Friday, May 15, 2015

The Trouble With Harry or Not Excellent

For years I wondered what would happen if one of The Simpsons voices died, or couldn't continue.  It's finally happened--Harry Shearer has left the show.  Not sure why.  It's got to be one of the best gigs in town--do a little voice work (no costumes, no memorizing, etc.) and make millions.  Who'd quit that?

But he has (and it figures it'd be the prickly Shearer).  When Phil Hartman, who did recurring bits, died, the show retired his characters.  But it can't be done so easily with Shearer.

There are six main voice actors on the show (along with a few other regulars who fill is generally less important voices).  There's Julie Kavner, mostly Marge, but also her sisters Patty and Selma.  There's Yeardley Smith, who's Lisa.  There's Nancy Cartwright, who's mostly Bart, but also does Todd Flanders, Ralph Wiggums, Nelson Muntz, Kearney and a few others.  These three, as important as they are, would be a lot easier to replace than the other three, Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria and Shearer.  Combined, they probably do about 80% of the audience favorites.

Castellaneta, first and foremost, is Homer.  But he's also Krusty, Groundskeeper Willie, Grampa Simpson, Barney Gumble, Mayor Quimby, Sideshow Mel, and quite a few others. Azaria is Apu, Chief Wiggum, Professor Frink, Moe, Comic Book Guy, Duffman and a whole bunch of others as well.  And among the numerous Shearer voices are Ned Flanders, Monty Burns, Smithers, Otto, Kent Brockman, Reverend Lovejoy, Principal Skinner and Doctor Hibbert.

Yes, I know there are people who can duplicate these voices.  But I have to think someone with a good ear could tell the difference. I guess it's a good thing I stopped watching regularly a few years ago.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Denver Guy said...

I also see the Muppet Show is coming back to TV. Jim Henson of course voiced the original Kermit, and I think a bunch of other characters. They have continued to do movies since he left, but I always thought the voice was not quite right. They also addressed the loss by introducing many new characters, and focusing more on other characters like Miss Piggy and Gonzo.

Still, to a new generation of Muppet watchers, they won't know the difference, and probably would complain if they saw episodes of the original show voiced by Henson.

8:41 AM, May 15, 2015  
Blogger LAGuy said...

It has been hard to listen to Kermit since Henson's death. If Frank Oz goes, just retire the whole franchise.

There were similar problems at Mel Blanc's death, though by them Warner Brothers' cartoons were less common.


9:21 AM, May 15, 2015  

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