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Monday, February 9, 2015

Retro Review: Another Simpsons Clip Show

Original Airdate
September 25th, 1994

Or the One Where 
The Simpsons family shares tales of past loves. 

The Setup 
Marge worries that she and Homer have neglected the kids' education in matters of the heart.

Notable Notes
As the title suggests, this is another clip show, the second of four (to date) pure clip shows the show has done. It features clips from episodes from all five previous seasons.

In true commitment to the form, pretty much all the footage in this episode is recycled: even the framing sequences are cut from existing footage, with new audio recorded for those sequences.

In a rare bit of continuity for a clip show, Homer learns about Marge's almost-affair with sleezy bowling instructor Jacques in this episode, and we also learn what happened to Michelle Pfeifer's Mindy after the events of "Last Temptation of Homer".

Both the writer and director of this episode were originally credited under pseudonyms ("Penny Wise" and "Pound Foolish") as they didn't want credit for working on a clip show.

The use of Simpsons clip shows came about at the insistence of Fox, who wanted clip show episodes because they cost half as much to make but Fox could sell the syndication rights to the episode for full price. Originally, the producers planned to create four clip show episodes a season to meet Fox's demands for additional episodes, but they decided that would ultimately alienate fans too much.

One of the reasons this clip show aired when it did is because in 1994, the NFL awarded Fox broadcast rights to some Sunday afternoon football games for the first time. As a result, Fox wanted The Simpsons to debut with the football season, a few weeks earlier than usual. So the two holdover episodes from season five aired, along with a rerun of the football-centric "Lisa the Greek" and this less-labor-intensive clip show to fill the extra weeks.

Quotable Quotes
Marge: Wake up!
Homer: Marge, it's 3:00 AM and I worked all day!
Marge: It's 9:30 PM and you spent your whole Saturday drinking beer in Maggie's kiddie pool!

Marge: How many times can you laugh at that cat getting hit by the moon?
Bart: It's a new episode.
Lisa: Not exactly...they pieced it together from old shows, but it seems new to the trusting eyes of impressionable youth.
Bart: Really?
Lisa: Ren and Stimpy do it all the time.
Marge: Yes they do, and when was the last time you heard anyone talk about Ren and Stimpy?

Marge: I mean "romance", not "love".
Lisa: Mom, romance is dead. It was acquired in a hostile takeover by Hallmark and Disney, homogenized, and sold off piece by piece.

Marge: So if you kind of mentally snip out the part where I already had a husband, that's my idea of romance.
Homer: Marge, I want you to stop seeing this Jacques. You can let him down gently, but over the next couple of months I want you to break it off.
Marge: Er, OK, Homer...
Homer: Whew! That was a close one, kids.

Bart: What happened to Mindy?
Marge: Yes, what did happen to her?
Homer: Ehh, she hit the bottle pretty hard and lost her job.
Marge: Hmph. Good.


Teebore's Take
Well, it's a clip show. Credit where it's due: the producers make an effort to establish a theme for this one, giving the clips a unifying element so they're not just a random assortment of past gags, and in doing so, they allow for a bit of characterization (and even a few moments of continuity) in and amongst the rewarmed material (and said material is culled from some of the show's best years). That said, this is just a clip a show, a hopelessly outdated relic of TV's past (it's hard to imagine any show getting away with something like this nowadays) that not even The Simpsons, at the height of its commercial and critical appeal, could avoid. It's somewhat amusing, when blowing through a bunch of episodes on DVD (or an FXX marathon), to come across one of these, a reminder of a quaint tool in the TV toolbox long since abandoned. But after a moment or two of wry amusement, the "next" button is pushed and it's on to another, better, episode.

Classic 

It's right there in the name: another clip show. The framing sequence isn't bad and the clips are top notch, but still. Just a clip show.

6 comments:

  1. To be fair, at least much of the stuff in this clip show is good, as it is based on great source material. Can you imagine a clip show from today's Simpsons covering the last 5 years?

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  2. Lisa: Not exactly...they pieced it together from old shows, but it seems new to the trusting eyes of impressionable youth.
    Bart: Really?
    Lisa: Ren and Stimpy do it all the time.
    Marge: Yes they do, and when was the last time you heard anyone talk about Ren and Stimpy?


    At any point of this conversation, did they give a fourth wall breaking side glance towards the camera? :D

    Also, boy, did Ren & Stimpy do classic stuff back in the day! Ren pouring beavers full of juice and then throwing them into rive in Jiminy Lummox episode, them both being the carrying force in the Russian space program, Canada's anthem "This land reek out of trees" and, my personal favorite, the episode where Stimpy friended with Ren's cousin Sven Hoek and the finale of it concerning their board game "Don't wizz on the electric fence!".

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  3. @wwk5d: Can you imagine a clip show from today's Simpsons covering the last 5 years?

    You know, that might not actually be that bad, if they eschewed any kind of theme and just picked the legitimately good moments.

    I mean, the episodes that are top-to-bottom good are few and far between these days, but there's still plenty of episodes with at least one or two solid gags or entertaining premises to them. Cut out the crap and put the good stuff all on its own, and it actually wouldn't be too bad an episode.

    @Teemu: At any point of this conversation, did they give a fourth wall breaking side glance towards the camera? :D

    They didn't quite wink at the camera, but boy did they come close. :)

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  4. Sadly, this is when my love for the show came crashing down. Perhaps I can't pinpoint the reason: change to Sundays, maybe I preferred to end my school week with Simpsons instead of beginning it. Maybe the show got more cynical, making it less of an escape from my hellish school life (I was bullied). Maybe, IMO, it wasn't as funny anymore. I do know the blow started from this episode. I had a lovely 4-day weekend (I was sick) watching Simpsons and viewing (and riffing) old Saturday Morning cartoon broadcasts from 1981 and 1984 (TRANSFORMERS and GI JOE), and I put all expectations to end the weekend with the NEW Simpsons, and got this disappointing clip show, resulting in a depressed burn. The Sixth Season started my disassociation from the series. IMO, it wasn't good anymore.

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  5. I don't think you can say the sixth season is when the show became bad...but, to each their own.

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  6. @angmc43: Sadly, this is when my love for the show came crashing down. Perhaps I can't pinpoint the reason: change to Sundays, maybe I preferred to end my school week with Simpsons instead of beginning it.

    Whereas pretty much the opposite is true for me - season 6 lands squarely in my personal Golden Years for the show (which is roughly seasons 5-8), the episodes I watched and rewatched almost religiously as they aired. I've never been able to definitively crown a single episode as my all time favorite, but there's no doubt whichever one it is comes from one of those seasons.

    And the move to Sundays really cemented the show as part of my pre-school (and later work) week routine, with Simpsons, the show that followed it (King of the Hill, then Malcolm in the Middle for many years, even Arrested Development, briefly, when my wife and I were first dating) and for awhile X-Files serving my own version of must see TV, in which the following week just didn't seem right if I didn't get that two hour block on Sunday nights.

    Heck, to this day, I still make a point to watch new Simpsons episodes (if there is one) on Sunday rather than later in the week, just becaise that's what I've been doing for over a decade now.

    Just goes to show how different experiences can shape reactions to the same material.

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