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The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special – In 3-D! On Ice!

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The Simpsons “Best. 20 Years. Ever” celebration culminated in January of 2010 with a documentary special entitled “The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special in 3D on Ice” which aired on January 14, 2010 - the 20th anniversary of the series’ debut (not counting the Christmas special, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire, that aired 2 weeks earlier).

Despite the title, the documentary is in 2D and not on ice until the end, where the family is seen skating (it is not seen on 3-D to us just to the Simpsons characters watching the TV). [2]


The documentary begins with a slew of amateur and professional cover versions of the show's theme song. (Among some of the covers are by Billy Gibbons and Dustin Hill of ZZ Top and Jimmy Fallon with the Roots.) During this montage of covers, notable personalities speak fondly of how The Simpsons have touched their lives. Morgan Spurlock then introduces himself and the concept of the documentary. Matt Groening, James L. Brooks and others discuss the origins of The Simpsons as "bumper" shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show. They then discuss their surprise at how successful the show became when it beat The Cosby Show in its timeslot. Spurlock discusses some of the hallmarks the show has received, and the phenomenon it has become.

Spurlock discusses the many memorable characters outside of the main family that The Simpsons has created. Some of the crew and celebrities and fans name their favorite characters. Spurlock visits Portland, Oregon, the inspiration for the town of Springfield, where he interviews the principal of the inspiration for Springfield Elementary School and Rusty Nails, the inspiration for Krusty the Clown. He also sees how The Simpsons also inspired Portland.

Spurlock discusses the fandom of the show. He interviews a fan who has a tattoo of Milhouse, which completely leaves Matt Groening baffled. ("Milhouse? A Milhouse tattoo? You've gotta be a committed fan to tattoo Milhouse on your arm.") But then he shows one Chad Rowland who has the most Simpsons tattoos on his back. He goes to the San Diego Comic-Con and mingles with the virg—I mean, ner—I mean fans there. He holds a casting session to find the most devoted fans. (One even does a dead-on impression of Homer.) Spurlock then moves on to the Simpsons collectors of the United States and then goes to England to meet Glynne Williams, who has the most Simpsons memorabilia on the face of the Earth! He then interviews Moby who has made thousands of interpretations of the Mr. Plow theme song, and we are treated to a sample of "a really embarrassing old-school hip-hop version of Mr. Plow."

Spurlock then discusses some of the times when The Simpsons may have crossed the line with its controversies. They touch briefly upon how the first George H. W. Bush wanted American families to be "more like the Waltons and less like the Simpsons." Bill Donohue of the Catholic League speaks openly about how he was offended by how The Simpsons have more than once parodied the Catholic Church. Spurlock then visits the nuclear power plant in Port Gibson, Mississippi where he interviews the control room supervisor who speaks of the many inaccuracies the show makes about the workings of the plant as well the myth of Blinky the three-eyed fish. A fake educational film is then shown discussing the episode "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish".

Spurlock then explores the popularity of Homer in the United States and how people outside of America see Homer as their perception of Americans. Spurlock then goes to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he goes to a real life Duff brewery. Matt Selman then gives a ridiculous theory about the Simpsons' popularity. Spurlock then asks fans about what the show teaches about family values. The romance between Homer and Marge is then analyzed. The crew then openly discuss some fans' claims about the Simpsons' decline in quality.

Spurlock then shows how the Simpsons have traveled all around the world. He then travels to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where they find that the entire city was offended by their portrayal in the episode Blame It on Lisa. He then travels to Glasgow and Aberdeen in Scotland, both territories claim to be the home of Groundskeeper Willie (their evidence pointing out clues in Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious and 'Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky).

Spurlock then asks a hypothetical question of what the world would be like if there would be no Simpsons, a question which was answered by many interviewees. Groening then summarizes his goal with The Simpsons. Back in Springfield, the Simpsons themselves are through watching the whole documentary and feel deceived. Homer particularly is upset that it was not in 3D as advertised (they were all wearing 3D glasses), and Marge is upset that there weren't any ice skaters. But then the television announcer instructs everyone to put on their 3D glasses, and we see ice skaters dressed as the Simpsons. At the Android's Dungeon, Comic Book Guy finishes watching it and takes off his 3D glasses and instead of saying that this was the "Worst. Documentary. Ever.", he "liked it."

During the credits, Conan O'Brien pitches how the series would end.

Content Edit

The film examines the "cultural phenomenon" of The Simpsons and includes interviews with both the cast and fans of the show. Morgan Spurlock says that despite the title, it "most likely will not be in 3-D nor on ice."

Production Edit


Director Morgan Spurlock was a fan of The Simpsons in his college days In 2009, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the premiere of The Simpsons, Fox announced that a year-long celebration of the show titled "Best. 20 Years. Ever" would run from January 14, 2009 to January 14, 2010. Morgan Spurlock, an Academy Award nominated documentary film maker (Best Documentary Feature for Super Size Me in 2004) and fan of The Simpsons since his college days, was asked to direct the special in February 2009. The producers of The Simpsons were impressed with an animated sequence in Spurlock's 2008 film Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? and decided to ask him to direct the special. Spurlock immediately accepted the offer, describing the opportunity as "the coolest thing I could ever get to do in my career." The special was later announced in July 2009. The producers spent several months deciding on the content and format of the film. Spurlock believes "the reason [the producers] called [him] to begin with was to not have a show that would be a glad-hand, pat-everyone-on-the-back special, that's why rooting it in the people who kept this show on the air for the last 20 years is important."


Plans for the special include interviews with fans from ten to fifteen countries. Filming of the special began at Comic-Con 2009 in San Diego. A casting call for fans was held on July 25, 2009, with the hopes of finding "some of the most incredible super-fans that the world has ever seen." Spurlock has filmed interviews with a man who grew real life "Tomacco" (a mix of Tobacco and tomato, based on the episode "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)"), the man with the most Simpsons tattoos and a couple that had a Simpsons-themed wedding. On August 12, 2009, Spurlock attended a Pacific Coast League baseball game between the Albuquerque Isotopes and Tacoma Rainiers at Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Isotopes' name was inspired by the season 12 episode "Hungry Hungry Homer", where Homer attempts to thwart the Springfield Isotopes' plan to move to Albuquerque. Subsequently, when an Albuquerque Tribune online survey helped the team decide its new name, "Isotopes" received 67 percent of the 120,000 votes. Spurlock filmed several scenes in both Glasgow and Aberdeen, Scotland. Both cities have claimed to be the home of character Groundskeeper Willie, based on various bits of dialogue from the series. He also conducted tongue-in-cheek interviews with former Lord Provost of Glasgow Liz Cameron and Aberdeen FC manager Mark McGhee.

Promo ImagesEdit

Citations Edit

  1. [1]
  2. Kung, Michelle (2009-07-13). Morgan Spurlock Spills the Beans on his Upcoming “Simpsons” Doc. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved on 2009-10-04.

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