The Simpsons

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The Simpsons

Postby square peg » Tue May 04, 2010 3:25 pm UTC

I was looking back at old episodes of the Simpsons and grumbling to myself about how much I dislike the show now. When I spent a little time wondering why I dislike it I came up with the catch-all, they old out. They sold out to the way others are doing things. The comedy of the Simpsons, from the beginning was well thought out. The jokes were set up and well executed. I'm not sure if it is just me growing up, but it appears that they have embraced the Family Guy model of cheap jokes that have little to nothing to do with the plot of the show. Shame on the writers.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Mother Superior » Tue May 04, 2010 10:53 pm UTC

Golden age of Simpsons: Seasons 7 and 8. Josh Weinstein and Bill Oakley as show runners had the following rule for the show: One third of all episodes should be about the family, exploring characters and real-life issues, á la Summer of 4 Ft. 2. One third should be crazy, zany weird antics and such, like, say Two Bad Neighbours. And one third should be something that breaks the mold, like 22 Short Films About Springfield, or The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular. This kind of setup stopped the show from going over-the-top, but still allowed them to do crazy stuff when they wanted to. You got weird stuff like Homer deciding to become morbidly obese so he can work from home, having to stop the nuclear plant from going into meltdown by racing there in an ice cream truck, and you get nice, down-to-Earth stuff like Bart shoplifting, his mother finding out and him feeling bad about it. That's when the show was effin' golden.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Jorpho » Sat May 08, 2010 11:34 pm UTC

square peg wrote:I'm not sure if it is just me growing up, but it appears that they have embraced the Family Guy model of cheap jokes that have little to nothing to do with the plot of the show.
No, The Simpsons have been like that for a very long time. "Homer the Moe" is the first example that springs to mind - though I suppose that one came well after Family Guy premiered.

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby the_bandersnatch » Tue May 11, 2010 2:28 pm UTC

The Simpsons was the greatest TV show of all time in it's heyday, but I give you two words that signalled the start of the decline into the awful pop-culture ridden crackwhore it is today:


Frank Grimes.



That is all.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby You, sir, name? » Tue May 11, 2010 4:26 pm UTC

The Simpsons suffers from the same problem xkcd does. People remember all of the great episodes, and forget the ones that didn't make us laugh, so when they make new episodes, they appear less funny than how we remember the older ones.

Otherwise, it hasn't really changed that much (apart from the earliest dozen or two episodes). It's gotten less moralizing , and the flanderization effect has taken it's toll on many characters, both of which I don't really object to; the only thing that irks me slightly is that the show doesn't seem to do social commentary the way it used to anymore.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby sje46 » Wed May 12, 2010 8:42 am UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:The Simpsons was the greatest TV show of all time in it's heyday, but I give you two words that signalled the start of the decline into the awful pop-culture ridden crackwhore it is today:


Frank Grimes.



That is all.

Are you suggesting "Homer's Enemy" wasn't one of the greatest episodes of the Simpsons of all time? This ties with "You Only Move Twice" for my favorite Simpson's episode of all time. And the Simpsons is my favorite show of all time....

Maybe it has dropped in quality, but so has Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, and they are some of the greatest musicians the world has ever seen. The Simpsons was and is and always will be the greatest TV show of all time. Okay, well, maybe it won't be in the future, but still...no other show in the history of television has shown such great and varied humor, creativity, and characterization. The characters may have been flanderized, but they have always been faithful to themselves. What I mean by that is that they never developed conflicting personality traits. They weren't just puppets for whatever joke the writers thought of, such as "Oh, we need someone to fly to LA to punch Will Farrell in the face because they didn't liek a joke in Bewitched. Let's have Stewie do it because he's a baby, and that makes it funnier than if Peter did it." That joke never related it to his personality, really. Pretty much every character could have done that joke because every character is the same. And remember when Stewie was a mad genius? Now he's just a gay baby that says stupid gay things. Nothing's interesting about him anymore. The simpsons would never do that with their characters.

Neither has the Simpsons had one dimensional characters. For everyone who has showed up in more than a few episodes, their personality is more developed than just their "gimmick" or whatever you call it. Like, Ralph is an idiot, and pretty much every thing he says reflects profound idiocy. But he's more than that...remember "I Love Lisa"? That episode had great heart! You see that Ralph was more than the guy assigned the stupid lines, but is also a simple guy with simple--yet powerful--feelings. For a while in that episode you actually empathized with that kid, because of the romantic disasters you had as a kid with a girl who simply couldn't stand you. And everytime you see Ralph later on, you remember that a little bit. You laugh at the stupid things he says even more because in your mind he's kinda a real person, because for one episode you actually were him. It's the same with every recurring character I can think of. Apu isn't just a too-friendly Indian clerk, he's a stressed out father with problems. Seymour Skinner isn't just the straight-laced principal, he's the son of a strict, clingy mother, which prevents him from having a life at all, despite his rebellious time as a teenager. Moe isn't just a creep, but he's also a creep who's really, really depressed and has almost given hope up on himself, and most people have experienced that to some extant.

Adam West? He's paranoic. That's it. Stewie? He's a gay baby. Glenn? Pervert. Brian is an okay character, I suppose. But really, none of them have the soul.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby cephalopod9 » Wed May 12, 2010 8:50 am UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:The Simpsons suffers from the same problem xkcd does. People remember all of the great episodes, and forget the ones that didn't make us laugh, so when they make new episodes, they appear less funny than how we remember the older ones
Exactly.
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That said, there has been a shift away from the darker, in many ways more down to earth earlier themes. Part of this is that I started watching The Simpsons before I was old enough to fully grasp the nature of the humor, and at 6 and 7 there where some elements I found disturbing, looking over some of the older clips on hulu, while I can appreciate the humor more, there's some gruesome moments that I don't think have quite been paralleled in any recent episodes. Tree house of horror, and Itchy and Scratchy have kept up with the violence and dismemberment, but I think it's been getting more comical.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Jorpho » Thu May 13, 2010 12:22 am UTC

sje46 wrote:Brian is an okay character, I suppose.
o rly?

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Mother Superior » Thu May 13, 2010 8:01 am UTC

Jorpho wrote:
sje46 wrote:Brian is an okay character, I suppose.
o rly?

Being a pretentious snob doesn't mean he isn't a good character.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby sje46 » Thu May 13, 2010 8:04 am UTC

Mother Superior wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
sje46 wrote:Brian is an okay character, I suppose.
o rly?

Being a pretentious snob doesn't mean he isn't a good character.

It doesn't make him a bad character either, which I thought was Jorpho's point in linking to that.

When someone rates a character, they're not actually rating the character's character, if you dig. They're rating the depth of that character. There are great characters you love, and great characters you hate. There are great characters that are dicks and snobs and idiots and annoying.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby PatrickRsGhost » Thu May 13, 2010 11:14 am UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:The Simpsons was the greatest TV show of all time in it's heyday, but I give you two words that signalled the start of the decline into the awful pop-culture ridden crackwhore it is today:


Frank Grimes.Mike Scully



That is all.


Fix'd.

When Scully was directing the episodes (Seasons 7 thru 10), he made a lot of the characters one-dimensional. Homer was a bumbling, idiotic father figure. Marge was a nagging matriarch. Bart was a bad seed. Lisa was a whiny nerd. Maggie just sucked on her pacifier. The formula for the shows during those seasons were almost all Homer-centered, and the basic idea was "What idiotic thing could we have Homer do today?" Granted, there were a few episodes that were pretty good, but for the most part they were all the same: Homer comes up with some crazy scheme, but his stupidity gets in the way and he screws up big time. Lessons learned by all.

I liked the episodes that were centered around other members of the family, or other people in Springfield. Those were some of the more heartfelt ones. Some of my favorites include "Lisa's Sax", where Lisa's first saxophone is destroyed after Bart accidentally throws it out the window, and the family recounts how Lisa gets her first sax. After the usual opening sequence, the episode opens up with a parody of the opening for "All In The Family", with different lyrics for "Those Were The Days", and later Homer calling Bart "Meathead".

Another good Lisa-centered one was "Summer of 4 ft. 2" when the family uses Ned's New England beach cabin for a week or two during the Summer, and Lisa, thinking she has no friends due to her nerdy leanings, decides to adopt a new attitude in order to become friends with the kids at the beach. She succeeds, but Bart intervenes, showing them her yearbook, with all of the nerdy activities she partakes in. Later on the ride back home, he hands her back the yearbook, admitting he showed it to those kids again. This time they all signed it.

Quite possibly one of the most heartfelt ones would have to be "Bart the Mother." In an episode that sort of parodies a similar episode of "The Andy Griffith Show", Bart hangs out with school bully Nelson Muntz, who wins a BB gun at a carnival. Bart goes over to Nelson's house to try it out, and they shoot at a few bottles and cans. They see a bird's nest with a bird laying on her eggs. Nelson dares Bart to shoot it, but Bart refuses. At Nelson's taunts, Bart pretends to aim the gun at the bird, but at the last second whips the barrel way off to the left, and shoots. Unfortunately the sight on the gun is warped, so Bart's intended mis-aim actually pegs the bird square in the heart. Nelson commends Bart on this, noting how he compensated for the crooked sight, and made a perfect kill shot. When Marge comes to pick Bart up (she had warned him not to play with Nelson after seeing some of his other actions at the carnival), Nelson says to Bart, "See you around, Killer!" to which Marge inquires. Bart tries to turn her attention away from that, saying she was right, Nelson is a bad influence, can we go home now? "What are all those cats doing behind you?" She sees the dead bird, and gets onto him. She then leaves him behind, making Bart feel more guilty. He notices the nest, and takes it home to tend to the eggs. When the eggs hatch, he realizes the eggs weren't bird eggs, but a type of bird-eating lizard. A local birdwatchers group wants to kill the lizards, but Bart protests, and lets the lizards free. They multiply, but have developed an appetite for pigeons. No one complains.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Mother Superior » Thu May 13, 2010 2:59 pm UTC

sje46 wrote:
Mother Superior wrote:
Jorpho wrote:
sje46 wrote:Brian is an okay character, I suppose.
o rly?

Being a pretentious snob doesn't mean he isn't a good character.

It doesn't make him a bad character either, which I thought was Jorpho's point in linking to that.

When someone rates a character, they're not actually rating the character's character, if you dig. They're rating the depth of that character. There are great characters you love, and great characters you hate. There are great characters that are dicks and snobs and idiots and annoying.

That was my point. :?
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Mishrak » Thu May 13, 2010 4:17 pm UTC

My favorite episode, outside of some of the really awesome Halloween episodes (The Shinning), hands down, far and away was the 5th episode they ever made.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bart_the_General

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue May 18, 2010 4:01 am UTC

PatrickRsGhost wrote:Stuff.

I love ponies so freakin' hard.
You, sir, name? wrote:The Simpsons suffers from the same problem xkcd does. People remember all of the great episodes, and forget the ones that didn't make us laugh, so when they make new episodes, they appear less funny than how we remember the older ones.

Otherwise, it hasn't really changed that much (apart from the earliest dozen or two episodes). It's gotten less moralizing , and the flanderization effect has taken it's toll on many characters, both of which I don't really object to; the only thing that irks me slightly is that the show doesn't seem to do social commentary the way it used to anymore.

No. It has changed a lot. The show used to be about a relatively normal family from Anywhere, U.S.A., which effectively satirized the nation. Now it is about a bunch of antics committed by one-dimensional characters. Homer used to be a reasonable, sympathetic character, where the amusement came from his struggles with his own limitations. Now he is this loud-mouthed, obnoxious jerk who is only funny because you just can't believe the stuff he does and says. All the characters have just become outrageously one-dimensional, and the entire show has become a parody of what it once was. It's all antics, one-liners, and little substance.

Take Season 3 episode "Duffles", where Homer and Barney visit the Duff brewery for a tour and tastings. Here we actually see Homer try and stop Barney from drinking too much, force Barney to give up his keys when he tries to go home legless, get pulled over by the police, and demonstrate his judgment is not impaired by alcohol (he is able to recite the alphabet dancing from foot to foot while touching his nose with his index finger), only for Barney to yell that they breathalyze him where it turns out Homer is just over and gets arrested. That is, we see him try and do the right thing but end up in trouble anyway. Then he agrees to give up alcohol for a month for Marge's sake, and genuinely struggle with his dependence. With some of my habits I actually found it very relateable and a little confronting. There is nothing relateable about "spiderpig" Homer.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Sockmonkey » Tue May 18, 2010 6:26 am UTC

Spoiler:
PatrickRsGhost wrote:Quite possibly one of the most heartfelt ones would have to be "Bart the Mother." In an episode that sort of parodies a similar episode of "The Andy Griffith Show", Bart hangs out with school bully Nelson Muntz, who wins a BB gun at a carnival. Bart goes over to Nelson's house to try it out, and they shoot at a few bottles and cans. They see a bird's nest with a bird laying on her eggs. Nelson dares Bart to shoot it, but Bart refuses. At Nelson's taunts, Bart pretends to aim the gun at the bird, but at the last second whips the barrel way off to the left, and shoots. Unfortunately the sight on the gun is warped, so Bart's intended mis-aim actually pegs the bird square in the heart. Nelson commends Bart on this, noting how he compensated for the crooked sight, and made a perfect kill shot. When Marge comes to pick Bart up (she had warned him not to play with Nelson after seeing some of his other actions at the carnival), Nelson says to Bart, "See you around, Killer!" to which Marge inquires. Bart tries to turn her attention away from that, saying she was right, Nelson is a bad influence, can we go home now? "What are all those cats doing behind you?" She sees the dead bird, and gets onto him. She then leaves him behind, making Bart feel more guilty. He notices the nest, and takes it home to tend to the eggs. When the eggs hatch, he realizes the eggs weren't bird eggs, but a type of bird-eating lizard. A local birdwatchers group wants to kill the lizards, but Bart protests, and lets the lizards free. They multiply, but have developed an appetite for pigeons. No one complains.


Amusingly enough you left out the key moment in that ep where Bart says to Marge that he loves his lizards even though everyone thinks they're monsters and she smiles and says she understands.

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Mother Superior » Tue May 18, 2010 8:49 am UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
PatrickRsGhost wrote:Stuff.

I love ponies so freakin' hard.
You, sir, name? wrote:The Simpsons suffers from the same problem xkcd does. People remember all of the great episodes, and forget the ones that didn't make us laugh, so when they make new episodes, they appear less funny than how we remember the older ones.

Otherwise, it hasn't really changed that much (apart from the earliest dozen or two episodes). It's gotten less moralizing , and the flanderization effect has taken it's toll on many characters, both of which I don't really object to; the only thing that irks me slightly is that the show doesn't seem to do social commentary the way it used to anymore.

No. It has changed a lot. The show used to be about a relatively normal family from Anywhere, U.S.A., which effectively satirized the nation. Now it is about a bunch of antics committed by one-dimensional characters. Homer used to be a reasonable, sympathetic character, where the amusement came from his struggles with his own limitations. Now he is this loud-mouthed, obnoxious jerk who is only funny because you just can't believe the stuff he does and says. All the characters have just become outrageously one-dimensional, and the entire show has become a parody of what it once was. It's all antics, one-liners, and little substance.

Take Season 3 episode "Duffles", where Homer and Barney visit the Duff brewery for a tour and tastings. Here we actually see Homer try and stop Barney from drinking too much, force Barney to give up his keys when he tries to go home legless, get pulled over by the police, and demonstrate his judgment is not impaired by alcohol (he is able to recite the alphabet dancing from foot to foot while touching his nose with his index finger), only for Barney to yell that they breathalyze him where it turns out Homer is just over and gets arrested. That is, we see him try and do the right thing but end up in trouble anyway. Then he agrees to give up alcohol for a month for Marge's sake, and genuinely struggle with his dependence. With some of my habits I actually found it very relateable and a little confronting. There is nothing relateable about "spiderpig" Homer.


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Re: The Simpsons

Postby sje46 » Tue May 18, 2010 10:46 am UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:Take Season 3 episode "Duffles", where Homer and Barney visit the Duff brewery for a tour and tastings. Here we actually see Homer try and stop Barney from drinking too much, force Barney to give up his keys when he tries to go home legless, get pulled over by the police, and demonstrate his judgment is not impaired by alcohol (he is able to recite the alphabet dancing from foot to foot while touching his nose with his index finger), only for Barney to yell that they breathalyze him where it turns out Homer is just over and gets arrested. That is, we see him try and do the right thing but end up in trouble anyway. Then he agrees to give up alcohol for a month for Marge's sake, and genuinely struggle with his dependence. With some of my habits I actually found it very relateable and a little confronting. There is nothing relateable about "spiderpig" Homer.

Spiderpig Homer...you may find the quality in the newer seasons to be worse than older seasons, and I can see that. But don't say there aren't emotional or relateable moments anymore. In that very same movie I cried when Marge left Homer. The movie has some very touching moments. I haven't seen it in a few months, but the entire subplot with Bart and Ned kinda got to me. (Because Homer keeps ignoring Bart's feelings, Bart starts to see Ned as a father figure and
Spoiler:
decides to spend the last moments of his life with him.
)
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue May 18, 2010 11:25 am UTC

sje46 wrote:But don't say there aren't emotional or relateable moments anymore. In that very same movie I cried when Marge left Homer. The movie has some very touching moments. I haven't seen it in a few months, but the entire subplot with Bart and Ned kinda got to me. (Because Homer keeps ignoring Bart's feelings, Bart starts to see Ned as a father figure and
Spoiler:
decides to spend the last moments of his life with him.
)

Oh, sure, there are emotional moments. They're just bullshit and contrived. See, in the film, we had Homer act like the world's biggest douche ever. To everyone. And then we're meant to feel sorry for him when everyone leaves him? They even leave him for a good reason: to try and save the town (just like what any family would do). And the Bart/Homer thing? Not only is it ground that has been ploughed many times before, we're seeing his father as the biggest jerk who's ever existed. There isn't a millionth of the dramatic tension such as what we got that time Lisa called Homer a baboon. The biggest crime of the film is that the message is that the sanctity of the nuclear family is more important than the concerns raised by having a chronically abusive parent. But we see Homer looking slightly sad for almost an entire scene so it's all good I guess I don't know the music in the background seemed sad anyway.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby sje46 » Tue May 18, 2010 12:44 pm UTC

It is pretty hard to have character development for a show like the Simpsons. While Homer learns, he has to forget everything he learned by the next episode. That's just the way shows like this are. If we had one of out three episodes be touching, where Homer learns a lesson, the accumulated lessons he learned would make him father of the year right now. So you have to look at each episode as an independent unit, where a member learns something about trust, and just ignore any subsequent episodes where he has to learn the same thing again.

The main lesson to be learned from the movie is to not be so self-centered, and to think about other people, pretty much. A simple, maybe even trite message, but it still communicates it well. The Bart/Ned thing didn't really have any dramatic tension, simply because it wasn't dramatic, just a bummer. I felt for Bart. Not for Homer, but for Bart. And I felt bad for Homer, because...well, is it wrong to feel bad for someone who realizes he messed up so much that he lost something he loved? Is that not a relatable thing?

The message isn't about how great the sanctity of the nuclear family is, so much so that you should ignore the chronically abusive parent. The point is that Homer realizes what a dick he has been, and will no longer be so neglectful (abusive definitely isn't the right word. Except when he chokes Bart, of course. Which is supposed to be an exaggerated joke. Besides that, Homer's relationship with Bart has always been more Permissive than Authoritarian (while Ned's parenting style is Authoritative, and, say, Nelson's parents are Uninvolved)). And you can see Homer being more Authoritative at the end of the film, more in touch with the family and such.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby SecondTalon » Wed May 19, 2010 6:14 pm UTC

Sure, because you can't have character development in a cartoon. I mean, you can't have a beaten down, spineless, eternally weary character slowly grow a spine and start to make moves to what he wants rather than be subservient to others.

There's a reason the TVTropes entry for the watering down of characters from rounded, developed characters to one-dimensional caricatures is called Flanderization.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby sje46 » Wed May 19, 2010 6:56 pm UTC

ACtually, well...fair enough. The Simpsons should have ended a while ago; if it had went 10-13 seasons that would have been enough to make Homer an okay guy, I guess, and then it would've ended.

Like the Office will, soon. Sadly, and hopefully.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby You, sir, name? » Wed May 19, 2010 7:14 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:There's a reason the TVTropes entry for the watering down of characters from rounded, developed characters to one-dimensional caricatures is called Flanderization.


Was Flanders really that well rounded and developed before flanderization though? From what I remember, he was mostly just a generic neighbor with no real distinguishing attributes.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby sje46 » Wed May 19, 2010 7:43 pm UTC

You, sir, name? wrote:
SexyTalon wrote:There's a reason the TVTropes entry for the watering down of characters from rounded, developed characters to one-dimensional caricatures is called Flanderization.


Was Flanders really that well rounded and developed before flanderization though? From what I remember, he was mostly just a generic neighbor with no real distinguishing attributes.
Flanderization happened definitely after the eighth season, and probably happened after Maude died (which was the 11th season). Which definitely showed Ned as a three dimensional character, IMO. And he was pretty well established as a relatively developed character in the Universe. When Flanders failed (the Leftoriam episode) was all about Ned, and developed his character a bunch, as well as the 8th season episode Hurricane Neddy, which greatly explained Ned's personality. Flanderization is a relatively new phenomenon, happening in the latter seasons. I definitely remember a time where Flanders was a one dimensional character, though, in the first couple of seasons, but that ended quick.

Wikipedia:
Ned Flanders was not religious in his first few appearances and in the first few seasons he was only mildly religious and his primary role was to be so "cloyingly perfect as to annoy and shame the Simpsons", whereas Homer Simpson has always hated Ned Flanders and always tries to undermine him.[22] There has been a consistent effort among the show's writers to make him not just "goody good and an unsympathetic person".[17] In the later seasons, Flanders has become more of a caricature of the Christian right, and his role as an irritating "perfect neighbor" has been lessened


His distinguishing attributes are many. He's incredibly polite, friendly, giving, generous, religious, etc. And hi-diddli-hi, neighborino! The whole point of Flanders is to be so perfect that he annoys Homer. He isn't a dull character, like, say, Comic Book Guy (who is entertaining, but they have barely developed him). His personality definitely sticks out, and he's a pretty sympathetic character, probably one of my favorites, actually. Moe's pretty awesome too.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby SecondTalon » Wed May 19, 2010 8:22 pm UTC

Yeah, a lot of the feel of the early Ned things were... okay, know how in the Sitcom the Dad is often a Everyman-type character with struggles and desires and hopes and fears and tries his best and so on, but there's also this wacky neighbor next door that sometimes drops in and ruins everything?

The Simpsons was the Wacky Neighbor as the main character. Ned was the opposite - just a guy tryin' to do the right thing for his family with an odd speech quirk and about the only person outside of the Pastor character to mention religion. Not in a devout over the top way, just in a "Sure, I'm a Christian, no big deal"

And now he's speaking in half-gibberish and concerned that perhaps Jesus wasn't righteous enough.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby emceng » Mon Oct 21, 2013 5:41 pm UTC

Necroing this, as I just read this today: http://deadhomersociety.com/zombiesimpsons/

It seems spot on at explaining the decline of the show, from guest stars they don't even bother writing a character for, to Jerkass Homer.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Carlington » Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:38 pm UTC

I'm going to stack another necro on top of yours to point out that Marcia Wallace died of complications, for anybody who wasn't aware.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby PeteP » Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:11 pm UTC

Who was Edna Krabappel for others who didn't know.

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby charliepanayi » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:19 pm UTC

Bart's teacher, whose best episodes were probably Bart the Lover and The PTA Disbands.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby SecondTalon » Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:45 pm UTC

Season 3 and Season 6, for those playing at home.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Lazar » Fri Feb 27, 2015 4:50 pm UTC

So my cable provider finally decided to offer Simpsons World, and I've been able to correct my long-standing deficiency of not having seen the show. I was familiar with many of the characters and jokes through cultural osmosis, but it was very rewarding to actually watch it. I saw seasons 1-8, some of season 9 and a handful from the later seasons; a lot of people seem to think the golden age ended around Scully's takeover (whether justified or not), so it seemed like a workable stopping point. Some observations:

– Danny Elfman's theme music is awesome, and I always enjoy listening to it. Apparently it was meant to be a response to the "wimpy" sitcom themes of the 70s and 80s. (His Batman theme is awesome too. That guy really knows how to write a tune.)

– I find Lisa more relatable than Bart. (I'd have to suspect that most of the the writers do too.) I was never such an overachiever, but I was pegged as a "smart kid" and had poor social skills, so a lot of her anxieties ring true with me. I quite liked most of her episodes: "Lisa's Rival" may have struck the closest to home, but I think "Summer of 4 Ft. 2" was the funniest. But she seems to have a substantial online hatedom: does she really become an annoying ideologue in the later seasons, like people say? Or is it that Skyler White thing where people develop an irrational antipathy for female characters? For that matter, I think Marge is a bit underrated too.

– Bart isn't bad either, although for better or worse he sometimes comes off as an elemental demon of mischief. Speaking of the supernatural, one of my favorite Bart-centric episodes is "Bart Sells His Soul", which has a pretty offbeat concept even for a Simpsons episode. I love how it imbues schoolyard sophistry with cosmic importance. Also, one thing I like about Bart is that he occupies this tenuous, intermediate social position where he sometimes aligns with the bullies, and sometimes with the dweeby kids.

– It is weird, though, that Bart was considered so threatening by so many back in the day. Now that the show is such a national institution, I suspect that conservatives would be more inclined to appropriate it, pointing out its traditionalist and pro-family aspects, than to condemn it.

– I had heard of the "bigger" supporting characters like Moe and Mr. Burns, but I find that the lower-tier, "gag" characters add a lot to the show too. Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz are both tremendous; it's such a shame about Phil Hartman. Snake is great because he's such a relentlessly one-note character; how can you not love his all-consuming obsession with crime and incongruous Valley Boy accent? And Dr. Nick is great too. His encounter with Mr. McGreg – "with a leg for an arm, and an arm for a leg!" – is one of my favorite gags in the whole show.

– "Homer's Enemy" is pretty disturbing, but I think it's a very good episode. It's basically an attack on the show's most central character – showing Homer not just as a lovable doofus but as an entitled and dangerously incompetent idiot – and that took some guts. "The Principal and the Pauper" showed some of the same daring, but it's definitely a swing and a miss.

– On that topic, though, it surprised me to find that Skinner is such a sympathetic and put-upon character. Before getting into the show, I just thought he would be a generic evil principal.

– It's tough to pick a favorite episode, but for now I'm going with "Last Exit to Springfield". It has a compelling story and top-notch jokes, plus a catchy folk song. "Marge vs. the Monorail" is great too; I love Chief Wiggum's non sequitur lament, "The ring came off my pudding can." (One of my other favorite non sequiturs is when Lisa yells "We got beets!" in "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie".)

– Also, one somewhat surprising thing, when I was reading episode reviews, was to see earnest praise for cutaway gags and overly long gags (like Sideshow Bob's rake scene) – because those are often the first things mentioned in denunciations of Family Guy. I suppose it's the latter show's over-reliance on those devices that warrants criticism.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Chen » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:29 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:– It's tough to pick a favorite episode, but for now I'm going with "Last Exit to Springfield". It has a compelling story and top-notch jokes, plus a catchy folk song. "Marge vs. the Monorail" is great too; I love Chief Wiggum's non sequitur lament, "The ring came off my pudding can." (One of my other favorite non sequiturs is when Lisa yells "We got beets!" in "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie".)


Last Exit to Springfield is definitely a good one. Marge vs. the Monorail too. Personally my favorite is either Bart vs. Australia ("You call that a knife?") or You Only Move Twice ("I didn't even give you my coat!")

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Mutex » Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:31 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:– It is weird, though, that Bart was considered so threatening by so many back in the day. Now that the show is such a national institution, I suspect that conservatives would be more inclined to appropriate it, pointing out its traditionalist and pro-family aspects, than to condemn it.


It's astonishing how much attitudes have changed over a couple of decades. There was a time when the game Dungeons and Dragons was causing mass hysteria over worries it was getting kids into Satanism. Basically, everyone in the past was nuts. Glad we're all sane now though.

Lazar wrote:"The Principal and the Pauper" showed some of the same daring, but it's definitely a swing and a miss.


What made it a miss for you? I thought that episode was pretty good. One of my favourite Simpsons gags is in it:
"Funny story, I got captured by the Vietnamese and made to work in a POW camp for 40 years."
"That doesn't sound like a funny story."
"Well, I guess you had to be there."

Lazar wrote:– Also, one somewhat surprising thing, when I was reading episode reviews, was to see earnest praise for cutaway gags and overly long gags (like Sideshow Bob's rake scene) – because those are often the first things mentioned in denunciations of Family Guy. I suppose it's the latter show's over-reliance on those devices that warrants criticism.


Yeah, I think it's about execution as well as not over-using gags like that. When the rake scene just keeps going on and on it subverts your expectations. I can't think of any Simpsons cutaway gags though? Certainly not in the Seasons 1-9 era.

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Lazar » Sat Apr 04, 2015 4:53 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:What made it a miss for you? I thought that episode was pretty good. One of my favourite Simpsons gags is in it:
"Funny story, I got captured by the Vietnamese and made to work in a POW camp for 40 years."
"That doesn't sound like a funny story."
"Well, I guess you had to be there."

Well, I think I agree with the criticism (voiced by Harry Shearer and others) that it's in some sense a betrayal of Skinner's character to out him as a fraudulent person, and that it might have been indicative of a willingness to do crazier things just for the shock value.

Yeah, I think it's about execution as well as not over-using gags like that. When the rake scene just keeps going on and on it subverts your expectations. I can't think of any Simpsons cutaway gags though? Certainly not in the Seasons 1-9 era.

I'm thinking of stuff like Homer's Land of Chocolate fantasy in "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk", or Smithers' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof slash Streetcar Named Desire flashback in "Secrets of a Successful Marriage".
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Mutex » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:52 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:
Mutex wrote:What made it a miss for you? I thought that episode was pretty good. One of my favourite Simpsons gags is in it:
"Funny story, I got captured by the Vietnamese and made to work in a POW camp for 40 years."
"That doesn't sound like a funny story."
"Well, I guess you had to be there."

Well, I think I agree with the criticism (voiced by Harry Shearer and others) that it's in some sense a betrayal of Skinner's character to out him as a fraudulent person, and that it might have been indicative of a willingness to do crazier things just for the shock value.


I remember his reason for pretending to be Skinner to be more about not having to tell Mrs Skinner her son was dead and her having to deal with that, seemed more altruistic than fraudulent. It is a relatively "big" concept though, so I guess it might mark the point they started running out of decent ideas for storylines.

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Mishrak » Mon Apr 06, 2015 2:09 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:It's astonishing how much attitudes have changed over a couple of decades. There was a time when the game Dungeons and Dragons was causing mass hysteria over worries it was getting kids into Satanism. Basically, everyone in the past was nuts. Glad we're all sane now though.


Is it that astonishing? There seems to be a trend (definitely with TV/Movies) where the thing that was unacceptable 10 years ago is commonplace, if not popular today. This has been the case for at least the last 50 years.

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Mutex » Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:34 pm UTC

Mishrak wrote:
Mutex wrote:It's astonishing how much attitudes have changed over a couple of decades. There was a time when the game Dungeons and Dragons was causing mass hysteria over worries it was getting kids into Satanism. Basically, everyone in the past was nuts. Glad we're all sane now though.


Is it that astonishing? There theemth to be a trend (definitely with TV/Movies) where the thing that was unacceptable 10 years ago is commonplace, if not popular today. thith has been the case for at least the last 50 years.


Well, whether you consider it astonishing or not wasn't the point as much as "attitudes have really changed quite quickly since the late 80s".

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby Lazar » Fri May 15, 2015 2:24 am UTC

So Harry Shearer, the voice of half of Springfield, has left the show. It seems like one of the reasons might be that he's prioritizing the freedom to do outside work over the prospect of yet another dump truck full of money; I say more power to him. He's the oldest regular cast member, and he's been the most vocally critical of the show, so I guess it isn't super surprising.

But all the same, it is crazy to imagine what the show will do without him. If Al Jean's Twitter feed can be believed, it appears that they're going to recast; that sounds a little sacrilegious, but it's been pointed out that many of the characters' voices have already changed significantly over time, that many people in non-English-speaking countries already enjoy the show with different performers, and that the Looney Toons were able to survive the loss of Mel Blanc, who was arguably the greatest voice actor ever, so I guess it's not undoable. Still, though, it's hard not to read this as part of the show's "decline narrative" – maybe this is a hint from the five-fingered God that seasons 27 and 28 (already in the works) should be the last. What do you guys think?
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri May 15, 2015 12:03 pm UTC

Mutex wrote:
Lazar wrote:– Also, one somewhat surprising thing, when I was reading episode reviews, was to see earnest praise for cutaway gags and overly long gags (like Sideshow Bob's rake scene) – because those are often the first things mentioned in denunciations of Family Guy. I suppose it's the latter show's over-reliance on those devices that warrants criticism.


Yeah, I think it's about execution as well as not over-using gags like that. When the rake scene just keeps going on and on it subverts your expectations. I can't think of any Simpsons cutaway gags though? Certainly not in the Seasons 1-9 era.


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Lazar wrote:So Harry Shearer, the voice of half of Springfield, has left the show. It seems like one of the reasons might be that he's prioritizing the freedom to do outside work over the prospect of yet another dump truck full of money; I say more power to him. He's the oldest regular cast member, and he's been the most vocally critical of the show, so I guess it isn't super surprising.

But all the same, it is crazy to imagine what the show will do without him. If Al Jean's Twitter feed can be believed, it appears that they're going to recast; that sounds a little sacrilegious, but it's been pointed out that many of the characters' voices have already changed significantly over time, that many people in non-English-speaking countries already enjoy the show with different performers, and that the Looney Toons were able to survive the loss of Mel Blanc, who was arguably the greatest voice actor ever, so I guess it's not undoable. Still, though, it's hard not to read this as part of the show's "decline narrative" – maybe this is a hint from the five-fingered God that seasons 27 and 28 (already in the works) should be the last. What do you guys think?


There's only so many times you can offer truckloads of money to a highly talented 70+ year old. Best of luck to him, although he does so many of the good voices its hard to imagine how the show would be without him.
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Re: The Simpsons

Postby pkcommando » Fri May 15, 2015 2:18 pm UTC

From the CNN article:
"To me, the deal he rejected would be the dream of a lifetime for the rest of the world," the source said.

Heaven forbid a 70+ y.o. guy who's done something for 26 years decides he doesn't want to do it anymore.



Does anyone know if there's any truth to a rumor I've seen around the internet that it's not even in Groening's hands to end the show? Supposedly, he doesn't have the power to say "screw it, let's end this already" and it's solely up to Fox execs. If that's the case, imagine expecting Shearer to stick around just because Fox won't let the show die. "You're free to leave.... but hold still while we chain you to this wall."

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Re: The Simpsons

Postby rmsgrey » Fri May 15, 2015 5:15 pm UTC

pkcommando wrote:Does anyone know if there's any truth to a rumor I've seen around the internet that it's not even in Groening's hands to end the show? Supposedly, he doesn't have the power to say "screw it, let's end this already" and it's solely up to Fox execs. If that's the case, imagine expecting Shearer to stick around just because Fox won't let the show die. "You're free to leave.... but hold still while we chain you to this wall."


In the "can't compel creativity" column, there's not a lot Fox can do to actually force him to continue making acceptable episodes. On the other hand, there's probably not much Groening can do to stop Fox from continuing to produce episodes of a show called The Simpsons with most of the same creative team, but no Matt Groening involved...

So, yeah, the show must go on until enough people agree to end it...


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