"Good Night"
The Simpsons short
An early image of entire Simpson family (Bart, Marge, Maggie, Homer, Lisa) in the same bed
The entire Simpson family in Homer and Marge's bed during the final segment of the short
Short no.1
Released duringThe Tracey Ullman Show
Season 1
Episode 3b
Directed byWesley Archer
David Silverman
Bill Kopp
Written byMatt Groening
Production codeMG01
Original air dateApril 19, 1987
Running time2 minutes
Followed by"Watching Television"
List of The Tracey Ullman Show episodes

"Good Night" (also known as "Good Night Simpsons") is the first of forty-eight Simpsons shorts and the second segment of the third episode of The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987.[1] It originally aired on Fox in the United States and marks the first ever appearance of the Simpson family — Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie — on television.[2][3] After three seasons on Tracey Ullman's show, the shorts would be adapted into the animated show The Simpsons. "Good Night" has since been aired on the show in the episode "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular" (in its entirety), along with several other Ullman shorts, and is one of the few shorts to ever be released on DVD, being included in the Season 1 DVD set.

Plot

Homer and Marge say goodnight to their children, but all does not go according to plan. Bart tries to ask about the mind, but is left contemplating it as he does not get a proper answer. Lisa fears that bed bugs will eat her after hearing Marge say "Don't let the bed bugs bite". Maggie is terrified by the lyrics of "Rock-a-bye Baby". Ultimately, all three children decide to sleep in their parents' bed.

Origins

Groening first conceived of the Simpsons in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. He had been called in to pitch a series of animated shorts, and had intended to present his Life in Hell series. When he realized that animating Life in Hell would require him to rescind publication rights for his life's work, Groening decided to go in another direction.[4] He hurriedly sketched out his version of a dysfunctional family, and named the characters after his own family. Bart was modeled after Groening's older brother, Mark, but given a different name that was chosen as an anagram of "brat."[5]

Production

This short was written and storyboarded by Groening.[6] Animation on the short began March 23, 1987.[7] The family was crudely drawn, because Groening had submitted basic sketches to the animators, assuming they would clean them up; instead they just traced over his drawings.[4] It was produced at Klasky Csupo,[8][9] with Wesley Archer, David Silverman, and Bill Kopp being animators.[6][7]

The episode is sometimes considered to be the first episode of season 0 of The Simpsons.[10] The show's production number is MG01.[11][12] 11 seconds of the short were cut in syndication airings.[13] The short consisted of four segments, lasting 24, 15, 33, and 33 seconds, respectively.[14] After the short plays from start to finish in "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular", Troy McClure, who now has a look of disbelief on his face, as though he has never seen the clip before, covers his expression with an awkward laugh and insincerely comments 'They haven't changed a bit, have they', a comment on how the characters' appearance and personalities had altered from the shorts to the airing of that episode.[15]

Critical reception

FilmThreat says "This dark nursery rhyme is funny and disturbing. Homer’s voice is totally off the wall, nothing like it stands today, and it’s interesting to see how far they’ve come since these early forays into animation".[16] Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits was sad that "only [one] of the original Tracey Ullman Show shorts" was featured on the first season DVD". He added, "Still, the one you get perfectly illustrates just how far the show has come".[17] DVD.net describes it as "The Simpsons as some of you may never have seen before, drawn by the hand of Matt Groening himself and looking a little worse for wear."[18] DVD Movie Guide says, "I’ve seen a few additional Ullman shorts and think they’re nearly unwatchable, so I can’t say I miss them, at least not for their entertainment value. However, they’d make a nice historical addition, so it’s too bad we only get this single clip. The first one ever aired, “Good Night Simpsons” runs for 115 unfunny seconds."[19] The Digital Fix says the short extra on the DVD "showcases the superb sense of humour that has made The Simpsons what it is today", and that "the picture quality is quite breathtaking (considering the age of these shorts) while the sound is standard DD2.0 Stereo". It adds that "it is a teaser for something we will supposedly never see (all 48 shorts on DVD)" and wishes they had chosen a short that hadn't been featured in a future episode (The 138th Episode Spectacular), and therefore released on the Season 7 Box set.[20] Planet Simpson says "the drawing and animation were blatantly crude, thick-lined, and primary-colored" and that "the vignettes were far too short for anything as sophisticated as 'character development'". It adds that the "central gag [of] kids finding ironic horror in bedtime platitudes" was very simplistic, and doubts many people even watched the airing of the short. However, the book explains the significance of Good Night as "the first baby steps of an institution that would become one of the most-watched TV shows on earth and the most influential cultural enterprise of its time".[14]

Home media

The short is featured on disc 3 of The Complete First Season DVD.[21][22][23]

References

  1. ^ Richmond & Coffman 1997.
  2. ^ "The History of The Simpsons: The Complete History of the Most Beloved American Family on Television — Yahoo! Voices". voices.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-13. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  3. ^ "Greatest screen characters — DNA". Dnaindia.com. Archived from the original on 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  4. ^ a b BBC (2000). 'The Simpsons': America's First Family (6 minute edit for the season 1 DVD) (DVD). UK: 20th Century Fox. Archived from the original on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2018-06-30.
  5. ^ Paul, Alan (1999-09-30). "Matt Groening" (Interview). Flux Magazine Issue #6. ((cite news)): |format= requires |url= (help)
  6. ^ a b Cagle, Daryl. "The David Silverman Interview". MSNBC. Archived from the original on 2005-11-30. Retrieved 2006-12-29.
  7. ^ a b @tubatron (23 March 2020). "#OTD 33 yrs ago 3/23/87: Wes Archer, Bill Kopp, and I started animation on very first @TheSimpsons short for The Tracey Ullman Show. GOOD NIGHT SIMPSONS (MG01) aired 4/19/87 on TU ep #3. No drawings from that but here are some from MG02 & 03. More to come today, stay tuned ..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  8. ^ "Good Night (1987) Season 1 Episode MG01- The Simpsons Cartoon Episode Guide". Bcdb.com. 1987-04-19. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  9. ^ Deneroff, Harvey (January 2000). "Matt Groening's Baby Turns 10". Animation Magazine, Vol. 14, #1. pp. 10, 12.
  10. ^ "The Simpsons". Episode Data. Archived from the original on 2013-09-01. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  11. ^ Global Episode Opinion Survey (2012-11-29). "GEOS — The Simpsons — Good Night — Cast & Crew". Geos.tv. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  12. ^ "The Simpsons Archive: Episode Capsules". Snpp.com. Archived from the original on 2013-02-08. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  13. ^ "List of scenes cut from The Simpsons shorts — Wikisimpsons, the Simpsons Wiki". Simpsonswiki.net. 2013-01-09. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  14. ^ a b Turner 2005.
  15. ^ Brian L. Ott (2008). The Small Screen How Television Equips Us to Live in the Information Age. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-76637-8. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  16. ^ "The Simpsons Complete First Season (dvd)". Film Threat. 2002-02-17. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  17. ^ "DVD Review — The Simpsons: The Complete First Season". Thedigitalbits.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  18. ^ Steve Koukoulas — RED5 Web Design. "The Simpsons — Season One — DVD Review". DVD.net. Archived from the original on 2013-04-20. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  19. ^ "The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (1990)". Dvdmg.com. Archived from the original on 2008-08-21. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  20. ^ Dave Foster, The Digital Fix (2001-09-29). "The Simpsons: The Complete First Season | DVD Video Review | Film @ The Digital Fix". Film.thedigitalfix.com. Archived from the original on 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  21. ^ "Simpsons DVD guides: The Complete First Season — Simpsons Crazy". Simpsoncrazy.com. Archived from the original on 2013-01-16. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  22. ^ "Simpsons — The Complete First Season". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 2013-06-26. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
  23. ^ "DVD Review: Simpsons: Season One". Currentfilm.com. Archived from the original on 2001-11-01. Retrieved 2013-02-17.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
Bibliography