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Australian Simpsons News
First Half, 2000


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29th June, 2000

Ten is moving its Sunday Simpsons double timeslot back to 6:30pm as of this weekend, making room for its new series, Shipwrecked.

Also worth noting is a late scheduling change that occurred last Sunday, where the scheduled episode, Bart Sells His Soul (3F02), was replaced by The Secret War of Lisa Simpson (4F21) (at least in Melbourne). I don't know why this happened, only that it did -- if anyone has more info on this, please let me know.



27th June, 2000

FOX8's new Simpsons stream (weekends at 6:00pm) will be airing Season Nine episodes. The relevant pages have been updated.



26th June, 2000

Lots of changes on FOX8 in July, but only one that affects The Simpsons: from Saturday, 1st July, The Simpsons gains two extra timeslots, weekends at 6:00pm. I'm not yet sure of any details, but will post those as soon as I can.

Curiously, on Inside the arena last week, the somewhat unconvincing winner of the Todd Rixon award spotted a continuity error in the Simpsons episode, Saddlesore Galactica: in one shot, a white horse has a five painted on its side in green; a little later, viewed from a different angle, the five is gone, the horse's flank bare.



23rd June, 2000

I received my July Foxtel Guide the other day, and it seems the GST has had an effect on The Simpsons, too: an extra 10% of episodes are being added, in the form of a Saturday and Sunday 6:00pm timeslot. I'll confirm the details, along with any other changes, next week.



20th June, 2000

Sorry about the belated update. We've just moved buildings at work, and we seem to have collided with an IT backlog, leaving us without a network all last week. I'm back now though. As it happens, nothing unusual has happened recently, anyway.

The one thing that is worth mentioning is an interview on thecomedychannel on Sunday night with Conan O'Brien (in the US he competes with Letterman and Jay Leno for celebrities to appear on his "tonight" show, but in Australia he can only be seen on thecomedychannel). It turns out, Conan used to write for The Simpsons, his most famous episode featuring a certain monorail. He talked about how kids all over the world will look completely blank when he talks about Late Night with Conan O'Brien, but their interest will suddenly perk when he mentions writing on The Simpsons (perhaps I've understated that a bit -- they transmute from falling asleep to asking a million questions). People will come up to him in the street with, "I call the big one, Bitie." (referring to the possum in the monorail). He also talked about transplanting some of the innocence of The Simpsons to Late Night, pointing out that although The Simpsons looks innocent, there are many very sophisticated jokes about serious and current issues. In his own show, he's capitalised on his own innocent, boyish looks to get away with some truly outrageous things (outrageous for American television, anyway).



1st June, 2000

Apart from again having trouble with some of the cleverer episode titles on Sunday, Ten have scheduled a repeat Simpsons episode next Thursday. No explanation, just be aware of it.

Here's some belated reactions to earlier episodes:

Saddlesore Galactica (BABF09): Every reviewer seems to refer to the comic book store guy's gag: "Worst episode ever," as being close to the mark. Personally, I just felt there was nothing really original in this one. Mind you, that's a strange thing to say, given the "elves as jockeys" plot line. There were naturally some great moments, including Ralph's, "This is band?" and Homer's deep-fried t-shirt. The elves' song is the new winner of the "Simpsons' Worst Song" award, taking the prize from "The Garbage Man Can". Incidentally, did you notice one of the elves was very obviously voiced by Nancy Cartwright, who does Bart? Really needed a different voice for this. Clinton showing up at the end was really stupid and tacked on, which must be very embarassing for Lisa, who was strangely out of character throughout. I did love the horse tied to the roof of the Simpsons' car, ducking in panic as they drove through a tunnel. And who can forget Chief Wiggum's classic line: "I'd rather let a thousand guilty men go free than chase after them." Anyone for a ten minute, "highlights" version of this one?

Alone Again, Natura-Diddily (BABF10): The Simpsons has certainly dealt with death before -- I'd even forgotten how often, until reminded by the row of gravestones: Bleeding Gums Murphy, Dr Marvin Munro, "Grimey" Grimes, Grandpa's girlfriend -- but never so strangely. It was as if the writers decided to kill Maude for plot purposes, decided it could be done in a sensitive manner, then weren't sure they succeeded. Nor am I! Perhaps the answer is that the writers were a little defensive, hence the line of tombstones saying, "Don't criticise us, we've done this before." Regardless of the reasons, we ended up with a lot of self-references, especially at the funeral. On to some of the better writing. Homer's complaint that bears can crap in the woods but he can't is naturally answered by a bear surreptitiously depositing its tidy bag in a bin. Later, Homer does the obvious thing by getting his car serviced for free in the pits (why didn't I think of that? ...). At the funeral, the line of racing chicks has obviously been affected by EEO, featuring pink, brown and white women -- hang on, aren't the Simpsons yellow?! I loved the interaction between Bart and the Flanders kids: when they complain that Bart's hogging the video game, Bart replies, "You *are* playing -- we're a team!" After a moment's thought, Rod and Tod cheer, "Yay!" (Ah, so innocent.) The best bit, though, was when Bart notices Homer's full-time obsession with Ned's dating video and asks, "Do you even have a job any more?" On the whole, I think this was a historic moment in television that just ended up weird.



30th May, 2000

No changes to The Simpsons' schedule on FOX8 in June. The only thing to note is the pre-emption of the 6:00pm stream on Monday, 12th June by Slayerfest 3. The episode that should have aired that day (Marge vs the Monorail -- 9F10) will be skipped rather than bumped.



25th May, 2000

I haven't yet had time to look through the June Foxtel Guide, but there don't seem to be any major changes. I'll try to post an update on Monday. Some more episode reviews will probably feature, too, though it's interesting to note that last week's "Maude Flanders dies" episode drew enough attention to place it at number 17 in Melbourne's overall TV ratings. This despite it not being terribly good (in my opinion). More on that later.



11th May, 2000

The Simpsons Archive reports that a Simpsons game is to be released for the GameBoy Colour in Spring called, "The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror."



4th May, 2000

A new episode tonight on Ten: the Hallowe'en episode, no less. However, the "By Request" timeslot looks like it's gone for good from Sunday's line-up.

I've also added some episode titles for Season Twelve, taking my cue from The Simpsons Archive.



27th April, 2000

Ten's screening some family movie this Sunday, pre-empting all three Simpsons timeslots.

I've updated the schedule for May and added predictions for June on Foxtel. I also realised I haven't updated the monthly histories since November. I hope to get on to that soon.



20th April, 2000

Good news all round on The Simpsons this week. First, Ten have decided to air Treehouse of Horror X (BABF01) on the 4th May (in a fortnight). I also have projected dates for new episodes through to June, and some projections in the Sunday double timeslot.

In the US, Season Eleven concludes on the 21st May with the episode, Behind the Laughter (BABF19), which seems to be something a bit different. What's more, Season Twelve has been confirmed!

I've updated the Season Eleven episode synopses to the end of the season.

Finally, I received my May Foxtel Guide pleasantly early, and though I haven't had time to do a proper update, it does look like there's no changes to The Simpsons in May (though there are other changes). Full details next Thursday.

Melbourners, the Comedy Festival finishes this weekend, with most shows concluding on Sunday and a host of special events Sunday and Monday. From what I've seen over the last few weeks, I heartily recommend Lano & Woodley, Scared Weird Little Guys and Boothby Graffoe. I also hear great things about Greg Fleet and Sarah Kendall, who I'll be seeing Saturday night. If you like to laugh, don't miss this opportunity.



14th April, 2000

Little Big Mom (BABF04): Apart from the stupid name (or maybe I'm missing something), this was a hilarious episode, remarkable for being so full of surprises. Ironically, the best joke was probably the very first: the Simpsons assembling on the couch as crash test dummies, then ramming the TV. Maintaining the tone, Itchy & Scratchy returned immediately afterwards, seemingly a long time absent. Lisa's cross-country skiing encounter with a pack of vicious deer was beautifully twisted, as was Marge's claim she had to get home to "demeat Lisa's baloney." Plotwise, the writers were smart not to dwell too long on Lisa's attempts at being a good housewife. But combining fish feeding with doing the dishes was inspired, even just as a visual gag. For the computer-inclined, the Virtual Doctor was made by the same people who brought us DragonQuest and Sim-Sandwich -- a lovely poke at two game series that have perhaps overextended themselves with sequels. All in all, a very well-rounded and beautifully crafted episode.

Faith Off (BABF06): It's been a bit of an up-and-down season, and this episode counts as one of the downs. If I were uncharitable, I would say that complexities in the plot served to disguise the lack of humour. But suffice to say this was only barely an episode of The Simpsons. In other episodes, we've seen references to older scenes, but this time it seemed like successful jokes were simply being reused -- Homer's time at university, Bart becoming famous at a spiritual gathering, and Bart dressed as a daredevil on his skateboard. Of course, this is an established show, and there were inevitably some funny moments. Looking through Homer's eyes as he was driving, his view obscured by the bucket, was good fun. So, too, Milhouse scratching under his cast with a fork. Which had food on it. Which attracted a trail of ants. More subtly (or perhaps not), the title of Reverend Lovejoy's sermon was "Life in Hell," the name of Matt Groening's comic strip. This was one of the more clever jokes, and even that was suspect.

The Mansion Family (BABF08): An odd sort of episode, the plot becoming somewhat bizarre, but packed with funny moments, nonetheless. Like when Homer bags the Grammies, a message scrolls across the bottom of the screen (particularly clever in the chosen manner of its delivery): "Homer's opinions do not reflect those of the producers, who do not consider a Grammy an award at all." When Marge objects to Homer's idea of holding a party in Burns's mansion, Homer says, "Fine. We'll call it a parte, shindig or hootnanny." Observant viewers will recall that Oz used those exact words when discussing a welcome home party on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My favourite part, though, was when the doctor was talking about Mr Burns having so many diseases they were all in perfect balance -- and demonstrating the principle with a small, wooden door and a bunch of oversize novelty germs!



7th April, 2000

With the Melbourne International Comedy Festival on until Easter, updates may not be quite as regular as usual. Please bear with me... Last night, I saw Rod Quantock (funny, but a bit too rambling, and short of his usual, cutting edge -- hasn't fine-tuned his John Howard jokes yet) and Lano & Woodley (an absolute riot!). Then I saw some more comedians, in more social environs, but I won't mention who cause that would be name-dropping.

Actually, the only Simpsons news to report is that after next week, with the school holidays on, Ten will again be showing repeats in the Thursday timeslot for two weeks.



30th March, 2000

I should've known it wouldn't last. After just one good week of not merging repeat episodes on Sundays, Ten restarted their inter-timeslot chainsaw last weekend. So now, yet again, the end credits of the 7:30pm episode and the opening sequence of the 8:00pm episode (including the blackboard and couch jokes) will be savagely chopped. Bad programmers! Bad!



27th March, 2000

Grift of the Magi (BABF07): Three words spring to mind in describing this episode: clever, funny and topical. That last is often deemphasised in The Simpsons, but this episode brings it to the fore. It's a wonder there wasn't some reference to Fox's own greed (as evidenced by its periodic shutting down of fan websites, for example). The laser-like ozone hole at the start was superbly cool. And did you notice Nelson trying to operate a jack-in-the-box with his finger inadvertently holding down the lid? A beautiful twist on the now-familiar blackboard jokes was Lisa being forced to write: "I will not do math in class." Just brilliant! And for the topical, Lisa is horrified that Funzo is programmed to destroy the competition; "Just like Microsoft," notes Bart. Aaahh... I loved the idea of Homer dressing up as Santa and sneaking into people's houses to steal from under their Christmas trees, while Bart and Lisa create a distraction with some passable caroling -- especially the appearance of the Hibberts' less than friendly guard dog. Sadly, I found the ending (and especially all the Gary Coleman garbage -- he wasn't that good, and now he's got just the one line) went way too far in its use of corny cliches. Seems to me this is one of those examples where Americans only get the joke if it's applied with a sledge-hammer. (In other words, I would have thought the corniness was very funny and appropriate if there'd been about a quarter of that actually employed.)



23rd March, 2000

I've updated my predictions for April with the information in the April Foxtel Guide. Nothing surprising there (all three streams continue as before).

What is surprising, and gratifying, is Ten's decision to show repeat episodes of The Simpsons as separate episodes on Sundays. No more merging! (At least for now). I just hope they maintain this practice, particularly for any pairs of new episodes they may come to screen later in the year.



21st March, 2000

Take My Wife, Sleaze (BABF05): I guess I found the main plot of this episode kind of lame. So rather than dwelling on that, let's just relive some of the happier moments. Bart meeting Dennis the Menace, "America's Bad Boy" was deliciously ironic, and Bart's indifference metaphorically spot-on. At the dance contest, it was cool to see that, after Homer spun Marge off the ground, Marge spun Homer, then Homer spun Marge again, but this time by the hair! Small wonder their success! The best line of the episode was uttered by Mrs Krabappel in a small but enriching appearance: "All right class. Today we'll be sitting quietly in the dark because teacher has a hangover." I thought it was funny when Marge's ransom note was pinned to Homer's head, and better yet that Bart reinserted the pin after detaching the note. Finally, it was so in character that Marge's annoyance at Homer's challenge to a duel (harking back a couple of episodes, perhaps, this duelling?) should come as the lament: "I just swept the Circle of Death..."



14th March, 2000

Looks like Ten are moving new episodes to Thursdays from this week (that's twice this year they've changed Simpsons timeslots at the last moment). New episodes will continue thereafter on Thursdays at 7:30pm, while 7:30pm Sundays will be the start time of a double timeslot, showing two repeats, probably merged. The "Simpsons by Request" timeslot will be retained.

Eight Misbehavin' (BABF03): After a promising start, the remainder of this episode turned out to be basically a one joke script. Nonetheless, it's a mark of the quality of this show that even a poor episode has some great moments. My favourite was Homer's ingenuity at the Swedish furniture store: when Marge remarks the forks are made of Lego, Homer's already combined four forks into one so he can eat from every plate in the family. Apu's reaction to Homer barbecuing cans of baked beans was also great: he points out the inherent dangers, Homer says the cans seal in the goodness; Apu doesn't want to argue, but he's quick to pick up a nearby garbage bin lid to use as a shield. Guess you had to be there. The slot machine pregnancy test was very clever ("pirates are wild," indeed). And there was another Australian connection at the zoo: after Apu's remark, "These animals certainly are different at night," we see a turtle swinging through the trees by its jaws and a pack of ravenous koalas feasting on an antelope. Brilliant stuff. Just a pity the plot itself wasn't more comical.



9th March, 2000

Today, let's catch up on some of my reactions to new Simpsons episodes:

Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder (BABF02): My favourite episode of the season so far! The episode started very well, with lots of good jokes, including some well-placed "single-sceners." It slowed down a bit as the episode made some serious points, but ended very cutely. I loved when Homer was accused by Chief Wiggum of a "Three seventeen: Pointing out police stupidity." It was also interesting to learn the origin of Hans Moleman: he comes from a race of mole people who live underground and want to kill everyone with their earthquake machine! But the best bit was when Maggie's trying to flee Homer's grasp by pulling herself along the clothesline, but Homer is pulling the line towards him, and finally Maggie just gives up and hangs limp. It's been a very long time since we've seen a Maggie episode, and I still consider her antics to make her my favourite character. In this episode, they were reminiscent of her rarely-seen excursions on the Tracey Ullman Show, especially the two-parter, "Maggie in Peril."

E-I-E-I-D'oh! (AABF19): It's good to see the whole family involved in an episode that was basically just about Homer. The glove-slapping thing at the start was very clever, but I thought some of the other plot points were a bit contrived, in the sense that they were very obviously targetted towards certain jokes. In the end, though, the sheer zanyness made the whole very enjoyable. The best bits for me were Apu to Homer: "You'll need a will and a tombstone. Aisle 6." and the mutant sheep near the end. One thing: I wonder when people are going to wise up to the title of this and similar episodes (and why is there a problem in the first place?). There's three episode titles featuring the word "d'oh!" as a sort of pun. Yet whenever the titles are published in TV guides, "d'oh!" is replaced by "(Annoyed Grunt)", which completely spoils the effect. Now even some fan sites are adopting this flawed notation, I guess because it's coming from the official source, Fox itself. The only reason I can imagine is they don't wish to commit to a spelling of "d'oh!", but I really think the whole thing is a bit stupid. Guess I should notify Channel Ten (not that they're likely to listen -- or remember).

Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner? (AABF21): This was really funny -- I was chuckling throughout! This despite how lame the plot reads on paper. But I guess that's part of the magic of The Simpsons. Clearly it's best to remember the little things in this episode. In perhaps the climax of a long-running, occasional sequence of replacements for Homer at work while he's off doing something stupid (featuring, in the past, a brick, a chicken, and other variations), Homer leaves a straw man in his chair to keep the boss from suspecting -- and the straw man gets promoted! Later, Lisa is naturally horrified when the paper containing "a percentage of recycled paper" has none at all -- "Zero's a percentage!" says the tour guide, defensively. Finally, I wonder if the criticism of Homer's own copy (composed without Lisa's help), "This reads like it was written by a dog!" mightn't refer to some of Snoopy's literary excursions.

You've probably also noticed that I just archived the news for the second half of 1999.



2nd March, 2000

A few changes for The Simpsons on FOX8 in March. The weekend morning stream continues unchanged, but the Saturday evening stream concludes on the 11th March, pre-empted by football for the remainder of the NRL season. "The Simpsons by Request" also disappears from Sunday nights. The weekday stream continues as before, except for the insertion of Homer vs the Eighteenth Amendment (4F15) in the earlier timeslot on the 17th March (St Patrick's Day). The midnight repeat timeslot is also to be delayed until 12:50am for Monday the 27th to make way for the Academy Awards Post-Show.

The biggest change, however, is the inclusion of another weekday stripping timeslot, 6:00pm Monday to Friday. This will operate as a new, separate stream, starting back at the beginning of Season One on Monday, 6th March.

Last weekend, Ten skipped the Season Eleven Hallowe'en episode. It's not clear when this will air, but it seems likely it will be held until Hallowe'en.

On a procedural note, I've finally converted the Network Ten page to a similar format I use for Foxtel. If there's any broken links, . Same if you have any (eg: you preferred something about the old system).



17th February, 2000

There'll be no update next week, since I won't have any access to the Internet. I'll be back with a March Foxtel update and other regular info around the 29th February. In the meantime, "consult your local guides." ;)

Brother's Little Helper (AABF22): I thought this was extremely funny, and very even in its humour. The baseball conspiracy wasn't something we could necessarily relate to in Australia, but it was easily ignored. In a sense, though, the entire plot of the episode was just begging for trouble. Bart given access to fire-(fighting) equipment, Homer with pills -- not exactly safe combinations. There was also something a bit weird about Bart and Homer's Attention Deficit Disorders. For one thing, how did it go so long undiagnosed?! But I can't put my finger on the rest. It's not just that Bart was more hyper than usual... Highlights included Nelson's imaginative use of the warping in a basketball floor, and the Cone of Ignorance.

FOX8's winner this week was Trash of the Titans (5F09). The "Simpsons by Request" segment this week gained a couple of presenters, though I'm not entirely convinced they added very much. I suppose it did beat a simple card and voice-over like last week. And at least the presenters are a little less "whacky" than Ten's two stooges.



10th February, 2000

For some reason, The Simpsons timeslot Wednesdays at 7:30pm was pulled last night, and doesn't look likely to make a come-back any time soon.

Both Ten and FOX8 are currently running "The Simpsons by Request" segments, though they treat it somewhat differently. On FOX8 (Sundays, 6:00pm), you can ring 1900 969 671 during the week to vote for your favourite of three fairly recent episodes. Very democratic. On Ten (Sundays, 6:30pm), you can ring (I think) to register your name. One name is selected and the viewer then presents their favourite episode (I'm not sure exactly how this will work, as the first viewer selection is on this weekend). Not very democratic, but there is the thrill of maybe appearing on TV.

It turns out the switching of 7:00am timeslots on the 14-15th February on FOX8 is very easily explained: the episode to air on the 14th is I Love Lisa, a Valentine's Day episode. So it naturally made sense to move it forward one day.

Beyond Blunderdome (AABF23): Not a bad season opener. I thought the previews had Mel sounding a bit stilted, but he worked much better in context. The last couple of seasons there appears to be a trend to build episodes around the biggest celebrities rather than just having short appearances as characters already in the script. I think I preferred the earlier approach. I liked when the Simpsons drove past Robert Downey Jr. involved in a shoot-out and someone noted, "I don't see any cameras..." And the studio execs after running over the manequin of Mel: "He's just a dummy!" "I know, but he sells tickets." But my favourite bit was Mel's killing rampage in the Senate, and the way everyone reacted to it. A real poke at Hollywood's warped patriotism and double standards. Interestingly, that's probably the first and only time we'll see the American government slaughtered on screen -- and only a cartoon could get away with it! The flagpole turned spear was a particularly masterful touch.



4th February, 2000

My apologies... FOX8's version of "The Simpsons by Request" will air at 6:00pm Sundays (not Saturdays), immediately before Ten's, less authentic version. I've corrected the relevant pages.



3rd February, 2000

Next week, Ten's Thursday Simpsons timeslot moves to a single episode on Wednesdays at 7:30pm, starting at the beginning of Season Nine.

On Foxtel, a new Simpsons timeslot has been added at the last minute, presumably to compete directly with Channel Ten. The new timeslot is at 6:00pm Sundays and is called "Simpsons by Request". By ringing a 1900 number during the week, viewers may vote for one of three episodes to screen in the new timeslot. I haven't yet confirmed the details of this change and how it will affect the remainder of the Saturday line-up, but I'll let you know when I have more.

The Simpsons Archive reports that Homer3 is to feature in an animated, IMAX compilation called Cyberworld, due for release late this year. Check the link above for more details.



1st February, 2000

Season Eleven of The Simpsons commences on Ten this Sunday, 6th February, at 7:30pm. At the same time, an additional repeat timeslot is added Sundays at 6:30pm. It remains to be seen how long this will last.

I've updated this Sunday's episodes but the whole thing's caught me a bit underprepared, so the new layout for Channel Ten timeslots won't be introduced until later. My apologies. I'll try to find out more about future predictions on Thursday. In the meantime, I've put up episode descriptions for the first half of Season Eleven. The remainder will appear closer to when the final episode listed actually screens in Australia. The descriptions are the same ones that will appear in the papers. I may subsequently update them to those used by The Simpsons Archive.



24th January, 2000

February on FOX8, The Simpsons maintain their timeslots, but with two streams reaching the end of Season Ten, there are a couple of things to note.

The weekday stream jumps to the "start" of Season Four (actually 9F01) on the 7th February. What's more, the first of the two daily episodes scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, 14-15th February will be switched, Monday's episode airing on Tuesday and vice versa. Of course, this may not actually happen.

Meanwhile, the Saturday night stream jumps to the start of Season Nine on 19th February. The weekend morning stream continues with Season Two.



20th January, 2000

There hasn't been much Simpsons news recently, but that's finally changed. First up, I saw the new Simpsons CD, Go Simpsonic, at Target yesterday. It seems much like Songs in the Key of Springfield (which is available in a special, boxed edition with a puzzle), except with different songs.

From The Simpsons Archive come reports of The Simpsons getting their own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. A remark from Mike Scully confirms a 12th season is almost certain, and possibly more.

Finally, Fox's all-new Simpsons website is up and running at thesimpsons.com. Lots of colour, lots of graphics, lots of processor power required. You can even get your own email address @thesimpsons.com.


Australian Simpsons News Archive: Second Half, 1999.



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Last Updated: 9-October-2000