Mark Mikula's Reviews > The Simpsons: An Uncensored, Unauthorized History

The Simpsons by John Ortved
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's review
Apr 27, 2012

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bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read in April, 2012

John Ortved's history of The Simpsons attempts the same feat as Live from New York, television critic Tom Shales's history of Saturday Night Live told through quotes from various people involved in the show (writers, performers, executives). I own the Saturday Night Live retrospective, but I haven't read it yet. I picked up Ortved's book from the library because I am an unapologetic fan of animated series, despite calls from former devotees to put an end to the show already because it ran its course somewhere along the way.

I liked the book well enough, but Ortved wasn't able to track down everyone associated with the show. There are some significant people associated with the show who are reclusive or resistant to interviewing, so some of the gap filling is speculative. Such is the nature of a book like this. Ortved does his best to break from the interview style and insert commentary and speculation of his own, but his passages make for an imbalanced treatment of the story of The Simpsons.

Much more space is devoted to the early years of the show rather than to the later years, probably because most of the early fans of the show feel that the last sixteen or fourteen or ten years of the show haven't had much to offer. I would so much rather hear about specific episodes during the dead years of the show that people still found compelling enough to warrant attention. A little of that happens in the book, but not enough for me. Maybe I'm too devoted a fan to appreciate a survey that isn't as concerned with much of the minutiae that appears in other books.

To my mind, the best stuff about The Simpsons is typically in the DVD extras associated with the discs that have been released, but there are a few more Simpsons books on my list that might change my mind about that.

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