The Simpsons make animation history with live episode – and Homer promises the series will “never end”

The long-running show made animated history last night as Dan Castellaneta answered viewers' questions in character

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“It only lasted three minutes, like eating cheeseburgers and making love.” Yup, as we were still scratching our heads, wondering just how this was going to work, The Simpsons made animated history last night by going live with a segment that saw Homer answer an assortment of questions from callers.

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The broadcast took place within Fox Studios Secret Bunker (which turned out to be a set inside the family living room) as viewers saw Dan Castellaneta’s Homer Simpson sat behind a desk with various characters popping up in the foreground.

He began with the revelation: “This is the last episode of The Simpsons. Just kidding. The Simpsons will never end. Now I’ve told you two lies.”

The questions he went on to answer weren’t exactly revelatory – ranging from what’s your favourite job to what car do you drive – but the show’s final minutes mark the first time an animated series has broadcast live on television, a stunt achieved by “new-and-improved motion-capture technology,” according to executive producer Al Jean. 

“There is less of a variety of motion, and after a while, it might start to look a little repetitive,” he told Entertainment Weekly earlier this month. “That’s why we’re not doing any more than three minutes. You have a limited number of lip assignments and motions that Homer can make, and you see him run through those in the course of the three minutes.

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“The reason I don’t think they’re going to be doing half-hour motion capture shows in the near future is because although it is much cheaper and you can just film it live, you can’t do the complicated set pieces that people want from animation. We do everything we can in the three minutes that’s possible.”