‘The Simpsons’ Marathon Has Already Smashed Records For FXX, But Something Looks Off

Are you enjoying the Every Simpsons Ever marathon on FXX? It’s certainly a great way to relive The Simpsons golden years in an easy to digest way. No need to throw a disc into a player or seek an illegal stream when you can just record it legitimately to your DVR and watch with the press of a button.

And a lot of people are watching. So many that FXX experienced it’s biggest day ever when the marathon started on Thursday. From Variety:

According to Nielsen estimates, the six half-hours of “The Simpsons” averaged a 0.49 rating in adults 18-49 and 1.01 million viewers overall. The demo score was good enough for a fifth-place primetime finish for FXX — ahead of parent network FX as well as cable biggies including TNT and USA.

FXX also ranked No. 1 in basic cable primetime Thursday in men 18-34.

Last week in primetime, FXX averaged a 0.13 rating in adults 18-49 (165,000 in that age group) and 304,000 viewers overall. Also by way of comparison, the most recent original of the net’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” averaged a 0.35 rating in the demo and 535,000 total viewers.

But not everything is all great. We are always talking about the nostalgia blindness that accompanies the media. That’s why people went mad over a Ninja Turtles movie that was clearly a poor idea.

Are The Simpsons and FXX seeing this same effect? Might the idea of a large marathon of every episode of The Simpsons be hiding an ugly truth? Yes, according to Indiewire:

[Hardcore] fans of the series have noticed something off about the early seasons: they’re in the wrong aspect ratio. Instead of running the episodes in their original 4:3 standard definition format, frames have been cropped, zoomed in and stretched to fit 16:9, or the current format for HDTV, complete with heavy digital noise reduction to make it look cleaner (not always a good thing, and certainly not here). At its most benign, it looks slightly off.

I can personally attest to this and Indiewire has many more examples on the article and their live blog of the marathon. The cropping effectively ruins entire visual jokes, notable highlights of the series. Not only that, but FXX is putting the uncut versions of these episodes on the shelf following this marathon:

On top of that, while this marathon is running only the original cuts of the episodes, future airings on FXX will be the shorter, syndicated versions, which have cut jokes so as to fit in more ads. The uncut episodes will be available in 4:3 on the “Simpsons World” app, but those looking to tune in to the episodes they saw when they originally aired will be mighty disappointed. FXX says they plan to break out the originals only for special occasions (and presumably still in 16:9).

So it’s a bit of a sour note on an awesome event. It doesn’t ruin it entirely and as they point out at Indiewire and The AV CLub, It is still The Simpsons. Before this, most of what we got on television was a hodgepodge of old episodes and a bunch of the newer crap. Not to mention, my local Fox station would show the new HD episodes in a cropped 4:3 box. Why even show them at all? For this marathon though,  I’m still recording my favorite episodes, tainted or not.

For all intents and purposes, the Simpsons World/ FX Now app looks better and better by the moment. This marathon might drop the ball on some aspects of the episodes, but it’s selling the app better than any online marketing could ever do. I can only hope it’s as easy and user friendly as South Park Studios has been.

(Via Deadline / Variety / Indiewire)