Friday, February 19, 2010

Is this the Beginning of Simpsons Shakespeare?

“Dial ‘Z’ for Zombies.” “Treehouse of Horror III.” By Sam Simon and Jon Vitti. Perf. Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, and Hank Azaria. Dir. Carlos Baeza. The Simpsons. Season 4, episode 5. Fox. 29 October 1992. DVD. Twentieth-Century Fox, 2008.
Yesterday's post reminded me that there were other connections between Shakespeare and The Simpsons. Although it's no longer available on Hulu, Sideshow Bob and Lisa had a marvelous exchange that centered on Macbeth. And I've heard (but I've never seen—isn't that shameful?) that a section titled "Do the Bard, Man" from "Tales from the Public Domain" (Season 13, Episode 14) tackles Hamlet!

The connection I'm posting today comes from the early days of the show. It's brief, but it's good. In this, the third Halloween special, Zombies invade the town. How Shakespeare's body got to Springfield is not explored in the episode itself, but I suspect that Mister Burnes purchased it on the black market as part of a phenomenal collection of Shakespeareana. In any case, Homer needs to vanquish Zombie Shakespeare, and he does so with the kind of clever line typical of horror films: "Show's over, Shakespeare." That line nicely calls attention to Shakespeare's role as dramatist rather than his role as literary icon. And Shakespeare's final line—a good rhetorical question—invites the audience to consider the possibility of a sequel!

video

Links: The Wikipedia article on the episode.

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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2012 by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest