Thoughts on FXX's Simpsons Marathon
FXX is currently in the middle of re-broadcasting all 552 episodes of The Simpsons, the longest-running sitcom and (American) animated program, and also the longest running scripted prime-time series ever (passing Gunsmoke in 2009). The show debuted in 1989, meaning anyone born that year has probably already earned a college degree and moved back in with their parents.
"Who knows what adventures they'll have between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable?"
The marathon began last Thursday (8/21), and will run through Labor Day (9/1). Really puts those weekend-long Star Trek marathons Channel 39 used to run back in the day to shame, doesn't it?
Like many others, I watched my fair share of the first few days of the the marathon. It brought back a lot of memories, and also elicited a few observations. Some cromulent, some not so much.
1. Crop Report
As reported in Indiewire and elsewhere (and as noticed by most of us the minute we started watching), FXX is inexplicably broadcasting the old, pre-HD episodes in 16:9 aspect ratio instead of the 4:3 in which they were originally aired.
To FXX's credit, it's also been using the original, pre-syndication cuts of each episode, so many jokes we're seeing haven't aired in 20 years. At the same time, I'm curious why the network thought cropping the frame and reducing digital noise would matter to a bunch of people who probably watched the first seasons on 18" CRTs through clouds of bong smoke. I mean, the show didn't even switch to HD until 2009.
More to the point, the haphazard edits render many of the jokes incomprehensible. For example:
No word yet on whether the FXX reruns will also be 16:9, though they will reportedly be the abbreviated syndication versions (episodes on the FXX app, "Simpsons World," will be 4:3, which will be a great relief to everyone watching on their iPhones.
"Somehow I Managed to Squeeze in Eight Hours of TV A Day."
Something miraculous happened this weekend. Well, maybe "miraculous" is the wrong word. "Pathetic?" "Troubling?" Whatever the case, I had a bit of an epiphany on Sunday when I realized, halfway through Season 6, that I'd watched more TV in the last three days than I had in the previous three months.
And it may even be longer than that. Without my usual fall/spring diet of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and The Good Wife (don't hate), my television diet drops into hunger strike territory, relegated to trying and failing to get into The Leftovers or The Strain and whatever snippets of CBS This Morning I can catch between school/work prep (that Norah O'Donnell can scroll through my teleprompter any day). I had a rare four uninterrupted hours to myself on Sunday, and I crammed at least eight episodes of viewing into that instead of actually venturing outdoors or otherwise accomplishing anything.
It was like my post-graduate years all over again. In the words of Peter Gibbons, I did nothing, and it was everything I thought it would be.