Talk about 'The Simpsons'

Jen Chaney Movies Editor
Friday, July 27, 2007 2:00 PM

In honor of the release of the new movie, "Simpsons" junkie Jen Chaney will be online Friday, July 27 at 2 p.m. ET to discuss the show's 20-year history and cultural impact. What's your favorite episode? The funniest line? Let her know what you think about the first family of Springfield.

A transcript follows.


Jen Chaney: Welcome, "Simpsons" fans, to the biggest day in "Simpsons" history since Homer invented his patented moon waffles: The opening of "The Simpsons Movie." You've already heard from Post critic Stephen Hunter about the movie -- see his review here-- so let's spend this chat talking about the show, its legacy and whether the movie will add to that legacy or wind up as a footnote. (Me? I'm voting footnote.)


18th & K, NW, Washington, D.C.: The funniest line from Homer Simpson is:

"Beer, the cause of and solution to ALL of life's problems."

I laugh at that one at least five times a week!

Jen Chaney: You know, there are so many good ones that it's impossible to say which one is funniest. The list is incredibly long.

One of my favorites is this one, from the Flaming Moe episode: "Oh, look at me! I'm making people happy! I'm the Magical Man from Happy-Land, living in a gumdrop house on Lollipop Lane!"


Baltimore, Md.: I don't like going to the movies and I've seen one movie since the year 2000. I'm going to see "The Simpsons" movie tomorrow with my parents (i'm in my mid-20s and they are in their 50s).

Is this movie expected to challenge box-office records? It has been marketed extraordinarily well, it has cross-generational appeal and is getting people like me out of their house to see it.

Jen Chaney: See, this is interesting. I have had a hard time gauging whether people would want to see the movie since they see the characters on TV multiple times a day. Even Homer himself jokes about this in the beginning of "The Simpsons Movie"; during a screening of an "Itchy & Scratchy" movie, he stands up and asks, "What kind of sucker would pay to see something they can get on television for free?" Funny, and a good question.

I hadn't anticipated that non-regular moviegoers would be so motivated to see it, but you're proof that I am wrong. I'm expecting a decent box office, but not out of this world. But as I said, this is really hard to gauge. Will be very interesting to see what happens. The characters are internationally beloved, so I expect the worldwide take to be pretty sizeable, even if the U.S. opening doesn't break any records.


D.C.: Fistfight: Who wins? Harry Potter or Homer ???

Jen Chaney: Well, Harry Potter can bring the magic. But Homer has been an astronaut, a vigilante, a blogger and a boxer, among many other things. And he once beat up George Bush, Sr. So I'm going with Homer.

An even more intriguing question -- Who would win in an intelligence face-off: Lisa or Hermione?


D.C.: Who's your favorite secondary character? I've gotta go with Disco Stu. From the initial joke that introduced him ("Disco Stu doesn't advertise") to everything that came thereafter, he's never NOT funny. Although he might be tied with Gil.

Jen Chaney: I do love the Disco Stu, which is why I made sure to include on my trusty checklist.

Again, I can't pick one favorite. I like Ralph, Comic Book Guy and Sideshow Bob more than Gil, though. Definitely rank them higher.


Overhyped: I'm glad the movie is finally out. Maybe news outlets, including The Post, can stop with the barrage of advertising for yet another Rupert Murdoch Inc. production. Bleagh

Jen Chaney: Barrage of advertising? I hadn't realized we had been barraging anyone with advertising.

Well, this is a Rupert Murdoch production that actually makes fun of Fox. That counts for something, right?


Arlington, Va.: Hi Jen,

I am a huge "Simpsons" fan. I think I have seen every espisode at least 3-4 times (except for the newer episodes). Does Sideshow Bob appear in the movie?

Jen Chaney: I am sad to report that he does not. One of my quibbles with the movie is that I didn't dig the plot so much. Seems to me there were so many possibilities there and the one they wound up with -- an environmental crisis caused by Homer -- seemed a little played out.

I would have loved to see a spoof of a horror flick, with Sideshow Bob as the "Saw"-like villain. Maybe they can borrow that idea for a sequel.


Reston, Va.: Favorite scene -

Bart: Homer, where's the power saw?

Homer (eyes glued to TV): In the garage.

Bart: Where are the safety goggles?

Homer: If stuff starts flying, just turn your head! Dumb kid.

Jen Chaney: Nice. That reminds me of another favorite scene, from "Three Men and a Comic Book":

Marge: Homer, can you check on the boys? It's really coming down out there.

Homer, sitting in front of TV, looks out the window and sees lightning hitting the treehouse where Bart, Milhouse and Martin are beating the heck out of each other.

Homer: They're fine.

And another favorite, from the episode where the kids get trapped in school because of a blizzard.

Marge: How are we going to get the kids?

Homer: I don't know ... Internet?

That's my favorite answer for everything: "I don't know ... Internet?"


Washington, D.C.: The concept of "Simpsonesque" is a major one in our household. Whenever something is too out-there, too over-the-top, too unreal to possibly exist, and then we learn that it DOES exist, it's Simpsonesque.

Much of today's reality TV is Simpsonesque. Remember the episode with the reality TV show "Touch the Stove"? Any day now. Any day.

Jen Chaney: Oh, man, absolutely.

"Touch the Stove" could wind up on Fox's fall schedule in 2008. They'll make it into an "American Idol"-esque competition and get famed chef Emeril Lagasse to judge. Ratings? Through the roof.


Anonymous: Hi Jen :

I love the show but wonder how much longer they can go on. Maybe if the writers did more shows with supporting players as episode centers -- I mean what is the Lenny and Carl thing all about?

Jen Chaney: I agree, but I'm not sure Lenny and Carl can sustain an episode. Hey, at this point, it's worth it to try.

I wonder, too, how much longer they can go on. Most of the episodes are just middling these days. But then they bust out something like the season finale, which was incredibly clever and hilarious. And then you think, "Huh. Maybe they've still got life in them yet." It's hard to produce anything consistently funny for 18 years, so the fact that they even score 50 percent of the time is impressive in my book.


Springfield, ??: This one gets me every time-

Otto to Homer, while ridiculously stoned:

"They call them fingers, but I've never seem them fing...huh, there they go"

Jen Chaney: Otto, another of my favorite supporting characters.

For no apparent reason, I sometimes sing to myself: "My name is Ot-to. I'm playing Pab-lo."

From the "Streetcar" episode. That's an absolute classic. Not only is "Oh, Streetcar!" genius, but Maggie's Hitchcockian daycare center is pretty sweet, too.


Silver Spring, Md.: Hi:

Can't wait to see the movie this weekend!

My favorite episode is from the very first season, where the family all goes to Dr. Marvin Monroe's Family Therapy Center, where the slogan is "Family Bliss or Double Your Money Back!" The scene where they are all in electric shocking chairs is truly priceless! I saw it as more of what a "real" family is all about more than the Cosbys could ever have hoped to have been.

Honorable mention also goes to the "Frank Grimes" episode.

Jen Chaney: Kudos for choosing a season one ep as your favorite. That's a bold move.

I think the show really found its voice in season four. Some of my absolute favorites are from that season -- the aforementioned Streetcar episode; "Marge vs. the Monorail," "I Love Lisa," "Mr. Plow" ... I could go on.


RE: Lisa or Hermione: Lisa would win. If she lost, she'd write an angry column in the newspaper, then call in a favor to former President Clinton, just on principle alone.

Jen Chaney: She could outspeechify Hermione, that's for sure.


Alexandria, Va.: A friend pointed out that the movie was self-contained -- there were precious few in-jokes (for example, it was president Ahnuld rather than McBain). I'd give bout a 6.5 out of 10 -- the first half was amazing, but the second part in Alaska drug on.

Favorite series quote -- Prior to trying out for a play, Bart says "Now is the winter of our discontent" in a very refined tone. All the students gasp, and Ralph yells "Oh, no! Run!" Brings a smile to my lips even now.

Jen Chaney: I agree with that assessment, Alexandria. It's very much like most of the episodes these days -- starts out very strong, then progressively unravels.

One of my favorite Bart lines is when he tries to get out of taking a test by clutching his stomach and going, "Oh! My ovaries!"


Annandale, Va.: Now that I've gained momentum typing, I can't remember my original question!

(If you get into trouble, just remember what your instructor said... "Remember if you ever get into trouble just--" Ned Flanders interrupts, "This suit allows for maximum flexibility. Feels like I'm wearing nothing at all!... Nothing at all!! ... Nothing at all!!")

Stupid sexy Flanders.

Jen Chaney: Good news for you: There is lots 'o Flanders in the movie.


Silver Spring, Md.: Any chance they can keep the Bladensburg 7-11 as a Kwik-E-Mart even after the promotional tie-in ends? I think it's great on so many levels, it'd be a shame to just revert back into a boring old store.

I was pretty disappointed they didn't have any head bags in the ice freezer, though.

Jen Chaney: Someone at 7-Eleven corporate hinted that they might let the promotion run longer since the movie will only have been out a few days before they discontinue it on the 31st. They're making a good amount of cash off of it, so there's nothing but an upside for them, I think.

Incidentally, there is a Jasper in the freezer. I think our videographer may have edited out that shot for the video, but he was there. I have to say, it was a genius marketing move. It's like a product placement in reverse.


Alexandria, Va.: I'm a Delaware native, and the "Oh, Streetcar" reference is priceless:

"Miss Montana!" "The beaut from Butte!"

"Miss North Carolina!" "Nothing could be finer!"

"Miss Delaware!" "Uh... Good for her!"

Jen Chaney: Oh, so funny.

I also love when Lisa dresses up as the state of Florida, and she and Ralph win honorable mentions for wearing costumes that prove they had no help from their parents.

Ralph, not wearing any costume: "I'm Idaho!"

Principal Skinner: "Of course you are."


Annandale, VAa. After the kids were taken away by Child Services (while looking at the silhouettes in the Flanders' window):

Marge: "Homer, do you see Lisa?"

Homer: "Yes! Or it could be a starfish..."

Jen Chaney: Another goodie.

Here's a trivia question: Who knows how many spikes Bart has in his hair? (And no cheating by counting...)


Madison, Wis.: How long do you think the TV show can concievably go on for? Forever?

Jen Chaney: Like all great things, it must end. I'm thinking they call it quits at the 20-year or 25-year mark. Maybe 25, just because that sounds impressive.


Arlington, Va.: At this point in time, are you saying to yourself "I have the best job ever."

Think about it: you're getting paid riff on "The Simpsons" and exchange quotes with readers for an hour...well done.

On the other hand, no. I hate you right now with the hate Frank Grimes had for Homer.

Jen Chaney: You know, every job has good days and bad days. To be able to talk with you fine people about my favorite TV show of all time? That's a good day.

Don't hate me. Be like the alien (aka Mr. Burns) in the "X Files" episode and "come in peace and love."


Falls Church, Va.:"I love you Papa Homer"

"I love you too, Pepsi


"Homer, I have someone here who can help!

"Is it Batman?"

"No, it's a scientist"

"Batman's a scientist"

"It's not Batman!"

I also love the Lurleen Lumpkin and Mindy episodes ("Oh Margie, you came and you brought me a turkey... on my vacation away, from workey")

Jen Chaney: All of this is making me want to go home and watch "Simpsons" DVDs tonight.

I love all of those. The Pepi episode is the one where Homer fails to pick up Bart from soccer practice, I think: "Pick a bar? What the hell is pick a bar?"


Springfield: Speaking of "stupid sexy Flanders," what was your take on the John Waters episode a few years back? There was a great deal of debate among Simpsons fans because Homer had never shown the slightest sign of homophobia before. (In fact, he told Burns that he was "flattered, maybe even a little curious" at a perceived advance.)

Jen Chaney: Well, we can't ask for character consistency over the course of 18 years, can we? It definitely was a little strange, but if they didn't contradict themselves every once in a while, they'd never be able to continue writing the show.

I hear what you're saying though. It was kind of weird.


Boston: Today's multimedia feature on the Kwik-E-Mart is fun to watch, as many other WaPo articles on this promo have been.

However, I haven't seen any negative coverage of the promo on the site -- many folks think the promo is racist, as it removes the character of Apu, a stereotype, from his deeper context on the show. Why hasn't The Post been covering this? How do you feel about the promo?

Here's a site that lists some posts that are representative of the way the bloggosphere seems to feel - http://

Jen Chaney: The Post didn't write in much detail on the Kwik-E-Mart, so I think that's why they didn't address it. Within the context of the show, I think most people would agree that Apu isn't the butt of jokes, he's more a means to see how The Man (i.e. the convenience store system) takes advantage of its workers. (See the episode where he works for 40-some hours straight and begins to think he's "a hummingbird of some kind.")

I think enough "Simpsons" fans understand the context, so I don't know if anyone would find 7-Eleven's promotion racist. But I'm interested to hear other thoughts on this. It's certainly a valid question to raise.


Arlington, Va.: It really says something about a show that people can hold nearly seamless conversations using only quotes from it. Can you think of another show that has been true for?

Jen Chaney: Possibly "Seinfeld." But because of how long it's been on the air, I think "Simpsons" trumps it.

Hey, maybe we should have a follow-up chat where we only communicate in quotes. Fun for us, probably not very fun to read....


Baltimore: Ok, by far the funniest single lines come from Ralph.

"Mrs. Krabappel and Principal Skinner were in the closet making babies and I saw one of the babies and the baby looked at me."


"That's where I saw the Leprchaun. He tells me to burn things!"

Jen Chaney: We're going to do a little Ralph Wiggum tribute, as a few of you are showing him some love.

Another post is forthcoming...


Kensington, Md.: Bart's's either 7 or 9. Doesn't Groening mention it on the little short when he's teaching people to draw Bart? (Maybe it was an extra on one of the DVDs...note to self: check when I get home.)

Jen Chaney: It is 9. Good work, Kensington.

You win ... absolutely nothing. But you are certainly worthy of an award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence. No question.


Christopher, Chicago: Another trivia question: How much is Maggie worth? (She's scanned at the supermarket checkout counter at the beginning of every episode...)

Jen Chaney: Readers, submit your guesses now.


Gaithersburg, Md.: No love for Ralph Wiggum, the character with some of the all-time funniest line?

"My cat's breath smells like cat food"

Just priceless every time he's on...

Jen Chaney: Another good Ralph line.

My personal favorite:

"So, do you like ... stuff?"


Baltimore: I love Cletus the Slack-jawed yokel and his catchy theme song--"Some folks'll never eat a bug, but then again some folk'll..."

Jen Chaney:"What's going on on this side?"

I love that song, too. I also love the pretzel franchise episode, where all of Cletus's kids come out of the house with a coupon: "Brittany, Rumor, Scout, Q-Bert..."

A friend of mine had that on his answering machine for a while. Cracked me up every time.


Silver Spring, Md.: Does this movie continue to include a lot of the social commentary that slyly makes its way into TV episodes?

Jen Chaney: A little. I wanted a little more social commentary and a little less "Spider-pig." Not that "Spider-pig" isn't funny, mind you...


Washington, D.C.: Any idea why Albert Brooks continues to be credited as "A. Brooks" when he does Simpsons voices? Not as misleading as Dustin Hoffman or Michael Jackson's false credits, but still. And for the record, Ghengis is no Hank Scorpio.

Jen Chaney: I wonder if that's a joke at James L. Brooks's expense? He is always credited that way and I'm not sure why.

Who can remember how Hoffman and Jackson were credited? More trivia, which will win you ... more nothing.


Kensington, Md., who knew about Bart's spikes: (In best Homer-like voice.) Woo-hoo!

Jen Chaney: It is exciting to be an outstanding achiever in the field of excellence, isn't it?


Boston: A group of us once did the Avon Breast Cancer Walk and decided to talk in only Simpsons quotes for as long as we could. "Sidewalks for regular walkin', not fancy walkin'." "Here I am using my legs like a sucker."

You get the idea.

Jen Chaney: That's great.

You know, I'm starting to like you people the more we chat. Too bad this only lasts for 10 more minutes or so.


Bethesda, Md.: Book recommendation (I know, I know)- "Planet Simpson" by Chris Turner. Pretty much how the show encapsulates all of pop culture in its genius.

Jen Chaney: I've heard about that book, but never read it. Maybe I should.

When I did the Kwik-E-Mart video, there was a PBS crew there, too. I was told they were filming because of a piece related to "The Simpsons" and religion. It's fascinating how this show provides a window into so many aspects of American life and culture. And that's why "The Simpsons" is the BEST SHOW EV-ER.



I'm 47 years old and I love "The Simpsons"; it's the one show I will comfortably watch with my kids. Favorite scene:

The roller coaster called The Tooth Chipper. 'Nuff said.

Jen Chaney: Speaking of amusement parks in "The Simpsons," my favorite is Duff Gardens. "Duff beer for me, Duff beer for you, I'll have a Duff, you have one, too."


Ralphie: It tastes like burning!

Yay, I'm a features columnist! Woooo-ooo (like a firetruck)...

My cat's breath smells like catfood.

Jen Chaney: Oh, all of those are pure poetry.


Sam Etic: Hoffman was credited as Sam Etic. ("You sure I'm Jewish?" "Or Italian." "I'm Jewish.") Don't remember how Michael Jackson was credited, though.

Jen Chaney: Absolutely right. Jackson was credited as John Jay Smith.

If I remember correctly from the DVD, Jackson didn't do all of the voice. Or maybe it was the singing he didn't do. It was a mix of him and someone who could impersonate him pretty solidly.

You have to admit, that was one of the cooler things Michael Jackson has done. That's such an interesting episode to watch now, in light of Jackson's subsequent eccentricities.


Too bad this only lasts for 10 more minutes or so. : Is Liz producing? I bet she'd stay on longer if you asked nice.

Jen Chaney: Liz is not. But all of our online peeps are nice. I have a feeling we'll run over a teensy bit.


Syracuse, N.Y.: Great Ralph quote for all you English majors at the Post. "Me fail English? That's unpossible."

Jen Chaney: I was an English major. But I think anyone can grasp the sheer genius of that comment.

Ralph Wiggum: Master of quotable nonsense.


Anonymous: Maggie scans as NRA4EVER

Source: 130-somethingth episode spectacular

Jen Chaney: That was a joke, no? She doesn't really scan as NRA 4Ever.


Ralph quote:"I choo-choo choose you - and there's a picture of a train!"

Jen Chaney: Yes! Same episode as the "So, do you like ... stuff?" comment.

"So the doctor said my nosebleeds would stop if I'd just keep my finger out of there."


Evanston, Ill.: How about some love for "The computer wore menace shoes" and Mr. X? "I want answers now or I want them eventually!"

Clearly the BEST. EPISODE. EVER.

Jen Chaney: A decent episode, to be sure, but not the best ever.


Maggie is worth...: a big 'ERROR' reading.

Jen Chaney: I could swear an actual dollar amount rings up, but maybe my brain's getting as dim as Homer's.


Chicago Ill.:"What's a diorama?"

Jen Chaney: Another great line. "I bent my wookie," which someone else mentions, is from the same episode.

I wish we'd had a Diorama-Rama at my school.


Chantilly, Va.: Jen: Hope I'm not too late. Longtime Simpsons fan since Day 1. I'm 47.

My favorite line comes from the greatly underrated Sideshow Mel: "He's kicking it old school!"

Jen Chaney: Sideshow Mel, a little underrated.

Still, he's no Sideshow Bob. Can Sideshow Mel step on rakes and shudder for five minutes straight? And can he sing the entire score of the "H.M.S. Pinafore" by himself? Well, can he?


Annandale, Va.:'Perhaps a little morphine will help me remember':

Maggie rings up at $847.63 (which was the monthly cost of raising a baby in 1989).

Jen Chaney: This sounds right to me. Another outstanding achievement in the field of excellence.

_______________________ No one has mentioned my two favorite Ralph quotes:

"Tastes like burning."

"Sleep! That's when I'm a viking!"

Jen Chaney:"Oh, boy, sleep! That's when I'm a Viking!"

Another of my faves, thanks for the reminder.


Washington, D.C: How's this for obsession -- I can't remember the complete words to a single nursery rhyme to sing to my infant daughter, but I can sing to her the complete lyrics to "Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?" and the "Stonecutters Theme."

Jen Chaney: I have an infant son, and I have not yet resorted to that. But thank you for giving me the idea.

That's another thing I thought the movie was missing: A big 'ol musical number. Something akin to the fine music in "Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off."

Wow, I just realized no one has mentioned Troy McClure, may he (and Phil Hartman) rest in peace.


Springfield Gazette quote:: Headline reads: God steals sun.

Mayor calls for sacrifices.

Jen Chaney: One of the many things that might not exist had it not been for "The Simpsons": "The Onion."


You're going to Stanford: The voice impersonator did the singing for Michael Jackson.

This may be a little cruel, but whenever my girlfriend and I get stuck behind old people in Cadillacs, we say "Old people are no good at everything."

Jen Chaney: As long as you know it's a joke, it's not cruel.

I thought that was true about the impersonator. So crazy, isn't it? That the singer does a guest spot and doesn't actually sing?


WDC: Best couch gag ever? For some reason I'm partial to the one where the come into the living room to find some random fat guy sitting on the couch. They just stand there looking confused. I've noticed in recent seasons they've almost done away with the couch in the couch gags. A memorable one from last season was various Simpsons characters in a vending machine.

Jen Chaney: Liked the vending machine.

I also love the one where they walk in and the Flintstones are sitting there.


Feelings?: Probably the best lawyer quote ever, from the ep where Apu has an affair...

When will you humans learn that these "feelings" as you call them stand in the way of BIG CASH PAYOFFS!

Mwahahaha -tappity tappity tappity-

It doesn't translate as well without the tap dancing but I die every time I see it.

Jen Chaney: Wow, we're really running over. Just a couple more...

I also like the Lionel Hutz quote: "Homer, this is the best case I've seen since I sued the makers of 'The Neverending Story.'"


Best episode ever:: Gotta be "Last Exit to Springfield." Not a wasted line in the show. Possibly the best single half-hour of tv ever -- right up there with MTM's "Chuckles the Clown."

Jen Chaney: Do you work at Entertainment Weekly? That was their choice as best "Simpsons" episode ever. It comes from season four, which is the golden season, so I can't argue with that.


Arlington, Va.:"Hi, I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such educational films as 'Here Comes the Metric System!' and 'Lead Paint -- Delicious but Deadly.' "

Jen Chaney: Seriously, who hasn't done a Troy McClure impression at least once in their lives? I do one about once a day.

Okay, really wrapping up soon. You guys have been fantastic.


To Close Out This Discussion: Why not quote Mr. Burns?

In the first season, he holds a company picnic at his palatial estate (Homer refers to it as "Heaven on Earth").

At the end of the picnic, he tells all the employees "Thank you for coming. Now get out. I suggest you don't dawdle. The hounds will be released in 10 minutes!"

Jen Chaney: I like your sensibility, but I won't release the hounds on all of you.

Instead, I'll quote from the "Grift of the Magi" episode, aka the "Funzo" Christmas episode:

Gary Coleman: Whatchu talkin' about, Moe? (Turns to camera): Whatchu talkin' about, everyone.

Hope you enjoy the movie if you see it. I've certainly enjoyed this hour-plus with all of you. Thank you. And please, come again.


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