Al-Shamshoon (partially lost Arabic adaptation of "The Simpsons" Fox animated sitcom; 2005)
Al-Shamshoon (Arabic: الشمشون) was an adaptation of the long-running American TV sitcom The Simpsons adapted for a Middle-Eastern audiences. Al-Shamshoon was produced by the Saudi owned media company Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) with the first episode airing in 2005. In order to better suit a Middle-Eastern audience and to meet the guidelines of various Middle-Eastern governments, many changes were made to the series. These changes would actually end up being so drastic that it caused the series to have a short run due to low viewership. While 52 episodes of Al-Shamshoon were made, only 34 aired leaving 18 unaired episodes currently lost.
The Simpsons airs in numerous countries with numerous cultural changes in order to fit the standards of the country in which it is airing in. Prior to the production of Al-Shamshoon, The Simpsons aired on networks in the Middle-East such as Showtime Arabia and Dubai's One TV in English with Arabic subtitles. The Simpsons was very popular among viewers in the Middle-East and in order to capitalize on its growing popularity, Saudi owned media company Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) produced its dub and take on The Simpsons.
Al-Shamshoon aired on the first night of the Islamic holiday of Ramadan on October 4, 2005. A lot of very noticeable changes were made to the show in order to better fit the Middle Eastern region. Among these changes The Simpsons include name changes, the character Homer not drinking beer, all references to Moe's Tavern were edited out, the removal of references to Judaism, the elimination of certain characters, Springfield changed to Rabeea, the church became a mosque, and references to bacon were edited out. In order to be effective "Arabized," the showrunners only worked with certain episodes. They opted to start with season 4, skipping the early seasons, and adapted popular episodes like "Cape Feare." Several early episodes, notably "Homer the Heretic" (which details Homer's dismissal of church and foundation of his own religion after an epiphany) were not adapted.
Many viewers found the changes made to Al-Shamshoon to be just too different and not funny. On top of that, many people in the Middle East see cartoons, as aimed towards kids, who did not see a reason to watch Al-Shamshoon. Due to massive criticism from viewers and even from executive producer John Swartzwelder, Al-Shamshoon was pulled from air after thirty-four episodes.
Due to the series not being well-received, Al-Shamshoon has never been released onto home media. In 2023, an Internet Archive user going by Kira Days uploaded the first ten aired episodes, meaning there are 24 aired episodes that are still lost. The remaining eighteen unaired episodes have yet to surface.
|Episode Number||Status||More Information|
- Currys (partially found "The Simpsons" Sky One sponsorships ads from British electronics retailer; 2009-2010)
- Fox Kids "Bartcasting" (partially found "The Simpsons" promo on children's program block; 1996)
- Season Six Alternative Packaging Program (lost audio from phone number based on "The Simpsons" animated TV sitcom; 2005-2011)
- The Simpsons (partially found deleted scenes of Fox animated sitcom; 1989-present)
- The Simpsons (partially found scripts for unproduced episodes of Fox animated sitcom; 1990s)
- The Simpsons Movie (partially found alternate versions and deleted scenes of animated comedy film; 2007)
- The Simpsons "Some Enchanted Evening" (partially found original pilot of Fox animated sitcom; 1989-1990)
- Early ABC News article about the series Arabic adaptation . Retrieved 12 Mar '17
- MentalFloss article about the adaptation. Retrieved 12 Mar '17
- CBC article about the troubles during production. Retrieved 12 Mar '17
- ABC article on Al-Shamshoon where John Swartzwelder voices his criticism over the changes. Retrieved 04 Apr '20
- Wall Street Journal article about its failure. Retrieved 12 Mar '17