We all worry about the folks who create The Simpsons running out of ideas. (Well, those of us who do not believe that’s already happened worry about it.) If truth be told, the series is just not as consistently funny as it used to be. How much longer can it possibly go on?
Last night as I was watching the show, a solution struck me. What if all the characters changed? I mean, what if they shook up the show with some season-ender that just changed everything, and then picked up from there the following season, and stuck with the changes? It would be sort of like that trick they pulled on you in the original Legend of Zelda
, where, at game’s end, you were suddenly told
there was a second quest to fulfill. And in that second quest, all the locations were the same, and yet different; all the characters were the same, and yet different.
Imagine: Springfield outlaws nuclear power, doing away with Homer’s job and reducing Mr. Burns to a beggar. Mayor Quimby is impeached and removed from office. Moe finally comes out of the closet and declares his love for Smithers; they open a bed and breakfast while Barney takes over Moe’s tavern. The Simpsons win the lottery and move into Mr. Burns’s mansion. Maggie (but no one else) suddenly ages a few years and is no longer completely dependent on Marge, who celebrates her freedom by running for mayor. You get the idea. Now it’s your turn: What happens to Flanders? Grandpa? The Old Sea Captain? Perhaps some characters become more important than before, while others fade into obscurity (I nominate Reverend Lovejoy). Mightn’t all this get us ten years of fresh scripts?
Alas, history shows this approach isn’t a guaranteed creative jackpot: Recall the directionless second season of Twin Peaks, in which they changed most of the show’s characters drastically but couldn’t very well figure out what to do with them. Still, wouldn’t bizarro Simpsons someday be better than no Simpsons?