Friday, August 26, 2011

A Deeper Look At: The Blue and the Gray

And we finish this analysis with the episode from last season I hated the most.

Issue #1: Why bother with established continuity?
Okay, for this I’m throwing out my only rule, because this episode seems to go out of its way to distance itself from established character traits and back stories. Also, before I continue any further, yes I’m aware of how the show runs on non-continuity, however, that does not mean go against previously established storylines that just means a story can be told and by the end, status quo is achieved. The story helps establish stuff like character development (Lisa the Vegetarian) or popular recurring scenes (Bart the Daredevil).  In Secrets of a Successful Marriage, the idea that Marge having gray hair was laid down, while normally they never really talk about it, it was established that her having gray hair would not bug her, but it would bug her if other people knew. 
Forget everything you know about Blue dye #56
It was a dirty secret of Marge’s that she would rarely talk about and get upset if someone outside of her family knew. The point I’m trying to make here is that Marge finding out her hair is gray is just jarring. To me it’d be like someone who chipped their tooth at age 9 being shocked to learn that their tooth is chipped when they’re 26; they knew that already, why is it a big deal? But that’s not the only continuity issue I had. Between the Maggie-Gerald kiss at the end (They’re enemies!) to Patty and Selma’s new hair colors (Oh come on that was neither funny nor make sense) all the way to Lisa’s “Feministic” views (That’s not the way feminism works) the episode just felt like the writing staff’s way of saying “We can do anything and get away with it, ha-ha!” It just felt like Rob had one of two things going through his mind
  1. Write an episode as if the audience had never seen anything prior to 2000
  2. Flip off any classic fans by basically telling them that he could do anything and get away with it

Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh on this issue, but the episode just had that “We don’t care that we no longer care about this show” feeling.
Yeah you can tell by Maggie's expression towards Gerald that she just loves him

Issue #2: Homer ‘Don Juan’ Simpson
Homer’s quite the ladies’ man isn’t he? I mean we have totally seen hot mid twenty year old girls draped all over him in the past, right? Right?! If you just said no, congratulations, you have a functioning brain. Now for me, the problem isn’t quite that he’s attractive to young women (Albeit that’s a lazy cliché in a ton of sitcoms) it’s that there is no buildup whatsoever for when it happens. The only half-assed explanation possible is that after one montage of Homer working with Moe, using a dating system picked up by a guy who runs his operation out of an airport hotel, Homer became the world’s best pickup artist. You look at that last sentence as if I just told you aliens kidnaped the Barack Obama right after his Inauguration, in order to take over the world. I could argue that this belongs with the 1st issue, but in reality it’s the entire subplot as well. 
I totally believe that a man selling his product out of here is totally going to work...
... Or maybe it will
Remember the good ole days when an episode would have something like an airport hotel seminar and would be mocked and ridiculed for just how outlandish they really were? Forget all that, they WORK! I mean, not everything needs to be a satire or parody in order to be funny, but I’ll tell you one thing that’s not funny, having stuff like that work. In all honesty which would be more interesting to watch, with better potential for humor?
  1. Homer invests in a pyramid scam and loses all his money in a matter of hours causing him to work several jobs while quite possibly losing touch with his family
  2. Homer investing in a pyramid scam and walks away with millions of dollars

If you answered 2, I have no respect for you at all. In short, an underdeveloped piss-poor story will result in a lack of interest from the audience.

Issue #3: The jokes
I couldn’t specify just ONE area here as most (if not all) the jokes are downright awful. A lot like Elementary School Musical, these jokes were just downright awful. I couldn’t think of one that I liked, even with bad episodes, I might be able to point to one or two jokes that made me snicker, nothing’s coming up here. It doesn’t help that one of the first jokes of the episode involves a slash pairing of Lenny and Carl. That’s reserved for the fanfictions and DeviantArt, not a syndicated program. I’m just going to bullet point the rest of the jokes that just annoyed me and were not funny:
  • Homer continuing to go back into the bar to see Moe alone
  • Dr. Kissingher
  • Female Moe
  • Homer attempting to free himself from the tie knot
  • Homer trying to comfort Marge
  • Dr. Kissingher’s entrance
  • Homer’s picture on Moe’s cell phone
  • Skinner and Chalmer’s chat
  • “Hairy Shearers”
  • Julio’s preparation to color Marge’s hair
This is surely funny, right? If not, don;t worry, it goes on for another 30 seconds
  • The old couple passing by
  • The family’s initial reaction to Marge’s hair
  • Homer’s brain meeting (watch Family Guy much?)
  • Every time Lisa makes a “Feministic” comment
  • The kids trying to figure out their hairline (Just feels like it goes on forever)
  • Homer talking to himself
  • Homer as Moe’s wingman (Too many bad jokes to list)
  • James Bond joke
  • “Macaroni Marconi” (That pun was terrible)
  • Bart talking with Milhouse and Nelson (I’m assuming the conversation was supposed to be funny, but for all I know, it might not have meant to be)
  • “I wonder what cousin Jessica is up to?”
Oh the hilarity of this joke, wait I'm saying it wrong, I meant  to say how unoriginal and stupid
  • Marge and the cashier’s talk
  • Ol’ Gil’s scene
  • The entire Patty, Selma and Marge scene
    • “I can bend him like Beckham”
    • Their hair is the result of cigarette smoke and ash
Wow, what humor, the animators figured out their color palates
  • Marge leaving the coffee shop
  • The entire process of Marge turning into a witch (I still believe that the writers wrote this ‘joke’ first and tried to somehow get it into an episode)
  • Mr. Burns appearing in the club (Who says character actions need to make sense)
  • Marge lighting her broom on fire (Because attempted murder equals comedy)
  • The wingman bit
  • Homer imagining a bunch of blue things
  • Lisa’s last lines (That’s not the way her character works)
  • Homer having blue hair
  • Maggie and Gerald’s scene
And that was my analysis of what I believe to be the 10 worst episode last season. Seeing as how we've put away the past, we should look towards the future and all the grim details it'll bring.

Monday, August 22, 2011

September Schedule

I know this is rather early, but I figured because of the weak Summer I gave you readers (August in particular) I'd put this out a week early. Also, depending on a couple of factors, I might be able to do my first video review this month and I'll include them in future schedules.

9/2: Worst of the worst: Lisa the Drama Queen introduction
9/5: Looking ahead: Upcoming storylines
9/7: Lovecraft's Corner #9
9/9: Worst of the worst: Lisa the Drama Queen part 1
9/12: Looking ahead: Upcoming guest stars
9/16: Worst of the Worst: Lisa the Drama Queen part 2
9/19: Looking ahead: Final expectations
9/23: He Loves to Fly and He D'oh's
9/26: Season premiere*
9/30: Homer of Seville

As usual schedule subject to change
*Assumption that the season begins 9/25

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Deeper Look At: The Real Housewives of Fat Tony

Just two more installments left, let's try to end this as quickly as possible.

Issue #1: The Jersey Shore ‘Satire’
I’m reluctant to even call this a satire because satires would actually make fun of the source material. I think the closest thing to a joke here is the repeated tanning light joke, and even that was pretty bad. I honestly have to ask a question; what was the point? They just portrayed the Jersey Shore douches as douchebags, however, that was undermined by the fact that one of their main characters (Homer) was just as (if not more) annoying than the Jersey Shore guys. It wasn’t funny; it was just annoying and painful. 
Now only one of these guys is NOT supposed to be a Jersey Shore clone. Which one is it?
I don’t really like to make out-of-show comparisons, but if you look at South Park’s version, they actually made fun of Jersey Shore. Between their portrayal of New Jerseyians and Snooki in specific, it’s very obvious that The Simpsons lost their spines and the very idea of making fun of anyone scares them. I personally blame this on the Brazil episode, but I severely digress, back to the issue at hand. When the best jokes against Jersey Shore involve names like “Tushi” and “The Occurrence” it’s very easy to understand why this episode is so bad and disliked even among the modern fans (2nd worst rating of season 22 on as of 8/19/11)
You don't find this funny? Don't worry, they only do the same joke about a dozen more times

Issue #2: Marge and Selma
Now this issue in particular is more about their relationship on this episode. Marge just acts so childish in this episode, and how it all began? It all began because Selma put Marge and Homer away from the main tables at the reception. *Gasp* That’s truly something to fight over in such a petty manner. I mean, yeah Selma’s being petty herself, but for Marge to go as far as she did over something like that? It’s just so wrong for Marge’s character to get that worked up over something so small. Even worse is how she holds the grudge against Selma days later (For fucks sakes, it was a table placement that was brought on because Homer’s a jerkass, GET OVER IT!) 
Hey if I was reduced to sitting next to Modern Comic Book Guy, I'd throw a fit too
But then it spontaneously turns into ‘Marge doesn’t support the marriage’ I don’t know when it changed to that and how the hell Selma knew considering at the reception, Marge makes it clear that she’s pissed over the seating and not the marriage itself. You have to love it when the writers just have no clue how to move a story along, so they just throw in random conflicts that apparently everyone knows about. Oh and the way they makeup? They just talk, no buildup, Selma just comes outside, talks to Marge and everything’s now A-okay. It’s hard to describe a makeup scene when it doesn’t exist. Oh and a minor nitpick if I may, Lisa and Bart also appear at the table later, rather odd considering we only saw Marge and Homer at the wedding and the kids weren’t around when Marge and Homer were looking for their table, continuity? Who needs that?!
No kids in sight at all
Makes perfect sense to me to have Bart and Lisa there NOW

Issue #3: The ending
Now, don’t get me wrong, the end credits was by far the best part of this episode, my issue is just how lazy the resolution of Fit Tony and Selma was. First off, Selma believes Homer and Marge instantly from some out-of-context dialogue from Fit Tony, I just find that hard to believe. Then when Selma confronts Fit Tony about it, the writers decide to retcon the episode entirely by saying the wedding wasn’t a real wedding, but a mistress wedding. I mean, there’s not giving a rat’s ass about a previous episode when writing something new, and then there’s not giving a rat’s ass about the present day episode. It’s really sad to see the point when the staff doesn’t even try to achieve status quo and allow themselves to use it later in continuity. It’s almost as bad as those “It was all just a dream” episodes, where nothing within the episode had any real point and the audience is basically told that they just wasted 30 minutes on nothing happening.
Now you've done it, you've upset the plot police

And that was satire failure #143, join me next week as we end this analysis portion of the blog.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mom's I'd Like to Forget in 5 Seconds

Because I've driven my views on this episode into the ground, I thought this might be a bit more appropriate

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lovecraft Corner #8: The Unnamable

Hi, guys, RBY back. I'd like to open with another mini-explanation, similar to last time. In all honesty, Lovecraft is something that Hollywood really should shy away from adapting. Lovecraft managed to explain why in one of his short stories, in which his author avatar (Randolph Carter) and another character discuss whether or not it's possible for something to be so hideous as to be indescribable. To spoil the ending, the two are attacked and, when Randolph wakes up in the hospital and asks his friend what it was, this is his reply:

"It was everywhere - a gelatin - a slime - yet it had shapes, a thousand shapes of horror beyond all memory. There were eyes - and a blemish. It was the pit - the maelstrom - the ultimate abomination. Carter, it was the unnamable!"

...Yes, in some twisted logic, it was a story that had an indescribable monster and was saying how some things can't be described that was adapted into this month's movie. A medium in which there's little left to the imagination and description is always plausible (perhaps there's a film that's pulled off the concept of an indescribable beast, but I never saw it). ....why would you do this, Hollywood?

As always spoilers ahead.

It's your favorite slasher film with Lovecraft references.

....that didn't work, huh. Okay, let's start again...

The film opens onto a dark and stormy night, back in the late 1600s/early 1700s, where a horrible shrieking can be heard for nearly five minutes, set over a man reading. He goes up to the attic to let the breathing sound effect out and, for his troubles, is killed brutally. The story returns to present-day, where it's revealed to be a story told by one Randolph Carter. He follows this with a story about a boy who, 50 years ago, broke inside, and what he saw drove him insane. It turns out he's telling this story to two friends: Howard, who doesn't know what to think, and Joel, who thinks Carter calling the creature 'unnamable' is stupid and is determined to prove Carter wrong. Joel asks about the house where the creature supposedly lives, and it turns out it's the house that's right in front of them. Joel decides he'll spend the night to prove Carter wrong. Carter, realizing he's in a slasher film under the guide of a Lovecraftian tale, wisely hightails it.

Joel stays the night and Howard goes back to Miskatonic University (hi, Dan and West! Lot of bodies incoming!) with Carter, concerned for Joel but unwilling to go back. After Carter reassures Howard, Howard introduces us to the first of our cannon fodder - I mean cast - Wendy, whom he has a crush on. Now that it's nightfall, Joel finally enters the house (despite being there while it still had daylight). When he's inside, the door suddenly closes and he thinks it's just a prank. He goes upstairs with a lit candle and finds a noose and a bloody bowl before a shadow passes by, catching his attention. He follows it up to the attic and finds a face etched into the window before the door up there breaks open. Of course, Joel dies.

The next day, Howard finds Carter in the library and tells him Joel never showed back up. Carter, refusing to get entangled in this mess and ramp up the body count, says Joel is just trying to scare them. Wendy is also at the library with her meat shield, I mean, friend, Tanya. The two are talking about boys, and two frat boys (Bruce and John) approach them. After some conversation, they invite them to the house to join a sorority. The girls agree, though Tanya's worried.

That night, all four arrive at the house and, like Joel, are magically locked in. This doesn't seem to bother them much, nor does finding Joel's shoeprints. Back at the college, Howard catches up with Carter to tell him Joel was supposed to have gone home for the weekend, but he never showed up. Carter, unable to brush off the plot any longer without sounding like an idiot, agrees to go back to the house to find him. Back at the house, the girls decide to explore, and the four walk around, going upstairs, and provoking this comment: "Seems bigger inside than it looks." never know. There are jump scares to be had while they investigate, and then John takes Wendy, splitting up the group. If I got the names wrong, forgive me; after a while, I couldn't remember who was who. Side effect of being a slasher flick. Tanya and Bruce go look for the two, narrowly missing discovering a body and seeing the moving shadow. The breathing sound effect stalks them, but when Tanya hears it, it hides.

John and Wendy end up having sex, ensuring their demises. Bruce tries it too, but Tanya shames him into stopping. Wendy's enjoying herself until Joel's mutilated head rolls to a stop next to her, which, understandably, ruins the mood. Wendy flees and passes out in front of Tanya and Bruce, and John is killed by the monster. When the three find John, they decide to flee, and we get a glimpse of the 'unnamable' monster, which does NOT live up to its reputation in the slightest. In fact, let me describe it for you: albino Jersey Devil. It's not completely accurate, but it's not far off.

Anyways, when Tanya reaches the door - alone - she sees a strange silhouette that makes her faint. It's just Carter and Howard, though; Carter starts checking out the books while Howard revives Tanya so she can explain what's been happening. Carter theorizes it's a frat joke or Joel gone mad, and Howard and Tanya go upstairs. Bruce, meanwhile, chooses to use himself as bait to protect Wendy, and the monster kills him by....lifting up up a few feet and dropping him. Repeatedly. Words really don't do the hilarity of this scene any kind of justice. Meanwhile, Howard and Tanya find that John's body is gone, supporting the 'frat prank' theory. They search for Wendy, and Tanya admits she likes Howard. Back downstairs, Carter finds a copy of.... the Necronomicon.

If I haven't said it yet, another rule to the drinking game: take a shot every time some tome of eldritch lore is inserted into a story it wasn't in before.

Anyhow, during a rather random conversation, Howard and Tanya find Joel's headless body, making Howard realize it's not a prank and Joel's not responsible. However, with this revelation, Tanya is locked into a room. Howard leaves to go find help. He asks Carter, but Carter says he needs more time to find an answer before he can act. When they hear Wendy, Howard goes to find her while Carter learns that the monster is actually a child of evil, bound to the house by a spell and held back by the structure and the trees. When Howard goes downstairs, he finds Wendy, who blames him for the night's events and tries to kill him. He's knocked out but, before she can do more, the monster kills her and drags her body away.

Carter finally figures out a solution, but he's still locked in. To remedy this, he tries a few incantations from the Necronomicon until the door opens. He goes into one of the tombs, using a rather familiar-sounding incantation to protect himself (even if you weren't sure, you hear Cthulhu's name and R'lyeh. They weren't trying, it seems). At this point, Howard wakes up - Wendy's gone, Carter's no longer on the ground floor, Tanya's not answering... Tanya, by this time, had gotten out and, in her efforts to escape, stumbled across a body that makes her scream. Howard finds her and comforts her, only for the two to be confronted by the monster. They flee to the attic and barricade the door. They then find the trapdoor - how the monster had been moving - and block that too. Back in the tomb, Carter uses the Necronomicon to summon the 'tree spirits' (just roll with it), causing the camera to shake and the tomb to close over him, trapping him.

Back in the attic, the creature finally seems to leave, and Howard and Tanya heave a sigh of relief. Tanya then checks the window and screams, saying she could see the monster. Howard, thinking it's just the etching, goes to show her it's harmless. Except it IS the monster, and it leaps through and attacks. Oops. Knocking them both down, the monster....uh, dances over to Howard and pins him. Of course, Howard and Tanya fight back - Tanya successfully breaks one of its arms by lightly tapping it with a flashlight, and Howard rips off part of its face. Then, a tree branch breaks in and, with the help of a voiceover, takes the monster away, presumably to its demise. Howard and Tanya flee the house (after Howard does a cursory search for Carter) and the two embrace outside the house - just before the ground opens up and hands try dragging Howard down. A human hand reaches up - it's Carter, who uses Howard to get above ground before helping Tanya save his friend and closing off the hole. Carter announces he's seen the 'unnamable' (Riiiight) and delivers the last line of the movie, saying "It was Hell."

As you might've guessed, this movie's a pretty poor adaptation of the short story. I'll admit, they didn't have much to work with - they adapted all but the proper ending of the original story in the first ten minutes. That being said, it doesn't excuse this becoming a slasher flick - blood and gore were not Lovecraft's style; if they wanted to be more faithful, inspiring characters to insanity might've been better. The two named characters in the story - Carter and Joel - are close friends, something that's not really apparent here because Joel's obvious cannon fodder. The one thing that really bugs me, though, is Randolph Carter's character here. Now, it's possible I'm wrong, but I've always figured Carter is pretty much the closest you can get to a badass human in the Lovecraft universe - he's gone into Kadath, home of the Dream Gods; he's chatted with Nyarlathotep and Yog-sothoth; and he, unlike most Lovecraft protagonists, comes out with no major psychoses or phobias. Yet here he says that whatever was in the house would be beyond him and refuses to get involved. To me, that just seems so unlike him - but again, I might be wrong in my interpretation. It doesn't change the fact that, as a Lovecraft adaptation, this fails.

But how about as a film? Kriken?

As a film, I could only classify this as a generic slasher that doesn't really try to distinguish itself from the rest of the pack. This movie felt like it was trying to follow a lot of the slasher movie cliches and the monster itself was a complete joke when we actually got to see it. The characters were not interesting in the slightest, the story about the monster made no sense, the effects were average at best, and overall it was really boring. I don't know if it would have helped, but I think that it could have been a bit better if everytime the monster had a scene, it was shot through the eyes of the monster or the monster itself was always slightly offscreen (I probably would have called it as a way to cheapen the special effects budget, but it would have improved the concept of "It's indescribable"). In short, this really isn't worth watching as it's not memorable at all, it doesn't follow the Lovecraft story and there are far better slasher flicks out there if you want to see a slasher.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Deeper Look At: Homer Scissorhands

Due to the bottom line quality of these next few episodes, I felt that for the sake of my sanity I would only do 1 a week instead of 2 like in July. And no I will NOT be using "Lisa kisses Milhouse" as an issue here, I can tear this apart even without that 'fuck you' to the fans.

Issue #1: Homer 'Mary Sue' Simpson
I had a hard time deciding what to call this because it could be debated whether this is just 'Instant Expert' or 'Mary Sue'. However, for me it's Mary Sue because when he tries to fail, he just cannot, instant experts would be able to fail. Now there's no problem with giving a character jobs that they struggle initially at but can overcome the challenges and be good at said job every now and then. However, when you give a character a new job about once every other episode that they have no problem mastering and have no development for why they are good or why they wanted to do it in the first place, that's lazy. It's basic storytelling 101, we do not care about Homer because there is nothing to care about, I'm just going to break my only rule to show how this is done right. In Deep Space Homer, Homer has no experience or training whatsoever when he is being prepared for a space launch, and in fact when he first gets there, Barney is clearly superior to him in every way and it seems like Homer will fail.
With Homer's luck, he'll cut her head off
... Or not
Also, even after Homer is basically handed the job he's still intimidated and a complete novice at space travel. Homer there has character, he is flawed and has to earn his way into the program, Homer struggles, Homer shows weakness and humanity, that is the type of character one roots for. Could you imagine that episode if Homer just stepped off the bus and was instantly the best astronaut to have ever lived? When Homer not only can cut someone's hair perfectly with hedge trimmers but also cannot fail to cut someone's hair perfectly when he tries, he lacks humanity. There ceases to be a reason to care, everything is going his way and the audience has no way of relating to this demi-god of a hairdresser. I more or less had the same reaction to him when he wanted out of the business that I did for Lisa in Elementary School Musical after she left camp.
Oh no, he can't fail... we should really pity him

Issue #2: Continuity? What's that?!
I touched upon this in the review, however I didn't really go into great detail on how little the staff actually cares about simple 5 minute continuity. Allow me to use some visual aides to demonstrate:
An attempt to understand the storyboard
So with all that I can only assume three things went down
  1. Wiggum lied about the police ball being that night and in reality it was tomorrow night
  2. Lisa can travel back in time from evening to late afternoon and the kitchen scene took place while Lisa was out stalking Milhouse
  3. These storylines are nowhere close to each other on the time scale and are in fact happening weeks apart with Lisa deciding to put on her boots and wait an entire day to follow Milhouse and Taffy.
Honestly, option 3 seems like the most feasible one, however, usually the plot and subplots run about on the same timeline unless stated otherwise by the writers. While they do not intersect at any point, they never go out of their way either to establish that Lisa being jealous of Milhouse took place weeks after Homer's hairdresser dream. As further proof of the 3rd option making the most sense, I'll just leave this issue with this last image on your minds:
The moon can change just like that in a matter of hours... we learn something new everyday

Issue #3: The entire subplot (Minus the ending)
I really have to stop being so vague about these and be more specific. Yet again though, I found myself unable to pinpoint just one detail about the subplot that I just have to be general again. For starters, I didn't really find the Finding Nemo joke funny (Did I miss something? Was there an event where a child was traumatized by this? Was it supposed to satirize something? I have no clue) and it leads to "Milhouse telling Lisa that he loves her" for the 178th time. Now granted I've seen  shows that can do a certain plot multiple times and they will still be good. The difference? They usually add variety to the story, the ending may always be the same, but the variety allows for an otherwise stale concept to seem fresh and entertaining. This on the other hand is a very generic, poorly developed "Lisa grows jealous of Milhouse" plot. The reason for Lisa's jealousy is never explained nor does it really make sense based on the character that we know from the past and even at the beginning of the story. (P.S. Derpy Lisa was not intentional, but gave me a good laugh in editing)
Clearly Lisa's jealous of Milhouse talking to Taffy, that or  she's staring at the clouds outside
Now onto Taffy, who is quite possibly the closest thing to a cardboard cutout based on her character. In fact, let's see how much about her we know without Lisa's forced characterization
  • Her name is Taffy
  • She carries inhalers for Milhouse
  • She loves Milhouse because he can rhyme (No I'm not making that up)
  • She gets jealous of girls that appear to be stalking her boyfriend
Taffy: I love a man who embarrasses himself, he's like putty in my hands
Anything else might be considered a stretch for her as a character. Basically we know nothing about her, we're lead to believe that she has ulterior motives for her actions when in reality that's just a red herring. She is nothing more than a plot device to move the story forward. She just appears, makes Lisa jealous, does nothing and then disappears never to be mentioned ever again, a sign of a truly great character (ugh).

So that was my deeper analysis of that atrocity, join me next week for some real pain.

Monday, August 1, 2011

August Schedule

Due to the transition from Summer vacation back to College, there will not be a theme month this month and far less posts. However, I will be working on something special for September to try to make up for it. And I haven't quite decided, but if I have the time towards the end of the month, I will do some previewing of season 23. Of course, this is all subject to change.

8/5: A Deeper look at: Homer Scissorhands
8/10: Lovecraft's Corner #8
8/12: A Deeper look at: Mom's I'd Like to Forget
8/19: A Deeper look at: Real Housewives of Fat Tony
8/26: A Deeper look at: The Blue and the Gray