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”.
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”
- 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.