When the search engine Google.com completed a massive expansion to their archives of Usenet newsgroups on December 11th, 2001, going back all the way to 1981, a wealth of vintage discussion from the early years of The Simpsons was unearthed. Usenet newsgroups, along with e-mail lists, pre-date the World Wide Web by over a decade and were the only forums for online discussion before the expansion of web-based discussion groups in the late 1990s. The Google search engine now allows for a fascinating look into the development of opinions and attitudes about "The Simpsons" starting from its earliest days. Here are links to 10 landmark Simpsons-related newsgroup posts including some of the earliest mentions of "The Simpsons" on the internet ever, early reviews of the show, and key moments in Simpsons action figure history:
David Beckemeyer uses a quote from the Tracey Ullman shorts in his signature file on the comp.sys.atari.st newsgroup.
"I'll forgive you Dad... If you take a breath mint." Bart - "The Simpsons"
Jeff Meyer reviews "The Second Animation Celebration," a film collection of animated shorts which included some from The Tracey Ullman Show.
"THE SIMPSONS: Matt Groening of LIFE IN HELL produced about five short collections of cartoons featuring The Simpsons throughout the film. They're good -- dead spots exist, but most hit. They're not quite premieres, though -- I suspect these were originally shown on THE TRACY ULLMAN SHOW. But they're reliably funny, if a bit drab at points."
Rick Hillerich comments on "The Simpsons" in a post to rec.arts.tv.
"And now for a comment and opinion of my own----The Simpsons is a great show but doesn't everyone think it starts out kind of depressing. For Example, the Christmas show they had no money,last week Homer had no job and was going to kill himself. I like the show a lot but find myself feeling sorry for the Simpsons rather than laughing at them."
Brandon Freels writes, "I'm surprised no one has talked about this show yet. Has anyone else been following The Simpsons animated show Sunday night on FOX? I've been enjoying the show a great deal since it began. I enjoy the fact that there is now a prime-time animated show not just for kids being aired. I hope the idea continues, but it is probably just a fad."
Richard Bretscheider replies, "I agree. It's a nice balance between Matt's 'Hell' work and a prime time slot. Great animation. Great stereotyping of the kids."
Robert J Woodhead concludes the discussion with, "The Simpsons is a must-watch show. It's truly bent humor."
Robert A. Granville writes about Simpsons T-shirts in what may be the inaugaural post on the first internet location specifically devoted to "The Simpsons," alt.tv.simpsons.
"I have seen two Homer Simpson t-shirts (I have one). On mine, Homer is saying 'Why you little...' and the caption underneath says 'All American Dad'."
Ryan D Mathews quotes a press release.
"LOS ANGELES (UPI) -- Toy industry giant Mattel announced an exclusive toy licensing agreement for the characters in the televison show 'The Simpsons'. The pact calls for a product line that will include Simpsons action figures, vehicles, play sets, dolls, preschool products and child-size accessories. The toys will be available in the fall and the other items next spring."
Mark Delgrosso writes, "I read today in USA Today that Fox has sold Simpson's licensing rights to Mattel Inc. to manufacture a line of Simpsons actionn figures and playsets. I have one thing to say to Fox: You can't be serious...Why do people feel the need to totally commercialize every single new popular movie/show/person/product/etc. ?...do we have to go so far as to merchandise them to death?...there is such a thing a overkill. All I'm saying is that I hope the world doesn't go overboard with the Simpsons. It is dissapointing for those of us who appreciate something for what it is to see people exploiting it just because it's 'cool, man."'
Eric Salituro reports picking up "all 5" Mattel Simpsons action figures at K-Mart (perhaps including only the core family members but not Nelson or Bartman).
Brian E. Saunders makes the inaugaural post to a new Simpsons spin-off newsgroup, alt.tv.simpsons.itchy-scratchy (as well as the now defunct alt.fan.itchy-n-scratchy, launched simultaneously), marking perhaps the first point when a Simpsons supporting character became popular enough to earn its own location on the internet.
John R. Donald writes a savagely negative review of season 4's "Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie" and coins the infamous phrase "worst episode ever" in relation to a Simpsons episode, mentioning it not once but twice.
"I thought this was easily the worst episode ever. Simply not funny. 'Where did he put the firecracker?' I can't imagine child abuse being funny...Bart dropping his pants. How many times is this funny? Well, it was funny when we saw it in a previous episode. But I don't think that Bart's butt is inherintly funny...Bart as a stripper. Really more repulsive than funny. The bad thing about things like this is that I used to disagree with parents who didn't let their children watch the Simpsons - I no longer disagre with them...Star Trek...Now, the Simpsons have done it, and they didn't do it any better than anyone else. Should have left it alone, and come up with something original...Homer being very familiar with Chief Justices...Homer is simply not a bright guy. I can't believe he is that familiar with the names of the Supreme court justices...And I didn't like the bit about 40 years from now, although I don't really have an argument against it. I just didn't like it...This episode was an appeal to the lowest common denominator. It exploited cliches instead of exposing them. It twisted character traits in order to go after laughs. It relied on gimmicks that got a laugh in the past. It became a parody of itself. I repeat, this was by far the worst episode ever."
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