Starting “The Man In the Blue Flannel Pants”

We spotted PABF01 “The Man In the Blue Flannel Pants” and scored NABF22 “The Book Job” yesterday, November 4, 2011. These two episodes will add big-name guest stars to the list of actors who have dropped by Springfield. Andy Garcia in “The Book Job” and John Slattery in “The Man In the Blue Flannel Pants”.Andy GarciaJohn Slattery

PABF01 “The Man In the Blue Flannel Pants” is scheduled to air on Sunday, November 27, 2011 (Thanksgiving Sunday) and will be the 7th episode of Season 23, #493 on the road to #500. This episode is what I call “music lite” because it is much more dialogue-driven and the music adds emotional shading here and there. One of the dirty little secrets about film scoring is that music is sometimes called upon to “save a scene”, meaning that the translation of a scene from page to screen didn’t quite work out as planned – for any number of reasons ranging from technical to performance – and music can be used to lift the scene (or even hide a blemish). But when the episode is well-scripted and the performances are really strong, then music can sometimes get in the way and water things down or, to use an old expression, “gild the lily“. Something people rarely think about is that silence is just as important in music as sound. When music goes on and on without a break, its impact is blunted. This episode offers a nice balance of dialogue and music. We’ll have 12 underscore cues (including a montage), 6 source cues, and 3 format cues for a total of just over five minutes of music.

Looking back to last week’s “Tree House” episode, here are a few of my observations and shares…

  • In the very first cue of the show, the melody was played by an actual Theremin. So what’s the big deal about that? In 22 years of Halloween episodes it was the FIRST TIME we used an actual Theremin. In all the seasons past, we were unable to locate a Theremin player who could work under the rigors of live scoring for a TV show with a very tight time budget. So, we would use a synthesizer keyboard with a Theremin “sample”. Every year Matt Groening was disappointed with the synth Theremin and every year I explained that we couldn’t find the right player. But last season, we were forced to find one when Peter Gaffney & Steve Viksten wrote a scene where Milhouse tries to woo Lisa by playing a Theremin in NABF13 “Homer Scissorhands”. Now we HAD to find a Theremin player – and we did. Thanks, Charles Richard Lester, for doing a great job on “Homer Scissorhands” and on “Tree House of Horror XXII”Charles Richard Lester & Milhouse play their Theremins
  • In case you didn’t know, the voice of the 911 dispatcher Homer called when he was trapped under the rock was Aron Ralston, the mountain climber who had to cut off his own arm to save his life. He wins my “best sense of humor” award for his Halloween Show credit: ARON “I GAVE MY RIGHT ARM TO BE ON THE SIMPSONS” RALSTUMP
  • I know that many people are divided over whether the “fart joke” story was funny or just plain juvenile. I’ll tell you what WAS funny: watching Al Jean and Matt Groening at the dubbing session picking just the right fart for each scene and tweaking (sorry) the timing and volume of each one.
  • The cast and crew of “Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark” was thrilled to get a mention in the episode.
  • The music for the parody of the “Dexter” main title sequence was the actual “Dexter” main title music by Rolfe Kent. The other Dexter-esque cues in the story were written by Alf Clausen.
  • Here’s some old news for long-time fans of the show, but maybe new to some of my readers: Did you notice that God has five fingers on each hand? God is the only character in the Simpsons universe with 5 fingers. Everybody else, in a nod to old animation tradition, has 4 fingers.
  • If you recorded the episode or can catch it on-demand on your cable or satellite system or want to watch it again on Hulu this week, pay close attention to the score for “In the Na’Vi”. I think it’s a fantastic score that sounds like it was recorded by an 80-piece orchestra, but we did it with our usual 35. Kudos to Alf’s writing, orchestrations by Dell Hake, Scott Clausen and Alf, and Rick Riccio’s recording and mixing.

OK, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, November sweeps is upon us and I’ve got lots of plates to keep spinning. More to come soon. Thanks for reading.

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19 thoughts on “Starting “The Man In the Blue Flannel Pants”

  1. The end track of the man in blue flannel pants is so beautiful i hit rewind several times and I have seriously enjoyed the music throughout this episode and like others tried to shazam to no avail. It is so lovely and really captures the 60’s high life glamour. Can not wait to download when it becomes available!!

    • Much of that score was composed in the style of the late, great Henry Mancini, who happens to be one of Alf Clausen’s idols. Alf composed the End Credits cue as well. We hope Fox releases some of Alf’s wonderful music for download someday.

    • The music in that episode was composed in the style of the late, great Henry Mancini who is one of Alf Clausen’s idols. Alf composed the End Credits cue as well and we hope that Fox will release some of Alf’s fabulous music for download someday soon.

  2. I know I’m joining the partly rather late, but there is something I simply must find out. At around 6 minutes 20 seconds into the episode (the scene where Homer moves into his new office) there is a beautifully light piece of music playing. Is there any chance you can help me identify the title name and artist? It would be most appreciated.

    • The name of the cue is “Change of Life”, composed by Alf Clausen. The music is in the style of “Moment to Moment” by Henry Mancini. We recorded an excerpt of Mancini’s “Moment to Moment” and used it later in the episode.

  3. Ah the internet is great, I too was looking for what song that was during the credits, nice work Chris, if Fox made it easier to send a note I’d do it as the song sounds great

  4. Good evening,
    sorry to insist, but the closing music is awesome and I have been trying to find out the song without any success despite using tools such as Shazam.
    Is this an original for the episode or a known melody?
    Thanks for your help, Martin

    • Hi Martin,

      The End Credits cue for “The Man in the Blue Flannel Pants” is simply titled “Flannel Pants End Credit Theme”, composed by Alf Clausen specifically for the episode. The music is in the style of Henry Mancini, and we used one of Mancini’s themes from “Moment to Moment” in the episode for the montage of Homer working at his new job. All music recorded for the show is owned and controlled by FOX and is not currently available for sale or download at this time. You can write to FOX and ask them to start releasing music for download and see what they have to say. In the meantime you can enjoy listening to it by watching the episode at HULU (beginning 12/5/2011), or HULU+, or you can download the full episode from the iTunes store. Thanks for your interest, I’m glad you’re enjoying the music.

      • I was also looking for the Clausen version of Moment to Moment during the rerun on March 25th. I tired to Shazzam it and got only an ad for Idol on my phone :(. Thanks for clearing that up. I REALLY would like to download it. I have ways to aquire it, but wouldn’t mind buying it.

      • I know, it’s disappointing that Alf’s music isn’t available for download. Maybe if enough fans wrote to the FOX music dept. they might find a way to release some of the music. Just don’t hold your breath. Sorry.

  5. Im trying to figure out where i can find the closing score of “The Man In the Blue Flannel Pants” episode. Alf Clausen did an amazing job. Wondering if that particular score is available anywhere for purchase or download.

    • Alas, no. Maybe in the near future it might be available on CD. If you’re a fan of the show then you know we’ve released three CDs of music from the show. If we ever produce a fourth, I feel confident that the end credits cue from “The Man in the Blue Flannel Pants” will be included. The music is in the style of Henry Mancini, one of Alf’s favorite composers. Thanks for your interest and for stopping by my blog.

  6. Hey, so this is totally off-topic but I’ve got a majorly geeky/obscure question about the show’s opening theme and there doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the blog where it makes any more sense to post it. It used to be there were four different-length recordings of the theme in use (the full, roughly 1:20 theme; a roughly 50-second theme, a shorter 30-second theme, and the shortest 20-second theme). What I’ve noticed for the last few seasons is that only the longest and shortest recordings ever seem to be used anymore. (In fact, according to snpp.com, the 30-second theme hasn’t been heard since season 16!) In recent seasons, when the opening is between 20 seconds and 1:20, you seem more inclined to use the 1:20 recording and just edit portions of it out, rather than use the actual 50- or 30-second recordings. Just wondering if there’s a reason for that. (Told ya it was geeky).

    • No worries, this is a really good (and yes, geeky) question.

      The “official” MT lengths we’ve recorded are: 1:18, 0:49, 0:28, and 0:22. In recent years, we’ve pretty much only used the 1:18 and the 0:22. Next-most used was 0:49 and the 0:28 was used only a few times.

      The reason I don’t use one of the alternative lengths when the MT gets edited is that I try to keep each part of the music tied to the same piece of animation as best I can. The 1:18 has all the parts, so I can pick the sections I need. Lately they’ve thrown me a couple of curveballs when it comes to the editing they’re doing, but I think I’ve been able to come up with suitable solutions.

      They even do it to me in the End Credits – we just finished dubbing NABF22 “The Book Job” and the End Credits music had to be shortened from its usual 0:40 to 0:15! My edit works pretty well, even if I do say so myself.

      Thanks for the great question and for reading the blog.

  7. Just some curiosity… How often do you find yourself called upon having to save a scene or a joke with music? In some of the episode commentaries on the DVDs you hear about problems with animation and having to save them by a last minute change… but I wonder how often there is a problem and a need for a quick “save” with music.

    BTW – because it was a THOH episode, I thought the “fart joke” story was funny. That sort of thing may not have worked as well in a “normal” episode… but because it was THOH I think it was very fitting for a story like that.

    Very cool on the Theremin player!

    • It’s a very rare thing on THE SIMPSONS to have to “save” a scene with music because the show is animated. There’s much more control over all the elements. In live action, sometimes the actor doesn’t quite perform up to the director’s standards and no amount of editing can mold the performance into what the director wants. This is when music can add an extra layer of emotion or story that can “save” the scene.

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