Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 10 Preview

(DVD cover taken from the behemoth called Wikipedia)

Oh, boy. Season 10. The second of four (and change) we’re going to be covering… at a snail’s pace. I guess.

Because of the wide swath of episodes this season, I will not be listing them like I did with my reviews of Red Dwarf. I will, however, mention a few of the casting changes and guest stars that will be seen this season. Some of this info I got from Wikipedia, others I got from the Dead Homer Society. I’m not really a professional.

The most important thing to note is that this is the first broadcast season under Scully. Season 9 was alright, if somewhat forgettable. This season, though, probably began to color Scully’s tenure on The Simpsons.

Also, the six main voice actors were getting paid $30K per episode. Before the season started, the six voice actors went on strike, because making around $650000-700000 a year wasn’t enough. Despite a threat of new voice actors, the two sides came together, and the salary for a voice actor on The Simpsons was $125K per episode. That’s $2.75M a year. You could argue that a) they deserve the raise for quality acting for the past 9 years, or b) getting enough of an increase that they didn’t need to put in as much effort – they would do alright from one year’s work. I personally don’t really blame the voice actors – who knew the show would last 18 more seasons?

As for the rest of the writing staff…

  • According to the Wikipedia page (and, by extension, The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History), Scully was well-liked by the managerial staff. While I think that being liked is a great method in order to get things done, you also have to wonder if he was too easygoing. I mean, Season 9 wasn’t that hot, in my opinion. Furthermore, I refer fans to the Gravity Falls episode “Boss Mabel”. In that episode, Mabel tries to replace Stan’s “money-first” management style with her easygoing management style. It fails.
  • Al Jean, after a two-season hiatus, came back to the writing staff. His return was marked by the episode “Mom and Pop Art”. He would become Scully’s successor once he was run out of town once his tenure came to an end.
  • In contrast, David S Cohen left the show after “Bart the Mother”. He was working on Futurama, which would premiere on FOX in March, get punted around the network for five years, die, and get reborn. Twice.
  • Brand new to the show was Tim Long, who would go on to write some of the show’s… less well-loved episodes, such as “Saddlesore Galactica”, “Moe Goes From Rags to Riches”, and “Lady Gaga and Tim Long Permanently Stain The Franchise” “Lisa Goes Gaga”.
  • Lastly, this was the last season to feature some voice work from Phil Hartman, who was tragically killed at the hands of his wife, Brynn.
Now, time for a… small list of some of the guest stars that signed on to lend some credence to Season 10’s episode. (Note: guest stars that voice recurring characters, such as Joe Mantegna/Fat Tony, are not counted.)
  1. Lisa Kurdow
  2. William Daniels
  3. Regis Philbin
  4. Kathie Lee Gifford
  5. Jerry Springer
  6. Ed McMahon
  7. Robert Englund
  8. Alec Baldwin
  9. Kim Basinger
  10. Ron Howard
  11. Brian Grazer
  12. George Carlin
  13. Martin Mull
  14. Mark Hamill
  15. The Moody Blues
  16. Cyndi Lauper
  17. John Madden
  18. Troy Aikman
  19. Dan Marino
  20. Pat Summerall
  21. Rosey Grier
  22. Fred Willard
  23. Dolly Parton
  24. Rupert Murdoch
  25. Ed Begley Jr
  26. Elton John
  27. John Kassir
  28. Hank Williams Jr
  29. Jasper Johns
  30. Isabella Rossellini
  31. Jack LaLanne
  32. Michael McKean
  33. Stephen Hawking
  34. George Takei
  35. Gedde Watanabe
  36. Keone Young
  37. Karen Maruyama
  38. Denice Kumagai.
TL;DR – 1.65 Guest Stars an episode. Even reducing it to the most well-known guest stars (Hawking, Takei, Philbin, Springer), that’s still a lot of guest stars. That… sorta takes away from the allure of guest stars. Guest stars are supposed to mark a special event. Having one every other episode (or a group every few episodes) might reduce the impact of every guest star’s appearance.
Wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t really the focus of the episode. Example: Kurdow’s character was the focus of “Lard of the Dance”, Carlin and Mull’s characters were the focus of “Do’h-in in the Wind”, and Baldwin/Bassinger/Howard were all the focus of “When You Dish Upon a Star”.
For a mild contrast, Season 3 had at least 26 guest stars (if you count Aerosmith as 1 guest star), but 10 of them starred in 1 episode, with most of the rest getting relatively minor roles.
Even with the episodes that focused on these new characters in season 3, there’s a difference. Beverly D’Angelo voiced Lureen Lumpkin, a well-defined character from within the Simpsons universe, and Lureen wasn’t so much the focus of the episode as Homer’s relationship with Marge. Compared to Bassinger and Baldwin, who basically star as themselves and are the focus of their episode. I’ll elaborate more in the review of that particular episode, but… yeah, there’s quite a difference.
Now, this blog post is long enough, so I’m just gonna say… it’s gonna be a long, slow ride.

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