I watch, and blog, and watch and blog and watch. It's the Simpsons every day!

Posts tagged ‘Simpsons’

A word before you finish parenting

The Marge-ian Chronicles

Director: Chris Clements

Guest Voices:
Jon Wurster as Barry
Tom Scharpling as Paul

Synopsis:

Discussion: This week’s ep starts with Flanders having chickens while Homer and Bart steal their eggs. It’s not actually a bad start. I had high hopes, based purely on this start. But before too long, it descends into what we’ve come to expect from latter-season Simpsons: lame jokes and characters explaining what they’re doing.

Somehow this leads to Lisa volunteering to be on a mission to Mars. Now, I’m a big space nerd and I looooooove everything about Mars. I was hoping Matt Damon would be a guest voice… but that’s not to be. Oh well.

Anyhoo, Lisa’s going to Mars. Marge follows Homer’s parenting/relationship advice, which inevitably leads to adventures only a dysfunctional family could endure.

It’s not actually too bad. I really like the idea. I like the mind-fuck each family member lures each other into. It’s not fully explored, and there’s a lot of times when they all explain exactly the joke or situation, but it’s still not a bad romp. It’s not very often we see the family being together anymore, and what better place than a Martian training camp to bring out some cabin fever?

This ep feels like it’s had a lot of thought about it. The dialogue could be tighter, however the angry exchange between Lisa and Marge contains a few crackers which made me smile (close enough to laugh-out-loud). Although far from a quality episode, it’s a lot closer than I care to remember. At the heart is the mother-daughter relationship, which Lisa and Marge haven’t really explored in a really long time. It’s also a near-satirical look at the interplay between stubborn family members and how even a small problem can turn into a situation no one is prepared for.

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The chemicals probably made him smart

Bart the Genius

I will not waste chalk.

Couch gag: The family rush in and plonk themselves on the couch. Bart is on the end and is squeezed out.

Director: David Silverman

Synopsis: Bart cheats on an intelligence test, changing papers with Martin, the smartest kid in the class. Bart’s IQ is determined to be 216 and he is placed into a school for gifted children. The other kids in the class immediately realise Bart isn’t a genius at all and Bart feels isolated, wishing to return to his own class. He confesses everything, which surprises no one and angers Homer, who has bonded with Bart.

First appearance of:
Edna Krabappel
Martin Prince

Although cited as a favourite episode among the writers, it’s not one of mine. There are funny moments, such as Bart’s “winning” Scrabble word of Kwyjibo (meaning a fat, balding, North American ape with a short temper), but the episode doesn’t have that biting satire that is synonymous with many Simpsons episodes. In fact this satire isn’t seen at all in the first season, largely for reasons discussed yesterday. Most series’ are finding their feet in the first season; if you told the creators in 1990 that the show would still be around 23 years later, they’d probably laugh at you and think there was something really wrong. No one then could have dreamed that the show would become what it has. But I digress.

The true characters of the Simpson family are fully realised in this episode. Maggie is probably another Lisa, who is the smartest person in the family; Homer has a short temper but wants his kids to do well and Marge does everything she can in order to nurture her children to become the best they can be, although she does seem to miss Lisa’s obvious intelligence but this is probably because she’s so surprised at Bart’s emerging intellect.

The only real question I have about the episode is: why did Milhouse’s hair suddenly change to black in one scene?

Ho Ho D’oh

Episode 1: Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

Director: David Silverman

Couch gag: None.

Synopsis: The Simpson family are preparing for Christmas. Marge has a stash of money stored in her hair to buy presents with and Homer is expecting a bonus from work. Bart wants a tattoo for Christmas and gets a heart with ‘Mother’ written in it, thinking this tattoo would be something Marge will appreciate. Marge is shocked and spends the family’s savings to get it removed. Homer doesn’t receive his Christmas bonus and starts working as a department store Santa in order to raise funds, but when the pay cheque isn’t as much as he hoped, he and Bart go to the dog track. Their punt comes in last and is rejected by the owner. Santa’s Little Helper becomes the family’s Christmas present.

First appearance* of:The Simpson family (Marge, Homer, Lisa, Bart and Maggie)
Principal Skinner (unnamed)
Grandpa Simpson
Patty & Selma
Ned Flanders and one of his sons (unnamed)
Mr Burns
Smithers (unnamed)
Moe
Barney
Milhouse

The Simpsons were one of the first families of the dysfunctional 90s, rebelling against the societal values of the previous decade (Glynn 1996). During the 1980s, television families were fully functional and everything was resolved nicely within half an hour. Think Family Ties and The Cosby Show. These shows resulted from political aspirations of the time: then-president Ronald Reagan cited Family Ties as his favourite television program (Haglund 2007). The Cosby Show was being criticised for not being realistic; nearly half of African-American families were living in poverty at the time (Hamamoto 1991 in Crawford 2009). Along came The Simpsons which showed some realism despite being an animated program. Creator Matt Groening deliberately showed the wear-and-tear of the Simpsons’ house, addressed issues such as scarcity of money and taking the Simpsons’ characteristics away from traditional animation: their eyes don’t pop, their jaws don’t hit the floor and anvils don’t squish their heads (Crawford 2009). In short, The Simpsons were breaking away from both functional family and functional America stereotypes.

This episode serves as the Christmas special and was the first full-length episode featuring the Simpson family. Although it was not first episode in production, it was the first shown and is therefore classed as the first episode of the series. For those unfamiliar with the Tracy Ullman Show (such as most people in Australia at the time), this episode was the very first introduction to the yellow-skinned family.

References:

Crawford A 2009 ‘”Oh Yeah!” Family Guy as Magical Realism?’ Journal of Film and Video Volume 62 Issue 2 pp 52-69

Glynn K 1996 ‘Bartmania: The Social Reception of an Unruly Image’ Camera Obscura Vol13 Issue 2 pp 60-91

Haglund D 2007 ‘Reagan’s Favourite Sitcom: How Family Ties Spawned a Conservative Hero’ Slate

 

*first appearance in the series; some of these characters appeared in the Tracy Ullman shorts but for the purposes of this blog, we’re focusing on the series only.

Starting the Simpsons Journey

This is an idea that has been floating around my head for a while now, but today I am taking the first steps in making this dream come alive. For the next, um, a lot of days, I shall watch one episode of The Simpsons every day (when possible). I endeavour to blog often, the content of which is yet to be decided. Maybe it will be reviews of the episodes, mistakes, comments or just random posts about how I watched yet another Simpsons episode. We’ll see how it pans out.

I aim to start on Monday 10 December, 2012, or whenever I can get my hands on the full first season.

Why
Because I can, mostly. I love The Simpsons and there are a lot of episodes I haven’t seen. Recently, I wrote an essay focusing on television’s response to youth culture which focused on two shows of different eras: The Monkees and The Simpsons. I uncovered a lot of interesting research about both shows and now seems like a good time to indulge in watching the entire series.

When
Every day, or as close to every day as humanly possible. Barring emergencies and technological failures, of course.

Where
Mostly from my house, I expect. I am going away in early January so I shall take some episodes pre-loaded onto my tablet. Of course.

Who
Mostly by myself, but I suppose there will be times when my boyfriend will catch an episode as well. He’s not really a fan, but don’t judge him on that.

How
I’m gonna need an external hard drive, aren’t I?

The Rules
1. No skipping episodes, or parts thereof. Just because I’ve seen the early seasons a billion times doesn’t mean I can skip to the good stuff.

2. If I miss a day, the episode missed shall be watched the next day. Reasons for skipping days must be valid and not “I don’t feel like it”.

Leave a comment if you think I’ve missed something.

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