Television

The Simpsons: The First 200 Hours

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Fox

The Simpsons is airing its 400th episode tonight, and that's as good a hook as any to note that the show is wrapping up its strongest season since the mid-'90s. Those of us who kept watching the series through the thin times, confident that even a weakened Simpsons is funnier than most ordinary TV comedies at their best, have been blessed for the last eight months with a sharp satire that rarely showed any signs of weakness at all.

I'm not going anywhere with this. Just thought it deserved to be noted. If you gave up on the series a few years back, you might want to watch the reruns this summer.

(Unless you're one of those people who gave up on it many years ago, when it started to get really good, because you wanted more standard-issue sitcom stories with "character realism," i.e., characters who make up for being unrealistic by being predictable. You won't like this year any more than you liked any of the other good years.)

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  1. by the time family guy and futurama debuted the simpsons was already past the point of self parody and should have ended. maybe it has looped back around into decency again. i’ll check out this season but i’m not holding my breath.

  2. Until I read Jesse’s post, My opinion of The Simpsons was pretty much the same as Ron’s. I guess I should give the past season’s episodes a chance.

  3. I stopped watching it in 1999 or so. Does this mean that I should catch up on the last 8 years?

  4. I totally agree that this season has been a wonderful surprise. Not a bad episode in the whole bunch, with some truly excellent ones mixed in (the last two were great).

  5. The last season has been rather strong, but also a bit disjointed. It feels like they know they have to make a big push before the movie comes out, and so they’re cannibalizing the half-baked (but sometimes brilliant) ideas they’ve had sitting in a drawer somewhere since the last really good writing team was on staff (around the mid 90’s).

  6. characters who make up for being unrealistic

    I’ve met far too many Homers, Moes and Side-Show Bobs to consider the characters ‘unrealistic.’

  7. I haven’t watched the Simpsons in years, so I am in no position to argue with Jessee about the quality of the shows. At some point regardless of the quality I just get tired of a show. I don’t watch South Park much anymore not because it is bad but just because it is old. How you can watch the Simpsons for nearly 20 years and 400 episodes and not move on to something else is beyond me. I don’t care how well written it is, there is only so much of Bart and Homer and company one person ought to be able to take.

  8. John,

    Don’t have a cow, man! Eat my shorts!

  9. John: It’s funny to me how easily you go from your personal preference to an “ought”. HAH!

  10. John: It’s funny to me how easily you go from your personal preference to an “ought”.

    Ouch.

    Me, I haven’t watched it in years, but I’ll definitely be catching the movie. The preview I saw was funny.

  11. Cool. Thanks for the headz up. I gave up when they shoehorned some nobody, whats his, that guy, the white rapper type guy who looked like Kevin Federine’s older brother into another pointless cameo. It’s going to come to me. He was bigish a few years ago.

  12. The last really good season of The Simpsons was season 9. Seasons 10, 11, and 12 had a few good episodes, but since then the show has been terrible. Almost everyone I talk to feels the same way; the jokes just aren’t there anymore. I would like to enjoy the new episodes, but I don’t. It is painful to watch at this point. I watch the old episodes all the time on DVD, and it is amazing how well they hold up. Thank God for DVDs.

    I think Jerry Seinfeld had the right idea when he quit Seinfeld while it was still a great show. I wish The Simpsons would have quit 6-8 years ago.

  13. Yea, I might catch up on it, I stopped a few years ago. Then I got hooked on adult swim and have not gone back. I never really cared ether way about “character realism” I just stopped watching when I stopped laughing

  14. Odd, I stopped watching it because it got TOO predictable IMO.

    The last truly funny episode I remember…I’m fuzzy on the plot now, but I know they were on an island with some people, and it involved Homer licking one of those poisonous toads to get high.

  15. The Simpsons has become another SNL. It’s glory days are long past, but it still has the capability to produce a decent season every now and then.

    I find it amusing that Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer) is now on his third sitcom.

  16. “I find it amusing that Sideshow Bob (Kelsey Grammer) is now on his third sitcom.”

    Fourth. You probably forgot Wings.

  17. Worst thread ever.

  18. Hate to be a pain about this, but at 22 minutes an episode, the 400th episode will only be 146 hours and 40 minutes.

  19. The fact that Jesse has been watching regularly for the past 10 years, and has felt even the worst of these horrible episodes is, “funnier than most ordinary TV comedies at their best” tells me all I need to know. His opinion, at least with regrads to The Simpsons, is worthless. So I will not go to the effort of checking out any of this years episodes until I get a recomendation from someone with a little more credibility. That Slate article was objective to the point of absurdity. Whichever version of The Simpsons you might prefer, no rational person can argue that the characters and setting (slightly exaggerated reality vs. complete fantasy world) haven’t changed. I think the first 10 years of The Simpsons were geared more towards college kids and people who enjoyed intelligent satire. As the series weakened and those viewers started turning away, they rebooted the series to make it appeal to small children, Mexicans and others with a weak grasp of English as a primary language, and the stupid. I respect the show’s executive team for their adaptability and business savy, but I have no interest in actually watching the crap they churn out week after week. It isn’t meant for me.

  20. Cool. Thanks for the headz up. I gave up when they shoehorned some nobody, whats his, that guy, the white rapper type guy who looked like Kevin Federine’s older brother into another pointless cameo. It’s going to come to me. He was bigish a few years ago.

    I remember when N’Sync was on the show. I was like, “Hey, they’re going to make fun of N’Sync!” and my friend said “No, that’s actually N’Sync.” Actual speaking parts on a formerly great show for a reincarnated New Kids on the Block. And then N’Sync came out and pranced around and looked even lamer than when not animated and I never watched The Simpsons again.

  21. As the series weakened and those viewers started turning away, they rebooted the series to make it appeal to small children, Mexicans and others with a weak grasp of English as a primary language, and the stupid.

    Dude. I mean…dude.

  22. I was trying to judge this post, compare my opinions to Jesse’s, and I realized that although I’m certain I’ve seen every episode this season (DVR), I can’t recall the details of any of them, which basically sums my feelings about late-period Simpsons. I’ll still watch, but you can’t make me care.

  23. Family Guy is The Simpsons‘ embarrassing, retarded brother. Let us never speak of it again.

  24. Funny, I have really enjoyed every season of the Simpsons until this one. For years I was puzzled by those that claim it has been done. But this season, I have barely eked out a laugh here and there.

    Lamest. Season. Ever.

    In fact, just finished watching last week’s on DVR (Santa’s Little Helper joins the police) and I can’t say anything good about it.

  25. I stopped watching about a year and a half ago because I was sick of, “oh hey (celebrity name), I didn’t know you lived in Springfield…” every week. The stories were so bogged down and inconsistent that it was hard to find the main point. I really enjoy the early episodes (the sitcom style ones) and always have but I also love the episodes from the mid to late 90’s as well. Each represents a different era of the series and I feel that for the last couple of years have been really lacking in the creativity expressed in those earlier episodes. It is nice to hear that the series is getting better and I will now probably “rent” them from my online “video store” to see for myself.

  26. Family Guy is The Simpsons’ embarrassing, retarded brother. Let us never speak of it again.

    As my fellow retard, Peter Griffin, might say, I find that remark shallow and pedantic. Family Guy makes The Simpsons look rather tame.

  27. I’ve had a very uneven reaction to each episode and season across The Simpsons’s lifetime. They’ll follow a horrible one with a hilarious one and vice-versa.

    But the hilarious-to-horrible ratio is still much higher than all but a very small number of shows.

  28. Until I read Jesse’s post, My opinion of The Simpsons was pretty much the same as Ron’s. I guess I should give the past season’s episodes a chance.

    That makes three of us.

    Jesse doesn’t like what I loved in the early Simpsons. Characters with depth, who developed with a gripping story. It later became random garbage with the ocassional Bush jab thrown in to show how intellectual and hip the makers are.

    On a related note, I saw an old Futurama episode (is it still on?) that had about as powerful an effect as a cartoon could ever have on me. It was called “The Sting”. Anybody else know what I’m talking about?

  29. As the series weakened and those viewers started turning away, they rebooted the series to make it appeal to small children, Mexicans and others with a weak grasp of English as a primary language, and the stupid.

    And thanks to the Bush/Kennedy amensty-Republican suicide pact-civillization destroying Act of 2007 you can expect more of the culture to devolve in the same direction.

    Let’s move to politics and pick this thread up!

  30. On a related note, I saw an old Futurama episode (is it still on?) that had about as powerful an effect as a cartoon could ever have on me. It was called “The Sting”. Anybody else know what I’m talking about?

    “Don’t worry, bee happy”

  31. I’ve had a very uneven reaction to each episode and season across The Simpsons’s lifetime. They’ll follow a horrible one with a hilarious one and vice-versa.

    And they kept that pattern up with tonight’s “special episodes.”

    Kiefer Sutherland episode – Well-written “24” parody
    Ludacris Episode – Truly Ludicrous

  32. Continuity error: Kent Brockman won the lottery in Season 4 (Dog of Death) so wouldn’t need to stay with the Simpsons upon losing his job. And it’s been painfully unfunny for about 7 years.

  33. The fact that Jesse has been watching regularly for the past 10 years, and has felt even the worst of these horrible episodes is, “funnier than most ordinary TV comedies at their best” tells me all I need to know. His opinion, at least with regrads to The Simpsons, is worthless.

    Here’s the thing about the latter-day Simpsons. Even in the weakest years, you could be confident that:

    1. Virtually every episode, no matter how weak it might seem overall, would have a few good laughs in it.

    2. Every third or fourth or fifth episode would be good all the way through.

    Already, that puts it in the elite of TV comedies. Or, at least, of network TV comedies.

    Jesse doesn’t like what I loved in the early Simpsons. Characters with depth, who developed with a gripping story.

    How much depth have these characters ever had? The first couple of years included a few genuinely touching episodes, such as “Bart Gets An F,” but more often it was just a somewhat-better-than-average family sitcom populated by TV stereotypes.

    I didn’t think the series hit its stride until the mid-’90s — the era of monorails, Kamp Krusty, Sideshow Bob singing Gilbert & Sullivan, and a nuclear power plant on strike.

    And they kept that pattern up with tonight’s “special episodes.”

    Haven’t watched ’em yet, but I’ll fire up the TiVo later tonight and see if I agree.

  34. And the second episode was essentially a re-staging of the “Krusty becomes an underground comic” episode. At least that one had the “Canyonero” commercial.

  35. For those wondering why the Simpsons has lasted so long, or suggesting it should have gone off the air years ago, I refer you to the last night of The Cosby Show (surely you were watching the Simpsons that night instead of Cosby, right?). The Simpsons had a special commercial bit, where Bart asked Homer why Cosby was going off the air. Homer said that Bill wanted to quit while the show was still good. Bart responded that if he had a show he would run it into the ground.

    Im just glad Groening has held Bart to his word.

  36. man you all have bad taste.

    the episode tonight was crisp.

  37. man you all have bad taste.

    the episode tonight was crisp.

    Yes, I find Ludacris walk-ons and lame racial stereotypes of hip hop to be extremely funny.

    Thankfully, Conan O’Brien jumped the show before IT jumped the shark …

  38. Futurama > Simpsons

  39. “Yes, I find Ludacris walk-ons and lame racial stereotypes of hip hop to be extremely funny.”

    then you agree with me?

  40. Does any one find it odd that two Simpsons storylines this season have very closely paralleled South Park story lines (Marge/Stan, Kyle and Cartman become involved in a World of Warcraft style RPG, and now the 24 parody)?

    Of course in both cases, South Park got there first, and offered a funnier and more insightful show. When you’re getting lapped by Comedy Central, maybe it’s time for the writers to hang up their writing cleats.

  41. When you’re getting lapped by Comedy Central, maybe it’s time for the writers to hang up their writing cleats.

    Having caught a whiff of that Fox News super stinkeroo The Half-Hour News Hour tonight (yes, they actually filmed another painfully unfunny episode), I’m beginning to wonder if maybe Fox Network’s No.1 animation is suffering from stagnation by association …

  42. Part of the problem the Simpsons has it that it has become dated in the modern world of animated comedy that it helped create. When I was in 6th grade and the show had just started, we weren’t allowed to wear Bart Simpson t-shirts to school because the administration was afraid of Bart’s rebellious message. Today the Simpsons is looked at as downright tame compared to the shows that came in its wake like Southpark, Family Guy, and the Adult Swim lineup.

    The show was at its best when it parodied contemporary issues using the characters. The Flanders standing in for the religious right, Lisa for the enlightened but also overly preachy and PC left, Mr. Burns for the wealthy, Republicans, etc., and of course Homer as a more loveable Archie Bunkerish lower-middle class American dumbass.

    The show is at its worst when it has cameos of the latest flavor of the month, or has Bart or Homer latching on to the latest trend. Watching Bart imitate Eminem is just painful. And the musical episodes, while funny in the early years, can be monotonous and uninspired now.

    Still I have a soft spot for the characters and for a show I’ve been watching since elementary school (I just turned 30.) Once in a while there is still a decent episode. It would be nice if they could go out on a high note. The series can’t go on much longer.

  43. For what it’s worth:

    I watched this evenings episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy; the first time I’ve watched both shows in several years.

    Both were very lame attempts at left-leaning political statements rather than humor: The Simpsons showing the Republicans and Fox News to be evil, and Family Guy taking place in an alternate time-line where President Gore ushers in a utopian age, and Anthony Scalia, Karl Rove, and Tucker Carlson are shot to death by Dick Cheney in a hunting accident. Ha ha ha.

    If that’s the best these writers can do for season finales, I can go another couple of years without watching either show.

    At least I have my Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Arrested Development DVDs, which are still funny and worth watching after all these years.

  44. I haven’t seen much of the rest of the seasons for either “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy,” but in my opinion today’s episodes were garbage.

    Besides the stupid political rants by both shows (the liberal slant isn’t even veiled any more – Al Gore creates a crime-free utopia by eliminating guns – yeah, sure…:rolleyes:), they compromised the characters.

    For example, in tonight’s 400th episode, Bart assaults a helpless Principal Skinner. As a character, Bart crossed the line here from “mischievous” to just plain mean-spirited.

  45. For those who realize how much better Futurama is than The Simpsons: Good news everyone! They’re making a couple of Futurama TV movies, either for comedy central or cartoon network.

  46. @Nobody,
    Yeah, Family Guy was BS tonight, but they’ve rarely going into such territory before; I’d chalk that up to a bad/pissed off writer. Though Family Guy has had some crappy episodes lately, it isn’t too typical of them.

    And I almost had a heart attack when you said Arrested development–you’re about the only other person I know that actually likes it. I think that you have to be smart in order to get it.

  47. I watched this evenings episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy; the first time I’ve watched both shows in several years.

    Both were very lame attempts at left-leaning political statements rather than humor:

    Yes, indeed.

    I sometimes talk politics with people and when they don’t like my views I often hear “Fox News”. Its joined “Halliburton” and “Wall-Mart” as things stupid people say when they want to seem smart.

    I once had a girl from Iran, from fucking Iran and a nationalist, try to tell me how I’ve been brain washed by the American media.

    How cutting edge. Fight the power! Don’t believe the hype.

    I’ve always wanted to ask people with the idea that the media is brainwashing us where they get their information from. I read newspapers, magazine and websites. If this is all propoganda given to us by the man I’d thank anybody who could point me in the direction of the truth.

    The makers of the Simpsons have joined the ranks of the stupid and the smug patting themselves on the back for having the bravery to stand up to Republicans, capitalism and Fox News. I’m never watching that crap again.

  48. I probably won’t watch either show (Simpsons, Family Guy)anymore. I keep hoping they will decide to go back to being funny instead of the cheap political crap they insist on belting out show after show anymore. If I wanted to be preached at I’ll start going to church.

  49. I am reminded of Bill Watterson’s observation that some people take everything seriously.

  50. Just finished.

    Meh.

    I said, Meh!

  51. Even though the second episode tonight wasn’t very good (at least after Marge finished running home), I do think it is the best season since season 9. During season 9, the show began to decline, but it was still very good. I think their timing still needs some adjustment, and obviously their idea of satire is still more of a blunt object than it is sharp (the revelation that Fox airs shows in order to be fined, directing the money paid for those fines to the Republican Party, doesn’t even make sense; if their point was that Fox is bad, then I guess they communicated that successfully by having Fox do something bad on their show, but that kind of satire is like Homer’s impression of Mr. Burns in the Bobo episode).

    Norbizness: Kent Brockman became even richer when Springfield split in half over the area code change (his clothes were encrusted with diamonds), but the writers forgot about it by two seasons ago at the latest, when they had him complain about prescription drug prices on the air (he called them unreasonable, which I guess was also supposed to be funny).

  52. Here’s the thing about the latter-day Simpsons. Even in the weakest years, you could be confident that:

    That the halloween episode would be funny. The only consistent thing through the lame years. IMHO.

  53. Does any one find it odd that two Simpsons storylines this season have very closely paralleled South Park story lines

    Heh, how thing change…

    South Park did it!
    South Park did it!

  54. The partisan stuff still isn’t as bad as it was a couple of seasons ago, though. There was one episode where they were arrested because Bart accidentally mooned an American Flag, Marge said that she hates Americans, and Lisa quoted the First Amendment. The episode was based on the idea that citizens who question the Bush administration are punished, but satire is best when it mockingly depicts the truth in a way that people do not usually think about it, not when it animates an already popular myth. The Simpsons’ fellow prisoners were Democrats who in real life had probably never been as rich as they were when the episode was made (a point that one of them, Bill Clinton, would make whenever he got the chance). There were a lot of issue episodes that season, and they weren’t even funny like the overwhelmingly biased “Sideshow Bob Roberts” was in Season 6. Most of the current season, however, has been much better.

  55. For those complaining about tonight’s Family Guy, (the worse line of the night was how “zero tolerence gun laws got rid of all the crime”) did anyone see the episode in which the characters go to Texas on tonight’s Adult Swim? Brian spoke as if living in a Red State was the worse thing in the world (unironicly) and that the people living there where protrayed as idiotic, racist, retard killing, homophobic, murderous psychos. Have they even heard of Austin?

    Here’s the thing about the latter-day Simpsons. Even in the weakest years, you could be confident that:

    1. Virtually every episode, no matter how weak it might seem overall, would have a few good laughs in it.

    2. Every third or fourth or fifth episode would be good all the way through.

    My feelings exactly. The show is “bad” now in the fact that it’s not as well written as it was in the past, or as well-constructed (tounge-in-cheek social satire has become cheap jabs, etc.) but the show is still a fun, brightly-colored disctraction for my pathetic life.

  56. Oh! And George Bush is protrayed as a cocaine addict. Because, you know, he takes cocaine all the time.

  57. You can be political, even biased, and still be funny. Just look at King of the Hill. I think it’s one of the most under-rated cartoons of the last ten years.

    I also was a fan of The Critic.

    Jon: How do you sleep at night?
    McBain: On a bed of money with many beautiful women.

  58. One of my favorite episodes of the simpsons was the anti-illegal immigration episode that starts off with bear going wild in springfield, lovejoy’s wife yelling ‘the children!’ and the people agreeing to an anti bear task force was spot on, ‘we’re here, we’re queer and we don’t want any more bears’ that was a fantastic episode, havent really seen any like that lately, been watching on and off, and wait, didn’t this season start with that godfather episode? that was not a very strong episode imo, whatevs, anyone seen commercials for that show lil bush? looks awful, looks like the louie arnold cartoon, l8r sk8rs

  59. The last episode was similar to South Park’s Cartoon Wars. Except South Park was actually about real censoring, not just some imagined, incoherent rants against Fox News.

  60. the worse line of the night was how “zero tolerence gun laws got rid of all the crime”

    Uh, I’m not even a fan of Family Guy, but that line was a joke. See, it’s completely preposterous but some people believe it. That’s the point. Get a sense of humor.

    Oh! And George Bush is protrayed as a cocaine addict. Because, you know, he takes cocaine all the time.

    There have been rumors for years that Bush used to be a coke fiend. Nobody knows if it’s true, but given his past (and his avoidance of questions about it) it’s not exactly farfetched. In any case, it’s a part of the political lanscape, and fair grounds for satire (even bad satire).

  61. Just watched the “24” parody. I can’t think of a better example of how much better “South Park” is than “Simpsons” at this point than to compare those two episodes.

  62. jesse walker clearly has a superior sense of humor. if you dont like what he does, then your stupid!

  63. Mrs TWC and I had the good fortune to see the original Simpsons at an animated feature film fest longer ago than I care to admit. We thought the characters were weird because they were yellow but it was funny.

    We keep bringing that up to the kids. They yawn.

    Best part of 400 (maybe it was 401) Bart has a a switchblade and a matchbook from House of Blues. LIke you can ever get a matchbook from anyplace in Ca.

    Got dam Federales took all my cool Cabo matchbooks before I could get on the Mexicana flight from Cabo last year. Oh. Senor. They blow up! Fargin’ A they do Muchacho.

  64. Because, you know, he takes cocaine all the time.

    Well, not any more.

  65. Actually, I thought the future utopia ushered in by the alternate timeline Gore presidency on Family Guy was deliberately over the top to the point of making fun of how liberals think everything would be better if Gore were president. Of course, that might have been unintentional. Still, it was far funnier than The Simpsons‘ lame attempt at being “daring” by faux criticizing its corporate cousin, Fox News.

  66. The last episode was similar to South Park’s Cartoon Wars. Except South Park was actually about real censoring, not just some imagined, incoherent rants against Fox News.

    Yeah I kept waitng for the punchline at the end of it. Some clever humorous insight about crazy conspiricies or something. No dice though.

    I have been really looking forward to the new Futurama movies but now I’m a little worried it will be infected by whatever crap the Simpsons caught.

  67. Did someone really complain, a few comments back, that The Simpsons was “biased”? Jesus fucking Christ.

    Anyway, I haven’t seen the Ludacris episode that almost everyone here is putting down yet, so I don’t know if I like it or not. (I’m not crazy about their celebrity-cameo-driven episodes, so my hopes aren’t high.) But the 24 episode — which many people here seem to have liked, and which I found diverting enough — was actually below average for this season. (I suppose I might have liked it more if I’d ever seen 24. But the clich?s were all familiar anyway.)

  68. yeah i’m a little worried about you guys taking what’s obviously satire – i.e. the fcc/republican conspiracy or the whole insane president gore paradise of no guns and no crime – as serious.

  69. fwiw, ludacris is in the episode for all of 45 seconds.

  70. I’ve always wanted to ask people with the idea that the media is brainwashing us where they get their information from. I read newspapers, magazine and websites. If this is all propoganda given to us by the man I’d thank anybody who could point me in the direction of the truth.

    NPR provides the pure and undilluted truth. It can do this because it has no financial incentive to be interesting.

  71. Way back in the mid 90’s Sunday’s were for Simpsons. Every episode was a gem. Somewhere around season 8 or 9, I realized I was disappointed more often than not. I stopped prioritizing it, then just stopped watching altogether. I might watch the reruns this summer on Jesse’s recommendation. A couple at least.

    “Brush With Greatness” Season 2: Best episode EVER.

  72. Brush with Greatness definitely has the best closing exchange:

    Burns: Incidentally, thanks for not making fun of my genitalia (in the painting).

    Marge: I thought I did.

  73. At least I have my Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Arrested Development DVDs, which are still funny and worth watching after all these years.

    Amen to all that, but add the Sgt. Bilko show, South Park, and leave aside the 2nd season of Arrented Development.

  74. yeah i’m a little worried about you guys taking what’s obviously satire – i.e. the fcc/republican conspiracy or the whole insane president gore paradise of no guns and no crime – as serious.

    The problem is the jokes aren’t funny so it’s difficult to figure out what the intent is. It just comes off as a rant.

    A good example to me is the “Sideshow Bob Roberts” episode. The one where Bob is elected mayor (right?). At the time I was still a fairly idealistic repulican. However, I still found it hilarious, even then. And it’s probably one of my favorite episodes still.

    Last night they even used one of the same jokes, the GOP headquarters as a dark castle, and now it just seemed cheap and tired. I know I laughed when they used it in the former episode. It was as if the writers couldn’t think of any new material and just went with what’s easy.

  75. the gop headquarters has always been a castle. and dracula has always been on the board.

    i mean, i don’t find it very hard to tell the difference, but taste no doubt plays a part. (i can’t imagine laughing at seinfeld or arrested development, but i will usually line up for family guy’s ADD-style tardfest.)

  76. We need another Hank Scorpio episode as soon as possible.

  77. Yes, Futuramas were better than Simpsons when they were both in prod’n, but that’s because Futurama sapped the best talent & ideas from Simpsons. Simpsons can still make me LOL frequently, even though I don’t watch them as compulsively as I used to.

    As to other Fox comedies without canned laughs (or Fox Sun. night TV shows, whatever this category is), I too very much enjoyed Arrested Development. (It had Thurber written all over it.) I also got the idea that I should have enjoyed Malcolm in the Middle, that they expected “me” to, and I tried good & hard, but just didn’t find it funny or even understandable. It was indeed in the middle between good shows.

  78. the gop headquarters has always been a castle. and dracula has always been on the board.

    My point was to get some new material. What was funny then isn’t always funny 10+ years later.

  79. And I almost had a heart attack when you said Arrested development–you’re about the only other person I know that actually likes it.

    I am also a huge Arrested Development fan, and deeply mourn its passing (although you could hardly blame them for cancelling it, since, as teevee.org said, “it couldn’t find an audience if it wandered into a Broadway theatre at showtime.”)

    We didn’t have FOX when I was growing up, so I’ve seen maybe 1 1/2 episodes of The Simpsons. The love and the hate, they blow right over my head.

  80. The Simpsons isn’t as funny as it was when I was young! Things cost too much! Everything sucks compared to some idealized image I have of the past!

  81. Jesse Walker | May 21, 2007, 9:09am
    Did someone really complain, a few comments back, that The Simpsons was “biased”? Jesus fucking Christ.

    It’s possible to be politically-biased (Left or Right) and funny.

    Last night’s episode wasn’t funny.

  82. From the USA Today article:

    In recent years, it has made digs about the decision to invade Iraq and its consequences. “The show always takes on who’s in power,” Jean says.

    Did the show portray the Democrats in a similar fashion during the Clinton administration?

    Or did Mr. Jean mean to say, “The show always takes on the Republicans (or political-right)”?

    And what does “take on” mean in this context anyway?

  83. NPR provides the pure and undilluted truth. It can do this because it has no financial incentive to be interesting.

    You’re not the REAL Hugh Akston. 😉
    NPR also has no financial incentive to NOT be biased…

  84. Did the show portray the Democrats in a similar fashion during the Clinton administration?

    Considering the fact that when Clinton was President they had him blatantly propositioning Marge and asking her to meet him in a shed behind the White House, while they have yet to actually explicitly comment on Bush, I’d say yeah. Maybe they didn’t go after Clinton as much because he didn’t give them as much fodder?

    It’s possible that the people making fun of your ideas aren’t biased; your politics might just suck enough to deserve it.

  85. Shem | May 21, 2007, 9:27pm
    …when Clinton was President they had him blatantly propositioning Marge and asking her to meet him in a shed behind the White House…
    It’s possible that the people making fun of your ideas aren’t biased; your politics might just suck enough to deserve it.

    Poking fun at Clinton’s personal foibles is hardly the same as suggesting that the Democratic Party and Liberal Media are partners in some sinister Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.

    Who said Republican ideas (whatever they are) are my ideas? I’m just complaining about the show emphasizing political shilling over quality. In this case, the shilling was Left-leaning, and blatantly so.

  86. I watched the episode. I thought it was below average, though as always it had some good laughs mixed in. (To my surprise, I thought the Ludacris cameo — the tooth decay film, not the stuff immediately afterwards — was the high point. I also enjoyed Maggie’s abstract drawing of Elmo, though you might have to have an Elmo-obsessed daughter to find that funny.)

    The political humor wasn’t particularly sharp. It wasn’t “smug” either, nor was it “shilling.” It wasn’t even particularly left-wing (not that I’d care if it was) — it was just another installment in the show’s long-established tradition of making fun of the parent company.

  87. Who said Republican ideas (whatever they are) are my ideas?

    Call it a hunch. And a product of frequenting the same board on which you’re active.

  88. oh noes teh cartoon made funs of mes.

  89. Shem | May 22, 2007, 12:24am
    Who said Republican ideas (whatever they are) are my ideas?
    Call it a hunch. And a product of frequenting the same board on which you’re active.

    My love for the Republican Party must be more obvious then I thought. And I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for that commie engaging in profiling!

    But seriously; I just went through some of my past posts. In all fairness, I see how my numerous pro-gun and anti-ACLU statements could give that impression, even if it’s wrong.

    If wanting gay people to have guns so they can fight the power of the police state makes me a Republican, then so be it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    Wait, there is…

  90. Jesse Walker | May 21, 2007, 9:09am
    Did someone really complain, a few comments back, that The Simpsons was “biased”? Jesus fucking Christ.

    Wow. I must have hit a nerve there.

    “Thou shalt not accuse The Simpsons of bias, less the fans invoke the $DIETY’s name in vain.”

    Jesse Walker | May 21, 2007, 10:42pm
    The political humor wasn’t particularly sharp. It wasn’t “smug” either, nor was it “shilling.” It wasn’t even particularly left-wing (not that I’d care if it was)

    I said it was left-leaning, not left-wing.

    The phrase _____-wing has been so overused that people often forget there is a difference anymore.

    And normally, I don’t care either, if the product is good. In this case, it wasn’t just “below average.” It was awful. And the blatant political slant made it even worse.

    If “24 Minutes” and “You Kent Always Say What You Want” were the finales of what you called “its strongest season since the mid-’90s,” then that’s not saying much about this season.

    It’s stating the obvious that such things are a matter of personal taste, and we’re being silly arguing as though our opinions are universal facts. Time for me to step away from the keyboard and get my morning coffee…

  91. Wow. I must have hit a nerve there.

    No, you didn’t. Neither did the commenter I was actually quoting, whose handle is Karl.

    I’m just amazed that someone would complain that a satire show is “biased,” as though comedies were supposed to be objective.

  92. I’ve never found Simpson cartoons left leaning, even on their own, and certainly not compared to most TV satire of its era. Those who sense such a lean are irony-impaired.

  93. My love for the Republican Party must be more obvious then I thought. And I would have gotten away with it, if it wasn’t for that commie engaging in profiling!

    Calling me a commie! Ooh, how fun! Is this where I get to call you a goose-stepping fascist? I’ve never gotten into a name-calling fight on the internet before.

    But hey, I must say those three quotes have totally convinced me! There’s absolutely no way that your worldview hasn’t been subtly colored by Republican party talking points about a supposedly biased liberal media, no siree!

  94. Yeah, you’re right. My comment was pretty lame. And I’m sorry.

    I should have known better, after all these years, that sarcasm doesn’t translate over the ‘net very well. The failure to communicate in this case is mine, not the reader’s.

    Although not my intention, it demonstrates exactly what was wrong with the Simpsons episode in question (and others) — confusing political cheap shots for humor.

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