Friday, September 04, 2009

poor kids - ye know not the real Homer

i feel bad for the kids of today who watch what currently passes for The Simpsons on TV. due to the tendency of syndication to re-run only more recent 'old' episodes, they'll probably never get much exposure to the Simpsons' glory days of the early to mid 1990s when the writing staff in place was finely honed on the right mix of comedic elements (not to mention that Conan O'Brien had a hand in producing & writing on some classic episodes).

case in point, one of my favorite episodes involves Homer trying to slim down by ordering a subliminal weight loss tape, only to be sent a subliminal vocabulary builder instead. as the days pass Homer's command of the English language grows in league with his waistband.

(passing the prankster son Bart in the kitchen and opening up the refrigerator for a drink)
"Now there's a Machiavellian countenance. Oooh, a sextet of ale!"

(Marge and Homer discussing his weight loss progress)
Marge: I'm not sure that tape is helping. You ate three desserts tonight.
Homer: Forbearance is the watchword. That triumvirate of Twinkies simply overwhelmed my resolve.

(Marge and Homer, again discussing weight loss progress)
Marge: Homer, has the weight loss tape reduced your appetite?
Homer: Ah, lamentably no. My gastronomic rapacity knows no satiety.

(Lisa and Homer, the final progress check before Homer loses his patience with the tapes)
Lisa: Dad, do you know what today is?
Homer: The vernal equinox?
Lisa: No! It's been two weeks since you got that tape. Let's get you on the scale! [Homer gets on the scale] You've gained thirteen pounds.
Homer: Disingenuous mountebanks with their subliminal chicanery! A pox on them! [discards tape]

(naturally, without the vocabulary tapes Homer quickly reverts to his standard intellectual capacity)
Homer: Marge, where's that... metal deely... you use to.. dig.. food?

the printed words don't really do justice to hearing them emanate from Homer's gently buffoonish voice, but you get the idea.

compare that to the current writing staff's efforts that seem perpetually set to Angry Sarcasm, the lowest rung of the comedy ladder - the Simpsons have been on the air for 20+ seasons but the real Simpsons died out somewhere around season 8 as near as i can figure.

it's just odd to think of new viewers starting to watch the show fresh in season 16, 17, etc. and not knowing that Homer used to be a mild-mannered innocent childlike figure while Bart and Lisa had the real adult discussions on love, friendship, death... now it's just Homer calling everyone a jerkass and getting injured in increasingly violent / bloody ways while Bart & Lisa have reverted to petty kids' squabbles.

hopefully ten years down the line i'll read about some Simpsons renaissance where the grown-up second or third wave of Simpsons viewers will rediscover the best seasons, where intricate comedic writing of a quality rarely seen before or since created instant classics with every episode.

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