Also, nothing on the show is dumber or more show-stopping than 30′s whorehouse Dick Whitman. Every time we flash back to that ridiculous thicket of hyper-Freudian backstory, I’m reminded of nothing so much as Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel.
FWIW, this particular piece of awesome was drawn on commission by former Simpsons illustrator Gary Yap, who can be found on Etsy for custom works. He also apparently perused my Flickr feed and/or GitM for our look and general inspiration (Note the back of the book and Berk eyeing the Roomba.) I wonder if he made it as far as the shelves of old Simpsons toys, currently collecting dust and resale value in a Chesapeake, VA attic. In any case, very cool.
“The Simpsons is quite simply one of the best TV shows of all time. When people nitpick and say, ‘That wasn’t a very good season’, I want to go, “No, it wasn’t the best season. But it was still the best thing on TV that year”. It’s wickedly satirical, they take on everything and they nail it so that you can never go there again. It’s the only thing I’m a real nerd over.” In The Guardian, Ricky Gervais professes his love for Springfield.
“The Superman exists, and he’s American.” Several months after the fact, the Philip Glass-scored, Comic-Con Watchmen footage finally leaks onto the tubes. This looks more promising than the last trailer…but it’s always easier when nobody’s talking.
Some amusing pilfered links: Via The Late Adopter, watch every opening Simpsons couch gag, in just under 5 minutes. And, by way of all over the place (see Ted, The Oak, Supercres, Web Goddess, PCJM, etc.) do you know what Velcro, slinkies, Alaska, and Scientology have in common…?
Via What’s Alan Watching?, and much like these Battlestar Galactica images from two years ago, David Simon’s Baltimore goes Springfield. (That’s McNulty & Bunk down at the tracks above, but you probably already figured that out.)
Speaking of BSG, does anyone else feel like Battlestar is on the verge of entering late-season X-Files territory at this point? (Or as Starbuck (and MC Hammer) might screech, WE’RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!!) I was never sold on the Watchtower Four or all the Vision Questing at the end of Season 3, but figured i’d see where the show goes thereafter…maybe the Cylons really do have a plan. But this season to me, the Cylon civil war notwithstanding, has seemed mostly meandering and purposeless, and last episode (particularly the Tigh-Ellen-Six stuff) bordered on incoherent and self-parodying. I’m not giving up on Galactica just yet, but the show is definitely starting to lose me.
I’m not about to give away the splendid opening sequence of The Simpsons Movie, suffice to say it includes a hilarious JFK homage and culminates with Homer (Dan Castellaneta) declaring something to the effect of “Why would anyone want to pay for a movie you can see for free on TV? Everyone in this theatre is a sucker!” Well, true, but this is The Simpsons, after all. And while this movie basically just plays out like a longer episode of the long-running, award-winning, much-beloved TV show, there are much worse ways to spend eleven bucks and 90 minutes of your time than an extended visit to Springfield. I caught this movie at a Friday afternoon matinee, and it basically felt like watching TV in a very big living room, with lots and lots of friends over, all enjoying themselves to the fullest. So, if you have any fondness at all for the Simpsons clan (and I presume that includes most of America, if not the western world), definitely check out the flick — You know what you’re getting, sure, but the getting is good from opening logo to closing credits. (And if you’re of the mind that the show has lost a step in recent seasons, have no fear — this is the primo, vintage stuff.)
At the start of The Simpsons, life continues in Springfield much as it has this past age — Homer is still an amiable oaf; Marge a long-suffering homemaker; Bart an anarchic terror; Lisa, an earnest intellectual; Maggie a silent enigma. But developments soon arise which threaten to shake the very foundations of this small-town American idyll: Grandpa Abe Simpson experiences what might have been a religious epiphany during Rev. Lovejoy’s Sunday service, Lisa realizes the nearby lake is lurching toward ecological catastrophe, Bart takes a second look at neighbor Ned Flanders as father material, and Homer adopts a pig. And, just as Lisa tries to warn the (rather disinterested) town — in her presentation, “An Irritating Truth” — about the dangers of overpolluting the local loch, Homer, in the throes of donut addiction, disposes of his new pet’s droppings in said lake, precipitating a Malcolm Gladwell-ish tipping point that immediately turns the waters black and causes the EPA (yes, this is the first movie since Ghostbusters where the EPA are the villains) to seal off the town in a large, unbreakable, transparent dome. As you might imagine, the town doesn’t take too kindly to their new total and utter isolation, and when a trail of (rather obvious) clues lead back to the culprit…well, let’s just say “D’oh!”
There’s more to the story from there, including definitive proof that this Springfield isn’t in Alaska. (In fact, it borders Ohio, Nevada, Maine, and Kentucky.) But all of it is in general keeping with what you’ve come to expect from the television show: jokes, witticisms, and sight gags delivered at rat-a-tat speed in sly, warm-hearted and/or vaguely misanthropic fashion. (My favorites include the aforementioned opener, a sight gag involving Moe’s bar and the Springfield church, “You’re the five people I’ll meet in Hell!”, Santa’s Little Helper’s subtitles, and most anything involving Kent Brockman, Hans Moleman, Capt. McAllister, Comic Book Guy, or Professor Frink.)
The devastatingly funny South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut upped the ante for the big screen by really reveling in the no-holds-barred vileness that’s often only alluded to on the show. But, other than a brief bit of full-frontal nudity, Otto with bong in hand, and Marge swearing (frankly, as out of character as it was for Mrs. Weasley in Hallows), The Simpsons Movie mostly just feels like TV writ large (There’s even a FOX commercial at one point.) But, again, to my mind, that’s not a bad thing — If it ain’t broke and all. I do kinda wish that the movie had been less family-centered and held more for Springfield’s large and splendid supporting cast to do. (For one, shouldn’t Mr. Burns have been behind the big plot? Where were Apu, Principal Skinner, and Groundskeeper Willie? And, as I said of the trailer, why isn’t McBain president? Then again, I’m a fanboy like that.) But, I’m guessing the show will be on again this Sunday (and then some) if I need a Simpsons fix, and, as Maggie notes in the credits, there’s always room for a sequel…
In the trailer bin today, Homer and family are ready for their close-up in the third preview for The Simpsons Movie, due out this summer. And Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz‘s Simon Pegg embarks on a ruthless fitness regime, tiny shorts and all, in the new You-tubed teaser for Run, Fatboy, Run.
Kevin Bacon Game alert: The TNT midnight movie after Thursday’s NBA marquee match-up of Dallas versus San Antonio — it’s on in the background right now — is Next of Kin (1989), a rednecks-versus-the-mob Patrick Swayze vehicle that’s surprisingly chock-full of stars. Husband to Helen Hunt and brother to Cletus-ish psycho Liam Neeson, Swayze’s a cop out to discover who killed his other brother, Bill Paxton. And whodunnit? Mob thugs Adam Baldwin and Ben Stiller in the opening moments, both of whom report to mafiosi Andreas Katsulas (R.I.P.) and Del Close. Swayze notwithstanding, I wonder if this is on any of their resumes these days.
Here’s a depressing civics poll: While one in five Americans (22%, doesn’t that seem low?) could name the five members of the Simpsons family (Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie…but you knew that), only 1 in 1000 could name the five rights protected in the First Amendment (religion, speech, press, assembly, petition), and only a measly 8% could name even three of them. I got all five in both, but, then again, in the inimitable words of Marge Simpson: “Don’t make fun of grad students, Bart. They just made a poor life decision.“
“He caught our tone exactly, and then added his own Ricky Gervais/David Brent patheticness.” By way of Plasticbag, The Office and Extras mastermind Ricky Gervais has written and will star in a forthcoming Simpsons episode, and Matt Groening wants more. “[Gervais] moves into The Simpson household with Marge as the family take part in an episode of Wife Swap, while Homer moves in with his wife.”
“We’ve gotta crack open your head and scoop out those DVDs.” So, I picked up the Simpsons Season Six set today (along with Farscape Starburst 5, Sin City, and Layer Cake), and while normally I’m obliged to speak ill of Fox, I must admit they’ve done an admirable job in keeping the Simpsons fanboys (such as myself) happy with their Alternative Packaging Program. For only $2.95, they’ll mail you a standard Season Six box to replace the plastic Homer Head it currently comes in.
“I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” (For some reason, I’m reminded of Homer Simpsons’s cabin fever…”I have powers…political powers!“) To his credit, Dubya gives us fair warning in his press conference today about what to expect from the coming second term. Some choice Dubya quotes, via Value Judgment: “Now that I’ve got the will of the people at my back, I’m going to start enforcing the one-question rule. That was three questions.” or “Again, he violated the one-question rule right off the bat. Obviously you didn’t listen to the will of the people.” Also, by way of Looka: “I will reach out to every one who shares our goals.” The rest of us, it seems, might be in for some trouble.
The trailer for Ray Bradbury’s A Sound of Thunder, starring Ed Burns and Ben Kingsley, shows up online, and I’m getting the sense the Treehouse of Horror V version might just be more entertaining. And what’s up with Kingsley’s flat-top? With this, Thunderbirds, and Suspect Zero, he must be making a huge down payment on a house or something.
D’oh! Playmates announces the end of the World of Springfield Simpsons figure line, which should mean more petty cash-in-hand and shelf space in these parts.
General Wesley Clark stumps for faster-than-light travel in New Hampshire. “I still believe in e=mc², but I can’t believe that in all of human history, we’ll never ever be able to go beyond the speed of light to reach where we want to go. I happen to believe that mankind can do it…It’s my only faith-based initiative.” Well, I guess he’s up on Dubya, who’s still trying to work out evolution. At the same rally, Clark introduced Professor John Frink as his potential National Science Advisor. “Suppose we extend the square beyond the two dimensions of our universe… along the hypothetical Z axis, there…”
I’m generally pretty quiet about my side hobby of Simpsons-collecting in this space, but, at the risk of coming off even more Comic Book Guy than usual, two points of interest: Season 3 – “best season ever” – is available on DVD today, and the 13th wave of figures includes this great sculpt of Stephen Hawking (per his request), which I expect will have more crossover appeal than most of the recent (obscure) characters.
Oh what to do? I am sad and blue. If only that I knew, that he would take The Precious! He had better flee, for I am thin and mean, and my eyes have seen, that he did take The Precious! Because the world demanded it (or somebody did, I guess), 2005 will witness the opening of the Lord of the Rings stage musicial in London (flash-heavy official site here.) Oh my, this sounds grisly. Will Troy McClure be in it?
Since we’re discussing philosophy, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention those paragons of postmodernism, The Simpsons. On the eve of Springfield’s 300th episode, EW picks the top twenty-five episodes of all time (Via Listen Missy and this archetypal contrarian-for-the-sake-of-it Slate story.) In the spirit of Comic Book Guy, the fanboy sensei, I have actually amassed a sizable World of Springfield collection. I would put up a picture for you, but that would invite social humiliation [as with Foopster's now-lost reaction to this old desk pic posted years ago (6/19/00)], and my life already has too many Ralph Wiggum moments as it is, thank you very much. So I’ll leave it at this: Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie – here’s to another 300.