The 500th Episode Scoring Session

  • Gunsmoke – Weekly Scripted Prime-Time Drama – 635 episodes
    final episode aired March 31, 1975
  • Meet the Press – Weekly News/Talk – 4991 episodes – still running
  • As the World Turns – Daily scripted Daytime Drama – 13,858 episodes
    final episode aired September 17, 2010
  • The Tonight Show – Daily Late-Night Entertainment-Variety
    10,680 episodes – still running
  • The Today Show – Daily Morning News/Talk/Entertainment
    17,937 episodes – still running
  • The Simpsons – Weekly Scripted Prime-Time comedy – still running
    498 episodes (as of February 5, 2012)

As you can see from the above list, we are the baby of the group and in very lofty company. We spotted PABF07 “At Long Last Leave” on Friday, January 27, 2012. The episode is written by Michael Price and will air as the 500th episode of the series on Sunday, February 19, 2012 on FOX. Music-wise, there are 31 cues in the show including a couple of cues provided by a special musical guest and, as I’m sure you would expect, a special cue for a very special couch gag.

All of that info, while interesting, doesn’t begin to describe how monumental this achievement is. I know that may sound corny or overblown, but let me break it down a bit for you.

500 half-hour episodes at about 23 minutes each means we’ve produced just over 191 hours of programming. If the average feature film runs about 100 minutes, that means we’ve produced the equivalent of 114 feature films in 22.5 years, and all animated to boot! Each show has, on average, 5 minutes of music. that’s 2500 minutes or over 40 solid hours of music written, copied, performed, recorded, edited and mixed. The show employs literally hundreds of people in America and Korea and every job has to be coordinated on a weekly basis so that the show airs on time, in its finished form. We’ve never missed an airdate.

I know that it’s popular these days on some fansites on the Interwebs to not only bash the show for having overstayed its welcome, but to go so far as to call for its cancellation. I am way too involved in the show’s history and invested its future to be even remotely objective when commenting on such things, but I’ll try. Indulge me for a moment.

The Internet now allows anyone with a computer and an ISP to voice their opinions on whatever subject they choose in a very public and far-reaching way. In the old days, your only shot at having such a voice was to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper and maybe it would get published and maybe some of your friends or family would read it. Today: think, type, hit “Tweet” or “Share” and it’s out there for the whole world to see. I am all for the free exchange of opinion when it comes to discussing our show (or any subject for that matter), but I get a little cranky when I read passionate calls for ending the show. Why, in heaven’s name, don’t people who dislike or are so disappointed by the show just stop watching? Believe me, I get it … it’s fun to have your criticisms posted and read on-line. And, truthfully, I think all the angst is just going back and forth between those people. I don’t believe anyone at FOX or THE SIMPSONS reads the posts and takes them seriously. But still, I come in direct contact on a weekly basis with at least 100 different people who work hard making an honest living producing THE SIMPSONS. Calling for its end is also asking to put all these people out of a job. Oh yes, the upper 1% of the folks who work on the show are making $$ the likes of which you and I can only dream about. The rest of us? We make a good, but unstable living. The show could be canceled at any time on a whim by the studio or the producers or even the cast. When bloggers or forum posters call for the cancellation of the show, that means a half-hour on Sunday nights on FOX will need to be filled with something else. Hey, there’s no guarantee that what will go in that slot will be any better than what’s there now. FOX believes in the show enough to keep it going a couple more years and they have to put up the money – bloggers and posters don’t have that kind of vested interest in it. If you loved the show in its “golden age” and can’t bear to watch its “decline” in recent years, then pop in a season 3 DVD and enjoy it. Then watch a recent episode, blog about how awful it is by comparison, but please leave it at that and let me and all my colleagues keep working as long as FOX and the American viewing public will allow.

OK, stepping off the soapbox now.

How about some 500th episode behind-the-scene peeks? Alf expressed his gratitude to the orchestra during the scoring session, then received a very nice symbol of gratitude from the Musicians’ Union. I captured it all on video for you.

I also whipped out my still camera during the session. My wife, Michelle, and I happily snapped away during the scoring session. The gallery below includes photos of some of the people who work so hard to make the music sound so good every week. Just click on any photo to see an enlargement.

OK. I’ve gotten a lot off my chest this time. I’m going to have a little time off from working on the show as episode 499 is already finished and episode 500 will be finished on Tuesday, February 7. The next music spotting will be for episode 501 on February 16. But between now and then I’ll be going to the party for cast & crew celebrating our big milestone. I’ll have my cameras with me again and I’ll share more fun with you soon.

17 thoughts on “The 500th Episode Scoring Session

  1. Hey,
    I know that this is sort of unrelated and I’m not sure if you’re able to tell us but here goes anyway. Evanna Lynch was at the 500th episode yellow carpet event and The Simpsons official Facebook page claims she’s a guest voice on the show. Does this mean she is a future season 23 guest star? Again, if you’re not allowed to tell us, that’s fine, but there is already speculation around her.


  2. The negativity about the show is due to the fact the writers don’t seem to care anymore about putting in effort. The writing has become incredibly lazy and borderline insulting to the intelligence of the viewers, a show that used to be one of the smartest and funniest shows on television, a gold standard not only for animated shows but live action sitcoms as well. The dialogue has become incredibly unnatural, with the writers trying to cram in some lame joke with every line, and the voice acting has become tired without that same energy it once had because of it. I still watch the show and bit of a Simpsons apologist, I mean, I think the show’s great up to season 16, which alot of fans would cite as the decline being much earlier, but everything about the show is just tired, stale and repetitive now – with a lot of great shows being cancelled after two or three seasons, if that, it’s unfair that The Simpsons gets to coast along on autopilot because of it it’s glory days which are long gone. I don’t wish for people to lose their jobs; I just think the writers/producers are letting the team down by allowing the show to get stale and mostly unfunny.

    • I have absolutely no beef with your observations about the show as stated here. I don’t agree with all of your points, but, as I said in the post, I’m not offended by thoughtful criticism. No one, certainly not me, is asking you to say you enjoy the show if you sincerely don’t. I stand behind my rhetorical question of “why watch” if it brings you no joy. If you only watch so that you can later complain about it, I find that disingenuous. If you continue to watch in the hopes that it will get better, how many times do you have to be jilted at the altar before you decide it’s time to move on? I’m glad you don’t want anyone to lose their jobs, so I hope you are not one of the voices calling for the show’s cancellation. I appreciate that you read my blog and hope you’ll comment again in the future.

    • There’s an old saying that there are people in the world who aren’t happy until everyone else around them is as miserable as they are.

      Thanks for the congrats and for the good wishes. From your lips…

  3. I feel a bit sad for the people who apparently have been watching The Simpsons for over a decade without feeling any joy of the show. If you hate a show, then stop watching it. It is as simple as that.

    I reckon that the show’s batting average is lower than the early seasons, but it still makes me laugh. It must be incredible hard to come up with something entirely new after 500 episodes, but the show still manages to do something like “The Book Job”. I hope we will enjoy The Simpsons for many years to come.

    • I agree. Why watch a show (or do anything not required of you) that you don’t enjoy? As I said in the post, I think it’s for the perverse joy of bashing it on the Internet and having your words read by others.

      I thought “The Book Job” was very clever and well-produced in all areas. I like how the show is using guest stars in larger (i.e. non-cameo) roles this year.

      Thanks for your thoughts and for the support.

    • Guessing (after doing a little research) that you’re not really guessing at all! I can’t keep up with what has and hasn’t been released to the press, so I always err on the side of caution.

      You are correct.

  4. Thanks for getting on your soapbox. I appreciate what you had to say.

    I quite agree – and in addition to what you said I think it’s in such poor taste to leave anonymous negative comments online whether you are talking about a fictional cartoon or rating a restaurant or hotel. Don’t those people have a life with better things to do? Not to mention it’s just bad karma to leave anonymous negative comments.

    I wonder how many of them would say that to someone’s face if they weren’t hiding behind their computer screen.

    • Thanks for the support. As I said in the post, negative comments don’t bother me. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. I do agree that you should be man/woman enough to put your name on a negative comment. Stand up for what you believe, be it positive or negative!

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