Tuesday, December 3, 2002


I see that Kevin Michael Grace has recently completed a weblog entry on Futurama and The Simpsons, and he more or less mirrors my opinion (stated below): he writes, "When did it finally jump the shark? Could it have been when they killed Maude Flanders for laughs and then had Ned dating again in the same episode."

Truthfully, though, and maybe it's because I'm weak, I still cringe when I think of the Simpsons being taken off the air, even in the face of Futurama having been cancelled. I'll agree that new episodes aren't often anything to get excited about anymore, but... but...

He writes, "That show has been an embarrassment for years: poorly written, grossly sentimental, a showcase for witless guest stars unaware that its cachet was long ago forfeited." The problem with the Simpsons isn't, I don't think, that it's become "grossly sentimental" (although I agree about the rest) - in fact, it seems as though it's lost much of its sentiment. Many inferior shows have copied the template of the Simpsons, but forfeited its moral tenor, its emphasis on family. Case in point: The Family Guy. Ugh.

What the Simpsons is missing - and has been missing since Maude died (I don't particularly miss Maude - it's the way they killed her that gets me. Death by t-shirt? Come on.) - is that certain something that elevates it above shows like the Family Guy. A casual viewer likely would not be able to understand why Homer's family loves him, but watch episodes like "Lisa's Substitute" and "And Maggie Makes Three", and you'll get it. They're not hard to come across. I've dutifully watched about ten episodes of the Family Guy and I've yet to come up with any reason to like Peter Griffin, or any reason, for that matter, that his wife hasn't left him.

But look at episodes like "How I Spent My Strummer Vacation" (featuring a palpable absence of Joe Strummer), and you'll realize that the show no longer has the family unity that was at the core of its greatness before. Homer is once again desperate to be intoxicated; Lisa is embarrassed that her father is a roadie and pulls down her "DAD ROCKS" sign. I liked the episode because it made fun use of the celebrity guests, but I think the Simpsons are likely more sick of each other by far than we are of them.

I go on. All this is by way of saying that while I understand that the show is basically finished, I refuse to let go. And Futurama was too gimmicky to have ever really reached the calibre of the Simpsons - it was a fun show, but far too self-conscious and unsure of itself. I got sick of it pretty quickly, but I still hold out fledgling hope that the Simpsons will have a few more truly great episodes. I mean, who could have seen "Skinner's Sense of Snow" coming from the quagmire of Season Twelve? Anything is possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment