Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Cartoon Historian Lesson 12: The Simpsons Pt. 1

The Simpsons! One of the longest running TV shows of all time. Who doen't love this family.

In this special 3-part episode,we will take a look at the rise of America's favorite animated family.

The Simpsons is an animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical parody of a working class American family,which consists of Homer,Marge,Bart,Lisa,and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional city of Springfield,and lampoons American culture,society,television and many aspects of the human condition.

Matt Groening conceived the idea for the Simpsons in the lobby of James L. Brooks's office. Brooks had asked Groening to pitch an idea for a series of animated shorts, which Groening initially intended to present as his Life in Hell series.

However, when Groening realized that animating Life in Hell would require the rescinding of publication rights for his life's work, he chose another approach and formulated his version of a dysfunctional family. He named the characters after his own family members, substituting "Bart" for his own name.

The Simpson family first appeared as shorts in The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. Groening submitted only basic sketches to the animators and assumed that the figures would be cleaned up in production.

However, the animators merely re-traced his drawings, which led to the crude appearance of the characters in the initial short episodes. One of the earliest jobs of the Klasky Csupo company was creating animated sequences for the The Tracey Ullman Show which led to the start of The Simpsons.

The animation(at first) was produced domestically at Klasky Csupo,with Wesley Archer, David Silverman, and Bill Kopp being animators for the first season. Georgie Peluse was the colorist and the person who decided to make the characters yellow.

In 1989, a team of production companies adapted The Simpsons into a half-hour series for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The team included,what is now known as,the Klasky Csupo animation house. For those who are familiar with Klasky Csupo,they're the dudes who created the hit cartoon series "Rugrats".

Anyway,Jim Brooks negotiated a provision in the contract with the Fox network that prevented Fox from interfering with the show's content. Groening said his goal in creating the show was to offer the audience an alternative to what he called "the mainstream trash" that they were watching.

The half-hour series premiered on December 17, 1989 with "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", a Christmas special. Yup,a Christmas special was the first episode to air,though it wasn't the first episode made.

"Some Enchanted Evening" was the first full-length episode produced, but it did not broadcast until May 1990, as the last episode of the first season.This was because because of animation problems.

In 1992, Tracey Ullman filed a lawsuit against Fox, claiming that her show was the source of the series' success. The suit said that she should receive a share of the profits of The Simpsons. However,the claim was rejected by the courts.

Matt Groening and James L. Brooks have served as executive producers during the show's entire history, and also function as creative consultants. Sam Simon served as creative supervisor for the first four seasons.

However,since Simon was constantly at odds with Groening, Brooks and Gracie Films,he left the show in 1993. Before leaving,he negotiated a deal that gave him a share of the profits every year, and an executive producer credit despite not having worked on the show since 1993. A more involved position on the show is the show runner, who acts as head writer and manages the show's production for an entire season.

The first team of writers, assebled by Sam Simon consisted of John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti, George Meyer, Jeff Martin, Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky. Newer Simpsons' writing teams typically consist of sixteen writers who propose episode ideas at the beginning of each December. The main writer of each episode writes the first draft.

Group rewriting sessions develop final scripts by adding or removing jokes, inserting scenes, and calling for re-readings of lines by the show’s voice actors. Until 2004, the leader of these sessions was George Meyer, who had developed the show since Season One.

According to long-time writer Jon Vitti, Meyer usually invented the best lines in a given episode, even though other writers may receive script credits. Each episode takes six months to produce so the show rarely comments on current events. However, episodes occasionally mention planned events, such as the Olympics or the Super Bowl.

Part of the writing staff of The Simpsons in 1992 were Mike Mendel,Colin ABV Lewis ,Jeff Goldstein, Al Jean,Conan O'Brien, Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Mike Reiss, Ken Tsumara, George Meyer, John Swartzwelder, Jon Vitti,CJ Gibson,David M. Stern,Dee Capelli,and Lona Williams.

Credited with sixty episodes, John Swartzwelder is the most prolific writer on The Simpsons' staff. One of the best-known former writers is Conan O'Brien, who contributed to several episodes in the early 1990s before replacing David Letterman as host of the talk show Late Night.

English comedian Ricky Gervais wrote the episode "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife", becoming the first celebrity to both write and guest star in an episode. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, writers of the film Superbad, wrote the episode "Homer the Whopper", with Rogen voicing a character in it.

At the end of 2007 the writers of The Simpsons went on strike together with the rest of the Writers Guild of America. The show's writers had joined the guild in 1998.

Several different U.S. and international studios animate The Simpsons. Throughout the run of the animated shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show, the animation was produced domestically at Klasky Csupo.

Because of an increased workload,Fox subcontracted production to several international studios, located in South Korea. These are AKOM, Anivision, Rough Draft Studios, U.S. Animation, Inc., and Toonzone Entertainment.

Artists at the U.S. animation studio, Film Roman, draw storyboards, design new characters, backgrounds, props and draw character and background layouts, which in turn become animatics to be screened for the writers at Gracie Films for any changes to be made before the work is shipped overseas.

The overseas studios then draw the inbetweens, ink and paint, and render the animation to tape before it is shipped back to the United States to be delivered to Fox three to four months later.

For the first three seasons, Klasky Csupo animated The Simpsons in the United States. In 1992, the show's production company, Gracie Films, switched domestic production to Film Roman, who continued to animate the show as of 2009.

In Season 14, production switched from traditional cel animation to digital ink and paint. The first episode to experiment with this was "Radioactive Man" in 1995.

Animators used digital ink and paint during production of the Season 12 episode "Tennis the Menace," but Gracie Films delayed the regular use of digital ink and paint until two seasons later. The already completed "Tennis the Menace" was broadcast as made.

The series began high-definition production in Season 20; the first episode, "Take My Life, Please", aired February 15, 2009. The move to HDTV included a new opening sequence. Matt Groening called it a complicated change because it affected the timing and composition of animation.

The Simpsons are a typical family who live in a fictional "Middle American" town of Springfield. Homer, the father, works as a safety inspector at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, a position at odds with his careless and buffoonish personality.

He is married to Marge Simpson, a stereotypical American housewife and mother. They have three children: Bart, a ten-year-old troublemaker; Lisa, a precocious eight-year-old activist; and Maggie, a baby who rarely speaks, but communicates by sucking on a pacifier. The family owns a dog, Santa's Little Helper, and a cat, Snowball V, renamed Snowball II in "I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot".

Both pets have had starring roles in several episodes. Despite the passing of yearly milestones such as holidays or birthdays, the Simpsons did not physically age and still appear just as they did at the end of the 1980s.

Although the family is dysfunctional, many episodes examine their relationships and bonds with each other and they are often shown to care about one another.

The show includes an array of quirky characters: co-workers, teachers, family friends,extended relatives, townspeople and local celebrities.

The creators originally intended many of these characters as one-time jokesters or for fulfilling needed functions in the town. A number of them have gained expanded roles and subsequently starred in their own episodes. According to Matt Groening, the show adopted the concept of a supporting cast from the comedy show SCTV

The Simpsons takes place in the fictional American town of Springfield in an unknown and impossible-to-determine U.S. state. The show is intentionally evasive in regard to Springfield's location. The name "Springfield" is a common in America and appears in over half of the states.

Springfield's geography, and that of its surroundings, contain coastlines, deserts, vast farmland, tall mountains, or whatever the story or joke requires. Groening has said that Springfield has much in common with Portland, Oregon, the city where he grew up.

Well that's all for now. Stay tuned for part 2 of this lesson. Ya gotta admit that this part was very informative.

1 comment:

Stefan said...

Very Infomative indeed. we now not only know about the Simpson's history,but how a Cartoon is made.