#43: frighteningly realistic

By admin, February 9, 2001

sea monsters

new versions of both windows and office (both to be designated “xp”, for experience) late this year

askjeeves.com posts higher-than-expected losses

3fs’ friday comic rings disturbingly close to home…

yes, i am writing this while avoiding sleep, dillinger drew it while procrastinating about doing an essay, and it’s based on corrine. so we are all guilty… :op

umm, yes.. there was a whole lot to say here, but somehow i’m just not really in the mood..

last week, i got all the episodes of futurama. yes legally. well, as legal as “downloaded them in mpeg format with no commercials courtesy of those geniuses at anivcd” can be. now, also having every episode of futurama in the same format, and having watched more hours of the simpsons than i’ve ever spent sleeping, here is my brief synopsis.

in the beginning, there was the simpsons. sure, at the very beginning, the yellow, overbiting family’s animation and voice acting was a little rough, but after a few seasons on their own, they found their groove with a team of animators to help matt groening, and a larger budget to bring in some “touch-ups” to the voice acting pool. the rest, as they say, is history, and the simpsons still runs new episodes today, in like eleventh or one-hundred eleventh season. something like that. in its heyday, this show was the dominant sitcom on television, animated or otherwise. running the gamut from biting and satirical social commentary to painfully funny slapstick. over the years, the show has amassed a veritable city of characters, many of whom are representative of an entire element in our society; police chief wiggum and the criminal snake both personify the corruptness in law enforcement and the criminal element of society, respectively. long past its glory years, the simpsons is nonetheless making an interesting comeback this season as a “newness” appears in the episodes i have a chance to watch. some infusion of creativity has pulled the show back from the brink of stagnation and it is once again one of the funniest half an hour there is.

]though short-lived and not one of the three i said i’d review, some of the faithful may remember the network-jumping animated sitcom, the critic. starring jon lovitz as a movie critic, it followed the lead established by the simpsons and drove home a very funny combination of satire and slapstick. plagued by poor timeslots and resulting poor ratings, abc dropped the show. when fox picked it up after a year on hiatus, it came back with the same sharp humour, but its fate was sealed as a token “female love interest” and a token “cute child” were introduced to the cast. it is forgotten by many but deserves its place with these three, and i easily rate it above the family guy for its overall quality.

matt groening’s second major animated undertaking is futurama. the show’s critics either say it too closely resembles the simpsons, or that it isn’t close enough to the simpsons. in my opinion, the show did seem to misfire for the first couple of episodes, and although it’s probably the most shuffled show in fox’s repetoire, it is striding confidently into its third season. while the artwork definately feels that it has its roots in the simpsons, groening has successfully gone far enough in a new direction that futrama definately has its own style. most effectively, the animation is simply gorgeous thanks to comp-u-tars, with a fluidity that the simpsons or any other animated series of its kind has never even dreamed of. this subtlety definately increases the viewability, as well as helping establish its chronological setting of they year 3000 a.d. futurama also manages to stay relevant, and its social commentary on the year 3000, and about the year 2000 from the perspective of someone one thousand years in the future all manage to strike a chord with the viewer. (if that made any sense… it did in my head). as for the characters: they all seemed largely two-dimensional at first, but have since developed to reveal complicated emotions, histories, and motivations. even an ongoing love-interest between fry and leela seems to have slowly evolved to form an underlying tension, rather than have it force-fed down the viewer’s throat. at any rate: bottom line is that right now i’d easily rather watch futurama than any other show on television, including the simpsons.

and then there is the family guy. i was a long-time doubter of this show, but since i’ve watched every episode that ever aired in the past week, i have come to apprreciate it more. while i still cannot stand the character of peter griffen (read: the family guy’s version of homer simpson), brian the dog, stewie the baby, and lois are more than enough to keep the funny going. in fact, it is a quite funny show, but its shortcomings are just in the slickness with which it’s pulled off. primarily, the writers seem too willing to rely on gags that have already been done; something i noticed is that they employ the “do it till it’s funny” routine quite often. in this, something that isn’t really funny, such as a character laughing at something, becomes funny with the sheer absurdity of how long the character keeps laughing. mind you, there is a careful line that exists here, where you can all-to-easily go from “funny” to “get on with it already”, and the writers seem to walk that line well. they simply fall back on it too often- i can think of about 5 examples right now off the top of my head. also, the show has a much “jumpier” feel to it than any of the above three, as a very frequently-used source of material is to have a character say “remember when…” then play a flashback of something funny that happened. while these are usually funny, they have little to nothing to do with the storyline and detract from the flow of the plot. the third and heavily-employed form of humour the show uses is an “out of the blue” kind of thing- like having the kool-aid man jump through a wall in the courthouse. funny, but the laugh is just a quick, cheap laugh. the show is funny, but by too often going where other shows before it, and truly, where the family guy itself has already gone, makes it feel more like a cheap knockoff than a well-written series. for lack of a better word, the simple sophistication of the simpsons, the critic, and futurama is not there.

wow… that was a lot longer than i planned and a lot less than i have to say on the matter. how… sad, i suppose.. if you really want to know more, you know how to find me. (by email or icq in case you really didn’t know)

i’m out of here suckas

have a good weekend