The Simpsons shorts explained

The Simpsons shorts are a series of 48 one-minute shorts that ran on the variety show The Tracey Ullman Show for three seasons, before the characters spun off into The Simpsons, their own half-hour prime time show. It features the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The series was created by Matt Groening, who designed the Simpson family and wrote many of the shorts. The shorts first aired on April 19, 1987 starting with "Good Night". The final short to air was "TV Simpsons", originally airing on May 14, 1989. The Simpsons later debuted on December 17, 1989 with the Christmas special "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire".[1]

Only a few of these shorts have been released on DVD. "Good Night" was included on The Simpsons Season 1 DVD. Five of these shorts were later used in the clip show episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" on the half-hour show, which was released on the Season 7 DVD. These five shorts were "Good Night", which was featured in its entirety, and portions of "The Perfect Crime", "Space Patrol", "World War III", and "Bathtime".[2] In "You Kent Always Say What You Want", the short "Family Portrait" replaces the entire opening sequence in celebration of the 400th episode. Groening has announced that all of the shorts will be available on mobile phones.[3]

Development

The shorts were created by cartoonist Matt Groening in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. He had been called in to pitch a series of animated shorts, and had intended to present his Life in Hell series. When he realized that animating Life in Hell would require him to give up publication rights for his life's work, Groening decided to go in another direction.[4] He hurriedly sketched out his version of a dysfunctional family, and named the characters after his own family.[4] Bart was modeled after Groening's older brother, Mark, but given a different name which was chosen as an anagram of "brat".[5] The stories were written and storyboarded by Matt Groening.[6] The family was crudely drawn, because Groening had submitted basic sketches to the animators, assuming they would clean them up; instead they just traced over his drawings.[4] The animation was produced domestically at Klasky Csupo,[7] with Wesley Archer, David Silverman, and Bill Kopp being animators for the first season.[6] After season one it was animated by Archer and Silverman.[6] Georgie Peluse was the colorist and the person who decided to make the characters yellow.[6]

The actors who voiced the characters later reprised their roles in The Simpsons. Dan Castellaneta performed the voices of Homer Simpson, Grampa Simpson, and Krusty the Clown.[8] Homer's voice sounds different in the shorts compared to most episodes of the half-hour show. In the shorts, his voice is a loose impression of Walter Matthau, whereas it is more robust and humorous on the half-hour show, allowing Homer to cover a fuller range of emotions.[9] Castellaneta had been part of the regular cast of The Tracey Ullman Show and had done some voice over work in Chicago alongside his wife Deb Lacusta. Voices were needed for the shorts, so the producers decided to ask Castellaneta as well as Julie Kavner to voice Homer and Marge, rather than hire more actors.[10] [11] Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith performed the voices of Bart Simpson and Lisa Simpson respectively.[8] The recording of the shorts was often primitive; according to Cartwright, the dialogue for the Ullman shorts was recorded on a portable tape deck in a makeshift studio, which consisted of the video engineer suite, above the bleachers on the Ullman show set.[12] While most of the characters' personalities are similar to what they are in the series, Lisa is portrayed as a female version of Bart without the intelligent nature that she possesses in the half-hour series.

The shorts were featured on the first three seasons on The Tracey Ullman Show. By the fourth and last season of The Tracey Ullman Show the first season of the half-hour show was on the air. In the two first seasons the shorts were divided into three or four parts,[13] but in the third season they were played as a single story.[13] Tracey Ullman later filed a lawsuit, claiming that her show was the source of The Simpsons success and therefore should receive a share of the show's profit. Eventually the courts ruled in favor of the network.[14]

Season 1 (1987)

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Season 2 (1987–1988)

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Season 3 (1988–1989)

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References

General
Specific

See also

Notes and References

  1. Web site: Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire. 2007-11-22. Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian. 2000. BBC.
  2. Book: Richmond, Ray. Antonia Coffman. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to our Favorite Family. 1997. Harper Collins Publishers. 0-00-638898-1. 191.
  3. Web site: Groening's repeats u-turn. 2006-08-06. 2007-01-11.
  4. BBC. 2000. 'The Simpsons': America's First Family (6 minute edit for the season 1 DVD). DVD. UK. 20th Century Fox.
  5. News: Alan. Paul. Matt Groening. Interview. Flux Magazine Issue #6. 1987-09-30.
  6. Web site: Cagle, Daryl. The David Silverman Interview. 2006-12-29. MSNBC.
  7. News: Harvey. Deneroff. Matt Groening's Baby Turns 10. Animation Magazine, Vol. 14, #1. January 2000. 10, 12.
  8. Book: Richmond, Ray. Antonia Coffman. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to our Favorite Family. 1997. Harper Collins Publishers. 0-00-638898-1. 178.
  9. News: Brownfield, Paul. He's Homer, but This Odyssey Is His Own. Los Angeles Times. 1999-07-06.
  10. News: D'oh, you're the voices. 2007-08-18. 2003-02-27. Luaine Lee. The Age.
  11. News: D'oh!: The Voice of Homer Is Deceivingly Deadpan. 2007-07-29. 2007-08-18. Lynn Elber. Associated Press.
  12. Book: Cartwight, Nancy. My Life as a Ten Year Old Boy. 2000. Bloomsbury. 0747547483. 43–46.
  13. Book: Richmond, Ray. Antonia Coffman. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to our Favorite Family. 1997. Harper Collins Publishers. 0-00-638898-1. 14–15.
  14. News: Frank. Spotnitz. Eat my shorts!. Entertainment Weekly. 8(1). 1992-10-23.