Author Topic: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?  (Read 194852 times)

ThisIsHardcore

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When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« on: June 23, 2013, 05:59:45 PM »
It's pretty well established that The Simpsons just hasn't been the same since the late 1990s, but when do people think it jumped the shark?

A lot of people say The Principal And The Pauper, which came out in 1997, marked the downfall, the episode where Skinner is revealed to have been adopted and the real Seymour Skinner is an Army Sergeant, and I sort of agree because that season had no episodes as good as the golden age, which was from circa 1992/93 to 1997, and it's just been getting worse since, but of course this is a very subjective topic. I mean, I know some people who claim that the show has improved the past couple of years. I don't agree with that, the Lady Gaga episode was painfully bad, and felt like a different show to the one I would watch every night on Sky One as a six year old in the 90s.

So when did The Simpsons go from being an excellent show that satirised everything, using several layers of humour from slapstick to subtle, to an awfully contrived attempt at being a commentary on pop culture?

Don_Preston

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2013, 06:03:48 PM »
I don't agree with that, the Lady Gaga episode was painfully bad, and felt like a different show to the one I would watch every night on Sky One as a six year old in the 90s.


Wow, someone who never aged during a decade's time span!

Christ, you must have lived comfortably if your parents could afford Sky in the 90s! Unless you had a knock off satellite and were illegally nabbing it.


paolozzi

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2013, 06:17:04 PM »
Simpsons was on bbc 2 at 6pm in the 90s I think.

And here's 14 pages to 'plow' through first: http://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,19147.0.html

ThisIsHardcore

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2013, 06:20:09 PM »
Yeah, we had Cable, but we didn't steal it like Homer did in that episode! I'm not from a particularly rich family though, a lot of people I knew had it in the mid to late 90s.

I'd also watch it on BBC as well.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2013, 06:21:43 PM »
I think individual moments or episodes are always way too specific in these kinds of discussions. It often involves a lot of wild speculation on writer's/producers thought processes and any speculation like that is always odds-on to be incorrect if you think about it.

I think, boringly, that the answer isn't very clear - season nine is kind of a transition season. There is a lot of good stuff in it but it always seemed to me to be the first obvious step down The Simpsons made. It goes downhill awfully quickly after that.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2013, 06:31:27 PM »
I've done this argument a hundred time, but I always disagree with Principal and the Pauper because it's a case of them putting a high concept idea before character. But it's experimental and there's lot more thought and idea put into it then "Homer does something wacky, The family go somewhere wacky and everyone acts like an exaggerated version of themselves." Tonally the writing just feels so different from what it would become, I don't think it represented any kind of shift. The episode is a bit of anomaly that exhibits some of the same flaws the show would come to have, but for different reasons.

It just happened to be one of the last episodes before there were big changes to the writing staff, with Mike Scully becoming headwriter. He may be a funny enough writer, but there's lots of talk about when he took over, how streamlined the process became. They stopped staying overnight to work on scripts, it became a normal 9-5 job because he and the other writers wanted to go home to their families, which is fair enough but there just wasn't the same passion and commitment for making the show as good as possible, it just became a commodity.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2013, 06:32:47 PM »
There are a lot of patchy and poor episodes in seasons 9 and 10, but it was the 11th season's Saddlesore Galactica that made me lose faith in the show, and particularly the segments with the Jockeys who turn out to be weird murderous elf-like creatures. Tim Long's credited as the writer, though of course that doesn't necessarily mean he came up with that specific idea, but whoever did should never be allowed to work in tv again.

Utter Shit

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2013, 06:43:19 PM »
It was a pretty gradual decrease in quality but the first point where I internally went "oh fuck off" was when Homer got raped by a panda.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2013, 06:53:24 PM »
A lot of the character (literally) left the animation after the first few series, yet retained a basic sort of charm for a while. I don't know when it was exactly that the colours began to look really garish (and it was hardly Studio Ghibli to begin with[nb]And you might be able to tell that I'm no expert on the issue[/nb]), but that seemed to coincide with the shitening of the show. When did they go fully digital?

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2013, 07:01:57 PM »
It's pretty well established that The Simpsons just hasn't been the same since the late 1990s, but when do people think it jumped the shark?...

Yup, you made that claim previously but as discussed in previous threads, how people view the quality of the show depends on when people started watching.

One poster, for instance, mentioned that the children (and their friends) of one of his friends will only watch relatively recent ones - they find the ones that people here wax lyrical about, to be slow-paced and unattractively animated.

The show clearly went under changes in the first decade and the elements later on, which people decry (e.g. Homer getting a new job, countless celebrities, plot lines and incidents completely forgotten) can be seen much earlier on - so my answer would be two seasons before you say it is.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2013, 07:02:07 PM »
What didn't help is when they had to cut the episode length by a few minutes.  It makes story telling more difficult in such a short time frame.

To be honest though, I love some of the late seasons, especially 15 or 16, with the baby riot one, or my favourite, the Evita spoof. 

Petey Pate

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2013, 07:09:16 PM »
A lot of the character (literally) left the animation after the first few series, yet retained a basic sort of charm for a while. I don't know when it was exactly that the colours began to look really garish (and it was hardly Studio Ghibli to begin with[nb]And you might be able to tell that I'm no expert on the issue[/nb]), but that seemed to coincide with the shitening of the show. When did they go fully digital?

They switched to full time digital ink and paint in season 14, though the garishness I think you're referring to came when they were still using cell animation, around season 10, where the characters look neon.  Case in point, this screenshot from season 4, compared to an episode 6 years later.





Oh and here's a digital ink and pant episode.


Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #12 on: June 23, 2013, 07:13:06 PM »
Mid-way through season 10, I think. A lot of people say after season 8, but I actually think season 9 is one of the best. Season 10 starts off in the same vein, but there's an incredible drop in quality by the end, as typified by this low point in "Monty Can't Buy Me Love"

Quote
Burns: If a couple of Chinese bamboo gobblers can win people's hearts, I'm going to bring them something that man has searched for since the dawn of time.
Homer: A sober Irishman?       
Burns: Even rarer.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2013, 07:15:18 PM »
David Silverman left as supervising director after season 8, along with Brad Bird as a consultant, so it mirrors the writing team changing.

Also


Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #14 on: June 23, 2013, 07:20:41 PM »
The cyborg-like movements of RoboMarge there look like a joke. An actual fucking joke, man.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2013, 07:23:04 PM »
Hearing Groening on the dvd commentaries claiming that the Simpsons is as good as it's ever (often in response to the subtly snarky comments of the writers) is a depressing spectacle.

Petey Pate

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2013, 07:27:29 PM »
Here's a blog post from an animator who worked on the new HD opening titles, giving some insight on why the show looks the way it does now.  Apparently he got into a bit of trouble with FOX for making his views public.

http://morpheus306.deviantart.com/journal/Simpsons-now-in-HD-update-233741679

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2013, 07:39:19 PM »
It was a pretty gradual decrease in quality but the first point where I internally went "oh fuck off" was when Homer got raped by a panda.

Christ, yeah, I'd briefly forgotten about that, but it was a truly horrible moment.


Hearing Groening on the dvd commentaries claiming that the Simpsons is as good as it's ever (often in response to the subtly snarky comments of the writers) is a depressing spectacle.

Everything I seem to learn about Groenig depresses me further. That unauthorised history[nb]http://www.amazon.co.uk/Simpsons-Confidential-uncensored-unauthorised-greatest/dp/0091927293/ref=sr_1_cc_2?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1372012592&sr=1-2-catcorr&keywords=simpsons+unauthorised+history[/nb] suggests he really had very little to do with what made the show great, and that Sam Simon was a major part of why it had some much depth, and diversity when it comes to styles of humour found within the show.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2013, 07:41:11 PM »
I'd like to hear more about the Groening thing/the dissatisfaction of people working on the show after its peak but is there anyone I can actually go to hear it without having to buy anything?

syntaxerror

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2013, 07:42:13 PM »
David Silverman left as supervising director after season 8, along with Brad Bird as a consultant, so it mirrors the writing team changing.

Also



That comparison is quite a suitable metaphor for what the show has become and what it has lost; namely the warmth and humanity. In the first clip you see Marge's face change from panic to worry to relief, maggie oblivious to the impact of her actions, as a baby might be. In the latter, we see what clingfilm appropriately calls RoboMarge(TM) with an expressionless two frames of animation, and Maggie confronting another baby, which wouldn't make sense unless you knew the context. So, so much has been lost.

 

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2013, 09:24:22 PM »
It was a pretty gradual decrease in quality but the first point where I internally went "oh fuck off" was when Homer got raped by a panda.

I completely feel the same. That particular episode was an abomination. Panda rape, fish gut throwing, Mr Burns going from ruthlessly evil to jovial and bizarre, and Homer on the floor of a bathroom wearing a diaper saying 'baby made a boom-boom' all packed into 22 mortifying minutes. I'd be interested to hear the commentary for that one, because how the writers can have failed to check themselves, take another look at the script and say 'what the fuck are we doing?' is beyond me.

Writing something as horrifying and revolting as a panda raping a major character and then expecting us to find it funny rather than disgusting and sad crystallises the moment that the show jumped the shark for me, because it can basically be summed up as the show telling us not to care about or feel for the characters anymore. It's the moment that The Simpsons seemingly gave up on itself, and not coincidentally, also the moment that I gave up on The Simpsons.

It's interesting that as the animation became stiffer, duller and less obviously cartoony, the plots became increasingly outlandish and distanced from any sort of reality.

George Oscar Bluth II

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2013, 09:31:55 PM »
The correct answer is 'Saddlesore Galactica'.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2013, 09:35:09 PM »
Kill the Alligator and run, another low point, is only a few episodes after Saddlesore Galactica. Season 11 is not exactly glorious.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2013, 09:56:41 PM »
Two that always stand out for me as moments when I realised it was going downhill were 'Homer's Phobia', which although packed with good gags tacked homophobia on to Homer's personality, which just seemed wrong somehow. The ending also was a worrying sign of things to come, with the Santa Robot saving them all just being too wacky to be believable.

The other one is 'The Homer They Fall' simply because it didn't seem all that funny and did not have a real ending. I remember Sunday nights back then used to be a delight when you knew it was a new episode, and that was the first time I felt like it wasn't all that good.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #24 on: June 23, 2013, 10:00:46 PM »
ANYBODY who thinks the golden age of The Simpsons was around seasons two, three or four is mad. Though I think those episodes were necessary, I'd say around season five all the way up to season twelve was the best The Simpsons ever got. Only after they'd done a fair few seasons of mawkish endings and 'learning lessons' could the show become properly funny, without the need for some tacked-on sentimentality. There's obviously a fair few duds in those seasons, but on the whole I think it's much funnier than anything that went before it. I don't care at all if plotlines became implausible (though shit like The Principal and the Pauper is taking it a bit far), because the show became simultaneously a lot funnier in more unconventional ways.

Obviously, it's now godawful. And, because it's no longer funny (instead relying on a terrible, terrible, terrible guest star, or some terrible, terrible, terrible, 'modern' pop culture references) I can no longer bare ridiculous plots. What REALLY irritates me is that The Simpsons writers no longer seem to understand how the Simpsons universe even works. For example, the episode That '90s Show. What do they think The Simpsons family and everyone else in Springfield was doing in the '90s?! We've already seen Marge and Homer young in the '70s! Does this episode mean that the '70s stuff never happened? Grrrr. Nowadays, unlike in the past, where you would only get odd episodes every now and then, like the Behind the Laughter episode, so many episodes are non-canon. And that is so, so, so annoying.

Basically, new credits Simpsons onwards was the end. Not the beginning of the end, just the end. All Simpsons now is meaningless.

So there you go.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #25 on: June 23, 2013, 10:12:38 PM »
Season 8 seems to be where the rot sets in properly. It has several classic episodes (You Only Move Twice, Hurricane Neddy, The Springfield Files) but a few stinkers which lack the feel of classic Simpsons such as Homer's Phobia and the one where Lisa goes out with Nelson.

In Season 7 there was the awful Bart on the Road episode. Which I'd argue to be the first truly crap episode of the Simpsons (excluding Season 1).

Most of the episodes that Season are good to great though. Series 6 is almost perfect.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #26 on: June 23, 2013, 10:17:24 PM »
Shut up everyone it's 2-8  and there's a couple of good one's left in season 9. It's been factually proven with science.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #27 on: June 23, 2013, 10:26:04 PM »
ANYBODY who thinks the golden age of The Simpsons was around seasons two, three or four is mad.

So you prefer season 12 to the season that has Marge vs the monorail, Last Exit to Springfield? It's obviously a ludicrously subjective thing but this is genuinely an opinion I've never seen before let alone stated so strongly!

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #28 on: June 23, 2013, 10:31:33 PM »
I don't quite get why The Simpsons at its most wholesome, in those first few series, is such a mirth-killer to so many people. Some of the most touching episodes are also the funniest. Such blatant disregard for 2-4 is madness, not the other way round. JeffreyHunter is as unfeeling a killing machine as Marge in that gif.

Big Jack McBastard

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #29 on: June 23, 2013, 10:49:05 PM »
Season nine started the ball rolling downhill and it hit the depths at about fifteen.

There have been some proper stinkers between then and now, I'd watched every episode until fairly recently but have stopped watching it entirely since the one with the MyPad bollocks/humourless advert section at the end episode (that bit was probably a homage to something *possibly* worthy but it was so utterly unamusing and out of place there that it only served to irk me). I recall going "Fuuuck off" as I clicked 'close' on it.

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