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The Simpsons is an American animated television sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a middle class American lifestyle epitomized by its eponymous family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional city of Springfield, and lampoons American culture, society, television and many aspects of the human condition.

The family was conceived by Groening shortly before a pitch for a series of animated shorts with the producer James L. Brooks. Groening created a dysfunctional family and named the characters after members of his own family, substituting Bart for his own name. The shorts became a part of The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. After a three-season run, the sketch was developed into a half-hour prime time show and was an early hit for Fox, becoming the first Fox series to land in the Top 30 ratings in a season (1989–1990).

Since its debut on December 17, 1989 the show has broadcast 448 episodes and the twenty-first season began airing on September 27, 2009. The Simpsons Movie, a feature-length film, was released in theaters worldwide on July 26 and July 27, 2007, and grossed US$527 million worldwide.

The Simpsons has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 25 Primetime Emmy Awards, 26 Annie Awards and a Peabody Award. Time magazine's December 31, 1999 issue named it the 20th century's best television series, and on January 14, 2000 the Simpson family was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Famemarker. The Simpsons is the longest-running American sitcom, the longest-running American animated program, and in 2009 it surpassed Gunsmoke as the longest running American primetime entertainment series. Homer's exclamatory catchphrase "D'oh!" has been adopted into the English lexicon, while The Simpsons has influenced many adult-oriented animated sitcoms.

Origins

Groening conceived of the idea for the Simpsons in the lobby of James L. Brooks's office. Brooks had asked Groening to pitch an idea for a series of animated shorts, which Groening initially intended to present as his Life in Hell series. However, when Groening realized that animating Life in Hell would require the rescinding of publication rights for his life's work, he chose another approach and formulated his version of a dysfunctional family. He named the characters after his own family members, substituting "Bart" for his own name.

The Simpson family first appeared as shorts in The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Groening submitted only basic sketches to the animators and assumed that the figures would be cleaned up in production. However, the animators merely re-traced his drawings, which led to the crude appearance of the characters in the initial short episodes. One of the earliest jobs of the Klasky Csupo company was creating animated sequences for the The Tracey Ullman Show which led to the start of The Simpsons. The animation was produced domestically at Klasky Csupo, with Wesley Archer, David Silverman, and Bill Kopp being animators for the first season. Georgie Peluse was the colorist and the person who decided to make the characters yellow.

In 1989, a team of production companies adapted The Simpsons into a half-hour series for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The team included what is now the Klasky Csupo animation house. Jim Brooks negotiated a provision in the contract with the Fox network that prevented Fox from interfering with the show's content. Groening said his goal in creating the show was to offer the audience an alternative to what he called "the mainstream trash" that they were watching. The half-hour series premiered on December 17, 1989 with "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", a Christmas special. "Some Enchanted Evening" was the first full-length episode produced, but it did not broadcast until May 1990, as the last episode of the first season, because of animation problems. In 1992, Tracey Ullman filed a lawsuit against Fox, claiming that her show was the source of the series' success. The suit said she should receive a share of the profits of The Simpsons—a claim rejected by the courts.

Production

Executive producers

List of show runners throughout the series' run:
Matt Groening and James L. Brooks have served as executive producers during the show's entire history, and also function as creative consultants. Sam Simon, described by former Simpsons director Brad Bird as "the unsung hero" of the show, served as creative supervisor for the first four seasons. He was constantly at odds with Groening, Brooks and Gracie Films and left in 1993. Before leaving, he negotiated a deal that sees him receive a share of the profits every year, and an executive producer credit despite not having worked on the show since 1993. A more involved position on the show is the show runner, who acts as head writer and manages the show's production for an entire season.

Writing

The first team of writers, assebled by Sam Simon, consisted of John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti, George Meyer, Jeff Martin, Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky. Newer Simpsons' writing teams typically consist of sixteen writers who propose episode ideas at the beginning of each December. The main writer of each episode writes the first draft. Group rewriting sessions develop final scripts by adding or removing jokes, inserting scenes, and calling for re-readings of lines by the show’s vocal performers. Until 2004, the leader of these sessions was George Meyer, who had developed the show since Season One. According to long-time writer Jon Vitti, Meyer usually invented the best lines in a given episode, even though other writers may receive script credits. Each episode takes six months to produce so the show rarely comments on current events. However, episodes occasionally mention planned events, such as the Olympics or the Super Bowl.
Credited with sixty episodes, John Swartzwelder is the most prolific writer on The Simpsons' staff.Turner, p. 21 One of the best-known former writers is [[Conan O'Brien]], who contributed to several episodes in the early 1990s before replacing [[David Letterman]] as host of the [[talk show]] ''[[Late Night with Conan O'Brien|Late Night]]''.{{cite news|url=http://news.scotsman.com/thesimpsons/The-icing-on-the-Simpsons.2592293.jp|title=The icing on the Simpsons' cake|accessdate=2007-08-10|date=2005-01-04|author=McGinty, Stephen|publisher=''Scotsman''}} English comedian [[Ricky Gervais]] wrote the episode "[[Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife]]", becoming the first celebrity to both write and guest star in an episode.{{cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4120569.stm|title=Gervais writing Simpsons episode|publisher=BBC News|date=2004-12-23|accessdate=2006-12-29}} [[Seth Rogen]] and [[Evan Goldberg]], writers of the film ''[[Superbad (film)|Superbad]]'', wrote the episode "[[Homer the Whopper]]", with Rogen voicing a character in it.{{cite web|title=Rogen gets a dream gig: 'Simpsons' writer, voice|url=http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2009-09-23-rogen-simpsons_N.htm|author=Keveney, Bill|work=[[USA Today]]|date=2009-09-23|accessdate=2009-09-24}} At the end of 2007 the writers of ''The Simpsons'' [[2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike|went on strike]] together with the rest of the [[Writers Guild of America, East]]. The show's writers had joined the guild in 1998.{{cite news|title=Why SpongeBob is sitting out the writers strike|accessdate=2008-01-09|date=2007-12-23|author=Munoz, Lorenza|publisher=''Los Angeles Times'' |url=http://www.statesman.com/business/content/business/stories/other/12/23/1223writerstrike.html|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20071226152155/http://www.statesman.com/business/content/business/stories/other/12/23/1223writerstrike.html|archivedate=2007-12-26}} ===Voice actors=== {{main|List of cast members of The Simpsons|List of guest stars on The Simpsons|Non-English versions of The Simpsons}} ''The Simpsons'' has six main cast members. [[Dan Castellaneta]] performs [[Homer Simpson]], [[Abraham Simpson]], [[Krusty the Clown]], [[Barney Gumble]] and other adult, male characters.Richmond, pp. 178–179 [[Julie Kavner]] speaks the voices of [[Marge Simpson]] and [[Patty and Selma]], as well as several minor characters. Castellaneta and Kavner had been a part of ''The Tracey Ullman Show'' cast and were given the parts so that new actors would not be needed.{{cite news|url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/02/27/1046064146568.html|title=D'oh, you're the voice|accessdate=2007-08-18|date=2003-02-27|author=Lee, Luaine|publisher=''[[The Age]]''}} [[Nancy Cartwright (actress)|Nancy Cartwright]] performs the voices of [[Bart Simpson]], [[Ralph Wiggum]] and other children. [[Yeardley Smith]], the voice of [[Lisa Simpson]], is the only cast member who regularly voices only one character, although she occasionally plays other episodic characters. The producers decided to hold casting for the roles of Bart and Lisa. Smith had initially been asked to audition for the role of Bart, but casting director [[Bonita Pietila]] believed her voice was too high.{{cite news|url=http://www.mtv.com/movies/news/articles/1565538/20070725/story.jhtml|title='Simpsons' Trivia, From Swearing Lisa To 'Burns-Sexual' Smithers|accessdate=2007-07-29|date=2007-07-26|author=Carroll, Larry|publisher=[[MTV]]}} Smith was given the role of Lisa instead.{{cite news|title=She who laughs last|date=2007-12-08|accessdate=2008-02-09|page=8E|work=[[The Daily Telegraph (Australia)|The Daily Telegraph]]|author=Miranda, Charles}} Nancy Cartwright originally intended to audition for Lisa, but upon arriving at the audition, she found that Lisa was simply described as the "middle child" and at the time did not have much personality. Cartwright became more interested in the role of Bart, who was described as "devious, underachieving, school-hating, irreverent, [and] clever".[[#Cartwright|Cartwright]], pp. 35–40 Matt Groening let her try out for the part instead, and upon hearing her read, gave her the job on the spot.{{cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/1017238.stm|title=Bart's voice tells all|accessdate=2007-05-16|date=2000-11-10|publisher=[[BBC News]]}} Cartwright is the only one of the six main ''Simpsons'' cast members who had been professionally trained in voice acting prior to working on the show.[[#Turner|Turner]], p. 21 There are two male actors who do not voice members of the title family but play a majority of the male townspeople; [[Hank Azaria]], who has been a part of the ''Simpsons'' regular voice cast since the second season,{{cite interview|last=Azaria|first=Hank| interviewer = [[Terry Gross]]| title = Fresh Air| program = [[National Public Radio]]| callsign = [[WHYY-FM|WHHY]]| url = http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4679119| city = Philadelphia| date = 2004-12-06| accessdate = 2007-08-15}} voices recurring characters such as [[Moe Szyslak|Moe]], [[Clancy Wiggum|Chief Wiggum]] and [[Apu Nahasapeemapetilon|Apu]], and [[Harry Shearer]] provides voices for [[Montgomery Burns|Mr. Burns]], [[Waylon Smithers|Smithers]], [[Seymour Skinner|Principal Skinner]], [[Ned Flanders]], [[Reverend Lovejoy]], and [[Julius Hibbert|Dr. Hibbert]]. With the exception of Harry Shearer, every main cast member has won a Primetime Emmy Award for [[Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance|Outstanding Voice-Over Performance]].{{cite news|url=http://goldderby.latimes.com/awards_goldderby/2006/07/shearer_snubbed.html|title=Shearer snubbed again! Blame that Mr. Burns?|accessdate=2007-08-10|date=2006-07-20|author=O'Niel, Tom|publisher=''The Envelope''}} However, Shearer was nominated for the award in [[61st Primetime Emmy Awards|2009]].{{cite web |url=http://cdn.emmys.tv/awards/2009ptemmys/61stemmys_noms.php |title=The 61st Primetime Emmy® Awards and 2009 Creative Arts Emmy® Awards Nominees are... |accessdate=2009-07-16|date=2009-07-16 |publisher=''[[Academy of Television Arts & Sciences]]''}} With one exception, episode credits list only the [[voice actor]]s, and not the characters they voice. Both Fox and the production crew wanted to keep their identities secret during the early seasons and, therefore, closed most of the recording sessions while refusing to publish photos of the recording artists.{{cite video | people=Groening, Matt; James L. Brooks, David Silverman|year=2001|title=The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "[[Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire]]"| medium=DVD|publisher=20th Century Fox}} However, the network eventually revealed which roles each actor performed in the episode "[[Old Money (The Simpsons episode)|Old Money]]", because the producers said the voice actors should receive credit for their work.{{cite video | people=Groening, Matt; Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky, Al Jean, David Silverman|year=2002|title=The Simpsons season 2 DVD commentary for the episode "Old Money"| medium=DVD|publisher=20th Century Fox}} In 2003, the cast appeared in an episode of ''[[Inside the Actors Studio]]'', doing live performances of their characters' voices. Up until 1998, the six main actors were paid [[American dollar|$]]30,000 per episode. In 1998 they were involved in a pay dispute with Fox. The company threatened to replace them with new actors, even going as far as preparing for casting of new voices. The series creator Groening supported the actors in their action.{{cite news|first=Brian|last=Doherty|title=Matt Groening|publisher=''[[Mother Jones (magazine)|Mother Jones]]''|date=March/April 1999}} However, the issue was soon resolved and, from 1998 to 2004, they were paid $125,000 per episode. The show's revenue continued to rise through syndication and DVD sales, and in April 2004 the main cast stopped appearing for script readings, demanding they be paid $360,000 per episode.{{cite news|url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/04/02/1080544690429.html|title=Simpsons actors demand bigger share|accessdate=2008-02-09|date=2004-04-03|author=Dan Glaister|publisher=[[The Age]]}}{{cite news|first=Rick|last=McGinnis|title=Star talks Simpsons|publisher=''[[Metro International|metro]]''|date=2004-08-09}} The strike was resolved a month later{{cite news|url=http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/05/01/entertainment/main615066.shtml|title='Simpsons' Cast Goes Back To Work|accessdate=2008-02-09|date=2004-05-01|publisher=[[CBS News]]}} and their salaries were increased to something between $250,000{{cite news|title=Meet the Simpsons|date=2004-05-06|accessdate=2008-02-09|publisher=[[The Daily Telegraph (Australia)|Daily Express]]|author=Peter Sheridan}} and $360,000 per episode.{{cite news | author = Michael Schneider | title = Still no deal for 'Simpsons' cast | publisher = ''[[Variety (magazine)|Variety]]'' | date = 2008-05-19 | url = http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117986121.html?categoryId=14&cs=1 | accessdate=2008-05-20}} In 2008, production for the [[The Simpsons (season 20)|twentieth season]] was put on hold due to new contract negotiations with the voice actors, who wanted a "healthy bump" in salary to an amount close to $500,000 per episode. The dispute was soon resolved, and the actors' salary was raised to $400,000 per episode.{{cite news | title = Simpsons cast sign new pay deal | publisher = [[BBC|BBC News]] | date = 2008-06-03 | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7434296.stm | accessdate=2008-09-08}} {| class="wikitable" |- !colspan=6|Main cast members |- |align=center| [[Image:Dan Castellaneta cropped.jpg|150x150px]] |align=center| [[File:No free image woman (en).svg|150x150px]] |align=center| [[Image:Nancy Cartwright.jpg|150x150px|upright]] |align=center| [[Image:Yeardleysmithcomiccon - Cropped.jpg|150x150px]] |align=center| [[Image:Hankazaria05.jpg|150x150px|upright]] |align=center| [[Image:Harry Shearer at RT4.jpg|150x150px]] |- | style="text-align:center; width:16%;"| [[Dan Castellaneta]] | style="text-align:center; width:16%;"| [[Julie Kavner]] | style="text-align:center; width:16%;"| [[Nancy Cartwright]] | style="text-align:center; width:16%;"| [[Yeardley Smith]] | style="text-align:center; width:16%;"| [[Hank Azaria]] | style="text-align:center; width:16%;"| [[Harry Shearer]] |- |width=16%| Homer, [[Abraham Simpson|Grampa]], [[Barney Gumble|Barney]], [[Krusty the Clown|Krusty]], [[Groundskeeper Willie]], [[Joe Quimby|Mayor Quimby]], [[Hans Moleman]] and many others |width=16%| Marge, [[Patty and Selma Bouvier|Patty and Selma]] |width=16%| [[Bart Simpson|Bart]], [[Nelson Muntz|Nelson]], [[Ralph Wiggum|Ralph]], [[Flanders family#Todd|Todd Flanders]], others |width=16%| Lisa |width=16%| [[Moe Szyslak|Moe]], [[Clancy Wiggum|Chief Wiggum]], [[Apu Nahasapeemapetilon|Apu]], [[Comic Book Guy]], [[Carl Carlson|Carl]], [[Cletus Spuckler|Cletus]], [[Professor Frink]], [[Dr. Nick Riviera|Dr. Nick]] and many others |width=16%| [[Montgomery Burns|Mr. Burns]], [[Waylon Smithers|Smithers]], [[Ned Flanders]], [[Reverend Timothy Lovejoy|Rev. Lovejoy]], [[Kent Brockman]], [[Dr. Julius Hibbert|Dr. Hibbert]], [[Lenny Leonard|Lenny]], [[Seymour Skinner|Principal Skinner]], [[Otto Mann|Otto]], [[Rainier Wolfcastle]] and many others |} {{hidden end}} In addition to the main cast, [[Pamela Hayden]], [[Tress MacNeille]], [[Marcia Wallace]], [[Maggie Roswell]], and [[Russi Taylor]] voice supporting characters. From 1999 to 2002, Maggie Roswell's characters were voiced by [[Marcia Mitzman Gaven]]. [[Karl Wiedergott]] has appeared in minor roles, but does not voice any recurring characters.{{cite book |last=McCann |first=Jesse L.|coauthors=Matt Groening|title=[[The Simpsons Beyond Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Still Continued]]|origyear=2002 |publisher=Harper Collins Publishers |isbn=0-06-050592-3 |pages=117 |year=2002 }} Repeat "special guest" cast members include [[Albert Brooks]], [[Phil Hartman]], [[Jon Lovitz]], [[Joe Mantegna]], and [[Kelsey Grammer]].{{cite web|url=http://www.tvsquad.com/2006/06/20/the-five-great-simpsons-guest-stars/|title=The Five: Great Simpsons guest stars|accessdate=2007-08-10|date=2006-06-20|author=Finley, Adam|publisher=TV Squad}} Episodes will quite often feature guest voices from a wide range of professions, including actors, athletes, authors, bands, musicians and scientists. In the earlier seasons, most of the guest stars voiced characters, but eventually more started appearing as themselves. [[Tony Bennett]] was the first guest star to appear as himself, appearing briefly in the season two episode "[[Dancin' Homer]]".Turner, p. 393 ''The Simpsons'' holds the [[Guinness Book of World Records|world record]] for "Most Guest Stars Featured in a Television Series".{{cite news|url=http://www.foxflash.com/div.php/main/page?aID=1z2z2z175z13z3|title=THE SIMPSONS — Season 19 (2007–2008|accessdate=2007-10-21|publisher=[[Fox Broadcasting Company|FoxFlash]]}} The show has been dubbed into [[Non-English versions of The Simpsons|several other languages]], including [[Japanese language|Japanese]], [[German language|German]], [[Spanish language|Spanish]], and [[Portuguese language|Portuguese]]. It is also one of the few programs dubbed in both [[French language|French]] and [[Quebec French]].{{cite web|url=http://www.omnivore.org/jon/orwell/caste.htm|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20080210002353/http://www.omnivore.org/jon/orwell/caste.htm|archivedate=2008-02-10|title=Caste Of Characters|accessdate=2007-08-07|date=2000-09-09|author=Kay, Jonathan|publisher= ''Saturday Night Magazine''}} ''The Simpsons'' has been broadcast in [[Arabic language|Arabic]], but due to [[Islam]]ic customs, numerous aspects of the show have been changed. For example, Homer drinks [[Carbonated water|soda]] instead of beer and eats Egyptian beef sausages instead of hot dogs. Because of such changes, the Arabized version of the series met with a negative reaction from the life-long ''Simpsons'' fans in the area.{{cite news|url=http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05287/588741.stm|title=D'oh! Arabized Simpsons not getting many laughs|accessdate=2007-08-07|date=2005-10-14|El-Rashidi, Yasmine|publisher=''[[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]]''}} ===Animation=== [[Image:David Silverman in 2007-cropped.JPG|right|thumb|upright|Animation director [[David Silverman]], who helped define the look of the show.{{cite web|author=Cagle, Daryl|url=http://cagle.msnbc.com/hogan/interviews/silverman.asp|title=The David Silverman Interview|accessdate=2006-12-29|publisher=MSNBC}}]] Several different U.S. and international studios animate ''The Simpsons''. Throughout the run of the animated shorts on ''The Tracey Ullman Show,'' the animation was produced domestically at [[Klasky Csupo]].{{cite news |first=Harvey |last=Deneroff|title=Matt Groening's Baby Turns 10|publisher=''[[Animation Magazine]]'', Vol. 14, #1|date=January 2000|pages=10, 12}} With the debut of the series, because of an increased workload, Fox subcontracted production to several international studios, located in [[South Korea]]. These are [[AKOM]],First episode credit in production order: {{cite episode |title=Some Enchanted Evening|episodelink=Some Enchanted Evening (The Simpsons)|series=The Simpsons|credits=Groening, Matt; Sam Simon, David Silverman, Kent Butterworth|network=Fox |airdate=1990-05-13|season=1|number=13}} [[Anivision]],First episode credit in production order: {{cite episode |title=Treehouse of Horror II|episodelink=Treehouse of Horror II|series=The Simpsons|credits=Jean, Al; Mike Reiss, Jeff Martin, George Meyer, Sam Simon, John Swartzwelder, Jim Reardon |network=Fox |airdate=1991-10-31|season=3|number=7}} [[Rough Draft Studios]],First episode credit in production order: {{cite episode |title=Homer the Heretic|episodelink=Homer the Heretic|series=The Simpsons|credits=Meyer, George;Jim Reardon|network=Fox |airdate=1992-10-08|season=4|number=3}} [[U.S. Animation, Inc.]],First episode credit in production order: {{cite episode |title=Radioactive Man|episodelink=Radioactive Man (The Simpsons episode)|series=The Simpsons |credits=Swartzwelder, John; Susie Dietter|network=Fox |airdate=1995-09-24|season=7|number=2}} and [[Toonzone Entertainment]].First episode credit in production order: {{cite episode |title=The Fat and the Furriest|episodelink=The Fat and the Furriest|series=The Simpsons|credits=Cohen , Joel H.; Matthew Nastuk|network=Fox |airdate=2003-11-30|season=15|number=5}} Artists at the U.S. animation studio, Film Roman, draw [[storyboard]]s, design new characters, backgrounds, props and draw character and background layouts, which in turn become [[animatic]]s to be screened for the writers at Gracie Films for any changes to be made before the work is shipped overseas. The overseas studios then draw the [[inbetween]]s, [[digital ink and paint|ink and paint]], and render the animation to tape before it is shipped back to the United States to be delivered to Fox three to four months later.{{cite news|title=TV's 'The Simpsons' Goes Global |accessdate=2007-08-15|date=2001-08-05|publisher=[[Associated Press]]|author=Elber, Lynn}} For the first three seasons, [[Klasky Csupo]] animated ''The Simpsons'' in the United States. In 1992, the show's production company, [[Gracie Films]], switched domestic production to [[Film Roman]],{{cite news|author= Bernstein, Sharon|title='The Simpsons' Producer Changes Animation Firms|publisher=''[[Los Angeles Times]]''|date=1992-01-21|page=18}} who continue to animate the show as of 2009. In [[The Simpsons (season 14)|Season 14]], production switched from traditional [[Traditional animation#Traditional ink-and-paint and camera|cel animation]] to [[Traditional animation#Digital ink and paint|digital ink and paint]].{{cite video | people=Groening, Matt; Al Jean, Jeffrey Lynch, Mike Reiss, David Silverman|year=2004|title=The Simpsons season 4 DVD commentary for the episode "[[Whacking Day]]"| medium=DVD|publisher=20th Century Fox}} The first episode to experiment with digital coloring was "[[Radioactive Man (The Simpsons episode)|Radioactive Man]]" in 1995. Animators used digital ink and paint during production of the [[The Simpsons (season 12)|Season 12]] episode "[[Tennis the Menace]]," but Gracie Films delayed the regular use of digital ink and paint until two seasons later. The already completed "Tennis the Menace" was broadcast as made.{{cite news|url=http://www.license-europe.com/licensemag/data/articlestandard//licensemag/192007/425752/article.pdf|title=A Salute to the Simpsons|last=Grala|first=Alyson|pages=14|publisher=''License Mag''|accessdate=2007-08-11|format=PDF}} The series began [[high-definition television|high-definition]] production in Season 20; the first episode, "[[Take My Life, Please]]", aired February 15, 2009. The move to HDTV included a new opening sequence.{{Cite web|url=http://www.foxflash.com/div.php/main/page?aID=1z4&mo=2&d=10|title= Primetime Listings (February 8 - February 14)|accessdate=2009-01-24|date=2009-01-23|publisher=FoxFlash}} Matt Groening called it a complicated change because it affected the timing and composition of animation.{{Cite web|url=http://www.avclub.com/articles/matt-groening,25525/1/|title=Matt Groening|author=Ryan, Kyle|date=2009-03-25|accessdate=2009-04-15|work=[[The A.V. Club]]}} ==Characters== {{main|List of characters in The Simpsons}} [[Image:Simpsons cast.png|frame|left|''The Simpsons'' sports a vast array of secondary and tertiary characters.]] The Simpsons are a typical family who live in a fictional "[[Middle America (United States)|Middle American]]" town of Springfield.Turner, p. 28 Homer, the father, works as a safety inspector at the [[Springfield Nuclear Power Plant]], a position at odds with his careless, [[jester|buffoon]]ish personality. He is married to Marge Simpson, a [[stereotype|stereotypical]] American [[homemaker|housewife]] and mother. They have three children: Bart, a ten-year-old troublemaker; Lisa, a precocious eight-year-old [[activist]]; and [[Maggie Simpson|Maggie]], a baby who rarely speaks, but communicates by sucking on a [[pacifier]]. The family owns a dog, [[Santa's Little Helper]], and a cat, [[Snowball V]], renamed [[Snowball II]] in "[[I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot]]". Both pets have had starring roles in several episodes. Despite the passing of yearly milestones such as holidays or birthdays, the Simpsons do not physically age and still appear just as they did at the end of the 1980s. Although the family is dysfunctional, many episodes examine their relationships and bonds with each other and they are often shown to care about one another.{{cite video | people=Oakley, Bill|year=2005|title=The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily"| medium=DVD|publisher=20th Century Fox}} The show includes an array of quirky characters: co-workers, teachers, family friends, extended relatives, townspeople and local celebrities. The creators originally intended many of these characters as one-time jokesters or for fulfilling needed functions in the town. A number of them have gained expanded roles and subsequently starred in their own episodes. According to Matt Groening, the show adopted the concept of a large supporting cast from the comedy show ''[[Second City Television|SCTV]]''.{{cite web|url=http://www.avclub.com/content/node/47771/1|title=Matt Groening: Interview|accessdate=2006-10-22|author=Rabin, Nathan|date=2006-04-26|publisher=The A.V. Club}} ==Setting== {{main|Springfield (The Simpsons)|List of fictional locations in The Simpsons}} ''The Simpsons'' takes place in the fictional American town of [[Springfield (The Simpsons)|Springfield]] in an unknown and impossible-to-determine [[U.S. state]]. The show is intentionally evasive in regard to Springfield's location.Turner, pp. 289–290 The name "Springfield" is a common one in America and appears in over half of the states.{{cite web|title=Geographic Names Information System Feature Query Results|url=http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=171:2:15227271951011717603:pg_R_17965331718946601910:NO&pg_min_row=16&pg_max_rows=15&pg_rows_fetched=15|publisher=US Geological Survey|accessdate=2007-06-05}} Springfield's geography, and that of its surroundings, contain coastlines, deserts, vast farmland, tall mountains, or whatever the story or joke requires.Turner, p. 30 Groening has said that Springfield has much in common with [[Portland, Oregon|Portland]], [[Oregon]], the city where he grew up.{{cite web|url=http://www.portlandtribune.com/news/story.php?story_id=12392|title=Matt Groening’s Portland|accessdate=2007-08-04|author=Hamilton, Don|date=2002-07-19|publisher=''[[Portland Tribune]]''}} ==Themes== {{main|Politics in The Simpsons|Religion in The Simpsons}} ''The Simpsons'' uses the standard setup of a situational comedy, or [[sitcom]], as its premise. The series centers on a family and their life in a typical American town. However, because of its animated nature, ''The Simpsons''' scope is larger than that of a regular sitcom. The town of Springfield acts as a complete universe in which characters can explore the issues faced by modern society. By having Homer work in a nuclear power plant, the show can comment on the state of the environment.Turner, p. 55 Through Bart and Lisa's days at [[Springfield Elementary School]], the show's writers illustrate pressing or controversial issues in the field of education. The town features a vast array of media channels—from kids' television programming to local news, which enables the producers to make jokes about themselves and the entertainment industry.Turner, p. 388 Some commentators say the show is political in nature and susceptible to a left-wing bias.Turner, pp. 221–222 [[Al Jean]] admitted in an interview that "We [the show] are of liberal bent."Turner, p. 223 The writers often evince an appreciation for liberal ideals, but the show makes jokes across the political spectrum.Turner, p. 224 The show portrays government and large corporations as callous entities that take advantage of the common worker. Thus, the writers often portray authority figures in an unflattering or negative light. In ''The Simpsons'', politicians are corrupt, ministers such as [[Reverend Lovejoy]] are indifferent to churchgoers, and the local police force is incompetent.Turner, p. 56 Religion also figures as a recurring theme. In times of crisis, the family often turns to God, and the show has dealt with most of the major religions.{{cite news|first=Mark I|last=Pinsky|title=The Gospel According to Homer|publisher=''[[Orlando Sentinel]]''|date=1999-08-15}} ==Hallmarks== ===Opening sequence=== [[Image:Simpsons couch gag.jpg|thumb|200px|right|Elongated couch gags, such as one featuring a large stage show, have been used to fill time in shorter episodes.]] {{main|The Simpsons opening sequence}} ''The Simpsons''' [[Title sequence|opening sequence]] is one of the show's most memorable hallmarks. Most episodes open with the camera zooming through the show's title towards the town of [[Springfield (The Simpsons)|Springfield]]. The camera then follows the members of the family on their way home. Upon entering their house, the Simpsons settle down on their couch to watch television. The opening was created by [[David Silverman]], the first task he did when production began on the show.{{cite web|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/simpsons/interviews/silverman/page4.shtml|title=Top titles|accessdate=2007-08-01|publisher=[[BBC]]}} The series' distinctive theme song was [[composer|composed]] by [[musician]] [[Danny Elfman]] in 1989, after Groening approached him requesting a retro style piece. This piece, which took two days to create, has been noted by Elfman as the most popular of his career.{{cite web|url=http://elfman.filmmusic.com/elfman_la_times.html|title=Danny Elfman in the L.A. Times|accessdate=2006-07-03|last=Glionna|first=John M.|year=1999|publisher=Danny Elfman's Music For A Darkened People}} One of the most distinctive aspects of the opening is that three of the segments change from episode to episode: Bart writes different things on the school chalkboard, Lisa plays different solos on her saxophone, and different gags accompany the family as they enter their living room to sit on the couch.Richmond, pp. 90–91 On February 15, 2009, a new opening credit sequence was introduced to accompany the switch to HDTV. The sequence had all of the features of the original opening, but added numerous details and characters.{{Cite web|url=http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/4682314/The-Simpsons-opening-sequence-changes.html|title='The Simpsons' opening sequence changes|last=Leonard|first=Tom|work=[[The Daily Telegraph]]|accessdate=2009-03-02|date=2009-02-17}} ===Halloween episodes=== [[Image:Bart Night Gallery.jpg|thumb|200px|right|Bart introducing a segment of "[[Treehouse of Horror IV]]" in the manner of [[Rod Serling]]'s ''[[Night Gallery]]''.]] {{main|Treehouse of Horror (series)}} The special [[Halloween]] episode has become an annual tradition. "[[Treehouse of Horror]]" first broadcast in 1990 as part of [[The Simpsons (season 2)|season two]] and established the pattern of three separate, self-contained stories in each Halloween episode.{{cite web|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/simpsons/episodeguide/season2/page3.shtml|title=The Simpsons Halloween Special|accessdate=2007-11-09|last=Martyn|first=Warren|last2=Wood|first=Adrian|year=2000|publisher=BBC}} These pieces usually involve the family in some [[Horror film|horror]], [[science fiction]], or supernatural setting and often parody or pay homage to a famous piece of work in those genres.{{cite book|last=Turner|page=31}} They always take place outside the normal continuity of the show. Although the ''Treehouse'' series is meant to be seen on Halloween, in recent years, new installments have premiered after Halloween due to [[Major League Baseball on Fox|Fox]]'s current contract with [[Major League Baseball]]'s [[World Series]].{{cite news|title=Pick of the Day: The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XVII|last=Ryan|first=Andrew|publisher=[[The Globe and Mail]]|date=2006-11-04|page=12}} ===Humor=== The show's humor turns on cultural references that cover a wide spectrum of society so that viewers from all generations can enjoy the show.Turner pp. 63–65 Such references, for example, come from movies, television, music, literature, science, and history. The animators also regularly add jokes or sight gags into the show's background via humorous or incongruous bits of text in signs, newspapers, and elsewhere.Turner p. 62 The audience may often not notice the visual jokes in a single viewing. Some are so fleeting that they become apparent only by pausing a video recording of the show. Kristin Thompson argues that ''The Simpsons'' uses a "...flurry of cultural references, intentionally inconsistent characterization, and considerable self-reflexivity about television conventions and the status of the programme as a television show."{{cite book|last=King |first=Geoff|authorlink=Kristin Thompson|title=New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction |accessdate=2007-12-18|date=2002-03-29|publisher=I B Tauris & Co|isbn=1860647502}} One of Bart's early [[hallmark]]s were his prank calls to [[Moe's Tavern]] owner [[Moe Szyslak]] in which Bart calls Moe and asks for a [[gag name]]. Moe tries to find that person in the bar, but rapidly realizes it is a prank call and angrily threatens Bart. These calls were based on a series of prank calls known as the [[Tube Bar prank calls|Tube Bar recordings]]. Moe was based partly on Tube Bar owner [[Louis "Red" Deutsch]], whose often profane responses inspired Moe's violent side.{{cite news|url=http://www.hudsonreporter.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15354520&BRD=1291&PAG=461&dept_id=523586&rfi=6|archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20071218105842/http://www.hudsonreporter.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15354520&BRD=1291&PAG=461&dept_id=523586&rfi=6|archivedate=2007-12-18|title=Joke on 'Simpsons' started in JC|accessdate=2008-10-30|date=2005-08-10|publisher=''[[Hudson Reporter]]''|work=[[Jersey City Reporter]]|author=Kaulessar, Ricardo}} As the series progressed, it became more difficult for the writers to come up with a fake name and to write Moe's angry response, so the pranks were dropped as a regular joke during the fourth season.[[James L. Brooks|Brooks, James L.]]; Groening, Matt; Jean, Al. (2001). Commentary for "[[Some Enchanted Evening (The Simpsons)|Some Enchanted Evening]]", in ''The Simpsons: The Complete First Season'' [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.Reiss, Mike. (2001). Commentary for "[[Moaning Lisa]]", in ''The Simpsons: The Complete First Season'' [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. ''The Simpsons'' also often includes [[Meta-reference|self-referential]] humor.{{Cite web|url=http://www.vancouversun.com/entertainment/Simpson+sets+record+staying+relevant/1374208/story.html|title=Doh! The Simpson's sets a record by staying relevant|author=Strachan, Al|work=[[Vancouver Sun]]|accessdate=2009-08-24|date=2009-03-10}} The most common form is jokes about Fox Broadcasting.{{Cite web|title=Embiggening the smallest man|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/jun/30/film.filmnews|work=[[The Guardian]]|accessdate=2009-08-24|date=2007-06-30|author=Burkeman, Oliver}} For example, an episode that aired in December 2004 included a scene where a [[Fox News Channel|Fox News]] van drove down the street while displaying a large "Bush Cheney 2004" banner and playing [[Queen (band)|Queen]]'s "[[We Are the Champions]]", in reference to the [[United States presidential election, 2004|2004 presidential election]].{{Cite web|url=http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/gossip/2004/12/07/2004-12-07__simpsons__on_fox_hunt.html|title='Simpsons' on Fox hunt|work=[[New York Daily News]]|author=Grove, Lloyd; Morgan, Hudson|date=2004-12-07|accessdate=2009-08-24}} The show uses [[catchphrases]], and most of the primary and secondary characters have at least one each.Turner p. 60 Notable expressions include Homer's annoyed grunt "[[D'oh!]]", Mr. Burns' "Excellent..." and [[Nelson Muntz]]'s "''Ha''-ha!". Some of Bart's catchphrases, such as "''[[¡Ay, caramba!]]''", "Don't have a cow, man!" and "Eat my shorts!" appeared on t-shirts in the show's early days.Turner p. 25 However, Bart rarely used the latter two phrases until after they became popular through the [[merchandising]]. The use of many of these catchphrases has declined in recent seasons. The episode "[[Bart Gets Famous]]" mocks catchphrase-based humor, as Bart achieves fame on the ''Krusty the Clown Show'' solely for saying "I didn't do it."Turner p. 61 ==Influences on culture== ===Idioms=== A number of [[neologism]]s that originated on ''The Simpsons'' have entered popular vernacular.{{cite web|url=http://www.avclub.com/content/node/47756|title=Beyond "D'oh!": Simpsons Quotes For Everyday Use|author=Bahn, Christopher|coauthors=Donna Bowman, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan, Scott Tobias|accessdate=2006-07-03|date=2006-04-26|publisher=The A.V. Club}} [[Mark Liberman]], director of the [[Linguistic Data Consortium]], remarked, "''The Simpsons'' has apparently taken over from Shakespeare and the Bible as our culture's greatest source of idioms, catchphrases and sundry other textual allusions."{{Cite news|last=Macintyre|first=Ben|author-link=Ben Macintyre|title=Last word: Any word that embiggens the vocabulary is cromulent with me|newspaper=[[The Times]]|date=2007-08-11|year=2007|url=http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article2234263.ece}} The most famous catchphrase is Homer's annoyed grunt: "[[D'oh!]]" So ubiquitous is the expression that it is now listed in the ''[[Oxford English Dictionary]]'', but without the apostrophe.{{cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/1387335.stm|title=It's in the dictionary, d'oh!|accessdate=2006-12-24|date=2001-06-14|publisher=[[BBC News]]}} Dan Castellaneta says he borrowed the phrase from [[Jimmy Finlayson|James Finlayson]], an actor in early [[Laurel and Hardy]] comedies, who pronounced it in a more elongated and whining tone. The director of ''The Simpsons'' told Castellaneta to shorten the noise, and it went on to become the well-known exclamation in the television series.{{cite news|first=Jeremy|last=Simon|title=Wisdom from The Simpsons' 'D'ohh' boy|format=Interview|publisher=''The Daily Northwestern''|date=1994-02-11}} [[Groundskeeper Willie]]'s description of the French as "[[cheese-eating surrender monkeys]]" was used by ''[[National Review]]'' columnist [[Jonah Goldberg]] in 2003, after France's opposition to the proposed [[2003 invasion of Iraq|invasion of Iraq]]. The phrase quickly spread to other journalists.{{cite web|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/feb/11/pressandpublishing.usa|title=Wimps, weasels and monkeys — the US media view of 'perfidious France'|accessdate=2006-08-05|author=Younge, Gary|coauthors=Jon Henley|date=2006-07-07|publisher=[[Guardian Unlimited]]}} "Cromulent", a word used in "[[Lisa the Iconoclast]]" has since appeared in the [[Webster's Dictionary|Webster’s New Millennium Dictionary]] of [[English language|English]].[http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=cromulent lookup] via reference.com "Kwyjibo", a fake [[Scrabble]] word invented by Bart in "[[Bart the Genius]]", was used as one of the aliases of the creator of the [[Melissa (computer worm)|Melissa worm]].{{cite video | people=Vitti, Jon|year=2001|title=The Simpsons The Complete First Season DVD commentary for the episode "Bart the Genius"| medium=DVD|publisher=20th Century Fox}} "I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords", was used by [[Kent Brockman]] in "[[Deep Space Homer]]" and has become a common variety of phrase.{{cite web|url=http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/000399.html|title=I, for one, welcome our new * overlords|accessdate=2009-01-12|author=Liberman. Mark|date=2004-01-29|publisher=[[Language Log]]}} Variants of Brockman's utterance are used to express mock submission, usually for the purpose of humor.Turner, p. 300 It has been used in media, such as ''[[New Scientist]]'' magazine.{{cite web|url=http://www.newscientist.com/blog/space/2007/06/british-government-welcomes-our-new.html|title=The British government welcomes our new insect overlords|publisher=New Scientist magazine|accessdate=2007-10-14}} The dismissive term "Meh", believed to be popularized by the show,{{cite news|url=http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/mar/05/newmedia.broadcasting|title=Meh — the word that's sweeping the internet|accessdate=2007-10-14|date=2007-03-05|publisher=[[The Guardian]]|author=Michael Hann}} entered the [[HarperCollins|Collins English Dictionary]] in 2008.{{cite news|url=http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/story.html?id=f216bac2-8f0b-4202-a1ae-8f7ed4de2bd7|title=Canadian politics: The definition of 'meh'|accessdate=2008-11-21|date=2008-11-18|publisher=Canwest News Service|work=[[Vancouver Sun]]|author=Boswell, Randy}} ===Television=== ''The Simpsons'' was the first successful animated program in prime time since ''[[Wait Till Your Father Gets Home]]'' in the 1970s.Alberti, p. xii. During most of the 1980s, pundits considered animated shows as appropriate only for children, and animating a show was too expensive to achieve a quality suitable for prime-time television. ''The Simpsons'' changed this perception. The use of Korean animation studios for [[tweening]], coloring, and filming made the episodes cheaper. The success of ''The Simpsons'' and the lower production cost prompted television networks to take chances on other animated series. This development led to a 1990s boom in new, animated prime-time shows, such as ''[[South Park]]'', ''[[Family Guy]]'', ''[[King of the Hill]]'', ''[[Futurama]]'', and ''[[The Critic]]''. "''The Simpsons'' created an audience for prime-time animation that had not been there for many, many years", said ''[[Family Guy]]'' creator [[Seth MacFarlane]]. "As far as I'm concerned, they basically re-invented the wheel. They created what is in many ways—you could classify it as—a wholly new medium."{{cite news|url=http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/08/simpsons200708|accessdate=2008-10-18|date=August 2007|title=Simpson Family Values|author=John Ortved|publisher=''[[Vanity Fair (magazine)|Vanity Fair]]''}} ''South Park'' later paid homage to ''The Simpsons'' with the episode "[[Simpsons Already Did It]]".{{cite news|url=http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1647331,00.html|title=The Simpsons, Bigger and Better|accessdate=2007-08-01|date=2007-07-29|author=Richard Corliss|publisher=''[[Time (magazine)|TIME]]''}} ''The Simpsons'' has also influenced live-action shows like ''[[Malcolm in the Middle]]'', which debuted January 9, 2000 in the time slot after ''The Simpsons'', due to its lack of laugh track unlike many other sitcoms.{{cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/2761301.stm|title=The Simpsons: The world's favourite family|accessdate=2006-12-19|date=2003-02-15|publisher=BBC News}}{{cite web|url=http://www.medialifemagazine.com/news2000/jan00/news30107.html|title='Malcolm in the Middle': trite Fox fare with a first-rate time slot|accessdate=2006-07-03|author=Wallenstein, Andrew|publisher=''Media Life Magazine''}} ''Malcolm in the Middle'' featured the use of [[sight gag]]s and did not use a [[laugh track]] unlike most [[sitcom]]s. [[Ricky Gervais]] has called ''The Simpsons'' a major influence on his British comedy ''[[The Office (UK TV series)|The Office]]'', which also dispenses with a laugh track.{{cite web|url=http://www.dvdactive.com/editorial/interviews/ricky-gervais.html|title=Ricky Gervais Part One|accessdate=2006-12-20|author=Schuchardt, Richard|publisher=DVDActive.com}} ==Reception and achievements== ===Early success=== ''The Simpsons'' was the Fox network's first television series to rank among a season's top 30 highest-rated shows.{{cite web|url=http://classictvhits.com/tvratings/1989.htm|title=TV Ratings: 1989–1990|accessdate=2006-07-03|publisher=ClassicTVHits.com}} While later seasons would focus on Homer, Bart was the lead character in most of the first three seasons. In 1990, Bart quickly became one of the most popular characters on television in what was termed "Bartmania".[[#Turner|Turner]], pp. 120–121{{cite news|title=Cartoon leads a revolt against apple-pie family — Simpsons|accessdate=2009-04-15|date=1990-07-08|author=Cassidy, John|work=[[The Sunday Times]]}}{{cite news|url=http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,22062437-5009160,00.html|title=Simpsons set for big screen|accessdate=2009-04-15|date=2007-07-15|work=[[The Daily Telegraph]]}}{{cite news|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE0D71F3AF93AA15757C0A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=4|title=Cashing in on a Hot New Brand Name |author=Kleinfield, N.R.|accessdate=2009-04-15|date=1990-04-29|work=[[The New York Times]]}} He became the most prevalent ''Simpsons'' character on memorabilia, such as [[T-shirt]]s. In the early 1990s, millions of T-shirts featuring Bart were sold;{{cite news|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CEFDE103EF934A35753C1A966958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=2|title=The T-Shirt Industry Sweats It Out |accessdate=2009-04-15|date=1990-10-07|author=Barmash, Isador|work=The New York Times}} as many as one million were sold on some days.{{cite journal|url=http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20114134,00.html|title=Bart Simpson–Defiant, Saw-Topped and Cheeky—the Brat Terrible Gave Underachievers a Good Name |accessdate=2009-04-15|date=1990-12-31|publisher=''[[People (magazine)|People]]''|volume=34|issue=26}} Believing Bart to be a bad role model, several American public schools banned T-shirts featuring Bart next to captions such as "I'm Bart Simpson. Who the hell are you?" and "Underachiever ('And proud of it, man!')".{{cite news|url=http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C0CE1DE1E3DF933A05751C1A966958260|title=Overacheiver — and Learning to Deal With It, Man|accessdate=2008-09-18|date=1990-12-30|author=Rohter, Larry|work=The New York Times}}Burey, Chris. (1990). [[ABC News]] report about the Bart Simpson t-shirt controversy included as an Easter Egg in ''The Simpsons: The Complete First Season'' (2001) [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. ''The Simpsons'' merchandise sold well and generated [[United States dollar|$]]2 billion in revenue during the first 14 months of sales. Because of his popularity, Bart was often the most promoted member of the Simpson family in advertisements for the show, even for episodes in which he was not involved in the main plot.Groening, Matt; Jean, Reiss; Moore, Rich; Reiss, Mike; Vitti, Jon. (2002). Commentary for "[[Lisa's Substitute]]", in ''The Simpsons: The Complete Second Season'' [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. Due to the show's success, over the summer of 1990 the [[Fox Broadcasting Company|Fox Network]] decided to switch ''The Simpsons''' timeslot so that it would move from 8:00 p.m. [[Eastern Time Zone|EST]] on Sunday night to the same time on Thursday, where it would compete with ''[[The Cosby Show]]'' on [[NBC]], the [[Nielsen Ratings#Annual top-rated shows|number one show]] at the time.{{cite news|title='Simpsons' steals away Cosby viewers |date=1991-05-09|accessdate=2008-02-09|page=4|work=[[Los Angeles Times]]|author=Cerone, Daniel}} Through the summer, several news outlets published stories about the supposed "Bill vs. Bart" rivalry.Brooks, James L.; Groening, Matt; Jrean, Al; Reiss, Mike; Silverman, David. (2002). Commentary for "[[Bart Gets an F]]", in ''The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season'' [DVD]. 20th Century Fox. "[[Bart Gets an F]]" ([[The Simpsons (season 2)|season two]], 1990) was the first episode to air against ''The Cosby Show'', and it received a lower [[Nielsen Rating]], tying for eighth behind ''The Cosby Show'', which had an 18.5 rating. The rating is based on the number of household televisions that were tuned into the show, but [[Nielsen Media Research]] estimated that 33.6 million viewers watched the episode, making it the number one show in terms of actual viewers that week. At the time, it was the most watched episode in the history of the Fox Network,{{cite news|title=Don't have a cow, man! More viewers watch 'The Simpsons' than 'Cosby'! |date=1990-10-18|accessdate=2009-04-15|page=C5|work=[[Deseret News]]|author=Scott D. Pierce}} and it is still the highest rated episode in the history of ''The Simpsons''.{{cite web |url=http://television.aol.com/feature/the-simpsons/3 |title='The Simpsons' Best Episodes: No. 15 - 11 |accessdate=2009-04-15 |work= |publisher=[[AOL]]|author=Potts, Kimberly|year=2006 }} ''The Simpsons'' has been praised by many critics, being described as "the most irreverent and unapologetic show on the air."{{cite web|url=http://bostonphoenix.com/archive/tv/97/05/TEN_REASONS.html|title=Eye pleasers|accessdate=2008-01-27|publisher=''[[The Boston Phoenix]]''|author=Ted Drozdowski|year=1997}} In a 1990 review of the show, Ken Tucker of ''[[Entertainment Weekly]]'' described it as "the American family at its most complicated, drawn as simple cartoons. It's this neat paradox that makes millions of people turn away from the three big networks on Sunday nights to concentrate on The Simpsons."{{cite web|url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,317389,00.html|title=TV review: The Simpsons|accessdate=2008-01-27|publisher=''[[Entertainment Weekly]]''|author=Ken Tucker|date=May 18, 1990}} Tucker would also describe the show as a "pop-cultural phenomenon, a prime-time cartoon show that appeals to the entire family."{{cite web|url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,317611,00.html|title=TV review: The Simpsons|accessdate=2008-01-27|publisher=''[[Entertainment Weekly]]''|author=Ken Tucker|date=June 15, 1990}} ===Run length achievements=== On February 9, 1997, ''The Simpsons'' surpassed ''[[The Flintstones]]'' with the episode "[[The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show]]" as the longest-running [[prime-time]] animated series in the United States. In 2004, ''The Simpsons'' replaced ''[[The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet]]'' (1952 to 1966) as the longest-running sitcom (animated or [[live action]]) in the United States.{{cite web|url=http://www.post-gazette.com/tv/20030121tvnote0121p5.asp |title=TV Notes: 'Simpsons' breaks record with contract renewal |accessdate=2006-12-19 |last=Owen |first=Rob|date=2003-01-21|publisher=''[[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]]''}} In 2009, ''The Simpsons'' surpassed ''The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet''{{'}}s record of 435 episodes and is now recognized by [[Guinness World Records]] as the world's longest running sitcom.{{Cite web|url=http://www.cbc.ca/arts/tv/story/2009/07/28/simpsons-guests-records.html|publisher=[[Canadian Broadcasting Corporation|CBC]]|title=Coldplay, Silverman to guest on The Simpsons|date=2009-07-28|accessdate=2009-08-18}} In October 2004, ''[[Scooby-Doo]]'' briefly overtook ''The Simpsons'' as the American animated show with the highest number of episodes.{{cite web|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3949579.stm |title=Scooby-Doo breaks cartoon record| accessdate=2006-08-21|date=2004-10-25|publisher=[[BBC]]}} However, network executives in April 2005 again cancelled ''Scooby-Doo'', which finished with 371 episodes, and ''The Simpsons'' reclaimed the title with 378 episodes at the end of their seventeenth season.{{cite book |last=Folkard |first=Claire|title=Guinness World Records 2006 |year=2006|publisher=Bantam USA|isbn=0553589067}} In May 2007, ''The Simpsons'' reached their 400th episode at the end of the eighteenth season. While ''The Simpsons'' has the record for the number of episodes by an American animated show, other animated series have surpassed ''The Simpsons''.{{cite news|url=http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/83-11152007-1441491.html|title=Some records will last forever|accessdate=2007-11-17|date=2007-11-15|publisher=PhillyBurbs.com|author=Andy Vineberg}} For example, the Japanese [[anime]] series ''[[Sazae-san#Sazae-san animated series|Sazae-san]]'' has close to 2,000 episodes to its credit. The year [[2007 in television|2007]] marked the twentieth anniversary of ''The Simpsons'' franchise. As of the twentieth season (2008–2009), the series is equal with ''[[Gunsmoke]]'' as the longest-running American primetime, scripted television series. However, ''Gunsmoke'''s episode count of 635 episodes far surpasses ''The Simpsons'', which would not reach that mark until its approximate 29th season, under normal programming schedules.{{cite web|url=http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/Television/story?id=5888441&page=1|title='The Simpsons' Hits a Landmark|author=Bill Keveney|date=2008-09-28|accessdate=2008-10-02|publisher=[[American Broadcasting Company|ABC]]}} In 2009, Fox will hold a year-long celebration of the show titled "Best. 20 Years. Ever." to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the premiere of ''The Simpsons''. It will end January 14, 2010, twenty years after "[[Bart the Genius]]" aired. One of the first parts of the celebration is the "Unleash Your Yellow" contest in which entrants must design a poster for the show.{{Cite web|title=Simpsons Poster Contest Will Have Fans Seeing Yellow|url=http://blog.wired.com/underwire/2009/01/simpsons-poster.html|work=[[Wired (magazine)|Wired]]|author=Wallace, Lewis|date=2009-01-13|accessdate=2009-01-14}} On February 26, 2009, Fox announced that it had renewed the show and ordered two additional seasons, which would take the series through its twenty-second season.{{Cite web|title="Best. News. Ever. Fox renews hit animated series "The Simpsons" for two additional |url=http://www.foxflash.com/div.php/main/page?aID=1z2z2z175z17z8&ID=4786|publisher=FoxFlash|date=2009-02-26|accessdate=2009-02-26}} ===Awards=== {{main|List of awards won by The Simpsons}} [[Image:The Simpsons star.jpg|thumb|190px|right|The Simpsons have been awarded a star on the [[Hollywood Walk of Fame]].]] ''The Simpsons'' has won dozens of awards since it debuted as a series, including 25 [[Primetime Emmy Award]]s, 26 [[Annie Award]]s{{cite news|url=http://annieawards.org/20thwinners.html|title=Legacy: 20th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (1992)|accessdate=2007-10-16|publisher=[[Annie Awards]]}} and a [[Peabody Award]].{{cite web|url=http://www.peabody.uga.edu/winners/PeabodyWinnersBook.pdf|title=George Foster Peabody Award Winners|accessdate=2006-10-15|publisher=Peabody.uga.edu|format=PDF}} In a 1998 issue celebrating the 20th century's greatest achievements in arts and entertainment, ''[[Time (magazine)|Time]]'' magazine named ''The Simpsons'' the century's best television series.{{cite news|url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,993039,00.html|title=The Best Of The Century|accessdate=2007-06-03|date=1999-12-31|publisher=''[[Time (magazine)|TIME]]''}} In that same issue, ''Time'' included Bart Simpson in the ''[[TIME Magazine's 100 most influential people of the 20th century|Time 100]]'', the publication's list of the century's 100 most influential people.{{cite web|url=http://www.time.com/time/time100/artists/profile/simpson.html|title=Bart Simpson|accessdate=2006-07-03|author=Corliss, Richard|date=1998-06-08|publisher=''[[Time (magazine)|TIME]]''}} Bart was the only fictional character on the list. On January 14, 2000, the Simpsons were awarded a star on the [[Hollywood Walk of Fame]]."The Simpsons" in the [http://www.hollywoodchamber.net/icons/walk_directory.asp Hollywood Walk of Fame Directory]. Retrieved on 2007-10-17. Also in 2000, ''[[Entertainment Weekly]]'' magazine TV critic Ken Tucker named ''The Simpsons'' the greatest television show of the [[1990s in television|1990s]]. Furthermore, viewers of the UK television channel [[Channel 4]] have voted "The Simpsons" at the top of two polls: 2001's [[100 Greatest Kids' TV shows]],{{cite web|url=http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/G/greatest/kidstv/results.html|title=100 Greatest Kids' TV Shows|accessdate=2007-12-31|publisher=[[Channel 4]].com}} and 2005's [[100 Greatest Cartoons]],{{cite web|url=http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/G/greatest/cartoons/results.html|title=100 Greatest Cartoons|accessdate=2007-12-31|publisher=[[Channel 4]].com}} with Homer Simpson voted into first place in 2001's 100 Greatest TV Characters.{{cite web|url=http://www.channel4.com/entertainment/tv/microsites/G/greatest/tv_characters/results.html|title=100 Greatest TV Characters|accessdate=2007-12-31|publisher=[[Channel 4]].com}} Homer would also place ninth on ''Entertainment Weekly'''s list of the "50 Greatest TV icons".{{cite news|url=http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20152957_20152958_20159773_41,00.html|title=The 50 Greatest TV Icons|accessdate=2007-11-15|publisher=''[[Entertainment Weekly]]''}} In 2002, ''The Simpsons'' ranked #8 on [[TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time]];{{cite news|title=TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time|publisher=''[[TV Guide]]''|date=2002-05-04}} in 2007 it was included in ''TIME'''s list of the "100 Best TV Shows of All Time";{{cite news|url=http://www.time.com/time/specials/2007/article/0,28804,1651341_1659196_1652657,00.html|title=The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME — The Simpsons|accessdate=2007-01-10|publisher=''[[Time (magazine)|TIME]]''}} in 2008 the show was placed in first on ''Entertainment Weekly'''s "Top 100 Shows of the Past 25 Years"; and Empire named it the greatest TV show of all time.

Criticism and controversy

Bart's rebellious nature, which frequently resulted in no punishment for his misbehavior, led some parents and conservatives to characterize him as a poor role model for children. In schools, educators claimed that Bart was a "threat to learning" because of his "underachiever and proud of it" attitude and negative attitude regarding his education. Others described him as "egotistical, aggressive and mean-spirited". In a 1991 interview, Bill Cosby described Bart as a bad role model for children, calling him "angry, confused, frustrated". In response, Matt Groening said, "That sums up Bart, all right. Most people are in a struggle to be normal he thinks normal is very boring, and does things that others just wished they dare do." On January 27, 1992, then-President George H. W. Bush said, "We are going to keep on trying to strengthen the American family, to make American families a lot more like the Waltons and a lot less like the Simpsons." The writers rushed out a tongue-in-cheek reply in the form of a short segment which aired three days later before a rerun of "Stark Raving Dad" in which Bart replied, "Hey, we're just like the Waltons. We're praying for an end to the Depression, too."

Various episodes of the show have generated controversy. The Simpsons visited Australia in "Bart vs. Australia" (season six, 1995) and Brazil in "Blame it on Lisa" (season 13, 2002) and both episodes generated controversy and negative reaction in the visited countries. In the latter case, Rio de Janeiro's tourist board–who claimed that the city was portrayed as having rampant street crime, kidnappings, slums, and monkey and rat infestations–went so far as to threaten Fox with legal action. Matt Groening was a fierce and vocal critic of the episode "A Star Is Burns" (season six, 1995) which featured a crossover with The Critic. He felt that it was just an advertisement for The Critic, and that people would incorrectly associate the show with him. When he was unsuccessful in getting the episode pulled, he had his name removed from the credits and went public with his concerns, openly criticizing James L. Brooks and saying the episode "violates the Simpsons' universe." In response, Brooks said "I am furious with Matt, [...] he's allowed his opinion, but airing this publicly in the press is going too far. [...] his behavior right now is rotten." "The Principal and the Pauper" (season nine, 1997) is one of the most controversial episodes of The Simpsons. Many fans and critics reacted negatively to the revelation that Principal Seymour Skinner, a recurring character since the first season, was an impostor. The episode has been criticized by Matt Groening and by Harry Shearer, who provides the voice of Principal Skinner. In a 2001 interview, Shearer recalled that after reading the script, he told the writers, "That's so wrong. You're taking something that an audience has built eight years or nine years of investment in and just tossed it in the trash can for no good reason, for a story we've done before with other characters. It's so arbitrary and gratuitous, and it's disrespectful to the audience."

Criticism of declining quality

Critics' reviews of early Simpsons episodes praised the show for its wit, realism, and intelligence. In the late 1990s, around the airing of season ten, the tone and emphasis of the show began to change. Some critics started calling the show "tired". By 2000, some long-term fans had become disillusioned with the show and pointed to its shift from character-driven plots to what they perceived as an overemphasis on zany antics. Author Douglas Coupland described claims of declining quality in the series as "hogwash", saying "The Simpsons hasn't fumbled the ball in fourteen years, it's hardly likely to fumble it now." Mike Scully, who was show runner during seasons nine through twelve, has been the subject of criticism. Chris Suellentrop of Slate wrote "under Scully's tenure, The Simpsons became, well, a cartoon. Episodes that once would have ended with Homer and Marge bicycling into the sunset now end with Homer blowing a tranquilizer dart into Marge's neck. The show's still funny, but it hasn't been touching in years." When asked in 2007 how the series' longevity is sustained, Scully replied, "Lower your quality standards. Once you've done that you can go on forever."

In 2003, to celebrate the show's 300th episode "Barting Over", USA Today published a pair of Simpsons related articles: a top-ten episodes list chosen by the webmaster of The Simpsons Archive fansite, and a top-15 list by The Simpsons' own writers. The most recent episode listed on the fan list was 1997's "Homer's Phobia"; the Simpsons' writers most recent choice was 2000's "Behind the Laughter". In 2004, Harry Shearer criticized what he perceived as the show's declining quality: "I rate the last three seasons as among the worst, so Season Four looks very good to me now." In response, Dan Castellaneta stated "I don't agree, [...] I think Harry's issue is that the show isn't as grounded as it was in the first three or four seasons, that it's gotten crazy or a little more madcap. I think it organically changes to stay fresh."

The Simpsons managed to maintain a large viewership and attract new fans. While the first season enjoyed an average of 13.4 million viewers per episode in the U.S., the nineteenth season had an average of 7.7 million viewers. In an April 2006 interview, Matt Groening said, "I honestly don't see any end in sight. I think it's possible that the show will become too financially cumbersome... but right now, the show is creatively, I think, as good or better than it's ever been. The animation is incredibly detailed and imaginative, and the stories do things that we haven't done before. So creatively there's no reason to quit."

Other media

Comic books

Numerous Simpson-related comic books have been released over the years. So far, nine comic book series have been published by Bongo Comics since 1993. The first comic strips based on The Simpsons appeared in 1991 in the magazine Simpsons Illustrated, which was a companion magazine to the show. The comic strips were popular and a one-shot comic book entitled Simpsons Comics and Stories, containing four different stories, was released in 1993 for the fans. The book was a success and due to this, the creator of The Simpsons, Matt Groening, and his companions Bill Morrison, Mike Rote, Steve Vance and Cindy Vance created the publishing company Bongo Comics. Issues of Simpsons Comics, Bart Simpson's Treehouse of Horror and Bart Simpson have been collected and reprinted in trade paperbacks in the United States by HarperCollins.

Film

20th Century Fox, Gracie Films, and Film Roman produced The Simpsons Movie, an animated film that was released on July 27, 2007. The film was directed by long-time Simpsons producer David Silverman and written by a team of Simpsons writers comprising Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, Al Jean, George Meyer, Mike Reiss, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti, David Mirkin, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, and Ian Maxtone-Graham. Production of the film occurred alongside continued writing of the series despite long-time claims by those involved in the show that a film would enter production only after the series had concluded. There had been talk of a possible feature-length Simpsons film ever since the early seasons of the series. James L. Brooks originally thought that the story of the episode "Kamp Krusty" was suitable for a film, but he encountered difficulties in trying to expand the script to feature-length. For a long time, difficulties such as lack of a suitable story and an already fully engaged crew of writers delayed the project.

Music

Collections of original music featured in the series have been released on the albums Songs in the Key of Springfield, Go Simpsonic with The Simpsons and The Simpsons: Testify. Several songs have been recorded with the purpose of a single or album release and have not been featured on the show. The album The Simpsons Sing the Blues was released in September 1990 and was a success, peaking at #3 on the Billboard 200 and becoming certified 2x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. The first single from the album was the pop rap song "Do the Bartman", performed by Nancy Cartwright and released on November 20, 1990. The song was written by Michael Jackson, although he did not receive any credit.

The Simpsons Ride

In 2007, it was officially announced that The Simpsons Ride, a simulator ride, would be implemented into the Universal Studios Orlandomarker and Universal Studios Hollywoodmarker. It officially opened May 15, 2008 in Florida and May 19, 2008 in Hollywood. In the ride, patrons are introduced to a cartoon theme park called Krustyland built by Krusty the Clown. However, Sideshow Bob is loose from prison to get revenge on Krusty and the Simpson family. It features more than 24 regular characters from The Simpsons and features the voices of the regular cast members, as well as Pamela Hayden, Russi Taylor and Kelsey Grammer. Harry Shearer decided not to participate in the ride, so none of his characters have vocal parts.

Video games

The video game industry was very quick to adapt the characters and world of Springfield into games. Some of the early games include Konami's arcade game The Simpsons ( ) and Acclaim Entertainment's The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants (1991). More modern games include The Simpsons Road Rage ( ), The Simpsons Hit & Run ( ) and The Simpsons Game ( ). Two Simpsons pinball machines have been produced; one that was available briefly after the first season, and another that is still available for purchase.

Merchandise

The popularity of The Simpsons has made it a billion-dollar merchandizing industry. The title family and supporting characters appear on everything from t-shirts to posters. The Simpsons has inspired special editions of well-known board games, including Clue, Scrabble, Monopoly, Operation, and The Game of Life, as well as the trivia games What Would Homer Do? and Simpsons Jeopardy!. Several card games such as trump cards and The Simpsons Trading Card Game have also been released. Many official or unofficial Simpsons books such as episode guides have been published. 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 was later overtaken by the first season of Chappelle's Show. In particular, seasons one through twelve have been released on DVD in the U.S. (Region 1), Europe (Region 2) and Australia/New Zealand/Latin America (Region 4) with more seasons expected to be released in the future.

In 2003, about 500 companies around the world were licensed to use Simpsons characters in their advertising. As a promotion for the The Simpsons Movie, twelve 7-Eleven stores were transformed into Kwik-E-Marts and sold The Simpsons related products. These included "Buzz Cola", "Krusty-O" cereal, Pink doughnuts with sprinkles, and "Squishees".

On April 9, 2009, the United States Postal Service unveiled a series of five 44 cent stamps featuring Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie, to commemorate the show's twentieth anniversary. The Simpsons is the first television series still in production to receive this recognition. The stamps, designed by Matt Groening, were made available for purchase on May 7, 2009. Approximately one billion will be printed.

Notes

  1. Richmond, p. 14
  2. "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire" The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on February 5, 2007
  3. Ortved, p. 59.
  4. Ortved, pp. 146–149.
  5. Ortved, p. 58
  6. Ortved, p. 199
  7. Turner, p. 131
  8. Turner, p. 230–231
  9. Turner, p. xiii
  10. Turner, p. 42
  11. DVD release dates at TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved on June 7, 2006.


References



Further reading



External links




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