Once, it was the greatest show on TV. Every episode was brimming with imagination, excitement and some of the sharpest one-liners to come out of America for decades. But above all it was smart: The Simpsons knew how to parry crudity with intelligence blow for blow. Bart's big-haired nemesis Sideshow Bob stepping on a rake nine times would be followed up with a surreal two-minute performance of HMS Pinafore.
Then it all changed. A new guard took over and ripped up the rules. Veterans of the show with pedigrees on venerated US comedy institutions like Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show - Jon Vitti, George Meyer, John Schwartzwelder - either departed or went part-time. In came writers who had cut their teeth on sappy teen comedies like Blossom and unsophisticated knockabouts like Beavis and Butt-Head. A looser, lazier sensibility took hold, given free rein by new executive producer Mike Scully. And the show became stupid.
The show went on to jettison all interest in pretending to have earthy, avuncular roots: the warm, good-natured centre that, when you scraped away the multi-layered jokes and cerebral grandstanding, had been there from day one was obliterated. No longer did we see the family bonding, caring for each other, showing emotion. Instead, it was anything goes.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
An article in the Guardian explains exactly why I'm not optimistic about the new Simpsons movie (my Springfieldian doppelganger below notwithstanding):