I like The Simpsons. The show, to this day, is nothing I watch new episodes of but I watched the show in syndication before I went to bed years ago and I always enjoyed it. I knew people complained about the shows deteriorating quality in later seasons, but I never saw it—I was just watching what my local Fox affiliate wanted to show me. I had no idea what I was watching and up until now I still didn’t know what seasons I was watching all that time. I had gone through nine seasons of The Simpsons on DVD, all proudly displayed on the top of my TV shows on DVD shelf, and I very rarely stumbled up on any episodes I remembered. On top of this, aside from a few episodes in the ninth season, I have yet to really dislike any season of The Simpsons .
So while I awaited this DVD to arrive, I read a few comments on the set on other forums. I wasn’t entirely surprised to see a group of people saying that “this was the season The Simpsons started going downhill” and a small other bunch stating the opposite. I’d been seeing this for the last four DVD releases now and I still don’t understand it. What, exactly, are these fans expecting from the show? It’s the Simpsons, a show about a yellow skinned family with four fingers on their hands and a father who repeatedly strangles his son. Yes, earlier seasons had brilliant writing but the show was still new and fresh then. The Simpsons had quickly gotten the point where they’d done every story (an episode of South Park that still stands out in my mind, where Butters attempts to do something The Simpsons hadn’t already) and while others dislike such episodes as “Bart the Mother” or “Lisa Gets an ‘A’”, I laugh my way all through them.
I know fans can be a finicky bunch—I’ve witnessed thousands of them complain about things on shows I’ll never understand. I do understand the fans desire to dissect and study every frame of a cartoon—The Simpsons, after all, basically invented the freeze frame gags—but I really think that can ruin ones pleasure in watching these shows again. I know after screengrabbing and covering countless animated DC Cartoons I can easily ignore watching them for years on end, but I guess I’ll never understand why people insist on calling each new DVD release of The Simpsons the worst season yet.
Now that my rant on fanboys is out of the way, lets tackle this tenth season of The Simpsons. There is a great cluster of episodes this go-around and there isn’t a disc in this four-disc set that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy digging into. There is so much great content on each one of these discs that I have a hard time picking out a shining disc. Despite that some complain about this as well, I really enjoyed the cameos by the various stars in the seasons of The Simpsons. Sure, Homer being the servant to Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger makes no sense, but once again, it’s The Simpsons. Yeah these kinds of episodes seem kind of strange but at the same time I have a lot of fun watching them.
I don’t have a lot to say about this tenth season of The Simpsons; like the past nine seasons before it, I enjoyed watch the set and while there are a few hit-and-miss episodes on the set, overall this season comes Highly Recommended. People can attack me if they like for my recommendation of this season, but I greatly enjoyed it.
With very season of The Simpsons, the ingenuity of the packaging and menu system continually impress me. A theme is often to given to each sets packaging and with this season (the last of the Simpsons heads—not that I ever collected those anyway) a studio lot motif is splashed across the inside and the menu system matches that of the past few seasons with new character animations spread across all of the menus. Not only are there random character animations on each disc that relate to the episodes contained upon it, but each sub-menu is unique. If there were ever a blueprint for quality that DVDs should follow, The Simpsons is clearly it. Truly these sets are brilliantly executed, not only in the presentation department but in the content area as well.
As with all seasons, every episode on this set contains commentary. While the commentaries can get monotonous and dull (and the commentators even get bored while chatting over them) at times, they’re still fun to listen to, especially the one with Mark Hamill which was a great surprise. Hamill is continually showing up on more and more DVD commentaries that he did voice over work for and it’s great; I was surprised to hear him on Robot Chicken’s first season release and hearing him on The Simpsons was great as well.
In the other extras we have the DVD set introduction by Groening, deleted scenes with commentary, multi-angle animation showcases, commercials, crank calls and a look inside original sketches . These are all the usual extras found on the set and this time around we get a look at the upcoming The Simpsons Movie DVD release, which is, sadly, just animatics. Great to see how these shows are put together, but I’ve had my fill of animatics on DVDs at this point. They just aren’t my cup o’ tea.
Still, the detail that these extras go into and the continual addition of the commercials that aired during this season is great to see, even if I don’t remember a lot of them; but, as with all things, there can be some overkill at times so it’s best to pace the special feature viewing on this set. It can and will get to be too much, especially with all the commentaries.
That, however, is something nice to say about a release, believe it or not. For a DVD to be so jam packed that you can’t view it all in one sitting is awesome. Combined with the superb video quality and 5.1 surround track (which I still find slightly superfluous on a show like The Simpsons, although there is a few nicely done surround bits in the show), the set is just a grand slam in the presentation department. These releases continue to impress me with just how much we can get on a DVD and while I understand that not all shows can get such treatment, some other TV show on DVD box sets really look like crap when you compare them to what The Simpsons get.
While the film could have used a retrospective on Phil Hartman, with this being his last season and all, there’s not too much to complain about with this excellent set. Unless, of course, you’re one of those Simpsons fans that get all excited when someone recommends a DVD set of a season they didn’t enjoy. Oh and by the way, this set comes Highly Recommended.
The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season is now available on DVD.