The Northern Territory news Mon 18 Jan 2010
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26 Northern Territory News, Monday, January 18, 2010 www.ntnews.com.au P U B : N T N E W S D A T E : 1 8 -J A N -2 0 1 0 P A G E : 2 6 C O L O R : C M Y K 20 years of Simpsons not enough The Simpsons Ten Monday, 8pm;Wednesday 7.30pm, 9pm; Saturday, Sunday 6pm FOR a show that has lasted on television formore than 20 years its hard to believe the concept behind The Simpsonswas a spur of themoment idea. In 1985 creatorMatt Groening had caught the attention of producer James L Brookswith his Life In Hell comic strip and was asked if hed like to adapt it for The Tracy Ullman Show. But fearing hewould lose the Life In Hell ownership rights and that disastrous TV ratings would torpedo the strip and his blossoming career, Groening had a brainstorm in the lobby of Brookss office before theirmeeting. He hurriedly sketched a dysfunctional familymodelled after his own including his father,mother and two sisters and even retained all of their names except his. For that he instead came upwith the name Bart simply because it was an anagramof brat. The crudely drawn characters bear little resemblance to the characters we see today. The intentionwas for each character to be recognisable even in silhouette. Groening assumed the animators would clean up his basic sketches for The Tracy Ullman Show but they instead simply traced over his initial drawings. After a three year run on The Tracy Ullman Showwhich began in 1987, The Simpsonswere ready to break out on their own andwere developed to become a prime-time half-hour show. The first episodewas a Christmas special whichwent to air on December 17, 1989 but it wasnt until January 14, 1990 that the first regular episodeBart The Geniuswas aired. The Simpsons has gone on to become the longest running US sitcomand the longest running US animated series. Al Jean, EmmyAward-winning executive producer and leadwriter, says no one could have ever foretold the shows amazing success. My personal feeling was the show would get a lot of attention because it was unlike anything on TV at the time, he says. I thought it would be a good show but I never dreamed it would bewhat it has become. Before it even aired, when I first saw it I thought this is the best thing Ive ever been involvedwith. Thenwhen it aired it was the highest-rated show in the history of the Fox network. Despite the passage of two decades, time has stood still on The Simpsons Bart is still 10-years-old. A fact Jean insists contributes to the shows popularity. Jean saysmaking the family agewould have ended the series long ago. Theres noway it would still be on Bart would be 30, he says. Hed be awfully pathetic. STEPHEN FENECH
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