Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Simpsons: Blah, keep going downhill

ENTERTAINMENT - I have a strange feeling that the Simpsons is one of those TV shows that will never be canceled.

The Simpsons recently celebrated their 500th episode (130 less than the record-holder: Gunsmoke), but don't think for a second that its because the Simpsons is quality television or animation. It isn't.

On the scale of animation the Simpsons is as crude as it gets. And the plots keep rehashing the same ideas over and over again, each time with a different pop culture twist.

In the beginnings the Simpsons was meant as a show for adults only. There was an early episode where Homer and Marge run around naked for half the episode looking for places to have sex.

Also gone is the social commentary. Its rare these days that the Simpsons make any effort to talk about environmentalism, equal rights or the religious right-wing (the mockery of the Christian Flanders next door has been toned down dramatically).

In 22 seasons it really is no surprise that the Simpsons is now a watered down show filled with pop culture references. Just look at the list of celebrities that have been on the show...

Just to name a few: Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Reese Witherspoon, Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close, Woody Harrelson, Susan Sarandon, Donald Sutherland, Kiefer Sutherland, Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Richard Gere, Bette Midler, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas, Paul Newman, Mickey Rooney, Ernest Borgnine, Jack Lemmon, Rod Steiger, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jerry Springer, Steve Allen, Dick Cavett, Dick Clark, Regis Philbin, Dan Rather, Charlie Rose, Bob Hope, Steve Martin, Jackie Mason, George Carlin, Cheech & Chong, the Smothers Brothers, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, Michael Jackson, U2, Aerosmith, The Who, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the White Stripes, 50 Cent, Sting, Katy Perry, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Dixie Chicks, James Taylor, James Brown, Little Richard, Barry White, Robert Goulet, Britney Spears, David Byrne, Mel Brooks, Rob Reiner, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall, Garry Marshall, Albert Brooks, John Waters, Christopher Guest, Robert Evans, Jim Jarmusch, Stephen King, John Updike, Stephen Hawking, Stephen Sondheim, David Mamet, Gore Vidal...

In the beginning the Simpsons was raunchy and controversial. It upset the right-wing with its flagrant disregard and even mockery of social conventions. There was no celebrity guest voices either.

Today there is rarely a new episode that doesn't have a celebrity as a guest star or at least a pop culture reference to a celebrity. (Family Guy is also guilty of this.)

And since pop culture is POPULAR it pretty much guarantees that the Simpsons will be around forever simply as a staple of modern television... until something better comes along and people eventually get bored of the Simpsons.

Speaking for myself I only watch the Simpsons once per year. I download all the episodes of the new season, watch them all at once, and then delete them. I delete them because frankly they're not that good.

Its reached a point where I now procrastinate about downloading and watching them because I know I will just be disappointed.

Its all a very bad joke and the 500th episode is no less of a sad joke.

SPOILER ALERT!

During the 500th episode the Simpsons get kicked out of Springfield. Fed up with Homer's drunkenness and Bart's destructiveness the townsfolk kick the Simpsons into exile. By the end of the episode the entire population of Springfield misses them and runs off to join them. Throw in a cameo by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and you've got the 500th episode.

END OF SPOILER ALERT!

If you are disappointed by the episode you are not alone. For a 500th episode its pretty blah. It was an extremely typical episode. The only real difference was the family couch montage at the end of the episode...

Which has been done before, many times.

They also had a Chuck Lorre style card at the end reading: “Thanks for 500 shows. All we ask is that you go out and get some fresh air before logging onto the Internet and saying how much this sucked.”

And it did suck. And I did get fresh air.

The Simpsons is a bit like a pop culture time capsule. You pick a year, watch a few episodes from that year, and you get an idea of what was popular at the time. (Or not popular, depending on what they're making fun of.)

They will just keep making Simpsons episodes until the end of time (or until the ratings eventually drop low enough that they stop making the show, in which case they might try to change the plots and writers instead in a last ditch attempt to make the show more interesting).

And to all you people who don't like this review, don't have a cow man! Just leave a comment and say Doh!

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