Monday, August 8, 2016

AFOS Blog Rewind: The Simpsons, "Simpsorama"

(Photo source: FY Springfield)

The following is a repost of my November 14, 2014 discussion of the Simpsons/Futurama crossover. Futurama is back in the limelight again, after Dan Lanigan, a reality TV producer, posted on July 18 a trailer for Fan-O-Rama, an ambitious live-action Futurama fan film he co-wrote and directed. The Simpsons/Futurama crossover is streamable on FXX's Simpsons World app.

"Meanwhile," Futurama's this-time-for-real-it's-the-end series finale, was one of the classiest exits a long-running show has made. "Simpsorama," the Simpsons/Futurama crossover that brings back the Planet Express crew for one more on-screen adventure (while they've experienced an afterlife in print as stars of their own Bongo Comics titles), feels kind of unnecessary as an extra farewell to the Matt Groening/David X. Cohen creation on-screen. (This crossover might not even be the last farewell, if the rumors that Fox is now considering reviving Futurama for a fourth incarnation are true.) Let's put it this way: "Meanwhile" was Star Trek VI. "Simpsorama" is all the scenes with either Kirk, Scotty or Chekov during Star Trek: Generations.

But the scenes with Kirk, Scotty or Chekov were good, even though the material for Scotty and Chekov was a slightly clunky rewrite of material originally written for Spock and McCoy (the rest of Star Trek: Generations--except for the opening titles with the floating Dom Pérignon bottle and the surprisingly effective dramatic scene between Picard and Data on the Stellar Cartography deck--was atrocious). Though "Simpsorama," which was penned by J. Stewart Burns (the writer of my favorite 2010s Simpsons episode so far, "Holidays of Future Passed"), pales in comparison to "Meanwhile" or Futurama at its peak, I actually enjoyed it.

It's a far more satisfying crossover than the terrible Family Guy/Simpsons crossover (and it's non-canonical too, Simpsons fans who despise Futurama and Futurama fans who despise "Simpsorama," in case both of you camps forgot that the appearance of Kang and Kodos, the human-devouring aliens from the non-canonical "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, automatically makes "Simpsorama" a non-canonical Simpsons story). Homer (Dan Castellaneta) and Bender (John DiMaggio)--who's been sent by Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) to 21st-century Springfield to kill Homer but gets distracted from his mission because he and Homer have a lot in common--are a funnier pair than Homer and Peter Griffin, mainly because the two kindred spirits don't get into a tedious chicken fight. An even better comedic combo is Lisa (Yeardley Smith), Professor Frink (Hank Azaria) and Professor Farnsworth in the same room. The sight of an old genius like Farnsworth reverting to a jealous child over "the annoying girl" and her precociousness is a highlight of the crossover. His disdain for Lisa is so thick you could build a Parthenon with it.

Only one joke in the crossover made my eyes roll, and its wretchedness is typical of so many similar bits of fan service in post-season 8 Simpsons episodes. That would be the umpteenth reappearance of Seymour, the dead dog Fry (also West) was briefly reunited with in one of Futurama's most popular episodes, the heart-wrenching "Jurassic Bark" (and again in 2013's "Game of Tones," in which a dream-state version of Seymour, who was voiced by Seth MacFarlane, got to say one line to Fry: "Philip, have you lost weight?"). Seymour's first reappearance in the 2007 made-for-video feature film Bender's Big Score bugged me--as does his cameo in "Simpsorama"--because the film's retconning of "Jurassic Bark" felt like the Futurama writers were saying that they were ashamed of the episode's sad ending. They received hate mail from some viewers at the time of the airing of "Jurassic Bark" for ending that episode on a downbeat note, and I wish I could tell the writers, "Who gives a fuck what those viewers think? That ending was perfect." To borrow a catchphrase from a certain cantankerous Simpsons character, worst concession to irate viewers ever.

(.GIF source: FY Springfield)

Memorable quotes:
* Mayor Quimby (Castellaneta), referring to Lisa's jazz concert in the park getting disrupted by stormy weather: "Even God hates jazz."

* Homer: "Oh... my... God... He's telling the truth. I have to take you to our civic leaders." Cut to Homer and Bender at Moe's.

* Homer: "Hey, uh, what's the robot version of bromance?"
Bender: "Ro-mance."
Homer: "You future guys have a word for everything... pal."

* Marge (Julie Kavner), thinking to herself: "Oh, don't mention her eye. Don't mention her eye."
Leela (Katey Sagal), thinking to herself: "Don't mention her hair. Don't mention her hair."

* Marge: "Can you please just get us out of this lousy future?"
Farnsworth: "Actually, of all probable futures, this is the worst."
Marge: "It is, 'cause my baby's not in it."
Farnsworth: "Motherly love--why did we outlaw that?"

* Farnsworth: "The only way to handle the creatures is to do what we do to each year's Super Bowl losers: shoot them into space."

* Omicronian emperor Lrrr (Maurice LaMarche) to Kang (Harry Shearer) and Kodos (Castellaneta), regarding his upset wife Ndnd (Tress MacNeille): "Uh, perhaps the one of you that is female should go console her." Both Kang and Kodos go console Ndnd, which has to be the funniest button on a concluding Simpsons scene in years.

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