The Simpsons (season 23)
The Simpsons' twenty-third season began airing on Fox on September 25, 2011, and ended May 20, 2012. The showrunner for the season was Al Jean, with three episodes ran with Matt Selman, one of those he also wrote himself. The show's 500th episode, "At Long Last Leave", aired February 19, 2012.
|The Simpsons (season 23)|
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|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||22|
|Original release||September 25, 2011– May 20, 2012|
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.
|487||1||"The Falcon and the D'ohman"||Matthew Nastuk||Justin Hurwitz||September 25, 2011||NABF16||8.08|
|Homer befriends the nuclear plant's newest hire – a security guard with ties to the CIA and a painful backstory involving the Ukrainian Mafia. Meanwhile, Marge dreams of appearing on Top Chef and the results to the "Will Ned Flanders and Edna Krabappel Stay Together" contests are revealed.
Guest Stars: Tom Colicchio, Kevin Michael Richardson and Kiefer Sutherland
|488||2||"Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts"||Steven Dean Moore||Tim Long||October 2, 2011||NABF17||6.19|
|Principal Skinner challenges Superintendent Chalmers to get Bart to be excited about learning something (anything) after Bart's latest pranks -- and finds it in the form of teaching Bart about the life and times of Theodore Roosevelt. However, when Chalmers' unorthodox teaching methods get him fired, it is up to Bart and the rest of the students who have been motivated by Chalmers to reinstate him.
Guest stars: John Kricfalusi (credited for animating this episode's couch gag) and Theodore Roosevelt (through archival footage and audio recordings)
|489||3||"Treehouse of Horror XXII"||Matthew Faughnan||Carolyn Omine||October 30, 2011||NABF19||8.10|
|In this year's introduction, Homer gets his arm pinned under a boulder, makes a 911 call to someone who's been in a similar scenario, and must gnaw his way to freedom. In "The Diving Bell and the Butterball," Homer is put in a coma by a black widow spider bite and finds a new, smelly way to communicate. Next, Flanders gets a call from God to rid the world of sinners by murdering them in '"Dial D for Diddly." Finally, Bart and Milhouse must infiltrate an alien planet by posing as the natives in the Avatar parody, "In the Na'vi."
Guest Stars: Jackie Mason and Aron Ralston
|490||4||"Replaceable You"||Mark Kirkland||Stephanie Gillis||November 6, 2011||NABF21||7.97|
|Homer gets a new assistant named Roz who is secretly out to steal his job. Meanwhile, Bart and Martin create a robot seal that becomes a hit with the elderly crowd at the Springfield Retirement Center.
Guest Star: Jane Lynch
|491||5||"The Food Wife"||Timothy Bailey||Matt Selman||November 13, 2011||NABF20||7.50|
|Tired of doing "mom" things and being much less fun for the kids than Homer, Marge takes the family out to an Ethiopian restaurant and enjoys the food so much that she starts a food blog with Bart and Lisa, which hurts Homer's feelings -- and may do more than hurt him when Marge tricks Homer into thinking a rundown building housing a meth lab is a hip, new restaurant.
Guest Stars: Gordon Ramsay, Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim
|492||6||"The Book Job"||Bob Anderson||Dan Vebber||November 20, 2011||NABF22||5.77|
|When Lisa discovers that her favorite book series (the Angelica Button fantasy series as mentioned in "The Haw-Hawed Couple") is ghost-written by a group of publishers (with an actress as the "author"), Homer and Bart are inspired to do the same by getting a group of people to write a fantasy novel about ghouls in a prestigious academy -- but when an actual publisher plots to turn it into yet another vampire fiction book for tweens, Lisa, Bart, and Homer must save their original work from getting destroyed.
Guest Stars: Andy García and Neil Gaiman
|493||7||"The Man in the Blue Flannel Pants"||Steven Dean Moore||Jeff Westbrook||November 27, 2011||PABF01||5.61|
|Homer becomes Mr. Burns' accountant executive after a successful launch party for Absolut Krusty, becoming a good job for him. Robert Marlow (guest voice John Slattery), a seasoned account veteran, takes Homer under his wing and shows Homer what the high life is like in the corner office, and when Homer's long hours at the office become the norm, a family vacation with Marge and the kids help him realize that family always comes before work. Meanwhile, Lisa gets Bart interested in classic literature by reading him Little Women.
Guest Stars: Kevin Michael Richardson, John Slattery and Matthew Weiner
|494||8||"The Ten-Per-Cent Solution"||Michael Polcino||Deb Lacusta & Dan Castellaneta||December 4, 2011||PABF02||9.01|
|When Krusty the Clown's show gets canceled (yet again), Krusty reunites with his original agent and bitter former lover Annie Dubinsky, who gets him a gig on cable television. But when Krusty's retro comedy show reboot is deemed a critical success, Krusty must decide to stay with his agent or side with the network executives.
Guest Stars: Kevin Dillon, Janeane Garofalo, Jackie Mason and Joan Rivers
|495||9||"Holidays of Future Passed"||Rob Oliver||J. Stewart Burns||December 11, 2011||NABF18||6.43|
|The latest "look-into-the-future" episode sees Bart as a deadbeat dad living in Springfield Elementary (which is now an apartment complex instead of a school) and trying to be a good dad to the children he had with Jenda from "Future-Drama". Meanwhile, a pregnant, unwed Maggie (who is now a pop singing superstar) goes into labor while on her way to family dinner and Lisa tries to find a common bond with her rebellious teenage daughter, Zia.|
|496||10||"Politically Inept, with Homer Simpson"||Mark Kirkland||John Frink||January 8, 2012||PABF03||5.07|
|Video footage of Homer ranting about being harassed by TSA agents and forced to sit on a grounded plane for seven hours (due to airport incompetence) goes viral and lands Homer on cable television as a political pundit with his own show. But when he stirs up mixed emotions with his planned endorsement of the next GOP Presidential candidate, Marge and Lisa worry that Homer's opinion and influence might be more powerful than he realizes.
Guest Stars: Ted Nugent and Dana Gould
|497||11||"The D'oh-cial Network"||Chris Clements||J. Stewart Burns||January 15, 2012||PABF04||11.48|
|Lisa wants more friends and starts her own social network website called SpringFace, but when it turns everyone into an online addict, Lisa begins to realize that adding thousands of friends online did not compare to having real friendships. Meanwhile, Patty and Selma compete against the Winklevoss twins for the 2012 Olympics.
Guest Stars: Armie Hammer, David Letterman and The Tiger Lillies
|498||12||"Moe Goes from Rags to Riches"||Bob Anderson||Tim Long||January 29, 2012||PABF05||5.12|
|Moe's bar rag tells the story of how it went from being part of a medieval tapestry to being Moe's most used prop. Meanwhile, Milhouse's friendship with Bart is strained after he compares Milhouse to Moe's bar rag.
Guest Star: Jeremy Irons
|499||13||"The Daughter Also Rises"||Chuck Sheetz||Rob LaZebnik||February 12, 2012||PABF06||4.26|
|Lisa falls in love with Nick, an intellectual romantic, and starts a secret romance with him. Meanwhile, Bart and Milhouse team up with the gang from MythCrackers to debunk some urban schoolyard legends.
Guest Stars: Michael Cera, Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage
|500||14||"At Long Last Leave"||Matthew Nastuk||Michael Price||February 19, 2012||PABF07||5.77|
|In the 500th episode, the Simpsons stumble upon a secret town meeting where everyone is voting to throw them out of Springfield. As a result, they find themselves in an off-the-grid community, and when Homer and Marge try to sneak back into Springfield, they are welcomed with hostility from their former friends and neighbors and begin to appreciate their new and more accepting home.
Guest Stars: Julian Assange, Allison Krauss and Union Station, Kelsey Grammer and Jackie Mason
|501||15||"Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart"||Steven Dean Moore||Marc Wilmore||March 4, 2012||PABF09||5.09|
|After being forced to spend some time in a rabbit cage for a prank he didn't commit, Bart exacts revenge by spraypainting unflattering caricatures of Homer all over town, which become a sensation with real-life graffiti artists Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Kenny Scharf, and Robbie Conal. Meanwhile, Apu's Kwik-E-Mart is in danger of shutting down when it faces competition from a health-food supermarket.
Guest Stars: Shepard Fairey, Ron English, Kenny Scharf and Robbie Conal
|502||16||"How I Wet Your Mother"||Lance Kramer||Billy Kimball & Ian Maxtone-Graham||March 11, 2012||PABF08||4.97|
|In this Simpsonized parody of Inception, Homer develops a bed-wetting problem, which he thinks is karmic payback for getting everyone in trouble for stealing office supplies at work, but a trip through Homer's dreams reveals that Homer's embarrassing problem is connected with a childhood memory involving a fishing trip gone wrong and Homer's deceased mother, Mona.
Guest Stars: Glenn Close and David Byrne
|503||17||"Them, Robot"||Michael Polcino||Michael Price||March 18, 2012||PABF10||5.25|
|To get out of paying for employee drug tests, Mr. Burns fires all of his employees (except for Homer, who is kept on as a scapegoat) and replaces them with robot workers; when a bored Homer ups the robots interactive and AI features, all hell breaks loose.
Guest Star: Brent Spiner
|504||18||"Beware My Cheating Bart"||Mark Kirkland||Ben Joseph||April 15, 2012||PABF11||4.86|
|Bart finds himself the object of affection to a girl who is dating school bully Jimbo Jones. Meanwhile, Homer buys a state-of-the-art treadmill that gets wireless TV and uses the treadmill to binge-watch a "Lost"-style show rather than exercise.
Guest Star: Kevin Michael Richardson with a special couch gag done by Bill Plympton
|505||19||"A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again"||Chris Clements||Matt Warburton||April 29, 2012||PABF12||5.00|
|To alleviate his boredom with life, Bart begs the family to go on a cruise trip, and the Simpsons sell their most prized possessions to pay for it. But when Bart realizes the trip only lasts a week and that his life will be nothing after that, he resorts to drastic measures to keep the vacation going.
Guest Star: Treat Williams and Steve Coogan
|506||20||"The Spy Who Learned Me"||Bob Anderson||Marc Wilmore||May 6, 2012||PABF13||4.84|
|After a disastrous date night at the movies, Homer suffers a head injury the next day at work and, during his eight weeks off to recover (about which he does not tell Marge), sees visions of a super-suave superspy named Stradivarius Cain, who gives Homer lessons on being the husband of Marge's dreams. Meanwhile, Nelson uses a Smart Phone to shake down kids for their lunch money, and Bart gets revenge on Nelson by feeding him Krusty Burger's nutritionally dubious food.
Guest Stars: Bryan Cranston and Eric Idle
|507||21||"Ned 'n Edna's Blend"||Chuck Sheetz||Jeff Westbrook||May 13, 2012||PABF15||4.07|
|Ned Flanders and Edna Krabappel elope after months of dating, and Marge later organizes a proper marriage reception for them, which becomes a problem when the many couples of Springfield bring their many personal crises to the party. Meanwhile, Mrs. Krabappel-Flanders helps Rod and Todd make new friends.|
|508||22||"Lisa Goes Gaga"||Matthew Schofield||Tim Long||May 20, 2012||PABF14||4.82|
|Eccentric pop star Lady Gaga stops by Springfield to help Lisa (who was voted Springfield Elementary's least popular student and is now more of an outcast thanks to ghost-writing positive messages on the school's online forum) and the rest of the town boost their self-esteem.
Guest Star: Lady Gaga
The season premiere episode "The Falcon and the D'ohman" features a reference to the previous episode of the series, the twenty-second season finale "The Ned-Liest Catch" that aired May 22, 2011. In that episode, the characters Ned Flanders and Edna Krabappel started dating. The episode ends with Homer and Marge Simpson giving the viewers a link to the official The Simpsons website, TheSimpsons.com, and encouraging them to go on the website and vote over the summer of 2011 on whether Ned and Edna should stay together. Executive producer Al Jean said in an interview that the writers decided it would not be interesting for them to do another episode where a relationship ended, and they thought it would be interesting "to see what people think, the Internet certainly has a lot of opinion on the show, might as well have them have their say". When asked why the writers thought Ned and Edna were the right characters for a cliffhanger like this, Jean said that "In life, unusual things happen. People couple together in ways you would not expect, and he's single and she's single. We thought it would be funny, the fact that they both have these connections to the Simpsons but they never really met or if they have met it was minimal." The result of the poll were revealed in "The Falcon and the D'ohman". According to Jean, the poll was "very strong in one direction". He assured in an interview before the result was presented that the poll was authentic and the writers would not undo the viewers' decision, and added that "What our fans have joined together, let no writer tear asunder."
20th Century Fox Television released a statement on October 4, 2011, saying that "23 seasons in, The Simpsons is as creatively vibrant as ever and beloved by millions around the world. We believe this brilliant series can and should continue, but we cannot produce future seasons under its current financial model. We are hopeful that we can reach an agreement with the voice cast that allows The Simpsons to go on entertaining audiences with original episodes for many years to come." One of the problems was that The Simpsons was possibly worth more cancelled than on the air. A 17-year-old syndication deal with local TV stations prohibits Fox from selling the show to cable networks. As long as The Simpsons still produces new episodes, Fox cannot break this deal. In the meantime, cable networks have grown to become just as big a market as the local TV stations. Another consideration was that Fox's parent company News Corporation was having meetings discussing the possibility of a cable channel that would only air The Simpsons episodes. Analysts consider a cancellation and subsequent second-run deal that includes cable networks to be worth $750 million. On this issue, Al Jean commented in an interview with TV Guide that "It's a big company, and there are definitely people whose interests would have been better served by ending it. Those interests were superseded because we're still valuable to the network in terms of our ratings."
For the negotiations, the studio requested that the cast members accept a 45% cut of their salaries so that more seasons could be produced after season 23, or else that season would be the series' last. The actors were willing to take a pay cut, but wanted a percentage of the back-end payments instead. At one point, Harry Shearer even offered a 70% pay cut in exchange for back-end percentages, but the studio was unwilling to make any deal involving back-end percentages. In the end, the studio and the actors reached a deal, in which the actors would take a pay cut of 30%, down to just over $300,000 per episode, renewing the show to its 25th season. As well as the voice actors, everybody involved in the show took a pay cut. This included the animators, writers, post-production crew and even Jean himself. The further use of digital animation also saved money, as the animation of the show became more efficient.
The season premiere episode "The Falcon and the D'ohman" originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on September 25, 2011. It was watched by approximately 8.08 million people during this broadcast. It received a 3.9 Nielsen rating in the demographic for adults aged 18–49, and a ten percent share. The ratings were up three percent compared to the last season's premiere. The Simpsons became the second highest-rated program in the 18–49 demographic in Fox's Animation Domination lineup that night, finishing before The Cleveland Show and American Dad! but after Family Guy. The Simpsons was, however, the most-watched show in the lineup in terms of total viewers.
During the twenty-third season, the cost of a 30-second advertising spot would be $254,260 in an original broadcast. It is the fifth-most expensive show for advertisers on Fox, with only American Idol, The X Factor, Glee and Family Guy being more expensive.
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