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The Simpsons

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox television The Simpsons is the longest-running animated television series in American television history, with 17 seasons and 356 episodes since its debut on December 17, 1989 on FOX, and is a spin-off of The Tracey Ullman Show. The television series was produced by Gracie Films for 20th Century Fox.

Highly satirical, the show lampoons many aspects of the human condition, but primarily parodies the "Middle American" lifestyle its titular family exhibits and more generally American culture, society and even television itself. In the Channel 4 programs, the 100 Greatest Cartoons and the 100 Greatest Kids' TV shows, it was voted into first place.

Contents

Setting, characters and plot

The characters were originally created by Matt Groening as part of a series of original animated segments for The Tracey Ullman Show. Over the course of the series Groening has used many of the themes present in his long-running comic strip series, Life in Hell. (For instance, the idea of creative school children constantly being persecuted and suppressed by totalitarian grown-ups stems from the strip.)

The Simpsons is set in the fictional United States town of Springfield. Throughout the show's history fans have tried to determine where Springfield is by taking the town's characteristics, surrounding geography and nearby landmarks as clues. However, both the town itself and its location are fictional. Nearly every state and region in the U.S. has been both suggested and ruled out by conflicting "evidence" of a location for Springfield, so that the town could theoretically be anywhere. For example, in the episode "Behind the Laughter" the Simpsons are described as "a northern Kentucky family". In a later airing the location was changed to "southern Missouri." Also, in the episode "Sweet & Sour Marge", it is mentioned that Tennessee is to the south of Springfield which would put them back in Kentucky or possibly, in Virginia. In one episode at a graveyard the characters throw dirt that blots out the grave of Adlai Stevenson (either the Vice President or Presidential Candidate of the US) who was a well-known politician based in Illinois, implying Springfield, Illinois. Creator Matt Groening has stated that Springfield has much in common with Portland, Oregon, the town he grew up in (see Matt Groening's Portland (http://www.portlandtribune.com/simpsons/)), and the name "Springfield" was chosen because virtually every state has a town or city with that name. (See Where Is The Simpsons' Springfield? (http://www.snpp.com/guides/springfield.list.html) for more information on this issue.)

Animation scholars and fans have noted the series uses the medium of animation to its advantage, allowing the show to take place in many settings (indoors and outdoors) and feature a far greater cast of characters than a live-action sitcom. The cost of having an episode of The Simpsons take place in the mountains, Europe, the city park, or a cruise ship on the ocean (all of which simply use drawn and painted backgrounds) is hardly more than placing the family in the standard "family comedy setting" of a living room, a kitchen, and one or two related settings (the workplace and a favorite social hangout) (which is also no more than drawn and painted backgrounds). This allows for far more flexibility in plot development than a typical live-action sitcom set sound stages.

D'oh! Noted American TV dad Homer J. Simpson
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D'oh! Noted American TV dad Homer J. Simpson

The show's basic premise centers on the antics of the family: Homer and Marge, and their children Bart, Lisa and Maggie as well as their pets Santa's Little Helper – the dog – and Snowball II – the cat. (Snowball I was run over and killed earlier in Simpsons history. In a later episode, Snowball II is killed, along with replacements Snowball III and Coltrane. Snowball IV survives and is renamed Snowball II to save money on dishes.)

Homer, a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, is a generally well-meaning buffoon whose short attention span often draws him into outrageous schemes and adventures. Marge was once intelligent and sophisticated, but has come to conform with the stereotype of housewife/mother. Bart, the oldest sibling, is a troublemaker and classroom terror ("a vile burlesque of irrepressible youth" is how Lisa once described him) who thinks of himself as a rebel while Lisa is a brainy student, vegetarian, Buddhist and jazz music fan who dreams of a better future (she is referred to as "the future of the family"). Maggie is an eternal baby. Despite the fact that numerous years (and birthdays) clearly pass (for example, many Christmas episodes), the Simpsons do not appear to age. Some characters' ages have fluctuated throughout the years; this is most likely due to simple oversight on the part of the writers.

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The Simpsons sports a huge array of secondary characters.

The show also has a vast array of quirky supporting characters, including co-workers, teachers, family friends, extended relatives, and local celebrities. Many of these characters have developed a vast cult following of their own. For a comprehensive list, see characters from The Simpsons.

Authority, especially in undeserving hands, is a constant target of the show's often sharp satire. This probably explains the often strong negative reaction to the show from social conservatives. This negative reaction was most pronounced during the early seasons of the show. Nearly every authority figure in the show is portrayed unflatteringly: Homer is thoughtless and irresponsible, the antithesis of the ideal 1950s TV father though he always comes through for his family in the end. Springfield police chief Clancy Wiggum (voiced by Hank Azaria in an Edward G. Robinson-influenced tone) is obese, stupid, lazy, corrupt and not overly concerned with constitutional rights (not to mention that he somewhat resembles a pig). Mayor Quimby — who sounds like John F. Kennedy — is a corrupt, spend-thrift womanizer. Seymour Skinner (who sounds like Charles Kuralt), the principal of Springfield Elementary School, is an uptight, humorless bachelor who lives with his domineering mother. He has frequent flashbacks to his capture and imprisonment by the Viet Cong, and he is repeatedly likened to Norman Bates in Psycho. Reverend Lovejoy, the pastor of the local church, is judgemental and moralistic (but only regarding other people), with a monotonous voice that always puts Homer to sleep during Sunday sermons. While most of these characters are more incompetent than truly evil there is one true sadist: Montgomery Burns, owner of the Springfield Nuclear Plant and Homer Simpson's boss; he is often compared to Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane, not to mention that his first name is also Charles.

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Promotional artwork for The Simpsons' milestone 350th episode.

In a somewhat ironic twist, during the more recent years of Simpsons production, some social conservatives have come to embrace the show. One of the main explanations of this shift is that the Simpsons portrays a traditional nuclear family among a lineup of television sitcoms that now portray less traditional families. The show has toyed with the possibility of extramarital affairs, such as when Homer falls for a female nuclear technician who shares his love of donuts, or when Marge's ex-boyfriend Artie Ziff tries to rekindle their old romance. Nevertheless, these affairs never occur, and by the end of every episode, Homer and Marge's marriage is strongly affirmed. Social conservatives and some evangelical Christians have also pointed to the positive role-model of devout christian Ned Flanders, though he is portrayed in a less-than-affirming manner. In several episodes, God actually intervenes to protect the Flanders family, invoking such protestant concepts as Predestination. As compared with the Simpsons family, the Flanders family is relatively well-off and less dysfunctional, fulfilling certain theories expressed by sociologist Max Weber in his seminal work, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

The show also routinely mocks and satirizes show business conventions and personalities. Krusty the Clown has an enthusiastic following among Springfield's kids, but offstage he is a jaded, cynical hack, in poor health from a long history of overindulgence and substance abuse. He will endorse any product for a price. Kent Brockman is a self-important, spoiled TV news anchorman with little regard for journalistic ethics possibly thanks to the fact that he won the lottery in one episode. Viewers also learn that Brockman went by 'Kenny Brockelstein' in the 1960s, but that he anglicized by the time the Simpsons episodes of the 1990s take place.

The plots of most episodes focus on the adventures of one particular family member, frequently Homer. However the plots have never been very predictable or constant and tend to be very character-driven. Recurring themes in episodes include:

  • Homer gets a new job or attempts to make money in a get-rich-quick scheme.
  • Marge attempts to escape the monotony of keeping house by finding employment or taking up a hobby.
  • Bart causes a large problem and attempts to fix it.
  • Lisa embraces or advocates the merits of a particular political cause or group.
  • The entire family goes on vacation. (Because of these vacations the entire family has been to every continent on Earth with the exception of Antarctica.)

There are several types of scenes that recur often and have become conventions of the show's storytelling style. Examples of these stock scenes include:

  • A scene at the very beginning of the show in which the family goes somewhere together, like a cartoon festival or a cider mill. After a few minutes there, the main plot begins.
  • A scene, often near the middle of the show, in which Homer and Marge are in bed together discussing the events of the story so far.
  • A scene in which the family is eating dinner together and talking about the events of the plot. Conceptually this is very similar to the "Homer and Marge in bed" scenes, but including Bart and Lisa.
  • A scene in the morning in which Marge is preparing breakfast, and the kids and Homer are eating before going to work or school as they talk about what they are going to do. This is often near the start of the episode.
  • A scene in which Homer is at Moe's Tavern escaping the hassles of work and family to be with his friends.
  • A scene in which one or more Simpsons are watching a TV program, which the viewer watches along with them.
  • A crowd scene, in which the entire town of Springfield convenes to witness some notable event, protest something, attend a civic meeting, or even start a riot. Many recurring minor characters appear and speak.
  • TV anchorman Kent Brockman reporting on the events of the plot.
  • Scenes that cut from the main action to show what a secondary character, like Krusty or Mr. Burns, is doing at the time.
  • A fantasy in which one of the Simpsons imagines how something might turn out.

See also: List of The Simpsons episodes by theme

See also: The Springfield Connection (http://www.springfieldconnection.net)

Series history

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The Simpson family first appeared in animated form as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show. The first short "Good Night" airing on April 19, 1987. Matt Groening admits the reason that they were so crudely drawn in the beginning was because he could not draw well and the animators did nothing more than just trace over his drawings. The shorts were never aired by the BBC in the UK, though some of them, including "Good Night," were included in a Simpsons anniversary episode. The Simpsons was converted, by a team of production companies that included what is now the Klasky-Csupo animation house, into a series for the Fox Network in 1989 and has run as a weekly show on that network ever since.

The Simpsons was the first true TV series hit for Fox; it was the first Fox show to appear in the top twenty highest-rated shows of the time. It also sparked controversy, as Bart Simpson was portrayed as a rebellious troublemaker who caused trouble and got away with it. Parents' groups and conservative spokespersons felt that a cartoon character like Bart Simpson provided a poor role model for children. When a Simpsons T-shirt was marketed featuring Bart and the logo "Underachiever ('And proud of it, man!')" Simpsons T-shirts and other merchandise was banned from public schools in several areas of the United States.

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Bart appears on the cover of a 1990 TIME issue.

The outcry against Bart was reflected in the second season opener, featuring an episode called Bart Gets an F where Bart's school wants to make him repeat the fourth grade. In this episode, the school counselor quotes the controversial T-shirt by stating, "He is an underachiever... and proud of it."

In September 1990, Barbara Bush said in an interview for People magazine that The Simpsons was the dumbest thing she had ever seen. Six years later, an episode had George and Barbara Bush move to Springfield and leave after George gets involved in a feud with the Simpson family (in a style reminiscent of Dennis the Menace and Mr. Wilson). Mr. and Mrs. Bush were both portrayed by voice actors. One of the Simpsons DVD sets includes a special feature that presents an exchange of letters between the First Lady and show staff. In another address, Mr. Bush said that America needed to be closer to The Waltons than to The Simpsons, causing Bart to say they were a lot like the Waltons, since they were both praying for an end to depression.

The writers have shown a love for cameo appearances by celebrities and extended pastiches of contemporary and classic movies, as well as subtle visual jokes.

On February 9, 1997 The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones as the longest-running prime time animated series in America, however it has not yet beaten several Japanese anime series such as Sazae-san (which has been running since 1969) and Doraemon (running since 1979). In January 2003, it was announced that the show had been renewed by Fox through 2005 — meaning it has replaced The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952 to 1966) as longest-running sitcom (animated or live-action) ever in the United States. In 2004, the series was renewed through its 19th season and if it survives until 2009, it will tie (or will have beaten if The Tracey Ullman Show shorts are counted) Gunsmoke's record as the longest-running prime time series (of any genre) in U.S. television history. Some take the view that The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet should continue to be counted as the longest-running sitcom as The Simpsons is animated not live-action although this view is declining as more authorities unambiguously credit The Simpsons as television's longest-running sitcom.

In its 1998 issue celebrating the greatest achievements in arts and entertainment of the 20th Century, TIME magazine named The Simpsons the century's best television series. In that same issue, Bart Simpson was named to the Time 100, the publication's list of the century's 100 most influential people. He was the only fictional character on the list.

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The Simpsons' star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Since the series originated as part of The Tracey Ullman Show, it is also considered the longest running and most successful spinoff of all time.

Over the years, virtually every Simpsons character has appeared on a magazine cover, ranging from TIME to Christianity Today and even Airliners.

The Simpsons has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 21 Emmy Awards, 22 Annie Awards, a Peabody and numerous others. On January 14, 2000 the Simpsons were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The voice actors have been involved in much-publicized pay disputes with Fox on more than one occasion. In 1998, the voice actors stopped working, forcing 20th Century Fox TV to increase their salary from $30,000 per episode to $125,000. The actors were supported in their action by series creator Matt Groening. [1] (http://www.snpp.com/other/interviews/groening99e.html) As the revenue generated by the show continued to increase through syndication and DVD sales, six actors (playing over 50 characters) — Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, and Harry Shearer — stopped showing up for script readings in April 2004 after weeks of unsuccessful negotiations with Fox. They asked for $360,000 per episode, or $8 million for a 22-episode season. On May 2, 2004, the actors resolved their dispute with Fox after having their demands met. The universally reported claim that this dispute was in fact a full-blown strike is denied by Harry Shearer. [2] (http://www.metronews.ca/column_tube_talk.asp?id=2347&cid=650)

Origin of the names

Many of the characters in the Simpsons take their names from important people and places in Groening's life:

  • Lisa – Lisa Groening (Matt Groening's sister)
  • Marge – Margaret Groening (his mother)
  • Homer – Homer Groening (his father and one of his sons)
  • Maggie – Maggie Groening (one of his sisters)
  • Bart – an anagram for "brat", a reference to Groening himself
  • Abraham – picked at random by writers for The Simpsons, but coincidentally was the name of Matt Groening's grandfather
  • 742 SW Evergreen Terrace in Portland, Oregon is the address of the place where Matt Groening grew up.
  • Chief Wiggum – Groening's college love's last name was "Wiggum"
  • Miss Hoover (Lisa's teacher) – one of his primary school teachers
  • Moe – Matt Groening's former drug rehab counselor
  • Apu (Kwik-E-Mart owner) – reference to one of his favorite movies
  • Ned Flanders – In northwest Portland, Oregon, Groening's hometown, there is a NE Flanders St.
  • Reverend Lovejoy - NW Lovejoy Street, another Portland street name
  • Mayor "Diamond" Joe Quimby - NW Quimby Street, another Portland street name, and corrupt former Portland Police Bureau Chief Diamond Joe Purcell.
  • C. Montgomery Burns - an abbreviated Portland street called West and East Burnside Street, as well as Portland's Montgomery Park neighborhood.
  • Sideshow Bob Terwilliger - Terwilliger curves in Portland.

Other name origins:

  • Seymour Skinner – behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, especially considering his Psychoesque relationship with his mother, or a reference to "see more skin"
  • Maude, Rod and Todd Flanders – they all rhyme with "God" (Maude being pronounced 'Mod' in certain North American accents).
  • Kang and Kodos (aliens) – In the original Star Trek, Kang is a Klingon, and Kodos ("The Executioner") is a human villain.
  • Barney Gumble (Homer's drinking buddy) – Barney Rubble from The Flintstones.
  • Troy McClure (actor) – B-movie actors Troy Donohue and Doug McClure.
  • Dr. Nick Riviera (enterprising physician) – Elvis Presley's physician, George C. Nichopoulos, was called Dr. Nick.
  • Milhouse Van Houten – notorious 1960s figures Richard Milhous Nixon and Manson Family member and convicted murderer Leslie Van Houten (or, far more likely, Van Houten Avenue in Portland, Oregon).
  • Jacqueline Bouvier: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
  • Patty and Selma: Olympic gold medal winning track & field athlete Stella Walsh who, following her death, was found to be genetically intersex from the autopsy.

See also: Who's Who in Springfield (http://www.snpp.com/guides/whoiswho.html)

Opening sequence

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A typical chalkboard gag.

The Simpsons opening sequence is one of the show's most memorable trademarks. Almost every episode opens with a title shot coming through the cumulus clouds and into the school where Bart is writing sentences on the class chalkboard, presumably set as a punishment by one of his teachers for some mischievous deed or wayward comment; Homer is shown leaving the power plant, with Mr Burns and Smithers in the background (second season onwards); Marge and Maggie are shown checking out at the supermarket with Maggie travelling across the scanner, ringing up at $847.63, the then-annual cost of raising a baby (although a 'trivia question' shown as a wraparound for commercials during the episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" claims that the register says "NRA4EVER" — National Rifle Association For Ever); The sequence then introduces Lisa (who leaves a band rehearsal, usually playing a different saxophone solo); the family is then shown on their way to their house at 742 Evergreen Terrace (the address varied in the beginning, but the writers now use 742 Evergreen Terrace exclusively). The members of the family weave dangerously through traffic and in between fellow (and, from the second season onward, familiar) Springfield denizens, all miraculously reaching home at the exact same time. Upon entering, they all speed towards the family room couch where, in comedic parallel with the audience, they settle to watch their "must-see" TV show.

For each episode, the sequence includes four variations: Bart writes something different on the chalkboard, Lisa plays a different solo on her saxophone, Homer screams in a different way (only done in the first couple of seasons), and the family attempts to sit on the couch as something goes awry in an often surreal manner.

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A frequently used couch gag.

In the syndicated version, part or all of the opening sequence is usually cut in order to include more commercials in the show's allotted timeslot.

The "couch gag" sequence is frequently used to help show staff make the show longer or shorter, depending on the length of the episode itself. Most couch gags last only about five seconds, but the longest one on record lasted 46 seconds.

The first season opening sequence featured a number of differences from the later seasons, including a shot of Lisa riding her bike on the way home and Bart's way home consisting of snatching a bus stop sign, forcing several dazed Springfieldians to chase the bus, rather than just riding past a number of well known characters.

The series' distinctive theme tune was composed by musician Danny Elfman. The current arrangement is orchestrated by Alf Clausen.

See also: Bart chalkboard gags

Halloween episodes

See main article: List of The Simpsons episodes

An annual tradition is a special Halloween episode consisting of three separate, self-contained pieces. These pieces usually involve the family in some horror, science fiction, or supernatural setting; they always take place outside the normal continuity of the show (and are therefore considered to be non-canon), and completely abandon any pretense of being realistic. Regular Simpsons characters play humorous special roles, occasionally being killed in gruesome ways by zombies, monsters, or even each other. These Halloween segments have parodied many classic horror and science fiction films; often one of the segments spoofs an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Episodes spoofed:

  • "Nightmare at 20,000 feet"
  • "To Serve Man"
  • "It's a Good Life"
  • "Little Girl Lost"
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Bart introducing a segment of "Treehouse of Horror IV" in the manner of Rod Serling's Night Gallery.

The tradition began in the second season episode "Treehouse of Horror", with Bart and Lisa telling scary stories to each other in their treehouse while Homer secretly listened in. Neither Bart nor Lisa was scared, but Homer was terrified.

In later years the series dropped the framing device of characters telling stories, but kept the Treehouse title; for several years the characters broke the fourth wall and introduced their pieces directly to the audience. In Treehouse of Horror II the writers decided to give the cast and crew of the show scary names in the opening and closing credits (like "Mad Matt Groening" and "James Hell Brooks"). This also became a tradition, and has been done in every Halloween episode except I, XII and XIII. The names have changed in subsequent seasons. Another mainstay of the Halloween shows is the appearance of the two space aliens Kang and Kodos, introduced in the second segment of the first "Treehouse of Horror."

In a section of Treehouse of Horror VI called Homer³, Homer and Bart go into a three-dimensional world created by Pacific Data Images, a computer animation company. This segment from the Halloween show was also used as a segment of a film shown in the IMAX cinema in London. This was one of the few times The Simpsons have strayed from their traditional 2D animation, along with a live action cameo by Regis and Kathie Lee in Treehouse of Horror IX, a couple of claymation scenes in 'Tis The Fifteenth Season featuring The California Prunes and Jimmy Stewart, and a live action couch gag consisting of a sketchbook being flipped by a hand to make the characters run towards the couch and sit down. Another recent episode featured a CGI trailer for a comedy about humanoid playing cards.

Voice actors and their characters

All episodes (with the exception of one) list only the voice actors (not the characters they voice) in keeping with the mystique of having the audience not associate any one character with an actor — this is to discourage the audience from easily identifying exactly which voice actor did what.

Here is a list of all the major voice actors and the characters they voice:

Stars

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Dan Castellaneta provides the voice of Homer Simpson and many other characters.
  • Dan Castellaneta: Homer Jay Simpson, Abraham "Grampa" Simpson, Santa's Little Helper, Barney Gumble, Krusty The Clown, Groundskeeper Willy, Mayor Quimby, Gil, Sideshow Mel, Scratchy, Hans Moleman, Scott Christian, Kodos, Arnie Pie, Louie, Bill, Leopold, Luigi, Squeaky-voiced Teen, Crazy Old Man, and others.
  • Julie Kavner: Marjorie "Marge" Bouvier Simpson , Patty Bouvier, Selma Bouvier, Mrs. Jacqueline "Jackie" Bouvier.
  • Nancy Cartwright: Bart Simpson, Nelson Muntz, Todd Flanders, Ralph Wiggum, Kearney, Database, Jimmy, and others.
  • Yeardley Smith: Lisa Simpson.
  • Hank Azaria: Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, Moe Szyslak, Chief Clancy Wiggum (sounds like Edward G. Robinson), Comic Book Guy (or Jeff Albertson), Officer Lou (sounds like Sylvester Stallone), Carl Carlson, Dr. Nick Riviera (sounds like Ricky Ricardo), Snake, Bumblebee Man, Captain McCallister, Akira, Professor John Frink, Cletus Spuckler (or Delroy), Kirk van Houten, Superintendent Chalmers, Drederick Tatum, and others.
  • Harry Shearer: Waylon J. Smithers, Ned Flanders, Principal Seymour Skinner (sounds like Charles Kuralt), Otto Mann, Reverend Timothy Lovejoy, Dr. Julius Hibbert (sounds like James Earl Jones), Jasper, Lenny Leonard, Officer Eddie, Rainier Wolfcastle a.k.a. McBain, Itchy, Dr. Marvin Monroe, Kang, Kent Brockman, Herman and Charles Montgomery Burns

Recurring

  • Marcia Wallace: Mrs. Edna Krabappel (1990–present).
  • Maggie Roswell: Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Elizabeth Hoover, Luann van Houten, and others (1990–1999, 2002–present).
  • Marcia Mitzman Gaven: Maude Flanders, Helen Lovejoy, Miss Elizabeth Hoover, Luann van Houten, and others. (When Maggie Roswell quit the show from 1999–2002)
  • Pamela Hayden: Milhouse van Houten, Rod Flanders, Jimbo "Corky" Jones, and others.
  • Russi Taylor: Sherri, Terri, Martin Prince, and others. (1990–present)
  • Tress MacNeille: Lindsay Naegle, Mrs. Agnes Skinner, Cookie Kwan, Dolph, Brandine Del Roy, Mrs. Glick, Ann Landers, and others.
  • Phil Hartman: Lionel Hutz, Troy McClure; (both characters were "retired" after Hartman's death) (1991–1998)
  • Doris Grau: Lunchlady Doris; her character also retired after her death. (1989–1995)
  • Joe Mantegna: Anthony "Fat Tony" D'Amico (1991–present)
  • Jon Lovitz: Artie Ziff, Aristotle Amandopolis, Jay Sherman, and others (1991–present)
  • Karl Wiedergott: Various (1998–present)
  • Albert Brooks: Cowboy Bob, Jacques, Brad Goodman, Hank Scorpio, and Tab Spangler (1990–present)
  • Kelsey Grammer: Sideshow Bob (1990–present)
  • Frank Welker: Santa's Little Helper and other animals (1991–present)
  • Jan Hooks: Manjula Nahasapeemapetilon (1997–present)
  • Charles Napier: Warden, Grant Connor, Officer Krackney (2001–present)
  • Jane Kaczmarek: Judge Constance Harm (2001–present)

Guest celebrities

Many episodes feature celebrity guests contributing their voices to the show, as either themselves or fictional characters. See List of celebrities on The Simpsons

Writers

John Swartzwelder is the most famous of the writers on the Simpsons' staff. He has written the most episodes and many of them were the early classics. According to the DVD commentaries, he used to write episodes while sitting at a booth in his favourite restaurant. When the restaurant closed down, he bought the booth and had it installed in his house.

Current late-night talkshow host Conan O'Brien was a writer during the fourth and fifth season. He wrote "New Kid on the Block" (9F06), "Marge vs. the Monorail" (9F10), "Homer Goes to College" (1F02) and "Treehouse of Horror IV" (1F04).

The character Professor John Frink was named for writer/producer John Frink.

Production history

The series has gone through numerous executive producers, also known as showrunners, throughout its run. The showrunner is in charge of every aspect of the show for the season(s) he is currently serving as.

The Simpsons has been animated by many different studios over the past 18 years, both domestic and overseas. Throughout the run of the animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, the animation was solely produced domestically at Klasky Csupo. Klasky Csupo was also the animation studio during the first three seasons of the half-hour length series, however, due to the increased workload, production was now being subcontracted to overseas studios, usually in Korea, where labor is cheaper. While character and background layout is done by the domestic studio, inbetweening, coloring and filming is done by the overseas studios. Throughout the years, different overseas studios have animated different episodes, even episodes within the same season.

The overseas animation studios are:
AKOM - 188 episodes

  • Exclusively produced the first two seasons of the series.
  • Produced various episodes throughout the run of the series.

Anivision - 55 episodes

  • Produced animation for episodes from seasons 3-10.

Rough Draft Studios - 111 episodes

  • Produced animation for episodes from season four onwards.

U.S. Animation, Inc. - 2 episodes

Toonzone Entertainment - 2 episodes

During season four, Gracie Films made a decision to switch domestic production to DPS Film Roman, which continues to animate the show to this day. The last episode to be animated by Klasky Csupo was "A Streetcar Named Marge".

After season 13, production was switched from traditional cel animation to digital ink and paint. Originally, the switch was intended to happen during season 12 with the episode "Tennis the Menace", but after seeing the results, Gracie Films decided to hold off for two more seasons. Tennis the Menace, however, being already completed, was broadcast this way.

Memes

Several memes (often neologisms) that started on The Simpsons have now become mainstream words or sayings. The most famous of which is Homer's saying: "D'oh!", which is referred to in scripts, as well as three episode names, as "annoyed grunt". D'oh is now listed in the OED, but without the apostrophe. "D'oh" is the accepted spelling, and is certainly the most common; the closed captions for the program (at least in the U.S.), however, spell it "D-OHH".

Groundskeeper Willy's phrase, "cheese-eating surrender monkeys", used to describe the French, was picked up by U.S. politicians and publications in 2003, after European and especially French opposition to the proposed invasion of Iraq.

The expression "excellent" — drawn out as a raspy "eeeexcelllent..." in the style of Montgomery Burns — has also entered popular use, as have Homer's triumphant "Woohoo!" and Nelson Muntz's mocking "HA-ha!".

On Slashdot and Fark, one particular meme: "I for one welcome our new <Insert topic here> overlords" stems from a quote of Kent Brockman from the episode "Deep Space Homer":

Ladies and gentlemen, er, we've just lost the picture, but, uh, what we've seen speaks for itself. The Corvair spacecraft has been taken over — "conquered", if you will — by a master race of giant space ants. It's difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive earth men or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain, there is no stopping them; the ants will soon be here. And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted TV personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground sugar caves.

The show's creators also take pride in having passed on schoolyard rhymes to a new generation of children who otherwise may not have heard them.

See also: Made-up words in The Simpsons

Comics

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Simpsons comic books

Numerous different Simpsons-related comic book series have been published by Bongo Comics since 1993.

The Simpsons and Futurama comics are also reprinted in the UK, under the same titles, with various stories from the other Bongo series reprinted in the main Simpsons comic.

Music

Music has been a recurring theme in The Simpsons with virtually all members of the cast breaking into song at least once during the course of the series. Perhaps the best known song is "Do the Bartman", that was released as a single and became an international success.

DVDs and videos

Many episodes of the show have been released on DVD and VHS over the years. When the first season DVD was released in 2001, it quickly became the best-selling television DVD in history (although it would later be overtaken by the first season of Chappelle's Show). The five DVD volumes rank as the best-selling television DVD series of all time. In particular, these DVDs have been released in North America (Region 1) and Europe (Region 2):

Missing image
Simpsons_DVDs.jpg
Simpsons DVDs

Box sets

Individual DVDs

The Simpsons - Classics (Region 2: UK/IE only)

Video games

Missing image
Simpsons_video_games.jpg
Simpsons video games through the years.

Books

And the next "Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family" will be released on October 31, 2005; it will be called The Simpsons One Step Beyond Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Continued Yet Again.

Movie

Talk about a possible feature-length Simpsons movie has been going on since the early days of the series. The episode Kamp Krusty was originally going to be a movie, but became a regular episode after difficulties were encountered in trying to expand the script to feature-length.

Rumors were circulated on the Internet about a movie already being in development, but it was not until 2004 that any were confirmed. In that year, producers announced a theatrical movie is in the very early stages of development, and that it will not be released until after the series ends. With the series being renewed for nineteen seasons, an estimated premier date was set for the summer of 2008. This was confirmed by 20th Century Fox June 6, 2005. Just like the series, the movie will be animated (Matt Groening recently turned down a proposal to make a live action film based on the characters, as this would likely ruin the franchise and anger fans) and will star the six main voice actors: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, and most likely Marcia Wallace, Maggie Roswell, Pamela Hayden, and Tress MacNeille. It is speculated that there will also be guest stars appearing in large roles or cameos.

It is not yet known whether movie production is a signal that the television run of The Simpsons is expected to end before its release. There are numerous examples, however, of television series continuing to run after spinning off a feature film, including Dragnet, The X-Files, and Beavis and Butthead. Similarly the British Broadcasting Corporation is reportedly considering launching a Doctor Who film franchise concurrent with the television series.

News website Corona posted a popular April Fool's Day describing a fictional plans for a live action movie. [http://web.archive.org/web/20000511131708/www.corona.bc.ca/films/details/simpsonsmovie.html (http://corona.bc.ca)

Academia

Serious academic work has been done on the show. Among the publications that deal with it are:

  • Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation by Chris Turner ISBN 0679313184
  • Leaving Springfield: The Simpsons and the Possibility of Oppositional Culture (Contemporary Film and Television Series) by John Alberti ISBN 0814328490
  • The Simpsons And Society: An Analysis Of Our Favorite Family And Its Influence In Contemporary Society by Steven Keslowitz ISBN 1587362538
  • The Gospel According to the Simpsons: Leaders Guide for Group Study by Mark I. Pinsky, Samuel F. Parvin ISBN 066422590X
  • The Simpsons and Philosophy: The D'oh! of Homer by William Irwin (Editor), Mark T. Conard (Editor), Aeon Skoble (Editor) ISBN 0812694333
  • The Gospel According to The Simpsons: The Spiritual Life of the World's Most Animated Family by Mark I. Pinsky ISBN 0664224199
  • The Gospel According to Bart: Examining the Religious Elements of The Simpsons by Beth L. Keller

Related topics

Similar TV Shows

External links

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da:The Simpsons de:Die Simpsons es:Los Simpson fr:Les Simpson it:I Simpson he:משפחת סימפסון nl:The Simpsons ja:ザ・シンプソンズ pl:Simpsonowie pt:Os Simpsons sl:Simpsonovi fi:Simpsonit sv:Simpsons vi:The Simpsons

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