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Preview: Popdose - Latest Comments in Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Popdose - Latest Comments in Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Culturally inspired writing.

Last Build Date: Mon, 07 Jul 2008 20:31:37 -0000


Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Mon, 07 Jul 2008 20:31:37 -0000

I love this show as much as anyone, but that episode that opened with Homer dreaming of killing his father was shockingly out of character and mean-spirited. They're also swinging their Message Stick way, way too much these days. Preaching: it's not just for Lisa anymore.

I actually loved the '90s episode though, despite it taking place completely out of the actual timeline of their lives. Still, this show needs to go to pasture, before they do any more damage to their brilliant legacy.

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Fri, 04 Jul 2008 20:50:01 -0000

With most series, I'd agree, but this one is so malleable that they're less prone to repeating themselves.

I'd argue it took them four seasons to hit their stride in the first place.

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Fri, 04 Jul 2008 15:43:32 -0000

My theory on TV comedies/dramas is that you can have the absolute best concept, the most memorable characters, the freshest setting, the best writers and actors, etc. -- and if everything clicks, you'll have seven seasons of great material, maximum.

I haven't yet encountered a series that didn't start slipping after the 7-year mark. (Or often well before it.) But by the end of 7 years, or about 150 eps, no matter what you do -- introduce new characters, change the formula, get a new team of writers, change the theme song -- you're either repeating yourself, or (of necessity) moving away from established character traits and attitudes in order to *avoid* repeating yourself, and damaging the integrity of your characters as a result You still might crank out some good eps along the way, but the returns start to diminish with each additional season you hang on...

Which means that, at least in my estimation, The Simpsons can't un-nuke the fridge. But then, nor could any other series in its 18th year.

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Fri, 04 Jul 2008 11:38:29 -0000

I accept that. What shall we use now, though? "Offensive?"

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Fri, 04 Jul 2008 04:39:49 -0000

Can I declare a one-man moratorium on the word 'edgy' please? Thank you.

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Fri, 04 Jul 2008 01:57:49 -0000

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the show began its descent into mediocrity the day Phil Hartman died.

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 23:37:25 -0000

The Abrahms/Zucker/Abrahms-styled jokes in the margins are gone too... I miss the family walking idly down the street as sight-gag after sight-gag snuck in behind them. That sort of three dimensional approach is gone, replaced with a very large hammer.

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 22:25:10 -0000

There is a significant difference between the last few years and the few years preceding it, and those before it. One of the reasons might be the length of the episodes... since the network made them run more commercials, they've lost a few minutes per show and fewer of the little touches that flesh out the characters are possible in the shorter timeframe. Homer was always a bit of an ogre, but you were able to see bits that made it more endearing and less cringey. I still see a lot of the greatness of The Simpsons, and the movie just proved they could still do it... given enough episode length. And, uh, twenty years to write it. And John Swartzwelder's input.

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 22:22:33 -0000

Very good episodes of the last three seasons:
- The Girl Who Slept Too Little
- Treehouse of Horror XVI
- Marge's Son Poisoning (just for the arm-wrestling subplot)
- My Fair Laddy
- The Wettest Stories Ever Told
- Girls Just Want to Have Sums
- The Monkey Suit
- Marge and Homer Turn a Couple Play (a rare exception to the fact that marital-problem episodes stink)
- The Mook, The Chef, The Wife and The Homer
- Jazzy and the Pussycats
- G.I. D'oh!
- Springfield Up
- Rome-old and Juli-eh (cardboard forts)
- Marge Gamer
- 24 Minutes
- Midnight Towboy
- Treehouse of Horror, most recent
- Husbands and Knives
- Funeral for a Fiend

Great episodes of the last three seasons:
- The Italian Bob
- The Seemingly Never-Ending Story
- Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife (Ricky Gervais)
- Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore
- Crook and Ladder
- You Kent Always Say What You Want
- He Loves to Fly And It D'ohs
- Homer of Seville
- Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind
- That 90s Show (Sadgasm!)

This is actually a simplification. The typical Simpsons episode these days takes an interesting premise, from which they get a few good jokes, and is erratic after that. Sometimes, it goes in a funny direction. Sometimes it doesn't.

I'd agree that, say, Season 18 wasn't as good as some of the seasons in the '90s (after the first three, most of which seem crude in retrospect). But just like Saturday Night Live, you can never quite give up on the show. It's too fluid. It's not like a sitcom that isn't worth seeing after, say, Christa Miller leaves. (Or Ron Howard, to go back to the series that spawned the "jump the shark" phrase in the first place.) It can be in a slump and then surprise you with something terrific.

And their "trilogy" episodes (the Treehouses, the story-telling episodes) usually have at least one good segment. Margical History Tour, from Season 15, is one of my all-time favorites.

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 21:33:44 -0000

The Simpsons is beyond salvageable now, as Matt Groening is only in it for the paycheck at this point. That's OK though, as it's all about the Venture Bros. for me now.

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 21:29:43 -0000

I've read a lot of 'Jump the Shark' commentary looking for an iconic moment when the show's decline in quality began (and it has declined). The Simpson's lean toward darker plots seems to parallel the change in TV shows in general -- a move from belly-laugh sitcoms to shows where you betray your friends, vote them off the island, and make the auditioning singer look foolish. Cheap, uninventive writing, precious little talent needed. I too found the episode where Homer frames Marge for DUI to be a moment of defeat for the show. Just so out of character, so unfunny, and not really a funny plot line anyway. I've watched the SImpsons since the earliest years, and in recent years have watched all the classic episodes with my son (now that he's old enough). When we watched one of the shows this past season about Homer being part of the Grunge movement, I knew the show was toast. My son said "that was a bad show" not because that individual show was bad, but because it betrayed the entire history and timeline of the characters that we've seen through previous flashbacks. We already know the story of Homer and Marge's romance, and that wasn't how it happened.

One thing the show will not recover from is the slow destruction of the non-Simpson family characters. The romance between Seymour Skinner and Edna Krabapple effectively killed both characters in one swift act. They were both fantastic for sub-plots. not any more.

I hope that dark plots end and the show turns around. It isn't too late. What's in store for next season -- Homer gets convicted for spousal abuse?

Re: Dw. Dunphy On… “The Simpsons”

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 20:34:00 -0000

I blame Dana Gould, who I've always thought to be comedy kryptonite. The fact that he not only has a career but has been handed the reigns of a once-great institution is just further proof that 9.9995 people out of 10 have poop for brains.