Hang with me. There’s a logic to this.
First off, let’s make it clear that this post is about this:
Later this evening, season 9 of one of our favourite shows will begin. Some of us, including me, are super excited about this.
Others, some of which I know are among us, feel that the show is not the same as it used to be and, given that they didn’t like the previous seasons, are ready to give up on the show.
To this, I say, “Do you also break up with your significant other just because they want to experiment with butt stuff?”
This week, The Simpsons will become the longest-running scripted series in television history. Bart and Lisa are still in grade school. Maggie is still a baby that doesn’t speak. Marge still wears her hair high and blue. And Homer still works at Mr. Burns’ power plant, drinks at Moe’s, and gets in trouble.
The general Internet population has decreed that The Simpsons stopped being good many many years ago. I don’t know as I haven’t seen a new episode in years.
I thought about this recently. Why did I stop watching The Simpsons? Why did any of us?
After some thought, I concluded that I got tired of the same thing every week. The same setups, the same themes, the same punchlines.
It’s like those bands where every song sounds just like the others. If a song plays on the radio, you instantly recognize it’s from THAT BAND because that’s their sound.
For better or for worse, that’s who they are. It’s difficult to change the formula if people like it.
It’s difficult to write. Period. Writing for this site has been a labour of love for me. I do it because I love the things I write about and because the things I write about interest me.
It’s also taught me a lot about writing and being creative. It’s hard. Like REALLY HARD. Writing for this site has made me appreciate the writers I like and the shows I like way more than I used to.
Even though I love writing it, I find myself sometimes falling into patterns doing the AFL Beat. Patterns make things easy and they work to keep things structured, but they can stifle creativity. They can also become crutches.
I try to mix things up on the AFL Beat as much as I can to keep myself amused, let alone you readers. God help me if I had to do that for 30 years like The Simpsons.
This is why I really appreciate and love what the creators of Archer have done with the series. They knew after Season 4 that the spy agency setup was getting old and it was limiting what they could do with the characters.
The show itself, even in the first four seasons, played around with timelines, technology, and references in an attempt to give themselves more flexibility in storytelling. Season 5, in which they became drug smugglers in an homage to Miami Vice, marked a clear departure from the established spy agency setting.
The creators took the characters that everyone had already fallen in love with and were familiar with and then put them in new settings, situations, and timelines. They knew that in order to keep things fresh, they couldn’t let them stay the same age, in the same city, and in the same business.
This, in my opinion, was genius.
It was also, however, a big risk. The vast majority of the population resists change. Specially when there doesn’t seem to be a need for it. The creators made that decision all on their own without prompting from the audience.
Season 4 was great and no one was complaining that the show had lost a step. I loved Season 5 and so did a lot of people, but a lot of people did not. Season 6 was a bit of a return to the familiar setting of Seasons 1-4 although it seemed forced and was, undoubtedly, caused by pressure from the network.
It was refreshing to me, then, that Season 7 went to Hollywood and Season 8 went to Dreamland. Maybe it’s because I live in LA, but those are two of my favourite seasons.
Free from restrictions, the writing felt reenergized. The animation became more sophisticated than it ever had been as the creative team was encouraged to craft new worlds and make them look amazing.
Season 9 starts today and the setting is the South Pacific circa the late 1930s. Krieger is a talking macaw, not a scientist doctor. Cyril is a Nazi, not a pussy accountant. Likewise, the other characters are both themselves and not themselves.
In essence, they are doing cosplay on a TV show. What’s wrong with that?
Are you telling me that if your significant other wanted you both to dress up and have one play sexy professor while the other plays sexy college student that desperately needs an “A” that you’re going to say no?
I hope you tune in tonight with an open mind. Just because things change doesn’t mean they can’t be good.
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