Continuity

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Continuity

Post by gkscotty » Mon Jan 05, 2004 11:59 pm

A quote by Missygal in a review thread caught my eye...

I tend to discount "Bart to the Future"'s version of the future for various reasons; bad of me, I know.


The problem is, I can't see any problem with discarding BTTF's version. IMO it was a bad ep that didn't present a version of the future that jived with "Lisa's Wedding" very well. So that's an ep that I would definitely discard when writing OFF fic, along with eps like "Principal and the Pauper," "Days of Wine and D'ohses," "She of Little Faith" and in fact, much of S9-12. Yet I would accept "Little Girl in the Big Ten" or "Hungry Hungry Homer" and of course "Lisa's Wedding."

The thing is, the futures in LW and BTTF are both completely hypothetical, so there's no logical reason to favour one and discard the other. And it should definitely be implied that if "Little Girl in the Big Ten" happened then "Days of Wine and D'ohses" and "She of Little Faith" should have already happened.

The question is, how much scope do you guys think we have to ignore "canon?" Canon has never really been a big thing in the Simpsons universe (more important in Futurama) but there are definitely some facts and changed things that carry over - and technically in fanfic, unless you're doing a complete AU you should be respecting canon. Where do you guys think the line is?
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Re:Continuity

Post by Sheana_Molloy » Tue Jan 06, 2004 12:22 am

Very good point raised, Steve.

It is a tricky topic...with Futurama, continuity and the like is very important, as unlike OFF it has a set storyline that occurs over the course of the show. OFF is more spontaneous and random.

However, there are things that have to be considered. Anything that takes place in 'The Future' has to be taken with a grain of salt, as those episodes are just fuzzy predictions and not 100% confirmed stories.

As for normal-time continuity...it varies. It depends on what the individual thinks. Some may consider things to fit (like me when I wrote 'Three of Us'), others may not. Really 'out-there' episodes can be ignored, but things like marriages and death cannot. There's a fine line, and they're all crowded along the edge.
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Re:Continuity

Post by Archonix » Tue Jan 06, 2004 12:56 am

I think you probably have to consider everything canon where it doesn't contradict things that have come before it. Internal, logic and consistency are required to maintain canon, and anything that breaks the internal logic would, I think, be phased out in any list of canon events. So, for instance, the entire thing with the Tomacco farm isn't canon, as the farm had previously burned down... or so I recall. At best, it could be thought of as a dream, either of Homer or someone else.

Also anything that seems to defy the internal logic of the show. Faith Off might be a good example since OFF used to show that dangerous actions had consequences; yet in that episode we see Bart drilling in to Homer's bucket and basically mushing up one of his eyes. The episode-end reset was part of the internal consistency, present from day one, but inter-scene resets were something that appeared around season 10 and contradict what came previously.

Well that's how I see it all anyway. It doesn't matter how potentially unrealistic things might appear as long as the internal logic of the show is maintained. Homer going in to space is daft, but it was internally logical. Homer causing the death of Frank Grimes is less logical but seems to fit if you squeeze it enough... (although personally I see that episode as 'evidence'* that Homer was slipping in to a severe mental breakdown).

Well as I say. It's about consistency. The reason so many people jarred against the latter seasons is because they defied the consistency of logic that the show had established over the previous nine years. When you abandon the logic, when you abandon what was central to the show and start branching out in to strange avenues you might, once in every thousand tries, find something new and exciting. The other 999 tries are abysmal failures. YOu can reduce those odds in your favour a great deal if you try and maintain some form of consistency, and approach your new subject with honesty and integrity, instead of pretending that you're doing it for good reasons when all you're really doing is dumping the old stuff because it isn't your 'thing'... Or worse, because you're pursuing the ratings that logically should appear when you stick to what people want, instead of what you say they want.

Ach... sorry, I'm bitter about that. The SciFi channel dumped an amazing show and trashed a remake of an old one for the very same reason that FOX trashed the simpsons. They wanted what the interpreted peole wanted via focus groups, instead of actually providing quality entertainment. I miss farscape. I miss futurama. I have to say, the TV executives have strange logic... :)

* I say evidence... it's all just fantasy really so it's not real evidence, but it does fit the internal logic. *everyone else: oy, again with the "internal logic" thing...*
Last edited by Anonymous on Tue Jan 06, 2004 12:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re:Continuity

Post by Meteorite » Tue Jan 06, 2004 11:53 am

Continuity has always been a big thing for me. Anything I wrote had to gel with the show. Of course, that was before the 'Non-Episodes' came.

A few years ago, for me Non-Episodes were basically the THOH series. Anything that happened there, stayed there.
There are others but I didn't think about them until this episode came along.

Simpsons Bible Stories.

When the world came to an end at the end of the ep, I realised that there were episodes within the 'canon' part of the show that just had to be discounted, as Non-Episodes.

Some are obvious like Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase or Behind the Laughter. But there are others that require a bit of thought. A classic example would be the Simpson Gene fiasco.

Lisa the Simpson first told us that Homer (and Bart&Grampa) all have the Simpson Gene which makes them dumb. Aside from the fact that that's a stupid concept and the fact that no information is ever carried on the 'Y' chromosone like they had told us, let us assume that in the Simpson world, this is possible. With that in mind, in HOMR, a later episode, they told us that Homer was stupid because of a crayon in his brain. Without it, he was smart.

So in this case, which is the proper episode to adhere to? The truth is, IMO, that it's purely up to the writer. If someone wishes to write a fic that supports LtS but not HOMR, or vice-versa, there's no way to discount it. Both verisons are available in the series and either one is a possiblity. Although the writer would have to come up with a pretty nifty explanation for why Herb wasn't affected by the Simpson Gene. :)

So in conclusion, there are episodes that must be followed even if you don't particular like the idea (Buddhist Lisa anyone?) simply and solely because it doesn't contradict the rest of the series. But for the others, it up to the writer themselves to decide what the Non-Episodes are for them. And once they do, they must stick with it.

And as for the future... since all 'visions' of the future in the series never connect, you can either pick one(or two if you're talented enough to string them together) or you can just dump the whole lot and make something up.

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Re:Continuity

Post by c_nordlander » Tue Jan 06, 2004 12:57 pm

Now this is a topic that has always interested me. I'm feeling a bit under the weather now, so I might not make much sense, but I'll try.

Nah, continuity was never a big thing on OFF, at least not to the extent it was on Futurama. Still, there have been certain, how shall I put it, "trends" developing. (Mrs Krabappel's and Skinner's relationship, Milhouse's love for Lisa etc.) Then again, they've had all those Christmas specials and finished school thrice and whatnot. I think canon, too, is a rubber band. (Or maybe I just can't be bothered to make a definite statement.)

I agree with Sheana about the "prediction" episodes. That's what they are, predictions. They're forking prophecies, man! They're not necessarily the truth. "Lisa's Wedding" was aired before the episodes about Skinner and Krabappel falling in love, so of course, in it Mrs Krabappel was still an embittered old divorcee wanting to catch the bouquet at the wedding. So, both "Lisa's Wedding" and "Bart to the Future" may be far from the actual truth. (The fact that, IMHO, "Lisa's Wedding" rocked and "Bart to the Future" sucked is another story entirely.)

Utterly agree with Graham about intra-episodal continuity. This may be a cartoon, but there's no reason to make it *cartoonish*. (Such as Bart taking Homer's eye out.) Everything, of course, has to go back to normal after 22 minutes, but gee, not even Itchy&Scratchy brings Scratchy back from the dead in the same episode.

But, yes, this is a tricky issue. It's been a long time since I've written a Simpsons fanfic, but as I seem to recall, my own makeshift solution was to choose the bits of continuity I liked and ignore everything else. I mean, sometimes you have to do that, or you'll go mad trying to piece the threads together. Why aren't Bart and Lisa still at Rommelwood? OK... I have no answers to anything.

Going off-topic for a moment. Cover your eyes, kids.

Lisa's presidency: OK, this is personal. I'm a bit annoyed when people seem to think that referring to Lisa as the future President of the United States is the same as referencing "Bart to the Future" (which has been deemed to suck by me and many, many other fans). Lisa got morals. Lisa got brains. Electing Bill Clinton for office why not Lisa Simpson? :) No, seriously, both "Lisa on Ice" and "Lisa the Iconoclast" showed the possibility that Lisa might become President one day. This possibility was presented in fanfiction by Graham, Jason and yours truly. And, well, we don't suck.

(Though it is my belief that since Lisa gave up ice-hockey and refused to tell the truth about Jebediah Springfield, she probably won't become President after all.)

Let's face it. I didn't laugh once during "Bart to the Future", though I winced several times. But it got something right.
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


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Re:Continuity

Post by aoifestorm » Tue Jan 06, 2004 8:48 pm

Forgive my reply after a night of bad dreams and a fog in the brain.

I appreciate continuity on the show, but it doesn't bother me most of the time when something that occured in a past episode has been ignored. I do like it when this is toyed with...some character does something that they aren't supposed to be doing anymore and a joke is made about it. I like continuity more in fanfics.

In prediction episodes, things that happened before don't even have to come into play-they are just possible visions of the future.
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Re:Continuity

Post by Bothead » Wed Jan 07, 2004 7:15 pm

Exactly. And these futures change because the characters could right their wrongs. In a way, the prediction episodes show what the future is like if everything in the present was still the same. (if certain characters weren't dating or were still alive, etc.)

As for certain areas. An idea will be to make something up. Like the Simpson Gene making Simpson males dumb but Homer would be smart if it wasn't for a crayon stuck in his brain, the writers could say that the gene skips a generation (Grampa to Bart) so Homer could've been unaffected.
Before continuing, it may be in your best interest, dear reader, to stop and ponder this. Picture it in your mind's eye. An evil one-eyed midget named Cheatum swam across the Gulf of Mexico wearing a shark fin on his back and then planted a bomb on a boat. Think about that. Let that sink in. Now. Wouldn't you want to buy a wrestling show after seeing this?

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Re:Continuity

Post by c_nordlander » Wed Jan 07, 2004 8:01 pm

Er, no offence, but IMHO, the whole "Simpsons gene" idea is pretty idiotic. Quite apart from the technicalities which Alex has pointed out (and I won't even talk about the gender issue), Bart is *intelligent*. So is Herb Powell, BTW.

And don't even get me started on "HOMR". Homer acts like a genius, even though his IQ is only 100? Get lost.

That is another point I think I should make: when an episode shoots itself in the foot like that (technical errors; misrepresenting intelligent characters as stupid etc.), I don't see why I should regard it as canonical. I might as well add "Brother's Little Helper". Bart has hardly *ever* acted the way he did at the beginning of that episode. It was deliberate mischaracterisation in order to further the plot. So, in short, I don't write Bart as though he were a few horsemen short of an apocalypse. Good sense of propriety has to be the watchword. Or something.
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


Elinor Wylie, "Peregrine"
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Re:Continuity

Post by fellranger » Fri Jan 09, 2004 8:55 pm

I'm no writer but here's my two penn'orth.
I believe "canon" can be almost completely rejected in the interests of creativity. Obviously, it is fair enough to expect some resemblence in fanfic to the source that inspired but an obsessive adherence to every detail stifles creativity. It has already been mentioned in this thread that the OFF team have been played fast and loose with the original canon of the show. I do get annoyed if I percieve "out of character" behaviour in fanfic but once again, this is very subjective as I see "out of character" behaviour in most of the later episodes of OFF. If fanfic writers were to stick religiously to everything that occurred in the show, all we would end up with is a bunch of Scully/post Scully fanscripts. Surely creativity is the key to the whole genre? Some of the most entertaining and powerfull fan fiction on this site has been based on "alternate reality" situations.
I do agree with the principle of internal logic in fanfiction and OFF itself. The early seasons were marked by the completely un-cartoonlike logic of the episodes - something which has been lacking more recently.
At the end of the day, as a reader, if the characters are not too far removed from the (pre Scully) OFF versions and the storyline is reasonably intelligent and logical, then I don't give a damn how far the writers want to push the limits.
There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning....
And that, I think, was the handle - that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn't need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting - on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave....
So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark - that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

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Re:Continuity

Post by Bothead » Sun Jan 11, 2004 7:33 pm

Something that's been bugging me for a few days. Out of curiosity what does canon mean? And while I'm asking, what does IMHO mean aswell?
Before continuing, it may be in your best interest, dear reader, to stop and ponder this. Picture it in your mind's eye. An evil one-eyed midget named Cheatum swam across the Gulf of Mexico wearing a shark fin on his back and then planted a bomb on a boat. Think about that. Let that sink in. Now. Wouldn't you want to buy a wrestling show after seeing this?

Dance Epidemic tonight!

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Re:Continuity

Post by Archonix » Sun Jan 11, 2004 8:02 pm

It's an ancient christian term that's realted to what is true and acepted. Basically, a papal canon was a letter from the pope that laid out certain truths to to people. Eventually the term came to mean anything that was a true part of something and not a false addition. Realted to TV that means anything that works within the television show... but eventually you start finding that, just like the christian church, heretical ideas pop up within the framework of the canon and pretend that they're part of it. Those things are usually considered non-canon.
Our choicest plans have fallen through, our airiest castles tumbled over, because of lines we neatly drew and later neatly stumbled over.
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Re:Continuity

Post by capadde » Sun Jan 11, 2004 9:04 pm

Bothead wrote:And while I'm asking, what does IMHO mean aswell?

IMHO = In My Humble Opinion
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Re:Continuity

Post by Bothead » Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:55 pm

Thanks for that.
Before continuing, it may be in your best interest, dear reader, to stop and ponder this. Picture it in your mind's eye. An evil one-eyed midget named Cheatum swam across the Gulf of Mexico wearing a shark fin on his back and then planted a bomb on a boat. Think about that. Let that sink in. Now. Wouldn't you want to buy a wrestling show after seeing this?

Dance Epidemic tonight!

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Re:Continuity

Post by Sheana_Molloy » Tue Jan 13, 2004 11:29 pm

The newest episode, while being quite good, tossed a bit of a monkey wrench into the works of continuity by mentioning something from the 'Principal and the Pauper' episode. Any thoughts on that?

That is, any thoughts that won't devolve into screaming arguments?
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Re:Continuity

Post by c_nordlander » Wed Jan 14, 2004 7:47 am

OMG PRICIPLE AND THE PAUPER IS T3H SUXX0Rth! ;D

No... well. I, like all self-respecting fans, do think that "The Principal and the Pauper" is t3h suxx0rth. Now, I haven't seen the episode in question yet (that is "I, [annoyed grunt]bot", not "The Principal and the Pauper"), but from what I've heard, the joke sounds... well, funny of sorts, but in a shock effect kind of way. A bit like Lisa reading the Complete Guide in "Today I am a Clown". And as a rule, there are better ways to raise laughs than by shocking people.

Question: did he get tortured for referring to Principal Skinner as Tamzarian? :)
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


Elinor Wylie, "Peregrine"
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