Most often, even the greats of entertainment need to start at the bottom floor. In 1990, Judd Apatow (now the ubiquitous writer-director of films such as Knocked Up and the upcoming This Is 40) was an ambitious-but-frustrated 23-year-old trying to carve his way into Hollywood comedy. During his efforts to find an opening into the insular world of television writing, Apatow took a crack at submitting an unsolicited spec script to what was then a fledgling, up-and-coming series: The Simpsons.
Needless to say, he did not find success with the raucous animated satire. Since then, Judd Apatow has not only found his way into the Hollywood movie-making scene, he has routinely found box office success with comedies that carry his name. Based on that name power alone, it looks as if the Simpsons script that time forgot is going to get another chance. Apatow recently announced that his freshman effort has been dusted off and will see production in the near future.
In an interview posted on Conan O’Brien’s web supplemental series Serious Jibber-Jabber, Judd Apatow admitted that he has been approached by producers of The Simpsons asking to use the spec script he wrote 22 years ago. Simpsons executive producer Al Jean heard about the forgotten script when Apatow mentioned it in an interview done for the upcoming opening of his new film, This Is 40. Intrigued and eager to attach Apatow’s star power to The Simpsons, he contacted the director and asked if the show might finally take the script into consideration.
Apparently, Apatow’s script involves Homer (Dan Castellaneta) going to a shyster hypnotist and becoming convinced that he is a ten-year-old-boy. In the process of returning to his adolescent heyday, Homer becomes best friends with Bart (Nancy Cartwright) and discovers it difficult to return to the workaday life of a middle-aged slob. When one thinks about it, the description sounds like an opposite tack on many of the themes of aging, maturity, and responsibility tackled by Apatow in his film scripts.
Though it’s amusing to think about Apatow’s unique brand of raunchy comedy combined with pathos inserted into The Simpsons, one has to wonder how well it will mesh with the show at this point in its history. Al Jean has presided over a show that has had solid ratings for two decades, but has also somewhat alienated its original audience. This is not necessarily a bad thing – long-running television series need to evolve in order to outrun stagnation, and if they shed viewers while picking up new ones, the net gain is undeniable.
At the same time, Apatow’s script was written for The Simpsons when it was in its infancy – a period in which the series had fewer tertiary characters, focused largely on the Simpson family itself, and had a far more acidic social viewpoint. If this long-lost story is anything in keeping with that aesthetic, the resultant episode may stand out like a bruised thumb from the current run of the show. Of course, revisions made between now and the episode’s airing will probably smooth out any major tonal inconsistencies.
All this makes the upcoming production of Judd Apatow’s script doubly interesting – not only is it a story written by one of Hollywood’s premiere funny-men, it may also serve as a king of narrative time capsule to the era when parachute pants were plentiful and The Simpsons was denounced by the President of the United States.
The Simpsons continues its 25th season on Sundays.
Source: Team Coco