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The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History Hardcover – October 13, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
The book focuses on the creative process that led to the show's miraculous early run, and on the financial windfall that fell upon, and destroyed relationships among, the creators of the show.
Ortved does an effective job of weaving a compelling narrative drawn from previously-published and first-hand interviews. By and large, the narrative remains fixed on the now-legendary writing team (including someone named Conan O'Brien) that was the true heart of the show. You get a real sense of what it must have been like in the writers' room, where this collection of talent, protected from network interference by powerful producer James L. Brooks, was set free to create multi-leveled, satirical, anti-authoritarian, classic television.
I'll tell you what I learned from, or had confirmed by, Ortved's book:
1. Matt Groening's role on the series was quite different from what he, and Fox Television, would have you believe. The heart and soul of the show was, more accurately, its first showrunner, Sam Simon, and its most influential, long-time writer, George Meyer. Meyer's role, in particular, was made quite clear a number of years ago in a fascinating New Yorker profile, but it turns out that, if anything, the earlier magazine article may not have given Meyer his due.
2. Money ruins everything. OK, maybe not if you're the one getting the money. Then how about this - take a beautiful situation, throw a really big bag of money in the middle of the room, and watch everyone turn into animals.
3. The best creative work is made when creative people are left alone.Read more ›
1. Yes, there are a few factual mistakes that legions of nerds must have noticed.
2. Poor organization did indeed get on my nerves. I'm referring mostly to latter portions of the book, when Ortved apparently decided to shift from writing more or less in chronological order to organizing sections by topic. For example, why not incorporate the guest stars into the main body of the story?
3. Ortved has an inconsistent voice. He's an objective narrator for most of the book, letting the writers, producers, etc. give their oral history -- but then his paragraphs (in bold, so you know it's him) get bigger and bigger. He beats a dead horse about the lack of subtlety in recent seasons and the loss of overall quality of the show. (John, you're preaching to the choir!) He practically rants about Rupert Murdoch and Fox News. He talks about later "grown up" animated series, such as "South Park," and "Family Guy," but it's hard to tell if he's criticizing them for being "ungrateful children" (his words) or applauding their success.
But despite these three significant flaws, I really enjoyed this book. It offers a good look at the things that made the show great in the early years, and what has made it not so great in the many years to follow. We get to hear from writers (including Conan!Read more ›
After reading the negative reviews, I was worried that the author was going to ruin the book. He doesn't. I was also worried that it might make me appreciate The Simpsons less: Would everyone behind the scenes be horrible and nasty? It's true that not everyone is a saint, and while the book is honest, but it's also respectful and fair thanks to the way it lets other people's quotes tell the story. You may not like everything you read, but you'll still come away with a respect for the people involved, even if it's just for their incredible talent, and how much they brought to The Simpsons.
In case you're wondering, here's a breakdown of how everyone comes across:
James L. Brooks: Brilliant with real characters and emotional stories, not so good with people, despite being very sensitive himself. Apparently capable of being a bit deluded and cold. His relationship with producer, Richard Sakai, is likened to Mr Burns and Smithers by the writers there. Brooks also held grudges against Gabor Csupo and Jerry Belson for very petty reasons. Greedy.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Now I know why when I watch the Lisa and the gang I feel like I'm back in class. Classic show classic book.Published 1 month ago by Anthony Pierulla
I don't know why this book is gotten so many lousy reviews. I've been a huge fan since the early 1990s, and this book was a joy to read. I couldn't put it down.Published 14 months ago by Beverly Nerd
I like the Simpsons and these type books, but it was a struggle to finish this one. A lot of filler material and side tracks that didn't hold my interest. Read morePublished 20 months ago by reviews
An interesting oral history of one the greatest TV shows of all time. It's told from interview soundbites of some of the primary players. Read morePublished 24 months ago by Phillip Urlevich
I know it could have been more complete, but when you're a fanatic you take what you get. The writing isn't the best, but it's really a good read. Read morePublished on June 3, 2014 by Gilbert Klein
This book is an in-depth and unrelenting look at the creation and long existence of the Simpsons, with information and quotes culled from sources varying from personal interviews... Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by Troy Blackford