The Simpsons editor Mike Bridge (L), executive producer Matt Selman (R) and co-executive producer Brian Kelley look at an upcoming Lego episode at the editing bay in 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles. REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian
Fox's hit animated show "The Simpsons," which has used
donut-loving Homer and his dysfunctional family to satirize
US popular culture for 25 years, is celebrating another
milestone with a plastic makeover featuring Lego building
"Brick Like Me," airing on Sunday in the US, marks the show's
550th episode and adds a notch in this year's revival of the
popular Danish plastic building brick, after the runaway
success of February's "The Lego Movie."
"The Simpsons," created by Matt Groening and premiering in
1989, has rarely changed its basic visual form in a quarter
century. It is the world's most-watched UStelevision show,
syndicated across more than 100 countries, and reaches more
than 150 million viewers a week according to Fox. The show
also has one of the largest TV Facebook fan pages with 72
The show has tapped into the changing American zeitgeist and
successfully embedded itself in international pop culture
over the past two decades, with Homer's "D'oh!" catchphrase
entering the Oxford English Dictionary in 2001.
"Brick Like Me," the brainchild of longtime "Simpsons"
writer-producers Brian Kelley and Matt Selman, will see both
the cartoon characters and town of Springfield reimagined in
the form of the plastic toy brick blocks.
In a clip of footage shown to Reuters, Homer and Marge wake
up in their 3D Lego forms and Homer tumbles, disassembling
himself. Later, Bart goes to Springfield Elementary school
and manages to reduce the building into a rubble of plastic
"We really try to take full advantage of the Lego playground,
to tell the story from a different way than we usually
would," Selman said at the show's headquarters in the center
of the Fox Studios lot in Los Angeles.
"It yielded a ton of jokes being able to be in a world that
is similar to our normal universe but different in key ways,"
Kelley said. "It's very hard on the regular show to
disassemble our characters without causing them permanent
harm, but in Lego, we could do that," he added.
"The Simpsons" has endured in part due to its ability to
mirror and comment on cultural and social issues through the
average middle class American family of Homer, Marge and
their children Bart, Lisa and Maggie. The show often fuses
classic family themes with pop culture references.
"We do a parody of a current movie series in this episode,
but it's always a goal that the show be timeless as it can
be," Kelley said. "If there's too many pop culture
references, it can really date the show."
FINDING FRESH STORYLINES
Al Jean, executive producer of "The Simpsons" and one of the
original team from 1989, said viral content - including an
animated parody of Ellen DeGeneres' recent Oscars selfie that
showed Bradley Cooper kicking Homer out of the frame - had
always helped keep the show current.
Once able to draw upwards of 12 million viewers per episode a
decade ago, the current "Simpsons" season has averaged 6.1
million viewers per episode. The ratings slump did not
concern Jean, who said the show was still in the top five
primetime scripted shows commanding the highest advertising
After 25 years, Jean said the biggest challenge he and the
writers faced is finding fresh takes on some storylines.
The writing team gather around a large rectangular wooden
table in a room with high ceilings and wooden beams. On one
wall, large square placards featuring the show's characters
have been signed by the show's eclectic guest stars.
Selman said that while the show doesn't rely on guest stars,
he'd like to see Sean Connery and David Bowie lend their
voices, while Jean said he'd like to see comedian Will
As season 26 goes into production, fans can prepare for the
big episode where a character will die - the only clue Jean
gave is the character's voice actor has won an Emmy for the
But one beloved "Simpsons" figure was forced to retire in the
25th season - Springfield Elementary's jaded teacher Edna
Krabappel, voiced by late actress Marcia Wallace.
Wallace's death in October 2013 raised questions about the
show's future if any of the lead voice actors - Dan
Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Julie Kavner, Harry Shearer,
Yeardley Smith and Hank Azaria - left the show.
"The short answer is we don't want to do it without our cast,
and the longer answer is, I wouldn't want to think about or
project on that," Jean said.