There’s no way I can write this review without first addressing the elephant in the room. Said elephant
being the question on everyone's lips: “WHY ARE THEY RELEASING THE 20th SEASON OF THE SIMPSON WHEN THEY STILL HAVEN’T RELEASED SEASONS 13 THRU 19????!!!”
Before we go any further I’m gonna give you a chance to slowly ask that question out loud and take some time to think on it…
Okay, did you figure it out? Kinda obvious, huh?
Upon reaching its 20th year on the air, The Simpsons
reached the golden milestone and claimed the title of Longest running Prime-Time Series!
Why should this show and the people at FOX be any different than the rest of us?: Always looking for an excuse to throw a party, take a day off from work, get drunk…or exploit such an event to make more money.
But as crass as that answer is (and I’m not saying it’s not 100% true
), I can think of another good reason.
Even the most die hard Simpsons fan has to admit that it is no longer the ‘must-see-above- all-else’
show it used to be (especially during those halcyon years when Conan O’Brien
was the head writer). The writing took a significant drop during its second decade. I always thought it was more of a gradual slide until I reviewed the twelfth season a couple months ago (after having recently watch the seven season before that) and I was shocked by how I found a good 40% of the shows painfully unfunny- and another 20% just “meh”.
However, in its 20th season The Simpsons
bounce back in top form, baby!
It kicks off with “Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes”
which has all the trademarks of the best of the Simpsons catalog: It’s got a strong opening that matches its TV Guide description
(“Homer goes to jail for starting a brawl at an alcohol-free St. Patrick's Day parade”) then diverges into two wildly disparate co-plots (Homer and Flanders team up as skip tracers/ Marge becomes an erotic cake baker) and somehow it all ties back together by the end. The effect is that each subplot is so well developed a year later your brain remembers them as three separate episodes. Not every ep in the 20th season is like this but enough of them are and those that aren’t are still pretty solid.
Then there’s the “Treehouse of Horror XIX”.
When these traditional Halloween episodes first rolled out they were more clever than they were funny. It wasn’t until the third or fourth year that they became that (trick or
)treat you looked forward and got mad when they were pre-empted by a football game. But again, after that dreaded ten year mark the Treehouse of Horrors became patchy and sometimes just annoying. One of the benchmarks of season 20 is that Treehouse of Horror XIX is one of the funnest episodes in this set.
Now, as to the features of the discs themselves…
One of the things that sets this apart from all its predecessors is that this is the first of The Simpsons boxed sets to be released on Blu-Ray
. Thus the packaging is much smaller, as all 15 episodes fit comfortably on just two discs. Also, this allows them to take full advantage of the show’s switchover to broadcasting in high definition during the middle of the season. Beware that the analog episodes on the first disc look kinda crappy- washed out colors; fuzzy lines; a lot of red showing through the blacks- BUT
the hi-def of the second discs is so crystal clear you feel like you could step into Springfield from your television and drink a beer at Moe’s.
Something that’s completely different
here is the menu setup. On the earliest boxed sets the menus had no ‘PLAY ALL’
feature. The user was force to click through 2 or 3 screens and one ‘only-cute-the-first-time’ animation to get to watch every single episode. With the 20th season it’s the complete opposite. There’s only a no-frills menu bar at the bottom of the screen that even won’t show you the entire playlist all at once, let alone give the descriptions.
But it does have ‘PLAY ALL’
There is one very huge controversy concerning the Extra Features
on this set:
THEY ARE NO EXTRA FEATURES ON THIS SET. **
As a reviewer and a non-fan of extra features who’s obligated to watch them anyway due to the nature of this job, I couldn’t be happier!…But at the same time, I completely understand why the people who anticipate the extras are pissed. It’s not like FOX is cutting a price break on this lack of content. While I can’t argue against any of those of you who would scream, “Rip-off!!”
, for me The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season
delivers on everything that’s important.
You can purchase The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season
on Blu-ray here
…Or you could always take the option of waiting to see if they re-release it packed to the gills with extras seven years from now.
The one sorta
Extra is a teaser commercial for Morgan Spurlock
(Super Size Me
) hosting a Simpsons tribute documentary. It’s just a sneak peak, not even the real show- which aired on FOX last Sunday.