Created by Matt Groening
Studio: Gracie Films/Fox (4 DVDs, 25 episodes)
Video: 1.33:1 full frame
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, English; Dolby Stereo, Spanish or French
Subtitles: Captioned, English, Spanish
Extras: Special introduction, Audio commentaries on every episode with Matt Groening, producers Bill Oakley, Josh Weinstein, Al Jean and Mike Reiss, also writers, actors and directors; Featurette on The Simpson House; Multiangle animation showcases; Animators’ illustrated commentaries; Original sketches, Animatics; Deleted scenes; Promotional spots with Groening; Special language feature; more…
Length: 570 minutes
For a while there, the Simpsons was the only TV series I was watching regularly, but I got too busy to stop for it on Sunday nights. Now at least I have 25 episodes of the longest-running sitcom on U.S. TV, and I think still the best thing on TV. The 1996-97 season received special praise from TV columnists. Even today, running toward nearly 400 episodes, the freshness, creativity and timeliness of the Simpsons is legendary. Some of the story lines are superb parodies and satire, some are just plain silly, and some provide better life lessons than any serious treatment could. For example “Homer’s Phobia” deals with attitudes towards gays in a more constructive manner than most live action sitcoms have (John Waters voices the main character).
The long list of guest voices for this season includes Gillian Anderson, Albert Brooks, Johnny Cash, Rodney Dangerfield, David Duchovny, Kelsey Grammer, David Hyde Pierce, Jack Lemmon, Leonard Nimoy and John Waters. Matt Groening himself does a very funny introduction to the whole package. The special features go on and on. (In an NPR discussion of long commutes, one listener described taking along his laptop and playing back the commentary tracks from DVDs via a cassette adapter used in his car radio unit. Great idea! – Don’t know how else the average person would break out the time to listen to all of these commentaries – there’s a different one for every episode.)
There are evidently two packaging options of this set – a Limited Edition Maggie Simpson Box, which this one appears to be, or a collectible illustrated gatefold Digipak – both at the same price. I must say I was amazed at the Deleted Scenes sections. I had no idea there would be deleted scenes for animation unless the producers created them for the special features, as was done for Shrek – where they interviewed some of the main characters. I had thought the soundtrack, which is recorded first, was the timing source for the animation which was linked exactly to it. This seemed even more vital for TV animation which had to fit a tightly-prescribed time schedule. I stand corrected – and now feel a bit sorry for those poor South Korean animators who drew the “in-betweens” and painted in the colors for all those animated sequences which then ended up on the cutting room floor!
The Episodes: Treehouse of Horror VII, You Only Move Twice, The Homer They Fall, Burns Baby Burns, Bart After Dark, A Milhouse Divided, Lisa’s Date With Density, Hurricane Neddy, El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer, The Springfield Files, The Twisted World of Marge Simpson, Mountain of Madness, Simpsoncalifragilisticexpialacious, The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show, Homer’s Phobia, The Brother From Another Series, My Sister My Sitter, Homer Vs. The 18th Amendment, Grade School Confidential, The Canine Mutiny, The Old Man And The Lisa, In Marge We Trust, Homer’s Enemy, The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase, The Secret War of Lisa Simpson
– John Sunier