Why do People hate on The Simpsons so much?

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I think that explanation is too convenient. Kids aren't any more susceptible to liking things that are on the screen than anyone else. Put a boring show on the screen and watch what happens. And they won't laugh at jokes they don't understand. Can you imagine kids (if they watched it) laughing at "Ugly Americans"? (I'm not saying it's especially funny. I'm saying that just because something appears on screen doesn't mean kids will be entertained.)

I have to slightly disagree. I mean the "things that appear on the screen" usually refer to energetic, wacky and lively. The Simpsons has a ton of animation that seems to focus on the action rather then on the environment. I mean you have Homer spinning around, narrowly avoiding stuff and being lifted up and down... There isn't a complex joke in there that'd go over viewers heads, it's all animation. There's also the funny voices, the gags which involve Homer being one thing then another thing (The mirror gag, the car gag, the invisible cash ATM gag.) and the occasional action sequence. I mean why do you think Spongebob Squarepants and Aqua Teen Hunger Force have gone on for as long as they did. (I do agree about the explanation being convenient, I mean there are tons of Kids shows on PBS that rely mostly on the characters and situations and not just the animation/funny voices/action. However, it does apply in a sense that The Simpsons have these wacky mostly animated moments and these jokes involving funny voices, such as the one I mentioned above.)

On an unrelated note, I would guess that younger viewers would not like the older episodes as much as the newer episodes if they've seen them first; but then again, they'd begin to see the older episodes as good as the newer episodes I'd guess...
 

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That's inevitable. As episodes become warm and familiar, people will look back at them fondly.

I doubt he was being serious about Season 20 being viewed as "perfect" in a few years.

The season that was recently voted the worst wasn't brand new season 22, 21 or 20, it was 11. If something is shit, then no amount of age will get people to look back on it fondly. I'm fond of season 1-9 because I think they're good, not because they're old.
 

bhartman36

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I have to slightly disagree. I mean the "things that appear on the screen" usually refer to energetic, wacky and lively. The Simpsons has a ton of animation that seems to focus on the action rather then on the environment. I mean you have Homer spinning around, narrowly avoiding stuff and being lifted up and down... There isn't a complex joke in there that'd go over viewers heads, it's all animation.

Well, I don't agree that The Simpsons is all sight gags now. Clearly, there's more slapstick than there was back in the days of "Ayn Rand's School for Tots", but the more subtle jokes are still there. There are still the store sign jokes, the church and school signs, etc. It might be harder to spot, and whether or not it's as funny is personal taste, but it's not all about slapstick. There's still satire to be had, too. As much as I have mixed feelings about it because of it breaking series continuity, there was a lot of that in "That 90's Show". :)
 

bhartman36

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I doubt he was being serious about Season 20 being viewed as "perfect" in a few years.

I didn't assume he was being perfectly serious. But I guarantee you it'll be seen differently 10 years from now than people see it today. Even fans. Go back on this board and see how people reacted to episodes 10 years ago. Compare that to what they say about the same episodes now.

The season that was recently voted the worst wasn't brand new season 22, 21 or 20, it was 11. If something is shit, then no amount of age will get people to look back on it fondly. I'm fond of season 1-9 because I think they're good, not because they're old.

So you're saying "Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy" is a gem? That's what I'm saying. People look back at the "classic" era as if it was just amazing, but there were a lot of weak episodes there, too (either simplistic or just not interesting). And tastes change.

I'm not saying that if you think an episode absolutely reeks, you'll love it 10 years from now. But you'll definitely be more forgiving. That's human nature.
 

Patches O'houlihan

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Let me kindly debunk everything you said... :)

I have been watching since The Simpsons were on Tracey Ullman.

There are definitely things that I don't enjoy as much anymore. But I notice when I have watched newer episodes with neices, nephews and people much younger than me, there is a freshness there that they get out of it, that I don't get after watching for 23 years. And the show is reaching out with different things that don't necessarily appeal to me in my current lifestyle.

Like what? And how old are your nieces and nephews? If they're under the age of 12, they'll go gaga over a cartoon that has some adultness to it. However, down the line when they grow up and watch the older Simpsons episodes more, they'll appreciate the many more levels of humor the show had to offer. Also, being 'fresh' does NOT equal quality.

Take someone living in a jungle to a used car lot and show them a 1982 Pinto, I'm sure they'll be "wowed and amazed" at how fresh the metallic thing is, too.

I DO feel like there was a period where the show became somewhat inconsistant and dipped a bit in quality, but with a few classic episodes mixed in. I feel that for the last few years the quality has bounced back up and have been WAY more consistent.

I think this a fallacious viewpoint--I think you just became inert and used to the stagnation. Every time I read this bit of sentiment, I think people have stopped thinking of the Simpsons as TV show and more of a security blanket.

But when I flip through the tv and watch all these other shows, I think "how can people honestly feel the current Simpsons are so bad?" It has always, in my opinion, offered so much more than most other shows on t.v. And even at times when it failed, I felt like there is something going on there that I just didn't get. And I appreciate the art behind that.

Let me make one thing very clear: NOT ONE FUCKING TV SHOW CAN COMPARE TO 23 YEARS OF YOUR FAVORITE SIMPSONS'S MOMENTS. IT IS NOT POSSIBLE, SO *EVERY* SHOW SEEMS INFERIOR.

/rant

Have you ever watched an episode that you thought sucked and someone you know loved it or vice versa? I think that is a big sign of versatility. A versatility that sometimes takes the show to places where most people can't really grasp it all...

So, there's people out there that think the Empire Strikes back is the worst Star Wars movie. Does that mean "Empire" is a more 'versitile' movie, or does it mean that some people just want special effects and explosions?

Pandering to your audience is NOT versatility.

Also, I remember certainly huge Simpsons fans complaing about things back in 4th or 5th season, things that are worshipped now as being perfect. (I am a HUGE 4th season fan myself... and 3rd and 8th and 7th too).

What? You mean those anal-rententive computer geeks who were on the alt newsgroups before Joe Public had internet access? I'm sorry, but no one this board made those comment so don't try to hold us responsible for what OTHER people wrote. But if you want fair, send an episode from the past three seasons back in time and watch one of those geeks blow his brains out all over this 5-color monitor.

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But my point is...things don't get any better over time. Time only lets us get to know the greatness that was there to begin with.

Modern Simpsons episodes have no greatness, they're a rushed product produced in order to fill a quota and meet a deadline. They are shallow reproductions of a great TV show that should have ended over 10 years ago.



I'm not saying that if you think an episode absolutely reeks, you'll love it 10 years from now. But you'll definitely be more forgiving. That's human nature.

I still hate S10-12 with the same ire as I did when they first aired. I can't sit through 90% of the episodes of that era without cringing.
 

bhartman36

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But my point is...things don't get any better over time. Time only lets us get to know the greatness that was there to begin with.

Modern Simpsons episodes have no greatness, they're a rushed product produced in order to fill a quota and meet a deadline. They are shallow reproductions of a great TV show that should have ended over 10 years ago.

The TV business is still what it was then. There were deadlines and quotas then, too. You may think the newer episodes feel rushed, but how are the old time pressures any different from the new ones? Do I think the nature of the show has changed? Absolutely. But I don't necessarily think all the new episodes are worse than all of the older episodes. It really depends on what you're looking for. The characterization of some of the characters (Side Show Bob, Selma, Waylon Smithers) is much deeper now than it was in the early years, the animation is a thousand times better, and the plots are less linear, for example.



I still hate S10-12 with the same ire as I did when they first aired. I can't sit through 90% of the episodes of that era without cringing.

I don't doubt that. I'm just saying that, in general, time tempers those kinds of reactions in most people.
 

lionelhutz123

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The TV business is still what it was then. There were deadlines and quotas then, too. You may think the newer episodes feel rushed, but how are the old time pressures any different from the new ones? Do I think the nature of the show has changed? Absolutely. But I don't necessarily think all the new episodes are worse than all of the older episodes. It really depends on what you're looking for. The characterization of some of the characters (Side Show Bob, Selma, Waylon Smithers) is much deeper now than it was in the early years, the animation is a thousand times better, and the plots are less linear, for example.

It was a business then where they had to up their game in order to stay on the air, and plus they were working with original material audiences have never seen before on prime-time tv so that enjoyment of getting creative to churn out the best product they could came naturally. Now they have built a marketing empire with clothing, toys, dvds, a theme park, movie, etc. Sure, there was bartmania earlier on, but now due to their critical success they are more than just recognizable characters. They are universal icons. NOW the staff can rely on the "The Simpsons" name rather than the results of their work.

the animation is a thousand times better

The animation is cold and sterile. It's bright and often times has beautiful backgrounds but in terms of how the characters move and the complete lack of subtleties that help make things funny or dramatic, makes it nowwhere near 1000x better (and really? 1000x? that's kind of a power statement that I never really care for) A good chunk of today's physical gags are ruined due to how lame it's executed on-screen with sluggish or cartoonish timing. The animation of the classic era made you feel like there was a sense of gravity in the springfield universe.

the plots are less linear, for example.

How are the plots less linear? I feel like I can dissect a classic episode with it's layered themes and character-driven moments. I can admire jokes for how natural and intelligent they are when they present themeselves from the plot. I can actually interpret deeper meaning from those episodes and get something memorable out of it. You try to dissect a new episode and you just end up popping a balloon.

The characterization of some of the characters (Side Show Bob, Selma, Waylon Smithers) is much deeer than it was in the early years

You need to expand on this, and really ALL of what you are saying, because I completely disagree and need to know what you're basing you're opinions off of.

Sideshow Bob- they gave him an annoying family that added nothing to his character. I mean how shallow can you get when the entire family is somehow homicidal maniacs? Also, back in seasons 1-8 he had REASONS for his actions depending on what the plot concerned. Now he comes back to kill Bart (or the entire family now?) as if he's a one-trick pony. Oh and that wonderful scheme of ripping his face off in order to get to Bart did wonders for the complexity of his character. :rolleyes:

Selma- If anything has become more contrived in the later years, it's patty and selma. They don't even feel the slightest bit like aunts or relatives anymore. They are as stereotypically two-dimensional as most of springfield now. One of the worst things the new episodes does with their characters is their relationship towards Homer. They used to make little bitter remarks about him and many times they would bicker with each other. Yes, sometimes things erupted between them but it was always for a reason. Now they throw unnecessary insults (Homer: penis-curling she-devils!...) and just hate each other to the extreme as if there's a stamp on their character's foreheads that says "GO, Be as malicious as possible!". I mean they locked Homer up in "Wedding for Disaster" because he was having a second marriage. Why would they ever do that? Not to mention they push Homer off a bridge in "Eternal Moonshine of the Simpsons Mind" and I can't watch "The "Real Housewives of Fat Tony" without wishing they would retire the iconic feud between those characters, since the writers obviously don't understand how to handle it anymore.

Smithers- No big things against his character, but nothing that expands on making him deeper either. He's just serving his role as Burns' assistant and the lame body jokes of burns really doesn't help their relationship. Now I'm sure he's just trying to keep Burns' head from impaling on itself rather than having rather emotional moments with his boss. I miss the odd relationship between them like when Burns was considering shutting the plant down or those little moments where they would exchange their thoughts on day-to-day things while they scanned the security monitors. Hell, even in season 13's "The Blunder Years" they managed to do more with his character than they can even think to do now.
 
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Patches O'houlihan

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The TV business is still what it was then. There were deadlines and quotas then, too. You may think the newer episodes feel rushed, but how are the old time pressures any different from the new ones?

As Lionel Hutz said: they had to establish themselves and put their best foot forward. Listen to the commentaries from the earlier seasons--Al Jean and other writers remembered having to put in 18+ hour days to make the show what it was, and I don't doubt that for a second. I highly doubt Jean (or anyone else) working on the show nowadays puts that much passion (or time) into their work.

Do I think the nature of the show has changed? Absolutely. But I don't necessarily think all the new episodes are worse than all of the older episodes. It really depends on what you're looking for. The characterization of some of the characters (Side Show Bob, Selma, Waylon Smithers) is much deeper now than it was in the early years, the animation is a thousand times better, and the plots are less linear, for example.

The animation is "a thousand times better?" Well, there goes your credibility, but anyway...

What am I looking for? Deeper satire, likable characters, jokes that aren't explained to me, and pacing that doesn't seem written 12 year old on a sugar high. Since Season 10, most, if not all of those aspects have been shoved aside for more "random" humor. Maybe the writers felt there was too much competition from the McFarlane shows, or from South Park, but the last 13 seasons feel like the show has lost it's identity. Instead of wowing us with brilliance, they've chosen to (try and) baffle us with mediocre absurdity.

You see, the Simpsons used to stand above other show's and look down at them with that tasteful irreverence that made the Pre-Scully Simpsons so great. Nothing was safe from the Simpson's humor ray, and everyone liked it. What is the show now? A lame show that doesn't know when to quit and it props itself up like a welfare recipient devouring whatever seems "cool" in today's society. It's like the writers are saying: "Hey look! We made mentioned Facebook on our show! Zuckerberg must be shaking in his shoes right now!"

As for the 'deeper' characters, that's funny. Because you think because more character specific episodes exist, the characters now have more depth? L.H, again, got it right. I'd rather see three or four great Bob episodes than see 10 sub-par, "parodies". Remember the parody of "Face Off?" Ugh.

Really, if the only way to argue and gauge that the show is still fresh and relevant is to show new episodes to preteens with an undeveloped sense of taste while ignoring all other opinions, then more power to you.
 

HRH Sir Prince Charles

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The Flight of the Conchords thing is a great example of how unfresh the show is now. Instead of making a subtle allusion to the group's music that would only be obvious to a fan, as they would have in the classic era, they just had Brett and Jemaine show up and play themselves with dialog that sounds like a pale imitation of their show. That's not a reference or satire or an homage, nor is it fresh as it came nearly 2 years after FOTC went off the air
 

bhartman36

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As Lionel Hutz said: they had to establish themselves and put their best foot forward. Listen to the commentaries from the earlier seasons--Al Jean and other writers remembered having to put in 18+ hour days to make the show what it was, and I don't doubt that for a second. I highly doubt Jean (or anyone else) working on the show nowadays puts that much passion (or time) into their work.

If you don't know how much time Jean & Co. put into the show, then you don't know. Speculation is meaningless.

The animation is "a thousand times better?" Well, there goes your credibility, but anyway..

Take a look at some of the older episodes. The drawings are crude (and not just in the Tracey Ullman shorts). And there's the "black Smithers" issue. In general the coloring was all over the place. At least now, the drawing's better. (I forget the name of the episode, but there's the one more recently where Lisa saves the whale. That kind of drawing was just not seen on earlier episodes.)

What am I looking for? Deeper satire, likable characters, jokes that aren't explained to me, and pacing that doesn't seem written 12 year old on a sugar high. Since Season 10, most, if not all of those aspects have been shoved aside for more "random" humor. Maybe the writers felt there was too much competition from the McFarlane shows, or from South Park, but the last 13 seasons feel like the show has lost it's identity. Instead of wowing us with brilliance, they've chosen to (try and) baffle us with mediocre absurdity.

I don't find all the Simpsons characters unlikable I still find Marge and Bart likable. (To be honest, I never have liked Lisa) and 90% of the time, Homer shows some likability. (Many episodes feature Homer being an insufferable jerk in some way, but then coming around.) I think the MacFarlane comparison isn't really on the mark. What separates MacFarlane's efforts from The Simpsons is that jokes in The Simpsons actually have something to do with the episode. MacFarlane's shows feature mainly asides that have nothing to do with the episode.

You see, the Simpsons used to stand above other show's and look down at them with that tasteful irreverence that made the Pre-Scully Simpsons so great. Nothing was safe from the Simpson's humor ray, and everyone liked it.

To be fair, The Simpsons was never biting satire. Yes, they would satire different people/things, but The Simpsons never got to the opinionated level of, say, South Park, let alone the over-the-top editorializing of MacFarlane. At best, The Simpsons enabled those shows to go that far.

What is the show now? A lame show that doesn't know when to quit and it props itself up like a welfare recipient devouring whatever seems "cool" in today's society. It's like the writers are saying: "Hey look! We made mentioned Facebook on our show! Zuckerberg must be shaking in his shoes right now!"

That's kind of my point: The Simpsons has never been about having people "quake in their shoes". When they make fun of someone, it's always very gentle -- like the way they treated George H.W. Bush. In fact, one of the things I don't like about the later episodes is the strong political slant they did put in the show. That's an element that hasn't been there before, and it's jarring when it shows up.

As for the 'deeper' characters, that's funny. Because you think because more character specific episodes exist, the characters now have more depth? L.H, again, got it right. I'd rather see three or four great Bob episodes than see 10 sub-par, "parodies". Remember the parody of "Face Off?" Ugh.

I'm talking about episodes that flesh out who a character is. This has been done particularly well with characters like Ned Flanders and Skinner. The Sideshow Bob episodes have (mostly) not done this well, because they always focus on one element of Side Show Bob's character: His obsessive desire to kill Bart.


Really, if the only way to argue and gauge that the show is still fresh and relevant is to show new episodes to preteens with an undeveloped sense of taste while ignoring all other opinions, then more power to you.

I'm arguing that "relevant" (as you seem to define it vis a vis satire) is completely -- ahem -- irrelevant to me. If giving a video "zero stars" on YouTube makes a funnier joke than giving it "thumbs down" (which I think it does, because it shows a level of dislike), then I don't want the writers to be "hip" enough to acknowledge that stars are no longer used. I don't turn to The Simpsons for social relevance. Homer Simpson isn't Huey Newton.
 

lionelhutz123

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To be fair, The Simpsons was never biting satire. Yes, they would satire different people/things, but The Simpsons never got to the opinionated level of, say, South Park, let alone the over-the-top editorializing of MacFarlane. At best, The Simpsons enabled those shows to go that far.

What do you think satire is? You don't need to keep up to date, be daring enough to kill a celebrity and then explain the message behind it in order to be biting.
 
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bhartman36

You can't seriously be one of those idiotic Simpsons fans that is impressed with "great graphics" i.e preferring the current HD opening to the show rather than the one in the first 9 seasons, right.........?

As for the jacking off over Southpark's work, The Simpsons was incredibly satirical in the first 9 seasons, it perhaps isn't as noticeable or appreciated to your average Southpark because The Simpsons also had a great story, funny jokes, a heart and moral standards at the same time(as in not stooping to the level Family Guy or Southpark does)
 

bhartman36

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bhartman36

You can't seriously be one of those idiotic Simpsons fans that is impressed with "great graphics" i.e preferring the current HD opening to the show rather than the one in the first 9 seasons, right.........?

No, I don't prefer the new HD opening. I was actually very upset that they tampered with the opening, as I consider that to be classic (e.g., the cash register that you'd have to pause to read in the old version, but is clearly visible in the new version). I admit to finding the billboard gags a little extra bonus, but that has nothing to do with graphics. I thought I was rather specific in my comparison of the older episodes' drawing quality as compared to the newer episodes.

As far as I know, HD has nothing to do with the drawing quality. The scenes are still drawn by humans, aren't they?

As for the jacking off over Southpark's work,

I'm not sure what you mean by that. My allusion to South Park wasn't to say I liked it or didn't like it. It was just to say that South Park takes a different stance on things. South Park (for better or worse) does seek to skewer people they dislike (e.g., Tom Cruise). That doesn't ever seem to have been the Simpson way.

The Simpsons was incredibly satirical in the first 9 seasons, it perhaps isn't as noticeable or appreciated to your average Southpark because The Simpsons also had a great story, funny jokes, a heart and moral standards at the same time (as in not stooping to the level Family Guy or Southpark does)

That was my point. Again, I would cite "Two Bad Neighbors" as an example. Imagine if the same kind of episode had been done by South Park or (God help us) Family Guy.
 

Patches O'houlihan

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If you don't know how much time Jean & Co. put into the show, then you don't know. Speculation is meaningless.

It's not speculation, Mike Scully said a while back he was "easier" on the writers and he was against working all nighters because he wanted the writers to have a life outside the show. A former animator said because of advancements in production along with having more writers on staff, the job of being the executive producer was far less grueling. This is why Scully was able to run the show for 4 seasons and by the time Jean took over, being the EP was a more much streamlined job. I don't think Jean would've stayed on as EP for a decade if he had to pull the same hours he did in seasons 3 and 4. Although it's possible, I doubt someone would work 18 hours a day, 6-7 days a week for a decade straight.

Take a look at some of the older episodes. The drawings are crude (and not just in the Tracey Ullman shorts). And there's the "black Smithers" issue. In general the coloring was all over the place. At least now, the drawing's better. (I forget the name of the episode, but there's the one more recently where Lisa saves the whale. That kind of drawing was just not seen on earlier episodes.)

The current animation looks great...as a still picture, but when the characters move, they're stiff and much less fluid. It's now lifeless. I'm not arguing the older drawings were cruder, but I wouldn't call it a lack of talent, either. I don't hate the first season's style, because well...it's the first season, they didn't know what they were doing.

Season 1's: "Moaning Lisa" had some of the best visuals. Lisa and Bleeding Gums Murphy on the bridge in the moonlight is something I'd like to get blown up and put on a giant poster and the drawing of Springfield outside the Jazz Hole at the end credits is the best visual in the show's history, IMO. Nothing the show has produced in the (overrated) switch to HD comes close the warmth of those scenes. The suckiness of the newer animation comes through with amazing clarity.

I don't find all the Simpsons characters unlikable I still find Marge and Bart likable. (To be honest, I never have liked Lisa) and 90% of the time, Homer shows some likability. (Many episodes feature Homer being an insufferable jerk in some way, but then coming around.)

I think you misunderstood. I don't how the characters are portrayed as being nice people, I mean how the character are likable to the us the viewers. For example, Mr. Burns was an evil tyrant and he was my favorite character before the writers turned him into a senile, old clown.

That's kind of my point: The Simpsons has never been about having people "quake in their shoes". When they make fun of someone, it's always very gentle -- like the way they treated George H.W. Bush. In fact, one of the things I don't like about the later episodes is the strong political slant they did put in the show. That's an element that hasn't been there before, and it's jarring when it shows up.


That's why I said "tasteful irreverence." Whether the writers believe they're still making a great satire, left wing political interjections, or otherwise, they're not.

I'm talking about episodes that flesh out who a character is. This has been done particularly well with characters like Ned Flanders and Skinner. The Sideshow Bob episodes have (mostly) not done this well, because they always focus on one element of Side Show Bob's character: His obsessive desire to kill Bart.

Ned Flanders being actually 60 and becoming a hyper Jesus freak aren't really positives, but because his character has been that way for so long, it's a "that's just how he's supposed to be." Skinner used to be a stuck up, stuffed shirt Mama's boy who used to have some intelligence. Both have become victims of Flanderization.

I'm arguing that "relevant" (as you seem to define it vis a vis satire) is completely -- ahem -- irrelevant to me. If giving a video "zero stars" on YouTube makes a funnier joke than giving it "thumbs down" (which I think it does, because it shows a level of dislike), then I don't want the writers to be "hip" enough to acknowledge that stars are no longer used. I don't turn to The Simpsons for social relevance.

Maybe it has nothing to do with being "hip", maybe that episode was written around the time YouTube stopped using stars, but as you say: speculation is meaningless.

Homer Simpson isn't Huey Newton.

With the way the show going, Homer being the leader of the Black Panthers would be promoted as a "funny and fresh" new occupation.
 

bhartman36

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It's not speculation, Mike Scully said a while back he was "easier" on the writers and he was against working all nighters because he wanted the writers to have a life outside the show. A former animator said because of advancements in production along with having more writers on staff, the job of being the executive producer was far less grueling. This is why Scully was able to run the show for 4 seasons and by the time Jean took over, being the EP was a more much streamlined job. I don't think Jean would've stayed on as EP for a decade if he had to pull the same hours he did in seasons 3 and 4. Although it's possible, I doubt someone would work 18 hours a day, 6-7 days a week for a decade straight.

Okay. With that as a background, I get your point. When you used "I highly doubt", it led me to believe you were guessing.


The current animation looks great...as a still picture, but when the characters move, they're stiff and much less fluid. It's now lifeless. I'm not arguing the older drawings were cruder, but I wouldn't call it a lack of talent, either. I don't hate the first season's style, because well...it's the first season, they didn't know what they were doing.

Well, I'll admit that I saw an episode recently (I can't remember which one, honestly) where Bart running to Homer for something looked creepy and unnatural. But I don't usually notice problems like that. Usually the motion looks okay to me. (Not that I'm an aficionado.)

Season 1's: "Moaning Lisa" had some of the best visuals. Lisa and Bleeding Gums Murphy on the bridge in the moonlight is something I'd like to get blown up and put on a giant poster and the drawing of Springfield outside the Jazz Hole at the end credits is the best visual in the show's history, IMO. Nothing the show has produced in the (overrated) switch to HD comes close the warmth of those scenes. The suckiness of the newer animation comes through with amazing clarity.

As I mentioned in another post in this thread, the biggest change I noticed with the switch to HD is the change in the opening credits. To me, those are a push. I don't like that they changed little classic things like the cash register, but the addition of the billboard joke is occasionally good.


I think you misunderstood. I don't how the characters are portrayed as being nice people, I mean how the character are likable to the us the viewers. For example, Mr. Burns was an evil tyrant and he was my favorite character before the writers turned him into a senile, old clown.

I think Burns still has a lot of evil in him, but I think they rely too much on his age as a joke. It's not so much that he's senile as that he's absurdly anachronistic. Smithers explaining to him the history of the world since the end of the Civil War (although that may be a bit of an exaggeration) was a little over the top. I think the episodes w/ Burns that don't work are the ones where he's trying to be something other than completely evil (e.g., "The Burns and the Bees", where he's trying to get people to like him). But I wouldn't describe him as senile. Just ridiculously out of touch.

That's why I said "tasteful irreverence." Whether the writers believe they're still making a great satire, left wing political interjections, or otherwise, they're not.

Okay. I thought your point was that the satire wasn't scathing. I thought "You Kent Always Say What You Want" was ridiculously heavy-handed, but I think the non-political satire (e.g., of Apple) was better done (despite the horrible puns). And despite the havoc it played with continuity in the show, "That 90's Show" had what I thought was some good satire of that era.

Ned Flanders being actually 60 and becoming a hyper Jesus freak aren't really positives, but because his character has been that way for so long, it's a "that's just how he's supposed to be." Skinner used to be a stuck up, stuffed shirt Mama's boy who used to have some intelligence. Both have become victims of Flanderization.

I can't really remember a time when Flanders wasn't a hyper-Christian. I just watched "When Flanders Failed", and his Christianity wasn't overt, but it was certainly mentioned. And I actually think they use Flanders' Christianity to pretty good effect. Spirituality has always been a part of the show, and having Flanders be a well-meaning extremist has actually pushed Homer in certain ways, as well as providing some conflict (e.g., with Lisa's Buddhism). And to me, Flanders without his hyper-Christianity is just sort of a well-meaning boob.

I've already discussed my problem with "The Principal and the Pauper", where Skinner's character got savaged. But I don't actually see the current Skinner as less intelligent than the older version of Skinner. If they went wrong anywhere with Skinner's development (again, outside of that episode), they made Skinner too much of a mama's boy. To me, his character lacks a backbone now, as opposed to lacking intelligence. This lack of backbone is so pronounced that when he stands up to Chalmers in the recent episode w/ Teddy Roosevelt, it felt completely out of character.

Maybe it has nothing to do with being "hip", maybe that episode was written around the time YouTube stopped using stars, but as you say: speculation is meaningless.

But that's my point: Whether YouTube stopped using stars is inconsequential. The scene works better with stars than with thumbs up or down. Insisting on being current with what YouTube is using now seems needlessly trendy to me.



With the way the show going, Homer being the leader of the Black Panthers would be promoted as a "funny and fresh" new occupation.

With the possible exception of Homer becoming an astronaut, all of the "Homer gets a new job" episodes have reeked. And the astronaut episode was only really saved by Kent Brockman's, "I for one, welcome our new insect overlords."

Well, okay. I can think of one other example: The episode where he works for Scorpio.
 
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DotheBartman

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I didn't assume he was being perfectly serious. But I guarantee you it'll be seen differently 10 years from now than people see it today. Even fans. Go back on this board and see how people reacted to episodes 10 years ago. Compare that to what they say about the same episodes now.

You're right, they've actually gotten meaner toward those episodes.

(Also: Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy was and remains a very popular episode. It's one of the best of its season. Pick something like, I dunno, the second clip show if you're going to use a 90s episode to make that point.)

I'm not sure what you mean by that. My allusion to South Park wasn't to say I liked it or didn't like it. It was just to say that South Park takes a different stance on things. South Park (for better or worse) does seek to skewer people they dislike (e.g., Tom Cruise). That doesn't ever seem to have been the Simpson way.

How familiar are you, exactly, with the work of Matt Groening? Homer's workplace alone was intended as an ongoing "fuck you" to the energy industry, because Groening was distrustful of them. It actually made them very upset in the early 90s.
 
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Do It For Her

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The Flight of the Conchords thing is a great example of how unfresh the show is now. Instead of making a subtle allusion to the group's music that would only be obvious to a fan, as they would have in the classic era, they just had Brett and Jemaine show up and play themselves with dialog that sounds like a pale imitation of their show. That's not a reference or satire or an homage, nor is it fresh as it came nearly 2 years after FOTC went off the air

While I don't disagree, it was really just a year and FOTC have existed outside their HBO show before and after its existence for quite some time. :)
 
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DotheBartman

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FOTC ended early in 2009, so Brodie's estimate isn't too far off. It was something like a year and a half.

I binged on the series earlier this year, and was so desperate for more that I almost - almost - went looking for that Simpsons episode, but reviews here and common sense eventually deterred me. I'd love to see them come back for a surprise third season one day, though.

Also, back on the subject of South Park: while I'm a die hard fan, it rarely seriously upsets its celebrity targets anymore (certain other targets, like radical Islam, might be another story), since people just kind of say "oh, that's just South Park" whenever they do it. That's by Matt and Trey's own admission. And even in the early days, they always stressed in interviews that they didn't have anything in particular against most of the figures they were skewering, but that they just found it funny to do it because they thought celebrities were overly worshiped. In any case, it's worth stressing that going after specific people and mentioning them by name isn't the be-all, end-all way of satirizing something or someone. Or upsetting them with that satire. (Not that I don't love what South Park does.)
 

bhartman36

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You're right, they've actually gotten meaner toward those episodes.

Not all of them. It varies somewhat. But my main point was, the episodes will be seen differently than they are today. For example, an episode that might not have been that great when you first saw it, might look better when viewed in the context of a particularly bad season.

(Also: Lisa Vs. Malibu Stacy was and remains a very popular episode. It's one of the best of its season.

What the hell other episodes were in that season? That episode was crap, IMO. Way too agenda-driven.

How familiar are you, exactly, with the work of Matt Groening? Homer's workplace alone was intended as an ongoing "fuck you" to the energy industry, because Groening was distrustful of them. It actually made them very upset in the early 90s.

I've got one of the Life In Hell books, and I've been watching the Simpsons since the Ulman days.

I think you're misunderstanding my point, though. If the SNPP was on South Park or Family Guy, it would feature mutated zombies attacking Springfield and ripping people to pieces, rather than a relatively benign three-eyed fish. I doubt the nuclear power industry would be thrilled with either one, but Groening's satirization of nuclear power was positively benevolent compared to how it would've been handled in those other shows.
 

DotheBartman

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Not all of them. It varies somewhat. But my main point was, the episodes will be seen differently than they are today. For example, an episode that might not have been that great when you first saw it, might look better when viewed in the context of a particularly bad season.

I was reviewing episodes here ten years ago. Many of the same people from back then are still hanging around either here or NerdGroupies.

Sorry to say, but the impression of those episodes hasn't gotten kinder. Perhaps from newer, younger members (mostly kids, I think...I don't mean that derisively, but it's just my observation), but not the ones you're suggesting saw episodes they hated ten years ago and eventually came around on.

What's really happened is that all nuance in discussing them has disappeared, for better or worse. Back then, regarding those episodes, even the harshest critics of later (post-season 8 or 9) episodes would still be willing to discuss individual seasons or episodes much more on their own terms, and the pros and cons of each comparatively; what's happened now is that the season 12/13 episodes (the ones from ten years ago) are now quite easily dismissed within the loooooong period of episodes that simply don't measure up to the classics in their (or my) mind. There's occasionally some minor wistfulness for seasons 13-15 or so just for being better than what came afterward, but even those, from my observation, have actually just gone down in the esteem of those who first discussed them here when they were new, as they've basically been lumped in with the larger mess of episodes since 1997 or so that a lot of fans wish didn't exist.

It's not - inherently - human nature to look back at something more fondly. Witness any piece of pop culture that was briefly popular and then quickly lost its prominence, but also look at something like, say, "The Phantom Menace." Despite a few angry internet nerds, most of the reaction I can remember from 1999 was a collective shrug and "well....I guess that was pretty good?" It was only subsequently that it was more common to hear "yeah, that movie fucking sucked." Time and retrospective can go either way.


What the hell other episodes were in that season? That episode was crap, IMO. Way too agenda-driven.

Season 5.

If you want a list of episodes:

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=the+simpsons+season+5


I think you're misunderstanding my point, though. If the SNPP was on South Park or Family Guy, it would feature mutated zombies attacking Springfield and ripping people to pieces, rather than a relatively benign three-eyed fish. I doubt the nuclear power industry would be thrilled with either one, but Groening's satirization of nuclear power was positively benevolent compared to how it would've been handled in those other shows.

That depends. Assuming that's how South Park would go about it (I don't think they would...I tend to think they'd have some other, more surprising angle...but for the sake of argument), that would actually be more benign. Mutated zombies ripping people apart is inherently ridiculous, on the level of South Park's own talking poo and mecha-celebrities. The three-eyed fish wasn't that far off - a satiric, fairly believable exaggeration of actual mutations found around power plants, basically - and that's why it scared the industry so. The mutated fish, the poorly-run plant operations, the idiot employees, the meltdowns and disaster...these cut very close to reality and the industry publicly moaned about the impression that The Simpsons was giving of them to the general public. South Park would actually be a lot easier to shrug off than the type of satire that The Simpsons was doing in its first 3 or 4 seasons especially.

(I also think Family Guy is completely gutless compared to South Park OR The Simpsons...even modern Simpsons. The only people seriously upset by it are those like Sarah Palin that will get upset at anything.)
 

bhartman36

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I was reviewing episodes here ten years ago. Many of the same people from back then are still hanging around either here or NerdGroupies.

Sorry to say, but the impression of those episodes hasn't gotten kinder. Perhaps from newer, younger members (mostly kids, I think...I don't mean that derisively, but it's just my observation), but not the ones you're suggesting saw episodes they hated ten years ago and eventually came around on.

What's really happened is that all nuance in discussing them has disappeared, for better or worse. Back then, regarding those episodes, even the harshest critics of later (post-season 8 or 9) episodes would still be willing to discuss individual seasons or episodes much more on their own terms, and the pros and cons of each comparatively; what's happened now is that the season 12/13 episodes (the ones from ten years ago) are now quite easily dismissed within the loooooong period of episodes that simply don't measure up to the classics in their (or my) mind. There's occasionally some minor wistfulness for seasons 13-15 or so just for being better than what came afterward, but even those, from my observation, have actually just gone down in the esteem of those who first discussed them here when they were new, as they've basically been lumped in with the larger mess of episodes since 1997 or so that a lot of fans wish didn't exist.

It's not - inherently - human nature to look back at something more fondly. Witness any piece of pop culture that was briefly popular and then quickly lost its prominence, but also look at something like, say, "The Phantom Menace." Despite a few angry internet nerds, most of the reaction I can remember from 1999 was a collective shrug and "well....I guess that was pretty good?" It was only subsequently that it was more common to hear "yeah, that movie fucking sucked." Time and retrospective can go either way.

In regards to The Phantom Menace, I think people were pretty scathing right away. Of course, maybe I was listening to the Internet nerd opinions of it. ;) I still think there's something to be said for nostalgia, though. Some relatively short-lived series have diehard fan bases that grow over time. Gilligan's Island aired for only 3 seasons, but it's a part of our shared culture still, and people look back at it fondly.




Season 5.

If you want a list of episodes:

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=the+simpsons+season+5

The season it came from would've been sufficient. I can use Google. ;)



That depends. Assuming that's how South Park would go about it (I don't think they would...I tend to think they'd have some other, more surprising angle...but for the sake of argument), that would actually be more benign. Mutated zombies ripping people apart is inherently ridiculous, on the level of South Park's own talking poo and mecha-celebrities. The three-eyed fish wasn't that far off - a satiric, fairly believable exaggeration of actual mutations found around power plants, basically - and that's why it scared the industry so. The mutated fish, the poorly-run plant operations, the idiot employees, the meltdowns and disaster...these cut very close to reality and the industry publicly moaned about the impression that The Simpsons was giving of them to the general public. South Park would actually be a lot easier to shrug off than the type of satire that The Simpsons was doing in its first 3 or 4 seasons especially.

Maybe my cannibal zombies were over the top, but my point was that South Park and Family Guy aren't given to gentle humor. Think about how they depicted Scientology on South Park. When they go after someone, they don't do it with subtlety, and the humor is almost incidental to the point they're trying to get across. On The Simpsons, there was the episode w/ the three-eyed fish, and the several episodes where Homer nearly causes (and then stops) a meltdown, but in those episodes, the meltdown is almost incidental to the action. (I can't remember the names of the episodes, but in one, Homer nearly causes a meltdown but then randomly presses the right button ("pulling a Homer"), and in the other, Homer goes on workman's comp and works from home, nearly causing a meltdown). You could watch either of those episodes and not get the idea that the danger of nuclear power is the point, because they both center on Homer's ineptitude. That's not the way South Park handles things.

(I also think Family Guy is completely gutless compared to South Park OR The Simpsons...even modern Simpsons. The only people seriously upset by it are those like Sarah Palin that will get upset at anything.)

Well, MacFarlane may be inept at writing good satire, but he's neither gentle nor subtle about it. That's what I was getting at. It might have been a crude way to express himself, but equating McCain and Palin with the Germans invading Poland was pretty direct.
 

lionelhutz123

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Just because satire isn't explaining itself doesn't mean it's not there. Subtle or not, once the audience understands the satire, it could be just as biting as a more direct style, if not more. Plato himself believes that allegories are a more effective way to get a message across rather than directly explaining the point.

You're not disagreeing with Plato, are you? :gangstagator2:
 

Patches O'houlihan

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Just because satire isn't explaining itself doesn't mean it's not there. Subtle or not, once the audience understands the satire, it could be just as biting as a more direct style, if not more. Plato himself believes that allegories are a more effective way to get a message across rather than directly explaining the point.

You're not disagreeing with Plato, are you? :gangstagator2:

I think he might partially correct in the satire explaining itself having a bigger effect. He probably feels that changing attitudes in the TeeVee audience now is a perquisite to the effectiveness of the subtlety of satire. With the internet, social media, texting and "instant" news, it's created a world where people are never patient enough to figure things out on their own, i.e: it HAS to be explained to them because the target audience is too 'busy' to figure shit out. Today's "instant" society believes if the joke's not IN YO FACE, it's not there.
 

DotheBartman

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In regards to The Phantom Menace, I think people were pretty scathing right away.

I recall people clapping in the theater...

Maybe my cannibal zombies were over the top, but my point was that South Park and Family Guy aren't given to gentle humor. Think about how they depicted Scientology on South Park. When they go after someone, they don't do it with subtlety, and the humor is almost incidental to the point they're trying to get across. On The Simpsons, there was the episode w/ the three-eyed fish, and the several episodes where Homer nearly causes (and then stops) a meltdown, but in those episodes, the meltdown is almost incidental to the action. (I can't remember the names of the episodes, but in one, Homer nearly causes a meltdown but then randomly presses the right button ("pulling a Homer"), and in the other, Homer goes on workman's comp and works from home, nearly causing a meltdown). You could watch either of those episodes and not get the idea that the danger of nuclear power is the point, because they both center on Homer's ineptitude. That's not the way South Park handles things.

Again, in saying this I love South Park to death, and have seen every episode; I was one of the few people in the theater the day "Team America" came out, too. Matt and Trey are heroes to me (and not just because I'm from Colorado).

But while The Simpsons (in its best years) certainly had a different approach, it was hardly less cutting or biting. An episode like, say, King Size Homer may not have been trying to make a particular point about nuclear power, but that's factoring in that said satire of the nuclear industry was already built into the show. It's biting satire of the industry without even trying to be. I can think of few other shows that have accomplished something like that.

Much of The Simpsons' satire is like that. It's embedded into the show. Even the episodes that are just little stories or character studies and don't have any particular political or social point at the core of them still often say so much about the society they're depicting. And the way the show consistently portrays authority figures, corporations, societal structures, etc is so much more biting and harsh and insightful than anything even South Park (one of the sharpest, funniest shows on the air) has done. And often, it does it effortlessly.

South Park tends to hone in on one particular subject or target in a particular week and just tear them down for 22 minutes. The Simpsons has episodes somewhat akin to that, also, but it's indeed a different approach usually. But it's not that The Simpsons is gentler, it's just less obvious and on-the-nose about its points most of the time. (And even then, I wouldn't say that, for instance, "Homer Badman" or "Sideshow Bob Roberts" were really any nicer, even on the surface, toward their targets than South Park is.)


Well, MacFarlane may be inept at writing good satire, but he's neither gentle nor subtle about it. That's what I was getting at. It might have been a crude way to express himself, but equating McCain and Palin with the Germans invading Poland was pretty direct.

MacFarlane is basically writing toothless jokes for people who think he's being edgy, when the reality is that his jokes are safe and cuddly at their core. The directness is part of the problem; they directly reference whoever the target is, but then don't actually say anything. The McCain/Palin Nazi thing is a good example, but even more so I like to use the one where the girl with Down Syndrome mentions that her mother used to be the governor of Alaska. The reference is obvious, but...what's the joke, exactly? What is it saying? At best it's a tenuous reference anyway, but it doesn't even really say anything about Palin's politics or even Palin as a person; it's just a reference, a potshot without even any clear target. A bolder joke would have at least said something about either Palin or her child; and yet, it appears superficially "edgy" just because it happens to reference the fact that Palin does, in fact, have a child with Down Syndrome (of a DIFFERENT GODDAMN GENDER. Ahem). In essence, it's a completely safe joke designed to offend no one, while giving the illusion to its audience that it's a "dangerous" joke that's really sticking it to someone (and pretty much all "edgy" Family Guy jokes are like this). The very worst episode of The Simpsons is so much bolder than that. And that's not a compliment to the worst Simpsons episodes, either.
 

HRH Sir Prince Charles

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I've seen more than one expert opine that The Simpsons was a driving influence behind American attitudes toward nuclear energy, but you're probably right that satrie wasn't biting AT ALL. There's a reason classic Simpsons is considered the definitive portrayal of post-War American society while South Park just isn't. And I love South Park.

FOTC ended early in 2009, so Brodie's estimate isn't too far off. It was something like a year and a half.

I binged on the series earlier this year, and was so desperate for more that I almost - almost - went looking for that Simpsons episode, but reviews here and common sense eventually deterred me. I'd love to see them come back for a surprise third season one day, though.

download their BBC radio show... a lot of the plots were adapted for the HBO show, but it's different enough to keep you interested.
 
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The Love-Matic Grandpa!

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MacFarlane is basically writing toothless jokes for people who think he's being edgy, when the reality is that his jokes are safe and cuddly at their core. The directness is part of the problem; they directly reference whoever the target is, but then don't actually say anything. The McCain/Palin Nazi thing is a good example, but even more so I like to use the one where the girl with Down Syndrome mentions that her mother used to be the governor of Alaska. The reference is obvious, but...what's the joke, exactly? What is it saying? At best it's a tenuous reference anyway, but it doesn't even really say anything about Palin's politics or even Palin as a person; it's just a reference, a potshot without even any clear target. A bolder joke would have at least said something about either Palin or her child; and yet, it appears superficially "edgy" just because it happens to reference the fact that Palin does, in fact, have a child with Down Syndrome (of a DIFFERENT GODDAMN GENDER. Ahem). In essence, it's a completely safe joke designed to offend no one, while giving the illusion to its audience that it's a "dangerous" joke that's really sticking it to someone (and pretty much all "edgy" Family Guy jokes are like this). The very worst episode of The Simpsons is so much bolder than that. And that's not a compliment to the worst Simpsons episodes, either.

This is the best dissection of MacFarlane's comedic style that I've ever read. Insightful and 100% true. Kudos.
 

DotheBartman

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download their BBC radio show... a lot of the plots were adapted for the HBO show, but it's different enough to keep you interested.

I have that on my HD and have really been intending to listen to it at some point...I think I still have DVD special features to work through, too. It was an almost instant-buy after I finished off the library copies.
 
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