It'll never stop The Simpsons! Fear not, we have been in the news for years. ”Depending on how you feel about Matt Groening's live sitcom & # 39; s these days, those words, from episode 13 of "Gump Roast", have been a promise or a threat. But they have learneddismissed as being prophetic The Simpsons as the show has always been about the real world. Now in its 31st season, The Simpsons shows no stop signs, even during COVID-19. The long-running Fox series will be one of the few TV shows to offer a proper season finale this spring. The authors of the show have also had time to produce a new animated short, "Playdate With Destiny," originally released by Pstrong & # 39; s. Forward before finding its way to Disney +.
"Play with Destiny" pairs well with The Simpsons& # 39; She returns to TV on April 19, exactly 33 years after the first short feature, "Good Night," announced as part of The Tracey Ullman Show. It's been a long, winding road for the show, but when you tell veteran striker Al Jean that The Simpsons& # 39; The best years are behind him, you'll only ever hear that before – far from the second time, in fact. Jean wants to be criticized The Simpsons, both good and bad, but it hasn't captured any flavor in the show, which he returned to in 1998 (after leaving Criticism) and has been in charge ever since. A.V. The club talked to Jean about her long history with the show, the return of the jump, and the best – and worst – ever episodes.
A.V. Club: Time can't get better with a new moment. Not only will the show return to the air next Sunday, but April 19 is also the first day The Simpsons a short came up The Tracey Ullman Show back in 1987. I grew up watching those shortcuts. It was my first exposure to the show.
Al Jean: That's a good reminder, thank you for being careful. We really like people who have so much experience with us, so thank you.
AVC: What was the purpose of "Playdate With Destiny"? I know it played as part of Pstrong's preview Forward, but is it intended as a one-off or as part of a larger story?
AJ: This short is the third in a series of shorts that have been part of our release from the theater – the second, "The Long Day Care," was nominated for an Oscar – and it's all very exciting for us. It's funny, because we were actually produced on this short. It was part of the episode, which was a knock off. We've been working on it for a few years, and we're so excited to get it before Forward, because the movie is great and the shorts ahead of Pstrong movies, such as "Bao," are great. Our next episode, which is April 19, is a short sequel. Baby Hudson returns, and we meet his mother.
AVC: Who wrote "Playdate With Destiny"?
PJ: Tom Gammill and Max Pross, and David Silverman guide you. So the idea for these shorts was actually conceived by Tom and Max. Then read on the table, Jim Brooks said, “We have to get this out. We should make it brief. ”And funny, it was worth Disney, but we were actually Disney at the time. So people have been saying, "Oh, you planned it to be short with Disney," and frankly, we didn't. We put a reference to Disney at first, finally, that's obviously a joke. But no, the whole plot and theme of the shorts was the same before we became Disney. Jim sent it to Bob Iger and the people at Disney, and they liked it. And we just said, "can you please go in front of the Pstrong movie?" And unless it's been a couple of weekends – which I feel bad about, because I think Forward
AVC: Is that the last movie you saw before the residency order?
AJ: I think it was for most people, but for me, it was Emma, which I thought was great. My wife and daughter and I really loved it. And now, it's like, "Well, if I could just go to the theater and see that movie." (Laughter.) I know it's online, but it's just the idea of being in the theater – people who just can't go and have no big problems without whom you will marry. I joke that not only will it be the best picture of the year, it will be the only one suggested.
AVC: It looks like the stadium will be so small.
AJ: Or to double. Like, there could be two years at the same time – I don't know. I mean, a little worrying. Obviously, the most important thing is to get this done and for people to be safe. So I hope the theaters will open soon, but apparently I only want it if everyone is safe on the go.
AVC: A lot has changed about programming and premieres. But in a recent interview with A Hollywood reporter, said there would be no major disruption to the production system this year. Does that mean that, unlike most products that have to postpone or even drop to have an illegal finish, you will have a good time soon this spring?
AJ: Yep, knock wood. We have a remarkable conclusion in the life of young Santa, the Simpsons dog, written by Carolyn Omine. Jim Brooks, before heading home to California in early March, said, "I think we should start working from home." So we went straight to Zoom. We've been on Zoom now for four weeks again. Also, knock on the wood, no, we missed nothing. We continue our study with approximately, the same program we had. And we're going to release another five episodes in season 31. And if the network wants us to start in September as usual, we'll be ready.
AVC: You've been working The Simpsons for most of its 30-year career. The entertainment scene looks very different now, even though your show predicts at least part of the mania encounter. What do you see as the biggest change from when you first joined the writers' room to where you are today?
AJ: (Laughter.) The fact that we're in individual cubicles on the video screen.
AJ: Well, I must say this is a very good thing. But we do advertise Google, and we almost use word processing. So that has been a huge increase in productivity, digital editing, digital coloring. It's amazing what has happened in these 30 years. But yes, the way we work and how we start thinking about issues and how hard we work is the same. Or, we always had people to research and go to the research library – now, you have to have them on Google. The only tools (they have changed) I would say, very much. You can edit at home now. Obviously, what we did to produce the show, we couldn't have done 20 years ago. You wouldn't know it. You will have to enter the group schedule with the organizer and other things to do. But now, seeing music and scoring can be done almost. Surprisingly, all you can do on your phone.
AVC: One thing that all of this technology has done is not so good that it has to do with the size of the feature. But Disney + has just announced that the original 4: 3 ratio will be restored, correct?
AJ: Yes, they have confirmed that it will be fixed by the end of May. You know, we're really listening to the fans. The other thing we listened to, though, was that we had DVDs in season 17, and 20. And people, like me, are very worried that you can't buy seasons 18 and 19 to fill the gap. Well, we did. We continue to comment on all the episodes. We are very knowledgeable, and responsive to what people want.
AVC: Something to hear about from fans as it is often their choice in the best episode ever. Which comes closest? I think I remember the Twitter vote from back then that it was “Marge Vs. Monorails. ”
AJ: That's great, because people have many different tastes. People liked the first episode, Christmas. They love the Hank Scorpio episode. They like "the last outing at Skyfield." People will have 10 excellent lists with completely different things to do.
AVC: Aside from those ideas, and you have a strong response from the reviews. As a critic, I'm always curious about the relationship of the founder or artist with how their work is received. Are you looking for a quick review after the episode goes up? How do you handle criticism?
AJ: I agree. I think it's impossible for us to compete with our fourth season. I also think that if you took an episode from season four and broadcast it now, we won't get the same review. At that time, when season four was windy, I was there and people chased it. I remember people going, “Oh, The Simpsons very stubborn. It's lost its way. What does & # 39; Monorail & # 39; show? ”Many people did not like the“ Monorail ”view at first. And now he says, as I've heard, that people are voting more than ever. So I think you can judge which episodes are better or worse based on what people are responding to right now. But depending on the standard of all time, it's hard for me to be objective. We recently won the Outswering Animated Series Emmy for "Mad About The Toy," (2019) which I think when the levels of The Simpsons fall, and so do the Emmys' values.
AVC: If you hold on to such a high grade, that your show type is set up, does that make you more satisfied when you get the rave?
AJ: Yes, our joke is “We have A.V. The clubHighest grade: B-. "(Laughter.) After season seven, I think there was a guy online named Ondre Lombard who would do things like rate" Homer & # 39; s Enemy "zero. I don't want to be overly critical, and I don't want to skip criticism. , I've been hearing the show go down and down since season two. to make Homer less of a jerk. I'm more aware of that criticism. There's a Flanders-ization, in which people talk about him being a great believer. That's actually pulled back a little over the past five seasons. without feeling like you have to change everything depending on what someone says. There is another website reviewing a program called Den Of Geek, where their reviews are often about the controversy of A.V. The club. So I kind of look at both of them and take measurements.
AVC: If you have that kind of volume – now clocking in at 700 episodes – it leaves room for future favorites, or to catch the first few seasons as if they were perfect even if they were experiencing the latest issues.
AJ: However, I will say two things. First, for an adult to watch a current episode, it's very difficult to compete with something they saw when they were 10 years old. I remember when I was 10, reading the Spider-Man comics with Steve Ditko, an artist. And it's hard for anything to compare to this, because you're a kid and you get it. And I don't want to take a closer look at this card, but we won an Emmy last year Jack Horseman and Big Mouth and South Park and Bob's Burgers– All very good shows. And that's not a cliché. We won't vote for the Emmy winner. This is an independent group that says what they think. So I believe that the truth is somewhere between people who go, "Not at all," and "Oh, it's known, it's not as good as it used to be." Obviously in the middle of that.
AVC: You are one of the best-watched reboot shows ever. For the last few years, we've put together all the holiday episodes and if you're just watching those, you'll be set for the day.
AJ: I know. You can have 11 hours of Halloween shows, and you can have time for the day of Christmas episodes. It's amazing. Or just go with Sideshow Bob. I always think Kelsey's (Grammer) work takes everything in these shows.
I must say that I am very happy that people are reviewing these shows. I'm glad that people care so much, that they still talk about the work we did 25 years ago. I can't believe it, you know? It's good for people to like The Simpsons
AVC: It means they're still involved with it.
AJ: The only kind of criticism I can't take for granted is when people go, “Oh, that shows slackness. I haven't looked it up in years, ”because then I go," Well, if you haven't seen it yet, how … "? But yeah, that's fine. The internet also just makes it easier to criticize. You have no time to vote in 1988, oh, what a wonderful episode ALF this year. The idea of listing items and items is standard and you have an avatar where your favorite list is in your avatar – everything is normal for people now, but it wasn't in the world back in 1988.
And, like I said, we are in a very strong position to compete for graphic shows, and I'm excited about it. When we started, it wasn't a cartoon show other than that The Simpsons that was written by staff writers. And there were some good things, but they were no different. And now, there are a huge number of awesome cartoons, both in programming and on television. It's funny, in features, the boom started the same year The Little Mermaid 1989. And I love photography, so I'm really excited about that.
AVC: The Simpsons and basically it was the first animated family satcom. Do you still view the show as family-focused?
AJ: It always comes back to the family. And now you have all these shows, but in the '80s, you had these wonderful family conversations Cosby exhibition. There would be no father brushing his son. We had a lot in common Roseanne and Getting Married With Children-They were logical family changes. The Simps and Bundys and Conners were just like the families we grew up with. But there was a distribution, too – adult references, references to works of art, Citizen Kane, in things that children may not know. Again, we didn't produce that. Bullwinkle, the cartoon I loved as a child, does the same thing. But we've done it all over again, and now it's normal. So it was actually unlike anything else on the air in 1990 when it was billed as a series. There was nothing like it.
AVC: Families are open Simpsons no Roseanne I felt more like my family than anything else like this Brady Bunch either Cosby exhibition.
AJ: Me too. My dad owned hardware stores, and I worked at them. So Roseanne it was like the way I grew up. It was in the Midwest, too.
AVC: I learned 11 interview questions he made it in 2015 with a TV editor at the time, now managing director of Erik Adams at ATX.
AJ: I remember.
AVC: You asked question 12, and your question was: What was the biggest difference in 2016 compared to 2015? And it's funny to think that the answer to that was from Jack Antonoff, and he's like, "I think everybody will need to be free."
AJ: Now what will my next interview question be, how can we get out of this confusion? (Laughs.) That's like a past life, for sure. We were at SXSW last year and at ComicCon. I did a few things with my wife Stephanie Gillis, who also The Simpsons author. And we would just say, “Wow, my god, we're so lucky. We did those last year. We had a chance to go out and do this. ”Also, this is a reduction of the problems that occur. I just hope that we get the curve as safely as possible, and that as few people are hurt as possible.
AVC: With almost 30 years on the show, you have had the opportunity to leave, make your own game, and finally manage it. Is there something that you feel you can do that you should look forward to doing in the show?
AJ: Not to keep going back, but I'll tell you, I loved the Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin movies when I was in college. And Buster Keaton used to make these short films, such as "Cops," which were brilliant. I love making a five-minute kind of silent film where Maggie is Buster Keaton. So that's that kind of thing The Simpsons it gives you an opportunity to make it just fun. I hope people like it, because it's one of those groups, but we really enjoyed doing it.
AVC: On April 19, it will be as if you're coming full circle – short for a show that started in a while.
PJ: It's amazing. There are too many reminders. A big thank you to Jim Brooks and Matt Groening and Sam Simon. I was 29 when I started working on this. I am 59 years old now. I mean, it was the most successful job anyone has ever had.