"Breaking Bad's" meth boss Walter White has some serious competition this Sunday when "The Simpsons" start cooking up their own blue stuff.
Fox has released a clip of the show's open, which will -- for one week only -- replace the animated comedy's popular couch gag. Instead of the Simpsons' hijinks ending with the family cramming onto their couch, this week's open kicks off with a depressed-looking Marge heading into the kitchen to cook up her own batch of the purest blue stuff she can -- cupcakes for the church bake sale. And just as with Heisenberg, the addictive item leads to a pile of money.
Mr. Burns is fully backing Mitt Romney for president.
By Anna Chan, TODAY
Excellent! One percenter Mr. Charles Montgomery Burns of "The Simpsons" has announced his candidate of choice just days away from the presidential election. No surprise, the nuclear power mogul has thrown his support behind fellow businessman Mitt Romney. (As you may recall, Homer Simpson earlier cast his vote for the same guy.)
In a new "Simpsons" short released by Fox on Thursday, Mr. Burns -- with some questionable "help" from loyal right-hand man Smithers -- attempts to make the case for the former governor of Massachusetts.
"There's only one thing that might deny us the presidency that is the God-given property of the Republican party," noted Mr. Burns. Smithers' reply? Practically every Romney ... umm... problem that has surfaced so far, from the "47 percent" tape, to the empty chair, Swiss bank accounts, tax returns and more. (Fun fact: Mr. Burns has his own stack of binders full of women!)
According to the wiry old mogul, none of those things will hurt the Republican candidate. What could lose Romney the presidency, according to Mr. Burns, is "a shaggy dog story about an actual shaggy dog." Yes, Seamus is back. Again. And this time, he's forced to choose between the "Dada" who strapped him to the top of a moving vehicle, or President Barack Obama.
The TV graveyard is a cold, dark place. Sometimes characters are put there during their wedding day, or after finally finding happiness, or right when they deserve it. Regardless of when it happens, we're here to talk about the how of it all.
Killing off character on television shows happen all the time, so when a series gets creative (or just really gross), then we sit up and take notice before covering our eyes. From a "golden crown" to zombies to a live spinal-ectomy, here is our list of 10 truly gruesome TV deaths, just in time for Halloween. Warning: obvious spoilers and grossness ahead (in text and videos)!
1. Sedullus on "Spartacus": This death would have been memorable had they stopped after Spartacus slices his face off, but they took it one step further. Keep watching, and you'll see that brain just slide on out. Gross! But awesome.
2. Dr. Romano on "ER": Oh, TV writers, you are so cruel. We find out in a flashback that Dr. Robert "Rocket" Romano (Paul McCrane) lost his arm when a helicopter blade severed it, giving him a well-earned fear of them. So it was especially ironic that years later, a helicopter falling off the roof of the hospital is what kills him.
3. Viserys on "Game of Thrones": Viserys (Harry Lloyd) got the golden crown he always wanted when Drogo (Jason Momoa) pours molten gold over his head in front of an entire feast crowd. Ouch.
4. Every death on "Six Feet Under": A cat causing electrocution? An elevator cutting someone in half? Choking on a hot dog? We gave up trying to pick the most memorable death from that show, so we've picked them all. The elevator one is a top pick, though, just because every human probably has had that fear while riding in an elevator at some point or another.
5. Dale on "The Walking Dead": Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn), having had enough of the group's dealings with Randall (Michael Zegen), separated himself from the gang and ran right into a walker. He tried to fight him off, but the zombie ripped his ribcage open, and we said goodbye to a show favorite after Daryl (Norman Reedus) put Dale out of his misery with a bullet to the head. Not only a gruesome death, but a shocking one, since Dale is heavily featured in the comic books for a long time.
6. The School Shooting on "American Horror Story": This one made our list not because it was necessarily gory, but because it was unbelieving unsettling. Tate (Evan Peters) calmly walking around the school library (whistling, no less) while he shoots his classmates is one of the most chilling five minutes of television we've ever seen.
7. Warren on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer": Willow is bored now. And also, you killed her girlfriend. And now you don't have skin anymore.
8. News anchor on "True Blood": He just wanted to get his message across, and Russell Edgington (Denis O'Hare) did just that, all while holding the spine he ripped out of the news anchor moments before. The best part about the scene is Russell's casual toss to weather after his impassioned speech about vampire rights. Tiffany?
9. Gus on "Breaking Bad": Say what you will about Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), but the man was stylish to the end. After the bomb goes off, Gus calmly walks out of the room, seemingly unharmed ... until the camera pans to the other side of his face ... or what's left of it. After straightening his tie, he slumps over dead, making his one of the most memorable TV deaths in recent small-screen history.
10. Maude Flanders on "The Simpsons": Dammit, Homer! We know how precious free stuff can be, especially when it comes out of a cannon, but your carelessness (and easily distracted nature) caused Ned to enter widowhood. Maude went over the edge of the stadium after being hit by a flying shirt, when all she really wanted was to get away from Homer's torso. RIP, Maude Flanders.
Don't have a cow, man. "The Simpsons" apparently changed the way we speak.
By Courtney Hazlett, TODAY
Television fans, there's a great new list out that gives props to the medium for having the power to sway elections, create catchphrases and change the way we think.
Mental Floss' list of "25 Most Powerful TV Shows of the Last 25 Years" makes the claim that more than the Bible or Shakespeare, "The Simpsons" has changed the way we speak. D'oh! The long-running cartoon takes the No. 3 spot on the list, which cites University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Mark Liberman, who credited the show in research in 2005 by saying, "'The Simpsons' has apparently taken over from Shakespeare and the Bible as our culture’s greatest source of idioms, catchphrases, and sundry other textual allusions."
The list gives "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" (No. 11) credit for spawning an entire academic discipline, Buffy Studies; "Sex and the City" (No. 15) boosted the pregnancy rate, according to a RAND Institute study that reported girls between 12 and 17 who watched that and other shows with "high sexual content" were more than twice as likely to become pregnant. And the show that "rewired kids' brains"? That goes to No. 8 on the list, "SpongeBob SquarePants."
As for the No. 1 spot -- that goes to a little-known (to Americans) soap opera called "Tropikanka" which can be credited with getting Boris Yeltsin re-elected in 1996. Fearing that his city-dwelling voting base would decamp to their country homes (where most did not have TVs), Yeltsin is said to have had the state-owned network that ran the soap broadcast a special triple-episode finale on election day. Viewers glued to their televisions to watch the finale then didn't have time after to get to the country, but only to stay in the city and vote.
Take a look at the list and weigh in on Facebook. What do you think are the most influential shows of the last quarter century?
Homer Simpson is doing his civic duty once again this election season. In a new "Simpsons" short released on YouTube Wednesday, the doughnut-loving goofball heads to the polls to decide whether to vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney ... and he's not too pleased with having to do so.
"Why do we have to choose our leaders?" he gripes. "Isn't that what we have the Supreme Court for?"
The digs about politics and the elections keep on coming after that, with references to new voter ID laws, health care reform, religion and more.
Homer also targets Obama and Romney with his insightful observations.
Has "The Simpsons" fandom run its course, or did the U.S. Postal Service simply dream too big?
The post office produced 1 billion "Simpsons" themed 44-cent stamps in 2009, but only 318 million were sold, the New York Times reports.
That leaves 682 million stamps that are now unlikely to sell since they now need a one-cent extra stamp for first-class postage. The post office raised its rates to 45 cents for a first-class letter in January.
The Times reports that if the stamps are destroyed, as commemorative stamps that don't sell often are, it would amount to a waste of $1.2 million in printing costs.
The post office has produced Forever stamps since 2007. Such stamps are always valid for the first-class postage rate despite any rate increases since they were issued. The "Simpsons" stamps, however, weren't Forever stamps and have a printed rate of 44 cents.
The post office and "The Simpsons" don't have an easy relationship anyway. In one episode, even mild-mannered Ned Flanders goes on a rant against them -- although not for the reasons you might think. "I don't like the service at the post office," he complains. "You know, it's all 'rush rush! Get'cha in, get'cha out! Then they've got those machines in the lobby, they're even faster, no help there. You might even say, I hate the post office. That, and my parents. Lousy beatniks."
Springfield, hometown of "The Simpsons," is located in Oregon, according to the show's creator.
By Anna Chan, TODAY
Ay caramba! After 23 seasons and much guessing by fans, "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening has finally revealed the location of the show's town of Springfield, where his famous cartoon family resides.
The long-awaited answer? Springfield, Ore.
"The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show 'Father Knows Best' took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown," Groening explained to Smithsonian magazine.
As to why he's finally confirming the location after all this time? "I don’t want to ruin it for people, you know? Whenever people say it’s Springfield, Ohio, or Springfield, Massachusetts, or Springfield, wherever, I always go, 'Yup, that’s right,' " he further revealed.
It turns out that there have been hints as to Springfield's location since the beginning. Groening told the magazine that he named a number of characters after streets in Portland. Among them? Ned Flanders and Rev. Lovejoy. And the name of the street the "Simpsons" family lives on? It bears the same name as the street Groening's family lived on -- Evergreen Terrace.
But locations may not be all that the show's creator borrowed from his hometown and childhood. Groening told Smithsonian that as a kid, he was bullied. Though he wouldn't give up his tormentors' names, he noted, "maybe they are characters named after themselves on 'The Simpsons.' "
Michael Jackson as Leon, Paul McCartney as himself, and John Waters as John on "The Simpsons."
“The Simpsons” hits the big 500th episode Sunday, and what better way to mark the occasion than by casting controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the milestone show? Sure, he's currently under house arrest, is facing sex crimes allegations and has released classified information, but he's not the only headline-making guest "The Simpsons" has featured (although he may very well be the most controversial).
Ricky Gervais: 'Angry Dad: The Movie' In this 2011 episode, Bart gets miffed when Homer takes credit for his award-winning film “Angry Dad” in an acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. Sound familiar? Gervais, known for his cheeky digs at fellow celebrities, was blasted for his hosting role at the 68thGolden Globes Awards. This "Simpsons" episode spoofs that with a brilliant bit by Gervaisinteracting with the bartender at the Globes. On the bar is a photo of Gervais and a caption reading, “Do Not Allow This Man to Host.”
Richard Gere: 'She of Little Faith' When Lisa loses her faith in Christianity in 2001, she turns to Buddhism. And who is there to help her? None other than the handsome actor, who had his own agenda for this episode. Gere has been a tireless supporter of Tibetan independence and wanted to bring his Free Tibet message to the masses with the episode. That didn’t happen, but he did get his request to have Buddhism be treated accurately.
Tony Blair: 'The Regina Monologues' In this 2003 episode, the Simpson family travels to the United Kingdom and make a lot of trouble for the Queen. But when they first arrive, they were greeted by none other than then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair who appeared as himself. (Which meant nothing to Homer, who thought Blair was Mr. Bean.) Doesn't seem like a big deal, right? Wrong. Blair was blasted by critics for taping a guest voice for the show during the height of the war in Iraq.
John Waters: 'Homer's Phobia' "The Simpsons" has a long history of bringing up gay issues, and has even offered the continuing saga of Waylon Smithersin love with his boss, Montgomery Burns. But this 1997 episode was the first time an entire episode was dedicated to a gay theme. Subculture artist and filmmaker John Waters was tapped to voice the gay character John, whom Homer deems a bad influence on Bart. The Fox censors didn’t want the episode to air, but when a new exec cleaned house, the episode went on without a hitch. The episode went on to win an Emmy and a GLAAD Media Award.
Linda and Paul McCartney: 'Lisa the Vegetarian' A good number of this year's Grammy viewers may not know know who Sir Paul is (did you see all the tweets asking who he was?!), but landing the pop legend and his wife, Linda, on "The Simpsons" was quite a coup in 1995. McCartney and his late wife were pushing a vegetarian lifestyle at the time and Lisa was the perfect conduit. The superstar agreed to lend his voice to the show on the condition that Lisa remain a vegetarian, which she has.
Michael Jackson: 'Stark Raving Dad' The pop superstar'sappearance in the 1991 season three premiere (two years before the child abuse allegations) provided a bit of a stir when he refused to initially acknowledge his participation. (He was listed as John Jay Smith in the credits.) Jackson gave voice to a mental patient named Leon who thought he was the King of Pop, but refused to sing for the role. Instead, Kipp Lennon sang the song “Happy Birthday Lisa,” which Jackson wrote for the episode. It was the last time the series allowed celebs to use pseudonyms.
Shock! Awe! The Simpsons learn that their neighbors don't think very highly of them on the show's 500th episode.
By Anna Chan, TODAY
Ay caramba! On Sunday, animated Fox hit "The Simpsons" will air its 500th episode, a milestone that even executive producer Al Jean is a bit surprised about.
When the series first launched in 1989, he had no idea it would become such a long running success. "I'd be lying if I said I'd be here answering questions about episode 500," Jean told reporters during a conference call Wednesday.
But had things not been hashed out with the talent, there was a plan in place for the end of the Simpsons family saga. And in fact, viewers have already seen what would have been the series finale, according to Jean. And that was "Holidays of Future Passed," which aired on Dec. 11. It was an episode that looked ahead and (would have) provided closure to longtime fans with its peek at the family 30 years in the future.
Instead of having that episode serve as a bookend to a successful series, it now stands alone and viewers can expect at least 60 episodes to come before Jean and his team have to come up with another tidy way to end things. "I don't know where the end is. I've jokingly said, 'Why not 1,000 (episodes)? Why not 2,000?" he said.
The executive producer also noted he has no plans yet for the series finale. "No, we spent it! Right now there's no clue," Jean told reporters. "It's not a show like 'Lost' where we're going to hope to answer a fundamental question with our last episode."
One thing he does know, though, is that viewers can rest easy that their favorite characters likely won't bite it as Maude Flanders did. "People don't want to see us kill off Grandpa. They want him to be around, they want this universe to sort of stay roughly the same, just the way Bugs Bunny never killed Elmer Fudd," Jean said.
As for that big episode coming up on Sunday? "The Simpsons" will be marking it withsome controversy. As revealed last month, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be guest starring on the landmark episode titled "At Long Last Leave," in which the family gets booted from Springfield.
"Obviously he's a controversial figure and that was discussed before we agreed to let him do it," Jean said of Assange's role. "It's a funny cameo and it makes no judgements about the larger case about him."
Jean said that what the episode will do, though, is offer "a really nice emotional story about the family finding out how their neighbors really feel about them." No surprise, the townsfolks' opinion of the Simpsons isn't exactly glowing. But it won't be a big bummer. "There's a lot of little touches marking the milestone in the way we like to and at the same time celebrate and mock something," Jean said.
The 500th episode airs Sunday, Feb. 19, at 8 p.m. on Fox.
Homer and Marge meet their new neighbor Julian Assange (guest voice as himself) in "At Long Last Leave," the show's 500th episode, airing Feb. 19.
By Anna Chan, TODAY
"The Simpsons" is making some big headlines, and not just because its 500th episode is just around the corner.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is set to appear on the animated show's landmark episode on Feb. 19. EW.com reports that Assange -- who is still under house arrest -- recorded his lines for the guest spot over the summer from a location unknown to "The Simpsons" producers.
"I was just given a number to call," executive producer Al Jean told EW of directing Assange remotely.
That 500th episode, titled "At Long Last Leave," the Simpsons family are evicted from Springfield, according to Fox. It is in their rugged new community where they meet their new neighbor played by Assange, Jean told EW. "He invites them over for a home movie and it's an Afghan wedding being bombed," Jean revealed to the magazine.