Film and TV

The Week in TV: The Simpsons Are Unstoppable

• As reported earlier, Fox has been looking at ending The Simpsons because they've grown tired of paying the show's voice cast and would much rather just sell off the whole series into syndication (bringing in $750 million in the process) and then start their own spinoff network where they can show Simpsons reruns 24/7. After a few rounds of bickering over salaries so far beyond your comprehension that discussing them here would only lead to depression and suicide, Fox agreed to renew the series for two more years, through its 25th season, by which point the show will have aired 559 episodes. In other words, the show is safe through the 2013-2014 season. Now, everyone always says that the show's not as good as it used to be, and they say this because it's true, but it's still worth taking a moment to acknowledge the comic power and legacy of the show. After a few appearances on The Tracey Ullman Show, the series proper began in December 1989, and it's shaped the humor of just about everyone under 50. Yes, the glory days are a decade gone, and for the creative health of the enterprise it should probably call it quits after 25 seasons. But in an era when great comedies only get a few seasons at best, logging a quarter of a century's worth of episodes is a damn fine achievement.

• After 20 years of exhorting you and your rowdy friends to watch some football and drink shitty light beer, Hank Williams Jr. is being pulled from Monday Night Football after he made remarks on Fox News' Fox & Friends that sounded a little like he was comparing President Obama with Adolf Hitler. Williams said that Obama's decision to play golf with Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner was like "Hitler playing golf with Netanyahu." Now, leaving aside the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was born in 1949 and could not actually golf with the Fuhrer without the aid of time- and space-bending technologies not yet discovered, which makes the whole analogy totally fall apart like Hank didn't even think about the butterfly effect or anything, the rant is more nonsensical than anything. Williams's point, muddled as it was by the hops and jerky fumes baked into the camouflaged ballcap he opted to wear for the interview, was basically that Boehner had condescended to fraternizing with the enemy, though I'm not sure if Boehner's supposed to be Netanyahu crushed by Obama's Third Reich or if it's just a horribly cast hypothetical meant to drive home an argument no one was making. Williams seems to be a little empty-headed, but that doesn't make him malicious, just a Tea Partier. But Williams's fate was sealed the instant he invoked Godwin's Law, and after an immediate punishment that had his hokey opening number pulled from the show on the 3rd, ESPN announced that they had "decided to part ways" with the bigoted old fogey. Sadly, your dad will now have to learn a whole new theme song to use as his voicemail greeting. For now, the show will kickoff with a preview narrated by Barry Sanders, whose job should be safe as long as he doesn't quit halfway through to tell Americans that Nancy Pelosi eats babies.

• The CW tried to change the world with H8R, a reality show about how people who star on reality shows don't deserve your scorn or criticism or questions about the lack of moral inhibition it must take to go on a reality show these days and degrade yourself on camera. No, those people who are famous for being famous ("famous" here meaning "your office receptionist knows all about them, which is a warning sign") are doomed to keep getting h8d. Effective immediately, H8R is no more. Are you happy, America? Snooki got drunk and threw up for you, and you have the nerve to think she's a depressing example of millennial exhibitionism run wild. Shame on you!

• Heads are rolling at NBC, too. The Playboy Club, which threatened to corrupt chaste American audiences with story lines all about Amber Heard's cleavage, has been canceled after network execs had a really great group session at their annual fall retreat and cookout and just decided to try their hardest to air high-quality programming. Kidding! The ratings were bad, so it got the ax. Also out: Free Agents, which was about Hank Azaria making really bad choices for projects that aren't The Simpsons. Sorry, buddy.

The network has handed out some full-year orders, though. Up All Night will be around all season, marking a victory for affluent white parents who have labored for decades in the shadows, having no one to tell their stories. Also sticking around: Whitney, which is about as funny as Hitler golfing with Netanyahu. (Damn you, Williams! Such a poetic phrase it's hard to stop using it.) Whitney is shrill and unfunny and not that good, but it does get solid numbers and feature a pretty brunette in her underwear at least once a week, and that's good enough for NBC. It's good enough for everyone else, apparently, too. I met a guy the other day who told me, "The show's not funny, but she's hot." So, there you go. I'll be over here watching Parks and Recreation.

• Fox hasn't made itself known for being friendly to high-concept dramas or anything that needs a few weeks to find its legs. So what are they doing? They're making a series based on Lev Grossman's The Magicians, a literary fantasy novel about a college of magic that's equal parts coming-of-age tale and humanist response to C.S. Lewis. Sounds like just the thing to put on after Glee. The series doesn't have a projected start date, but Fox has already announced that it will be canceled for a reality show about dogs who steal cars.

• This is how bad it is out there: Sesame Street is introducing a new Muppet named Lily who comes from a poor family that often doesn't have enough to eat. The economy is so bad, and the wealth and income gaps are so abhorrent, that we now have to teach kids about the brutal inequalities of life on the show that's all about reading and counting. No word yet on whether Sean Hannity will tell the Muppet that she should have been more responsible, and that it's never too soon to get a job.

• Ugh, don't be so '90s:

IT'S THE 90S! from Everything Is Terrible! on Vimeo.

• Speaking of the '90s: Here's the latest trailer for the revived Beavis and Butt-Head, which hits MTV October 27. Mike Judge really needs a hit:

• In case you missed it: Stefon is back:

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Daniel Carlson
Contact: Daniel Carlson