Author Topic: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?  (Read 214978 times)

alan nagsworth

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2430 on: February 24, 2019, 01:11:08 PM »
I don't know why you're expecting quality celebrity cameos within this thread.  Think they've got better things to be doing in all honesty, mate.

I'd love to see Jonathan King saunter back around these parts if only just to weigh in on when exactly he thinks the rot started to set in on The Simpsons, and whether "Homer's Enemy" truly was a lot point of the show and the beginning of the decline or not. I'm sure he'd manage to make it about himself somehow but nonetheless I'd pay money to see it.

Petey Pate

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2431 on: February 26, 2019, 01:39:01 PM »
This YouTube user has uploaded a bunch of Simpsons DVD commentaries. None past season 10, which I'm quite curious to hear, especially the one for Saddlesore Galactica as it has Matt Groening watching the episode for the first time.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbHroiKCO6F9JNYzgnkwc3A/videos

Here's the commentary for the clips from the unaired version of Some Enchanted Evening, which wasn't on the UK DVD for some reason. I'd have preferred it if they included all of the footage though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GDz964Be9Y

St_Eddie

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2432 on: February 26, 2019, 01:56:59 PM »
Here's the commentary for the clips from the unaired version of Some Enchanted Evening, which wasn't on the UK DVD for some reason. I'd have preferred it if they included all of the footage though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GDz964Be9Y

You see, as bad as that is, I'd still take it over the bland, uniformed digital aesthetic of Zombie-Simpsons.  At least that early, scrapped animation has some kind of personality.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2433 on: February 26, 2019, 02:07:35 PM »
They criticise (mostly) all the wrong things. There are some HORRIBLE bits (particularly a lot of that opening breakfast scene is terrible, like when Bart's cereal just disappears) but "it's off model!" and "they don't obey the laws of physics" IT'S A CARTOON

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2434 on: February 26, 2019, 03:44:33 PM »
They criticise (mostly) all the wrong things. There are some HORRIBLE bits (particularly a lot of that opening breakfast scene is terrible, like when Bart's cereal just disappears) but "it's off model!" and "they don't obey the laws of physics" IT'S A CARTOON

In the season 1 episode with the babysitter they talk a lot about the studio who did those more rough animations (which were mostly replaced for the finished episode but a lot of the earlier stuff remains) and the arguments they had with them.

St_Eddie

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2435 on: February 26, 2019, 05:30:08 PM »
In the season 1 episode with the babysitter they talk a lot about the studio who did those more rough animations (which were mostly replaced for the finished episode but a lot of the earlier stuff remains) and the arguments they had with them.

Indeed.  In the previous linked footage, I noticed that the shot of Marge making herself up in front of the mirror remained in the final broadcast episode, which is interesting because that shot always stood out to me at the time as being extremely off-model.

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2436 on: February 26, 2019, 06:30:11 PM »
Indeed.  In the previous linked footage, I noticed that the shot of Marge making herself up in front of the mirror remained in the final broadcast episode, which is interesting because that shot always stood out to me at the time as being extremely off-model.

There's a bit when Marge and Homer leave the house and there is a lipstick kiss mark on the door.  That kiss mark came from a sequence from the earlier, rougher animation that was deleted.  In the original version of the episode Marge has rubbery physics and she kisses the door by mistake in a really elastic manner.  It's not bad to me - it just doesn't feel like the more realistic, grounded Simpsons physics.

It's really interesting.  I wonder who the studio were and what else they did.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2437 on: February 26, 2019, 07:32:15 PM »
There's a bit when Marge and Homer leave the house and there is a lipstick kiss mark on the door.  That kiss mark came from a sequence from the earlier, rougher animation that was deleted.  In the original version of the episode Marge has rubbery physics and she kisses the door by mistake in a really elastic manner.  It's not bad to me - it just doesn't feel like the more realistic, grounded Simpsons physics.

It's really interesting.  I wonder who the studio were and what else they did.

Klasky-Csupo, they'd previously worked on all the Ullman shorts and The Simpsons was their first big job. They went on to do Rugrats which meant they've pretty much been massively successful ever since.

Twed

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2438 on: February 26, 2019, 07:38:34 PM »
The rubbery, loose, cheap-looking Simpsons wasn't quite right, but the modern, stiff Simpsons is objectively worse, not least because it's only that way to save money.

Twed

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2439 on: February 26, 2019, 07:40:11 PM »
Every single time I'm tricked into looking at Reset Era I end up getting really angry: https://www.resetera.com/threads/i-cant-believe-how-bad-the-simpsons-is-now.14938/page-2#post-2971485

These are the wettest, wrongest people on the Internet.

Twed

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2440 on: February 26, 2019, 07:41:04 PM »
Can we please rush their forum? Just all of us bundle in there at the same time and say "right you damp cunts, this is how it's going to be from now on". Just break some of their stuff. Some/most of it. Just so they get the message.

Petey Pate

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2441 on: February 26, 2019, 07:51:12 PM »
Klasky-Csupo also did the first three seasons of The Simpsons before the US based animation staff moved to Film Roman. The Korean animation studio who worked on the unaired first episode was AKOM who I believe still work on the show to this day. The issue Gracie Films had was more with the director, Kent Butterworth (not named in the commentary for obvious reasons), who was summarily fired after the footage was screened to the producers.

Butterworth remained active in animation afterwards so it didn't ruin his career, but I am curious as to how things got as far as they did in the production of that episode. You'd think the various 'cartoony problems' would have been spotted in the storyboards or layouts before the show was shipped to Korea. On other DVDs you can see storyboards of later episodes with Matt Groening's notes, and he objected to far tamer stuff than Marge kissing a door or a Happy Little Elf being decapitated.

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2442 on: February 26, 2019, 08:03:28 PM »
Every single time I'm tricked into looking at Reset Era I end up getting really angry: https://www.resetera.com/threads/i-cant-believe-how-bad-the-simpsons-is-now.14938/page-2#post-2971485

These are the wettest, wrongest people on the Internet.

The comment you linked to is indeed egregiously wrong-headed but a quick glance at the following comments seemed to portray some fairly on point comments about the state modern era The Simpsons.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2443 on: February 26, 2019, 08:35:28 PM »
Klasky-Csupo also did the first three seasons of The Simpsons before the US based animation staff moved to Film Roman. The Korean animation studio who worked on the unaired first episode was AKOM who I believe still work on the show to this day. The issue Gracie Films had was more with the director, Kent Butterworth (not named in the commentary for obvious reasons), who was summarily fired after the footage was screened to the producers.

Butterworth remained active in animation afterwards so it didn't ruin his career, but I am curious as to how things got as far as they did in the production of that episode. You'd think the various 'cartoony problems' would have been spotted in the storyboards or layouts before the show was shipped to Korea. On other DVDs you can see storyboards of later episodes with Matt Groening's notes, and he objected to far tamer stuff than Marge kissing a door or a Happy Little Elf being decapitated.

Yeah, I've heard a lot about this over the years but I'm still unclear on at what point in production the miscommunication occurred that led to that bizarre first take. K-P would've known what was expected by that point having worked on the shorts, so I suspect the blame has to be laid squarely at the feet of AKOM, who were a notoriously incompetent studio.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2444 on: February 27, 2019, 03:47:09 PM »
I thought I recognised the acronym - AKOM were also sacked by the Barman Animated Series guys for much the same reasons

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2445 on: February 27, 2019, 08:53:45 PM »
Klasky-Csupo also did the first three seasons of The Simpsons before the US based animation staff moved to Film Roman. The Korean animation studio who worked on the unaired first episode was AKOM who I believe still work on the show to this day. The issue Gracie Films had was more with the director, Kent Butterworth (not named in the commentary for obvious reasons), who was summarily fired after the footage was screened to the producers.

Butterworth remained active in animation afterwards so it didn't ruin his career, but I am curious as to how things got as far as they did in the production of that episode. You'd think the various 'cartoony problems' would have been spotted in the storyboards or layouts before the show was shipped to Korea. On other DVDs you can see storyboards of later episodes with Matt Groening's notes, and he objected to far tamer stuff than Marge kissing a door or a Happy Little Elf being decapitated.

Do you have sources for that info? I.E. Books or anything you'd recommend? Just curious as I've listened to all the commentaries but like you said they never mention Kent Butterworth and I'd be interested in more production info.

Chriddof

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2446 on: February 27, 2019, 09:20:09 PM »
I can't recall where I read this, but apparently Kent Butterworth was trying to achieve a Looney Tunes-level of smooth, fluid, hyper cartoony animation with that episode, but didn't realise that AKOM were so inept there was no hope of them delivering the required footage in the state he wanted. On top of that Matt Groening wanted an animation style that was the absolute opposite - more grounded while still drawn in the way he did for his "Life In Hell" strips. How this complete communication breakdown happened between the producers and Butterworth continues to be a mystery.

Apparently Groening has this weird hatred of anything too cartoon-esque, which is odd given his profession. He seems to have been the person that shut down an idea for an additional sketch to go after the end of a Season 2(?) episode which was already in production - it would have riffed off of those WWII Warner Bros shorts with Bugs and Daffy. A full voicetrack was recorded, but it didn't go beyond that - they had to re-use the music video for "Deep Deep Trouble" to fill in the time that was lost.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2447 on: February 27, 2019, 10:48:03 PM »

Do you have sources for that info? I.E. Books or anything you'd recommend? Just curious as I've listened to all the commentaries but like you said they never mention Kent Butterworth and I'd be interested in more production info.

John Ortved's "Simpsons Confidential"(not to be confused with Mike Reiss's book about this time working on the show, which is also confusingly called "Simpsons Confidential") is essential reading for all this stuff. Here's the relevant bit about "Some Enchanted Evening":
 
Quote
Once the animators had finished drawing an episode, it was still in skeletal form, an expanded storyboard. This outline, once approved by the producers at Gracie—along with extensive stage directions, camera instructions, and the voice record accompany—still had to be sent to South Korea, where hundreds of artists would fill in the animation (by hand, at slave wages) over a period of several months. For the first episodes, sent to Korea in the summer of 1989, this was an extremely stressful period at Gracie, Fox, and Klasky-Csupo; once the first episode came back, it would be the first time anyone would see a Simpsons episode in its completed form. What arrived back in the fall of 1989 was far from what anyone—Jim Brooks, the writers, the animators, Barry Diller—expected.
 
BRIAN ROBERTS, editor, The Simpsons (1989–92): I think the network was really apprehensive because of the gigantic lead time between when the shows were recorded and when you actually got to see anything. Imagine taking some great pictures and then not getting them back for six months. They made this gigantic investment and I think they were obviously very nervous.
When the first episode came back, fifty people jammed into the screening room to watch the show. It was packed. Everybody was really excited—Jim, Sam, Matt, Mandel. It was literally as if Lindbergh had just landed and everyone was running to the airport.
It truly was an amazing moment. Everybody, even the people who didn’t have anything to do with the show, ended up in this conference room, and we played the first episode. It was fucking awful. It was unwatchable; the animation was terrible. It was the Bart and the babysitter episode, with Penny Marshall playing the babysitter.
 
MICHAEL MENDEL, postproduction supervisor, The Tracey Ullman Show, The Simpsons (1989–92, 1994–99): The first show came back from Korea and it was a complete disaster. It was unairable. We had to recast some voices. The director just went off and did a bunch of stuff on his own.
 
At one point in the episode, the Simpson kids are watching a cartoon called “The Happy Little Elves Meet the Curious Bear Cubs.” To the horror of everyone watching, Butterworth and his animators had decided to have one of the bear cubs tear the head off one of the elves and begin drinking its blood.
 
BRIAN ROBERTS: So the episode ends and there’s dead silence in the room and Jim stands up and says, “Do you think we can we can thin out the ranks a little bit?” And fifty people—you’ve never seen a stampede for the door as quick as that—the room emptied out so quick it created a vacuum. And unfortunately, I was one of the people who had to stay since I was the editor. So it was me, Matt, Sam, Jim, maybe a couple of the writers and there was this sense of, What the fuck are we going to do? This is fucked. We are fucked. It’s all fucked up. And now what? So we tried to keep it quiet and everybody figured, We’ll just bury it later in the season.
 
GABOR CSUPO, animation executive producer, The Simpsons (1987–92): It was a very, very raw first assembly of the scenes, and some of the scenes were still missing, or had the wrong colors, or the wrong angles. So it was a disaster. Jim sort of got into it, started to laugh for the first five minutes, and then all of a sudden his face started to turn green and yellow, almost matching the Simpsons characters. He got really disappointed because none of the jokes worked, and then all of a sudden he started to scream and yell, saying, “What is this?” He just went off and he even started to demand extra camera angles, which was the funniest thing ever—he never did animation in his life. He asked for coverage like when you’re shooting a live-action movie. “So where are the other camera angles?” My producer and I were just looking at each other.
I was just so angry and embarrassed at the same time that they forced us to show this raw footage before we could even correct it. Jim was screaming and yelling that “this is not funny!” And I said, “Well, it may be not funny because you didn’t write it funny.” And then everybody looks at me, obviously thinking, Oh, my God! You dared to say that to Jim! But I felt I had nothing to lose.
 
Matt Groening, on the Season 1 DVD commentary, remembers Jim Brooks’s pronouncement, sitting there in the screening room, having seen the first episode, “This is shit.”2 Brooks, on the same commentary, recalled Gabor Csupo’s response being “Maybe this shit isn’t funny,” a line Brooks pointedly repeated to Csupo while they posed together for a photograph after the show had received its first Emmy. Brooks admitted that the comment was “small of me” but laughed it off, saying that he and Csupo now “hang out all the time together.”3
This last bit is actually not true, or what those of us outside of Hollywood might call a “lie.” By the time the first season DVD came out, in 2001, The Simpsons had long ago fired Gabor Csupo and taken much of the staff to their new animators, Film Roman. Jim and Gabor did not “hang out all the time together.”

 
WESLEY ARCHER: I was working late that night and Gabor Csupo came back and he was really upset at Gracie Films.

KENT BUTTERWORTH: Brooks decided to shelve this episode and get back to it later. Meanwhile, he would let Fox know that the delivery of the series would be delayed in order to get the quality they needed. Needless to say, my employment on The Simpsons was over.
 
DON BARROZO, Simpsons animation editor (1987–present): [Gabor] didn’t really have a fully formed idea of what this was supposed to look like, either. Nobody did.
 
HARRIS KATLEMAN, former CEO, 20th Century Fox Television: It was out of sync. The color was off. Everything was awful. And I remember we were sitting in my office and Barry was there and John Dolgen and Jim Brooks. And Diller looked and me, and he said, “What have you done?” I said, “Look, we’ll get it fixed.” Then he looked at me and he said, “What do you mean? How you gonna fix that?” I said, “Out of sync you can fix.”
 
BRIAN ROBERTS: I think we were all put under twenty-four-hour guard so that no word of this would be leaked, and it’s ironic because everybody was there.
 
Jim Brooks recalled thinking the show was in serious jeopardy because “you couldn’t call the emperor anything but naked at that moment.” For his part, Groening could not sleep that week, thinking that the first episode had spelled the end for him and animation. The next episodes, directed by David Silverman and Wesley Archer, would be the deal breakers.
 
DON BARROZO: The word was they were either just gonna pull the plug right now or just wait until the David Silverman show came back, which was show two. And so everybody just sat tight for a few weeks. And then that show came back and the screening for that one went much better. We could see it was gonna work.
 
HARRIS KATLEMAN: You had to have brass balls to tough this out because management was really after me, and after Jim and Matt, because everybody felt that this thing was a train wreck.
 
BRIAN ROBERTS: Fortunately, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” came in next. If you take those two shows and actually run them side by side, you just see a tremendous improvement in the animation, a tremendous improvement in the quality of the characters, and I personally credit Silverman with really refining and making it palatable.

St_Eddie

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2448 on: February 27, 2019, 11:25:10 PM »
Thanks so much for posting that, Phil_A.  Fascinating stuff.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2449 on: February 28, 2019, 02:30:56 AM »
Yeah, thanks, really interesting.

Petey Pate

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2450 on: February 28, 2019, 10:39:11 AM »
There's also this scan of a magazine interview with Butterworth after he left The Simpsons. Given his desire to do more 'full wacky animation' it seems that directing Tiny Toons was a better fit for him.

http://johnpannozzi.blogspot.com/2008/07/all-about-kent-butterworth.html

Incidentally, AKOM were considered among the bottom tier of the overseas studios used by Warner Bros at the time. As gatchamandave said, they were sacked from Batman and there were numerous problems with them on Animaniacs, one being their tendency to draw the characters with overbites cause the Korean animators thought they were animating The Simpsons.

ToneLa

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2451 on: February 28, 2019, 11:49:13 AM »
What if the Simpsons was never good?

If you had that Simpsons World streaming thing the yanks have and tried to prove it with episodes chosen at random, you'd have a job shooting that down!

There must be youngsters out there who don't understand us fogeys saying "the golden days of the Simpsons".

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2452 on: February 28, 2019, 12:06:57 PM »
AKOM were crap in the eighties as well; the episodes of Transformers that they did are substantially poorer quality animation-wise than the others.

BritishHobo

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2453 on: February 28, 2019, 12:14:27 PM »
What if the Simpsons was never good?

If you had that Simpsons World streaming thing the yanks have and tried to prove it with episodes chosen at random, you'd have a job shooting that down!

There must be youngsters out there who don't understand us fogeys saying "the golden days of the Simpsons".

I'd never even bother going back if I was a kid. I said this in the Grange Hill thread in Picture Box. That show was on season 26 when I was a kid. Looking back now, it looks shit, but I enjoyed it plenty because I had shit child taste. And the idea of going back to early episodes would never even occur to me. As a kid, the time that Grange Hill started seemed about sixty years ago. Not arsed. It's probably the same for kids and The Simpsons. If they ever catch an episode, the animation must look shit to them, and the characters all referencing politicians and celebrities they've never heard of. It might as well be black and white.

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2454 on: February 28, 2019, 04:09:59 PM »
AKOM were crap in the eighties as well; the episodes of Transformers that they did are substantially poorer quality animation-wise than the others.

And the Real Ghostbusters, it seems. Let's have a look...



Ah.

ToneLa

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2455 on: February 28, 2019, 04:12:57 PM »
What exactly is he doing to Slimer there??

Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2456 on: February 28, 2019, 04:18:55 PM »
Let's just say they're about to go very off-model.

momatt

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2457 on: March 05, 2019, 01:47:20 PM »
What exactly is he doing to Slimer there??

Up the arse corner.

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Re: When did The Simpsons jump the shark?
« Reply #2458 on: March 05, 2019, 03:45:14 PM »
Let's just say they're about to go very off-model.

I would have given this post karma back in the day.