all Seth, all the time." [Freakin' Sweet News]

Simpsons Channel Back With A Vengeance

Simpsons Channel has returned from the dead, and it's mad as hell!!! In a departure from the normally staid tone of the site, site owner Adam Wolf posted 10 reasons why readers should not buy the recently released Season 20 DVD/Blu-ray set. He even encourages readers to BREAK THE LAW by providing a link to a torrent site. Is nothing sacred??? [Simpsons Channel]

Simpsons Channel Down, rubbercat.net/simpsons Becomes World's #1 Simpsons News Source!!!

Simpsons Channel, the New York Times of Simpsons news, has been knocked offline for unknown reasons, which means this site has moved up the ranks to become the world wide web's #1 source for Simpsons news!!! Booya!!! [Twitter.com/SimpsonsChannel]

Simpsons To End Next Year

my two centsI'm going to go out on a limb and declare that The Simpsons will finally, mercifully end in 2011, after twenty-two seasons.

  • The show has yet to be renewed beyond the 2010-2011 season (season 22), so there's no guarantee there'll be a Season 23.

  • In November, the Animation Guild blog mentioned that the writers were working on "another thirteen episodes". Each production season, the last couple of episodes become the first episodes of the next season; these are called "holdovers." The current season (season 21) has eight holdovers - notice the production codes in this chart. Presumably, this means next season will also have eight holdovers, which when coupled with the aforementioned thirteen episodes will fulfill a complete season order of twenty-one episodes, with no holdovers for a 23rd season.

  • The show has been losing a million viewers each season for the past couple seasons with no end in sight. It often gets lower ratings than Family Guy. Each episode costs somewhere around $3 million. All of these must be major concerns for Fox executives... but then again The Simpsons is the sixth-highest earner on television, and makes like a billion dollars from merchandise and syndication, so ratings are probably irrelevant.

  • The 20th anniversary hoopla feels like a final victory parade to me, a last hurrah before they ride into the sunset. It's probably wise to end it while goodwill is high.

  • I just want to be right so I can look prophetic.

They Redid The Simpsons Arcade Game For Some Reason

binky2009 was the year of "fixing" beloved Simpsons things that weren't broke to begin with, starting with the godawful new HD title sequence and ending with an iPhone version of the Simpsons Arcade Game from 1991, one of the very few Simpsons video games that is still remembered fondly.

What's different: The storyline (no more Smithers stealing Maggie for some bizarre reason), you can only play as Homer, you can slap him to revive him, new design (as far as I can tell, it looks like a modern episode and not all pixelated), and characters/locations that weren't around or as iconic in 1991 (including the Republican Party Headquarters and Rich Texan).

What's the same: The basic controls (I think?), and the dated Binky-with-a-ghetto-blaster level transistions (which I like). [United Simpsons]

Not Even The Guest Stars Watch The Simpsons

dohMitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie, who had a cameo in last week's episode:
 

Months passed. Christmas. New Year's. And last Sunday, I was in the car on my way to a birthday party when someone called and said, "Hey, your 'Simpsons' episode is on."

And I said, "Again, please?"

They never called to tell me.

So I missed it.

[Detroit Free Press]

Simpsons Enters Fourth Decade

I just want to direct your attention to this Dead Homer Society post from last February because it owns:

The Simpsons has been on for so long now that the world itself has changed around them and as a result the characters no longer epitomize what they're supposed to be satirizing. Homer and Marge are exquisitely crafted late model Baby Boomers; they came of age in the seventies and became adults in the eighties. He's a union guy; she's a housewife; they have cranky World War II generation parents, they go to church out of a sense of duty and their kids lead unstructured, small town lives. They are run of the mill late 1980s Americans, that is when they were created and that is the context in which they best fit.

[...]

The show is on Season 20, but culturally speaking it's going to enter its fourth decade next year. The characters can always be drawn the same way, but that doesn't keep them from showing their age.

CONAN SNUBBED???

!!!!!Back in 1993, when David Letterman headed over to CBS to start The Late Show, The Simpsons paid tribute with a not-very-funny couch gag (see screenshot here). Why didn't they do a similar tribute when famous Simpsons alum Conan O'Brien took over The Tonight Show??? And don't give me that "they couldn't because it started in June" B.S. excuse. Also why did they choose Letterman over Conan for a not-funny-at-all segment last night?? (Don't give me that "because Letterman has the Top 10 list" crap.) These two things add up to one conclusion: The Simpsons is snubbing Conan!!! What is the reason? A source tells rubbercat.net/simpsons that producer Al Jean has had it in for Conan ever since Conan gave him a wedgie during a staff meeting in '92... No denial from Jean as of yet... Developing...