The Simpsons Guy: The Crossover
Ron Seifried | On 13, May 2014
The Family Guy has been accused of ripping off The Simpsons since its premiere, but now the two “competing” animation series will get the ultimate mashup treatment with the one-hour special on Fox airing this September. Dubbed “The Simpsons Guy”, the special will take place in The Family Guy timeslot. Recently previewed sight-gags included Bart Simpson teaching Stewie how to skateboard, and an all-out brawl between the two family patriarchs, Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin.
At Monday’s FOX upfront presentation, Chairman Kevin Reilly gave an update accompanied by some brief inaudible clips on what will probably be one of the highest rated series premiere this fall season. Gearing up for their 27th season and the longest running scripted show on television, The Simpsons need a boost to their sagging ratings, and this is yet another attempt for the yellow-toned nuclear family to crash with another successful franchise.
FOX also revealed their new Simpsons app with FX that will stream all 552 episodes of The Simpsons.
This is not a first for fictional crossover, but it may start a new trend in stretching out the lifespan of once original programming. In the past, TV crossovers focused on brief cameos, with an eye toward a spinoff series. This was a popular concept in the 1970’s, with hit shows like “All in the Family,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Happy Days” expanding their worlds across time zones and geographical locations to reach a wider audience.
Mashups in film date back over 80 years, with Universal Studios combining their collection of monsters Frankenstein, Dracula and Wolf Man over a series of subpar movies. The format even crossed overseas, with King Kong duking it out with Godzilla. There is even talk over at 20th Century Fox of crossing over storylines between X-Men and the soon-to-be rebooted Fantastic Four feature films.
This new approach may become the new normal if the ratings reach its full potential. The age of sequels, reboots and remakes have once again blocked more opportunities for compelling, original content. As long as two or more shows are owned by one source, the mashup may become as ubiquitous as the variety show of years long gone. And this potential trend gets its genesis from the web and the plethora of YouTube videos, created by loyal fans with access to cheap editing software, DVD library’s and endless free time to create some fascinating conceptual mashup trailers.
TV execs without any real talent and looking to extend their accidental careers and look to the these videos with millions of hits for trends that may work on the “professional” level. But don’t be surprised if the nameless web video producers create superior projects. Access to the same technology as the pros, lifts the crowd-sourcing public out of the tedious of broadcast and into the realm of web as they become more bored with what the major studios output.
The public will know if the show is any good within the first few minutes, and hashtag the bejesus out of on Twitter and Instagram. If it doesn’t start strong, ratings will drop in the second half hour as it trends negatively.
But the combination of Seth MacFarlane, Matt Groening and their respective teams may give a much-needed boost to the tired prime-time animation format. Either way, I will be tuning in this September.