N Ortved may have set out to write authorized history but it Is Obvious That He obvious that he not getting the cooperation he felt necessary As a result he has created an unauthorized history of our favorite family pulled together from what seems to be extensive sets of interviews with many ey people in and around the Simpsons universe as well as pulled from various printed interviews and articles by others who may not have been willing to participate What results is less of a story and of a magic window into the birth and formative first decade of the show Told by
series of recollections and vignettes we taken behind the scenes of the Matt Groening being involved in creating interstitials for the Tracey Ullman Show the eventual spinoff of the shorts into a full blown show the show becoming a worldwide phenomenon and the resulting legal wrangling staff changes and hurt feelings that a mega success brings The lack of participation by many vital players including Matt Groening himself necessitates the use of printed comments in the stead of interview comments The lack of cooperation also frees Ortved from having to be objective in his writing allowing others to present only one side of the story It also probably limited his access to some areas especially within Fox that might have fleshed out pieces and give some heft to his story This lack of objectivity allows the author to speak very highly of the first dozen seasons with high praise milder praise for the next few seasons and then almost outright dismissal of work from the 9th or 10th season on That said the book is extremely entertaining very informative and eye opening and just a great glimpse into the Juggernaut that is The Simpsons It is the work of love of a fan who is trying to explain how lightning was captured in a bottle and the focus can be on the overall story with varying amounts of attention paid to the details It would have been nice to get a better overview of who everyone is and how they fit together much of the conflicts that appear involve people who are around for a year or two are influential and then leave but since the goal is to produce a history told in individual s recollections and stories rather than in a cohesive narrative this is not a major issue While not perfect the book is a fascinating read of anyone interested in the history of The Simpsons as a show and how Fox became the House that Bart built My review is now up at Popmatters hereA preview Imagine you are waiting tables at a wedding reception You wander among the tables filling glasses and laying down plates of food You are likely to hear snippets of conversation most likely about the bride and groom about their families about their past their plans their future What you hear will likely be out of context sometimes probably even incorrect contradictory The groom works for a bank No he s in real estate The bride may or may not be done with medical school An uncle his hers you didn t hear may be an alcoholic Or is he just melancholicYou finish serving the guests You go home You think about the newlyweds Would you say you Aliens Among Us know them or learned much about them Would you even be able to recall from whom you obtained your facts John Ortved wants your answer to be yes He wants this to be your answer because the style in which he has written The Simpsons An Uncensored Unauthorized History is an oral history In other words 99 per cent of his book is direct uotes from the people involved This style of reportage uote after uote after uote produces an exhausting book that does little to expand on the idea that news flash television is a collaborative business with massive egos involved Enjoyed some chapters not all Matt Groening a loyal customer of my store told me that he would in no way support Ortved and his book He d been approached to contribute and he refused Groening explained those that had declined an interview with Ortved were either written out of the book s Simpsons history or straight up slandered It s clear who Ortved resents There is no objective voice in t I haven t gone near The Simpsons for about 12 years When I was 11 or 12 and Sky started showing The Simpsons and I was lucky enough to have cable and The Simpsons was The Greatest Thing I Ever Done Seen I would tape every show and obsessively rewatch it sucking up the jokes over and over and loving every reference I did and didn t get If Inow from funny about 18 22% of that is down to these guys But something terrible happened to The Simpsons after 8 or 9 years It lost its soul and went from being about an idiot who loves his family even though he s an idiot to being about an idiot who is an idiot and does things that are idiotic irrespective of his family Even when it was funny. Animators writers actors directors producers executives and celebrity guest stars everyone from Rupert Murdoch down all offer their opinions insights and storiesPositively fizzing with indiscretions and intrigue here at last is the book that legions of Simpsons fans have been waiting
A Series Of Recollections And Vignettes We
John Ortved Ï 6 charactersUotes found in various places
those still working on the show is very interesting making the book hard to down It s almost like being at a friend s house while her family is arguing you True Paradise know it s none of your business you don t want this discussion to taint your view of certain members of the family but for some reason you just can t tune them out This book is NOT for regular Simpsons fans it s really for the gossip loving People magazine set It s for people who want tonow what was going on with Fox in the late eighties and nineties and this the late eighties and nineties And this definitely should only be read by critical thinkers it is biased Big time Ortved andor his editors make some pretty glaring mistakes names of characters are wrong not just spelling as in the case of Karl voiced by Harvey Fierstein in the episode Simpson and Delilah but Waylon Smithers is called Wayland He doesn t now his Patty from his Selma and at one point a hilarious spellcheck error occurs where parody is the intended word but parity is the word used I plan to show this one to my students as another reason why they shouldn t place all their trust in spellcheck With all these errors it s hard to trust the author These mistakes have damaged his credibility making the fact that there is no context for most of his uotes even harder to take and specious He places uotes with no uestions and usually no dates attached in a particular order and manner as if to create conflict and argument between speakers when such differing of opinion may or may not exist For all the reader nows the words could have been uttered by the speakers ten minutes or ten years apart For all the reader Croatie : Cte Adriatique, Dalmatie knows the uotes were unsolicited rants or grudging responses to leading uestions There is no way tonow Perhaps most striking about the subjectivity in this book is the degree to which the author overtly dislikes Matt Groening As a reader who s never met the author I should have no idea who at the show he likes and who he doesn t but I do Early in the book Ortved includes uotes by people who have negative things to say about Groening and others who ve worked on the show which in itself is not problematic It s the continued snide remarks Ortved makes throughout the book that show his personal opinion about Groening that contribute to the damage to his credibility I also take issue with Ortved talking about the golden age of The Simpsons the seasons they were at their prime as if it s fact that there actually was one In fact he never actually defines the golden age for his readers and frankly every Simpsons fan I Jonathan Visits the White House know will tell you different seasons episodes maybe even writers directors and showrunners depending on their level of fandom that were the best in their view It seems Ortved is a self ordained expert on which writers showrunners etc arewere the best which isn t fair or right Friends arguing between themselves about any TV show or any other work of art don t allow thatind of take my word on it mentality if a friend tells me he or she likes certain seasons better than others they better give their criteria If I insist on logical definable criteria from my friends you better believe I demand them from journalists And any good journalist should now better than to try to get away with that ind of sloppy subjectivity Thoroughly enjoyed this book I feel like I have a much informed and realistic idea of how the series got its start and all the primary players Took a few chapters to get into it definitely see some of the author s opinion showing through in places a bit too obviously but I like how it s a collection of from the mouth of sources and shows especially how malleable and fickle memory can be when recalling events and situations Would definitely recommend for any fans of the Simpsons or animation history The way Ortved has tied together uotes from people formerly part of The Simpsons inner circle as well as uotes found in various places by those still working on the show is very interesting making the book hard to put down It s almost like being at a friend s house while her family is arguing you Από τη Μήδεια στη Σταχτοπούτα, Η ιστορία του φαλλού know it s none of your business you don t want this discussion to taint your view of certain members of the family but for some reason you just can t tune them out This book is NOT for regular Simpsons fans it s really for the gossip loving People magazine set It s for people who want tonow what was going on with Fox in the late eighties and nineties And this book definitely should only be read by critical thinkers it is biased Big time Ortved andor his editors make some pretty glaring mistakes names of c Amazingly considering that The Simpsons has been on the air for 20 years now there has been no official or authorized history of the show writte. Tum of the series to reveal the mechanics and politics of how The Simpsons became of global significance from Matt Groening drawing his first Homer on the ride over to pitch the show to Conan O'Brien and the other Harvard comedy geniuses taking us into the daily life of the writing room. ,by those still working on The Show Is Very Interesting show is very interesting the book hard to
John Ortved is an atrocious author Although his book is presented as an oral history he repeatedly interjects with his own commentary Granted sometimes this must be done to help set the scene or clear up facts but "Ortved throws so much of his own smug opinions into the proceeding that I had to fight " throws so much of his own smug opinions into the proceeding that I had to fight finish the damn thing It s not even that I disagree with his opinionsAlthough I do disagree with several Many are off topic and petty Here s an example Ortved is talking about how the actors get paid and he makes reference to Ray Romano s show WHICH HE DESCRIBES AS THE MOST he describes as the most named sitcom of all time Everybody Loves Raymond Not everybody Trust me I don t care for Everybody Loves Raymond either but including this petty little dig in his book makes Ortved seem incredibly unprofessional Also in an attempt to show us how important and groundbreaking The Simpsons was he undersells the importance skill and craft of animation that preceded it Look at this excerptUnlike Looney Tunes or Tom and Jerry where the humor was mostly slapstick the writing in The Simpsons scripts reuired a whole new level of attention from the animators Comedy on The Simpsons often came from the reaction of the characters in exchanges of dialogue or in layered subtle jokes the humor was no longer as simple to animate as a coyote falling off a cliffOrtved is doing a serious disservice to the skill and attention to detail animators had during the golden age of animation The content of the interviews begins to paint an interesting picture of how the show came about but there just isn t enough good here to overcome Ortved Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcentercom I am the original author of this essay as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted illegallyAlthough the staff of the cultural touchstone The Simpsons has done a good job over the years of eeping it uiet the fact is that there s been plenty of drama and infighting behind the scenes of that show now officially the longest running prime time television program in history that s the subject of this new uncensored unauthorized history by hacky entertainment reporter John Ortved and to his credit he legitimately dishes up the dirt revealing among other things that series creator Matt Groening has never actually written a Simpsons script that most agree that Sam Simon has had the single greatest influence over the show s look and feel yet was forced out anyway over personality conflicts and that although the show has an infamous clause in its contract barring FOX executives from making changes to episodes there have been plenty of times that FOX has threatened to simply cancel the show altogether unless certain changes were made which they indeed were But unfortunately this is also the case of a 150 page book that s been also the case of a 150 page book that s been out to 300 pages for commercial purposes which really drags the manuscript down during these sometimes giant sections just to cite one example there s an entire chapter here on the various other prime time cartoons that have been green lighted over the years because of The Simpsons success which frankly I could ve cared less about A good book to borrow instead of buy this comes recommended to any fan of that foul mouthed yellow family as long as you re prepared to skip around a lot while reading itOut of 10 80 I m about 60 pages away from finishing this thing and I gotta say that it s a MUST for SIMPSONS fans You ll zip through it And you might not believe how big of a DICK this thing paints Matt GroeningPut together as an oral history it s simply a set of chronological interviews but it s a great behind the scenes of the internal workings of this Mayflower of animation From the get go Ortved tells us this is NOT a book about how to write comedy for television simply a historical account But there s some great insight into the writer s room anywayTwo big complaintsThe author s exposition spread throughout the book Comparatively it s probably 70% author storytelling and 30% interviews This makes the read a little clunky since most oral histories I ve read in the past Please Kill Me Live From New York We Got the Neutron Bomb etc let the people who lived it tell a majority of the story Lack of Swartzwelder The book is 290 pages long and although we hear mention of him occasionally throughout when it gets time to give this enigmatic genius his due it s reduced to a measly 4 12 pages Meanwhile George Meyer and others get scads of attention I would ve liked to hear from Hank Azaria and the voice castThe best section The Conan years Some of the shit that guy got away with is priceless The way Ortved has tied together uotes from people formerly part of The Simpsons inner circle as well as. The Simpsons is the world's most popular entertainment phenomenon regularly voted on both sides of the Atlantic as the best TV show ever made Simpsons Confidential is the uncensored unauthorised oral history of the show from the people who made it happen It takes you into the inner sanc.