October 2010 Archives

Simpsons-L Shuts Down, Apparently

Simpsons-L was a listserv dedicated to a show that hasn't been consistently funny since the late 1990s, run by The Simpsons Archive, a website launched in 1994 before most people had PCs, maintained mostly by people from a usenet newsgroup created in 1990. With three levels of obsoleteness batting against it, I suppose it was only a matter of time before it joined Geocities in the great internet boneyard. But the news of its demise was still a little surprising to me, like finding out telegrams still existed.

I subscribed to it a few years back in order to to stay abreast of the latest Simpsons news and views, delivered instantly to my inbox at the lightning-fast pace of about once a month. If my Gmail label is accurate, there have been only 21 messages this year, so far. Chalk it up to yet another online Simpsons community that got sick of this lumbering zombie of a TV show.

Did Virtual Springfield Begat Google Street View?

street viewNo, of course not, but watching this video from GameSpot (specifically, from 3:43 onward) sorta reminded me of it. Lately, I've been nostalgic for Virtual Springfield, which I used to "play" in middle school. If you're unfamiliar with this classic 1997 Simpsons CD-ROM time-waster, you should totally read this article Bob "bobservo" Mackey wrote about it.

I appreciate how the game makers managed to place pretty much every location that had appeared in the series to that point into a geographical layout that actually made sense, instead of randomly chucking districts together in the face of all logic. If Fox Interactive got their shit together, they could re-use this stuff, add new places from the subsequent 30 seasons of the show, and throw it up on the web with a Google Maps-like interface as a neat web-bonus thing. It would totally blow this fan-made map of Springfield out of the water in terms of sheer coolness.

Also, I'm pretty pleased that the aforementioned video contains a a mostly uninterrupted version of Troy McClure's welcoming introduction (skip to 1:04), Phil Hartman's only appearance in a Simpsons video game, because people on YouTube skip over all the dialogue parts for some inexplicable reason. It's a good Simpsons quote, despite being written by some intern for a point-and-click CD-ROM non-game:

Welcome to Springfield! I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me as town spokesman from such computer travel guides as {Smother Me In Shreveport} and {Living, Loving and Lubbock}. Of course, we all know Springfield for its award-winning dandelions and as birthplace of the glove compartment. But that's merely scratching the surface of a place the great Calvin Coolidge once labelled, "a pea-sized town with lima bean-sized dreams." So, warm up your clicking finger and let's explore a land the poets call Springfield, USA!

The titles of the two other travel guides would vary each time. Here's a complete (?) list of the other titles, which are curiously omitted from The Simpsons Archive (yet they include stuff from a screensaver???):

  • Eeney-Meeney-Miney Murphreesborough
  • Yuma: It's Seniorific
  • Smother Me In Shreveport
  • Living, Loving and Lubbock
  • Duluth, It'll Grow On You
  • Suddenly Tulsa
  • Freedonia: Gateway to Wichita
  • Fairbanks Needs Women
  • I Left My Soul In Sacramento
  • Tender Lovin' Newark
  • Hats Off To Fargo
  • Pinch Me, I'm In Boise
I think I speak for everyone when I say it's time we stop fetishizing 8-bit Nintendo games and start a virtual storybook revival.

BREAKING: Joanna Newsom to Replace Yeardley Smith as Voice of Lisa Simpson?!?!

joanna!!!!!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]

The Trouble With Titles

krustyIn 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.

Simpsons Momentarily Subversive

If you were one of the people watching The Simpsons last night (sucker), you may have noticed something a little different about the opening sequence!


The "couch gag," if one could call it that, was storyboarded and directed by the pseudonymous Britain street artist known as Banksy, whose distinctive graffiti has shown up across the UK and the US, and whose work has been auctioned off for millions of dollars to limousine liberal luminaries like Brangelina.

Showrunner-for-life Al Jean told the New York Times he seeked out the ostensibly underground (despite having a publicist) "art terrorist" and asked him, via a series of messengers, if he'd do the opening, later receiving the storyboards without ever meeting the mystery man. Although 5% was cut out by request of Fox Broadcast & Standards, Jean insists the final product was as close as possible to Banksy's original intention.

The response has been enormous - Banksy became a "Trending Topic" on Twitter last night (which is, like, super-important and stuff) and there are currently hundreds of news stories about it - which I'm sure makes up for the 29% decline in ratings from last week. It's to quantify these things, but I think it's safe to presume this will get more attention than other recent Simpsons "viral" stunts, from the godawful Ke$ha thing to the Itchy & Scratchy parody of Koyaanisqatsi (in the old days, The Simpsons usually generated buzz with actual episodes instead of context-free YouTube clips, but I guess that's the way things are now in the New Media Landscape).

Bill Oakley Releases 90,000 Classified Afghanistan War Reports, 4 Simpsons Documents

Julian Assange
Bill Oakley.
Former Simpsons writer/showrunner and notorious "hacktivist" Bill Oakley, who has been in communication with fans via the internet since before most people even had the internet, has been tearin' up the Twitter lately, uploading a treasure trove of rare Simpsons material that has never before been made public. Among the documents uploaded so far: the first draft of "$pringfield, (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)," the first draft of the "Skinner and the Superintendent" segment from "22 Short Films About Springfield," the original story outline for "Two Bad Neighbors," and a list of random ideas.

Among the more intriguing ideas lost to the sands of time:

  • An aborted "$pringfield" subplot involving Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone maintaining a Planet Hollywood in Springfield that got dropped since the three actors never actually agreed to be on the show.
  • More scenes of Springfield being hit by an economic recession, which somehow feels more timely and relevant than last year's "No Loan Again, Naturally" despite being written a decade earlier.
  • George and Barbara Bush eating pizza.
  • An episode plot where Bart obtains 144 Jeeps for some reason.
  • This visual gag:
     
    The town secretary records the vote in a ledger, where we see previous idiotic town votes, e.g. "Above-Ground H-Bomb Test," "Lower Drinking Age to 14," and "Build Monorail."