The longest marathon in TV history is just one of several stunts The Simpsons has launched following April's revelation of record-low ratings. For starters, there was the recent Lego episode; next season, we'll get a Family Guy crossover and an episode where a character will be killed off. But why stop there?
Obviously, the show that used to be the best thing on television needs attention. Who can blame them? The series is technically older than I am, for fuck's sake. They gotta shake things up. So I'm here to help the bigwigs involved both get more attention and save money.
Here are 11 more gimmicks The Simpsons should consider before pulling the plug.
There's this idea going around that live events, like award ceremonies and football games, are the only things that will continue to get good ratings as more people continue to shift toward getting their entertainment online. So why not make this cartoon live?
It'd be like improv meets animation. Illustrators would be put on the spot. There'd be no time to second-guess or finesse the outcome. If they pull off an impressive technical sequence really quick, that'd be entertaining; if they really fuck up in real time, that'd be even better. It'd be like SportsCenter's "Not Top 10," except with geeky cartoonists instead of athletic science experiments. (Yes, this'd take a very long time, but if this marathon is any indication, this show's fans are patient.)
Granted, this is usually done in movies like Popeye and The Flintstones. But there's also that awesomely bad Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show to draw from. The idea is to build buzz by having people guess what real human beings will play their beloved cartoon characters. And so: Jason Alexander as Homer. Louis C.K. as Groundskeeper Willie. Bruce Vilanch as Comic Book Guy. Janeane Garofalo as Mrs. Krabappel. Nate Silver as Professor Fink. Donald Sterling as Mr. Burns. Think I'm full of shit? Then let's argue about it over the water cooler. See how much fun this is?
Star Wars enthusiasts did something cool as shit when they recreated A New Hope by piecing together a collage of small, fan-submitted clips. Best thing about this idea is fans would create the material for free—Fox would only need to pay an intern to edit everything, since they could just "recreate" a classic episode rather than actually go through the burden of drafting new material. Did I saw "pay" the intern? I meant give college credit. This is good for when budgets get tight.
Instead of hearing Homer say D'oh!, you can read it instead! All that's needed is some Dixieland jazz, shots of people walking like Charlie Chaplin, and cutaway phrases like "Tidy ho," "Chap," and "Verily." Make those cutaway scenes for every bit of action, and make them last long. In fact, you could stretch the opening theme song to five or 10 minutes this way if done right.
Use Video Games
There's been a ton of Simpsons video games over the years, most of which slurped anus. But that doesn't mean they couldn't be used as avatars for an entire episode. Of course, there's some good games that allow decent range of movement, like the classic arcade game, the GTA copycat, and the action game released in 2007.
But it'd be more fun to make the plot conform to shitty games with less applicability like Simpsons Wrestling, Krusty's Fun House, Simpsons Skateboarding, and Itchy & Scratch in Miniature Golf Madness. While combining the animation from several games may be disorienting, the plus side is that this would provide a good opportunity to release even more crappy merchandise into the world. Make the merch "exclusive" and you can charge a premium. Hell, you could even make a video game centering around the video-game-themed episode.
Kill a Bunch of People
Sure, a character will be killed off next season. But why just one?
Since its hard to get people to watch television for anything other than football, chances are most fans aren't going to follow the show for new episodes anyways. Might as well get them to tune in one last time by killing many of their favorite characters.
Bumblebee Man? What's he done lately? Flanders' wife already died; might as well wipe out the family. There's no room for a Leftatorium in this economy. Dolph Starbeam can go—he's so irrelevant you had to Google his name just now. Hans Moleman lives a miserable existence anyways. Principal Skinner's mom? Why not?
Film a Script-Reading
After running a show for 25 years, Simpsons creator Matt Groening has earned the right to not give any more fucks. So next time he's got a busy schedule, he should lighten the load by stopping production after the script is written. Who even needs animation anymore? Get Hank Azaria, Nancy Cartwright, Dan Castellaneta, and the others together and just film them reading a script. Comic-Con nuts will love this shit.
And don't even make them look presentable; it'll be more authentic that way. If Harry Shearer wants to wear a pizza-stained T-shirt on the day of filming, let him.
Just Use Commercials
Remember those Butterfinger ads Bart used to star in? Sign deals to promote dozens of other products, then loop them all together into one huge meta-commercial. Sort of like Morgan Spurlock's The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, except there will be no self-examination or commentary on advertising, only shameless check-cashing for the producers who figured out how to make 60 consecutive advertisements watchable. There's enough people with TVs accidentally tuned into Fox Sunday nights to make this work even if everyone else changes stations.
Now take that idea and expand it to every character for an entire episode. There's more than 550 goddamn Simpsons episodes. There's enough clips and sounds there to sustain a whole new season. And there's so many fanatics of the show, why not just crowdsource the video editing and not pay anyone?
Redo an Old Episode
If using written scripts, splicing footage, or relying on fans to edit video seems burdensome, then why not just cut to the chase and actually redo an old episode. Lisa needs braces. Again! In 2014 animation!
If fans call bullshit on this, just don't recycle classic episodes. No one gives a shit about episode 16 from season 19. Just release that motherfucker and advertise it as a new episode. Only like 10 people will notice the difference.
New Episode of The Tracey Ullman Show
This would actually be a good series finale, given The Simpsons started as a series of short skits on this short-lived show. But since the series finale will get great ratings regardless, use this stunt when ratings drop again: say, episode three of next season.
Ullman likely isn't doing shit, so getting her onboard will be easy. Just script a bunch of cheesy '80s skits and make a few quick segments with Homer being clumsy, and bam, you got yourself a motherfucking show.
It doesn't matter that no one cares about Ullman today, and that there will only be a few minutes of actual Simpsons material. Halloween III had nothing to do with Michael Myers slashing people, yet it still did decent at the box office (considering its budget). And given Ullman's show actually has a connection to The Simpsons, there's no reason this can't be pulled off even if it's only bullshit trickery. After all, this show's fans are already used to that.
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