Retrospecticus: Season Two

Retrospecticus: Season Two

Season two is done! Huzzah, now only 30 more to go! I want to die, but now I have a good reason. Boy, things are on the up-and-up.

Season two is a major change from one, and not only because it’s closer to a full series run. Gone are the haunting Clasky/Csupo interpretations of human physiognomy, we now have the full modern Simpsons look that lasted until the HD era. The change is not entirely complete, though, as there’s still some weird character designs floating about, but these get pruned over season 3. The lines are black, the characters are mostly on model, this is The Simpsons look.

Similarly, a lot of character becomes settled over this season. Grampa, Patti and Selma, and Principal Skinner emerge as strong narrative anchors, and the Burns/Smithers relationship finds its awkward home. Lisa and Bart see the last few gasps of their immaturity this season. Bart’s childhood vulnerabilities are used for great character stories before being lost to archetype. Lisa’s character survives longer, but the version of her that is very much an 8-year-old child and not a teenager in one’s body gets a few last moments.

While there were some standouts, the series wasn’t all that funny. There’re some episodes with good jokes, but nothing of the wall-to-wall quotables and gems that later seasons become known for. This took me a bit by surprise, but, in retrospect, it shouldn’t have as I seldom rewatch anything prior to season 4 for a reason. I chalk this up to growing pains. The patterns settling leaves them in a vulnerable state. One can’t play with something until the paint has dried.

Writing it has been a mixture of challenging and fulfilling. It’s odd to think that my primary income is now writing these (PAY ME), as that technically makes me a professional writer which decades of crippling depression taught me never to expect. Keeping the pattern up was hard, though, through a combination of genuine writer’s block and having to job hunt. With the second part gone, I can sort of focus, and I’m getting better at teasing discussable elements out of the stories.

Each is, by design, very focused and tends to leave a lot unsaid. It hit me early that I can’t do a completely deep dive on each one as A: that would take forever, and B: there are enough episodes that what isn’t said in one can be said in another. So, if you feel some element or another wasn’t covered, that is probably why. I’ve also gotten into the habit of adding images, either to add to a point or, particularly in the case of the cover images, for fun. There booming artistic field of Simpsons remixes, shitposts, has reminded me of how individual animation panels can be fascinating things to look at. The 4 stills of Homer realising Bart has mailed his letter to Burns are harrowing, but the whole moment takes less than a second.

 Christ, I have got to get these things done faster, though. At this rate, I’ll still be doing these when I’m 60. Hopefully, these will be hugely successful by then, like that Harry Potter podcast, and I will be celebrated as the world’s foremost Simpsons knower. This is unlikely, and I will die alone, celebrated by only a small number of passionate loons. That said, if you want these to keep going, or at least want me to be able to eat, the minimum Patreon of one whole dollar a month helps. I pay $5 to it just to comment mean things on Aaron’s posts sometimes, so I don’t think it’s a big ask. I won’t lie, subsistence living when I could be on 80k teaching is wearing thin, and money to live on will help get these things happening on a weekly basis.

I will keep a few free, a selection from each season once it’s done, as taste testers you can share with people. Feel free to argue over which ones are the best/funniest/most interesting. In the meantime, I’m working on formatting the section a little better. Mostly so there isn’t a fucking infinite pit of them to scroll through. It’s just a risky hassle with these digital publishing things, as they can be less than user friendly, and changes can fuck things up.

Until then, season 3 approaches! I’m looking forward to this, as we are getting close to the creamy centre of the series.

Yours in only slightly regretting doing this, Gabriel.

Great Episodes

Brush with Greatness.

This is a fucking classic, probably one of the few that is worth adding to the regular rotation. It’s got a great plot, it’s excellently told, it has a great finale, and there are jokes all over the place.

Treehouse of Horror.

This is mostly off the back of Bad Dream House, as there are just so many great jokes packed into 6 minutes.

Bart the Daredevil.

A bit like Brush with Greatness, this is a complex mix of character, and expression. It falls behind the others through fewer great comic moments. That fucking cliff fall, though.

Bart gets an F.

A great character episode. It’s hard to feel real sympathy for Bart as he’s either a narrative tool, comic foil, archetype, or cunt. This story is about a 10 year old boy, and he is beautiful in his vulnerability.

Shit Episodes

Bart vs Thanksgiving.

Fuck this episode. Bart is a piece of shit and is rewarded for it. His parents are right, and the show punishes them for it. This is a staggering miss from a narrative perspective, a meaningless blip from a character perspective, it isn’t funny, and it’s fucking annoying.

War of the Simpsons.

The show couldn’t manage the tone shift of making one of the main character’s comedic faults into a real, grotesque fault. Few could. General Sherman winking at the camera is hideous. Grampa B story saves it from absolute relegation.

8 Replies to “Retrospecticus: Season Two”

  1. As one of said passionate loons, I’ll say, you’ve gotten better at getting these done quickly in the past few months, and am much looking forward to the next season. Out of curiosity, would you ever consider taking commissions for other material, or even later episodes in the series?

    1. Commissions are technically part of the higher patron tier, I don’t know if that has been effectively communicated. I don’t want to do later episodes just yet.

      1. Do you know how that higher teir reward is currently/going to work? I’m not sure but I think they where supposed to have started by now?

  2. I can’t remember if I’ve said anywhere else but I read every one of these write-ups and try to comment just so you know it’s reaching people. Thoroughly entertaining stuff, I’m looking forward to your thoughts on season 3.

    Definitely agree with the episode ranking at the bottom of this one, I’m also quite partial to Dead Putting Society and Lisa’s Substitute.

  3. Thank you for these, Gabriel. Next up: Stark Raving Dad… with Michael Jackson. This’ll be interesting.

  4. Just wanted to say you nabbed yourself another passionate loon. I read some of these when they were free, and it made me want to donate for more. I look forward to zombie Gabe reviewing Zombie Simpsons in the faraway future

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