tegan

What is the Nadir of the Simpsons?

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I'd be interested to hear more about why You Only Move Twice is considered such a good episode, if anyone feels likes expounding further. (Not that I'll be converted or anything, but I'm genuinely curious - I enjoyed Problem Machine's point about him being a prescient parody of tech celebrity CEOs.)

 

In other news, I'm working my way through the older commentaries and special features, and the clips of Albert Brooks improvising as Jacques are fantastic.

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I think for a lot of us the similarity to Mr Burns is a feature rather than a bug. The whole episode is kind of a fun-house mirror version of Springfield, where everything is nicer to an absurd degree that does a great job of underlining the ridiculousness of Springfield's everyday happenings by inverting them. Scorpio isn't just a nice boss, he's THE NICEST boss, absurdly nice to the point where instead of giving bonuses he adds a story to someone's house. Cypress Creek is so ridiculously accommodating that it has an entire hammock district. But the fact is that the Simpsons can't live in a nice world, they reject it like humans rejected the too-nice version of The Matrix. It does a great job of highlighting what's great about the characters on the show by contrasting them against opposites. It's kind of a variation on the themes introduced by the Shelbyville episode, but with Albert Brooks being great to back it up.

 

(as an aside, I'm currently living in Eugene, OR, most likely the town Shelbyville was based on)

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I saw a more recent episode a few months ago with flashbacks to Homer being in a grunge band at school. My feeling at the time was 'this isn't MY Simpsons' but thinking back now, of course it's not. The show is pretty unique in that the characters haven't aged in 30 years so their backgrounds are constantly rewritten. It doesn't gel with modern ideas of character progression and canon because animation doesn't have too, I guess. It's MY problem if I can't watch Homer in his Nivana phase without balking.

They should do an episode where the characters have aged chronologically since the 80s. Homer would be, what, 60ish? It could talk about not noticing the passing of time, always feeling 30 in your head, your kids always being your kids, etc (in a far less trite way than that, but you get me). Hell, it could be a nice way to end the series.

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Man I want to see that. That's the sort of thing you could actually base an entire show idea around I think, though you'd have to have the scope all planned out which isn't generally how American TV is done.

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Man I never actually posted in this thread despite knowing it existed when it was first made (I was in the middle of rewatching seasons 1-10 at the time). Since then I've done another series rewatch, this time trying to go as far as I possibly could before stopping, and while I haven't officially quit I'm on season 18 and haven't felt like watching any more in months. I originally dropped off around season 12 of the original broadcasts and hadn't seen any of the new-new episodes, but last fall I tried watching the most recent TOH. I stopped less than 30 seconds in when Bart and Milhouse were on their phones sending each other emojis and it was just the worst.

Edit: at some point Mission Hill was brought up a page or two back. I love Mission Hill.

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Haven't scanned this thread all the way. My personal cut off for The Simpsons was the Season 8 Chili Cook Off. Which is so early, 1997. It was to me the beginning of the non-sequitor style jokes and waning of the continuity jokes.

 

I've recently had a rewatch of some of seasons 1-7. I just love the acid colors. My theory is that they cranked the CRT contrast to the max and based their palette off that.

 

A friend of mine says he appreciates the new episodes for their topical commentary. This does have value. It's my nostalgia clouded eyes that can't appreciate this new abomination.

 

I also watched a bit of The Critic, fun show. Also a bit of Duckman. Whats most notable to me about watching these old cartoons is the amount of sexist humour how storyboard driven they are, how much they are "one camera" shows, moving the imaginary camera around the room. The ease of reuse in digital workflows encourages a lot more "dollhouse" style background layouts. Like an adventure video game. This is a more universal note about animation production and not specifically at modern Simpsons.

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The artistry of early Simpsons is so good. Not just the backgrounds, but the digital clean approach stiffens up the show too. There's a lot of fun loose motion early on that gets replaced later with smooth but bland computer motions.

 

...I may have already said this here.

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I agree. I'm sort of torn between the two. I love the wild quality of the early episodes. In the Tracy Ulman shorts the backgrounds for the house have some terrifying geometry. But I also apreciate the drawing construction and background layouts when things get more streamlined by season 4. You can see I stil lhave no good opinions about anything digital.

 

This is a cool article about the digital workflow though. I haven't finished reading it but it's great to see the modern storyboard layouts. And that they still use exposure sheets is impressive. 

 

http://www.theverge.com/2015/10/25/9457247/the-simpsons-al-jean-interview

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I've started season 9. It's the final season I bought on DVD - I might look through some later seasons and see if there are any particular episodes I want to procur for a re-watch. I remember the Mel Gibson one being great and the Behind The Laughter and Run Lola Run ones being interesting at least.

 

This doesn't have as many lows for me but a large number of mediocre episodes. So far I really like New York Vs Homer, The Principal And The Pauper, the Fly Vs Fly TOH segment, and the Apu wedding one. The Ralph Wiggum one is good, not quite great. The submarine one is a particular low, full of Epic Movie type gags. Scanning through the remaining episodes, I remember them all being mediocre too.

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Do most people not like it? I always thought most people did and it's was mainly Matt Groening that had a big problem with it. Whatever the case, I like it a lot.

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I also like that episode. It's not among my favourites, but it delivers good, consistent laughs and explores one of my favourite side characters (Skinner).

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Someone in my college wrote a thesis about how that episode marked the fall of the Simpsons from its former glory.

 

A good number of critics think that The Principal and the Pauper is when the show jumped the shark.

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What I like about The Principal and the Pauper is similar to what I like about The Flying Hellfish -- they reveal a completely new side of a relatively staid character. I think TPatP does it better, though, because Armin Temzarian makes so much sense as a character: He just does whatever people expect/want him to, and always has. When people expected him to be a bum, he was a bum; when Skinner expected him to shape up and be a proper soldier, he shaped up; when Agnes expected him to be Skinner, he became Skinner; and, when he was expected to be a bum again, he quietly and dutifully went back to being a bum. This behavior is so entirely like what we've come to expect from 'Skinner' that I never really understood why people regarded it as a radical departure.

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What I like about The Principal and the Pauper is similar to what I like about The Flying Hellfish -- they reveal a completely new side of a relatively staid character. I think TPatP does it better, though, because Armin Temzarian makes so much sense as a character: He just does whatever people expect/want him to, and always has. When people expected him to be a bum, he was a bum; when Skinner expected him to shape up and be a proper soldier, he shaped up; when Agnes expected him to be Skinner, he became Skinner; and, when he was expected to be a bum again, he quietly and dutifully went back to being a bum. This behavior is so entirely like what we've come to expect from 'Skinner' that I never really understood why people regarded it as a radical departure.

 

I disagree with most of that.  I see where you're going with the comparison to the Flying Hellfish episode but I see it completely opposite.  The Flying Hellfish story toys with expectations and stereotypes.  The gruff old WWII vet who constantly tells exaggerated stories turns out to be less senile than you expect and casts doubt on how exaggerated his tales really are.  It doesn't get mentioned later on because its a secret bond between him and Bart.

 

With Skinner though, the "revelation" that he's Armin felt really cheap and lazy to me.  Its literally undone at the end of the episode.  Its referenced in later episodes but entirely as a self-aware joke.  I don't agree that the behavior is what you'd expect from Skinner at all.  Skinner was long established as a straight by-the-books principal and mamma's boy.  I never thought of him as doing what people expected or wanted (outside of his mother), just being what he was.  Armin may have been a very malleable character but not Skinner.  I think the changes to his character brought on by his trysts with Edna are far more interesting and well developed (albeit taken a bit far towards the end).

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So my friend goes to Berklee College of Music and is going to be doing all Simpsons music for his recital next year. He needs help coming up with a name for it and asked me for ideas. Unfortunately I'm not very clever so I figured I'd ask here if anyone could come up with something good. Btw in case anyone is wondering he's performing on bari sax and keytar. 

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"Finally Bagged Me a Keytar"

"Worst Recital Ever"

"(Annoyed Grunt), a deer"

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