Homer’s heart is where the
After 24 amazing seasons, The Simpsons is the golden crop that keeps reseeding, writes Holly Byrnes
SHIELD YOUR EYES: When the half man from Two and a Half Men, Angus T. Jones, told viewers that his show was ‘‘filth’’, Matthew Perry paid attention. This video sees him do the same, testifying against his current TV hit, Go On. He’s even willing to give his pay cheques back. Almost all of them, anyway. WATCH: http://bit.ly/RmCz2y
Wewere hoping to last 13 weeks. Now, to times that by 20 years is amazing
to plot the next season of storylines, Jean teases about what — and who — fans can expect from coming episodes.
There’s Mr Burns’s chauffeur, who keeps threatening to drive over a fiscal cliff (the economic buzz word being held over the Obama administration); Homer becomes a prepper (those hoarders who prepare for the end of the world); New Girl’s Zooey Deschanel returns as the voice of Bart’s girlfriend; while other celebrity cameos include Tina Fey, Jane Krakowski, Ed Norton and Sherlock star Ben Cumberbatch, who recently crashed a table reading for the show and begged for a role.
Proving its continued cachet with Hollywood, Aussie actress Isla Fisher recently revealed she had been ‘‘ devastated’’ after her guest spot in The Simpsons movie was axed.
‘‘ They all said: ‘ you did such a great job!’ But then they cut me, so clearly they were not telling the truth. I never saw the movie . . . I was too bitter. I’m a huge, huge Simpsons fan.’’
Jean names Britain’s Prince William as top of his guest ‘‘ wish list’’ and reveals one of his favourite Simpsons perks was visiting 10 Downing St to record former British prime minister Tony Blair.
‘‘ I happened to be in London to promote the 300th episode and we had previously tried to get him on the show. I got a call to say, ‘ You can come to 10 Downing St, but don’t tell anyone.’ Then a photographer snapped me leaving, with a script in my hand and the number 10 over my head and it was in one of the tabloids the next day,’’ Jean said.
His personal life also has been mined for inspiration, drawing on his own experience as the father of two daughters to craft the relationship between Homer and Lisa Simpson (voiced by Yeardley Smith).
Some of Homer’s most infamous moments were also first lived by Jean himself.
‘‘ In one episode, Homer tried to eat a six-foot sandwich and ate it even after it was covered in mould and passed its expiration. I might have had one in the fridge just like it,’’ he says, laughing.
Also from the classics vault is the episode in which Homer sues restaurant The Frying Dutchman over their all-youcan eat shrimp buffet.
Simpson takes his case to the courts after he is dragged out of the seafood diner, in a suit described by his lawyer as ‘‘ the most blatant case of fraudulent advertising since my suit against the film, The NeverEnding Story’’.
‘‘ That was based on me too, but was a bar where they advertised all you can drink. They tried to throw me out after eight (drinks).’’
FORGET Nate Silver, the political pundit credited with predicting Barack Obama’s return to the White House. The Simpsons’ showrunner Al Jean thinks the applause should be shared with his team of writers, who penned a clever promotion for the series, timed to coincide with the 2012 Presidential Election.
Not surprisingly, the scheming Mr Burns endorsed Mitt Romney, filming a public service announcement where he puts the poll question to the Republican candidate’s dog Seamus (after it was revealed the pet had been strapped to the roof of Romney’s car during a family vacation).
The cowering pooch is left to decide between a masked Obama impersonator, tempting the dog with a plate of broccoli, or ‘‘ Meat’’ Romney, offering a juicy steak.
The mutt whimpers before jumping out a window in despair, while Burns moans ‘‘ Urgh, another jumper, (shouting) bring in the next dog.’’
When Homer lodges his vote for Romney, the electronic polling computer turns into a vacuum, sucking Simpson into a dark void and announcing he’s been ‘‘ outsourced’’ to a Chinese factory.
The cheeky satire made headline news, hitting close to the funny bone and skewing far left on the Fox network.
You can get away with going rogue when you’re The Simpsons, US TV’s longest-running scripted prime-time show.
‘‘ You do what you want creatively because there isn’t the need to justify your success in terms of profits and ratings,’’ Jean tells Switched On.
Since its inception (created first by Matt Groening as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, then adapted as a half-hour series in 1989), it has consistently hit political, social and cultural targets, roasting sacred cows like Homer would his backyard hot dogs and burgers.
Now approaching its 25th season and back on at 6pm on Channel 10, Jean praises The Simpsons as that ‘‘ golden crop that keeps reseeding . . . it never goes away’’.
‘‘ We were hoping to last the (first) 13 weeks. Now, to times that by 20 years is amazing,’’ the Harvard-alum writer says.
With the writing team off to a planning retreat this month The Simpsons, Channel 10, daily, 6pm. Season 15 out nowon Blu-ray and DVD.