Remember The Simpsons‘ Treehouse of Horror episode in which Homer goes into the third dimension and ends up in the real world? Well, it appears he is one step closer towards another visit.
The Simpsons plan to have a live segment featuring the lovable oaf this May. According to THR, Homer will take questions during the three-minute feature that will be at the end of the episode. Actor Dan Castellaneta, who voices the character (along with half of Springfield), will essentially be ad-libbing answers to the on-air questions.
This of course sounds impossible due to the amount of time it takes to animate and synchronize the voice (months), but showrunner Al Jean has it all figured out: they will use motion capture technology to depict Homer’s voice and movement. Per Jean, “As far as I know, this is the first time that’s been done by any animated show.”
To ensure sincerity, the discussion will surround “topical subjects” and things Castellenata “could only be saying live on that day.” Jean also shares that this seeming gag actually fits into the theme of the episode: improv comedy.
Starting May 1st, Fox is encouraging fans to tweet their questions for Homer using the hashtag #HomerLive. They will take questions until May 4th, and the episode will air May 15th.
All in all, this sounds like a neat idea. While some may contend the show is not as relevant as it once was, it remains a classic comedy with classic characters who are by no means overstaying their welcome. The fact that they have stayed around long enough to utilize, and depict, varying technologies is pretty impressive. In that vein, it’s curious to think in which form Homer will appear, as motion capture usually results in CGI rather than hand-drawn animation. Will we be seeing a return of Homer in the third dimension?
One curious note is the fact that they are taking questions beforehand. Perhaps it is to control as many variables as possible in such a setting, but having ready-made responses is not ad-libbing. Maybe it’s just to test it out and see how the technology works before going live. Regardless, it’s great to see The Simpsons trying new things, and in this case, exploring unique ways to interact with fans and portray the story. While some fans may not sit down every week to watch, this isn’t a bad way to grab their attention.
Also, it sounds like it will be live on both the East and West coast broadcasts, so be sure to catch it twice!
The Simpsons live segment will air Sunday, May 15th on Fox.