This is a sad day in the world of television; Harry Shearer is leaving The Simpsons after 26 years. For the purists out there we will still hear his voice on the series until November. However, it is what happens after that is the part of this that I find the most fascinating. Shearer’s departure is one of the two things that I have been saying since the show’s finances, and contract negotiations made news. The other had to do with the unfortunate passing of Marcia Wallace could end the run of The Simpsons. One is that Matt Groening pulls the plug on it and tells current show runner Al Jean that it is over. The other one was that the talents of Hank Azaria, Dan Castellaneta, or Harry Shearer were lost, as all the characters are voiced between the three of them.
The interesting thing about this is that Al Jean said that they do not intend to kill off Harry’s characters but are recasting. This is the first time that a piece of the Simpsons machine needed to be replaced, with the passing of Wallace and even Phil Hartman they did not use those characters again. In November, we will see whether the pieces of this machine are replaceable or if it were as I had thought that it would not work. With that in mind, one of two things will happen; one is that the recasting of Shearer works, like with the various Muppet characters and The Simpsons will carry on as an American institution until the end of time. Or Groening puts in his will that when he dies The Simpsons dies with him. Whichever one comes first. The second scenario is that it does not work the audience does not embrace it, and The Simpsons ends at the end of its current renewal through season 28. The second scenario is the one that some of my friends have me on the record saying is the ultimate of The Simpsons, and I hope for America’s sake I have it wrong.