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Australian Simpsons News
First Half, 1998

These pages are maintained by . Feel free to email me any suggestions or contributions.

25th June, 1998

The Last Temptation of Krust: Perhaps I was just in the right mood to appreciate it, but I really enjoyed this episode. It's basically a satire on stand-up comedy, and it was great to see Krusty playing a major role again. The humour was very much "classic Simpsons," and the ending was surprisingly funny; unlike King of the Hill, where the humour plays on Americans' perception of themselves, The Simpsons again managed to keep things generic enough that everyone could understand and have a good laugh. "The Canyonero has not been approved for use on freeways or city streets."

24th June, 1998

There's lots of news to report today, so it's probably worthwhile scrolling down and scanning for interesting headlines. In particular, there are a number of changes on Foxtel in July.

Simpsons Get Their Own Star: E! News announced last night that the Simpson family will be getting their own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame next year. I wonder who's going to be removed to make some space...

Ten Butchers The Simpsons, Yet Again: It was very disappointing to see Ten return to last year's poor form and truncate last night's new Simpsons episode. I think this practice shows a complete disregard for the Network's viewers and a simple lack of courtesy. Although I can live with them doing this on Sundays with repeat episodes, I'm not at all impressed when they cut new episodes. The other thing that annoys me about this is how Ten seems to try to deceive its viewers. First, The Age TV guide showed the two episodes as screening separately. Second, Ten's publicity department in Sydney couldn't tell me either way whether it would be cut or not (they had no idea what I was talking about). And third, Ten purposely adjusted the rating of the second episode from PG up to M in order to allow the two to be merged. Again, I'm not impressed.

Natural Born Kisser: This episode earned an 'M' rating on Ten, yet its special status didn't exempt it from Ten's butchery -- the credits were removed in order to fit more ads. It's annoying that this is the thing I remember most about an otherwise very unusual and very funny episode. Previous episodes of The Simpsons have occasionally alluded to nakedness, which has tended to look rather odd. This time, with so much of the episode revealing curves that Marge and Homer don't normally display, the animators had to sit down and figure out what our love-birds really look like in the dark. And they did a pretty good job. They also did a pretty good job of hiding what needed to be hid (woodcutters, anyone?). There were one or two scenes that were a little unsavoury, though not directly because of nudity (most of the town grabbing Homer's naked butt isn't a terribly attractive thought), but it was otherwise tastefully done. Perhaps the episode's true achievement, though, was in breaking so much new ground; not just socially, but also geographically. We saw parts of Springfield that we've never seen before: a local farm, a bunch of people's front lawns complete with wind ornaments, the used car lot, the glass cathedral, and so on. Some of these may even reappear in the future. At the end, though, I did think the episode finished rather abruptly. I may, of course, be mistaken, but it seems likely there was something special over the credits that we missed.

Two Hour Simpsons Special on 5th July: Ten is advertising a 2 hour Simpsons special on Sunday, 5th July. I expect they'll just be showing four episodes rather than the usual two, probably all merged into one, long hodge-podge. More info when I have it.

Foxtel Cuts the Dose on The Simpsons in July: As of Monday, 6th July, FOX8 will be dropping the 11:30pm repeat timeslot of The Simpsons, in favour of some talk show by Magic Johnson. It's possible that another timeslot will be added in the early morning (I'll let you know as soon as I get my Foxtel Guide), but at this stage, it looks like The Simpsons will only be seen at 7:00pm on Foxtel during the week.

Confirmed July Schedule and August Predictions on Foxtel: Although I haven't yet received my July Foxtel Guide, I've used Foxtel's online guide to confirm all of my Simpsons predictions for July. Everything was exactly as predicted, apart from the demise of the 11:30pm weekday timeslot from the 6th July. If the Foxtel Guide says any differently, I'll let you know as soon as I get it. I've also added predictions for August.

19th June, 1998

Special Episode on Ten: Next Tuesday, 23rd June at 8:30pm, Ten will be screening the "last" episode in Season Nine, Natural Born Kisser (a.k.a. Margie, May I Sleep With Danger). The late timeslot is the result of this episode being allocated an 'M' rating, but it's not clear why it is being shown seven weeks before the end of new, Season Nine episodes in the Wednesday timeslot. I'm guessing that, with the end of the current season nearing for so many shows, it just made sense to the schedulers to show it now rather than trying to fit it in around a host of new shows.

Incidentally, although another episode of The Simpsons is to be shown afterwards, at 9:00pm, it is very likely that both will screen in full, as the second scheduled episode has a 'PG' rating. Last year, we saw that when subsequent episodes had different ratings, they were always shown in full.

We're Back at the TV Guide: You may have noticed that the link to these pages at Sofcom's TV Guide has been restored. The changeover to the new format is not yet complete, but will be soon, along with a whole new URL. What this means for you, the viewer, is actually not a whole lot, but I just thought I'd point it out. :)

Das Bus: Homer on the Internet? Without even a computer? Well, stranger things have happened (although I can't recall any at the moment). Unfortunately, I got the impression that Homer's Internet exploits were tacked on to the rest of the episode as something of an afterthought. That's not to say it wasn't amusing to see Bill Gates trash Homer's "home office," but maybe the subplot needed a bit more air time. The kids' adventures on a desert island, OTOH, had some great moments (Nelson using Milhouse's glasses to light the fire; Bart's treehouse, "You'll be glad when it's raining."). The parallels to Lord of the Flies were unmistakable, yet the plot never quite went where you expected it to. As a whole, the episode displayed a type of humour, a kind of flippancy, rarely seen on The Simpsons -- more in line with 22 Short Films About Springfield.

16th June, 1998

Tracey Ullman is Gone: For those of you who've been following my promises of the return of The Tracey Ullman Show, I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed. The Comedy Channel no longer has the rights to the show, so we won't be seeing the Simpsons shorts in Australia for some time to come. Various pages have been adjusted to reflect this change.

Ironically, I've finally completed my Tracey Ullman Show Episode Guide and moved all Tracey Ullman information to a separate page. Since web pages can be difficult to print, I'm including printable versions of the Episode Guide in Word 97 format, for both A4 and US Letter paper. Grab these from the Tracey Ullman pages.

Colour Changes: Apart from restructuring the Tracey Ullman pages, I'm also making other changes to the website. One of these is a change to the link colours. I'm hoping the new colours will make tables of contents less jarring, but .

11th June, 1998

Foxtel viewers will notice that I haven't de-italicised the weekend's episodes yet, mainly because I wasn't here. As soon as I've confirmed that next weekend's episodes are as predicted, I'll straighten the others.

The Joy of Sect: One of the best episodes in the season so far. Although I thought the main plot was funny, with some good temporary characters (the two movementarians), the intro truly cracked me up. First, Homer boosts the rest of the family up onto a gigantic couch, then gets eaten by the dog, then, as Homer and Bart go to the airport, we see a sign, "Springfield Airport -- Accident Free for Two Days". In the background, a plane catches its wing on a building and starts doing somersaults in the air. Beautiful stuff!

4th June, 1998

As part of the Sofcom TV Guide's restructure, I'm having to reformat most of my pages. The old URL will continue to function while I iron all the bugs out of the new code, but expect a new URL some time soon. Once everything's been fixed, the TV Guide's main page will restore their link to this site. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Bart Carny: I had no idea what a carny was before watching this episode; it seems amusement parks have their own culture and reputation in the US. Apart from all this out-of-place learning, I found the start of the episode to be truly hilarious, with one joke leading beautifully into the next. It was interesting to see Lisa being as lazy as Bart ("It's your turn! I switched on the TV yesterday!"). And the introduction to the carnival was wonderful in its attention to detail. Unfortunately, I thought the rest of the episode was rather ordinary -- though it did have its moments (such as Homer trying to put on his pants but falling out of the tree-house).

2nd June, 1998

On 28th May, 1998, Phil Hartman, the voice of Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz, was shot in his home. Fox Entertainment News reported, on Monday, that it was believed he was shot by his wife, who subsequently turned the gun on herself. The reasons for the shooting are not clear, but are believed to involve "domestic discord". Further details are available as part of Sofcom's USA Report for the 29th May and at The Simpsons Archive.

To commemorate his contribution to The Simpsons, FOX8 will be screening two episodes that prominently display Phil's talents on Sunday 7th June. The two episodes previously scheduled in this timeslot will be skipped.

Sofcom Reorganises: As part of the Sofcom TV Guide's reorganisation, all links to seem to have temporarily disappeared. I'm currently negotiating how the changes will affect these Simpsons pages. I'll let you know more when I do.

28th May, 1998

All Singing, All Dancing: If you ever thought you wanted a video version of Songs in the Key of Springfield, here it is! This episode is the Season Nine clip show, and it is a music clip show, with hardly a single spoken word. Actually, the set-up is quite good and the clips portray some of the show's better moments. All of the tunes the Simpsons use between clips sounded hauntingly familiar, though I couldn't actually place them (I think they're taken from popular musicals). My favourite bit was Homer and Bart's expressions when they realised Clint Eastwood was going to sing, and Homer's subsequent ejecting of the video directly into the bin.

27th May, 1998

I received my June Foxtel Guide last night, a bit later than usual, and have updated the June page and added predictions for July. Everything for June was in line with my earlier predictions.

According to Fox Entertainment News, The Simpsons rated tenth in Australia last week! That's the first time I've seen The Simpsons in the top ten since I started this web site -- an impressive performance for a show in its Ninth Season!

New Seasons on Fox8: The Networks will be finishing with the current seasons of The X-Files, Millennium and The Simpsons over the next couple of months. Once this happens, the rights should be available to Foxtel immediately. However, it is not clear what will happen with Millennium, as its second season has only just started screening in Melbourne (Sydney viewers are half-way through the season). It is rumoured that Foxtel will get the new season of Millennium in September despite this! I'll keep you up-to-date as further information comes my way.

21st May, 1998

I've done some work on The Tracey Ullman Show, which will be getting its own page shortly. Things should settle down a bit after that.

Miracle on Evergreen Terrace: Last night's Simpsons showed that the show can still deliver a hilarious episode from time to time! The set-up was just beautiful, and some of the incidental jokes, brilliant. I love what happened to the tree (I'm melting!)! It's interesting that Bart and Lisa are behaving like children more often than before (eg: Bart playing with his fire engine). My favourite line: Mr Burns -- "Does anyone have change for a button?"

14th May, 1998

In case you haven't noticed, I've updated the episode list with Season Ten information. Notice the change in production codes, which will affect all Fox shows (the exact form of the new codes is not yet confirmed). Season Ten has been confirmed to be a full season of 26 episodes, but no official word yet of a Season Eleven. (Thanks to The Simpsons Archives for that news.)

Looking at the Episode List you'll also notice that Ten hasn't exactly been showing the last couple of episodes in order. Actually, things aren't quite as bad as they appear: although they did screw up with Simpson Tide, this week's Lisa the Simpson was postponed a number of times in America, so its "correct" position is probably closer to Ten's interpretation. We'll have to wait for Foxtel to show Season Nine before we'll know for sure.

Lisa the Simpson: It's great to see an episode that doesn't rely on taking off a movie! Still not quite classic Simpsons, but definitely one of the better episodes of the season. I did feel it was a bit rushed in places, and bringing together "all the Simpsons in town" was rather contrived, but it wasn't a big problem. I just wish I could remember a line from the episode!

12th May, 1998

I've made a heap of changes to the site, updating most of my 'essays,' March and April histories, and the structure of the Channel Ten page. I've also split off 1997 news to its own page, removed references to stripping when there was none, fixed up the links sections, etc. As ever, comments are very welcome.

Actually, I've not much more to say!

Simpsons Tide: For completeness, I'll add a line or two about last week's episode. I thought it was quite a good episode, with an especially funny start (Rocky and Bullwinkle couch gag followed by The Planet of the Doughnuts!). The implausibility of the plot revealed its nature as a "special" episode, if you didn't already know. And I was left wondering how Homer would get his job back at the power plant...

4th May, 1998

Just a quick note to say this will be the only update to these pages this week. Remember that Foxtel changes its weekday Simpsons scheduling from 11th May, screening one episode per day, at 7:00pm and 11:30pm -- not as shown in the Foxtel Guide.

29th April, 1998

Lots of news today. I suggest you page down and read all the headlines that interest you.

200th Simpsons Episode: Both Entertainment News programmes (on Ten and FOX8) mentioned that the 200th episode of The Simpsons screened over the weekend in America. But we already knew that, didn't we? If you hadn't already heard, the episode features U2, with both Bono and The Edge supplying their voices -- it took them only ten seconds to agree to the gig. Martin Short also guest stars.

Second Simpsons CD: In related news, E! News' prediction of a new Simpsons CD had already been confirmed. I received an email last week to tell me a second Simpsons CD will be released in the US in August. I'm guessing we might see it around Christmas. "It will contain out takes, new music and stuff which did not make the first CD." Thanks for the info.

Season Nine Running Order: One of my patrons, who presumably receives TV Week, has reported that next week's Wednesday Simpsons episode will be Simpson Tide, episode 19 of Season Nine. I rang up Ten to find out what was going on, and although they didn't really seem to know, I was able to piece together the following probable scenario. Simpson Tide was part of the four episodes commissioned as extras along with Season Eight. It was given a 3G production code, but played in the middle of Season Nine (only a month ago). This would explain why Ten has it listed as episode 24 of Season Eight. They also told me the screening order is supplied to them by Fox in the US, but I think there may be an intermediary, as for previous seasons, their order has differed significantly from Foxtel's (correct) ordering.

Season Nine Predictions: While I was speaking to Ten, I asked about the rest of 'their' running order for Season Nine. This information is now shown on the Simpsons on Ten page. The order differs somewhat from the US running order, especially over the next few weeks, but this is unlikely to be problematic. I should also point out that there are four further episodes in Season Nine (episodes 200 through 203) which Ten hasn't yet received the running order for. Finally, note that better incorporation of this information into the site will form part of the site overhaul due in the next couple of weeks.

Season Ten News: It seems the voice actors have received their long-overdue pay rise and are back in production! It's not yet clear how many episodes there will be in Season Ten, as The Simpsons may end at the end of the season. As the threat is mainly due to old writers moving on, we might see a few more seasons of new writers trying to prove themselves. Also Fox seems likely to revise its production code system next year, leading to all sorts of confusion... (All information in this paragraph comes from The Simpsons Archives.)

23rd April, 1998

Sorry it's been so long between updates. Actually, not much has happened to warrant one. The site does need a bit of a general overhall, however, and I still haven't updated March's history... These things will be done eventually, when I've got a bit of time on my hands -- none of them are crucial.

I received my May Foxtel Guide yesterday, and apart from one scheduling change, my predictions were all correct. However, Foxtel has rescheduled the weekday stream: starting on the 11th May, only one episode will be shown each day, at 7:00pm, repeated at 11:30pm. The schedule in the May Foxtel Guide does not show this change correctly, as the decision was made after the Guide's print deadline. The episode names shown in the Guide for this stream are also incorrect from this date. The correct information is available from this site.

If you're interested in what's going on with The Simpsons for upcoming seasons, have a look at the Season Nine page at The Simpsons Archive. Ironically, this very news page is referenced from there!

Lisa the Skeptic: I thought last night's Simpsons episode was good but not classical. I was pleased to see that they wrapped everything up well at the end, but the issues they touched on were not explored beyond the superficial. Except perhaps the issue of consumers being blinded by marketing hype and marketers getting away with the truly tasteless in the name of capitalism. I loved the Neanderthal going fishing, though!

8th April, 1998

I'm not going to be able to do any more updates until after Easter, so I've made a prediction for Ten's Sunday episodes as a placeholder. Check your local TV guide for more reliable information.

It seems all of Ten's premiere series are returning to repeats for the two weeks of school holidays. When I rang Ten about this (just concerning The Simpsons at the time) and commented that one could be very cynical about it, their response was that all the networks are doing this. Checking through my TV guide, Ten is the only channel fobbing off their viewers over Easter in this way. It's disturbing when the Networks go so low as to deceive their own staff about their motivations.

6th April, 1998

More News on Simpsons Voices. I caught up on Foxtel's Entertainment News on Sunday, where I'd missed it on Monday. They provided more details on the Simpsons voice actors' pay-rise demands. It seems the actors involved are Dan Castellaneta (Homer, etc), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria (both do various voices). I'm not sure about Julie Kavner (Marge). As I understand it, they're demanding a cut of the syndication earnings in return for three more seasons, and although Fox has offered a significant pay-rise, they're still holding out. Unlike the other US networks in recent times (Seinfeld, ER, Mad About You, etc), Fox seems to be unmoveable and is taking steps to possibly continue the series with a different set of voice actors. Given Fox's "recent" stance on fan usage of copyright materials (wherein many Simpsons sites and Aliens Quake mods were shut down), I'm finding it hard to be sympathetic to Fox's viewpoint. It doesn't help that a Simpsons with different voices is unlikely to retain its current quality.

Did anyone else notice that Team Homer was played on both Ten and Foxtel on Sunday? Next Sunday should see the same happen with Two Bad Neighbours, before Foxtel forges on ahead.

2nd April, 1998

Ten Defers New Episodes. The next two weeks being school holidays, Ten will be screening repeats of The Simpsons (end of Season Four) on Wednesdays, rather than new episodes. On the surface, this would appear to justify a huge measure of cynicism.

Ten's horrible E! News scores again, with information that the voices of Homer, Lisa, Marge (they got it right this time) and a swathe of other characters (ie: Harry Shearer?) are still holding out for more money. So much so, that auditions are happening across the US for replacements. Nancy Cartwright (Bart) is still on board, but the rest is very up in the air. I'm hoping to get some more info on this shortly.

The Two Mrs Nahasapeemapetilons: I really liked this episode, with some very funny moments (Homer dressed as Ganesh). I did think the plot wasn't terrifically structured, but that didn't harm the episode too much. It was good to see an episode that wasn't as strongly themed as some in recent times (eg: the boxing and football episodes), but it was strange to see so little involvement from Bart and Lisa.

26th March, 1998

Simpsons on Ten: Ten is returning to Season Eight and Seven repeats in the Sunday timeslot (7:30pm).

Foxtel Simpsons in April: April's Foxtel Guide showed up yesterday, so I've updated the April schedule. No real changes, but beware on Wednesday, 15th April, as part one of Who Shot Mr Burns? will screen second in the morning but first in the evening (7:00pm). This way, viewers watching only the 7:00pm episodes will get to see both parts of the two-parter. More substantial scheduling changes are expected in May.

Treehouse of Horror VIII: I'd been told previously that this was the best episode in Season Nine, and I wasn't disappointed. All three segments were very funny, with some very imaginative ideas and a couple of new twists on the Hallowe'en episode theme. Actually, I had to remind myself a couple of times that this was a Hallowe'en episode, particularly when faced with the horror of everyone in Springfield being killed! I really felt they were breaking new ground with the censors here; there was something really horrific about it all. But, like I said, very, very funny!

19th March, 1998

Hallowe'en in March. In a first for Channel Ten, they've decided to screen Season Nine's Hallowe'en episode at approximately the right place in the season, rather than deferring it to the following Hallowe'en (normally near the end of the Australian season). In preparation, the previous two Hallowe'en episodes will be shown this Sunday. I eagerly welcome this change of policy from Ten, though it would have made slightly more sense to combine it with one of the two Friday the 13th's we've just had.

Voice Actors Demand Higher Pay. Ten's E! News reported, on Tuesday, that the voice actors who do Homer, Bart and Madge (according to the illiterate E! announcer) are asking for more money. I gather they haven't had a pay-rise for a while. In the meantime, they're refusing to do any voices for Season Ten. This stance follows similar (and more costly) shows of solidarity from the casts of Seinfeld, Friends, E.R. and probably others.

Groening to Start a New Series. One of my visitors last week emailed me with the following information, which I have been unable to confirm:

Just thought you'd like to know that Variety has reported that Fox have bought 13 eps of a new animated series from Mat Groening, apparently called Futurama and set in the year 3000.

Bart Star: Not much to say about this episode. There were some good moments, but few "burst out laughing" jokes. I wasn't impressed with Homer's abject stupidity (but then I remember thinking the same a couple of times last season, yet loving those episodes on a second viewing). Funnily enough, the Pee-Wee Football thing reminded me of South Park ("Oh, no! They've decapitated Kenny!" "Bastards!"), so it was disappointing when no-one died. ;)  It was nice to be able to hear Homer's antics over the end credits, though, where these would probably have been cut by Ten last season.

10th March, 1998

I've updated the US screening timetable again, plus all the regular weekly updates.

Tracey Takes On... Childhood on Friday night was not as interesting as I'd hoped. I might continue to watch for a couple more weeks and see if it improves. But I won't mention it here again. I might, however, update the Tracey Ullman Episode List periodically.

Foxtel Online Guide provides episode names. I just noticed that Foxtel's online episode guide now includes the names of the Simpsons episodes being shown. The information is not as complete as what I provide, but it's a start.

6th March, 1998

Next week, Ten will be showing the second missing, Season Six episode of The Simpsons at 7:30pm on Sunday. Plugging another gap, the last episode of Season Eight, The Secret War of Lisa Simpson, will be shown next Wednesday at the normal time. The following weekend should plug the remaining gap in Season Six (although 2F33 is only marginally funny).

Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that Ten would try to shift the blame for these episodes not showing up earlier: the voice-over on Wednesday said the Season Six episodes had been "sitting in a Hollywood vault." Take some responsibility, Ten: if you had wanted them, you could have got them.

I also noticed that, despite a 5% increase in the number of viewers, The Simpsons has slipped four places in the Melbourne ratings. I presume this is because Seven has finally started its normal, post-Olympics schedule.

Tracey Ullman Comes to the ABC: From today, the ABC will be showing Tracey Ullman's Emmy Award-winning sketch comedy show, Tracey Takes On..., Fridays at 9:30pm. The Tracey Ullman Show is where The Simpsons first appeared, as short, animated items sandwiched between live action sketches. The series to be screened by the ABC does not feature The Simpsons, but despite a poor review in this week's Green Guide, I expect it to be very funny.

26th February, 1998

Lisa's Sax: A surprisingly good episode, giving us perhaps more history than we really needed. I do think we could have done without the singing at the start, and Apu's appearances didn't contribute anything valuable. But everything else was funny. Notice what I believe was the first ever appearance of Snowball I. I also thought the children looked as if drawn to imitate some of the kiddy cartoons that have been done (eg: Baby Muppets). Ten's use of couch gags from future episodes as ad bumpers seems a bit low, but I can't deny they are very funny.

On Tuesday (Ten's atrocious version of E! News), I learned that Bart's old single, Do the Bartman!, was written by Michael Jackson. Ten showed the "video clip" for this during one of its first two-episode specials, in 1995. I'm hoping Foxtel can get hold of it (and its partner, Deep, Deep Trouble).

Intro to A Star is Burns: To fully appreciate this Sunday's Simpsons episode, A Star is Burns, you need to know something about another animated show, also produced by James L. Brooks. Borrowing from the Internet Movie Database: The Critic is an animated show about the life of Jay Sherman, a movie critic forced to review all the most pathetic films. Not surprisingly, his catch-phrase, and the conclusion of every review, is: "It stinks!" In addition to the film parodies, the show also deals with Jay's personal life, working for a tyrannical media mogul boss, his love-life and family.

In this episode of The Simpsons, Marge invites Jay to Springfield. But Matt Groening was not similarly inviting, and had his name removed from the credits to express his disapproval of cartoon cross-overs.

Foxtel screened The Critic on Arena last year. When King of the Hill first started, I commented (below) that I thought the humour similar to The Critic, but you won't really see that in this episode of The Simpsons.

25th February, 1998

The last episode of Season Eight, The Secret War of Lisa Simpson, will be shown on Ten on the 11th March at 7:30pm. So it seems Ten will finally have caught up to Foxtel.

24th February, 1998

Ten Gets Missing Simpsons Episodes: One of my visitors has alerted me to the fact Network Ten finally has the rights to the three missing Simpsons episodes from Season Six: 2F33, 2F31 and 2F32. These episodes will be screening in the first Sunday timeslot over the next three weeks, followed by repeats. Ten indicated they would be shown in full, rather than merged, but I'm not certain they understood my question. Episode 2F31, A Star is Burns, requires some further information to fully understand it, which I'll supply on this page closer to screening.

23rd February, 1998

March Foxtel Update: I received my Foxtel Guide on Friday, so I've updated my March Foxtel information, and added predictions for April. There are a couple of unusual circumstances I haven't yet annotated (eg: the end of daylight saving).

I find it amusing that Foxtel is advertising the Sunday Simpsons episodes as "see it here before anywhere else." As Lisa says in the ad (sound byte from 7F18), "This is a rather shameless promotion."

19th February, 1998

The Principal and the Pauper: Yesterday's new episode was apparently held by some US fans to be the worst Simpsons episode ever. I didn't think it was that bad, but I did think it puzzling that they would write such a story. Nothing was really revealed about any of the characters, an unenlightened plot dominated the episode, and you could see early on they'd need a deus ex machina to set everything back to normal at the end. There were still some really funny moments, but I was left wondering what was the point of it all. I also think that The Simpsons used to work a lot better when there were multiple, little stories running throughout the episode, rather than a single, domineering "plot."

Channel Ten are planning to show the last episode of Season Eight, The Secret War of Lisa Simpson, in the middle of March. This episode was inexplicably held over for the next season, July last year.

17th February, 1998

Updated US Schedule: I did a bit of hunting on the web today and discovered that my US Simpsons info was no longer accurate. Both the episode list and US Season Nine have now been updated.

12th February, 1998

Season Nine of The Simpsons is officially here! Last night's The City of New York vs Homer Simpson gave us yet another fresh look at the Simpsons. I managed not to make the same mistake as last season, expecting more of the same, and was able to enjoy the episode simply based on its own merits -- and there certainly were some hilarious moments. I think The Simpsons are so familiar, having been replayed so often, that it's hard to appreciate a new episode at first.

As I suspected, rather than stripping The Simpsons, Ten are going to use the Sunday, hour-long timeslot for repeats. In a surprising move, the first half-hour is showing Season Eight repeats already, where in the past, these would have been held off for a full twelve months. Season Seven repeats complete the hour. Unfortunately, the episodes are being shown merged, so now the Foxtel-deprived will be seeing the Season Eight openings alone, where they saw just the closing credits last year. I'm very pleased that Season Nine episodes are being shown in full, at least!

9th February, 1998

A friend alerted me to the fact that JJJ were doing a Simpsons show last night, including an interview with Executive Producer, Mike Scully (actually recorded last week). Perhaps the most important thing to learn from the show was that the Comic Art Gallery in Melbourne still has all the Simpsons animation cells on show, so if you live in Melbourne, it's not yet too late.

Other things Mike Scully said (from memory): his favourite episode is Bart the Daredevil (particularly the sequence at the end, which can only be seen in full in the clip-show episode, 9F17); people who get their Realpolitik from The Simpsons are sad (though I'd add that people who get it from A.C.A. aren't much better); the most successful treatment of a real issue was in Homer's Phobia; Itchy & Scratchy are used sparingly because the shock value would be lessened and because kids today miss the Tom & Jerry reference, enjoying the violence for its own sake (they didn't talk about how the worst parts are censored in Australia); and he can't believe people on the Internet still debate whether Smithers is gay ("we haven't been that subtle about it").

Following the interview, there was a Simpsons trivia competition. Although I managed to get through at one point, it was a bit embarrassing when my mind went blank with the pressure on. It's some small consolation that I was able to bag Roseanne on national radio (grin!).

What I can remember of the trivia questions went as follows (not really in order):

  1. Where did the Simpsons get Santa's Little Helper?
  2. What street do the Simpsons live on?
  3. When Bart fooled the town into thinking someone was trapped down the well, what name did he use? What singer helped with the digging?
  4. What did Bart and Lisa use to attract snakes in Whacking Day?
  5. What was the secret ingredient in a Flaming Homer?
  6. What was the name of the jazz musician that Lisa met when she was feeling blue?
  7. Where does Marge get her hair cut?
  8. In the episode Flaming Moe's, what band did Homer fall on top of?
  9. When Homer was in space, what singer played for the astronauts?
  10. What are the names of Bart's two girlfriends?
  11. What character was Homer imitating in his "You can't handle the truth!" rant and which movies was it from?
  12. What is the name of the all-you-can-eat seafood restaurant Homer goes to?
  13. When Bart was in Australia, what did he write on his butt?
  14. What sport was Bart forced to enrol in when he turned up late to gym?
  15. What are the names of three of the Seven Duffs at Duff Gardens? (They got one of these wrong: "Sleazy" was never a Duff.)
  16. In The Last Temptation of Homer, who was Homer's last temptation?
  17. What colour hair dye does Marge use?
The screening question was "What band was Homer a member of?"

5th February, 1998

New Episodes on Ten: The first episode of Season Nine of The Simpsons will be shown at 7:30pm on the 11th February. The Sunday timeslot looks set to continue with Season Seven and Eight repeats, but this could easily still change. Stripping ceases tomorrow (6th February), all of Season Six having been screened (except the three missing episodes).

Post-Summer Schedule: The recommencement of ratings heralds the end of summer programming, though it can be hard to discern any change in quality. The Winter Olympics mean Channel 7 won't be starting it's normal ratings-period programming for a few more weeks, but I'll highlight some of the new programming on the other channels:

Friends stays at 7:30pm Monday on Nine, with new Season Four episodes.
Veronica's Closet commences at 8:00pm Monday on Nine.
Mad About You stays at 7:30pm Tuesday on Ten, with new Season Six episodes.
Suddenly Susan moves to 8:30pm Monday on Nine.
The Pretender start a new series at 9:30pm Tuesday on Nine.
Deep Space Nine returns to 11:00pm Tuesday on Nine.
The Simpsons starts Season Nine at 7:30pm Wednesday on Ten.
The X-Files starts Season Five at 8:30pm Wednesday on Ten (the first week repeats the last episode of Season Four, then continues with the first episode of Season Five, to be continued the following week).
Caroline in the City and Early Edition are both apparently disappering, while the future of Due South, FX and Buffy is uncertain.

3rd February, 1998

One of my visitors informs me that TV Week have a new episode of The Simpsons listed for the 11th February, right before a triple episode of The X-Files to start Season Five. Rather than The Secret War of Lisa Simpson, TV Week have the first episode of Season Nine (Homer vs New York) listed. I won't try to understand what Ten is up to. But at least it's something to look forward to!

2nd February, 1998

Season Nine on Ten: With ratings resuming on the 8th February, expect new episodes of The Simpsons either this weekend or next. Either way, the first episode to be shown has already been seen on Foxtel, as it's actually the last episode from Season Eight. Thereafter, we're into virgin territory, and I can't wait!

Interestingly, Ten has not yet released a date for new episodes to resume. One can read many things into this, but my guess is they're planning something big.

29th January, 1998

Future of The Simpsons: On Tuesday night, E! News on Ten presented an interview with Mike Scully, executive producer of The Simpsons. When asked about the future of The Simpsons, he had this to say:

Right now, we've passed the 200th show; most American shows don't make it to one hundred. What we don't want to do is overstay our welcome to the point where people are pushing us off the air. There's ... Season Nine is already on the air in America and coming up here in Australia. There's definitely going to be a Season Ten. They're talking about Eleven and Twelve.

New Episodes on Ten: Judging by Ten's advertising, new episodes of The Simpsons (Season Nine), The X-Files (Season Five), Mad About You (Season Six) and other shows will commence the week after next.

Foxtel Logo: Sadly, Foxtel has started using an opaque, Fox Kids logo during the Saturday and Sunday morning Simpsons marathons. The logo is much more annoying than the transparent FOX8 logo used in other timeslots. At this stage, it looks like they're going to stick with the Fox Kids logo, but if you don't like it, let Foxtel know the next time you call them -- things like this are strongly affected by customer feedback.

22nd January, 1998

As you can see, we're making a couple of changes to the site: adding some graphics, changing the navigation a bit, etc. Who knows -- might even end up with a fully graphical front page! Comments, as ever, are .

21st January, 1998

Melbourne Simpsons News: Mike Scully, director of six episodes from Seasons Six through Eight of The Simpsons, is in Melbourne this weekend, appearing at the Comic Art Gallery, 1011 High St, Armadale from 12:00-4:00pm this Saturday. Apparently, he's brought some new Simpsons animation cels with him.

The February Foxtel Guide arrived yesterday, pleasantly ahead of schedule, so I've been able to verify my February predictions, reflected on the February page. I've also set up predictions for March on Foxtel. Note that Simpsons character day Mondays have been discontinued. Everything else continues in sequence, except...

Some last-minute changes to Foxtel's Simpsons coverage, starting this weekend, on the 25th January. The Sunday evening timeslot is being replaced by a full hour of Simpsons, from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. This will then be repeated at 12 midnight, and again at 5:00am. This timeslot constitutes a new stream, and is starting with episode 2F13, Bart vs Australia, to celebrate Australia Day. The Saturday 6:00pm stream will continue as indicated in the Foxtel Guide (hence skipping every other episode) until the end of February, after which its regular sequence will continue.

This is starting to get complicated. It's as if someone at Foxtel is trying to make things hard for me! (Just kidding.)

Survey Questions: My desire to cater to my patronage leads me to ask the following questions:

  1. Would you like the production codes in the Network Ten stripping grid to be hyperlinked to a) episode names in the episode list, or b) to the episode summaries? Or neither, or both?
  2. Would you like to see Foxtel Simpsons information displayed in a compact, monthly grid with just the production codes? (This is the form I use personally, generated in Excel.)
  3. Are you interested in episode lists for other shows on FOX8, such as The X-Files, Space: Above & Beyond or Highlander?
Please . The more responses I get, the more likely I am to implement the above.

15th January, 1998

Ten seems to have a funny idea of what comprises a Season of The Simpsons, as they screened 3F23 and 3F24 as if they were the last two episodes of Season Seven. It seems more and more likely that no-one at Ten actually watches The Simpsons.

Apart from these two episodes, Ten is not repeating Season Eight at this time. They appear to be using Season Three episodes to fill in until Season Nine arrives, and have swapped the Sunday timeslots. Judging from previous years, new episodes of The Simpsons are expected in early February, although Ten have not yet fixed a date. I was told that the new episodes would all be shown in full, without merging, but I guess I'll believe it when I see it -- here's hoping.

The Tracey Ullman Show will be returning to the Comedy Channel some time fairly soon. More details when I have them. In the meantime, the ABC is advertising Tracey Takes On... as one of its hit, new comedies for 1998. As I understand it, this is an expanded version of her previous show, filmed on location rather than live. Although no Simpsons shorts feature, it's very good comedy.

12th January, 1998

I'm back from holidays and rearing to go! Actually, I'd rather have a few more weeks (months) holiday, but that can't be helped. Regular updates will resume as of now, though it might be a little while before everything is completely up to date. Keep checking those "last updated" dates at the bottom of each page (and you'll notice I've also made them more prominent on the front page).

The Simpsons returns to weekday stripping on Ten as of today. A new timeslot has been assigned: 6:00pm weeknights. What's more, Season Six is finally being stripped! (Previously it was only shown on Sundays.) Now we just have to hope that Ten gets hold of 2F31, 2F32 and 2F33, which it's so successfully avoided up until now.

Foxtel viewers should, however, stay away from anything but new episodes on Ten. Why? Well, yesterday I watched the start of Last Exit to Springfield and was shocked at how much was cut from the first scene. For the benefit of free-to-air viewers, after McBain pops out of the ice sculpture, he proceeds to shoot each bad-guy around the table (which you get to see), and each one is shown being pierced by bloody bullet holes (which you didn't see), including the harmless "orchestra." I guess there's just no going back...

It's great to see that Foxtel have changed their pre-ad bumpers. Rather than the bizarre, coloured graphics they had before, they're now borrowing couch gags, much like Ten has done all along.

Finally, I'm considering setting up a petition that Ten screen all new, first-run episodes of The Simpsons uncut and unmerged (except for censorship, of course, which they can't avoid). Any thoughts on this idea? .

Australian Simpsons News Archive: 1997.

These pages are not intended to infringe on the rights of Twentieth Television, Twentieth Century Fox, or Gracie Films, who are the intellectual property holders of The Simpsons, and who hold copyright over the show, the characters and the storylines.

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Copyright ©1997-99 Paulius Stepanas. All Rights Reserved.

Last Updated: 25-March-1999