It seems the producers of The Simpsons DVDs have either gotten really caught up in hullabaloo of their own 20th anniversary of the show, or just plum forgot how to count. Because as every Simpsons fan knows, it’s season 13 that should be coming out on DVD now, not 20.
In fact with their average of one to two seasons released in a year, season 20 shouldn’t be released until at least 2015. And I’m sure when they get to that point 20 will most certainly be re-released and this time it will be chock full of the special feature goodness that Simpsons‘ fans have come to expect from their Simpsons DVDs as apposed to this bare bones release.
Well enough semantics, let’s talk about the season itself, shall we?
I must first preface that I’ve been a huge fan since I first saw “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” (7G08) on December 17, 1989. The eleven-year-old me had know idea what he was getting himself into, but it was love at first site. In those early days I had the first few seasons recorded on VHS (remember those?) and would watch them and rewatch them ad nausea. I had a Simpsons quote for just about every situation much to the chagrin of my friends and family. “Like this one time, on The Simpsons…” was something that could oft be heard passing through my pimply faced teenage lips.
As most people know, around season 11 the show began to change. It was better for some and worse for others. I was of the latter party and Sunday nights ceased to be an essential TV night for me. I’d catch an episode or two here and there over the years, but they all seemed to lack that certain something that made the Simpsons my all time favorite TV Show. So I was excited to see an entire season of the show that I hadn’t seen and revisit some old friends.
Well, like all relationships that have grown apart, at first it was little awkward. I watched the first couple episodes and found myself barely grinning. And the laugh out loud moments that were a standard in the past seemed to be completely absent. I mean Homer and Ned becoming bounty hunters? Really? I remember when Homer couldn’t run to the end of his yard without collapsing and gasping for air. Now he’s doing flips through the air and wall climbing like he’s a Hollywood action hero? I don’t think so. I’m sorry, that’s not the Homer Simpson I know.
However, all that changed with the sixth episode, “Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words.” (KABF19) It seems to hark back to episodes like “Mrs. Lisa Goes to Washington” (8F01; season 3) and “Lisa the Greek” (8F12; season 3). There is always something special about Homer/Lisa episodes and Lisa being a crossword puzzle genius just seemed like a natural move for the show. It followed the classic Simpsons story arc: Homer screws something up. Lisa gets mad at him and he finds a way to make it right. Has this plot device been over used on the show? Perhaps, but still I loved the episode. It had what I realized the other episodes seemed to be missing that I could never put my finger on: Heart. It had quality story and heart that brought be back to the hey-day of season 4-8. It even surpassed most of the stinkers on season 11.
So I watched on. Lisa gets her first “mypod;” Bart becomes a good kid to impress a girl he really likes, Homer and Grandpa fly to Ireland and drunkenly buy a pub; Moe dates a little person; and we learn more about how Homer and Marge got together when they were younger.
By no means is it a perfect season, but by the end I was pleasantly surprised, especially following the rocky start. Plus with “Take Me Life, Please” the show began airing in HD 720p, and I must say, those episodes look really damn good. Now we get just get the writing back to the way it was in the late ’90s then they’d really have something!
Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes (9/28/08)
When a sober St. Patrick’s Day Parade turns violent Homer is arrested. When getting out on bail he meets Wolf, a bounty hunter, and instantly decides that that’s the life for him. Then on his first job Ned Flanders saves his life and the two decide to team up. But when Homer forgets about his own court date it’s up to Ned to bring down his former partner.
Lost Verizon (10/5/08)
Bart is jealous because he’s the only one of his friends without a cell phone. When he accidentally learns he can make money retrieving golf balls on the golf course he starts to save up for one. But that comes to and end when and angry Denis Leary throws his phone and Bart gets his hands on it. Leary is now pissed that Bart has his phone but tells Marge that she can use it to track Bart everywhere and puts a stop to all his monkeyshines. Lisa tells Bart what’s happened and takes the tracking chip out and ties it to a bird which leads the rest of his family on a while good chase to Machu Picchu.
Guest Stars: Denis Leary and Brian Grazer.
Double, Double, Boy In Trouble (10/19/08)
Bart is hiding from an angry mob after another one of his tricks when he meets Simon Wooserfield, a millionaire that looks just like Bart. To two decided to switch places for a while. Bart is happy until he learns that Simon’s older siblings are trying to kill their younger brother which right now happens to be Bart!
Guest Star: Joe Montana.
Treehouse Of Horror XIX (11/2/08)
“Untitled Robot Parody”: Bart buys Lisa a Malibu Stacy convertible for Christmas that turns out to be an evil robot. It brings all the appliances in the house and they begin to fight. It turns out two alien robots races are having their finally battle in Springfield. When Marge convinces them to stop fighting they team up and enslave the earth.
“How To Get Ahead In Dead-Vertising”: It turns out Homer is really good at killing celebrities so an advertising firm hires him to kill off those celebs that won’t endorse their products. But the dead celebs come back for revenge!
“It’s The Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse”: Milhouse believes in the Grand Pumpkin so much that he comes to life, but when he sees the atrocities being done to his fellow pumpkins, the Grand Pumpkin proclaims revenge! Now it’s up to Tom Turkey to save the day.
Dangerous Curves (11/16/08)
On the 4th of July The Simpsons take a trip out to a cabin in the woods. Along the way the kids ask why they’re going there. In a series of flashbacks we see how this cabin became important in not one, but two moments in Homer’s and Marge’s relationship. We also get to see a young Homer meet and befriend a young Flanders.
Homer And Lisa Exchange Cross Words (11/16/08)
Lisa discovers she has a gift for crossword puzzles and winds up in a crossword tournament. Homer quickly learns that he can bet on the tournament and puts all his money on Lisa. However, when Lisa reaches the finals she’s worried she’ll lose cause she always does so Homer bets against her. And she does lose, however when she learn what her dad did, Homer loses a daughter. Now Homer has to find a way to win back the good graces of Lisa Bouvier.
Gust Stars: Merl Reagle, Will Shortz and Scott Thompson.
Mypods And Boomsticks (11/30/08)
Lisa is excited when a frustrated Krusty gives her his Mypod while at the Mapple Store. She comes addicted to downloading songs and rings up a $1200 bill so she goes directly to Steve Mobbs to plead her case. Meanwhile, Bart gets a new best friend, Bashir, whose family is from Jordon. Homer is instantly worried that these new people in town are terrorists and decides to go all “Jack Bauer” on them.
Guest Star: Shohreh Aghdashloo.
The Burns And The Bees (12/7/08)
Lisa learns that all the bees in Springfield are dying so she collects them all and takes them to old greenhouse where they set up a knew and thriving home. Meanwhile, Mr. Burns wins a basketball team in a bet and decides to build them a new stadium right where the greenhouse is! So now it’s up to Lisa to save the bees again.
Guest Stars: Mark Cuban, Jeff Bezos and Marv Albert.
Lisa The Drama Queen (12/25/08)
In a parody of Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures, Lisa becomes best friends with a girl named Juliet Hobbes. Juliet has a horrible home life so she escapes to a imagery land called “Equalia” Lisa and Juliet start spending too much time there and Marge begins to worry.
Guest Star: Emily Blunt. Fall Out Boy performs the closing credits.
Take My Life, Please (2/15/09)
The first episode to air in HD! Homer learns that Principle Dondelinger rigged the results for High School Class President so that a guy named Vance wins instead of Homer. Depressed he takes the family to an Italian restaurant where a weird chef with magical tomato sauce shows Homer what his life would have been like had he won Class President.
How The Test Was Won (3/1/09)
Chalmers and Skinner ship off all the dumb kids, including Bart, on a fake field trip to alter the results of an aptitude test for the school. Meanwhile, Homer lets his insurance laps and must remain accident free until he can get it renewed.
No Loan Again, Naturally (3/8/09)
When Homer borrows against the house to throw an extravagant Mardi Gras party, the Simpsons end up having to sell the house. Flanders feels pity for them and buys the house and rents it back to them, but the Simpsons prove to be hellish renters.
Gone Maggie Gone (3/15/09)
Marge stares too long at an eclipse and temporarily goes blind. With Homer left in charge of Maggie he quickly loses her setting off a DaVinci Code like chain of events.
Guest Star: Ed Begley, Jr.
In The Name Of The Grandfather (3/22/09)
When the Simpsons buy a hot tub they forget Grandpa on a special day. To appease his anger they agree to take him to Ireland so he can drink at a pub from his past. However, while intoxicated Homer and Grandpa end up buying the pub and must find away to keep the place open.
Guest Stars: Colm Meaney, Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.
Wedding For Disaster (3/29/09)
Homer and Marge learn that their last remarrige is actually invalid so they decide to marry again. But when Homer disappears on the wedding day, Marge fears the worst. However, she could never imagine that he’s actually trapped in a Saw like situation.
Guest Star: Kelsey Grammer.
Eeny Teeny Maya Moe (4/5/09)
Moe meets the perfect girl on the internet. However, when he meets her in person it turns out she’s a little person. This doesn’t stop him from loving her but will he be able to make it work? Meanwhile, Homer keeps leaving Maggie in a playground full of hostile babies.
The Good, The Sad And The Drugly (4/19/09)
Bart and Milhouse pull a prank, but only Milhouse is caught. Bart makes a promise to visit him every day, but is sidetracked by a beautiful girl named Jenny. It turns out Jenny is a good girl and Bart must change his ways to win her, but when Milhouse returns will Bart be able to keep his dark past a secret?
Guest Star: Anne Hathaway.
Father Knows Worst (4/26/09)
Marge discovers a sauna hidden in the basement and decides to keep it to herself becoming very distant from the family. Meanwhile, Homer learns about helicopter parenting and tries it out only to make life worse for his kids.
Waverly Hills 9-0-2-1-D’oh (5/3/09)
Homer and Marge want their kids to get to a better school so they buy a small apartment in Waverly Hills. However Bart and Lisa end up hating the school.
Guest Star: Ellen Page.
Four Great Women And A Manicure (4/26/09)
Marge takes Lisa to get her first manicure which opens the door for four shorts stories about women: Selma defends England as Queen Elizabeth I, Lisa is Snow White, Marge and Homer play out a modern-day MacBeth and Maggie fights against conformity in Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.
Guest star: Jodie Foster.
Coming To Homerica (5/3/09)
The Ogdenville barley industry goes belly up so the citizen all move to Springfield where their Norwegian culture begins to annoy everyone. So Quimby sets up a citizen run border patrol.
The first few episodes are presented in a 1.33:1 fullscreen format. Then they change to HD widescreen. Sound is in 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. The first couple episodes look like previous ones and the HD ones look really damn good!
The Twentieth Anniversary Special Sneak Peak with Morgan Spurlock: (3 min.) Wow, a commercial for a special that already aired and odds are anyone who would buy this set already saw. This is really sad especially considering how overflowing Simpsons DVD’s usually are with the extras.
I know it’s the 20th anniversary and all, but it’s just strange that this season would get released. Now Simpsons fans every where will have a huge gap on their shelves and it will drive them nuts. Plus this sucker is bare bones which is not usually the case with this show. Unless you really need to own these episodes right now, I honestly suggesting waiting for them to get there chronologically. I’m sure that one will have all the usual bells and whistles.
MGM presents The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season. Created by: Matt Groening. Starring: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, Hank Azaria, and more. Running time: 482 min. on four discs. Released on DVD: January 12, 2010. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: The Simpsons