Homer's Odyssey: An Embiggened Simpsons Guide Hardcover – 2 Nov 2017
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About the Author
Four Finger Discount has quickly established itself as one of the most entertaining shows about The Simpsons. Dando & Mitch present their weekly podcast from Australia and look at every episode of the Simpsons, starting from the very beginning. It is a must listen for any discerning fan who misses the golden age of the show.
Brendan Dando: After studying a bachelor of Public Relations and Marketing at Deakin Waurn Ponds, Brendan shifted his focus to a career in radio, working for a number of stations in the Geelong region. It was here that he established his love for podcasting, which, combined with his experience in social marketing resulted in him hosting a number of successful podcasts of his own, the most prominent being Four Finger Discount.
Brendan has a passion for TV and film, his two favourite films being E.T & The Empire Strikes Back. He's an avid Beatles fan and when he's not talking about The Simpsons, you can find him supporting his beloved Geelong Cats in the AFL.
Mitchell Grinter: The oldest of five siblings, Mitch has always had a great passion for reading and writing, as well as film and television. As a young boy, these activities provided him a means of entertainment, but as he has grown, he has looked to turn them into a career. In the past, Mitch has written, produced, directed and starred in several stage-plays, taking home several awards along the way. His relaxed and relatable on-stage persona has carried into his writing, where he has been able to deliver engaging and easy to read material. Homer's Odyssey is his first book, and with two more fiction projects in the works, it is the beginning of a career he has long dreamed of.
Mitch is the co-host of the successful podcast, Four Finger Discount. He lives in Geelong with his wife, Ashleigh, and their two Labradors, Murphy and Indiana.
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Brendan Dando and Mitch Grinter know what I’m talking about. This is a book written by fans, for fans; embracing followers of any level from casual viewer to fanatic. That is also the great strength of their podcast, Four Finger Discount. When you listen to Mitch and Dando speak, it’s as though you’re kicking back with your Springfield loving mates. You know those conversations that begin with ‘hey, do you remember the Simpsons episode where…’ This book distills the essence of these reveries, capturing it on the page through discussions of the golden era seasons, episode analysis and interviews with the team behind the show.
There is real insight into the subject matter, giving form to the feelings you have had about the show but may never have thought through at length. Despite the nostalgia which it evokes, the analysis is free of rose-tinting and episodes are judged frankly. For example, some may not agree with their assertion that season 3 episode The Otto Show is any less than a classic, but this is the writer’s own opinion, backed up by a reasoned argument, and whether you share the view or not is beside the point. This willingness to share a personal reaction, rather than just generic trivia, is what makes the writing so engaging.
Indeed, the personal touches which run throughout also give the book a lovely charm. Take Mitch’s anecdote of hiring a Simpsons VHS from Blockbuster one childhood summer, and revelling in the two episodes which they contained. How many of us can relate to that? I remember slowly building my collection of Simpsons VHS’s (the themed ones with titles like Bart Wars and Simpsons.com) over many years, only for DVD’s and, later, the internet to make them entirely obsolete. And then there’s Dando’s giddy glee when visiting the show’s HQ with his wife; it brings a smile to the reader’s face imagining his excitement, thinking of times when we too have been returned to our eight year old selves by the return of some great childhood passion. We recognise these stories, empathise with them. At such moments, we remember just how great it is, at age eight, twenty-eight, or eighty, to be a fan.
The interviews allow us a window inside The Simpsons, giving us the perspective of the actors, animators and writers. This allows the book to de-mystify the show as we learn about the hard graft which went into making every single episode and the initial uncertainty about the show’s survival. We realise that the golden period was the product of frustrating writing sessions and tight deadlines, and so gain a new appreciation for the animators, actors and writers who drove the show to its heights. It was never pre-destined, but was rather a happy meeting of talent and passion that gave us some of the best animated TV ever.
Regarding the show’s history from season 12 onwards, the writer’s opinion is not what you might think it would be. It’s fashionable to denigrate the show’s last sixteen years (often with good reason), the current orthodoxy being that it long ago became an exercise in flogging a dead horse. But Mitch and Dando beg to offer a heartening demurral. Whilst recognising the decline, they argue that The Simpsons is still capable of produced some great episodes fit to rank with the golden-era, and they list some for us to check out. Further, they state that the show’s longevity is nothing to be depressed about but is rather a cause for hope. As long as it lives then perhaps, they suggest, it might regain its former glory someday. It is a positive way to end the book, an optimistic look to the future even as we appreciate the past. Maybe that’s what we need, in place of the cynicism which we are often prone to.
Many of us will remember that great dip-in dip-out book of yore, Bart Simpson’s Guide To Life. Mitch and Dando have, dare I say it, created something of a latter-day equivalent for those of us who grew up consulting that immortal tome. It’s the same format; you can jump in anywhere, any section, and find yourself engrossed. Okay, so these days it is the episode analysis and interviews which draw us in, rather than ‘annoying questions to ask your teacher’ or ‘lies your parents tell you’. We appreciate the show on new levels now but at heart, it’s the same thing; fun with your favourite family. From Bart’s Guide to Homer’s Odyssey feels like a graduation; we have grown up and our love for the Simpsons has evolved with us. And until those thousand monkeys working at a thousand typewriters write the best Simpsons book known to man, this is the one to spend your dollarydoos on.
It does bring back memories of episodes I haven’t seen for a while, and it also introduces new information that I didn’t know about many of the episodes mentioned, so a fun read, and one which is well worth dipping into and enjoying over a period of time.