Monday, January 08, 2007


After a consistently nerve-wracking game, the heroic Eagles of Philadelphia slew the evil Giants of New York. Cheers for that.

Then, there was The Simpsons, regrettably. I don't follow the show on a regular basis--for obvious reasons!--but sometimes I think, oh, it can't really be as bad lately as I think it is. But then it is. Or worse. Tonight's episode (an uninspired riff on A Perfect Storm) wasn't notably worse than the norm, but it was still pretty awful. Here are the main problems with the show nowadays:

1. The characters--even minor ones--have become so over-familiar that nobody feels the need to do anything new or clever with them. The writers lazily fall back on established characteristics, and the most obvious ones get magnified, so the characters become parodies of themselves. Oh look, Moe is a misanthrope. Flanders is a Christian fundamentalist. Whee...are we having hilarity yet? It's very easy to lose track of the fact that they actually used to have some degree of nuance.

2. For whatever reason, the writers seemingly have no compunctions with having characters do completely nonsensical and/or out-of-character things in an effort to provoke--although, in fact, they just provoke annoyance. My favorite example is from the episode a few years back where Bart and Milhouse semi-accidentally break into the Flanders' house. When Ned and his kids come back, he freaks out and holes them up in some sort of fallout shelter that they have built. We're scared, sez Rod or possibly Todd. Scared of what? pa asks. All the funny songs we're going to sing? We'll be safe inside our shelter when they come, we'll be safe inside our shelter when they come--Rod and Todd start to relax and sway along to the tune--unless they have a blowtorch or a poison gas injector then I don't know what'll happen when they come, and the kids freak out as you would and seriously DOUBLE-YOU TEE EFF. Goddamit.

3. Both of the above problems could easily crop up in a non-animated show--and the first one, especially, does so all the time. But the problem is, you constantly hear this refrain from supporters of the show dragging its shambling corpse on and on forever and ever: since they don't have to worry about real actors actually aging, the show can go on forever! Awesome! This questionable logic, of course, ignores all the OTHER problems that can and do crop up--but the creators of the show apparently buy into it. So yay, the characters don't look any older. Just a whole lot more annoying/less interesting. Big improvement.

It really sucks. I'm not sure whether I'd say there are actually more bad episodes than good at this point, but it's certainly getting pretty damned close. The show's legacy is being diluted almost beyond recognition. There are times when I forget that it used to actually be good. Is this really the legacy you want, people? It's sort of baffling reading interviews with Matt Groening, who invariably says something to the effect of, we'll keep the show going as long as we can keep it funny. We're always trying to top ourselves, and you want to yell at him: Dude! That ship sailed a LONG time ago! A good five years, even if you want to be extremely generous. He's obviously a smart guy, and Futurama proved that his creative juices are not all drained--all I can think is that he's too close to The Simpsons to have the necessary perspective on it. Which is a durn shame.

But I don't have that excuse. And neither do you. A large, generalized you. Seriously: in any discussion of the show's current suckage, you will inevitably hear the following phrase: "The Simpsons may not be as good as it used to be, but it's still better than 90% of the crap out there. What, are you people fucking crazy Even I, a non-avid television watcher, can recognize how insane that is. I shudder to think what else you must spend your time watching if--e.g.--that "Sideshow Bob in Italy" episode was better than nearly all of it. Seriously, what kind of masochist are you?

I know many other people have talked about this endlessly and more insightfully, but's so demoralizing. It's one thing when bad things are bad, but when good things go bad, it REALLY sucks. The Simpsons, Red Dwarf, Manic Street Preachers, the Berserk manga, Weis & Hickman's Dragonlance books--why can't more people make like Yukio Mishima and go out while they're ahead? In the wise words of Billy Idol, there's nothin' pure in this world. How true that is.


Blogger Kaitlyn pontificated to the effect that...

I haven't been bothered to watch the Simpsons in a few weeks, and last night, I assumed Fox would do the its Fox thing and cut ten minutes out of its shows rather than push programming behind ten minutes, so I watched VH1's rerun of '100 Greatest Songs of the '80s 20-1'. A much better waste of time, I'd say.

Futurama's coming back, at least on cable.

I hope it stays as great as it was, unlike Family Guy, which just got even more juvenile, which is what we wanted, I guess.

You ever suffer through American Dad?

12:13 PM  
Blogger GeoX, one of the GeoX boys. pontificated to the effect that...

They showed the whole thing--everything was pushed back ten minutes--although it might have been better has they cut ten minutes, honestly.

Yay for the return of Futurama--that most definitely DOES have me psyched.

True about Family Guy, unfortunately; they still nail it now and again, but it's definitely been downhill. Of American Dad, the less said the better...but what the hell--ALL the characters are fucking awful. Who the hell thought the German goldfish would be a good source of humor? And the son, who looks like a blind mole rat...ugh. I had high hopes for the show initially; it seemed like they'd be able to get some incisive political commentary out of it...but not so much. I DO very much enjoy Patrick Stewart as Stan's boss, however.

7:15 PM  
Blogger Kaitlyn pontificated to the effect that...

Family Guy's two episodes were okay, but I hate their Bush jokes. "He's stupid, yuk yuk yuk."

"Flaming Moe's" was on today, it was so damn good.

9:01 PM  

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