Reviews of The Simpsons (1989) and related work
- Interquel: The Simpsons Movie (2007)
The Simpsons (1989)
Review refers to pretty much everything up to and including season 14.
As in Tokyo Chorus (1931), an impulsive and good-hearted man provides for his wife and their three children.
A sitcom in animated time suspension, The Simpsons is a spin-off from The Tracey Ullman Show (1987). Though born out of Groening’s anti-establishment fervour, the early episodes quickly lose their resemblance to “The Very Edge of Happiness” (1973) and to darker cartoons like Dance of Death (1983).
Hitting the mark of mass popularity, The Simpsons was brilliant at its height up to season 8 with occasional sparks of good humour in any season. I saw the best parts at the age of around 11-15, that formative period when people are most likely to form a lifelong attachment to a new song as one of their favourites. I am sometimes vividly reminded of scenes from this era of the show. For instance, “Pigs Is Pigs” (1937) prefigures Satan-Flanders force-feeding Homer in “Treehouse of Horror IV” (1993), and brought it back for me.
The show lost its creative direction when the three founders left the team. The resulting inconsistency tore the show apart. I love the fact that it’s animated, but when Ian Maxtone-Graham took over the show, it drifted away from useful freedoms and toward traditional cartooning for caricature and Schadenfreude. The children, whose ageing would have forced a live-action version to find new directions, stayed the same age. Instead of the stupid parade of guest stars and self-contradictions, Fox should have aged the children, cancelled the show and funded the creators’ next efforts. The logic of merchandising forbade that.
References here: Soft drinks and ethical nihilism, Nature’s Goodness, “The Canterville Ghost” (1887), “Hold Anything” (1930), Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), High Spirits (1988), Mercury Rising (1998), “Take Me Out to the Holosuite” (1998), Family Guy (1999), Futurama (1999), Azumanga Daioh (2002), Rick and Morty (2013), Disenchantment (2018).
‣ The Simpsons Movie (2007)
Ties together several motifs familiar from the series: Environmentalism (portrayed ambivalently), Marge doubting Homer (threatening the marriage yet again), Bart doubting Homer (examining Flanders as an alternate father figure, again), Homer screwing up and redeeming himself, etc.
Sitcom on film. Most of the things that are good and bad about the TV series after its peak, squashed together into 87 minutes with a lot of money. The most annoying detail is the choice of Schwarzenegger who cannot be elected instead of Wolfcastle, the established Schwarzenegger stand-in, as the “timeless” president.