It's like closed captioning in reverse!
May 21, 2005 10:15 AM   Subscribe

The Simpsons as read by WGBH. WFMU's Station Manager Ken discovers an extra audio track on the Simpsons that describes the visuals for blind people. He even provides a 21 MB, 23 minute MP3 of a recent episode that is surprisingly listenable. Sure it's missing all the sex and drugs, but your iPod is a handy way to take the Simpsons with you. Are podcasts of TV show audio tracks next? Will we be listening to Family Guy and the Daily Show during our commutes?
posted by revgeorge (22 comments total)
And no, I don't think this is something you'd need a TV to understand.
posted by revgeorge at 10:16 AM on May 21, 2005

that's pretty cool.
I wonder if someone's taken the VCR yet.
posted by Busithoth at 10:31 AM on May 21, 2005

I'd listen to old, or new Daily Show episodes on my commute.
More entertaining that Rush, Sean, or Mike...
posted by Balisong at 10:41 AM on May 21, 2005

Discovers? Uh The Simpsons have had the AD logo in their title sequence for a long time, I believe there are 3 audio tracks for each episode, English, Spanish, and Audio Description.

Here's a list of Audio Description carrying shows currently on TV.
posted by riffola at 10:54 AM on May 21, 2005

My mistake, the logo in The Simpsons title sequence is SAP (Secondary Audio Program) which also implies that the spanish audio is embeded in it.
posted by riffola at 10:56 AM on May 21, 2005

Interesting. I knew they did this for "Blind Justice", but I didn't know if that was specifically because the protagonist was blind.

(That was a great show, btw. Of course, like most good shows, it's being canceled.)
posted by First Post at 11:13 AM on May 21, 2005

ExpressVu satellite in Canada has at least one (in fact, I think it's many more, now) dedicated descriptive video channel.

Note for the bored that one of the special editions of Terminator 2 includes the descriptive audio for the video. It was actually far less exciting than I had hoped, but what the hell! :-D
posted by shepd at 11:19 AM on May 21, 2005

I'd actually listen to a Daily Show descriptive audio, though I'd miss Stewart's expressions and the awkwardly staring interviewees from the field segments. You can't put that in words.

Once I popped in a rented "Field of Dreams" and discovered they gave me the DA version. I watched anyway, and by the end I didn't even notice. You know how you can recall hearing English in a foreign film, even though it was actually subtitled? It was that effect -- I can't remember the DA from all but the first scene of "Field of Dreams."
posted by NickDouglas at 11:50 AM on May 21, 2005

Wacky. My tivo mistakenly picked the extra audio channel on The Simpsons up last week too. Personally I found it distracting and I don't think it comes close to making the simpsons into a radio show. After all, this is animation -- goofy, over-the-top visual gags are the whole point of the medium.
posted by selfmedicating at 12:11 PM on May 21, 2005

Joining us late?

The icon that Fox superimposes on The Simpsons is the now-outdated WGBH description pictograph, whose history I have covered. There's a better alternative available.

SAP is a single monaural audio channel. You can use it for description or a second language, but not both.

Blind Justice was indeed described (by the mom-'n'-pop shop We See TV [sic]) solely because it features (inevitably) a sighted actor playing a blind character. I've given up on it after three full homophobic episodes, but I ran a Watch column for a while.

My issue with the T2 description was the boring-as-shit narrator. There are a (laughably) few dozen other DVDs with description; I outsourced the list to Wikipedia. First-run movies are another description source. And there's certainly a lot more described programming on Canadian TV than in the U.S., where our friends at the MPAA, among others, sued to have a description requirement rescinded and won.
posted by joeclark at 12:17 PM on May 21, 2005

Great find..
posted by AloneOssifer at 12:41 PM on May 21, 2005

A few years ago, Showcase in Canada aired must've aired the audio description version of The Last Days of Disco. I had been told by some people that Stillman's characters were very articulate but I never expected the constant narration, which made for a better viewing experience than the regular audio.
posted by myopicman at 2:32 PM on May 21, 2005

This has happened a number of times, where the descriptive audio during the Simpsons has gone out over the air for everyone to hear on the Detroit FOX affiliate. Just out of nowhere a narrator is heard describing the action on screen for a few seconds. Then he's gone.
posted by yupislyr at 4:09 PM on May 21, 2005

i didn't see this episode, but for some reason i'm finding it funnier and more enjoyable than any simpsons episode in recent memory. maybe it's the fact that i have to imagine all the settings, like in a book.
turns out my imaginary style is very different from the usual simpsons animation... i pictured grampa simpson running across photo-realistic salt flats, cobalt blue sky, in a wide angle medium close-up, as the yellow bus pulls towards the horizon...
great find. fascinating. thanks!
posted by Silky Slim at 4:33 PM on May 21, 2005

your iPod is a handy way to take the Simpsons with you

Of course, those of us with personal video players have been taking the Simpsons with us for years. Watching movies on a small screen does encounter certain limitations, but TV-scale animations are more than acceptable. The H10 is a nice little machine for this sort of thing. Hell, I even have Simpsons and Futurama episodes encoded directly from my ReplayTV onto my 2001-era Archos. Of course (since we're on the subject), one bonus of the Archos with Rockbox is that it actually provides talking navigation menus for blind people, so they can easily navigate to the content stored on the machine.
posted by meehawl at 4:50 PM on May 21, 2005

H320, not h10, sorry.
posted by meehawl at 5:01 PM on May 21, 2005

A few years ago, Showcase in Canada aired must've aired the [open-described] version of The Last Days of Disco
...which was about as well-done as you'd expect from AudioVision Canada.
posted by joeclark at 5:01 PM on May 21, 2005

This has to be an old, old Simpsons.

It's amusing, but the editing (is it still editing when it's an animation? maybe the pacing) is a little jarring, as though they're still having issues moving from the short Tracey Ullman segment format.

Or maybe it just seems that way in audio.
posted by blacklite at 8:21 PM on May 21, 2005

blacklite: it's from 2 weeks ago,
posted by Silky Slim at 10:11 PM on May 21, 2005

For info on the episode, check out May 8 here
posted by anarcation at 10:27 PM on May 21, 2005

Wow, I want all the simpsons episodes like this. I can sit in my cube and code, or be on a long drive and still have the simpsons with me. Yea!
posted by SirOmega at 11:11 PM on May 21, 2005

A Daily Show podcast would make a fortune. If only someone would bring it to fruition...
posted by Down10 at 3:30 PM on May 22, 2005

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