Get ready for The Simpsons in living color. Literally.
Viewers will get a glimpse of Springfield's finest in the flesh Sunday when a live title sequence mirroring every frame of the show's classic opening--from Bart's chalkboard musings to Homer's frantic dash through the garage--launches this week's new episode.
U.K. network Sky One produced the bit with British actors taking on the role of the 'toon family. The team has copied the opening down to the last detail, according to Fox spokeswoman Jill Hudson, and "it really is every aspect," she said. (Um, does that include four fingers on each hand?)
"I'm just amazed there are people who want to be known for looking like the Simpsons," executive producer Al Jean said in a statement.
We just can't wait to see what happens when they get to the couch.
The sequence has already aired in the U.K. as the centerpiece of Sky One's new Simpsons publicity campaign. England has long been a loyal friend of the family--some of the original animated Simpsons shorts Matt Groening created for The Tracey Ullman Show first aired on the BBC in 1987. The Simpsons has been nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award and it won Best International Comedy at the British Comedy Awards in 2004.
Once the animation kicks in, Sunday's episode, titled "Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife," will be yet another worldly affair for the well traveled clan as Golden Globe winner Ricky Gervais, the incomparably pompous boss on the British version of The Office, guest stars. Marge and Homer end up living with new mates after Homer signs them up for a Trading Spouses-style reality show. The woeful Charlie (Gervais), whose controlling wife gets to bully Homer for a week, ends up crushing on sweet-tempered Marge.
Gervais also wrote the episode's script.
"I've got the rough idea but this is the most intimidating project of my career," Gervais told the BBC after Groening extended him the invitation in 2004 to pen an episode. "The Simpsons is the greatest show of all time."
Fox signed up Monday for another two seasons of the 21-time Emmy winner, which Time magazine named the best television series of the 20th century. The contract extension ensures the show will be around for a 19th season in 2007-'08, meaning that The Simpsons has taken its twentysomething viewers from grade school to grad school. The longest running and most lauded cartoon in TV history will celebrate its 400th episode in May 2007.
But rather than worry about the tug of time after learning how long The Simpsons and, therefore, you have been around, be comforted by this:
Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie haven't aged a day.