Starting Thursday, a 12-day marathon of "The Simpsons" will air on the cable network FXX, starting at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT. All 552 episodes (that have aired on the Fox network to date) will air in order, as well as 2007's "The Simpsons Movie," before episode 400, coinciding with when the movie was theatrically released.
Showrunner and executive producer Al Jean recently spoke by phone about the upcoming marathon.
Q: How does it feel to you, having been involved with this for so many years, to see "The Simpsons" as a 12-day marathon?
Jean: Everything that happens with the show at this point is sort of beyond my comprehension. Driving around (in L.A.), I see the marathon advertisements on the sides of buses, and the fact that it╒s longer than a week of all the same show has been fantastic to me. The interest seems to be there, and it's not just in the marathon, but in the little details of the show and the (October launch of the) "Simpsons World" app is fantastic.
Q: Will you be Tweeting during the show?
Jean: At points, not every minute. That would be the end of me. (He laughs.)
Q: Will the voice cast like Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright or Yeardley Smith or any of the other writers or producers planning to Tweet during the marathon as well?
Jean: The other writers are. We've invited former writers and we've invited many of the guest stars. We'll see what happens. I'm hoping that Patton Oswalt or Sarah Silverman would like to come on and say something. We're totally encouraging it. It's @BestSimpson, the Twitter site reserved for the marathon. I'll be tweeting when it starts.
Q: Do you think some viewers will watch the entire thing?
Jean: I'm not sure it's physically possible for any human being to stay up and watch the entire marathon. Actually, medically, I think I would strongly urge you get some sleep. (He chuckles.)
Q: I'm sure there are going to be people who try to stay up for at least the first two or three days and watch the early seasons. What advice would you give for people who make such an attempt?
Jean: I would say medical doctors have said you can't go more than two days without sleeping. We at "The Simpsons," do not want anyone killing themselves over watching the show. I think you should definitely record them and watch for later. But I do think you might see a lot of different things and be surprised by what you see if you watch at different points during the marathon.
Q: Do you personally have a period of the show that you're really looking forward to revisit or maybe an episode that you're not looking forward to revisit?
Jean: Anytime I see an episode, I always look at it and go, "Oh, we screwed that up" or "That could be better." I never look at them as perfectly finished. My 9-year-old daughter actually watches "The Simpsons" today, not because I make her but because she wants to. So I've been seeing a lot of them from different eras, and I have a particular love for when we started with digital coloring, around season 14. Those shows were really great, like we did one with (musician) George Clinton. I just saw that recently, and it was really cool. He was a great guy. I also like the ones that may not be as well known as the earlier ones that people might want to look at.
Q: Are the episodes airing during the marathon the syndicated version, the shorter ones, or are they the longer, original episodes?
Jean: They'e the original versions, but they're expanded to HD. On the app, you can get the original 4x3 (dimensions) for people that would want to see it. But the ones that they're broadcasting, as I understand it, are the originals with the HD expansion for the ones that weren't shot in HD.