September 2013 Archives

The TV Recap Industry is All alt.tv.simpsons's Fault

comic book guyIf you've been using the internet for the past five years, mayhaps you've noticed a growing trend of episode-by-episode recaps and reviews of television shows. Virtually every major blog does a recap of Mad Men, Girls is considered "fantastically popular" to those within that New York media bubble, and even The Gray Lady has gotten in on the action. The epicenter for the TV recap industry is of course The A.V. Club, which greatly expanded its television section in an insane quest to review every episode of every TV show, with a (self-admitted) tendency to lapse into "pretentious twaddle" in the course of explaining what episode 702 of The Big Bang Theory says about the human condition.

Who's responsible for all this? Slate places the blame squarely on alt.tv.simpsons, the infamous nerdy Simpsons newsgroup personified by the Comic Book Guy:

Long before the rise of TV recap culture, its best and worst elements commingled in the alt.tv.simpsons laboratory. The content ranged from meticulous (a list of the show’s blackboard and couch gags) to smart (a later-proven theory that Maggie shot Mr. Burns) to overcritical (in the middle the unimpeachably great Season 4, somebody started the thread “Simpsons in decline?” in which one poster claimed that “Marge vs. the Monorail,” a classic episode, “had 0 good quotes”) to offensive (e.g., “Lisa has a proto-dyke Marxist Jew agenda”).

Yep, sounds the internet all right. I'm sure whatever the big Star Trek newsgroup was at the time also played a big role - Trekkies are responsible for slash fiction and fandoms, mind you - but here it merits only a throwaway reference.

The rest of the article talks about the Simpsons producers' relationship to the alt.tv.simpsons, which is mildly interesting. It doesn't mention this, but there's a Life in Hell strip I'd very much like to see that pretty much just quotes a scathing review of the Republican-bashing episode "Sideshow Bob Roberts" verbatim (there's a transcript in this episode capsule; Control+F "Galvanek"), including this choice quote:

I would get such a kick right about now in seeing Groening writhing in pain as he dangled by a section of his intestine from a tree. At the very least I'm hoping for a sloooooow painful death via some horrible illness of his nervous system, on that allows him to remain fully aware until his very last breath.

Hmm, kinda makes you wonder why Matt Groening isn't on Twitter.

Also, not that it was ever in any doubt, but Slate links to irrefutable proof that Alan Sepinwall, king of the TV recap industry, is a wiener: a post on alt.tv.simpsons where he complains about a continuity error. Haw, haw! nelson

[Slate]

Apple Bullied By Simpsons Joke

homer mappleApparently the biggest reason the iPhone came with a virtual keyboard that was actually usable is because everybody at Apple Computer Inc. was scared to death of The Simpsons making fun of them.

In the early 1990s, Apple had come out with a PDA platform called Newton. Newton devices like the MessagePad were widely mocked for its less-than-stellar handwriting recognition, most notably by The Simpsons in this throwaway gag from "Lisa On Ice:"

The Simpsons is Getting A Spin-Off, Sorta

simpsons legoland2014 is shaping up to be a banner year for The Simpsons, with not one but two crossovers, and now a spin-off!

*whatever the digitial media equivalent of a record scratch sounds like*

Well, sorta. Last month, it was announced LEGO was coming out with a line of Simpsons-themed LEGO Group Companies brand colored toy brick plaything objects†. Now, more details are coming out, and according to Nerdly, there will be a TV special:

On top of that, this new LEGO range will also be supported by a special Simpsons LEGO TV episode (much like the LEGO Star Wars specials) in May 2014!

So, a TV special, and that's all we know so far. Maybe a series of specials if it's successful...? This seems like a different animal from previous Simpsons specials like the Springfield's Most Wanted thing (which was just a tie-in to "Who Shot Mr. Burns?") and The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special - In 3-D! On Ice! in that it will presumably have an actual story. Since we don't know if The Simpsons has been renewed yet (we should find out by Novemeber), this would be a weird, unexpected way to keep the franchise alive post-cancellation.

Also, no word yet on which Simpsons voice actors have agreed to do this (I'll bet a zillion bitcoins Harry Shearer won't participate). It seems a given that current Simpsons writer Michael Price, who's written the Star Wars LEGO specials and tweets about them a lot, will participate.

There's also no word what channel it will be on. I'm pretty sure Cartoon Network has aired all the Star Wars things, and its corporate sibling Warner Bros. is coming out with a (The) LEGO movie earlier that year, so that seems like a safe bet. Maybe FOX, since it's their franchise, but would they really air a commercial for a children's toy masquerading as a TV show during their Crude & Rude Toons With 'Tude programming block?

The Mendacity of Meh

meh"Meh," that ever-popular expression of indifference or existential apathy, entered into our collective vernacular thanks to a boost from The Simpsons. But whence did meh come from originally? Language talkin' guy Ben Zimmer has been looking into its etymology for years and seems to have traced it back to Alexander Harkavy's Yiddish-English-Hebrew Dictionary from 1928. In trying to find out where the Simpsons writers got it, Zimmer managed to get a response from reclusive shaman John Swartzwelder:

...Swartzwelder did have a memory of where he first came across meh, though it wasn't in Mad. "I had originally heard the word from an advertising writer named Howie Krakow back in 1970 or 1971 who insisted it was the funniest word in the world," he told me. So let's thank Mr. Krakow for his unwitting role in the spread of the meh meme.

Case closed, maybe?

[Language Log via Slate]

Here Is A Drawing of Lisa Simpson Wearing Marc Jacobs

In honor of New York Fashion Week, Italian designer Michele Moricci drew some weird fanart of 90s cartoon characters (I trust you have Not Forgotten the 90s, citizen) wearing designer fashions, including this somewhat disturbing one of Adult Lisa Simpson wearing an outfit by fashion designer Marc Jacobs:

lisa simpson marc jacobs

Matt Groening Apologizes For Killing Dog

dead dog
Simpson creator Matt Groening has apologized for murdering a dog. The dog is not alive not in an alive state, Groening did it, he did the murder. The dog is dead dead dog dead rip im sorry
Groening: I'm sorry we killed the dog.

murderdeath murderer Bad Man groening dog-killer Sad sorry so sorry apology sad tears kill kill killdeath deathmurder die unalive not alive dead dead dead

[Yahoo! TV]