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I'm trying to understand this line –– cranked out with abandon. Does it mean that Fox produced lots of bad and cheap merchandise without any shame? Or it means something else?

Season 8, which ran from October of 1996 to May of 1997, has more than one episode that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of The Simpsons, which may be why Season 8 has the feeling of a show that is winding itself down. Starting all the way back in Season 1, with a joke about cartoons being on in primetime, The Simpsons had always sent itself up along with everything else. Whether it was laughing at its own Thanksgiving parade float, describing its theme music as an “annoying tune”, quickly glancing at the fourth wall, or making jokes about the endless merchandise FOX cranked out with abandon, the show often found lighthearted ways to poke fun at itself and its success.

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You're looking at two separate idioms:

  • "Cranked out" - to produce something in large amounts.

  • "With abandon": showing a complete lack of inhibition or restraint.

Your assessment of the phrase is pretty accurate - it means they mass-produced something with very little care or concern for quality.

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