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Author Topic: Ken Keeler better come through  (Read 3255 times)
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flesheatingbull

Starship Captain
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« on: 07-09-2010 03:57 »

here it is, the moment of truth. i hope keeler comes through. he has written some of the best simpsons and futurama episodes ever. however, he did write "the principle and the pauper", quite possibly the worst simpsons episode ever, because it essentially destroyed the series; in many peoples opinions.

come on futurama. i'm rooting for you.
cyber_turnip

Urban Legend
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« Reply #1 on: 07-09-2010 04:08 »

The Principal and the Pauper is so far from being the worst Simpsons episode ever, it's untrue. Worst of the first 10 seasons excluding clip-shows perhaps, but I'd take it over almost every single post season 12 episode of the show.
totalnerd undercanada

DOOP Ubersecretary
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« Reply #2 on: 07-09-2010 04:12 »

Who cares what he did with some other show? I mean, The Simpsons has been sliding downhill for years. As long as he cranks out another good 'un for Futurama, that's fine by me.
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #3 on: 07-09-2010 04:18 »

To get (back) into Simpsons-nerd mode for a moment...

"Pauper" was a bad episode, but it wasn't series ruining.  Mostly I say that because The Simpsons just doesn't work that way.  Skinner being a fake was annoying, but the show simply doesn't have enough continuity for something like that to ruin it.  Most everything is forgotten by the following episode anyway, so only a really major thing like the death of a character (and not a character like Maude Flanders but an actual major character, like say Bart) could really totally RUIN the show.  Also, "Pauper" is bad (more because it wasn't very funny than because of the revelation, honestly) but it was still very much in the style of the series up to that point.  It was the stylistic shifts shortly afterwords that ultimately spoiled the series, IMO.  And it never had much to do with any particular episodes, more the general shift in the show.

I think Keeler's Futurama record was better anyway, though his Simpsons record was underrated.  He used to be really hated by a lot of the fans.

In any case, I'm not sure how much individual writing credits really matter...I know that on the Simpsons, they often don't matter at all, but I'm not entirely sure if that's the case with Futurama.  It does sort of seem to be considering that you can have Eric Kaplan write both "Jurassic Bark" (my favorite episode) and the dire "Three Hundred Big Boys" (my least favorite).
FishyJoe

Honorary German
Urban Legend
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« Reply #4 on: 07-09-2010 05:00 »

...so what spurred this post? Tonight's episode was written by Mike Rowe, not Ken Keeler.

Anywho...I remember when everybody hated Ken Keeler because of his controversial Simpsons episodes. Fun times! I agree with DotheBartman, though. Even though the fake Skinner episode was bad, it certainly didn't ruin the show, and it is genius compared to some of the crap that has been airing in the past 10 years.

I forgive him for any missteps with The Simpsons. He has been terrific on Futurama.
JoshTheater

Space Pope
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« Reply #5 on: 07-09-2010 07:47 »
« Last Edit on: 07-09-2010 07:49 »

I absolutely adored Principal and the Pauper because it makes fun of ruining continuity. The whole point of the episode is that it's a cheesy stupid character twist, and by the end of the episode they make it clear that everyone should pretend like it never happened. It's goooooooooooood satire.

Maybe at the time it aired it felt like jumping the shark, but in retrospect it really was a hilariously clever episode.
seattlejohn01

Space Pope
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« Reply #6 on: 07-09-2010 09:37 »

Even though the fake Skinner episode was bad...
A pox on you.  I liked the Armand Tanzarian episode...
wowbagger

Delivery Boy
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« Reply #7 on: 07-09-2010 10:00 »

I'm not a fan of the general Simpsons bashing... I think there is still the occasional good episode of the Simpsons, it wasn't that the show was 'ruined', it's just that it's hard to make 20 seasons of a show and still keep the same standard, especially with the same fan base.  Wow, I remember when I watched the first Simpsons episode over 20 years ago and I still enjoy it.  Although perhaps not as much.
Future Shock

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #8 on: 07-09-2010 10:47 »

The Simpsons isn't 'terrible.' I literally laughed at 'Million Dollar Maybe' and I don't laugh at TV often.
Gorky

Space Pope
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« Reply #9 on: 07-09-2010 14:07 »

In any case, I'm not sure how much individual writing credits really matter...I know that on the Simpsons, they often don't matter at all, but I'm not entirely sure if that's the case with Futurama.  It does sort of seem to be considering that you can have Eric Kaplan write both "Jurassic Bark" (my favorite episode) and the dire "Three Hundred Big Boys" (my least favorite).

Kind of like how Stewart Burns wrote "Roswell that Ends Well" and, y'know, "Where the Buggalo Roam." I think the individual writing credits mean more when it's a certain writer's name that gets attached. I mean, I think everything Ken Keeler has written for Futurama has been great; maybe, like John Swartzwelder on The Simpsons, he's one of those writers who produces a really solid first draft that leaves little room for improvement.

And as far as "The Principal and the Pauper" goes: it's a solid episode that people need to stop using as an example of how The Simpsons jumped the shark.
cyber_turnip

Urban Legend
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« Reply #10 on: 07-09-2010 14:46 »
« Last Edit on: 07-09-2010 14:48 »

I think the episode marks the beginning of the show scraping the bottom of the barrel for plots and that's why it gets so much hatred, but it's very funny and entertaining and there are much worse episodes even from the first 10 seasons.

It has always struck me as interesting that Matt Groening got Ken Keeler to write for Futurama after he was such a 'controversial' writer of The Simpsons. A Star is Burns, The Principal and the Pauper and The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase's concept?
Still, I'm not complaining, he's one of the best writers on Futurama and the fact that his name is attached to those episodes Matt doesn't like just goes to show that the credits do probably mean very little.
Gorky

Space Pope
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« Reply #11 on: 07-09-2010 14:52 »

Ken Keeler's credentials, education-wise, probably played a part in him being brought on for Futurama. I mean, DXC and others have made a point of saying that the Futurama writing staff is the most-educated, nerdiest bunch of guys working in TV.
Aki

Professor
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« Reply #12 on: 07-09-2010 15:34 »

The what now? I love Pauper, not my fav episode but a good episode. I think, as they pointed out in the commentary, that people didn't get what the point was. The point was to make fun of people who liked everything status quo: they introduced a character explaining everything isn't the way they think, and what they did was drive him out of town. Seriously, you don't see the connection? :P
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #13 on: 07-09-2010 19:47 »

I for one was never that bothered by the "shocking revelation" in the episode.  My problem with was that it just wasn't very funny.  Even presuming it's supposed to be this parody of TV conventions (which I don't totally buy, and I think the writers have said otherwise in the past), it's just played too straight and soap-opera-ish, with no real twists or funny ideas that would have made it a solid parody.  And there's only...I dunno, four or five genuinely good lines in it.  It was just lame.

Of course, there were plenty of WAY worse episodes the following season alone, and probably several that very same season too.  It gets too much infamy because of the controversy over it at the time.  But it still kind of blows.

As a side note: I listened to the commentary for it once (I wouldn't buy that season....got it from the library) and Ken Keeler says that he feels it's the best thing he's written for TV.  Bill Oakley (I think it was) counters that he thought "Time Keeps on Slippin'" was better.  I'd have to agree.  And throw in "Godfellas" as probably his best script, at least with his name attached.
JoshTheater

Space Pope
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« Reply #14 on: 07-10-2010 08:37 »

You're wrong on so many levels. Not only is it played the furthest thing from straight and not only is the parody completely obvious to anybody with half a brain, but it's also a hilarious episode with way more than just a few good lines.

I sure told you.
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #15 on: 07-10-2010 09:34 »
« Last Edit on: 07-10-2010 09:40 »

Come to think of it, this was actually addressed by none other than Bill Oakley, co-executive producer of The Simpsons (seasons 7 and 8; "Pauper" being a holdover from 8 that aired in 9), on the "No Homers Club" forum a few years ago.  He and Josh Weinstein did a "Ask Bill and Josh" thing for the fans there.  (Relevant sidenote: Josh answered one of my questions about Futurama!  He said that he and Oakley were most involved with "Roswell That Ends Well" and "That's Lobstertainment!" when they consulted on it, helping to flesh out the stories for those episodes).  You might have to register to see this now, but here's the link:

http://www.nohomers.net/showthread.php?p=1291807#post1291807

And here was the question and response:

Quote
From an NHC member:In addition to the "Martin Guerre" homage, was "The Principal and the Pauper" (an episode I actually like) an attempt at spoofing the common cliché in television where something shocking is revealed about a longtime character and then is promptly forgotten?

Quote
Bill Oakley:
I don't actually think the episode was supposed to spoof that convention.

We did, however, attempt to reset everything at the end of the episode with the "under penalty of TORTURE" line, which I suppose could be called a self-aware remark directed at both the people of Springfield and the viewers, in a meta kind of way. Perhaps this could be called a parody of sitcom conventions where everything is indeed reset at the end of each episode.

I hesitate to get too deeply into theory behind this episode without Ken Keeler here. The episode was his idea and I know he has some thoughts which I hope we can all discuss on the DVD commentary.

You may be interested to know that none of us had any idea it would be so controversial -- but it does remain so, to the extent that Ken and I had a long discussion about it two weeks ago at Josh's New Years' Eve party.

One thing I do know: in addition to the "Martin Guerre" homage, the episode is based on one, or possibly two, ACTUAL incidents that occurred many years after the Vietnam War. In one, the missing soldier's OWN MOTHER did not recognize "her long-lost son" was an impostor. I believe Ken showed us a news clipping about this when pitching the idea.

We, of course, thought it would be an interesting twist for Skinner's character.

Take that as you will, I guess.  I wish I could remember the actual commentary track for it better.
Freako

Urban Legend
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« Reply #16 on: 07-10-2010 09:42 »

Funnily enough that episode was on last night.
Coincidence? I THINK NOT!
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #17 on: 07-10-2010 09:44 »

Funnily enough that episode was on last night.
Coincidence? I THINK NOT!

Syndication.  It's almost certain that every episode is on somewhere every day.  

That said, yes, I think the TV stations were probably channeling this message board.  Any recent sightings of Rod Serling in your area?
Future Shock

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #18 on: 07-10-2010 09:44 »

Damn you Freako, I was gonna say that! Oh well, such is life...
Gorky

Space Pope
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« Reply #19 on: 07-10-2010 16:26 »

I wish I could remember the actual commentary track for it better.

From what I can remember, Ken Keeler talks about how it's strange for people to hold such strong convictions about a TV character--particularly a secondary one, not a member of the Simpson family itself--that they would be so offended when they realize that this character is an impostor. He and Oakley and Weinstein say that they intended to bring the series down by dicking around with Skinner's back-story, because they were all on their way out--but, of course, they are just kidding. There's just a very defensive tone to the whole commentary, but I still think it's really interesting. They all say that the story was based mostly on those two incidents with Vietnam vets, but that the ultimate point of the episode is that things return to the status quo, and people are able to forget everything just because it's a TV show and, yeah, change is  scary. So "The Principal and the Pauper" is, in Keeler's words, "about the people who hate it", because Springfield can't accept the true Seymour Skinner any more than most fans can.
totalnerd undercanada

DOOP Ubersecretary
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« Reply #20 on: 07-10-2010 17:34 »

"TPatP" is one of my favourite newer Simpsons episodes... precisely because it dicks around with such an established icon. As a fan and a geek, this sort of thing pleases me - with Futurama it wouldn't be such a good idea though. With stuff like that, I expect more geekiness and less dicking around.
Gorky

Space Pope
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« Reply #21 on: 07-10-2010 18:34 »

Well, with all good things in life, you do have to recognize when you've dicked around enough. I do agree that discovering that, say, Farnsworth is an impostor--and an impostor of Armin Tamzarian proportions, not a wussy I-lied-about-my-age impostor like in "A Clone of My Own"--would thoroughly mess with my enjoyment of the series. A secondary character, not so much--but any member of the PE crew should be off-limits from such horseplay. It works in "The Principal and the Pauper" both because it makes a degree of sense for the character and because it's not on-par with learning that, like, Homer is an impostor.
AdrenalinDragon

Starship Captain
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« Reply #22 on: 07-11-2010 02:02 »

Hmm, The Principal And The Pauper. It's been a while but I don't think I hated that Simpsons episode. Nevertheless, Ken Keeler wrote some awesome episodes of Futurama (He, along with David X. Cohen wrote the two best Futurama movies in my opinion too). His least favourite of mine is probably The Honking, but even then I still thought it was pretty good. We'll see if he continues the trend this season for Futurama!
Aki

Professor
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« Reply #23 on: 07-11-2010 02:11 »

"TPatP" is one of my favourite newer Simpsons episodes... precisely because it dicks around with such an established icon. As a fan and a geek, this sort of thing pleases me - with Futurama it wouldn't be such a good idea though. With stuff like that, I expect more geekiness and less dicking around.
This is so strange. I had never thought how this story would be if in a Futurama episode until you mentioned it, and now I realise I wouldn't like it at all if it turned out for example that Hermes or any other secundary character turned out to be an imposter. Maybe my love for Futurama simply is so much deeper than my love for The Simpsons, maybe --- and this is more than a maybe --- the characters of Futurama seems so much more real to me, seeing as the Simpsons too often get out of character in a way that rarely happens in Futurama.

Huh, maybe I finally realise how all those really upset people felt when Pauper was first aired.
JoshTheater

Space Pope
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« Reply #24 on: 07-11-2010 22:04 »
« Last Edit on: 07-11-2010 22:08 »

I'm not sure I would call Hermes that much of a secondary character, since he's part of the Planet Express crew.

That said, there is a difference between the use of secondary characters in The Simpsons and Futurama. In Futurama, secondary characters usually only make brief appearances in occasional episodes for gags. Very few episodes of Futurama have revolved around secondary characters, whereas there have been countless numbers of Simpsons episodes that were all about a secondary character, fleshing out that character. The secondary characters in Futurama for the most part remain very shallow.

So in that sense, I don't think we have to worry about Futurama doing anything particularly strange with their secondary characters. At least not for a while...it's very possible the reason The Simpsons started resorting to secondary character based episodes is because it's been going for a much longer time. Perhaps if Futurama ends up going long enough, they will start doing episodes all about...say...Sal. I hope that doesn't happen. hmpf
totalnerd undercanada

DOOP Ubersecretary
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« Reply #25 on: 07-11-2010 22:58 »

I think that with Futurama, the secondary characters fall into two tiers. Main cast secondaries (Zapp, Kif, Mom, Nixon, etc) and background secondaries (Crack Addict, Sal, Australian Guy, HedonismBot, etc). The first tier are pretty well fleshed out via incidental exposure, and have a lot of cameos, but are never given so much "depth" as to ruin their humour value, and always interact with the man cast (Farnsworth, Fry, Leela, Bender, Hermes, Amy, Zoidberg, Nibbler).

Therefore we don't have to worry about the first tier, as they have a definite place, and it would feel wrong to move them out of it. It's the background secondaries that could be dicked about with, but also probably aren't going to be able to carry an episode unless they become increasingly involved with the main cast, and fleshed out still further. I think we'll get plenty of warning before we have a Sal-focused episode, and that even then it will be viewed through the lens of the main cast. Futurama is so different from The Simpsons in its approach to telling a story that I think we're safe for a while.

That said, if Futurama runs for 10 more seasons, I'll be hoping for a final cancellation. I don't want it to go the same way as The Simpsons did at all.
JoshTheater

Space Pope
****
« Reply #26 on: 07-11-2010 23:41 »

Honestly, I really think Futurama can only last about 3 or 4 more seasons before it becomes intolerable. I may be being really pessimistic here, but that's how I feel.
Books

Near Death Star Inhabitant
Urban Legend
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« Reply #27 on: 07-11-2010 23:43 »

who is ken keeler
Svip

DOOP Secretary
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« Reply #28 on: 07-11-2010 23:52 »

who is ken keeler

Who is this jerk?
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #29 on: 07-12-2010 00:30 »

I think one reason I never liked "Three Hundred Big Boys" actually was that it failed to do the same thing that "22 Short Films About Springfield" (the Simpsons episode it was consciously aping) did in regard to secondary characters.  Partially I think this is just because of Futurama's more limited cast, but it still felt like a waste.  The Simpsons ep was so great partially because it followed characters around that we normally didn't see much of (at least up to that point), or only in context with their interactions with the Simpsons family.  You didn't normally see much of Dr. Nick or Bumblebee Man or Snake or Chief Wiggum doing what they did in their normal days.  In contrast, it always seemed like Futurama wasted even its limited cast with that episode by just focusing on the characters that it always focuses on, albeit doing more boring things than usual.  Where was the Calculon story?  How about Morbo?  Lrr?  It was probably a bad idea as an episode anyway, but it just felt like a waste.

Still, The Simpsons started fleshing out the secondary characters pretty early.  I'm not really sure why Futurama didn't really do the same, though I suspect it might be because the focus of the show is so different.  The Simpsons family is located within one small town, and most of the secondary characters initially were meant to serve some sort of "purpose" in their lives (so the kids had teachers and a principal, Homer has a boss, they have a church reverend and store clerks, they have TV celebrities that they watch, etc.) and some of them warranted fleshing out over time.  On Futurama they're so often going to other planets entirely, and the core cast is in some ways a parody of similar shows like Star Trek where they didn't really interact with secondary characters very regularly, so maybe it just wasn't as much of a concern.
Kornography

Bending Unit
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« Reply #30 on: 07-12-2010 07:59 »

who is ken keeler

Who is this jerk?

You stole the words out of my mouth
KurtPikachu2001

Urban Legend
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« Reply #31 on: 07-12-2010 15:22 »
« Last Edit on: 07-12-2010 15:32 »

These new episodes of Futurama have been really great so far.  As for that Simpsons episode, I stopped watching by the time that aired.  Ken Keeler is a writer.   The show can last for 3 or more seasons and it will still be as great as ever.   Of course there's some episodes of Futurama I'm not too crazy about.  But hey, even good cartoons have their flaws.    

Who knows, maybe this new season of Futurama can lead to The Simpsons greatest downfall.  
Aki

Professor
*
« Reply #32 on: 07-13-2010 22:20 »

Ofcourse Futurama treats secondary characters differently, but then again so did The Simpsons in the beginning. Early Simpsons episodes focused on the family bringing in secondary characters when needed for the story or a gag, just like Futurama does still. Simpsons' secondary character started out as clichés and parodies and were extremely one-sided; just take Burns, Krusty, Moe or Apu in the early seasons. When they started running out of stories for Bart, Homer, Lisa, Marge and Maggie they started bringing in these characters, sometimes in connection with the main ones, sometimes almost entirely alone with brief cameos from the main characters. Burns fears he will die without a successor, Krusty secretely seeks the love of the father who never supported his choice of life, Moe seems angry and hatefilled but is really lonely and sad whose only friends are the bar guys who doesn't care as much about him as the beer, Apu finds a wife and have eight kids.

Futurama hasn't done this yet, but maybe they will. Sooner or later (I'm sure there will be several more seasons if the series is renewed) the main stories will stop coming and the show will either end or start focusing on secondary characters. I don't know what I'd prefer, the series to end or to do that. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
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« Reply #33 on: 07-14-2010 00:25 »

Well, they're making episodes about Lrr and - of all characters - Clamps (not that I'm complaining), so it seems they may be going down that route a little bit already.  But, to fair, they'd already done Lrr, and a few other characters like Calculon have had major roles before.  I won't be too worried until an episode about Randy or Sal is announced.
Aki

Professor
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« Reply #34 on: 07-14-2010 00:46 »

Well, they're making episodes about Lrr and - of all characters - Clamps (not that I'm complaining), so it seems they may be going down that route a little bit already.  But, to fair, they'd already done Lrr, and a few other characters like Calculon have had major roles before.  I won't be too worried until an episode about Randy or Sal is announced.
I might miss something now but I can't recall a secondary character having the main role before. Sure, they may have relatively big roles as part of a character's story, like Lrr in Spanish Fry or Calculon in That's Lobstertainment!, but I can't recall any character having THE big role. That might be the case of Lrrin...Ndnd...whatever but it could as well concern them yet be from the POV of the crew.
DotheBartman

Liquid Emperor
**
« Reply #35 on: 07-14-2010 01:11 »
« Last Edit on: 07-14-2010 01:14 »

Yeah, no you're right.  I basically meant what you said anyway, that they were important to the plot but the main characters were still at the center of it in some way.  Although I think that was usually true of the various Simpsons examples, even in later seasons.  Of some of the ones you mentioned, Burns specifically wanted Bart as his heir and the episode was about the family getting him back, the Krusty one was largely about Bart and Lisa trying to solve the problem for him, the Apu episodes were largely about him seeking help from the Simpsons family, etc.  The same is basically true with most of the Futurama examples; Bender has to avoid breaking Calculon's heart, the crew have to save Lrrr and Ndnd's marriage, etc.  I wonder if the same will be true of the upcoming episodes.

One of the few Simpsons I can think of where the family really sort of gets pushed out was the one with Selma marrying Troy McClure....they are still a part of it, but they're missing through a lot more scenes than usual, and don't really play a really major role in the conflicts of the story.  It was a very unusual episode, then and now.

As a side note, South Park eventually started doing much the same in certain episodes (I think there are actually one or two where the kids don't appear at all, and more than that missing the main four boys).  There's one example I always thought was really funny, where the four boys make like two or three token appearances walking by, and saying things like "nope, staying out of this one" to indicate that they don't want to get involved in the plot that week.
Aki

Professor
*
« Reply #36 on: 07-14-2010 01:37 »

You're right, I took some bad examples. But say, A Fish Called Selma, The Principle and the Pauper, Dumbbell Indemnity, Eight Misbeheavin'.

Lol at the South Park. ^^
Svip

DOOP Secretary
*
« Reply #37 on: 07-14-2010 01:39 »

Well, they're making episodes about Lrr and - of all characters - Clamps (not that I'm complaining), so it seems they may be going down that route a little bit already.  But, to fair, they'd already done Lrr, and a few other characters like Calculon have had major roles before.  I won't be too worried until an episode about Randy or Sal is announced.
I might miss something now but I can't recall a secondary character having the main role before. Sure, they may have relatively big roles as part of a character's story, like Lrr in Spanish Fry or Calculon in That's Lobstertainment!, but I can't recall any character having THE big role. That might be the case of Lrrin...Ndnd...whatever but it could as well concern them yet be from the POV of the crew.

*cough* That Guy *cough*
Aki

Professor
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« Reply #38 on: 07-14-2010 01:41 »

*cough* That Guy *cough*
He was a guest, there is a difference. Just like the new beaurecrat in How Hermes Requisitioned His Groove Back. And in both of these cases it directly effected the original characters, they weren't just watching someone else's story.
Svip

DOOP Secretary
*
« Reply #39 on: 07-14-2010 01:45 »

In my mind, That Guy was a secondary character of sorts, as he basically drives an entire episode.  He is not in line with other tertiary characters, such as Petunia or Hattie.  The reason I argue this, is that during the time he is used on the show, he is driving the show.

It's true that none of the 'major' secondary characters have yet to have a plot about specifically them, though several episodes have had a fair share of Zapp and Mom (whom I consider both secondary characters, but major).

Calculon and Lrrr are basically 'higher ranked' Petunia and Hattie characters.  They are still 'stock characters' of sorts, but their impact can remain through an entire episode instead of just a side gag.
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