All that is wrong with the world…

September 23, 2011

Top 30 The Simpsons episodes of the last 10 seasons

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:06 am

I find it annoying with people claiming that The Simpsons has declined in quality, is no longer funny and that the best episodes were from the first 10 seasons. While it is true that the show has changed in tone from time to time, it has always remained funny and a quality show in my opinion. Out of 22 seasons I would say season 20 was the only truly bad season and even then a lot of the episodes still had some good jokes.

When looking at lists of the best Simpsons episodes the selection is always limited to the first 10 seasons. As such I have made a list of the Top 30 Simpsons episodes from the last 10 seasons. Many of these episodes are not as memorable as say Flaming Moe’s or Homer at the Bat, however I think they are still pretty damn good. They are not ordered or rated above each other and are simply arranged by order of appearance. It’s also nice to note that since Season 18 the show seems to have gone back to it’s sentimental roots, which is wonderful.

  1. Bye Bye Nerdie s12e16 – A great episode where Lisa tries to make friends with a new girl, who turns out to be a bully causing Lisa to investigate and determine the cause of bullying.
  2. Trilogy of error s12e18 – A story from three different points of view in the style of Run Lola Run. A very funny episode with many funny moments.
  3. She of Little Faith s13e06 – Lisa questioning her faith and embracing Buddhism with a pep talk by Richard Gere. A funny and meaningful episode, one of the best for sure.
  4. I Am Furious (Yellow) s13e18 – Bart finally creates a comic book character, an appearance by Stan Lee and a fantastic transformation of Homer into the Hulk.
  5. How I Spent My Strummer Vacation s14e02 – Homer becomes a rocker at camp under the tutelage of rock legends. What more needs to be said?
  6. Three Gays of the Condo s14e07 – Homer making friends with gay guys and the hilarity that ensues, as well as a great appearance by Weird Al.
  7. Moe Baby Blues s14e22 – This episode fleshes out Moe’s loneliness a bit more while having many great Godfather references.
  8. My Mother the Carjacker s15e02 – The second appearance of Homer’s mother with another sentimental episode and great performance by Glenn Close.
  9. I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot s15e09 – Homer pretends to be a robot so Bart can participate in robot wars …a sentimental episode with many funny moments.
  10. The Way We Weren’t s15e20 – I love all the Homer and Marge flashback episodes. This one shows that Homer and Marge liked each other before they even knew it which I think is sweet.
  11. There’s Something About Marrying s16e10 – Homer starts marrying gay couples for money and Patty comes out as gay.
  12. Goo Goo Gai Pan s16e12 –Selma wants to have a child and ends up going with the Simpsons to China to adopt a daughter.
  13. Don’t Fear the Roofer s16e16 – Ray Romano is Homer’s best new friend which everybody doubts exist, until Stephen Hawking explains everything.
  14. Thank God, It’s Doomsday s16e19 –Homer becomes convinced the rapture is coming and tries to protect his family, only to be made a fool of when his prediction is incorrect.
  15. Million Dollar Abie s17e16 – Grampa wants to kill himself and after failing to do so finds a new lease on life. One of the better ones from Season 17.
  16. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore s17e17 – The main plot of this episode isn’t so great, Homer going to India however it is still entertaining and the subplot with Richard Dean Anderson being kidnapped by Patty and Selma was fantastic.
  17. Moe’N’a Lisa s18e06 – Moe’s loneliness is further explored as he finds he has a hidden talent as a poet
  18. Springfield Up s18e13 – A parody of the Up series showing young Springfielders at different points of their lives.
  19. Stop or My Dog Will Shoot s18e20 – Bart gets a snake and Santa’s Little Helper becomes a police dog and grows distant from Bart in the process.
  20. 24 Minutes s18e21 – An excellent parody of 24 starring Keither Sutherland.
  21. You Kent Always Say What You Want s18e22 – Kent Brockman fleshed out a bit more as he loses his job for saying a cussword on TV
  22. I Don’t Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings s19e04 – Marge helps a criminal played by Steve Buscemi. A very funny episode with some great references.
  23. Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind s19e09 – Homer has to recount his nightly experiences when he things he has done something horrible but is unable to remember.
  24. The Debarted s19e13 – A great parody of The Departed.
  25. Take My Life, Please s20e10 – Homer finds out his life could have been drastically different if he had won an election in high school.
  26. Million Dollar Maybe s21e11 – Homer wins the lottery but can’t tell Marge, so instead does a lot of sweet things in secret.
  27. Chief of Hearts s21e18 – Homer and Chief Wiggum become good friends.
  28. Moe Letter Blues s21e21 – Moe sends letters to Homer’s, Apu’s and Reverend Lovejoy’s wives to make their husbands realize how lucky they are.
  29. How Munched is That Birdie in the Window? s22e07 – Bart doesn’t want anything to do with Santa’s Little Helper after he kills a pigeon
  30. Flaming Moe s22e11 – Moe turns his bar into a gay bar and ends up pretending to be gay to keep his new friends.

If you don’t know any of these episodes by name, you can check on Wikipedia and if you haven’t seen any, they are well worth a watch before dismissing The Simpsons as unfunny. There are still quite a few that I didn’t leave in as well, such as The Blunder Years, Strong Arms of the Ma, Weekend at Burnsie’s and many more. I should also note, even the unfunniest episode of The Simpsons is better written and more entertaining than any episode of Family Guy.

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February 10, 2011

More thoughts on V: The Series

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 3:12 am

I wrote about V back in November after the series first launched. Despite the bad acting and lack of vision for the show, I thought a lot of interesting possibilities were opened up. We are now almost halfway through season 2 and things are not looking much better.

The series started by revealing Anna’s mother being kept prisoner somewhere in the ship for over a decade. It seems quite a stretch that no one would have discovered her given that Dianna was the previous queen who is thought to have died Even so, it’s nice to see Jane Badler on screen once again. It was then revealed that Erika was experimented on while she was pregnant with Tyler and that Tyler is missing many parts of his DNA. Right. I always find it annoying when in shows like this the hero ends up having some link to the villain despite that seems extremely unlikely.

The show then got incredibly bad very fast as Anna declared the human soul their most important goal and that they must learn how to remove it from humans before we could be conquered. Really? A race as advanced as the V’s is not able to dismiss the superstitious beliefs of a lesser race as baseless? I did like that the rebellion is expanding past the 5 people from the first group and starting to join forces with a more established force.

I originally thought the religion angle opened up some interesting possibility but it hasn’t been explored at all. Given that it isn’t being explored at all I have no idea why they even included a priest as a character let alone the interaction between Anna and the Pope. Likewise Chad Decker seems to be playing the same conflicted role in every episode never developing as a character or doing anything meaningful.

I think the skin aspect is still interesting and I hope to see it expanded. The fact that the hybrid baby was given a skin and now acts like a human baby down to making all the same sounds is interesting. We also know that being deskinned is extremely painful so the skin obviously bonds on some low level and is more than just a suit. It will be interesting to see what happens with the child and it is interesting to note the child is the main point in the promotions for the show.

One thing I can’t get past is the terrible CGI jaw effects. Just terrible and unnecessary. Some makeup and fake teeth would have been far more impressive. I do like a lot of the new cast that have been added…namely Oded Fehr and Jay Karnes(Dutch!). It’s also nice to Nicholas Lea (Krycek!) getting some more screentime. I really don’t have any idea where the show is going and given there are only 7 episodes left I fear it is going to be some more running around and trying not to get caught culminating in an attack that bring Anna’s wrath. Hopefully the show will be more complex than that as I would expect from the show runner of The 4400.

Update 1 – March 2nd 2011
Well, only a few episodes later and things have gotten worse. While I thought it was promising that Oded Fehr and Nicholas Lea were going to be regulars they were killed of quite quickly. I guess more than 3 capable actors just aren’t in this shows budget. Then having the priest be fired…now he just serves as the conscience for the team? If the show wasn’t going to examine the effect aliens would have on faith why have him be a priest at all? Now Erika has randomly been given control of the entire 5th column because Eli liked her…sure, I guess that’s believable. Although now she is a completely different character who has no trouble killing innocent people which of course puts her at odds with the priest. Aye.

The other stupid thing from the last episode is that the visitors main plan is to harvest human DNA. For which they have a big scary machine that actually extracts DNA from humans killing them in the process. Really? The visitors couldn’t just take a copy of the completed genome, or a few blood or hair samples? There is an excess of human DNA floating around….would such an advanced race really need to go through the whole cover live aboard program cover and then kill them in the process? Let’s see how much worse this show can get…

January 26, 2010

Family Guy is complete trash – American Dad is awesome

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:37 am

Family Guy is complete trash. I don’t know how people can consider it anything other than that, and yet it is consistently one of the top rated shows on Fox. Family Guy is in fact popular enough that it was brought back from cancellation, and was able to spawn several DVD movies and a spin-off show. As much as I am aware that humor is an extremely subjective experience and that a persons entertainment choices do not always reflect who they are as people, I can’t help but think that the majority of people who enjoy family guy are below average intelligence.

The typical Family Guy episode has little or not plot and no interesting characters to speak off. It isn’t many shows that have characters as one dimensional and flat as those of Family Guy, and for a cartoon that is saying something. Peter and Chris have been made so retarded that is does not even resemble human anymore, and exist simply as a plot device to accelerate the various gags. The show generally consists of nothing but pop culture references and time fillers. Peter fighting a giant chicken for an extended period of time as a once off thing. When every episode has up to two minutes of Peter laughing in a retarded way or other characters farting or puking or such, it becomes a bit much. I genuinely don’t understand how people can watch that crap. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were the same people that enjoy most reality shows.

When South Park satirized Family Guy in 2006 it was 100% accurate in it’s criticisms, as is often the case. In the Cartoon Wars episodes, it is discovered that the Family Guy writers consist of manatees. Manatees that randomly nudge “Idea Balls”, balls with a single name, place or object printed on them, into a machine which then comes up with a gag. The example used in the South Park episode contained the words “Laundry” + “Date” + “Winning” + “Mexico” + “Gary Coleman” which manifested as a clip of Lois asking Peter to do the laundry, from which Peter recalls winning a date in Mexico with Gary Coleman.

There is also the claims that critics of Family Guy make – that they have plagiarized much of their material, especially from The Simpsons. I don’t know how true this is, certainly The Simpsons have been around for a very long time and it would be hard not to do an original storyline that may resembles a Simpsons episode in some way. Yet, most other animated shows manage not to imitate The Simpsons as numerously as Family Guy has seemingly done. It is important also ti separate show concepts from actual plot points. Many shows can be accused of copying another’s formula, i.e. The Simpsons can be said to have borrowed from The Flintstones which in turn can said to have borrowed from the The Honeymooners.

An interesting case is Stewie resembling the comic book character Jimmy Corrigan. I can get making a character who is a genius self aware baby. Even making Stewie matricidal could be put down to a coincidence. However with Stewie even resembling Jimmy Corrigan in appearance, it becomes harder to dismiss as simple coincidence. I don’t think Seth MacFarlane necessarily consciously stole this character, but considering this is just one example of the show lacking in originality I think it is highly likely that Stewie was at least subconsciously inspired by Jimmy Corrigan.

American Dad on the other hand is amazing. I really, really do not understand how people think that American Dad are basically are the same show. What nonsense. Yes, at an abstract level they are similar as both are cartoons with a non human family member, but that is about where the similarities end. The primary characters of Family Guy are so retarded that it is impossible to relate to them. At least with the characters from American Dad they are caricatures of real life stereotypes that people can relate to. More importantly, American Dad has a plot – unlike Family Guy, which to quote South Park simply has one interchangeable joke after another with no relevance to the plot.

This is where see the main difference. No one could seriously make the claim that American Dad was written by manatees. The show has had some very original plots and jokes, no doubt helped by the interesting setup of working for the CIA and having access to all kinds of technology. I can only guess that the people who claim American Dad and Family Guy are the same show are oblivious to plots and have a blank mind until some sort of throwaway joke inevitably appears. Which is a shame.

Additionally, American Dad has Patrick Stewart on the cast as American Dad’s boss. How cool is that?

One thing I did notice that was slightly annoying was that Rogers nose stopped being an issue. In the earlier seasons it was hard for Roger to leave the house because he obviously did not look human, a large part of which was his lack of a nose. This actually inspired many plot points, such as one where Roger picks a fake nose that ends up with him being mistaken for Kevin Bacon. Lately this hasn’t mattered, with a mustache and glasses or a dress and a wig sufficing. I wonder why such things are forgotten…a change in writing staff perhaps? No matter.

In conclusion, Family Guy is complete trash without original or interest plots or characters and much of the time of episodes being dedicated to Peter laughing for extended periods – simply to bypass the time. American Dad is purely a plot based show with original and relatable characters and clever and relevant jokes. If you have not seen the Cartoon Wars episodes of South Park I highly recommend them, if not for the fair criticism of Family Guy(critics and fans are equally represented) then for the argument it makes against censorship.

December 11, 2009

When Whedon failed

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 10:10 pm

Dollhouse has been an interesting experience. Originally it was cause for great excitement. Joss Whedon, the master behind such hallmarks as Buffy, Angel and Firefly had a new show coming, with many of the Whedonverse regulars! Unfortunately, the delivered show didn’t live up to the hype at all. It was in fact, a great letdown.

It may have made sense to wait a while as many shows had poor first seasons until they got settled, however Dollhouse has shown no signs of improving. It’s second season is quite a bit better than the first, but ultimately it is still just as bland and empty as the first. I also wonder how far that excuse can apply to Whedon’s shows, with Angel, Firefly having excellent first seasons, and Buffy being decent enough. It actually took me a while to get into Firefly being such a radical departure from the Buffyverse, but once I did the characters, stories dialog was top notch.

So, what is the problem with Dollhouse as a show? Well, where to start? It has none of the smooth wit or dialog Whedon is famous for. When characters speak it is always very brief and efficient, as though they are in a hurry. It is understandable that the dolls lack a personality, but why do the normal people? Is it all part of a larger plot plan to show that everyone is a doll?

It has (so far) none of the clever examination of moral and world issues so prevalent in his other works. The setup for the shows is a rich opportunity to examine what it means to be an individual and the importance of identity, corporations growing out of control, questions of the soul etc…, None of these are examined. It is sometimes hinted at, and Echo’s development is perhaps hinting towards such a plot, but so far nothing. The entire first season entirely squandered this opportunity, and the second season has so far only been dropping hints. In effect, 2 seasons over 2 years have failed to have any meaningful examination. No wonder it was canceled.

Then, there are the main characters. Many problem have an issue with Eliza’s acting. Personally, I think she plays a blank doll fine, and while her acting in her various guises is far from great, it is passable. It certainly would not be enough to bring the whole show down. What about the other characters? Again, the acting is nothing special, which isn’t a problem. Enver Gjokaj is one of the better actors on the show. His portrayal in the last episode (2×05) of Topher was perfect, with it being a perfect impression.The problem, is with the characters. They are bland and uninteresting, and morally suspect without any kind of reasoning or explanation given.

In all of Joss Whedon’s other TV shows, there is a common theme for people fighting for something. We had Buffy fighting against the forces of hell to save the world, Angel fighting for his humanity, and the crew of the Firefly fighting against a totalitarian government. This theme is absent in Dollhouse. Instead, we have a large apparently very evil corporation screwing around with peoples lives and personalities for profit. Indeed, it seems to be implied through that Rossum wins regardless, which invokes a feeling of ‘why even bother?’. The only character who was fighting against them was bland and uninteresting, and ended up working for them.

In the first season, we had Agent Ballard explaining why the Dollhouse was evil in every episode, while displaying a disturbing obsession with Echo that was never quite explained. For reasons that don’t quite make sense and appear to be forgotten, he now works for the Dollhouse, suddenly being convinced he is doing the right thing. With Senator Perrin revealed to be a doll, there is no one actually fighting the Dollhouse.

Boyd is obviously a moral character and has a lot of concern for the people in the Dollhouse despite obvious moral qualms about his work. An apparently meaningful relationship with echo in season 1 was abandoned in season 2. Why show these characters and their moral concerns if you are not going to expand on them. All we see is these people voluntarily working for an evil corporation without offering any justification. This makes it hard to sympathize with or like these characters, when we instinctively feel we should be rooting for them to be taken down.

One of the more annoying things about the show is the fact that everyone is turning out to be a doll. Dr. Saunders turned out to be a doll, which was interesting given that she was a member of staff. Then Lubov turned out to be a doll, which seemed like an interesting twist. Then Mellie was revealed to be a doll, which is exactly when it stopped being clever. After the last episode revealing that the Senator was a doll, it became an annoying plot device that makes it hard to be invested in the story. I won’t be surprised if any more major characters turn out to be dolls.

Another point that I found annoying, although it applies to a lesser extent to all of Joss’ shows, is a negative male portrayal. The males on Joss’s shows always seem to embody negative sterotypes to directly contrast the strong female characters, instead of just having ‘normal’ male characters. Topher seems particular annoying because he appears to be a clichéd lonely brilliant nerd. Much like Andrew. We then had Ballard with an unexplained obsession, one of the handlers being a rapist, the Dollhouse directors being willing to sell Sierra into sexual servitude for profit and Dominic trying to murder Echo. The only decent character seem to be Boyd who is still quite questionable. By contrast the females are all strong and independent, and work hard to do the morally right thing such as DeWitt restoring Serra so she would not have to be a slave, and Caroline being an activist before she was a doll.

One last small thing that has been bugging me with the show, and with other movies or shows with similar concepts such as Avatar, is why a persons consciousness must be transferred. Surely however that technology would work by reading the brain, it would make a copy? What would necessitate that the original be erased? It’s a minor point, but it seems that it is avoided for the sole purpose of the problems such a plot point would cause. If it is obvious to me, then it is probably obvious to others, so why not explain it away in the show?

Some people might say that Dollhouse was canceled just as it was getting good, and I am not sure that is true. The show has certainly improved, however I don’t think it has improved to a point that warrants renewal. The characters are still bland, there has not been any strong overall story or development, the stand alone episodes are weak….the audience has nothing to connect with. The show may have had potential, but they had two years to figure things out and correct their mistake. If they didn’t learn by now, then it is a fairly safe bet they may never have.

It was an interesting ride though. I wonder if the series will continue on in comic form ala Joss’ other works. I can understand many people watching the show being fan’s of Joss and wanting to see where the show went. What I don’t get is the blind loyalty some of these whedonites seemed to display, aggressively defending what is basically a bad show. Even if the show were good overall, when they defend obviously bad writing or dialog, it seems to be nothing more than fanaticism born out of some sort of twisted loyalty.

Something that this Penny Arcade strip captured perfectly:

While Dollhouse was ultimately disappointing, I look forward to Joss’ next project, and hope that he may return to his original winning formula.

Update
It seems I spoke too soon. I wrote this post before watching episodes 2×07 and 2×08, which seemed to contradict many of my problems with the show. The later episodes have definitely been interesting, although the story would have worked much better as a season/show arc rather than a conclusion to the canceled series. I have to say I was quite disappointed with the attic being a matrix ripoff and Victor and Sierra having a love that transcends self. Still, it is entertaining enough and I wonder how the show will end in January.

November 28, 2009

Thoughts on V: The Series

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:13 pm

I’ve been watching the V re-imagining since it launched just under a month ago, and I’ve found it to be entertaining enough for the most part. I don’t remember the original series too well – I watched some episodes as a kid and read some books, but never followed it in any serious way, which leaves this new series to be judged on its own merits.

So far, I think it is working so far more than it isn’t, although it certainly has its faults. Most noticeable of which, is the astounding lame dialog that frequently occurs. A good example of such was in the pilot episode, where two teenagers were shown on TV. One remarking that it was like the film Independence Day, and his friends responding that that film was a ripoff of any number of alien invasion predecessors. ID4 was a lot of things, but I’m not sure it can be accused of being a ripoff without accusing every other film in history. Not to mention I don’t see kids worrying about that when a spaceship has just landed above Manhattan.

Another example was in the last or second last example, with the lead FBI character remarking that “what are they thinking? It’s like 9/11 never happened!”. Such dialog seems forced..and I’m not sure what it is trying to accomplish. To reinforce to the viewer the fact that governments are accepting the Vs too soon? To show the mistrust of the character? One thing I’m sure of, is that people don’t talk aloud like that to themselves…

The priest storyline also seems a bit forced or out of place. Are they really planning on sustaining this subplot through the season, let alone the series? A follower devout enough to become a priest would not have such problems explaining away the V’s as a test of God or some such. Reasonable people who might note a slight inconsistency with the arrival of extraterrestrials and the lack of any mention in any religious text, would likely not become priests in the first place. It isn’t an interesting subplot, and it has not possible interesting outcome. The setup is interesting…but not the current route they are taking with it.

The love story between the black-guy-V and girl seems a bit odd. Even if we ignore the likelihood that reptilian aliens would likely be so radically different emotionally, that any kind of emotional pairing would be impossible, surely the differences in anatomy would be great enough to prevent such relationships? Perhaps the reasoning behind all of this has to do with the human suits the V’s wear. Unlike the latex suits in the original series, this time they seem to be wearing living tissue. Although, to a more advanced level than Arnie had in T2. We saw at the end of the last episode that being skinned was a form of slow death/torture, so the human skin is obviously bonded quite tightly. Perhaps to a point where the V’s personalities are affected by hormones or something, and they develop the ability to think like humans.

Apparently their suit is advanced enough for pregnancy to occur. I have to wonder about that, as reptilians tend to lay eggs. Perhaps this can be put down to the human suit being advanced enough to go so far as to replicate all the functions of an actual human body. I would just wonder about the DNA…, would it havie nothing to do with the V, and just belong to the human suit.., or would it perhaps be some mix of V and human DNA, similar to how human DNA is mixed with Na’vi DNA in Avatar to maintain some traits.

I also wonder about the male and female aspects. generally with reptiles, there are not so many differences between sexes. Certainly nothing approaching the level of differences present in humans. So, do the V’s just don a male/female suit being indifferent to the gender of their human suit, or do they chose their human gender based on their own? I wonder if these are things that will be revealed through the series, or if they will be considered insignificant.

There was also the ridiculous accusations of the show being an attack on Obama. Promising things like Universal Health Care and using terms like ‘hope’ and ‘change’ are exactly what you would expect from aliens promising to save mankind while planning to screw them. The fact that it premiered on the date Obama was elected is a coincidence, nothing more. Thinking the fact that the lead resistance fighter’s name being Erica is meant to symbolize America is just taking things to far.

There may have been something more with the last episodes focus on tainted vaccines and the H1N1 scare and conspiracy theories, but even that is stretching things. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar, and a show about aliens is just a show about aliens.

I do think the relaunch of the show is interesting, and the world today is remarkably different to what it was when the show was launched. With the post 9/11 craziness, energy and environment crisis’s, growing xenophobia and such, I think V could examine these issues in a way that few other shows are in as good a position to do so. I look forward to an intelligent commentary on things like the patriot act, fear of unfamiliar cultures, dependence on media, groupthink etc..

V is meant to return in January, and I hope that the show lasts at least a few seasons so it can grow and mature. There is a lack of decent science fiction shows on at present and I would like to see V fill that void, albeit with better writing

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