On the subject of inattention to detail-

As I do my best to investigate exactly when and how the Simpsons stopped being the vision of perfection that it was between its third and fifth seasons. There's the subtraction of heart from the proceedings, an increasing cruelty to the humour, the way shortened runtimes prevent the episodes from developing rich B-stories - all of these are decent avenues worth exploring. Today I'll be focusing on a minor scene from the seventh season, one that demonstrates another key flaw: The lack of attention to detail, coupled with underestimating the audience's intelligence.

While attempting to injuring himself in the episode 'King-Size Homer', something odd happens. After sliding on a patch of oil he dumped on the floor, Homer moves through a series of rooms without incident.

Finally he slides past Smithers' desk-

Through a doorway featuring one of the most bizarre uses of perspective I've ever seen-

And finally, right in front of Mr. Burns' desk:

What's so objectionable about all of this? Simple: That's not where the door to Mr. Burns' office is. Check out this shot from the angle of Smithers' desk.

While reality may be relatively elastic in the world of The Simpsons, there's a very basic rule that needs to be followed - stretch things as far as they need to in order to make a joke work. A good example of this is the 'supplicant' doggie door in the 'And Maggie Makes Three' episode - it's never been established that Burns' office has a crawlspace in the front wall, but it's a good joke, so we don't mind the incongruity. Likewise, the panel on the left wall of Burns' office contains either an escape pod, Tom Jones, or a cadre of lawyers-

-as the situation demands it.

The point is that in every instance that the layout Burns' office has been altered it has been in service of a joke - beyond that, Burns' office layout has remained static, since it is a familiar location the audience should be comfortable with - in fact, one of the greatest jokes in the history of the show relies on the audience's familiarity with the room's geography.

This sequence, in King Size Homer, breaks the cardinal rule of elastic reality. It changes the layout of Burns' office for no comedic effect. Would the scene have been any different had Homer slid into Burns' office the usual way? I can't imagine. In fact, that angle would have put Burns in profile, where his features are more pronounced and comical. It also would have allowed Burns to, instead of gently pushing Homer from the side, get him moving again by jabbing him in the stomach for face with a cane - again offering comedic opportunities that this scene misses.

So why the change in layout? It's not consistent, and it's not comedic, so why not do it right? The only sensible explanation is a simple lack of care. This wasn't an important scene, so the animators didn't bother doing it right.

Oh, and before someone points this out, there isn't a chance that it was Smithers' office Homer was sliding through, rather than the reception area. Not only did Smithers seemingly give up that office after Marge was briefly employed as Mr. Burns' crush, but the door to it-

Is on the right wall, rather than the left.

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